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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

21 Sep 1999: Hofmeyr, Willie

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POM     Willie, perhaps first you could just give a brief description of your transition from where you were to where you are and what you are doing now, how that fits into the scheme of things?

WH     Well I'm now head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions, which is a new unit, it's also a new office in general. Previously I was the Deputy President's Parliamentary Advisor. I enjoyed parliament, it was not that I had wanted to leave. My major interest in parliament has been around anti-crime legislation in the last few years, and I think to a large extent we had to put the legal framework in place to fight crime and that the major challenge that remained really was to start applying the new laws effectively and particularly with the new concepts in our law like asset forfeiture, the racketeering offences, money laundering offences that have been created, it's been, I think as the experience has been elsewhere, most prosecutors are fairly intimidated by fairly sophisticated new legislation and they just don't have the time to learn it and to get on top of it. So in fact those measures were being very little used and that's part of the reason why Bulalani Ngcuka, the National Director, decided to set up a specialist unit that would focus on asset forfeiture and potentially in the next few months we may well take on money laundering as well to ensure that what are fairly powerful new weapons are used effectively against crime. I'm finding the new work incredibly interesting and exciting and intellectually quite stimulating.

POM     Has there been a change in the structure of crime in the last ten years, a higher proportion that would be syndicate driven, national syndicates, international syndicates, a high proportion run by gangs?

WH     Yes certainly, I think almost all of the above. I think everywhere in the world there is a general trend towards syndicates becoming prevalent and organised crime becoming a greater force. I think here it was combined with the opening of the South African borders post-1994 and the huge increase in volumes of traffic in and out of the country.

POM     Traffic of?

WH     Normal tourism, business and people from all over the world coming in and out. I think in many cases the customs and other control mechanisms simply didn't keep pace with the growth of passengers coming in and out of the country. I think the generally greater trade and interaction with the rest of the world just meant that there were more opportunities for international – so I think a number of international syndicates moved into the country and I think brought with them a kind of sophistication that our justice system just was not used to at all. I think even internally that there's always been a fair amount of gang culture endemic in particular communities and a lot of the black communities, and I think there has been a trend for a lot of what were probably - a lot of the homicides in this country were mainly gangs fighting each other. I think that there has been a kind of effort to organise those gangs into larger groups, or at least what the larger syndicates provided was a market for cars or whatever other things they could steal. I think a lot of their activities have become more commercially driven in a sense, our local gangs have become more commercially driven now that they have opportunities to sell the goods that they steal more easily.

POM     Would there be a high level of infiltration by international syndicates or would the syndicates be mostly national?

WH     I would say mostly national but there is a significant presence of international syndicates here. The Nigerians are a big problem here, like I think they are in several parts of the United States as well. There are a number of Eastern European syndicates that have been traced that are operating here, they're people working with the Colombian drug cartels. I think the local drug dealers and so on have become much more caught up and are seeking alliances with the international players to an extent that they did not before.

POM     To what extent, since drugs in one way or another have dominated talk about crime in the USA for about the last 20 years, in one form or another drugs have always been the catch phrase, you don't read so much about drug trafficking here. You hear about instances of mandrax or whatever but how about drugs like cocaine or heroin, heroin as a point of entry, where it moves to other countries, are there areas where drug trafficking is becoming a much larger problem than it was in apartheid days? Drug use too?

WH     It is. Under apartheid there was a huge traffic of particularly mandrax into the country, that was the main hard drug being used here, so there were not significant amounts of heroin or cocaine or any of the other hard drugs coming into the country. That has increased significantly since 1994 but I think the other point you're asking is that there has been a big increase in South Africa being used just as a transit point, not necessarily for drugs to be consumed here, but drugs that come through here to other parts of the world.

POM     Does that also come under Bulelani's office, drug trafficking?

WH     To some extent.

POM     Money laundering, as you mentioned earlier?

WH     We're only beginning to look seriously at money laundering but his office is the first time there is a national office for the prosecution service in the country and part of what the legislation provided was for him to set up what are called investigating directives which is based on the task force concept, bringing together detectives, prosecutors, intelligence personnel, accountants, into a single investigating team and he's established a number of these investigating directorates. One existed before dealing with serious economic crimes, the new ones – there's one in Cape Town under Percy Sonn that is focusing on the terrorism and gang activity which is mainly drug activity in Cape Town, a second one focusing here in Johannesburg/Gauteng on car hijackings and a third one in KwaZulu/Natal focusing on political violence in KZN. It's been a relatively modest beginning but he was trying to do what is doable and focus on the key areas. Part of the idea of the Scorpions is really now to try and build on this task force model on a much larger scale, to start bringing in more people from the intelligence and police community into working under the direction of prosecutors and prosecution-driven investigations, and drug trafficking would be one of the crimes that would be a particular focus of the Scorpions along with serious violent crimes.

POM     Of all crime, say breaking into personal crime which I think accounts for about 34% of all crime in the country, say violent crimes associated with bank heists and the like and then syndicate crime or organised gang crime, what proportion of total crime do you think, broadly, within parameters, would organised crime now account for compared to pre-1994?

WH     It's difficult to say depending on what you define as organised crime. I think if one talks about syndicate crime, if one talks about crime that is really run like a business rather than a traditional gang that focuses only on drugs or cars or whatever, I think that in terms of serious syndicate crime it was probably (and I'm really guesstimating here because I don't think the kind of research has been done that enables one to say much about it) but I would say they probably accounted for something like 5% of crime. I would think that has now gone up to round about 15%, but that's really a guesstimate. It's difficult to say accurately because the majority of homicides in the country are still the result of gangs fighting each other for territory. It's related to organised crime and the fight for control of markets in particular areas but it's a fairly indirect link. Then a lot of your car hijackings and so on are people who are networked with really serious syndicate groups without necessarily being part of a Mafia hierarchy of a single structure, but most of your groups who do hijackings would do business only with specific syndicates but it's a looser structure than you would find in your traditional Mafia hierarchy. I think there's significantly more crime that happens because of the markets that are created by the existence of serious organised crime.

