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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
Name: General Johannes Jacobus Viktor
23-06-1997: Day 1
Held At: Benoni
CHAIRMAN: This is a sitting of the Amnesty Committee comprised of Judges Mall, Judge Wilson on my right, Judge Ngoepe on my left, Advocate Chris de Jager, SC, on his left and Miss Khampepe on the right of Judge Wilson.
We are about the commence the hearing of evidence of General Viktor who has been subpoenaed by the Committee at the request of Mr Brian Currin who represented a number of victims in respect of whom or concerning whom evidence was given at a previous hearing.
Mr Visser, I understand, you will be representing General Viktor, is that correct?
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, may it please you Mr Chairman, Honourable members of the Committee, my name is Louis Visser, I am instructed by Jan Wagner of the attorney's firm Wagner Muller & du Plessis. We are instructed to assist General Viktor here in his evidence today, and may we immediately say that we appreciate the opportunity of him being able to come to you and to put certain matters in perspective as far as the evidence referred to him, yes Mr Chairman.
BREAK IN RECORDING
CHAIRMAN: You are here representing?
ADV DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chairman. I am here representing the five security policemen who applied for amnesty, namely Brigadier Cronje, Captain Hechter, Colonel Venter, Captain Mentz and W/O van Vuuren.
CHAIRMAN: And Mr Currin.
MR CURRIN: Mr Chairman I am here representing many of the victims of the acts and offences committed by the applicants in this matter.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mpshe you are the leader of evidence of the TRC.
MR MPSHE: That is so Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Very well, Mr Visser, you may begin.
MR VISSER: Thank you Mr Chair. Perhaps with your leave Mr Chairman I intend to give a little bit of background to pick up the strings, as it were.
Mr Chairman, the first document which I wish to refer to is the notification in terms of Section 19(4) for General Viktor to appear before you and in particular Annexure A which is attached thereto, you will observe Mr Chairman that there are really three points made, if you have that document before you, it is Annexure A attached to a letter by your Committee dated the 23rd of April 1997.
The three issues involve the following:
1. It is quoted both Cronje and Hechter testified that the former Brigadier, i.e. Viktor, instructed them to act pro-actively.
2. At page 92 of the record,
"General van der Merwe advises the Committee that former Brigadier Viktor has a different recollection of his instruction, the instruction is crucial to and understanding of the applicant's general motivation".
And that would take up most of our time obviously Mr Chairman. And then point three is -
3. In respect of the Nietverdiend, that is incorrectly spelt, Nietverdiend incident, Cronje testifies that Viktor phoned him and congratulated him on the execution of the operation. This response by Viktor forms part of the general motivation of the applicants.
Mr Chairman why we referred to this document is that there is one other crucial incident which the officer of your Committee seems to have left out, and that concerns the evidence of Cronje in regard to a certain person that was assassinated. I am referring to this a little bit out of context if you will bear with me for a moment I will attempt to find the reference on the record where actually Brigadier Viktor is directly implicated. Perhaps my learned friend Mr Mpshe could assist me, it's either Thabedi or Sibiya, the assassination or elimination of that gentleman.
If you will allow Mr Chairman I will find it in due course, but I just wished at this point in time to draw your attention to that incident and just in the event of your wishing to obtain clarity as far as that is concerned as well. While the General is here he may as well answer questions on that score as well.
Mr Chairman, prior to today - well first of all may I refresh your memory that General Viktor has filed an application for amnesty before you. We are not going to refer to any of the details thereof, save for saying one thing, you will observe that he does not apply for amnesty insofar as he is implicated by the present applicants in incidents.
Then Mr Chairman, prior to today, an affidavit by General Viktor was filed. May I assume that you have that before you? Yes. We will confirm that in evidence and there is one issue that we will have to clarify as far as that is concerned.
Mr Chairman before General Viktor gives his evidence may I refer you to certain portions of your record. May I first of all say that we did not obtain the full record. What was provided to us are quite apparently extracts from the record so that if there are other references which we are unaware of we apologise that we don't know about them. But in regard to General Viktor's evidence, as we understand the evidence of Cronje and Van Vuuren, we haven't got Hechter's evidence, was that General Viktor would have given a general instruction as a result of which certain actions were taken by the Security Branch of the South African Police Northern Transvaal.
What is perhaps of interest to you is to be reminded, Mr Chairman, that General van der Merwe, who gave evidence, was asked about the instructions in general in Police circles and he was cross-examined as well.
Very shortly, Mr Chairman, and we are in your hands here, I could read the evidence to refresh your memory or I could simply give you the references. General van der Merwe, at page 82 of the record, on cross-examination by Mr du Plessis gave evidence. The question by Mr du Plessis starts at line 5 more-or-less and it deals with instructions and commands. And General van der Merwe, at the bottom of that page refers you to the system of how commands and regulations pertained in the Police, including in the Security Branch of the Police, it goes over the page Mr Chairman.
It's a long passage, I'm not going to read it, but may I summarise that the gist of that evidence appears to be that these were done formally, it was a formal structure in which commands were given. Why we mention this specifically, Mr Chairman, as we will remind you and we will come to that, that Mr Cronje's evidence was that the whole Police strategy changed, as far as he was concerned, because of one telephone call he received from then Brigadier Viktor, as a result of which there was a full-scale war set afoot. And it's against the background of that evidence that we refer you to this particular piece of evidence.
Mr Chairman the other issue which you might wish to consider in the evidence of General Viktor is that the evidence of Brigadier Cronje was, that because of this general instruction a licence, as it were, was given to members of the Security Branch to act illegally.
Now General van der Merwe also gave evidence on that score at page 84 around line 26, or starting at line 22 Mr Chairman and it goes over the page. And he continues at page 85, at line 22 referring to how the Police were supposed to act, i.e. in terms of the Police Act and regulations. Instructions from the Security Council etc you will find that at page 85 Mr Chairman. The gist of which again, if I may be allowed to summarise, is that the Police at all times were required to act within the law. That is the evidence of General van der Merwe.
And he says at page 87, perhaps I should just read this by way of summary Mr Chairman, 87 line 28. Mr du Plessis says,
"Was a decision ever taken? Do you know of any decision policy which provided that the South African Police would not act in a reactionary way against terrorist but also pro-actively to prevent these acts?"
And General van der Merwe answers;
"Are you speaking generally now?"
Mr du Plessis says,
And van der Merwe says,
"Apart from action abroad...."
and you will recall Mr Chairman that General van der Merwe drew a distinction between the conduct of the Police internally and actions abroad, and he again refers to that distinction, he says.
"Apart from actions abroad where the general view was that because we didn't have the various rights and competencies which we had internally, other actions were considered legitimate in order to level the playing field in combatting the enemy. In many cases operations undertaken outside the borders of the country were authorised by the former government, but there were also cases where, especially as far as our neighbouring states, actions were taken without them being authorised explicitly. But where actions were taken at a local level, that is internally, as a result of the fact that the opportunity presented itself to act against somebody identified as a member of the enemy......"
and then Mr du Plessis refers to page 10 of the Commissioner's submission where a reference is made in the second last line at page 88 to conventional warfare.
Mr Chairman he goes on further on in his evidence, may I just be allowed to summarise. At the end of the day van der Merwe's evidence can be summarised to say that internally the Police were called upon to act and were expected to act legally.
As far as instructions further are concerned Mr Chairman may I refer you to page 89 line 21 ...(intervention)
JUDGE NGOEPE: Sorry to interrupt you Mr Visser. I am here, I am speaking from here, sorry to interrupt you, I don't know how many more pages you are going to take us through, I am just wondering whether we are not in fact not simply putting the record on record, because that's what we are doing it seems to me. Would it not have been better if, for example, if you go stage by stage that way, at the same time we invite the witness to comment so that we could immediately capture, you refer to a passage and possibly you read it and then thereafter we invite the witness to capture his response to it as we go along.
MR VISSER: I understand Mr Chairman. The point here, and I should have made it more clear I think, the idea was not to take General Viktor through the evidence of General van der Merwe by myself because he can't really give evidence about what van der Merwe gave, but rather where he is implicated himself. So what I am doing at that moment is just summarising where in the record these issues do arise and what the issues are so that if cross-examination is going to be directed at General Viktor at least your Committee will know where to find these references.
There are only another five, may I give you the page numbers without any further detail. It's page 89 at line 21, going over the page to page 90 Mr Chairman, line 18 and you can stop there.
Again at page 95, dealing with the undeclared state of war from line 3 to line 20.
Then regarding the authority of Viktor to have been able to give the instruction which Brigadier Cronje says he understood, at page 96, in our submission, is an important piece of evidence by General van der Merwe, from line 15 to line 23. And he ends and may I be allowed to just read this to you referring to General Viktor,
"No, he never had the power or authority to give such an instruction".
That is an instruction to eliminate and to kill.
Mr Chairman, as far as the Nietverdiend matter is concerned we will deal with that, the reference in the record is page 97, i.e is the third issue there on Annexure A line 14 to line 22.
And the second-last evidence in General van der Merwe's evidence, Mr Chairman, is at page 102. Again dealing with Viktor's instruction and the whole page is relevant, but especially from line 28 to the bottom of that page.
The last reference, Mr Chairman, as a general background, is at page 106, dealing again with illegitimate actions from line 24 to 28.
I am sorry Mr Chairman there is one further one and that is the question of whether General Viktor was authorised to give instructions from higher up as it was put, and that is at page 107 line 22 from the words, "I must, however, state.....", over the page Mr Chairman.
Not that we have been informed that this would be part of the evidence, but you will recall in the evidence of General van der Merwe, Mr Chairman, there was reference to TREVITS, and I am referring to page 108, and at .......
MR VISSER: .....to answer in his mother tongue, it is your decision.
CHAIRMAN: If it is possible for him to follow your questions in English than we will save time.
MR VISSER: Certainly Mr Chairman I will gladly do so.
JOHANNES JACOBUS VIKTOR: (sworn states)
MR VISSER: Where do you live at the moment?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I live on the farm Goedemoed in the Hobhouse district.
MR VISSER: Were you a member of the South African Police at any time?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I had been, yes, from the 8th of April 1947 until the 31st of December 1989.
MR VISSER: General will you give the Committee a resumé of the main points of your sojourn in the South African Police, starting with April 1947.
GEN J J VIKTOR: After training I was stationed at Somerset West in the Cape Province. Subsequently I returned after a couple of months to Pretoria. At the beginning of May 1941 I was stationed at the Detective Branch. After my course of training I was transferred to the then Marshal Plein Police Station in Johannesburg.
MR VISSER: What course are you referring to?
GEN J J VIKTOR: This is a training course for detectives.
MR VISSER: And Marshal Plein, in which division of the Police were you working?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I was attached to the Detective Branch.
MR VISSER: Yes, please do continue.
GEN J J VIKTOR: I worked through the ranks at that police station to the rank of lieutenant and then I was transferred to the Security Branch of the South African Police in 1963.
MR VISSER: And at which place did you serve in the Security Branch of the South African Police from 1963?
