This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
05 Nov 2001: Maharaj, Mac
POM. At a certain point during the negotiations there was this debate going on about the use of the "Leipzig option", that one could have a rolling mass action where one homeland would fall after the next which had its culmination in the march on Bisho in October 1992. Could you put that debate that went on in context since it would appear with the march on Bisho that those who were in favour of the Leipzig option were having their day and yet the attack on Bisho turned into something that just re-emphasised the need to get back to the negotiating table, that things were really falling apart and things were getting out of hand?
MM. I think first of all the problem that I had with Patti's formulation, as far as I can recall, putting aside what I thought were some disparaging remarks about me, is that the concept of strugglers versus diplomats
POM. You dealt with that very comprehensively. Now we're talking about the Leipzig option, who was for it, who was against it.
MM. I think the Leipzig option cropped up in the nineties a little while after the release of Madiba, and we need to be clear there. First of all after the Groote Schuur meeting in Cape Town where the issue of release of prisoners, indemnities, had come up we needed to ensure that the political prisoners were released and De Klerk had agreed to that process. It was being started.
. Number two on the issue of indemnities, while general amnesty was rejected the idea that people in the ANC would get indemnity to be able to come into the country both to negotiate with the regime and also that the ANC should now legitimately exist as a legally operating entity necessitated that indemnity process for people to come in from exile. That process also was being staggered by the way government was handling it.
. Thirdly, by 1990 August, some time in August/September, the issue of so-called black on black violence had escalated remarkably. Now against that background there was naturally and understandably a reaction by many comrades in the movement to question under what conditions would negotiations have the prospect of a successful conclusion. So I think that there was a legitimate basis for debate and discussion around this.
. My own problem is that it converged with a thinking that was latent from the time preceding Madiba's release and even after Madiba's release, a thinking which was sceptical about negotiations as a vehicle. We had already as a movement described negotiations as a terrain of struggle. That is to say we were projecting to the membership that don't think that negotiations are going to be an easy thing, it's going to be a difficult thing, and secondly we had been projecting the need to organise our people and that negotiations did not mean a demobilisation of the masses. In fact we had been saying the masses must be part of the process of negotiations. Now in this environment the fact that there were people who deep down did not have any faith in negotiations because it linked with an underlying paradigm which we had all grown up with, which world experience had reinforced, that no ruling power has ever abdicated power. But what that concept hadn't done was to be fleshed out to say under what conditions does a ruling power come to a point where it seeks an accommodation? It does seek an accommodation normally in its own terms but under what conditions could the negotiations and that accommodation be under a different set of terms? That has not been examined in literature around the world. Normal literature had examined the problem from the point of view of victor and vanquished.
. So I'm saying it's understandable that there was a search going on, an examination of the way forward and the more black on black violence, the more prevarication that came through from the government of the day and the more we felt they were manipulating the indemnity and the release process, the more it gave encouragement to a view which now began first from reinforcing and complementing negotiations to a point of saying there's an alternative way forward. This alternative way manifested itself against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin wall.
. That is the context in which the so-called Leipzig option came up. It was a matter that was being debated even in the journals of the movement. I think it first surfaced in an article in the African Communist.
POM. I remember Jeremy Cronin used to talk a lot about it.
MM. I think that the leading proponents of that were people like Jeremy Cronin and Ronnie Kasrils. But you see embedded in the very concept Leipzig option was that independent of negotiations you could topple the regime. That's what it was because the Berlin Wall was not based on a negotiated resolution, it was a collapse of the ruling force and at heart the concept therefore implied that without saying mass insurrection you could have something akin to an insurrection albeit described as mass action, relatively peaceful. Insurrection has the concept of arming yourself, an uprising accompanied by arms. The Leipzig option began to entertain the possibility that mass action without that insurrection element of arms would find the way forward. Rolling mass action did not imply insurrection necessarily. You could say it could happen but it did not inherently have the concept that you would have insurrection. It had the concept that mass action would escalate and roll and roll until the ruling forces would have to abandon power. That's the Leipzig option. But the formulation of these two left unarticulated whether at some point that would not have the insurrectionary element coming into it. Insofar as it called for a mobilisation of the masses and their activisation it could be argued that it was in support of enhancing the possibility of negotiation.
POM. That it was in support of?
MM. Negotiations. But insofar as those managing those processes could get carried away by one successful or two successful campaigns it had the potential to say it would render negotiations irrelevant.
POM. So there was an inherent contradiction within the formulation of the concept itself.
MM. Yes. I think that there was an inherent contradiction if you sought to swell out the terms, if you forced it back to its assumptions. Those things were not forced. The ANC managed that tendency simply by saying rolling mass action was conducive to and complementary to negotiations. Bisho actually forced the issue to the top of the agenda, so to speak.
POM. Was the march on Bisho this was after the Record of Understanding, right? Was the march on Bisho a decision that was Oupa Gqozo, he was weak, he was a target ready for marching on if you want to put it that way, but was there a decision taken by the NEC that, OK, we'll march on Bisho?
MM. The decision to march on Bisho, that mass action certainly was supported, takenby the NEC. That's how Cyril Ramaphosa, the General Secretary, went there.
POM. That's why I'm asking. Why did so many of the party's top heavyweights who had concluded the Record of Understanding, who were looking forward to the next stage of the institution of negotiations, suddenly put themselves in this strange territory between the two?
MM. No they were not caught there. When I say the leadership took up those calls for the Leipzig option by adopting rolling mass action as a complementary action to negotiations, therefore push down the concept of insurrection, that in that environment even though it was post the Record of Understanding certain things were happening even at the negotiations, namely some of the Bantustans werebeing extremely repressive and unaccommodating to the ANC activities in their territory, the ANC and its allies, and being extremely repressive in those measures to prevent those actions. So the result was that you had Ciskei under Oupa Gqozo blatantly repressing and blatantly at the negotiations saying they want a different solution and they were trying to align themselves in a formation with the white right.
POM. But Oupa at that time wouldn't have been even in the picture because we're talking about the period after the conclusion of the Record of Understanding, we're talking within six weeks.
MM. But already in the talks at the World Trade Centre what was happening was that a group was emerging calling itself, what became COSAG.
POM. Yes but that didn't arise until the following February.
MM. Yes but the positions being taken were consistent. Oupa had been attending previously to the close-down of CODESA and his positions were straight. He wanted the independence of the Ciskei maintained, that any solution would be so federalist that the independence of that area would stand. Similarly Bophuthatswana and there too there was active suppression of any legitimate activity by the allies. KwaZulu-Natal was extremely militantly anti ANC. So here were the Bantustans, a group of them and amongst them outstandingly against the ANC organising itself was the Ciskei, Bophuthatswana and KwaZulu-Natal.
. Now rolling mass action was intended to move wherever the conditions were most favourable to the masses organising themselves. In this context the repression in Ciskei offered the necessity for some rolling mass action directly with the Ciskei. The fact that it got permission by going to court and that permission was limited to the march going to the stadium was one more manifestation that free political activity could not take place in the Ciskei, that Gqozo would not tolerate it. At the same time the reports indicated that at the mass level there was an overwhelming view against the Oupa administration. So Ciskei looked very ready for that mass action.
POM. Did Ciskei look like that if you had a successful rolling mass action you could in fact exercise the Leipzig option by overthrowing like mass action, the masses, the sheer force of the people would overthrow as happened in East Germany?
MM. The possibility that arose in the Ciskei, as far as my memory goes, was that the apartheid regime would be forced to step in and in stepping in will mean the removal of the issue that Ciskei is outside of the SA we are negotiating, it would be part of SA. Remember the Declaration of Intent of CODESA was premised on a united SA, that is an unfragmented SA of CODESA was premised on a united SA, that is an unfragmented SA. The premise of the Bantustans under apartheid had reached a point of a fragmented SA. Now if the Pretoria regime was compelled by the rolling mass action and Oupa's repression to reach a point where Oupa's independence is now denied by Pretoria, even if it brought Ciskei under the direct administration of Pretoria it would have been an advance for us. But of course it implied that Oupa would not be the ruler of an independent statelet. So when you pose the question: would it have meant that the Leipzig option logic that the ruling power is out of power and now translated in Ciskei means that Oupa is not in power? Yes, but 'not in power' does not mean that that territory would have now been freed. That territory would have been part of the negotiating process probably by being acknowledged to be part of SA, administered by Pretoria directly.
POM. It would be like direct rule in Northern Ireland.
MM. So the concept was not there articulated that we are going there in this rolling mass action to overthrow Gqozo and put in an ANC administration. That was not the concept, the logic. It was not spelt out. It was one of the issues I say that Bisho brought out the inherent assumptions and contradictions in the assumptions of the Leipzig option. It was not the Leipzig option that was driving us to the Bisho demonstration, it was the rolling mass action concept but there would be people in the leadership entertaining the possibility of the Leipzig option and, sure, even if you overthrew, if Gqozo abandoned power and Pretoria took over, people would argue that this proves the validity of the Leipzig option but the contradiction it brought out was that it was officers seconded by the SADF who were running Ciskei. It was police officers who were part of the Security Branch who were now occupying positions as the Commissioner of Police in Ciskei and it was they who were integral to the decision to open fire on Bisho. So what did that mean then?
POM. That has been established, or it was that Gqozo gave the decision or it was just a screw-up?
MM. As far as I can recall Brigadier Oelsig (or shig Oelsig or Oelshig) and I am trying to recall who was the Commissioner of Police at that time, I think the trial is going on in Bisho of two officers who
POM. Two of them yes. Both Cyril and Ronnie Kasrils had to give evidence.
MM. - who are being charged for having given the actual order to fire. But the army was under the supervision of SADF officers and the police were seconded officers from the apartheid security branch. It was very much like what I found in Bophuthatswana when I went there over the Bophuthatswana issue, that the General in charge was General Turner and he was an ex-SADF officer seconded to the Bophuthatswana army. These Bantustans were essentially authorities created, bolstered, manned, financed by Pretoria and yet -
MM. Yes independent. Jac Buchner of the Security Branch was head of the KwaZulu Police.
POM. And he was seconded from?
