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Type AMNESTY HEARINGS
Starting Date 25 July 1998
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MR RADITAPOLE: Mr Chair, before Adv Dane proceeds, I would like to place myself on record also. The name is Raditapole, I am appearing on behalf of COSATU, we are from Cheadle, Thompson & Haysom, having replaced Mr Mafojane who is not available.
We had a discussion during the break and we thought in view of the reservation of cross-examination on Annexure G that was handed in last week, that perhaps it would make sense that we finish off cross-examination of that aspect, particularly in the light of the previous evidence and then let the SACC have a full run as they had reserved.
CHAIRPERSON: ... rather than Mr Dane, the idea was that the South African Council of Churches will then have an uninterrupted run, and I think it may be better if we clear up this before you commence yours.
MR VISSER: Excuse me Mr Chairman, there is a rule and a very sensible one, that witnesses should not be cross-examined by different legal advisors from the same party. I just want to mention that, I thought that Mr Vlok was in fact cross-examined by Mr Mafojane, apart from Annexure G.
MR RADITAPOLE: Mr Chair, before Adv Dane proceeds, I would like to place myself on record also. The name is Raditapole, I am appearing on behalf of COSATU, we are from Cheadle, Thompson & Haysom, having replaced Mr Mafojane who is not available.
We had a discussion during the break and we thought in view of the reservation of cross-examination on Annexure G that was handed in last week, that perhaps it would make sense that we finish off cross-examination of that aspect, particularly in the light of the previous evidence and then let the SACC have a full run as they had reserved.
CHAIRPERSON: ... rather than Mr Dane, the idea was that the South African Council of Churches will then have an uninterrupted run, and I think it may be better if we clear up this before you commence yours.
MR VISSER: Excuse me Mr Chairman, there is a rule and a very sensible one, that witnesses should not be cross-examined by different legal advisors from the same party. I just want to mention that, I thought that Mr Vlok was in fact cross-examined by Mr Mafojane, apart from Annexure G.
MR RADITAPOLE: Indeed Chair, clearly there would be aspects, I am going to try to restrict myself to Annexure G. There will be some incidents where the bounds will go beyond of Annexure G because of the nature of the evidence.
CHAIRPERSON: We are not going to have a second cross-examination of Mr Vlok though. Your clients have already had an opportunity of cross-examining and the right was reserved in respect of Annexure G and obviously any matter arising directly there from.
I propose to start off by placing the contents of Annexure G on record before we deal with the applicant's response to them. I start on the first page of the Annexure and I will just go very quickly through the incidents.
CHAIRPERSON: You are not going to read all these incidents into the record, are you? There are 46 different items, he has a copy of Annexure G before him. Is it necessary to read it onto the record, it already forms part of the record as an Exhibit?
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, may I just perhaps request what the status of this document is, because I see that reference is made to certain newspaper articles substantiating the facts contained in this document.
MR RADITAPOLE: If I may Chair. Chair, I will start by saying this. These incidents are a narration of the attacks on the property of COSATU, attacks on the property of COSATU's affiliates, attacks on members and officials of COSATU, including murders and I will pick, the first incident relates to the injury of the Vice-President of Metal and Allied Workers Union in Natal Region, Mr Jeffrey Bilany, in a petrol bomb attack.
There are various attacks on offices in the regional office of COSATU in Natal, in PE. There is break ins into offices of COSATU and then of course there is the major issue the bombing of COSATU House, that is referred to on point 8.
There is repeated attacks on Feedwell House in PE which houses many COSATU affiliates. There is vandalising of property. Documents are stolen, again the same modus operandi, bomb blast at Cape Town Community House which houses COSATU's Western Cape offices and its affiliates.
The list goes on and on, as you correctly pointed out there is about over 40 incidents. These are incidents that we knew about at the time of the trial of Jay Naidoo, Sidney Mufamadi, Moss Mayikiso and Baba Schalk and that is not conclusive.
