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Amnesty Hearings

Type AMNESTY HEARINGS

Starting Date 21 September 1999

Location PIETERMARITZBURG

Day 2

Names DAWID JAKOBUS BRITZ

Case Number AM3745/96

MR CORNELIUS: Thank you Mr Chairman. Cornelius on behalf of Britz, he is the second applicant, I am prepared to call him, Mr Chair. We've got a bit of a sound problem.

MR LAX: Good morning Mr Britz, what are your full names for the record please?

DAWID JAKOBUS BRITZ: (sworn states)

MR LAX: Thank you, sworn in Chairperson.

EXAMINATION BY MR CORNELIUS: Thank you Mr Chairman. May I proceed, thank you Mr Chair. Mr Britz, you have prepared the application in terms of Act 18 of the Act of 1995, and handed it into the Truth Commission?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: And at the time of the occurrence of this incident, you were an employee as defined in Section 18 and 20(b) and 20(f) of the Act of 1995?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: And at the time of this incident, you were deployed to Section C1, known as Vlakplaas, the particulars of which have been thoroughly submitted to this Committee in the so-called Annexure C, which was submitted by my colleague, Mr Hattingh, during previous proceedings?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Do you confirm the general background in your amnesty application as it has been served before the Committee today?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: It is common cause that Col Eugene de Kock was your Commander and you carried out all orders given by him, expressly?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: And at the time of this incident, you acted within the scope of your duties, as defined within the Act?

MR BRITZ: That is correct?

MR CORNELIUS: It is common cause that you received an order after a request was lodged by Durban Security Branch to move down to Natal, to carry out an operation on Goodwill Sikhakane, is that correct?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Who met you at Mooi Rivier before you departed to ...

MR BRITZ: As far as I recall, we met Mr Hanton there.

MR CORNELIUS: Is it correct that you went to a bar known as van der Merwe's where further details regarding the operation was discussed?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: What was the planning? I understand that a kombi vehicle was hired?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: How would you have contacted Neville, or Neville who is also better known as Goodwill Sikhakane?

MR BRITZ: Larry Hanton would have arranged an appointment with him.

MR CORNELIUS: To meet him when?

CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, can I interrupt, as I understand the position, once you came down into Natal, you were then under the instructions of the Natal Security People?

MR BRITZ: That is correct Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: Hanton told you what to do, and made all the arrangements?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, so Larry Hanton gave you complete instructions regarding what you were supposed to do?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: What did you then do?

MR BRITZ: From van der Merwe's we went to the Lion Park Lodge where we booked in and there we discussed the operation further.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, did you then meet Goodwill Sikhakane later that evening, please explain to the Committee what took place?

MR BRITZ: It was not the same evening that I met him. The following day we hired the kombi. Swart and Hanton arranged for an appointment with Goodwill Sikhakane.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, the weapon which was used, was it tested according to your knowledge?

MR BRITZ: As far as I can recall, yes.

MR CORNELIUS: Please tell the Committee.

MR BRITZ: It was an AK47 with a silencer and at some or other place where there was an embankment, we tested it to see if it was operating.

MR CORNELIUS: I assume that the weapon was found to be suitable for use?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, what took place later that evening?

MR BRITZ: Later that evening we drove in the kombi.

MR CORNELIUS: Who was driving?

MR BRITZ: As far as I can recall, the vehicle was driven by Blackie Swart.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, what took place next?

MR BRITZ: Willie Nortje and I were seated at the back of the kombi.

MR CORNELIUS: Yes, you concealed yourselves in the back of the kombi?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR CORNELIUS: For what purpose?

MR BRITZ: So that not too many people would be able to see us, in the event of Neville not wanting to climb in.

MR CORNELIUS: Apparently the purpose was to overpower him?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Did you then pick up Goodwill Sikhakane?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: And what happened next?

MR BRITZ: After we had driven some distance out of the town, I grabbed him from behind. Nortje hit him over the head with some form of a baton.

MR CORNELIUS: I see, in your application you speak of a leather plaque, what is that?

MR BRITZ: It is like a baton.

MR CORNELIUS: Is this the sort that one would find which had a round iron ball inside which was covered with leather?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Was it also a form of a baton?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR CORNELIUS: How many blows did Nortje deal to him over the head?

MR BRITZ: Approximately three.

MR CORNELIUS: I understand according to the evidence of Nortje, that you were also struck?

MR BRITZ: Yes, he struck me.

MR CORNELIUS: Did you also incur an injury?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR CORNELIUS: What did you then do with Goodwill Sikhakane?

MR BRITZ: After we had arrived at the pre-arranged place ...

MR CORNELIUS: Let me ask you like this, was he under control?

MR BRITZ: Yes, he was under our control, we had bound him, we bound his hands.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, and then?