MM. Seconded from the Security Branch. The point I'm making about Bisho is that by the massacre at Bisho the question popped up that what is the logic behind the Leipzig option if you meet that resistance? What are you supposed to do? Just be shot? Or were you now going to arm yourself in that situation and fight back? If you did not arm yourself and fight back then what are the implications of the people that you've mobilised to take part in that demonstration?
POM. But did Ronnie Kasrils "disobey" the rules that had been laid down that you would walk, that the march would be as far as the stadium, if he allowed certain access then everybody would turn around and go home, and he used the march to create a diversional tactic that tried to circumvent a pre-arranged agreement and out of that grew the situation where decisions were made to open fire. Of course Pik Botha was called in on that too, telling them to hold off.
MM. Don't fire.
POM. Don't fire.
MM. But then after the event what is on record is that Madiba as President of the ANC did express a form of unhappiness/disapproval with what Ronnie had done in Bisho because his action objectively had handed the excuse to fire back. The question remains, had he not done that would they still have fired? That remains an open question. But the point is that in the media of the day the focus was on what Ronnie did and it appeared to be a spark that gave an excuse to the Ciskei authorities to fire.
POM. But did he do it on his own?
MM. Clearly on his own, clearly on his own. It was not part of the plan. It would be interesting to see Cyril's evidence on this matter now in the trial.
POM. I was looking at the papers to see there is no coverage of the trial at all.
POM. Where would one find that?
MM. Eastern Cape papers.
POM. I was going to send him a note.
MM. Certainly from my side, I was not involved in Bisho, but I had gone down to Bisho before the demonstration at the preparatory stages.
POM. As I recall you had been asked by Madiba.
MM. Yes, and I was unhappy. I was unhappy because I recall in the meeting asking the question, "Chaps, are we sure that the Ciskei army will not open fire?" And I was unhappy at the level of information put on the table to support the view that they would not open fire and I felt that, yes, there was an incipient unstated assumption among some of the colleagues that we could force the march but rely on the fact that the Ciskei army would not open fire. So I had a reservation about that but that's not important. The important thing is you asked me: was that a decision that in the march Ronnie would lead a group that would break away from the main column and seek to move in a different direction? No that was not a decision of the ANC at national level.
POM. The second question is: was there a decision taken on the ground to authorise the march?
MM. Authorise the march, yes.
POM. To within the parameters agreed?
MM. The thing worked out this way. You prepared a march, the march was going to be to Bisho. You went to court because you couldn't get permission from Oupa. The local ANC structure went to court. The court imposed the condition that you could march to the stadium. You then proceeded to organise the march, assumption on the basis of the court's permission.
POM. And did Oupa agree to that decision?
MM. Yes, well Oupa did not signify agreement but it was sufficient that the court gave authority.
POM. This is the court at Bisho?
MM. Yes I think it was in Bisho. I don't know which court. But assumption that if the court has granted you that permission and you proceed to organise the march, it would be in conformity with those conditions. No statement was made that we don't accept these conditions. But a question that arises: did the leadership on the ground planning that march now sit down and say this is the condition, we will ostensibly abide by it, but, Ronnie, you and certain comrades are entrusted with going beyond the limits of that permission? That's why I say it would be interesting to hear Cyril's evidence on this matter but certainly the reaction of Madiba, which was censorious of what was described as Ronnie's action, was an indication that at the level of Madiba there was the assumption that he would conform to the conditions imposed by the courts on the conduct of that march, that is its culmination would be the stadium. Ronnie could justify, and I think he justified his position by saying even when he led that breakaway column he did so on the basis that it was under the noses of the Ciskei enforcers and he did not believe that it constituted a provocation that warranted their opening fire.
. But to return to the main question: was the Leipzig option then the assumption that drove the Ronnies?
POM. That drove?
MM. The Ronnie Kasrils. Legitimate question and the fact that I have at the back of my mind an image that says that the concept of the Leipzig option was being promoted by Jeremy Cronin and Ronnie would say that it was part of his thinking. I would not say that with the presence of Cyril Ramaphosa as the National Secretary General that that assumption can be carried to the leadership that was organising that march. I would say that the leadership was simply following rolling mass action, that possibly Ronnie and a number of comrades if they had thought about that action before they conducted it then they were in part influenced by the concept of the Leipzig option. But the mood was that if you could get Oupa out of power in the Ciskei similar possibilities would be announced in other Bantustans, particularly Bophuthatswana because Mangope was the most vociferous at the multiparty talks about the fact that Bophuthatswana was a sovereign independent state and that its participation in any solutions arrived at at the multiparty negotiations, if participations there were, premised on the assumption that whatever solution emerged Bophuthatswana would reserve the right to decide independently whether it went along or not.
POM. Again going back, did not the fact that the court said you can go as far as the stadium and no further effectively mean that this particular march would not be able to 'overthrow' Oupa or have him removed from office by the march itself, the fact that he had protected himself?
MM. Well the court had taken a position which meant you have a right to claim that you can engage in free political activity in the territory of the Ciskei but given the tensions the court said - I'd like to restrict your march to the stadium. That was a court decision in the Ciskei.
POM. So the court made the decision that the ANC had the right to organise and that was concomitant with that then you can have a march but given the level of tensions it is better this march stop here.
MM. To constrain it there.
POM. But you had established the right that you could organise.
POM. Let me ask you, ANC intelligence, had you, the intelligence unit or whatever, the leadership, did they have before them a kind of psychological profile of Oupa?
MM. Yes I think that it had. I think different people also had and the psychological profile was consistent from different sources. Here was an autocratic ruler who had had his career in the SADF but who had all the tendencies that he was autocratic but his power base rested on apartheid and those structures that apartheid had created in the Ciskei society previously by people like Lennox Sebe, previous rulers of the Bantustan. In particular they had created a group of headmen, removed certain traditional leaders and appointed people to positions of authority in the traditional structures of Ciskeian society who were in cahoots with Oupa and that the system that was existing that Oupa had inherited and reinforced was extremely autocratic and repressive of the masses of the people.
POM. No-one had come to the conclusion of proving it, that this man was a genuine megalomaniac who was capable of anything? I'll tell you why I ask that question. The year before - I interviewed Oupa from 1989 through in fact to 1997 or 98 when he was living on a farm and was stripped of everything. I remember the year before the march asking him the question that if there were any attempt to invade his territory by the ANC what he would do and he said, I've got it on tape, he said, "I would shoot them all."
MM. You see you're asking a personal, a particular profile of Oupa. It was a characteristic of the profile of Bantustan leaders who had come up under apartheid, who had served before him.
POM. But Bantu Holomisa didn't fit that profile.
MM. The fact that one exception to the profile was on the record. You have the Matanzimas, you have at the Truth Commission now he spoke, his cousin, killed by Transkeian forces. They arrested the chap, they shot him. You had extreme repression in the Transkei and megalomaniacs like Kaizer Matanzima and his brother George.
POM. Who are related to Madiba! I love this stuff.
MM. What about Bophuthatswana? What's the record? Mangope? Mangope as far as I recall was the first Bantustan leader who supported what was called the Southern Cross Border Fund which was a fund to help SADF soldiers and policemen serving on their borders, on the borders of SA in the war against the so-called liberation the guerrillas. So he supported that fund. Same tendency. What did you have in Venda? What was the chap's name who used to wear a top hat? The head of Venda. Same tendency. From within so-called traditional structures apartheid sought to impose people into those structures as people of authority who had all autocratic tendencies and everywhere in relation to liberation they opposed the liberation movement. They were designed as buffer states to buffer Pretoria as the borders were falling, the neighbouring territories were falling. Almost all of them began to rely on the military power of the SADF. So that autocratic tendency was there.
. The key question for me was not whether I saw Oupa as a tin pot dictator, the key question was not that he's a madman. The key question was would the bulk of the forces and the key officers who are occupying, who are black and who have come up in the Ciskei Defence Force and the Transkei Defence Force, have they been organised to support the liberation struggle when the crunch came? Would they open fire or not open fire? Oupa can say 'shoot them', but the question was would that officer
POM. Would those black officers say - ?
MM. Yes, shoot or no, not in their normal activity but when the crunch came and that was the key question because the same thing applied to Mangope. Mangope had been overthrown and taken to the stadium in Mafikeng in his pyjamas with support of officers in the Bophuthatswana army and police and it took the SADF coming in by helicopters to rescue him and re-impose him. I did not expect that officer corps to stand up and say, 'We are at the frontline of the liberation struggle', but I expected organisational work to be done and intelligence work to be done such that if the crunch came and they were told to shoot these innocent masses, they would say no. So it was not Oupa because we understood that all of them were sitting on and commanding a power structure and administration while it relied on white officers, depended on black soldiers. That was the question, what political work were you doing in the army, political work and intelligence work.
POM. So the outcome of whatever happens there has to be an NEC meeting that follows, a meeting of the leadership which says let's look at this situation, what happened, what decisions must we make. My God, we nearly lost our entire leadership.
MM. How do you handle that problem at the NEC level? Do you spend time on recrimination or do you spend time by saying this has happened, what were the positive messages out of that demonstration and what were the negatives? In relation to the positives the messages were clear that the masses were prepared to march, the masses were behind us and that people in the Ciskei, the ordinary so-called Ciskeian citizen would side with the liberation struggle's aspirations. The negatives were: is this a viable option as an alternative to negotiations? That proposition, again in the nature of the times, had to be discussed again very constructively and had to be discussed against the backdrop of the Record of Understanding and the resumption of the multiparty process. The Record of Understanding could now be seen as a terrain that should be given maximum attention. That the rolling mass action was not condemned per se but that could be encouraged in the context that you were politicising and organising the masses, that's the tone of that NEC meeting. The tone of that NEC meeting is not we have been defeated, the tone of that is that we have to re-double our efforts with speed to make sure that the negotiation process succeeds and that the conditions have been created through the Record of Understanding for the assurance that the outcome will be a democratic solution.
POM. Was it done within the context of Bisho turned out to be a screw-up in the sense that we could have lost our entire leadership, guys you are for the Leipzig option, you can see what happens, how simply things can go wrong. We have the Record of Understanding, we have a clear path forward and that all actions, demonstrations, rolling mass actions must be taken to reinforce and turn the Record of Understanding into what became the viable multiparty negotiating forum so all other action is subordinate to negotiations, not complement to but subordinate to.
