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Amnesty Hearings

Type AMNESTY HEARING

Starting Date 23 July 1998

Location PRETORIA

Day 4

Names BRIGADIER W F SCHOON

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BRIG W F SCHOON:: (sworn states)

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, because we anticipate that Brigadier Schoon's evidence will be very brief, we have not prepared any documentation for you. You will find that it will be presented in a very brief form.

EXAMINATION BY MR VISSER: Brigadier Schoon, you applied for amnesty in accordance with the law for any illegal or irregular actions by you that has any relevance to the explosion at Cosatu House on 6th/7th May 1987 and Khotso House on the 31st of August 1988, not true?

BRIG SCHOON: That is true, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: You request the honourable committee to incorporate with your testimony in this application the foundation of equality before the law, Exhibit P45, and the submission of General Johan van der Merwe, Exhibit P45, and attached to it a statement by the former generals, P47.

CHAIRPERSON: P45, Van der Merwe?

MR VISSER: No, no, Van der Merwe is 46, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Ja.

MR VISSER: If I said 45, I'm mistaken. His application appears in volume 1 on page 137, Brigadier Schoon's application, it's in volume 1, page 137 and following. Brigadier, is it correct that you have already, in several instances, testified verbally as well as in writing before the investigation team of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and so forth, is that correct?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct.

MR VISSER: On the 19th of November 1996, you appeared before the investigation team of the TRC and you made a written submission and you testified as well?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: You also received notification that you were implied in the amnesty application of Captain Dirk Coetzee, and in that case you liaised an affidavit and you testified on the 9th of October 1997 in Cape Town before the Human Rights Violation Commission of the TRC in a trial, or in a hearing that became known as the Armed Forces Hearing?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And all that testimony is on the record?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct.

MR VISSER: Brigadier Schoon, you were born on the 31st of March 1931 in Nongoma in Kwazulu-Natal, is that correct?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: In your application on page 138 of volume 1 of the commission's documents, you have a brief summary, or you gave a brief summary of your service in the South African Police Force, which started on the 6th of September 1949?

BRIG SCHOON: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And ended on the 31st of October 1989, when you retired from the Force, with pension?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And you give a description of your movement through the ranks and in all the departments you were in the police and that is on page 139?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: Brigadier Schoon, you have heard the testimony of former minister Adrian Vlok and of former Commissioner General Johan van der Merwe concerning the political background and factors relevant to the struggle in this country during the 80's. Do you agree with what they put there and their summarising and their perspectives that they have put before this commission?

BRIG SCHOON: I wholeheartedly agree.

MR VISSER: And is it so that that was also your perspectives?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson, but not in such good language.

MR VISSER: In your language then, on page 144 or in attorneys' language on page 144 to page 148 of your application in volume 1, you give a brief summary of the chief moments of the political background as you saw it, is that correct?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: Do you confirm the contents of your application, of your written application for amnesty that we have referred to now?

BRIG SCHOON: I confirm it, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: Mr Schoon, can you just, I will immediately want to continue then to the incidents of Cosatu House and Khotso House, and maybe just to emphasise the point at this stage so there is no confusion, you were not involved with the Cry Freedom incidents, am I correct?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, you are.

MR VISSER: Now concerning the Cosatu House of 6/7 May 1987, I wish to put this question to you, it is in 1987 and as we have heard you were the chief of C Section?

BRIG SCHOON: I was, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And C Section had, amongst others, incorporated in it C1 and that was Vlakplaas?

BRIG SCHOON: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And at that stage General Johan van der Merwe was chief of security?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: Now what I want to ask you is, according to the exchange of intelligence, is it correct that, concerning the general unrest situation in the country at that time when you were in the service of the South African Police, there was a network of intelligence-gathering and exchange?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: Daily meetings was held where information that addresses the general unrest situation, where it was discussed?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: Intelligence documents were drawn up and circulated?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct.

MR VISSER: For example, there was a morning conference that was known in police circles as a Sanhedrin?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And this was a daily gathering of interested parties in the unrest situation, and this included the Railway Police, the National Intelligence Security Branch people, Defence Force and members of Intelligence?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And today can you say, as you recall it, the information that General Van der Merwe put in terms of Cosatu House and Khotso House, according to your knowledge and memory, is in accordance with the information that you remember of those days?

BRIG SCHOON: I can do that, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: I would like to take you back to the date when you heard that Cosatu House was to be attacked.

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: Can you tell the commission how you remember you heard about it?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson, the instruction in terms of Cosatu House came from General Johan van der Merwe. On one morning he gave me the following words, he asked the Minister if we couldn't do something with Cosatu House and the idea was that I had to arrange that Cosatu House, as like in case of Khotso House, had to be rendered obsolete using explosives.

MR VISSER: Is that what he said to you?

BRIG SCHOON: No, the two was added together here, this was Cosatu House in 1987 and Khotso House in 1988.

MR VISSER: Excuse me, but I'm referring to the question if General Van der Merwe told you that to be damaged with explosives?

BRIG SCHOON: That was the only solution, we couldn't damage it otherwise.

MR VISSER: And did he add anything else?

BRIG SCHOON: And he said it had to be done in such a manner that no lives were endangered.

MR VISSER: When this instruction was given to you, Brigadier Schoon, did you hesitate to comply with it, or what was your position?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, it seemed strange to me at that stage that such an instruction came directly from a politician, but it was not actually strange, because we all knew of the unrest in the country and we had to do something drastically, because apparently the other methods that we had used did not have the necessary effect and consequently I agreed with it.

