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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
07 Aug 2000: Davidson, Christo
POM Are you now still Major or Mr?
CD I retired as a Director in April 1999 from the Police Force after 30 years.
POM Maybe we could begin with you just telling me about yourself, your background, where you came from, went to school, your parents, how you ended up in the police and then we can take it from there.
CD OK. I was born in 1945 in the district of Springs. My father comes from a Scottish family and my grandfather and grandmother on my father's side came from Scotland. Two of my father's brothers and his one sister were born in Scotland. My father was born in SA in the district of Standerton. A few years after that my grandfather went and farmed in the old Northern Transvaal. He went to a farm school there. Later on my grandfather died when my father was very young, my father then went to the Marensky Agricultural School, as it was in those days. After that he went, he made Standard 8, then he went to work on the mine because there was no money to finance him for further schooling. He had to go and work and help make ends meet for the family, as all the people here in those days, it was 1933, the great depression and the rinderpest and all their cattle died, things like that. He worked on the mine and eventually married my mother who comes from an Afrikaans family. My father's language was Afrikaans at that stage. All the brothers and sisters turned Afrikaans. They only spoke Scottish, I only heard them speak Scottish to my grandmother although they were all fully bilingual.
POM Did they speak Gaelic?
CD Yes, yes.
POM Then we would nearly speak the same language since the language of the Irish is Gaelic too. The Gaelic in Ireland and Scotland is very closely related.
CD When my father spoke to my grandmother he spoke Gaelic and also to his eldest brother. They used to speak Gaelic on many occasions but otherwise they would speak Afrikaans. We are three boys, I am the eldest. My father was a builder. He left the mines in 1937 and became a plasterer and he was that right up to the day of his death at the age of 65. He worked until the last day.
For primary school I attended a farm school between Springs and Delmas. High School I was in an Afrikaans school in Springs, matriculated in 1962. I worked for about six months at Sasol, the petrol from coal factory in Sasolburg, in the laboratories as a junior laboratory assistant but I didn't want to do that. In June 1964 I joined the police at Sasolburg and then I was at Welkom for a month before I went to the Police College. I started my training at the Police College in July 1963 and completed it in December 1963. Then I was sent to a place called Dannhauser, a small mining town, mining and agricultural town, between Newcastle and Dundee in Northern Natal. I was there for three years and there I did ordinary uniform sort of police work initially but I had an interest in investigation and soon I started with investigation of cases, elementary sort of cases but also more serious cases like murder on the mines. At Dannhauser we had a compound, as it was called during those days, later on hostels, with quite a number of black people from Transkei, Zulu people, some people from Malawi working on the mines. Especially over weekends we had quite a bit of faction fighting and fighting between them, also quite a number of murder cases over weekends. I attended to those, I investigated some of those with the help of the detectives at the station. It was a fairly small station but I came into touch with all aspects of policing work.
Then I was transferred to a place called Mqutu. I say a man can speak Zulu if he can speak Mqutu, then he can speak Zulu. OK, I was there for almost a year where I did everything. We were initially only two whites at this station, a white sergeant who was the Station Commander. I was a constable. Later on there came another white constable. Then there were some black members with the highest rank of sergeant. I had and still have an interest in the culture of the black people and I think especially at Dannhauser I tried to acquaint myself with the Zulu language. I can't speak it very well but I can make myself understood and I can understand the Zulu people to a great extent. I also have an interest in history. I think it's because of that I made a point to get acquainted with the customs of the Zulu people because I was working amongst the Zulu people. It was at Mqutu, which is real Zululand, gave me a better opportunity to get acquainted with the Zulu people there and I really enjoyed it. There I did everything from Station Commander's work to investigating, prosecuting.
1967, towards the end of 1967 I applied to be transferred to the Detective Branch. During those days you had to apply, you had to get the Divisional CID Officer, who was in Pietermaritzburg during those days. He came and did an interview with you and they screened you and then if they found you fit to go on a detective course you would be selected to go on a detective course, I was very glad about that. It was a highlight of my career at that stage. It was a three-month detective course. I went through it and then was appointed as a learner detective at Newcastle for 18 months and I successfully completed my training, my learner period, there and then I was appointed as a detective. It was actually six months, then they appoint you as a detective and then you can go and write 'Detective-Constable'. But anyhow I was promoted, I wrote the exams to sergeant and I was promoted to sergeant. I was transferred to Dundee where I stayed for three years and did general investigation as you have in the countryside, in the smaller stations, but I also concentrated on stock theft and at one stage I was in charge of a small stock theft unit for our whole district at that stage. But at that stage the stock theft unit didn't have the manpower and all the facilities that the stock theft units have now. It was myself and two black members, Malinga, Dlamini was the one.
I did general detective work there and then I wrote the exams to warrant officer in 1971 and at the end of 1971 I was recruited, approached by people from the Security Branch at Newcastle. The Security Branch had an office at Newcastle then. It was a new office. Usually they only had an office at Ladysmith. They approached me and asked if I would be interested in coming to the Security Branch. I think it was because of my interest in history and politics, so I said OK I think it will be interesting. I asked them what they were doing and so on and I said I think it will be OK. At that stage we had quite a number of people who had left the country, it was after the Rivonia trial. The Rivonia trial was in 1963 and during the Rivonia trial, it was just when I came into the police, I had an interest in it and I read all about it. So I thought it will be interesting. So OK, I was screened also, again screened my wife. I got married in 1969 to a girl from that Northern Natal area and I acquainted myself very well with the whole Northern Natal area, especially the history. I made myself part of Northern Natal. Still today when people ask me where I come from I say I'm from Northern Natal.
When I joined the Security Branch, at that stage we had quite a number of files on people who went into exile and we made enquiries at their parent's homes and so on: "Have you heard anything from your son? Have you received letters?" In many cases the parents would say yes there's a letter we got from our son, things like that. It was a fairly quiet and a casual sort of job. There was one place called Maria Ratschets, it's a mission station on the farm Boshoek, it's between Glencoe and Ladysmith, actually in the Wasbank district, that's the main little township there. The other day I think in the Getaway or Garden & Home there was quite an article on it because Maria Ratschets was established by some German missionaries many years ago and they produce some wine there and things like that. But anywhere there were people in Maria Ratschets, Neil Alcock and Creina Alcock, they did some, not actually missionary work, amongst the black people of the area, but they tried communal farming.
POM What were the names again?
CD Neil and Creina Alcock.
POM I have a friend called David Alcock.
CD I can't remember.
POM I interviewed David Alcock who had a long great story about his parents.
CD I think it could be the same family. When Neil Alcock was killed, he was killed by blacks of the area because he sided himself with the one tribe there. Then there was a quarrel about the ownership of cattle and he accompanied the one tribe to go and speak to the other tribe to sort the matter out but the people saw him as siding with this one group and on his way back they were attacked and he was killed. Then what is tradition amongst the Zulus, he was buried in an ox skin, so he was buried there. Anyway, Maria Ratschets was about the most prominent place in our area, there were some Quaker students.
CD Neil Alcock. His wife was Creina Alcock.
POM I'm sure we're talking about the same person.
CD She was a tall, blonde woman. As I say, that Maria Ratschets farm was more or less the most prominent place in our district. Otherwise it was fairly quiet. We had the odd strike at a factory here or there but not much. Newcastle at that stage was a farming community, it was actually a nice comfortable type of job.
In 1973 I became an officer. I wrote exams and I became a lieutenant. In 1976 I was send to Ovamboland for some border duty there. At that stage I never had any training in border duties, I never had that training. In 1976 there was quite some infiltration of SWAPO insurgents from Angola into Ovamboland and the police decided to have interrogation squads and investigation squads, groups to vet every company, these companies that went up, units, groups that went up, and to question the people that came across. Our group, I went there at the end of March 1976 and I stayed there until the middle of July. So our group was the first group to arrive, a group of policemen interviewing and interrogating captured SWAPO terrorists. I was in charge of that, I was a lieutenant. I had a few warrant officers for me because people came from all over, we were seven in total doing interrogation. Then whenever people were captured outside and they would bring them to us and we would question them and see if we could get some especially operational information from them about the movements of the SWAPO terrorist groups. That went fine.
I enjoyed it because it was something new, it was interesting to me, it was a totally new environment to me but I enjoyed it. I was never involved in any contacts there or anything. I had a sort of sheltered position although I went out a few times to question somebody and then I gathered information about terrorist camps being here and there. We went out with a group of soldiers and some of our people to go and see if we could locate these places. We located some of the places where they stayed but that was after the people had left. I spent a few night in the veldt and I had the experience of being in the terrorist area but I was never involved in a gun battle or anything.
POM How did you get the people that you would capture to talk?
CD We questioned them. We sat with them and said, "Listen you've been arrested now, you are here now, the best way is to co-operate with us because if you're not going to co-operate we're going to keep you here for ever", because there was a regulation in Ovamboland at that stage, I can't remember the number of the regulation, but you could keep a man there sort of indefinitely.
POM Detain him indefinitely?
CD Yes, you could almost detain him indefinitely. So from my experience as a detective it's always better to get somebody's co-operation than to get into conflict with him because if you get his co-operation he might talk, he might give you some information. But there were cases where people refused and we used a bit of third degree, not very much but we did use a bit of third degree. It's a fact.
At the end of that I came back here, back to Newcastle. At the end of that year I bought my discharge from the police. The main reason for it I resigned from the police. At that stage if you want to resign you couldn't just resign, you have to buy your discharge and say I want to leave the police now and I must pay a certain amount of money to leave. I was independent for 3½ years then. The salary was low, I had three kids at that stage, but that was not the main reason because I really liked the police. The Commander we had at Newcastle, I don't want to speak bad about the man, he's dead today, I have no ill feelings about him, I sorted that out long ago, but he was actually the cause for me resigning. We didn't get along at all, he also didn't get along with the other people. I was second in charge, he was in charge and I was second in charge. There was something that he was involved in, nothing to do with the work, some personal thing that he was involved in, no illegal thing as far as the work is concerned but in his own private life, which he thought I knew but I really didn't know what was going on but he thought I knew and he actually gave myself and some of the other guys really a hard time. I just thought that I'm still young, I'm not going to tolerate this nonsense and I'm going to look for something else.