MM. That's not the language that was used as far as I can recall. The language that was used is that, yes there are these tin pot dictators, yes the reaction of the masses has shown once more that we are right, that a united SA is the outcome we want and that that outcome is in conformity with the way the masses of the people are thinking in the Bantustans. It is imperative that we should be organising in those areas and we should be organising the people not just into the ANC and alliance organisations but we should be organising them to engage in rolling mass action, that negotiations had the possibility of delivering the results that would be good for the country and we need to give more and more attention to that terrain to make it succeed so we had to avoid a position that would imply guilt on our side for Bisho because if we acknowledged that purely on a cheap opportunistic political level that acknowledgement would become an enhancement of FW and of Oupa Gqozo. You had to avoid that. So it would not be couched the way you put it. Yours is a neat analytical way of saying this now was wrong. We could not say that.
POM. I'm not saying it was wrong, it's that when you take an action where you haven't worked out what the possible consequences of the action might be, i.e. if you design an action for a purpose you say I'm doing A in order to achieve B, but if you do A and halfway through A all kinds of things can happen that totally destroy the achievement of B, wipe out your leadership.
MM. Bear in mind that anything you did had a potential for harming the movement, of destroying the reputation of the leadership and not just physical wipe-out. So in the dynamics of that time any action that you took at the mass level had this potential and you could not factor it through to a satisfactory answer. What you were saying is in KZN, yes if you find violence the answer is to protect the communities by self-defence units but those SDUs must act under the political guidance of the community organisation, the community that they are protecting. They were not to do things just on their own, that was the concept. And it's acknowledged that in that situation local leadership and even national leadership may die to the extent that if a local action was taking place in Vosloorus the national leadership was expected to send leading people there and they could die. So the concept that they would be physically eliminated was always a threat but it was Madiba who was setting the pace, who was saying KwaZulu has got no-go areas, I'm going there. Similarly he was constantly saying, "You have to as a leadership go into those local areas to encourage people to realise that they should not be afraid." That per se had the possibility that you could be eliminated. So I don't think that was an issue in our minds.
. The issue really was what is it that we need to avoid in the Bisho situation? And we needed to avoid doing anything at the local level that could precipitate a crisis which would be harmful to our forward movement. Right? And Bisho had that potential of provoking a crisis that could be a setback for the movement. So avoid that, avoid doing something that can become a setback. Is there a text book that would give you an answer what to do, what not to do? No, there's no text book. So you had to organise in Bophuthatswana and as you know the Bophuthatswana overthrow of Mangope took place as a result of a mass activity in fact not sufficiently co-ordinated by the ANC but which rebelled against the immediate conduct of the Bophuthatswana police.
POM. I'm trying to establish the importance of Bisho. Was there after that, which again many books suggest, a clearer understanding on the part of both the government and the ANC that let's get back to Kempton Park, let's get the Record of Understanding, let's get its structures formalised as quickly as possible so that we get negotiations with all parties involved going again. Did it speed things up? Did both sides agree there ought to be no more Bishos?
MM. It speeded things up without both sides sitting down and spelling that out. It speeded it up because it told apartheid that this problem that is arising was going to be an endemic problem, that apartheid itself had created Bantustans and Bantustan structures over which its direct control was now minimised and increasingly minimised. The Oupa Gqozos were determined to go their own way for their own survival. It also established that the ordinary people in the street were prepared to stand up and support in areas that looked quiet but more important from the ANC side it also established an urgency to get these multiparty talks successfully going.
. The ANC's position must be taken against the backdrop that not only was Cyril there, Chris Hani was there, who were the other people? Chris, Ronnie was there. Now where would Madiba sit on that matter? He says, "I put some of my best colleagues in the leadership to take charge or organise that rolling mass action. They have done this. I am sure they've done it in good faith but I see some of the things that they've done were conducive to a crisis arising." So he doesn't turn round and start squashing them. He turns round and sees how he can channel them. In the meantime at the WTC Cyril is back in the lead there. What we have agreed is that the conduct of the apartheid government and the ANC delegation increasingly diminished the significance attached to anything that Oupa was saying and Oupa's representative called Mickey Webb.
POM. How did he come out of it?
MM. He came out as a lawyer picked up by Oupa Gqozo and gradually assumed the leading spokesman of the Ciskei delegation. He is the man that handed Ciskei to us because first of all the Nats now increasingly had to both in words and body language indicate that whenever the Gqozo delegation stood up and Mickey Webb spoke on positions, put his reservations, we just treated it as unimportant, insignificant. But after the collapse of Bophuthatswana Mickey Webb arrived at the negotiating council. At the council meeting, if I recall correctly or was it in the management, I think it was a council meeting, he stood up and made a passionate plea that there were people who were undermining the rule of Oupa Gqozo, they were maligning his name and a state of anarchy has developed in Bisho. The unions, the public servants were no longer obeying and he said there is anarchy. He then made an appeal for help saying that, "We are bona fide negotiating here in the negotiating chamber. Now you need to help us to control this anarchy." The moment he made that statement we said, "Perfect." Within half an hour a proposal was tabled that we send Zam Titus who was on the Management Committee to go to Ciskei to assist in the situation. Straightaway we said if there is a state of anarchy then, Zam, you have to go and administer the territory. The position was agreed between the NP and the ANC and effectively Zam went, set up offices in the Holiday Inn and we appointed him Administrator of the Ciskei. It was over for Oupa Gqozo.
POM. Where did Mickey come from? I never heard of him before in my life until then.
MM. Never. I was told that he had been a lawyer. He claimed that he had been a progressive lawyer.
POM. A progressive lawyer?
MM. Yes, defending people in the struggle. I think he was one of those opportunists who went to Oupa Gqozo and offered his services for legal work and from legal work became a friend of people, key people in Oupa Gqozo's administration. When the negotiations started he was their articulate, vociferous one, "Now I know the constitution, we need these constitutional solutions", finish. They made him chief spokesman.
POM. Now we'll leave Bisho there. I want to go back to Boipatong which in conversations you've mentioned a number of times, which at the time of its occurrence not just led to the collapse of negotiations but also led to Madiba using some of the harshest most strident language I think that he's ever used since he was released from prison. At that time the message hammered by the ANC was that the police were behind this, this had been orchestrated by the De Klerk government, they were part and parcel of it. As I saw it on a personal level, was that I interviewed people before that who used to refer to De Klerk as 'Comrade De Klerk', after Boipatong nobody ever referred to him as Comrade De Klerk. So in a way one could see it as a way that the ANC, it was an opportunity that the ANC used to kind of finish off De Klerk in the townships. Whatever support he had among blacks they made sure he didn't have any within weeks of Boipatong. The TRC comes out, 17 Zulus from KwaMadala Hostel come forward, they are convicted in a murder trial that lasts 18 months. They say no police are involved, they are convicted and sent to jail. The TRC comes out with a set of findings and findings are taken word for word, word by word they take the findings of a Peace Action pamphlet that was published the following day which said the police organised it, the police orchestrated it, the police this, etc. Now you have a situation of double jeopardy for the 17 guys who have applied for amnesty because when they applied for amnesty they said no police were involved and the TRC comes out in the meantime and says the police did the whole thing. 18 months goes on and last November the Amnesty Committee utters its findings and says that on all the evidence available to it, and there were extensive cross-examinations, in fact I pulled down 800 pages off the web on cross-examinations, it says on the evidence available to us there was no police involvement in this issue.
. Yet Boipatong was regarded as one of those chief turning points. What do you believe? Do you believe the TRC's Amnesty Committee?I always thought, so I went back, so I began my own thing on it, I've gone back and I've investigated all the investigators and I've found out there was no investigation, no-one ever went to Boipatong, no-one ever took statements. The researchers who were involved, the investigators who were involved looked at the findings and said, "Where the hell did these come from?" [I interviewed the commissioners, this part I'll leave off the tape myself, and I've been told that Yasmin Sooka has been the one who pushed for these were the findings and I interviewed her at length on it and at the end of it, the interview, she leaned over to me, turned off the tape recorder and said, "Padraig, we all know the police did it." End of interview and walked out. That was over a year ago while I was waiting for the Amnesty Committee. Where do things fit?]
MM. First let's just fit it into its historical significance and then come to what was and what wasn't. In the nature of the times with the black on black violence, the train violence, the hostel violence, Boipatong was one of those cataclysmic events that simply said and because the backdrop of it was a persistent set of reports of third force involvement and the Goldstone Commission sittings, Goldstone Commission is finding, it an uphill battle, is finding little bits of involvement in every place. We know already by then, if I am accurate, that the Harms Commission headed by a judge was just a rigged commission. The question that's sitting in one's mind which at that time
POM. A rigged commission or a commission that had been magnificently lied to?
MM. Well at that stage it was a rigged commission for us.
POM. Rigged because?
MM. Rigged because the state appointed it, claimed it was now an impeccable process. It's findings are out of sync with the reality. Assumption the Commission itself is not independent. It's only subsequent events that tell us how deeply elements in the SA security forces manipulated that Commission but if you asked me at that time, you put that information, I would say that that still taints Judge Harms because as an experienced judge he never confronted the issue, he accepted the evidence coming from the state side, security forces, as the truth. But nonetheless the issue is tainted, it does not accord with reality. The state had succeeded in even the media buying the concept of black on black violence. Our own experience was saying it can't be. So when Boipatong happens the entanglement of the security forces, how they are operating, how they are structured, where they have been given licence, where they are appropriating licence to themselves, it's not an issue that's clear. Even, and I think it was preceded by De Klerk firing those officers, the Judge Steyn report, even that was a totally unsatisfactory form of resolving the matter. De Klerk simply announces that I'm firing the following officers, washes his hands of the events and claims that he has now taken decisive action and what does he do for covert operations? He appoints three people including a law professor I think, Ellison Kahn, that they are the ones that are going to vet covert operations. He was a law professor, Madiba's professor. He says, "Here I've appointed three people to head a committee. These are independent people, they can look at any covert operation and tell me yes or no." He says, "That's your assurance that I will not engage in covert operations and dirty tricks." Not good enough. I mentioned Ellison Kahn, I can't remember the others but I know Ellison Kahn to have been one of the most reactionary law professors SA had. Yes he wrote text books but his record as a law professor was a deeply racist law professor and it didn't change matters the fact that he was Jewish.
