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Type AMNESTY HEARINGS
Starting Date 20 September 1999
Names EUGENE ALEXANDER DE KOCK
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, briefly, Goodwill Sikhakhane was recruited by Vlakplaas from Swaziland by I think his cousin, Godfrey Radebe, who was an askari at Vlakplaas and with his defection which he chose, this is now Goodwill Sikhakhane, I was not present, I was busy in Vienna recruiting a senior member of the ANC. Col Baker was in command in that regard. We had to inform Division Eastern Transvaal that a member of the ANC would be brought out, because Swaziland was their area of responsibility and Goodwill Sikhakhane was taken from Col Baker when my people brought him through the border, and he was sent to Natal.
Before Goodwill Sikhakhane's death I per occasion had discussion with Gen Steyn at head office. I met him in the corridor or the seventh floor of Wagthuis and Gen Steyn mentioned to me that an askari who was involved in the tracing of Charles Ndaba, had threatened to defect to the ANC because he experienced problems in being appointed as a permanent member of the Police Force. At that stage I had already been aware that Charles Ndaba had disappeared and I knew that he and another member of the ANC, who was not known to me, had been killed by Capt Hentie Botha.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, it was not only he, it was a group of them, it was the whole unit at that stage. And the reason why I say that was initially three members from Natal askaris arrived at Vlakplaas. I would not say that they went AWOL, I would say that they defected back to Vlakplaas and four askaris were on their way to Vlakplaas.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I cannot recall, I think he was in the second group who also wanted to come back to Vlakplaas. Col Taylor came through to Vlakplaas and a day afterwards Gen Steyn came through so that we could discuss this matter with the askaris from Vlakplaas. It was because they were not appointed members of the Force, so they did not enjoy the same benefits as the members of the Force. As far as I know the problem was not Col Taylor.
After General Steyn was on Vlakplaas and we spoke to the askaris who had already defected, they went back to Natal and the others who were on the verge of departing for Vlakplaas remained where they were.
MR HATTINGH: Now you were telling the Committee of the discussion you had with Gen Steyn at head office and you say this was in regard to Mr Sikhakhane's dissatisfaction because he was not appointed as a permanent member of the Force.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, and among others it was also mentioned that he was involved in the tracing of Charles Ndaba. I already knew that these persons were deceased and that there was real danger that he would defect. There was such a threat.
MR DE KOCK: "Voorsitter, dit was - ja, hy't gesÍ laat ons iets aan hierdie situasie moet doen. Die aanduidings was baie duidelik, die implikasie daarvan. Kan ek maar sÍ, die polisie taal was dat ons hierdie persone uit daardie posisie moet verlos. Met ander woorde, ons moet hom doodmaak".
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I had no problem with it, it was not a new request to me, although I did ask Gen Steyn to clear it with Gen Engelbrecht who was then our Head, the Head of C-Section, and I left it there. I accepted that he would clear it and from there I would receive my instructions.
MR HATTINGH: Now you have heard what I put to Gen Steyn with regard to the directive which was sent from head office to other Security Branch of the Security Police, do you confirm the allegations which I have made to him there?
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson. A while after this discussion, one morning early I arrived at Gen Engelbrecht's office, it was usually in the mornings when we held discussions, any time from 7 o'clock, and he mentioned to me that Gen Steyn was urgently looking for me and I knew what it was about.
MR DE KOCK: Gen Engelbrecht told me that I could use his telephone immediately, I may call him from his office. I told him that I will contact him from my work premises. At that stage we worked from Waterkloof. And I indeed called Gen Steyn from there. The reason why I did not want to use Gen Engelbrecht's telephone line was because tape recorders were attached to his line. There was nothing sinister about it, most of the security commanders had it, it was because of threats. It was so that things could be on record for further investigation and enquiries.