MR VISSER: What did you do with this instruction?

BRIG SCHOON: I immediately contacted the then Major De Kock and I conveyed the instruction, as such, to him and told him he has to continue with the arrangements, necessary arrangements, and I informed him that I will arrange with the Explosive Unit if they were needed when you have to use explosives, and furthermore he had to contact General Erasmus' people in Johannesburg.

MR VISSER: And did you tell him that this instruction came from, in quotation marks, from "top"?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, I told him it came from the top.

MR VISSER: Now, as far as your participation, did you have anything to do with the planning or the practical execution of Cosatu House?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson, I left it in the capable hands of Major De Kock and from time to time he told me what the progress was and amongst others on a good day, I visited Vlakplaas and I saw a video that was taken and if I recall correctly I would say that this was a video of Cosatu House that was taken from the street as far as possible surrounding the building that would be of assistance in the planning, because why I say this is, the front view, it was clear from it that it was taken from ground level, because there were slogans like Viva Cosatu, Freedom, Viva Freedom, and many other slogans that were on the walls of the building.

MR VISSER: This instruction that you received from General Van der Merwe, when would this have happened, according to your recollection?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, it had to happen as soon as possible.

MR VISSER: But the date on which General Van der Merwe had discussions with you, how long before the 7th of May was it?

BRIG SCHOON: I cannot recall specifically, but it could have been a month before that.

MR VISSER: Very well. Is it correct that you indeed attended a meeting at Honeydew with a so-called safety house where arrangements was made in terms of the explosion at Cosatu House?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, I can recall it vaguely.

MR VISSER: I wanted to ask you right now, your recollection of this incident, you tell me it is possible, but you don't remember all the particulars?

BRIG SCHOON: I suspect that I was there, but I can't recall, because the arrangements of the act itself, I left that to Major De Kock and he had the assistance of the Explosion Unit in Johannesburg.

MR VISSER: Well we know now and it's history that during the night of the 6th and the 7th of May 1987 there was an explosion that was the responsibility of the South African Police that rendered the building obsolete?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And as far as you know, was any person or persons killed or seriously injured in this explosion?

BRIG SCHOON: As far as I know, no persons.

MR VISSER: And the damage?

BRIG SCHOON: The damage was great.

MR VISSER: I don't know if I've led you about this, but the question of death or injury to people, was this mentioned by General Van der Merwe to you during the instruction?

BRIG SCHOON: It was, Chairperson, and I conveyed it to Major De Kock.

MR VISSER: What did General Van der Merwe tell you?

BRIG SCHOON: He said that it had to be executed in such a manner that there was no loss of life.

MR VISSER: Yes, and if it was foresaw that injuries was to happen, what would be done then?

BRIG SCHOON: No, he did not give such an instruction to me, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: Now you say that consequently the instruction that was given to you by your superiors, you executed it?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And you were informed that the instruction came from Minister Vlok?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: How did you feel, what were your feelings, how did you motivate your actions to execute that instruction?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, in that time and seen in the situation of the revolutionary onslaught, I believed that the instruction and my action was relevant to my duties as a policeman to protect the government and to protect the interests of the National Party.

MR VISSER: Can we continue with Khotso House?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, before we continue, I would just like to mention that on the evening of the explosion, this was the 6th/7th of May 1987, I accompanied Major De Kock in his vehicle, I think somebody else was with us, I don't know, I can't remember who it was, and we went to Honeydew, to the house where the planning took place, and from there everybody was deployed. I accompanied him and we went past Khotso House and we drove on further.

MR VISSER: Just a minute, are you dealing with Khotso House?

BRIG SCHOON: No, with Cosatu House. We were several kilometres away from Cosatu House in the early morning hours of the 7th of May 1987 when there was the explosion. We were reasonably far and consequently we barely heard the explosion, and afterwards we went back to Vlakplaas from where I telephonically informed General Van der Merwe.

MR VISSER: Very well. Now concerning Khotso House, can you address the committee as to your participation in the Khotso House incident?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, during the beginning of August 1988, General Van der Merwe once again approached me and said that the then State President, Mr P W Botha, gave instruction that we had to make a plan with Khotso House and the use of explosives was also mentioned here and also, in this instance, I conveyed the instruction verbally to Major De Kock and informed him that he had to contact with members of the Security Branch at Johannesburg and then make the necessary arrangements, and General Van der Merwe would then - and Brigadier Erasmus would then make the necessary arrangements.

MR VISSER: Was anything mentioned of the possible death or injuries?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, he did, he said that in this instance we had to make sure that there was no loss of life or injury to people.

MR VISSER: What did you tell Colonel De Kock and did you participate further?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson, in this instance the explosives man, I think it was Colonel Hattingh, I called him in and informed him, I just have to mention here that we used him in - I called him in with the Cosatu House as well and the request of Major De Kock would have been conveyed to him.

MR VISSER: And did you have a look at the building?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson. Since the instruction came directly from the then president, I decided that we had to do it as quickly as possible and we arranged that the Security Branch people made the helicopter available to us and it was about a day or two before the initial instruction from General Van der Merwe that I contacted Major De Kock and I think it was then Sergeant Steve Bosch, I accompanied them on a reconnaissance tour to Khotso House in Johannesburg. The helicopter pilot made a wide circle around Cosatu (sic) House and Sergeant Bosch made a video recording of Khotso House that would serve later to help us in the planning of the act.

MR VISSER: Except for that, did you also attend a meeting there in that case?

