About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

22 Jul 1998: Chikane, Frank

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

POM     The first question I always have to ask you is the land question. Has the family made any further progress?

FC     That land question, we pursued that question and I don't remember where we were last time but we talked with a Chief in the area and what came out, what it became clear of course is that the land was communally owned. It means there is no title deed for individual family members and so that piece of land would be in fact a piece of land for the family as a whole and the Chief was prepared to let it be available for the family to actually use it. The problem with that is that they had moved people around a number of times so in fact the claims could be cross-claims to the land. If they moved you from this piece of land to another one where they have moved people from and they move you for the second time to another piece of land where they moved people from, their claims become a chain in a sense to be able to go back to where you would say that this particular piece of land belongs to a particular family. The general view in that community is that people will be happy if they are re-allocated the land irrespective of where it is because where it is it can take you to a century ago because apartheid came in and moved people around. You could most probably claim and say let's go back to 1948 but there were people who were moved before 1948 so I mean the apartheid laws in the main were built up before the Land Acts, for instance, 1913, 1936, those are the major pieces of legislation which happened before the apartheid time. So it's a much more complex issue but because the community is willing to be of help amongst themselves they have now used the land in particular ways so that everyone has a piece of that land and it's happening now, they are working through it. It's a complex issue.

POM     When it was revealed at the TRC that Dr Basson had been the agent behind your poisoning, somehow getting poison into your underwear, God knows how he did that, what did you feel also knowing that this man had been re-hired by the state after the end of apartheid?

FC     Well firstly it's easy to put that chemical into my clothes because you simply get me to check in and you get into the baggage and do it, so it's not difficult.

POM     You just check into a hotel?

FC     No in an airport. It's not difficult to do that. You let a person check in the baggage and then you intercept it and put the chemical in and let it go. So I believe that's how they did it, so it's not a difficult one. The second part of the question, it's like the disclosure by Mr Vlok yesterday that they bombed Khotso House. The media says to me, "What's your response?" I say I knew about it so there is nothing new about it. We knew, we believed it, everybody said we are lying and so there is nothing new for me. I know that they were murderers, I knew that they were assassinating people, I knew that they were doing their best to get rid of me. If they couldn't deal with you - I am sure if you go back to your records, you will remember I said if they couldn't deal with you legally they would use other methods and that's what Mr Vlok said yesterday. They couldn't deal with the SACC legally and so they decided to bomb the building and make it unusable and indeed they did make it unusable. The third part of the question, what do I think about the re-hiring of Mr Basson? I actually don't have a problem with it. You will be surprised about it. I don't have a problem because the re-hiring of Basson has to do precisely to safeguard people. It's that if he is a free agent -

POM     It's better to have him in the tent.

FC     If he's in the army he can't fly out of the country and go wherever he likes, he is part of the discipline of the army. If you remove him out of the army he can go to any other country and he has got so much of that know-how to deal with chemical weapons that he could enter in a house and go there and produce whatever he needs to produce. So that was the purpose of the military re-hiring him again so that he can be within the army rather than outside the army.

POM     I want to go back to, and I'm going to rush you since time is limited, to the Deputy President's Two Nations speech on 4th June where he talked about the collapse of moral values, he called for a Moral Summit, where he said that the two nations were as divided as they ever were, where there had been no real progress towards reconciliation. One, what do you think accounts for the collapse in moral values for a people who were so, in a way, moral in the righteousness of their struggle? What has happened to society as a whole since that the moral fabric seems to be collapsing? And two, why do you think there has been no progress towards reconciliation? Are whites in denial over the TRC? Do they say, oh my God, if we knew those things went on we would never have had anything to do with it? But essentially they're not taking responsibility, they're not saying: I am responsible, I too as part of the system, I may have closed my eyes to it.