. But that's the answer that De Klerk took and what's the message we are getting from all these actions? That even where my forces are found to be doing wrong I'm not going to share the truth with you. I'm going to take action only to clean my back, to make it look like it's clean. About the reality of the masses enduring the effects of these covert operations and the so-called black on black violence his position is bring proof, "You bring proof then I'll act." But if he wanted to bring proof he would go to Mandela and say, "Mandela, can you nominate people to this committee that I'm setting up? They will be accountable to me but they will have to tell me whether these covert operations are legitimate or not." Different ball game, he never took a step like that. So that's the background. Now Boipatong happens.
POM. So in a way whenever Mandela brought an accusation of a covert operation or of an incident of violence involving the police and the military he would say, "Bring me the evidence", rather than saying, "I will react at once, you go out and you get the evidence and bring it to me. Even though I am the state I'm not going to go out and find the evidence."
MM. He was saying this publicly. Repeatedly Madiba would attack him and say, "This black on black violence has elements of the state behind it."
POM. And he would say, "Bring me the evidence."
MM. He would say, "I hear you, you bring proof, then I'll act but until you bring proof I can't waste my time. I cannot spend my time on pursuing wild allegations." Yet the events were happening.
. Similarly the background to this is the Caprivi trainees for KWZ. It took the Mail & Guardian to dig this up and you couldn't get the facts. Mail & Guardian proved that KWZ people sent by the KWZ Administration were trained by the SADF at Caprivi and that the content of the course was not defensive training but offensive training, how to assassinate, how to make bombs. Now, again, you had to extract that, pulling out teeth without anaesthetic. If you look at other things that were going on
POM. Caprivi would have been before Boipatong?
MM. I think the Caprivi thing was well before. The Caprivi training had taken place in 1989. The Mail & Guardian revelations were about 1991. And remember things like De Kock's confession are not there yet. Everything is telling us that Khoza of the IFP is an enemy agent. It's slowly coming out and I think it comes out later that Khoza was a Military Intelligence man.
POM. Themba Khoza?
MM. Themba Khoza, that in the hostels his car was found with arms. Nothing happened to this bloke. It's around Boipatong, the hostels' violence, and he had a boot load of arms as far as I can recall. Where did he get the arms? It turns out years later from Eugene de Kock that he got it from the security forces that he was working with. So I am saying at that moment facts, depending who put them on the table, there's a question mark. If De Klerk put a set of facts on the table I myself would put a question mark on it. Is he telling us the truth or is he selectively giving us facts? Because all this time there's denial. Themba Khoza, he's just IFP. So that's the pattern. Banks, ABSA Bank head of security, securing the bank while in charge of storing arms and giving arms from his armoury to the IFP people for the train violence. It came out later, I don't know at which stage, before or after Boipatong but it came out. So when Boipatong happens everybody, ANC people on the ground, community organisation people and even elements in the media are reporting involvement. In fact I remember people talking about Saracens and police vehicles that had escorted.
. The issue you are faced with politically at that moment is irrespective of what facts are still going to come out. What do you do politically? At the WTC what do you do? Those talks have gone into a spin of deadlock, you walked out of it. We examine the matter and we say we're out, we're not coming back to the negotiating table until things are done and we put a set of demands. Then an international commission, some judges are brought from abroad.
POM. Did the NEC what I want to follow up is, the ANC followed with harshest condemnatory I mean Mandela called De Klerk a nazi.
MM. A murderer.
POM. Was this done out of conviction and not politics?
MM. I think there was a conviction, certainly in me, that behind in fact I disagreed with the third force. I said that the concept of third force suggests that here's the state, here's us, there is a force independent of the two. I said the third force is a front of the state and to call it third force suggests an independent force whereas all the evidence is saying that there are state security forces involved. So I am saying the correct description is that it is a second state force operating under the guise that it is not part of the state but actually created by the state. That was my view. I thought that it was misleading to our own people. So, against the violence that was going on we had had enough past to come to the view that the state was involved. We didn't know to what extent but we had sufficient to tell us that the state forces were involved and so when Boipatong comes that assumption stands and our action now must be dictated by those assumptions because we are not living in an environment where the facts are going to come out clean and we say De Klerk is at the front of this. The first thing is that De Klerk has got to be pushed to defend himself and we have found that every time we appeal to him nothing happens. Now we've got to go for him frontally so that he has to clean his stables. If negotiations are to succeed he must be pushed to recognise that he's got to clean his backyard.
. So I supported the harsh line but I also supported the need to continue talks and I was part of the team that Cyril and Roelf set up because I recognised that that cannot be the end state. The logic of that end state is back to the trenches. I felt at the same time that by attacking De Klerk we would have the opportunity for him to repudiate some of these forces. I personally believe that De Klerk began to realise now on hindsight that, yes, he had a problem in his security forces but he was not prepared to share it with us. He never was prepared to share that problem with Madiba because he felt it would weaken his position in negotiations and therefore he had made it to a political game.
. And yet I found that as the process went on, when Multiparty talks resumed, after Ciskei when the issue of Bophuthatswana arose and when push came to shove, was Meiring going to reinstate Mangope to power, Roelf was able to talk to De Klerk and agree that Mangope would be removed. Similarly when we got information of the Mhlaba Camp training in KZN when we put this evidence before Madiba he said, "What do I do?" I think it was Cyril, JS (Joe Slovo) and myself went to see Madiba and I was the one that was urging, "Madiba, we want you to speak to De Klerk and say that he's got to provide the forces that would raid this camp. We will not disclose the name and location of the camp, that the General he puts in charge of the operation must not be from the SADF because they're the ones that are doing the training. That the General put in charge must have the approval of De Klerk and yourself and that Fanie and I would fly with this General to Pietermaritzburg."
POM. This we covered.
MM. But on the ground give him the information. Now he agreed.
POM. De Klerk agreed.
MM. De Klerk agreed and even though things may not have gone completely according to plan the point is that the reaction was unusual. The demand was not put up in the public arena, the demand was behind the scenes and Bophuthatswana had shown that by putting those now clear demands on De Klerk he had reached a mindset where he was prepared to act. But we were not prepared to allow him to act on his own any more because lurking in my mind was a suspicion that whoever he entrusts may act on a different mandate and certainly I thought Meiring was acting on a different mandate because Meiring told me in Bophuthatswana, "I don't take instructions from you, I take it from the State Security Council."
POM. I see him on Thursday. Pik on Wednesday, him on Thursday.
MM. So against that background at the moment of Boipatong politically we had to take Boipatong on board and use it on the fundamental problem that we were dealing with. Evidence on the ground, stories from the organisers, etc., etc., the forces are involved. We took that against the past and said that's the basis, attack him. In the meantime what are the facts that have emerged. The facts show that no investigation of Boipatong was thoroughly done.
POM. Not thoroughly, not ever.
MM. Not ever done. Boipatong became such a moment in the history of this country that every effort to investigate it and come out with the full truth was fudged by the very people that were appointed to investigate it. They found it a powder keg. Why they found it a powder keg? Because it had occupied such a central political moment and in the meantime the negotiations had moved. Nobody wanted to sit down as commissioners to upset that apple-cart, it was history gone. To establish the truth became too difficult. Were the police involved? At first the commission of the lawyers, the judges, including an international lawyer I think there was a lawyer from India, a judge from India.
POM. And Waddington, Peter Waddington and the guy from India.
MM. Yes. What it brought out more was how to control police.
POM. Police competence.
MM. Police competence, but it didn't resolve the question. Did they have the capacity to investigate the police and the army carefully? Harms Commission.
POM. Then they put in Davidson. Davidson did his we've gone through Davidson. After that you've the trial under Judge Smit.
MM. But the point I'm making is that no investigation of the SADF would have satisfied anybody. Against Harms an investigation by Davidson was not going to be taken seriously.
POM. No person in the ANC would take that seriously therefore what he came up with made no difference.
MM. Made no difference.
POM. Anybody from the SADF who had been appointed it would have made no difference.
MM. I don't think it would have made a difference if you said Davidson and Mac Maharaj would investigate.
POM. How about the judge?The judge finds the 17 KwaMadala residents guilty, finds no evidence of police involvement even though the defence, the defence the 17 used was that there was police involvement. They thought they'd get their necks off the hook by using that and the judge said, in the end said
MM. You've not put anything on the table to persuade me. But the fact that the accused are saying this, whatever the judge says, nobody is going to pay any attention.
POM. Would anybody in the ANC have accepted the judge's finding because he was after all an Afrikaner judge? Would they have said that's the old system.
MM. They would have said this is immaterial, it's immaterial that the judge is going on this case and these are his findings. We now know that Harms was misled. What makes us think that this judge is different? Events have moved beyond that. It's the larger events that have completely overshadowed it. The irony is that Boipatong placed that urgency for resolving the issue but the urgency was resolving the larger issue of the country, so the irony is Boipatong really jacks this thing out of this meandering path but Boipatong disappears into vagueness in history as to what happened at Boipatong. And so every effort look, you've told me how much you've downloaded and read on Boipatong. I haven't.
POM. What do you say when I say that if you take the pamphlet published on 18th and nobody knew the facts the day after, everything was a mess, and I put that there and I put the TRC findings here and there's not even a comma changed?
MM. All it says to me is, I think I've said to you for me you study the past to learn what not to do, to me the Truth Commission was one of the finest efforts that we made in this country and in the world but when I look back the institution that we were creating had no past experience except how the previous Truth Commissions in Argentina, etc., had not been adequate. I'm the one that went to Chicago University and spoke at a seminar there asking for restorative justice but the concept of restorative justice is sitting at the cutting edge of what justice should be. How to do it has not yet been developed. So when I look at the Truth Commission it was a huge forward movement but built into it were huge inadequacies and therefore I was prepared to live with the Truth Commission and its findings, good and bad, adequate and inadequate findings, to say you can't go on staggering this, inadequate as it is it's not the flaw of the commission, it's the flaw of us devising the law that made it, let's wind it up now. It has served it's purpose, we have got lessons to learn, we need to find how to move forward. But those who pose the Truth Commission as the answer to all the problems of healing are sadly misled. I accept that even when we promoted the bill, the Minister of Justice who promoted it promoted it as a perfect instrument.