BRIG SCHOON: I suspect I did, Chairperson. But once again, because I left the preparations to Major De Kock and his Johannesburg equals, I cannot remember very well what happened.

MR VISSER: As one of the other co-applicants, Mr Johan Meyer, if he says that he can remember that he took you by car to a meeting in Honeydew, then you are saying today that you cannot remember it, but you do not deny that it happened?

BRIG SCHOON: No, I do not deny it.

MR VISSER: As far as you are concerned, was there any death or serious injuries which happened?

BRIG SCHOON: As best as I know, no.

MR VISSER: And your considerations politically and otherwise in the case of Cosatu House the same, Khotso House, I apologise, the same as that in the case of Cosatu House?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: And you confirm also the evidence which was given earlier by ex-Minister Vlok and General Van der Merwe with regards to the background and circumstances surrounding Khotso House?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: I have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR VISSER

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR HUGO: Brigadier, the daily meetings you attended at the Sanhedrin, as it was mentioned, the contents of these meetings, did you ever convey that to C1, Vlakplaas that is, and specifically to Mr De Kock?

BRIG SCHOON: Not as far as I know, Chairperson, but the daily review was circulated and it was available.

MR HUGO: Brigadier, and I accept that you agree with General Van der Merwe's evidence when he said that C1 was considered to be the operational arm of the South African Police Force at that stage?

BRIG SCHOON: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR HUGO: Brigadier, let me just put it to you, and this is Mr De Kock's recollection, he says that when you gave him the instruction initially, and I'm talking about Cosatu House now, his recollection is that you initially told him that the instruction came from above and that he then asked you how far from above and then you said in reaction, "From the State President". Is it possible that you could have said this to him with regards to Cosatu House, the first incident?

BRIG SCHOON: I cannot remember that, but if he says that, Chairperson, I'm not going to dispute that.

MR HUGO: Then, Brigadier, you've already conceded this, I think it differs a little bit from your oath or your affidavit initially, but you say that the instruction of General Van der Merwe came a month beforehand, and once again I refer to Cosatu House, is that correct?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes.

MR HUGO: And necessarily then a lot of planning had to be done in this month, or the time before the explosion took place?

BRIG SCHOON: That's correct.

MR HUGO: Now, Brigadier, in this instance Mr De Kock also remembers that before the attack on Cosatu House, you made use of the Security Forces helicopter to take aerial photos, etcetera, can you remember that?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, no, I carry no knowledge with regards to that, but like I've already said, I saw a video and that gave me the impression that it was taken from street level.

MR HUGO: Brigadier, once again this is Mr De Kock's recollection, and I'm talking about the Cosatu incident, his memory says that this meeting which you might have attended at Honeydew, indeed did take place directly after you've given him the instruction, in fact on the very same day. Is that possible?

BRIG SCHOON: That is possible.

MR HUGO: Mr De Kock's recollection once again is that at that first meeting which preceded that explosion, the Cosatu explosion, Mr Meyer drove with you and in fact he was driving the car in which you drove to Honeydew?

BRIG SCHOON: That is possible, Chairperson.

MR HUGO: Brigadier, with regards - before, sorry, before I go to Khotso House maybe I just want to ask you something else, you testified that it was said that the loss of life should be restricted as far as possible, or must be prevented rather. Some of the members or the men who joined you on this operation, were they armed?

BRIG SCHOON: I believe they would have been armed, Chairperson.

MR HUGO: And can you recall what kind of weapons they had?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson, I do not know.

MR HUGO: Brigadier, with regards to Khotso House incident now, and maybe I'm asking you something which does not fall within your own field of experience, but Mr Kock is going to testify and he's going to say that the first time he received a request or an instruction to become involved with that was when Mr Zeelie contacted him and asked him to be of assistance to them with the blowing up of Khotso House. I accept you do not know about that?

BRIG SCHOON: I do not know about that.

MR HUGO: Mr De Kock will testify that he then told Zeelie that he did not rec - he cannot receive instructions from Zeelie and he must contact you directly and that he must further that with yourself. Do you know anything about that?

BRIG SCHOON: No.

MR HUGO: I have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR HUGO

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR PENZHORN: Brigadier Schoon, just a few aspects. With regards to the Cosatu House incident and the instruction which you received in that case, I think your evidence was that it was informed, you were informed that this instruction came from the ex-Minister. Now you also testified that it was strange to you that such an instruction came directly from a politician. Why was it strange?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, because it was the first so-called instruction which came down to myself.

MR PENZHORN: So, in other words, it was the first time that a Minister intervened with operational matters, is that the essence thereof?

BRIG SCHOON: As far as I'm concerned, yes, Chairperson, as far as I know.

MR PENZHORN: Now in the past, in other words, the strangeness behind this was that the instruction was given by the Minister, it was not strange in the sense that, the nature of the task was not strange?

BRIG SCHOON: Well, in a sense, yes, that as well.

MR PENZHORN: In which way?

BRIG SCHOON: To such an extent that it had to happen internally, inside the country. Previous instructions like this was usually with regards to operations outside the country.

MR PENZHORN: The extent of this task, if we compare this to the Khotso House task, in your mind is there any difference in extent or the nature of the tasks with regards to Khotso and Cosatu House?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, as far as I'm concerned, none.

MR PENZHORN: In the case of Khotso House, and in an analogy to the Cosatu House incident which happened a year before, would you have acted on an instruction or an instruction of General Van der Merwe with regards to the Khotso House incident?

BRIG SCHOON: I would have, Chairperson.

