This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
25 Oct 2002: Maharaj, Mac
POM Mac, we had been talking last week after you left Robben Island, went to Lusaka, were sent by Oliver Tambo to London to transcribe Madiba's autobiography and that during that period in London you were also called upon to do a number of other things, attending a conference in Lagos and another one at the UN. Now I was talking to Indres Naidoo the other day and he said that the two of you did a tour of Europe together making the case of former prisoners and what was going on on Robben Island and in prison. Do you have a recollection of that?
MM No, that's not quite he did that. I didn't accompany him. He may be, in his memory, confusing that with now and then there would be engagements in Britain which both of us would go to having both been recently released. My task was clear, I had to do the Mandela autobiography and I only went out to Lagos twice and to the UN and on the return from the UN with a one day stop in Toronto and a one day stop in Dublin but that was OR knew that he was saying go and do these things but concentrate on your main task. So definitely I did not go to Europe with Indres, I did no engagements in the continent so I think his memory is faulty there.
POM So during this period in Britain, that was about six months?
MM Yes, August to January. August 1977 to about three weeks into January 1978 with the interruption that I went to Lusaka in the first week of December 1977 where I had to take up the position of Secretary of the Internal ANC and there was a week long meeting that we held strategising what we would do, what was the mandate of the department, how we would discharge our work. That meeting Indres attended because Indres was by that time informed and had chosen that he would settle in Maputo so he was going to be part of the Internal Committee located in Maputo and representing the Maputo Committee he was there. Yes, Indres had by now settled in Maputo so I went to Lusaka for that week.
POM During that period in Britain, you were living with Tim throughout that period?
MM Yes, no. What had happened was that Tim was living with her sister and then
POM In London?
MM In London and there was no space there but given that I was going to be in the UK for six months Tim took a flat about two months later and so we lived together in her flat for the rest of my stay in London.
POM Did you see much of each other during that period?
MM Hardly. We saw each other she was working, she was doing two jobs, a day nurse and a night nurse's job, because of course taking up the flat meant I had no income and to take up the flat she took up a night job, day job. I was busy transcribing this material and generally speaking Sue Rabkin, the transcriber, would be available after she had attended to her children, probably earliest would be about ten o'clock in the morning and then there would have to be a break because she would have to attend to the children again at lunch time and then she needed the early evening off again and then she would be available from about seven, half-past seven in the evening and then we would work till about twelve at night, get home. So we saw each other and except for her days off and I would then be able to take time off so we would be able to see each other and be together in that limited way.
POM Did you, and we covered this before, but were you at this point living in two different worlds? Had she stayed in touch with people like Vella Pillay? Was she still active in the SACP in any way? Had she been involved in the movement in London in any way or had she just gone back to nursing and living with her sister and putting her own life together?
MM She had never been a member of the SACP but she was a member of the underground and she was in the ANC and the Anti-Apartheid Movement abroad.
POM In London?
MM In London. So she would attend meetings whenever it fitted her time, she would go to anti-apartheid activities whenever there was time. If one of these events was where I would be speaking somewhere in the evening and she had time off that evening we would go together and she had retained contact with most of the friends that we knew in London in the late fifties, early sixties, so she had maintained contact. She was moving around in the ANC circles but of course the bulk of her time was just making a living and of course we were engaged in discussions at what would be happening to me from the ANC side and therefore if we were to continue with our relationship what would this mean for her because she could not see herself coming to Africa, say to Zambia, just to sit around and clearly she would have to look for a job even if she was coming, and what were the job opportunities? So those were the sort of issues we were trying to work through. They never got resolved. By the time I was asked now to be based in Zambia and I went for that meeting in December it was not clear what that would mean, where would I have a stable base? What was clear was that the head office was in Zambia, in Lusaka, but when we mapped out over the first week the work of the Internal Department it became clear that the key areas, and as Secretary I would be on the move all the time and I would be working from Botswana, working from Swaziland but in Swaziland totally illegally and clandestinely, and then the problem was how would I get into Lesotho. Zimbabwe, remember, was not free at that stage. Mozambique gave us facilities provided that we did not cross into the SA border directly from Mozambique. Mozambique turned a blind eye that we could cross the border into Swaziland legally and illegally.
POM This is after the Nkomati - ?
MM No this is before the Nkomati, well before the Nkomati. This is 1977/78. So Mozambique would allow us into Maputo, then some people would travel openly through the border post with passports and others like us, myself, would cross over on foot. We had arrangements with our contacts in the Mozambican army who were patrolling the border with Swaziland and they would turn a blind eye to us crossing in and out of Swaziland.
POM Now were they doing this with official sanction?
MM Yes, with a sort of nod, nod, but the understanding was
POM A wink, a blink and a nod.
MM So we could cross over from Mozambique into Swaziland and then the Mozambican authorities could wash their hands to say that they crossed from Swaziland into SA is not their problem, they can't be accused of that. So that was the understanding. What became clear was that
POM I just want to back up a bit to get a clear picture. You leave your task in London is completed by January, you go to Lusaka. You are now to take over as Secretary of the Internal Development and Reconstruction Committee. Now in your first weeks in Lusaka how did you assess the situation? Here you are for the first time outside of prison, outside of London, sitting in Lusaka, supposed to be the centre of the hive of activity. What is your assessment, yourself?So you arrive in Lusaka, you obviously get a number of briefings but you start taking your own assessment of the situation. This would be January 1978.
MM Yes, well by the December meeting it was clear that given the huge influx of people post-Soweto 1976 the organisation was virtually bursting at the seams. We had just negotiated with the Angolan government and they had allowed us to set up camps and training facilities in Angola so that was a huge operation going on there. Our East Africa, Tanzania facilities were also in use but also we had to cater for
POM They were in?
MM In Kongwa in Tanzania, and the Tanzanian operations we had to give the choice to any of the people coming out of the country, these young people, we had to ask what do they want and we had to offer them opportunities to either go and study or to go into military service and so the East African operations were primarily for those who were opting to go and study so they would be taken to Tanzania and from there on place found for them to study all over the world.
POM Would scholarships for them be found through - ?
MM We would find scholarships for them, we would find countries, socialist countries, GDR, Cuba, Soviet Union, places in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, the lot. Some of the countries were taking them in fairly large groups. In a very short time Cuba agreed in the Isle of Youth to set up a special college to cater for out students to get the equivalent of matric education and then go on to university education. So that problem was a big one in itself.
POM Who did that fall under? The organisational structure of the - ?
MM Up to the point where a person opted to go for military training that would fall under the Revolutionary Council but once the person opted for education that would move to the Education Department of the ANC. All I am saying is that the global picture, the organisation was faced with this massive task as well as prosecuting the development of the armed activities inside SA.
From the political side then, how were we to work within the country? We needed to establish links, create cells, get in touch with active people and the only way to do that was to have an organisational structure in Botswana in the neighbouring territories, in Botswana, in Lesotho, in Swaziland. These were the contiguous areas from which we could carry out activity and all of them had to be conducted in conditions of either total clandestinity or semi-clandestinity vis-à-vis the governments of those three countries. So the Internal had to map out a way, was it going to be operating semi-clandestinely or clandestinely?
POM This is your committee?
MM Yes, and we opted for clandestinity but some of the people working in these committees would find ways to legitimately reside in those neighbouring territories, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland but the work would be totally clandestine. Maputo became convenient because we had ease of access into Mozambique and therefore for Swaziland the committee in Mozambique would be working closely with the committee in Swaziland and the committee in Lesotho. Lesotho presented formidable problems that you either crossed on foot through SA or you had a tenuous air link between Mozambique and Lesotho.
POM Now was that a particularly well guarded border by the South Africans?
MM The South Africans clearly had their intelligence agents penetrating all these areas. The South Africans had very good government connections in Lesotho, they had government connections in Swaziland, they had government connections in Botswana but less the Botswana government was more trying to hold a neutral position. Chris Hani in Lesotho had been arrested by the Lesotho authorities and even tortured by them under the regime of Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan. But he was married to Impo who was a Lesotho citizen and they could not deport him from Lesotho but they could harass him.
Under those conditions then what I know that we inherited in the Internal was no files, no records at all, a blank file of what we had been doing in the past inside the country politically.
POM So you arrived at a desk that was blank, nothing on the desk?
MM Had to work from a clean slate.
POM So you don't know what's going on inside the country?
MM Well I know, I've just been released. But I have not been provided with any contacts to say so-and-so in Cape Town on our files is a reliable person and this is the way you can contact him.
POM There are no files. No contact lists.
MM Nothing. But the strength that was there was that the comrades settled in Botswana for the Internal were people who had just come out fairly recently from the country and they included stalwarts in the struggle, e.g. we had Henry Makgothi a member of the National Executive. Now he had been a member of the ANC in the fifties with Tambo, he had been to prison, he had come out, he had been restricted in SA, he had carried on activity. When Joe Gqabi and them were re-arrested in 1975/76 he fled the country to Botswana. So we had a person like that. We had Marius Schoon, the late Marius Schoon, he also had served 10 12 years, married to Jenny Schoon. Her maiden name was Jenny Curtis, she had been involved in the unions so she and Marius fled to Botswana and took refuge in Botswana. There were younger people, the post-1976 generation in Botswana.
POM Hassen Ebrahim?
MM He came later.
POM He came later.
