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Amnesty Hearings

Type AMNESTY HEARINGS

Starting Date 20 September 1999

Location PIETERMARITZBURG

Day 1

Names WILLEM ALBERTUS NORTJE

WILLEM ALBERTUS NORTJE: (sworn states)

MR LAX: Sworn in, Chairperson.

EXAMINATION BY MR LAMEY: Mr Nortje, we have already placed on record before at least two of the members of this Panel, the way that your application was submitted, that there was an initial statement that you signed, in which your particulars have been incorporated, which includes extracts from a statement that you made at the time of the Goldstone Commission when you were in Denmark.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: And after you obtained legal representation a supplementary document was prepared, which can also be found in the bundle from page 58 to page 76, is that correct?

MR NORTJE: Yes, that is correct.

MR LAMEY: Mr Nortje, do you still confirm to the best of your knowledge, what you stated in both your initial and supplementary applications, and do you also confirm that this is to the best of your knowledge true and correct?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: Then with regard to the amnesty application for your involvement in the death of Goodwill Sikhakhane, which you describe as the Greytown incident, you have stated that in January or February 1992, you know that that is incorrect, you know that the date is actually January 1990.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: In this case you received your instructions from Mr de Kock, who sketched to you that the Durban Security Branch had an askaris in Greytown who was handled by the Security Branch and that he had begun to present problems to them, being the Durban Security Branch, because he was aware of murders which had been committed by the branch against ANC members when Operation Vula was launched.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: And you understood this from Mr de Kock?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: Mr de Kock has also confirmed this, and you state in your affidavit that - Chairperson, I apologise, I'm at page 56, you state that Mr de Kock told you that the order came from Durban and that they had approached Gen Krappies Engelbrecht in this regard.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: And you also describe this as a secret or so-called covert operation.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: And according to you it was clear that the person had to be eliminated because if he were to speak out, it would emerge that the ANC members had been murdered by the Security Branch.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: And that certain senior members in the Durban Security Branch would have to bear the consequences.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: You also made this statement at that time and according to your independent recollection and knowledge, as you had it at that stage and also with regard to your supplementary application.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: You have also heard the evidence of Gen Steyn, indicating that one of the factors was also that Sikhakhane would easily know that the Durban Security Branch was involved in the death of Charles Ndaba and Mr Shabalala. Do you recall the name Charles Ndaba of that time?

MR NORTJE: No.

MR LAMEY: So basically, you knew that it was about MK members who had been arrested and then eliminated?

MR NORTJE: No, at that stage when he told me that it was Charles Ndaba, I had not yet known that it was him.

MR LAMEY: Did you understand that this was in the interests of the protection of the security risk that you were given the order?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAMEY: And that the member could expose the involvement of the Security Police in the death of those persons and that at that stage in 1990, within the context of those times, ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: Are you leading the witness or are you leading him from his statement? Earlier you were taking him through his statement, but I think now you're just putting the words into his mouth, aren't you?

MR LAMEY: Chairperson, I'm actually just on this point, focusing on the political objective. I will come back later also to what he stated. As it pleases you, Mr Chairman, I'll proceed. I ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: Let's hear what the witness has to say, the applicant has to say.

MR LAMEY: As it pleases you, Mr Chairman.

Very well. Let me put it to you as such. In your statement you say that Mr de Kock sketched the situation in a very serious light to you.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: How did you regard it at that time, if the particular member were to expose the involvement of the Durban Security Branch?

MR NORTJE: I didn't have all the details. Based upon what Mr de Kock told me I realised that it was a very serious situation. If this person were to speak out about what he knew it would create problems for the branch and I realised the gravity of the situation, that is why I continued with the action.

MR LAMEY: Did you know the particular askari?

MR NORTJE: I didn't know him but I knew about him.

MR LAMEY: Who would have accompanied you under the order of Mr de Kock to execute this operation?

MR NORTJE: It was approximately three days before the time when Mr de Kock approached me if I recall correctly, and mentioned to me that I had to contact Col Andy Taylor to make arrangements with him for us to travel down to Durban, that there was an askari there who had to be eliminated. He then informed me that I had to take two additional members with, I think he mentioned Mr Britz' name and then we also decided to take Mr Swart along.

MR LAMEY: Very well. And did you then depart from Vlakplaas?

MR NORTJE: I then spoke to Col Andy, I cannot recall whether I called him, but we made an arrangement for a rendezvous point which would have been at Mooi Rivier on a certain day, approximately 12 o'clock that afternoon, perhaps somewhat later. But before our departure, Mr de Kock gave me money and he gave me the AK which was fitted with a silencer. I recall that we had a Makarov with a silencer which we also took with, Britz had it on him. But that was basically what we took along. And our further instructions we would have received from Col Taylor when we met him.

With regard to the money, I used my credit card at that stage ...(intervention)

MR LAMEY: Please explain to the Committee about this credit card.

