About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

28 May 2004: Maharaj, Mac

POM     Mac, I am just trying to get the sequence of where you were and how long you were out of the country. Now you exited the country at the request of OR in probably late July or early August 1989. You made your way to Moscow, you met with Slovo and OR in Moscow and Ivan in Moscow. From there you prepared your cover and got ready to go to London. When you got to London OR in the meantime had had a stroke, you visited him. Also Zarina was now in Brighton with the children and you went to visit her.

MM     She was with the children still in London at that stage, planning to settle down in Brighton. I went to London on my way to Zambia to attend that NEC meeting that OR wanted me to but in the meantime OR had had a stroke. So I went to London and then went on to Zambia to be in time for that NEC meeting, but to be in time in a sort of accidental way. The NEC meeting took place and after the NEC meeting I had to relocate my family to Brighton, to move all the goods and everything.

POM     So you had to pack everything up.

MM     Pack everything and went to Brighton and helped them to settle down in Brighton.

POM     So you had to pack everything in Lusaka?

MM     And went to Brighton and helped Zarina to settle down in Brighton.

POM     But you had to pack the house in Lusaka?

MM     In Lusaka.

POM     And make arrangements for that to be moved.

MM     Shipped out.

POM     And then you went back to the UK.

MM     The UK, by that time Zarina had found a place in Brighton on the campus.

POM     On the campus of the University of - ?

MM     Of Sussex. And that's the time Zarina was now from the campus, having a room on the campus, she was now planning to get a flat of her own. I spent most of my time in Brighton in that period. There was a bit of contacting here and there, running contacts. I might have gone back to Lusaka, I would have gone back – that's the period when we settled on Ronnie to join Vula. So I would have been back in Zambia partaking in the discussions with Ronnie, Slovo about Ronnie's recruitment for Vula.

POM     Now is Nzo in the loop then or is it just essentially Slovo running Vula?

MM     Who's that?

POM     Alfred Nzo.

MM     No, it's Slovo running it because OR just had his stroke. There's a whole lot of disruption in the structures of the ANC. Nzo has assumed the presidency but he's got all the tasks to carry out.

POM     He's also a lightweight.

MM     Vula's work is proceeding, it's up to Joe to keep him briefed and I don't even meet him, and it's not immediately decided upon, first of all you had to wait until there's a proper prognosis on OR, what's the likelihood of his recovery, what level of recovery. So first it's assumed that he's just out of action for a while. Now that doesn't mean that straightaway Comrade Nzo is party to the loop on Vula, but it is being managed by Slovo. I'm sure that I made at least one trip back to Zambia because the issue of selecting Ronnie, while it had been agreed in Moscow with OR, would only have been settled since OR left Moscow. With OR having the stroke, I think before he had the stroke he had at least one discussion with Ronnie, and JS would have had discussions, but now the actual preparation beyond the principle that, listen, Comrade, you are being earmarked to go home, took place later in a subsequence to Lusaka. I certainly remember that it necessitated a meeting between Slovo, Ronnie and myself and then there were follow-up meetings between Ronnie and myself because the mechanics were left to Ronnie and myself to work out. Slovo's job was to introduce us and say, "Now, you have to work together. This is the nature of the project." So I would have had some meetings with Ronnie on the mechanics of how to come home, and I think I have talked about it saying that I then said to Ronnie, "Let's meet in a few days time, you put proposals how you think you can enter the country", and what legends we would create. So that would have been subsequent to Lusaka. But most of the time I would have been living quietly in Brighton.

POM     You would have gone back to Brighton and then at some point you would say, "OK, I'm going back to South Africa."

MM     No, the South African arrangements are proceeding. What is proceeding on the South African arrangements is at what time, the timing for re-entry, the convenient and right time and the route for re-entry. That would be affected by several considerations: (i) the reports from home that are continuing to come from Gebhuza and them. This is the time when there is a big scare. I think, now I recall, I must have been in Brighton when I get a message from Ivan to say, "Casualty at home." It looks like there's been a casualty, a major casualty. So I say, "What is this?" and we start looking into the problem. They say they've received a message –

POM     This is Ivan said?

MM     Yes. They received a message from home. At that time there used to be a trigger, a mechanism that you dialled a number and you said something using real voice. That message was a trigger to say there is a message waiting for you on the line. The voice on the trigger was suspect to Lusaka and they came to the conclusion that the enemy had captured the network and had put a person to man that telephone and the person was communicating now but from the voice they said, "This is not the person we know", Lusaka said. So Lusaka said, "We're walking into a trap." Now the message I got in Brighton and put together, the message I got was to say, "Huge casualties at home." And I said, "What are you guys saying?" They said, "No, when we went to collect the message - "

POM     This is Ivan now would be saying this?

MM     This is Ivan reporting from Lusaka, that when whoever went to collect the message the message was in a voice that they could not identify.

POM     Now that message would be collected by either - ?

MM     It could be collected by London, it would be collected by London. London would be collecting it. I think I went to London or I contacted Tim. They said, "Yes", on the telephone from Brighton, "There are problems. Voice unidentifiable. Wording real."

POM     When you say 'wording real' what do you mean?

MM     The words used, the message, the content of the message was in conformity, it was like a trigger message. The person wouldn't have been saying anything of substance but the fact that the person said a certain pre-arranged thing it told you that there's a message waiting on the encoded system. So they said the contents make sense but the voice doesn't make sense. This was the telephonic message that I got. No, Tim was away, that's right, Tim was away from London and this message reaches me from Lusaka. So I get in touch with Lusaka, I say, "What does this mean?" And they say, "Well the message is that the voice is different." Now I said, "Who's giving that message?" They say, "It's the other comrade in the UK working with Tim", that's Ronnie Press. Now I'm not in touch with Ronnie Press but I think I flew down to Lusaka. I rushed over to Lusaka to look into this problem. I asked, now the funny thing is I get to Lusaka and I say, "Have we got a tape recording of that voice?" I want to hear the voice, I don't want to hear a typed a version of what was said. That's how I learned that the message has come from London, from Ronnie Press. So I said, "But has he got the voice on tape?" They said, "Sure." I said, "I want the tape."

     So I am sitting in Lusaka and the tape arrives. The tape arrives and I put it on the tape recorder and I play it. Yes it's a strange voice but it's Mo Shaik's wife, Soraya, because she was now being groomed into doing the actual transmission from public call boxes. Before I used to do it myself, or Gebhuza, but now a system was being developed to delegate the component to other people. Now for Ronnie this was a strange voice, so he reports back to Lusaka, "Strange voice, casualty. The enemy has captured them and is now manipulating the communication system." Lusaka accepts his word. I too accept the word but I go down to Lusaka and I happen to say, "But I want to hear the actual message", and when I hear it it's Soraya.

POM     But wouldn't either you or Gebhuza have been aware of that, it just never entered your mind?

MM     It never entered our minds that you have to tell London that this is Soraya's voice. What sense would it make? They don't know Soraya. Are you going to tell London all the activists that you're using? No. As far as you're concerned they've used the correct number, they've used the correct signal, they've used the correct words, what's your problem?

POM     The system was used where either you would make the transmission or Janet would make the transmission with you beside her or whatever.

MM     No, no, no. The system was I used to write out the message, write it out and cipher it, load it onto a tape recorder. Then at the beginning I would use - either I would go and do the transmission or Gebhuza would do it from a call box, or collecting of the messages. With time we got Janet in to do the transmitting; I am still doing the messages. When I am leaving I give all that to Gebhuza and I tell him that this is how I use Janet. Now in the period that I'm out Gebhuza decides, because he's in Durban and Janet is mostly in Jo'burg, he decides can he use Soraya to do the actually transmitting over the phone. Now all those changes are not what you report to Lusaka, that's your business. But Ronnie Press who is not normally manning the station in London, Tim is away so Ronnie is manning it, now Ronnie is used to, the few times he's manned it he's been told that it will be a male. Here he hears a voice and it's strange, he concludes the enemy is transmitting. So we were recording this thing for - we were recording it for the reason –

POM     You were saying that your movements from the period when you left – you didn't go back, there seemed to be a foul-up.

MM     This was a major blip on the screen which made it sound as though everything had gone insecure, and it took a few days or weeks to sort it out because I had to get back, in the end I said, "I'm coming to Lusaka, I want to hear it, where is the tape?" Oh it's sitting in Lusaka. So when I get to Lusaka and hear it I realise, oh, this is Soraya.

POM     OK, then you're back to –

MM     Then it's back to normal again.

POM     Back to London again.

MM     And remember what had happened with that scare, until I had sorted it out Lusaka has stopped communicating with home and home is wondering what the hell's happened. So there's a huge disruption.

POM     So while you're away Walter Sisulu and the others, they're released.

MM     Now I just need to be clear about that and the date. I'm saying that I left the country somewhere in July/August.

POM     Well the ANC meeting would have been? I'm taking it from 5 July was the meeting between P W Botha and Mandela. OK? So you would have transmitted that, after the hullabaloo you would have transmitted that right away anyway to OR. So he has the letter on the 6th, 7th, 8th or whatever. This is July. So I would assume he wants to have a meeting of the NEC, or to bring this up at the next meeting of the NEC, he tells you to get out of the country. Now you have to work your way from Johannesburg to Bombay to New Delhi, from New Delhi to Moscow. You're now in Moscow, you meet with OR. Then OR takes off, you spend a little more time there so that your disguise gets developed. Then by the time you get to London, OR, who has been back to Lusaka, by the time you get to London OR had had his stroke, has been moved to London. When did OR have this stroke?

MM     OR had his stroke in August.

POM     You are still in Moscow? So he's been airlifted or whatever to London, so it would be September when you get to London. Now you visit him, you visit Zarina and then you make your way to Lusaka. So the meeting in Lusaka would be September/October. OK?

MM     Let's say September.

POM     Let's say September, so erring on the side of caution. OK, after that you go back to London and you go to Brighton. You pack up, that's another couple of weeks or whatever.

MM     A short time. I can't hang around in Lusaka too long. I go and hang around in Brighton because it's part of the plan.

POM     You're in Brighton and then you get this message.

MM     That there's a casualty at home.

POM     Then after a couple of weeks –

MM     After about ten days I get over to Lusaka.

POM     We're now in October, at least.

MM     And handle that problem. Walter and them are released in September/October.

POM     October.

MM     I'm still about. Walter and thems release, of course, means what's the implications, what's coming? But the message to me is proceed as usual because Walter and them –

POM     That's the message from?