I went to the municipality at Newcastle, I did a training course there as a computer programmer. I didn't like that very much because it was in an office and I'm not an office man. I want to be outside. Then a friend of mine was working with KwaZulu Finance & Investment Corporation. In the olden days it was called Bantu Investment Corporation, they were involved in establishing businesses and industries and housing in the homelands, in our case especially in Natal, in the Zululand area. So they offered me a job as commercial advisor. It was a new field for me and I thought well now I'm going to give it a go. I started there as a learner commercial advisor, that was in 1977. In 1981 I ended up as acting regional manager there. I really enjoyed it, I worked amongst the Zulu people.
The Mqutu area was again my area, they allocated it to me, and I enjoyed working there but I came to a stage, I'm not a graduate, during the time I was working for the Investment Corporation I started B.Com. I didn't finish it, I had children at school and I was very involved in the community and the church and with the schools and things like that.
POM Where were you living at the time?
CD At Newcastle, still at Newcastle. So I realised that, and they also said to me, look you've reached your limit here, unless you get a degree there is no promotion for you. And all the time I never really broke my ties with the police. I was always interested and inquisitive of what's going on, although I never frequented the police stations but I had my few friends in the police. Then towards the end of 1981 I thought I would go back because at that stage the security situation started to change a bit and things became more active on the Security Branch side. I was taking more interest.
Perhaps I'm taking long but I want to give you my whole story.
POM No, no, take your time.
CD At the end of 1981 another friend of mine was working for Sanlam, the insurance people, and I said to him, "Listen, I'm going back to the police. I've reached a climax, my limits here with the Investment Corporation, I enjoyed it, it was really nice but I want to go back to the police, I think there's a better career future for me in the police than here." And he said, "Why don't you come to Sanlam? You can make a lot of money here." I thought, OK, I'll give it a go. If I don't make it I'm still young enough, I can go back to the police. I had a clean record and I knew I could go back to the police any day and because in those days they used to take people back who left. I was with Sanlam for 11 months. It was OK, I think I did some good business there. I was not one of the top insurance writers but I did some quality business. Even two years after I left Sanlam and I was back in the police people still contacted me and said, "Listen, I know you're not in Sanlam any more", because I was quite well known in these parts, "but some insurance man has made a proposal to me, what's your opinion?" So I tried to build good relations there. But in December 1982 I went back to the police because I wanted to go back. I left the police with the rank of lieutenant and they re-appointed me with the rank of lieutenant. I lost almost six years in service, OK.
I was then back in the Security Branch and then I was allocated trade union work and terrorist activity because it became more active. I was also sent on a VIP detection training course. At that stage Newcastle became a new division, they established a new police division there because the Iscor factory had been under construction and Newcastle exploded, from a town in 1968/69 of about 5000 whites, in 1982 you had 50,000 whites in Newcastle from about 5000 a mere ten years ago.
POM Newcastle was still part of not KwaZulu-Natal, but part of South Africa?
CD Yes. Newcastle was part of SA. The KwaZulu part, the KwaZulu area was just outside of Newcastle. You had a patch that was in Natal and then you had quite a number of patches - it was an area that was known to me, I've been in that area since 1963, I like the area, stayed at Newcastle and enjoyed it. I became then the Divisional Co-ordinator for VIP protection duties, so when ministers came to visit our area all the arrangements went through me. We had some officers in Vryheid and Empangeni and Eshowe and places like that but I was sort of the provincial head office, I was the co-ordinator.
POM Would that include ministers from the KwaZulu government, Buthelezi, his ministers?
CD Yes, if they came to visit in the white areas. I really enjoyed it. I got a lot of exposure to it and I met quite a number of people on a municipal level and I met politicians and things like that. I really enjoyed it. But the trade union movement was then
POM Did you also get to meet Buthelezi?
CD Yes, yes, on quite a number of occasions.
POM I've interviewed him about ten times so I'm interested in people's opinion of him.
CD I think it's a pity he's not a better speaker, he can't make a proper speech because you can never hear what he says. But I think he ruled Inkatha, he had Inkatha in his hands. You could speak to him, he was a gentle sort of man. I think he was very pragmatic. But on the other side I think he was a true Zulu in the sense that what he says should be done, but given his specific circumstances I think he was very pragmatic also. I think as a person, my experience of him it was not many times but I met him on quite a few occasions and because we were in Natal everything Buthelezi did had an effect on what we did. I'm not trying to be diplomatic now, as I say I think he used Inkatha because Inkatha was originally, the whole idea of Inkatha was a revival of a cultural organisation, but Buthelezi used it effectively to become a political organisation and I think perhaps one of the faults of Buthelezi as far as Inkatha is concerned was that they took it for granted that all the Zulus should be members of Inkatha. I think that was a fault, because they were not, all the Zulus were not loyal supporters and followers of Inkatha because it was Inkatha. I think he really tried to govern KwaZulu quite effectively, especially his view that if you don't work you can't eat. He was against strikes and labour unrest and things like that. He said people must work because he himself was quite a workaholic.
POM Still is.
CD Yes. And he's a man you could go to him and speak to him and make a joke with him. He's quite a pleasant person.
I was also involved trade unions, especially the bad side of the trade unions, the labour unrest and things like that. In the Newcastle area we established a body called the Northern Natal Industrial Relations Contact Group, it was among Iscor and the factory, the human relations people of those companies, all the bigger companies, came together and said we are all in this area, we have trade unions which are new, we have potential labour unrest, let's get our act together and see if we can't handle these things in a way that won't hurt our industries much. And I think the people in Northern Natal succeeded to a great extent. We from our side, from the Security Branch and myself, were involved in those things, addressing them, we attended all their meetings saying, this is what we encounter now, this is what the legislation is, I think you must look at this, you must look at that, all with the idea of getting labour.
POM You attended the meetings of?
CD The Northern Natal Industrial Relations Contract Group.
POM That didn't include the unions?
CD No, no, it did not include the unions.
POM At the same time would you infiltrate the unions?
CD Yes we had informants in the unions and we also we took liberty to go and speak to the union officials. We knew them on first name terms. I used to walk into their offices and say, "Mr , how do you do, pleased to meet you", and sometimes it got to their embarrassment but I believe if you work with people you must know people. We asked them on many occasions when there was a strike, "But why do you do this? Look at the people who take part in the strike, they're going to lose their jobs, they're going to lose money." Then they said, "Well first liberation then everything else." Everything can be sacrificed for liberation. But it was OK, it was interesting, it was something else.
I also became involved in the investigations, especially when the bombing started, we had a few bombings in our area.
POM Was that when the UDF started or before the UDF?
CD Before the UDF and afterwards. I also became involved in some of the investigations there especially in the rural areas I had also under my command, towards Ladysmith on the side of our area that we were policing where we also had a look at infiltration, ANC activities at that stage. Talking about the UDF, I think one of the biggest mistakes in our history was the 1984 election, the tricameral election. I said to our MP, he was of the NP in Newcastle at that stage, Mr Willie Schoeman, I said to him that I can't understand how they can justify the whole concept of the tricameral system because we are basically four race groupings in this country. It's the whites, it's the blacks, the coloureds and the Indians. The whites are here, they came from Europe but we are here to stay, that's a fact. The coloureds they are from the Cape, there's been some inbreeding and things like that but they are from the Cape, they are here to stay, you can't get rid of them. The same with the blacks, they are here, they are part of us. The Indians came in and although they are also here they came after the whites and are more or less in the same position as the whites perhaps, but I said, "How can you give the whites a position in government, give the coloureds a position in government, give the Indians a position in government but you don't give the blacks an equal position?" because they had all these other schemes for the blacks. I said to him, "Listen Willie, it can never work. This is a recipe for disaster." The politicians have a lot of stories and a lot of clever stories but as far as I'm concerned in my humble opinion I think 1984, that tricameral election was the biggest mistake that we've ever made in this country.
It went through, the UDF was formed thereafter and from there if you look at the history, you've studied it a lot, all our violent problems in this country have been started after 1984. Go and look at statistics, I've got a lot of statistics, but it escalated from there and reached a climax in 1989.
I was involved there at Newcastle, we had a few bombings. I was involved in some of the investigations there, people went to court. For a long time I was involved in the interrogation of people as a member of the investigating team mainly doing interrogation, questioning. We also had a case there in 1983 when three terrorists, people who came back, were arrested near Ficksburg in the Free State, they came from Lesotho on a mission near Ulundi. They were arrested at Ficksburg, subsequent to some information that an informer gave there.
POM Who were they?
CD The one is Mqalisa, Wiseman Mqalisa was the one man, the other one was Vinca and I've forgotten the other name. Eventually they investigation of their whole operation came to us at Newcastle. I did the questioning of Mqalisa. He also pointed out a bridge at Upington, he took us to Upington where some time ago they placed some limpet mines there to blow up the bridge because military equipment was transported over that bridge for the Ovambo operation. He pointed that out and he pointed some other things out, where he left a pistol, for argument's sake, at Paulpietersburg and some other places where they were involved in contacts with the police. The statement I took from him took me about 2½ months to take. It was 125 typed pages but he identified quite a number of people who were with him in training camps. I took his statements from the day that he can remember, his school career, his primary school, high school, how he was recruited by the ANC, how he left the country, where he received his training in Russia and Germany and when he came back he was in Angola, he was in the ANC camps there. He told me about Quatro and those type of things.
OK, there was a trial and he got 45 years. I can't remember the sentences of the others. One thing I will never forget about Mqalisa, he was very fond of rugby and our offices at Newcastle were across the street from the High School, we were on the 5th floor and if you looked out of my office window you could see the school rugby field and this period that I questioned him and I took his statement tied in with the school rugby season. So on Tuesdays and Thursdays he always asked me when it got to about one o'clock, he said to me, "Lieutenant, can I have a look at the rugby?" So I said OK. I was writing and questioning him and he was looking at the rugby. He was co-operating, he was telling his story.
POM Why do you think he was if he had gone into exile, gone to training someplace else, Tanzania, wherever, and then gone to Russia and been trained and then come back and gone to Angola and then infiltrated back into the country, got caught, why do you think he so easily became an informer?
CD He didn't actually become an informer because we charged him.