POM     In the last National Victims of Crime survey you had surprising results. One was that regardless of whether their households had experienced any type of crime, 38% of respondents said they were satisfied with police performance in their neighbourhood but over 40% said they were dissatisfied. Also the survey showed that a plurality, 42% thought the police had been more effective just across all race groups, had been more effective prior to the elections in 1994 than subsequent to 1994. Why do you think that even though the SAPS will say crime has stabilised in 19 of the 20 major categories, why do people still think that the police are so ineffective despite the reforms and the transformation that has gone on? You find talking to senior police officers that they are quite satisfied, in a sense, another word, maybe in quotations 'with the degree to which the transformation is taking place', yet less than half of all crimes are reported, 23% of those who are apprehended actually go to jail. For rape the figures are down to 16% even though it has tripled in the last four or five years in terms of numbers. If you commit a crime, if you commit a reported crime your chances of going to jail are between 5% and 8% so this study by the SAIRR, called Shackling the Crime Fighters, comes to the conclusion that crime indeed pays, the odds are with you all the way. Prosecutions are down and convictions are down even further. They've dropped something like 30% in the last four years. What's gone wrong? Where are the gridlocks in the system? How come you've got transformation and say we're transforming the system, there's a new attitude, it's consumer friendly and community friendly, and on the other hand the evidence would suggest that if you were contemplating a crime the chances of getting away with it are better now than they ever were?

WH     Well there are a number of answers and I don't think there are any easy answers. I think firstly that it is true that the criminal justice system has done relatively well in the transition given what the situation or the demands or the objective conditions around it were which are ones that you find in most transitions from an autocracy to a democracy. I think the fact that your criminal justice system had a high degree of illegitimacy in the eyes of the population, the fact that many of your police particularly were or are not particularly loyal to the new dispensation and are not highly motivated and some are actively disloyal, the third factor is that they simply lack the skills to deal with crime in a rights environment, or they lacked the skills. Something like 90% of convictions in our courts previously were obtained on the basis of people pleading guilty in courts and mainly because they had made confessions before they had come to court mainly because they had been coerced. So a rights culture, meaning that you now have to have policeman who can do proper detective work and prosecutors who can do proper prosecutions.

POM     You had mentioned before, when we talked last, about the shortage of investigative skills being one of the major impediments to (a) putting a case together that was ready for prosecution, and (b) the prosecutors themselves being inexperienced, not having had to deal with this kind of case before often failed to get convictions because of either shoddy police work or –

WH     Let me say something here. There's no evidence that the conviction rate in courts is down. It's pretty much around 70% of all people who are charged or go to trial are convicted. So conviction rates have remained relatively stable. What has gone down is the overall number of people who go to trial and therefore the overall number of convictions have gone down.

POM     This study says that the number of sentenced people has increased by 4% in the last several years, either 1993/94 or 1994/95, that while the prison population has increased dramatically with people awaiting trial. The actual number who have been sentenced has more or less remained constant.

WH     No that's not true. I think the average prison population was about 100,000 in 1994, relatively stable at that, of which about 20,000 were awaiting trial. I think the awaiting trial population has gone up from about 20,000 to 55,000.

POM     34% of - ?

WH     Yes, so that's gone up by more than 100% but the number of sentenced prisoners has gone up by at least 25% - 30%. I would be almost prepared to lay my head on a block.

POM     This study says, and I'm sure I can get the source for it, it says that: "Between 1991 and 1996 the number of prosecutions and convictions dropped by 40%. The number of crimes increased by 20%."

WH     That's not right.

POM     That's simply not right?

WH     I'm not sure what figures they used because there are simply no comparable figures between 1991 and 1996. The 1996 figures are for the whole of SA, all the pre-1994 figures are only for white SA. In 1994 they recalculated the crime figures at the end of the year to include all the former homelands. It is true that between 1987 and 1993 there is a huge increase in crime, murder goes up by 100%, armed robbery by 89%, rapes by 50%, but since 1994 the number of crimes has been relatively stable if you're comparing like with like.

POM     I'm looking for this source.

WH     I'm not saying they can't compare the figures but you can't just compare the figures like that.

POM     These are figures supplied by the Department of Correctional Services to the author.

WH     They can't say that the number of crimes have gone up by 20%, if that's what you said. Correctional Services have no idea what the number of crimes in the country is. I mean they can tell you the number of people in jail, which is probably what they're saying.

POM     So you're saying a lot of the data used in this study is made from projections when you include the homelands and prior to 1994?

WH     I've made a fairly intensive study of crime figures and there are no crime figures for the whole of the old – pre-1994 there are no crime figures that include the homelands, there just ain't. I think if you look at the old white SA crime figures, they go up rapidly. From 1987 they go up very rapidly to 1993, up to 1994 they also, if you look at those initial figures that were brought out for white SA, they're still increasing quite a lot. 1994 they bring in all the homelands figures and those are the things you now see quoted but those figures have been relatively stable ever since 1994, with the exception of rape which has a greater reporting factor than anything else. What is correct is that the number of convictions in the courts has gone down, there's no doubt about that, and there, because it's a relatively small number of courts in the country, you can actually track it by court and you can to some extent go back into pre-1994 figures. But the biggest drop is post-1994 when ultimately a rights democracy just means it's more difficult to put people in jail, it's just more difficult to put people in jail.

POM     What about the question, and we touched on it before in a peripheral kind of a way, of that in the situation where you had the homelands and the independent states you had a very low level of police competence and police efficiency.

WH     And prosecutorial –

POM     And prosecutorial skills or whatever, and that in white SA either people would not report crimes to the police or the police turned a blind eye to crimes or if crimes were reported they did nothing about it, so that the total volume of crimes may have a stable base of the total volume of crimes that were committed but now crimes committed in black areas, which hitherto were either dealt with by homeland governments or by the white police force, have to be dealt with in a different way, an entirely different set of procedures.

WH     I think that is true. It's not really possible to say categorically whether reporting rates of crime have increased but I think most people who have any experience of working in black townships or homelands before 1994 will tell you that reporting rates for crime were really appalling. It's very difficult to give any scientific explanation, there simply were no studies done pre-1994. One of the interesting things in my job, we did this productivity deal with the prosecutors, their salary now depends on certain objectively measured work factors and what it has enabled us to do for the first time is actually get a sense of how hard people are working in every court of the country, just from how many hours each court sits every day. It's become clear that there is a real crisis particularly in the old homeland areas.

     You may have seen while you were here that we sent the Ministers of Safety & Security and Police to Mdantsane outside East London, which is the second biggest black township in the country, largely because after our figures came out it showed that the court in Mdantsane was sitting an average of 15 minutes per day. There were days when there was not one prosecutor at that court. They came there drunk, I mean the situation was really appalling, it's now improved quite significantly. That sort of picture is replicated in a lot of the old homeland areas where people went into the prosecution and police service for fairly dubious reasons and where they've been part of a culture of simply not working and taking bribes. I think that is one part of it, that there are parts of the country where the system is really working very badly.