MR BRITZ: At the pre-arranged place which we had observed before the time, we stopped. Hanton, Nortje and me pulled him out of the vehicle.

MR CORNELIUS: Just a moment, was he bleeding as a result of the assaults on his head?

MR BRITZ: Not much.

MR CORNELIUS: I want you to tell the Committee how the scene looked where you disembarked, because there may be some element of confusion regarding a wall. Can you explain to us how the embankment looked?

MR BRITZ: It was a land embankment next to the road.

MR CORNELIUS: Was it a slope?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR CORNELIUS: A slope which progressed upwards?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR CORNELIUS: And once one was on top of this slope, how would it look, was there a wall at the top?

MR BRITZ: No, there was no wall, it was relatively level.

MR CORNELIUS: This slope, where did it lead, did it lead to a section of a plantation or a residential area, how did it look?

MR BRITZ: There was a section of a plantation there.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, how far away from the tar road would this have been approximately?

MR BRITZ: Approximately 15 metres.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well. You say that you then helped him up the embankment, who was there with you?

MR BRITZ: It was Hanton, me and Nortje.

MR CORNELIUS: Where was Swart?

MR BRITZ: He remained in the kombi.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, and once you were on top of this slope, what did you do then?

MR BRITZ: I then held Neville down on the ground.

MR CORNELIUS: How?

MR BRITZ: I stepped with my foot on his throat.

MR CORNELIUS: And you kept him under control as such?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR CORNELIUS: And what did Larry Hanton do?

MR BRITZ: He basically moved back towards the kombi, because the arrangement was that Swart would have driven and after a time, he would have returned.

MR CORNELIUS: What was the reason for that?

MR BRITZ: Because we were afraid that somebody would stop if they saw the vehicle standing there all the time.

MR CORNELIUS: It would have aroused suspicion?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR CORNELIUS: You wanted to remove the vehicle?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: What happened then, you stepped Goodwill Sikhakane down to the ground, what happened then?

MR BRITZ: Nortje then shot him, once in the head and once in the chest.

MR CORNELIUS: Was he dead?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, what did you then do with the body?

MR BRITZ: We left it there.

MR CORNELIUS: Why?

MR BRITZ: It was part of the planning, that his body had to be found, it should not be removed.

MR CORNELIUS: What did you do then? Did you then return to the Lion Park Lodge?

MR BRITZ: Yes, Swart returned and all of us climbed back into the kombi and returned to the Lion Park Lodge.

MR CORNELIUS: The following morning?

MR BRITZ: The following morning Nortje and I went to clean up the kombi, because there was blood in the kombi.

MR CORNELIUS: You then cleaned the kombi and delivered it back to the rental company?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: And you then returned to Vlakplaas?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Did you report back?

MR BRITZ: Yes, on the farm I told Mr de Kock that everything had been successful.

MR CORNELIUS: It is common knowledge that at Vlakplaas you worked according to the need to know principle?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: What does that mean?

MR BRITZ: You wouldn't ask any questions, if you were given an order, you would simply go and execute it.

MR CORNELIUS: Very well, you were a footsoldier by definition in the service of Mr de Kock?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: If I may put it this way, what was your political motive with this action? What would Goodwill Sikhakane do according to your knowledge?

MR BRITZ: He would have conveyed information back to the ANC, so basically he would have been a double-agent.

MR CORNELIUS: How did these facts come to your knowledge?

MR BRITZ: Hanton told me this.

MR CORNELIUS: Did you observe authority and respect for the other members of the Security Forces' political convictions and orders?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR CORNELIUS: Did you have any feelings of personal vengeance or malice towards Goodwill Sikhakane?

MR BRITZ: No.

MR CORNELIUS: Did you receive any form of remuneration or reward with the exception of your salary as defined within the Act, for your participation in this operation?

MR BRITZ: No.

MR CORNELIUS: Do request that this Committee grant you amnesty for the murder of Goodwill Sikhakane, is that correct?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Thank you Chairperson. Mr Chairman, there might be just another matter, I see there are two amnesty applications before the Committee, that might be a little bit confusing. I think I must just clear this up as well. Mr Britz, I think that there are two applications for amnesty, and the one appears to have to do with the abduction of Goodwill Sikhakane?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: But I note that in this application you state that he voluntarily co-operated in his return to South Africa?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR CORNELIUS: Was this ...

CHAIRPERSON: Is it correctly described as abduction? Wasn't it assisting him to return to South Africa, I think him and Radebe at page 191, 192 deal with the same incident.

MR CORNELIUS: Yes, I think you are quite correct Mr Chairman, I think this is not really a kidnapping the way I see it.

CHAIRPERSON: I see he describes on page 11

"... abduction with permission."