MR PENZHORN: Now if I understand your evidence correctly, you were told that a plan had to be made with regards to Khotso House, I think those were your words, "We have to make a plan with Khotso House", is that correct?

BRIG SCHOON: That could have been the case, yes.

MR PENZHORN: That of which you were informed, when you got your instruction, wasn't that the instruction came from above or from the State President at that stage, that the State President wanted the building to be destroyed by use of explosives, a plan was to be made?

BRIG SCHOON: Is this Cosatu or Khotso House?

MR PENZHORN: No, Khotso House.

BRIG SCHOON: Yes. The instruction which I received was to render the building useless, and I'm almost convinced that General Van der Merwe also mentioned that it had to be done by using explosives.

MR PENZHORN: But General Van der Merwe did not tell you that the State President would have said that you had to use explosives, that was General Van der Merwe's plan?

BRIG SCHOON: That's correct.

MR PENZHORN: Now, in accordance with a question my neighbour here asked me, your evidence is not that Cosatu House instruction and that, which you were informed about at that stage, was not, that it was also an instruction from the State President?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson, as far as I know the State President's name was never mentioned.

MR PENZHORN: I have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR PENZHORN

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR VERMEULEN

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR DU PLESSIS: Brigadier Schoon, was there any request ever directed to you from above to cause the bomb explosions at Khotso House or Cosatu House, or rather to investigate them and to find out who's responsible?

BRIG SCHOON: No.

MR DU PLESSIS: Did any politician ever ask you about this?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson.

MR DU PLESSIS: And do you carry any knowledge of any politician or any other security person who was asked about this?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson.

MR DU PLESSIS: And am I therefore correct if I say there was no repudiation with regards to the behaviour of the Security Police with regards to politicians?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson.

MR DU PLESSIS: Now you've heard the evidence, Brigadier, of both Van der Merwe and Minister Vlok with regards to the general situation which prevailed with regards to the giving of instructions, the atmosphere which was created, the background against which instructions were handled and the fact that there was a tacit authorisation with regards to the commanding officers and security forces, you were present, not so, when they testified about this?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson.

MR DU PLESSIS: Do you agree with the evidence which was given by Mr Vlok and General Van der Merwe?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, I agree with that.

MR DU PLESSIS: Now there's one further aspect I'd like to ask you about, Brigadier, and right at the beginning I'd like to say that I think that it's not a problem and probably is in your memory, and this regards the actions at Khotso House. My clients, George Hammond and Pierre le Roux, sorry, Kotze and Hammond in this instance, are going to testify that with regards to this incident, their commanding officer, General Hattingh, called them in with regards to this operation and he discussed this with them and the told them that there was instruction from headquarters and he also said that the instruction came from very high up. He also said that one of the reasons for these actions is the disruption of municipal elections, and he also said that, "You'll have to work together with Charles Zeelie from the Johannesburg Security Branch", with regards to this operation that is, and they continued and they made preparations for an operation. Preparations were made and they went one night to do this operation.

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, with respect, can we do this piecemeal, otherwise we're going to have to repeat the whole thing, this witness can't possibly in one reply answer all the questions that are rolled into one now.

MR DU PLESSIS: Well, Mr Chairman, this witness wasn't involved in this, I'm relating the story, I'm not asking his comment, I'm putting the version and I'll ask his comment when I get to the part where he is relevant and which he knows about.

CHAIRPERSON: Carry on.

MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Brigadier, and during this operation, Kotze decided, because of the dangerous situation which was prevailing in Johannesburg and in the streets, to leave this operation, to abort it, and they returned with the idea to contact Mr De Kock, or Colonel De Kock, to obtain his assistance with regard to the operation, and they'd testify that they made contact with Colonel De Kock, that they discussed this with him, and then that he said that he cannot act without your instruction. Up to now, you're still not involved.

ADV DE JAGER: Do you know something about all of what he's just said?

BRIG SCHOON: No, I carry no knowledge of this, Chairperson.

MR DU PLESSIS: They'll also testify that they then contacted Colonel Hattingh and he said that he'd take up the issue and that Colonel De Kock half an hour later said that you gave authorisation that he can be involved in this operation and that the operation could continue with the assistance of Vlakplaas and members of Vlakplaas, and specifically Colonel De Kock. Can you remember any of that?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, this request or instruction, I only conveyed this once to Colonel De Kock, I'm not aware of the fact that I did it twice.

MR DU PLESSIS: No, I do not say that you did it two times, what I am saying or asking of you is, your evidence was that you gave the instruction to Colonel Hattingh and you gave an instruction to Colonel De Kock with regards to this operation?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct.

MR DU PLESSIS: And like I understood you, it was at different times, you gave this at different times, it was not at the same incident that you did this?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, that's correct.

MR DU PLESSIS: Is it possible, and this is all I want to know from you, is it possible that you gave the instruction to Colonel Hattingh before you gave this instruction to Colonel De Kock, in other words that a certain amount of time lapsed between the two instructions?

BRIG SCHOON: I do not believe so, Chairperson, I think I would have informed them both as soon as possible.

MR DU PLESSIS: Because you see, Brigadier, if it's possible, or if it was possible, then the recollection of Mr Hammond and Kotze is completely correct in the sense that the instruction was first given to Hattingh, and after they made a request that De Kock become involved, the instruction was then given to De Kock?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, I'm afraid I can't be of assistance here.

MR DU PLESSIS: Very well, all I'm asking you, Brigadier, is if there is such a possibility?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, there is such a possibility, I concede that.

MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you, Mr Chairman, I have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR DU PLESSIS

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR BOTHA

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR POLSEN

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR ROSSOUW

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR LAMEY: The rank from which you resigned, was that Brigadier?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct.

MR LAMEY: Brigadier, what was the role of the Johannesburg Security Branch in the execution of this order?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, like I've already said, the planning and the execution I left in the hands of Colonel De Kock, and he made the necessary arrangements with them.

MR LAMEY: We will accept that what you mean with that is that the detailed, let's call it technical execution of the operation, happened together with the Explosive Unit?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, the planning thereof.

MR LAMEY: What role would the Jo'burg Security Branch have played?

BRIG SCHOON: They would have played an assistant role.

MR LAMEY: Now can I also accept that the Johannesburg Security Branch, it was their jurisdiction area, Cosatu House, and this is about Cosatu House now, that they have information with regards to physical aspects of the building, etcetera, rather them than Vlakplaas?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, that is why they had to work together so closely with the Johannesburg Security Branch, because of the fact that the Security Branch in Johannesburg had the necessary information with regards to what was happening in the building and also other necessary detail which was of importance for the planning of this operation.

MR LAMEY: Very well. And the very important instruction was that no people had to be killed or injured?

BRIG SCHOON: That's correct.

MR LAMEY: And that's why, the evening of the 6th or the 7th of May was chosen, because on that Wednesday there was an election. I just want to ask you if you know that in order to comply to that instruction, that is to make sure no-one dies or are injured, the placing of the explosives in the building or the locality of the placement of this explosive, would have been really important, do you know something about that?

BRIG SCHOON: Not much, Chairperson.

MR LAMEY: Would that be in the hands of Colonel De Kock?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, the experts.

MR LAMEY: Do you also know specifically, and I'm not saying it was the main objective, I'm just, let's call it incidental objective, and it was in the execution of the operation to blow up a press in the basement of the Cosatu which was used to distribute pamphlets, they wanted to damage that?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, I knew about that, Chairperson.

MR LAMEY: Then I'd like to ask you, as far as the objective is concerned, I accept that you were functioning on a higher instruction level than those of the people at Vlakplaas and that you were in discussions with General Van der Merwe, is that correct?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MR LAMEY: And the detail thereof was not conveyed to everybody on grassroots level, as was the total motivation with regards to every subordinate?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson, not the detail, they were not given the detail.

MR LAMEY: Was there a supplementary objective with regard to the Stratcom Division, in other words that Stratcom, as a division, would also gain benefit with regards to their objectives, looking at disinformation and the cause of confusion amongst the Cosatu people?

BRIG SCHOON: That is possible, Chairperson, but I personally carry no knowledge of that.

MR LAMEY: It may be automatically during this incident?

BRIG SCHOON: I believe so, Chairperson.

MR LAMEY: The reason I'm putting this to you is, the influence which Mr Nortje made specifically is that confusion was to be spread amongst the members of Cosatu and that played a really important role, also in the Alliance and also in Cosatu, among Cosatu's people. Would you, as far as you are concerned, would that be in line with your actions?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes.

MR LAMEY: Just a moment please, Chairperson. I have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR LAMEY

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR JANSEN: Brigadier Schoon, if you can just tell me if the following statements are correct or not. The evidence that you left the operation in the hands of Major De Kock also entailed that you did not concern yourself with his instructions to the operatives with regards to which fire weapons they must take with them?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson.

MR JANSEN: And as far as their instructions were concerned with regards to what they had to do if they were discovered by say other police or civilians?

BRIG SCHOON: No, I carry no knowledge of what instructions he gave to them.

MR JANSEN: Yes, but you were not interested in that?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson.

MR JANSEN: So in a sense you were only a mouthpiece of General Van der Merwe, you only said, "Destroy Cosatu House with explosives, make sure no-one gets hurt"?

BRIG SCHOON: That's correct, Chairperson.

MR JANSEN: As it pleases Mr Chairman, I have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR MAFOJANE: Brigadier, I want to refer you to the conversation between yourself and Mr Van der Merwe upon your receipt of the instruction to bomb Cosatu House. Now, as you are well aware, this was an illegal act, I'm sure you... (intervention).

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct.

MR MAFOJANE: Yes, and that is accepted. Now what assurances were there - of in this type of activity, did the General give you any assurance in order to encourage you to, not turn the offer down, but to rather participate?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson, he did not give me any assurance.

MR MAFOJANE: You did not want any assurance, surely that's strange?

BRIG SCHOON: We expected everything would go along fluently, and if there were any problems, the people who were responsible for this would help us out.

MR MAFOJANE: Can you please repeat that, Brigadier?

BRIG SCHOON: We trusted that those people who was responsible for this, or responsible for the instruction, that if something happened to us, that they would help us out of the hot water.

MR MAFOJANE: Now in your mind at that point, who were these people?

BRIG SCHOON: At that time, Minister Vlok and General Van der Merwe.

MR MAFOJANE: But, Brigadier, certainly they were not the government, you know they were two individuals, the Commissioner of Police and a Minister, did you find their assurances enough to ensure that you actually went ahead with this activity?

BRIG SCHOON: They gave no assurance, Chairperson.

MR MAFOJANE: Yes. Now I want to further refer you to your conversation between, the conversation between yourself and Mr Eugene de Kock, Colonel De Kock, certainly when you conveyed this to him, and again I'm saying that would be common sense, he would have asked you, you know, where this instruction came from and of course there are suggestions that he did indeed ask you where this instruction came from, am I correct?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson, and I told him it came from the top.