CHAIRPERSON: It is clear is it not that this list has been prepared by references to newspapers, magazines and things of that nature? None of it appears to be direct information, it is all - appears to be as I understand the list, extracts from newspapers?
CHAIRPERSON: The list doesn't say that at all, the list says each one, each item on that list is then followed by Sowetan, 19-11-1987, Weekly Mail, 30-10-1987, Star, which would appear that it is based on a report in those newspapers?
MR RADITAPOLE: Chair, the reference to the newspapers are simply confirmation of what happened. This is information from COSATU itself and this is, the reference to newspapers is simply confirmation of what did happen.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR RADITAPOLE: Thank you Chair. Mr Vlok, having gone through this list, could you tell us your view about COSATU's impressions that all these attacks formed the basis of a major campaign against COSATU of which the bombing for which you are applying for amnesty for, was only part of?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I comprehend COSATU's issue in this regard. This is also my problem. These things happened approximately 10 to 12 years ago and the necessary documentation has in many cases, been rendered unavailable.
As Mr Raditapole has said, I have studied the documents and I can in all earnestly tell you that I do not know at all if I look at all these items, there is not a single item for which I personally can accept responsibility or an incident which took place within my field of knowledge.
It may well have occurred that some of these incidents as I have indicated in my amnesty application, took place without my knowledge, that is when I came to you and requested that you hear my case and that you assist me.
You told me that blanket amnesty was not available. There might be certain cases of which I don't know, however, if I was aware of any of these cases, in which I might have been directly or indirectly involved, I would have made full use of this opportunity to apply for amnesty in respect thereof.
MR RADITAPOLE: Am I correctly understanding you then to be saying that other than the instruction in relation to COSATU House, you issued no other instruction of a similar nature against COSATU or any of its affiliates?
MR RADITAPOLE: The pattern of these attacks, would you agree that if you look at the press clippings, it is on page 9 of Exhibit G, there is a press clipping from the New Nation of the 1st of June 1990, which refers to the bombing of offices of FAWU, Food and Allied Workers Union in Rustenburg, and reference is made that the bombing occurred barely a week after the office of the South African Council of Churches, situated less than 10 metres away, were burgled.
If you look at that and you look at the systematic offensive against the SACC, in terms of attacks on offices and burglaries, as well as on COSATU, would you not agree that the pattern is very similar?
There was no systematic attempt to bomb their offices or put them out of business. Once again, I would like to say that something like this might have happened, and I have made provision for that in my amnesty application, I have left the door open, that operatives on ground level could firstly have exercised this within the framework of certain STRATCOM actions or they could have said we have seen what happened in the case of Khotso House and COSATU House and then on the 1st of June 1990, that is approximately two years later, they might have done this.
I must indicate that if the operatives had carried out these tasks, the former Commissioner of Police and myself, went out of our ways, to recommend to the ground level operatives that if they were involved in these actions, they should approach Truth Commission and the Amnesty Committee so that they can sort out these matters and if they have not done that, I cannot go any further in assisting COSATU.
MR RADITAPOLE: During the period in question, these years 1988, 1989, 1990 and so on when these things were happening, was it not incumbent upon you on the basis of your political and moral responsibility, to do something about these attacks on organs of civil society?
MR VLOK: I would like to indicate to you that these attacks were not only launched on COSATU's offices. The entire country was riddled with bomb explosions, land mine explosions, land mine explosions and so forth.
MR RADITAPOLE: Were there or not a number of requests for you as Minister of Law and Order to intervene and to make sure that investigations were carried out in relation to these attacks, specifically on COSATU and its affiliates?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I cannot recall that any such request was ever made. It might be so, but then those requests during the normal run of tasks would have been handled, it would have been referred to the Investigative Branch and the Commissioner would have taken the matter further.
I apologise for not being able to take it further, and I have mentioned this in my amnesty application, I am sorry that I didn't do anything more to deal with the situation, but Chairperson, you must understand that at that point in time in this country, the number of incidents of unrest and violence, ran into thousands.
