About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

30 Oct 2001: Malan, Magnus

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POM     General, first of all the transcript. Have you had a chance to review it? You can give me the corrected version.

MM     I just scanned it. I looked through it. There are certain things, as far as the grammar is concerned there are a lot of problems.

POM     Oh don't worry about that. I will do all the editing.

MM     Hopefully you will send me again a copy from this interview. I must say it comes in very handy, thank you for it.

POM     But things like grammar and sentences, don't worry about I will take care of all that.

MM     Here on page 5 I said 'Cell C', it's actually 'Region 6'. I most probably said Cell C instead of Cell 6. It should be 'Region 6', of the CCB. I made a slip-up there I know it. I most probably said 'Cell 6'. So what I really said was that there are ten regions and that particular one the reference was to six, it's again Region 6 of the CCB and Region 6 was unauthorised operating in South Africa. I never knew about it.

POM     These were regions, were these geographically organised? And Region 6 would refer to?

MM     South Africa proper. The geographical area of the Republic of South Africa was Region 6. Are you with me?

POM     OK. And the other regions would refer to?

MM     Other areas.

POM     Like other countries?

MM     Yes.

POM     Like the frontline states and things like that?

MM     Yes most probably. I don't know, I can't offhand tell you how they were organised but they had ten regions. Of the ten nine were authorised and we said yes you can continue with them but you cannot continue with Region 6 before I give you authority for it. They did it without my knowledge and that's why I said I discovered this and I never knew about it. It's not a question of the CCB, I never knew about Region 6 being functioning or functioning at that stage and we had a couple of people in there that I think they made a hell of a slip up in recruiting them. That was the one thing.

     Page 9. I said I went to the Board. I couldn't give you the name of the Board. That board was named the Regional Services Council. They gave me the area, Alexandra.

     Then here's a bit of a slip-up on page 10 and I probably said what's written here, 'having children' it should be 'having schools that children can attend', something of that order. I'm saying there what the requirements are. I said you've got to have a roof over your head, you need a job, you need schools so that the children can go to school. I read it here – having children, that's not what I meant.

POM     It's having schools so that children can attend.

MM     Yes, their education. That's very important.  I think that was about all. Page 14 right at the bottom where it says 'they had a bit of a problem. It was between me and my colleague.' Leave that out. Ramaphosa. Maybe I should put in here a word that I left out on page 15, 'meetings are like a circus', should read 'public political meetings are like a circus'.

     I said to you – Brezhnev said it. He said it in 1977. I'm not sure, I said Somalia but I have an idea it was the Horn of Africa. I'm not sure where he said it but it was 1977.

     I think that's about all.

POM     I'll go back on my questions. There's a strange beginning, this book begins, The Days of the Generals:: -

     "On 20th October 1986 General Malan, then Minister of Defence, was woken by the telephone at his Waterkloof home around 6 am. When he picked up the phone the voice on the other end said, 'What the hell did you guys do?' It was Louis le Grange, Minister of Police. 'What do you mean?', Malan asked. 'Samora Machel has crashed in South Africa. He's dead', said Le Grange."

          Why would he have made that call?

MM     We were doing border control at that stage. We, the military. We were responsible for people crossing the border between Mozambique and Transvaal, or whatever they call it, Eastern Transvaal. This was close to the border and I assume that's the reason why he did it, he phoned me. He most probably phoned other people too but he phoned me in connection with that and he thought most probably that we've done something to the aircraft. I'm not sure whether I said he was dead, Samora Machel, but I know my first reaction was something else. My first reaction was what direction did the aircraft fly? Was it coming into SA or going out of SA, because this is very important. If it's coming into SA is he trying to escape from Mozambique or was it bad navigation or anything else, that he most probably came out of SA and was flying into Mozambique. That's an area where he shouldn't be. Can you see what was my reaction? I didn't know what the blazes was going on. Have we got a chap crossing the line? Then most probably he said he had an air crash or whatever it might have been. There were a lot of accusations at that stage, make no mistake, that we did it, the military, and that's why we appointed the international committee to investigate it with Judge Margo. He died the other day, about a year ago. He was the chairman but there were chaps from England, all people who were known in the aviation world and they served on it and they came out and they said we couldn't have done it. I have an idea in that book they explained –

POM     That's Days of the Generals?

MM     Yes, I'm not sure, I read that book ages ago so I can't for sure say what were the reasons they gave there. I can recall that I went to Durban a couple of years ago and I spent time at the airport, either coming back or waiting for people there, and I went into a bookshop and there I saw a book written by Judge Margo and I opened it and I read the story. He was a well known judge, an Honorary Colonel of one of the Air Force squadrons, served in World War 2 as a pilot, very well known in the aviation world as such. I read the book and the book was fascinating because he gave an idea of why we couldn't have done it. Apparently, according to what I can recall what he said in the book, there were three aircraft in the air when the President, ex-President Samora Machel's aircraft communicated with the airport. There was a tremendous storm there and, now this is his version of it, if we had a false beacon (because that's the accusation that we had a false beacon) in SA it would have attracted all three aircraft, not only one. You see that was the point and I agree with him fully. You can't have three aircraft and three different frequencies. It's all on the one frequency, so in other words if you're sending out a certain signal all three have got to pick it up. It's a question of you can't divert one and the other two land safely at Maputo.

POM     Why do you think the TRC is still pursuing this?

MM     They're not doing it.

POM     Is it just that they said they would do it and it's gone? It would be another international investigation?

MM     No, no, no, there won't be an investigation I can assure you. You don't say a thing and then, how many years later? That was in 1997, was it four years later, you haven't done anything about it. My information tells me the following, that the Samora Machel family doesn't believe the version of what we had, their story, their side of it, and they believe that we did it, especially the two sons and the wife too I believe to a certain extent. Now what else can you do? She's married to the Mr South Africa and I can see from his side he's very sympathetic about it and I don't blame him and I think that's why he said, "Well we'll investigate it", but as far as I know nothing is taking place. So I think it's just a question of it'll die down and it'll be left like this.

POM     When you read the TRC's report on the SADF, what were (a) your emotional response and (b) your principled response?

MM     On what?

POM     On the TRC report on the human rights violations by the SADF.

MM     I think what you should do if you ask me that question, you should read what I said to them when I voluntarily went to them to go and testify.

POM     I have a copy of that statement.