POM And he went to jail.
CD Yes he went to jail.
POM So he was betraying his colleagues, he was telling you their names?
CD He was not actually betraying people so much as he was, you could put it like that, he was saying because we had some photo albums of people in exile and we would show it to him and say, do you recognise this photo? Then he says yes, that photo is so-and-so. Where did you last see him? I saw him in a camp in Angola or I saw him in Tanzania or I saw him in Mozambique. He saw them here and he saw them there. That was the extent to which he went but he didn't say, that man, he was involved in such and such, he was involved in such and such. He identified them where he saw them last and quite a number of the people that we caught during those days did that. We had really thick statements from people doing that.
That was 1983. In 1987 we had some bombing incidents in Newcastle. I was involved in the investigation. We arrested some people there and we were fortunate to get good sentences against them.
POM Who were these again? People crossing, the ANC coming in?
CD Yes coming in from Swaziland. I was not the main investigator but I was involved in the investigation and I testified in court and so on. Then, oh yes, in 1983 also I'm jumping a bit.
POM It's OK.
CD In 1983 three terrorists came into the Paulpietersburg area, just north of Vryheid, between Vryheid and Swaziland, and we got information they were there. We launched an operation, I was involved in that and located them and very early one morning, about six o'clock, we were looking for them, following up, getting information from locals and that, and there was a shoot out with the three of them and they were all killed in the shoot out. I was nearly hit also because especially the one man was in a sort of a donga and was putting the AK with his hand on the top and swerving it like that and the bullets came past, I was lying very flat on the ground, myself and another colleague, and the bullets came through between us and the sand was in my eyes. But it's OK, I survived that. The three of them were killed.
When we arrested Mqalisa, when we did the Mqalisa investigation later on, he told us that those three that were killed there were when we did the Mqalisa investigation he told us that those three that were killed in Paulpietersburg came to take revenge on a certain farmer, Scheepers, farming in the Paulpietersburg area.
POM To take revenge on him?
CD Take revenge on him yes, because a few months earlier, about six or eight months prior to the shoot out we had with them two other insurgents came in and Scheepers picked them up one evening when he was driving from Vryheid to his farm, unknowing that they were ANC people, that they were trained people, but when they got off his bakkie he say that one of them had an AK47 and he went a bit further and he picked up his brother or somebody like that and he came back and he saw them again on the road and when they confronted, and Scheepers and this other chap confronted these two people that he had picked up earlier, a gun battle ensued and the two of them were killed by Scheepers and his brother. So these other three came in to take revenge on Scheepers because they were also in the vicinity of the Scheepers farm. So I think there was quite some substance to that.
In 1987 we also had some explosions in Newcastle. I was involved in some of those investigations. Then in 1988 there were quite a few sort of people's court murders in the Pietermaritzburg area, as they called it in those days, that were unsolved and it was a chaotic situation actually because the black residential areas were no-go areas, especially the rural areas. Then I was sent to Pietermaritzburg with a group of about 20 people in total, people from Security Branches across the country under my command and we were trying to sort those problems out, to get the body to a place and see if we could get some prosecution going. During those days it was also the time of the emergency regulations so we had quite enough powers to detain people.
POM Did you ever work with Jac Buchner?
CD Yes, yes.
POM I know Jac well.
CD That was in the time of Jac Buchner that I was there, a very fine gentleman.
POM I know him very well.
CD It was during his time. We tried to sort those murders out. I can't remember but there were over 100 bodies in the mortuaries that were not identified or they couldn't link them to crime scenes. We detained quite a number of people and we questioned people but there you had the situation that you get in an area, you get a group of people and they used to form because it was all under the banner of the UDF and there because there was a bit fight between the UDF and Inkatha, because the UDF was nothing other than the internal arm of the ANC. So you get a people's court or a group consisting of UDF members, they said so, and they would kill somebody. Now you have an incident, you have a body and there are ten people who were involved in the killing of this man. So then we tried to sort out but who actually killed him, but typical of the Zulus, that's how I came to know them across the years especially with the faction fights that I investigated when I was at Mqutu, you have a man there, he's dead, you have three wounds on him, for argument's sake.
CD Three stab wounds and ten people will come and say we killed him. We said that that is impossible, ten people couldn't have inflicted three wounds. They said, no but ten people have. So we realised from the beginning that it was a no-win situation. We wouldn't be able to really prosecute somebody but we detained a lot of people and also tried to restore peace to the area. What were the words they used? It's to stabilise and actually we tried to stabilise the communities. We detained a lot of people. It took a lot of people out and detained them which we thought were involved in all these murders. I think we succeeded because
POM People from the townships?
CD From the townships, yes. I think we succeeded in that because the number of killings decreased dramatically since we started detaining them. We were there for four months but no prosecutions really flowed from that and people were released again. There were some other actions to normalise the community.
I went back to Newcastle again. In 1990 I was sent to Durban again to try and get some information about the unrest in the townships at that stage which was very, very high. There was a lot of illegal gun-running and violence and things like that, and again I was given a number of people, I think we were about 10 15 people from Natal under my command working in KwaMashu, Pinetown area and Umlazi area, working with the local Security Branch people to get some information about illegal guns and who is responsible for the violence and that. OK that was in 1990 after the 2nd February speech. So the ANC was legalised now but fighting was rife. I was there also for about four months and we succeeded, we recruited some informers but we were not really very successful due to the tense situation between the ANC and the Inkatha groupings in the townships. We tried to build some relations and we tried to get some informers to assist the police, saying we have guns and things like that, and we got a few firearms.
Then I went back to Newcastle and about two to three weeks later in July the Vula arrests occurred. Then I was called back to Durban and then I was involved in the questioning of the detainees.
POM In Vula?
POM Were you involved in the questioning of Mac Maharaj?
CD A bit, yes, but mainly of Siphiwe Nyanda who is now Chief of the Defence Force. His parents were staying at Newcastle and it was easy for me to communicate with him because I had seen his father and mother and his wife and his kids about a week before the arrest. I didn't know about it, I was called down to Durban, to bring clothes for about a week or so, I had no idea what the hell was going on but when I came there they said you must question this man. So I enjoyed it, it was interesting, that Vula investigation was very, very interesting. I think they had a good operation. It was a Rivonia, a modern version of Rivonia, much more modern than the original Rivonia but the idea was the same. It was treason that they were busy with, but, OK, it was after 2 February. I was involved with that investigation until the end of the year.
POM Did you get the impression, because one of the people I've been interviewing over the years is Mac, and also the SADF General.
CD Siphiwe Nyanda.
POM When De Klerk, when you read his biography he says he confronted Mandela about Vula and Mandela really didn't know very much about what was going on, that it came as a surprise to him. Was this your opinion, deep underground?
CD It was very deep underground. The whole Vula was organised by Oliver Tambo. Oliver Tambo was the kingpin of Vula and he had Mac Maharaj and Ronnie Kasrils and Siphiwe Nyanda and Joe Slovo as his four operators. Mandela did not know anything about Vula, the other people knew much more about Vula than Mandela himself. In the Vula documents that we recovered from their computers there was one portion where Mandela stated that Kobie Coetsee was a soft negotiator because he had met Kobie Coetsee at that stage, but they had some very clever and some very the methods they used and the way they operated were very clandestine, very underground but it was also very revolutionary. If you read the articles they wrote on seizure of power and things like that, that the overt and the covert operations must be run simultaneously because they didn't trust the De Klerk government.
POM Where are these articles?
CD It's from the Vula documents.
POM Are they available any place?
CD I think it should be available. We had a lot of them. I don't know exactly what happened to everything. Some of it was submitted in court when Nyanda was charged initially. We submitted some of those documents to oppose bail but I think it should still be available. I can perhaps find out for you, especially to get some of those documents. As I say, they were clever but the contents of their documents were very revolutionary. They said that the armed struggle must continue, they must keep their armed struggle ready if necessary, if negotiations break down, to continue with it. I think at that stage also that they did not trust the De Klerk government but I think on both sides it was matter of we don't really trust each other, we don't know where we stand with each other, because they were enemies for many years. Politicians tend not to really listen to what people say to them, they make up their minds and they go along. If the politicians just listened I think we would have had a better country sooner, on both sides, on the ANC side as well as on the government side.
Then eventually, first of all Siphiwe Nyanda was charged. Kobie Coetsee did not believe what we were telling him what they were busy with. He said we must only charge Nyanda who had possession of illegal firearms and things like that, because at that stage there was a good working relationship between myself and Mr Nyanda. He's a clever man, if you look at the articles he wrote, and because I know his parents he comes from a good background, strict norms in their house. His father was a real gentleman, his mother also. I have great respect his father died, his mother is still alive. We came to a stage once, after some time, that we worked very well together. He said to me, "Listen, you've got everything, you've got the computers, you've got the documents from the computers, you have me, you have Maharaj, you've got everything. I'm Vula, I was Vula, I can just as well co-operate with you." The way he co-operated, we would get a document from the computer where they said for argument's sake that or they make arrangements for a pick-up at Boris. Obviously a code name. So I say, "What's a pick-up?" He says that's when we go and fetch arms. OK where's Boris? Boris is Botswana. So they had code names for Durban and Jo'burg. I think Jo'berg's code name was Jessie. When they spoke about meeting at the international airport they would say the airport at Jessie, meaning Jan Smuts Airport, nowadays the Johannesburg International Airport. It was very, very interesting. The Vula operation makes any James Bond story look like a fairytale. It was good.
Then when Nyanda appeared in court after we charged him, I served the indictment on him the night before he went to court and he was quite emotional about it. I think we had words amongst each other as humans, which I will remember till the day of my death. The next day he went to court and when he was in court there was a legal representative for him. They obviously applied for bail, we opposed bail and there was an advocate from the Office of the Attorney General who did the investigation with us from the beginning, to see that we keep on the right track. He also questioned him on the same documents opposing his bail as what I did during my questioning of Mr Nyanda. Then Nyanda admitted in court, he said yes he was a member of the ANC, he was a member of MK, he was a Commander of MK. He admitted to bringing in arms from Botswana and making use of cars with false petrol tanks and things like that, compartments in petrol tanks. Obviously bail was opposed. After the trial we went back to our office because we had to take him to the Westville Prison because up to that stage he was staying in a police cell all by himself with a bed and blankets and shower and three meals a day and all sorts of things like that, but then we had to take him to Westville Prison because from then on he had to stay in the prison, he couldn't stay in the police station any more. He said to me that evening, because I was sitting next to the prosecutor in court, myself and the main investigator who was a Colonel from Durban, De Vere, so he said to me, "Hey, Captain, why did you give me such a report?" I said, "But Siphiwe it was not myself, it was the prosecutor." He said, "No man, he was sitting next to him there. He was asking me the same things that you were asking me." He said, "You're making it difficult for me." But OK, that was the sort of thing.
