|News | Sport | TV | Radio | Education | TV Licenses | Contact Us|
Type AMNESTY HEARINGS
Starting Date 22 July 1998
Back To Top
CHAIRPERSON: We are now on the second day's hearings - on Wednesday, and we are hearing the amnesty applications of Mr Vlok and 31 others, I think it is. We now have further cross-examination, are you gentlemen ready?
Mr Vlok, there are just certain aspects of your evidence which I would like to follow up with you. Mr Vlok, I think that during your ten years as Minister of Law and Order the state had an infrastructure for carrying out acts that were considered to be extra-legal or I if I would say illegal against it's perceived enemies?
MR MAFOJANE: My question was - am I not correct in saying that during your term of office as the Minister of Law and Order, the state had an infrastructure for carrying out illegal acts against its perceived enemies?
But wasn't other bodies of the State, for instance the State Security Council and various other bodies that owed their existence to the security laws of their country part of this strategy of carrying out illegal acts or that they did indeed themselves authorise and carry out illegal acts?
MR MAFOJANE: I just want to put a proposition to you, Mr Vlok and I want your reaction to that proposition. Will you agree with me that the State Security Council, at times if not always, usurped the functions normally executed by parliament and cabinet and actually enjoyed a higher status than these bodies?
MR MAFOJANE: Mr Vlok, I'm not here referring to the legal position, I'm referring to the de facto position, the position as it was at that point. Isn't it correct that indeed the State Security Council did enjoy the ear of the President and that at times it made decisions which were not subject to ratification by the legislature on a day to day basis?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, the State Security Council considered issues, they had discussions and they made recommendations which was a decision for the State Security Council but the highest authority and the execution thereof and the final approval of that was with the cabinet. Of course it's also true that the decisions of the State Security Council did not go to the Parliament but I think that's something else. What's important - I don't know what your surname is, I cannot see your surname there - Mafojane? It did not go to Parliament but the Cabinet was the final and highest authoritative body and all the decisions of the State Security Council had to pass them.
MR MAFOJANE: Shall we then go to the 7th May 1997, that is the bombing of Cosatu House. I beg your pardon? 1987 yes, did I say '97. Oh I beg your pardon. Yes the bombing of Cosatu House on 7th May 1987. Who took that decision that Cosatu House should be bombed?
MR MAFOJANE: Mr Vlok, I find it strange that with all the means at your power, you were at the head of what is acknowledged to be a very sufficient security apparatus, you had a very sophisticated network of informers and intelligence network and an event of such magnitude certainly would have aroused the interest of the State President and he would have been called to account in the State Security Council as to what the cost of that explosion was and what you were doing to follow up the leads and what did you say, was that question ever posed to you?
MR VLOK: Commissioner, yesterday in my Amnesty Application and in my submission, I tried to explain on what grounds and why I thought it was within my capacity as minister who worked within a political framework in order to obtain the political objectives of the government and the National Party and also of Minister of Law and order, was their for the maintaining of Law and Order and making sure that the public is safe and I acted in that capacity.
CHAIRPERSON: Do you say that it was within your authority as Minister of Law and Order to cause illegal acts to be performed? This is within the Constitutional Powers with the Minister of Law and Order is that what you're asking us to accept?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I had the responsibility as a political head and minister to try and reach for the objectives of my political party and to further these objectives. If I allowed Cosatu House to continue then one thing could have lead to another and the country could have been dumped into a revolution because that's what I believed. A communist government could have been in power then and my government on several areas was opposed to this, that's the one political leg as I understood it.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, yesterday I tried to explain that we acted in accordance with the emergency regulations and because of that we could not act against people, we could not act against property. It's different in Israel, but in our country it never existed but we judged and we decided that if we for example - if with regards to one of the trade union leaders at that stage and I think there was between seven hundred and one million members - if we acted against one of the leaders and we take him out then it could have resulted in a land wide strike with catastrophic results and secondly we had informants within the organisation who gave us the information that those people feared for their lives, we could never get them to go into a court and to testify to what happened to those five people and the five people - it's evident that they were very scared and they did not want to testify and that was part of our problem.
ADV GCABASHE: I really am trying to understand both the instruction and the accountability of any minister, yourself in this particular instance and I'm trying to understand to what extent any minister had a really wide discretion and unfettered discretion to do certain things to commit illegal acts and not account to anybody at all. This is the sense I get, certainly in respect of the Cosatu House bombing that you, as an individual minister, yes I understand the reasoning and the information, you could decide to commit an illegal act and tell nobody above you or to, on a parallel level with you about what you had done. That to me is quite serious for a government minister to have that kind of power unless I'm misunderstanding it, Mr Vlok.
MR VLOK: The Commissioner is correct, it's very serious, but that's why I'm here today. If the government - if I went to the President or the State Security Council and I informed them about this or I tried to gain their permission beforehand then they would all had to be here today to ask for amnesty. I took the responsibility, I took it on myself and that's why I admit it and that's why I'm asking for amnesty.
ADV GCABASHE: Yes but you see you didn't know you would appear before a Truth and Reconciliation Committee or any other at any point in time. I'm really trying to understand your actions at that time - how you would have these powers and then also understand who else might have had these powers, just so that one is informed as a member of the TRC to what powers government did have at that time.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I tried to indicate yesterday that I believed that I was acting within a political framework. Like I've said before, if I didn't do anything about this then the objectives of my political party would have been destroyed, the government would have been undermined. That's the first thing.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, it was the task of the police in any case to investigate all cases where an offence took place so I did not find it strange that he did not give me an instruction to investigate this.
MR MAFOJANE: But I'm just referring to the magnitude of the event, Mr Vlok, wouldn't it have been natural for the State President to issue you with instructions as political head of the police and as a member of the State Security Council to say "make sure that we get to the truth of what happened there in that place, make sure that we know what activities are being conducted at that place". Did he did not issue you with that kind of instruction, was it just left to the investigative powers of the police?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I do not know why the State President did not give me an instruction to investigate it, I can only say that during that time and I want to place emphasis on this, you must remember it was the election campaign, parliament was not sitting and all over the country because of the strikes of twenty thousand members of SARWU and PORTWAS people, there wasn't only one explosion and not only the one we were responsible for, there was unrest all over the country and this mass violence and it came to us everyday, we learned of it everyday and the State President as far as I can remember, he never asked me what's going on, please investigate this. We investigated in any case.
MR MAFOJANE: Now, Mr Vlok, before the planning of this bombing, that is that of Cosatu House, before you and General van der Merwe spoke about it, had you at any stage during your tenure as the Minister of Law and Order and as Deputy Minister of Law and Order planned any illegal act, that is any act that operated outside the parameters of the law as it existed at that point?
MR MAFOJANE: I'm really interested, you know, in the origins of this idea of, you know, of bombing Cosatu House as a way of maybe making the building unworkable, you know, so that it shouldn't be used any more, I mean where did that idea originate from?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, as I tried to say yesterday and also with regards to questions you asked me, we really tried everything to save the situation. The situation was critical, it was very, very serious and we said to each other when we discussed this, what can we still do? We've got the security legislature, we've got emergency measures but what can we do and really, we did look at all the possibilities of things that we could do. Is there no legal way we could have done this - we asked ourselves this and in that process and in that discussion, we looked at all the means we had to our availability. We thought about maybe detaining the leaders of these organisations - we could not do that because, like I've already said - I motivated it for you and also we heard and it came out from our evidence yesterday - we can go and have a look at what's going on at Cosatu House but we were - they refused us access, they didn't want to cooperate with us.