FC     But it's the denial that's part of the problem. They think of reconciliation in terms of shaking hands and agreeing on negotiations and they say you are reconciled, but you are still denying what happened in the past or if you discover it you don't say I'm disgusted about this and I'm going to do something to correct the damage that was done in my name. And for that reason you've got a problem that genuine reconciliation can only happen if the damage of the past is dealt with and addressed effectively and the people who have the resources are the people who benefited out of that damage. If there is unwillingness from those people to allow transformation to happen to enable those who were excluded to be part of that process then of course reconciliation cannot be complete. The issue of the moral fibre of our society, I think it broke long ago and it was messed up completely in terms of the war. If you look at what the Minister of Law & Order was doing, if it breaks down at that level and they give commands for the things that they used to do, you can be sure that the moral fibre of that society was gone. War does justify things that are unacceptable.

POM     But it would seem to be he wasn't just talking about the moral fibre of white society, that he was talking about the moral fibre of society as a whole.

FC     Oh yes, in general, as a whole. You saw that young man who went to the TRC and said, "I was trained to rob the bank as part of the struggle." It means if you are deployed you are a guerrilla and when your money gets finished you are trapped somewhere else. As means of survival you either eat roots or you go and rob the bank or do whatever. There is a way in which war can justify all those activities. They will argue the intention was not to kill people but in effect the fact that you could do that tells you how much war can in fact blur the moral consciousness of people to justify things that they should not justify. So it would have happened at all sorts of levels and what we require is to regain that. The difference though, the fundamental difference is that if you did that because you were fighting against an apartheid system which put you in a situation where you had to do that, it's different from doing that in defence of an evil system. There is a qualitative difference and therefore the erosion of the moral fibre, it's at a different level, like Basson spends all this time producing those chemicals and his colleagues to go and deal with blacks. It's a very racist conception of what he's trying to do, which is different from a person who says I am going to fight to get rid of this particular thing that makes Basson to do that. There's a qualitative difference. Of course the pain that gets caused to people is the same, it doesn't matter where the pain comes from.

POM     Two things, I was listening to the debate this afternoon on the rand and two things struck me, and this doesn't just apply to the debate on the rand, it's a question I've been asking people this time round, is that Trevor mentioned that in Korea when the currency collapsed and the economy went over, people queued up and wanted to hand in their family jewellery and do things to help the state.

FC     They did, yes.

POM     Yet there's no sense of that at all in this country, there's no sense of a social cohesiveness, no sense of we're all in it together and unless we work together, unless we sacrifice together in this generation, there will be no next generation.

FC     But there's a fundamental difference between South Korea or one of the eastern, historically eastern bloc countries, the former eastern bloc countries. The fundamental difference is that they are one nation and that even if there were problems they were all together in it.

POM     Homogeneous.

FC     It's not the homogeneity because maybe there are differences and ethnic whatever, but they are one people. They had a communist regime as one people. They have changed as one people. You see it's the same people, it's not a white/black issue. In this case you had a minority of whites who benefited out of the apartheid system. I read an article yesterday which was quite revealing, this ordinary person - you know the Letters to the Editor column, says, "Who says there are not two nations around here?" the two nation theory, because he says, "Have you seen whites in the shacks?" It's a simple for him, it's a simple thing and it's an ordinary person. Go to the shacks there and look for whites, there you won't find them. Why? Because over the years the system made sure that they benefit out of apartheid; if there is poverty it would be a negligible fraction of those people for other reasons, other than because they didn't have the opportunities to do so whereas if you are black you wouldn't.

     So when you face this crisis we are facing, for instance in terms of the economy, they would then take their money off shore because they really have no interest in this particular country so there is a difference in terms of the nature of the societies you are comparing. The beneficiaries of the apartheid system don't think, and I don't want to generalise because there are those who do think, many of them don't think that they have a responsibility to reinvest into this society to correct the damage of the past. They think we should stop the clock here and start afresh as if nothing has happened and I have no responsibility. That's how they conceptualise it and at times you sympathise with people who argue like that because they feel bad, they want to run away from this thing, they want a world where it can disappear and they emerge as if nothing has happened but with the benefits of that thing they want to disappear. That's I think the crisis that some of white communities are facing. But there are more and more people who are beginning to realise we are here to stay, our future is here, it's nowhere else and we must make this thing work. From the meetings we had with some of the Afrikaner communities, with the Deputy President, you are getting that message coming out clearly, we want to be here and we are here and we have to make it work because we are going to be part of this country for the future.