MR NORTJE: I had a credit card which was issued under a false name ...(intervention)

MR LAMEY: A credit card issued under a false name?

MR NORTJE: Yes. And I had a limit of R10 000 on it, which I never used. I never basically went into the red, I always paid in money. As I recall, I took the money that Mr de Kock gave me and paid it into the credit card account. He speaks of an amount between R5-7 000 and I cannot recall it being that much.

MR LAMEY: Was there already an existing level of funds on that account?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAMEY: What I mean is credit card funds on the card when you received it.

MR NORTJE: Yes, I used the card in emergencies. If for example we needed money quickly, it wouldn't have been necessary for me to go to head office first and then draw money. So I always kept an amount on that credit card account and the money Mr de Kock gave me I paid in because at that stage it wasn't my idea that we were going to hire a car. As I've said, the planning took place there at the hotel with Col Taylor, but we made provision for any such eventuality.

MR LAMEY: And then the credit card would be used in such a situation?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAMEY: Let us just return. Did you then meet Col Taylor and Mr Hanton somewhere, and where was it?

MR NORTJE: We drove down to Mooi River, I think we met them at the Post Office. They were driving a BMW vehicle. And from that point on we went to the Leeupark Hotel between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

MR LAMEY: Would you stay there?

MR NORTJE: Yes, it was the plan for us to stay over there. We then booked in and I paid cash as far as I can recall.

MR LAMEY: Could you also draw cash with your credit card?

MR NORTJE: Yes. I'm not certain whether I paid in all the money or whether I retained an amount. I would have retained an amount on me for the purposes of fuel and so forth. I don't believe that I paid the whole amount into the credit card account, for the reason that I needed to have cash on me for the purposes of petrol and so forth.

We booked in for two days preliminarily and that is where we spoke to Col Taylor and it emerged that we would be requiring another vehicle. I then told him that I would be able to hire the vehicle because I could use my false credit card and he then said that Hanton would arrange the appointment or meeting with Sikhakhane, and we then planned to do it the next evening.

MR LAMEY: Do you know where Sikhakhane was at that stage?

MR NORTJE: He was in Greytown.

MR LAMEY: So Hanton would arrange a meeting with him?

MR NORTJE: Yes, Hanton would deal with that aspect of the situation because he was his handler as far as I understood the case to be.

MR LAMEY: And what happened further?

MR NORTJE: We didn't stay there very long. Col Andy then drove back to Durban. I'm not certain whether Hanton accompanied him, but on the following day we planned to go to Greytown to see how the place looked.

MR LAMEY: Did you go to the place beforehand to see where you were going to commit the deed?

MR NORTJE: The following morning we drove through and we identified the place where we would leave the body.

MR LAMEY: Where was this? Could you perhaps give us a closer indication.

MR NORTJE: It was approximately five kilometres on the Kranskop Road, if I recall correctly, just outside Greytown.

MR LAMEY: So you found a suitable place there?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAMEY: How did the environment look?

MR NORTJE: There were plantations and Hanton told me specifically that it wouldn't be a problem to leave the body there because there were not many people in the area and a possibility existed that wild animals would destroy the body ultimately.

MR LAMEY: What other preparations did you undertake with regard to the vehicle and so forth?

MR NORTJE: After we had seen the place where we would do it, we went back to Pietermaritzburg and we went to rent the vehicle from, either Avis or Budget, I cannot recall which one. We returned to the hotel where we left the other vehicle. This was late afternoon already.

MR LAMEY: One of the applicants, I think it is Mr Britz, states that practise shots were fired with the AK47, can you recall this?

MR NORTJE: Yes, I think it was during the morning that we drove to a place near Camperdown. There was a quarry there and that is where we tested the weapon, just to see that it was in good working order.

MR LAMEY: Very well. I interrupted you, you then returned to the hotel at the Lion Park Inn.

MR NORTJE: That is correct. We left the other vehicles there, but I am not certain whether we travelled in two vehicles. I do think that we travelled only in the kombi to a village between Pietermaritzburg and Greytown. I think it is called New Hanover. There is a hotel there where we stopped and we waited there because we were quite early. And according to what I understood from Hanton, he had arranged to see Sikhakhane at approximately 9 o'clock or 10 o'clock that evening. So we had quite a lot of time that we had to spend in-between.

MR LAMEY: So you waited there at the hotel?

MR NORTJE: Yes. At a stage Hanton drove in to phone and he came back and the final arrangements had been made.

MR LAMEY: And while you waited there, did you have any drinks?

MR NORTJE: Yes, we had a few drinks but we didn't drink excessively.

MR LAMEY: So you didn't drink to such an extent that you were under the influence or inebriated, you simply had a few drinks?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: What happened further?

MR NORTJE: When we departed from there it was beginning to darken. We stopped and switched the numberplates, if I recall correctly, we put false numberplates on the kombi.

MR LAMEY: Were these false numberplates which came from Vlakplaas?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: Very well.