MR RADITAPOLE: Mr Vlok, the one thing that is slightly different about COSATU is that you had a pet project. You had a project in relation to COSATU, in other words the bombing of COSATU, you were involved in the bombing of COSATU, so COSATU was not to you, you know, couldn't just be put in the same bag as everybody else in relation to all these attacks, thousands of attacks and hand grenade attacks going around in the country.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I must indicate to COSATU that we did not have a project to bomb COSATU House. We had information at our disposal, a decision was made that nothing else could be done to deal with that urgent situation which was taking place before the election in 1987.
However, there was no campaign to act against COSATU and all its people and everything that it stood for. It might appear that way, but I must reassure you from the side of the Department and the government, there was never any campaign against COSATU as such.
And apart from that which I have already indicated regarding my responsibility which I will accept, it is not possible for me to say that I accept the direct responsibility for all these things that took place. I didn't know about it. No one informed me about it, I didn't know about it.
MR VLOK: That was our point which we consistently held, that as long as we could get along with COSATU, we would allow COSATU to apply its activities which it could apply within the law. COSATU was a very important element in the peace making process in South Africa.
It was very important to include COSATU in the normalisation process because it was a big strong Trade Union, and that is why we were very cautious not to act against COSATU's leaders, because if we touched COSATU's leaders, we would carry very severe consequences.
That is why this is one of the things which is quite a pity, when COSATU was established and did not continue with its Trade Unions and became active on other levels, at various stages, negotiations were held between COSATU officials and relevant government officials in order to achieve control over the situation, but regarding a campaign of destruction of property by means of bombs and arson, this did not exist within the government and it did not exist within me.
This is a case that involved a Policeman that was caught carrying out surveillance outside the offices of COSATU, was taken into the building and kept in the building while the Police were called. That resulted in charges of kidnapping. There was some minor assault apparently which also formed part of the charges, but those charges were quashed and the conviction was purely on the kidnapping charge, still pending in the AD awaiting the outcome of an amnesty application.
I am raising it just to say this friendly, this whole idea of keeping hands off COSATU leadership that you have just told us about, certainly is not borne out by the treatment meted out to the leadership of COSATU?
It wouldn't have come to me. If there had been a request by COSATU that we should do something about it, I think you used the word quashed, then that would not have been within my power, even if I had still been there.
If my successor had said well we have received this request, but we can't from the Minister's office simply wipe this charge or case from the table, that was the policy which we followed. We couldn't have helped even if we wanted to.
MR RADITAPOLE: Mr Vlok, I would like to go back to this theory of a campaign. COSATU feels very strongly that there was a campaign, let's get a comment from you. Having looked at Annexure G would you agree that it appears that there was some campaign against COSATU, even if it was not sanctioned by you?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, if I look at this document it would appear as if on a country wide level, there was action against COSATU offices. I have to agree with that, it seems as if there could have been something.
MR RADITAPOLE: Chair, I just wish to note that I am not attempting to exceed the bounds that you have indulged me, I just would like to contrast the explanation given for this attack on COSATU House with the campaign as COSATU sees it.
I think we succeeded in our objective to act against COSATU at the highest level where this problem originated. I also quoted it in my amnesty application that I think as far as that specific incident was concerned, we were reasonably successful and as far as I am concerned, that was the beginning and the end of that matter.
Now you are saying that it actually became an entire campaign. It might appear to be that way to you and if one looks at this whole list which you have given me, but it was never a planned campaign. It was not as if people actually sat down and planned this campaign to hit COSATU country wide.
MR VLOK: UWUSA if I remember correctly, and once again it is now many years ago, was founded before my time, before I became Minister, but yes, it is true it is correct, that UWUSA was seen as a counter, as an alternative Trade Union organisation which could be a voice for the alternative perspective
You must understand that when I got there at the end of 1986, we found that COSATU by its actions had in respect of many people who did not belong to COSATU or COSATU aligned organisations, had actually intimidated people into joining these organisations.