POM     In terms of particular Africans that I talk to in townships and wherever, I don't get any sense that they feel that they're belonging to a revolutionary transformation. It's that to them not much has changed, there's been some water maybe some places, there's been some electricity some place, but most are unemployed and most go about living the way they lived before they were free and the police aren't there harassing them all the time but crime is as bad as it ever was. President Mandela, I think, three years ago when he was opening parliament talked about the need for a new patriotism. When I go into African communities I don't get that feeling of we are in it together, we must pull together, we must make ourselves one, that if we can't have it in our lifetimes our children will have it in their lifetimes.

FC     But you are talking about the black community, not the black/white - you are talking about the black community?

POM     That's right, yes.

FC     You see that's where the problem is. We could run this country differently, we could have taken over and thrown out all these whites, took over their possessions and created a revolutionary new society. We could have done that. I doubt we would have got very far with it. Mozambique did the same and I am sure if you went there during the first few months you would have found people who were highly motivated, etc. Ten years down the line you are the poorest country in the world and they have now reorganised themselves and they are the highest growing country now in the last year or so. So it depends really on what you want to choose to do. We could have done it differently. Mr Mandela could have said the people who need to unite and motivate and patriotism are the black people. We could have done that but it means you create further division and that wouldn't help at all. We have taken the option which says you fight for the maximum possible benefits for the people without destroying the country. And that was the choice really when people went to the negotiations, otherwise you could have fought for ever and won. Because once you have won, like in the second world war, you win, you take over everything, and that's not the route we chose to go because that would have destroyed the country.

POM     Let me talk for a minute about GEAR, at the centre of everything. Everyone I talk to, everyone, says GEAR isn't working, that it's not meeting any of its objectives. In fact the National Coalition of NGOs came out last week and said that rather than contributing to eliminating inequality it's -

FC     Yes, who else other than the NGO Coalition?

POM     You've got COSATU says it, the SACP says it, the PAC says it, the DP says it, you've got the NP says it, you've got independent economists who have no axe to grind, Derek Keys -

FC     I am sure all those people don't belong in the same club. They would have different reasons for saying it.

POM     They would but the thing is that it's the first year that per capital income is declining.

FC     What do they say the real problem is?

POM     It's no job creation, in fact unemployment going up and not down, falling in the formal sector. Two, that now for the first time this year you're going to have a declining per capita income so that the country is slipping.

FC     And they think it's GEAR?

POM     And they think that a lot of it has to do with GEAR. The question I want to put is that the Deputy President and President Mandela went before COSATU and the SACP and more or less gave them a tongue lashing of sorts, saying GEAR is GEAR, it's policy, it's not going to be changed, that's it, if you don't like it, tough - rather than saying GEAR is here, it's not working exactly the way we thought because we are not in control of all the variables we thought we were, i.e. we're part of a global economy and we don't have control over the fluctuation in the value of the rand or other things that affect the manner in which goals are reached.

FC     Well I'm asking you these questions because I think the one thing that people get wrong is to sloganise GEAR. They hear one person saying GEAR is bad and they all go around saying GEAR is bad. But if you asked why is GEAR not good they would not tell you exactly. They will tell you that it has not created jobs but GEAR wasn't the policy, is not a policy to create jobs. It is a policy to create the environment within which, because it's not government that creates jobs, it's the private sector. So if you want to do a critique you would say GEAR has created the conditions conducive for creating jobs but big business in this country has chosen a different route. They have chosen a different route in terms of the challenge of competitiveness with the international world because they were not competitive. They shed jobs instead of creating jobs and that's why you then come with a Job Summit because it is quite clear that the people you expected would create the jobs because it is business that should create jobs.

POM     But part of what GEAR was about, from my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, was to create a climate that would give the foreign community a sense that SA was fiscally responsible and in place to invest in.

FC     Which is the case.

POM     Instead of that, direct foreign investment in terms of wealth creating investment has not increased that much.

FC     Well it depends on the figures we are talking about.