MM     JS. Message is, "Just go ahead." But of course it causes a little bit of uncertainty as to which way to move forward with the news of Walter and themes release, a little bit of time is needed to assess and I'm staying out of all the limelight because my instructions are to return home, so don't go and touch anybody, just stay away in Brighton.

POM     Now was Walter, after his release, inside the country?

MM     Walter and the entire group –

POM     Were confined?

MM     No, no. They went to Lusaka. They made a trip to Lusaka I think sometime in October/November.

POM     Now how would Walter – there's now a vacuum, OR is still incapacitated and now you have Walter Sisulu, the highest ranking person in the ANC so to speak.

MM     All that would happen is that Lusaka made arrangements for a delegation of the people released with Walter to come to Lusaka for discussion. The discussions would be preoccupied with what's the significance, what's the development?

POM     Who is driving on the - ?

MM     Nzo would be chairing the meeting.

POM     But he was never regarded as a heavyweight.

MM     No, no, he is the Secretary General and he would be acting as the president guided by the Working Committee. He knows Walter and them. Nzo was a leader of the Alexandra bus boycott in 1958 when Walter and them were sitting on treason trial. They were known to each other. The question of who's holding official position would not be an important thing.

POM     What I mean is, it's something different, it's in the various loops you had OR who knew about Vula, Slovo knew about Vula, and all members of the Communist Politburo who were on the NEC, and that would include Thabo, knew about Vula.

MM     All members of the Politburo.

POM     Thabo would know, or the NEC would know now of the communications, or would have known of the communications between OR and Mandela, so everybody's on the same line on that.

MM     But they don't know how.

POM     Yes, and you have Thabo who has been conducting the talks at Mells Park with Aziz Pahad in tow. So Thabo sitting there has more information than anybody.

MM     On the talks only.

POM     Yes, he knows different pieces that nobody else knows.

MM     Which he should be sharing with Nzo. I think he would have. There is no reason for us to start with the assumption that the plan is evil.

POM     But I've not been able to establish yet whether he shared it with OR.

MM     He would have.

POM     Who is driving the discussions, that's what I'm saying, who would be driving the discussions?

MM     Who would be driving the process?

POM     Yes.

MM     I think that the dynamics of the process had shifted. The discussions taking place in the UK are a set of discussions with go-betweens, emissaries, who are not direct political players. The discussions taking place with Madiba are government civil servants, the head of the Intelligence Service, Niel Barnard, and a minister, Coetsee. Now that two sets of discussions, the briefing that Thabo would have received would have been what OR received before his stroke. Subsequent information after OR's stroke would become available to Thabo either through Slovo or through Nzo.

POM     Is that about Vula?

MM     No, about Mandela.

POM     Mandela.

MM     Nzo can phone Mandela also but what you're getting over the phone line has got to be filtered and fed, this is part of the version, there may be other parts which we don't see. So there is a two-sided communication going on with Madiba, direct telephoning and the clandestine communication. The clandestine communication is going to Slovo and Nzo. The overt is through Nzo and Nzo is sharing it with Thabo. Thabo is discussing abroad in London. The matching of this would be assumed to be in the hands of Nzo and there is no reason for us to believe that Nzo would have hidden everything from each of the players. All the assumption we can make is that in his extraordinarily busy schedule and travelling he would omit telling you in sufficient detail or even omit telling you what began to look like routine in his mind.

POM     Who would omit? Nzo?

MM     Nzo. He would just assume in his travelling too, so he would assume that things are on track and when we have time to have a sit down, a long time, we will talk. At the same time he's in a field now which says this is extremely sensitive, I'd better be careful, can't make a mistake. So that's how the thing is sitting at that point.

POM     So Walter gets - ?

MM     Walter and them get released.

POM     And they get there and they get their debriefing.

MM     What is the heart of their visit? The heart of their visit is what is the significance of the release, and more specifically, does this mean that there is a prospect of a negotiated resolution? And that's the core content of the discussion. It's not about the detail, should we maintain an underground presence, should we do this, should we do that? The question is, what does this thing mean and how should we approach it? And Walter and them would be saying, "We've met Madiba, Madiba is having these talks and he's very clear what the purpose is; that in his own assessment our release is raising the possibility that there is delivery taking place as a consequence of those talks which means we need to proceed to see whether we can negotiate a resolution."

POM     You say 'delivery taking place', you mean?

MM     People have been released and they have not been restricted like Govan. Walter's view would be you've got to probe this thing. He's not saying put all your eggs in the basket but probe it. And for the first time they would get some idea of what's the state of the organisation in relation to the struggle inside the country and it's in this context, that time, not to all of them, Slovo, Nzo would go to see Walter and say, "Walter, Mac is at home." Now they won't tell him the details that he's presently in London and this and that. "He's at home." And that's in the assessment of where we are and they would be saying, "We're in quite a difficult situation in the underground, in the military struggle, but these are our hopes, this is the direction in which we see things." And he would be buoyed by the knowledge that I'd been in and out of the country. They might even say to him, "He's in the country but presently he's out." But they wouldn't say to him, "Now let's arrange a meeting", because that's unnecessary. So that's where that stops and Walter's view would have been the prospects of negotiation, I can't say whether it's going to work, whether it's not going to work, I have not had an in depth discussion with Mandela, I know I trust him, I know what has been said in the open between us and we've been cautious in discussing, saying the enemy is eavesdropping, but beyond that I haven't had a discussion where I've sat down with him and lived with him. We've been living separate. So all I can do is put my information on the table, hear your information and make an assessment.

     The information about how Thabo's discussions are going could not even have cropped up because the crucial information that's sitting is here are the comrades who have come from prison, what have they got to say. Then you sit back and you say, "You're going back guys. What have we got to do? The organisation is still banned." So principle decision number one: Walter Sisulu and you Rivonia trialists who have been released are now going to take the bull by the horns and are going to appear publicly, not speaking unlawful action, but speaking that you are ANC, de facto legalising the ANC. Secondly, you will use those platforms to unite all the opposition forces and you will unite them around a demand of the release of all political prisoners and a resolution of the South African problem by means of negotiations in terms of the Harare Declaration. That's what you'll be doing now.The rest, nothing, the NEC would say, Nzo and Slovo would say, "No. As far as synchronising what is happening in the underground we will make arrangements for Mac to meet you. Should we make arrangements for others to meet you?" As I know they said, "We will make arrangements for Mac to meet you." They didn't say we will make arrangements for others to meet you because of the fear of the implications if that came out. If it came out, if there was loose talk from the person who was meeting Walter Sisulu, if Gebhuza was meeting somebody else and if that person was arrested Walter is also gone. So they said hold on, don't rush, there's no hurry about that, when Mac is there he will meet you. You know each other, you can trust him, he trusts you, you trust him, you're happy, he will do that. By that time the situation should be clearing itself up, what is the significance of your release. When does Mandela get released? When does the organisation get unbanned? Those are the issues that we're looking at.

POM     Now, you were still in November.

MM     Now I'm also preparing to come home, preparing to come home would have had this blip caused by the release. It wouldn't have necessitated my being in the discussion but the assessment is made by Slovo and them, obviously Slovo discussing with Nzo, obviously discussing it with the Politburo and some of the people in the ANC National Executive, I wouldn't know about it, to say everything proceeds as is, we will continue with exploring the negotiations, we'll continue with all our tactics of the struggle. That's enough to say Slovo, Mac home, with Mac home what's your brief? Your brief is keep monitoring, keep on on course but keep monitoring, we'll be in dynamic contact. If there are adjustments to be made we will look at it. But the key focus now is how do we get the rest of the political prisoners out because their release is going to continue to galvanise the country. So even from the underground your pressure is going to be to mobilise those forces to keep demanding the release of all political prisoners including Mandela. So that's where it stands now, I'm preparing to come home and I would think that now I'm trying to think of what would happen next.

POM     Now when you went back to Lusaka the second time you would have met with Ronnie?

MM     I would have met with Ronnie, made preparations, started the preparations for Ronnie to enter.

POM     So that would have been started around?

MM     It could have started in September/October, any time in September/October. There would be no problem about that. The only question would have been to then start implementing the necessary steps. Nothing else would happen.

POM     That was OR? No we have that.

POM     So you would have started to prepare to go home and that would be via Moscow and that must be in January when – Ivan says you were in Moscow, Claudia says you were in Moscow and who else? Shubin says. So were you in Moscow?

MM     No.

POM     Because Ivan says that the three of you were meeting and Slovo walks in and says, "Jesus! Guess what? De Klerk has just unbanned the organisation." And you're all sitting there kind of open-mouthed.

MM     2 February, Slovo and them? No there's some confusion. Isn't the version that Slovo and them were on their way to Stockholm or to Oslo to see OR when they heard the news in Moscow of the unbanning?

POM     When they heard the news in Moscow, they were in Moscow on their way to Stockholm?

MM     On the way, en route, and they heard the news in Moscow from Shubin of the unbanning.

POM     Ivan says you were there.

MM     No, no, I am already back here, I'm on my way back here.

POM     Well then you would have been passing – it would be December/January you were in Moscow.

MM     January. I would need about four weeks to get my appearance to what it would be for travelling in and for remaining in the country. No, no, no, for in the country it would be even less time, for that thing outside would be longer. So inside it would need about two weeks to come in for the appearance issue. So I would be in Moscow in January. The only thing that I'm trying to think of is what events can locate us, where exactly was I at the time when it is announced that the ANC has been unbanned. In my view I am already back in the country. I am out of the country when Walter and them are released, let's not confuse the issues. I'm out of the country when Walter and them are released, that's a huge event. Where am I when Madiba is released?

POM     You said you were in one of your hideouts which struck me as – you know what? Everybody in the world knows where they were when Madiba was released except you.

MM     I really don't. I know they say when Kennedy was assassinated everybody remembers. It's not a reference point for me. For me it meant, yes it was a great thing but it did not mean that the struggle changed.

POM     So you've actually remembered?

MM     I don't know whether I have. I'm literally on the move all the bloody time and I'm trying to remember. Let's think, Padraig, if Madiba is released and I'm in Moscow we would have changed our plans. We would have said, Mac, hold on, Madiba will be in Lusaka in the next few days. Let's have a quiet session here in relative safety. Why endanger Madiba by having a session with people who are illegally in the country to take place in the country when he's under probation? Why not just postpone your departure, nothing is going to be lost, it's not like when you were in -

POM     Is it that you were in Moscow when the organisations were unbanned, not when Mandela was released?