Whilst our informants told us that inside this house certain things are happening. In other words, Chairperson, we had a situation here we could not handle with normal legal means and that brings you to the point where you say I'm throwing in the towel, I'm going to leave this now. Are we going to have the country burning, are we going to allow that this strike - we started with twenty thousand people - would spread to the other people and they would call up for a countrywide strike, a million people would participate in this and the country wouldn't be able to handle this and the security community and the business community, they kept saying to us you must handle the situation, you must be at massive amounts of pressure and I am not trying to displace that, I accept the responsibility but we got a lot of pressure from the business community to not intervene with the trade union leaders because if we detained such a person there would be strikes in the working place and it would ruin the economy of the country. In other words we tried every means and we believed this bona fide but we had no co-operation from them, we only got resistance and eventually we came to the conclusion that the only way in which we can handle this really bad situation temporarily, especially a temporary thing as well, we couldn't permanently solve it but part of my submission was that we had to defuse the situation temporarily up until a point where we can find a political solution which we did in the end but I'm still convinced today, Chairperson, that if we did not take temporary steps at that time, which is quite serious, it caused a lot of problems for me but it if we did not take steps along the way to bring this country to the 10th May, on the 27th April 1994, when the negotiations were concluded and we had a government in which everyone could take part, then the country would have exploded into a revolution with damage and death to thousands of people and therefore I'm saying that I took the decision, I accept responsibility. I honestly and bona fide believed that within my framework as a political leader and a minister and as a member of a political party and within the capacities I had, I could take that decision and that's why we took the decision.
MR MAFOJANE: You see, Mr Vlok, I don't dispute the fact that you might well have taken the decision but the - and I won't deliver the point any further, but I just wanted to know who the originator of this idea of, you know, of this tactic was, that is the bombing of Cosatu House but I will go further anyway. Now, we come to 31st August 1988, Khotso House is bombed and according to your evidence, it was bombed at the behest of the former State President, Mr P.W. Botha. You know, he said to you, as you said that you must do something, you must do something about it and the result was, you know, the bombing and just to take you further back again to your evidence, you said that he approached you after a meeting of the State Security Council or the cabinet, I cannot remember clearly?
MR MAFOJANE: State Security Council and asked you to stay behind. Now in your mind, Mr Vlok, in your mind and I want you to assay an opinion, in your mind what made him confident that you would agree to carry out an instruction with this nature, that you would agree to carry out an illegal act? What made him confident to approach you in particular?
MR VLOK: I do not know, maybe you should ask Mr Botha why he had so much confidence in me but he asked this of me and I went from there and I spoke to General van der Merwe about this and I asked him what can we do to execute this instruction and we realised that the only thing we could do was that we had to act illegally.
MR MAFOJANE: Mr Vlok, was it not because he had prior knowledge of your 1987 activity and then instructed you through the agents of your men to carry the same type of activity, this time with regard to Khotso House? You know, if I may say, you know, wasn't it because he was confident and knew that you were past master at this game, so to speak.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I am under oath and in my submission and everything I said yesterday, everything I'm saying today and as far as it's humanly possible, I've only and I'm still speaking nothing but the truth.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, the norm in such circumstances were that if you are a member of the cabinet and the person who is the Chairperson and appointed you and invited you to become a member of the government, if you say I cannot, I will not execute instructions then the way of the member of government would be to resign and have to step out of the government.
CHAIRPERSON: But shouldn't you tell the other members of the cabinet that your President trying to perform - get legal acts performed? You have told us that you had never committed illegal acts before, you've never discussed it with your President before and he now approaches you as a member of the cabinet to perform acts which were completely contrary to our law. Shouldn't you tell the rest of the cabinet?
CHAIRPERSON: This is the principle, if a member of the cabinet is approached by the President to perform illegal acts, Mr Vlok says if he says no he must just resign. I'm suggesting that he has a duty to his party, to the other members of the cabinet to inform them what the President is now seeking to do.
Now, Mr Vlok, if I may refer you to your original application and I have lost the exhibit number - but that would be the paginated page 60 of the paginated bundle, Volume 1. Do you have it in front of you? Now I want to refer you to paragraph (d) thereof, that is the second paragraph, I would say maybe a sub-paragraph of the paragraph and I will start from line three thereof, just at the middle of the page and I will just read it out for convenience. You say there that and I quote:
"In spite of these actions, it was clear that hard intimidation as well as planning of further actions by the organisers and the inciters to illegal strike and even violence continually in Cosatu House without the knowledge of Cosatu continue."
Now, Mr Vlok, please tell me if I've attached the wrong interpretation to that sentence. Are you saying here that certain activities were taking place at Cosatu House without the knowledge of the leadership of Cosatu?
MR VLOK: That is correct. I said yesterday in my testimony that I had information that there was a committee if I remember correctly who did all the planning and had to implement certain things and I believed this was happening without the knowledge of the leaders of Cosatu.
MR MAFOJANE: Now, Mr Vlok, yesterday when you were testifying about Khotso House, you detailed certain steps that you took and that the government took with regard to the South African Council of Churches and it's leadership and these steps included inviting them over, having discussions with them, expressing your unhappiness about the situation regarding the manner in which Khotso House was being used. Now why did you not take the same steps with regard to the leadership of Cosatu, certainly you could have invited them and said we need to talk to you, there's certain information at our disposal and put that information in front of them and said to the them why don't you do something about this?
"Discussions was held over a wide spectrum with the management of South African Transport Services, the Minister of Transport, the State President and State Security Council"
and so forth, so there was a minister responsible for labour and this was a labour related and there was discussion over a wide spectrum with COSATU, with SARWU to see if they could save the situation. There was no Minister of Church Affairs and that is why he became personally involved because the issue of the South African Council of Churches, that is why he became personally involved.
ADV GCABASHE: Yes, but again, in deciding to take the steps that you did, you felt no duty to co-ordinate what you might be doing with the Minister of Labour because it affected his department directly and he would have to deal with any other repercussions from a labour point of view?
MR VLOK: As I've said, if we had detained some of the leaders, it would have caused a countrywide strike and it would have caused terrible problems for him but our actions there helped him to find a solution and if I can remember correctly, the strike ended very quickly with - after negotiations that he had but I did not want to involve him in this because he would have been a party to an illegal act and I took the decision and I accept responsibility
MR MAFOJANE: Now, Mr Vlok, you've previously said in your testimony this morning that there was nothing that you could do against the leadership of Cosatu and I must say I'm going to take issue with that as well, but for now let us accept that fact, you know, your version of events. You know, in a way you are saying they were untouchables. Now, this committee, this committee that you refer to, why you couldn't you act against that committee because certainly they were not the leadership of Cosatu, you yourself knew that because the Cosatu leadership did not know of it's activities. Why then you didn't you act against this committee?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, if we recall correctly we did detain some of these persons. For instance, we detained Mr Rossos but it did not help, the trouble just continued. If you exempt one person because you have information about him, there are other people to fill his place and the trouble did not decrease it just continued.
MR MAFOJANE: Now, Mr Vlok, that is precisely the point that I want to now take up and the point is and I know the Chairperson and the learned Commissioners have taken this point up with you but I must say that I still find it strange, Mr Vlok, you know with the whole myriad of security legislation that you had at your disposal, the Internal Security Act, the General Laws Amendment Act and various other acts and statutes, which were quite extraordinary for a state that then proclaimed itself democratic at that point - but let us leave that - which infringed on personal liberty and we do accept that. Section 29 of the Internal Security Act did that. I still find it strange that through the agency of these laws that you could not at least act within those very laws, you know, however bad they were, to actually address this situation that you are talking about and that you actually had to resort to bombing the offices of Cosatu in order to address that situation. I find it strange.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, as I have said, the security legislature that we had at that time was to act against people to remove people from a community. This helped with the decline of the unrest situation, it did go down but it was rising in 1988 again but we found that the legislative instruments of Section 29, emergency regulations, was not enough and in the case of Section 29 we had to have witnesses before we could detain a person who could come to court, not to find him not guilty but to act in accordance with Section 29 and in accordance with the security regulations and we were tested in court to be able to stand if we acted in accordance with those regulations, we had to resort to informers, people who were intimidated, who feared for their lives. It's easy I think, to sit here in 1998 and say in these circumstances that prevails now in our country.