MM Much later. In Swaziland at that time, 1977, another member of the National Executive of the ANC who had left the country fairly recently and settled in Swaziland was John Nkadimeng, so he was living as a refugee in Swaziland. He had just come out of the country and was a long standing member of the ANC, member of the NEC. These people, from wherever they came within the country, already knew people that they had been working with.
POM They knew people in SA who they had worked with?
MM Yes, and reliable people. In this clean slate these were the individuals who knew people personally within the country with whom we could link up to begin to create a structure inside the country. We realised, and I realised after I got back to London from that meeting and I had to think through now
POM That's the December meeting?
MM Yes, I had to think more into the strategy of how we would work.
POM Before we move to there, what was your assessment of how the military side of things was working? Were the MK then fighting alongside ZANU in the Zimbabwean war?
MM And they were running operations also through Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho to carry out armed propaganda action within the country.
POM But it would have been of minimalist - ?
MM No, by 1977 we were hitting a large number of casualties from this flood of refugees and quick training. We were sending in cadres through the military. They were getting intercepted quickly within the country. They were getting arrested, they were getting killed. I think the casualties that we were suffering in 1977/78 were very high in proportion to the number of people, cadres we were sending in at the military level. But there was increased sabotage going on but that had become clearly the primary focus of action.
POM The military side?
MM Yes, and the political side had been neglected and the leadership in putting us together was saying this is a neglected area, it needs specific attention.
POM Why had the military side assumed such importance given the logistical problems, given the formidability of the SA security forces, particularly their capacity to infiltrate, given the difficulty to bring arms into the country? All your supply routes were long routes and routes that would be very difficult to sustain. Why was the thinking that the military route would be the productive route?
MM No, events were propelling you, no matter how much you thought theoretically and analytically you had to go with both political and military work. What happened was with the influx you could send in a unit to carry out a sabotage action and withdraw. Political work could not be done that way. Your political underground worker had to be on the terrain almost indefinitely and events until then and repression and the casualties were almost willy-nilly pushing you towards concentrating on the military work because you could send in four people into the country, carry out a sabotage, retreat, so-called hit and run. You couldn't do that with political work. You could send in a courier to contact two or three people, bring them together and retreat, but now you had to set up lines of communication with those three or four people that you've put together and you had to be in dynamic contact responding to their needs and giving them guidance. That became far less visibly productive, far less immune in theory to just hit and get out and yet the hit and get out was running into casualties.
POM I've been told by a number of security people that they would very often intercept a unit coming into the country, three or four guys, and say these are your choices, we can kill you right now and say it was the result of a skirmish, we can recruit you and what we will do is- what target are you supposed to hit? We'll hit the target for you so that you can go back to Lusaka or wherever and say mission accomplished but we're recruited you and we have your family as kind of the hostages to you keeping in. Was that recognised at that time as being a problem or later as being a problem?
MM At that stage, we're talking about 1977/78, the fact that we were suffering casualties also was raising concern and certainly we began to see that that was likely and happening because we could see it was happening in Zimbabwe in the Zimbabwean struggle and it was happening in the SWAPO struggle. So, of course, we had to set up a Security Department to do that screening. That was happening and there was a gradual increasing recognition that that was a problem but that didn't mean that the answer to that was to stop sending in people so we had to continue. What it meant was that you had a political infrastructure in the country but I am saying in response to your question why the greater focus was on implementation of military action and activity is that there was also pressure from the young people coming out. When you asked them, what do you want to do? Oh, I want to join MK, because that was what the blood was telling you and that was where at the level of development that's all they were interested in. "Show me how to use a gun, I want to go back and fight the enemy." So when you said, "Now, comrade, I need you for political work", that was far less glamorous, far less responding to the call of your blood.
POM This is the young people.
MM Yes, the young people wanted it that way, the political work was less glamorous. It's results would be coming through very slowly and there was immediate pressure because of the security problem to answer the security threats by saying the weakness is because we have no political infrastructure in the country. It's the political infrastructure that should be telling us first line who's reliable and who's not and because we are not well grounded politically in the country you can't give us that information. But then the same problem was arising as we began to do our work, every time you had developed some political base in the country the military was demanding immediate assistance and what assistance did it want? It wanted assistance that when the military cadre came in he or she, the group are housed, are transported safely and are transported out of the country, but in the meantime this is the one that's getting caught and when they get caught who do they point to? They point to the political unit.
So you had that pressure going on and that's the environment in which you to go and do your work and of course the natural tendency would be for the political section to say: Military, I can't expose my unit in the country until it has stabilised and I can't send you to my core unit simply to bring in a cadre, house, move and let them operate and then get out and in the meantime this thing has gone in danger. So this was the conundrum of that period. Of course it caused tensions between the military and the political which had to be managed. The military would go behind the back of the political in Botswana to get the individual comrades assistance and of course the individual comrade his heart saying I want the military struggle to move forward. So he'd start doing things with the military without reporting to the political. The security would come and say I need your assistance but don't tell anybody in the political section. Again it sounded like James Bond so the guy would do it but not tell you and then when you get a casualty in Botswana what happened? Oh the guy has been exposed for some intelligence work or some military work. Why didn't you tell me? No but that's a secret, but political is also secret.
Where do you co-ordinate this? Theoretically the idea was it's co-ordinated in the Revolutionary Council but by that time the military had established whole lines, a whole infrastructure, was better resourced because of the pressure for action at home. It's in that environment that we had to set about doing the work of the Internal Political and that's why it was called Internal Political and Reconstruction Department. We had to reconstruct our capacity within the country.
POM Alongside that you had the Internal?
MM Just call it Internal Political.
POM Reconstruction Political and then you had the Revolutionary Council.
MM I was a member of the Revolutionary Council.
POM Did that act in parallel or what were its functions as distinct from the Internal Committee and how were the two co-ordinated?
MM The Revolutionary Council had been mandated by the Morogoro conference to be the sub-structure, sub-committee of the National Executive which was charged with prosecuting the struggle at home and it had different departments and divisions, military, political, propaganda, and the Revolutionary Council was supposed to be the strategising body and co-ordinating. It was not supposed to have its own replication structurally down the line so you had Internal Political, John Motsabi (he was the chairman) and myself serving on the RC, you had military people from the military head office, Joe Modise, Joe Slovo and a number of other comrades serving on the Revolutionary Council. The RC had its own secretary to regulate its function but it was a co-ordinating supervisory body and it delegated its functions to other divisions within it.
Just to say that from the political side there was also a conundrum from the point of view of practical work inside the country, the conundrum was here in the country you knew there were surviving individual comrades with a track record of reliability, so there were tried and tested comrades living in the country. Some had never been arrested, they had been house-arrested, banned, etc., like Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Mandela, others were banned, house-arrested, continued activity, periodically got arrested, were brought to trial or were taken into detention and released. Now amongst them you could see this is a core of tried, tested, reliable, committed people but if you reached them and asked them to undertake the political work you were then reaching a person who the enemy was watching with hawk's eyes so immediately you were walking into danger. But if you avoided them and you went to unknown people, unknown relative to the enemy and unknown to yourself for a track record, they did not have a background in the movement. Yes, they were involved in the community, in the unions, etc., but you had a question-mark over the reliability.
Now how were you to proceed? Take the unknown and you are vulnerable, take the known and you are vulnerable. You had to steer a way through that. And how did you guide them? By just a cursory note? You can't discuss political problems by just a note because you need to understand what are the problems that they are facing where they are living, what's the community facing, how do they organise that community? Now that meant that as secretary I realised that my lifestyle was going to be disappear clandestinely into Botswana. But you can't just go to Botswana for a day. Yes you would go there, you would meet the committee but you would have to sit with them and work together and learn how to do the work and school them also how to do the work, meet people.
POM They in a way had to be trained how to do underground
MM Yes, not trained in the sense that I had superior knowledge but so that we were working in the same way. So in mapping out my work what I realised was that I would have to find means to get clandestinely into Botswana and that's in fact what I did. When I came to Lusaka in January I had another meeting, I had scheduled a meeting of the Internal Committee, mapped out some practical work.
POM Can you remember who was on the Internal Committee?
MM Key committee members were John Motsabi, Chairman, I was the Secretary, Henry Makgothi from Botswana, Indres Naidoo, Ray Simons from SACTU, John Nkadimeng from Swaziland and then I think from time to time later on we would have Marius Schoon attend a meeting, etc., but I had now thought through some of the practical work and I said I would be going now from the names you can see they were already based in different places, I said now I will start, I'm going off to Botswana clandestinely. I will be in Botswana probably for a month or two and then when I come out I'm going to go to Maputo. From Maputo I'm going to find my way into Swaziland. Again I'll stay there for a while. Now all this was clandestine so I can't say on this day I will leave and on this day I will come back, etc., but I said, "Here's a rough time frame, this is my plan but first I'm going off to Botswana. I'll probably be there about a month or two months. Some time within that I will be coming out. Can we schedule a meeting and have a fixed date for a meeting so that I know wherever I am each of you know somehow or the other you've got to be in Lusaka by this date. Whether you come earlier it doesn't matter but you know on that date we are meeting." And I went off to Botswana, I remember I'd given up smoking
POM You what?
MM I had given up smoking.
POM How did that happen?
MM I had stopped smoking, I don't know how I think some treatment in London. I got to Botswana, I think I stayed February, March and I think I hadn't smoked for three months and one day in a meeting out at Marius Schoon's place out in the Kalahari the meeting had gone on until about four in the morning and people were smoking and I decided to have a puff. That was it.
POM The rest is history.
MM So from the point of view of my personal circumstances -
POM You didn't have trouble getting from Zambia into Botswana?
