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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

21 Jun 2004: Maharaj, Mac

POM     We're back on the SACP resignation. Twice it comes up, "Things got worse between Joe and me", you say this here. And then remember when you set up a meeting in December and you resigned, you said, "I'd had my arguments with Joe." But Joe keeps creeping in.

MM     Joe is a sort of omnibus word for Communist Party at times – but that's a contradictory statement.

POM     "Things got worse between Joe and me."He's pissing me off, you say. Whenever there's something to do fraught with danger: Mac will you do it? It's pissing me off. I'm saying, hey, when do I get a sense that somebody says I have to worry about Mac too, what was the number of times that he has to do - All right, that happens, press conference. Then you said, "Things got worse between Joe and I."

MM     There's a turning point with Joe post Groote Schuur. I think that's the meeting at which our relations really went down to rock bottom because I was –(break in recording)

POM     So the RC kind of brings together the London side and the African side under a central –

MM     Whatever was being done in London now gets the stamp of the RC and here whatever was being done by the ANC and MK gets the stamp of the RC.But before the RC was set up there was also the Wankie expedition. This side was also trying to do things at home.

POM     At that point where are the ANC headquarters located? Was it first in Dar Es Salaam?

MM     Yes, Tanzania, then it moves to Lusaka. The party head office, it's not clear where it is but London is doing something. Tanzania, J B Marks and Kotane are there but London continues to do party work until a point is reached where Dr Dadoo is in London, Joe Slovo is in London but Joe moves off to Maputo and Doc remains in London. So this work continues and here's Mabida in Swaziland. Mabida becomes General Secretary, the party office is set up here.

POM     The party office is in Maputo?

MM     Mabida then becomes General Secretary, settles in Maputo. So there is Mabida and JS are here, Dadoo is there.

POM     Dadoo is in?

MM     London. In the meantime the PB starts meeting in Maputo and sometimes in Lusaka and sometimes in Luanda where Dadoo would fly in.

POM     At what point then does the SACP move to Lusaka?

MM     JS moves to Lusaka, the Nkomati Accord.

POM     After the Nkomati Accord, yes.

MM     JS is here, Mabida has died, JS becomes General Secretary, Dadoo has died and Lusaka becomes the SACP head office.

POM     Got it. You'd be a great teacher.

MM     The composition of the party –

POM     Maps to accompany this recording. You said London always had?

MM     Several advantages. There was a lot of movement of people between London and South Africa. You must realise that that movement was more on the white side. Over the years in the post-sixties period quite a few black people began to travel via UK backwards and forwards to South Africa, going home to study, etc. That was a huge infrastructure connection, ships would leave London to SA, flights direct from London to SA, so those advantages were there. In the meantime when Mozambique became independent there was a huge advantage of the sympathy of Mozambique but there was no infrastructure, that road from Maputo to … was an atrocious route, 73 kms but you would have to take two hours to do it.

     On the other hand Zambia was relatively safe but it was far away for the South African Pretoria regime to attack unless it went by aircraft but at the same time for us too it was too far away to reach home. Angola, because of the strong support of the Angolan government, because of its war situation and history of South Africa's attack, support of the local population was strong, military facilities were stronger, ships from Moscow were docking directly in Luanda, whereas Maputo was not so close to the Soviet Union in terms of ideologies and a Soviet ship had to come right round the coast of Africa. So each one had its strengths and its weaknesses.

     Botswana, which closed half its eye to our activities had a very long border with Zambia, so that became very convenient for moving in and out. Swaziland which may have been tiny and landlocked, one side had a border with Mozambique and you could very easily slip over into Swaziland and from Swaziland into SA, whereas the Mozambique border was through the Kruger National Park. So we had toexploit each of those advantages in the way we organised ourselves.

POM     I've spoken to a lot of people and I think I may have located exactly where you were on the 12th. I came upon the thing in the communications last night of travel arrangements for Theo to leave, I assume it was Moscow, and to arrive in Johannesburg on the 11th.

MM     It does make sense.

POM     You either landed on the 11th and then stayed in a hotel overnight. That would be the instructions. Then meet with Marion or somebody? Who was Marion? I think I located a flight number.

MM     So it means I would have arrived that evening –

POM     But if you were coming in from Moscow how would you fly?

MM     I would come in via India. If I came in from India I would have landed at about -

POM     Would there be a direct flight?

MM     SAA, Air India or SAA was flying via Port Louis in Mauritius, it would have a stopover at Mauritius.

POM     What time would you get in?

MM     Going out I remember one occasion taking a flight at five, six a.m., which means that the flight would have arrived the day before.

POM     Where would you have been? In a hotel room?

MM     I have a memory of seeing the thing on television, certainly of seeing the meeting addressed by Madiba from the balcony where Cyril was holding the microphone.

POM     That would have been a couple of hours after his release.

MM     That took place in dusk already.

POM     I'll locate it down, I'll pull the papers.

MM     You can see now the alternatives that might have happened, I might have broken off my journey, I might have delayed it by a day or two. I think there were every day flights starting in Bombay, Mumbai, or I could have interrupted my journey and stopped over for some reason, just a security reason, because I knew the terrain, my arrangements would be that I would go to a hotel and that's where contact would be established, I didn't want anybody to come to me. Hotel rooms all the time.

POM     Holiday Inns. When I used to travel a lot I would always stay in Holiday Inns because every Holiday Inn room is the same all over the world so if you wake up at night and you've got to piss you just step out of the bed and walk blindly, take a left and take a right and you're there.

MM     What I remember, the funny thing is, I remember one hotel in Delhi the time when I had my shoulder problem, I remember one hotel in Bombay. And the reason why I remember the Bombay one, the Delhi one I remember for the massage that a youngster gave me which got me going again, I just thought I couldn't make it, I couldn't last another hour and that young boy massaged me and put me right. But in Mumbai I was looking for a hotel and I get to this hotel, the taxi driver, bus driver takes me and drops me there and he recommends it.But I get into the seediest joint, I've seldom stayed in a more seedy hotel, but not only is it seedy, it's clear this is a place for people to meet prostitutes and mistresses. It had a round bed but it was untidy. I remember sitting it out there and saying, "Oh God, how could I do this to be in such a hotel. If I can use a first class ticket why can't I go and stay in a decent hotel."

POM     Dipak Patel, he was in the structures, he was?

MM     Dipak Patel was in the structures that we called Pravin Gordhan, community activist, part of Pravin's structures for several years, also a great man for physical fitness, for karate.

POM     What do you remember of him, what can you pull up in your mind?

MM     Outside of his commitment, and his commitment was a strong drive to get involved in military work, but at the same time he had this strong push that everything had to be explained and absorbed and understood by him in a theoretical framework. Without a theoretical framework he would be badgering you all the time. An activity that he was engaged in didn't really jell in his mind until you helped him through discussion to locate it in his general theoretical framework, sometimes to the point where we used to laugh at each other. I used to say that if he falls in love with a woman he also wants that love affair explained in terms of Marxism/Leninism.

POM     That just reminds me of the great cartoon they had about the Irish Prime Minister who had a reputation of – he had an academic background, big fuzzy head and always sitting with his advisors, and the cartoon has him looking at something they presented to him. He is saying, "Yes, yes, yes, I know it works in practice but the question is does it work in theory?"