MR DE KOCK: Gen Steyn then, among others, told me that I had to liaise with Col Taylor and contact him with regard to further arrangements, which I then did. This was in regard to whom I would send and where we would meet. I think I contacted Col Taylor on two occasions and conveyed the information about where we would meet and who would be there to my members and then sent W/O Nortje, Britz and Swart to Natal and then I instructed them to see to it that Sikhakhane be killed.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, I gave an amount of between R5 000 and R7 000 to W/O Nortje, so that he could carry all costs, not only of us but of the Natal Security Branch or that group as well, so that credit cards not be used.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I cannot recall, but I think Nortje had already had a pistol with a silencer, a Russian pistol. I don't have an independent recollection whether I gave him the firearm or whether the firearm was supplied here, but he had indeed possessed a firearm with a silencer. It was a Makarov that had never been used beforehand.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I don't have a memory that I gave him R2 000 as payment because otherwise I would have given Britz and Swart as well. He came to me, there was some money left of the money that I gave him to take to Natal, it was money that was written off, and I told him to keep it. He may have regarded it as such, but it was not a salary or a payment.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, firstly, the disclosure that Ndaba and another person were dead would have placed the Security Police in serious embarrassment, it would have brought the government of the day to a fall and the Security Branch in Natal, which was one of the two most sensitive points in the country and the other one was the Port Elizabeth/East London area, and this would have exposed Vlakplaas even more because Vlakplaas had recruited Sikhakhane. His cousin who worked with us, the identity of his cousin would have been endangered as well as his family and the askari group of Natal would have been exposed as well. So here was a situation which was extremely sensitive and among others, the political situation and negotiations at that stage, which was ongoing at that stage.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson no, Sikhakhane was still in Swaziland, but from that, from the telephone discussion with his cousin he would have known that such a unit existed because his cousin approached him and told him "You can come and work with us, you will become a policeman" and so forth.
CHAIRPERSON: Gentlemen, this may be a convenient stage. I don't know how long we need. Do you think we can be ready before two or should we say 2 o'clock? 2 o'clock. We've now adjourning till 2 o'clock.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I am not certain, I would have to fix it to the time when we went to Austria and I cannot recall that date. That is when we recruited a senior source who was handed over to the DCC.
MR VISSER: I just want to ask you or put it to you that Mr Sikhakhane was also involved in the one other incident at least, during which someone was eliminated, that was the case of Dion Cele. Do you know anything about that?
MR VISSER: I just want to put it on record that it is not only that he was aware or may have become aware of the elimination Ndaba and Shabalala, but that he also possessed other information which could have damaged the Security Branch if he had exposed it. Would you accept that?
MR VISSER: I'm not certain what you wanted to say. You stated that three of the askaris from Natal arrived at Vlakplaas and then thereafter a further four and that they were dissatisfied. I'm not certain what you wanted to convey with this evidence.
MR DE KOCK: No, it was just to supplement my application as it was written and among others, this was a discussion which took place between me and General Steyn. There is no form of prejudice or any other such thing that I attempted to achieve, it was just for the sake of completion.
MR VISSER: Very well. The question of the appointment of Sikhakhane, and please forgive me, I want to put it on record through you, Gen Steyn who was the Divisional Commander, says that he doesn't know about it or that he cannot recall it. However there is evidence in bundle 2, Chairperson, on page 7. Mrs Petersen gave evidence at the bottom of the page, and this is in response to questions put during cross-examination by my learned friend, Mr Hattingh, during your criminal trial, Mr de Kock. And at the bottom of page 7 to page 8 she stated
And so it continues, and she lay charges with Col Taylor. And then on page 15 there is a section to which the Chairperson referred at approximately line 8, according to her evidence it appeared that Col Taylor had upon numerous occasions removed Sikhakhane's firearm when he had used it to threaten Mrs Petersen. And she stated in the middle of page 15, where 8041 appears:
And then finally I want to put it to you that on page 44 of bundle 2 we get the question of his dissatisfaction and there she gave evidence in Court before Justice van der Merwe. Chairperson, about the sixth line from the top:
"As I said before, Goodwill was not happy with his work, with almost everything, because when before he came here to South Africa he was promised a whole lot of things, which when he got here he did not get anything."