After his testimony, in his bail application came out, then Kobie Coetsee and the government said now the other people must be charged and must be charged with treason. Of course I had also asked Mr Nyanda when I saw where it was going that he would only charge him, before his appearance, that he would only charge him for being in possession of illegal firearms and things like that, because that was what the government said we should charge him with that and get over with it and done. I said to him one day, "Have you ever thought of what we would charge you with?" Then he said, "Yes, you must charge me for treason because Vula is treason and I say I'm Vula." He was quite open about it. I think Mr Nyanda is a very proud man, he is not ashamed of what he did. He's proud, when he spoke in court he said, "I'm a Commander of uMkhonto weSizwe", you could see he was proud of what he did.
After that testimony Kobie Coetsee and the government said that we must charge all of them for treason, we must prepare our case. It was Mac Maharaj and we were trying to arrest Ronnie Kasrils, and Tshabalala was arrested and quite a number of people. Eventually, we were busy preparing it and eventually they said the whole case is withdrawn. That was a political decision. We still worked on the case for a few weeks to tie ends up and things like that but that was the end of Vula and that was the end of the Vula investigation.
So I went back to Newcastle but the whole Vula thing was very interesting. I went back to Newcastle, I was at Newcastle, then I became second in charge of the branch there at Newcastle because they amalgamated some of our divisions and so on. I became second in charge and then in about Aug 1991 I was at head office one day for some official work here in Pretoria and a friend of mine he was a detective many years ago with me at Dundee, he was then at head office and he said to me, "Listen, man, we have an investigation team here and we need somebody to assist us. We are doing some special investigations. Would you be interested in coming?" I was a major at that stage. We were three majors at Newcastle and I was the major there with the longest stay in Newcastle so I realised that the first to go would have been me, to be fair to the others. In Natal the logical place for me to go was Durban. I didn't want to go to Durban. My son was almost at the end of his school career and if I went to Durban and he wanted to go to university we would have to send him somewhere in Transvaal or Free State, it would have been very costly and money was always a problem, especially for a student. So this friend of mine said to me, "Wouldn't you like to come to Pretoria?" I said, "Ag, ja, I'm at Newcastle for 20 years. I think it will be a good thing." Rather Pretoria than Durban. I don't want to go to Durban. I worked there, I enjoyed working there but I don't want to stay in Durban, I don't like the climate, I don't like that at all. I never went to Durban for a holiday. I went further south or up north but never to Durban.
Then in September 1991 I was transferred from Newcastle to Pretoria Head Office, to the Special Investigation Unit as they called it that day. During those days there were many allegations in especially the Weekly Mail and Vrye Weekblad newspapers about police involvement in things. I was involved a bit in investigating those to see whether there was substance but then I think it was in October, I came here in September, I think it was October, end of September, beginning of October, there was an incident in Khayelitsha in the Cape where 22 taxis were set alight at a garage one evening. The newspaper report, it happened on a Saturday night, the newspaper reports the Sunday and the TV on the Sunday was that the police were involved, the police set the taxis alight because the press interviewed a young chappie at the garage there and he said the police were involved, the police set the taxis alight. So I was sent there with a colleague of mine and we went to investigate it. When we came to the Cape we said OK, the first thing we must get is we must get the tapes of the Police Radio Control Centre, tape recordings to hear what happened because we wanted to know what happened there. Policemen putting taxis alight, setting taxis alight is unacceptable, it's criminal. We succeeded in getting that, we listened to the tapes and we heard you could hear over the radio people talking. There was no indication of police involvement. Everybody was saying there are problems, you must come here, people are shooting at us, and so on. Eventually we traced, it took us more than a week, to trace that guy who the press spoke to who said the police were involved. I took his statement. It took me a day almost. I started about eight o'clock in the morning and I finished about half past eight in the evening, and I said to him, "Why do you say the police were involved? Why do you say the police did this?" And after careful questioning and so on it came out that he went there let me put it like this, in those days there were taxi problems in the Cape amongst the taxi groups.
POM There still are.
CD Still are and you will still have it for many years. So this one taxi organisation parked their taxis at a certain garage in Khayelitsha opposite the temporary police station there. There are flood lights and they regarded it as fairly safe. That specific evening it was raining and it was cold, as the Cape can be. This little guy who spoke to the press, he went to visit his friend who's a petrol attendant at the garage, they were drinking. That's now his story after we spoke to him. He said it was cold and it was getting late and they were a bit under the influence and both of them sat in the small cubicle on the driveway and they fell asleep. Then at some stage he was wakened by gunshots and some noises but he was too scared to see what was going on and then he saw also there were flames, it was a fire but he was scared and himself and his friend they sat down in the cubicle too scared to lift their heads. Then the gun fighting stopped but the fire was still there and as he got enough courage to look out he saw these police Casspir vehicles coming onto the driveway and there 22 taxis were on fire. So what came to his mind, the police were so quickly on the scene it must have been them. I said to him, "But did you see any policemen?" He said, "No. The gun fighting was over." After a while he looked up and then he saw the vehicles coming in and that corresponded with the versions that we had on the radio where the people in the temporary police station said over the radio, they screamed actually, in Afrikaans now because they were coloured people there, they said, "You must come quickly they are shooting at us. You must come, our bullets are finished. There are big problems. There's a fire at the garage." So they were hiding in the police station also, they didn't go out because the people were shooting at the police station, the people who put the taxis on fire. It was that chappie's perception that the police were involved because the police were the first people he saw there and then he thought the police were involved. It came out later that it was the other taxi group that was involved. No successful arrests were made but it was one of those things.
Then I was here and there involved in a thing and then in, when was Boipatong, 1992, we were doing some enquiries here, a bit here a bit there, and one morning on June 18 I walked into the office, I was busy writing a report on some investigation and General Gloy was our Commander then, himself was sitting there and Brigadier Langenhoven was sitting there and we were all in one group, and General Smit, actually I came into their office from my office. My office was some distance from their office. I came into their office, General Smit was sitting there and he asked me, he said, "What do you know about - ". OK, let me take you a bit back. After I came to Pretoria the Peace Accord was formulated and according to the Peace Accord the police had to set up an investigation unit investigating politically related violence. We formed then the head office of that. In each of the police areas, regions as they were called in those days, we had to appoint a co-ordinator for that region and all incidences of political violence had to be reported to him, he must get particulars, draw up a pro-forma form which we gave to them, they had to fill it in, they had to fax it through to us every morning. At the head office also we had a Joint Information Centre, everything that happened during the previous 24 hours was fed in there and we identified which incidents were politically related, which not, because the reports had to be sent to the peace monitors and things like that. It was after the Pretoria Minute and the Groote Schuur Minute. So every morning we were checking on the faxes that came through and if we got a report at head office during our morning meeting of an instance, say for argument's sake in Durban, and it was not reported by our co-ordinator as political violence, we would phone him and say we've picked up this incident last night in, say, Umlazi, I see it's not on your report. Then he would say sorry it's a mistake or he would say, "OK I attended to it but it was of a domestic nature or criminal nature, it was not of political nature." So we controlled that here at head office. Every day there were a lot of reports of violence right throughout the country and we co-ordinated.
POM All over the country?
CD All over the country we co-ordinated there and we had a good system at work, very good. When I walked into the office General Smit said to me, "What do you know about 39 people that were killed in Boipatong last night?" Boipatong, I know it's in the Vaal Triangle area. I said, "No, I don't know. I didn't see anything this morning in the reports." He said, "Don't you know anything about it?" I said, "I know nothing about it." He said, "Well listen, 39 people have been killed there last night. I want yourself, General Gloy and Langenhoven to go and investigate." I said, "OK but exactly where is Boipatong?" He said, "It's very near Vanderbijlpark." Right, let's go. He said to us we must go and see what's going on there because it's a hell of a balls up. The whole country is coming to a standstill because of this Boipatong thing. We had no idea of who were involved, nothing, when we left there.
We came there and we went to the police station, to the Reaction Unit as it was called in those days. They were the people patrolling the townships and things like that. We asked them what the hell is going on. Going out they caught us in a speed trap, I was doing something like 185 kms an hour. Anyway the traffic official let us go, we said we've got no time to play around, we're really serious. Anyway we came there, we couldn't get a clear picture of exactly what happened and we said but where are the bodies? They said in the mortuary in Sebokeng. So we went to Sebokeng and there were the bodies, 42 of them at that stage. I think two died in hospital there. But the mortuary was stacked with bodies, there were hundreds of bodies there. Some were lying on the floor, it was winter, it was very cold, because of the unrest and things. There were our Boipatong bodies lying and we had a look at these people and it was a shocking experience really to see those bodies. It was really shocking. Old people, women, children, even small children, babies. Myself and Langenhoven and General Gloy said this thing is serious. To investigate this the three of us were not enough, forget it. We went back, we tried to figure out what happened. What we could get was that people came into the
POM Did you go back to Boipatong?