MM     That is the 7th May 1997, not the one in December, because there I went and I said this is my feeling about the whole situation, because it goes far deeper than the SA Defence Force. We were talking about the future of SA and I was saying there the reasons why things happened and I can assure you as far as the SADF is concerned there are very, very many applications for amnesty. There are a lot of accusations, there are a lot of perceptions created by, I won't blame the media, but by the media and by the TRC and therefore there are a lot of people that believe the wrong things. I mean prior to the TRC newspapers phoned me and asked me whether I'm going to stay in SA or whether I'm leaving. I said I'm staying here, I'll face the tune. There's nothing that I feel worried about. I went to Bishop Tutu and I said to him that I'd like to come and testify and I said there in my hearing, "I am here because I believe that reconciliation is the solution to SA, that I have nothing that I've got to confess. I've got nothing to confess." I said that. But I said there are a lot of people that could have been misled by me and by you, not TRC but the ANC leadership, and I used certain examples what they did, what they said, like the approval of the necklacing, like what I said, "We'll get you anywhere, we'll do everything", things to that effect I said in parliament and I said outside too. I said how you have a man on the ground, what do you think his interpretation might be of the military side? I might motivate him to do things on their side that might motivate them to throw another hand grenade into a restaurant or whatever it might be. I said. "I think what you should do, we cannot afford taking our leaders of this country", and I was referring to our present President and the 36 others, leaders of the ANC, "We can't take them to court and we can't ask them to come and confess here in public because if we do that it means that the whole world will know what type of actions they were involved in and what did they approve of and that's going to be detrimental to the country of SA as such and we cannot afford it as a country, so let's draw a line." Those were basically the kind of the words. Then I testified on chemical, biological, on the third force, so-called third force, and I think another one or two things. Those were the main accusations against the SADF. OK, I've done that.

POM     How were you treated when you were there? Did you feel that you were before a sceptical commission?

MM     Oh yes, oh yes, very sceptical with the exception of one or two of the commissioners that I caught flat-footed. But it was fine, there was nothing nasty about it. The Bishop was excellent. I saw him prior to it and asked him whether I can come and testify. He said, "Sure, you can come and testify." I had to do one thing, he called in his Vice-Chairman –

POM     Alex Boraine.

MM     Yes, and I said I refuse to talk in front of him. He's got to leave the room otherwise it's the end of this discussion.

POM     Why?

MM     He was on the other side, on the other political party, opposition to myself, so if that gets out to the defence force they wouldn't have accepted the TRC as a means of coming forward to come and testify because he was very critical about the defence force always.

POM     While he was in parliament?

MM     While he was in parliament. So I had to do it. Apart from that, and even when I did it, he was nasty and the Archbishop wasn't nasty. OK? So I was received well. They asked me questions. The lady that, I don't know her name, a very nice lady, Indian lady, she at the end asked me why did I come and testify. So I said, "I came here because I believe in reconciliation and there's a TV camera on me. I don't know how many million people will see it but I'm quite prepared to say it in front of TV cameras that this is the only solution that we can have in SA, it's reconciliation." Then she said, "What do you see? What should we do here?" I said, "You've got to start creating jobs and do things like that. You've got to determine priorities and so forth. You're spending money on things you shouldn't do." She said what do I mean by that? I said OK and I gave her the philosophy of if you buy or invest any armaments you've got to decide what is your objective and you buy frigates as you are buying now, I've got to interpret that you are preparing, because you can with those ships, to fight a war in India.

POM     These are the Corvettes are they, or are they something else?

MM     These are the frigates.

POM     These are the frigates, yes.

MM     So I said is that what you want to do? So she was – they liked it very much because I was blaming the government for spending money recklessly and I agree with it up to this minute, they did the wrong decision. I make no mistake about it, their priorities are something totally different. Their priorities are creating jobs and look after the poor people. That's what they've got to do, not spending these millions or billions in armaments.

POM     While on this question, as you look and I know one can interpret or answer this in any way and just call it the post-September 11th world, but in terms of conventional warfare are there any threats to SA that you see in the next ten years?

MM     I look at it differently to you. I would say first of all the government will have to reply to that question.

POM     But you personally, with your experience?

MM     What I say is that this world has changed tremendously since 1989. We had two major world powers, they couldn't do freely what they wanted to do. They had always to take into consideration what the other will do, if they should do this. Then all of a sudden there's a complete change, we've only got one major world power and that's the Americans whether we like it or not. Do we want to fight the Americans? We haven't got a hope in hell. So that's really, and I'm talking about southern Africa, I think, my personal opinion is that the only conventional threat that you can have is the Americans. America will never come here to do anything so you ignore it. Now if you have to determine this on a government level, and this is to me very important, a government needs a plan, what usually is called a 'national strategy', that's what they need. In your national strategy you should say certain things. You should say this is my defence force and these are the objectives that I see that the defence force, these are the tasks that the defence force will have to do. OK, that's one consideration.

     The second consideration is what is the threat? And you make an analysis of the threat, nationally and internationally, and your threat analysis should be done annually and you should do it in the short, medium and long term.

     Then thirdly, do you have the money, do you have the manpower and things like that, to fulfil in your plans. If you take that into consideration then you could say, yes, we've got to buy the aircraft, we need this, we need that.

     Now short and sweet from my side, the biggest waste of money we've ever had in SA is trying to build up a conventional navy and a conventional air force. A navy for what? To protect the Cape sea route? It's not important any more. It's important to the major world powers or to the countries like Europe. Why can't they do it? Why can't they supply the aircraft and the ships to do it, then we'll do it. It's not important to us. It's important to us to defend our territorial waters if you like, or fishing rights.

POM     I've got some questions on, just elaborations really on questions that I asked you, but you were a soldier, a professional soldier, and you were engaged in a number of wars. The MK saw itself, regarded itself as being an army with a command structure and whatever. While you were in Defence, head of the army or Chief of Staff of the whole shebang, did any of your troops have engagements, actual engagements with MK units?

MM     Special forces, yes. That's what we call the recces, the reconnaissance groups, special forces. Yes they had. Offhand, no. You see their policy on the other side was different from ours. Their policy was to hit soft targets not hard targets. That's why I say they're not a military force.

POM     They would say the direct opposite, that it wasn't until maybe  after the … conference that they began to get fuzzy on it but that before that the official policy was hard targets, that is policemen, army personnel, anyone wearing a uniform.