MM     No. The unbanning is on the 2nd and Madiba is released on the 9th.

POM     The 11th.

MM     So that's literally nine days, so the word would have been already coming that Madiba is coming out now. I mean the unbanning was an across the board unbanning. The surprising thing about the unbanning was not just the ANC, it was MK and the SACP and no surprise about PAC. So that was a surprise. We always thought that the unbanning will come with a few hedges and the hedges would have been around MK and/or the SACP but when it comes clean that's a radical change in the situation and immediately the word would have been, well, Madiba is on his way. Now hold on, hold on now, things have become extremely fluid. Let's just wait and see what happens. Phone calls would have been flying.

POM     You say you would be back in the country by 2 February?

MM     Yes.

POM     You were in Moscow in January. OK, we now establish more less when did Ronnie enter.

MM     Ronnie unclear.

POM     Ronnie came in after Mandela was released.

MM     Yes, after Mandela was released. Ronnie came in end of February, not just immediately after because Ronnie's legend creation was going on. We've now been able to take stock. Certainly Madiba has visited Lusaka. JS has been able to discuss, he has discussed it with Walter first of all in September/October and the issue is, go ahead, go ahead, don't put your eggs all into the negotiating basket.

POM     OK but we'll leave that alone for the moment because – well we'll come back to it when it arises but just keep it in your mind. We now have the period that after the organisations were unbanned, before Mandela was released, this interim leadership was announced from Lusaka which no-one, no-one has been able to find on any site, has been able to find in any newspaper, any reference to at all. And we've done them, my God, we've tracked site after site.

MM     Have we looked at The Sowetan?

POM     Did we look at The Sowetan or did we not? Have we looked at the whole month?

LS     I looked at end 1989 up to the end of March, from November 1989 to March 1990. The only thing I can think is …

POM     Anyway we will get to that when we - ?

MM     Do we have the equivalent of a newspaper library here as London has?

LS     I asked and they couldn't find …

MM     I'll just phone them and ask them.Did I go out twice in 1989? Because there is a gap in my mind around this issue, where was I on February 2nd and where was I on February 9th. I cannot imagine that I hit the road from Moscow between February 2nd and February 11th. I would have hit the roadbefore February 2nd. It doesn't make sense to have hit the road after February 2nd and before 11th. At a minimum if I put myself in Slovo's shoes, Slovo would have said, hold it, wait. Whatever views we have –

POM     Would they not want you back in the country being in touch with the troops on the ground, these changes are taking place?

MM     Already Walter had been able to do it in Lusaka, so it's in the air that Madiba is coming to Lusaka.

POM     Not to Lusaka, I mean he hasn't even been released from prison. You can't assume that he's going to be in Lusaka.

MM     The unbanning on February 2nd of the organisation has already raised a huge thing because first of all Walter and thems release was seen as a prelude to his release, as Govan's was a prelude to theirs. So he's going to come out.

POM     This is on 11th February.

MM     The next thing is in the air.

POM     All I am saying is that if Mandela was being released (i) you didn't know exactly when it was going to take place, you could see him shortly, it could be anything, (ii) you would have distinguished between him being released and him going to Lusaka, that there would be certain things that he would have to take care of within the country before he got to Lusaka, (iii) there was also the question of where you finally placed the Reception Committee because you were part of the persons orchestrating – (break in recording)

     This is for an insert on page 30 on the conflict in KwaZulu-Natal on Vula Getting up and Going.

MM     I was saying that in the structure there, the central structure in Durban, the overall chairman is Jabu Sithole. He is living in Lamontville, not just an ordinary citizen, he's had a history of activism. We have Mpho Scott, I forget which township he comes from. Activist, giving leadership on the groundwould be involved, but we wouldn't prescribe and say you mustn't get involved in the violence. And we had in, I recall I think in Inanda, a chap called Nhlanhla.

POM     Is that a code name?

MM     No, it's a real name.

POM     First name, last name?

MM     I can't remember, it's not a person that I would have met myself. I would have avoided meeting him.

POM     Catherine says, when I talked to her, that she worked with and trained people in fact in Inanda and that she fought there, she was at the front. So my question is really here you have a situation, there's the most massive conflict going on in Durban and you have Gebhuza training people, training an MK army for a people's war, and there's a war going on right beside him and your guys are being killed. You've weapons, you've men, you've trained men and you don't say, "Go and fight. We have to get involved in this because we could be - "

MM     That was the real problem of the movement. You're in an ongoing war, it's going on, it's flaring up and as long as you immediately throw all your forces into that fighting you'll never be able to build a capacity and you will be out of your weaponry in half an hour.

POM     OK, I can see two things. One, if you ignore it and say that's not our mandate, our mandate is to build up the capacity and the infrastructure and an army for a national uprising that would take place in the future when the time is right, therefore even though what's going on is awful it's hands off. Two is there is no way we can adopt a policy of hands off particularly since some of the people in Vula itself are living in some of the townships where a lot of this violence is occurring, so we will train people either separately and arm them and lend some of our people in a support capacity and that is the extent of our involvement. There's a cut-off point but we are not engaging in a full scale war with Inkatha.

MM     We're not going 100% out to use our resources. We're trying to make the decision here between assisting those forces on the ground who are on our side, or we think are on the right side, giving them as much training as we can without endangering ourselves, giving them the knowledge through that training, making available some weaponry if we found that they were really short but encouraging them to get the weaponry from the other side because never could we envisage a guerrilla situation where your entire resources of arms are going to come from what you're going to import. You had to keep on saying, chaps, you've got to find your weaponry inside the country, from the enemy, whether you stole it or whether you defeated them in battle and took it, but you had to keep finding it in the country. So you give that support.

     Now you would always have a situation, including the one from Catherine, I can't say whether she acted within the mandate that we were giving her or outside of the mandate because the comrades on the ground would think with their blood. It's very difficult to resist the temptation when your own people are being mown down.

POM     But she was being, say, committed. Would that be a decision of Nyanda's or would Nyanda, if he was going to commit any – was there a meeting of the grand committee, whatever you call it, you, him and who else was on it? The one that Mo wasn't on. And it said this is our policy with regard to the situation in KZN where you laid down guidelines.

MM     No, we took the situation area by area, situation by situation. We knew where we were heading.

POM     When you say you knew where you were heading?

MM     We were heading on a long term war and you know that I've given the story that when I entered the country and I went and met Billy, the first night we met we drove around C R Swart and he wanted us to prepare the attack on C R Swart headquarters.

POM     No, you didn't tell me this.

MM     And I said, "No, I'm not going to do that." He said, "That's the headquarters of the SASB. There, the window there, that light on on the 11th floor, that shows somebody is being interrogated there and tortured. Now we can't stand for that, it's easy to blow up this building and attack it. When are we doing it?" I said, "We're not doing it. That's not what I'm here for", big quarrel between Billy and myself. But I could afford to have that type of quarrel with Billy. I said to him, "Billy, we've got a problem here, the immediate needs of the struggle and the long term needs, the sustainability of the immediate actions." There are times when you take an action which has no significance on its own. It's like a suicide operation and you sometimes mount that suicide operation provided it has a longer purpose. For example, if we are in this operation here and we are retreating, we are being attacked by overwhelming forces, we may say to you, Padraig, you stay here and man this weapon and keep firing at the enemy so that the twenty of us can retreat and you are only to leave your post once we have got a sufficient distance away. What are we saying? We're saying, Padraig, you're a dead man, that we are asking you to do this to save nineteen lives. So a suicide mission like that, and I'm using the word 'suicide' meaning inevitably you've said goodbye to Padraig, he's dead, but he's dying for a purpose. So Padraig's operation is not a self-standing operation on its own. If it was self-standing then I would say we have lost all our sense of humanity. It's a very tough call to say Padraig is staying. And often in a situation like that a volunteer steps forward.

     So here's the problem, then I could discuss with Billy: are we going to commit all our forces here or not? Because if you say commit part of it when that part is mowed down are you going to say to me, bring the rest out? Because then I'm not bringing them out in a planned way, I'm just responding ad hoc to a situation, pouring all my resources and maybe the setback will be as big as the Rivonia setback was. That's something that I've come here knowing that I have to make a judgement call on those things. So I can discuss it with Billy. But what would I say to the rest of the structures? Start that sort of a debate? They'd tell me to fuck off, what are you doing here? As Billy said to me, "What are you doing inside the country? Piss off man, why don't you go back to Lusaka." I know I could take that from Billy because I know him well enough. The others I wouldn't raise that argument. I would be raising the argument, now chaps, if we take this path that you are saying it's a stand-up fight here, their forces are overwhelming, we are defeated, what's left? Can we not engage here, preparing that we will commit a limited amount of our forces but doing so on the basis that our forces were too early to lose lives. We must in committing ourselves prepare our retreat for those men. If we don't do that I say we're being very (remiss).So I would have a debate on that specific action but I wouldn't be saying now I'm making it a rule that this is how we approach everything, because then you're already psychologically demobilising your chaps.

POM     Also you'd have to already have built a certain capacity before you could commit anybody.

MM     Theoretically that's a correct proposition except that it practically becomes very difficult to what is sufficient capacity. You see, Padraig, it's in the nature of the danger and the threat. For example, if the forces were coming in to kill and our information said they're coming in to kill Archie Gumede, the head of the UDF, after your information is verified and everything and after you know you can't sneak him away, the information is they're coming to kill him, given his position in a very cold-blooded way I might say that it is worth sacrificing four comrades' lives to save his life. I can't have that debate, I can't thrash it with anybody, not sitting inside me that I know that the chances are that four of our people might die in saving Archie's life. What I would plan is what are the probabilities that using that operation we can save Archie's life? In my mind I would be saying, at what cost? But I can't say to the troops at what cost? Because once I say at what cost and say out of you ten men, four are going to be dead, what have I done? Before they set off each one asking, am I going to be the dead one? But I would be saying to myself the loss of four men out of ten and the saving of Archie's life, worth it.

POM     Asking on capacity, just more for my own whatever, is that if you had only ten men and you said it's going to cost four out of ten it's a different proposition than if you had a hundred men and you said I'm going to lose four out of ten.

MM     Exactly. That's another dimension.

POM     By capacity is that you have to get to a certain –

MM     It's always read by the capacity, all I'm saying is that it's so relative, it's so relative. You might say if I've got a hundred men and I'm deploying ten and I'm going to probably lose four, it's a different proposition than if I've got ten men all told, I'm deploying the whole ten, that would be reckless.