GEN J J VIKTOR: From 1963 until the end of 1961 I served in Johannesburg at the Security Branch.
As a major I was transferred to the Far North Transvaal Security Branch where I was the commanding officer with the base in Pietersburg. This was the beginning of 1970 until the end of 1973.
MR VISSER: Just run through the rest of the main points please General.
GEN J J VIKTOR: At the end of the 1973 I was transferred to the West Rand where I was the commanding officer of the Security Branch West Rand. Subsequently I was transferred as district detective officer in 1975 to Pretoria, the district no.34.
In 1976 I was transferred back to the Security Branch at the Head Office.
In 1981 I became the commanding officer of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch with the base in Pretoria.
At the beginning of 1982 I became the Chief Detective Officer in Soweto. And in 1985, I think in August, I think I was placed in counter-insurgence at the Riot Control head office in Pretoria.
In 1987 or the beginning of 1988 I was transferred to Soweto as Divisional Commissioner of the South African Police there.
At the end of 1989 I retired with the rank of Major-General.
MR VISSER: General just explain, if you will, from the end of 1987 you were stationed at Soweto?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes, end of '87 beginning of '88. I cannot recall the exact month.
MR VISSER: And did you actually remain in that position until December 1989?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct.
MR VISSER: Now you referred to counter-insurgency, the Counter-insurgency Unit of the South African Police and Riot Control where you were involved from August 1985, insofar as the evidence which implicates you before this Committee concerns that period would you please explain to the Committee what counter-insurgency, first of all, was all about? What did you do? And how were you placed in the general system as opposed to the Security Branch and other branches of the South African Police? Would you just give some sort of indication of what counter-insurgency was all about.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Counter-insurgence and Riot Control was a uniformed branch of the force with bases all over the national borders, as the name would say, "insurgence", the intention was to "counter" insurgence. Riot control was internal in the country and every section had a riot unit, every division had a riot unit at that time in the South African Police.
MR VISSER: General, what was your position in Counter-insurgency at the time of - and we're talking about 1986?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I was the second in command of Counter-insurgence and the Riot Control division of the South African Police Force.
MR VISSER: And who was the commanding officer?
GEN J J VIKTOR: My commanding officer was Major General A J Wandrag.
MR VISSER: Now General, in particular, what was the relationship between Counter-insurgency and Riot Control and the Security Branch of the South African Police?
GEN J J VIKTOR: There is no direct link between the two. Insofar as Riot Control or Counter-insurgence could not give commands or instructions to the Security Branch. The Security Branch had their own command structure and their own head office in Pretoria, that was the Security Branch.
MR VISSER: You told the members that you were attached to the Security Branch at times, how would you expect orders to come through to you? Would you expect such orders to be directed to the Security Branch through Counter-Insurgency Division or through Riot Control?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I would like to make sure exactly what Mr Visser's question would be. Is your intention to ask my instructions as Riot Control and Counter-Insurgence or instructions when one works for the Security Branch?
MR VISSER: No I am referring to when you were in the Security Branch, where would your orders have come from as a member of the Security Branch?
GEN J J VIKTOR: They would have come from the Security Branch Head Office in Pretoria.
MR VISSER: Now you see General, Brigadier Cronje in his evidence has stated that you were his senior and that he was obliged to follow your instructions or orders. Mr Chairman I refer to page 141 of your record at line 22 to 23. What is your reaction to that evidence?
GEN J J VIKTOR: As a person who had been in command of the sections in the Security Branch on three separate occasions I know that as a commanding officer I would never receive an instruction from the uniform branch or any other branch of the force, I would only receive instructions from Security Branch head office.
MR VISSER: Were you authorised to give any instructions or orders to members of the Security Branch while you were second in command of Counter-Insurgency?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Not at all. Perhaps we must remember where there might be an instruction where you arrive at a police station or at an office and you see that maybe it's dirty or something like that, but with regard to the actual work of the Security Branch a Security Branch man would not accept instructions from any other person.
MR VISSER: And how would you react to the suggestion that Brigadier Cronje says that he was compelled to accept your instructions?
MR VISSER: No, Brigadier Cronje must be mistaken in his summary of the situation.
MR VISSER: Now, again at page 141, Mr Chairman, it follows from there, the evidence that was given before this Committee was to the effect that you made a telephone call to Brigadier Cronje during March 1986, first of all, can you recall that event?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I can, but I will not be able to say that it was exactly in March 1986, but it would have been at the beginning of 1986.
MR VISSER: Just before we go into the evidence we have referred to an affidavit which you signed dated the 20th of February 1997, do you recall signing an affidavit?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct.
MR VISSER: And the purpose of this affidavit was that in reaction to being notified of certain evidence which had been given in which your name had been mentioned.
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct Chairman.
MR VISSER: Have you recently had the opportunity of reading that affidavit again?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is the case, Chair.
MR VISSER: And do you confirm that the evidence contained in that affidavit is still correct apart from paragraph E at page 2 to which we will come in a moment?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct Chair.
MR VISSER: Now Mr Chairman may I direct your attention to paragraph E.
ADV DE JAGER : Mr Visser this statement had been handed in already, the affidavit, what is the reference number of this particular affidavit? Otherwise you must provide us with additional copies at this point.
MR VISSER: P6 Mr Chairman, P6.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Visser I think I can confirm that this affidavit was never handed up to members of the Committee.
I just wanted to indicate that this affidavit was never handed up to members of the Committee at any given stage, so we would request you to make copies available to us.
MR VISSER: Well Mr Chairman may I inform you of what had happened, I don't want to waste time about it, but we forwarded the affidavit under a covering letter from Messrs Wagner Muller and du Plessis to Mr Mpshe in reaction to being notified of the evidence of Brigadier Cronje.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. The members of the Amnesty Committee may not have, I have seen the letter and I think that Ms Khampepe has not seen it.
MR VISSER: We will certainly make copies. We were just not aware that we would have the position where you won't have copies in front of you, we do apologise. Mr Chairman in that event may I read out into the record what this particular paragraph says Mr Chairman. It is at page 2 and it is a paragraph numbered 3.3E. It says this - perhaps I should start with D to place it in context.
"3D. In my opinion this would not be a command or instruction but merely a suggestion. Were it to have been accepted it would also not have implied that there should have been a full-scale military warfare as a consequence. I do, however, understand Brigadier Cronje's position that in consequence of this conversation he decided to act in future in the manner indicated by his amnesty application, and the applications of the other relevant applicants".
Now General we discussed this in consultation and you made certain remarks about the wording as it appears from paragraph E of your affidavit. Would you please just inform the members of the Committee what your views are about that paragraph?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair, I am convinced that the particular paragraph has not been worded entirely correctly. In consultation between myself and the lawyer I don't want to claim that the lawyers made any mistake, but I don't think that this is exactly what was intended or how I felt with regard to the matter. I think that the word "begryp" or understanding should be replaced by "sympathy", "sympatie". I had rather indicated that I had sympathy with the applicant. Insofar as the situation in the Division Northern Transvaal had been I expressed my sympathy.
MR VISSER: Let's just shorten the proceedings by me asking you this question. Are you saying or did you intend to say in the affidavit that you accept that whatever the members of the Security Branch Northern Transvaal did in eliminating people etc could, according to your view, be related to your instruction or to the conversation which you have had with Brigadier Cronje, is that what you intended to say?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair, I do not want to say that because of this conversation the applicants should have gone into the particular actions which it is claimed they then performed.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman we will make copies available to you as soon as we possibly can.
But with regard to the remainder, the balance of the affidavit is concerned do you confirm the correctness of that?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes, it is correct Chair.
MR VISSER: Can you then straightaway tell the Committee what transpired in March 1986, first of all which gave rise to a telephone conversation between you and Brigadier Cronje and secondly, tell the Committee what was said and what you intended with what was said during that telephone conversation? Would you please go slowly so that it can be translated and give us the full picture of what actually happened.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair, as it has already been said at that time I was attached to the Counter-Insurgence and Riot Unit. My own son, who at that time was a lieutenant, was for a number of months stationed at Mamelodi ...(intervention)
MR VISSER: Please permit me to interrupt, he has the same names as you have?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That's correct.
MR VISSER: Johannes Jacobus ...(intervention)
GEN J J VIKTOR: Johannes Jacobus Viktor, that is correct Chairman. He was the commanding officer of the Investigative Unit at Mamelodi which was involved in the investigation of instances of unrest or rioting. He was attached at the Detective Branch, not attached to the Security Branch.
I spoke to him telephonically on a particular day because I was concerned with that which he experienced in his working circumstances, I invited him to visit me at my office, Chair. On a particular day, he arrived there on a particular day ...(intervention)
MR VISSER: I think you're just going a little bit too quickly. You can go a little bit slower.
GEN J J VIKTOR: My apologies Chair. He arrived at my office in the company of a certain Hechter and one other person whose surname I cannot recall. I have subsequently been informed that his surname was van Jaarsveld.
The conversation between us or among us concerned the tremendous amount of intimidation which had ruled at that time, which was common at that time, particularly in the Black areas, intimidation which brought about a situation which did not allow the Police and the Investigative Unit to achieve their purpose with regard to cases against persons responsible for such intimidation.
It was not possible to bring persons before the courts. People were scared to come to the fore to give testimony. The people who were responsible for the intimidation were often known. The houses of our Black members were attacked with petrol bombs to such an extent that many of them had to flee out of their homes. In other words Chair, the situation was impossible. If one wanted to behave in a normal manner that was simply an unbearable situation.
MR VISSER: Were any solutions to the problems discussed on this day when your son and Hechter and van Jaarsveld met you in your office?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct Chair. From my side there had been a suggestion, since you know who the people who are responsible why don't you intimidate them back? Why don't you respond with your own intimidation? Chase these people whom you know to be responsible and for whom you are looking, chase them day and night.
MR VISSER: What do you intend to convey with the expression "jaag hom"?
GEN J J VIKTOR: In other words this person must have no opportunity to continue in peace with their intimidation amongst the general populace and against the police officers. This person must know that they are being hunted at their friends, at their families, amongst those who sympathise with them, they must be looked for and hunted down day and night.
MR VISSER: Was your intention, with that expression, or the way in which your son, Hechter and van Jaarsveld understood that suggestion of yours, that that boiled down to eliminating such a person?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair, not at all. I also said that our Black members and their families are under considerable strain, that there is much pressure being exerted against them or on them, should a police officer's home be attacked with a petrol bomb, and should it be known who was responsible for such action, then that person's home should also be attacked with a petrol bomb.
MR VISSER: May I just interrupt at this stage. Did you, during this conversation or at any time use the word "to act pro-actively"?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair no, I don't have that word in my vocabulary.
MR VISSER: Now the three persons who were with you while you were discussing the situation which you have now illustrated, were they under your command, any one of them?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair.
MR VISSER: Insofar as the command structure in the South African Police was concerned at that time, were you authorised to give them instructions for them to be obliged to carry out?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Not as far as their work would have been concerned, no. I want to mention again, having been a Security Branch commanding officer previously myself I knew that one would not receive instructions with regard to your work from anyone other than from the structure of the Security Branch itself.