POM     Then you have Standard & Poor saying among emerging markets SA is the second most -

FC     I think, let me just because we don't have time, but let me put it in this way. If your policy is right and the players play it wrong it does not mean that the policy is wrong. You see you can have a policy that's right, which creates the climate for business to do certain things. If business doesn't do those things it does not mean that the policy is wrong. Because what is the alternative to that? The alternative would be that you create a policy that will force business to do the things you want them to do, you do wealth tax, you do all sorts of things, and we have decided that would be counter-productive, not in a globalised world. In a globalised world if you go that direction you've had it and so I don't see what the alternative is. We did the right thing to create the conducive conditions. If they fail we go for a Job Summit to talk about why and how we should do it. So I am just making one example that one can't talk about it as if GEAR was not there, the jobs would have been there.

POM     No I'm not talking about that.

FC     The jobs would not have been there.

POM     So I'm not saying - people say well if it's not GEAR what's the alternative, then tell me your alternative and we can discuss it. I suppose to me there's something more fundamental at stake and that is you are an emerging democracy, the constitution provides for a multi-party system, the opposition parties are for the most part non-constructive or destructive or whatever and now this thing today what they were saying I said, "Oh my God! If you could have a debate."

FC     Yes, you got the medicine today.

POM     The level of political distance, so that in a way that the ANC alliance has to become it's own opposition if there is to be the nurturing of democratic institutions which means that people like COSATU and the SACP shouldn't be told to shut up and get into line, there's a touch of authoritarianism there that's coming because if you don't get opposition from them who do you get it from? If it doesn't come from there -

FC     It depends on the type of opposition you are getting. I think you will need to study the alliance a little bit closer because the alliance, for instance, the Secretary General of COSATU is a member of the executive of the ANC. The Secretary General of the Communist Party is a member of the ANC executive. And what the Deputy President was dealing with is that you cannot sit in this forum and agree on a policy position, there is no dissension there and you go and use another instrument, the same person, to actually attack that policy, that without providing meaningful alternatives which you could do within the ANC in any way, you could have sat in that ANC forum and said I believe there is an alternative and this is the alternative that we need to get into. But on this issue of the jobs, we need to go past it because it's quite clear to me that - you know I have gone to restudy that GEAR because I am one person who is willing, I have said to the SACC if anything needs to be adjusted in GEAR that will help the poor and not mess up with their future I don't think this ANC government will say no, but no-one has presented an alternative that promises something better for the poor. For instance, people argue that there isn't enough social spending for those people who are poor, etc. Some say social spending was reduced by GEAR. It is wrong because social spending has increased since 1994 but the point is you can't increase your social spending by making more loans to pay more interest and ten years down the line the IMF is here. There is no Zimbabwe, Tanzania, one interesting thing in Tanzania is that every ordinary person can read and write, speak English well and almost everyone because they invested on that over the many years before.

POM     That justified borrowing.

FC     Yes, But what has happened now the IMF has come and they are dictating what they should be doing which is a painful thing. So what we are saying is we're not going to go the route of satisfying people today so that they die tomorrow. We're going to move on a route that will secure the future in the long term and that strategy is a well calculated strategy.

POM     These are related questions, if the stated aim of the constitution is to create a multi-party system, a viable multi-party system, at the same time you have the Secretary General of the ANC saying our aim in the next election is to try to get over two thirds of the vote, which in effect would allow the ANC to override at will much of the constitution. This isn't exactly the way to go about creating a viable multi-party system.

FC     Well this is a classical multi-party system, but that's why the Deputy President said -

POM     Sorry, a classical?

FC     It's a classical multi-party system, you could get 80% of the votes. Why not in a classical multi-party system?

POM     But in an emerging democracy, you're not talking about an established one that's been there for 200 years.

FC     But why would you have to say to an emerging democracy, don't follow ordinary - ?

POM     But why would you want to get more than - like when 60% allows you to do what you want, why do you want two thirds that allows you in effect total control over the constitution that so many people spent so much time building?

FC     Yes, but that's what the Deputy President said this afternoon. I'm sure you left earlier.

POM     I did because I didn't hear him speak.