It made sense for there to be an alternative voice to be heard. A voice that could contact employers, for instance when there was a general strike, that there would be a voice that would be able to say we still want to go to work.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, this was during 1986, a state of civil war - well I don't know if it was actually a state of civil war between the ANC and the IFP, I know that there was friction between those two parties.
MR RADITAPOLE: Well Chair, the relevance is as follows that the choice is then made to found a Trade Union movement to counter COSATU in circumstances that were already highly volatile and which in fact manifested themselves in the way that they did. I am just trying to push a line that in fact there was a campaign that the State was fully aware of a campaign, that Mr Vlok should, if he wasn't, he should have been aware that there was a massive campaign to try and neutralise COSATU.
MR VISSER: Mr Chair, it may also be relevant in that my learned friend said that there was a state of civil war between the ANC and the IFP, and that it could just as well have been the IFP who committed these acts instead of the Security Police.
CHAIRPERSON: Provided the questions are relevant. The problem is that your clients have already had an opportunity of cross-examining this witness. They do not get a second opportunity by engaging the services of a second counsel to come up later and do the same thing again.
CHAIRPERSON: The witness has said he knows nothing about it, you will then lead evidence no doubt, to show that there was such a campaign and you can then argue that as the Minister, he must have known about it and he is untruthful.
CHAIRPERSON: Because I see that there are several references to the Weekly Mail of the 15th of May. I have not seen that article, but if the article were to make the allegation that this is part of a policy against COSATU, it would have come to your attention that these allegations were made, wouldn't it?
But the Commissioner of the South African Police did not inform me, he did not say to me that this is perhaps something that resulted from our actions at COSATU House, that never happened, because if something like that came to my attention, I would have said we should actually investigate this because this thing can run away with us, and that was never the intention.
I want to state again, the intention was to hit COSATU House in that time, so that the organisation would be unable to continue with their work and that we could pacify that strike so that people could continue with their lives.
Just in relation to your general denial about direct knowledge, about knowledge of these incidents that have been listed here. What I want to know is are you denying direct knowledge, or are you denying knowledge, hearsay, knowledge afterwards of any source whatsoever?
That it was brought to my attention by means of newspaper articles, is so and reports from the SAP often crossed my desk relating to things that happened in the country. So yes, it came to my attention, that I can't deny, but that it would have registered in my mind that this actually formed part of a pattern and of a campaign, and that that was specifically brought to my attention, that is not true.
MR RADITAPOLE: Then I put it further to you Mr Vlok, that the reasons you have given for the attack on COSATU House are not plausible and that if indeed this was a single attack and not part of a systematic campaign, that it was simply borne out by malice, there was really nothing concrete to gain?
We tried all possible avenues to try and calm the situation. Many things happened in COSATU House, something which actually later referred to in court, five people had been detained there, five workers had been detained in COSATU House, one had escaped, the other four, their bodies, their charred bodies were later found outside. The evidence has been submitted to this Committee by Gen Van der Merwe, that evidence is available.
The people responsible for that, were convicted in a competent court and the judgement is also available. I made it very clear in my evidence that I didn't think and I still don't think that the leaders of COSATU who negotiated and dealt with the labour situation at a very high level, that they knew of everything that was going on.
I still don't think so and I said so, but that there were certain elements of people inside that organisation who used that building for other purposes than labour related matters, about that I had absolutely no doubt.
The fact that these four people were killed there, that actually emerged during a court case, it is not only me that is saying so, so you are entitled to your opinion. If you say that the reasons weren't plausible and that it was motivated by malice, I deny that and I can only submit to this Commission what I knew and believed at that stage with the information at my disposal, and that was the decision that I took with Gen Van der Merwe, namely that that was the only way in which we could proceed to try and stabilise and contain the situation without further loss of life.