POM. That was Dullah.
MM. Dullah, and it wasn't a perfect instrument, it was an experiment taking the experience of the world and trying to move beyond it.
POM. Now was that drafted by others was he the lead drafter of that?
MM. No, by that time Arthur Chaskalson was out, Johnny de Lange, Willie Hofmeyr, a whole group of middle academics around Cape Town and others were used by Dullah to deal with this issue. They, to be fair to them, thought of the concept of restorative justice, people like Johnny, Willie and others. In writing up the legislation it was easy and adequate and a huge forward movement to say we must not just have the truth, we must look and we must not just have amnesty, we must have a focus on the victims. So the three arms, truth telling, amnesty for the perpetrators and reparations for the victims, to put those three elements into that instrument of justice was a wonderful forward movement but the implications for the state and how you carry that out and how you did your investigation, totally inadequate, totally. I mean we left it to the Truth Commission to sit down and go into retreat and say what structures they wanted and how they were going to do their job. The law only said, guys tell us the truth so that it never happens again, and they come forward to answer the case how it must never happen again against the background that in the apartheid state it nurtured and cultivated people in the security forces who became a law unto themselves.
. If there was one lesson that I would have wanted for the future it's tell me today how people in the state don't become a law unto themselves. Tell us that.
. So the assumption is an anti-human ideology will lead to anti-human action. I am today worried about human activity, very humanistic activity can end up delivering the opposite result. It doesn't help me, it doesn't help me.
. Just on that objective on the amnesty question the same thing, how were you to test, we used the principles, proportionality this, that, the other, we combined Norgarb with all. What happens when a Wouter Basson says I carried out all this biological warfare experiments and yes I killed the SWAPO people, yes I threw them off the planes in the ocean, and he says I did that on the orders of my bosses. You say proportional? He says let me produce you Stadler's book, look at how the terrorists work. You sit down and have a long argument whether Stadler is the truth or not the truth. You say the first necklace victim was it Joe Mamasela who incited the crowd as an enemy agent or was it really our people? Everything comes out dubious. No answer. You look at reparations, have they got a complete list? Who were the victims? Have they sat down and written out that list, here are the names, this is what this person suffered? Or today is there an assumption now that anybody and everybody can claim that they were victims of apartheid and that what is needed is financial handout? Has it sat down to say in order to heal this thing don't prostitute the reparation because if the reparation is a right of financial redress only I, the victim, what am I left to think? What attitude do I engender? A sense that I am a victim therefore I have a right for the state to pay me or is the sense more that by acknowledging me as a victim you now create a basis for me to regain my dignity? And within the constraint of resources how do we enshrine this memory in the memory of the nation? What do I say to an MK cadre? Do I say to him you fought this struggle for a financial benefit? Or you fought this struggle above everything else for the interests of the people? So don't come and tell me that because you fought and because your family suffered you now have a right to be compensated financially. What happens to the ideals that drove it if the reparation process becomes simply
POM. A money handout machine.
MM. You lost a finger, therefore R5000, your mother was detained therefore another extra R1000, and we all start queuing up. Huge issues sit behind reparations.
POM. Just back to the Amnesty Committee, the Amnesty Committee comes out, Amnesty Committee sits for nearly two years, by the volume that I've been pulling out intense cross-examination, the nearest thing you have to an actual court trial, bringing witness by witness from the communities, the thing that comes out and it's careful to say on the evidence
MM. On the balance of the evidence.
POM. On the balance of the evidence that we have we find no evidence of police involvement, period.
MM. What capacity did we give to the Amnesty Committee so-called committee evidence leader, prosecutor, to do an investigation? Because the investigation that is needed here is to go into the archives and the individual offices in the Witwatersrand court, to go to the Eugene de Kocks and get out everything that they can tell about Boipatong. That's what you need and you and I know you can't go to that route and say I'm talking the truth. Eugene de Kock himself has made his confessions in bits and pieces. Until he was arrested and brought to trial - when he's brought to trial something comes out, something else happens a little more comes out, something else happens a little more comes out, whereas the idea of amnesty was you make a full disclosure, finish, klaar.
. I've been to some of the amnesty hearings. I went to Craig's who got amnesty and I went to the one over the death of Mbuso Tshabalala and Charles Ndaba and I made a powerful plea in both to show that they had gone beyond anything that they could show was political instruction. I was there at Williamson over the death of Marius Schoon's wife and daughter, Katrine Schoon and Jenny Curtis and I argued that they were not even legitimate targets by their own definition. And I argued with Craig Williamson there, I was cross-examined by Craig Williamson's lawyers. They were trying to say that she was a legitimate target and I said, "Who? Sitting in Lubambo teaching English to Angolans who can't speak English? Is that your target?" He didn't have an answer but he got the amnesty.
POM. Now let me link that, one person that I've done a lot of work in this and somebody I admire a lot because of his fairness and his continual he's obsessed with pursuing things that do not appear he pointed out (i) he says the local, which I have no evidence of, but he said that the local IFP person had been approached by the KwaMadala Hostel and he said don't do it. The IFP itself immediately dissociated itself from it, "It was not authorised by us, we had nothing to do with it." The person who gave the order in the hostel had no authority from any political structure to take the action. There were 500 people involved at least. Among the 17 that were convicted they couldn't come up with another name, one might say no, at least one other person each. So on a number of the criteria on telling the full disclosure on political
MM. Accountability, authorisation.
POM. - they would fail on those criteria it would appear. But switch it around, let's go to Clive Derby-Lewis. Clive Derby-Lewis gets his amnesty appeal denied because the Conservative Party said we totally dissociate ourselves, we dissociate ourselves from this action, we never were engaged in violence or whatever so it was not a politically motivated operation, and that there wasn't full disclosure and on the basis of those two things he didn't get amnesty. Now is the one fair and the other unfair? Why shouldn't he get the same treatment as the Boipatong people or is there an issue here? The issue of Clive Derby-Lewis the person who was killed in this instance was Chris Hani. OK. To me in my mind there would be two sets of people who will never get amnesty, (i) those who killed Steve Biko and (ii) those who killed Chris Hani, no matter what evidence you can produce that won't happen.
MM. I think that the issue you may well be right on an historical time schedule.
POM. Do you think on first of all the analogy I made between the two of unfair the same criteria, completely different use of the same criteria?
MM. Yes. First of all the Amnesty Committee was not operating as a single court, a single mechanism. The following three would be sitting here, another three would be sitting there. The mechanism that was required to preside over the amnesty process on hindsight was far larger than the legislation and the resources catered for. By setting up these amnesty committees we assumed that they would all be following the same rules and interpreting the rules the same way. They were not. Definitely not. The issues in both were very highly emotional issues, in Boipatong and in Chris Hani. The investigation that was done in both cases was inadequate, even with Clive Derby-Lewis. Let me give you an example with Clive Derby-Lewis.
POM. Who was in charge, supposed to be in charge of that do you know? I'll find out.
MM. I don't know. I never went to that hearing, that amnesty application, but I will give you a simple set of facts. Have you looked at the list of the ten people that they had in Derby-Lewis's list?
POM. No but I will see them because I'm going to talk to Gay Derby-Lewis and she's going to give me all the stuff.
MM. Go and have a look at the list.
POM. There was Cyril I know, there was all the top leadership of the
MM. No interestingly my name is on that list but the connection with that list only arises later. When I settled in SA in 1990 I bought a house in Yeoville, I go off to the Nyala bosperaad.
POM. That's in?
MM. 1991 I think. 1991/92, before Chris's death.
POM. This was the bosperaad after the Record of Understanding?
MM. That's right.
POM. All you guys got into a pool.
MM. Yes, got into a plane and went off. At this stage I had received reports about the house that I'm occupying. Marius Schoon was visiting people across the road, he gives me a report.
POM. He still gave me her e-mail, is she still?
MM. No, Marius Schoon, Marius is dead now. His wife Sherry is from Ireland.
POM. How do you spell her name?
MM. Sherry. I don't know what's her last name now -but Oosthuizen, her husband was Oosthuizen. He says to me, he comes home to me and he says, "Mac, I was visiting neighbours across the road and I saw a person with a pump gun, a pump action sub-machine gun jumping across your wall." It's OK. I tell my wife don't panic about these things. I'm at Nyala. When I come back my wife says, "Listen, I've just been through the most terrorised set of nights. I've had people jumping over the wall at night, I've had bricks thrown on the roof, I've had all sorts of intimidation." I say, "Let's move." I wipe out this house, I lose all the money, I go to friends, I borrow money, get them to be security and I buy another house and move my family. I'm in the middle of negotiations, I've got no time to attend to this thing. But before we move one night, no, one afternoon I drive into the yard. As I drive and the remote control has got to be operated to open the gate, two photographers from The Citizen newspaper snap my car, snap it against the number of the street and drive off. Who were these photographers? I start checking, they were Citizen photographers. It later turns out after the assassination of Chris Hani that one of those photographers was the one who supplied the list of names and was doing the reconnaissance for the Lewises, that in the list of houses was a tracking down of my house. The Citizen published it.
POM. Was he recalled?
MM. I don't know, didn't even bother. But listen to the twist. The Citizen publishes this photograph.
POM. They published it?
MM. Yes, with my car, number plate showing and the house number on the wall showing. I think it was 21 or 25 Muller Street. And the caption to the photograph says, "Mac Maharaj, this is his address. This is his car, this is his house."
POM. This happened around?
POM. It's after the Record of Understanding, the booze-up?