MM     But they never did. They did one attack on the training establishment we have here at Pretoria, it was called Roberts Heights and it was called Voortrekkerhoogte and now it's called Tswana something. They fired approximately five kms from it a kind of rocket. That was the sole attack on the military. They were going, after that conference, they got official approval going for soft targets. They were doing it in any case before that time. You see this is why I say they weren't a guerrilla force, they were terrorists. I'm not trying to be nasty about it and I spelt out what a terrorist is in front of the Truth Commission, it was one I referred to. I said to them that's why the ANC is terrorist because they were going for soft targets, in other words they weren't fighting the military. If they were fighting the military they were guerrillas.

MM     I defined terrorists there, 7th May 1997, I defined it, I used the same definitions as Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli. I did it in parliament and I did it in front of the Truth Commission to say this is why I say the ANC were terrorists.

POM     So as an army did you, or as the national defence force, did you see them in any sense as a military force trying to end apartheid in SA, enfranchise blacks, end forced removals, get rid of all the apartheid laws? What did you see them as trying to do? This organisation had existed since 1912, had a history, a tradition.

MM     Remember one thing, I said you can solve it only in the political arena and not the military arena. Now you asked me a question: how did I see it, how did I experience it in the military arena? I experienced their absence. We could have continued for ages and ages and ages with this war because it wasn't really a war, it was a one-sided thing. We had to track them down. They weren't prepared to fight against us. They were always running around outside the country, not inside SA. Later on they came in, planted mines, land mines and things to that effect but they never fought, not against the military. They were prepared to fight against the civilians. They were prepared to use hand grenades and bombs in restaurants, yes. In Sasol, yes, that's what they were doing, but that wasn't really a big threat.

POM     When Operation Vula came to light you were still Minister of Defence, that was in June of 1990 or May of 1990, was this one operation that took the military by surprise, that this operation had been going on from 1988 through 1989, that they had actually sent people like Mac Maharaj and Ronnie Kasrils?

MM     That was a bit later but in any case I'll put it to you this way -

POM     1988/89, Vula began in 1988.

MM     But what was Vula? Vula was establishing caches in geographical areas. That's what they were doing. They weren't really attacking us.

POM     But were they establishing – you recovered all these computer tapes. I think someone admits that their communications system that you came across was one of the most sophisticated that you had come across. Some General did.

MM     Somebody might have done it, I didn't do it. Vula was establishing caches here in the country so that the so-called People's Army can be mobilised at a later stage to overthrow the government. That was their basic objective.

POM     But they were also infiltrating people back into the country. Mac Maharaj was here since 1988.

MM     He might have been but he wasn't doing anything, he was operating and establishing structures and things to that effect but they weren't fighting anybody. They were preparing themselves for something. OK.

POM     Preparing to establish a revolutionary structure that would overthrow the government.

MM     Preparing.

POM     Yes, preparing.

MM     Preparing is nothing. To do the job is something.

POM     But you have to prepare before you do.

MM     OK. But they never got further than that.

POM     Because of negotiations.

MM     No, no, wait. Instead of when negotiations started and the two Minutes were signed, the Groote Schuur and the Pretoria Minutes, what did they do? They continued with that and that's when we discovered it. But this is a police job, it's not a military job.

POM     Why do you make that distinction?

MM     Well SA was allocated really to the police. I mean security and things to that effect are really police not military. Military are assisting the police within SA. If there was a military force coming in, ha! Then it's a different picture, then we search around and it's my objective.

POM     You were talking about that SA was assigned to the police. Yet the troops went into townships.

MM     Yes but they were assisting the police. You very seldom took over responsibilities of geographical areas. The prime geographical area of SA, the prime duty was allocated to the SA Police, not to the military. Forget about Alexandra. I went in there because the police were running out of it. I said OK, I'll take it on myself to do it and clean up the whole area, but otherwise it's their responsibility. We will go in, let's say we have roadblocks, we will assist them in a security role but we cannot arrest people, they've got to do the arrests. They've got to do, can I say, the policing of a situation, not the military. Therefore if you have people around here, whether it's terrorists or whether its criminal elements and so forth, the military can't do anything about it, it's a police job, it's their prime job, they've got to do it.

     You see now I'm coming back to it where I said to you initially, remember that the police, I doubt whether they understood revolutionary war in the same sense that we do, as the military do, because the military is trained in it. They're pro-active, police are reactive.

POM     I suppose my point would be, that point struck me, was that if you have an army that is trained in revolutionary war and you have a police force that's half trained or semi-trained or whatever, and there is a revolutionary war going on, why aren't the army more involved in fighting that war, saying to the police you're not trained, you're not competent, you don't know how a revolutionary war works, we do?

MM     It's their prime objective, their prime duty you're taking away from them. Their prime duty is safety and security in SA. I'm not talking about outside, I'm talking within SA.

POM     But if they were not up to the job should not that job be - ?

MM     How do you do that to a force? How do you do that to an organisation? You can never do it. It's not practical in life. You can think of it.

POM     Yes, so you're sitting there in cabinet and you're listening to a discussion on the security situation and in your mind you're saying these guys don't know what they're doing.

MM     I disagree with what they do.

POM     But you won't get up and say, you guys, you're amateurs.

MM     What do you achieve by doing that? Let's start with the way it happened. What happened in South West Africa when the first terrorists came in? It was the police duty, it wasn't the military's duty. They took over. What happened in Rhodesia when Smith was screaming there? They sent the police in to do it. I think this is where certain things went wrong. They shouldn't have sent them in. I can understand it, it's an international dilemma. If you send in the military to Rhodesia, as it was called in those days, is this a take-over? Or if you send in police it's not a take-over? So the politicians had problems when they made a decision. This was a Vorster decision. They had problems in doing it but they gave the job, and remember revolutionary war is ten times more challenging and nicer, if I can use the word nice, than doing beat on the street and being responsible for crime situations. They had the taste of it and then when the police came back from Rhodesia and they couldn't handle the SWA situation because of other factors, they needed the manpower somewhere else, we had to take over. That's where they got the taste of it so they thought they were very good and maybe they were better than I thought they were. But you cannot in a Cabinet get up and say, like hell! Like hell what? You are a group of people with a tremendous challenge facing you, why fight amongst each other? Why don't you assist and try and see whether you can't change their attitude and help them.

     Therefore I still maintain that the system that assisted the most in the security situation in SA was the Joint Management System because there you had on the various levels all the departments, including the police and the military, and they taught each other how to do the job by getting the challenge of being responsible for a geographical area.

POM     But would you not in that sense become a – I think Pik Botha in fact used the phrase that there was a government within a government, the top securocrats, the Generals, going on at the National Security Council?

MM     Remember the National Security Council –

POM     State Security Council.