MM     Exactly, you're quite right. Other than that he was a person – well it's perfectly in keeping with that, a bit like me, understanding, he had that streak of rationality which said if that's the understanding then I have to change my behaviour to accord with my understanding. And sometimes he went to extremes to understand, to have that understanding. But Dipak was working by that time for SA Breweries, he got his training as a brewer, he had a good job, but having got now into MK and started getting training on the ground he put me under intense pressure to guide him and advise him and it was clear what he wanted: his question was, shouldn't I leave my job and be full time in the underground? Now until I said it's OK the question kept cropping up all the time.

POM     Eventually did you say - ?

MM     Eventually once I said OK he was very happy, he gave up his job at S A Breweries.

POM     Now how did somebody in the underground, how did you support people in the underground?

MM     We began to give him a salary.

POM     This brings me back almost to the thing you brought up in the sixties, everything is falling apart over your head and you say, "Hey, hold on here, if you're a white guy and you live in Dunkeld you get an allowance of R1000 and if I'm an Indian living in Doornfontein I get R100? Is this equality?" How did you –?

MM     We avoided that.

POM     You had to pay him though to maintain where he was living, to live where he was?

MM     He was living with his parents. He wanted a meagre allowance. It was minimal what it was costing us. People like myself, Gebhuza, we never got pocket money, everything was covered, food, rent, travelling. As I said, the one luxury was my bottle of brandy a month, so there was no question that I wanted anything. If my pants got torn and there was no pants left I'd get another pair but that didn't mean I could have a huge wardrobe, I'm living in the bloody underground. So our immediate needs were taken care of.

POM     Now who was in charge of that?

MM     We didn't have to have – at that stage of our structures the number of people were too small to require somebody to be in charge. Gebhuza would say, "Well, Catherine needs so much." We had an idea of what sounded reasonable.

POM     How did the money flow? Say you were getting let's say R30,000, that's a ballpark figure, some is coming from the party, some is coming from the ANC. The ANC had it allocated to its budget under OR or whatever, so how did it leave Lusaka and reach you?

MM     Whether it was party money, ANC money it got combined at some point to a person in the UK.

POM     The money was sent to a bank account are you saying?

MM     The RC structure, JS would just go to London and arrange and give the money to Tim Jenkin.

POM     Somebody has to make a bank transfer.

MM     No, we would get the money from bank transfers, not necessarily from Lusaka. We had accounts in London. The ANC treasury operated with accounts all over, even in Switzerland, Holland. So I don't know where the money would come from.

POM     How would it arrive?

MM     It would go one route. It would go to Tim Jenkin. Jenkin would go and give it to the stewardess, Nightingale.

POM     This is the cash?

MM     Cash. Nightingale would bring it over to Jo'burg. I would take that money, that would be pounds or dollars, I would take that money and cash it on the black market in SA, cash it through my contacts in Hillbrow, through my contacts in Durban, through Mo, through Schabir, whoever, but get a discount. In those days on the black market you got a higher rate than the banks. You read the communications, I'm trying to change the money at 15% premium, I'm hoping to get 20% premium. Now that was the one route but it's clear that by –

POM     Did you cash it all at one time? Where did you hide it?

MM     Wherever I am staying.

POM     You were carrying around a bag of cash?

MM     Stashed in a house, in a briefcase, in a plastic bag, in the toilet, wherever.

POM     So you kept it?

MM     Yes.

POM     So you were the bag man?

MM     No, no. You mean I kept it? I would go to Yusuf Mahommed, "Here, keep this money for me in the pharmacy." Now he's a pharmacist, he can shove it into his bank account, he can withdraw it. Every time I need money –

POM     What about your friend, the guy you went to school with in Natal, the golfer, the doctor whose car you took for three weeks?

MM     Never gave him the money, lawyer, trust accounts, they've got to explain. You're looking for people who are shopkeepers.

POM     OK, so you've got Yusuf, who else?

MM     Yusuf Mahommed. That was about it. It didn't need a big infrastructure. Through contacts in Durban, I had no different place, people to change. Now in Jo'burg Yusuf Mahommed, I'd say, "Yusuf, what's the rate going on the black market?" He's living in Hillbrow so he knows all the gangsters and the crooks. He says, "I know a certain person, he can give you the prices." "I don't want to do it here. Can you change it?" OK he'll change it. In fact we'd write off accounts like that, we never did – you'll see correspondence there too, hey, this has come from Mo's side, I know there's a communication there where Gebhuza is complaining, he says he's short of money. And I say, "Listen, go and ask Mo. Tell Mo he owes me money and just tell him to give it to you and we'll sort it out later, I'll sort it out somewhere." And this went on like that but the actual changing of the foreign currency into South African bank notes took place illegally in the black market here. We preferred it that way because we couldn't have the movement tainted for doing on the black market in London but here to do it was not a problem. I would report back, I would say to the organisation, "I've changed your £20,000 on the black market, on the budget you were supposed to give me R50,000 but I managed to get R55,000." Nobody batted an eyelid, there was no Bulelani Ngcuka to look at us!

     But there is a report, it seems while I was abroad and towards my re-entry stage that Mo's contact was in Habib Bank and there is a report which indicates that some money from Zuma had to be put into the Vula channels and then be put into Habib bank account and transferred to somebody that Mo knew in Habib bank for him to retrieve here on the ground.

POM     You said what bank?

MM     Habib.

POM     I was about to get into that with Yunus about the money, that's the interesting part, coming in or going out, and how they kind of washed it and got it returned to him. In three and a half hours, Yunus Shaik, three and a half hours, the tape ran out and I actually said, "OK, maybe we should call it a night."

     So is there anything else about Dipak? He was one of your stalwarts.

MM     Oh yes, he was one of the people who was prepared to work night and day but, as I say, he went so far as to give up his job.

POM     Now when he went into MK would he be involved in the training of others?

MM     He had not yet reached the point where he could train others. He was being trained by us in the underground and he was developing, he was clearly earmarked at some stage after we had done some training and he'd been active here to send him out for officer training.

POM     Mpho Scott?

MM     I didn't have very much direct dealings with Mpho Scott. I certainly was party to making him Joint Secretary with Pravin based on the record and the reputation that he had acquired. My dealings with him were mainly on the occasions where a meeting took place with the Durban Leadership Committee.

POM     Now he was also MK?

MM     As far as we were concerned everybody who joined the underground ipso facto became a member of MK but may be deployed in a certain area of work which may be focused on the party side but your commitment was there that you are ready to serve MK as well.

POM     You mentioned him before in the context of the conflict in KZN where you came down from, they wanted arms and you came down and said no arms. There would have been pressure on him because he was in the community but you didn't say don't get involved because he had to get involved.

MM     Yes, but we had to say you've got a bigger responsibility of how you get involved. You have to avoid being involved in such a way that at the mass level you are in a leading position and therefore become more vulnerable to state action where that action against you simultaneously is a flaw against the underground. Play a role but play a low key role at the lowest level. There is a communication there that's very interesting too. It tells me something about myself … but I was capable at times of writing back very diplomatically.

POM     Of writing very diplomatically, and that surprised you?