POM     They would have been protected under the sunset clauses, the manner in which re-incorporation took place. Can those people now simply be fired or if they were is there anybody there to replace them with? Are you stuck with a situation of having somebody who is pretty bad to lousy or nobody?

WH     I think that we're certainly moving on it. I think that Bulelani has taken a much more aggressive approach. You still can't just fire people, you still have to have a disciplinary enquiry and all those things, but we've now set up a special team who are actually dealing with people, we've got a large number of people suspended from duty but with outstanding disciplinary hearings, and we've set up a special team now to ensure that they are fired basically, plus building in some sort of incentives for working properly. I think we're fairly confident that one will start turning the system around. With prosecutors it's relatively easier because there are a large number of law graduates in the country who will end up being unemployed so provided you can get the old people fired, which isn't always easy in the civil service, it's not difficult to replace them, unlike other parts of the civil service where there may be a higher level of skill involved.

POM     Are you saying in a sense that the problem with regard to prosecutions and the decline in the rate of prosecutions is perhaps due to two things, (i) the quality of the prosecutors themselves who did little to no prosecution under the old system, and (ii) the quality of the police work, that it is either shoddy, cases are poorly prepared so that even if cases do go to court and there is a reasonably good prosecutor what he's handed is a case that can be thrown out on any number of grounds?

WH     I think the decline in prosecutions is largely because of the second factor and the reality is that when poor dockets get presented to the prosecutors they don't prosecute, they just say to the police, and that's where the huge increase has been, and the dockets returned to the police saying there isn't enough evidence in this docket to prosecute, which is why I was saying I think the figures that I've seen don't suggest any significant decrease in the rate of conviction. When somebody is put on trial and the trial runs there's about a 70% chance overall that they'll be found guilty. What has declined is the number of trials that start because the prosecutors will tell the police, they call it 'decision dockets', the number of dockets coming to prosecutors for a decision on whether to prosecute or not has been relatively stable but the number of dockets where they say 'yes we will prosecute now' is where the big decline has been. That's largely because of the lack of quality in the police investigation. I think there is a factor, a strong factor, that prosecutors don't have the skill; it's both that they need more skilful prosecutions in the rights environment but also just the simple volume, the amount of time to do one prosecution increases and it increases the pressure on the prosecutors because their numbers haven't increased.

POM     So would you have a situation of a person is arrested for a crime, is perhaps granted bail but can't afford it, so goes to jail as a waiting trial prisoner, spends a period of time in jail, the docket for his case is presented to the prosecution who look at it and say there's not a winnable case here, in which case the police have to go back and release the person who may have spent – how much time in jail?

WH     Normally not that long for those kind of cases actually. You will find some. In cases where they've returned the docket because of no decision the indications will be there from relatively early on. I'm not saying there isn't – one of the performance criteria for prosecutors is the number of people in jail with less than R1000 bail, that's one of the areas where they are supposed to be reducing the total number and part of their salary increase depends on that. But I think a large number of the increase in people without bail, I mean awaiting trial in prison, has been because of the much tougher bail laws. I think a lot of the people there have been refused bail whereas before they were fairly regularly given bail for quite serious crimes.

POM     The second problem, if you have more people in jail awaiting trial, about 34% as I mentioned, and on the other hand that you have the jails already overcrowded and I think there will be a shortage of something like 86,000 beds even given the current plans of the correctional system to increase the number of beds for prisoners by 86,000 by the year 2001, leads to just overcrowding of an untenable nature. I'm sure on overcrowding that someone is going to say it is unconstitutional.

WH     Well we will see, I don't think so. I've got a fairly hard attitude on that. I think as long as they're off the streets it's a good thing. No I don't think the Constitutional Court will think long and hard before it says overcrowding is unconstitutional.

POM     Four prisoners to a cell? Five?

WH     It's tough. Should the government stop building houses to build more cells so prisoners can be kept in more comfort than the population? I don't think the court will dare to say that, and it certainly won't order them to be released either.

POM     What about changes in the proportion?

WH     Let me just say that I think the prison building programme, I mean the prisons' budget has increased over the last four years more than any other department's budget. They've had 100% increase in about the last three years so I don't think any court is going to say that government isn't devoting enough resources to it.

POM     Yes. Regarding the allocation of police resources, there was the famous incident back in 1993 at the Gencor building between then President de Klerk and Mr Mandela where they had this kind of finger waving incident outside in Hollard Street, but one of the things that Mandela pointed out was that prior to 1994 80% of all police resources were concentrated in white areas and only 20% were in the townships. Has that imbalance been redressed significantly?

WH     Significantly but not nearly completely. There is still a vast disparity. I think the 80/20 figure was probably a bit over-simplified. I think 80% of police stations were located in white areas, that was one fairly crude measure that one can use. Obviously to look at the total resources it would be a more complex figure of seeing how many policemen were actually at the stations and what sort of vehicle and other resources they had. Overall it was probably a fairly accurate figure. I think most of the police stations built since 1994 have been in black areas but I would imagine you would probably find 66% or 70% of police stations still in white areas. You can't actually physically move buildings, they are there, but I would think that a greater proportion of the personnel are now devoted to policing in black areas than were before. I don't think one ever had a very accurate sense of what – there was not as concrete a figure as that before 1994.

POM     What rights does a policeman have with regard to where he is deployed? If I'm sitting in an office in Pretoria doing administrative work and enjoying a nice cushy life and I'm told one morning you're off to Soweto tomorrow and there's a beat for you out there, is there a process that must be gone through?

WH     No, civil servants have very little rights. That's one of the ways of getting rid of civil servants is by transferring them to a place where they don't want to be and then they resign. I think the transfer provisions are still fairly draconian in the civil service regulations, there's not much limitation on the ability to do it. Whether you want somebody who has been pushing a pen for 30 years to now go and be a frontline patrolman in a violent area I'm not sure, but you can do it if you want.

POM     Could the old system have worked had there not been such a high proportion of blacks in the lower ranks, the foot soldiers?

WH     I think it did, 20/30 years ago there weren't a lot of blacks in the lower ranks at all. I suppose they just ran out of manpower. I think they would have made it one way or the other and they would have recruited people as they did recruit people to do military service, they would just have conscripted white youths to go and work in the police force if they weren't able to recruit sufficient black people to do it.

POM     The fact still would be that a sufficient number of blacks voluntarily joined the police force and served as the foot soldiers of the state in the townships during the mid eighties when most of the violence was going on in the townships and if they had not been in the police force it would have been far more difficult for the state to sustain itself.