CD We went back to the Operational Centre at Vereeniging. We said, "What happened?" The best we could get was that a lot of people came into the Boipatong area, they killed the people, police were involved, Casspir vehicles were involved. We asked, "But who? Which policemen attended to the scenes of crime?" Detectives were supposed to attend and in every area those co-ordinators that I told you about, who had to monitor the violence in their area, they had investigator teams. Whenever there is such an incident of unrest, of violence with political motives, those investigative teams were supposed to investigate that. We said, "But where are those people who were supposed to investigate it?" Eventually we got hold of the Commander who was a captain and he said, "Well I wasn't there, I only heard about it this morning." We said, right, let's go to Boipatong. He said, "But you can't go in, the roads are blocked, there are dongas in the roads, there are trees over the roads, stones. You can only go in with a Casspir." I said, "OK, the first thing that we must do, we must get photos of the area because if there are blockages in the road I want to see, I want to see whether it is true that the policemen say they couldn't go in and they can't go in because of the blocking." So we got a helicopter, I got into the helicopter with the pilot and the photographer. I said, "Take me to Boipatong. Show me where this happened and let's take aerial photos", and we took aerial photos of the whole area. The story was at that stage also that residents of KwaMadala Hostel were responsible for this with the police and the army. I said, "Right. Let's take aerial photos of the hostel", because you have the hostel there, there's a main road, Frikkie Meyer Boulevard, and there's Boipatong and there are some light industries." Aerial photos, I showed them, here, here, here. I told the photographer to take photos of the whole of Boipatong, the whole area.
Later on in the evening we went to the hospital, Sebokeng Hospital, myself, General Gloy and Langenhoven because there were people injured who had been taken into hospital. We said we wanted to interview them. The hospital staff was very hostile to us, very, very hostile. They refused us. They said you can't speak to them. We said to them, "We are policemen, we want to find out what happened."
POM Were the hospital staff black, white?
CD All black. We said, "We want to speak to these people, we want to know what happened.' It was about 11 or 12 o'clock that night but they allowed us access to some of the people. I took most of their names and everything and they just said to me, "People came into our house, they shot out at us, they chopped us with those long pangas, mutilated our houses and they killed us." I said, "But who are they?" They said, "The people from the hostel." I said, "But can you identify anybody?" No. We did not take statements from them then because the hospital staff said you're not going to take any statements. We came back about three o'clock in the morning we were back in Pretoria.
Early next morning I went to the office, my office in Pretoria, we reported quickly. Now during that day General Smit and some of the other head office people also arrived there, I think the Commissioner came, I can't remember, but there were a hell of a lot of people. Then there were headlines in the newspaper saying the police and army were involved. The negotiations came to a standstill, it was chaos. Then De Klerk said that there would be a complete investigation and he will appoint a commission. Prior to him saying that the police Generals said we must launch a full-scale comprehensive investigation to see what the hell was going there. They said to General Gloy, "You're in charge, you'll do this." Langenhoven was there but at that stage he was in the process of being transferred to Johannesburg, as CID head in Johannesburg. I was a major and they said to me you must head the investigation. I said OK.
POM So you were appointed by General van der Merwe?
CD I can't remember really. General Gloy was my immediate commander, then instructions came through him. I can't really remember. Anyway I was then appointed to head the investigation. De Klerk said there was going to be a commission. We realised we had to do a criminal investigation. Some senior criminal detectives were also appointed, Colonel Eager, Colonel Bafont(?) from Vereeniging, Eager was from Johannesburg, he was an outside that came in, I was an outsider. A commission of investigation was new, because the Harms Commission was the previous one, I had nothing to do with the Harms Commission. But I was told a commission you put everything on the table. What I did then, they drew people, policemen from across the Johannesburg/Pretoria area to assist us. We compiled a commission of investigation under my command. General Grové was the head of detectives then, sorry it was Le Roux, Grové was his second in charge. Le Roux was head man, Grové was his second in charge. Grové also came up to Boipatong.
We decided then that we have the criminal investigation team and the commission investigation team but we had to work together because statements that we obtain
POM Is the Goldstone ?
CD Yes, it was then announced that Goldstone will hold
POM Will do his commission.
CD Yes, his Commission of Enquiry. I was given the instruction to prepare documents for submission to the Goldstone Commission. Criminal Investigation were there, people in charge there were Eager - We consulted and we came to a working agreement that every morning we shared all the information we had, statements that we obtained we give them, the originals that we produce in the courts, statements that they obtain they would give us copies, they keep the originals for the criminal case, so that each of us would have everything that we obtain. We arranged teams of people, groups of people, three, four, to go and take statements from the inhabitants in Boipatong to determine what happened, from my side the commission investigation side as well as the criminal investigation side. We had a lot of problems. There were dongas in the road, there were obstructions on the road, there was intimidation. Intimidation was rife. If our people would go in the morning and move into a street to start because I said visit all the houses, visit every house and ask people if they know anything. They would go to a house and had to walk in many instances with armed people accompanying them because people were shooting at us. If you drive in Boipatong we tried our best. The moment we moved into a street you will see youngsters moving in and out of houses and that's the end of your information and statements for that day. Forget it, they've been intimidated. Why? Because Boipatong was mainly an ANC sort of area at that stage. So we had a lot of problems.
Dr Peter Waddington came there. I suppose you know about Peter Waddington, and two of his officials. Before I get to that, what I did then from my side heading the commission investigation, I took every allegation in the newspapers and in the media as an investigation on its own like the lights were switched off in Boipatong. I said, right, that's an investigation. You, go to the electrical engineers, go and find out whether the lights were switched off, go and find out what's the position with the lights, determine whether the lights were switched on, determine whether there was an increase in the use of electricity. The allegation that the ambulances were put on stand-by, I investigated that. Every little allegation in the media I investigated, I took as an investigation on its own to try to see what was going on.
In the process we also obtained information and statements from outsiders, people going to work that evening. (break in recording)
POM Can we pick up where we left off?
CD I said that I took every allegation in the newspaper and tracked everything. We really put some hours in. Some nights we worked right through the night to get things done. As I said, we obtained statements from complete outsiders who coming from the Vanderbijlpark residential area to the light industrial area adjacent to Boipatong, these people walking from the direction of the hostel, across the road in the direction of Boipatong. We also obtained statements from the same people and from others that at approximately an hour later they wanted to go back to work again and at that stage they saw a group of black people crossing from the direction of Boipatong to the direction of the KwaMadala Hostel. And the times we obtained in those statements were more or less the same time as the incident in Boipatong happened. It was clear to us that the people in the KwaMadala Hostel were responsible for this, that they were involved and they were responsible for it.
I can remember when we were at the mortuary that day that it happened, myself and Langenhoven discussed the matter when we were looking at those bodies and in my career as a policemen I have seen many dead people but this was really shocking. We said to each other if these allegations that policemen or army groups were involved we are going to nail them because to kill people like this is barbaric. I said to him, "If ever they are policemen, I will do my job here but then I will leave the police because I don't want to be part of a organisation where people do this."
POM My understanding is that Waddington was given the task to investigate the police's response on the night of the massacre, and your specific responsibilities were to investigate whether there had been police complicity, that your responsibility was to investigate whether police had been involved.
CD Yes, inter alia. My responsibility was to head the commission to investigate the matter and to put all the facts before the commission.
POM You were working for the commission?
CD No I didn't work I was working for the police but I had to submit the findings of my investigation to the commission, but in the same process we co-operated with the people in the criminal process who were doing the criminal investigation because it is also our duty as policemen to see that the people responsible for this get exposed. Yes, it is correct that anybody who was responsible for this would have been exposed in our investigation because it was our duty to expose everybody involved. But it was mammoth task.
In the same time, during those days, Dr Waddington came in and they wanted to know what was going on. They told us what they want, they wanted log sheets and a whole lot of things, actual reports and things like that. Oh yes, what we also did, I can't remember now how it was the day when we came there initially, I think sometime during that time a lot of things happened, it's quite a number of years ago, perhaps I can refresh my memory from my testimony. We said but OK, where are the tapes, the tape recordings of the Radio Control Centre, and the chap in charge there said, "We have it." I said, "Right, keep it, lock it, lock it, lock it. We need those tapes." I can't remember exactly -
POM These would be the recordings done at Vereeniging?
CD At Vereeniging at the Reaction Unit, that was the central radio station where they did recordings. Eventually we got hold of the tapes and we kept them. It was tapes like this that we were using. Dr Waddington came and he requested a lot of things from us. In the meantime we set up a sort of an operational investigation room at Vanderbijlpark Police Station. It's quite a big room, a sort of small hall that they gave to me, had a lot of tables in there, I had a group of investigators that were allocated to me. I managed the different investigations. We had a computer where we put everything on computer what we could put on computer at that stage. We put the aerial photographs on the wall, we had some maps of the area of Boipatong and we put that up, we identified the houses. We had a machine to play the tape recordings and I told one chap, "You listen to those tape recordings and you transcribe. You write it down. I want to see what's going on." I listened to some of it and then we realised that there was a problem with these tapes. Some you could hear, some were didn't make sense to me. It was as if the one thing was recorded over the other. I said, "OK, we'll sort that out", but we had to sort many things out and of course we were pressed for time. I think it was in about eight days time he said that he wanted to start his investigation.
When Dr Waddington and his people were there, there was a Chief Inspector or somebody, chap with the equivalent of about a Colonel I think, I forget his name now.
POM Tom Laidlaw or David Don?
CD I think it was Laidlaw. I said to him, it was on a Sunday afternoon, he was in our office in Vanderbijlpark and he was criticising, why didn't you get the statements? Why haven't you obtained more statements? Why didn't you do this? Why don't you do that? And I said to him, "Listen, we are co-operating and we try our best to give you everything that you want. We must do it, I've got no problem. I will give you everything you want. But we have problems, access to the area we can only go in with a Casspir or a Nyala Beetle. If we go in with anything else we are being shot at. If we go in with an ordinary police car they shoot at us. We have to be guarded by armed policemen all the time." I went to Boipatong myself, I visited the scenes, I walked in Boipatong, I visited the houses, everything. There was one story in the newspaper of a chap saying that he looked through a hole in the shack where he was staying, I think it was in the Slovo Park area, and he saw this policeman getting off the vehicle, the Casspir vehicle and shooting at people. So I went to that house, I said to that chap, "OK, you say you saw this, where is this hole?" because it was a corrugated iron shack, "Where is this hole through which you saw this policeman?" We were standing on the outside and he showed me a hole about the size of my finger in the corrugated iron wall on the outside. I said, "OK, I want to go inside." I wanted to see from the inside what he can see through that hole. I saw it was covered with old newspaper, as people do with shacks like that, newspaper, old newspaper. I said, "But you know it's covered this hole, it's pasted with newspaper pasted there." I said, "But listen, isn't there another because you can't see through this hole, this one is closed?" He said, no, he only put it on in the morning. You could see it had been there for quite a period of time. That's the type of thing we did on the ground to determine what happened there.