MR VISSER: Now did you intend whatever you said at that meeting to be interpreted as an instruction or what was your intention?
GEN J J VIKTOR: It had merely been a suggestion Chair. In the first place I had mentioned that my son was one of the investigative officers or investigating officers, and since I did not consider this to have been an instruction I subsequently, later in that day, phoned Brigadier Cronje, who was the commanding officer of Pretoria, the Northern Transvaal.
MR VISSER: Was that telephone call made on the same day as the meeting in your office with your son and the other two gentlemen?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct Chair.
MR VISSER: Please tell the Committee what transpired during the course of that telephone conversation.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair, Brigadier Cronje and I know one another well. For many years we have known each other. I said to Brigadier Cronje, I mentioned to him what the members had discussed with me. I mentioned to him what the problems were that they were experiencing, the tremendous problems they were experiencing with regard to intimidation amongst the general populace and also with regard to the Black staff members of the South African Police. I repeated to him what my suggestion had been to these members.
MR VISSER: You may continue General.
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is all that transpired between myself and Brigadier Cronje.
ADV DE JAGER : General was the intention not that the suggestion should have been carried out?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair, I cannot decide for this person. These were junior members who visited me in my office, it was simply good manners, etiquette, to mention to Brigadier Cronje what I discussed with these junior members. I could not make decisions for him to act in a particular manner.
ADV DE JAGER: I understand that and that is why you gave him no command or instruction, you made a suggestion to him with regard to a potential route of action?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes it had been a suggestion how this particular problem might possibly be addressed.
ADV DE JAGER: And you considered this to be wise counsel?
GEN J J VIKTOR: In my view I did consider this to have been a good suggestion, yes.
MR VISSER: Thank you Mr Chairman. How do you believe did Brigadier Cronje understand what you were saying to him during that conversation? Do you believe that he understood it to be an instruction or how do you believe did he understand it?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair, I believe that Brigadier Cronje accepted this as a suggestion.
MR VISSER: Was, in that conversation or at any time thereafter, did Brigadier Cronje discuss with you an action plan or a contingency plan in order to put into place or into operation what you had suggested to him?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Not ever again, no.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman I am referring now to page 142. There are other references as well. In the middle of the page it's line 13 onwards Mr Chairman, it goes to the bottom of the page.
During the telephone conversation did you at any stage suggest that Brigadier Cronje should embark on a full-scale war, guerilla warfare?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair.
MR VISSER: According to your recollection of that conversation was there anything that you said that might have reasonably induced him to draw that inference?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair.
MR VISSER: The suggestion appears, from page 142 and other passages in the record, seems to suggest that within some time after the telephone conversation which we are speaking about now, the whole of this security force of the South African Police all over the country commenced with a whole new order of approach, a whole new Police policy, a whole new Police policy in which as it were no prisoners were taken and people were free to eliminate, the Security Branch were free to eliminate people. And the reason being, as we understand it, was that there was a problem because you could arrest a person who you knew to be an activist or a terrorist and within due time you would have to release him because there would be no evidence to prosecute him in court.
Now against that background it is suggested, was suggested to General van der Merwe, that actually this general instruction which you gave to Brigadier Cronje in March 1986 must have come from a higher authority, either the State Security Council or the government itself because, according to Brigadier Cronje, and according to his insight, that policy was implemented all over the country. Can you please just give us your reaction to that?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair the policy in the Security Branch I could not comment on since I was not attached to the Security Branch.
MR VISSER: Were you in a position to give such an order which would have national implication as far as a radical change of policy in police work of the Security Branch was concerned?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair I was not in a position and I did not have the authority to give such an instruction.
MR VISSER: Now of course we know, and it's a question of history, that the first general state of emergency was declared on the 12th of June 1986. We also now know that your conversation with Brigadier Cronje took place in March of the same year, which was approximately three months prior to a general state of emergency being declared.
My question to you is this General, did Brigadier Cronje at any time after the telephone conversation which you have testified to now, at any time come back to you to ask for further instructions from you or to report to you about what had been done in regard to that telephone conversation?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Not at any point Chair, or not at any time.
MR VISSER: What, as far as you were concerned, General was the position as far as the riot situation in the country was concerned after the declaration of the state of emergency? How did that change matters, if at all?
GEN J J VIKTOR: It provided the Police with greater powers with regard to the detention of persons. I do not have the statistics available to me now to see what changes this affected ...(intervention)
MR VISSER: If I may interrupt you General what we are really getting at is this. We know prior to, you've told us so, that prior to the state of emergency, we know the fact was that the Police may have known very well who certain culprits were but they found themselves in a position where they could do nothing about it because of intimidation and because such persons, although arrested, would have to be released. And from that point of view your suggestion was chase him, don't let him rest, don't give him an opportunity to commit more or other acts of violence, keep the pressure on.
And secondly, if you know and you are certain of who attacked the residences of policemen with petrol bombs, do the same to them, in order to fill in the gap because of the problem which you've had with having to release arrested persons for not being able to successfully prosecute them in court.
My question to you is this, was there any change in that situation as a result of the declaration of the state of emergency on the 12th of June 1986?
GEN J J VIKTOR: As I've already mentioned Chair the state of emergency and the emergency regulations provided the Police with greater powers to be able to remove such persons from society.
MR VISSER: Are you thereby saying, and I don't want to lead you, are you thereby saying that the emergency regulations filled the gap which you intended to suggest by the methods you suggested to Brigadier Cronje earlier?
GEN J J VIKTOR: To a large extent yes Chair, although of course matters did not end there, or things did not become quiet then.
MR VISSER: General, it is Thabedi Mr Chairman, the reference I was looking for a little earlier is at page 242 of your record. At page 242, as we read the evidence, and we may be wrong and if we are we will stand corrected, Van Vuuren gave evidence and in the middle of the page he is questioned by Mr du Plessis and at line 17, perhaps it's a good place to start Mr Chairman, just to refresh your memory he says this, he says;
"Captain Hechter informed me that myself, him and Mamasela, as well as Colonel Flip Loots had to eliminate Jerry Thabedi as he had been identified as an ANC activist".
And then further down the page, at line 28 the question is put,
"Who exactly made the decision to eliminate Thabedi?"
And the answer to that from Van Vuuren is,
"I would believe that this was a general decision by General Viktor....."
or as it's stated here "Victor".
"....which he communicated to Captain Hechter".
Now General, do you know anything about this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I bear no knowledge and would not have borne any knowledge of a Thabedi, nor did I see Hechter after the very first meeting in my office, so there would not have been such an instruction to him.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, for your information may I refer to pages 97 and 603-605. General, in the evidence before this Committee reference was made to an incident at Nietverdiend. We are not going to go into the details of that incident but if I remember correctly what it entailed was injecting certain occupants of a combi motor vehicle and thereafter driving the combi into a ditch and blowing it up with the resulting death of some number of persons.
At page 97 of the record, at line 20 thereabouts Mr Chairman, that paragraph deals with the Nietverdiend incident, it was suggested to General van der Merwe that there would be evidence to the effect that you, General, telephoned Brigadier Cronje and congratulated him with his success of that particular operation.
And if I then may refer you to the other references, pages 603 and following Mr Chairman. It deals with the incident again from page 603 and at page 605, well perhaps at the bottom of 603 line 30 I may read to refresh your memory.
"The Botswana Police investigated this car wreck and the remains of the persons in it. There were some newspaper reports after which General Viktor phoned me to ask me whether it had been our staff who were hurt. I told him that was the case".
Well that's not strictly correct because Mr Chairman if we recall correctly I think it was a member of the South African Defence Force that was hurt, but be that as it may.
"I told him that was the case. He congratulated me with that operation".
Now General you've been listening to what I've been reading to refresh the memory of the Committee members, what do you say about that evidence?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair in the first place with regard to what exactly occurred there as it is now placed in the record, during last year September/October I heard for the first time what the actual facts were with regard to the incident.
MR VISSER: Did you telephone Brigadier Cronje in relation to this incident at all?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I can mention Chair that during that time the Counter-Insurgency Unit did have a base close to Nietverdiend. There had been a report regarding recruits for terrorism who had accidentally blown themselves up and that these persons would have been people from Pretoria and that someone had in fact been injured. This was the reason for my personal interest to determine whether any of the people had been injured there. There had not been any congratulations since, as far as I was concerned, the report had been that these were persons who blew themselves up, accidentally.
MR VISSER: General while we are on that point perhaps it is convenient to deal with that issue straightaway. First of all reports or situation reports, SITREPS as we know them, from Division Northern Transvaal Security Branch, would that have been forwarded to Counter-Insurgency?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair this would have gone to the Security Branch head office.
MR VISSER: Did you have sitting on any of the committees which were at the time dealing with unrest and Counter-Insurgency and/or Riot Control?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes Chair I did have sitting on the Joint Management System where an deputy minister had been the Chair and a variety of departments had representatives on this body.
MR VISSER: Yes. The Committee has heard evidence about how the Joint Management System works. The only question I wish to ask you is this, were there occasions at which Brigadier Cronje was present at a committee meeting where you were also present and where he made reports?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair, Brigadier Cronje would have had sitting in his division in the Northern Transvaal.
MR VISSER: Lastly are you aware General of reports which came in from Security Branch Northern Transvaal which explicitly referred to incidents and which explicitly reported that the Security personnel had eliminated persons outside the boundaries of the law, unlawfully in other words? Are you aware of any such reports?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I never saw such a report Chair.
MR VISSER: Did you have sitting on what is known in these inquiries as TREVITS?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I did not know of the existence of something like this until during this investigation I read in the newspaper of the existence and founding of such an organisation as TREVITS.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman perhaps for your convenience may I give you all the references, it's page 108, I haven't got the lines, 108, 154, 478-485 and 498-490 where TREVITS is dealt with. Now in the evidence there was reference to a "Victor", spelt V-I-C-T-O-R, first of all does that refer to you?
GEN J J VIKTOR: This could not be me Chair, no.
MR VISSER: Do you know of another person, well apart from your son, which is also V-I-K-T-O-R, but another person whose surname, in the Police, whose surname was spelt V-I-C-T-O-R?
GEN J J VIKTOR: There is such a person Chair.
MR VISSER: Can you identify such a person as closely as you can?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I think that this person was a Karel, his first name was Karel, who was attached to the Security Branch.
MR VISSER: Would you bear with me a short moment Mr Chairman.
ADV DE JAGER: Do you have any idea what this person's rank might have been?
GEN J J VIKTOR: What his rank might have been at that time Chair, no, I do not know.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman we believe, with respect, that that's the gist of the evidence. We could go on and make it a fuller presentation but with respect we believe that a proper basis has been laid for sensible cross-examination. If you agree with that we will have no further questions at this time.