WH     It would have been more difficult, yes. It would have sustained itself, I don't have much doubt about that.

POM     I suppose the broader question is, to what extent were blacks complicit in their own oppression either by working for the state, by working for the agencies that administered apartheid, by being part of just the broad administrative structure that was needed to implement the many and varied apartheid laws?

WH     I think to some extent, and I think particularly in the late sixties, early seventies, there was a kind of – I mean after the liberation movements were crushed, there was a kind of compliance, it was kind of not really disapproved of or strongly disapproved of in communities when somebody went to work in the police or what was then the Bantu Affairs Department which enforced the Pass Laws and so on. I think from the 1976 student uprising and into the eighties there was quite strong mobilisation against people who were seen as collaborating with apartheid. While I think there was a tiny fraction of 2% or 3% or 4% of black people who were willing to actively collaborate with the system, I think the vast majority were very much against that. It's not always as simple a question as that.

POM     I suppose I'm saying in terms of absolute numbers if you take the white population, you take 4% or 5% of the black population that's equal to almost the total white population so that if you added it – put people together who were implementing apartheid, half were black and half were white?

WH     No not quite. There is that point. It got really refined in the homelands where it was only black people enforcing the system basically but it got refined, it was ultimately a system built hugely on patronage in the homelands and even in the cities, that those who were willing to work the system did very well for themselves materially and for those around them and in the homelands it apartheid was not that visible and the kind of system of patronage became a very attractive one. I think 20% to 30% of the people started supporting homeland leaders who were the dispensers of patronage and employment even though that meant the collaboration –

POM     I'm asking it in the context of is it a question that either in intellectual circles or whatever has been addressed or is it politically incorrect to do so in the same way as, say, I think it was Kofi Annan the other day, or somebody at the opening of the UN, who said that all those who had been involved in the slave trade, the nations should apologise to those countries and at least the US slave trade would not have worked if Africans had not taken other Africans actively hostage and delivered them to the ships waiting on the shore. That question is never brought up.

WH     That question was very much in the forefront of the political agenda of the late seventies and of the eighties. I think a huge part of what the democratic movement did was to mobilise people against collaboration with the system. I think one also must not under-estimate the sophistication, come the nineties and the unbanning of the ANC, that to quite an extent got superseded by the need to build as broad a front as possible against the NP who at that stage had a real dream of winning the elections on your model, 12% whites, 10% other minorities, that's 22%, one third of the black population who belong to these ultra-conservative very traditional services would all vote for us. So come the nineties the ANC had to say, are we now going to drive everybody who had collaborated with the system into supporting the NP, disown them, drive them into voting for the NP and make them a huge conservative force in the country, or do we try and win people back? I think the political choice made at that time was to try and win people back. That was very strongly Mandela's own viewpoint, that one needed to bring people together rather than to hammer on the divisions of the past, if you can make peace with the enemy you can make peace also with those who collaborated with the enemy.

     I think in the eighties it was very much – I just want to give you one illustration. I was very involved in the KTC and Crossroads violence in Cape Town and very typically the kind of scenario you had in these urban squatter camps would be the people who were squatting were either men coming in from the rural area, traditional conservative men coming into town for the first time, or it would be women and youth from the township who couldn't find housing easily in the township. So on the one hand you had these conservatives coming in from the rural areas and on the other hand you had the most progressive elements in the township, liberated women and youth leading the struggle, and a lot of the clashes around Cape Town were partly because of the tensions, these men coming from the rural areas said women have no say, they should know their place, the youth – we don't even think about them. On the other hand these people all thought they had rights. But the government managed to play off this social conservatism in an incredibly sophisticated way and actually managed to get people involved in war at the end, often just by killing a couple on each side and they both blame it on the other. In many of these scenarios you had physical violence breaking out and once you have traditional conservative men fighting with the police against comrades it's only one step away from them seeing the police as their friends and their government is helping them against these people who are coming to kill them and that's how they got very solid support in some of these squatter communities, Ngonyama and Crossroads, Khayelitsha, same thing in the Durban townships, some of the Jo'burg townships. This was all part of this low intensity warfare philosophy that essentially if you can get some of the black population to fight with you against another part of the black population they're likely to become your allies and your political allies in future.

POM     This would be part of winning the minds, the hearts?

WH     Hearts and minds so-called. It was a fairly brutal strategy but it was a very sophisticated one. I was six months in KTC trying to negotiate peace between two groups who ultimately all thought they supported the ANC but one was fighting with the police against the other. I think that one cannot just say these people worked with a system, or were with a system and therefore they could be condemned. There were people who voluntarily took employment and enjoyed their jobs and whatever but there were a lot of people – in every society there are people who just want to be policemen. There are white policemen who were decent policemen, they didn't want to be nasty or whatever, they just wanted to be policemen. Maybe just another thing to throw in, part of the initiatives within the liberation movement from 1986/87 was POPCRU, it was an initiative to actually organise black policemen into the liberation movement, so I think the ANC always had a more sophisticated strategy than simply saying everybody is bad, they're going to have nothing to do with them. It always had a strategy of trying to isolate the government to the maximum extent and to try and weaken its power in that way.

POM     Almost moving sideways, I don't know whether you've had the time or the inclination to read De Klerk's autobiography?

WH     No.

POM     Well it's a kind of, not an apology, certainly not that, it's a self-justification document whether it's an element of begrudgery that Mandela gets all the credit for the peaceful settlement while he gets none, in fact was tarnished as trying to actively encourage violence and make negotiations break down, and why would he do a thing like that? Why would he initiate negotiations in order that they should fail when he knew that only negotiations could succeed: it made no sense. So he thought he had been treated unfairly by his own people, in fact by everybody.

     But there's one incident that I have trouble seeing the logic behind and that is the breakdown of CODESA 2 in May of 1992, that the ANC accused De Klerk of wanting to bring it to an end and De Klerk accused the ANC of wanting to bring the agreement to an end. In some ways I can see why the ANC wanted to bring it to an end. There was then a kind of dissension within the militarists and the moderates and there was talk was about a sell-out going on, and those who were doing the negotiations were well ahead of the masses, they weren't that well organised in 1992. It would have been an ideal time, it would seem to be that going along the lines of what you said of the people that the NP had co-opted, and I know a man who was at the trial at Rivonia with Mandela, he's one of the 156 or so who for a year and a half referred to De Klerk as 'Comrade de Klerk'. So if De Klerk wanted to put this grand coalition together then his thing would be to have an election as quickly as possible while the ANC were still disorganised, while the exiles were coming back, re-acquainting themselves with the country. So the quicker he could have an election the more it would be in his interests; the longer he delayed the more opportunity he gave to the ANC to organise, get back together. Why would he want, in the middle of 1992, at that time, to delay elections when his popularity among black voters was probably at its zenith?