Are you aware of the threat that was made against the then General Secretary of COSATU, Mr Jay Naidoo after he had - after a bomb blast and he had pointed the possibility of the State being involved in the bomb blast, that he could be charged with crimen injuria or something to that effect for laying the blame on the Security Forces.
MR VLOK: I can recall that there was such a report. I can't remember whether it came to my attention via the Police channels. I don't know whether Mr Naidoo would have reported it to the Police or whether he simply said this at a press conference, but it is possible that there was such a thing and then I would have known about it.
MR VLOK: If it had come to my attention, I would have told the Commissioner of the South African Police that we should look at the situation, at Mr Naidoo's allegation and that we should make sure that Mr Naidoo, that this threat against him could not be carried out.
This is what I did in all cases of this kind, when there were instances of high profile people who said that there were threats against them, I would always say let's investigate and see what is going on.
MR DANE: Well, he already made an affidavit in October 1996 and I come back to my first question. If it was in November, December that you discussed it with Gen Van der Merwe, then you must have been aware that he had already drafted an affidavit?
MR VLOK: Yes, there was an addendum which I included with the following cut off date, I think that was in May and that which I have submitted recently, was supplementary information in order to make it easier for the Committee and the Chairperson to understand the oral evidence much better.
MR DANE: And when you drafted these two affidavits, the major affidavits not the addendum, because the addendum is a short affidavit, but the two major affidavits, the one done in December last year and the one in July of this year, were you assisted by Attorneys and Advocates to draft that document?
MR VLOK: I myself prepared the document, but from a legal viewpoint they consulted with me and told me what the requirements of the law were. But regarding the contents of the document, and the legal requirements, they explained to me regarding my responsibilities, my accountability, my acceptances and so forth, as well as the details of what had taken place. That was my responsibility.
MR DANE: Now turn to page 12 of the Bundle, (iii) on page 9 of the affidavit. You then say in regard to your oath of secrecy, that you discussed it with old President P.W. Botha and F.W. de Klerk, is that correct?
MR VLOK: Regarding that matter, I have appeared before the Committee and I have been under cross-examination and I have said that I first spoke to Mr Botha during August 1996 and I then spoke with Mr F.W. de Klerk also during August 1996 and if I remember correctly, I told him that I would be applying for amnesty and that at the time of the first submission of the National Party at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town.
MR VLOK: I told Mr Botha that I would be applying for amnesty for two matters and that would be Khotso House and COSATU House. And I told Mr De Klerk at that very same occasion that before he made his submission to the Truth Commission, this was afterwards, I told him that I had decided for amnesty and that I would be applying for these two matters, that would be Khotso House and COSATU House.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, the permanent members were the Chairperson who was the State President, then there was the Minister of Defence, who was also a permanent member, the Minister of Law and Order, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and then there were others who attended.
MR VLOK: The Minister of Justice was also a permanent member and then there were also other seniors Ministers who from time to time attended the Council. The Minister of Constitutional Development attended most of the time, as well as other senior Ministers who were invited to serve as additional members and then there were also members of the Departments, such as Department Heads, Defence, Law and Order, and I can't remember if they were permanent members, but they also attended the meetings, the Director General of National Intelligence also attended.
MR DANE: As you sit here today, can you remember whether that proposition of destroying property belonging to people who were perceived to be opposed to the government of the day, was ever minuted at the State Security Council meeting?
ADV GCABASHE: Just for clarity Mr Vlok, it is correct that the decision was not discussed, but reports relating to Khotso House or COSATU House would have been discussed, just the difference between the two? Decision and just the general information that was presented at that forum.
MR VLOK: We received information about incidents, for example if incidents had taken place where property had been destroyed, if we return to the two incidents, it was reported to the State Security Council.
ADV DE JAGER: Mr Vlok, I think what is being asked of you is whether or not there was information regarding certain activities at Khotso House or information regarding planning or attacks and so forth which were being planned by the other powers?