I am sorry Mr Chairman my attention has just been drawn to another issue Mr Chairman and that is this, in the affidavit I see we have one clear copy here which we are going to hand up to you straightaway Mr Chairman, I wasn't aware that we have a spare copy, but there is also reference to a Jeffrey Sibiya Mr Chairman. Now perhaps I should just ask the General about that as well.
General in your affidavit you dealt in paragraph 3 with a person, Jeffrey Sibiya, we have no reference on the evidence on record which we obtained Mr Chairman, so we don't have further and fuller information, but do you know of a Jeffrey Sibiya who was eliminated General, and if so did you have anything to do with his elimination?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I do not know any such a person and I have never known any such a person. Once again Chair I want to state that if this was one of the persons whom it is claimed were assassinated close to Pienaar's River then I can say again that the first time I heard of this incident was last year roughly in October from General van der Merwe.
MR VISSER: And what was it precisely that you heard? It had something to do with electric shocks or something.
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct Chair, General van der Merwe mentioned to me that this person or persons had apparently been shocked to death close to the Pienaar's River. This was the first occasion on which I had heard of such an incident.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman would you prefer as a reference at this stage, to accept my copy. It is marked but no notes have been made. My learned friend can inspect it if he wishes, but just as a reference in the meantime.
CHAIRMAN: Yes would you please hand it in.
MR VISSER: May I add Mr Chairman that I have drawn up a list of page references to other issues which you may wish to - it's one page, we will also make a copy of that and give it to you so that you have a ready reference on the record when you deal with certain subjects.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
MR VISSER: Perhaps in the meantime I could give you one of these as well. We attempted for copies to be made but unfortunately we were not successful, I am sorry Mr Chairman.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR VISSER
CHAIRMAN: Should the need arise you will be forwarded another opportunity if you think you want to develop any further points that General Viktor has given arising out of the questions.
MR VISSER: We appreciate that Mr Chairman, thank you.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Currin.
MR CURRIN ADDRESSES: Mr Chairman in order not to waste time we have agreed that Mr du Plessis will put his questions first and after that I will review my situation to see whether in fact I have any questions at all. It depends on what comes out of the questions which Mr du Plessis puts to the Brigadier. If that pleases the Committee I think it will be the quicker way of dealing with it.
CHAIRMAN: Yes Mr du Plessis.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chairman. General I will do the cross-examination in Afrikaans.
What I wanted to read to you first of all, before we continue with the cross-examination, I want to read to you a passage from the opening statement made at the beginning of testimony just with regard to Brigadier Cronje, Captain Hechter, W/O van Vuuren, Colonel Venter and Captain Mentz, to sketch for you the background from where Brigadier Cronje and them find themselves with regard to the applications, what their approach is to their applications and what their views are. I will read to you from the record from page 9.
This is now in English.
"We will give evidence about our actions during the time of the conflict and will show that all our actions were purely and simply associated with the political objective, namely, to uphold the National Party government and apartheid, to fight communism and to resist liberation of South Africa and democracy for all in South Africa. We are not criminals. We have never committed any criminal deed outside the sphere of the conflicts of the past, and we have not accepted any extra financial or patrimonial incentives for anything we have done. We believed that we acted bona fide in the interests of our country and our people. We will show that we at all times believed that we were acting in the course and scope of our duties and within the scope of our authority".
Page 11, and I would ask you to listen very carefully please General.
"We, as proud Afrikaners, are part of this country and shall be part of this country in the future. We are prepared to forgive those who have sinned against us in the past. We have forgiven the concentration camps of the Boer War where innocent women and children have died. We are prepared to forgive those who have waged war during the struggle, also on innocent women and children.
We similarly ask forgiveness for those who lost their lives and those who were injured and we share the grief of those family members of victims who have suffered during the era of conflict.
We have sincere regret that people have suffered on both sides and we wish to express the sincere hope that the time for truth and reconciliation in South Africa has now arrived.
We call upon our superiors, and the previous government, not to deny responsibility but to stand by the people and to admit responsibility for what was done by us in our endeavours to keep them in power.
We all supported the National Party until 1994. What we had done was always in the interests of the National Party and its objectives. We believed in the policies of the National Party and believed that we had to carry out our duties in support of our party.
We state emphatically that we have been deserted by the National Party and that we have so-to-speak been thrown away in the gutter where we now have to take the responsibility on our shoulders to deal with our past, to motivate our actions and to present our view, as Afrikaners, of the conflict.
We call upon the previous government and our superiors to explain certain orders given to us about which we shall testify and to admit to authorising actions outside the normal processes of the law such as are demonstrated by the facts of our deeds and the authorisation thereof".
Now General this is the gist of the opening statement prior to Brigadier Cronje's initial testimony, do you take note of this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes this is in writing so I take note of it.
MR DU PLESSIS: Good. I want to cross-examine you, ask you a few very friendly questions, just against the background of that which I have read to you. You have given testimony that you worked at the Counter-Insurgency Unit, is that the fact?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is on record.
MR DU PLESSIS: General could you give us a little more information with regard to the actual activities of the Counter-Insurgency Unit, just give us some more information about what you actually did as a Counter-Insurgency Unit?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I have already given testimony that the Counter-Insurgency Unit during that time was involved in the protection of our borders to ensure that unwelcome persons would not be able to penetrate the country or infiltrate the country.
MR DU PLESSIS: What then did the Counter-Insurgency Unit have to do with regard to this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: The borders were patrolled in an effort to track down such persons attempting to infiltrate the country. Should there have been some fighting or a skirmish then from the side of the Police there would of course have been action.
MR DU PLESSIS: Good. With regard to unrest or rioting you mentioned that this was a Counter-Insurgency and Riot Unit, what was the responsibilities of the Unit with regard to rioting or unrest?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Unrest control, the persons who took part in such unrest control, were all persons trained, specially trained to control unrest. Unrest is what the word implies, it is unrest.
MR DU PLESSIS: What exactly should these persons then have done? In what manner did they have to control unrest? Could you give us some detail?
GEN J J VIKTOR: To control unrest you had to suppress this with force or violence if necessary.
MR DU PLESSIS: Could you perhaps be a little more concrete, if you say "suppress unrest with violence" in what manner?
GEN J J VIKTOR: You could probably not detain persons or treat people who are responsible for chaos, to just treat them with kid gloves, in a manner that's careful, one had to act with force. The culture of the Police is that of course of minimum violence, but to control the unrest situation would depend on the unrest situation as such.
MR DU PLESSIS: You are saying that it would be countered, possibly with violence, if the circumstances require that if I understand you correctly, would you personally have been involved in the handling of unrest at any stage?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes I had been sent down to the Eastern Cape personally.
MR DU PLESSIS: And these persons involved in unrest and who acted in that situation I suppose that some of these persons were arrested, would that not be the case?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct Chair.
MR DU PLESSIS: Apart from arresting people in what other ways would you have acted against such persons?
GEN J J VIKTOR: As I have already mentioned an unrest situation is a situation of chaos and your training would be to make use of teargas, to make use of rubber bullets, to make us of shotgun bullets, depending on the particular situation.
MR DU PLESSIS: General we could then assume that the use of this kind of means, and the use for instance of shotgun shot that people could be injured, is that correct?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct.
MR DU PLESSIS: To return to the management or handling of the counter-insurgency function, did this at any point involve actions across our borders or beyond our borders?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Not with regard to the Police as far as I bear knowledge. Or at least not from the Riot Unit as far as I know.
MR DU PLESSIS: So this entailed internal actions, actions within the borders of the country?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Are you referring to Counter-Insurgency or Riot Control, because Riot Control could only be internal?
MR DU PLESSIS: General had there been armed terrorists who infiltrated the country during that time?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is the case Chair.
MR DU PLESSIS: Well then can you recall instances where armed terrorists had been arrested?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I would not be able to provide statistics at this point with regard to this.
MR DU PLESSIS: Could you recall any particular instances, an instance of an armed terrorist having been arrested?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Are you referring to 1986?
MR DU PLESSIS: Let's speak of the period from 1984 to 1987, particularly the period of time when you served in the Counter-Insurgency Unit.
GEN J J VIKTOR: I cannot at this moment recall any such instances.
MR DU PLESSIS: You cannot recall a single armed terrorist who had been arrested. Can you recall any single armed terrorist who would have shot during that period of time?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I cannot recall Chair.
MR DU PLESSIS: Brigadier would you be able to recall, apart from arrests which you cannot recall, you cannot recall any single terrorists being arrested, you cannot recall an armed terrorist having been shot, can you recall any actions whatsoever, give us an example of action against armed terrorists infiltrating the country?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I do not have details available to me at the moment. I cannot refer you to any particular instances which I can tell you about that yes this occurred or that occurred.
MR DU PLESSIS: General van der Merwe has also given testimony before this Committee and I want to work through his testimony to some extent with you and I would appreciate your comment on some aspects. Have you read his testimony, may I enquire?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No I have only read a short or brief section of his testimony.
MR DU PLESSIS: I will read some sections to you. And for purposes of the Committee I will refer to the exact page and lines Mr Chairman of General van der Merwe's evidence.
CHAIRMAN: Put them to him.
MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chairman. General on page 69 General van der Merwe says,
"The South African Police came to experience harsh practical problems in communicating with their sources or agents and even being able to ensure their personal safety. In cases where the slightest suspicion existed the suspected informer or agent was eliminated, sometimes in the most brutal fashion.
Incidents such as car bomb explosions, limpet mine and handgrenade attacks and other acts of terror which members of the Police and their families, as well as ordinary civilians, were exposed to over a lengthy period of time would lead to a hardening of attitudes and that a creation of a climate of hate, both within the ranks of the Police as well as that of the civilian population".
MR DU PLESSIS: Would you agree with this testimony?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes Chair I could agree with this testimony.
MR DU PLESSIS: At the bottom of the particular page in line 30 General van der Merwe says,
"The fact that both MK and eventually the Azanian People's Liberation Army, APLA, members started using neighbouring frontline states as a springboard for launching their armed attacks against the Republic led directly to the establishment of a cross-border capability aimed at eliminating or neutralising this very real threat.
A counter-revolutionary intelligence task team was created and comprised members of the National Intelligence Service, the South African Police and the South African Defence Force. It was their task to proper evaluate and coordinate all intelligence regarding the revolutionary threat facing the Republic and especially with regard to identifying and prioritising political targets which posed such a threat".
Can you recall this, can you agree with this testimony?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I have already given testimony that I do not know of any organisation such as TREVITS, because I believe that this is to what you are referring.
MR DU PLESSIS: Let me ask you this in a different manner then. Have you ever heard of a counter-revolutionary strategy? Have you ever heard of the existence of a counter-revolutionary strategy?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes there had always been mention of the so-called "total onslaught" and of counter-strategies to this.
MR DU PLESSIS: Where would such mention have been, could you maybe expand on your testimony?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I would claim Chair, that in the Police as such, in one's workplace there would have been discussions with regard to this as I have already mentioned. "Total onslaught" as you know was a political statement which you've heard of all day, which you heard every day and all day in all parts of society there was this mention of total onslaught and the counter-revolutionary strategies. I believe in every department where there would have been sittings, such as in the JMC's there would have been discussions how the revolution could be countered, turned back.