MR MAFOJANE: Now, and did he just accept this, that the information came "van bo af", that the instruction came from "bo af", what else was discussed?

BRIG SCHOON: As far as I know, that was the end of it.

MR MAFOJANE: Now, this "van bo af" that you are referring to, Brigadier, who was it, was it General Van der Merwe and Minister Vlok only, or were there other people that you were referring to?

BRIG SCHOON: No, I referred to General Van der Merwe and the Minister at that stage.

MR MAFOJANE: Now, with reference to the Khotso House bombing, Colonel De Kock has testified, I think it was at the (indistinct) trial, that they were armed with, amongst others, Uzzi sub-machine guns with low velocity bullets, with AK's 47 and with a silenced pistol, and you will admit that this is quite a substantial amount of arms? Now the reason I'm putting this scenario to you is, you actually received, you said, you know, that you received instructions that there was to be no loss of life and General Van der Merwe and Mr Vlok has said so much. Now, I just want to understand why then would it be necessary for the people who were on this mission to be carrying this arsenal of weapons and - okay, just answer that part?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, I was not there when the men were deployed and then I would not know what type of weapons, if any, they had with them, I cannot comment any further on that.

MR MAFOJANE: But weren't you there at the Honeydew house when they left for Khotso House, weren't you there at the safe house?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson, I was not there, I was only, in the Cosatu House incident I was there.

MR MAFOJANE: Oh, I'm sorry about that. Now, subsequent to these bombings, did you receive any other instructions, and now I'm referring both to the Cosatu and Khotso House bombings, did you receive any instructions to go on other bombing campaigns, and I'm saying this because on two previous occasions, that is Cosatu and Khotso House, whenever the authorities needed something to be sorted out, "deur middel van bombe", you were the person that they actually, you know, contacted. Now, are you aware of any other instructions that were issued to any individuals to conduct any other bombing campaigns?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson.

ADV GCABASHE: Or general, or to yourself, not just other individuals, to yourself as well?

MR MAFOJANE: Thank you, commissioner.

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson.

MR MAFOJANE: Now, Brigadier, you said when you were being cross-examined by my learned friend, I suppose it was Mr (Indistinct), that one of the aims, is it - oh - that one of the aims of these bombing campaigns was to sow confusion amongst Cosatu members, do you remember that part of your evidence?

BRIG SCHOON: I recall that.

MR MAFOJANE: And would I not be correct then, Brigadier, in saying that that actually was the point of the bombings, that indeed I do agree with you, and that it had nothing to do with the storage of weapons and aims of destroying those places where the weapons were hidden so that you could, you know, stop those activities, but that indeed it was to sow confusion amongst Cosatu members, amongst members of the South African Council of Churches, amongst the public and to create fear and insecurity, and basically that, you know, it was what has been described as an act of State terrorism, will you agree with me?

BRIG SCHOON: Amongst others, that was one of the objectives, but it was more than this one objective.

MR MAFOJANE: Apart from the objectives that have already been mentioned, you know you've just admitted to this one and the objective of rendering the building useless, the buildings useless, so that they can't be used for any other activities, were there any other objectives apart from those two?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson, as Minister Vlok mentioned previously, I don't know if you know, if I have to repeat their testimony in detail.

MR MAFOJANE: You don't have to repeat their testimony in detail, but perhaps, Mr Vlok actually mentioned the question of weapons and ensuring that these buildings would no longer be used for those purposes, and that was the other objective I was referring to, and the second objective was the one mentioned by yourself, to sow confusion and terror, and I wanted any other objective apart from those two.

BRIG SCHOON: Well the meetings that was held there, the intimidation of people in Cosatu House specifically and the torture of people and the eventual killing of people by burning them.

MR MAFOJANE: I think those are the very same objectives that we took up with Mr Vlok and General Van der Merwe, and which I have already placed on record, our client strenuously denies and takes exception to. I thought there were any other objectives apart from those, and as a result, Mr Chairman, I... (intervention).

MS GCABASHE: Can I just ask for clarity, Brigadier, did you have information at your disposal on all of those objectives, had you seen reports on all of the things you suspected happened at Cosatu House and at Khotso House?

BRIG SCHOON: Daily I saw reports, and I attended conferences at security head office and this is where all reports were conveyed to me and afterwards there would be a security overview or review, all departments were informed, and it was circulated countrywide to all security branches.

MS GCABASHE: Now specifically dealing with these particular incidents, that's really the question.

BRIG SCHOON: This specific subject came to the fore daily.

MR MAFOJANE: Thank you, learned commissioner. You see this doesn't make sense to me and not that much of what happened in the past really made sense. We have a situation here where you say, you know, you don't need Cosatu, the SACC, to organise and hold meetings and that, you know, you want to deny them the platform from which they can do that, i.e. their offices and, you know, as a way of doing that, then you have to bomb the offices. Then, of course, the offices are bombed, but the natural result is that they simply relocate to other places, as they indeed did, and I'm referring here specifically to Cosatu, relocated to other offices and which were, by coincidence, subsequently bombed, which is why I wanted to know whether this was part of an ongoing campaign, or what?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, I think it was clearly put by General Van der Merwe and Minister Vlok that these actions was only a temporary measure to temporarily stop the onslaught and we worked hard to find permanent solutions for the problem.