MR NORTJE: We then drove. It also rained that evening. We arrived at the rubbish dumps at a certain point, where they undertook the waste disposal. We stopped there and the plan was that Britz and I would be at the back of the kombi and that when Sikhakhane climbed in we would grab him. Swart sat in front. Sikhakhane came walking along and climbed in and closed the door and when Hanton started driving we seized him.

MR LAMEY: Who drove the vehicle at that stage?

MR NORTJE: I recall it was Hanton. He then began to struggle and we pressed him down on the floor. I hit him once on the head with a baton ...(intervention)

MR LAMEY: When you say that you managed to get him under control, who are you referring to?

MR NORTJE: Me and Britz. We pressed him down and cuffed his hands behind his back and we then drove to the place where we had decided earlier on during the day. There were no other vehicles on the road, it was very quiet. We climbed out. I brought the weapon out. Hanton and Britz took him and I helped. We took him over an embankment on the side of the road, then we pressed him down onto the ground. It was Britz and Hanton who held him down, if I recall correctly. I then held the AK against his head and fired two shots to his head. He died instantly.

Swart then returned to the kombi, or returned with the kombi. We climbed in and we drove away. We drove to Greytown, or rather the Lion Park Hotel.

From that point on, Hanton returned to Durban and on the following day I noticed that there was blood in the kombi. I first obtained cleaning detergents to clean the kombi with and then at approximately 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock that morning we returned the kombi and drove back to Pretoria. I cannot recall on which day this was, but I do know that I reported back to Mr de Kock that it had been done and that everything had been successful, and we never again spoke about it.

MR LAMEY: So you reported back to Mr de Kock?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAMEY: Do you know whether at any stage he mentioned anything to you about something which had been reported back?

MR NORTJE: At a certain stage he told me that he had told Gen Krappies about it and he basically said - I don't know if he said we'd done good work, but he stated that he was satisfied with the work that we had done. Gen Engelbrecht never spoke to me directly regarding the incident.

MR LAMEY: Very well. Do you know what happened to the AK47?

MR NORTJE: As far as I know it was destroyed later.

MR LAMEY: This AK47, what sort of weapon was it, do you know?

MR NORTJE: It was a fold-up butt AK. We had approximately 10 of them at a certain stage, which were fitted with silencers, which we used in covert operations abroad.

MR LAMEY: Do you know if this was a legally registered weapon which would have been registered according to the regular procedure?

MR NORTJE: No, it wasn't.

MR LAMEY: After you had reported back to Mr de Kock, and with regard to the money which he had given you and the money which was in the credit card account and the bonus that you received, can you tell us what you recall about this.

MR NORTJE: I recall that Mr de Kock gave me the money after the time, but what the circumstances were is not certain to me, I simply assumed that it was for that.

MR LAMEY: For your participation in the action?

MR NORTJE: Yes, I assumed that that is what it was for.

MR LAMEY: And that is why you mention it as such in your amnesty application?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: What is your recollection? Mr de Kock states that he recalls that there was money remaining in the credit card account and he told you that you could keep the change. Could there have been ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: He didn't say anything about credit card account. De Kock did not mention money in the credit card account.

MR LAMEY: Sorry, I'm then totally wrong, Chairperson, I apologise.

MR LAX: What Mr de Kock did say was that as far as he could remember, as far as he could remember, this amount of R2 000, and he wasn't sure of the exact figure, but if it was R2 000, then it would have been the money left over from the cash he'd been given.

MR LAMEY: Of the cash that he gave.

MR LAX: Correct.

MR LAMEY: I beg your pardon, I misunderstood it.

What is your recollection in this regard, Mr Nortje?

MR NORTJE: I always had a certain amount of money in my credit card account, which I used for emergency situations when I did not have cash readily available. I didn't simply take the money and put it in my own pocket for my private use, I kept it in the account. I kept that credit card specifically for the eventuality of me requiring money. I recall that I received the R2 000 separately, but I cannot recall specifically. It was already in my credit card account and I cannot recall using it from that point onwards.

MR LAMEY: But what you do remember is that an amount of R2 000 was allocated to you by Mr de Kock with regard to your participation in this action?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: Before this operation and before any other operation in which you participated and for which you request amnesty, did you ever have any expectation or was anything ever promised to you with regard to additional remuneration which would be paid out to you?

MR NORTJE: No. As I've stated before, we were never told that if we participated in a specific operation we would receive a specific amount of money, that was never the motivation. I think that Mr de Kock gave us the money to compensate for the inconvenience that we endured.

CHAIRPERSON: So he did it more than once, did he?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAMEY: But can you recall with regard to specific operations, can you recall whether under normal service conditions money was paid out to members?

MR NORTJE: Yes, but this was not the prior motivation for participation in an action.

MR LAMEY: And Mr Nortje, you have applied for amnesty for various incidents.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: How many incidents can you recall for which you received an additional amount of cash for your participation?