I must emphasise that this was part of the problem that we had, documents were not handed out to us with regard to these incidents. The Secretariat of the State Security Council which consisted of all the information gathering wings, would make a presentation to us with transparencies and slides and we would see this is the situation at schools, this is the situation regarding the boycott actions.
All of those things were presented to us, we didn't receive any documentation which we could take home, and that was part of the problem which we are experiencing now. Apart from the fact that most of these things had been destroyed, it is very difficult for me to present this information to you.
MR VLOK: That was exceptional if indeed he had attended, but I can't recall whether or not he attended any one of those numerous meetings which were held over the years. I can't recall that he attended any of those meetings.
MR DANE: As I understand your affidavit, correct me if I am wrong, the Security Police at that time, regarded themselves, were indoctrinated I think is the word you suggested at one stage, to support the government of the day and to support the ideals of the National Party, is that correct?
MR DANE: And I heard from Mr Bellinghan this morning when he was discussing STRATCOM, he said that they had a hard if my memory serves me correctly, a soft division or soft acts that they performed for example, like propaganda and then they did the hard acts, do you remember him saying that?
Paragraph 1.2, page 78, projects approved. With the aim of combating revolutionary threats against the country, the government made use of so-called strategic communication or anti-propaganda actions.
The objective thereof was essentially the promotion of the principles, norms and values to which the South African government had committed itself and the exposure of dangers of atheist doctrinaire and totalitarian political systems, which had failed elsewhere and had ruined economies.
This took place upon these levels and in order to increase the effectiveness thereof, these actions were executed on a covert manner. The departments who were equipped to handle this and the implementation thereof, was left to the Minister and his department. They had to report to the State President and the Committee on an annual basis.
Although feedback regarding progress was given from time to time, it took place purely in broad terms and normally did not go into detail. In this process offences may have been committed, of which I am totally unaware, but for which I can ultimately be held responsible. So therefore a memorandum was submitted to me regarding those terrain which I have mentioned and it was then left to the Departmental Head and those on ground level.
Soft acts were for example propaganda like the disinformation pertaining to COSATU House to which I will return later, and hard acts which were like the actual offence of the bombing of COSATU House and Khotso House. That is as I understood his evidence as he testified this morning.
We don't have a note to say that Bellinghan said that it included attacks on property. I am just mentioning it and I would request you just to look at your notes if you would please Mr Chairman, because it does not coincide with our note.
But we may be wrong. I can tell you Mr Chairman, that my note is that there were soft STRATCOM actions, disinformation, etc and then active measures, an action that was calculated to have some effect, I think were the words that he used. But I am not certain.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, a reference might be to Annexure R. My Attorney's recollection is that it was very soon after Annexure R, that letter of congratulations to Mr Bellinghan was handed up, that this evidence was given.
MR DANE: As it pleases you Mr Chairman. In other words Mr Bellinghan’s evidence was that it was from STRATCOM point of view, two functions, soft and hard and the hard included elimination and destruction of property. Did you hear him testify to that effect this morning, or were you not here?
MR VLOK: In my amnesty application I have indicated that in no document which I sent out, and in no discussion which I led with people, I ever used the word eliminate. However, I also said that in documentation which was available in the State situation, which was circulated, which could have gone as far as the operative level, these words eliminate, take out and so forth appear in my application.
I have a whole list of such terms. I have said that we cannot distance ourselves from these people. If they interpreted those terms as such, then we must accept that we have a political and moral responsibility and accountability therefore.
In no memorandum regarding STRATCOM which was submitted to me, did I ever approve hard or soft actions. I never approved it because it was never presented to me. I didn't know that in the execution of these STRATCOM attempts and operations - let me put it this way, I did not approve the use of hard actions. But that someone could have interpreted it as such, cannot be disputed and I cannot escape from that.
Not from my words and not from the formal approval which I gave, but that he might have interpreted the entire context and said well, within the broad set up it has been approved, I must go ahead and this is what must be done.