MM I found a way. I got the Indian government to give me a passport.
POM The Indian government gave you a passport?
POM So you were in contact with?
MM Through the Indian High Commissioner, the ANC was in touch. They gave me a passport, I had other forged documents that would enable me to cross incognito into Botswana. I know in Botswana I got a driver's licence to go with my Indian passport. There was a fair movement of people from India, a small number travelling in and out of Botswana. I had now created an infrastructure for myself of means by which I could enter and leave Botswana. I remember at some stage we got hold of a car, the late Cassius Make who became the secretary of the Revolutionary Council and myself, we got hold of a car, registered in Botswana under a false name compatible with my passport, and this car was used exclusively by him and me to travel in and out of Botswana and only for that.
POM So within Botswana you found what did you find there?
MM I found that Squire had now set up a committee made up of Henry Makgothi, Marius Schoon, Tokyo Sexwale's sister called Magirli. Then there was a chap Snookie Zikilala who was in the military (he has featured recently on the SABC Board issues).
POM He wasn't the guy making the ?
MM - life hell and all.
POM Oh he was, yes, yes, OK.
MM The Mail & Guardian were going for him. And the composition of these committees would be changing because these would be people who are officially living in Botswana as refugees but every time the South Africans put pressure on the Botswana government saying, "No, this chap is not just an innocent refugee. He's implicated in work inside the country." So you, the SA government, would say to Botswana," 'Kick him out", and sometimes the Botswana government would insist that we withdraw the person and of course it meant a churning going on in the composition of the committee. Marius and Jenny Schoon had to be withdrawn when the signals came very clearly that the SA government were going to take a hit on them and for their safety we withdrew them.
Then the South Africans began to stage raids in Gaberone. Some of our people died there and others we withdrew because they now were in danger. I remember this agent, this unsavoury character who has featured and never went to the TRC but kept on making revelations that he was working for the enemy, what was his name? Mamasela, Joe Mamasela. Joe Mamasela came onto my radar screen because he had come to Botswana working with a female cadre called Joyce Dipale and Joyce was shot in Gaberone and when we investigated the matter she was supposed to be meeting a person working with the ANC inside the country and that person turned out to be Joe Mamasela and that in fact that night when she was shot she had a meeting with Joe Mamasela, it was Mamasela who led the raid to try and capture her that night and there was a shoot out and she was shot I think in the leg but they failed to capture her. And then we tried to capture Joe Mamasela but that's how we began to establish that Joe Mamasela was purportedly working with the ANC but was in fact an enemy agent.
POM So you knew from 1976/77?
MM This would be 1978/79.
POM That this guy was
MM - an enemy agent. Yes. Then he resorted to other activities. He is the man who was behind the Dukusa youth who a group of youth were contacted by somebody purporting to be MK/ANC. I don't remember the township. I think at Dukusa, I think that's the township. So this enemy agent, Joe Mamasela, goes and meets the youth in this area, introduces himself as an MK cadre who has come into the country, who has trained, gives them training on how to use hand grenades and then equips them with hand grenades to carry out a raid. In fact the hand grenades had been doctored to go off instantaneously, the delaying mechanism had been removed. So here this group of youth went one night with their hand grenades to attack some building or something and as soon as they pulled the pins the grenades went off. In 1990/91 when I surfaced I found a lady whose brother had lost his arm in that grenade but the agent was Mamasela. When the enemy realised that his lifespan commuting between Botswana and here was exhausted and in danger they redeployed him inside the country as an agent provocateur.
POM But there weren't sufficient underground structures in place at that time to identify him as being an agent provocateur?
MM I think you must understand the circumstances. Joyce Dipale herself had just come out of the country so over a period of time she began to contact those she knew and amongst those she knew was Joe Mamasela and she began to work with him and he would travel to Botswana, purportedly clandestinely, and then the enemy from their briefing decided to send Joe Mamasela in one of the meetings with her in order to capture her and kidnap her and bring her home. But he goes there, the kidnapping goes wrong, Joyce Dipale fights back, there's a shoot out and he flees but Joyce has survived. That means to say we're reconstructing the matter and realise Mamasela is the agent. Even if you had an infrastructure you would be running into those problems. There's no such thing that your infrastructure would be so sufficient that you would not run into this type of problem.
POM That there would not be the possibility of an enemy agent -
MM We were just talking about that phenomenon and I was saying in the very nature of the struggle and the strategy adopted by the apartheid regime it would be impossible to say you could ever live under and continue to function under conditions where you would not be infiltrated. But you therefore had to conduct your work in such a way that you built what in computer language today is 'fire walls' so that when the enemy penetrated you and you suffered casualties it wouldn't just ripple through all your structures. This was one of the major lessons we learnt from the Rivonia arrests that your clandestine work had to be conducted in such a way that between groups of people functioning on a clandestine level you had to build fire walls so that if one group ran into a casualty you contained the damage and that was the way to work but this had an implication how people worked from the borders because if the committee in Botswana knew everything then all you had to do from the enemy side was to capture a member from that committee and they would have all the information. So you had to build fire walls even in these neighbouring territories and that took you to head office in Lusaka. Did you allow that information to be generalised? Again you had to have appropriate fire walls because the enemy could penetrate you at your head office or it could raid your offices and if you had wonderful records like they keep here at the bank you're gone because all they needed was access to your records. So even in Zambia the Revolutionary Council did not work from the same head office as the ANC. It had to work from clandestine places.
POM So it didn't have a fixed - ?
MM We had fixed but secured places which were not places where anybody and everybody could move in and out of them.
POM So even people who might be on the would everybody on the National Executive be aware of all the locations of the safe houses?
POM Just to back up to see if I'm getting you right. You discovered that, I'm using Joe Mamasela because he was so notorious and he's a good example, you realised in 1978/79 this guy is an enemy agent, he's pulled back and they redeploy him within SA, take him out of the Botswana loop. Now if you start sending word back to your structures in SA that he was an enemy agent you wouldn't know whether or not that was going to structures that were themselves infiltrated and therefore the government, again, could take evasive action.
MM You couldn't send a notice to all your structures that so-and-so is an enemy agent. It doesn't make sense. What you would be doing is keep on watching and saying who does he know, can I inform somebody? And sometimes you didn't say anything because sometimes you told them at home and the person would say, "Outside is being paranoid. What's your proof? You've got no proof." So you had to build those relations and you had to watch the enemy agent. Take Joe Mamasela because he has got the resources of the state structures behind him and Vlakplaas they redeploy him to Dukusa Township. Now how did you know he's going to surface in Dukusa Township and who were you going to tell in Dukusa Township and how do you think those youth were going to listen to you who were not even in your structures? But suppose you went there and said, "Hey, chaps, it seems to us you're working with Joe Mamasela." They'd say, "Joe Mamasela, we're not working with Joe Mamasela. What nonsense is this?" And you say, "But aren't you working with a chap who's training?" They say, "How do you know that?" And you say, "But his name is Joe Mamasela." And they say, "No he's not Joe Mamasela, he's Amos Zondi." And they say outside is talking nonsense because here's a man delivering hand grenades so who do they believe?
POM Here's a man who's training them, making them friends.
MM He's training them.
POM How would you, just again in your own mind and when you analysed things both as they were in SA and you outside of it when you were outside of it, how would you analyse an operative like Joe Mamasela? Here's a guy who is bright, resourceful, who carries out the most dastardly deeds on behalf of the state, doesn't end up with a Mercedes Benz you know what I mean? A house in the south of France where he can flee to. How would you analyse the motivation of a bright, resourceful black person who would be an excellent person if he was in your own organisation in many respects? The twist.
MM It's a question I've asked in Reflections where I deal with the case of Raymond Nyanda. I say what makes a black man in apartheid SA
POM This is the guy with the cigarettes and who was going around - ?
MM Yes. What makes him sell his soul? One can't generalise. There have been cases, as we referred to earlier, a person outside whose family is held hostage inside. There have been cases where people have been sent out on an assassination mission to assassinate O R Tambo and when they made their confession what did they promise you? He says R500, R1000 if you succeeded and got back. And you say what a mess of pottage. Then in the period of joblessness, unemployment and the glamour for a person who's even developing a rudimentary political consciousness, the power of the state that you felt when they touched you, they detained you, they tortured you and many people came out having agreed to work for them but as soon as they were outside they made a confession, they say what has happened. Others felt ashamed and they concealed it from us and they began to live a life where they concealed it from their own consciousness. So I say there's a complex set of factors that is present in that phenomenon.
What made a black person become a policeman, a civil servant, a court interpreter? The need for a job and maybe when they were first approached to do something like going and blowing up a building they didn't look at they were killing their own black brothers and sisters, they looked at a building and the glamour of just blowing it up. What makes Mafumela who was with Eugene de Kock go and so brutally stab Griffiths Mxenge in that stadium at night and he has described the brutal stabbing and he only turned to tell the truth when he was in the death row and was now going to be executed. Then because his handlers had promised him, "Don't worry, you take the rap but whatever the courts do we'll rescue you." But when he realised that the rope was going to get on him and still executions were carried out, then in desperation to save his life he called his lawyers and told them. So that's on the black man's side.
POM But you never developed what I would call from the people who came across the border, the people you interrogated and who you identified as being informers or whatever, were you ever able to develop a profile of what a potential informer might be? What would you look for?