MR CORNELIUS: Yes. But I think that clears the situation up. This is purely I understand from my instructions, after the Attorney-General's Special Investigations Team, alleged that he was kidnapped, that this application was drawn by my client. I will leave it at that for what it is worth, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Well, my colleague has drawn my attention to the fact that he states, and I think he is correct in that, that there is an offence in assisting someone to enter the Republic illegally. Shouldn't you ask for amnesty in respect of assisting in him coming from Swaziland to the Republic, and any offence that arises?

MR CORNELIUS: Mr Chairman, I am most deeply indebted to Mr Lax for that, thank you, Mr Lax, I then apply for amnesty for assisting, for the illegal immigration of a person from a person from a foreign country, transgression of the law, thank you Mr Chair.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR CORNELIUS

MR HATTINGH: Hattingh on record, Mr Chairman, I have no questions.

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR HATTINGH

MR NEL: Thank you Mr Chairman, I have also no questions, thank you sir.

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR NEL

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR LAMEY: Lamey on behalf of Mr Nortje. Mr Britz in paragraph 4 on page 23 you refer to the fact that Hanton sketched the problem and that the problem was that Neville or Goodwill Sikhakane had threatened to expose certain aspects of Operation Vula, and that you inferred that he had knowledge of certain events which could not be exposed because if they were exposed, it would cause considerable damage for the Durban Security Branch, is that also a part of the problem which he sketched when you met?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: And then just one other aspect, I think Mr Hanton says that Goodwill Sikhakane was shot on top of the embankment, what is your recollection with regard to this? Did you help him over the embankment to the other side?

MR BRITZ: Chairperson, it was an embankment which was level on top.

CHAIRPERSON: There wasn't another side, we have been told that it was a slope that went out and it levelled off at the top?

MR LAMEY: As it pleases you Chairperson. So it wasn't visible from the road?

MR BRITZ: No, it wasn't visible from the road.

MR LAMEY: Thank you Chairperson, nothing further.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR LAMEY

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

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR VISSER

MR WAGENER: Jan Wagener Mr Chairman, no questions, either.

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR WAGENER

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR SCHOLTZ: Thank you Mr Chairman, just one or two questions. Mr Britz, who was actually the leader of this operation after you had received instructions from Mr de Kock?

MR BRITZ: Nortje and I were the senior members of the farm.

MR SCHOLTZ: Very well, who made the arrangements, you or Nortje?

MR BRITZ: Originally Col de Kock told me that I had to get some men and go down to Natal because there was work for me. Later I found out that he had also given the same instruction or made the same instructions with Mr Nortje.

MR SCHOLTZ: Wouldn't you have expected that you would also have been in control of the financial aspects of the operation?

MR BRITZ: At that stage, I did not have any cash on me, for the purposes of such an operation, and Warrant Officer Nortje was in possession of his credit card.

MR SCHOLTZ: Can you recall where precisely you tested the firearm, was it in Greytown or at the Lion Park Lodge?

MR BRITZ: I am not certain, it wouldn't have been at the Lion Park Lodge and also not in Greytown, it would have been some distance away from there, basically between places, at a quarry.

MR SCHOLTZ: Was this while you were underway to Greytown or did you return again to the Lion Park Lodge after you had tested the firearm?

MR BRITZ: It was at a stage when Hanton and Swart drove to make the appointment with Sikhakane, that is when Nortje and I drove out to test the weapon.

MR SCHOLTZ: Did you then travel with another vehicle?

MR BRITZ: Yes, that is correct.

MR SCHOLTZ: And then just in conclusion, while you were busy shooting Sikhakane, did Hanton remain there or did he leave with Swart in the kombi?

MR BRITZ: As far as I can recall, he drove away with Swart.

MR SCHOLTZ: Thank you Mr Chairman, no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTION BY MR SCHOLTZ

ADV STEENKAMP: No questions, thank you Mr Chairman.

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ADV STEENKAMP

MR LAX: Just one little thing Chairperson, you said that when it got dark, you left for Greytown, where did you leave from? I will repeat it, don't worry. You said when it got dark, you left for Greytown.

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR LAX: Where did you leave from?

MR BRITZ: From the Lion Park.

MR LAX: You see the others have all said that you all went to some other place, one of you described it, I think Mr Nortje described it as somewhere like New Hanover, where you were at a hotel and where you had had a few drinks.

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR LAX: Did you just forget about all of that?

CHAIRPERSON: Did you leave from the Lion Park and then stopped and had drinks on the way, while you were waiting for the time to pick up Sikhakane?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR LAX: You see the previous evidence was that you left from the Lion Park, you then went to New Hanover, the others went to go and make an arrangement with Sikhakane, they came back to New Hanover, you spent the afternoon there and then you went off in the evening?

MR BRITZ: That is correct Chairperson.

MR LAX: So in fact you weren't at the Lion Park during the afternoon, you were at New Hanover, waiting for this incident to happen?

MR BRITZ: It may be so.

MR LAX: That is all I wanted to clear up. You are not sure?