MM. Yes. That night I'm asleep. At about 12 o'clock at night the bell is ringing frantically at the gate. I get up and over the intercom I speak, "Who is there?" There's a white woman's voice, frantic, "Help me, help me, I'm in trouble, I'm in danger, there are people.""Who are you?" "I'm Pearl Jordaan of the Vryeweekblad." (The Vryeweekblad run by Max du Plessis, there was a publication called Vryeweekblad, Free Weekly).So I think she's being attacked in the street. I don't know. I take a chance because she sounds as if she's traumatised, open the gate and let her into my house. Here's this young Afrikaner woman in her early twenties. First time I'm seeing her. "Pearl, what's your problem?" She said, "I'm sorry to have used the fact that gave you the impression that I was being attacked. I wanted you to let me in because I have to speak to you." I said, "OK, what's the problem? What's happening?" I'm just trying to think now whether I'm confusing two incidents. No it's her, yes. She says, "Mac, at the Goldstone Commission it is going to be alleged that you are behind a Mozambican by the name of Cunha. He has confessed to certain sabotage activities and he is giving evidence at the Goldstone Commission as having been involved with Military Intelligence but he says the planning of all that was done in your house, in your presence and you are the head." She says, "That news is coming out."
POM. This is after Vula?
MM. This is 1992/93. I said, "Pearl, where do you get this from?" She says, "Don't ask me. I'm just telling you but because of who you are I thought I'd better take immediate steps to come and tell you." So I said, "Well who is this Cunha chap?" She says, "Cunha was an MI operative who the military have decided to sacrifice but when he was arrested accidentally MI decided to dump him and then visited him in detention and suddenly his story has changed and now he's fingering you. He says the meetings took place in this house. You were the planning of those activities." This was third force activity. I said, "It's OK, you go." I contact the Goldstone Commission, "What is happening? I haven't heard."
POM. Did you talk to Goldstone himself?
MM. I think I spoke to Goldstone if I recall. He says, "Mac, my investigators will be coming to speak to you." I contact the investigators and they come to my home. They say, "You and Cunha." I said, "OK chaps, tell me what is he saying." They say meetings took place here in this house and you were in charge of the meetings.
POM. And you were planning - ?
MM. These third force activities. So I said, "OK. Does he say he was in this house?" They say yes. I said, "Did he tell you which room we were sitting in?" They said, "No, wait a minute", they look through my back, there were French windows and sun filter curtains. They said he's described that painting, that painting, he's described this room. I said, "That's my family living room. You are meeting me now in my lounge. Has he described this lounge which you cannot see from that window because when you walk into my house you see this formal lounge and you go down the stairs, three or four steps, to the family living room. He's described the family living room that you can see from the window but this formal lounge which you can't see from that window, has he described it? Look at this sofa covering. Have you seen it anywhere? I've not seen it. It strikes you doesn't it?" They say yes. I said, "Do you see those plants? Has he described them? Because you couldn't sit in this lounge without seeing them. It's remarkable, he described paintings in the bottom, look in this formal lounge. If you are Mozambican look at the paintings on the wall. Which one strikes you? Here on the wall in a golden frame is an original drawing by the leading Mozambican artist Malangatane." He's a world renowned Mozambican artist. We have a drawing of his and the style is uniquely his. I said, "A Mozambican would have said there's a Malangatane hanging in his lounge." All right, they go on, they question. Of course there are denials, I don't even know what the man looks like. I say, "Has he described me?" So I say to the investigators, "Guys, you are now presenting me with a no-win situation. There's only one way to win, have this man in a corridor, let me walk past. Enough photographs will be there but I want to see his reaction to me and you sit down with me and look and then you put me in a room and let him describe this room. You will ask him where we met, which room, how did you enter the house? Did you see the lounge on the left hand side or did you walk straight down these stairs to here? Would he have noticed the dining room, would he have noticed the formal lounge? In your presence let's get those questions because that's where the truth will come out."
. They come back to me and they say, "We don't believe his story but we are obliged to call you, to question you." Fine. As it happens they pull a trick on me. Unknown to me they put this informant in the foyer as you go up the stairs in Pretoria.
POM. The stairs in Pretoria to?
MM. There's a foyer as you get up the stairs and there's a corridor as you go into their offices. So they put this guy in the foyer together with a few other people.
POM. Which building?
MM. It's a building in Pretoria, I can't remember which building. And they don't tell me this so when I walk in they are watching me. Presumably they are watching me to see whether I recognised him. I didn't recognise him, I don't even know him. I've never seen a photograph of him. So I go there, go into a room, they put evidence, they question me.A little later, it's two weeks before the elections, at home in the evening, about eight in the evening, I tell my wife I've got to go to something in Melville.
POM. Now this is in your new house?
MM. This is the next house. I tell my wife I'm going off to some place in Melville and I have a cell phone now. No, no, cell phones are not yet in, but I tell her where I'm going. At this place at about 10.30 at night she calls me and from her tone I realise something is wrong. She doesn't want to talk about what's wrong, she just says, "Come home." So I say, "I'll be there." I race home and I find two ANC comrades, one is Mo Shaik, now Ambassador in Algeria who used to be an intelligence man in KwaZulu-Natal of the ANC. Mo used to work with me in the underground in Vula as an intelligence man. He says to me, "Mac, we've got a problem." I say, "What's the problem?" He says, "The police are going to raid your house tonight." Tonight, for what? He said, "I don't know, I've got the information that they are raiding your house tonight and it's going to be a high profile raid." I said, "In connection with what?" He says, "Criminal activities, stolen cars, etc., etc., I don't know the details." What? "Sit down", I said, "Guys, what would they be raiding me for? Weapons? Yes I've got weapons here for my protection. Illegal weapons. But that Fanie and all know, Niel Barnard knows it. It's a joke amongst us at the WTC because they won't give me a licence to defend myself."
POM. They wouldn't?
MM. No. So I said, "I've got these weapons."
POM. Why wouldn't they give you a licence as a negotiator for the ANC, no protection, no nothing?
POM. They were licensed?
MM. No, no weapons. But I used to tell them, "I've got my own store. You people know me, I was a Vula man. I have no problem about weapons. That's all they can raid me for. Stolen cars? I don't have stolen cars. I don't deal with that." So we sit down and "Mo", I say, "Get working, find out more information." But I pick up the phone and I phone General van der Merwe, head of SA Police. I know him. Because Mo comes round, as we are meeting Mo brings more information, he's phoning his contacts and he says, "Listen, they've had a press conference at Pretoria tonight, they called the media."
POM. They've already done this?
MM. Yes, they called the media and there was a group called the Boere Mafia. Apparently these Boere Mafia had been arrested, amongst them are right wingers who have been engaged in criminal activities but amongst them they paraded an Indian person called Maharaj who claims at the media conference that he's my nephew. So at this press briefing they said, "We have arrested these Boere Mafia, here they are", this is nine o'clock at night, "Here they are, we've arrested the Boere Mafia. They are engaged in all these illegal activities." One of them they say is a chap, I think they said Surem Maharaj. Of course a journalist was rigged to ask the question, "Surem Maharaj, are you related to Mac Maharaj?" He says, "I'm his nephew."
. You've got all these incidents.
POM. These are the important ones you see.
MM. You've triggered it off.
POM. OK,the line up.
MM. So Mo gets, while he's sitting at the house he gets this information that there was this press conference at the Police Headquarters that evening and they had paraded the Boere Mafia to the media and in the Boere Mafia was an Indian chap amongst all these Afrikaners and he had the surname Maharaj, I think his first name was Surem, and they say there are stolen car rackets, huge racket, and then one of the journalists at the press conference asks that Surem Maharaj, is he related to Mac Maharaj? That's a leading question and he says, "Yes, I'm his nephew." So we sit down and we take stock of this information and I say, "Oh-oh, this is a set up now. They are setting me up for something." But it's confirmed from the police. So I say OK, I bring out some weapons and I tell the two of them now from the lounge and a corner room and the dining room you can see, but from the lounge and the other room you can see the gate of my entrance to the yard and it's a gate with just a grille and it's about 20 yards away. So I said to the chaps, "Now, whoever comes to the gate even if they are wearing police uniforms, we're not letting them in. I'll decide whether we fire on them." I pick up the phone, phone General van der Merwe. I get hold of him, it's now about 10, 11 at night and I say, "General I have a report that your police want to raid my place tonight." So he says, "I know nothing about it." So I said, "Well, General,if you know nothing about it are you telling me there's a raid or no raid?" He says, "No, I'm telling you I know nothing." So I said, "Well, I don't know who's going to be coming. Is it the right wingers, is it police? All I'm telling you is that I'm sitting here armed and whoever comes to my gate tonight I'm not letting them in, I'm opening fire. I'm defending myself." He said, "Now hold on, Mac, don't do that. Phone the head of Witwatersrand Police, General Calitz, he's in charge of Witwatersrand Security Police. Phone him, maybe there's something from his side. From my side I don't know anything." OK.
POM. Why didn't he say he would call General Calitz?
MM. No, he didn't say that. I said to him, "Have you got General Calitz' number?" He said, "Yes", and gives me General Calitz' number, home number and everything. I phone General Calitz, get hold of him and I say, "General Calitz, I have this information that the police are due to raid my house. I want to know what it's about because if you're raiding my house you don't have to do anything dramatic. Make an appointment, come in. You want to come in now? Come." He says, "I know nothing about that." So I give him the same response, I say, "In that case the fact that they are wearing a uniform in the dark is not enough for me that they are police and I'm not taking a chance to walk to my gate to ask them to show me their ID books. The fact that you, the General in charge of Witwatersrand Police, are telling me that you know nothing, if anybody appears at my gate tonight I'm opening fire." He said, "Hold on, I'll come back to you in a moment. I'll call you back, give me your number." I gave him the number, I sit down and I say, "Now it's very clear. Mo, are you sure that there's been a press conference?" He says, "Absolutely, unimpeachable sources. I can confirm it, I can phone journalists now." He confirms. One hour later Calitz comes back. He says "Mac, there's no raid at your place." I said, "General, was there going to be a raid?" He didn't answer the question.
. OK, that night passes. The next morning I wake up, Citizen newspaper. Boere Mafia, Mac Maharaj, stolen cars.
POM. Two weeks before the election.
MM. Two weeks before the election. I pick up the phone, General van der Merwe, because it says the press conference was in Pretoria that evening, I pick up the phone, phone General van der Merwe. I said, "General, it's very clear from today's newspaper reports the raid was on. By my phoning you I pre-empted the raid otherwise the headlines were going to be 'Mac Maharaj's home raided for stolen cars'."
POM. When it said Maharaj in the story, did it identify the person in the line up as your nephew?