MM     Yes it surprised me. In response to that request for arms, there's a response dealing with a lot of things and a very gingerly diplomatic response. It's not saying fuck off you're not getting arms but it's trying to say on this information, on what basis do you say this is going to happen, that's going to happen? But for the rest I know I'm saying schedule a meeting, I'm coming down. Now it's in a meeting that I can be very rude but when I'm writing I can be diplomatic.

POM     When you started that I thought Mac is going to say, "I found some flaw in myself when I read that", but you found virtue.

MM     I didn't. I was two faced, it's not virtue, it's a sin.

POM     What happened to him? Where is he now?

MM     He was an MP and he retired from government I think post-1999 and he's in business.

POM     Who was in the wheelchair?

MM     Jabu Sithole.

POM     Jabu. He's at the university up in - ?

MM     Natal. The mathematician. He used to be at that time at the University of Natal.

POM     That's where I saw him. Mpho Scott, we did Mpho.

MM     Yes, that's the one we talked about already.

POM     We talked about him now? We talked about Mpho Scott? We did, OK.

MM     Jabu, as I said before I told you all the anecdotes about him, I used to call him Cherry.

POM     That's Jabu? Because?

MM     Because he wanted vigour in your reasoning, in your logic, but he wanted aterseness to it. Things were black or white, no in between for Jabu. X is equal to six, or X is equal to ten. He didn't like X is equal to or less than ten.

POM     So you say that as a mathematician he didn't like a multi-varied analysis where you had exogenous and endogenous variables around each other.

MM     Exactly, he preferred, he wanted a certain crispness. Not a man of many words.

POM     Now he was disabled at that point, right?

MM     Yes he was disabled.

POM     So in what function did he work?

MM     He was amazingly active. On the community level, I mean we picked him up for his record of community activities.

POM     The people who would be community activities would be Pravin's people.

MM     Pravin's people, Mpho's people. Jabu's people, Billy's people. Everybody was community activists. Vuso Tshabalala's people.

POM     Vuso Tshabalala. Who was going to become the General along with – went into the military along with Vuso?

MM     That's Jabu, that's another Jabu. I'll show you where he is.

POM     Solly Shoke. He wasn't caught?

MM     Here are some outstanding names.

POM     OK we'll get to them but let's first go through. Solly.

MM     Solly. Solly is the guy who became Transvaal Urban Machinery with Gebhuza. Shortly after we entered the country he was in a hideout. South African forces attacked that place. They literally popped them with a chopper, seriously injured him, the walls were spattered with blood. His children were in the house with him but in the end the way he fought back, the SA forces were coming - he was sent out for medical treatment.

POM     Did they get his family with him?

MM     They survived. They wanted him. They went off for medical treatment in the Soviet Union. It took him almost a year of treatment. As soon as he was reasonably better the structures were informed that he's better and they called for him. He arrived in the country early in 1990, before I got back and I met him then when I got back.

POM     Was he staying in the Gauteng area, Transvaal area?

MM     He was in Johannesburg, Transvaal area. He was being earmarked for Transvaal.

POM     What I was saying was, was most or all of the MK training done in the Natal region?

MM     We were only beginning now to set up structures in the Transvaal. My insistence would have been still – have we got a good political committee? Without that political base I'd be very hesitant because what work are we going to do militarily and we've got to find places for storage and that doesn't need too many people. It means more political people with connections, with contacts, network, where's a place going up for rent, where's a place owned by somebody that can give us access to it, is it amenable to a basement, etc., and can we put up a basement with all the technical requirements to keep those explosives stable? Secondly, we begin to start training people on the ground. Who would find the people? The politicals would. So I would be insisting on the way that you approached it, a different way, find the political roots at the base, create your tentacles in the communities and then from there you are able to draw people knowing who you are drawing; you're not just taking the first one that says I want to fight. So Transvaal, we'd be very careful. Up to the time of my going out to meet OR I'm keeping the Transvaal, just beginning to move and worried about the level of confusion capable of being generated because Transvaal has been organised through Botswana, it's been organised through Zimbabwe, it's been organised through Swaziland, it's been organised through Lesotho and each of them, unknown to the other, organising the same person. I'm also saying security-wise I don't know who's an enemy agent and who's not.

POM     This is the problem you raised with the guy on going out in East Germany and you said about the training.

MM     I wrote to OR and I said well, now that we've started in Natal, I'm very hesitant how we move into the Transvaal. You people have to sort out a problem outside because if there's contact with Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, with Lesotho and we jump in, we're just endangering ourselves for nothing.

POM     So each of those structures in Mozambique and Swaziland and wherever, they would be reporting back in their own way to the PMC.

MM     To the PMC.

POM     Did you face a problem of a different kind insofar as that in Johannesburg you had the Sydney Mufamadis, you had the Jay Naidoos, the Valli Moosas, the Cyril Ramaphosas and you couldn't use any of them for covert work?

MM     I could use them for covert work but I would have to weigh the implications if they got caught because of the covert work; what are the implications for the mass organisations they were leading?

POM     That's what I mean, and very high profile.

MM     For example, I think I told you, Sydney Mufamadi came to me one day and said there's a problem, some comrades –

POM     We had that one, they wanted money.

MM     That was a group who had come in from outside. I think it was part of MK's Operation Iziko. … gave them money, R1500 each you'll get in the country but when the R1500 is used up what do they do next? So they said, "Oh I know Sydney Mufamadi or I've heard of him, we'll go to him." And he, to avoid getting enmeshed says, "Where can I get the money?" and gives it to get rid of them, but his heart says I can't just tell them no. So you get drawn into that but that was a small aspect of nature. That didn't mean I didn't draw them into underground work. I mean I said to Sydney, Mike Roussos, Momo, "Chaps this escape from Modder B", Modderfontein Prison of Valli and them, "must take place.I don't care whether it's legal or illegal, that must take place and you guys take responsibility for that." I don't want a situation where ten people are talking about it but there's nobody putting it together and driving it to a conclusion. Each of the ten people are doing some little bit but who is sitting down coordinating everything and driving it?

POM     That's when you brought in the SACP, right? So Solly you didn't really know.

MM     Solly I didn't know, I know of his record and I know of him. I met him on the ground, I knew that Gebhuza and he were very close and that he had a good military record.

POM     Catherine?

MM     I told you the joke about how when she comes in and I get there. I'm debriefing Catherine about all the NEC members until she realises that she's the one that tells me that, "Oh Mac Maharaj, we are told he's dying."

POM     Sorry Mac, you'll have to speak up a little.

MM     I think I told you the story that when I was debriefing Catherine after she had been in the country for about a week or two, I get to Durban and I'm debriefing her while I'm working at my computer and I'm asking her about all the people in Lusaka and Angola and in exile, all the people in the NEC and in the middle of that I come to Mac Maharaj, and she says, "Well comrade, you know, that's a very tragic case. I don't know what's the truth but he seems to be dying." So I said, "Why do you say you don't know the truth?" "Well in the camps in Angola the story is that he's been drinking too much and that drinking has affected his liver so he's dying." But she said, "I don't know if it's the truth because in Lusaka I heard that the smoking has gone to his brain and he's gone mad, so that's the problem." And then I carried on talking about others and at some stage Gebhuza then walked in and he sat on the bed behind me, I'm working away here and she's sitting that side and I'm talking. Suddenly, obviously her mind is churning, "Who is that character? He seems to know all these people in exile but I've never seen him, I've never heard about him. He doesn't fit with my image of all the names that I've heard in SA in the struggle." This thing is churning through and she sees that Gebhuza walks in, he's reporting to me and she realises, "Shit man! Don't tell me that this is Mac." And she bursts out in Xhosa to Gebhuza and Gebhuza bursts out laughing and she says, "Please comrade, I'm very sorry, I didn't mean those things that I said about you."