ADV DE JAGER: But you had enough legislature - Mr Vlok, the fact is you had all that legislature to your disposal and you made use of it and the proof of the pudding is in the eating - did it help, could you control it or did the situation get out of control for you?
MR MAFOJANE: Yes, I understand that Mr Vlok. Now, may I refer you again to page 60 of Volume 1 just paragraph (e) the last sentence right up to page 61 and if I have confused you I will then just read it out for you and we will take that issue up again. You say at (e) at page 60 that
"Information indicated that during that time an attack was being planned on the police at Cosatu House and after the attack took place about two hundred attackers fled to Cosatu House and hid there and according to information it was accepted that trained MK terrorists were also present at Cosatu House. The situation that prevailed there reminded us of city warfare and armed gangs who attacked the police and then hide in the building."
This takes us back again to the laws of the country at that point, the powers that you had and the security apparatus of the South African State at that point and I will just preface my question by saying that, I mean that it is common knowledge once more that South Africa possessed the most powerful military machine in Africa, that was an objective thing, you know it was acknowledged internationally and everywhere in the region and now you say here that MK operatives went to Cosatu House and hid themselves there and the question that comes to mind is why was the building not sealed because certainly these would have been illegal activities, why was he building not sealed and why was, you know, it not stormed if that was the case, you know, to actually take out those people who were there, arrest them, why was this not done? Did the police just stand there and the army wringing their hands saying there's nothing we can do, I mean after all this building it was right in the centre of Johannesburg not in Moscow, Mr Vlok, in Johannesburg.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, we could have called in the army and placed about five hundred police officers around the building and we could have entered there violently but we were dealing with the union here and this was the foreground of an election and to do such a thing would have had terrible implications. Indeed we went, if I recall, we wanted to gain access to the building, it was denied and I recall pictures that were taken of armed people who stormed out of the building and who attacked people. I just wish to say it's 1998, it's calm and peaceful where we have another situation now. It seems very strange that we wanted to do something like that and that we could not act within the perimeters of the law and we just at that time, we couldn't handle the situation by calling in the army and to use the police in great numbers and with the loss of lives that would have accompanied this, I was convinced that we couldn't do this and we had to act in the manner that we did.
MR MAFOJANE: Mr Vlok, the fact that there was an election that was going to take place should actually have forced you to make - to take this matter as a matter of priority and ensure that swift action was taken. I'm saying in any normal country if you have armed people, are taking police, you know, hiding in the building then certainly the police cannot stand there and say no there is an election forthcoming there's nothing we can do about these people. Certainly, that was not how the police acted in other instances and I'm saying that I still find it strange that that did not happen but that instead you chose to order that the building be bombed.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, we could have done what Mr Mafojane is suggesting, that would have been an option. At that stage we did not want to have a serious situation where we had to kill people, it was important for me, it was important for the government that we rather did not do it if it was possible and I believed that there had to be a lower profile although it was illegal, it was lower profile manner that we could reach our objective and the planning could not continue there that we could disrupt their structure and I wish to emphasise it again - just a temporary diffusion of the situation.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vlok, the problem I have is if Cosatu was so determined to continue with these underground activities, couldn't they have just moved to another building, taken up other premises elsewhere, taken a farm like Rivonia?
MR VLOK: You're quite right, Chairperson, it only worked temporarily but I read the quotation from the newspaper yesterday, one of the affiliates who was also settled in that building, because of the damage to that building and three months afterwards they were in a single room without a telephone. I wish to say again, we didn't want to find a permanent solution this was just temporary but we repeated to the political leaders we could do it temporarily but you have to find a permanent solution.
MR MAFOJANE: Mr Vlok, on the eve of an election wouldn't the arrest of insurgents, you know have actually provided a boost even for your political party, wouldn't you have been able to come out and say actually have the situation under control, wouldn't it have done that?
MR VLOK: But, Chairperson, to take people into custody at that stage, we needed evidence and we couldn't find people who was prepared to give affidavits to provide us with the evidence to act against these people.
MR MAFOJANE: But you did not need any evidence to detain a person under Section 29 of the Internal Security Act. I mean the law itself said if there was reason to believe, you know in the opinion of an officer or someone above the rank of Warrant Officer, you know if in their opinion there was reason to believe that an act was being - then there could be - but certainly you did not need to gather hard evidence in order to arrest someone?
MR VLOK: What could Cosatu have done to us if we arrested the leadership without information and I could see it - that we did not need information to find a person guilty but we had to have information on ground on which to arrest a person and Cosatu would not have given me 24 hours chance to go to court because they would have gotten all those people out immediately and that's the simple truth.
MR MAFOJANE: The emergency regulations were in force by then Mr Vlok, certainly you could have also used that? I mean people did not have access to legal representation at that point and we know what the situation was like, I think you know maybe we shouldn't try and you know present this phase that it was normal even within those laws itself. I mean the police had wider powers, you know they could have arrested those people maybe for a cooling off period of 14 days until after the elections and then release them. Wouldn't that have provided that temporary measure that you needed?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, even with regard to the emergency regulations the commissioner or the official who arrested the person, he had to have information which said - and a person had to sign this - because in how many court cases was I where we had people arrested without this necessary information and we had to pay damage money for unlawful arrests so we could not do it. I want Mr Mafojane to accept it, that we tried all the methods that we could thing of, everything that we could have done in order to temporarily defuse the situation, we tried all of them before we made this decision.
MR MAFOJANE: My clients actually take issue with the allegations that there were armed people and suggestions that there were weapons there, you know, weapons of war and you that there were acts of sabotage that were being planned from their premises, they take a strong exception to that and say that it is actually not true and I'm actually instructed to put this proposition to you. You may comment, you may not, that the reason you ordered Cosatu House be bombed and indeed Khotso House was not the presence of MK guerrillas there or the planning of sabotage against government installation which was presumably being carried out at those places and that is actually not true that these acts were being carried out there but that it was in order to put the fear of God into people associated with these places, activists, the public who might have been sympathetic to the cause that was being propagated by these organisations and to actually discourage public dissent to the policies of the government of the day.
MR VLOK: That is not true, we did not do it as Mr Mafojane put it that we wanted to put the fear of God into these people, that is simply not true. We acted and we did what we did based on information which we had and that's the reason why we did it.
MR MAFOJANE: Let us go back to the evidence that you gave yesterday and particularly to your reference to the word eliminated - I just want to take that issue up with you. You said, if I'm correct and you will correct me, Mr Vlok, if I am not, that operatives on the ground might have tended to distort the meaning of the word eliminate and take it out of it's context and thereby, you know, misinterpret the word and commit deeds which were not contemplated by the issuer, the issuer of the instruction to eliminate, neutralise or take people out, out of society. Do you remember that evidence?
MR MAFOJANE: Now, I want to come to your discussion with Mr P.W. Botha, the former State President with regard to the bombing of Khotso House when he said you must do something about it and of course also about other instructions that you may have issued to your operatives. Now it seems this instruction that Mr Botha gave you was a very vague instruction, you know he said you must do something about it and he didn't specify what steps you must take against Cosatu is that correct?