MM. Yes it did. That's how I got brought into the story. I said to the General
POM. In the headlines it said Mac
MM. It doesn't say that, it's a small article but it's on the front page, but it doesn't feature me in the headline, it's in the body of the text that it's mentioned. I said, "General, by phoning you and Calitz I pre-empted the raid", because had the raid taken place accompanied by the media the headline would have been, 'Mac Maharaj raided', subtext, 'for stolen cars'. So I said that's what was happening. He said, "No, no, no, it's not true." I said, "No, I've now ascertained how my name cropped up. Did you verify that he's my nephew? Nobody in the media has verified." I phoned the Citizen, "Did you phone me to check?" They said, "No, it's sufficient for us that he said he's your nephew."
POM. They said it's sufficient for us to say he's your nephew?
MM. Yes. Because he said so.
POM. Great cross-examination there.
MM. I said, "Wait a minute, I don't even have a nephew by that name and this man I've never seen him in my life. He's not related to me, he's not my nephew." General van der Merwe says, "Well, I have checked. Apparently it was a journalist who asked the question and the answer was that yes he's your nephew. He claimed to be your nephew." I said, "Is that sufficient for you to put me in the papers that way? You're the police, you've arrested him."
POM. So they've arrested a number of people, they haven't even asked them what their names are?
MM. No, they've asked them their names. His name is Surem Maharaj. It's like saying his name is John O'Malley and then they asked him, "Are you related to Mac Maharaj?" John O'Malley says, "I'm Padraig's nephew." It's in the papers. So I say to the Police Commissioner, "You know me at the negotiations. You know where we are sitting at negotiations and you're ready to allow anybody to throw that name into the public arena without checking is he really my nephew, without even phoning me?" "No, I'm sorry." I said, "No, there's been a dirty trick here which I pre-empted." I go to the lawyers, send them a letter of demand. I want a retraction. They call a meeting with another General.
POM. You want a retraction from?
MM. From the police. I want an apology because he's not even my nephew. And of course in the discussions, we meet a week later, the lawyers and us and a different Police General, I say, "Have you verified whether he's my nephew?" They say, "No, we've checked, he's not your nephew." I said, "But you were prepared to act." "No, no, no, we were not prepared to." I said, "You allowed that most unusual thing, seven o'clock at night you put these people that you've arrested on a press conference, paraded them, and a journalist asked the question is he the nephew and he answered yes. You were preparing to raid my house. That was the purpose. You never do this with other criminals. You don't call a press conference at nine o'clock at night and put the people you've arrested in front of it. I want a retraction." It cost me R4000 to get a retraction from the police a week later. They were going to destroy me but in the process they were trying to damage the ANC's election chances.
. Now to come back to Clive Derby-Lewis. I'm saying my name was on the list, my house was advertised in The Citizen so that if any attack took place on my house it would have been said, but everybody knows where his house is, anybody could have done the job. But part of this journalist's job in the Clive Derby-Lewis group was that the list of names, he was the man who was reconnoitring and checking the places, he was verifying where do they stay. He did the reconnaissance of Madiba's house, drew a map of the street location. That's in the Derby-Lewis exhibits. He's a journalist.
POM. Does this appear in I've hardly read the transcripts I've pulled down. What's the name of the journalist, do you know?
MM. I don't remember his name now, but he subsequently appeared -
POM. He would have been working for The Citizen?
MM. Yes, and there was an admission that he was a sympathiser of Derby-Lewis. In fact Gay Derby-Lewis I think claimed that she drew up that list and she couldn't explain what all this reconnaissance was of Madiba's place. No mention was made of reconnaissance of my place. But it is the list on which I think Madiba's name appeared number one and number two was Chris Hani, number three was Joe Slovo, and it went down the list. Now all I'm saying is that the investigation of Clive Derby-Lewis was similarly done in that emotional environment and the one issue was Chris Hani. The list was explained away by Gay Derby-Lewis and Clive Derby-Lewis because it was in Gay's handwriting and she explained it away by saying that these were political opponents. But why were you then verifying their addresses, etc., etc., and she just gave some explanation.
POM. He said that in the amnesty hearings, and I'll been talking to her again because I'm going to interview her which I haven't done and see what she has, I saw him last week, but he said that during the amnesty hearing it was accepted that that list was not a hit list.
MM. That's right, but the acceptance that it was not a hit list by the courts was by the evidence led. The prosecutors did they do an investigation? Did they ever come to each of us on the list?
POM. So again, poor investigation. So in both cases you have Boipatong, poor investigation, no follow-up, no, what you would call in any way, attempt to verify allegations to see whether allegations are facts.
MM. The media at that time didn't even carry the ten names on the list.
POM. Again I come back to my question because my question is one of equity. Could you not reasonably say the people connected with Boipatong did not give full disclosure, they did not operate with the authority of their political organisation and they all walked. "I", they say, "did not give full disclosure, I did not operate with the authority of my political organisation, yet I'm in jail for life."
MM. My explanation for this is that you are right to put the two issues and right to raise the question of equity on amnesty justice administration but I am saying the investigations of many of these cases were inadequate. Number two, of these two cases that you've mirrored the focus was on an emotional point on each of them. Number three, I'm saying that the Amnesty Committee was working with a set of rules in the law, just three or four bare rules, no body of interpretation developed with them.
POM. And separate committees.
MM. Separate committees each interpreting the rules their own way and therefore each of them saying, "I'm not working on the basis of precedent and I'm not required to argue by precedent. I'm just judging on these four criteria and on the facts of my case. I come to one decision and another amnesty group comes on another case to a different decision." And yet if you took a body of interpretation arising you would not expect those inconsistencies to be so glaring. It is the issue of the way we constituted the TRC in the Act.
POM. You, to me, are making a case that at some point, given those who never applied for amnesty, who said I'll take my chances, the chances are probably one in a thousand, ten thousand maybe, as I said the Jac Buchners of the world said, "I'll take my chances, they'll just simply never get around to me, they don't have the resources, they don't have the ability, it won't stand up in a court of law. I'll hire all kinds of lawyers." If the other poor suckers that apply didn't get it, some did, some got it, but in all cases there were different criteria applied to the case. Do you not get to a point of where you say, just as you have said, we began a process magnificently intentioned but, like all human things, magnificently flawed?
MM. Incomplete, flawed, insufficiently thought through, under resourced and a time frame that was driven by a political need of the country, a real need, but driven by that need the purpose of that instrument was left to be sold as different things to different people. Even the TRC was left to interpret its purpose and it was portrayed as a healing thing, almost as an end state that it would deliver yet it is clear now when you look back it was a contributory thing to healing this nation. There was a huge assumption in that law, the assumption was that we had a government of national unity with the NP sitting there, that De Klerk and them would also rise to the political challenge.
. The comparison of these two cases, we're using them to see whether there's a balance, a fairness of the amnesties and I am arguing, I may come across as defensive of the TRC process. No, I think I'm really trying to say that the TRC took the experiences of the world, lifted the process a stage up, was allowed to be interpreted and projected in the public mind in different ways by different people and led to a feeling that an ad hoc amnesty committee would be acting in a fashion looking at precedent in one amnesty committee to another amnesty committee. There was no mechanism set in the law for that and De Klerk's participation in the coalition government is why I complain sometimes bitterly about De Klerk walking out of the government because I think that the way they handled the matter at the amnesty hearings and the TRC was harmful to the process of the healing that was required. By their not taking political responsibility for the state security forces' actions they left these security forces unclear whether they should come forward or should not come forward. Quite apart from the inefficiencies in the process large numbers of security forces never came and when they came they came reluctantly and in bits and pieces, e.g. a security force member applying for amnesty for a case in the Eastern Cape would also apply for another case for amnesty in KZN. The two issues were never wrapped up. They were seen as separate incidents yet the accumulation of the issues could have enabled the process to elicit from the person a fuller disclosure.
. So I think there were all these flaws in the process but I think that the failure of the NP leadership when we had carved the law together and there were compromises made in cabinet about the TRC legislation. In spite of those compromises De Klerk never went to the TRC and said, 'I accept political responsibility and I'm telling my people whoever they were and wherever they were in the security forces, come forward, make a full disclosure. If your finger points to us at the leadership level we have enabled you to come. We've given you the security that wherever we can honestly take political responsibility we will.' And in the absence of that political responsibility they were left to fend for themselves, it was not clear when the political motivation would be accepted as sufficient ground.
. So I am saying these are all the flaws but the greatest harm has been the impression left, including in the peers, that this was going to be a definitive process realising a closure of the healing process. So the peers are fighting away, persistent that the actual people who perpetrated this should not just get away loosely, that they should conform vigorously to the standards but sitting as investigators their mindset has been so absorbed in the horrors of what has happened in the past they could not share their mindset with the Amnesty Committees. Those committees after a while, they started off with the intention of doing a thorough job, they ended up racing through the cases to close their report.
POM. I suppose my question, Mac, would be that given all the factors that you have mentioned of amnesty, not one Amnesty Committee per se, but Amnesty Committees operating according to different interpretations and different criteria, the manner in which different cases were dealt with, with which parallels can be made with regard to matters of full disclosure and political motivation, does there come a time when you say we close the book, we declare a collective amnesty because then the second part of reconciliation can begin?
MM. I'm not so sure that that can happen for the simple reason that I am sometimes unclear in my mind that a blanket amnesty without that full disclosure may actually be more harmful to the country. I agree that there are inequities when you try to compare one case to the other but I think that once we realise that it is not a process that definitively closes the case of the healing, it is just one contributor, there may well arise in this country a moment for a political trade-off, a political trade-off provided the leaders of the respective political parties are prepared to present that trade off in a very honest way to the public. You take Buthelezi. His standpoint has been that he is clean.
POM. He's gone to court.
MM. Yes. He says, "I've never been involved", but that's what De Klerk is saying essentially and he's saying, De Klerk goes for "If you find somebody in my state forces who did it, they did it on their own." Well Buthelezi may well end up at that point because there has been enough of cases brought of that involvement, not from the point of view of saying Buthelezi presided over the meeting but he certainly acted in a way, defend it. It is that defence that must go with a general amnesty. It must state categorically that politically we created a climate which allowed people to do their individual thing and when they did it we often shielded them maybe in the genuine belief that they were not involved but as the evidence accumulated I have to admit that, yes, people in my forces did it.