MR DU PLESSIS: Did you ever understand there to have been a counter-revolutionary strategy accepted as policy by the government of the day or by the security forces at that time?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I could not comment on this Chair.
MR DU PLESSIS: Do you have any knowledge or do you not have any knowledge in regard to this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I have no knowledge with regard to this.
MR DU PLESSIS: I just want to make sure that I understand you correctly General, you are saying that you bear no knowledge of any policy of the government of that day which had anything to do with a counter-revolutionary strategy?
MR VISSER: That is not what he said Mr Chairman, he said,
that he did not bear knowledge of the "existence" of such a policy. There is a minute difference here.
MR DU PLESSIS: Could you explain this difference for us? Could you indicate as to what the difference is?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I do not know to what the Advocate might refer to, what the difference is. You've referred to a counter-revolutionary strategy.
MR DU PLESSIS: Well then I withdraw Mr Chairman. General let me ask you the question again. Do I understand your testimony correctly that as far as you can recall you never bore knowledge of a counter-revolutionary strategy, you had no knowledge of the existence of a policy referred to as a counter-revolutionary strategy?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I did not know of this as having been an official policy which had been declared at a government level.
MR DU PLESSIS: Was there any mention or discussion in the Counter-Insurgency Unit with regard to a counter-revolutionary strategy or was this never clearly mentioned?
GEN J J VIKTOR: As I've mentioned earlier in Police circles we did indeed refer or discuss this.
MR DU PLESSIS: Well what then did you discuss with regard to it?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair, as I have already mentioned, in institutions such as the JMC's, the Joint Management Councils it is widely known that there was a revolution, every department had to make some effort to counter this revolutionary effort.
MR DU PLESSIS: Ja, good. Allow me to refer you to a document which had been handed in the applications of the five applicants as Z, a piece of evidence Z, on page 9 there is reference to the Simon's Town summit, do you know anything about the Simon's Town summit in 1980.
GEN J J VIKTOR: I know nothing of that.
MR DU PLESSIS: As a consequence of the Simon's Town summit there was a visit from the then Prime Minister to Taiwan and an additional visit of a number of senior officials to Taiwan at the end of 1980 and as a consequence of these visits there was a document on the 15th of March 1985 presented to the State Security Council, do you know anything about this document?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I bear no knowledge of this document.
MR DU PLESSIS: This particular document claims that there should have been use made of a counter-revolutionary doctrine ...(intervention)
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is military language.
MR DU PLESSIS: Good. And in view of this Captain van Jaarsveld said TREVITS was then founded which was the Counter Revolutionary Information Task Group known as TREVITS, which was linked to the counter-revolutionary strategies and documents of the government and there was then a new phase in the efforts to counter the revolutionary onslaught, do you bear any knowledge of this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I have already mentioned that I bore no knowledge of TREVITS. If I look at the names in the record of the members these would have been Security Branch members.
MR DU PLESSIS: I then want to refer you to the next. He says;
"There was a recommendation on the 15th of March 1985 which brought about the founding of the National Coordinating Committee. The National Coordinating Committee was responsible for coordinating.....
(the Interpreter must unfortunately cease to interpret the reading is too rapid and there is no document available) ...(intervention)
CHAIRMAN: Will you just read it slowly because the Interpreter is having difficulty interpreting it.
MR DU PLESSIS: Oh I beg your pardon Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: You are reading too fast, please.
MR DU PLESSIS: I am trying to save time. I beg your pardon I will read slower.
"The National Coordinating Committee was responsible for coordinating efforts on the regional level to combat the revolutionary onslaught and to achieve other national purposes. The function of this body was to take into account departmental planning; to counter the revolutionary onslaught and to initiate actions; to coordinate executive actions and to monitor such actions, and to report to the working and Cabinet committees with regard to these activities".
He then continues to say,
"TREVITS was then founded....."
and he mentions that,
"During 1986 the Security Forces and departments were tasked to formulate their own counter-revolutionary strategies and to execute these actions".
Do you bear any knowledge with regard to this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I've already mentioned that at the Joint Management Councils the various departments were represented. You would then have heard what every department attempted to achieve .......
MR MPSHE: Mr Chairman I requested that we wait a little bit until the shuttling shall have stopped.
CHAIRMAN: Yes, will you proceed.
MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chairman. Can you recall that the departments and the Security Forces were tasked to develop their own counter-revolutionary strategies, can you recall this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: As I have already mentioned at the Joint Management Councils every department indicated what they did in order to counter the revolution.
MR DU PLESSIS: He then continues to say that,
"For instance the Counter-Insurgency Unit of the South African Police had a very important role with regard to handling unrest in the Black areas of the then South Africa".
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct. The Unrest Unit or Riot Units were involved in controlling unrest, particularly in Black areas.
MR DU PLESSIS: General if we agree on this could you then agree with this statement that the actions of your unit and the actions of the Security Branch aimed at countering unrest and preventing terrorism would have been part of the counter-revolutionary strategy of the government of that day, would you agree with that statement?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I could agree with that statement, and that is what was involved, to control unrest and if possible Chair, to prevent it.
MR DU PLESSIS: Good. General that which Brigadier Cronje and Mr Hechter and them, the testimony they gave with regard to pro-active efforts with regard to the counter-revolutionary strategy that is exactly what you now have confirmed. Pro-active actions were actions intended to prevent insurgency and to prevent unrest. Is there any reason you might have to deny this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I do not believe it is so, I said to the Committee here what my suggestion had been both to the members in my office as well as to Brigadier Cronje. Chair I could not agree with the statement that what they want to ask amnesty for would be within the ambit of the prevention of unrest and counter-insurgency.
MR DU PLESSIS: We will get to the discussion that you had. General van der Merwe says then on page 71, from line 8 on,
"It is undoubtedly so that militaristic and political inspired speeches often made it difficult for the security forces becoming more and more emotionally involved, to be able to distinguish between that which was normally justifiable in terms of the law and that which was not. This status quo led to members of the Security Branch, who had to deal with the most horrendous manifestations of violence on a day-to-day basis, ultimately becoming equally disillusioned and negatively influenced regarding these matters".
Could you agree with this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair personally I have never paid much attention to political speeches. I have never once in my life voted for any political party and I have never been a member of any political party. I would, however, agree that political propaganda did have a negative influence on the security forces.
MR DU PLESSIS: Good. General, in the presentation of the previous Commissioners of Police which General van der Merwe read into the record, particularly paragraph 5 where he says, and this is on page 5, paragraph 13, my apologies, he refers to the fact that the "struggle had become more intense, or the conflict had become more intense", and at the top of page 5 he says,
"This turn of events was to lead to the South African Police entering the shadowy world of guerilla warfare and counter-insurgency operations, while in other respects the members concerned were at the height of confrontations also exposed to countering the normal strategies of a conventional military struggle".
Would you agree with him or differ?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Could I read the paragraph myself Chair, if you will allow me.
INTERPRETER: The Interpreters would appreciate a mention again to Mr du Plessis to just keep his reading speed down somewhat.
CHAIRMAN: I think you are required to keep your speed down a little bit to enable the Interpreters to do their bit.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Is the statement that this is what in fact occurred?
MR DU PLESSIS: This is what all four of the previous Commissioners of Police the situation had been. I want to ask you whether you agree with this or not.
GEN J J VIKTOR: I do agree with this.
MR DU PLESSIS: Then on page 8, paragraph 25 General van der Merwe reads as follows, and he's also given testimony that the other Commissioners......
"It is well known that violence begets violence and as has occurred in conflict and violence all over the world serious and reprehensible abuses occurred on all sides of the multi-faceted struggle in South Africa. Members of the South African Police and their families were murdered and maimed, in some cases in most gruesome ways and were further isolated and rejected by certain communities as a result of the actions by the ANC/SACP alliance and the PAC".
Would you agree with this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct, that is what in fact occurred.
MR DU PLESSIS: Then paragraph 26,
"The nature of this conflict and violence lured the traditional distinction between combatants and non-combatants, between legitimate and illegitimate targets and more importantly between acceptable and unacceptable methods. They often occurred in the grey area between legitimate orders given, the interpretation of such orders in circumstances where secrecy and other factors made proper communication difficult or impossible, requests which were not always properly expressed or formulated and a mixing of cultures of the various security departments through the National Management System".
Would you agree with this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is what the General said, this is not what I would say.
MR DU PLESSIS: What then would you say?
GEN J J VIKTOR: If I understand correctly why you are reading this to me this would involve the lack of clarity with regard to requests and commands and how this would then be brought in to bear on my suggestion to the members and Brigadier Cronje. I would not be able to speak on behalf of General van der Merwe, that is his view which he had stated on that occasion.
MR DU PLESSIS: General all four of the previous Commissioners of Police would make this claim. They claim that eventually it was no longer clear, if I understand this paragraph correctly, that eventually it was no longer clear what was allowed and what was not allowed; what was legal and what was not legal. For the ordinary police officer it was no longer possible to determine where the limits were between these things. Are you saying that that is not the case?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I am not impressed by the fact that these four previous Commissioners are now thrown at me. I served under all four of them. I am not saying that this is nonsense. You are referring to the ordinary police officer, what the ordinary police officer understood. I am saying that this has no bearing on me as a person.
MR DU PLESSIS: They continue on page 10, paragraph 29 to say,
"A grey area was to develop in which all parties became more and more desperate and various political leaders on both sides of the political spectrum exerted their forces to greater heights and pressurised them to achieve further successes in carrying out their respective tasks".
CHAIRMAN: I think you must understand now there's a - you have a reaction from this witness who has been listening to these statements that you have been reading out to him and you are inviting his comment, where does that get you?
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman if you will just bear with me, please.
CHAIRMAN: Because I think that we have got to bring this to an end otherwise it's going to carry on ad infinitum.
MR DU PLESSIS: Well Mr Chairman the evidence that this witness gave, as I understood some of the evidence that he gave Mr Chairman, was that there was no question at all that any orders to act illegitimately were given or could have been given at that time. Now that contradicts what the Generals say and I just want to clear up exactly where does he differ from the Generals Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Now he's told you the limits of what he knows and what he said at that meeting and which was then conveyed telephonically. Now that's the limit of what he says and how far can you push?
MR DU PLESSIS: Alright Mr Chairman ...(intervention)
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, thank you Mr Chairman, I will then end this line with the following question ...(intervention)
JUDGE NGOEPE: Sorry Mr du Plessis before you leave that point, I hear your response but I think the way I understand the question put by Mr du Plessis, he's inviting you as an experienced policeman, you had been in the police force since 1947 until 1989 when you retired ...(intervention)
GEN J J VIKTOR: I spent another two years in Ciskei Sir.