MR MAFOJANE: I have no further questions, thank you, Mr Chairman.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MAFOJANE

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR THULARE: You testified earlier on, Brigadier Schoon, that before you received instruction to destroy Cosatu House, you had received several reports, you attended conferences, where the problems, as you perceived them then about Cosatu House were discussed, did you at any stage before you received the instruction to destroy the building, ever contemplate taking such an illegal step against Cosatu House and Khotso House?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson.

MR THULARE: In your capacity as an operational policeman, did you at any stage before you received the instruction, did you at any stage consider that it might be necessary to take such an illegal instruction, I mean to take such an illegal step by destroying the building?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson.

MR THULARE: You've also testified that you found the instruction rather strange, firstly because it came from a politician, and secondly in that it concerned illegal action against organisations operating within the country that it was going to be an internal operation. Am I correct in understanding that in your view illegal actions of this nature were only justified if they were cross-border actions at the time?

BRIG SCHOON: Up to that stage it was just aimed at cross-border operations, the tasks that my unit executed.

MR THULARE: You didn't have problems in dealing with the internal situation in a legal manner, you didn't need to resort to these illegal actions, did you?

BRIG SCHOON: Not as far as I was concerned.

MR THULARE: It was suggested earlier on that one of the motives for destroying Khotso House was to disrupt the South African Council of Churches' opposition to the municipal elections in that year, is that correct?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson. I think it was also mentioned that other affiliates of Cosatu and of the unions were housed in Khotso House.

MR THULARE: Which affiliates, are you able to name them?

BRIG SCHOON: No, I cannot name them.

MR THULARE: The opposition to the municipal elections was, I put it to you, peaceful and completely legitimate opposition. I put it to you that the opposition to the municipal elections was a peaceful and completely legitimate action. Was it necessary to counteract such an action through the illegal means that you resorted to?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, I don't know if the election had anything to do with Khotso House, not as far as I know.

MR THULARE: Well correct me if I'm wrong, I just put it to you earlier on that it was suggested that one of the motives, one of the objectives of bombing of Khotso House was to disrupt the opposition to the municipal elections in that year, and I thought, if I understood you correctly, you said yes.

MR VISSER: I'm sorry, Mr Chairman, that's not entirely correct, if I may place the correct perspective? Brigadier Schoon said that he can't gainsay it if the person on behalf of whom the statement was made thought so, but certainly no evidence was given by Brigadier Schoon that it was in order to disrupt the elections. In fact it was after the elections, the elections was on the 6th and the bombing took place - scratch that, Mr Chairman, I'm wrong, but Brigadier Schoon did not say that it was one of the objectives.

CHAIRPERSON: I had an idea that a minute or two ago it was put to him that this was one of the objectives and he agreed it could have been.

MR VISSER: As I understood it, Mr Chairman, and I may be wrong, he said that he can't gainsay it if somebody says that he thought so, because that was the basis on which the question was put.

CHAIRPERSON: But then he gave a second reason, a possible second reason.

MR THULARE: The question to you, Brigadier Schoon was, in your view was it necessary to resort to such drastic and illegal action against peaceful and legitimate opposition?

BRIG SCHOON: No sir.

MR THULARE: You have said earlier on that you agreed with the reasons and the motives that were given to this hearing by General Van der Merwe and Mr Vlok for destroying Khotso House. I'm instructed to put it to you that my clients deny that any illegal actions took place at Khotso House, the kind of actions that were alleged by Mr Vlok and Van der Merwe to have taken place there?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, Mr Robb and his assistant, it is their right to argue it.

MR THULARE: My name is Mr Thulare.

MR THULARE: What's your response to our clients' denial that such actions took place?

BRIG SCHOON: I can't respond to that, sir.

CHAIRPERSON: Did you have any knowledge of such actions, you yourself?

BRIG SCHOON: No, I did not, Chairperson.

MR THULARE: Despite having received several reports, attending conferences on the security situations, you didn't have knowledge of such actions, am I right?

BRIG SCHOON: The actions that you are referring to, can you spell it out for me?

MR THULARE: Well, for the purpose of not repeating them, was to, not to unnecessarily prolong this testimony. You were asked by my learned friend, Advocate Visser, during your examination in chief, whether you agreed with the reasons and objectives for taking out this, carrying out this action, which were given to this hearing by Mr Vlok and General Van der Merwe, some of them being allegations that terrorists operated from that building, that weapons were being hidden there?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, that is how I recall it. They testified that there were instances where weapons were stored in the building at times, and there were persons who left the country who visited there to receive assistance and receive funding, and there were even cadres of MK who received further assistance when they returned, as well as financial assistance, and it was not only the election that would have been disrupted by this action, but it became a whole afterwards.

MR THULARE: Thank you, sir, what I'm putting to you is that my clients deny those allegations, they deny that their building was used in the manner that you just described, and what's your comment?

BRIG SCHOON: I have no comment to that, Chairperson.

MR THULARE: Do you accept that... (intervention).

CHAIRPERSON: How big was this building?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, it was not a very large building, but it was surrounded by other blocks of flats in the centre of Johannesburg. I would say, if I have to estimate, it was about 50 x 50 square metres.

CHAIRPERSON: And how many people or organisations occupied that building?

BRIG SCHOON: I have no idea, Chairperson.

MR THULARE: At the point when you destroyed Khotso House, or received the instructions to destroy Khotso House, did you ever think that it was necessary to take such illegal actions against Khotso House?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, the information, as mentioned by General Van der Merwe and Minister Vlok, and the political climate at that time, I believed it was justification for that action in the time period that we lived in there and if we look at the political circumstances.