MR MAFOJANE: What is your reaction to this that these orders were left deliberately vague in order to actually cater for the possibility, I mean indeed that was foreseen where operatives would commit illegal acts and that these instructions were left deliberately vague so that after the deed has been committed and someone is found out that this should actually not be traced back to the minister responsible, yourself or the former State President and that actually it would be the operative on the ground who takes the fall, he would be the fall guy as they say?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I do not know what Mr Botha had in mind. It might be - I cannot speak on behalf of him, I do not know how he thought about this, how he understood it but when I looked at his instruction together with General van der Merwe "make it unusable" then we looked and said to each other what options do we have? We've exhausted all the possible legal options all we've got left is illegal acts and then we acted illegally but I cannot agree with you that we deliberately tried to formulate things in a vague fashion so that we had room to move in, that was never the strategy of the government and it's also not one of my strategies therefore I accept responsibility like I've indicated for these things where I was involved and where people on ground level, the foot soldiers, which they might have misinterpreted or misunderstood but it was never a strategy or a plan that we deliberately be vague so that it gives us room to move in. I myself never took part in that, I would never - never deliberately spoke vaguely so I never did this and I never experienced it like this.
ADV DE JAGER: Mr Vlok, as far as this is concerned with regards to the word eliminate - in the Afrikaans language we have a word like arrest, ban, lock up and we understand these words but if I say to someone eliminate a person, in the situation where I am, not eliminate him in an election but eliminate him in this context of a war which is raging at a lower level, what does the normal person understand from this word?
MR VLOK: If I was a policeman at Pofadder and I read this in a document then I would have subscribed to it the normal meaning and I would have understood eliminate and would it have meant exactly what it said - eliminate and because of that we made a mistake. We did not write it down as the way you've just said it - lock him up, arrest him, charge him - we did not look at that and I'm not running away from that responsibility so you are correct that people on ground level who interpreted this in the normal spoken language and that's where we made this mistake.
MR MAFOJANE: So, Mr Vlok, you do admit that the effect of the vagueness and this wide - these instructions which were couched in a very wide language had the effect that if an operative was found then it would be possible for senior politicians to exculpate themselves from that by saying I never issued that specific order, that indeed it is indeed the effect that we see today, is it not so?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, it would depend on how the operative interpreted it. When I received an instruction and I agreed was a bit vague and it left me with very few options. When I went to look at that I came to the conclusion there is only one thing I can do, so it depends on how the person on the ground at grassroots level interpreted it. But let me get back to the point - the language was vague in many cases but that it was a planned strategy to be vague, that I do not agree with.
MR MAFOJANE: Mr Vlok, there's just one point that niggles me and perhaps but for that I would actually be wrapping up at the moment and that is the instruction to bomb Cosatu House. Subsequent to that bombing did you inform Mr P.W. Botha and I'm saying months or even years down the line, before the commencement of this process that is of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, did you inform Mr P.W. Botha that, you know, I actually orchestrated the bombing of Cosatu House?
MR MAFOJANE: Are you suggesting that the first time that Mr P.W. Botha learned of your involvement in the bombing of Cosatu House was when you actually confessed, when you actually, you know, came out in public and said, you know, you were responsible for that? Was that the first time that he knew of your involvement in that incident?
MR MAFOJANE: I must reiterate that I still find it strange that you didn't inform your executive head of that act and that indeed a year later of that act he comes to you and requests you to carry out, although he did not say it but to carry out an illegal act in contemplation of, you know, derailing a perceived enemy. I still find it strange but I will not take the point any further.
MR VLOK: Can I just make a small remark here please. It was never nice for me to do an illegal thing, it wasn't easy for me. I didn't live with my decision very easily, I wouldn't easily go to my head or my chief and tell him we've done illegal things, it wasn't easy for me. I did not walk around thinking well I can go to him now and tell him we blew up that building. It wasn't easy for me, it wasn't nice for me the fact that we've done it, it was necessary, it was inevitable but I did not carry this on my shirtsleeves and I did not go to him and tell him about this.
MR SIBANYONI: Through you Mr Chairperson - Mr Vlok, but the time you went to Mr Botha to say whether or - to ask whether or not you can be released from the oath of secrecy, I presume he might have asked you what you want to talk about which was in secret and obviously you would mention to him that one of those things is the bombing of Cosatu House?
MR VLOK: At that occasion and it was the - I think August 1996 and at that stage all this information was known within the media, he did not ask me what exactly do you want to go and tell the people about and I also did not tell him, I only said that if the TRC are going to ask me certain questions about which I had taken an oath of secrecy, then I'd have to disclose the information as I am disclosing the facts with regards to what I'm applying for amnesty for.
MR MAFOJANE: Now, Mr Vlok, one last question on this aspect. You know, after Mr Botha had instructed you to do something about Khotso House and you had ordered that it be bombed and it was indeed bombed, you obviously went back and told him that, you know, that it has been done, isn't that so? That it actually took this form, isn't it so?
MR MAFOJANE: Now after that and you said earlier that you can't go to your political head or your superior and say you know I did the Cosatu House thing but after this event, after he had actually sanctioned you to act in an illegal manner and you had acted in that illegal manner and you went back and reported to him, why did you not tell him that you know actually, you know even with the Cosatu House thing it was us, you know, I orchestrated that? Clearly at that point the man, you know if I may paraphrase it and I'm not referring to Mr Botha personally but I'm just saying that clearly in such a relationship then you can see that the man is not beyond reproach.
MR MAFOJANE: Do you think that if you had said that to him he would have taken exception to that fact, certainly? I mean in the light of the fact that he had authorised you to carry out an illegal act with regard to Cosatu House? I beg your pardon, with regards to Khotso House, Mr Vlok.
MR MAFOJANE: Now with regard to this meeting that you spoke about yesterday, the one that was held between a delegation of the government if I may loosely describe it as that and the church leaders. Who was present at this meeting that is on the side of the church leaders of the South African Council of Churches? Do you still remember?
MR VLOK: It was many years ago. Bishop Hurley was present, I can't remember - I don't think Bishop Tutu was present but, Chairperson, they were the leaders or leadership corps of the several members of the South Council of Churches, I did not organise it, I was invited to attend it and I can remember Bishop Hurley was there and like I've said you'd have to give me a bit of time, I cannot think now who were present there. I also do not know who the spokespeople were, I can't remember.
MR MAFOJANE: Now, of these Church Leaders, who actually expressed support or refused as you said to dissociate themselves from the South African Communist Party? I'm sure my learned friend acting on behalf of the South African Council of Churches would take that point further, but just for my purposes, who actually of those leaders refused to dissociate themselves from the South African Communist Party or expressed support for the aims and objectives of the Communist Party?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I can't remember who said that - whether it was head of the delegation or it was members who said that but I can remember that Mr Botha made the point that the mouthpiece of the South African Council of Churches, or the Bishop was there the New Nation, they propagate the statement I made and on the basis of that the discussion took place, but once again I would like to say that it happened a long time ago and the particulars I obviously, I cannot remember that quickly, maybe I can think about it and maybe I can give you an answer later on.
MR MAFOJANE: Now, still under South African Council of Churches issue and I'm talking about the event of the day of the bombing, the operation itself. You will agree with me, Mr Vlok, won't you, that if the operatives had actually been found in the process of setting up the explosives, either by members of the public or members of the church or anyone else that it would have severely embarrassed the government, do you not agree?
MR MAFOJANE: Now, these operatives, within that context, was it not really foreseeable, Mr Vlok, that in order to protect the government to save it from severe embarrassment and of course to protect themselves that if there were ever chanced upon in the process of planting the bomb that they could have well indeed killed in order to avoid embarrassment to the government?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, the possibility was definitely there that people could have lost their lives but we gave specific instructions that no loss of life should occur and in order to execute that specific instruction I expected of the South African Police operatives that they take the necessary steps to make sure that that task is performed and that no loss of life take place.
MR MAFOJANE: Now, Mr Vlok, I'm going to touch on a more general aspect and I'll try to be very economical in this respect. I notice that throughout your testimony the background that you sketched as having been the context within which these acts that you are applying for amnesty occurred is a very strong theme of Christianity and anti-communism, am I not correct?