"But you specifically singled Col Taylor out, you said that Goodwill did not get on very well with him. You did not say that he did not get on well with the rest of the police, you mention Taylor only. Now I want to know, what was the problem between him and Taylor?"
"What aggravated that was when he did not become a police officer because out of that group that applied for it, all of them became South African Police officers and he never."
And so it continues, and then my learned friend, Mr Hattingh asks her why she thinks he did not become a policeman. And in line 20 - she refers somewhat earlier to his identification and then in line 20 she states:
So it would appear, according to the evidence given by Mrs Petersen, would you agree, Mr de Kock, that there were problems beyond Sikhakhane's behaviour, which prevented his appointment? If one studies the documents which have been placed before the Committee.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, I had the same experience at Vlakplaas with some of the askaris, the overwhelming majority, not all of them. The experience that I had built up over the years in South West or Namibia with SWAPO and the handling of defectors and traitors there and the experience here in South Africa with defectors and traitors, was that firstly these persons had been trained in the military, they were aggressive.
And secondly, with regard to their defection they had developed a sense of guilt and a feeling of inferiority. And mostly they expected some form of utopia with their new master and if they did not receive that, behavioural problems would ensue and one would attempt to address such problems to the bets of one's ability.
MR VISSER: Very well. Now I just want to ask you, this aspect regarding the message which you received from Gen Engelbrecht, which stated that you had to contact Gen Steyn, that he was urgently seeking you, do you recall this?
MR VISSER: That you cannot recall, it would appear to me, you cannot recall that it was specifically said by anyone that he was a double-agent, that is the aspect that you cannot recall, or have I misunderstood you?
MR VISSER: I just want to fix your attention on it, that you to an extent stated the same thing when you said that you were informed that they were afraid that he would defect to the ANC. That would boil down to the same thing basically.
I also don't understand your evidence to say that Col Taylor never contacted you. I understand that you say that this was quite a long time ago and that you cannot recall, but Taylor did speak to you at a certain point, regarding Sikhakhane?
Mr de Kock, did you also regard the case of Sikhakhane as the case of an askari who from his perspective, cherished reasonable expectations with regard to an appointment and that he had been disillusioned and for this reason wanted to defect to the ANC, or least may have exposed the deeds that he knew of and used this as a weapon against the Security Branch of Durban?
MR DE KOCK: Yes. It's a long question, but just to summarise, and perhaps I should state this today to give you some kind of an impression of what the problems were for divisional commanders as such. Sikhakhane must have thought that he could use this situation to obtain leverage. What he didn't realise is that the government didn't hold hostages. Those who would be held hostages in figurative speaking, would be the commanders of units because any officer could say to a General "Do you remember what happened last week?" And I think that this was some kind of situation like that.
MR LAMEY: And you yourself, according to the admission which was made to you from the Durban Security Branch, also regarded the Sikhakhane case in a very serious light from a security perspective, is that correct?
MR LAMEY: In your evidence-in-chief you have already conceded to the possibility that you may have given the AK47 with the silencer to Mr Nortje and indeed it will be Mr Nortje's evidence that he obtained this from you.
MR LAMEY: And then with regard to the funds that you referred to, it is correct that the official false credit card existed, and what I mean by that is that it was a credit card which was issued under a false name, which was used by the members for the purposes of obtaining funds which were paid into this account from the Secret Account for use during operations and so forth, is that correct?
MR LAMEY: And then, my instructions from Mr Nortje are that after the completion of the operation, after you had reported to him, you authorised for him to withdraw R2 000 for himself and he regarded this as a bonus allocation for the purposes of his participation in the operation.
MR DE KOCK: I believe that he may have regarded it as such. We already have a record of such actions with regard to exceptional actions or exceptional situations, but in this case I believe that it was the remaining money which I told him to take.