     Again for the rest, having debriefed her, discussed where she should be working, very little contact except that the reports show that here was a comrade of the younger generation, the post-1976 generation, who had become very intimately involved in the grassroots struggle in Alexandra, got out, did her military training, came back but it was very easy in discussion with her to get her to understand the primacy of the need for political organisation and structure, and yet a young person wants fighting, wants to participate in the fighting. So very strong commitment, outstanding, and it's more a comment on me when I say a female comrade who was so outstanding because you could see here was somebody who can hold her own in an environment where no matter how much you talked about non-sexism the assumption still was that the good guy, the good leader was a male, but Catherine could hold her own. So that's all I can say about her. I didn't have much more contact with her.

POM     Tim Jenkin?

MM     Tim can be very deceptive because there is very little of that sense of charisma, drive, call it what you want. With Tim you get a sense of a very laid back guy and yet when you get to know him he's actually intellectually an extremely restless guy. He's always, always seeing things from what's this thing's potential but he doesn't make a song and dance about it. Only with him could you have had the Pretoria escape because he was collecting every little bit of thing that he could find, that came his way, without knowing that it had any relevance to the escape but he was collecting it and only later on as the things begin to fall in place and he needed that part it was there because he had collected it. And even with the communications when we got him involved he was already thinking that, he was already trying to move the London structures. All he needed was an environment in which that restless, that searching mind that he's got, could just take root. Politically, he would have those operations but he would keep it to himself, he would be very gentle about it, not an in-fighter about it. So there's a streak of tenacity in Tim that you don't see on the surface of the guy, just as there's a streak of restlessness in him that again you don't see. He comes across as very phlegmatic, laid back. He doesn't laugh, he doesn't cry. The sort of guy that I want to catch by the scruff of his neck and shake him up and say at least laugh or cry but don't just stay deadpan. He is deadpan but I used to excuse it on the basis that he also needs very powerful spectacles to see and I think that that accounts for the lack of expression in the eyes. But that's Tim.

     He's restless and he's inquisitive, not restless, his inquisitiveness is such that if he does something and he finds it works he's not going to be satisfied, if that has become his task he's going to be constantly looking for improvement. So we worked extraordinarily well in the communications because where I would be looking at and supporting new environmental frameworks and, like I said to Tim, we don't have to go to a hotel room, we can do it from a call box. He said, "Shit! Your message is getting cut because the coins are falling." Within a few weeks he said, "I've sorted that problem, the coin dropping interruption will not take place." I said, "But I've sorted it from my side, I can buy a card", I found machines with a card. So what I'm saying, I'm saying the environment and he's not stopping, he's looking for new ways to do things. That's Tim. What I called restlessness is actually inquisitiveness.

POM     Ronnie Press?

MM     Ronnie Press I didn't deal with him directly. I knew of him from the treason trial days. In the London period I'm not so sure that we met more than once and that would have been at a social occasion.

POM     Where was he located?

MM     I think Cardiff was one and then he was at one stage living in north London but, as I say, his wife was very disabled and the result was that Ronnie was not up and about all over functions and social events. But from the background and from the equipment that we were developing for communications I could see that, and often Tim would say, "Well Ronnie is working on this direction".In these test communications we did it at Tim's flat and Ronnie's place. And Ronnie, I also know that Ronnie was part of the technical team in the days of Jack Hodgson who had settled in London. Now Jack had served in the second world war, Desert Rats, and technical innovator. Ronnie Press was part of that technical team and they developed the leaflet bomb technique.

POM     They did?

MM     Yes. Jack and Ronnie Press. It was in Jack's time that that leaflet bomb was developed and got to work. So the brains behind those, that leaflet bomb, was somewhere between Jack and Ronnie. Ronnie brought a very sharp mind of a physicist to it, a meticulousness and sometime over cautiousness. He and Tim made a good balance that brought rigour in that report Pursuit of Objectives and they had the tenacity to solve the problems.

POM     Now you have the three women. Claudia Manning, Selina Pillay and the third was –

MM     You mean who went for training? Kamy I didn't know. The third one who went for training for intelligence.

POM     The other two were drivers?

MM     There was intelligence, I worked with them in processing of intelligence, I worked with them where they were co-drivers for me but the others were people like Farieda who worked as my companion and co-driver.

POM     Who?

MM     Farieda Jadwad, I showed you her photo yesterday. Then there was a woman whose name I can't remember at the moment, I'm trying to recall her name, she is married to Cas Coovadia at the Banking Council. She was at that time not married to Cas but she used to also accompany me. What was her name? Kamilla and Claudia were involved with the intelligence side also. Farieda was more on the mass organisation side as well. I've said enough about each of them. Haven't I told you many times about them?

POM     No.

MM     Hasn't Claudia told you about this fucking shit who would argue with her?

POM     Yes she told me about you but I want you to tell me about her.

MM     She told you about me, she tells nothing about herself. Did she tell you how she was driving one day on the highway and we had an argument, we were heading to Durban. We had an argument, it was over the role of the intelligence where she was curious, asking me questions on what we're doing, etc., "You work for intelligence." This led to which is more important, I said intelligence first. It led to a huge argument in the car. She became very agitated and she was driving and I felt the argument had gone far enough, I just turned the passenger seat down and went to sleep. The next thing I just woke up when she had driven through a huge storm on the highway and I just heard her scream and bring the car to a halt because you literally could not see the way it was raining. The windscreen wipers were battling away but you couldn't see. So I said to her, "What's wrong? Why have you stopped in the middle of the highway." "I can't see." I said, "Get out of this car, let me drive." It was storming so much that I had to jump over the seat to get to the back and she was going to move to the other passenger seat.I start the car and I start driving and I look at the petrol tank, empty. I don't know where we are and I say to her, "Claudia, what the fuck are you doing? What sort of driver are you? The petrol tank is empty." She said she didn't notice. I say, "You didn't notice because we had an argument and as a result of that argument you forgot your fucking job. Your job is to get me safely there, you're a wonderful intelligence officer." And then I found an off-ramp saying Heathcote in southern Natal, went on the off-ramp, went to a garage, filled up and went off to Durban. But Selina was always curious and wanting to argue everything.

POM     Ronnie tells a funny story about the drive down to Durban when he ran out of gas and you were in such a bad temper with him or whatever that you were sleeping and he dared not wake up you and say he'd run out of gas so he stopped, got a lift to a garage, got a bucket at the garage and came back and poured it in and got down to the garage and took off and never told you about it.