FC     He has answered the question, he has said the ANC General Secretary has made a statement which says there is no intention by the ANC to interfere with the constitution by abusing the majority that the ANC has. The President of the country has said so in parliament in January this year. The Deputy President has said it as well. There is no intention to do that.

POM     But these are individuals and individuals can change.

FC     Yes but I mean the General Secretary himself has made a public statement after he was reported to be saying that, he has made a statement himself to say that's not what I was saying. There's a Deputy Minister who was said to have said it as well. The point is that the ANC as a body has no intention in using its majority to change the constitution because the commitment, people have died for this democracy in this country. It's not like a country where you arrived at democracy by chance. That's why our human rights standards are too high for many people. It's very difficult for people to understand how we can operate at the level we are operating. Some people say we are doing it - so there is no intention to do that. But you cannot say, you cannot therefore say as a party decide to have less votes or that you don't have the majority in parliament. That's anti-democratic.

POM     No, no, there's a difference between saying if we get 60% of the vote and we can create an opposition that's got 40%.

FC     Why should you create an opposition?

POM     Because opposition, parliamentary opposition, is the essence at least of western democracy. So am I making a mistake here by confusing - are there difference concepts?

FC     Where in a western democracy have you had a rule that says constitutional constraint, that says campaign for votes but don't go beyond this percentage otherwise it's not democracy? There's no such thing like that. We are expected to do something - it's when you travel internationally you hear this story, we are expected - the Deputy President said one day the world seems to be saying to us let's go and organise this opposition to be strong so that they can oppose us, so that you as a party must go and organise the opposition and assist them to oppose you in the name of democracy and it's a funny requirement specially made for SA. The point is that if they behave the way they were behaving today the majority of the people aren't going to vote for them. You see what I'm talking about? They would have to change their strategies, their approach to do that and so you can't also dictate to them and say you, Mr van Wyk, you can't say that thing because you're going to lose the vote so we will make a law to stop you saying what you are saying, which means we're really getting into a dictatorship rather than let democracy flourish, let the people choose the people who make sense to them, who represent their interests. Because if a party stands out there and represents the interests of the people they will actually be able to get votes.

POM     By the same token when I read President Mandela's speech to the 50th Congress of the ANC, I was at one level stunned. He lashed out at everybody, the media, everyone. There was a third force operating within and everybody was out to destroy the ANC. Since you have such power and security in the country why is there still this insecurity about people wanting to destroy you?

FC     Which power are you referring to? You are talking like this integrated force is a clean one. The integrated force here is not a clean one. What's happening in Richmond now tells you the full story that there are people within those forces who are bent on creating chaos in this country. You've got people who are out there trying to steal arms and create instability. I have just dealt now with the Pretoria News, you know the Pretoria News which gets given a story, completely imaginary story, disinformation, and they go and publish the story.

POM     Is that in today's Pretoria News?

FC     No it was some two, three weeks ago, so I have been busy with the ombudsman to deal with this particular issue.  What I am trying to say is there is a truth, what the President has said, if you looked at every aspect of what he has said about a party, about the media, about foreign funding, about all that, they are accurate. Take one of them, because there is this fear about, oh if he says these things we're scared about what the story is all about, it looks like it's going to be a dictatorship. But what's wrong in telling the truth? The fact is that there is a truth that there are people here who still want the old order to come back.

POM     But the old order can never come back.

FC     It will never come back but they are in a dream world.

POM     It's an illusion. I mean just numbers alone.

FC     If you look at business, for the first two years or so, read the media, you will realise that it was like hands off, they were waiting for this thing to collapse and the thing didn't collapse and now they are engaging government differently now, since that time when they actually were hands off. So people really, even business didn't believe this will work and now it's working. There are people who still believe they have to change this thing. Now we sat with Afrikaner church leaders a week ago and one of them spoke there like classical apartheid theology. You can see if this man is a leader of a church, thinks like this, you know there are pockets of people out there who still think in the old way. So I don't think you should react to the speech of the President without detail. You go to zero on one of those aspects and analyse it and you will find that in fact it reflects a particular reality in South African society and I have said that too.