MR LAMEY: And you have already touched upon this, you said that there wasn't any prior expectation which was created with Mr Nortje, that he could demand or receive such a bonus due to his participation in the operation.
MR LAMEY: And the just one further aspect. My instructions from him are that you told him that Col Taylor and Mr Hanton would meet him at a place and that he would receive further instructions from them regarding the detailed aspects of the execution of the operation.
MR LAMEY: Mr Nortje's instructions are that you were at Vlakplaas and that you went to a building in Watermeyer Street and then much later, according to my instructions, you went to the Waterkloof agricultural premises. "Maar nog nie op hierdie stadium, in Januarie 1991 was julle al reeds daar nie. Kan u moontlik daar verkeerd wees?
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR NEL: Mr de Kock, you have already this with Mr Visser, regarding the question of the telephonic contact with Mr Taylor. Regarding Mr Hanton, is it correct if I say that at a certain stage before Mr Hanton came to Durban, he was under your command at Vlakplaas?
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, he worked under my command and before this, Mr Hanton served in the Special Task Force with Koevoet and he was one of the first instructors who lay the foundations for the Koevoet combat unit.
MR CORNELIUS: And as Gen van der Merwe gave evidence during the hearing for the Cosatu House bombing incident, the life of a policeman who would not execute such an order would have been extremely difficult.
MR WAGENER: I do not have those directives before me now, but it is my recollection that the one was dated in 1980 and the other in 1981. I accept that we are referring to the same directives which Mr Hattingh has referred to?
MR WAGENER: And these directives were about an introduction so to speak, of a new unit which was defined within those letters as a Terrorist Detection Unit, which had been established in Pretoria, which could be applied by the various divisions.
MR WAGENER: Furthermore, it is my recollection Mr de Kock, that those directives referred to the applications and the possibility of the application of Vlakplaas within legal action regarding the detection and identification of terrorists.
MR WAGENER: To put it bluntly, what I mean is that those directives did not tell security divisions, if you want to have people killed, please make use of the services of Vlakplaas and do so in the following manner.
MR WAGENER: Very well, that is entirely correct. Now I also do not have your complete amnesty application before me, but it is my recollection that you are applying for amnesty for just over 100 different incidents, is that correct?
MR WAGENER: And some of those incidents, according to my calculation there were 25 to 30, if I calculated it correctly, where you acted without instructions from seniors, where you acted on your own initiative upon the requests of colleagues and so forth, is that correct?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I'm not certain of that. We had a mandate and Vlakplaas had an alternative agenda, as it is already well known, with the exception of the proposed documentary circulars, I could also take such decisions if it had to boil down to that.
MR WAGENER: Very well. In these cases where you acted on your own initiative, if I might put it that way, meaning that you did not have instructions from your immediate superiors, in such cases if the members under your command would have asked you what authorisation is there for such an operation, what would you have said?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, one would have motivated it by dealing with the circumstances on ground level which were immediate and threatening, and this would have been in conjunction with the work mandate and as such one would have taken the decision and constituted the motivation from this.
MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, because in certain cases I told them who had issued the instruction or where it had come from and why, because I also required motivation and many such orders came from a higher authority and one had to report back after the completion of such an order.
MR WAGENER: Yes, that would be when you actually had an order as such from above, but there are cases when we are aware that you did not have any such orders and those are the cases that I am referring to.
MR WAGENER: This discussion that you had with Gen Steyn, according to you at the Security Head Office, in the statement which is contained within the bundle, not the amnesty but the other statement, you state that this discussion took place approximately at the end of 1990. Can you attach a closer date as that to this?
MR DE KOCK: No, because there were too many incidents. Even with an exceptional incident, such as the bomb in London at the ANC Head Offices, I had to make enquiries to determine the exact date because I couldn't even remember the year.