MR MAFOJANE: You said that, you know, the policy of apartheid was instituted to further the interests of all South Africans in a wide - you said that. Now, I want you to explain the inconsistency between the objects of apartheid and the pain and hardship that it cost with this good that it supposed to have done. I mean apartheid was not only - if I may just add there, Mr Vlok, it was not only about blacks and whites not sharing toilets, it also went deeper than that, it was homelessness, people who were thrown off their land, it was hunger, denial of education, those were the results and the ghettos that we now see in the townships, those are the results and I'm not going to go in a political discourse, it is not my intention, but just how do you reconcile these two facets with Christianity, on which you say your policy of apartheid was based and the end result of apartheid itself which is what we saw and now what we still live with today?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I can make a long political speech because of this and yesterday in my submission, I tried to say that apartheid was wrong. The objective of apartheid, the original objective was not wrong it went wrong along the way. I also said in my submission it was important for me that the policy of my party and my government had to be based on political and religious grounds and the church had to support us, not tell us that this was a moral fault. It went wrong and we did the wrong things, we hurt people as Mr Mafojane says, we hurt them with apartheid and that is why I say we are sorry, but Mr Mafojane will agree with me that apartheid bore some good fruit and the choice between apartheid and communism was the problem to me and I realised that apartheid was going wrong and the only alternative for the people in South Africa was the other one and in between there were lots of political suggestions which involved the whites and the majority of our fellow citizens where pushed one said and we had to choose. This was a legal government who do not prohibit people to participate in religion, it's a legal government who would not want communism here and I said as long as I had this responsibility, it was my duty to maintain this government because this government had my support and with my help had -was fighting this thing.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, that's a valid question but if we look back at history then it is so that there were alternatives on the table but the National Party realised that apartheid could not work and P.W. Botha and I personally as leaders of the National Party realised it. I think Mr Vorster started to realise it but Mr Botha realised it the first time that is why he came in 1983 or 1984, he said we had to have a tricameral parliament. It was a fatal mistake that we did not involve the black people of our country. That is the fault of the past.
MR VLOK: You are correct, Chairperson, when we tried to change and then many people said it was too little, too late and then we had to maintain it and this is where I was involved as Minister of Law and Order, to handle the situation temporarily so that we could get to the change and we did get to the change.
MR MAFOJANE: You will agree, Mr Vlok, that if you do to a person - if you throw a person out of, you know, from the land, if people become poor as a result, if you deny them basic human rights, if you deny them the right to a proper education and if you deny them all the rights that are accepted in civilised countries, you will not deny that by doing that, you actually make - you create very fertile ground for the ideas that communism propagates that says that there will be land, there will be food, there will be adequate education the state will pay for this, this is what will happen. Do you accept that then that the government itself, through it's own policies created the fertile ground that was very ideal for these ideas that you said you're opposed to?
MR VLOK: I agree with Mr Mafojane, it's true, that is what happened. The apartheid that people experienced in the streets of South Africa hurt them, communism was far, communism for them was an acceptable alternative, I agree.
MR MAFOJANE: Now, Mr Vlok, it is very noteworthy that the party that is in government and that is ruling is the very same party that had an alliance with the communists and still has, the South African Communist Party, the ANC/South African Communist Party Alliance. Now, you know, with this strong anti-communism that you say informed your actions as Minister of Law and Order, how was it possible that you came to actually accept to live under this government, I mean nothing has changed, certainly the alliance is still there and that was your problem at the beginning, it is what made you take all these actions and it is still there?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I have to differ with Mr Mafojane here. If the ANC/SACP or if the ANC under the leadership of the South African Communist Party during the sixties, seventies and early eighties would have taken over the government of the country then we would not have had this government that we had today, I agree with him. There are members of the South African Communist Party in parliament, I'm sure there's some of them in cabinet but today we have a constitution that helps us or we negotiated this constitution with these people and this constitution has some guarantees and if we look back how it would look in the sixties and seventies if the communists took over the country. It was the heyday of communism in the world, they flooded the world, that is what we wanted to stop but when it changed and we could negotiate with people as we did with the ANC, we got to know them, we saw who they were and we see them today and I would like to point out to Mr Mafojane that even the ANC, the people who are there and tell the South African Communist Party and tell them listen here, we have to look at these things, you are not in charge any more, we are the party who rules this country and I have to tell you honestly that communists do not rule the country, I accept the government of the day but it worries me to see tendencies of individual members who speak of communism. But, Chairperson, communism in the world it's a spent force - the ideology is still there but it's been stopped in South Africa, it's been stopped the whole world and that makes it much easier, that makes it acceptable for me to look forward to the future of this country that communism will not rule and apartheid does not rule any more but it is something that is acceptable for all of us.
Mr Vlok, nobody had the opportunity in cross-examination with the questions that they put to you to thank you and I want to make use of this opportunity on behalf of my client and the other persons who applied for amnesty here and for myself and my attorney for the manner in which you exhibit leadership and where you took the lead and in the manner in which you made your submission and in the manner in which you take responsibility and on behalf of the people who were your sub-ordinates and we thank you for that and I would like to add also that we have great appreciation for the fact that you were willing to do it and that the persons who were responsible for it and did it, who still haven't done it and will probably never do it and this brings me to the aspects which I want to question you on, Mr Vlok and I just want to touch on two aspects and I would like to tell you beforehand what we are going to discuss. We just want to clarify what you have testified on.
The first aspect deals with your relationship with the previous heads of state, P.W. Botha and Mr F.W. de Klerk and I would just like to question you on certain aspects surrounding that and then the second aspect I wish to question you on is the aspect with reference to the authority that was given for legal actions whether it was quiet authority was given to you and it's not going to take us much time. Can we start with your relationship with the previous heads of state.
MR VLOK: To both Mr Botha and Mr de Klerk, both of them I informed that I wanted - was seeking amnesty and I was applying for amnesty for the Khotso House matter, Cosatu House and for Cry Freedom and furthermore, I mentioned another aspect that the advocate mentioned yesterday, the one that I do not know of and where there were incidents that I do not know of and how do I deal with this. Those four aspects I mentioned to them.
MR DU PLESSIS: And we tried to deal with it yesterday, Mr Vlok, but we said we would come back to you with the dates. I can mention the dates to you just to place it in perspective. The National Party's first submission was in August 1996, dated 21st August 1996 and the second submission was dated 23rd March 1997 but this was in the middle of May Mr F.W. de Klerk dealt with it. Your Amnesty Application was signed on the 14th December 1996 and I accept that before the 14th December 1996 you had discussions with both Mr Botha and Mr de Klerk.
MR VLOK: After yesterday's discussion I went back and I thought about this and I was present at this submission, the first submission of the National Party in the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town and I recall that this was the opportunity when I told Mr de Klerk that I had to break my oath of secrecy and if he has a problem with it. Mr Botha, I think also in August during that time, I told him. I cannot recall the date but the 21st August I can recall, I was in Cape Town, I did see Mr de Klerk and I saw - I think that was the opportunity when we discussed it.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I have to think carefully now because right from the start when we were still in government I knew that I acted illegally and that I had to apply for amnesty for that and although I did not give anyone any particulars, I made no secret of it that I have to apply for amnesty. Nobody asked me what for but you are correct when you say the first time when I told him that I wanted to apply for amnesty for Cosatu House and Khotso house was after that presentation and I do not want to touch on that now but can I just mention that I was one of the people who applied for indemnity and in that indemnity application there was no particulars but we just add to that to put you in the picture.
MR DU PLESSIS: You and several other persons and I don't have the list here but I knew there were several people who applied for indemnity in other words, Mr de Klerk had to know who was applying for indemnity or I think it was in 1993 or 1994 or somewhere around there, but Mr de Klerk had to know you and other persons in your position or in a similar position and maybe some Generals and whoever, had to apply for indemnity. You nod your head affirmative, this leads me to my next question. Isn't it so that Mr de Klerk then knew that there was reason to apply for indemnity and there were illegal acts and gross human violations before the submission of the National Party to the TRC?