MR DANE: Mr Vlok, as I understood his evidence, it was more than just an interpretation of what the words meant. He actually said that they drew up lists, the Security Police, STRATCOM, they drew up lists of people to eliminate and he in fact went further, he said if one of the Security Police ...
MR VAN DER MERWE: No Mr Chairman, that is just not true Mr Chairman. That wasn't the evidence Mr Chairman. That evidence came from a previous hearing. I don't know if my learned friend is confusing the evidence in this hearing from the evidence in a previous hearing.
ADV DE JAGER: Yes, but he didn't say a list for elimination. I asked him the question about it and I was very careful in listening to it because I also thought that that may imply an elimination list.
Mr Vlok, as I understood his evidence and I am not going to debate this at this stage much further, the hard aspect of the STRATCOM was in fact to perpetrate acts of violence, that is how I understood his evidence and we no doubt will ask him when he comes back to elucidate on what he meant by hard activities.
But and this is a very general question, while you were Minister, we now know as I understand it and please correct me if I am wrong in terms of dates, but I understand that people were eliminated by members of the South African Police at the time, is that correct?
MR DANE: We have also heard for example of the Pebco 4 who were killed down in the Eastern Cape, Pebco 3, I beg your pardon, I stand corrected, the Pebco 3 who were killed down in the Eastern Cape, is that correct?
MR DANE: The reason I ask these questions is that I just want to know in regard to the State Security Council, we know that certain Policemen were acting unlawfully in the Eastern Cape, we know that certain incidents occurred here about which you have claimed amnesty for and which I will debate with you.
Was there no correlation about the various unlawful activities carried on by the Security Forces? You've got the State Security Council that in fact deals almost once a week, sometimes twice a week - or twice a week, sometimes once a week, with all the incidents going on throughout the country as I understand it, to monitor the unrest, correct?
MR DANE: Monitoring what is going on in Education, monitoring who is destroying buildings, monitoring what is going on with the labour movement. Did nobody ever bother to monitor these activists that were murdered in circumstances where there was no investigation that was ever successfully completed at that time?
MR VLOK: Mr Chairman, I am simply trying to explain that many people passed away during this time, thousands died, among others activists, and every casualty and I am including the activists in this, every casualty was investigated by the Police, post mortems were held, the regular legal process ran its course. If there was a perpetrator or if somebody was accosted, he would appear in court.
MR DANE: And you are suggesting a genuine inquest is an inquest where the Police actually formulate a whole set up as it were, to explain the death of somebody and to blame it on somebody else but not them, is that what you are saying?
MR DANE: You say - (v) regarding the maintenance of the constitution and other law, I regarded it as my absolute duty to carry this out as effectively as possible. As Minister of Law and Order, it meant to me that I and the South African Police were bound by duty to observe all the laws of the country and maintain law and order in protection of the general public.
MR VLOK: The law on Separate Amenities. I did not agree with that at all. We had to go and catch people in parks and we didn't want to go and catch them. I gave instructions regarding that, I suggested that we stop that kind of activity, that we shouldn't arrest somebody simply because they were sitting on a park bench.
MR DANE: If I carry on with your application, I see and I am not going to deal with it in great detail, much of it deals with the conflicts between the liberation movement and your justification for your approach, namely that you were fighting against Marxism and Leninism is that correct, the communists?
MR DANE: And you make the comment, I as many fellow countrymen realise today irrevocably that apartheid was wrong and a mistake. You go on to say, you then give an explanation as to why you realise it was wrong, it didn't enjoy the support of the majority of the South Africans, therefore it could never succeed, you attempted to force it on many people, it was morally indefensible and because I am translating - because it applied and took away the dignity of persons in the lands of their birth, merely because of colour, would that be a more or less correct summary of it?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, for me it was not a Damascus experience in which I awoke one morning and realised that we had been wrong. I came to the realisation that the operation of apartheid was unfair towards my neighbour and my fellow countrymen, and it is something which grew within me over a period of time, and I realised that we could no longer continue with apartheid.