MM I think first of all the task of developing that profile was a job of the Security Department. In the political section of course you began to develop some profile too but the profiling for the political section took more of a back seat against a set of procedures that were even preliminary to profiling. I tell the story about when Winnie was confined in Brandfort and I got to Lesotho in 1978, I got in touch with Chris Hani and company, I was living clandestinely. Chris Hani comes to me one night, we meet and he says, "There's a problem. Fifteen young men came across the border from SA a few days ago."
POM This is into Lesotho?
MM Into Lesotho. "They said that they had been sent by Comrade Winnie." Now by that time our Security Department had established a procedure. As soon as you arrived a member of the underground who was in the Security Department would interview these people and would help them to write their own biography. It was not an interrogation, you can't interrogate them in Lesotho. Ostensibly they are saying they are refugees and this security person on our side is working in the refugee counselling but he's security and once the person says I want to join MK or the ANC and the person is passed to our side by the refugee authorities to say this man wants to be with you, you have to take responsibility for getting him out of Lesotho and take him away. We do the interview, OK, "Sit down, who are you?" and question him about his background and record everything. You're asking where did you grow up, who are your parents, who are your brothers, your sisters, which school did you go to, etc., etc., what made you leave the country? Oh, you left because you want to be in the struggle. Have you been involved in the country? What were you doing in the country? Who were you involved with? How did you get to hear about us, etc., etc.?
Of course at that stage your questioning is not hostile, it's very friendly, but inconsistencies develop in the person's story and in that very first process, Chris tells me, out of the fifteen twelve confessed before they had finished writing their biography to say, "Look please, you're asking me about all these things", and now the person is in difficulty explaining and the person says, "Please, I was approached by the police to work for them and they sent me here to infiltrate you and to continue to work for them." "Oh! Who was the policeman? What did they ask you to do?" Still non-hostile, and then say, "OK, stay in the refugee centre, we will get you out of Lesotho", because you still don't know. Now you want information from him and then what would happen, you'd put the person on a refugee flight to Maputo. The person arrives in Maputo, was put in a home with a group of people who are again interviewed and again asked about their life and their CV. By this time all the copies of the Lesotho CV are being sent to Luanda to the Security Department. What the person says in Maputo is also sent. From Maputo the person is shifted either to East Africa for studies or to Angola for military training or to Angola with a statement saying, "I suspect this one is working for the enemy." When the person gets to Luanda, goes through the same procedure to do his biography and the person says, "But I've done it before." They say, "No, I haven't got it. You're now here and let's go over this." He will go over it. Then you study the three versions to see the discrepancies and using those discrepancies now you subject the person to further questioning.
At a very rudimentary level of screening that became the first mechanism to detect. Then of course as you got people you would be asking what's their motivation, etc., in seeking there and that way developing a profile because you had no data bank. If you're working the way police forces work throughout the world with profiling of serial killers they have already got an established data bank of psychometric information, etc., done on previous serial killers and filed. We didn't have that. We didn't even have computers so your data bank of your profiling was sitting in the individuals working in the Security Department.
But there were other ways too. For example, I recall a case where Comrade Slovo and Modise were very, very proud. In the reports they were claiming that one of their cadres, a very good chap, had settled in Gauteng and he was already a commander from Maputo days but he had come in with a squad, settled down well and was operating and so a group of cadres were coming in and settling in on the military side this is when in the mine dumps they used disused shafts as their homes. Then it ran into casualties but this particular comrade survived and was operating well. They claimed at some stage in a conversation with me, we were sort of semi ragging each other, they claimed that my side was not doing its work, that here was their military commander also doing political work of distributing literature and well settled on the ground. When they mentioned this
POM Wasn't that automatically a violation of his function?
MM Yes but they were saying it's because your side is not doing the bloody work and here's the immense opportunities but you cowards, you're not doing the bloody work, you're lazy. This was not in a meeting, it was a casual discussion. But the thing that hit me was his claim that he was distributing literature and was in touch with a person on the ground who was giving him a lot of support, accommodating him and everything, but at the same time was the source of his getting ANC underground literature. So the thing sat in my head, I let them rag me and I knew that this particular comrade in MK is working through Maputo.
When I got to Maputo I didn't tell anybody, I kept watching for this information. Who do we send our propaganda to? What's their reports of their distribution? I could see no way how this particular MK commander was in touch with anybody from our side who was giving literature. Then at some stage I picked up that this MK commander was going to come out of the country for a briefing and I went to Joe Slovo and I said, "Can you allow me to also meet this commander?" And he agreed. So I met the commander and I asked him about I said to Joe I want to find out the politics and potential and I had a conversation with him and I asked him how he was getting this literature in the course of the discussion and he told me and he was due to return to the country within two or three days. I worked quickly on this matter and went back to him and I said, "Now, comrade, in my view this person you're working with is an enemy agent." He says, "Not possible."
POM Is this to Joe?
MM No to the commander.
POM To the commander? That the person he was working with
MM Inside the country and was housing him, I said this is an enemy agent. So the commander says, "No way." I said, "Why?" He says, "Because he provides me with safe accommodation. I am living in an accommodation that he has provided and if he was enemy by now I would be caught because I'm doing military work in the country." So I say, "I hear your reasons but I still feel very strongly that you are working with an enemy agent." We discussed this matter him and with the agreement of Slovo I recommended that when he got home he should arrange, because he had already earmarked this chap was going home and giving propaganda material, he had earmarked him to now be drawn into his direct military operations and was planning to train him in military work. So I said, "Can we arrange this, that you send him out for some brief one week rudimentary training and I need to be informed." So we agreed. When he came I interviewed him, again very innocently, and in my interview of his background and everything I could see the holes in his story. I went to Joe and I said, "Joe, here's his story, here are the huge holes." We looked at it together and we agreed that there was damn good reason to believe that he was an enemy agent. We had no proof yet. We then checked how he had been withdrawn, how much has he told the enemy (if he's an enemy agent), and we worked on the basis that the enemy knew and had allowed him to come out.
We then agreed that now was the time to hand him over to Security. We briefed Security and handed him over. Security came back to me two days later to report that he's made his confession and not only had he made his confession but they found him with concealed documents which allowed him to return into the country and go through police road blocks, he had an identification card so that he would be allowed through. OK, they said, "Well here it is, he's confessing", and when I listened to the verbal report I said, "Not enough. Problem. Now that he has confessed that he is working for the enemy we now need a detailed report of how and when he got to work with this MK commander, what he has been reporting to the enemy", and a very interesting profile emerged. He was reporting to his handlers everything that he was doing politically but he had not reported what he was doing for this commander at the military level and he had not identified this military commander. And I said to the security guys, "It doesn't make sense to me. I need to find out more. You've got to question him more." And what emerged was he, out of fear, said he was working with the enemy, had to deliver them tangible results, had to do provocateur work at the political level but in the process when he came across this military commander and his unit his heart was, "I support these guys against the people I'm working for." And he says, "I here was now working, not a double life working for two sides, but in my own conscience I was giving information on the political but I was hiding information on the military and in that way I was salving my conscience." So that's how complex things can get.
POM What would you do with somebody like him?
MM Oh you would try to rehabilitate him.
POM Would you consider sending him back?
MM Sometimes we sent people back but I don't think he was a candidate for sending back because he was making the judgement call on his own, so he was not a candidate in my mind to send back. He had learnt - if you bought his story he was steering his way through a zigzag path and if he confessed so easily with us what happens if his handlers saw that there were some inexplicable links and confronted him?
But there were others that we sent back and sometimes we sent them back for very temporary missions, to gain immediate quick win advantage and then pull the chap out, send him to East Africa, let him live in the community, give him an opportunity to study and give him an opportunity to rehabilitate himself and lead a life outside of the firing line.
So those were things that were being done and the problem was not just sitting on the black side. Just to illustrate the mindset what comes up now is the case of Craig Williamson.
POM Now he features in your police file? Do you have your police file?
MM That's the one I said no, I told you the Mayibuye Centre has that.
When I was under house arrest in Durban of course there were a few comrades coming to me, some were raising the matter, wanting to know am I going to stay in the country, meaning can I be regular guidance for them, can I get involved with them. Others were coming to say to me, look, things are not safe, why don't we get you out of the country? I knew in my mind what I am going to be doing but in such conversations I didn't just shut them up, I didn't want to transmit, I didn't know whether the enemy would know. So I would converse with them why, what are the pros and cons. But in the process I was looking at is there a safe way to get out of the country. It's in the course of this that I came across Craig Williamson, became aware of his existence. I don't recall now who is the person who came to me in Durban and brought to my attention that the possibility is that a person like Craig Williamson could be useful to me.
POM Had you heard of him before?
MM I had not heard, I'd come out of prison. But the description that I got was that he had very easy access to getting out of the country, in and out of the country via Botswana. The description of the ease with which he could get a person out of the country worried me and in fact, yes, it was proven to me that he had helped Andrew Masondo's wife, Cecelia Masondo, to get out of the country. When I probed how did he get her out I began to have concerns as to the safety of this route. Remember I had sent a message to OR to say don't help me from outside. I am not so sure who even in your structures outside is working for the enemy and who is not. I will find my own way out. So I had this very, very particular mindset at the time and so I was watching out for potential people in the country but I was scrutinising that potential to see how safe it was and when I was told that he had taken out Cecelia Masondo you would ask the question what does it prove? That's proof that he's got a good mechanism. But for me simultaneously as that was proof it sent up a lot of warning bells that, hey, he may have taken out Cecelia but that may be to build up his credibility.