MR VLOK: I can just repeat that while we were in government we said or I said that I applied for indemnity, I handed in my application, some of my colleagues did it, other people did it. The discussion - the other people who were present there and they said we don't have to apply for indemnity because we didn't do anything wrong but at that time I did not tell them we blew up Khotso House or I didn't tell them that I was involved with Cosatu House, they knew that I did some things but they did not have any particulars or details until the day I told Mr de Klerk, listen I'm going to apply for amnesty, the legislature is there, that is what is required of me and is there a problem if I break my oath of secrecy.
MR DU PLESSIS: We'll return to that. This is part of the second leg of the question that I wish to put to you. On a lighter note can I ask you - when you spoke to Mr de Klerk did you speak Afrikaans or Greek?
CHAIRPERSON: I have been asked to take the adjournment now and to make sure ...[indistinct] that we return by eleven o'clock. Apparently the SABC are broadcasting live at that time and they have to sit for some time while we gather again, so we'll take the adjournment now and endeavour to all be here please by eleven o'clock.
MR DU PLESSIS: My Chairman, there were three documents which I made available to the Committee and to some of the legal representatives, unfortunately I didn't have enough copies, I don't know if my learned friend, Mr Mpshe, made copies but he undertook to do so. I just want to ask a few questions from these documents. Could we perhaps just mark them first before I start asking questions about them?
MR DU PLESSIS: That's the thickest one yes. And then the submission by Leon Wessels at the armed forces hearing that would be C - the political hearing, I'm sorry. And then D would be the answers of Mr P.W. Botha to the Truth Commission - that's an excerpt of the 1700 pages.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Vlok, can we start with EXHIBIT D that's Mr Botha's comments with regards to the Khotso House incident. You'll see on the first page there's a question which was addressed to him about what General van der Merwe said about Khotso House and he asked what his comments are with regard to the allegation that the acts of himself was authorised and that you were also involved and then several questions are asked about that. Now I'm asking you questions about Mr Botha's document and I'm not going to ask you to testify on his behalf, I find it really regretful that he's not here so I cannot ask him the questions myself. I see his legal representative isn't here either and with regards to that I also find it regretful that an organisation such as the ANC and the PAC and the leadership that they presented complete documentation and now we only have yourself here and that's why I have to ask these questions of you because you're the only one I can ask.
"These allegations that I gave Mr Vlok an instruction to damage this relevant building with explosives to such an extent that it can no longer be used is wrong."
"It's very possible that against this background I could have said to Mr Vlok that I expect the South African Police had to act in order to make an end to this and to stop the terrorists from using this building. I did actually not give any instruction to Mr Vlok to destroy the building with explosives."
So the way I under him, Mr Vlok, is the fact that he - that you went and gave the instruction and that the building had to be damaged by explosives, this was not foreseen by him and was also not authorised by him, do you agree with me?
MR VLOK: Mr Chairperson, I cannot speak on behalf of Botha, I do not know if he foresaw that we'd use explosives, I did not discuss this with him. He only told me as he said here and I took that instruction and I went to speak to General van der Merwe about this.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Vlok, if we can for a moment stand still at the use of the words to stop the use of the building, is there any way from which you can think how you could have given an instruction to make the use of this building impossible in a legal manner, do you know of any of such a way?
MR VLOK: There were certain ways in which we could have stopped the use of the building in a legal fashion, we could have cordoned it off, we could have people around it, we could have stopped access, but it's not very tangible, it's not feasible, the legal methods to perform the instruction, it was not feasible.
MR DU PLESSIS: No, I do not expect you to testify on his behalf, like I said he's not here but you have the backbone to at least be here to answer it. The point I want to make, Mr Vlok, is that when you said you realised that it had to be an illegal act, then Mr Botha probably would also have realised that it would have led to illegal acts. Do you concede that there's a probability that this was indeed the case?
MR VLOK: I'm very hesitant to say anything on behalf of Mr Botha, what he thought and what he realised, I do not know. I can only speak on behalf of myself, how I experienced it and what I did about it.
MR DU PLESSIS: Very well. If you look at Botha's comments he says that he did not give an instruction to you to destroy the building by means of explosives. Afterwards, he, Mr Botha, did he ask you any questions with regard to the use of explosives at this building?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, no. It was not necessary for me to tell him that we destroyed the building by means of explosives. It was on the six o'clock news that morning on television. There were a lot of photos and he knew the building was destroyed by explosives so he didn't have to ask me and he did not ask me how we destroyed it or how we rendered it unusable. He saw it himself.
MR DU PLESSIS: Very well. This document and this answer - if he uses this to tell us that he did not intend that the building must be destroyed by explosives, if this is what he says then I find it very strange indeed that he did not confront you with regards to this and ask you why did you destroy the building by means of explosives, why didn't you put a cordon around the building and make access difficult, something within your legal authorisation, why did you use explosives? I find it very strange he never asked you such a question, can you comment on that?
ADV DE JAGER: Mr Du Plessis, in all respect, you can make a hundred suggestions about what you thing or what he might have thought - what do you expect the Committee to do with that if we are treating a bunch of suggestions about what so and so thought?
MR DU PLESSIS: Chairperson, you confront me before I got to the point about what question he's dealing with and I want Mr Vlok's comments and this is with regards to the following - the question is - if Mr Botha, if one cannot make the conclusion looking at these facts that Mr Botha must have known that they would have acted illegally and that's the comment I need from Mr Vlok. Can I continue with the question please, Chairperson? Mr Vlok would you please comment on that?
ADV MPSHE: Mr Vlok, just one question from me. I want to find out if he says you should render the building unusable but ensure that there should be no loss of life, is it not obvious that you have destroy the building?
MR VLOK: Not at all, but I have to say this - when I told him that it was us who did this then he did ask me "Any loss of life?" and I said no, "any serious injuries?" and at that stage we thought and I still think so today and at that stage I could tell him no loss of life, no serious injuries, only minor injuries.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, it depends if it was a formal congratulations, whether there were opportunities, but the way I remember it is that he said: "Colleague, congratulations with your act" it was a short little sentence and that was it.
MR VLOK: No, I cannot remember who were there - I do not know whether it was the first one after that or the second one after that or which State Security Council meeting it was that this take place, I can really not remember.
MR DU PLESSIS: And on that same subject, Mr Vlok, you testified or Mr Penzhorn put it to you and you agreed to it that Mr Botha never - when he gave an instruction - he never said how something should be done, he said what should be done.
MR VLOK: That was his style, he'd say what has to done but how it has to be done he never prescribed and this incident, this Khotso House, is an example where - if I'm correct - is an example where such an instruction left the implications with you which was delegated downwards, that the implication was that you might have to act illegally, the implication was necessarily that, yes.
MR DU PLESSIS: If I'm then correct to go a step further and to say Mr Botha, with regards to other instructions, other circumstances, maybe not to you but to someone else, other ministers maybe, he acted on exactly the same way and it might have had the same implications?
MR VLOK: I do not know. There was one principle he really enforced and that's a need to know and it wasn't only in my case that I had to stay behind to do something, it also happened with other ministers over the years so I really do not know.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes and the way I understand it, Mr Vlok and correct me if I'm wrong, at these meetings certain things were discussed and then Mr Botha discussed certain aspects with certain members of the State Security Council afterwards? We can almost say he privately discussed this with them as what happened in your case?
MR DU PLESSIS: And I just want to make this statement, it would have been a situation with regards to the zero hand grenades instruction which was given to Louis le Grange? I know you cannot comment to that, I only make the statement. Do you want to comment?
MR DU PLESSIS: And is it then also possible that certain instructions were given by Mr Botha to you and other ministers, Magnus Malan and other ministers, that they did not know whether it was coming to you or whether it was going to them?