WH     Well I don't agree with your analysis, let me say why. My sense of what the NP strategy and how overt or covert, explicitly acknowledged or not, it was, as I suppose history will judge one day or we may know one day, but I think in 1989 with the Defiance Campaign, the internal democratic movement established remarkable hegemony within the country in terms of support. With Mandela coming out of prison there were these huge gatherings of popular and emotional support for him. I think the support and popularity of the ANC is at an absolute peak in 1990. I think their strategy was that they knew that was what was going to happen. What they wanted was time so that Mandela's image could become tarnished, that he could make mistakes, but I think at a more brutal level that the entire idea behind the third force violence was to build on that political strategy of the eighties, if they could have the IFP fighting the ANC, if they can have violence in communities, one side would be fighting with them, the other side they know would be against them, but one part of the black population that is fighting on their side would be –

POM     What part of the black population?

WH     If there is fighting they would be fighting on the side of one part of the black population and that part of the population would be with them politically. So I think it was partly that, I think that the violence disorganised the ANC. I mean the ANC had a wave of organisation in 1990. In Cape Town, all over, ANC branches were at their strongest in 1990, everybody was keen, new, enthusiastic and I think the violence, the third force strategy, was aimed specifically at making it almost impossible for people to organise politically. People were too scared to go out at night, organisation just collapsed in the areas where there was violence. I think it was also aimed at increasing the tensions in the ANC between those who were saying, "How can we lay down our arms?" The ANC came under huge internal pressure from people who wanted to take arms to defend themselves. So I think the whole notion for them was to buy time.

     The analysis I gave you, the whites, the coloureds and Indians, the Zion church, the socially conservative, the IFP, put that all together and you've got 50% of the population. So I think that the entire process, if there had been an election within a year, which was what most ANC people were expecting, the ANC would have walked it. I think the longer the negotiations dragged out without producing a result the more it increased tensions within the ANC, the more people felt, why are we in these negotiations, they're delivering nothing, the compromises would eat away at the legitimacy. You had the PAC attacking the ANC for selling out the struggle.

     My sense throughout was that they wanted to drag out the negotiations period as long as they possibly could. Combined with that I think that they had a real vision of power. When they entered negotiations they really thought that they could end up with a settlement that would be these power sharing notions of theirs, rotating presidents, equal power for the three largest parties in parliament which would give them and the IFP a majority in effect, I mean in cabinet, everywhere, equal power for the largest three parties. I think that's why CODESA 2 broke down ultimately. It was really about that issue whether there was going to be a democracy or there was going to be some entrenched system of sharing power like that. I think the breakthrough with the Record of Understanding, it ended up in arguments about what percentages you need to amend the constitution and so on but that was very much predicated on them having a notion that they were certain that they would have those percentages and would then be able to block any future amendments to the constitution.

     I think the breakthrough after the period of mass action and all that was ultimately when Roelf and them were persuaded that there's got to be a real democracy, that you could have protection for minorities but ultimately you've got to have some form of democracy. There were tensions but really at that stage there were no significant tensions in the ANC about the negotiations process. The time when those things peaked were around Chris Hani's assassination, I think that was the moment when there was some crisis in the liberation movement about a negotiated settlement, not even then I don't think a very major crisis, but certainly some crisis. But an early election was always in the favour of the ANC and I think they always knew that.

POM     So delay, delay, delay and siphon off the support of –

WH     I think what they miscalculated though is, at a public level and in the press, the third force violence did very much get portrayed as a tit-for-tat ANC/IFP battle and it devastated the ANC support amongst whites, coloureds and Indians from 1990 to 1993. But where they underestimated was among African people who lived the experience of the third force violence; they had no doubt about who was behind it. So while it disorganised people politically it made the IFP, which was their huge potential ally, into the most unpopular organisation in the country. IDASA or somebody ran a series of polls in the early nineties where they were measuring the friendliness or hostility to political parties on a scale of plus three to minus three. Buthelezi and the IFP from 1990 to 1993 sank to a level where they were hated more than the AWB. So I think they underestimated really, they thought that the violence would drive people away from the ANC. In fact by and large in the townships it consolidated the ANC support because there at least people could see first hand, or hear from people they knew, what was going on.

POM     So there would be no doubt in your mind or in the minds of other people who were engaged at any level in the process at the time, that the third force was a consciously designed element of government strategy approved at the highest level and that all NP ministers who sat at least on National Security Council meetings were aware that this strategy existed?

WH     I wouldn't put it that strongly. I certainly think it was a conscious strategy and I think, if what you were saying about De Klerk's thing is right, I don't think the third force strategy was aimed at derailing the negotiations process. It was designed to alter the balance of forces in the negotiations process, to strengthen their hand, to weaken the ANC's hand. They knew there had to be a negotiated settlement but what the terms of that settlement would be was the key factor. I don't think I can really put it more strongly than Mandela. I certainly think there was a conscious strategy involving the top echelons of the security forces, both in the police and in the military and whether De Klerk was a conscious part of that strategy or whether he simply was happy for it to happen, that I can't say, but I don't think they can say they didn't know it was happening. There was more than enough evidence and more than enough people telling them that it was happening. I think if there were politicians in the NP, and I think there probably were politicians who were part of the conceptualisation of the strategy, I think that would have been a small group. I think they would never have trusted – that is the way, it would have been a small group, not all the cabinet ministers or whatever, I wouldn't think more than one or two of them, but that's the way that the whole total onslaught strategy had worked throughout the eighties and I think it was just being adapted to new circumstances. I don't think one should caricature the positions.

     I find it difficult to judge De Klerk. I must say I think in many ways he was quite brave in what he did. He could have chosen to go on fighting. On the other hand I also think he could have come out of it a fairly great man and instead he put party, fairly narrow sectarian interests, foremost and I think he came out, as he said, not given much credit for what he did which I think the ANC and Mandela were more than prepared to give him in the beginning. Mandela was exceptionally generous to him but he lost trust in him at some stage.

POM     Did the fact that the ANC, for all virtual purposes, got two thirds of the vote in the 1999 election surprise you? Here you have a party that had to confront an economy that had deteriorated during its term of office, increased joblessness, increased crime, housing that had not been delivered, services that had not been delivered, in most democracies a party going into an election with that kind of a record behind it wouldn't fare very well and yet here it did better than it did in the first election.