MR THULARE: Was your unit, we have heard testimony that part of the government's strategy at the time, and in particular in the security forces, was to spread disinformation, propaganda, divide the opposition, was your unit involved in such endeavours?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson, there were special units who were responsible for that, the spreading of disinformation and propaganda.

MR THULARE: But you were aware that such activities were taking place?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, I was aware of it.

MR THULARE: And I'm sure you were aware that subsequent to the bombing of Khotso House, the public was basically told, was misinformed as to who was responsible?

BRIG SCHOON: That is possible, Chairperson.

MR THULARE: Now, having been part of that security apparatus, where disinformation was the order of the day, how do we know that that disinformation is not continuing, that the motives that have been given to this hearing are just an extenuation of that disinformation campaign?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, I was not directly involved in those actions and consequently I cannot comment on that furthermore.

MR THULARE: I have no further questions, Mr Chairperson, thank you.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR THULARE

NO RE-EXAMINATION BY MR VISSER

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, the next witness I intend to call is Mr Erasmus.

MS GCABASHE: Brigadier, I have a couple of questions, just to clarify some of the evidence you have given. Were you given a timeframe within which to complete both missions, Cosatu House and then later Khotso House?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, if I recall correctly, the request was that it had to be done as soon as possible.

MS GCABASHE: That was it, nothing else?

BRIG SCHOON: No.

MS GCABASHE: Then on the question of the possibility of injury to persons, were you expected to use your own discretion in terms of that, and did you then leave it to your men to decide on whether they would execute the mission on that particular day?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, that was one of the requirements or conditions, that there had to be no deaths or injuries.

MS GCABASHE: Yes, but what did you then pass on to your men, you know, you had no timeframes, you knew you did not want to injure persons, that was the instruction, when would this have to be done to make sure that these things in fact did not happen, you know, people were not injured?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, at the earliest date, when the instruction was executed to the letter.

MS GCABASHE: The bombing of Cosatu House, I think it's when Mr Du Plessis was cross-examining you, he asked about any investigation of the bombing of Cosatu House, was it ever investigated, to your knowledge?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, I think it was.

MS GCABASHE: And would you know who would have investigated that bombing?

BRIG SCHOON: This would have been done by the Security Branch at Johannesburg.

MS GCABASHE: And again, in your opinion, if they had done a thorough job, would they have found out who the real perpetrators were?

BRIG SCHOON: If it was a good policeman, he would.

MS GCABASHE: Now we have heard of cover-ups and we know that that was part of government policy, to put it broadly, would you say that there was then a deliberate cover-up of any police investigation that did take place, just your opinion?

BRIG SCHOON: I was not involved there, Chairperson, but it is not far-fetched to think so.

MS GCABASHE: You were then, a slightly different aspect, you were also asked about giving instructions to both Colonel De Kock and I think it was to Hattingh, yes?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson.

MS GCABASHE: What was the purpose of giving these two individuals separate instructions, the same instruction but at different times?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, they were part of different units and this was not part of my component and to bring these two together, I had to give both of them the same instructions, so that they could work together.

MS GCABASHE: Now, it would appear there was a bit of confusion in relation to who did what, when. You agree with that?

BRIG SCHOON: I agree with that, Chairperson.

MS GCABASHE: Who should have co-ordinated this operation to avoid that confusion?

BRIG SCHOON: At that stage, I appointed Major De Kock as the co-ordinator and to make the necessary arrangements, and he would have been the one to co-ordinate the whole operation.

MS GCABASHE: Are you suggesting, and please if you're not, say so, are you suggesting that the Hatting team, I'll call them that, pre-empted the real team, the people who were really authorised to co-ordinate and execute?

BRIG SCHOON: I don't know what happened there, Chairperson, it is unknown to me what exactly happened there.

MS GCABASHE: And then one final question, a different aspect again, you've been asked about the decision to carry out an illegal operation, had you been consulted, not instructed, would you have recommended the bombing of Cosatu House, the bombing of Khotso House?

BRIG SCHOON: If I recall, I would have done so.

MS GCABASHE: Despite it being an illegal action?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson, in that time period.

MS GCABASHE: So from that I can conclude that under no circumstances would you have said, "No", you know, "I will not participate in this particular activity"?

BRIG SCHOON: That is correct, Chairperson.

MS GCABASHE: Then, as part of this last round of questions, you would then not expect your junior officers to flout an instruction like that, if you set a particular example, they would follow that example?

BRIG SCHOON: Correct, Chairperson.

MS GCABASHE: Thank you. Thank you, Brigadier.

ADV DE JAGER: You referred to the ex-Minister. Who's the oldest, you or yourself?

BRIG SCHOON: I think I'll give him seven or eight years, sir.

CHAIRPERSON: You've been asked about, I think it was Colonel Hattingh?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: What part did he play in the bombing?

BRIG SCHOON: Chairperson, at that stage, he was the commanding officer of the Explosive Unit of head office, and he, well it was his priority to, or his prerogative to appoint people who would be of assistance to Major De Kock.

CHAIRPERSON: Did he work together with Major De Kock?

BRIG SCHOON: Yes, Chairperson.

MR VISSER: I'm sorry, Mr Chairman, maybe there's a bit of confusion now. Hattingh worked together with De Kock, but not in the same section?

BRIG SCHOON: No, Chairperson, only in the sense that he provided the necessary assistance when it came down to the provision of explosives people and the necessary explosives in order to fulfil this task, only in that aspect.

MR VISSER: I have no re-examination and no questions emanating from questions emanated from the committee, Mr Chairman.

BRIG SCHOON EXCUSED

 
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