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Amnesty Hearings

Type AMNESTY HEARINGS

Starting Date 20 September 1999

Location PIETERMARITZBURG

Day 1

Names EUGENE ALEXANDER DE KOCK

MR LAX: Mr de Kock, your full names please.

EUGENE ALEXANDER DE KOCK: (sworn states)

MR LAX: Sworn in, Chairperson.

EXAMINATION BY MR HATTINGH: Thank you, Mr Chairman, Hattingh on record.

Mr de Kock, you are an applicant with regard to this incident, is that correct?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And your application appears in bundle 1, from page 1 up to page 9, is that correct?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: You were charged with regard to the murder of Mr Sikhakhane, is that correct.

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

MR HATTINGH: And found guilty.

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Will you briefly tell the Committee how it came about that you became involved in the elimination of Mr Sikhakhane.

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 HATTINGH: May I interpose, Mr de Kock. Did you have personal knowledge of Mr Sikhakhane's dissatisfaction with the unit to which he was attached?

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 HATTINGH: Was Mr Sikhakhane one of the three?

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 HATTINGH: Who told you that there was such a threat?

MR DE KOCK: It was Gen Steyn, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And did you see the implications of such a step?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, I did, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Was any request directed to you by Gen Steyn at that stage?

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 HATTINGH: And what was your reaction to that?

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, I do, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: That if the services of Vlakplaas was needed, they had to apply to the commander of C1 at head office, Pretoria Head Office, is that correct?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And that if you received such an instruction to be of assistance, then for the duration of that operation you would resort under the commander who requested you.

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And that he would be responsible for your actions.

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Now you have already accepted that he would clear it with Gen Engelbrecht. He was then your commander, is that correct?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: He was the overhead commander of C1, C2 and C3, is that correct?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And it was security division of the South African Police, is that correct?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And did you then receive instructions in this regard, Mr de Kock?

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 HATTINGH: Is that how he put it to you?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Did you know what it was about?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Yes?

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 HATTINGH: Did you the contact Gen Steyn?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, I did contact him in Durban and he asked me to urgently send someone down to make a plan with Goodwill Sikhakhane.

MR HATTINGH: And once again you understood what he meant by "making a plan"?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, there was no doubt. The death of Sikhakhane had already been established, it was just a matter of the time and this was the time.

MR HATTINGH: Very well.

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 HATTINGH: Very well. Did you hand over any cash to them for any reason?

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 HATTINGH: Could you send people from Pretoria to a place like Greytown to kill people without informing your immediate commanders in this regard?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: If there was an accident on the way there and someone was killed, you had to account to your commander?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: You then appointed the three gentlemen and told them where they had to contact the Natal people and they then departed.

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Were any firearms supplied to them?

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 HATTINGH: At the trial he testified that he shot Mr Sikhakhane with an AK47 that was fitted with a silencer.

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Did you have such weapons at Vlakplaas?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And is it possible that you could have given this firearm to him?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And after the gentlemen departed they returned after two or three days, is that correct?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson. Nortje reported to me that the askari had been killed and that he had shot him. And after Nortje reported to me, I on my part reported to Gen Engelbrecht.

MR HATTINGH: Did you report this to him?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: In detail?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, I just told him that the problem had been solved.

MR HATTINGH: And did you refer to which task this was? Did he know what you were talking about?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, I told him it was the situation in Natal, Gen Steyn's problem and it has his approval. I think his reaction was "Is it clean?". In other words, there are no comebacks.

MR HATTINGH: In his application Mr Nortje says that you paid an amount of money to him, I think he refers to an amount of R2 000.

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 HATTINGH: And you say you also did not pay money to Swart or Britz.

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And Mr Nortje also beforehand did not know that he would receive any payment?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, I did not know that any money would be left over.

MR HATTINGH: Would you briefly tell the Committee what your political objective was with the elimination of Mr Sikhakhane.

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 HATTINGH: The information which was supplied to you from Gen Steyn with regard to the risks which existed, did you regard it as reliable?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, I did, Chairperson. I did the same work as Col Taylor, I knew what the risks were.