MM     State Security Council, you had Foreign Affairs, you had all the provincial leaders, political ministers, you had police and defence and justice there, so how the hell can defence run it all, or the police run it, or both of us run it? Securocrats, securocrats was the type of wedge you drive in if you want to divide people. That's what happened. It was a perception created that caused or it could have caused division amongst the ministers. Fortunately it never happened. That's why labelling people, you're a hawk and you're a dove, I think is a fallacy, it's trying to create division amongst people by creating perceptions like that, by using words and phrases like that. I'm not for it. I always believe you're a team and as a team you've got to work together and solve the problem, the common problem facing all of you so I will never get up, even if I think Foreign Affairs are making a blue, I will never get up and say, like hell, I don't accept. I'm prepared to argue but somebody else can make the decision.

POM     Well would you ever go in private to your counterpart in the police and say, gee, there are some suggestions to make maybe that could help you? Was there any exchange of information on how to handle things?

MM     That's the level of the Chief of the Defence Force. He can do it. I'm a minister, I'm not Chief of the defence force. I can never get involved in another department. You don't do a thing like that, it's not your responsibility, so if you ask me whether I did it when I was Chief of the defence force, yes I did it and I had one of the biggest fights in all my life with Le Grange, Minister le Grange. At that stage the State President or the Prime Minister asked me to go and sort out the difference between the responsibilities of the military and the police and he said, "You can sort it out with the Minister of Police". I said, "Fine." I go out there, there were five police Generals sitting there, it lasted for three days. I left, went to the Prime Minister and said, "Sorry sir, it's your problem. I can't solve it, not with them", because we weren't seeing eye to eye. OK, my successor was more fortunate and successful than I was with the police and they defined it, they had it in writing that this will be the police responsibility and this will be the military responsibility.

     You see I'm trying to state the level on which you do things like that. On head of department levels you can do things like that, not a minister to other departments. You asked me the question last time about that housing, why my colleague was so furious - that's why. I went into his department and that's taboo. Although he gave me his approval and although he gave me his director general I did the wrong thing. OK I thought I would solve a problem but I didn't.

POM     You mentioned before that you had done training in the United States. Where did you do that?

MM     At Fort Leavenworth.

POM     What kind of training, and that was when?

MM     In 1962/63. United States Army, Commander-General Staff College. All your middle management officers, army, but you bring in approximately, I would say, 100 navy and 100 air force that are all more or less together with the military and you invite approximately 50 countries. You have a course of about 1200 attending this course.

POM     50 countries?

MM     Yes. It might be more or less. We call them allies and you invite them to attend the course too. It lasts for approximately ten, eleven months. It's a fantastic course, middle management, you can't become a General or high up if you don't pass this course.

POM     As part of that course was there, how would I put it, armies must have enemies. You mentioned before the words 'total onslaught' you'd heard used in the United States. This was at the height of the cold war. Were you being told – ?

MM     Bush used it the other day.

POM     He used it the other day? Same copyright.

MM     He just said 'general international acceptance'.

POM     What I want to get at is, and this isn't a military question but it's connected, is that would it have been in analysis, discussions with colleagues and whatever, that the fear of Soviet imperialism instilled a greater fear or was the greater threat to the country than the ANC unwrapped of the strappings of the SACP coming into the country to start negotiations about a new political dispensation or was it too intertwined?

MM     This is your problem. That's why you couldn't have started with a political discussion prior to the fall of international communism. That's why your trigger action started when the Berlin Wall came down. Unfortunately. That's, yes, we could have saved a lot of time, I won't say a lot of lives because we didn't really lose so many lives. Maybe in Angola and so forth, I'm talking about Angolans now, if Russia wasn't involved in Africa, yes definitely. When she left, the Cubans left, international communism came to a standstill, yes we could discuss politics. You didn't have this back-up support sitting here telling you to do that and that. In the meantime I must say the ANC or the SACP still had some of the world's best advisers on their side. I think it's right, I mean if you go into negotiations there's nothing stopping you getting the best advice that you can get. It doesn't matter where it comes from.

POM     So if the ANC had not had an alliance with the SACP?

MM     You know this is an aspect that you will have to talk to the ANC about because I've got to say now I think –

POM     I'm asking for your perception.

MM     My perception is that the ANC had the backing and the support, and there was a lot of support, from the Russian world and they couldn't go into negotiations without that support. That support prevented us from this side because when that support broke down that was the trigger action that said let's start negotiating.

POM     But what about the people, the black people?

MM     What about them?

POM     They were looking for their freedom. I mean you're a man, you vote, you see it as your democratic right.

MM     Are you talking about ANC politicians now?

POM     I'm talking about people in your country.

MM     Can I tell you what, that's why I've come back to it. Where are the people we have in this country and that are the majority vote? This is the biggest threat facing SA, the poverty we have in SA, so what are we doing about that? We're buying ships, we're buying aircraft. Like hell we're wasting our money. Instead of doing what I said there, put a roof over their head, give them employment, give them a decent school, that's what they need. There are a lot of them that won't vote. Why not? Because a vote is not the most important thing. To you as a cultural brought up democratic American the right to vote is the number one thing in life. To them –

POM     Only 33% of us do.

MM     Sure, and to them the question of survival is far greater than being able to vote. I know there are a lot of people in SA who have debated it with me that I say well a vote is not necessary, I say give the others and that vote is necessary, eventually you've got to decide if you can participate in elections. But by crickey, rather think in terms of your priorities and I would say that the highest priority here is survival of the poor. Have you been into our black townships? And I'm not talking about Soweto because it's not a black township any more.

POM     Yes.  To go back to you'd talked about when President de Klerk moved you and Adriaan Vlok from your positions, that he was beginning to put himself in the position of losing the support of his security forces, he took a risk. Then he furthered that risk when he fired the 23 Generals.

MM     Senior officers.

POM     On the one hand you said that the SADF were professional, they would always support the government of the day, that a coup was not even a possibility.

MM     Sure.

POM     So when you say he risked losing the support of his security forces, what do you mean by that?

MM     He knew nothing about the military. What I said to you, that is my confidence in the SA Defence Force and I knew them very well, I had my finger on the pulse and I can still say, yes I agree with them. It never happened. They never even thought of being disloyal towards him after he had fired his minister and 23 chaps, but he didn't know it, he couldn't vouch for that. So I say he took a hell of a chance in risking that. If I, rather if a normal person was in his position making an evaluation of a situation, he should say, hell, this is risky, I'd better watch what I'm doing now. I know nothing about the defence force and by doing that I can trigger something that might be very unfortunate. I doubt whether he even realised that. I'm not trying to be nasty.