POM     And probably will lose four.

MM     That's crazy because what you're saying is I've only get ten men, that includes me. Now coming from outside it sounds very nice for me to say I want to be in that battle, but it would be irresponsible to go into that battle. Repeatedly I have to make the call, you go and fight there, Padraig, and I have to keep making the call that I will not be there. That's the kind of call it is. And I think that Catherine made this statement a little bit one-sidedly, a little bit from her blood. It may well be that she found herself in a township from time to time in situations where she could not help.

POM     Because she made the call that Charles and the other man were missing because she was working with them in Inanda and they didn't turn up.

     OK, we're down to who attended this meeting. Page 30."I arranged a meeting, Gebhuza." It's after Ronnie. "You could not separate … how effective were the tactics. We would engage in debate, analyse." For example?

MM     This one and another is where his men told him that they can successfully charge me formally. Over this debate I did say, outside the meeting, I said to one of two of the comrades, I can't remember which ones, "Listen chaps, give me the information about that." And I said, "You're thinking with your blood, you're not thinking with your head, because if you can give me that information quietly we'll eliminate that." With this communication and one that we're not releasing, we're coming, that they've intercepted. Where somebody may have talked in detention - we now will be able to look at all the warlords who died and will be able to pin the charge of murder on Mac. All we have to do now is take the date of this meeting and look onwards, which warlords? That will be our investigating starting point to pin a charge of murder on Mac.

     The second one was that incident I talked about, that rifle with the optical sight. The rifle with the optical sight they twisted that we wanted to kill Madiba.

POM     Yes, I have that.

MM     Not true. What they are saying is that the tension within the Security Branch in our region was such that we needed an enemy weapon to eliminate one of these people in detention, but the wording was misinterpreted by them to think that we were planning to kill Madiba. I then misinterpreted what …could be deliberately put into the public arena because by telling Madiba this they were trying to shake his confidence. Secondly, by putting it into the public arena what they were doing is they force us to explain and if we explained we'd be confessing not to eliminating life in a battle situation but eliminating life in what would be regarded as possibly contravening the Geneva Convention because it is one thing to say I killed Padraig, Padraig has died in a fight between Mac and people who were led by Mac and Padraig in a shoot out. It's another thing to say that Mac targeted Padraig, came to his house while sitting at his computer and killed him and now Mac says that's a legitimate target. Right? You're not in uniform, you're not in a combat situation. Just now it looks like ordinary murder.

POM     If you were eliminating the warlords that's pretty much like ordinary murder too.

MM     Yes, like ordinary murder because none of this is happening in an actual fire fight and there's no uniforms to say, no, Padraig was wearing his uniform when I shot him. They never wear their uniforms.

POM     Did this guy supply you with the list of the warlords?

MM     In this particular instance they were stuck, I didn't say it, Ronnie and them were stuck. Ronnie was so embarrassed when I said, "Put your intentions on the table. Please verify. I need to verify this." I said, "Come, out of the room. Tell me out of the room."

POM     Who the warlords are?

MM     No, where is the basis of your information of this meeting.

POM     So just to clarify, when you were asked for the names of the warlords and where they were located you simply asked one of the people who were attending, somebody who knew?

MM     I may well have asked Billy, for example, a longstanding comrade. Billy is saying to me, "What's wrong with you?" I said, "Billy, give me the identification of each of the warlords who was present at that meeting, the address where they resided, where do they work, where they travelled, their habits. That issue of stopping that activity we will attend to quietly." I could tell Billy that.

POM     OK, so you got that information, was that information acted on?

MM     No that information didn't come. That information was not available, it was unverified, I use the words 'was not verified'. That means to say the reports that they tabled –

POM     I thought this was separate. One, you said they were looking for weapons and then you said they couldn't verify the information.

MM     No this is a different one, this is now – we are discussing an example. The request came for us to release AKs from our arsenal. Now obviously you're releasing AKs for an action and what's the action? They say there's going to be violence, there's going to be a march by the Inkatha warlords and they're going to go on the rampage, we want the weapons to stop it. I say, "How to you know that this march is going to take place? How do you know who's going to lead it?" They say, "We know that the warlords have had a meeting."I said, "Chaps, which warlords were present, where was the meeting held and outside the room tell me, how do you know? How reliable is your information? Have you cross-checked it?" And I said the information, their intelligence, information, was not verified. All they could tell me, Padraig, was, "We understand, we are told that this meeting took place." Told by whom? Was your informant at the meeting?

POM     What I am saying is, Mac, wouldn't a person like Billy Nair know who the warlords were?

MM     He can go and ask them.

POM     Thomas Shabalala? Remember him?

MM     He can go and ask the person in the committee who knows. Billy is arguing with me and I said, "Billy, you know the comrades here, you go and ask them but don't come to me with a hearsay, come to me with verified information. You're not going to make me go and kill somebody on unverified information."

POM     OK, but did he come back with a list?

MM     No.

POM     So nobody in your structures knew who the Inkatha warlords were?

MM     No, no, they knew. The issue was not who were the warlords. The issue was who was present at that meeting planning that day's march, because your information says they're going to come on a march.

POM     I thought they were talking about two different things.

MM     We're talking about the same thing; what are the alternatives to be used in different kinds of attack by Inkatha? Our information says release the AKs because there's going to be a march, there's going to be murder and mayhem. They want to defend our people. We say, no, we're not releasing them. Let's hear how reliable your information is and then let's discuss whether if we gave you five AKs you'd be able to carry out the operation successfully. My argument was even before your five people start shooting, the SADF forces will have come through to the township, searched every house, captured the five people, then comes the Inkatha march, so your operation that you're planning is a non-starter, this one operation that you're talking about, as an example. That's why I go on to say my argument was that if you got the information that next week on Monday a 5000 strong Inkatha grouping was going to be marching down the street, what are you going to do, how are you going mow them down, what's the effect of it? And I'm saying, if the planners are a group of warlords give me the information of their planning and give me the information of who they are and we take it up.

POM     Now did you just in the course of reports to Lusaka, would you have given an assessment of the situation in KZN?

MM     Sure.

POM     Of what was going on and where it seemed to be leading and what steps you had tried to take and what kind of intervention to try to be made by other parties? Was there any attempt during that period to create an intervention with Buthelezi?

MM     No, there was no basis for an intervention because Lusaka had already reached a deadlock with Buthelezi. This is 1989. The London meeting has collapsed.

POM     That's 1979 OK, this is ten years later.

MM     Ten years later.

POM     But now blood is spilling all over the place.

MM     By now every effort that you've made Buthelezi has come out openly against you on that, he's come out openly against sanctions, he's come out openly at attacking us. What intervention can you make except to say keep the lines open if you can talk guys? If you can use the influence of so-and-so or some American or a West German to persuade Buthelezi, or some people inside Buthelezi's camp, former prisoners who went in as ANC, can we keep something going?

POM     Oscar Dhlomo would have been the Secretary General at that time.

MM     He was removed already. He was already removed as Secretary General.

POM     In 1989?

MM     Yes.

POM     I met him in 1989 here and he was gone by then. OK, he was gone.

MM     No, but we had other people, Siegfried Bengu, we had Joshua Zulu, chaps who had served in prison as ANC cadres.The message was all the time. I mean this I did when I came out of prison, I met Joshua Zulu. He was in the single cells, he was an ANC cadre, he had come out, he had joined Inkatha, he was now Inkatha's representative in Durban and I met him. "Joshua, where are we going?"

POM     You met him after you were released or did you ever try to meet him when you were back in the country? Did you ever try to have other people make contact with him like Pravin?

MM     Oh yes and the comrades kept reporting that Joshua was bad, he had turned against us. It is part of your tactics, it goes without saying, that just as I kept looking inside the apartheid government structures to look for somebody who was sympathising with us, either to make the person a spy or a political ally and I would do that with Inkatha. I would be doing that constantly as an exercise and I wouldn't just be saying if I came across Padraig in the Inkatha Central Committee and he's sympathetic now and would leave them, "No", I would say, "Stay there and try to get other people in."

POM     Were you able to find anybody inside?

MM     Sure we had contacts there and many of them turned out to be no longer useful for what we were trying to do because some of them were being more confiding into Inkatha structure than into us. That's in the nature of the game. But our first port of call would have been those people in Inkatha that we knew as comrades in the ANC and my first port of call would be those that I knew in prison and two of them stood out from the single cell section. One was a chap called Joshua Zulu who had been arrested in the sixties and served in the single cells. The second was a chap called Siegfried Bengu who was an MK cadre.

POM     What was his first name?

MM     Siegfried, SIEGFRIED, German name. Siegfried Bengu had trained abroad and had come into the country in 1964 before our arrests. Now he got arrested, landed in Robben Island, he got released after ten years and joined Inkatha. Now we obviously tried to make contact with him to say he must have joined Inkatha still loyal to the ideals that we shared. It didn't turn out to deliver anything. I think he's still alive in KZN. Joshua Zulu is dead.

POM     Was this when you were back in the country that you tried to cultivate, through others, these contacts?

MM     Through others.

POM     Not you, like through Pravin or through people in the other structures who were operating over ground as well as underground.

MM     I couldn't take that chance.

POM     Now in the reports that you would send to Lusaka, what would be the thrust of those reports?

MM     I would not be reporting on individuals. I would only report on the individuals if there was a significant development different from what was already known.

POM     I suppose when I say 'reported', your assessment of the overall situation in terms of this is getting worse by the hour, it's bloody, everyone on both sides is being mowed down, Gatsha's above it, Gatsha is caught in it, we have to find maybe somebody from the outside to see if we can arrange any kind of peace or anything. What would you be saying to Lusaka in terms of your assessment and your advice?

MM     As far as I can recall, Padraig, my approach at that time would have been I know that the talks with the IFP have collapsed, collapsed years ago. I know that we should be still seeking good people within Inkatha and cultivating them and I know therefore that we should be also always looking for the opportunity where we can repair and heal those wounds, but only give them on the basis that we're going to commit ourselves to continuing the fight against the apartheid system.

POM     This is an on the ground assessment you're giving of a battle situation.

MM     I'm saying that this is your framework, it's going to influence how you think. You're not going to say sue for peace at any price.

POM     No, but you're on the ground, Lusaka is looking at what's going on through Lusaka eyes and here you are on the ground where you can make –

MM     And what am I able to say from on the ground?

POM     What are you able to say about the situation that is different from what Lusaka would say?