MR NORTJE: I cannot recall specifically at the moment.

MR LAMEY: Can you think of any other incident?

MR NORTJE: Yes, there was, but I cannot recall it. I think I may have given evidence about it previously.

MR LAMEY: But what I want to ask you is that it wasn't like that with each and every operation?

MR NORTJE: No. As I've said, it was not the practice that if we participated in an operation we would receive money.

MR LAMEY: With regard to you yourself and you participation in this operation, were you encouraged or motivated in any way, in your mind, with regard to an expectation of additional bonus which you may receive? Was that your consideration?

MR NORTJE: No.

MR LAMEY: Initially, when you compiled your statement in Denmark, you stated that at that stage according to your knowledge, the body of Mr Sikhakhane had not yet been found.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: And in the supplementary affidavit you stated that it came to your knowledge later that it had been found. You also gave evidence about this case during Mr de Kock's criminal trial.

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAMEY: And if I recall correctly you received indemnity in terms of Section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAMEY: Were you also present during any identifications before the de Kock trial, with regard to places which you pointed out and so forth?

MR NORTJE: I identified the place for the investigating team and after that we made enquiries and traced the body in the cemetery in Greytown.

MR LAMEY: Very well. Now with regard to the political motivation, you have summarised it from page 75 to 76. Also with regard to the order and from whom you received it and what you understood, you state that you understood that this came from Gen Krappies Engelbrecht, who was the overall commander of Vlakplaas.

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAMEY: And according to your best knowledge of how you saw the political motivation at that time?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: Thank you, Chairperson, I have nothing further.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR LAMEY

CHAIRPERSON: Before we go onto anyone else. When was it, can you remember at all, that you found the body in the cemetery at Greytown? Would that have been in 1994?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

CHAIRPERSON: I put that date to you because that is the date of the post-mortem examination, which would have been after you had found the body I take it.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Hattingh?

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

Mr Nortje, for how long were you connected to Vlakplaas?

MR NORTJE: I arrived there during June/July 1984 until it closed in 1993.

MR HATTINGH: So it was approximately nine years?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR HATTINGH: And when you were asked by your attorney regarding other incidents that you can recall receiving a reward for, you could not recall these incidents from the top of your head.

MR NORTJE: No, the weapons were also a considerable factor.

MR HATTINGH: Isn't it simply the case that the receipt of such monies was not a regular occurrence?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR HATTINGH: And that over a period of nine years you were involved in numerous operations?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR HATTINGH: And that many of them extended beyond the parameters of the law?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR HATTINGH: So an expectation was never created in your mind that you would receive a reward for every operation that you participated in?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR HATTINGH: Then just with regard to one or two other aspects. You have already mentioned that you possessed false registration plates.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR HATTINGH: And last week when we dealt with the Ngqulunga matter you also gave evidence that you made use of false registration numbers during that incident.

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR HATTINGH: It was a custom?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR HATTINGH: And the false registration plates were put on vehicles that you hired?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR HATTINGH: You heard Mr de Kock's evidence that particularly when it came to the rental of vehicles, it wasn't always possible for you to do so in cash, you had to use a credit card.

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR HATTINGH: And the false credit cards, the false identity documents and passports and possibly also false chequebooks were issued to you with the express purpose of disguising your involvement in such incidents as a policeman?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR HATTINGH: And if it hadn't been for the fact that you and others had provided information to the A-G, the death of Mr Goodwill Sikhakhane would probably still not have been cleared up at this point?

MR NORTJE: It is possible.

CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, before we - can I just go back a little bit. Were you given false identification documents and passports?

MR NORTJE: Yes, Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: And then did you open an account in that false name? I take it that the chequebook that you used was a genuine chequebook, but it was chequebook issued in a false name?

MR NORTJE: I can only tell you that I did not have a chequebook, I only had a credit card.

CHAIRPERSON: Oh. I understood - it was put to you earlier that you had a chequebook and I thought you'd agreed. You didn't have a chequebook?

MR NORTJE: No.

CHAIRPERSON: You just got a credit card in the false name?

MR NORTJE: That is correct.

MR LAX: Sorry, while we're on this point, did you apply for that chequebook - that credit card yourself, in the false name, using the false ID documents or was it arranged for you?

MR NORTJE: It was arranged for me.

MR LAX: And just while we're on this point, if you'll allow me Mr Hattingh, to interpose. I'm sorry, better do it now while the issue is alive.

MR HATTINGH: Certainly.

MR LAX: You said something about you used to put money into that credit card.

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAX: Why would you do a thing like that?

MR NORTJE: Often when we went out for extended periods of time and we received money, I would pay the money into the credit card account so that I wouldn't have to walk around with cash and I could simply withdraw money from an ATM.

MR LAX: But wouldn't that defeat the purpose of having cash on you?

MR NORTJE: Yes, we also carried cash, but the cards were used more for hotel payments, accommodation, cars which were hired and that sort of thing.