MR BRITZ: No, I am not completely certain.

MR LAX: Thank you Chairperson.

MR SIBANYONI: Mr Britz, after the deceased was overpowered in the kombi, my understanding is that he was chained, is that correct, handcuffed?

MR BRITZ: Yes.

MR SIBANYONI: The time he was taken out, was he still handcuffed?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR SIBANYONI: Until he was shot and killed?

MR BRITZ: That is correct.

MR SIBANYONI: Mr Nortje spoke about firing three shots, I noticed that you only referred to two, you said one shot at the head and the one on his chest?

MR BRITZ: That is what I recall, there were two shots which were fired.

MR SIBANYONI: But you wouldn't dispute the fact that Nortje speaks about three shots?

MR BRITZ: No, I would not dispute it.

MR SIBANYONI: Thank you Mr Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: I have a few questions, and unfortunately I cannot find my reference. The first thing I would like to ask you is why was it necessary that the body should be found?

MR BRITZ: That was the planning from the Durban Security Branch, Mr Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: Because my recollection is that one of the other previous applicants said that the body might have been removed by wild animals?

MR BRITZ: No Chairperson, the orders that we received indicated that the body had to be found.

CHAIRPERSON: Shouldn't you have pulled him down the slope then after you had shot him?

MR BRITZ: There was a footpath on top of the slope, so there would have been people walking back and forth in that area during the following day or the following morning.

CHAIRPERSON: Do you know when the body was found?

MR BRITZ: I heard that at a later stage the body was found.

CHAIRPERSON: How much later?

MR BRITZ: It may have been a day, two days, three days, I am not certain.

CHAIRPERSON: Was there an earlier post mortem?

ADV STEENKAMP: Not that I recall Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: This is a body now found with two or three bullet wounds?

ADV STEENKAMP: Mr Chairman, as I recall, maybe Mr Hattingh can help, but as I recall there was an inquest for an unknown person, like a normal informal inquest held. Those documents were handed in court, I think it is similar to the ones contained in the Bundle.

CHAIRPERSON: The ones in the Bundle is 1994?

ADV STEENKAMP: Yes, that is, what happened the body was ultimately exhumed Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: But you haven't got any earlier records?

MR BRITZ: No, not, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: You were hit on the head and you said you received some injury, did you bleed at all?

MR BRITZ: Yes, my hand was bleeding.

CHAIRPERSON: So the blood you washed off, may have been partially yours?

MR BRITZ: Yes, that may be so.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Re-examination, sorry?

RE-EXAMINATION BY MR CORNELIUS: I just want to try and clear up one small aspect which might help the Committee. The possible detection of the body, did you know that at this stage there was quite a high level of unrest in the Greytown vicinity, or do you not know that?

MR BRITZ: No, I did not know that.

MR CORNELIUS: Thank you Mr Chairman. I am sorry Mr Chairman, there is one matter that skipped my mind, I am terribly sorry. Mr Britz, you said that you suspected that when Larry Hanton left the scene, when you held Goodwill Sikhakane down, that he drove away with Blackie Swart, do you know whether he drove away with Swart or not?

MR BRITZ: I am not certain of it.

MR CORNELIUS: Did you accept that he had driven away with him?

MR BRITZ: Yes, that is what I accepted.

MR CORNELIUS: Thank you Mr Chair, I have now finally concluded my re-examination, thank you Mr Chairman.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR CORNELIUS

CHAIRPERSON: So he didn't go down to stop Swart when Swart came back?

MR BRITZ: No Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: And one last question, did anybody make any attempt to pick up the cartridge cases?

MR BRITZ: No Mr Chairperson.

MR LAX: Just one small thing, where did you know Sikhakane from? You said that you had met him previously?

MR BRITZ: If you can just repeat that please.

MR LAX: Where had you previously met Sikhakane, you stated that you knew him?

MR BRITZ: I didn't know him personally, some of his family members were at that stage working at Vlakplaas and he made contact with them and stated that he no longer wanted to be in Swaziland, that he wanted to come over to South Africa.

MR LAX: Is that all that you knew of him?

MR BRITZ: Yes, that is all. Because after we had come through the border post, he was immediately handed over to the Pietermaritzburg Security Branch.

MR LAX: You say here "I had met him on a previous occasion"? That is on page 23, paragraph 4, the last sentence?

MR BRITZ: Yes, what I meant by that is the evening when we fetched him from Swaziland, I handed him over to the Security Branch of Pietermaritzburg, that is basically what I meant, but I didn't really know him as such.

MR LAX: You knew basically nothing of him?

MR BRITZ: No.

MR LAX: Because you create the impression that you knew something about him?

MR BRITZ: From to time we received information from the Security Branches which we had to process. At that stage we also had informers in Swaziland.

MR LAX: Thank you Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

WITNESS EXCUSED

 
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