Be that as it may I didn't need to resort to him and I didn't bite at it. When I got out and I was made Secretary of the ANC Internal, London also had a committee for Internal because people would pass through, in and out of London, and Dr Dadoo was heading that Revolutionary Council Division and he then informed me that I said to him, now London has been operating from the sixties, so I said to him, "I need to be briefed on the work that London is doing." So he said, "Sure, pay a visit to London and we'll brief you.' When I got to London he put me in touch - "
POM Did they have parallel structures like an Internal - ?
MM Internal, yes.
POM But they didn't have a Revolutionary - ?
MM Dr Dadoo was Deputy Chair of the Revolutionary Council.
POM But not in London, he would fly to Lusaka to
MM But he had a small sub-committee because Joe Slovo had been in London until 1976 so they had a sort of Revolutionary Council sub-committee handling propaganda work at home, handling sending people home. They sent in various people, including Tim Jenkin, they had been sent in by London. Sue and her husband David Rabkin had been sent in by London. This is now already in the early seventies. Mombaris has been sent in by London, the Frenchman, Alex Mombaris.
So I went to London to be briefed on the political side of the work. The comrade in London produced a batch of in the discussion he said, "We have one very, very good operative who is sending us voluminous reports of the political situation in the country." So I asked the comrade in London, "Who is this person?" And he said, "No, comrade, we can't divulge the name, the real identity. We have to keep it compartmentalised." So I said, "But I'm the Secretary." He said, "No, be that as it may, no, we feel very insecure." So I said, "But can you give me the reports so that I have a picture at head office?" He said, "Sure." Now the code name for this person at home was Newman and London began to send me voluminous reports from Newman and they looked amazing.
POM In terms of their content?
MM Content, the person had met so-and-so, knows so-and-so in the country, knows so-and-so is travelling all around the country, meeting active, good people, funding them. Now London had said we're not going to disclose the identity and the letters to Newman, the letters from -No, the letters were from Paul to Newman.
POM Paul Joseph?
MM No. Paul is again somebody in the country, to Newman, and Newman would be giving it to London so Newman appeared to be the head of the group. My suspicions were aroused by the volume of the reports and this person knew people from Durban to Kingwilliamstown to Cape Town to Johannesburg, all over. I therefore began to interpret all these reports and I raised with Dr Dadoo at the beginning that it's unacceptable that I'm not being told the identity of the man. I need to know who is Paul and I need to know who is Newman. Dadoo's response was that these are very reliable people, they have worked with London for a few years now.
POM Did the total organisation have an inconsistency here? You have the Internal Department in Lusaka, you have a sub-branch in London and the London people are telling the head branch, "We're not going to give you the names of these people."
MM Yes, because historically London had been in existence before Lusaka had set up a structure.
POM So they felt more ownership of the turf battle.
MM Yes, it's normal turf battles. And they said it's on grounds of security, we have worked with this group for years now and they have survived in the country. They are one of our gems and if we divulge their identity we fear the consequences. So I asked London, "Well, besides these reports what work do they do?" They said, "Well they're carrying out leaflet bombing." We had developed a mechanism where you placed a stack of leaflets in a sort of bucket, underneath those leaflets we put a wooden platform with a dowel in the centre of that circular platform and we then put a gunpowder explosive charge under that and at the right time this thing blew up and because it's in a bucket it shot this stick upwards, that pushed the whole platform and the chaps had perfected that it would go up to a height of 30/40 feet and then a smaller charge would blow up the packet holding the leaflets and the leaflets would come down in a shower. You'd do this in public places, it was quite a sensation when it was started. London knew the mechanism for this, London had developed it in the sixties and seventies.
Anyway, they said this unit, they said it's a three person unit who have been doing this leaflet bombing for years. But what startled me is that they said at one occasion that this unit has become so efficient that in a space of two days it had distributed leaflets in Jo'burg City Hall from the gallery at a concert, that the person had thrown a packet of leaflets from the gallery, coming down as a shower, gone off to Durban, set off a leaflet bomb in a centre, gone off to Cape Town and set off a leaflet bomb in Cape Town.
POM All in two days?
MM Two days.
POM The same person.
MM The same person. This thing was worrying me but I'm busy studying the reports and in my mind I came to the conclusion that Newman was Craig Williamson. Now I wouldn't tell London this because London doesn't want to tell me who it is.
POM What led you?
MM What led me was the finances because none of the financing of this was needed from our finances and I saw home, Paul was constantly asking for money, but by this time Craig Williamson had left the country and had settled in Switzerland for the IUEF, the International University Exchange Fund set up by the Swedes. But I also got a report from Marius Schoon in Botswana in early 1978 that Craig Williamson on behalf of the IUEF had visited Botswana and had gone and seen Marius and given him cash to pay one month's rent for his home and Marius reported this to me and I said to him, "Deposit that money in your bank account but don't touch it, I will tell you what to do." And he was saying, "Craig's a good man."
Now there are various intricacies to this because Craig was also running an operation of the IUEF publishing a bulletin from Botswana and I, using Patrick Fitzgerald and a chap called Heinz Klug, infiltrated SANA and took over control of it.
MM SANA Bulletin funded by Craig Williamson. (Southern Africa News Agency Bulletin).
POM That was being published in?
MM Botswana, and smuggled into the country. I decided I'm going to infiltrate this unit of who's running SANA and I used Patrick Fitzgerald and Heinz Klug under the guidance of Marius Schoon to infiltrate and take over SANA but they took it over as if they were working for Craig Williamson. I was seeing tentacles of Craig all over. I was also seeing in Swaziland that Craig had gone there and given one of our key ANC members money but this person in Swaziland was not working in my division but I learnt that he had got money from Craig.
POM Where was Craig ostensibly getting the money from?
MM Geneva, from IUEF.
POM Who were secretly giving the money to fund
MM And they were giving money inside the country, to the Ginsburg Foundation which was funding Black Consciousness. So on that side when I began to converge that information about Craig and look at the Newman reports coming through London I began to see the fit and I said this is Craig Williamson. I then identified Paul in my mind as being Karl Edwards, the police lieutenant in Port Elizabeth. But the question was how do I handle London? Of course from time to time I would raise with Dr Dadoo, "Doc, I'm worried about this so-called unit of yours that's so outstanding." And Doc would be very cagey. But Craig Williamson was simultaneously making overtures to me. For instance when I went to New York in 1977 I had no money. I had arrived in New York
POM This is to the conference?
MM To the UN, 1977. I left Nigeria with not a penny in my pocket. In fact a female comrade, Sonkosi Mji, from a very well known family was in the ANC and a student and she met me at the conference in Lagos and when she heard that I'm heading for New York, she had just come from the States, and she said, "Here, I've got a dime of US currency left." So she gave me a dime and I land in New York, all I'm told is to contact Johnny Makathini our representative at New York. So I get to the airport and I phone Johnny and I catch Johnny and he says, "Listen, I have got all the things, I'm waiting for you." I said, "But I've got no money." And he says, "Just take a taxi, come to this address and I will pay the taxi." I take a taxi. When I get there a big saga but Johnny pays the taxi and then he tells me, he says, "I've got no money too." Poor Johnny used to go to all the UN cocktails, he had all the diaries of all the UN cocktails, he was a helluva networker but he also went to the cocktails to get food. And here we are for meals we are going to the cocktails, from one cocktail to the next one, eat a little here, eat a little there. And Craig Williamson comes to me.
POM So he appeared at one of the cocktails?
MM No, he's coming also for the UN hearings on apartheid, the Special Committee, and I said, "What are you going to do?" He says, "I'm going to speak on behalf of the IUEF in support of the demand for the release of political prisoners." Fantastic. He then comes to me and he says, "Listen Mac, I see you're broke." I said, "Yes, we're all broke." "Here's a few hundred dollars." Shock. No thank you. I don't take money from anybody. So he goes to Johnny, he gives Johnny I think about $500 and says it's for Johnny and me. That night Johnny tells me, he says, "Hey we're rich." I said, "What do you mean rich?" He said, "I've got $500." I said, "Where did you get that from?" He said, "Craig Williamson of the IUEF gave it to me for you and me." I said, "Johnny, return that money." "Why?" I said, "I have no proof but I have a problem. Return that money." So Johnny and I have a bit of an argument but finally Johnny says, "Oh well, fuck you, you don't want to take the money, I'll return it. You come from prison, you're fucking paranoid here." I said, "Paranoid or not Johnny, just to help me, return it." So Craig was making these overtures to me.
POM Did he return the money?
MM Yes he returned the money. In the meantime Craig is also through the IUEF working with Tom Nkobi, the Treasurer General of the ANC, because the IUEF is funding scholarships. So Craig is everywhere but I in my mind am saying huge, huge question marks about this chap but I can't tell anybody because the response is going to be you're paranoid.
POM He's now no longer sending reports from SA?
MM But he's sending reports from SA written by Paul.
POM From Geneva?
MM From Geneva to London but London is not telling me it's coming from Craig.
POM OK, so he has this contact in SA that sends him by some courier means reports of what's happening in SA to Geneva and he sends it from Geneva on to London.
MM And London copies to me.
POM And London sends it to you.
MM Just for information but they say that's their operation. They don't tell me that that Newman is Craig but I have worked out Newman is Craig. I am raising this thing with Doc. "Doc, I have worries." And then one day I get a message from Doc, it says, "Listen, that outstanding unit, a meeting is being arranged. Would you make yourself available?" A face to face meeting. So I said, "Sure. Where? When?" They said it's all very hush-hush. I said, "Yes, it's got to be hush-hush." They say, "We don't want to endanger these people's security." No.