MR LAX: What I don't understand is this, you're given cash for the purpose of paying your expenses in cash. Mr de Kock made it clear that the cards were only for those cases where people insisted on cards, the rest of the time you didn't want to leave a paper trail behind. That was the whole object of having cash.

MR NORTJE: Yes, but it wasn't only for illegal use, I used the card as a normal credit card.

MR LAX: You used your covert card in non-covert matters? Is that what you're saying?

MR NORTJE: I cannot recall specifically, but I did not only use it specifically for illegal operations. For example, if we went to Swaziland or wherever, I would pay with that card, depending upon the passports that we would use when leaving the country. When I was in the country we would sometimes stay in Johannesburg and use our false names in the hotels. I know that at a stage I stayed in the Madison Hotel with my credit card and my false ID book.

MR LAX: But you weren't on a covert operation at that time?

MR NORTJE: I think that we were investigating smuggling.

MR LAX: My point is a simple one, why use your covert identity and everything connected with it in a non-covert situation?

MR NORTJE: Well these are just things that happened.

MR LAX: Well isn't that an abuse of your covert identity?

MR NORTJE: Sometimes yes, perhaps, if you want to put it in that light.

MR LAX: I understand the explanation given by Mr de Kock that you used a card in a situation where it was absolutely necessary, or in an emergency where you'd run out of cash, fair enough. You illustrate a completely different modus operandi here, you say that you took the cash that was given to you because you didn't like carrying cash on you and you deposited it into your covert card account and then you drew and used your card for everything, except where you had paid a few small things by cash.

MR NORTJE: Yes, I did it as such.

MR LAX: But that defeats the whole purpose, it's totally contrary to your instructions. It just doesn't make sense to me at all.

MR NORTJE: Well that is how I did it.

MR LAX: Well maybe it's not that surprising that d'Olivera was after you then I suppose. But anyway, let's move on.

MR HATTINGH: Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Mr Nortje, still on this aspect, is it not correct that it was preferable to - with regard to running expenses in illegal aspects, to pay in cash?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR HATTINGH: And indeed so that no evidence could be built up against you?

MR NORTJE: Yes, that is correct.

MR HATTINGH: Because the credit card receipts which you received were used as evidence in Mr de Kock's trial.

MR NORTJE: That's correct.

MR HATTINGH: As well as payment for the vehicles which you rented and credit card receipts which were used to those transactions?

MR NORTJE: That's correct.

MR HATTINGH: And Mr de Kock's evidence is that money had remained, he cannot say how much it was, and it seems to me that you also do not know how much, but on page 76 of your application, paragraph 10(c) you say

"I received a cash bonus of approximately R2 000 after this operation."

Is it correct?

MR NORTJE: That's correct, yes.

MR HATTINGH: Is it not possible that not all the money was paid into your credit card and that you retained an amount which was rather substantial and that Mr de Kock told you to keep that?

MR NORTJE: It is possible because the R2 000 stuck in my mind from the day that I started talking about these things. It may have been a little less, it may have been a little more, but the R2 000 remained with me.

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

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR HATTINGH

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, Visser on record. I have no questions to this witness, thank you.

NO QUESTIONS BY MR VISSER

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR NEL: Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Mr Nortje, I would just like to put a few statements to you. My instructions from Mr Hanton are that - and if we may proceed where you testified that practise shots were fired to see if the weapon was in working order, my instructions from Mr Hanton are that he does not have any recollection of practise shots which were fired.

MR NORTJE: No, I recall we went to a place close to Camperdown, where there was a quarry and we fired two or three shots there, or probably four, just to surmise if it was in working order and we still drove in that BMW. That is how I recall it.

MR NEL: And then furthermore, my instructions are that Mr Hanton will say when he testifies that at no stage on the day of the incident did he drive the vehicle, but that the vehicle was drive by Mr Blackie Swart.

MR NORTJE: It is possible. At a stage I place him behind the steering wheel, I just do not know at which stage it was.

MR NEL: And why he recalls it so well is because you would not have allowed him to drive because ...(intervention)

MR LAX: Sorry Mr Nel, you're referring to the kombi I take it?

MR NEL: Yes, Sir.

MR LAX: Because there were other vehicles involved.

MR NEL: I'm referring to the kombi, yes Mr Lax.

And Mr Hanton will also state that it is indeed so that he and Mr Swart left you and Mr Britz at the small town which you call New Hanover, and he doesn't recall the name, that he and Swart did not make calls, but that they met Sikhakhane personally that afternoon and it was still daylight and that he told Mr Sikhakhane that they would return that evening for a second meeting.

MR NORTJE: Yes, that is probably what happened. Although I thought that they called, it is possible that they went to see him personally.

MR NEL: And then a further instruction from Mr Hanton is that although he was on the embankment with Mr Britz and yourself, he did not hold down Mr Sikhakhane but that he was just standing around there while Mr Britz held Mr Sikhakhane down.