MM     I am able to confirm that the weaponry that the IFP people are getting in those attacks is coming from the armoury of the SADF. I am able to confirm that the officer training that they're getting is from the SADF. I am able to confirm that the key chaps in the African community who are the leaders of those Inkatha impis are being trained and are trained people, and where could they have been trained except in the SADF. So the general proposition that that co-operation is taking place is being confirmed by who's who but I am still saying, how do we neutralise it? I am saying we are making these efforts to reach them, just as I know Lusaka is making efforts to reach them, but I would only be saying we're not managing but we have an opportunity now because with Inkatha's expansion. But I would be raising concerns that a never-ending war is now taking our attention away from fighting apartheid and how do we get past that obstacle.Now that would be the framework and I would be looking for sources within the apartheid side and within the IFP side that I can find to work with, not just for my immediate objective of hiding arms but also to politically shift Inkatha's position.

POM     For example, I don't want to put words in your mouth, would you kind of identify, say, our sources, our information, our whatever, tell us that the key person on the state side is Jac Buchner, the head of the KwaZulu Police? Would you identify who on the state side was the man manipulating, in charge of the operations?

MM     Yes, we'd identify that. Let's go further, I would have informed Lusaka that in my view Comrade Joshua Zulu who spent time in prison, no matter how much he says he's sympathetic to the ANC, my view of what I see on the ground, I don't believe it. He is completely converted to the narrow minded approach of Inkatha.

POM     And on the state side?

MM     On the state side I would say this is the key person, Jac Buchner is the key person and he's not a figurehead, he's a real head. But I would say who is his right hand man inside Inkatha? And I'd say at the moment I think, the information seems to point to so-and-so inside Inkatha, Khumalo.

POM     Who?

MM     There was a Khumalo chap, I don't remember his first name. Khumalo who trained in - ?

POM     Is he the guy who went to the Caprivi?

MM     Caprivi. It seems to be pointing in that direction. I can't say for sure, but we will continue to watch the situation because that's like saying to Lusaka, could you also put him on your radar screen and check? Is he as powerful as we think? So we would be sending that type of view.

POM     And Mo would be making his own reports on that?

MM     Oh yes, Mo is making his own reports. I don't read Mo's section as the sole now intelligence section of the ANC. I think that's one of the mistakes you make in any struggle like ours, that you say because I've appointed Padraig as the head of logistics, no car can move from this yard without Padraig signing the form.

POM     This is on page 31, "We should keep the lines of communication of those around him open or try to open the lines of communication with Buthelezi or those around him." You're saying, Mac, that mainstream ANC, that was mainstream ANC?

MM     Mainstream way of thinking in the movement led by the ANC. Seldom wrote off a person as forever lost. We always held out the hope that particularly if a person came from the oppressed community you could find a way.

POM     Like a church, somebody strays away, they say that person's not lost forever, he's just strayed from the path and we've got to get him back. You guys were perfect Catholics, not perfect Communists.

MM     That's why you will find that in the history of communism many Communist leaders when they broke they went straight to Catholicism.

POM     And the other way round.

MM     And the other way round.

POM     I remember a book I read as a kid, it was given to me as a lesson, his name was Douglas Hyde.

MM     Douglas Hyde! Yes. He joined the Vatican.

POM     It came right into my head now, I never thought of that man until this very moment since I was about twelve years of age.He wrote a book. My aunt belonged to this book club that was all Catholic books, that's what I was raised on. Why did he make an impression?

MM     Oh what I was going to tell you because it was just me? In 1979 in the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly Buthelezi made a speech that ran into about thirteen hours. In those thirteen hours he spent about two hours on me.

POM     What year was this?

MM     Round about 1979.

POM     1979?

MM     And virtually said in that speech, it was so inciting the people in KwaZulu and the Legislative Assembly, that if Mac dared set his foot in the country, kill him. If it was me alone I had enough reason to say I would never, never greet or shake hands with Buthelezi because it was like putting a death warrant over me. But the difference is it's not my strength, it's the way I was brought up in the movement, to say ignore that he did all that, just try and address the problem, how do we go forward. So it's not just - I have even more reason, and the remarkable thing is that from the time that I've been meeting Buthelezi post-1994, both of us are so extremely polite to each other and over-polite.

POM     Your politeness can mask a lot of hostility.

MM     We're over-polite. He'd come and he'd shake hands and he'll smile and really try to be nice and I would try to be really nice. In the meantime I know that in 1979 the way he went on about me in that legislature.

     It was a document, it was Sibusiso Bengu was General Secretary of Inkatha and he broke with Inkatha. Sibusiso Bengu had fallen out with, was Secretary of Inkatha, and had fallen out with Buthelezi and fearing for his life he left the country and took up a job with the World Lutheran Church in Geneva. I was Secretary of the Internal and I immediately, together with my late comrade John Motsabi, made contact with Sibusiso in Geneva inviting him to come to Lusaka and we two spoke to him, said invite Sibusiso. So he was invited to Lusaka and we had discussions, he and I.

POM     Now was this after the London meeting? I assume it was after the London meeting that broke down because that was the meeting -

MM     It was before, before the London meeting.

POM     Before this meeting then and before he attacked you in the legislature?

MM     Yes.

POM     OK.

MM     So Sibusiso comes to Lusaka and besides his discussions with OR and them he has a specific discussion with Motsabi and myself. That was an extensive debrief of Sibusiso Bengu of the set-up inside Inkatha, the situation in the country, etc., etc., and it involved a discussion about where things were standing with Inkatha. Exhaustive notes of that. It was given to leading people in the ANC and the Revolutionary Council. A proper briefing of the interview, of the views and answers that he gave to all the questions.

POM     So OR would have had this information when he went to London?

MM     Yes. But what happened is that when the relations broke down in the London meeting Buthelezi made a vituperative attack on the ANC in the KwaZulu Legislature. In the course of that attack he quoted from the debriefing that I had typed out of Sibusiso Bengu. He kept saying, "This is what Mac Maharaj is doing", quoting from my notes that I had distributed on the issue.

POM     Sorry, you said he was quoting from?

MM     This document, yes. And the problem became where did Buthelezi get this from? Something that I've made notes on as Secretary, Motsabi and I, I've made notes all discussions that took place with Sibusiso and then it's been distributed in the RC and to certain people in the NEC and there it is in Inkatha, Buthelezi's hands. That was what made Buthelezi very angry that he now could extrapolate from that views that I was holding and he realised that I was determined to interact with people even in his leadership and amongst the questions that I was asking, Motsabi and I were asking, who's who in Inkatha, what's each one's inclinations, which one is closer to us, which one is furthest away from us, which one is nearest to the apartheid system? And not just about Buthelezi but all the people around him and saying to Sibusiso, "Can you identify all those people at the different levels of Inkatha who are closer in thinking to our thinking?" So this of course infuriated Buthelezi because he said what these people are doing is developing mechanisms of how to reach into my heartland to rob me of my people.

POM     But somebody in your heartland –

MM     Had given it. Yes.

POM     And that would have been either somebody working for the state or - ?

MM     No. The first assumption was that it's an agent of the apartheid state. That was the wrong track of thinking. You had to switch and say who is still believing that Buthelezi is in the right path, he's still with us, and can I consolidate towards us by showing him this inside note? Because those inside notes, he didn't read it from the point of view how would Buthelezi interpret it, that person, comrade, was still thinking that Buthelezi is still fundamentally on our side and I am showing Buthelezi that I have a trusting relationship with him, I can give him some documents that are a part of the inside of the ANC's thinking.

POM     We'll take that guy off the NEC.

MM     Never did. He was too powerful a figure.

POM     I see!

MM     I just recall this now, it was 13, 14 hours, it was one of the longest speeches that Buthelezi ever made.

POM     That's pretty good. He's up there with Fidel. Go for the Guinness Book of Records.Well that takes us down to the Western Cape. On page 32, the Western Cape.

MM     I'm not so sure that even though between OR, Slovo and myself, we had written out a strategy paper, a two-pager.

POM     Well the concept paper first and then you did a –

MM     I'm not so sure that that concept -

POM     Little John, do we have anything on Little John?

MM     Christopher Manje. I'm not so sure, I'm not so sure how far that then was taken to the other Vula type operations. In my case I had to take it through.

POM     You developed it, right?

MM     I had to make sure that I am taking it through and implementing it in Vula.

POM     You drew up the larger document after the concept paper, right?

MM     But on the other hand who was going to take the same concept and discuss it with Chris, with Charles? That's not my role, that was not my job, and I'm not so sure to what extent it was really appreciated what it was saying. I'm not so sure that JS didn't cut corners in explaining it because I often found comrades racing towards military action. I've indicated that Ronnie had that inclination. It was there in other people too. It was an uphill battle to get what is the practical content that you give to an idea of people's war. How do you ensure that the component of these four pillars which will be dominant at any given moment arises organically and not just gets imposed? There is always a tendency to impose something as a wish rather than something that comes up organically. You declare war and you think right now from the moment of declaration right across the board there's war going on, you don't realise that you've declared war but citizens of two countries are still knowing each other and being friends.

POM     The wish thing would be a good example of Bush.

MM     In which respect?

POM     In Iraq. He wished for outcomes.

MM     That's a very human way of thinking but be that as it may I was deviating again.

POM     We're down then to –

MM     So I said have they been fully briefed about the strategy behind Vula? It's a fair question, as per the concept paper.

POM     Let's start again, page 32, Vula in the Western Cape with the paragraph beginning: "They had already been informed from Lusaka that the person coming in, who was coming to see them, was going to part of their leadership." And we're talking about, "I didn't believe we were ready."

MM     That sentence we need to knock off. What I am trying to say there is that in my discussion with them I didn't get the impression that they had been properly briefed about the strategy behind Vula and if they had been briefed that they had been adequately briefed about that strategy. I got a sense that the focus was towards engaging in military action and that began to raise question marks in my mind. However, with that sense I decided in my own mind to approach this thing cautiously, make sure you engage with the comrades systematically so that we arrive at a common understanding of what the operation is about. It's not simply increasing the level of the operations that were being conducted from outside, it's about creating leadership on the ground but leadership which is integrated with the forces inside the country.

POM     "My instruction from Lusaka was to integrate that structure to a single command."

MM     To a single command meaning now of Vula.

POM     Under the command of Vula?