WH     Again I don't think one should caricature the position. My prediction had been that the ANC would do slightly worse, it would lose about 1% or 2% of its support in the election. It mainly did better because of the opposition parties, because of the vociferous attacks they launched on the ANC. I think they drove all the doubters in the ANC back into the camp because it was just clear that they wanted to be no part of working together to try and solve SA's problems. So I think it was that factor rather than anything else that accounted for increased support. I had no doubt that the ANC would retain its basic support it won in 1994 because I think in fact it had virtually delivered on its housing promises, it had promised a million houses and got to about just under 900,000; the economy hadn't deteriorated, it had improved actually. In the five years before 1994 the economy had decreased in size but in the five years to 1999 it had increased by about 10% in size over those five years, although not with much job growth.

     So I don't think things were nearly as bad as the opposition parties tried to paint it. I think ordinary ANC, ordinary poor people I should say, had by and large found that the government had done more for them than it had ever done before and I think they simply didn't believe the opposition parties who told them that everything had been going wrong or that those parties could do better. I think part of that was also that the ANC in a sense is the only party who tried to sell the basics of the peace settlement, who said we've got to keep on trying to maintain the compromises that have been made. Part of those compromises does mean slow delivery to the poor, there's not going to be rapid redistribution of wealth from the rich to try and buy quick easy popularity.

POM     But if you had been a member of the ANC or a supporter of the ANC in 1994 and you had become disappointed, not disillusioned but disappointed, what other choice would you have had rather than vote for the ANC?

WH     Not much, I think that's the problem. The peace settlement in SA is very vulnerable to a left populist attack saying take more away from whites to give to blacks, which I think is basically what the PAC tended to say, and which I think is Holomisa's natural inclination, or on the other hand to say too much is being taken away from whites to give to blacks and less should be taken, which is what I think the white parties were basically saying. I think the white parties found a ready support in the minority communities for that kind of attack, right populist attack, I would call it, on the peace settlement. But it's not a kind of line that's likely to win them any support amongst the majority of the population. I think on the left the ANC had delivered enough to just make - left populists were disorganised enough, completely lacked credibility.

POM     You couldn't call the PAC a highly organised effective political machine.

WH     No, but you don't have to be a highly effective political machine if you do find some slogans that find a ready resonance among the population which is what they're trying to do. There was a period before 1994 when they were organising much bigger public meetings in Cape Town than the ANC was. Everybody was petrified suddenly and in the elections we won 95% of the African vote in Cape Town and they got 2% but they still had huge crowds coming to their meetings. I think their organisational capacity was there and they also had the benefit that their support was mainly an intellectual middle class support. They had very little support amongst the rural poor. I think their message just lacked credibility, I just don't think easy populist slogans of taking the farms away from the white farmers and giving them to blacks could sound very nice and attractive but I think the ANC managed to persuade people that it was simply not realistic, it was simply not going to work.

POM     Would you say that there were also maybe two other factors at work: one, that an ANC supporter who was sitting on the fence, I'll put it like that, perhaps considering voting for the PAC would know given the level of support for the PAC that he or she was going to vote for a loser and surveys show that people in such situations are more likely to vote for parties they think are going to be winners than parties that are going to be losers, so that would tilt them to the ANC side of the fence? Perhaps more importantly, do you not think that the NP and to a lesser extent the DP, but particularly the NP, for them to believe that four years after apartheid, four years after they had brutalised and oppressed black people for 40 years in a systematic legalised way, that blacks' disappointment with the ANC's failure to deliver or whatever would lead that person back to voting for his or her oppressor, that it's simply not on?

WH     I agree with you about that but I think to some extent the NP have started to move away from simply mobilising white fears and I think that's a positive mood that one needs to encourage. I think they have moved a bit more towards the Roelf line, if one may call it that, of saying let's try and work constructively with the majority party. Frankly that's the only way they're going to win support in black areas in future, not by trying to, by them or the DP or anybody else, telling people how bad the ANC is and how it's doing nothing for them. I think if they are going to win support in the black community it's by saying, no we want to work with the ANC, we want to build up the country, we want to repair the harm of apartheid but we have socially more conservative values: we don't believe in abortion, we don't believe in pornography, whatever, and women's liberation or whatever. I think if they are to have a future beyond just being a party of the minorities that is probably the way that they should go and it's probably better for SA than just mobilising white fears. So I think they are edging in that direction.

     I think Holomisa's party, the UDM, was to some extent the most credible alternative to the ANC for disillusioned or disappointed voters and that's where most of them went, but they were also caught in an uneasy compromise. I think Holomisa's instincts, as I said, are left populism, to say let the ANC really do what it should be doing and stop making too many compromises with the whites. He's a great populist essentially, but being in alliance with Roelf Meyer and the kind of white minority section of the party to some extent disarmed his main strength which would have been his left populist appeal so they never could quite work out whether they wanted to be implementing the real ANC policy or whether they're to the right of the ANC or to the left or where they are. I think in that sense they just fell a bit between two schools, but in the medium term I would still think they're the party with the best potential.

POM     What do the election results say about the Freedom Front and the IFP? Would it be a mistake to interpret the decline in support for the Freedom Front as a decline in Afrikaners' concern about cultural self-determination for example, to put it that way rather than the volkstaat which I don't think anyone realistically - ?

WH     I think it was partly that, I think their decline was a bit over-emphasised by the fact that the other far right parties were standing in the election, so you had the Afrikaner Eenheidsbeweging, I can't remember whether the Conservative Party stood or didn't stand, I think they did.

POM     It did, yes.

WH     I think to some extent they picked up voters from all the far right parties in 1994 and this time there were three parties contesting the election, so I don't think their decline was quite as marked as their decline in the vote was. I think that a lot of their support was driven by some of the exaggerated fears that people had of the ANC in 1994, I think the fact that the ANC has been willing or able to accommodate white people has taken away the rabid fears. It's not that there aren't fears any more, but the sort of exaggerated fears that drove support for the far right parties. I think there is still a lot of concern about Afrikaner cultural self-determination or whatever you call it and I think the ANC will continue to find some sort of way of accommodating that.

POM     I suppose my question is, would it be a mistake for the ANC to underestimate the incredible emotive potency that is attached to things like language, culture and how in the short term they may even appear to go away but that in the longer term they are still issues that re-emerge as they have re-emerged in other countries?

WH     I think the only reason why they have declined is because the ANC hasn't underestimated them, because I think it's taken them very seriously and I think Mbeki particularly does and I think he will continue to do so. So I think those things do have a potency, I don't think there's much danger of the ANC underestimating it.