MR NORTJE: That is entirely possible. I recall that Mr Britz tramped on him. I know Mr Hanton was also standing there, but I cannot specifically recall what he did just before I shot him. It is possible that he was just standing there.

MR NEL: And then finally, Mr Hanton says that as far as he can recall only two shots were fired. Not that he makes an issue of this, but he cannot recall three shots as far as he can recall there were only two shots. You would probably know better than he does.

MR NORTJE: No, I want to recall that there were three shots.

MR NEL: Thank you, Chairperson, we have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR NEL

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR CORNELIUS: Thank you, Mr Chairman, Cornelius for Britz and Swart.

Mr Nortje, I would just like to clear up one aspect which is a little unclear. If we look at the application of Britz and yourself it would seem that de Kock gave you the instruction and to Britz.

MR NORTJE: It would seem so.

MR CORNELIUS: Because it would seem that there is some confusion as to who was the leader.

MR NORTJE: Well I thought he approached me first and I was under the impression that I was.

MR CORNELIUS: I see. And there was no doubt in your mind that you acted bona fide against a political opponent with the authorisation of your employer?

MR NORTJE: No.

MR CORNELIUS: And the same idea was embellished with Britz and Swart.

MR NORTJE: That is correct, yes.

MR CORNELIUS: Thank you, Mr Chairman.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR CORNELIUS

MR SIBANYONI: In fact at that stage were you second-in-command at Vlakplaas? - to Mr de Kock.

MR NORTJE: No, I was not second-in-command.

MR SIBANYONI: Thank you, Mr Chairperson.

CROSS-EXAMINATION MR WAGENER: Jan Wagener, Mr Chairman, only a few questions.

Mr Nortje, on page 76 of the bundle you say that you committed this murder under the overhead command of Gen Engelbrecht. Do you see that on page 76?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR WAGENER: For this statement you rely only on what your allege that Mr Engelbrecht told you - I beg your pardon, what Mr de Kock told you?

MR NORTJE: That's correct.

MR WAGENER: You don't have knowledge yourself whether it had indeed come from Gen Engelbrecht?

MR NORTJE: No, he did not say it in my presence and I just deduced it from what Mr de Kock told me, and that's how I believed.

MR WAGENER: And then Mr Nortje, on page 75 you say after you returned to Pretoria, Mr de Kock reported back to Gen Engelbrecht. Were you present?

MR NORTJE: No, he told me.

MR WAGENER: So once again you don't have any direct knowledge?

MR NORTJE: No.

MR WAGENER: You heard Gen Engelbrecht's version that he had no participation whatsoever in this instance, can you deny it?

MR NORTJE: No, but I believe he did know. And it is his right to say that he did not know.

MR WAGENER: Thank you, Mr Chairman.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR WAGENER

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

I refer you to page 75 of the application where in paragraph 10(b) you say that in this regard you executed the instruction give to you by your commander, Mr de Kock, and you continue to explain what was sketched to you. Was this sketch done by Mr de Kock?

MR NORTJE: Yes, it was with regard to the fact that he wanted to speak about the Vula incident. He mentioned if offhandedly to me and the fact about the permanent appointment I knew about, because Hanton told me at a stage. I cannot recall whether it was the day at the hotel, but I know they many times came to Pretoria to sort out his documents and at a stage Hanton told me that this man wants to be appointed but they do not want to appoint him for some or other reason. It is something that he mentioned to me, so I was aware that they were experiencing problems and that he wanted to be appointed permanently, but I did not go into any detail.

MR SCHOLTZ: In other words before Mr de Kock gave these instructions to you, you had discussed this askari with Hanton?

MR NORTJE: Yes, but I did not know that it was the same person at that stage. I knew many times he came to Pretoria with documentation because I know they had a problem with his wife's identity to make her a citizen of the country and so forth and during that time he mentioned it to me that they experienced some problem.

MR LAX: Mr Scholtz, if I can just interpose here, I'm just puzzled, I don't know whose documents we're talking about.

May you can help me, Mr Nortje. You spoke about Hanton coming up to Pretoria to sort out his documents, were they Sikhakhane's documents that he was coming up to sort out? Because I thought that's what you were saying?

MR NORTJE: Yes, as I understood it, it was his and his wife's documentation, to try and appoint her as a citizen of the country.

MR LAX: And when you asked Hanton why he was there, he explained that to you, do I understand that correctly?

MR NORTJE: No, I did not specifically ask him why he was there, it was information which came out of discussions and I would say it was towards the end that he mentioned it to me.

MR LAX: You see I'm just trying to understand how you got this information and that you remembered that it was to do with Sikhakhane.

MR NORTJE: Afterwards - I did not know Sikhakhane personally but I knew of him as I have stated, and that is how I knew that they were speaking of this person, but there was no talk that they wanted to kill him at that stage. That only came about later.

CHAIRPERSON: Did you hear this in Pretoria? You said "towards the end I heard this", towards the end of what?