     I have met on formal occasions with leaders of the opposition parties and I am a Director General, I'm not supposed to get involved in the party political debates, so I will say to Mr Leon, "You are starting this discussion, you know I can't talk about it because I am a Director General." But if you allowed me to remove this hat of a DG I would tell you that if you would employ me as your adviser you would do better to get votes in this country. The route you are taking, forget about it. There aren't black people who are going to vote for your party because you represent the interests of the privileged and the majority of the people in this country are 80% black which means you are at a dead end. By definition you have closed the door for yourself.

     The NP does the same. The Freedom Front is more honest, we are for the Afrikaner and that's it, we know it's a minority, that's the minority we are representing. They are not intending to have a majority at some other stage or something like that. But at the same time there is no ethnic group in this country which is overwhelming in terms of numbers and therefore you're not going to have one ethnic group against another. The biggest numbers would be Zulu speaking people in the six million, seven million, but they are a minority in relation to the whole population. There is no one religious group that is in the majority. The biggest would be about three million members, churches, there is no religious group so there will be no religious - the way in which the society is structured you are not going to have one group of people oppressing another group of people, it's not going to happen and so we are moving in the direction in a very difficult way, in a direction that could produce the most ideal democratic system we have ever had around with all the difficulties that we have. And that's my statement of faith.

POM     Let's stop at Richmond and the UDM for a moment. On the one hand one can say that the UDM has demonstrated legitimate support at least in so far as polls show that it has, it's already at about 5% in the polls which is larger than the DP and the PAC and some other parties put together. Bantu Holomisa articulates policy which is almost classical ANC policy of help the downtrodden, the poor, the this, the that, the other. Two things, one, they don't qualify for funding because of the way the law is set up, that only parties within parliament qualify.

FC     I'm not sure that that law is finalised. I don't think so.

POM     OK, so that's a question mark.

FC     It's a debate, it's a bill which is coming. I don't think there will be an intention to disadvantage anybody.

POM     The second one I suppose I find more serious, and maybe you can help me here, is that they say we and the ANC, since we appear to be the protagonists in this conflict, should sit down and talk together and try to find a common way out and the ANC says no way are we going to talk to you, all we would do would be to legitimise you as a political party and we've no intention of doing that. Now the ANC and the IFP were engaged in a war for years where the ANC went out of its way to talk to the IFP. And I remember one of the things that President Mandela, when the Irish were over here last year at Arniston, that he hammered at them, waving again and again and again, was that you negotiate with your enemy not with your friend.

FC     Have you asked them? Have you gone to Richmond to ask them the question?

POM     I will go down there.

FC     I think that's where you should ask the question because it's not a national question in terms of what the policy of the ANC is. You are dealing with Richmond as a place where there has been lots of pain there in terms of what the miscarriage of justice is all about. There is a miscarriage of justice there.

POM     That's between the release or the acquittal of Sifiso?

FC     The non-conviction of the murderers in that particular place which has to do with the involvement of police and former informers of the apartheid police and everybody else who is involved there. And so if you have a concentrated situation like that and you kill my brother, because it's close, it's proximity, it's not a general theory and say talk to me, if you don't talk to me I will kill another one again. So you talk to me and then it becomes - that's our time, it's OK.

POM     A number of people who are very sympathetic to the government have said that the problem is that it produced terrific white papers and green papers and yellow papers and orange papers but that when it comes to transferring what's on paper into implementing it on the ground that there's (a) a breakdown, and (b) that the government has a problem just as a government of making tough decisions, that it prefers to put tough decisions aside rather than to -

FC     Well the second part I wouldn't understand because I don't know what they mean. I think implementation makes sense for me. You've got good policies but there's no institutional structure on the ground and so you have to create the institutional structure and it takes ages for you to do that. And at the beginning the institutional structure you use is the old order because the government officials who were there were old order. That's why the government had to employ about 11,000 out of the 1.2 million to put new blood of 11,000 to try to do something about it. So I think the implementation challenge is the biggest challenge and it's capacity of people on the ground or if it's not capacity it's because people were not trained to do that. They were trained to control, if you read the Presidential Review Commission Report, they were trained to control rather than deliver and so you have to retrain them and introduce new blood and create capacity. So that's where we are at the present moment. I'm not sure about decision making because the government has made hard decisions. One of those hard decisions is the GEAR policy. You see what I mean? So I am not sure, I'm sure there might have been new examples. I don't know what examples of failure to make decisions, I really don't know what it is because the decisions are made. When you make policy it means you are making decisions. If the implementation, which means you need to create a machinery on the ground to do it -