POM     The IFP?

WH     The IFP is more difficult, well it's more easy in a sense. The polls have always been wrong about the IFP. Even the ANC's own polls pre-1994 showed probably 30%, 40% support for the ANC in the KZN rural areas and we spent a huge amount of money to try and get reliable figures because we didn't believe the other polls. We didn't go into the rural areas much anyway. That support has never translated into votes in the rural areas. I always thought the IFP support would decline slightly in this election, as it did, but I never thought it would be down at 5%, as the polls suggested that it would be, because the polls had just always underestimated, they've always only picked up about 50% to 60% of IFP support. So I think they will continue to remain an important force but they are a force mainly in the rural areas and I think it would increasingly become the deep rural areas.

POM     The rural areas of KZN?

WH     Yes.

POM     Does part of their potency come from holding this weapon of there could be a breakdown in the peace process in KZN and civil war breaking out there again, that peace in a way, that absolute peace in KZN would marginalise them far more, they would have no bargaining chip whatsoever?

WH     I'm not sure, I think they do reflect a real social strata that is a conservative, traditionalist, rural attitude, tradition. It is a diminishing one, we are a rapidly urbanising country so that social base is dissipating over time and I think that is what peace will mean. Peace may also mean that those people who tell pollsters that they support the ANC in the rural areas may feel free to vote for the ANC as well. I think that the kind of violence in KZN was very much seen by then in the eighties pretty much as what I described earlier as the government. In fact I think it was the prototype for the low intensity conflict strategies elsewhere and that is that if two communities are fighting, those on each side of the battle line have to support those who are fighting to protect them.  I think their view almost throughout the eighties and early nineties, I think the predominant IFP view was that armed conflict helped to keep their base intact. I think in the early eighties they thought they would wipe out the ANC in KZN altogether through armed conflict. I think their kind of prognosis, the hawks, if I may call them that in the IFP's prognosis, were just proved wrong. Throughout the eighties, and with all the support of the security forces, the sphere of influence of the ANC steadily increased in KZN and it wasn't because the ANC had more arms or more weaponry to bear on the situation but just because people became disillusioned with the IFP, those living in the war zones.

     So I think there has been a move to an emergence of, dominance, of the doves in the IFP who feel that in fact the conflict is harming their retention of their support, particularly now that they can't count on the security forces to be on their side any more and I think partly it is also because of the criminal justice system having started to show that it can bite, that there's not this immunity from prosecution any more in KZN. So I think the hawks have started to lose their dominance in the IFP. I can't say I'm an expert on the debates and why or what had happened but I think it is incredibly important that the doves have come to be in the ascendancy and I think the ANC has been prepared to make some quite big concessions to try and encourage that peace process. I don't think it's going to lead to a quicker dissipation of the IFP necessarily than armed conflict would have done, whether it would or wouldn't I'm not sure. They've lost support pretty fast through their strategy of armed conflict.

POM     Just in that regard, do you foresee a general amnesty?

WH     No.

POM     Or that there will be prosecutions that will arise out of the TRC?

WH     I think there will definitely be prosecutions but how many prosecutions is a matter for debate. I don't think too many. Sitting here, and there was a good article from Bulelani in the Weekend Argus a few weeks ago that would be worth you looking at.

POM     This is in the Cape Town paper?

WH     Yes, it's quite a long report by Adrian Hadland I think. Sitting here in the Prosecutions Office it's a question of how many of your best prosecutors and police investigators you put on to investigating things that happened ten years ago and how many you put on to fighting syndicates now. There are only a few of them and everyone you take off the one means less to deal with the other. So those are quite tough decisions and I think there will be some prosecutions because I think the point has to be made and there are some which are so blatant that you just cannot allow people to get away with it.

POM     Two stand out for me, one is that as damning as the report is of the IFP and of Buthelezi, which it throws the book at, and the other one is, of course, Winnie Mandela. Now given the political considerations, do you see under any circumstances, no matter what the evidence was, there being best evidence available, that a decision would be made to prosecute given what the likely political consequences might be?

WH     It's not really my field. My personal view would be that I think it would be extremely unlikely that Buthelezi would be prosecuted. I think the consequences for peace in KZN would just be too much. Winnie, I think – we'll see, she may well end up being prosecuted if the evidence is there.

POM     She may well end up being prosecuted? I know it's getting late and thank you for more than enough time. I know you have more work to do tonight, seize more assets.

WH     We're getting ready for a case tomorrow.

POM     You'll go to bed dreaming of how rich you would be if all these assets you are seizing were yours. What do you think will be the main difference between a Mbeki administration and a Mandela administration? I want to put that in the context of there appears to be a strong tendency now towards a concentration of power in the President's Office, power to appoint Premiers, the fact that the contract of Director Generals' line departments are with the President not with the ministers involved, the ANC's increasing role in civil and other organs of society? There was an article in The Sunday World this week talking about the Redeployment Committee getting key ANC people into different sectors so that they could report back, they call it part of their human resources management strategy. So you have an increasing concentration of power on the one hand within the President's office, you have total control of parliament, you have your two thirds, you can more or less do what you want as long as you don't tinker with the fundamentals of the constitution. What does all that say for creating an environment for the development of a multi-party system? What does it say about there being a slight trade-off that too much democracy, and democracy is a very messy and slow thing, stands a little bit in the way of getting the transformation on a faster track and what you need to do is get on a faster track and if little trade-offs must be made at the edges of democracy so be it, democracy is not an end in itself, it's a means to an end?

WH     No, I think democracy is the end. I don't think anybody would argue that in the ANC. I, myself, have supported the notion that the President's Office must have a much greater capacity than it had under Mandela. I don't think there is any other big modern state that runs like SA with the President's Office that was barely able to know what is going on in government. If you look at Britain or France or America or Germany, wherever, there has been a huge increase in their Chief Executive's Office because of the need to have some sort of coherence in government and for your Chief Executive to know what is happening in government. The days of being able to call in ministers and actually staying on top of what's happening in government by chatting to them or holding them to account through that have just gone. I think there was absolutely no interest factor in the presidency for the President to have any kind of accurate sense of how his ministers were performing, what was happening in their departments, were they doing a good job, bad job, were the policies they were adopting a good idea or a bad idea or whatever. I think that capacity needed to be strengthened and I think it's important that it should be.