JUDGE NGOEPE: Yes. And he is inviting you to express your own personal opinion with regard to the assessment of the situation, whether your personal assessment of the situation accords with that one which has been made by the other Generals, I think you could be in a position to do that actually.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair as I understand it that is how the Generals saw the situation. I would agree that indeed there had been tremendous pressure, there was a great deal of chaos, it is the case that innocent persons became involved in these matters, but I do believe, Chair, that it's not possible for me to speculate. If the Commissioner or General van der Merwe says what the ordinary police officer might have thought I cannot speculate on what the ordinary police officer might have thought.
MR DU PLESSIS: But you see General there's more involved here. What is involved here is that General van der Merwe, amongst others, gives testimony with regard to a particular incident where instructions were given by Minister Le Grange that there had to be use of Zero handgrenades, it's a handgrenade set at the Zero setting so that the moment that you draw the pin it explodes, and that these handgrenades were to be given to persons, persons who had the intention to attack the homes of police officers with these handgrenades which led to these people being blown up by the handgrenades the moment they drew the pins. He has given testimony that he himself gave that instruction, that he received the instruction from Minister Le Grange.
Here we have a particular incident where the actions went beyond the normal legal legitimate action which police officers were allowed to carry out. This occurred illegally and General van der Merwe gave testimony with regard to this. He also gave testimony with regards to Khotso House, where Khotso House was attacked with a bomb which was also an illegitimate and illegal action. All that I am asking you is whether you bore any knowledge of, for instance, the Zero handgrenade incident?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair I bore no knowledge of this incident.
MR DU PLESSIS: If General van der Merwe, and the other Commissioners who drafted this document with him, if they gave testimony with regard to such illegal actions, would you deny that these actions were illegal? I've told you what I'm referring to already.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes these would have been illegal actions.
I have said in terms of our law this would have been illegal actions.
MR DU PLESSIS: You have also given testimony that when you gave the instruction, or rather in your statement when you spoke to Captain Hechter and to your son and to Captain van Jaarsveld, and your testimony is that you said the following,
"If you know who these persons are who are responsible intimidate them back, chase them day and night. They must have no opportunity to continue with intimidation. They must know that they are being hunted down".
What exactly should they have done?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Exactly what I said there. If you chase a person day and night Chair then this person would have no opportunity to continue with intimidations and with attacks on the homes of police officers.
MR DU PLESSIS: But General then how do you chase them, should you arrest them?
GEN J J VIKTOR: If you can catch him you must arrest him, but you must make it difficult for him to continue with his actions. You should go around to his people, his friends, his family, his sympathisers, you must look for him and which you are allowed to do, and he must know you are tracking him down.
MR DU PLESSIS: So all that you intended ...(intervention)
JUDGE NGOEPE: Sorry, sorry in that case there's nothing new that you would have been suggesting. They would have known that if you find somebody doing that you arrest them. Surely you are not suggesting anything new?
GEN J J VIKTOR: This is indeed nothing new Chair. But you know you can sort of look for someone, for a suspect, but when you spend 100% of your time on a limited number of people, as I have said to chase them day and night, this may perhaps not be anything new, this statement, but as someone who has some experience and if an experienced person says to the young person try this, chase him.
ADV DE JAGER: If you continue chasing him sometime or other you will have to catch him. Now you arrest him, you bring him before the Court and people complained that no one wants to bring testimony, there's intimidation, they can't prosecute the person, that's what they complained to you about, they were not able to prosecute successfully. They asked you, they thought that they would get assistance from you with regard to how they should handle this problem.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair what then is the question.
ADV DE JAGER: The question is, what might you have been able to do? We all know they could have arrested them, but what apart from arresting could they have done?
GEN J J VIKTOR: There wasn't very much more they could do during that time Chair. You had to keep the person moving.
MR DU PLESSIS: General let me refresh your memory with regard to your own testimony. You've said that you spoke to your son at Mamelodi, you said that Hechter and him should come and see you for a little informal discussion in your office ...(intervention)
GEN J J VIKTOR: No I never said he and Hechter should come and visit me.
MR DU PLESSIS: But you did say he should come and see you, Hechter and van Jaarsveld just happened to come along.
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct.
MR DU PLESSIS: You then said that the conversation involved the considerable intimidation during that time, particularly in the Black living areas; that there was intimidation which made it impossible for the police and the Investigative Unit to achieve their purposes; they were not able to bring people before court, no one wanted to bring testimony; these people were well-known; the police officers were attacked with petrol bombs and the situation was unbearable. If I understand you correctly what you are now saying to us is that you were worried about the situation but all that you could really say to these policemen is that they had to do their job, they just had to continue arresting these people, do I understand you correctly?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct. I cannot make it any clearer, chase these people, keep them moving.
MR DU PLESSIS: You never went so far even as to give an instruction or to make it stronger, you only made the suggestion to them, they must chase these people, they must just do their job well and arrest these people, is that correct?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I have mentioned already that this was a suggestion. I was not in a position, since we are working here with Security Branch staff I could not give them instructions.
MR DU PLESSIS: I hear what you are saying with regard to this General and we will get to that in a moment. The question I am asking you, and which the Committee has asked you, we are asking you to help us. We were not involved in the system at that time. We are trying to understand the system. What we are asking you is, you were concerned about this entire situation. The situation was unbearable. But you are saying to these people, in an informal suggestion, folks just do your job, go and arrest these people, why would you say this to them, in view of your concerns?
JUDGE WILSON: He gave his evidence originally, I do not recollect him saying anything about "arrest people", he said chase them, hunt them, intimidate them - arrest them.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, thank you, thank you Mr Chairman you are absolutely 100% correct. In the context of that question he didn't say that.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr du Plessis, but didn't he go on to say something further, he stated that the suggestion he gave them was if a fellow policeman's house had been bombed then they should do the same thing - and eye for an eye!
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes Mr Chairman I was building up to that one.
CHAIRMAN: It's now been built up already. (General laughter)
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I did not use the term or the phrase "an eye for an eye".
MS KHAMPEPE: That's correct.
MR DU PLESSIS: General let me state your own testimony to you. You said - your testimony was -
"Chase these people day and night. They must have no opportunity to continue with their intimidation. They must know that they are being hunted down. The instruction was not to eliminate these people, our people were under pressure. When a police officer's home was attacked with a petrol bomb then that person's house also had to be attacked with a petrol bomb. I did not, however, say that they should act pro-actively".
That was your testimony.
Now I want to ask you, explain to us in the context of your previous comments this statement with regard to throwing petrol bombs, thrown by police officers in the exercise of their duty, could you explain to us how this fits into this context.
GEN J J VIKTOR: I want to state again that I never used the word "pro-actively". My testimony is furthermore that where a police officer's home was attacked with a petrol bomb and if you know who the persons were who were responsible then that person's home should also be attacked with a petrol bomb. I did not say who should do this.
MR DU PLESSIS: Oh so you did not say who should do this?
JUDGE WILSON: Who do you suggest should do it?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I believe the members involved with the matter could have done it. On the other hand Chair, you would have people on your side who might well do this. I am referring for instance to persons who were supportive of the security forces, members of the public, members of the Black public who might have done this.
JUDGE WILSON: Members of gangs who were called in to help the Police.
GEN J J VIKTOR: No Chair, I bear no knowledge of gangs who were called in to assist the Police.
MR DU PLESSIS: Are you saying that action should have been taken by the Police to arrange that someone should throw petrol bombs, to organise that someone should throw petrol bombs at these people, why else would you say this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I have already explained that the members who were responsible for this matter, or persons who were supportive of the security forces, who did work with the security forces, should have done so.
MR DU PLESSIS: General ...(intervention)
MS KHAMPEPE: Can I interpose Mr du Plessis. General you proceeded to speak to Brigadier Cronje regarding the suggestions that you had discussed with his underlings.
GEN J J VIKTOR: That was my testimony, Chair.
MS KHAMPEPE: Couldn't one presume that the whole thing was again to engender a suggestion that you should also proceed to act in accordance with your suggestion?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I have mentioned that this was merely a suggestion. It was the responsibility of Brigadier Cronje to accept the suggestion or not. I could not give him instructions. It was not within the ambit of my powers to give him instructions.
MR DU PLESSIS: General but if you accepted it then it would have meant that you would have followed up on your suggestion to act illegally, is that correct?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Had he accepted it that was his own decision whether he wanted to carry it out or not.
MR DU PLESSIS: General, just to return to the throwing of petrol bombs, would you agree with me that to throw a petrol bomb at someone's house, whether a police officer does this, whether anyone else does this, that this would be an illegal, criminal act?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I would agree with you and I would take responsibility for it.
MR DU PLESSIS: What are you taking responsibility for General?
GEN J J VIKTOR: You are saying it is illegal for someone to have done so and if I had made such a suggestion, the suggestion, had it been carried out.
MR DU PLESSIS: Would you take responsibility for the suggestion having been carried out?
GEN J J VIKTOR: What I am saying is that, yes, I would bear responsibility for the suggestion.
MR DU PLESSIS: And for its execution?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes and for the action in terms of the suggestion.
MR DU PLESSIS: You would then accept, General, that to throw a petrol bomb might well lead to the death of a person?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is possible but very unlikely.
JUDGE WILSON: How can you say that? There have been numerous cases before our courts where women and children who are in houses that have been petrol-bombed have died in the fire, how can you say it's very unlikely?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair, no, perhaps I have said this too euphemistically, this might occur depending on where you throw the petrol bomb, if people are at home, if you throw the petrol bomb inside the house, through a window, then there would be problems.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman if you would just bear with me for a moment.
General what General van der Merwe and the previous Commissioners of Police were willing to do, they said - and one can argue about the meaning of this, this includes illegal actions such as the handgrenade incident.
"We as former Commissioners of the South African Police, we were in command of the South African Police during the period 1979 to 31 March 1995 are of the opinion that with regard to those incidents and acts committed or carried out by members of the South African Police during the conflict of the past, as illustrated in the proceeding paragraphs, are morally obliged to accept collective responsibility for those acts or incidents".
They are accepting moral responsibility. If illegal actions followed upon your suggestion what would your position be with regard to your responsibility?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I had never been informed that my suggestion had been accepted and that it would have been carried out. As I have already said, insofar as I have made suggestions I would take the moral responsibility for these.
MR DU PLESSIS: And you understood these to have been possibilities, that these persons and Brigadier Cronje might have acted on your suggestions, is that not the case?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No, I never knew whether they in fact acted in terms of the suggestion.
MR DU PLESSIS: You did, however, presume that they might have acted on your suggestion?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is the case Chair, but if I look at most or many of the cases for which they are applying for amnesty then this would not have fallen within the ambit of my suggestions.
MR DU PLESSIS: We will still argue on this General. Your testimony then is that members of the Security Branch received no command or would not have to carry out any instruction or command from you, do I understand you correctly?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct with regard to the activities of the Security Branch as such.
MR DU PLESSIS: And with regard to Police actions you are saying then?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No I said with regard to the actions of the Security Branch. I had been a commanding officer, I know how the system works.
MR DU PLESSIS: What kind of instructions could you then give to Security Branch members?