MR HATTINGH: Did you receive any reward for your participation in this operation?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: You had no malicious intentions or vengeful intentions towards Mr Sikhakhane?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Thank you, Chairperson.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR HATTINGH

CHAIRPERSON: Just one point as I remember it. You said Mr Sikhakhane had been recruited by Vlakplaas.

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: That was by his cousin at Vlakplaas?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: So he, from the beginning, knew all about Vlakplaas, where it was and what was done there?

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.

COMMITTEE ADJOURNS

ON RESUMPTION

EUGENE ALEXANDER DE KOCK: (s.u.o.)

CHAIRPERSON: Are you finished?

MR HATTINGH: Yes, thank you, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Carry on with cross-examination.

MR WAGENER: Mr Chairman, Jan Wagener on record. As an implicated party, my client, I think it's proper that I go after the co-applicants.

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR VISSER: Thank you, Mr Chairman. If I may proceed with my few questions.

Mr de Kock, I didn't know, you said that Sikhakhane was recruited by Vlakplaas by means of his cousin, Radebe, for an askari with the Security Police.

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

MR VISSER: Can you recall when this took place?

MR DE KOCK: Chairperson no, I don't have a fixed date.

MR VISSER: Would it have been before 1988?

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: One of the interesting things, and perhaps you are aware of this, is that Charles Ndaba was among others, his commander in Swaziland. Were you aware of that?

MR DE KOCK: Would you repeat it please.

MR VISSER: That Charles Ndaba was his commander in Swaziland, while he was still an MK member.

MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, it may be so. I did not undertake his interrogation and I didn't have a problem with the fact, but it may be so.

MR VISSER: You say that he was transferred to Natal. Would it be correct to say that he was transferred to Pietermaritzburg initially?

MR DE KOCK: Yes. Actually he was taken by Col Baker, but there was no dispute and he went to Natal.

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 DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

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 DE KOCK: Yes, if he had that information it would have been pure dynamite.

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

"Did he assault you?"

"Yes, he did excessively when he got the chance, yes."

"Regularly?"

"No."

"Was it while he was under the influence of liquor that he assaulted you?"

"Yes."

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:

"So how often did this happen, on how many occasions did this happen?"

"I do not remember."

"Many occasion?"

"Yes."

"So he used to regularly threaten you with the firearm, is that correct?"

"Yes."

"And you went and complained to his commanding officer?"

"Yes."

"Col Taylor?"

"Yes."

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:

"What was the problem?"

"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?"

And she says:

"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:

"Now what kind of identification did the others have?"

That would be those who were appointed.

"Those who did become policemen?"

"It was his ID book, it took very long for him to get his ID book."

"And was that the reason why he was not appointed as a policeman?"

"I do not know."

"Was that the reason that was stated, according to him, by Col Taylor?"

"Yes."

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: Yes, well you have somewhat answered my following question. Would it be correct to say that not all askaris who were ever appointed as askaris, later were appointed as policemen?

MR DE KOCK: No, some of them did not become policemen.

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 DE KOCK: Yes.

MR VISSER: Didn't he ask you what it was about?

MR DE KOCK: No, the impression that I had, and this may probably have been from what he said, I cannot recall everything precisely, it is that he knew about the problem.

MR VISSER: But he told you "Steyn's looking for you and you'll know what it's about"?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

MR VISSER: And that was the end of the conversation?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

MR VISSER: Now the evidence of both Gen Steyn and the deceased, Col Taylor, regarding the problems that they experienced with Sikhakhane, I understand your evidence that you deny it.

MR DE KOCK: No, I don't deny it.

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 DE KOCK: It is possible, but I don't have any independent recollection thereof.

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.

MR DE KOCK: Yes, it boiled down to the same thing. In other words, that there had already been some form of approach to this.

MR VISSER: Thank you, Chairperson, no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR VISSER

FURTHER CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR VISSER: Perhaps for clarity's sake, Chairperson, I think Mr de Kock did give the evidence, but just to make absolutely certain, if I may just ask one last question.