MM     It tells you that to me – but in contrast to Claudia, Selina was the opposite, quiet, if she was given a task she took it very seriously, like Claudia but no enquiry except she couldn't understand what I'm doing, she couldn't understand the things I do, the people I meet. You see as co-drivers, one of them would drive me, accompany me to Jo'burg. I put them in a hideout and I'd seldom use them to meet people. But, for example, Joe of the pharmacy, he's from Natal, he knew Claudia, he knew Selina, they all knew each other, so I would take Claudia to Hillbrow, you drive, and you, because you're driving in a rough area so I want the car to be safe so I want you to go to park in Hillbrow High Point basement. Why? Oh I know Joe. OK, come with me and meet Joe, he'll be happy to meet you. Selina next trip, "I've got to see Joe because he's like my eyes and ears in Hillbrow", I say, "We're going to see him in his flat." They greet each other. The next time it was about seven, half past seven at night, Selina goes to Joe, she says, "I'm going to sit in the car." We've arrived at the basement, in the middle of Hillbrow High Point building, shady characters even in the car park and she now says she won't come up to the flat."I don't like Yusuf's company, the people he's got around him and the way he drinks." I said, "Selina, are you now becoming a burden on me that I have to worry who's going to assault you in this car in the basement? Or are you there to protect me to go up with me to see Yusuf? Is your morality now a big issue here?" I used to joke with her. "No I'm not coming up there, I'll sit in the car." So I said, "Get off the driver's seat", I go to the driver's seat, I race back to Northcliff, got into the building, a granny flat, I said, "Jump off", she says, "Where you're going?" I said, "I'm going to carry on work but I do not want to do work when I have to worry about safety. So goodnight, see you later."So I always tease her, I say the moral voice of the underground was Selina.

POM     And Yusuf?

MM     If ever I found somebody in Jo'burg in the environment of Hillbrow, here was a streetwise guy who knew everybody and everything happening in Hillbrow and it didn't matter who you were, whether you were police, security branch structures, to the gangsters, prostitutes, pimps, Yusuf knew them all.

POM     They all had prescriptions to fill, legal or illegal. Now how many disguises did you use?

MM     I kept a consistent appearance for Johannesburg.

POM     You were one person?

MM     One person, I had a persona for Johannesburg.

POM     You were known as? Did you carry a passport?

MM     I very quickly found it that you didn't need to carry an ID book.

POM     OK not an ID, like a drivers licence, what would that be in the name of?

MM     I don't remember. First of all I would have one drivers licence fitting the name. Now what name? I think I used two names; a name inside the organisation, so it was like an organisational name that didn't need a passport or anything.Comrades knew me by that name, not as Mac. I don't know whether it was Solly or something like that. Then I would have a name which none of them are aware of which is on my drivers licence so that if I'm stopped by the authorities that's the name. I would not sit in the same car with Momo, I would not sit in the same car with Yusuf Mahommed, with Valli. You don't see me with them, you don't see me socialising with them. I would meet Momo in the hideout, pre-arranged spots.

POM     When you say hideout, are you talking about one of the flats?

MM     Yes, we had three houses. Or sometimes a hotel.

POM     Or a hotel room. So you can't remember the name you had? You had a disguise for every name?

MM     No.

POM     But you had many names.

MM     Look, I had one appearance for Jo'burg. That's how Momo and them all saw me. But that appearance also appeared in my drivers licence with a different name. Generally speaking I tried to have that appearance slightly different from my appearance in Durban where in my ordinary movements and my travelling and there it's a different name I'm using.

POM     A different drivers licence.

MM     Drivers licence and I'm using a different name with the comrades.

POM     So you'd have one name for the comrades in Natal, one name for the comrades here, and then how many names did you have for communications?

MM     It would change. I'm now finding name after name as we look at these communications. Several names are there.

POM     In my head I was conceptualising that not only did you have a one-off password, you had a changing encryption. Now did you also have changing names for locations, for places, for times? For example, Jo'burg was always Jessie was it, or did it have five or six names?

MM     Jessie was for communications, it was not for face to face discussions. I would on an ad hoc basis have a name say with Momo with whom I had a pager communication to say I'm in town. In fact I would not even say to Momo I'm in town. I'd page him and he would know that that paging message means, "Meet me."

POM     In terms of communications did you vary the names of Johannesburg or was it always Jessie?

MM     I would have a different name for Johannesburg with Momo and I'd have a different name for Johannesburg with somebody else by association.

POM     What I mean is you're sending a message to OR –

MM     No, for OR Jessie stayed, no we did change it.

POM     … was Durban.

MM     Would be Durban. What's worrying me is that there is a reference where OR says,, "I will inform Govan that we have an agency attending to that area, attending to Groces", now that sounds like Durban again. There was no need to change the name Jessie, if he changed the code it could still go. That was sufficient.

POM     But you were using different names yourself.

MM     For myself because suppose the guy gets caught, he doesn't know what my real name is, and he talks and he says, "Yes I did meet a chap called Mark." They say, "What did he look like?" And even if he says he looks like this and he has wavy black hair and does not wear spectacles and he's clean-shaven. How is he dressed? Well he dresses in casual clothes but they're always neat. What does he do? The thing about these photographs is they're stripped of clothing, they're just the face, that's it. So if they are looking for the chap now, not to be distracted by the rest of the appearance that may be used, just focus on the face and see if you can identify the person. So that's what they did.

POM     Are these the 87 people that – it's quite an album here.

MM     The police would accumulate an album and whenever they caught somebody –

POM     644.

MM     Be that as it may I'm trying to recall, the approach was … I didn't do all those disguises but it's clear …He came in five sets of disguises.

POM     You used the minimum.

MM     The minimum because I think that you can't …to merge into the next one. What happens is three sets of disguises taking me from younger than what I am to substantially older. You can see, the pictures are there, radical changes and you wanted radical changes sometimes with the same name.

POM     Those were?These two photographs are Mr O'Reilly?

MM     Yes. Now the two different people and they will put you with a police catalogue without the head, or even with the head. It doesn't matter if you don't say the name but you would come and say …One, two, two names, three appearances, three, four days, five at best.

POM     Then he'd be carrying multiple, not just passports, but drivers licences. Now the drivers licences didn't have photographs then did they?

MM     Yes they did have. But the point about it is, I'm saying all of them were found in one briefcase.

POM     You must have had a busy morning.

MM     It appears to me that they couldn't find a photograph, a document or anything. The only photograph they could produce … If they caught me with … I didn't store everything in one place. I said this is the place of storage for Durban. In my hideout, this is my identity, this is my appearance there, this is the disguise equipment that stays there. Nothing else stays there, only those pieces that fit in to that (location). I can't have a situation where, it's an old problem and the one I mentioned about Ronnie when he came in, he's got a passport to allow him to come through the airport. What's the point of that? If they find that it doesn't matter what your passport is. You haven't got a licence for that pistol. So whereas the passport would have let you through but the gun has neutralised the passport. When you're reading these records you find that all this would have to be one briefing in one place.

POM     All his disguises and –

MM     The whole thing. If you managed to run away from that car while they're transporting you, you've got no appearance left.

POM     Momo.After the SACP constitution, so I wouldn't do that yet Mac.

MM     I've seldom come across a person more resourceful than Momo. He was hiding from the police. But the thing is that when Ismail Ayob began to, I said, "Where do I find anybody who's on the run? How are you going to call us?" He began to write down, and that he could reach, as he put names - there were about six names on the list. I racked my mind and I said, "Find Momo, find him." I had a vague impression from others over the years that here was a guy who was very active, unassuming and in a quiet way he talks. So I called him and I met him. He fitted that picture but what was remarkable about him was that even though he was being sought by the police he had learnt to shape his life in such a way that he would be always touching base with people and being in touch no matter how much they were on the run too. Momo had his tentacles out and would register the information. Who? Oh he's in hiding but I think I can find him through so-and-so. So he had that sort of mind, that resource basis. It didn't mean that he was meeting them but he knew how he can find them.