I said to Laidlaw, I said to him, "Listen, sir, just do me one favour, the only thing you do is you criticise and criticise and criticise. OK, you can criticise if you want to, I've got no problem with it, but please do me one favour, I'll arrange that you and Dr Waddington and that other chap, I'll arrange that you go out with one of my investigation teams to Boipatong when they try to take statements. Just see for yourself, just see for yourself what the position is, just see what the people encounter there. I'll also arrange that you go out with the Reaction Units on their normal patrols just to acquaint yourself with the situation on the ground." You know what Laidlaw's words were to me? He said, "Listen, Major, I would rather not do that." I will never forget them. He said, "Major, I would rather not do that because if I do it I may start to think like a South African policeman." I said, "OK. You don't want to go, we'll try to give you everything you want", and really we worked nights through to give them everything they wanted. There were tapes but something was wrong with the tapes.
POM When did you begin to look at the tapes?
CD It was during the course of - they never went with any of my people, they never went with any of the criminal investigation people. As far as I know they never went with any of the Reaction unit. They flew over the area, they never went in, on the ground.
POM The difference between the criminal investigation people, they would have been charged with doing what?
CD Obtaining statements of what happened.
POM And your people?
CD And gathering evidence. The same with my people, obtaining statements.
POM The criminal people were under?
POM Under Eager.
CD Under Eager, yes, but as I said we co-ordinated every morning and said yesterday we obtained two statements, there's the original statement, you can use it for your docket. They do the same. We obtained one statement and we obtained this piece of information, this piece of evidence, there's a copy for you, you can use it. We exchanged although my mission was commission orientated. I did this investigation as if it was criminal, I obtained everything.
POM Did you give this information to Waddington?
CD Yes, everything that we had.
POM And would Waddington give whatever he had to you?
CD He not that I can remember. I can remember Laidlaw saying what about this allegation in the newspaper and I said, OK I will take it and I'll investigate it. I think that was about what we got from them. As far as I can remember there is no information that I can think of that they gave us, like we have this information. The only thing they came to us with was information or allegations, not information, allegations that police and the army were involved. We had Dr Waddington in my operational room because myself and the criminal people were working from two different centres because of floor space. All the equipment and everything I had at my disposal but also at the disposal of the criminal investigation. Dr Waddington was there when he saw our TV screen and our computers and aerial photos and the tape recorder machine that we tried to replay the tapes on. We said that we are trying to sort that out.
POM So he knew that you were having trouble with the tapes?
CD Yes, I can't remember exactly what we told him but we told them that we are trying to sort the tapes out. I can't remember, like I said to him, "Look, you can't get anything from the tapes." I know he was there, we showed him and told him about trying to check the tapes out, something like that, but he was aware that we were looking through the tapes.
To give you another idea of what I did from my side, I was unknown to that area, it was the first time in my life to get to Boipatong. Initially I flew over it, I got a Casspir and I drove around Boipatong, that whole area, to acquaint myself with the circumstances. We also, during that Thursday, I said that all the people, all the policemen that were working that night I want to see them. I interviewed them. We also took possession of their shift sheets, the firearm registers, firearms booked out, the details, everything, we took possession of them. I said to them, "Listen, I want your version of what happened from the minute you went on to shift until the next morning six o'clock." I did it with the policeman working from the Reaction Unit because the people from the Reaction Unit office they were, it was their duty to patrol the black townships. The police stations in the white area, Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging, they did not go into there, in the black townships, because they didn't have armoured vehicles, they only had the normal police van, military van, and it was too dangerous for them to go in. It was only the Reaction people who were supposed to go in there.
POM So the Reaction policemen were based in?
CD In Vereeniging.
POM They were black and white?
CD Yes, black and white.
POM They would be the only people who would patrol?
CD Patrol that area, yes.
POM If there had been policemen involved they would have had to have been Reaction policemen? Policemen would not have been
CD Policemen from any place could come in there. But it was the official responsibility of the Reaction Unit to patrol the black townships and to pay attention to complaints received from those areas, not to mention that a few days before, the day before was Soweto Day which was normally a day of unrest during those days. But Boipatong itself was a small little town, I suppose you've been there, it's small. And apart from the instances of intimidation and I made a list of it, I can't remember exactly, but there were a few cases of intimidation but Boipatong was not regarded by the policemen in that area as a potential trouble spot. Sebokeng was a problem, Sharpeville was a bit of a problem but Boipatong and Bophelong, Bophelong is just a bit further down the road, everywhere was actually very quiet except for a few places like that, the intimidation and Inkatha members' houses being burnt down, but it was not really regarded as a trouble spot. It may sound strange but in those days if you have a township and you have one case of intimidation or one murder and you have another one where you have ten, then you concentrate on the one where you have ten and the list of priorities and this other one will be low on the priority list. Boipatong and Bophelong were low on the list of priorities. They had their people guarding the entrances, the ANC people guarding their entrances and checking people going in and out, intimidating them, things like that. For that time it was not - from the side of policing Boipatong was not high in the priorities.
POM You were saying on the scale of things that Boipatong didn't rate that it was a relatively quiet area.
CD Yes it was a relatively quiet area compared to other areas at that stage. We obtained some statements from the residents who were then staying in the hostel. OK, before we go further, we were there that Thursday, I think it was a Thursday morning that we went there. It happened Wednesday/Thursday night. From everything we gathered it was clear that the hostel people were responsible for this incident.
The following day we, Langenhoven and myself and some of the other police officers and detectives, we arranged that we go to the hostel and we search the hostel and we see what we can do. I can perhaps refresh my memory from my statements. We came there in the afternoon, or just midday, and the next day, I think it was the next day we arranged for a search of the hostel. But there were quite a number of people staying in the hostel. If I can just give you a bit of background to the hostel, it was an extraordinary place, a sort of Inkatha stronghold, OK call it a stronghold, but it was a sort of refugee camp for Inkatha people who were victimised in the surrounding areas and they came there.
KwaMadala Hostel was an old Iscor hostel, it was managed by Iscor but it was still Iscor buildings and things like that but it was not managed in the sense that Iscor had an administration office there and sort of saw to everything inside. They were sort of on their own the people there and there were women and children and everybody inside there. So we arranged for quite a number of policemen to go there and to go and do a proper search of each room in the hostel, every person in the hostel. We did our planning and we made lists for people when they get into a room to make a list of everybody in the room, to look for exhibits like weapons and blood and things like that. It was quite a large operation, I think it started about three o'clock in the afternoon. Initially it went fairly well. We came into the hostel, we had a plan of the hostel, we planned properly or as best as we could. Everything went well up to a certain stage when some of the investigator groups in the rooms started to get some reaction from the people. Some of the inhabitants were drunk at that stage and they gathered in the middle the hostel is sort of a round shape with a centre arena and also a centre area where people used to gather. People were drunk, some of them were drunk, and they came to myself and Langenhoven and some of the other officers standing in the centre having a watchful eye on everything and we even went into the rooms to see that everything was going according to what we told the people to do. During this operation the criminal investigation team and our commission of investigation were inside, plus some other policemen. Of course we gathered as many policemen as we could get. When they started to get aggressive, the people in the rooms also started to get aggressive and eventually we had to call our members back from the rooms because of fear of their lives, because they could be killed in the rooms and we wouldn't even know. So everybody gathered in the centre and it took us quite some time and a lot of nerves to stay calm there because the one chap said to us, "Listen you're not going to proceed with your investigation." I said to him, "Listen, you can do whatever you want. We are policemen, we are here to investigate this incident in Boipatong and whatever you do we will proceed with our investigation and we will continue." He said, "But we are going to kill you." I said, "OK, you see us here, kill us. There are other policemen outside so the best thing for you is to co-operate." If you look at the videos of what happened that evening it was a bit scary, it was life-taking, but we stayed, took our stand and we stayed and then in terms of the emergency regulations we declared that KwaMadala Hostel an emergency spot, I can't remember the exact wording, but we cordoned it off. We got an official proclamation in accordance with the law to cordon it off, got army people to cordon it off, nobody goes in or out. That was to the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants. But we were sure they were involved.
What we did was so that Iscor, because Iscor was the main employer of the people staying there, we tried to get a list from Iscor of all the inhabitants that they would know of. We also tried with Iscor to determine who of those inhabitants were working on shift during the period when the incident happened because we sorted it out at that stage that this incident happened more or less between eight thirty and nine thirty, ten o'clock, somewhere there. The whole thing took about an hour and a half. Iscor assisted us quite a lot in sorting people out, in sorting names out. We got some assistance from some of the other employers in the area but all these things happened in the space of about 48 hours. Now that was before Waddington came.
Then the following day we cordoned it off and the following morning we said, OK oh yes, the following morning very early about four o'clock we went in with a raid again, unannounced we went in again and we succeeded to get some pangas and assegais and things like that but we surprised them that morning and I think we did better than the previous day. Still we were not quite satisfied that we have everything. We had the place cordoned off. We tried to identify some people, we were trying to get some statements from the area. The next morning, four o'clock, we went in, it was winter, it was cold, it was bloody cold. When we came there at four o'clock everybody was outside gathered around a big fire, they were not in their rooms so the search was actually worthless because you must get a man in a room sleeping with a blanket or something like that, that he still perhaps has an assegai.
Anyway I myself built up a good relationship with a leader of the hostel, what was his name? I think it's Mbatha, I can't remember, I could be under correction. He was the sort of boss in the hostel. I said to him, "Listen, we want these people, we want their fingerprints", because we'd prepared a sort of a pro forma statement to determine alibis and things like that. It took a lot of talking and eventually we succeeded in getting a lot of them to the Vanderbijlpark Police Station where we took fingerprints, we took short statements. Then some of them walked back.
POM You got them from?
CD From the hostel. We said do this and do nothing. We said we're going to keep you under siege here until you co-operate. You co-operate or otherwise we keep these army people, you're not going out, nobody is coming in. They said OK they will give the people to us.
POM Did you transport them?