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: Yes. I'm not certain when. After I had contacted or telephoned Gen Steyn, I telephonically contacted Taylor.

MR VISSER: Well it is possible that Taylor may have spoken to you before the time?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, it is possible.

MR VISSER: Thank you, Chairperson.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR VISSER

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR LAMEY: Thank you, Chairperson.

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: You accepted and believed that the request from Gen Steyn had been cleared with Gen Engelbrecht, you believed it as such?

MR DE KOCK: Yes.

MR LAMEY: Is that why you reported back to Engelbrecht?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: And when you reported back to Engelbrecht, did he sound surprised in any way?

MR DE KOCK: No.

MR LAMEY: Or did he admit that this was something unexpected that you were telling him and that you had surprised him with it?

MR DE KOCK: No, it was a question of "Did it all go well". It wasn't a problem for him.

MR LAMEY: According to Mr Nortje, you also told him that the order had come from head office.

MR DE KOCK: Yes, usually I would inform the members from where an order came.

MR LAMEY: And that the Durban Security Branch had approached Gen Krappies Engelbrecht in this regard.

MR DE KOCK: Would you repeat.

MR LAMEY: That the Durban Security Branch had approached Gen Engelbrecht with regard to this. That is what you told Mr Nortje.

MR LAMEY: It may be so, I don't have an independent recollection, but I would have informed him because if not he could have asked me on whose authority because we were moving beyond our ward.

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 DE KOCK: Yes.

MR LAMEY: And you also sketched the gravity of the situation to your subordinates, among others, Nortje.

MR DE KOCK: That is 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 DE KOCK: Yes, that is correct.

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 DE KOCK: It was a covert financial source or document.

MR LAMEY: Very well. And in this case, Mr Nortje also had such a card which he used to cover expenses, such as the rental for the car and so forth.

MR DE KOCK: That is 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: I'm sorry, I didn't hear your last words. You said that he could take it?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

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 DE KOCK: That is correct.

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 DE KOCK: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: Then just one minor aspect. My attention has been fixed on the fact that you gave evidence that at the stage when you received the order you were near the Waterkloof agricultural premises.

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

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?

MR DE KOCK: In what year did Sikhakhane die?

MR LAMEY: January 1991.

MR DE KOCK: Yes, it may be so.

MR LAMEY: Thank you, Chairperson, I have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR LAMEY

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 NEL: And I just want to know from you what is your perspective regarding Mr Hanton's execution of orders whenever he was issued with an order.

MR DE KOCK: He would have carried it out to the letter.

MR NEL: Thank you, Chairperson, nothing further.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR NEL

MR CORNELIUS: Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Mr de Kock, Wim Cornelius on record, I'm appearing on behalf of Messrs Britz and Swart. You could label them as footsoldiers within this setting, is that correct?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct, in all aspects.

MR CORNELIUS: And you would agree that the stage when you issued the order to them to kill Mr Sikhakhane, it was clear to them that the orders had come from a higher authority.

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: So in the minds of the footsoldiers, it was determined with them that there were various superior officers who were taking these decisions?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Would they have doubted in any way that they were acting against the enemy at that stage?

MR DE KOCK: No.

MR CORNELIUS: So they would have had no reason to doubt your bona fide motive for the operation?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

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 DE KOCK: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: He also had no reason to doubt the order from Gen Steyn or Gen Engelbrecht?

MR DE KOCK: No.

MR CORNELIUS: Thank you, Chairperson.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR CORNELIUS

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR WAGENER: Jan Wagener, Chairperson.

Mr de Kock, you heard when Mr Hattingh referred earlier today to certain head office directives regarding the application of Vlakplaas.

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

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 DE KOCK: Yes.

MR WAGENER: Now those directives, it is my recollection that they were issued by Security Head Office and circulated to all security divisions in the country. Do you recall it as such?

MR DE KOCK: That is correct.

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 DE KOCK: That is correct.

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 DE KOCK: That is correct.

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 DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, it would have been more from mouth to ear, at meetings or functions.