MR NORTJE: I would say before we received the instruction to kill him. It was during the time before the thing came that he came up a few times to sort out the documentation and to try and work on his appointment. I did not go into so much detail, but I knew that ...(indistinct) was it about and I did not ask any detail. And up ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: Did you see him when he came up there?

MR NORTJE: Hanton?

CHAIRPERSON: Hanton, ja.

MR NORTJE: Yes, I did.

CHAIRPERSON: And just let me get my things clear. You gathered that he was up there trying to help some askari, but you didn't know who the askari was at the time, you hadn't met him?

MR NORTJE: No, I was not interested, I just knew he had a problem with an askari's appointment ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: And it was only later, after you'd been told you had to kill him, that you realised this is the man that he had a problem with before, about documentation?

MR NORTJE: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR LAX: Sorry, Mr Scholtz, just to clear this up.

The reason the problems existed were to do with citizenship and his wife's citizenship, that's what you understood?

MR NORTJE: The citizenship of his wife, yes. He had already had citizenship, but as I understood it he experienced problems with his wife's citizenship.

MR LAX: I just want to be clear that I understood you correctly.

MR SCHOLTZ: So at that stage when he was experiencing trouble with the citizenship and the documents, he did not mention to you that Sikhakhane was threatening to defect to the ANC?

MR NORTJE: No, not that I can recall.

MR SCHOLTZ: Now who told you that Sikhakhane, this threat that he would disclose Vula Operation, that he wanted to use it as leverage to gain permanent appointment?

MR NORTJE: Mr de Kock - this is how I understood the thing. Mr de Kock explained to me, he explained to me it was about the Vula thing and the appointment was a problem. If I speak of a lever, that is how I explained it and that is how I understood it, that he wanted to be appointed and if he was not appointed he would talk. That is how I understood it.

MR SCHOLTZ: But where did you receive this information from, Mr de Kock or from Hanton or from whom?

MR NORTJE: Definitely Mr de Kock spoke to me about the Vula story and I think when I arrived at Hanton they once again mentioned it to me. But as I say, I did not ask for so much detail.

MR SCHOLTZ: How many times did you shoot Mr Sikhakhane?

MR NORTJE: Thrice.

MR SCHOLTZ: And where exactly on his body?

MR NORTJE: One shot was in his head and two in his chest, as I recall. I know at a stage I had it mixed up ...(intervention)

MR SCHOLTZ: Yes, that is what I wanted to ask you. On page 75 of bundle 1 you say that you fired three shots, two through the head and one through the chest.

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR SCHOLTZ: Why is that?

MR NORTJE: I was somewhat confused as to how it happened and I think at the post-mortem inquest it showed that there was one shot fired through his head.

MR SCHOLTZ: Yes, that is correct. Thank you, Mr Chairman, I have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR SCHOLTZ

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

NO QUESTIONS BY ADV STEENKAMP

MR LAX: Just one little aspect and it's to do with what happened in the vehicle. You said that you hit him on the head.

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAX: Why was that necessary?

MR NORTJE: To bring him under control, because he was struggling fiercely. I only delivered one blow. I may have struck him more than that, but I struck him one blow and then calmed down and then we held him down. It was in the kombi and it was dark and I think at some stage I struck Britz by accident, but I would not say that we seriously assaulted him, the idea was to hold him down. And later we had on the floor and cuffed him.

MR LAX: You see, what did you hit him with?

MR NORTJE: A baton as far as I can recall. A wooden baton.

MR LAX: A wooden baton?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAX: And you hit him hard enough for blood to be all over the kombi you said, because you noticed the blood the next morning.

MR NORTJE: But it was not a large wound, it was a small wound because there was not much blood. It did not splatter the whole place, there was just a little on the seat as he rubbed his head against the fabric.

MR LAX: And you say you hit Britz by accident?

MR NORTJE: I beg your pardon?

MR LAX: Did you hit Britz by accident?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAX: Now at the point you took him out of the vehicle, he was handcuffed I take it?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAX: And who held him and who moved him up to the place where you eventually shot him, on the other side of that wall?

MR NORTJE: I recall all three of us took him. Britz took him by one arm, Hanton took him by the other arm and I had the rifle with me and I helped him up and we went over the embankment and on the other side Britz tramped him down. But it happened very quickly, it was a process that happened very quickly.

MR LAX: I mean he must have known that you were going to kill him at that point.

MR NORTJE: That's why we wanted to complete it as quickly as possible.

MR LAX: Well he must have seen the AK47 in your hand?

MR NORTJE: I did not openly carry it, I had it half hidden behind me, I don't believe he saw it.

MR LAX: You see what I'm puzzled about is, he didn't struggle with you, he didn't try and run away. The way you illustrate it he just went carefully and you somehow got him over the wall ...