CD Yes we had the trucks at the gate, put them in the big trucks, took them to the police station, took their particulars, tried to sort them out and take them back to the hostel. One group walked back. They walked from the police station, they walked back from the police station, a whole group of them. They didn't run away.
Within 48 hours we had determined and made it clear for ourselves that the people from the hostel were responsible for the attack. That was eventually in the criminal trial, the observation we made and Judge Schmidt said be sure that it was the people from the hostel. We did that. Anyway then Waddington came. It was the first hearing of the Goldstone Commission, he had prepared a document for them, a submission for them. I can give you a copy of that, it's very comprehensive as far as we had it at that stage. Then the judge from India was also here and we had that first hearing in Pretoria. It started about ten o'clock. By two o'clock that afternoon everybody left with helicopters for Vanderbijlpark. Then I showed the judges, Judge Goldstone and his whole commission. After the hearing that morning in Pretoria I gave my submission.
POM This is after Waddington had arrived?
CD Yes, Waddington came that morning.
POM He came after you made your first submission or he came before?
CD When I made the submission he was there. He heard the submission the same time as the judge. Perhaps before we get to that, in the process of my investigation I also interviewed all the army people that were on duty that night. Eventually the army I got them all together. I said, "I want from each of you, from your commanders, I want a version of what happened that night, what your people did, where were they, what vehicles they were in, what ammunition, what arms they had and then where they were, what they say, everything they know." Then one of the army guys came and he said to me, and we took statements from every of the army people who worked that night in that area because the army people were only supposed to patrol on the outskirts because they also didn't have proper armoured vehicles like we had. They had ordinary bakkies with perspex sides, they called them fishtanks, the perspex sides could only prevent a stone. But they were only supposed to patrol on the outside and if they spotted some trouble they would report to their head office by radio who would contact the Police Reaction Unit and they would go in with the army personnel.
One of those army guys he spoke, he saw people crossing the street from KwaMadala to Boipatong, black people, and he saw they had AK47s with them. I said, "OK, if you see that then you must be prepared to go and testify in court, but let's go and test what you said to me." Well I've investigated quite a number of cases, people say things sometimes which the perception is perhaps not accurate and if it was so it would have supported our idea that the KwaMadala people were present because the other evidence that we had, the statements we obtained from the white people going to work, they only saw groups of people but they couldn't actually identify arms or something like that. So here we have a chappie saying he saw people with AK47s walking across there. So I said to him, "Where were you when you saw this?" He took us to a place near the garage at the corner. "Where were the people crossing that you say?" It's now daylight. He said it was down there. OK, I got one of my people, I think it was one of the Reaction Unit. I said, "Here's a radio, take a handset, you walk, you keep on walking." I said to this army guy, "You take this road, let this man walk." He was adamant. I said to this army guy, "So you've got this man, you must keep on walking until the place where you saw the people crossing the road." We let him walk, walk, walk and the place where he told me to stop was more or less the same spot as where the other people saw the groups. I said, "OK, what do you see now?" I think it was about 200 metres away, bright daylight. You could see there was a man standing but you couldn't see him clearly. I said to him, "Listen my friend, all I want to tell you, don't make up stories. Stay with the facts, don't make up a story. If you say people walking with rifles it's OK but you must remember you must go and testify in court. If we can get that it will be fine but you must go and testify in court." He said, no he thinks he made a mistake, he didn't actually really see it but he thought it was that.
That is the type of investigation we did. I wanted to clarify everything that everybody said, see if it was possible or whether it was a story because you have to rely on facts, you can't rely on stories.
The first submission was made, Judge Goldstone and the Indian Judge and other people went to Vanderbijlpark. I showed them my operational room and I showed them the tape machine that was standing there, everything else. They glanced around. Then the judge set another date for the proper commission hearing to start and then again we worked right through the night because then we had to accommodate Waddington and his people and try to the best of our ability. We obtained statements from everybody possible. In the meantime we detained something like I think 52 of the inhabitants of KwaMadala Hostel and the 17 that were eventually convicted of murder came from that group. Within about 48 hours
POM So those 52 were held without bail?
CD Yes, we kept them in prison whilst we investigated the case. But that investigation of that case was a massive task. A problem that we had, and Waddington criticised us for it, fair enough, was that we didn't secure the crime scenes properly. If you have normal circumstances to secure a crime scene it's easy but under circumstances like that now you can't put a guard, a policeman on guard at a house because there were something like forty houses damages, or sixty houses, I can't remember. You would have to put groups of people together. We just didn't have the manpower. Two policemen that were in Boipatong, Schlebusch and Schlebusch was in the one Casspir, and what's the other chappie, he was in the Nyala. When they started to pick up the bodies at first they didn't realise what was really going on because they didn't realise what the extent of this was. When the reports came in that there was trouble there, they went in, they were two people and they were first at one house, then they said people were here and they attacked us, and then other people ran to the Casspir and said people were at our house. They were there for 15 or 20 minutes or so before they realised that something really did happen here. I can elaborate on that but I think I must give you a copy of my submission that I made to the commission.
POM This is the first?
CD The first submission and the second submission. I spelt everything out in detail. Let's stop that there as far as that is concerned. Then during the second hearing when I was asked but what about tapes, did you have tape recorders? I said, "Yes."
POM This was on 12th August?
CD I can't remember. Then they asked me about the tape recorders and I said, "Yes, tape recordings were made." They said, "Did you make transcriptions?", I said, "No."
POM Transcriptions, no?
CD I think I'm correct, I said as far as I could remember we made as far as we could make anything out but I couldn't make transcriptions of everything because it appeared as if it has been recorded over, something like that. Judge Chaskalson was there and he really gave me a hard time.
POM He was representing the - ?
CD The ANC. Stating I didn't do my job, it wasn't important to me and I was trying to hide. I said to him, "I listened to the tapes and I realised that there was a big bugger up with the tapes." Afterwards when I read the transcript of my evidence there were many other things that I could have said. But I was standing there, I was investigating the case, I was trying to give the commission a version as true, as close to the real facts as I could get. They wanted to know from me why didn't Police Sergeant so-and-so do this, why didn't he do that? I said, "Don't ask me, ask him and he will come and testify." But it's one of those things. Then they asked me if we were prepared to make the tapes available. I was prepared to make them available but the tapes were in Pretoria at that stage in the steel cabinet. There was another chap, I think he was a major, he was one of the investigators of the commission, he was on the commission's investigation team. They said can we arrange that the tapes come here. I said, "No, you'll have to go and get it because I've got the key with me." They said, "OK but can you send somebody?" I said, "Yes, you can send Heslinga. I'll give the key to him and he can go and arrange to open the office and get the tapes." So he went to Pretoria, got the tapes and came back with them. The next morning it was given to the commission and the media reports were 'Police cover up'. Really I was trying my level best.
You know we're talking about something that happened eight years ago. I think especially the evidence I gave there, each one has a transcript to give you the picture what I gave at that stage. The tapes were handed to the commission. They said could they have machines on which they can listen to the tapes? I think there were only two or three machines in the country at that stage because it was fairly new equipment. We had our radio experts, because I tried to find out from them what the problem was. During my investigation, during that period, it came to us that you could record only on one side of those tapes, you couldn't switch it like you've switched this one now. You can only put it in on one side, record and then it's finished and you take it out. It's very technical, I'm not a radio technician but apparently there were four receiving heads in the machine and every time the radio is activated then it activates the machine and it starts rolling. You can hear I think it's four conversations that you can tape simultaneously, four heads. If this one goes off and the other three still run then it goes on. So you get a conversation on the one channel because it's divided into four channels, then at a stage number one conversation was stopped and number two will still continue, two will continue, then you have a blank space on one. Then one will be activated again and two will stop, three will stop, something like that. So you have conversation, you have clear spaces and conversation and clear spaces. But it's when the other recording heads are in operation, I'm trying to put it to you in common terms.
POM That's the only way I know them.
CD They way I understand it. What these people did
POM So you had four heads.
CD Yes, four heads on this small piece of tape. It's this one piece of tape running.
POM One head will come to an end because there's no more conversation on that, the information coming in on that head. Two, three and four will continue.
CD Yes, because the people
POM Are still talking and then two might come to an end because
CD Their conversation stopped.
POM Three will eventually come to an end and four will continue.
POM Say if one has come to an end but there's more conversation coming in?
CD On one?
POM Yes. What happens?
CD It will activate again.
POM Even though it came to an end it will go back to the beginning?
CD No, at the end of the tape, if it comes to the end of the tape the tape stops, then you must take it out and you must put a new tape in the machine.
POM If you don't do that?
CD If you take it out and you turn it, like you are doing on this machine, then you record over it, the pieces you have recorded already. That's why you get a confusion of conversation there. We couldn't understand what was going on because you would listen I listened to some of the tapes, you would listen to a tape and you will get a logical conversation and then all of a sudden it will switch to something else. I said I don't know what the hell is going on. Then this one chap from our radio section came in and we asked him. It was new equipment and it was the first time that we actually tried to listen to what's going on on the tapes. The people used it, used the normal tapes, they use it and when it comes to the end they turn it over and switch it on and when it's full they put it away. Then they take a new tape and run it and when it's full they change it and they put it away. It happened with all the tapes. I think that machine was in operation at that stage, speaking under correction, for two or three months. It was new equipment. That's why I said, you can read my testimony there, really I was vague about it, I wasn't exactly sure what was going on but really they gave me a cross-examination. Anyway, I had nothing to hide. I said you can have the tapes, take the tapes and if you can get something OK. I, however, managed to make some
CD Yes, what we could make out, we did some transcriptions from the tapes. The judge ruled that the best would be they send the tapes to England because they said we can go to the people who supplied the machine, they don't regard them as fit or capable or suitable because they had links with the army. It was only then at that stage that we called the Grinaker people in who supplied the machine, that they said, "But listen, you changed the tapes. You can't do it. These tapes can only be run once and you must take it out and put a new tape in." It's clear that was the problem, but the people never tried to listen to it before that day. The judge sent it to England, all the other people gave evidence. The judge conducted a few inspections in loco where people from the township made allegations of police involvement, seeing policemen getting out of Casspirs, shooting at people at night. Another thing it was winter, it was cold and it was with a dark moon. At that time of the year in a place like Boipatong you have a lot of smoke hanging over, a virtually wind free area, especially at night, you don't have wind. So you have smoke hanging there. In the nights after this incident we were in Boipatong ourselves and we saw that visibility was poor, poor, poor. We had inspections in loco and even the judge couldn't see what the people wanted him to see there. They said they saw people getting off, then we had Casspirs there to reconstruct the situation. You couldn't see what was going on, it was too dark. So in cross-examination all those people alleging that they saw policemen doing this and doing that, their evidence was actually destroyed in cross-examination.