POM     So he was taking an action and he didn't know what the consequences of that action might be?

MM     No, he was knuckling under pressure, that's what he did. He was knuckling under pressure because he didn't know how to handle the pressure. That was his problem. The ANC was pressurising him because I was dealing with the ANC, Vlok assisted. Hell! Because you can't go into negotiations as meek and mild boys to say let's start negotiating. In the meantime the other side was hammering us by saying, "We don't like this, we don't like that, we want it this way." They were working according to a strategy and we were yes sir, no sir, yes sir, to them. If you go into negotiations like that my friend you lose hands down every time. I was tackling them and Vlok was but I was the front man at that stage. I know my wife was the hell in with me but I've got to get the climate settled for negotiations. We've got to come in as a strong party, not as a weak party kneeling in front of the ANC - please come and negotiate with us. We've got to say - like hell we don't do this, you will do that, even if it takes six months longer. But that's the approach of negotiations. I mean, go to the labour unions and go and see what they do, they do exactly that. Mr Mandela said you had better get rid of those two ministers. Yes sir, that's what he did. I mean if I was in the ANC's position I would have said, hell, I can't believe it, we object to two ministers because they're hammering us through the press and telling us a lot of things and we say get rid of them and they get rid of them. Can I tell you what? You've opened the door as far as I'm concerned for negotiations that we're going to win. As ANC members I say that's what they saw. They tested the water, the ANC, and the so-called NP or the government, whatever they want to call them these days, went under.

POM     So in way you're saying from a military point of view you had won, or you could contain the situation indefinitely, but when it came to the politics of the situation the ANC took you to the cleaners.

MM     Can I tell you what? Go and read 7th May 1997 in front of the TRC, that's exactly what I said to them. I said to them we created the climate for negotiations. You never beat us but politically you won the battle. The negotiation table you won, hands down. What happened to that mighty National Party we had?

POM     Well which National Party are we talking about? The one going into alliance with the ANC for thirty pieces of silver?

     You said Mandela in the 1994 election, President Mandela asked President de Klerk, "When are you going to give me the evidence that you have against those 23 Generals?" Was that in a debate?

MM     Television interview. The two of them were debating in front of the TV cameras. I know he asked them, rather I've got inside information. When he fired the 23 Mr Mandela phoned him and said, "Why are you firing them?" And he said –

POM     Mandela rang him and said "Why are you firing them"?

MM     "Why are you firing them?" I mean Mandela at that stage realised that he was the next President and he wanted to know what the blazes is going on in this country, but there's again pressure from outside, he was trying to appease the Americans. He had Roelf Meyer in America, make no mistake, and the Americans expected something to happen. They were putting pressure on De Klerk so he fired the 23 with no evidence, none whatsoever. You call it the Steyn Report, you show that report and you discover gold I can assure you. There is no such report. I've read the minutes of a meeting that two Attorney Generals had, one of Johannesburg and one of Pretoria, a couple of police Generals and Steyn, and he was talking and telling them what the evidence was about and the comment from the A-Gs was the following, "We cannot prosecute on that teatime story. There's no evidence." In the meantime he fired 23 of them. Now Mr Mandela phoned him and asked him and he said, "I have evidence" or words to that effect, "And I'll keep you informed."

POM     But Mr Mandela was after him every day, accusation after accusation about the police anyway. Looking at the broader picture, how could something like Vlakplaas have happened?

MM     I wouldn't know. I wouldn't know. I'm not a part of the police. I don't know of the existence of Vlakplaas. I only discovered after – you see I'm coming back to something I said previously. Please read that speech when I testified there because I think it's the whole crux of the matter. We said a lot of things in heated debates, the ANC said a lot of things and the chaps down on the ground, how the hell must they interpret that? Does that mean we've got free rein, we can do what we like? I mean I'm busy with, this is off the record, I'm busy with negotiations to get amnesty for the whole situation in SA.

POM     Collective amnesty?

MM     Let's not define it, let's just use the word 'amnesty' and let's say we're going to draw a line, let the past be the past and let's take the challenge to the future, or accept these challenges of the future. Let's forget about the past. Now who will you give amnesty? I think we are reaching a point of understanding that if you've done anything for yourself you can't get amnesty. If it's a crime you're going to sit. If you've done it to further your political needs we can most probably give you amnesty for it.

     Now let's take Vlakplaas. Or let's take another case, let's take the case of Basson, the chap who is in court now. If he stole money I can't help him, but if he didn't steal money and he did things to further the political cause and so forth then we can give him amnesty. The same applies to the other side. If the PAC robbed a bank for political funds I can't do anything, I can't touch them, I shouldn't touch them, but if they did it for themselves, right, they're criminals. So I think this is what happened to Vlakplaas. They got a bit of freedom and listened to the speeches, they got freedom and they started moving in and they did things that – well remember that was the period and this is something you've got to take into consideration too, the context of the time, what happened at that stage. You are judging now in a totally different situation and environment, so it's very difficult really to understand it but I wasn't involved and I know nothing about it.

POM     Let me ask you as a psychological proposition, a soldier wears a uniform, he carries a weapon, if he uses that weapon he's in uniform and the uniform is in itself a kind of standard of accountability, you're recognisable, you're a soldier in a uniform. You take the uniform away but leave him with a gun, do you think it psychologically changes the way in which he might think, that element of control?

MM     It might. You see what I did I used it a bit differently. We used in the hearts and minds type of situation, we used a lot of soldiers to teach at schools, especially in Ovambo and I'll tell you why. Those kids were sitting there and they know everything about Ovambo but they know nothing about the world. They never have people that they can debate or talk to or listen to different opinions and different versions of a story, so we used military teachers, chaps who were teaching in SA, called up for National Service and we employed them as teachers there. There was a lack of teachers. We were even prepared to say talk to them about apartheid if you like so at least they could debate things and understand things and see there's another side of the story too, not trying to influence them, not trying to put a psychological operation against them. It's a question of taking them out of the tunnel that they were living in. I mean they wrote exams on 'My first train journey', they had never seen a train. Now how the hell can you ask a person to write an essay on that? Do you see what I mean? So can I. We used them in uniform and the reason why was to me psychologically they are representing a government, association with a government. So my bit of authority with it, it was well done, we never had any problems from the children's side or from the teachers' side. It was mostly chaps who weren't prepared, or rather who didn't object to fighting but thought they could do it better by doing other things. It was a kind of a good relations type of situation that developed there.