MR WAGENER: Mr de Kock, if it is correct that Security Head Office had authorised this operation by means of Gen Engelbrecht or any other person, could you surmise any reason why Gen Steyn wouldn't simply have stated that? Because it would have made his life considerably easier.
MR WAGENER: You have heard Gen Engelbrecht's version, it is embodied in Exhibit C, the statement of this morning, where he denies that he had been involved in any manner in this incident before the time or after the time.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I did not have the intimate knowledge, for example the counter-intelligence factor which had been reported back from Swaziland, I only heard about that today and I don't believe the would have just told me and exposed their own lines in such a manner.
MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, he did not refer to it as leverage, and that one can understand. It was not about if he was not appointed then he will talk, the aspect was that he will talk about the Ndaba situation.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, I had already known that Captain Botha had killed Ndaba and the other person and if this was disclosed - and we had already seen they were being looked for, it was not a matter that the people had escaped, people were looking for them, the ANC was also looking for them and this would have led to a disclosure.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I would not want to speculate here, Chairperson, there were too many instances. I was not undertaking one operation at a time, at times we had seven or nine projects running at the same time. So it would be difficult for me to put a time period to it.
MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, I accepted that there would be no problem with regard to any trail, and I see in my trial that charts had been used. I can also mention that one started experiencing problems by booking in with cash into hotels and hiring vehicles, because those institutions do not have a documentary record of your financial background. I enquired about persons who work at hotels and they said they choose cards, or they prefer cards because people book in and then they steal things from the institution and that is why they insist sometimes on credit cards and so forth.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, because the askari does not have the script of what we will do and this could have lasted for 10 days or it could have lasted longer and we did not want to pay money into one place where it would be paid out at another place. At short notice I could have sent them money, but I did not know how urgent it would be.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, in my criminal trial I heard and I saw the documentary proof of the credit cards and it was the idea that the credit cards should not be used. What I told you was that unfortunately one does have that problem that some institutions require the use of a credit card.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, yes. I would just like to qualify it. It is that he does not carry the expense of C1 only, he carries the expenses of the other Security Branch as well, so that there will not be a shortage for them as well.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, that is correct. We could not foresee whether we had to hire more than one vehicle. There could have been a variety of problems. They may have had to hire or rent a second premises other than the one that they used. So there are several situations which they had to prepare for.
"I also gave W/O Nortje an amount of between R5 000 and R7 000 in cash, so that it would not be necessary for him to cover any expenses by means of credit cards. Credit cards would leave unnecessary documentary evidence later."
And you repeat this statement in later statements in the bundle. Now the point I wish to ask you about is, surely he would have known that that was an undesirable thing to use his credit card and that's why you'd given him the money in the first place.
MR LAX: You see, that's why I don't understand why he then used his credit card to hire the vehicle, which was the most obvious link to this whole murder because anybody might have seen that vehicle, particularly at the place where it stopped and they committed the offence and so on.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, Mr Nortje was in possession of not only false credit cards but of a passport and an ID document in the same names and I think a cheque book as well, just like I did. It is unfortunately so that there is no other way and then one has to use a credit card. We experienced the same problem in Swaziland.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, on the one hand I wanted to sketch to you what one wanted from a covert point of view and on the other hand I wanted to tell you that it is not always possible to reach that objective.
MR LAX: He talks about an amount of R2 000-odd rand been given to him by yourself and in relation to that amount you say well that was the money that must have been left over at the end, because you wouldn't have drawn it from any other source.
MR LAX: So the point I'm making is, why use the credit card if you've still got the cash on you? It just doesn't make sense, especially if as we've now inferred, your instructions would have been try not to use the credit cards if it's at all feasible. That would have been his last resort.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson yes, as I've told you I myself had booked in into places and if you pay in cash they will tell you "Give us a card". And if you rent a vehicle you cannot get the vehicles without using a credit card or giving a credit card reference. That is a given. And I think in this instance it was the same situation.