POM How do you communicate with Doc? He's in London, you're in
MM We used all sorts of courier systems of people travelling. The message comes from Doc, "The meeting will be held in Spain." What do the Spanish call these homes? There's a Spanish name, not a castle. They said in a remote little town in Spain. So I said, "Spain! I can't afford that. The rental, hotel bills, travelling, food." Doc comes back, he says, "No, no, no, they will pay for it." So I say, "Oh, uh-uh," I say to Doc the venue of Spain unacceptable. I don't know Spain, I'm going to be in an unknown territory.
POM When he said 'they' who are 'they'?
MM The unit.
POM This clandestine unit that has been providing all this information now has some money to - ?
MM They also have money to pay for all that, for the meeting and the venue. They will rent a house in Spain. And I say to Doc, "No, send a message to them that I don't accept Spain as the venue."
POM This is also like the cart leading the horse. The unit is now telling the command structure what to do.
MM And where to meet. Doc says to me when we meet he says, "What's wrong with you?" I say, "Doc, I don't know Spain. I am therefore in unknown territory. I can't take my security measures to protect them and to protect me." Doc doesn't have an answer to my criticism and I get the next word, "OK, meeting will take place in Seychelles." So I say, "No, no Seychelles." Doc says, "What's wrong with you?" I said, "I don't know Seychelles. I don't have an infrastructure to protect myself. I don't know the territory. How do I protect myself? How do I protect them?" Finally we compromise, the meeting will be held in London. I said, "Fine." I said, "What about the costs of the venue?" He says, "No, it will be funded." So I said, "Fine, we'll meet in London."
Now this is the meeting that Craig boasts was attended by the ANC, five people were present at the meeting and Craig says two were ANC, three were enemy agents, to boast how powerful he was. Anyway I get to London and the meeting was attended by Aziz Pahad and myself. So I meet Aziz before the meeting to be briefed, venue, etc.
POM Is Aziz working out of London?
MM London, with Doc. So I meet Aziz before the meeting, the day before, two days before, find out where's the venue, how do we get there, how are they going to get there, how many are they? He says they are three. What are their names? He says Newman, Paul and I forget the third code name. I say, "Are they a unit?" He says, "Yes, that's the unit that's been working for years." OK, let's agree on an agenda. So we agree on an agenda from our side. He says he's going to meet their contact person, settle the agenda, what have they got to put and we agree that the meeting will last the whole day. I don't tell Aziz what I'm thinking. I have profiled in my mind that at that meeting will be Craig (Newman), second it will be Karl Edwards, the policeman under the name of Paul.
POM Did you know him?
MM No but I had built a profile of him. The third one I don't know. So we walk in to this meeting in a hotel, these hotels have these conference rooms, and in a small conference room of one of the hotels in London, get there, they are waiting for us. I walk in and of course Craig and I have met before, seen each other face to face. I go to him and say, "Hi Craig", shake hands with him. Now the other two are from home so I walk over to them and then they say to me, "This is Paul." So I say, "Hi Karl, how are you doing?" Now nobody knows he's a policeman, he's working for an agency called Environmental Development Agency, EDA, and when I greet him I say, "Hi Karl, how are you doing?" And then I said to him, "You're still fucking around, you're still womanising? Who's your latest girlfriend?" And he blushes, he blushes. I didn't know a lot about him but I knew enough to be suspicious of him and I had built a profile of his lifestyle, his womanising and everything. But when I say this he's taken aback and he goes red. In fact it turned out that he was ostensibly in London on his honeymoon.
POM With another girlfriend?
MM Mm. Then I turned to this very tall chap, I don't know him, Charles or Keith. I've never heard of this man, can't place him. So we sit down for the meeting and I say to myself I must keep disorientating him. So they give a wonderful glowing report of their work, leaflet bombing, collecting information of political developments and I say, "But Karl, how do you manage this?" So he says, "Well I am the head of EDA doing whole things of developing sanitation, etc., with community organisations and in that way I'm in touch all round the country."I said, "That's fantastic, that's amazing work."
Anyway, the meeting goes on and then when they tell me about the leaflet bombing I say, "Hm." Now I've been shown by London that all these reports of leaflet bombs are confirmed by press reports of these incidents and I had been saying we carry out a sabotage, it doesn't get in the newspaper, we carry out a leaflet bomb and it's published in the papers. I've got a question mark, why? How does the press not carry a report of a railway line blown up but it carries a report of a leaflet bomb and how does this particular one take place one day Jo'burg, next morning Durban, next afternoon Cape Town? They say, "No, Charles, Charles is our expert on leaflet bombing", this is the tall guy.
POM He's the third person?
MM He's the third person. Steely grey-blue eyes, hands solid as rock.
POM But you don't know him.
MM Don't know him.
POM So you're calling him Charles.
MM Yes. And then I say to him, "Charles, you're doing fantastic work but you're doing it alone. I would like to link you up with one or two people so that you'll become a unit because if something happens to you the work comes to an end." And he says, "No, no, I wouldn't feel secure. I'm used to doing this for years now on my own. I take care of my own security. What I did is I went to the Jo'burg Gallery the night before at a concert and when it was dark, lights were off, I just threw these leaflets and sat quietly. Next morning I flew off to Durban, put the leaflet bomb in a shopping bag, set it off, took a plane to Cape Town, set it off and I think I did a great job." I said, "It's absolutely amazing, great. You've got nerves of steel." He said, "Well I'm used to it." But when I say I want to introduce him to people, no, no. I said, "Besides to smuggle in things from London, I can do it from Botswana. You visit Botswana regularly." He says, "Yes." So I said, "Well we can do it from Botswana." "No, I don't feel secure." His reaction tells me there's a problem here. End of the meeting.
POM Is Craig Williamson participating?
MM Yes, yes, defending him, saying he's used to doing it, he's experienced, don't interfere with that. I said OK. Then I say, "Well this contact London/Geneva, how do we establish contact with me, the Secretary of the Internal?" Charles says, "Look, I go regularly on safaris to Botswana, I spend weekends out in the desert, we can meet there but provided it's only you and only me, not any third party." So I said, "Deal. Send me a message when you're going to be in Botswana, we'll look at it." And who's going to present the message? Craig. So OK, fine.
POM You know Craig is working for IUEF Geneva.
MM IUEF Geneva. This is early 1978 I think. In the meantime in 1978 there is the UN Conference against Apartheid being held in Lagos again.
POM The Lagos conference.
MM Second Lagos conference and OR says he wants me in the delegation. So I fly over to Lagos. When I get to Lagos OR comes to me one evening, calls me to his hotel room, I get there, he gives me a five or ten page typed document about prison conditions. It was ten pages. He says, "Look at this." So I read the thing. I said, "Chief, this is from Madiba." He says, "Yes from Madiba." "How did it reach us?" He says Craig Williamson of the IUEF who is at the conference has come to him saying here's a communication from Madiba from prison that has come through the IUEF and the IUEF wants to print this as a pamphlet, they will fund it and they will publish it and they will distribute it at the UN. OR says, "Now I want your advice, what do we do? Do we authorise?" So I say, "I have a problem, Chief. This clearly appears to be from Madiba. I don't know how it has reached you, you say it's from Craig, yet all the arrangements with Madiba did not require it to come out of a mechanism which we don't control." He says, "Yes, that's the other part of it. Craig is offering that therefore any responses to Madiba he can get it arranged to get to Madiba."
POM But how would they get a document like that?
MM So I say, "Well that's my problem. It means authentic as this thing is, he's offering you a channel of communications to Madiba where you write reports and he will get it to Madiba. What control do we have? I am worried. I don't believe that Madiba has access to a mechanism that would go to the IUEF, it's not an ANC institution, and there's no way that Madiba would know that Craig is a trustworthy person. Chief, let's do the following."
POM Who would have to visit him and who would have to get it out.
MM I don't go through the details, I just say to him, "Chief, let's do this. First of all Craig and IUEF are not allowed to publish this. Number two, the original message we need, not the typed version, we want the original." Chief says, "Good idea but how do we do it?" I said, "We find ways I'll be discussing with you but for the time being the decision, are we agreed? No publication and tell Craig you want the original." OR says, "Fine." And I say, "In the meantime I'm starting investigations." He says, "Good." So I check and check and check and finally I get to OR months later.
POM Who were you checking with?
MM I'm sounding out quietly in my own way, my own way. I say to OR, "When are you heading to London? So he tells me he'll be in London on a certain date. I say, "Can you and I travel to Geneva quietly?" He says, "Why?" I say, "I want to confront Craig Williamson. I think I know how the letter got out from Madiba. They are not giving you the original. They say it's destroyed. I am going to find out. I have a view how it is." I say to him, "I think I've worked it out but I need to do a confrontation and I need your support." OR then sends me a message that can I be in London on a certain date and he and I will travel relatively quietly to Geneva and I said to him, "When we get to Geneva can we stay in a pension, no posh hotel, I don't want it to be known that you are in Geneva. You can reveal your presence in Geneva after I've done what I want to do." He says, "What do you intend to do?" I said, "No, I'll come over and I'll explain to you. I can't write a note about this."