GEN J J VIKTOR: You don't give instructions to Security Branch members with regard to their work. I've said that, I've given testimony in regard to that Chair. You, as an outsider, one does not have the intimate knowledge with regard to particular matters. You would not know whether it involves information or whatever. As an outsider you would not have that knowledge. You could therefore not dare to give a Security Branch officer, with regard to his work, any such instructions.
MR DU PLESSIS: General you knew what happened in the Security Branch from 1963 to 1969, from 1981 you served in the Security Branch, you were commanding officer of the Northern Transvaal Branch, is that correct?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That's correct. And because I knew how the Security Branch worked I would not dare, with regard to their work, to give instructions to Security Branch members.
MR DU PLESSIS: Let's presume that you did give a command or instruction, if the Security Branch officer had a lower rank than yourself, could he simply ignore your instruction or command or did he have to carry it out?
GEN J J VIKTOR: He would refer it to his Security Branch head office and he would then say here is an outsider who gives me an instruction, what should I do?
MR DU PLESSIS: Let me state to you what the testimony of General van der Merwe has been with regard to this. Mr Chairman I see it is one o'clock, could I perhaps just finish this one question, then I am at the end of that specific point.
General, General van der Merwe on page 92 gives testimony, he had been asked, there's a statement made to him,
"Of course it was not possible to gain instruction for every action from one's subordinates and in certain instances commanding officers only gained information after actions were taken".
He agreed with this, are you agreeing with him?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Are we referring to the Security Branch?
MR DU PLESSIS: I am referring to the Security Branch, yes.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Depending Chair on the action. One would not, with regard to every action or every operative, you would not treat them in a small-minded way. You would allow own initiative, people would be allowed to do certain things on their own initiative and then come and report back.
MR DU PLESSIS: Let me state to you the testimony of Brigadier Cronje, a passage in his testimony which had been stated to General van der Merwe on page 92, Brigadier Cronje said,
"Early in 1986 I was contacted by Commander Viktor who was second in command of the Intelligence Unit - Counter-Insurgency Unit. Due to the structure of the SAP at that time Brigadier Viktor, my senior, I had to accept instructions from him".
The testimony then is that Brigadier Cronje said that you were his senior and he had to receive instructions from you, or rather he had to obey instructions from you, would you understand it in this way?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is his testimony.
MR DU PLESSIS: That is indeed his testimony. Then General van der Merwe replies on page 93.
"This is correct".
How would you reply to this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I would say that I do not agree with this. As a commanding officer of Security Branch you would not accept a command or instruction from another senior officer, from another branch of the security forces with regard to your work as a Security Branch officer. Had a suggestion been made to you then it would be accepted or expected that you would refer this to your senior in the Security Branch to determine whether he found it acceptable.
MR DU PLESSIS: So you are saying that General van der Merwe did not speak the truth under oath?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I am not saying he's a liar, I'm telling you what my point of view is.
MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chairman. Perhaps that's ....
CHAIRMAN: The Committee will now take an adjournment and will resume at 2 o'clock.
JOHANNES JACOBUS VIKTOR: (s.u.o.)
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR DU PLESSIS: (cont)
On page 6 of the application Captain Hechter says,
"The command given by General Viktor to Brigadier Cronje and also to myself, was given at the beginning of 1986. I was called in by Brigadier Viktor to SAP Head Office. Brigadier Viktor was at that time second in command of the Counter-Insurgency Unit. He saw me at about six o'clock in the morning. I was present as well as Lt Jaap van Jaarsveld and his son, Captain Johan Viktor were present.
Brigadier Viktor was very emotional during this conversation. He informed me that South Africa was "burning" and that Pretoria in particular was "burning" and he said to me that you people from the Security Branch are doing nothing about this".
Can you recall having said anything like this?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair no, this is not my conversation.
MR DU PLESSIS: He continues to say,
"Brigadier Viktor pointed out to me that myself, who was working in Unit B, the Black Power Unit, and that they had files on the Black Power activists, Brigadier Viktor told me that from this information a picture could be developed of who the key activists and troublemakers would have been.
I was aware of the fact that Brigadier Viktor had previously worked at the Security Branch and knew exactly how these matters worked.
Brigadier Viktor's words were roughly the following:
'You have the files, you know who the people are'".
Would that be similar to your testimony?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair no. In the first place I did not call Hechter in.
MR DU PLESSIS: Brigadier, with regard to the contents of the conversation?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No that's also not correct. According to them they knew who the people would have been. I have never referred to his files, I never told him to look in his files who the responsible persons were. They said they knew who these persons were, but because of intimidation they were not able to actually get cases into court.
MR DU PLESSIS: He then continues.
"He gave us instructions that should an activist throw petrol bombs or handgrenades then handgrenades and petrol bombs should be thrown back. If a house was burnt down then petrol bombs or bombs should be thrown. There, in every instance, should be slightly stronger return action than the original action.
The instruction was that these activities would have been outside the system, we would then not have been able to work from the normal position that Police officers had to arrest criminals and act towards them in terms of the normal judicial system. The implication was that we had to act beyond the judicial system, beyond the normal legal system to counter the instability".
He further testifies,
"The possibility was discussed that people might die in this process. This instruction was a general open instruction to act against the instability. It was necessary under these circumstances and this command had to be carried out. It was not necessary in every case to refer these actions back to Brigadier Viktor. He gave the same instruction to Brigadier Cronje who was given the instruction by Viktor to create a special team to carry out this instruction".
GEN J J VIKTOR: Again Chair, I did not give an instruction. I did not have the power to give an instruction. The detail mentioned there by Captain Hechter is definitely not the case with regard to what actually occurred in the conversation. I have already given testimony Chair that I said if a police officer's house is attacked with a petrol bomb - it was in this conversation that they've mentioned that they know who the responsible persons were, that the same actions should be replied with in retaliation.
MR DU PLESSIS: Brigadier do you accept the possibility that Captain Hechter and Brigadier Cronje might have accepted your so-called suggestion as an instruction? Or might have thought this was an instruction?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair these were officers in the Security Branch. Their knowledge of the way in which the Security Branch actually works must have been such that they must have realised that I would not have been able to give such an instruction as an outsider. No outsider can give this kind of instruction. If you want me to speculate I cannot speculate what was happening in their brains.
MR DU PLESSIS: I understand that General, I am asking the question whether you think that there might have been a possibility that they might have misunderstood you and might have imagined that you had given them an instruction?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair that would be outrageous, particularly with regard to Brigadier Cronje, to think that he might have considered me to have given him an instruction. This is a senior man in the Security Branch, who had served for years in the Security Branch. And I want to say again I cannot speculate with regard to what he might have thought.
MR DU PLESSIS: And if he should give testimony and Captain Hechter should give testimony that they in fact thought that you had given them an instruction which they had to carry out?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I cannot make any argument against what they might have thought.
JUDGE NGOEPE: The question is you know yourself what you said to them, the question is what you said to them was such that it was capable of being understood by them in the way that they say they did understand it.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair no, that is why I said both of these people were officers in the Security Branch who were knowledgeable with regard to the way in which the Security Branch worked. I cannot believe that they might have considered this an instruction that I had given to them.
MR DU PLESSIS: You see General van der Merwe had given testimony on page 96 that he knows both you and Brigadier Cronje well and that he thinks, knowing both of you, that Brigadier Cronje might have accepted what you said to him as an instruction.
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is General van der Merwe's opinion.
MR VISSER: While there is a pause Mr Chairman, may we submit, with respect, that to be reasonable the rest of that paragraph should also be read to the witness where the gist of Van der Merwe's evidence becomes quite clear.
MR DU PLESSIS: Well Mr Chairman I refer to the record in general, General van der Merwe was asked over a space of three, four pages, I don't know, my learned friend probably refers to page 96, but I just asked it in general.
CHAIRMAN: You put the questions that you wish to and if you're finished then I'd be pleased to hear that.
MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: I think Mr Visser it would be for you to clear up if you do wish to at some stage.
MR VISSER: Thank you Mr Chairman, it's not important.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. As long as you just make references to the relevant pages so that we ourselves know what to look at and what to look for.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes Mr Chairman. General in your affidavit to which we have referred, you said that you have sympathy with the position of Brigadier Cronje, that he decided as a consequence of the conversation to act in the manner in which he did subsequently.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I have made the statement that I have sympathy with regards to the circumstances at that time; that I have sympathy towards Cronje and them in the way in which they thought they should act. I never made the suggestion that people should be killed.
MR DU PLESSIS: General I will argue this, you have already in cross-examination granted that the suggestions you did make did in fact have such implications, but let's leave that matter.
In your affidavit you have stated,
"I understand the position of Cronje that as a consequence of the conversation he decided to act in a manner in which he did in fact act in terms of his application for amnesty".
and this concurs with what General van der Merwe said with regard to this matter. Are you no longer willing to stand by your statement that you have an understanding for Cronje's actions?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I've already said in my testimony that I don't want to point a finger at my attorney but that paragraph was not stated in the way in which I truly wanted to state it to this Committee. I do have sympathy for Brigadier Cronje and the other applicants with regard to the circumstances under which they worked at that time.
MR DU PLESSIS: You see General I must say that I find it strange that you want to change your affidavit in this manner but I don't want to say anything further with regard to this.
All that I want to state to you, and I will argue thus, that this paragraph as it in fact read, that is paragraph (E) on page 2 of the affidavit, which said that you understand Brigadier Cronje's point of view and that he decided to act in a particular manner, that you wanted to say with that statement that you understood that he might have understood you to have given him an instruction. This would concur with the testimony of General van der Merwe and that is what you in fact said under oath in your original statement or affidavit. Do you want to comment?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I have already given my point of view with regard to this paragraph Chair.
MR DU PLESSIS: I want to state to you in addition that I fail to understand General how you could want to change your testimony from "begryp", that is "understanding" to "sympathy", "sympatie", particularly when your previous testimony, before it was changed, concurred with that of General van der Merwe.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I have made my statement with regard to this, I have no further comment.
MR DU PLESSIS: General Brigadier Cronje gave further testimony, Mr Chairman you will find that from page 141 in the record until approximately page 144, Brigadier Cronje gave testimony that his actions had to be reported to his immediate superiors and that this was in fact done on a daily basis. Would you concur that this was the normal practice?
GEN J J VIKTOR: This was the normal practice in the Security Branch.
MR DU PLESSIS: In other words he would then not have reported back to you with regard to further actions with regard to counter-revolutionary activities, is that the case?
GEN J J VIKTOR: In fact he would not have reported to me because I was not his commanding officer. He would have reported to the Security Branch head office in Pretoria.
MR DU PLESSIS: One would then not be able to make any conclusion from the fact that he did not have any further discussions with you as a consequence of your conversation?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I want to say that had he accepted that this was an instruction, and an instruction with very serious consequences, then he would have come back to the person who had given him this instruction to determine on a daily basis whether his actions were in line with the original instruction.