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 DE KOCK: Yes.

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 WAGENER: Mr de Kock, didn't you tell your subordinates in all cases that there was sufficient authorisation from above, even if there wasn't?

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 DE KOCK: But then this situation on ground level would dictate.

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: Did this discussion take place in 1990?

MR DE KOCK: I wouldn't be able to say.

MR WAGENER: Is it possible that it may have taken place during 1990?

MR DE KOCK: I don't know.

MR WAGENER: Who was your commander during 1990?

MR DE KOCK: I think at a certain stage it was van Rensburg and after that it was Engelbrecht.

MR WAGENER: Isn't it correct that Gen Engelbrecht only became your commander on the 1st of January 1991?

MR DE KOCK: I don't know. There was a period of transition and if the one General wasn't there, such as Steyn for example, we would then go to Engelbrecht.

MR WAGENER: The reason why I've asked you is because if this discussion took place during 1990 and you had taken it up with your own commander, it would have been van Rensburg, isn't that correct?

MR DE KOCK: But then I would have said so. I can recall specifically the situation regarding the telephone.

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 DE KOCK: I cannot speculate on other people's motives.

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: I saw that, Chairperson.

MR WAGENER: On your own version here today you have to concede Mr de Kock, that he did not know before the time necessarily, but that it was just the impression as you have testified, correct?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, I was convinced of it and that is why I mentioned it as such.

MR WAGENER: But that was only your impression?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR WAGENER: And afterwards, on your own version, you did not just report to him that the problem had been solved in Natal.

MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I told him that Gen Steyn's problem has been solved and the reference was clear that it was Sikhakhane.

MR WAGENER: Did you in the process mention Sikhakhane's name?

MR DE KOCK: I could have, Chairperson, but I do not have an independent recollection.

MR WAGENER: But you are not sure?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

MR WAGENER: I have no further questions, Mr Chairman.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR WAGENER

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR SCHOLTZ: Thank you, Chairperson.

Mr de Kock, at this stage when Gen Steyn approached you the first time with regard to the Sikhakhane problem, there was only a threat according to your information, that he would defect to the ANC.

MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, it was not just a threat, it had already been a threat as I understood it.

MR SCHOLTZ: But according to your information he did not defect at that stage?

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 SCHOLTZ: But according to you personally it was just a threat.

MR DE KOCK: It was not only a threat, it was a threat which could be executed and as I understood it, it was a clear and present danger in that regard, Chairperson.

MR SCHOLTZ: Did Gen Steyn at any stage tell you that Sikhakhane was planning to use the death of Charles Ndaba as leverage?

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 SCHOLTZ: And according to your own personal opinion, despite the instructions which you received, was this sufficient reason for you to eliminate him?

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 SCHOLTZ: Why was it necessary for you to refer to General Engelbrecht for instructions?

MR DE KOCK: No, that was a matter of clearing it, Chairperson, because I asked Gen Steyn to liaise with Gen Engelbrecht and to clear it with him.

MR SCHOLTZ: Can you recall how much time had elapsed between the first discussion that you had with Gen Steyn with regard to this incident and the stage when you gave the instructions to your men?

MR DE KOCK: Unfortunately not, Chairperson.

MR SCHOLTZ: Was it a matter of a week or a month or a year?

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 SCHOLTZ: Did you - after the operation had been completed, did you determine whether any methods of payment were used except for cash?

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 SCHOLTZ: Thank you, Chairperson.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR SCHOLTZ

CHAIRPERSON: Well why did you give him all this money?

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.

CHAIRPERSON: But if they had their credit cards, they could pay with them, couldn't they?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson, but the whole idea was not to leave any paper trail at all, that was the whole idea.

CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, I understood what you were just telling us is that you knew they did use credit cards because it was a better thing to do when you checked into hotels.

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.

CHAIRPERSON: Well did you ever ask him when he came back, how much money he'd spent?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: If you gave him R5-R7 000, he comes back three days later and you say oh, keep the change. Is that what you're telling us?

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.