MM     Vula, yes. To the single command of Vula. This is a problem of how you – Padraig, it's there in every institution. You have two universities, you want to integrate them, each person from the Rector down in each of the universities believes he's the right man and the matter becomes worse if one was a university and the other one was a technikon and your mandate is to create a university. So I had to go about this problem very carefully because when I discussed it with the comrades in the Western Cape what I found was, I saw the circle of their contacts, secondly I saw what they had been doing while they were there and that was stockpiling, and thirdly I was getting reports from Lusaka saying, please, you people in Vula have moved so far ahead, Western Cape is lagging behind, can you go there and take command so that we can get things moving.

     But the question became now, to go there and take command what do you mean? The communication now, will it be between us and Lusaka, or would it be each one still carrying on their old way? And my experience had taught me don't do that ever because if you maintain separate lines of communication it's a recipe for confusion, because every time you don't like what I'm saying, Padraig, you quietly contact Lusaka and you give your picture. But what you're doing is you're making Lusaka take operational decisions and I don't believe that sitting that far away they can take operational decisions. I say if you and I have a problem let's work it out here but let's be very clear that I or you are not going to sneak behind each other to try and get what you think and you are appealing to a court which is not there to know the situation.

POM     So this would have meant your sharing the communication system?

MM     No. Who is the commander? If they say single command, what does that mean? Who is the commander now? Charles was commander in the Western Cape. I'm commander in Vula. Now we've integrated, who's the commander? Because the answer to that question decides who is in charge of the communications. If we say here it is, now you handle it your own way, then what am I doing? You don't need me, you just need me to deliver a laptop with the codes and you can discuss with Lusaka and do it. That's not what Lusaka is telling me. Lusaka is saying please, will you go over to the Western Cape, meet the comrades there and integrate their work into your work. So to me single command and that means that now you're in Vula command. Where you will fit in into that command structure will arise over time. It might say, now Gebhuza you are the person in command in Natal, on the operation you're in command; Charles you're in command in Western Cape. But your central command headquarters, who's in charge? It's Mac.

POM     It's you.

MM     Yes. It has to be that way.

POM     Where does Ronnie fit? Ronnie's now in the picture.

MM     Ronnie was bring brought in as part of the team that would be in command but not yet allocated a position. He, I notice, says he was being told that he should prepare to take over from me. That was crazy, whoever told him that, saying that you did not need to know the internal situation, you could just be superimposed over Gebhuza. I think you needed a time to prove yourself and get aware of the situation. You couldn't just parachute a person and say, right, he takes command. I think that was a major mistake if he was led to believe that. But who would have led him to believe that?

POM     Slovo?

MM     OK, if it was then it says that. If that happened then he says that, so he misunderstood what the dynamic of the problem is inside the country.

POM     We have to do his profile, we have to do profiles, these are separate, of the leading people that you knew. You've done ones of OR, of Sisulu, of Madiba and there's one obvious one, well there are a number of obvious ones, the one obvious one is Joe Slovo. You interacted with him almost from the time of your release one way or another until the time of his death. So just your references to him it sounds like an enormously - it was an enormously complicated relationship, but you have to focus on it. It's not doing a tribute to Joe, it's just in the same way as you did the others, the strengths, the weaknesses, the nature of the relationship, it's the dynamics of it. You both must have fed off each other in a kind of a love/hate relationship.

MM     Undoubtedly.

POM     But it was a relationship and a real one, it wasn't one that was plastic or anything like that.

MM     I've just done one, you're asking me to do some very tough things. I've done one here on the next one which is the Robben Island, I didn't know you'd called it the …I'll just go and do this for Harry.

POM     Have you e-mailed this to me?

MM     No, this one I'm still working on. To me the sort of thing that you're asking, there's quite a bit of difficulty in my mind how to put it, how to put things, how to make that assessment, but I've had to do this in Harry's case as a result of questions. I say: -

     "Harry was a seasoned fighter who came into the struggle in the early forties through the Communist Party. He was an accomplished propagandist; he could be excruciatingly rigid as well as devastatingly cutting in his remarks. He came across as a militant whose portrayal of matters left no place for half tones. I was not surprised that he had agreed to co-operate in the work of the movement in the area where he lived, that is agreed with me, neither was I surprised when he did not keep to the arrangement. In fact our meeting only took place after persistent effort by me. Initially I sent one of the veteran comrades from the Durban area to go to Pietermartizburg to meet with Harry and set up a meeting 'with a comrade from exile who is clandestinely in the country and who has a special message from OR for Harry'."

POM     Who was that?

MM     I haven't named the comrade yet. "Arrangements were made for Harry" - because this is the anecdote, you want me to describe the complex relationship and you want it anecdotal and inevitably it starts drawing in people.

     "Arrangements were made for Harry to be collected by car and taken to a venue that we would arrange. To evade the South African security forces we planned for the meeting to take place in the area of Howick. On the appointed day Harry was not at the pick-up point. We then sent one of the comrades from Pietermaritzburg to Harry's house to find out what had happened. The comrade returned quite shaken, Harry was relaxing at home and calmly and curtly told the comrade to inform me (no names) that the meeting had been postponed indefinitely. Full stop. And to cap it all, no explanation was given for the postponement.

     "When I returned to Durban I called one of the Durban comrades, a highly respected leader in the UDF, and gave him a written note to deliver to Harry. In the note I left him with no choice, either we agreed to a time and venue and met or I would without prearrangement find my way to meet him. Harry got the message but he was not going to agree that easily. He set the meeting for eleven am the next morning in the consulting rooms of a medical doctor well known for his anti-apartheid activities and that building was in Durban. To compound matters the consulting rooms were in a building, Lancet House, in Durban, a building known as a nest of anti-apartheid activists. I tell Gebhuza. Gebhuza felt that it was too risky for me to keep the appointment at such a venue. I argued that this was precisely what Harry was banking on. He wanted me to pull out of the meeting so that if the matter ever arose with OR Harry would say I did not keep the appointment.

     "So as I recall this incident so many years later, I cannot help but wonder at the ridiculousness of some of the hard-headedness with which some of us dealt with each other. Here we were, two dedicated comrades trying to manoeuvre each other and doing so in such a way as to endanger our security to the point where we may have handed the apartheid security forces a scoop. But we had to go through with the meeting and meet we did right there in the doctor's consulting rooms in the heart of Durban in broad daylight."

     Now it's been very painful to write that, because you instantly said, "What did you say?"

POM     Pardon?

MM     When I started this section, initially I sent one of the veteran comrades and straight away your question was … This is such a painful issue.

POM     I know, but you see the thing is, Mac, books that are written about the struggle, they make the people in it plastic. Do you understand? And to me, you see, what happened within the movement there's probably far more struggle than outside the movement. That is part of human activity. There's no struggle that has not been bedevilled by the same human problems and the more we try to plasticise history in this way -

MM     The less we make it meaningful.

POM     The less we make it to other people, yes to everyone but even for people who appreciate the problems.

MM     The problem is it's not a difficult thing for me to say who's the veteran comrade. The problem is when you go to him he's going to have the same problem I have and his first reaction will be to say, "No, that's not true", because he's not seeing, hey this is going into the intestines of the movement.

POM     No, I'm not going to go there. OK, time is running out, I'm on a time line.

MM     You should know by now from what we've been through with Ismail Ayob.

POM     I just cancelled an appointment with him because I don't want to go through the same thing all over again. You two should talk first. I've gone through this now four times, it'll take me half an hour to get there, we talk, I love talking to him, I'll be out by six, six-thirty, I'll enjoy it but I'm not – you two have to work it out. You're trying to influence me and I'm telling him and he's now backing off, he's saying, "You know what? I don't believe I ever took that one out."

MM     That's your call, Bub.

POM     No, in the end I've said that I will have to deal with it right up front and if he wants his name to go down and he recorded that's fine.

MM     He must be regretting he met you.

POM     No, that's fine. So now he's saying, well I wasn't really there at all as I recall it. But what I've asked him and he hasn't replied to is how did he take stuff in. If he had a message from you for Madiba, what did he take it in? You would type it out, right? And you'd say, "Here, on your next visit get this to Madiba." Now Ivan says, I think I told you, that he believes that just a false file cover was used.

MM     He doesn't know. I'm not going to be sending bloody reports of every bloody technical thing that I do.

POM     I will have to put you and him in a ring and I'll put a bottle of Black Bush in the middle. Remember the great – Our Man in Havana?

MM     Graham Greene.

POM     The chess game. If you took a piece you had to take a slug, therefore if you had to win – so my idea was to try and let you take sufficient pieces so I'd get you pissed, so then you're falling around and with my few pieces that I have left kind of in three moves I get you. So you have a balance not only in the pieces you took in terms of your counter moves but in terms of I had to have a drink every time I took a piece. So I think this is what I will do with the two of you.

MM     With Ivan?

POM     No, with Ayob and you.

MM     Ayob doesn't drink.

POM     Ayob doesn't drink, oh Christ!

MM     All I'm saying when you read this thing, it's not a problem who's the veteran comrade. The problem is to then extract from him and once I put his name, I don't know how he's going to react to it and then when I come to the next comrade, the one who I sent the note with, I've toned it down, this guy is today holding an important position in the parastatals.

POM     So?

MM     He's not going to say, "Hey, this is true."

POM     Well I'm not going to him. You see now I've told you we're at – the important thing about this is that you turned up at the meeting in the way you described. It's just a matter again of, for a reader, a name is different than saying 'arrangements were made'. I mean if you went through Mandela's book he doesn't even footnote anybody, he never says who anybody was, he just says I met with so-and-so and somebody took me there and they did this and they did that. He's doing all this from –

MM     The problem is then the other part he is totally silent.

POM     That's right.

MM     Now that's a problem. Now you are asking me in those parts not to be silent. For example, you're insisting that Mandela should tell you in his autobiography, published in 1993, thatstraight out of the decision he went and met A, identify A, and he discussed items three, four and five and came to an agreement with him what to do. Now Mandela doesn't say who he went to.

POM     Who did he go to?

MM     The problem with that story, a quick story, with MK, with Madiba's autobiography, it's simple. The party decided on launching out in the armed struggle direction in July 1961. The ANC decided August/September. By the time the ANC met, a set of party squads had already carried out a trial run of sabotage without advertising it. That's where Doha broke his finger.

POM     That's where Doha broke his finger?