     The second quality he had is that he never, never, not once, missed an appointment or was late for an appointment. Never. It didn't matter what time I called him and I never had to tell Momo that, look, I'm going out of town I will be back in three days time. I would arrive and I'd send him a pager message to say meet me at seven, and we had an arrangement that whatever time we put on the pager was not the real time. We had a rule, and I preferred the rule which said if I say seven, subtract one, I mean six. My reason was don't add one, it always had to be a subtracted number. If ever the police detected you if they take your time as genuine and they get to that venue, suppose they detect the venue, an hour later they might still be hanging round so you've got to do a deduction by hour to hour, half an hour, three quarters of an hour, one and a half hours, but always deduct for it. By the time the police get to that venue you're gone. Momo was always on time and there isn't a person that I asked Momo to find for me in Jo'burg that he didn't go and find them. He found them. That was Momo, but of course it meant that by nature he would be very nosey.

POM     Well there are different kinds of nosey.

MM     And he's such a nosey person.

POM     You were just looking at the photo album, looking at some of the people.

MM     In a loop and suddenly you're out of the loop.

POM     How many people were involved in the different structures of Vula, whether they're the political structures or the military structures or the people who were ferrying arms?

MM     I've given you that, I think I told you that.

POM     No.

MM     Some time ago. I would say Durban area, the magisterial area of Durban.

POM     You told me their organisation.

MM     As I look at these photographs confined to Durban - the arrests took place, the arrest of Charles Ndaba, identification of Charles Ndaba. When the arrests took place through the accidental identification of Charles Ndaba, Charles and Mbuso, because …I actually worked on the basis that within a year's time our … would have been burnt. I wouldn't know where Gebhuza stayed, he wouldn't know where I stayed. That was for security. If the heat was really turned on and you literally had to lead an existence by sitting in a rat hole and just sitting there and waiting for the wind to blow over and say, now, now, can I stick up my antennae. Then I would know that if I sit it out … the people that I'm staying with, I can say to them, "Please just hold contact." So that I know that JN knows somebody who knows where Gebhuza is and Gebhuza knows that if he goes to JN, JN would know where I could be found. But without this … Now that was for when the real crunch has come.

POM     Why then wouldn't you hold one disguise that neither of you knew the other to have so that you could walk out of your hideout with a new identity that absolutely nobody knew at all, period?

MM     Because you can have a disguise but real life that doesn't give you to put on that disguise in your own time and leisure. The events unfold at their own pace.

POM     But you know where the safe house is? It's in your safe house. When you get there you say, "OK, this is my change, I chose this stuff coming out, nobody knows what I chose."

MM     But it's just as easy for me, because I've been told, for instance in my case, the house that was found was a doctor's home. A young couple and children, two years, three, four years old, but they had a building with structures, I could live in a room with hardly anybody else coming into the house and seeing me. For me that fallback, yes it would have been a real bonus if I could have had another week, but my tactical life had shown that in the two years those things didn't present me with problems. I could even get a week in Jo'burg, not difficult. I could get a paste-on moustache, not a problem, but most of the paste-on things are good at night but they're not so hot during the day. They don't last that long. What would be very effective change would be to dye my hair, change my hair style and for that I need a haircut, that's all, and I can do that myself. Change of clothes. People don't realise the power of changing clothes. As long as what you're going into is normal for the category. For instance if you want to be a workman you look around how workmen are dressed. Now you can have the same overall but you're not a workman. You go for a certain style of walking and a certain conduct. So the work thing would disguise you, how you behave, if you put on an overall and want to walk with a straight back, posture like an English guardsman, you're asking for trouble.

     All I'm saying is when I look at this, when I look at the Jo'burg list of names, look at Durban, and I say built over a year basically most of the structure was in place. I don't understand how they didn't smell a rat. They worked on the basis - the Security Branch through those casualties and that wouldn't have to take out … where that situation arose the ballgame, the overall environment had changed. It became disaster. If I disappeared I would have caused more problems because I needed to save the rest of the structures. That was my duty. But in order to take cover, if I wanted to slip out of the country, even though I felt that I was under 24 hour surveillance because that's the time – I remember I went in and retrieved, you can ask Janet, Janet and I went and retrieved certain things from the High Point building.

POM     High Point. Which is the High Point one?

MM     High Point is a multi-storey building in Hillbrow, it used to be owned by Anglo-American at one time. I remember that when we were going to this flat, there are about 18 floors. You could drive into that garage, close the garage door by remote control and step out into … so that you need not be seen by anyone. There was a door here, it opened out into the back, the garden, a double door, a glass door, a tiny room. I used to have a desk –

POM     Is this the granny flat?

MM     Yes. I had a desk there. One day I arrived there with Selina, it had two bedrooms, I arrived there with Selina and she was in the room, I had come there, collected a load of arms and they were on the other side of the desk, the side away from the window. That side was open, almost visible and I was working away with a laptop in broad daylight and the French doors were open, Rob and Jenny were away and the next thing I just heard somebody greet me and I looked, a white cap and a uniform. I thought, "Good God, they've caught me now." And he talks and says, "Who are you?" I said, "I rent this place."I don't know what to do at the moment, I'm trying to make myself as small as a bloody peanut. Then he says, "If you see anyone round here let me know", and he goes away.It was a security company, there was an alert in the area. As soon as he left I called Selina, "Selina, come." As far as I'm concerned the one possibility that they've come, they've seen me and they've surrounded the place and this was just an attempt to identify. So I said to Selina, "We've got to leave now." We get into the car, we try our best to act calmly but as far as we're concerned we are caught.

POM     Now what have you done with the arms? Have you left everything there?

MM     I took some with me, locked up the flat, got into the car, drove off as calmly as possible and then as we get into the street, reverse into the street, about 100 metres is one of these private security company vehicles. By now your nerves are gone, this is a real ambush and they're waiting to see where you're going to go. Anyway we drive away, we get away, and I send a message to Rob and Jenny that we're not coming back to that place and you two had better clear out. As I got out of the area and got through each point where the security people had vans I finally came to a stop street, I asked one of the security people what's happening. They said, "No, we had an alarm from one of the houses that a burglar had got in." I couldn't buy that story. There were too many …I just let Rob and Jenny sit with the problem of now how to clear up that flat urgently, how to clear out that place, that granny flat, change everything there and find a more suitable place. They took revenge on me, they found a place in Parkhurst. The main house was very comfortable but at the back of the house was an old disused single car garage converted into a kitchenette, shower, bedroom cum lounge. They took that place for me. To be fair to Jenny she got posters from Everard Reed's Gallery, etc., and made the place up for me.

     Rob and Jenny, Rob was a very quiet, committed, both of them very committedpeople. They found it difficult to live that quiet life even though they were a couple. It put strains on their marriage, there were occasions when they came and hinted to me that I would be found; they were going through a lot of strain but they survived. He told me that it didn't follow that because an individual operative in the underground led a lonely life, that a couple necessarily would work better.