     Now what you're saying here, yes, you might get it if you take them out of uniform. Psychologically I'm not enclosed in what I should do. It might be. Different people react differently especially if you weren't trained in it. Let's go back to it. I doubt whether the police were ever trained in it. I, this is what America needs now, we trained the small team operations. I don't know whether I said to you, three chaps in a team, we had to know how many aircraft there were about 330 kms inside Angola. We sent in the three chaps, they walked, they walked there and they walked back, through enemy lines. They passed the security, everything. They count the aircraft, come back and say you have so many aircraft against you on the other side. They weren't in uniform. If I had to put them in uniform, I mean it was like a sore thumb going through there, but they knew their limits, they knew what they had to do. They were trained people. One of them most probably was a Major normally, or a Captain normally in charge of the other two. They knew their limits and they operated accordingly.

     You see I'm not sure whether you want the police side or you want the military side. In the military, and that's why I'm –

POM     I'm trying to get the comparison between the two. Are there greater lines of accountability in the military than elsewhere in the security forces?

MM     Your police operate as individuals. It's a hell of a difference. If you ask a policeman where do you fit in, Brooklyn Police Station? What is Brooklyn Police Station? It's a small little station, it might have ten chaps, it might have a hundred chaps, it might have two hundred. They're not organised into – we had it when we had to operate down in Cape Town ages ago, we needed policemen at roadblocks. Wynberg Police Station, there you go, into four vehicles, there they go. Not similar vehicles, they don't know how to do it, they don't know what's coming. You talk to the military, you talk to the group. It might be a section, it might be a platoon, you know exactly where you fit in, you know how you fit in, you know what you do. You are trained as a group but there you're trained as an individual. You've got better control here than you have here because the task isn't a police task. The task is really a military task. It's an organised group task to be proactive. The police, there's a burglar here in this house, they can't be pro-active and prevent the murder. They don't operate that way and I don't blame them, they can't, but you will find ten policemen coming in here, everybody doing something different as individual. You find the military come in here and you give them a murder case, they're lost, completely lost, they've never been trained in that. But those are basics I'm talking now.

POM     SWAPO as an army, were they good fighters?

MM     No not really but they were better than the ANC. They weren't really. They had a lot of support, a lot of support from the MPLA and from the Cubans that gave them better opportunities. I would say that their situation was totally different, different in the sense of they were operating against military too, more than the ANC who always tried to avoid the military.

POM     Cuito Cuanavale. Let me say what I've heard might be called urban myth, or read generally, that it was a turning point, that it was the first set back, defeat that the SA military had ever encountered, that they lost the air war.

MM     The air war?

POM     The air war, i.e. that –

MM     OK, air superiority.

POM     That they had the Migs flown by Cuban pilots, flown by Russians against your ageing Mirages, you couldn't get replacement parts, where the time from which you left base to engage in aerial combat, that your fuel capacity was limited and –

MM     Who told you this story?

POM     I picked it up over the years.

MM     Where, by whom?

POM     By a group, a group organised like a military group. I went all the way, I went out of my way to that bloody airfield.

MM     Well you got half of it, it's a half truth and half – it's not really so. We did things completely unmilitary. We changed the principles of warfare, air warfare, and we succeeded.

POM     Of air warfare?

MM     Yes. First of all it's the biggest success we've ever had in all our life, in the history of SA, Cuito Cuanavale. I'm very serious about this.

POM     Now you know many history books begin by saying it was the beginning of the end.

MM     Well they can say what they like. I know the results. I saw the results. There's a good book you can read on it, they won't say it was this way or that way and that's the book of Renwick, he used to be the British Ambassador here.

POM     Renwick, he wrote a book on it?

MM     Yes on Cuito Cuanavale. I'll give you my side of it, I was there, not directly involved because I believed in decentralised authority so people were running it, I took FW there, I took PW there, showed them so they would get the experience. We had our chemical uniforms there which you had to wear if chemicals were used. We even put Pik Botha into it to show him how you – it's very difficult to operate under those conditions, your productivity just falls down like that. OK, but let's start with the war.

     We went there with one objective and that objective was that at that stage Savimbi was asking us for support annually because the Cubans were coming there and the Cubans were trying to get Jamba, that's his headquarters. So we had a discussion on it and we said OK, fair enough. I said to the military, "Let's go and help but we cannot do it annually. Let's help him so that he can help himself in future." I can see we can do it in three years or four years, every three or four years but not annually. The reason for that is something different. We have a problem here in SA and the problem is most of our troops are national servicemen and as soon as they start operating on the border and the press picks it up you get the most awful rumours spread here in SA and you get all the mothers and the next of kin being very worried and there's a lot of pressure on us, political pressure, withdraw, withdraw. That's the one thing. The second reason is United Nations. The only country that was prepared to help us in those conditions was America with the veto right and they warned me.

POM     With the veto?

MM     In the Security Council. So we had to go in and see how long we could stay there and do our job without being noticed. We succeeded. We hammered them a hell of a big – America knew about it, they picked it up, I'll come back to it, but the people here didn't. Our second objective was if they start putting pressure on you, it takes us about I would say a month to withdraw. You can't just run out of this thing because then you've had a hiding and secondly it's got to be an orderly withdrawal if you withdraw under political pressure. So they approached me, one of them, and said if you bomb Menongue you can expect Oshakati to be bombed. We picked up on this and I think it was American pressure trying to show us which direction to do things and not creating a hell of a havoc in the south, limiting us in certain things but we weren't set for Menongue I can assure you of that. We were a question of creating a barrier so that the Cubans can't come annually.

POM     Can't come?

MM     Can't come from Cuito Cuanavale to Jamba annually. So first of all we had to separate the forces, Russian commanders, Cubans and MPLA from their logistical support and what we did was we sent in the Recce Commandos. I'm coming back to the smaller groups. That's what you need in Afghanistan now. We're sending approximately, I think it was eight, but let's make it ten chaps round about there and they went about 30 kms up to the Cuito River, got in the river and swam down with mines on their backs, land mines. They placed it, under fire, against the pillars of the bridge, exploded and brought the bridge down, not completely but enough so that the logistical support was lacking. That was the objective of it. They went through, they spent a day or two in the mud because they had a hell of a chase with helicopters and things after them and then they came out. We didn't lose anybody, a crocodile took one but he got free, he killed the crocodile – well he didn't kill it, he used his knife and punctured his eye and the crocodile set him free and he came out.