CHAIRPERSON: What were the other Security Branch going to be doing, there was only one contact they were going to make and C1 was going to carry out the operation, wasn't it?

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.

MR LAX: If I may, Chair, while we're on this thing because unfortunately if I let someone go away from this point, it's going to be difficult to come back to it again later.

Mr de Kock, in your application at page 4 of the first bundle you make the following statement and say this in paragraph, it's the fourth paragraph on that page, the one that commences:

"W/O Nortje mentioned to me ..."

The second sentence of that paragraph you say:

"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 DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson, that is so.

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 LAX: So have you maybe just overstated the precautionary aspects here in this paragraph?

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: The point that I don't understand is he still had at least on your version, R2 000 left over.

MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I think so, I did not receive the money back or count it.

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 DE KOCK: That is correct, Chairperson.

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 DE KOCK: Chairperson, that was the aspect or situation which one wants in this type of work, and as I have said it's not always possible.

MR LAX: I won't labour the point any further. Thanks, Chair.

ADV STEENKAMP: No questions, thank you, Mr Chairman.

NO QUESTIONS BY ADV STEENKAMP

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 DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, they came because of patriotism, purely because of patriotism.

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.

CHAIRPERSON: But there were no controls over Nortje at all, he was given R5-7 000, you didn't ask him how he spent it, you just said "Keep the change".

MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, in this type of work one does not ask for receipts.

CHAIRPERSON: That is I think, what my colleague here is suggesting. You go out on these expeditions and you come back with a pocket full of money and you don't have to provide receipts.

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 SIBANYONI: The operations were too frequent, sometimes one after another. You have said at one stage you may have nine or ten, you call them "projects".

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson, but not all of them involved an operation of this nature, not all of them were cross-border operations.

MR SIBANYONI: When you said you were having like nine to ten projects, were you referring only to cross-border operations or even ...?

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 SIBANYONI: Thank you, Mr Chairperson.

MR LAX: Sorry, Chairperson, there's just one aspect that I omitted to discuss with the witness.

You've said that Sikhakhane was recruited by Col Baker, I think was his rank at the time.

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 LAX: Yes. What Vorster in fact says is that he coincidentally met Baker at the border and realised that they were both there for the same purpose.

MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, as far as I can recall we did not inform Vorster, we did inform the Eastern Transvaal Security Branch.

MR LAX: But you'll concede that's one incredible coincidence?

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 LAX: I just wondered if you had any direct knowledge of that, but clearly you don't.

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

RE-EXAMINATION BY MR HATTINGH: Thank you, Chairperson.

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."

And he continues, he says:

"I was informed that Sikhakhane had already contacted him, Col Baker, to defect to the Security Branch."

Does this accord with your version?

MR DE KOCK: Yes, Chairperson. On the contrary, as far as I know Radebe was a - Warrant Officer Radebe was already in Swaziland to pick him up there.

MR HATTINGH: And then he continues, in paragraph 6 he says that

"Sikhakhane shortly afterwards was brought out by members under the command of Col Baker, from Swaziland to South Africa through Oshoek border post."

So once again your people?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And thereafter Baker handed him over to Vorster?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And singular other aspects which I want to clear up. For this operation, did you pay any monies to Swart?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Did you pay Britz any money?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And they were both involved in the killing of Mr Sikhakhane?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And did you pay Hanton any money?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: And you have said at times you were busy with more than one operation, were these all operations outside the scope of the law or were some of them legitimate operations?

MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, at the same time one would have operations outside the scope of the law and within the scope of the law.

MR HATTINGH: So not in all instances did you act outside the law?

MR DE KOCK: That's correct Chairperson.

MR HATTINGH: Thank you, Mr Chairman, we have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR HATTINGH

CHAIRPERSON: ...(inaudible - no microphone)

MR HATTINGH: No, thank you, we do not intend to call witnesses on behalf of Mr de Kock, Mr Chairman.

WITNESS EXCUSED

MR LAMEY: Chairperson, the next applicant is Mr Nortje. I suggest that Mr Wagener perhaps just change seats.

 
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