     The interesting thing about that, they also got away in time, we warned them, tipped them off, the police had come to them after our tip off. They stuck to the legend, they explained who they were. The police went away and we were back, Janet got back there to learn that the police had been there and we said, "Get out, leave the country." They left and next morning the police were back. They returned to SA, they couldn't adapt to life in Canada and they kept on yearning for SA, I think really taken up with the way the country had changed, they returned to SA, they settled here. Rob has just won last year the best teacher of the school award. Jenny has spent her time studying at Stellenbosch University, she has now got a PhD in Philosophy from Stellenbosch and she's become a philosophical counsellor for people. So they live in Kalk Bay.

POM     If I look at the shot there of Pravin Gordhan, a couple of wild looking shots of him, his hair scattered to the wind.

MM     Well I talked about Kevin. There's a photograph of Dr Yaj Chetty, this is his father.

POM     Is this the doctor we were talking about?

MM     No, no, that doctor had a place in Reservoir Hills, he hid arms and things.

POM     What is his name?

MM     Y-A-J.Chetty. That's his father, stalwart. He used to be, probably the generation of Madiba and them, at university, came from a very poor background, was supported by the Naidoo household. Indres Naidoo's father gave scholarships to the students. So the father stayed there as a boarder, qualified as a doctor, settled down as a doctor in Pietermartizburg where he came from. His son qualified as a doctor and had just qualified when we got into the country and we needed a safe place to store weapons. So we heard about this young man, assessed him and finally approached him and asked him to rent that house. We used the house but like all young men, we were compelled, the weapons were just lying in suitcases on the floor in one room, open, so that if some cop accidentally walked in if there was a burglary …So Gebhuza got Little John to come over from Cape Town and Little John built a concealed entry into the ceiling and we used the ceiling as a storage place.

POM     Now this is the doctor that you went back to Durban to find with Ronnie, right? Claudia and you. You had a big row with Ronnie because he was tired.

MM     He was tired.

POM     You and Claudia had to –

MM     I don't know, when there's a crisis I'm at work, I don't care about whether I'm hungry or whether I haven't slept, I just have to drive, I know from experience that if you don't do the things at that moment, and my problem is not my safety, my problem is the people on the ground. Anyway this is Kevin again, this is Teeruth Mistry.

POM     This is what?

MM     Teeruth Mistry, that's his real name. The next one here is Farieda Jadwad.

POM     Who's this?

MM     Dipak Patel. She (Farieda) was involved in the mass organisations. She got drawn into the underground. She came from a family, a very poor family and she was the primary breadwinner of the family. She served as a decoy driver plus in the community work for the ANC. She travelled with me quite a few times as cover. I'm just trying to think how she managed to evade arrest. Was she known to the others? She came from Pravin's structures originally.

POM     Where?

MM     Pravin Gordhan's structures. A very quiet person, very committed.

POM     Had she known Dipak before she got involved?

MM     Yes. She knew Dipak for years. She is now married to, what's the name of the chap who was Nedlac secretary? Cape Town chap who was the Communist Party treasurer?

POM     Is now the Communist Party - ?

MM     The Coloured chap who took over from …He's now the treasurer of the Communist Party. Christopher Manye, that's Little John, that's Bricks. He's dead now.

POM     What happened to him?

MM     Drinking.

POM     He was married to Tootsie, right?

MM     Yes. Little John came from the Transvaal machinery, he worked with Gebhuza based in Swaziland. He was small built, extremely courageous but the stress of life underground took its toll on him, he got hooked onto drink.

POM     That happened while he was in the underground or afterwards?

MM     I think he was drinking heavily already in Swaziland and then he was sent into the Cape Town area when he began to draw the Cape Town structure into Vula. By that time already he hit the bottle. Had he been alive now I think he would have qualified for …

     Billy, you don't want to talk about him.

POM     Billy I do, yes. Who was Billy? You've got to talk about your own people.

MM     I'm not going to talk of that one.

POM     I'll tell Billy that, you just passed him over.

MM     Billy comes from a very poor family, standard eight, went out to work, joined the trade union movement and Natal Indian Congress round about 1946/47, a youngster, and from that time committed himself totally to the struggle. Trade union work, would sometimes be the secretary. Extremely brave people.

POM     He always struck me as a man of wisdom. Is this when you had the row with him? If you say hard liner again, what do you mean by that?

MM     Dogmatic. Absolutely stubborn. When he was detained nothing, torture, fear of torture, whatever, nothing. Got to prison and he was sent to the isolation section, he was in trouble with the warders every day and when Madiba and them passed messages from one block to the other to say to Billy to cool it, Billy said they're a lot of cowards, you're scared. That's how he has been.

POM     So he would have known Harry Gwala, they would have been of the same generation?

MM     Yes, yes. To make Billy see different from Harry Gwala was quite a job. But you will see my profile of Billy in Reflections in Prison. It's a one-page profile.

POM     I can't remember it. It's disproportionate to everybody else.

MM     One page tells about him. I don't remember which one, but he is the guy that calls Madiba over an argument, he said, "Madiba you are nothing but a bloody feudal aristocrat masquerading as a socialist. I'm going to expose you."

     Mo Shaik has had a funny life. He's ready to see the funny side of things. He's the originator of the word 'cabal'.

POM     Originator of the word 'cabal', he'll go down in history!

MM     Where he accused Pravin Gordhan and company of being a cabal and yet after we'd worked in the country for some time, we were sitting and having a drink at his place, he just burst out laughing. He just burst out laughing. I said, "What's wrong with you?" He said, "What have you done to me?" "Why?" "I swore I would never work with Pravin Gordhan, never in my life. Here he comes and I'm busy working with this man that I swore I would never work with and you haven't called us to a meeting to resolve our differences but you've made us work together." He was laughing, "How did you do this? What the fuck am I doing working with this chap?"

POM     What did he have against Pravin?

MM     Pravin and them worked as a clique, they were a cabal manipulating the mass movement. They believed that they were representing the ANC whereas he believed that he and his group were more authentic ANC.

POM     He had the Solomon …

MM     His arch opponent was Pravin Gordhan. Pravin Gordhan, his strength was pharmacy is my trade but community on the ground, little problems of the community, little difficulties, organising them around that, getting people to work around that. He was great at running workshops for ordinary people to understand, very committed, widely read with a strong bent towards understanding theoretically but at the same time a very, very high …The structures that he was associated with, discipline was crucial.

     Post Soweto when the enemy was now on the rampage he and his group said that they needed to find other places to be active which were not under the spotlight of the regime so they went down to community work to improve and organise the community around community problems and that's how they built themselves up. Very, very keen to fill themselves with experiences around the work, so he had very strong …

POM     His role in Vula again was?

MM     He became the Joint Secretary of the Durban Military. Dr Rajan Pillay, Chatsworth, part of the structures in Chatsworth were created by Pravin in the town. He disappeared from the limelight post the arrests.

POM     Who's this now?

MM     Dr. Pillay. He at one stage became the connection with a house that we had at Chatsworth we were using as a printing works, the garage.

POM     This is while you were still - ?

MM     While in the country and his legend held, the landlords were told that they can say that he hired the place. He was able to bribe a warder and open communications with the underground, put up a legend, a story, and in the end he was released. Come the Vula arrests I think we were not so sure that he was detained but I think we got to know.

     Clifford Collings, in South African terminology a coloured, he came from Wentworth, was with Mo's structures.