MM     Yes, because he was cutting telephone cables with pliers in the dark and in that tension he cut the sheer type of line and didn't notice that he had smashed his finger and fractured it and only realised when he got home that he had come out with a fractured finger. Now that was the party that did that. That part has not been possible to be told up to now. The question arises to any interrogator like you, hey, wait a minute Madiba, you were the first commander of MK? You say the decision was taken by the NEC of the ANC and you also go so far as to say that you then made contact with the Communist Party and you reached agreement with them that they would integrate their units into your ANC. With a record of high suspicion of the communists, you're going to attribute …

POM     And the answer is he was. I have that on record too. Now I have that on record, OK?

MM     From me?

POM     No.

MM     Oh.

POM     I grant you that Mac says it right, you're dying to know aren't you? You're dying to know?

MM     I don't want to know who. I don't want to know because it was one of the most complicated manoeuvres that we had to go through and that's why if you read Shubin's book, Shubin identifies, without naming a person who was in the Secretariat of the Communist Party, attributes to his name. I'm sitting with Walter -

POM     Who was in it too.

MM     I'm sitting with Walter and I say, "Walter, this is the truth", I'm reading to him, and he never told anyway. Walter calls me and he said, "Mac, can I trust you with one task? You're going out. The day I die I want you to stand up and tell the world that I, Walter Sisulu, was a communist." I said, "Old man, don't entrust me with that knowledge and don't entrust me with that responsibility. We don't know where the struggle will be at that point."

POM     It was assuming that you would live long enough to do this.

MM     Well I was still living. But in the end he said to me, "I want you to do it irrespective of the conditions, I want that to be done." Now there are two crucial things in the South African struggle, Walter and Mandela and OR too, very crucial people. He says, "The day I die I want to be remembered as a communist." In the meantime events had moved in such a way that with the Rivonia arrests I am bringing Madiba into the trial, because as long as they were communists we definitely know what is going to happen to us and the position is Madiba, Walter, you're not going to acknowledge anything like that. Govan you can acknowledge, Raymond Mhlaba you acknowledge, Kathrada you acknowledge, but Mandela and Sisulu, do not utter anything. The matter gets worse when you say Sisulu you go into the witness box under oath, when Percy Yutar, the State Prosecutor, decides that from the day Walter walks into the box he's not going to … for the next five years while he's under cross-examination. So Walter was totally isolated - for breakfast, for lunch, recreation, sleeping time, anyway. When the court adjourned we were separated, he was sitting in a separate van for five days of cross examination and Yutar lost the plot because he thought he was going to destroy Walter in the cross examination. He lost the plot. But in the cross examination he got caught up with this Standard Four education person who's tie is sitting skew and he thought it's a walkover. And his mind just ran off in that direction, he could not believe that he was … And crucial questions never got asked. He forgot to ask him for five days. Now that put a whole list and we had to pick up the pieces post-Rivonia to keep going with the struggle. So nobody ever spoke and here I am in 1976 and Walter says, "The day I die." And I said, "Walter, I can't take responsibility for that."

     [This is what I told … he doesn't want to do it …This is what I want Mac to do and you'd better agree with me that he is going to do that.]

POM     Did he remind you when Walter died?

MM     No, the thing is that Shubin spoke about this person, the secretariat. Now Madiba, if you talk to him, he will dodge the question, he will dodge it dutifully and say, "You know, in 1952 we launched the defiance campaign and then we were arrested and charged and Dr Moroka was President of the ANC. So I went to see him to ask him to see if we couldn't take a common stand. He mistook me for Walter Sisulu and he kept saying, 'You're a communist, you can afford to do that but I'm not a communist, I'm not going that way'." And he will tell the anecdote and pass. But if that is in the context of Dr Moroka and if that is on the basis that Dr Moroka can't recognise the difference between Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. It's made you laugh, you've forgotten your question.

POM     The paper, the essay you wanted John to do? Wily politician or?

MM     Saint, sinner. No something else. Saying something a wily politician. The thing is that I had other rationalisations. I now have another layer of rationalisations in that. The cold war years never allowed a space for a person to critically examine the obvious.

POM     To critically examine?

MM     And review. The cold war years made you live in an environment where you had to label a person and you yourself had a mindset that you were nothing unless you had a label attached to you. That's the cold war and I don't think we appreciate how much of the mental prison the cold war was, whether it's not just politics, it created a mental prison and we're still not yet out of it. We're not yet out of it. We cannot yet see our way, if you're an American, to criticise Bush without being perceived as being anti-American. Tony Blair cannot see himself retracing his steps and changing direction openly, honestly and publicly.

POM     The Labour Party will do it for him. They'll say, "Tony, we had a meeting and we're having another one tomorrow. Do the decent thing." I should fall on my sword.

MM     Anyway to return to this, this is what I've done on Harry.

POM     What I want you to do as with all the other guys, because you have to think about it, you'll have to do the same with Slovo, with Chris Hani and with – I made a whole list of them. I think I've sent you a partial list. These were the people that occupied the years of your adult life and most of them are gone. How will I put it? I was at the school where Gladwyn is the other day, we went up for the weekend. I'd asked her beforehand what the school has been doing about the tenth anniversary of democracy. She said, "Nothing." I was there and said, "I hear you doing nothing about democracy?" "Oh, it's school policy, they're too young, we wait till the seventh grade before we start discussing politics." If you go into a township school I bet you they understood the tenth anniversary. So I have to sent a letter to the headmaster saying I think this is outrageous.

MM     You see how we are reducing democracy.

POM     So when she is in her teen years - it's not until later, when you're mature you can then go back and start assessing your history, but something has to be there for them to assess and it can't be, as we got in our history books, which at the time I left in 1960 the history books in Ireland stopped at 1921 and did nothing on the civil war. It was only in the seventies and the eighties that the history about that period began to be researched and done and taught at school. What I am afraid of is the same kind of plastic history will be available to school kids and to adults and that honest books that show the struggle between - that the people involved, that they are involved because of difference, they have enormous egos, they're both power-driven in a certain way, they all think they're right all the time, they all say they listen to each other but there always was to be one commander over all the rest even though they're all equal. That is human.

MM     The problem is that the maximum that Madiba has done is to put it with a question mark. If you mean by a communist a card carrying member of –

POM     If you what?

MM     If you mean by a communist a card carrying member of the Communist Party, I am -

POM     Many people have cards.

MM     The underground doesn't have cards.

POM     And make sure when you're picked up by the police and they look at your pass book –

MM     The underground, none of them had cards. No. We set up a proposition and answered very firmly, no. The problem is that's the maximum. He has just kept quiet and that's the reason why The Long Walk to Freedom didn't get published when I came out.Slovo, to whom the manuscript was also given, advised against publishing.

POM     Because in it he said he -?

MM     No, they advised OR, but when I learned about it and I went and I confronted him and said, "Why? Why not publish it? Why do you say we shouldn't bother to publish it?" Slovo says, "Because he has not been historically true." "What's your problem?" "It doesn't tell the truth." I said, "Sorry, wait a minute, are you saying it tells a lie?" He says, "No, no, it's not a lie, he is silent on certain issues." Their advice was don't publish it. I go to London and I see Dr Dadoo and I said, "Doc, what's your view?" Now do we go ahead and publish or don't we? And I know my instructions were to give it to you and to give it to OR. When I went to OR, OR probably knew. And that's the context in which this issue arose and I said to Walter and Madiba when they said I mustn't interfere, I had to leave the country. Those two were at sixes and sevens, they were like two chaps wanting to scatter. But the next day Walter called me, alone, "Mac, I've thought about it, number one I don't know if OR would ask you that question. Number two, if you answer that question and you without hesitation said yes - he will never ask you that question."

POM     That's like you and your father when you said, "Do you want to know the truth?"

MM     Then I wrote to Madiba as if I hadn't made up my mind. "Madiba have you made up your mind?" He said, " Don't bother me." Where do you remain silent? And you can see in the world dynamics, the world has changed in such a way, when I think that the situation now is no more or less …if Madiba was a communist it wouldn't even raise a flutter.

POM     It wouldn't even raise a flutter.

MM     But that's a very different ball game from what it was like up to 1999.

POM     It shows the pace of change.

MM     The world has changed.

POM     I mean it's also people what they recall as being important and what disappears off the radar screens. We actually cared about that kind of gibberish? We did, yes. That's funny isn't it?

MM     And it's all put up, all talk. And there is it. The veteran that first went to Harry is Billy Nair. Billy Nair. Now Billy is, I haven't spoken to Billy yet, I was in Cape Town recently.

POM     He's got to have an operation by the way. He was going in for a small back operation.

MM     The lower spine.

POM     Yes, he was going in.

MM     Oh that must be his leg, he's going lame in one leg. But I was asked by somebody in Cape Town recently - but I know when I last saw him, it was over his conduct in the Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts when he attacked Gavin Woods on the arms deal. His attack was the attack of a child and he allowed himself to be the front runner and I know that if I was to sit down with him alone and say, "Billy, what is this? Why didn't you just stay quiet? Why did you have to take the lead and be engaged in such a destructive exercise?" And I know it's going to be a very awkward discussion. I know enough of Billy that if I was living in Durban and if I was going to meet him once a week, four or five times, we would get past it. But before we get past that hurdle and normalise our relations a discussion like that is going to lead to a big bust up where he's going to march off and say he's going to come with a pistol and kill me and I will say I will kill him too.

POM     Well you have to go to Durban. All you guys are getting too old to go on with this shit.

MM     That's what I'm saying here, I'm saying good God, look at this thing here. He was going to set this meeting up in Lancet House, eleven o'clock in the morning in the consulting rooms of a doctor who is a leading UDF member, in a building that has only got UDF people and COSATU. What is he doing? He is literally saying that before I can walk into the consulting room for a meeting I'm going to be caught and Gebhuza says, "You can't go." Then Gebhuza says, what I don't say yet, Gebhuza says he'll take charge of security.Now I know Gebhuza, his concept of security was going to be such that if I was going to be arrested by the Security Branch there was going to be a fire fight. If you engage at eleven o'clock in the morning in a fire fight in the heart of Durban you can't expect to come out of it alive. So I have to tell Gebhuza, "You are not involved now. I want you out of this operation and I will take charge of security. The people who are going to secure me, I will make those arrangements. You are out, your job is to survive." If I left him to be involved it would have been a cowboy shootout.

POM     They might have got Harry too.

MM     And I looked at it and said this is puerile. How do you write it without becoming impossible, so I had to say as I recall this interview, there we were, two dedicated comrades trying to manoeuvre internally and doing so in such a way as to endanger our security to the point where we would have handed (ourselves to the enemy).

POM     The old adage or something that friends do more damage to each other than they do to their enemies.