     So now they are separated. They can't get their logistical support that they need to that extent and then they came through. This is where half of your story is right, we made an estimate of the situation and we said we want to have air superiority and that's in an air force number one, we will have to fight for it and let's have a look at the limitations. They can operate from Menongue. Remember your basic thing, your most important support that you can have is aircraft, is radar, bring you up directionwise on enemy aircraft. Now they can move their radar very close to the battlefield. Their distance from their airfield to the battlefield is shorter than ours operating from Rundu and our radar's sitting at Rundu. And I'm not sure about my figures now, I'm just quoting you figures, you have them from Menongue that they've got coverage let's say from 100 meters up as high as you can and they've got a durability on the battlefield of let's say half an hour. Our radar can support us from 3000 meters up and we've got a durability over the battlefield of quarter of an hour. It's not a good situation. So what are you going to do? We said, tell you what, let's give them air superiority but if we go in and fight we fight with air superiority.

     We had Spanish speaking people with us listening in on the aircraft and trying to get a general impression of the pilots used against us. They were scared. They never came below 3000 feet or meters.

POM     Now these would be Cuban pilots?

MM     Cuban pilots. If they saw movement they threw their bombs. We worked out that we had one chap injured and at that stage they got rid of over a million kilograms of bombs. That's quite extensive and they injured one chap. So we said, fine, and we went in when there was a fight on, we went in and we took air superiority and they were scared, they never came.

     So, yes, if you were an Air Force chap sitting there and you were a national serviceman in a foxhole and looking at the sky you always saw Cubans flying around, not doing damage but flying around and ruling the air, but if there was a fight on – there were a lot of chaps who came back they were very worried. They said, "Hell you got a hiding in the air because you never even had the aircraft there." But when the crux came we had the aircraft there and we could fight them.

     We lost 31 chaps. They lost between 7000 and 10,000 and I'm very serious about it. We completely annihilated brigades there. The Russians made stupid mistakes. They came through morasses, they did things that were unacceptable in the situation of the environment and the ground and things to that effect. With Russian troops it might be 100%. Remember the Russians come and they go for it. It's a question of force going through.

POM     But these weren't Russian troops were they? These were MPLA troops they were directing, using.

MM     Of course. That's the crux of it, that's why the troops failed. The Russians didn't understand. We had G5 guns there. Now the G5 makes a lot of noise and a lot of dust. It fires approximately 42 kms. It's the best gun that you can buy. I'm not sure whether it was two batteries or more but we had some there. They never even discovered where they were deployed and we used them. They fired, moved them away from the place and the aircraft, Cuban aircraft couldn't find them. So if you can have troops like that and we decided something else. We said we need here, we're battle-proofing our equipment like the guns and so forth, we took up tanks, the Olifant tanks, new Centurion development, and a lot of other equipment to battle-proof there and we said we've got to change our troops three times so that we can give them battle experience. The first group of national service then we went in with Citizen Force, we did it very successfully. We gave them the biggest hiding they ever had. We erected the barrier, basically mines, we captured, I would say, in the order of about a billion dollars of very, very sophisticated Russian equipment, so sophisticated, especially the anti-aircraft equipment. We brought it down here to Waterkloof and all the European countries, including America, came to have a look because they'd never seen it before. Now was that losing a battle? Then we withdrew. Then the pressure was hell of a high here.

POM     Under pressure from?

MM     Locally.

POM     That was the mothers and - ?

MM     Yes, militant, next of kin, political, opposition parties. We said, OK, right, we will withdraw. We did it orderly. I think that's one stage that I misread the media. I'm talking about 1987 I would say, at the end of it, this was round about November and the battle was over. They said withdraw and we said OK. That was the reason why we never took the press along because it was the pressure, taking blood and guts into your house. That's why the Americans lost Vietnam and we said let's prevent that. It might be a shortcoming but then what the press did they went to Cuito Cuanavale and they sat in on the MPLA side and watched us and they interpreted this as we were getting a hiding.

     Secondly, our press, this is that country, you run a story if it's sensational but you don't continue with it, you stop. This is what they did, they run it and they stopped and then the Cubans came in and the Cubans made a military medal, a medal to all the Cubans who fought in that battle and Fidel Castro welcomed them home and there was round about March 1988 a hell of a propaganda being run from Cuba against SA. I made, what do you call this, you try and get the opinion of people, a poll, I ran one here in SA to see to what extent did the people believe we won the battle, we lost the battle. 16% said we won it and exactly the same percentage said we lost it and the rest they didn't know. So out of the publicity it was a failure and therefore I can see why you hear this type of story but it's just the opposite.

POM     Well was it any kind of defining moment in the Angolan war that led to the settlement in Namibia?

MM     Well I think this was it. Remember Fidel Castro killed that man -

POM     His General.

MM     Yes, I think this was the turning point that came in because Fidel Castro was fighting a war, this battle, he was on the telephone. Do you know that? Fidel Castro was giving instructions from Havana to his Generals here. They say, and this is in reports that I've picked up, he was for hours and hours daily on the telephone telling them what to do but he acknowledged that they lost it. That was at a parade, I'm not sure when, it was that following year, in 1988 they had a parade and he said, "We've lost it." So yes, I'm serious, I think this was the turning point of the whole situation.

     The other one that happened afterwards –

POM     A turning point in the - ?

MM     The acceptance of the Cubans that they can't beat us and they're getting into hot water now. Remember they never took their people that they've lost, that were killed, back to Cuba. They left them here and they took them eventually over so the people on the other side, the next of kin, never knew whether they had lost a dear one or not and they never talked about casualties. But I think that that was the turning point that brought the Americans, South Africans and Cubans in on the negotiations.

     We were busy, just after that we were in Cairo where we made a lot of progress but coming back from Cairo the Cubans were lined up to get a last shot at the South Africans because of this and we knew it.

POM     When you say they were lined up? You were in Cairo negotiating?