POM     He was in Mo's structures. He would have been in intelligence?

MM     Mo, Claudia, Selina.

     Valilal(?) I don't know how but I know that she's the one who was in a car on the way to Botswana to fetch arms, it capsized.

     Yunus Mohammed, lawyer, part of Pravin's group, now with Kagiso Trust, married to D… Pillay a labour judge, been active in the Indian Congress, UDF, you name it, good sportsman, very quiet worker, hard worker.

POM     Now when you were in detention he was at that stage with Gebhuza when he was taken to court. The first time he ever saw a lawyer was when he got to court so there's no time for consultation or whatever.

MM     There would have been about a 15 minute conversation, the lawyers would have come in, well Gebhuza would have recognised both of them, Yunus and Zak. They would have come in and said, "We're here to represent you." And he would have been asking what the hell happens and they would answer him that you're charged with possession of firearms. Good –

POM     So these are 15 minutes to give him the whole story or to – ?

MM     Tell the whole story and they would say to him that he's charged with possession of firearms, don't worry, the state won't charge today, he's going to be remanded for another day and they'll have time for consultations but in the meantime what do you think? Will you apply for bail?

POM     But they would have known of him through the Tongaat thing? They would have known what he was up to. What I mean then is for him to let him go into the witness box –

MM     I think they also made the assessment that he was being brought alone to be charged simply for firearms, they had led them to the conclusion that this was something that the regime had agreed to, that whatever the other fights -

     The other one is Zak Yacoob, the judge, Constitutional Court judge now.

POM     Yes, we talked about him because he was your lawyer, you used his office for your long distance telephone calls.

MM     That one is Thumba Pillay, became a judge post-1994. He was a student at Natal University with me.

POM     What's his name?

MM     Thumba Pillay. Thumba and I met at university, he was one year after me. He became active in student activities, went into the Natal Indian Congress. He qualified as a lawyer, went into practice with Hassim Seedat and when I returned to the country –

POM     He's a partner of?

MM     Hassim Seedat. He was in the London discussions in 1978 about uniting the different strands of the Indian Congresses. He was called out and we met.

POM     In 1978.

MM     1978/79. 1978.

POM     Uniting the different strands.

MM     There was a controversy inside the congress movement, the Indian section, the governing institutions of the SA Indian Congress announced that they would have elections.

POM     SAIC.

MM     And the comrades on the ground were incensed. The wanted to boycott the elections and others wanted to participate in the elections with the view that once you're elected - huge controversy, Pravin's group was for participating. Thumba represented those who wanted to boycott. So both these groups are called out and who also happened to be passing through London was the late Ismail Meer. Also present in Pravin's group was the chap who is now the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Siraj Padyachee, he was part of Pravin's group at that time. So I ran those parallel discussions with each group, including Thumba, and eventually we got them together.

POM     Now was this when you were the Secretary of – yes, OK.

MM     So Thumba and I knew each other for a long time.

POM     Did they all know they were there? Did you have them on different floors?

MM     Different places. I'd have discussions with Pravin and Roy for about ten days, then I'd meet every night with Thumba.

POM     But neither of them were aware in the beginning that –

MM     They began to hear from the newspapers that so-and-so is in town but they didn't know I was having talks. They sent the photos afterwards of Pravin complaining that I had cheated them into agreement.

POM     Well if they decide you might have to take a resolution of the agreement.

MM     So Thumba and I knew each other very well and when I came into the country he was practising in law, quiet practice. He had this one ability, when things were running … he would disappear from active …you wouldn't see him any more. … Thumba would be there.

POM     What would he do?

MM     He would resuscitate the organisations, begin to call meetings and as soon as everything was working then he relaxed. I came in and I said, "Where is Thumba?"Forget about him. So I did some more scouting around, found out where he lives and virtually every Sunday morning I went to his house and walked over to his gate. I then borrowed his car, this is early in my days, I borrowed his car, a Mercedes Benz, a red one. I said, "I need to borrow a car." He said, "Take my car." I didn't tell him how many days I was going to be in Jo'burg, he thought I would be just in, out and back. I was away for three weeks. He needed the car. I have a meeting in Pritchard Street in an office with Sydney Mufamadi, Mike Roussos, Momo, there was a party unit meeting in an office in the centre of Jo'burg, Pritchard Street, at about three o'clock in the afternoon. I go in in Thumba's car, park it in Pritchard Street, I walk around the block, get into this building and we're sitting in a meeting. What I haven't noticed, I've got his car parked in the street but what I haven't noticed – now it was parked in Jeppe Street, but between the hours of four o'clock in the afternoon and six o'clock it's a no parking area. Went to this meeting with Momo, the meeting goes on, five o'clock comes, wham, there's an explosion. I don't know what Momo and them are thinking, that there's been a bomb blast at the bus rank in Pritchard Street, Pritchard Street is the main bus stop of the white bus service, a blast of a bomb in a bin, so everybody scattered. I go to my car on my own and the street is empty, there's no cars. Shit, what happened to my car? Oh, and who is my co-driver? Selina. She was in Providence Place in Northcliff, I had left her there. I needed a driver to drive me from place to place, not to just one meeting. Where do I go? My car is gone. I'm panicking and I realise that now, listen, what size was the blast of the bomb? There was screaming, everybody and all the time my car is there. Then I realise, "Good God, there's no parking area at four o'clock." So I call the Traffic Department? Have they found it? Thumba's car. Now what do I do? How do I go to Northcliff Extension to find Selina to go to the car compound at the Traffic Department to rescue the car? I said no, let me walk over to the nearby cinema where the Traffic Department is. I walk over to the Traffic Department. Momo and them they're gone, can't find anybody. I get to the Traffic Department, in those days there were no cell phones, and this is about six o'clock now. This is the Traffic Department, I go to the office and I say, "My car?" Give them the number plate number. They say, "Oh yes, we found it." "Can I pay the fine?" "Sure." I paid the fine and then they say, "OK, here's the slip, go to the other place and that's where your car is parked, give the slip and get your car." So I go and get my car, of course I'm prepared to tell them lies who I am, etc., in conformity with the documents I'm carrying but I'm going to link that name to Thumba if they say, "Whose car is this?" and I give Thumba's name. Anyway I get the car and I go off to Northcliff and I meet Selina and tell her what happened. A few days later I meet Momo and I tell him what happened. Jesus! Did they come down on me.I could have been arrested. "Do you want me to walk? How would I have walked to Northcliff? Wouldn't I have been caught?" Anyway, be that as it may three weeks later I turn up in Durban with Thumba's car and he says to me, "Three weeks you've been away. I've been stuck without my car." I said, "Tough luck pal, tough luck", and he just laughed. Then he said, "Jesus! The smell of the cigarettes in his car." He had to fumigate it.

     I know of these people, Ridwaan Pillay, I know of Jeremy Sieberts but I don't know of him personally. Anesh Sankar, yes, he's now married to Selina. He was an accused in the Vula trial. He was a student at Natal University, working in the UDF structures, the Indian structures, propaganda.

POM     So how did he get picked up?

MM     He got picked up because he was working with Pravin.

POM     Pravin we've done, right. Billy Nair we've done. Mo we've done.

MM     Anesh is one of the chaps who was also at – he ended up at St Aidans Hospital. He put up a case that he had gone mentally off his rocker.

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.