POM     Even President Mandela has said that some of our comrades are now putting their hands in the dish and if one just looked today at the Cape Times it just gives a random survey, there's the Department of Education in KwaZulu/Natal, the avoiding of tax, it could go on and on. There has been an awful lot of what can only be called, I won't call it indigenous corruption, but corruption on the part of people who were members of the struggle which is separate from the apartheid corruption. Is corruption becoming a problem? As distinct from your efforts to weed it out is it becoming a problem?

FC     No it's not becoming a problem, it has been a problem. It's not a new thing. If you've got the police, if you've got the army, start from Basson, which manufactures Mandrax officially as an army and sells that or distributes it, if you've got Basson bribing his way through to Nigeria, to Europe, etc., to get chemical weapons and all that is allowed to happen, and you've got syndicates of criminals who are within the police force and the army, you cannot deal with ordinary crime and corruption because corruption is inherent in the system itself. If you report a crime and there's one policeman who follows up the crime, the other policemen deal with that policeman. They set up an ambush for you and you get killed in Soweto and the reports are that Soweto is terrible, it's crime, police are dying, when in fact the other policemen set up the ambush to kill a good policeman to make sure they continue with the corruption. So it's not a new thing and this is what we are dealing with now. The focus is to clean the police service and the army and then you can deal with this official. It's not difficult to deal with the official but if you don't have the police force that can deal with that particular issue then you've had it.

     I made a risky statement two weeks ago to say my assessment purely on reports of criminal syndicated crime, 25% of the people who get arrested are police. Anyone you pick on, not the fight in a family and somebody shoots somebody, but in terms of organised crime there are police there and it's not only police, there will be Home Affairs officials, there will be Customs. It's a well structured network and so if an official is bribed and you try to investigate that you get the same policemen to come and investigate that and that's where the miscarriage of justice comes in. That's where Richmond comes from. So for me it's not new corruption. The rottenness is there. It's how you deal with it. The warning I did make, of course, was to say to the President and the Deputy President in 1996, my concern is that the new lot will be corrupted by the old lot and two years down the line when you try to arrest people for corruption you will find the new lot there. Because if I am corrupt and you join me the best way to secure me, myself, is to corrupt you and that's because if I don't corrupt you, you will then be able to deal with me but if I compromise you it's finished and then you can't do much about it. So you are seeing that happening in a big way at the present moment but the focus, although we are dealing with corruption as corruption, the key issue is to clean the police because if you've done that you can deal with these officials, it's not difficult to do that. You need to do the last question because I have to go.

POM     The last question. Is the TRC working?

FC     Yes. It has worked better than I thought. We have known things that we would never know if we didn't go the route of the TRC.

POM     So you're getting truth but are you getting reconciliation?

FC     I think the truth is fundamental for me, it's fundamental even if you don't get reconciliation because that's the choice of the people who committed those crimes. But most of the people who committed those crimes would go for reconciliation as individuals, but we're talking about a system here. We needed the truth. If we didn't go the Truth Commission way we wouldn't know about these chemical weapons and therefore we would have been perpetually in danger. Now that you know, you know the characters, you know the people, you can deal with that issue and make sure it doesn't get repeated again. Whether they are reconciled with anybody is another question but the nation is better placed if it knows.

POM     Do you enjoy your job?

FC     Well it's not a job to be enjoyed, it's a job to be done. I'm convinced public service, it's a job to be done. The only payment you get is to be attacked. That's all that you can expect. There's never a thank you in the public service certainly. Everybody else is talking about public money and anything that you do, it doesn't matter how good it is, the next thing you get is being attacked, that's all.

POM     Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.