MM     Yes, who was there? SWAPO wasn't there, Angola was there, the Americans definitely, I'm not sure about the Russians, I can't recall them but they might have been, they were in Kinshasa but I'm not sure whether they were there. We were negotiating about the application of 435 to get the parties to accept it so that's why I say I think this was the turning point, they got a lovely hiding. But the Cubans, this was what our intelligence said, they were lining up on the other side of the front. You know where Calueque is? Calueque is where you have the dam, the dam at Calueque where you get the water from Angola taken through to Ovambo. That was the real cause of this whole Angolan war, our getting involved in it because the Portuguese and us had an understanding or an agreement, we built the wall and we built a power station there, a power station at the waterfall, the Ruacana waterfall, to feed electricity through to Namibia, the water to feed Ovambo because that's one of the biggest problems in Ovambo, a lack of water. All you had to do is lift it not very high, Ovambo is a very flat country. The fall is something like 15 feet over 100 kms, it's flat, flat, flat, and to bring the water out of the Calueque dam to a high position and then it flows down this flat area and your people will have water there. That was the whole development situation there. Now on that side, and this is where you find your road coming from  Sá da Bandeira, (it's something else now - Lubango), the road coming from Angola through Ruacana and so forth and we knew the Cubans were there and they might come in to hammer us. They were lining up.

     So what we did is, I've forgotten the names now, the technical names, we fired these canisters where the radar can pick them up. That's the type of thing you use when you're in an aircraft and you have a missile following you, you try and bring out silver type of paper to divert the missile. We did exactly that, we fired it into the air and they thought it was an air attack and they opened up with all their guns. This was at night. We sat there and we picked up where all the guns were stationed, the sites, and we took them out. So we knew it's out of the question, they can't attack us. Then they came in and they tried to bomb the Calueque water scheme and they failed miserably because you can't attack a dam, it's out of the question. Unfortunately there was one aircraft that came in, it came in twice or three times, I'm not sure. It came in and it couldn't get rid of its bombs and eventually it dropped the bombs and it fell 10 kms off the target and it fell into a vehicle, armoured vehicle, and there were ten infantry chaps sitting in it, they were all killed. That's the loss we had from our side and then everything went through and the Cubans said OK, right, we sign. We said we will sign for the … But the turning point was Cuito Cuanavale, yes, absolutely.

     They made a hell of a slip-up the MPLA with The Cubans too. They tried to cross again into Jamba and Savimbi, we gave Savimbi a lot of tanks and things to that effect that we took from the Cubans and from the Angolans and the Russians, he started withdrawing and he withdrew that far that they didn't have petrol or water and then he hammered them on his own.

     So Cuito Cuanavale was a success, yes, the battle there and the turning point and helping Savimbi fighting his own battle at a later stage. That's a very short and brief reply to your question.

POM     It makes a good story.

MM     You can use it. I've used it.

POM     Thank you again for the time, I know you don't want to spend your whole day.

MM     There's one thing I can say, if you write this book and you can avoid quoting me, do it. If you're forced to quote me you can do it too. I couldn't care less, I'm not looking for publicity, that's what I'm trying to say.

POM     When I quote people I don't quote a lie, I quote the way they – I clean up their grammar but what I'm trying to keep is that the reader can get a sense of the person, the way they use sentences. Do you know what I mean? I like the person who's telling the story to tell the story rather than take the story and put it into my words, do you know what I mean?

MM     Then you have a handicap. I'll tell you why, I talk very telegraphically, I do. I don't give you a nice sentence. I do it chop, chop, chop. For instance, when I said this Cairo situation, I said "And they got lined up", I just jumped from the one to the other and it's difficult to follow me. I know it, it's been all my life like that.

POM     I'll come back at you with questions.

MM     That's why I say if you want to fill in you can fill in because otherwise I doubt whether people understand it, but I'm not publicity hungry, that's what I'm saying. You do what you like.

POM     I will leave you there for the day.

PAT     Can I ask one question? In April of 1989 when your intelligence said that the SWAPO fighters were coming across, you went back in, right?

MM     No. The agreement was, because we were worried about a situation like that, when withdrawing we left pockets behind. This was acceptable, I call it pockets – troops were allocated a certain area and they were staying in that area and the police were the same so that they couldn't influence the local people and in case something happened, extraordinary things, that they could be used and then SWAPO came in and we said, "Take them." So they were there. I can't recall that we went in back. Remember what we really did when we withdrew from Namibia, we went to Walvis Bay, that was South African territory, with the exception of that.

PAT     Those pockets that you had up there – ?

MM     And I think it was two or three pockets, it wasn't more than that and if I talk about a pocket I would say it was a company or a battalion, that's the type of order I'm talking about, and I think it was not armoured but infantry in a kind of armoured vehicle.

PAT     And the 32nd Battalion?

MM     32nd Battalion, I'm not sure when they moved out but they were sitting from that area, I estimate 300 kms, that was their camp from where SWAPO came in. SWAPO came in very close to the Ruacana type of area and they were on the Kwando River in Caprivi, western Caprivi. But I have an idea they moved out.

PAT     Why do you think they had a reputation for being such good fighters?

MM     Well trained. They had a good cause, they were FNLA troops and we gave them white leaders, very experienced leaders for a long time. I would have said that's one of our best units we had there and then their people came up and took over leadership. I think it's a question also of survival.

PAT     Now when you said they were FNLA were they Angolans?

MM     Yes, originally. Originally there were three parties, the FNLA, the MPLA and Unita. FNLA and Unita were against MPLA although they weren't together. They didn't really love each other. FNLA I think was more in the northern section, their support, but there were some chaps here down at the bottom too, at the southern end.

PAT     You would then enlist Angolans into the SADF?

MM     They were a unit that came over with the commander at that stage. He left them.

PAT     So they went into exile?

MM     They became South Africans.

PAT     Roberto?

MM     Yes, Roberto what do you call it. No, no, wasn't Roberto the chap who was the - no I'm sorry. But, no, they came over and became South Africans like the Bushmen too.

PAT     So there was a sort of migration among the Bushmen right? And did the Bushmen, were the Bushmen in Koevoet or were they in 32nd Battalion?

MM     31st, one was 31st and one was 32nd.

PAT     So you took them into the army?

MM     Yes, they were in the army. We used them initially as trackers. They came from - it's a question of survival again, they came basically from SWA and the southern portion of Angola. At the end we gave them the option of deciding what they want to do: come to SA, remain there or go back to where they came from, and a third came with us. We treated them very badly when they came down here. I think this is one of the fingers pointing at the previous government, the De Klerk government. There is lots of publicity about them sitting at Smitsdrift, not being used at all, living in tents and things to that effect, because the government took them out of the military, something to that effect. I left before that time.

POM     Thank you for a fascinating afternoon. I'll again have this done up, sent to you and then I will go through both in time and I will probably have queries in brackets like what did you mean, spelling correct, questions like that. But thank you.

MM     The readers will understand what I've said.

POM     Don't worry, that's my problem. I promise to get the damn thing written.

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