MR NORTJE: No, that is not how it happened, it is not how you are describing now. We took him out of the kombi, Britz and Hanton took him and I fetched the rifle, we pushed him over the wall. It was basically in one move. We pressed him down and I shot him. He was not a large person, he did not offer much resistance, or I didn't see him offering much resistance in ...(intervention)

MR LAX: This place where you shot him, how far is it from the road?

MR NORTJE: Approximately 30 paces.

MR LAX: It was up a slope, wasn't it?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAX: And at the top of the slope there's a sort of a wall.

MR NORTJE: Yes, and then there's an embankment down to the plantation.

MR LAX: The point I'm just trying to understand is, surely you then had yourself and Hanton and who was the other person, Britz?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAX: They must have held him on either side and dragged him up the hillside over the wall, because you didn't participate in that.

MR NORTJE: No, I know I pushed him at some stage when he went over the wall and then I went along and pressed him down ...(intervention)

MR LAX: But you didn't hold him down, you were going to shoot him, how could you hold him down and shoot him at the same time?

MR NORTJE: No, Britz was holding him down.

MR LAX: And then your recollection, Hanton held him down as well. That's what you said initially in ...(indistinct).

MR NORTJE: Yes, I want to recall that Hanton was there. He must have been assisting. I cannot recall exactly what his part was. He says he stood to one side, but definitely at a stage he helped with pushing him over the wall.

MR LAX: You see I'm just trying to understand why you so readily conceded that Hanton didn't play a role in this, he just merely observed, when that was your initial version.

MR NORTJE: No, Hanton assisted when we took him over the wall, but the moment when I shot him I don't know whether he was tramping on him, but I know Britz was tramping him down.

MR LAX: And as far as you recall, Hanton drove the kombi to that point?

MR NORTJE: I would recall he drove, yes, but I may be mistaken, but I recall he drove because he knew the place. That is the only inference I draw, that I recall that he drove, because I cannot recall when he climbed over or if he had indeed climbed over. But I want to recall that when Goodwill climbed into the vehicle, Hanton was behind the steering wheel.

MR LAX: It was yourself and Britz that jumped out of the back and pacified him?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAX: Where was Swart when this was happening? - in the vehicle.

MR NORTJE: He must have been left in front.

MR LAX: And then at some point Swart takes over the driving of the vehicle?

MR NORTJE: Well he must have taken over at some stage because - and I would recall that when we stopped, Swart took over, at the scene where we shot him.

MR LAX: Did Swart drive away?

MR NORTJE: Yes, he drove away some ways and later came back again.

MR LAX: Did you have a signal that you should be able to indicate to him when he should come back?

MR NORTJE: No, it was very quiet there, we would have stopped him and I would shouted for him or whatever. But at that stage we did not have an agreement as to whether there would be any signals.

MR LAX: And he was away for long enough for you to have completed the job and to waiting at the side of the road?

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR LAX: Thanks, Chairperson.

MR SIBANYONI: The way in which this operation was carried out is almost similar to the way in which the incident during the killing of Brain Ngqulunga was done.

MR NORTJE: Yes.

MR SIBANYONI: Was it known amongst the security branches, like Durban would know that you were able to execute such an operation, that Vlakplaas was able to execute such an operation?

MR NORTJE: I believe it may have come out in discussions, people talk, and I think they knew.

MR SIBANYONI: Thank you, Mr Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

MR NEL: Mr Chairman, if I may just be allowed.

CHAIRPERSON: Oh sorry.

FURTHER CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR NEL: Sorry, Mr Chairman, I'd just like if I may, to ask two questions following from a question my learned colleague, Mr Scholtz asked, if I may.

Mr Nortje, I have quickly taken instructions from Mr Hanton while you gave evidence with regard to the documentation in Pretoria. Mr Hanton will testify if necessary that he cannot recall that he ever went to Pretoria to sort out documentation for Sikhakhane or his wife or had discussed it with you. Could you be mistaken about that? What is your recollection?

MR NORTJE: No, that is how I recall it. I know specifically his wife experienced some trouble with documentation. That is how I recall it.

MR NEL: And the other aspect which I would like to make a statement about is the fact that Mr Hanton says that he spoke to you at Lion Park about the reason as to why Sikhakhane had to be murdered, but his recollection is clear that it came from Taylor that this man was a double-agent. And as far as Hanton knows or can recall, it had nothing to do with Charles Ndaba, but the instruction from Taylor came that this man had to die because he was a double-agent for the ANC, while he was also working for the Security Branch.

MR NORTJE: He may have said so, but I cannot recall.

MR NEL: Thank you, Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: ...(indistinct) re-examination?

MR LAMEY: No re-examination, Chairperson.

NO RE-EXAMINATION BY MR LAMEY

CHAIRPERSON: I think we'll now take the adjournment. What time tomorrow morning, gentlemen? Nine thirty?

MR VISSER: Nine thirty is in order for us yes, thank you, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Very well, we'll now adjourn till nine thirty tomorrow morning.

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