MR LAX: You see then I would have expected that in your application and in your subsequent statements and so on, you would have at least not have said what you've said here, you would have said that yes, in some cases credit cards would have had to be used for the very reasons you've just given.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, those covert cards and cheque books and ID documents were issued to give the covertness and additional foundation, but one cannot get away with it always, sometimes one is in such a situation that you have to use it.
MR LAX: Yes, what I'm trying to understand is why you didn't say so in your papers. Because the impression you create here is that that's absolutely the last resort, that you wouldn't want to use your credit cards. In fact, the impression one gets from reading this paragraph is that you almost instructed them not to use their credit cards.
MR SIBANYONI: Mr de Kock, I just want to find out, this excessive use of money at Vlakplaas, did that not in a way encourage your former South West Africa colleagues to come and join you at Vlakplaas?
MR SIBANYONI: The easy access to money and the, I will call it a sort of luxurious way of life, in that to carry out an operation like the one we are talking about, a person is given something like R7 000, he hires cards, maybe he books at hotels and the likelihood to keep change and after the operation maybe to have a braai and drinks thereafter, would you not say in one way or another prompted or motivated people to easily agree to executing those instructions?
MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, definitely not. On the one hand money was not so easily accessible, this money is obtained through an unconventional manner and in a dishonest manner, there are controls over this and no person lays his life on the line, to be shot or to be caught in a neighbouring State, because he thinks he will be rewarded financially. This was purely from patriotism.
MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, because we did not have a waiting list for operations which had to be executed, these situations may arise at any time and it could be called off at any time. So there were no expectations of any nature.
MR DE KOCK: No, these are internal, Chairperson, where one does infiltrations and you do recruitments and you do identifications. So you have various groups who work at any given stage. One may have one group like in this instance, Nortje came to Natal and I would have one group who would go to Swaziland, who had to look at a potential recruitment, another group will go to Johannesburg for an infiltration in the weapons smuggling network. So it did not always deal with money.
MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, he was recruited by Simon Radebe. Simon Radebe was - W/O Simon Radebe was the person who did the handling, the recruitment was done by Godfrey Radebe, who was a cousin to Sikhakhane, or what I understood to be a kin to him.
MR LAX: Interestingly enough, Col Vorster says that he was busy, through his own sources, with the recruitment of Sikhakhane and he had arranged this through - if one looks at page 191 of bundle 1, he'd arranged this through Sikhakhane's sister.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, that would not be strange because in two instances where I recruited people from the ANC and spoke to them in Swaziland, they later informed me that they had already been recruited and then they gave the names of their Security Police handlers to me and I drew the files at head office and saw that they were on a monthly salary. So it is not impossible that one institution - for example even the Military and National Intelligence, would target one person for recruitment.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I believe what happened, when we informed Eastern Transvaal they would have informed Natal because Natal also had to go through Eastern Transvaal to Swaziland, so that the Eastern Transvaal source system would not be prejudiced.
MR LAX: You see he was immediately handed to Vorster, and we know all about his debriefing by Vorster and others that took place in this vicinity, but all I'm suggesting is that this is one incredible coincidence, that while Baker and Radebe and company are busy with one attempted recruitment and the removal of this man from Swaziland, at the very same time on the very same day a unit from Pietermaritzburg were also involved in the same operation. I might add that this was a few days after Dion Cele was taken out of Swaziland.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson yes, the Dion Cele matter I don't about, but this part I know of. It was not strange even in Botswana with regard to PAC members. When I started recruiting, Zeerust informed me that they had already recruited all those people and had even given them salary structures.
Mr de Kock, just to join up with the questions which were put to you with regard to Vorster by the learned Committee Member. I would just like to say it clearly that in paragraph 5 of his application he says:
"At my arrival at Oshoek border post I met Col Baker, who coincidentally was there for the same purpose."
"I was informed that Sikhakhane had already contacted him, Col Baker, to defect to the Security Branch."