     Overall I think Mbeki will be a lot more a hands on manager which I think is important. I think that there were vital aspects of government policy which lacked coherence and where departments were simply going in opposite directions, not necessarily opposite but different directions. I think that's important to do that and I think an important part of that is the question of ministerial accountability. To too large an extent ministers were just kings of their own empire and nobody held them to account for their performance at all. I think that's important that it should happen.  I don't think the DG's appointment is any great shakes, I think it's more to do with the fact that there have been a number of very competent DGs lost because they've squabbled with their ministers, or their ministers squabbled with them, and I think the notion now is that ministers should not have as absolute a say in simply dismissing people who may be doing a very good job because they can't get to agree with them, but also that it would create room for DGs to be moved to other departments if their differences with the ministers can't really be resolved. Ultimately it's still the ministers who make the appointment. They are the ones who interview the candidates and make the recommendations. It's not as though the President is actually able to do that but it's more to do with management.

     If one is saying that sort of decentralisation was more – it was probably more democratic, so I think if one is talking about a little bit less democracy around the edges, I would maybe say that's correct. Are you tampering with the essence of democracy or anything approaching the essence of democracy? I don't think so. In the States the President appoints God knows how many of the top officials directly, his cabinet ministers don't do that. In most other democracies, as I say, the Presidents or the Chief Executive's Office is a lot stronger than even now Mbeki's office is.

     I think the Redeployment Committee, again I think was a reaction to a bit of – you know in 1994 nobody knew who was going to go where in the ANC so everybody went into parliament. Nobody could guarantee me that I'm going to get a job in the Prosecution Service or a particular department or so. The result of that was that in many areas of the civil service, partly because the salaries were not good enough to attract competent black people, it was run by the old guard very often. So I think there has been some move from the ANC to say to some of its more competent people that this is where your area of expertise is and this is where we think you can be used best. I don't think that there's anything greatly harmful about it, I don't think it's necessarily a good long term practice. The fact of the matter is somebody like Gill Marcus probably would have ended up at the central bank or as an economist or something if we hadn't had a struggle here where she devoted her life to politics. I probably would have ended up in the Prosecution Service. So I think it's part of trying to normalise a situation where everybody just went into politics and into representative government which is not really the way countries are run, frankly. The influence of it is also a little bit over-emphasised. Everything that happens is now seen as the work of the Redeployment Committee or whatever.

     My move had nothing to do with the Redeployment Committee, in fact they were rather upset that I was leaving parliament because they thought I was playing an important role there and it was needed that I should stay there. I just said I think I'm needed more here and I came despite their reservations. I was told that I must go and tell them or write them a note to say I'm leaving parliament, but the fact that they didn't like it didn't really matter that much to me. I don't know, I suppose it could be used for more sinister purposes but I don't think what we've seen so far is anything more than a fairly normal process of a government trying to ensure that some of its top civil servants are somewhere in tune with its thinking, which I think most governments try and do.

POM     Last question, what is the most important issue that Mbeki has to address?

WH     It's difficult to say. My sense is that the most critical threat to the transition, to democracy in this country, is crime, so I think that is one of the key issues on which in the next five years there has to be some result. I think overall it probably is in terms of delivery and implementation. I think he just has to, and he knows, I think, that he has to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government dealing with everything that it's dealing with.

POM     Why would you not say AIDS? We just came from the conference in Lusaka last week, 22 million people on the continent have it, 11 million people have already died, last year it killed two million people compared to 200,000 people killed in all the wars in Africa, where there are 15 new infections a day in this country which has the highest rate of growth of infection of any country in the world, where it will reduce life expectancy to the mid-40s by the year 2010, where it will undermine the entire social fabric, the educational fabric, undermine the basis in fact on which the society is built unless it is addressed as though it were, and which it is, a plague? Why would that not come to your mind?

WH     Maybe it should have come to my mind but I think AIDS is certainly one of his priorities anyway. I'm not sure how much government can do to make a difference. I think ultimately the lessons from most of the African countries where it's reached epidemic proportions is that government interventions can make a big difference but they only started making a difference once many people started dying and people realised that it was serious. It's just a huge problem in traditionalist type societies with male attitudes. It's simply not possible to tell a man from the rural areas to wear a condom. You can tell him as many times as you want but he's just not going to do it, his wife isn't going to persuade him to do it and no law is going to persuade him to do it, if you can make a law that sends people to prison if they don't do it. All those public education and other type programmes start making a difference when his friends die from it, when he sees people doing it. I think we are in for a pretty rough ride on AIDS and I think government is taking it more and more seriously but how much difference that is going to make until many people die, I don't think it's going to make that big an impact. The problem is once many people die your infection rates are very, very high already. I think it is going to have a huge effect on certain parts of the economy.

     I don't know, countries like Uganda who have had a very good anti-AIDS programme have also had very high growth rates through the height of their AIDS epidemic, it's not devastated their economy and perhaps it doesn't devastate an economy where there are very high unemployment rates because even if many people die of employable age there are many others to take their jobs. I'm not an expert on AIDS, some of the things that I'm saying may not be making sense but I suppose what I'm saying is that I think that government action can make a difference but I don't think it's going to start making potentially a big difference until people in their actual lives experience things and bring the reality of it closer to home. I think that's been the experience in most African countries, even those with successful AIDS programmes like Uganda.

POM     Just as an anecdote, what was interesting in Zambia was that on the day the conference opened the Minister of Local Government died at the Morningside Clinic here and his body was flown back to Zambia and was met with military honours and … closed down and the body simply moved to his family and a quick burial and nothing was said and it emerged that he in fact had died from AIDS, which one didn't find out till one came back to SA. Rather than attending the AIDS conference which he (President Chiluba) was to have opened, and which he could have opened with a powerful statement of a minister in his government dying, that the best and the brightest are just as open to it as the poorest and the most ignorant, he chose to cover the matter up and not to attend the conference at all. Is that attitude among political leadership indicative of the kind of - ?

WH     I think that's a real problem and in countries like Zimbabwe as well. I think there is more openness about it in SA probably than in most African countries but I think it is a reflection of the kind of culture in traditional societies and I don't think one is going to change those sort of deep-seated cultural traditions and beliefs overnight. It's going to take a hell of an effort and, as I said, to some extent when people start seeing the consequences of their culture that they become more open, when they see the devastation that their culture is causing that they are going to become more open to education and to persuasion. I think that's a battle, I think one is going to see much more outspokenness by government and politicians on the issue of AIDS but I think there is already quite a lot of that in SA in fact. As I said I'm not very optimistic on the AIDS front, I think we're going to have to take the pain on the issue before people are going to learn.

POM     OK. Thank you ever so much for the time.

WH     It was really nice seeing you again.

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.