POM This is in the commission?
CD In the commission, yes. They also came and testified in the criminal court which came much later but the same happened there. They could not convince the judge that they saw what they said they saw. A lot of other people came with allegations of police involvement and testified but if you look at their cross-examination it was clear that it was either fabricated stories or perceptions they had.
I think what happened there, or before we get to that let me just come back on that. When the tapes came back from England the report was that they could hear nothing on the tapes. I think the judge sent it to some experts in England, I can't remember. I think the report that came back was something like there was they couldn't get anything, there was a buzzing noise, something like that, I can't remember, but I know it. Now that machine runs at a speed of, I can't remember, say one eighth of normal recording speed and they tried to record it at normal recording speed. We said but they didn't ask us, the tapes were taken away from us, nobody asked us anything, now if you had just asked us we could have given you the technical specifications and you could listen to it. Then I said, "If there is nothing on those tapes now then the people doing the examination have erased it by error or something like that."
POM The people who were examining it?
POM Erased whatever was on it.
CD I said if there is nothing on it, it happened during their investigation because I made some transcription notes of it and I have these transcription notes. But that whole issue of the tape, when we told that to the commission I think it backfired a bit from the commission.
POM Let me just get that clear because to me that's one of the crucial things and I just want your comments on the media reports on what was said. This is from John Carlin, special to the Independent Newspapers, The Star: -
"The Police Officer investigating allegations that security forces had assisted hostel dwellers during the massacre in which at least 42 people died, told the Goldstone Commission that tape recordings of 13 hours of radio transmissions between police officers in the area recorded during and after the attack had been accidentally erased."
CD Yes, that's fine. Changing tapes, unloading of the -
POM That's because of the changeover?
CD The changeover of the tapes.
POM They were erasing them because?
CD Yes, because they didn't know they were not supposed to.
POM "And Major Christo Davidson said this was due to a technical problem which he was unable to explain."
CD Yes. At that stage it was, when I said that it was before we had the Grinaker people in who said you can't change the tapes, I said to them I can't explain why it happened like that, I'm not a technical man and it was only after the Grinaker people who supplied the equipment came and said, "Did you change tapes from the one side to the other?" Then the operator said "Yes,"
POM The Vereeniging people?
CD Yes the Vereeniging people. And when they said, "Yes we changed it", and then the supplier said, "But you can't do it."
POM The supplier said that?
CD The supplier said it, Grinaker people said you can't do it, you can only record on one side. But when I gave that testimony it was before we had that
POM But this was from the supplier of the equipment?
CD The supplier of the equipment.
POM It came from?
CD From Grinaker.
POM Which is the same place where the police station is?
CD No, Grinaker is an engineering firm, engineering group, electronic engineering group.
POM OK, so they had supplied the tapes to the police station?
CD Yes, the police bought it from them.
POM But had they instructed the police in how to use it?
CD There were instructions but the police didn't actually because they were using other equipment before, now this new equipment comes and they carry on using it. It's a pity this happened. I testified to this. I'm talking about 13 hours, where that 13 hours comes from, I made the statement about the 13 hours because this incident happened at about nine o'clock in the night. I said I want all tape recordings from six o'clock that evening until seven o'clock the next morning when the detectives started to come into the area, I want all those tape recordings. It was not only this, the tape recordings of this night that were erased. When we checked some of the other nights it was exactly the same. We had exactly the same problem on the other nights.
POM The other nights when you checked it out, the tapes, and that never came out did it?
CD I can't remember whether it did. I think if one goes through the whole script of my evidence it might be in there.
POM That's pretty crucial because that shows that it wasn't deliberate.
CD It was not deliberate.
POM The insinuation all along was that there was some manipulation of those 13 hours, they're the only 13 hours that ever got erased.
CD No, afterwards prior to that and after that, until we discovered what the problem was, it was exactly the same position.
POM to order the police to deliver the relevant tapes to the commission immediately. So was this the first time that Goldstone had been aware that there had been any problems with the tapes?
CD As far as I can remember, they asked me that question also.
POM I think you said earlier that you had shown him the recording equipment.
CD I said that's the recording equipment, we're trying to retrieve something from the tapes. I can't remember at that stage, that initial stage whether I said to him we have a problem. At that early stage we were trying to sort it out for ourselves, what the hell is going on on this tape and things were happening at a hell of a pace, every second there happened a hell of a lot of things.
POM That's OK.
CD What has come out in the document that I will give you, I tried to make a chronological list of events, virtually second by second of what happened that night, to cover the whole lot to see exactly when did the army do this, when did the police do this, where were the army at that stage. You will see it from that, I have a chronological layout of events that happened that night. Some of it I could get from the radio, others I got from books.
POM He said, "Earlier in his testimony Davidson had told the commission that security forces had not been involved in any way in the massacre." I suppose my question is going to be if you didn't know what was on the tapes how could you reach the categorical conclusion that the security forces had not been involved?
CD Because at that stage I already had the statements of all the people that worked that night. I had the log books of all the vehicles that we used. I had the occurrence books, the Radio Control Unit, Riot Unit from Vanderbijlpark Police Station, Vereeniging Police Station, from all those police stations. I had the occurrence books and I went through that, I had the duty lists of everybody that was involved on normal shifts that night. The allegations were that policemen in Casspirs were involved in the attacks. There was only one Casspir that night on duty in the Boipatong area, that was the Casspir of Schlebusch. I took statements from everybody. From all the evidence that I could get at that stage
POM I was only asking it because the feeling is that the incident in Khayelitsha, the immediate thing they had gone for were the radio tapes.
CD Yes it's exactly the same thing I wanted to do here. If we had the tapes, and I testified like that, if we had proper tapes it would have made my task as investigator of this much easier. Talking of Khayelitsha, I just want to mention it, the idea that I had about this whole thing and the allegation that police were involved is that it's exactly the same situation more or less as what we had at Khayelitsha. People were sleeping in their houses, nine, half past nine, it's dark. OK you have those floodlights but it's dark, there's a lot of smoke, the smoke is lying there so your visibility is poor. Now people come and rush into the house and attack people, it's chaos, it's dark and you can't see properly. People get out of the house, people who've been attacked are scared, they hide or they run outside and they hide somewhere else. As soon as things start to calm down, now they come forward and see what's going on, see what the damage is. And that is more or less the time when Schlebusch came with his Casspir and started attending to the complaints.
So it's from all those little parts I put together that I could say that I am sure there was no police involvement. If one looks back today, even if you look at the amnesty application that was submitted by the people found guilty, but they were found guilty and I testified to that in the criminal trial also. The finding of Judge Schmidt was that they did this on their own, there was no police involvement. Before the Truth Commission their submission was that we were involved because of political reasons. The police were not involved.
POM That's something I want to get to. I hope we can do another session.
CD Yes, I think so.
POM You want to run, your wife will kill you. Well she won't kill you
CD No, my daughter is on TV tonight.
POM Oh God, you should be gone. What programme is she on?
CD Two Way.
POM What time is it on at?
CD I think about half past eight.
POM You'd better get home.
CD OK, this whole Boipatong thing, you can talk -
POM We'll get through it because if you get the submissions.
CD There were allegations that De Kock was involved. Eugene de Kock denies that he was involved. The other day I spoke to a friend of mine who was also working on the same section as Eugene de Kock, the chap is a good friend of mine, I know him for a very long time, I know his father, and I said to him, now it's before I went to the commission hearing from the applicants, those people convicted. I said I'm doing this thing now, he's legal adviser to the army and asked me if I could assist him. I said "Please tell me, it's long ago now, people have been convicted already, if you were involved did you know of any reason that you were involved?" He said, "No, we were not involved. De Kock denies it." I'm convinced, if you look at everything, I had everything at my disposal, if you look at everything policemen were not involved. The allegations that policemen were transported in Casspirs. A Casspir, how long it would take from KwaMadala Hostel to Boipatong? All the evidence was that, outside evidence, that they saw people walking and shooting from the hostel to Boipatong. Independent witnesses saw people walking from the direction of Boipatong to KwaMadala Hostel. There was not one piece of evidence from the people involved there, the people saying they saw Casspirs, in cross-examination, but that doesn't come in the media, the cross-examination there were flaws. As I say, even with the inspection, when we stood next to Judge Goldstone and the man said to him, "I saw this and that", the judge looked at it and said, "I can't see what this man says he saw." That's one pity, it's really a great pity that Judge Goldstone did not make a finding on what was put before him. I realise why he didn't do it because the criminal case was still pending.
I think you've gone very deeply into it. I have a transcript of the criminal case which gives you everything.
POM That's your transcripts? If I read the whole transcript it will take me about
CD If one reads the finding of the judge, that's all you need.
POM Thank you ever so much. We were talking about the TRC report came out before.
CD The TRC Report came out before, a submission from the side of the defence force which I made, the legal representatives of the defence force requested me to assist them because the investigation I did was not only as far as police involvement, I wanted to determine who was involved and I investigated the police actions and I investigated the army investigations and the investigation I had was the only source his legal representatives could rely on. This report, the finding of the TRC on Boipatong came out a few months before we made our submission. When we made our submission, and my submission on behalf and where I assisted the legal representatives of the defence force and that was made and put to the commission to ask to cross-question me on that, not one single question was put to me. I did not even testify, it was just hammered in as a piece of paper. Nobody asked me one single question.
POM They had already published their findings?
CD That was after they had published their findings. So the version that I gave them is the only chronological version of what happened of all the police, all the security force actions that night, the version that I submitted, with all due respect, is the only chronological version they have at their disposal but they made their findings before they had this.
POM If you could provide me with that I'd appreciate it because I will take it to each one of the investigators and go through it line by line and then I will publish it in a book line by line.