So the two of us travelled to Geneva. We book in in a pension and then I say to him I just need a few hours, "I am going to Craig Williamson, I don't want to tell you what I'm going to do because if I tell you you're going to tell me don't do it. But trust me, just trust me and just stay incognito for a few hours before you do your normal business of seeing all donor agencies and all sorts of things." So OK. I pick up the phone, I phone the IUEF office, ask for Craig Williamson. Remember he's been linked to me with London now. So he comes on the phone, I say, "Craig, I want to see you", and I indicate I want to see him quietly. "Are you in town?" I said, "Yes I'm in town." He says, "Come to the office." I said, "I don't want to come to the office." He doesn't know I'm with OR so he says, "Well just around the IUEF building (he gives me an address) there's a café. Let's meet there." I say, "It's just around the corner?" He says, "Yes. We'll meet in the café for a cup of coffee." We meet, I say, "Now Craig, I have a problem. This letter from Madiba, the original." He says, "Mac, I've been told the original has been destroyed." I said, "Did you see it?" He says, "Yes, I saw it." I said, "Well I've established, I know how it came out of prison. You're going to tell me, we're comrades, you've got to tell me." He says to me, "Look you're putting me in great difficulty. The head of the IUEF is Lars Gunnar Erikson the Swede who is an appointee of the Swedish government", and he says, "I'm working as his deputy and worming my way into his confidence. I am not worming my way as ANC, he doesn't know I'm ANC. And all these operations - "
POM So he says to you?
MM "If I reveal it's dangerous because the man who gave it to me is Erikson."
POM He's saying Erikson gave him the original?
MM The original. So I say, "Well, go over and bring Erikson, bring him here to the café. That's ANC property, even Erikson has to explain to me." He said, "No we can't do that." I said, "We can because if you don't produce Erikson now, OR is here, I'm bringing OR. I'm bringing the President to Erikson and let me see Erikson refuse to tell OR. And no, I won't expose you, I will directly confront Erikson and if you don't agree I'm bringing OR." The chap is in a corner. He's sweating, pleading with me that it will be damaging to his legend. I say, "No, I won't damage your legend, won't damage your legend, but this is too crucial a matter."
The upshot was that Craig panics and he says, "Is OR in town?" I say, "OR is here, if you don't co-operate then OR and I are going straight to Erikson." So he says, "No, hold on, hold on." And he goes across and he comes back with Erikson. So I say to Erikson, "I've asked Craig to call you here because I didn't want to come to your offices because it's a sensitive matter. I understand that this communication from Madiba, in my opinion I have traced how it came out. It was not intended for the IUEF hands, it was intended in its original form to be given to OR in its original. It was a communication being smuggled out by Madiba directly to OR. I know who brought it out, I have checked, but I don't want to go to the person who brought it out because I don't want to confront that person unless I'm forced to. The fact that that person gave it, however it reached you, does not make it the property of the IUEF. For that reason the President, Tambo, has said you can't publish it. But the original we need, not the typed version." So he says, "But it's destroyed." So I said, "OK, it's destroyed. I want you to tell me who gave it to you. Who gave it to you two people?" He says, "No it will be endangering the person." I say, "I don't care. If you can't work with a relationship of trust with us on this matter the consequences are terrible for the IUEF because the IUEF and the ANC have good relations, we have good relations with the Swedish government, but this matter cannot be left here." So he says, "But you say you know the person?" I say, "Yes, I know the person but I'm not going to tell you who the person is, you're going to have to tell me." Erikson says, "No, I can't do that." I say, "Well, I have OR here in town. I just have to go to a phone and he will be here in 15 minutes time. If you want that, then refuse it to OR. All I am saying is I have been sent here by him not to compromise you."
He cracks. He says the person is in London. He then said the person is in Geneva. So I say, "The London person didn't give it to you." He says, "No, the London person gave it to me." "Oh that's interesting. Well the London person didn't get it from Madiba. He got it from somebody else." So he says, "I don't know who the somebody else is." So I said, "Listen - "
POM Does he name the person in London?
MM He's not naming. I say, "Let me tell you something else, the somebody else who gave it to the London person is sitting here in Geneva." He says, "I don't know about that." I said, "Well I'm telling you because after this meeting if you don't identify the London person I'm going to the person in Geneva who is the actual person who got it from Madiba." So he says, "I don't know about that." So I say, "Well you give me the name of the London person."
He sweats, he dodges and finally he says to me, "But you know him." I said, "Yes I know him, you're going to tell me." He says, "Hugh Lewin", a former prisoner also, who wrote the book called Bandiet, the story of his imprisonment in Pretoria jail, a white comrade.
POM He wrote Bandiet?
MM The Afrikaans word for bandit and the word that they used to use for us prisoners, bandiet.
POM He would be a white prisoner?
MM A white prisoner. He was from the ARM, African Resistance Movement. He's now here, he's a journalist. He's running courses at the School for Advanced Journalism. So I said to them, "Well, thank you very much, much appreciated, and thanks for the co-operation." So I go to OR in the pension and I say, "Chief, problem solved. I just have to do a little more work." He says, "How did you do it?" I said, "Don't ask me, I threatened them."
Well, I picked up the phone from Geneva and I phoned Hugh Lewin in London. "Hugh, Mac here. The letter from Madiba reached you." "Yes Mac." "The typed version reached us, where's the original?" He said, "Mac, it's destroyed." "You gave it to the IUEF?" He says, "Yes." I said, "But didn't you know it was meant for OR?" He said, "I'm sorry about that, I thought they will pass it to OR." I said, "No, that's all right. Now, Hugh, who gave it to you?" He says, "Mac, you know it's confidential." I said, "Hugh, between you and me it can't be confidential because if you want I'll name the person. I'm right now in Geneva. I will know that you have no confidence in me, I am actually going to see the man now in Geneva who gave it to you." So he says, "But Mac, you know who it is." I said, "Yes I know but Hugh you've got to tell me." So he confirms. He says, "Well it's the man in Geneva." I said, "I need the name Hugh." He says, "I can't give the name on the phone, it's not safe." I said, "It's OK, you're right, it's not safe, but are we agreed that the man in Geneva gave it to you?" He says, "Yes." So I said, "Well I'm on my way to see the man in Geneva." He said, "Please don't cause problems." I said, "No, no cause of problems, no problems. All I am saying is that communication from Madiba was meant for O R Tambo and I am saying this is a sensitive matter, the original communication if ever it happens again must be delivered into O R Tambo's hands and who brings it out cannot be a secret when it comes to O R Tambo." Hugh says, "OK, I'm sorry, OK."
The Chief says, "What's happening?" I said, "Well I'll tell you who's the man, the man is the Red Cross representative who visited prison." He said, "How do you know?" I said, "Chief I didn't know, I was shooting in the dark. I was just busy putting pieces together." He said, "What do we do now?" "It's not a problem. I think now you're in a position to surface in Geneva and I am sure one of your duties is to make a courtesy call on the Red Cross and will you take me along because after your courtesy call I will call the particular gentleman of the Red Cross aside and I'll whisper to him that I know it was a risky thing that he did, it's the first time and it's a particular man of the Red Cross who agreed to do this." He had started visiting prison just before I was released and we had singled him out already as a man who had a good conscience because Red Cross would never want to do these things, it's against their code. "So I will call him aside and I will tell him that in future he doesn't have to deliver to Hugh Lewin, to IUEF, he must deliver direct to you because he's endangering himself."
So we pay a visit to the Red Cross, meet the people and here's this gentleman there. We greet each other, he knows me from prison and when we broke up, in the course of having tea went over to one side of the room, standing chatting with him and I told him and we resolved the problem and we cut oh, one of things that I had threatened Erikson, I said, "If you don't divulge I am sending a message OR will send a message to Madiba to have nothing to do with you. Any replies from OR are not going to come through your hands, through the London hands. If we want to deliver we will deliver directly to the person who goes to see Madiba. That's the only basis on which OR can communicate in confidentiality. It's not going to go through three, four hands." So I tell the Red Cross chap this, I said, "Please, for your own safety, because you are doing a wonderful thing but I know its against the conscience and the rules of the Red Cross, will you do me a favour? You don't have to go through third hands, not even my hands. It is always possible for you to give it directly to Tambo." So, "Thank you very much, I'm sorry, I apologise, I thought I can trust the London person." I said, "No, you can trust him. The only point I'm making is that you are exposing yourself to danger if you pass it to third and fourth hands. That's all I've come to tell you."
Now that episode Craig began to get rattled and our relations carried on until at one stage Craig wrote a letter from the IUEF to Thomas Nkobi, the Treasurer General of the ANC, saying that rumours are reaching him, he is surprised to hear rumours that there are people in the ANC who suspect him of being an enemy agent. He is writing here to Tom Nkobi who knows him as an ANC supporter, as a person working in the IUEF, and he would like the ANC to write a letter to the head of the IUEF saying the ANC has the fullest confidence in him.
In the meantime my investigations have shown that in SA in 1974/75 in NUSAS there was an enquiry about Craig when he was at Wits campus on the grounds that people suspected him to be an enemy agent. NUSAS held an enquiry and there at the enquiry Craig acknowledged that he was a policeman, a constable, but he said he had been a constable in his youth and he had resigned from the Police Service to go to Wits. So he did not deny that he had ever worked for the police but said, "I no longer work for them." And NUSAS commissioned that investigation and was divided. Some disbelieved Craig and others believed and said that the fact that he's a former policeman doesn't make him suspect. NUSAS then suppressed that report. So even in NUSAS there were these suspicions.
POM How were you able to unearth the NUSAS report?