. Now this was the defence of the ANC. The ANC did not go and say we did not commit it. It would say, yes, this was done by ANC people but this is not what the intention was but we acknowledge responsibility. That was the only party that went and said those things. The PAC never did it. The PAC took up a position, we did it, they were right, finish. So the moral issue of the sanctity of life never arose.
POM. Could you envisage a coming together of the parties where some of the principles you have enunciated would be agreed upon by all parties?
MM. To me I don't envisage it because I think the political atmosphere, what is often called normalisation of politics, works quite often I'm thinking to simply rationalise and justify political horse-trading is not the arena for this issue to be tackled. I think SA's movement forward has got to address not just the atrocities of the past but has got to be located in something forward looking which is the issue of the unity of our people in the diversity and more in the context of a statement made by Desmond Tutu in the preface to Reflections in which he talks about what is a nation. One of the definitions that he puts forward as an element is that a nation is made up of memories. He then says that is why certain countries when you arrive as an immigrant you are taught so much of its history so that your experiences can be appropriated. I think SA needs on this issue of unity and diversity to appropriate this pretty harsh back past in the context of that unity and diversity. So I think it's a larger context. I'm not just looking for people who committed atrocities to live comfortably in the future. I think more important are all the elements of the diversity that contribute to richness that have got to be accommodated and the atrocities become part of that in how to put it into the memory bank of this nation that's growing up. And into that memory bank must be one central proposition when it comes to atrocities, not just a law-abiding society and a law governed society, but a society that treats human life with sanctity. I think that's the concept that's got to be put.
POM. That's a conversation we began last week and I left you with some questions and I sent all the tapes the following day to Judy by courier. She rang me today and said she never got the tapes. I'm checking now.
MM. It's OK, I won't get trapped out for telling lies.
POM. That's OK? What do you mean?
MM. You are really putting me in the grinder.
POM. That's the intention.
MM. Yes but you're putting me in the grinder with no reference books to refresh my memory.
POM. Oh you'll get lots of chance to do that, don't worry. You'll have plenty of opportunities.
MM. I have to worry if I'm contradicting myself.
POM. As long as you don't sanitise yourself. Just what you said, to put that in the context of you had President Mbeki stand up last week in parliament and say that the speech that Van Schalkwyk made to parliament was probably one of the most, if not the most, important speech made since 1994. Now does that not trivialise, now I'm leading you, I'm sorry, does that not trivialise the past?
MM. You see for me I try to retain as a South African the most constructive framework to look with optimism to the future and I find that I can rationalise some of the statements made by people in the political arena. But I've said to you I think that those need to be tempered and always located against the larger issues that transcend party politics in this country and I would like leaders to have that sense of transcending it.
. So, yes, I get disappointed and I keep asking myself how would one handle this political horse trading? I would look at it not by looking at the past, to recast the past in a glorified term, like this one about the NP. I would really be saying the past we come from is full of bitterness. The question is, can we interact to share a definition and a goal which we can put before people which creates greater respect in that diversity and puts human values that are needed in this country. If we can do that then I think that the horse trading has a chance to be located but the way it is done causes certain disquiet. You open the Sunday Times this weekend, the editorial is unhappy about the toenadering going on between the NP and the ANC. Very unhappy about it. Powerfully unhappy, but it's always on the terms of what is the past. It's not in terms of the future. The future is just a footnote. Mandela's response to them would be, 'But I negotiated with the murderers', but he won't say, 'Therefore you must always negotiate with murderers.' He says, 'I negotiated with them to make a future possible.'
. So you have to judge it in terms of the future and you can't justify it in terms of the future except if you can put a sign-off by the two on what is the future that they are seeing, what is the content of that future that they are committed to. Then you can deal with the past and then you can deal with what goes into this memory bank because this memory bank is not each one saying their own thing the way they saw it, it is how do I put the history or the words in such a way that elements of it can be appropriated by non-Boers? How do I put the history of coloureds in such a way that coloureds feel acknowledged and yet Africans and whites feel that they can appropriate to their nature. So history is not just an accumulation of each one's viewpoint and then saying let's take the best.History is saying harsh things to ourselves, each of us, but provided the harsh things are a lesson of what not to do and too often history is written as if to say what we did was perfect. What we did was not perfect.
POM. I won't see you until I come back. What's your schedule after I hope you're taking some holidays and things like that, I hope so.
MM. The kids don't want me with them, they're teenagers now. When do you come back?
POM. I will be back no later than the 20th of November. I go from the 9th I leave this Friday and either will return the following Friday.
MM. Oh thanks for clarifying that. I thought you were saying you were leaving on 9th December.
POM. No, no, I'm leaving this Friday.My final question for today before I let you go, it's been a long session, the Amnesty Committee says on the evidence available to us, no police involvement. We looked at all the evidence very carefully, we examined what was put before us, people were cross-examined, we took their cross-examinations into consideration or whatever and our conclusion is the probability, the balance of probability is that there was no police involvement. Do you believe them?
MM. Well so much has happened in our country, it's so shady and shaded that I leave it as an open question and I personally believe that I leave it as an open question only for one thing. If in the course of the development of this country a policeman or a citizen were to surface in a current crime, an atrocity or crime, and in the course of that I found that that person had lied to the Truth Commission under oath or to a court of law that looked at these atrocities, I think it would be necessary for a political decision to insist that the courts take that into account as an aggravating circumstance for the current case and I think that the prosecutor's office ought to look at such a person again for those past things that are supposed to be wiped out.
POM. In that case something is never wiped out because you have those who believe, like Piers, he read the amnesty judgement and just said, "This is one of the most stupid judgements I've ever read in my life, period." It's riddled with ambiguities and this that and the other. You've got people like Rian Malan who said, "I'm justified." You've got the Davidsons who say, who wrote to me and said if you look at paragraph such-and-such and look at what I said to you you'll see exactly that they correlate. I've gone through his log books.
MM. I must be big enough if a Davidson story contradicts my perception of reality and his story gets clarification, I must be big enough to acknowledge that his case is verified. You say closure. I say, yes, closure but what is the larger goal? The larger goal in this country is to bring about some relationship between the way society is governed and what laws are made and a concept towards a morally based society.
POM. This is one I will leave you with because we touched upon it two or three times before when we talked about the sanctity of human life, we talked about the lack of value on human life that is everywhere in this country. This last week has been brutal in terms of child rape, I mean brutal beyond measure. It's just frightening. And you say what has happened? You want to write that question down even though it will be in your transcript. You can think about it all over till I get back.
MM. There are no easy answers but there is only a conception of human society as a constantly evolving society in which the goal of creating a just society is not going to be reached in a leap of faith, it's going to be realised in the behavioural changes that go on in society and behavioural changes don't take place like that. It is to me an unending process otherwise why else would I have faith in humanity? So it is a philosophical question.
POM. How many years is it since Madiba set up the Moral Commission for a Moral Society? Was that one more commission that went the way of everything else?
MM. Because it was made into the property of the religious leaders. Morality is not the property of religious leaders, it's yours and mine, it's every person, it's my children and there are tough decisions because moral questions while they are posed as right and wrong they don't have a purity about it as an end state. They're a constant striving, just as I can't envisage what personalities would be like living at the end of the 21st century, what behaviour is going to be, but I am concerned whether at the end of the 21st century whether they would say what we did today contributed to where they are in a greater humanism or it contributed to further dehumanising. That's what I'm concerned about.
POM. You mentioned your children before. One is what age?
MM. 19, the boy, his name is Amilcar and the girl she's 17, her name is Sekai Jo.
POM. She's the one who got you through crossing the border in Zimbabwe all the time. Did you ever tell her how you used her?
MM. Yes. She calls me a mercenary.
POM. Have they any interest in politics?
MM. Not in politics but they are very, very interested in just and not just. Their sense of justice is very, very strong.
POM. OK, so when they pick up the papers every day and read, if I asked them what is their sense of SA, of whether they're living in a society that is inherently just or still is inherently unjust?
MM. Oh they would have some very strong observations of their own. When the World Trade Centre thing took place it's my son who rushed up to my study and said, "Dad, this is what's happened, it's on TV", and I rushed down to look at it and the two of us sit and looked at it, it was in the afternoon, and then my wife walked in and the two of them began to talk and their reaction was the US is catching it in the neck. And I was keeping quiet. Then my daughter phoned and we sent my son to pick her up and of course when he picked her up in the car he started telling her about what's happening and she reacted with shock. "How can you simply be even pleased that America is getting this?" So she walks into the room where we were watching the TV, her brother comes with her, he takes his seat. She's still standing and she says, "Dad, my brother is telling me that you people are happy with what's happened. I think that's atrocious. How can you people say this?" So I kept quiet, her mother, her brother and she got into an argument. She was saying it's unacceptable. They were saying it's motivated by anti-Americanism which has a certain justification. Then she appealed to me, "What's your view?" And I said I've been listening to the debate between your mother and your brother and now you. I've been sitting quietly all these hours but there's a different question running through my mind. The question that's running through my mind is that this is a defining moment in the shape of this world and what type of world do we feel that we want to build? That's the question that's running through me. And I can see that I will get caught up in an argument with Mom and brother about America's actions and the rights and wrongs about the Moslems, the rights and wrongs, and we will go into an endless debate. I'm trying to look a little ahead. Of course they all got into the debate. We never completed the debate.
. What I am saying is that each of them had very strong views but I do think if you ask them about SA and they give you one picture, the one image, then if you began to probe their views, that image that each is portraying and took specific issues and then you would find that even as confused as they may that a very strong sense of what is just and what is not just would come through, even if they hold diverse views, but you would find that as they reason things and as they argue with you there would be this strong sense of what is fair and what is not fair and each of them would be ready to acknowledge it, that you are now tackling the issue of fairness and justice and what is just, for example on AIDS. They are thoroughly, thoroughly confused by government position and they don't agree with it and they say so. But it's not just that they disagree with government, they will tell you why from a standpoint of what is just or not just and that's why I'm very proud of them.
POM. On that note we will finish today.