MR DU PLESSIS: And therefore it's possible that at a given moment the only person in this country who had a complete picture of what was happening in the country with regards to legal as well as illegal acts of the security forces - that's Mr Botha?
MR VLOK: I think Advocate du Plessis is putting it very strongly the fact that he should have known everything that happened both legally and illegally but it is correct that he discussed different subjects with different ministers and that he spoke to them individually, that is correct.
MR DU PLESSIS: Very well. Mr Vlok, do you know of any incidents where Mr Botha or Mr de Klerk, but he came a bit later, when any of the people at the State Security Council or in the cabinet with regards to acts of the State Security Council, did he reprimand them at any point?
MR VLOK: Mr Botha, in my time, when the police did certain things which was disadvantageous to us on an international level, he never hesitated to talk to us about that. In the cabinet and the State Security Council he'd say you've made a mistake, you acted wrongly and usually there was then a discussion and other members also took part in this. He did not try to protect us in a sense that we could do what we want. He spoke to us when we did something wrong and there were times when we did something wrong.
MR DU PLESSIS: Let's get it closer to the point then - can we accept that the cross border operations which took place and is well known, we all know of several of these operations and the fact that Mr Botha was aware of them. Can you remember in your time if there was - if Mr Botha reprimanded anyone with regards - to someone in the cabinet or in the State Security Forces - did he reprimand anyone concerning those cross border operations?
"As far as the foreign countries are concerned, I never authorised such behaviour or actions and it was not part of my functions to deal with the execution of these instructions. I accept that the motive behind the destruction of ANC structures in the foreign countries would be to disrupt an ANC maximum and destroy it's communication lines. ANC terrorists and collaborators to kill them or to seriously injure them."
MR DU PLESSIS: I want to know from you with regard to foreign operations, if Mr Botha is correct when he says he did not authorise them and if he's correct that he did not authorise them, why he had nothing to say about foreign operations.
MR VLOK: As Minister of Police in very exceptional cases we were involved in certain of these operations. I really cannot remember, I cannot think of an operation that he authorised, which he authorised within the State Security Council or in the cabinet.
MR VLOK: As far as the relevant minister is concerned and the officials, if it was in the State Security Council, I cannot remember that he ever reprimanded them about this or he addressed them about this.
ADV DE JAGER: Mr Du Plessis, is that not exactly what he's saying, if you read that whole paragraph. I accept that the motive behind the destruction of the ANC structures abroad would be to disrupt the ANC as much as possible, to destroy his communication lines, to kill ANC terrorists or collaborators or to injure them and to disrupt the ANC's capability of organising terrorism? So he knows about that and he says that I accept that that was the motive.
MR DU PLESSIS: Let me explain to you, Chairperson, I'm trying to find a modus operandi, I'm trying to indicate that in a specific way instructions were used with regards to actions like these and that could bring one to the conclusion that except for the fact that subordinates could except that they were acting within their own capacities there were still tacit authorisation from the government with regards to how they acted.
MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct, Chairperson, but he - Mr Vlok also testified with regards to other incidents for which he takes responsibility, he doesn't know about the exact situation and he gave evidence about this and this is the line of questioning that I would like to follow expect that if you're going to stop me from doing it, then I won't.
Mr Vlok, if we look at the situation which reigned and against which you and the security forces had to act, your actions and behaviour was directed at the - from 1986 now - was part and parcel of the anti-revolutionary struggle or strategy and this strategy often entailed illegal acts?
MR DU PLESSIS: Am I correct if I say that this entailed - that you acted pro-actively against terrorists and insurgents within the labour liberation movement to stop acts that they were planning, to prevent those acts?
MR DU PLESSIS: And am I correct to say that the atmosphere was created or the background was created and the context by yourself, by the Generals and everybody who were in authoritative positions that in certain instances you could act illegally and it was justified?
MR DU PLESSIS: Can I just mention these aspects to you and can you tell me if you differ from any of these? You refer to enciteful speeches, propaganda and the fact that there was a war situation, the fact that there was congratulations to people who acted and there was no success with persecutions or prosecutions, this all added to this atmosphere?
MR DU PLESSIS: And you would agree that an operation like Khotso House and Cosatu House and Cry Freedom, that impression that it created all left with the security forces, it could just sharpen that impression?
MR DU PLESSIS: And a further aspect, the document EXHIBIT B if I could just point out - it's EXHIBIT B the State Security minute to page 42 thereof, this is an excerpt of document that was addressed in front of the State Security Council and was discussed - paragraph 10 on page 42
"Counter-insurgent actions was an important but subordinate part of the contra-mobilisation packet. Successful operations had to be carried out with a purpose to (a) Destroy the enemy"
MR VLOK: Chairperson could I just say that I would just like to point out before I directly react or answer - this was a strategic document, it was titled "Strategic Options" and to be justified you need to read the whole context of the document but you could add this to what I said yesterday, but this, to destroy the enemy, common people could not make the fault of gaining the inference of "destroy the enemy".
MR DU PLESSIS: But this was in front of the State Security Council in documents. It was not in the same document but it was in similar documents, it could be placed before foot soldiers and they could draw inferences from this, certain inferences from this.
MR VLOK: I would like to point out this was a document that was submitted to members of a work group and before one could say that these were the decisions that were taken, one has to look at what was the decision and I would concede, ja, if anybody else had this document in his hand and he just read this then we are at the point that I made yesterday that this person could draw certain inferences with far reaching consequences but this is what is said there.
ADV GCABASHE: Mr Vlok - Mr du Plessis? But Mr Vlok, either at the State Security Council or in cabinet did you discuss as a policy matter taking illegal action against people you considered to be insurgents or terrorist or whatever else, you know, in light of this?
MR VLOK: I can give you the assurance, never in my time at the State Security Council did we discuss the elimination of members and their physical destruction of people or facilities, we never discussed it.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, the State Security Council had something that we called the Stratcom Strategic Operations. They sanctioned it in a framework, a large framework and from that framework illegal action could have flowed from there, I have to be honest there but once again, the security council did not have the detail. The State Security Council said for example there had to be Stratcom operations against people and that's when we mentioned, I can give you an example, our intention was then that the leader in the community who causes much problems in the sense that he organises boycotts, unrest, then we said something had to be done in terms of that leader and then the person at grassroots level and he says if I can say that he distributed pamphlets, untruths, that is illegal, it's irregular to do that. It's crimen injuria - you need to see the difference here - the State Security Council said Stratcom Operations - yes and there's an area that was given to certain ministers and one of them was to look at leaders who cause problems and when it is discussed by the operatives at grassroots level, it was illegal.
MR DU PLESSIS: Can you look at your own submission, paragraph 269, page 67 or page 76? Can one say that in the light of the situation that we had looked at and the atmosphere that was created, and circumstances under which the security forces acted, you say there you refer to Stratcom actions, illegal actions that could have followed that was interpreted and heard in different ways and then a quarter from the bottom in that paragraph you say
"That could have lead to actions with serious consequences that was not meant in that manner and I'm not aware of it"
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Vlok, I want to refer you to Mr Leon Wessels' submission EXHIBIT C and wish to have your comment on that. Page 2 paragraph 5. Very well, do you have it Mr Vlok? I refer you to the third paragraph, can I have your comment on that - and this joins with the comment I made earlier about Mr P.W. Botha and Mr F. W. de Klerk and the fact that they do not want to know of what happened. Mr Wessels says how it happened and he says the following
"I further do not believe the political defence of I, we did not know, ...[inaudible] is in my own way, I had my suspicions of things that had caused discomfort in official circles but because I did not have the facts to substantiate my suspicions or I had lacked the courage to shout from the rooftops, I have to confess that I only whispered in the corridors. That I believe is the accusation that people may level at many of us. We did not confront the reports of injustices head on.