MR DU PLESSIS: General, Brigadier Cronje did not give testimony only with regard to your instruction and he did not indicate that only your instruction caused him to understand that he was allowed to act in the manner, and the people serving under him, were allowed to act in a manner in which they did. He gave further testimony that he received an instruction from Brigadier Schoon, I believe at that time Brigadier Willem Schoon of the South African Defence Force ...(intervention)
GEN J J VIKTOR: No ...(intervention)
MR DU PLESSIS: My apologies, of the South African Police, in terms of which he was given instructions to work more closely with the South African Defence Force, would you be aware of this instruction?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I bear no knowledge of this. Brigadier Schoon served in the Security Branch.
MR DU PLESSIS: You would then not be able to disagree with this testimony?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No.
MR DU PLESSIS: Brigadier Cronje's testimony was this gave him a further indication that there had to be, particularly with regard to special forces, close cooperation which would have been an additional indication that it was allowed to act beyond the legal limits.
GEN J J VIKTOR: I would not be able to comment or speculate on his actions.
MR DU PLESSIS: I want to state to you in addition that he gave further testimony that cross-border actions in which he was involved, as well as the aspects with regard to which we have previously mentioned, the Khotso House incident, the handgrenade incident, the fact that he received medals for certain actions, that all of these caused him to accept that pro-active action, and under serious circumstances the elimination of terrorists, that these had in fact been the policy of the government of the day.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair this is Brigadier Cronje's point of view. These are his conclusions. I would not be able to argue with him on these conclusions.
CHAIRMAN: I think the purpose of cross-examination goes you really want test whether he gave instructions or not and I think that allied matters ought not to be put to him just for the sake of putting them to him, because what you are saying now may very well be an important part of your argument. As I understand it that is what it really boils down to, is argument.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes Mr Chairman. Part of the cross-examination obviously is to elicit some form of support for some of the evidence of the applicants.
CHAIRMAN: Well now you've put the relevant questions to him to which he's given you answers, now you've gone beyond that and you are trying to submit points which are really argument.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes Mr Chairman, well I've finished with this point Mr Chairman, may I move on to the next point please?
MR DU PLESSIS: General, the circumstances in the country at that time, Brigadier Cronje, General van der Merwe, Captain Hechter, the other applicants all gave testimony to the effect that in fact it was a situation of war, whether you want to call this a guerilla war or whatever the country was in a state of war, what would your opinion be?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair no war had been called, the situation, however, had been chaotic and in police circles there were conversations, people said to one another this is a state of war.
MR DU PLESSIS: Good. In other words there was the general acceptance that this was a state of war?
GEN J J VIKTOR: It was not a general acceptance but the situation was such that people referred to it as a state of war. I would not be able to comment whether it was commonly accepted, but in those circles where I moved this is what the situation was.
MR DU PLESSIS: In your view had the state of emergency been sufficient to address the situation?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I have previously given testimony that I cannot say anything about what the circumstances were subsequent to the calling of the state of emergency, but I must say that things did not necessarily quieten down entirely otherwise the state of emergency would have been rescinded.
MR DU PLESSIS: I want to make a comment with regard to what Captain van Jaarsveld said on page 10 of the evidence marked Z that,
"On a particular date at 5:30 I was present at a meeting with Brigadier Johan Viktor where he said to me, Hechter and Viktor Jnr, that he gave the following instruction:
'Pretoria is burning and you must act. Those who intimidate must be intimidated; those who burn must be burned; those who murder must be murdered', and in view of this I interpreted the instruction to have been that revolution involves the winning of hearts and minds of people and that counter-revolutionaries would also act in this manner".
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I think I very clearly expressed myself already with regard to what was said in my conversation with these members. I want to say this with the greatest clarity possible that in no part of our conversation there would have been any mention whatsoever of murdering people.
MR DU PLESSIS: General, in summary then as a final point, what you are saying to the Committee today is that Captain van Jaarsveld who had not at all been involved in the application of the applicants, except in regard to these comments, who is in fact a State witness against Brigadier Cronje and Captain Hechter, that in addition Captain Hechter, Brigadier Cronje, that all of their versions, versions which agree, that these versions are in fact not true, is that what you are saying to the Committee?
GEN J J VIKTOR: The statements which I have made to this Committee are the truth and I have no further comment with regard to this.
MR DU PLESSIS: I want to state it to you General, and I will also argue this, that I find it rather strange that three persons, one of which is an independent party if I may call him thus, all have exactly the same version of what occurred in your office, almost to the letter the same version, but you would argue that this is in fact not correct. I will argue that I find this strange particularly in view of the fact that none of these three persons were lacking in credibility in their testimony.
GEN J J VIKTOR: From my experience I might perhaps draw that I indeed find it strange that these three witnesses almost in fact give word-for-word the same testimony. One finds often that witnesses to the same scene often differ with regard to their views.
MR DU PLESSIS: General that is why I included the version of Captain van Jaarsveld because as I have mentioned Captain van Jaarsveld is an important State witness against the applicants on behalf of the State Attorney, which would indicate that with regard to the ethical aspects that Captain Hechter and Brigadier Cronje would not have even been allowed to speak to Captain Jaarsveld. I hear your answer but I want to state to you that I will bring such argument and you need not comment on this.
GEN J J VIKTOR: I have no further comment Chair.
MR DU PLESSIS: It had been stated General that you had heard with regard to Jeffrey Sibiya from General van der Merwe that there had been testimony that the person was shocked electrically. I want to correct this to indicate that Jeffrey Sibiya was not in fact the person on whom electric shocks had been carried out, but that the statement which had been made in your testimony was therefore not correct. This is just for the record.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair I want to give an answer. Since I do not know the names this is one of the cases which I had thought might be the case to which General van der Merwe had referred. I do not know the names of the people who were actually involved.
MR DU PLESSIS: Good. General could you briefly give us an indication, the Security Branch of the Police and the Unit in which you served, had there been any cooperation or interaction between these various units?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair in the control of unrest or riots your Security Branch is the information arm and you are reliant on information from them with regard to actions that might have been foreseen, unrest that might occur.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman if you will just give me a moment I am nearly finished.
General with regard to the unrest in the country, we all know that there were marches and that all sorts of things happened, people threw stones, people threw bombs, there were petrol bombs thrown, use had been made of firearms on occasion, or arms at least on occasion, would you classify these as unrest and as part of the combatting of unrest?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair it is part of this to combat the unrest but as I have stated to you already the Security Branch is the information arm of the Police and part of this is then the work or task of the Security Branch to combat these actions.
MR DU PLESSIS: General the suggestion which you have made that action in a certain manner would be acceptable, would I be correct to say that this is what is involved or that this can also be under the umbrella of Unrest Control?
GEN J J VIKTOR: No I don't think that this would properly resort under Unrest Control.
ADV DE JAGER: Mr du Plessis I want to speak on behalf of the Committee. I think we understand the points that you wanted to make ...(intervention)
MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chair, I have finished.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR DU PLESSIS
CHAIRMAN: It will be placed on record that Counsel for some members of the families have approached me, that is Mr Currin, he has indicated to me that as a result of the questions that have been put to this witness there is no need for him to cross-examine the witness and has asked to be excused.
Mr Mpshe are there any questions you wish to put to this witness?
MR MPSHE: Yes Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: You may do so.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR MPSHE: General, when you made this suggestion were you advised by anybody to make it, the suggestion you made to the three members?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I had not been advised by anyone to make these suggestions.
MR MPSHE: What had prompted you to make this suggestion to these three members?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That which the gentlemen stated to me with regard to the actual situation on the ground.
MR MPSHE: Is it correct that the three members were juniors to yourself?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes, this is a fact Chair.
MR MPSHE: Can it be taken then that when you spoke to them, you spoke to them as a senior?
GEN J J VIKTOR: I did talk to them as a senior and as the father of one of them.
MR MPSHE: Now if you spoke to them in your position as a senior you should have foreseen the possibility of them acting on what you are saying as a senior?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair no, I cannot agree with you that I had to foresee what they might have concluded.
MR MPSHE: When you made these suggestions what did you intend to bring into their minds?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Merely Chair that they - I made a suggestion to them with regard to my view on how the matter should be approached. I may perhaps inform the Committee, on reflection on my part, had I thought that this was an instruction to three junior members, and had I thought that I had the power to make such an instruction, then I cannot see why I should have returned to Brigadier Cronje, the commanding officer of two of them.
MR MPSHE: General can we then conclude that that suggestion was actually an advice to them as to how to go about addressing the situation?
GEN J J VIKTOR: It was a suggestion with regard to how I saw a possible improvement with regard to the matter.
MR MPSHE: But you were telling them that they've got to chase them, they've got to search for them, look for them, don't give him a chance day and night, is that not an advice telling them how to do things? It is more than a suggestion as far as I am concerned.
GEN J J VIKTOR: Chair, the difference between a suggestion such as this and the advice which might be concluded from this, the difference is very, very little.
MR MPSHE: Thank you Mr Chairman, no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MPSHE
CHAIRMAN: Mr Visser are there questions you wish to put to the witness?
MR VISSER: Thank you Mr Chairman. There are three issues, of which two we will deal with in argument, there is only one issue which we would like to clarify in the evidence, with your permission.
CHAIRMAN: Please do.
RE-EXAMINATION BY MR VISSER: General you were asked a question by Mr du Plessis whether you can quote any example from your memory of a terrorist that was arrested and later you were asked whether you can quote an example of any one terrorist that you can remember that was shot in action, and you said you couldn't, is that correct?
GEN J J VIKTOR: That is correct, that is what I had said.
MR VISSER: Insofar as it may be relevant were you aware of arrests of terrorists in general during the period which we are talking about, say from 1984 onwards, and of terrorists that were killed in confrontations, were you aware that this was happening?
GEN J J VIKTOR: Yes Chair I was aware of this. In my response to Advocate du Plessis I understood him to require or request detail with regards to actual instances, that is what I understood and that is why I responded to him by saying that I could not recall any particular individual instances.
TAPE SWITCHES OFF
MR VISSER: May I enquire Mr Chairman - I am sorry, we are really here to present evidence and we are not really parties to your inquiry, would you prefer us to draw written heads of argument to deal with the issues surrounding this instruction and related matters? I you will find that convenient we are quite prepared and willing to do that and to hand it up to you later.
CHAIRMAN: Yes Mr Visser, members of my Committee would appreciate written submissions by you on the evidence that has been led.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman I will see to it that we draw heads of argument and my attorney would let Mr Mpshe have it. May I request if there are no further questions whether the General may be excused. He is from the Free State.
CHAIRMAN: Yes, yes. General thank you very much. You are excused from further attendance.
MR DU PLESSIS: And perhaps we may also be excused Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: You will, in the course of your heads, which I understand you will be submitting on the overall case, deal with this aspect of the matter to the extent that you think it necessary to deal with?
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes Mr Chairman we will deal with the matter in our heads of argument which will reach you shortly Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Alright, you are excused.
CHAIRMAN: Yes Mr Mpshe?
MR MPSHE: Mr Chairman may I suggest that we adjourn now so as to get the other parties in and then we can start in five minutes time to relocate things properly Mr Chairman, please.
CHAIRMAN: Very well. We will take a short adjournment.
MR MPSHE: Thank you.