MM Through my contacts at home, through my contacts at home I would be enquiring, inside the country, from people who were in the student world and then I heard this and I did a check and up it popped. In fact I remember some of the people who were in NUSAS who were in the Commission of Enquiry, they're all reputable people today. They will never admit that they were in that, very high profile people.
This saga continues. Then a chap surfaces who broke with the security forces and was in London, he fled to London. He made the headlines in the newspapers, a white chap, a policeman. Trying to place his name at the moment, I've forgotten. But London sent a report saying this chap, we're in touch with him, he's got revelations, he's publishing a book. I said, "Send me the manuscript." The London comrade had reported that he's seen parts of the manuscript. I said, "Well, it means you are in touch with him, send me the manuscript before publication." He says, "Why?" I say, "It's my obligation to go through that thing and warn anybody at home who is in danger." No, London doesn't send me the manuscript. I pass through London, I say, "Where's the manuscript?" "No, no, we haven't received it." In the end I pick up at home that London has warned certain people at home and in the course of that one of the people that it warned went to others and openly confronted them. I said to London, "How can you do this? I've got the report from home that you've passed the information to home without processing it with us because you've now forewarned everybody because the man you tipped off has gone in his anger and confronted everybody." London says, "Sorry, don't blame us."Those were some of the tensions.
POM The people that he was naming were people who were working for the ANC?
MM Yes, good people. He was fingering good people as bad people.
POM He was fingering good people as bad people and did he mention Williamson?
MM No. Oh yes, he was going to feature Williamson in it also but I never saw the manuscript. His book never got published. He disappeared from the scene. He was in the headlines in the newspapers for about one week, two weeks and disappeared. I don't know whether he was genuine breakaway from the security forces or whether he was a pseudo breakaway. The end result of my relations with Craig is oh I asked Marius Schoon to return the cheque.
POM That he had given you in New York?
MM That he had given Marius in Botswana for his rent. Oh, and Marius got furious because Craig went over to Botswana to confront him and Marius didn't know what to say. So next time I'm in Botswana, poor Marius, he says to me, "Mac, what are you doing to me?" I said, "Marius, now sit down alone. I could not tell you that I was investigating that this is an enemy agent so I wanted you to behave normally. I didn't want to compromise your integrity." He said, "But Mac, I'm your comrade, I'm working in the Botswana Committee and you didn't tell me." I couldn't until I was sure and Marius to his dying day never forgave me for that. But be that as it may
POM For having to return the cheque or - ?
MM No, for not divulging. In the end the relationship was becoming so complex that just before Craig Williamson broke cover he wanted to meet me. Now he used to zoom around southern Africa as IUEF and so he says to me he'll meet me in Swaziland in the nature park and I said, "No, I'm not going to meet you in Swaziland. You go there openly, I go there clandestinely. No, no. We can meet openly elsewhere. Here we can meet in Zambia." Then he raises my suspicions, he sends a message and he says, "I will be in Blantyre in Malawi on a certain date. Can we meet there?" Now Blantyre under Hastings Banda was controlled by the South Africans so I said no. So I sent him a counter message, I say, "I believe you're going to be in Angola on a certain date, I'll meet you in Luanda." That's when he panicked because I suddenly get a message from London, from the Chief Representative with whom I have no business, no dealings except that we are comrades because I worked in the underground. The Chief Representative sends a cryptic message to Lusaka, "Urgent for Mac. Don't come to London. Urgent, urgent, urgent." I am fearing that he is planning to kidnap me. I've never kept the Kalahari appointments, the one to one.
POM That was with ?
MM With Charles, but I have in the meantime identified Charles as real name Asmussen and I've identified him as Paul Asmussen and that he works with a brother, Asmussen, of Norwegian extraction and that there are two brothers, Paul and a brother who very much look alike. I have come to the conclusion that Paul Asmussen is also in the police force so I decide the Kalahari meeting is to kidnap me so I'm not going there and when Craig suggests Swaziland and in the nature park which is fairly remote, there's a guest lodge, I say that's a kidnap. Then when he responds with Malawi I say, "Confirmed, he wants to kidnap me." And when I say Luanda, what happens in his mind is that I want to kidnap him and he reckons the game is up and maybe there were other evidences that made him panic. So he rushes to London, I don't know he's in London, and he goes frantically to the Chief Representative of the ANC to say he wants to see me urgently. Months later I met this representative in London when I passed through and I said, "What is this cryptic message?" I had no intention of coming to London. He says, "No, Craig Williamson came into my office in a terrible state and he had to see you", and he says, "I got such a fright from his behaviour that I thought he wants to kill you and that's why I sent a message don't come to London." Meantime I don't tell him but he knows the London people, why didn't Craig go to the London people? Why did he go to the Chief Representative asking to see me.
POM When you say he knew the London people you mean?
MM The comrades, he was working with Aziz and me. Why didn't he go to Aziz if he had a problem? Why did he want me? Subsequent events show that his handler, Goosen, the General, had flown to Geneva to try to rescue Craig's operation because his cover was being blown. Craig had lost his nerve. And so they tried a deal, they failed and they came back to SA with Craig and divulged him as this super spy that had penetrated the ANC around the world. When at the TRC I went to give evidence over the death of Ruth First and Marius's wife Jenny and the daughter Katryn, I put the scenario on the record that Craig was playing games, that in fact while he was infiltrating us we were busy checking him out and we had got onto his track. During the adjournment I walked into the courtyard to have a smoke and Craig was standing in a section of the courtyard. My security, I was still minister at that time, were around me and when they saw Craig come towards me they rushed around me and I said to them, "Get away." I walked over to Craig and he said to me, he was a great showman, he did like he was about to break down and cry, he says, "You know what you said in your evidence is the truth." So I said, "You know it, I know it." I went to George Bizos the lawyer to say he's ripe for a trade off even if he's simulating it, let's ask him to give us his documentation. Because everybody who deserted and jumped ship by 1994 from the security forces, each one tried to grab their own documentation to save their skins and I said let's get that. George said I'm doing something too risky and didn't sanction it as a lawyer.
POM As a professional, you had mentioned that Swanepoel how you admired him not as a human being or for his human qualities but for his skills at what he did.
MM I don't rate Craig high. I think he was flying high because of circumstantial opportunities that bumped up, he was a great opportunist and he got this thing in the IUEF. I think he lined his own pockets substantially and at the level of skill I think that he did not penetrate us beyond London. He failed to penetrate us at head office and wherever he went we were able to put blockages in the way and I think in the end his nerves cracked because he was bouncing too many balls and he was too much of a showman.
What I do give credit to is his handlers because a few years later I learnt that President René of Seychelles, the venue remember that Doc wanted, you remember there was a coup planned against President René operated by - the coup plotters had assembled in SA and there was a press report that they were arrested when they landed in Seychelles and Seychelles claimed that they were tipped off by the SA government. Now it looked like SA had helped to destroy a plot by mercenaries to overthrow President René. Well that was a brilliant manoeuvre because the South Africans used Asmussen to transmit that message to President René to intercept and nip that coup in the bud and since then Asmussen has become the Security Advisor to the President of Seychelles. All Craig Williamson's front companies that he is still operating as businesses, trading even with Angola, are registered in Seychelles.
POM Who was the General who was the - ?
MM The head of that operation, I forget the name, at the moment it's not coming, not Goosen, it was a high up top, top man in the security forces. He flew to Geneva to fetch Craig over.
POM He'd be in the TRC?
MM He'd be in the TRC, in the press reports. If you go and read the profile of me in the NIS that is in Mayibuye, the three volumes.
POM There's a profile of you?
MM Yes, three volumes.
POM Three volumes on you?
MM On me, that are in the Mayibuye Centre by the National Intelligence Service. That profile is drafted by Karl Edwards, he was the 'Paul' and who has turned up as a Captain in the security forces. You will actually see it, it's in the typed reports. There are three volumes. You will see that the profile of me is signed off by Karl Edwards and his assessment indicates that he was asked by NIS to draft this report in 1979/80 and when they arrested me for Vula and they were interrogating me in Sandton Police Station this is where I had great fun because I saw the police officers that were questioning me on their desk they had these three volumes and they were busy paging through these volumes as they would fire a question at me and I looked from the distance, I looked at the cover, it was a blue cardboard, soft cardboard cover, bound, and I recognised that this was a copy of the three reports that I had collected in Vula. So I said, "Is that what they know about me? Is that the basis of questioning me? I'm comfortable."
POM So you already had them?
MM I had the reports. If that's the profile they're questioning me on, fine.
POM You should have said, "Hey, why don't you turn to page 137, you can ask me a better question there."
MM I'm sorry, 1995, somewhere around 1995 just before the TRC was coming into operation one had picked up that there's shredding going on in all government departments all over, police and all. I think it's 1995. I then decided, well, time to throw in one more pebble into the ocean. I approached Mayibuye Centre, I said I'd like to donate these three volumes of the NIS report with the NIS stamp on it as authentic and they had a function in Cape Town for something and they said, "We'll use that function for you to donate this." I said, "Will I be allowed to say a few things?" They said, "Yes." So I appeared at the function, about 100 guests and the media, at a cocktail and then they called me to speak and I went over and I called Andre Odendaal who was the head of Mayibuye Centre and I said, "Well, here I have three volumes to donate to your archives. They are authentic reports of the NIS. They have been in my hands for years from the time of Operation Vula but I am giving it to you and saying to those who are shredding, be careful, you don't know what we've got so if you're shredding the thing might still surface."