MR VLOK: Yesterday, Chairperson, in my submission I also touched on this. We did not confront the reports of injustices head on. I am of the opinion that I did not do enough - for these reports - we received these reports from the media, from discussions, people who came to speak to us, people who called us and said listen here, there's something wrong here - I think we did not do enough to investigate this. We didn't leave it at that, it was important for us to say that let's look at this. We had many investigations, you can ask the Commissioner of Police when you have your chance, he can tell you how many of these things we did investigate, we appointed justices, we had internal investigations, we got people to look at these things and send us reports but we could have done more, I can say that honestly, we could have done more to confront those things head on and to investigate it and I accept responsibility for that as I have said yesterday.
MR DU PLESSIS: And then Mr Vlok, you will also concede that the foot soldiers, because of this, were under the impression that they had authorisation to act outside the parameters of the law. Definitely, they could have thought that, if we didn't do anything, they did something wrong then they must have thought that well they agree with it, it's okay we can do it then, it is true.
ADV GCABASHE: In fact, Mr Vlok, the fact that General van der Merwe, yourself, you were involved in the Khotso House bombing, the people who carried out the work for you learned from that that there are certain things they could get away with because the people at the top were asking them to do illegal things so it would create this tone of impunity in a sense - it would leave them with the impression that they did not have to account for everything they did - left a bit of a loose cannon idea, you know, in the security forces?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, the Commissioner is one hundred percent correct and this is one of those things that I apologised for yesterday. We are sorry that this led to people doing these things but it did not happen in my time only, the decades before it still happened. I don't know if there's examples of that but what I for example mentioned that she is correct, people could have said, ja, let's continue, we can do it, theirs tacit approval for it and they did it.
CHAIRPERSON: If I could extend that a little, the impression I have got in other applications is that the practice of not asking questions had also spread down the ranks, that sergeants wouldn't ask what their corporals had done, they would leave it to them, do you agree with that?
MR DU PLESSIS: Very well, Mr Vlok, I'm done with my questions. I have a quotation of Mark Twain that I wanted to read to you but I cannot anymore in the light of this step that you've taken and the responsibility that you've taken on and the manner in which you have acted and I cannot read this quotation to you but I think I'm going to conclude with this quotation from
"The Emperor sent his troops to the field with immense enthusiasm. He will lead them in person when they return."
MR MPSHE: Yes, Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman may I request your indulgence that I put questions when necessary when after all parties have put questions, Mr Chairman, so as to avoid me being redundant? That should be the best option.
CHAIRPERSON: It's fair, it may well be that Mr Robb covers fields which you might otherwise feel you might have to cover now and it would lead to duplication and I think as we are going to hear Mr Vlok again for Mr Robb to put his questioning it is only right that you can question after that and the Members of the Committee have discussed the matter and have decided that they do not want to put any questions to Mr Vlok until after the questioning, the whole of the questioning has been concluded. So I think at this stage we can release Mr Vlok on the basis that he will be available when notified. It will not be necessary for him to sit here the whole time. If he wishes to of course he can but if he wants to go and do something else, as long as he keeps in touch with his attorney and nowadays we have the cellphones and other ways of doing so. He's entitled to go.
MR PENZHORN: That's right, Mr Chairman. I would just like to know, it's almost similar to what Mr Mpshe has said, a couple of aspects were dealt with as it were by some of my learned friends following from statements which Mr Vlok has made and it might be that I am to clarify some of these which have now come to the fore that I might, on behalf of Mr Botha, put further questions to Mr Vlok. Would I be permitted to do so after the questioning by the SACC has taken place, would there be an opportunity for that. It might similarly be more advantageous to do it at that stage, to prevent me from begging your indulgence again after Mr Robb has finished?
CHAIRPERSON: I don't want to prejudge the applications to put further questions, but it does seem to me in the light of what has been said so far about members of the SACC and who met with Mr Botha and things of that matter, that there may be a number of issues you wish to clarify after Mr Robb has concluded his cross-examination. We don't want to have the position of course that you question and then Mr Robb comes and has another go and so we go on. I don't think that will happen but I think you can reserve your right to apply until after that evidence has been concluded because it may be that quite a lot that is put will affect your client.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Robb, I have assumed, I think in fact you did yesterday indicate that you wish to reserve your cross-examination till you had obtained certain instructions on certain matters and that you will notify us when you are in a position to cross-examine Mr Vlok?
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, may I interject at this stage just with one final aspect that I would like to place on record as far as the cross-examination is concerned. Just for the record, it's Jansen speaking on behalf of applicant Ras.
Mr Chairman, it deals with this issue that was raised by Commissioner De Jager during the cross-examination by Mr du Plessis and that is the scope of cross-examination. Now, I don't want to be faced at later applications with the accusation that as far as issues that dealt with gross human rights violations and issues where there weren't direct instructions, that we did not take issue with Mr Vlok at this stage. The uncertainties of course created, Mr Chairman, by matters that have previously been mooted that evidence that is heard in one application may be considered in another application etc and there hasn't been a real ruling on this matter, with respect Mr Chairman, because certainly as far as this issue with Cosatu House is concerned which is the only issue affecting Mr Ras, we are certainly of the issue that Section 20, sub-section 2 (b) probably covers our client, the direct authority or within the scope of his express or implied authority but that it is he's most certainly covered by sub-section (f) in other words the reasonable grounds believing that it was express or implied authority on the basis that the actual order was given and therefore the - it cannot again be said that the belief was reasonable under those circumstances but obviously the situation is quite different in many of the other instances that are going to be coming in future for many of the other applicants when there was no direct order as such and certainly Mr Vlok, as far as gross human rights violations are concerned and certainly as far as all instances other than the ones he has applied amnesty for, distances himself from such direct orders. So, Mr Chairman, the test what would be reasonable grounds for initiating something that involves murder etc would be completely different and we would certainly or we definitely are going to be taking issue in future with these allegations especially as far as cross border raids are concerned with the factual or the actual evidence of Mr Vlok itself. But, I want to place on record that all times we have not regarded that as relevant at all for this application and that we don't want to burden this record with things that may relevant at a later stage. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We agree with the approach adopted by you because particularly in the case of someone like Mr Vlok who, it might be argued, is responsible directly or indirectly for hundreds of police operations over the years. To say that they must all be gone into now would mean we stay here for the rest of the year and I think that they can stand over till those specific applications are heard and if necessary I don't think it would be your function to have to call Mr Vlok. If anybody wishes to rely on his evidence to discredit that of your applicant, they would have to consider the advantage of calling Mr Vlok, but otherwise, I think we leave the matter so that we don't burden the record here.
MR LAMEY: Mr Chairman, Lamey on behalf of also two applicants who were ex-members of the unit Vlakplaas. I just want to place on record that my position as far as my clients are concerned is similar to that of Mr du Plessis although I have considered asking Mr Vlok just a general question regarding authority relating to Vlakplaas. May I be not specific with regards to certain incidents although I will reserve the right with regard to specific incidents later as Mr Jansen has also indicated. May I just also ask just permission at a later stage in follow up questions which Mr Du Plessis has posed to Mr Vlok. Also the opportunity just to ask a general question further in this regard.
CHAIRPERSON: Well is it not practice where you have a number of counsel appearing that you have follow up cross-examination and follow up cross-examination? If any matter has arisen during the course of other cross-examination which you feel that you should feel that you should in the interests of your client clarify, then you can apply to cross-examine on those point but not just a general follow up cross-examination.
ADV DE JAGER: The problem is, you're asking a question now, in the hearing where it's relevant about Vlakplaas, there might be other legal representatives. They can't be bound by an answer given here because they didn't have the opportunity to cross-examine Mr Vlok today so he'll have to be recalled if it's a matter in issue, so there's no purpose of dealing with it here now because other interested parties was entitled to hear it and to cross-examine him is not present, so we can't use - unless they consent to the use of it - to use evidence given at another hearing where the implicated persons or the victims didn't have the opportunity to in fact confront the witness.