MM     It's true. And yet I know it was a trap. Had I not gone, forever he would be telling the story that Mac chickened out and I go there and he agreed, in fact it was very funny, eleven o'clock in the morning and Harry is wearing his collar, he was semi-paralysed, and I make sure, I wait, I get a report that he is now in the consulting room and I walk in. I say, "How long have you got Harry?" He says, "I'm very busy, so can we meet for a maximum one hour. If we're not finished we can meet again." I said, "This is a one off meeting and I would like us to meet until we have finished the entire agenda otherwise there is no point in even starting. Agree that we disagree but we are going to finish the agenda."

POM     The discerning will and the non-discerning don't deserve to.

MM     We don't need this. We don't need it Padraig. When I went for the joint sitting, on the day of the joint sitting, both days after the session there was a finger lunch. A little later again I was looking in that direction and I could see he had spotted me but he turned his eye away. So I thought I will have some fun. Carried on talking to people and suddenly from the side, "Hi Mac, how are you?" But very loud. He has selected who I was standing with because I was standing with Blade Nzimande and Blade and I were talking like friends. The other one was Maria Ramos. So here Jeremy now comes and makes it very visible that he's … and as I'm greeting him I'm saying, you have to do this thing loudly, I'm already questioning him. There's something wrong with life. The comrades you've shared with suddenly are being seen by you with a sunscreen that is already asking what's behind it.

POM     He's probably saying, "You know, I had to appear before a disciplinary committee and Mac and I may be having something in common shortly."

MM     By the way, I stopped this one with this story, I was now reading Govan Mbeki and again I ran into problems because the problems are things that are just in the air. I just felt that after I had put in the part about Harry, I felt mentally exhausted.

POM     You have to do one at a time. It's like medication, you take one a day.

MM     The other one that's giving me a lot of problems is Siphiwe Nyanda. A lot of problems because you have pried open a can of worms because we're dealing with a man who is the Chief of Staff of the defence force and I suppose deep down I don't want you to ask about that.

POM     Isaw him 18 months ago but I asked him about that. I'll have to go back to him again and I will ask him. Mo said, "I've heard your version of Siphiwe and I don't agree. I think he played the game." I want to tell you when I read of Davidson, I went to the State Prosecutor, Blomkamp. As the State Prosecutor if he hated one person, he hated everyone in the State Security Council, not for what they stood for, it was because of the pomp and the falseness with which they bore themselves and their positions and all about them, who did they think they are? It was more of that kind of mentality than what they are trying to do. But they dovetail and it comes down to, and I have this now from two people who independently did not know I was contacting one or the other because it took me a long time to get the prosecutor because there is no record of the trial and I was looking for that. It was destroyed or thrown out or whatever but there's no record.

     He said, first of all the minister never tells the prosecutor what to do but other prosecutors, that's my territory you're getting into, I decide who is going to be charged. So first of all who is Kobie to tell me if I can or can't, and then he was called to a meeting where he had to sit outside the State Security Council and they made a decision. They made a decision that he would only be charged with firearms and he went bananas, "What the hell? What do you mean?" This is my case and you're going to tell me what I can do.

MM     You found the court record of that?

POM     There are none. I asked the guy and he said, "If you'd come to me a year ago I had all this stuff and I threw it all out."

MM     The problem is slightly different for me. I had no problem about, and I've accepted it, that I knew, even when I was in detention …But when they took me to the safe house they actually had retained the place such that you could see that somebody had laid on the bed on the eiderdown, on top of it, not under the eiderdown, and you could see the imprint. And without any hesitation they were able to say there's a false door to the basement. Who could have told them? But when they took me to the second place where I used to stay at times, Little John knew, the only other person who knew was Janet but Janet was not arrested. It's Gebhuza. I always, I still think I give him the benefit of the doubt. I give him the benefit of the doubt and that is that events had moved with such a speed that he had confidence that he was going to get indemnity.

POM     Everyone would get indemnity and it wouldn't make any difference.

MM     And he thought that I had already … For a person who's never been in the same situation such as I was in 1964, there I had learnt, you don't put up a fall guy unless you're absolutely sure that that person is out of reach. Here he was putting somebody within their reach but the mindset - but the second thing is this, because, I think I have mentioned that when I returned to the country –

POM     They were sending the equipment to the Western Cape.

MM     And he had committed them too. Janet was on her way, he was on his way and Little John now was heading for Durban, so you're using the same people and just using them around the country. The result is that everybody was getting to know them. So that already tells me that the mindset now came to one of a wrong application of …OK, be very careful.

POM     I would take a different reading of it. My reading would be that when Mandela went to FW, FW might have sent out an instruction, "I want this thing taken care of", picked up the message from Mandela and he sent a message down the line to Kobie, "Hey, whoever you have, I want this out of the way because it's going to cause trouble for all of us." And then he screwed it up.

MM     No. That's valid to a point, that Mandela on the 25th, Mandela comes from – Mandela sees FW.

POM     On the 19th, yes. He let them know that there's trouble coming.

MM     They followed it up with a subsequent meeting and repeatedly said … 17th 18th or 19th. He had become very angry with them, "I think it's time we mounted a campaign and I'm sick and tired of them saying that they're going to charge you for this." So it never got talked about because I said, "I owe you an explanation." We know the background of that but I am saying when FW and Kobie had to address this matter there was still at that stage now, the 19th, the possibility that they could do it and were busy asking themselves what is …? Obviously in the disks that they captured, Gebhuza included, there were disks that were encrypted that they couldn't get out and disks that were unencrypted. Now which ones are decrypted and which ones encrypted you couldn't work out. You had to run them to see. When I left the country he made his own enciphered notes of the addresses of the different places.

POM     Sorry, he?

MM     The addresses, he made his own notes of the exact positions. Now, sure, you have to keep a register of the different places but you didn't keep a register of addresses and you didn't have to use one coding system, you used different coding systems. Anyway the point I'm making about Gebhuza is that I don't have a hard feeling about him except that I have a mindfulness that he's the chief of the defence force.

POM     Well that's the way the cookie sometimes just crumbles, Mac. When I started Catherine, if I wanted to believe anybody I'd start with her. They gave her her boy friend from years and years ago and he had been shot. The point is all of it has been kept under cover.Do you know what? It's bad for democracy. Don't do it. It's bad for democracy.

MM     Purchase item by item. On one occasion they said to me, "Look, you need a suit." It's a deal. [So he then explained to me …But an informant is not a conscious … an unconsciousness because he would trade off … ]And Dr Dadoo would tell him what to say, so that way the relationship grew without the cop knowing that he is getting information which has been decided that should be given. He thinks he's a bit quicker but then because he ran the business he began to ask people to manage it and again that came from us. But in the process of all these conversations the printer would have …what do I do? And it's worked like a gem because I would go on a Friday, the policeman would go, the Security Branch would go and say, "Will you tell me when they are here?" In the meantime twelve hours before that …This is how he's working but here am I in detention now and he was one of my interrogators.

POM     The cop?

MM     Yes. And worse, on one day he is amongst the interrogators wearing a suit I have paid for. And the temptation, Padraig, the temptation while the others are torturing you and this guy is questioning you, just to say, "You fucking bastard." So powerful but you have to say to yourself, "Wait a minute, hey, that's not going to save my life." If you want to talk why are you wanting to talk and expose him? Do you think he's going to save you? No way. That realisation seldom comes because when you're breaking down if you allow the breakdown to develop naturally by the time you're breaking down it's too late for you, you're already into a … It can only happen if you can ask the question and prepare yourself, because the answer to that question doesn't pop up normally. There I was sitting at the trial and what gave me strength then was that while they were working on me to look at this guy I said to myself I could take you down at the drop of a hat, but you know what? I'm not taking you down. If you ignore all the questions that they are putting and you're only focusing on this guy and saying to yourself, "Chaps you don't know it but you really owe your very existence here today as a cop to me." What questions they're asking, I've been thinking about it, because you've converted something to give you an anchor to have some sense of service.

POM     You've empowered yourself because you have knowledge that you can kill me but, you know what, I can kill you too.

MM     I think this would be over Piet Beyleveld. Piet Beyleveld tells a story that he used to … Beyleveld to his dying day said he spoke because he saw -

POM     He saw?

MM     A statement made by this person, signed off by this person. Now Ruth First and I sat down, she said, "I made it." It was that statement which contained partial truth in it that made me try to commit suicide. That's when I realised, hey, I'm being caught out, I am breaking down but I have managed to pull myself from the brink. But they were not worried about whether they were showing Beyleveld the whole truth or the half truth. All they did was to show him the signature, don't you see Ruth First's handwriting? Now what is remarkable about Catherine, and it tells a separate story, that she never had a higher esteem for him because if she had had a high esteem for him that shock to her system would have been so big she wouldn't know what she was saying. She would be a mental cripple. It was because she never had full confidence in him that she was able to withstand that.

POM     The end of a chapter.

MM     The end of a chapter.

POM     Almost, almost. There is one sentence at the end of it which doesn't make an awful lot of sense. Just one sentence. Almost at the last page, page 33. It says, "What I was having a problem with was taking our equipment which was used for external communications which had to run through one point because otherwise there was no difference from everywhere else, each one with their own understanding." At the very end of page 33. "What I was having a problem with was taking our equipment which was used for external communication which had to run through one point (that's London) because otherwise we are no different from everywhere else, each one do your own understanding."

MM     According to your own understanding but still … formulation.

POM     Each one has to do their own thing which has to go through one point, London.London or Amsterdam.

MM     No, I think let's change it, even my amendment.It was used for external communication which had to run through and were known only at one point within the country.

POM     Which country?

MM     South Africa.If we dissipated the knowledge to various centres within SA –

POM     No, no, what I mean –

MM     He doth protest too much.

POM     No, what I am doing is the very opposite. This is what I am saying is that it dissipates the written word.

MM     You're dissipating my thoughts.

POM     OK. If we spread the knowledge.

MM     Within the country, the danger of the enemy breaking through into our system.

POM     The end of that chapter Mac.Now on Chapter 1, sorry the first one, "Starting Up", did you go through that?

MM     Isn't this called "Getting Going"? Let me just see where it's starting. The one that starts, "Vula was the logical conclusion."

POM     Yes.

MM     I can't say from my records.

POM     You haven't.

MM     I haven't?

POM     No.

MM     OK I will try and do that.

POM     OK, just one other thing. Let me just pull it up.

MM     Comments like the American, I said to contact Tony Mogalo, I can't remember his name.

POM     Put Slovo in the back of your mind.

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