MR DANE: Now, to follow on from that, you say at page 15 of your second affidavit, paragraph 53 because apartheid was wrong, opposition thereto was justified. Democratic methods to bring apartheid to an end, was justified.
MR VLOK: I tried to set that out in the document, that the government before 1984 on the 17th of August 1984, when I became Deputy Minister, we then already started doing away with apartheid in a democratic way in that in Parliament and Cabinet, people of colour were incorporated. People were given power.
The country at large, the coloureds and Asians got the vote. The blacks unfortunately the majority of black people, did unfortunately not have the vote, and I want to emphasise that that was an unfortunate situation, it was a mistake.
MR DANE: Mr Vlok, with respect, that wasn't an answer to my question. You stated in your affidavit that opposition to apartheid, was justified and that democratic methods to oppose apartheid, was justified.
MR VLOK: May I try and assist. The democratic methods which I envisaged were for instance the negotiations with our fellow citizens and the establishment of political parties so that people could register political parties and thereby continue in a democratic way.
I would like to refer you to the document in which I explained the government's strategy on this point. One of the crucial elements was the fact of a political dispensation which would be acceptable not only to me, and for the whites, but acceptable for the majority of the people in this country. That was one of the strategies.
MR DANE: Mr Vlok, I don't want to go into this in detail but you made the point here that one of the methods, democratic methods to bring an end to apartheid, would have been to form a political party. Well, that practically from the perspective from black South Africans at the time is nonsensical, correct?
MR VLOK: Mr Chairman, I don't have a problem with ordinary boycotts etc, but my experience in the South African Police was that these boycotts and demonstrations usually led to violence and unrest and where people were intimidated to take part in these activities. That was also not democratic.
MR DANE: Mr Vlok, that is why I don't want to get into a debate about your affidavit pertaining to your so-called reasons for your just war as it were, because on the one hand you say boycotts ended in violence and you say that is why you were opposed to it, but the other side will say the reason why it ended in violence was because the Police shot first.
I don't want to get into that debate. I am looking at the point purely from what you regarded as democratic methods to end apartheid, and I said to you one of them could be boycott and you said yes. Forget about the application of the democratic method, I am talking about a democratic method. Are you with me, are you understanding?
MR DANE: I am going to read it in Afrikaans, although every action about which this document deals with, took place within the framework of government policy and instructions, as established by a political party, namely the National Party I was compelled by the Act to personally apply. Do you see that?
The National Party and the government resisted a take over of South Africa by communist forces, Marxist inspired forces. To prevent that, we acted in the way in which we did. And the crucial element, the National Party were for freedom of religion and if the communist, Marxism took over, that would have been the end of religious freedom. We had seen that often.
We were also for the free market system and if the communists took over, that would also have disappeared. So although the National Party never said I am allowing you to bomb Khotso House, and to destroy the building, it falls within the framework of the National Party's principles and policy in respect of these two elements which I mentioned, religious freedom and the free market principle.
If we hadn't acted in the way in which we did, my belief was that it would lead to all of those things which we believed in, our principles and our policies, that that would be destroyed in South Africa.
MR DANE: In other words, in order to withstand the onslaught, you could basically use any, it was government policy to use any form of violence to withstand that onslaught? Is that correct because that is what I read there, is that correct?
MR VLOK: But Chairperson, I am not following exactly what you mean here to resist this onslaught. The onslaught was multi-dimensional and it took place in many areas in which no violence took place, where we used other methods, but where violence was committed by the revolutionary forces, there we acted as it says there.
MR DANE: Because the point, the reason that I question you on that is I come back to the point that I asked earlier about the Security Police, was it not policy of the Security Police to as it were, use violence against people who were opposed to it and when I say violence, I mean unlawful violence, to eliminate them, to destroy their property?
It was a multi-dimensional onslaught, directed at many different areas. Ordinary legal conduct was used, but there was also this other violent element from out opposing side and that was answered with violence.
Nowhere, at no stage was that the policy of the party in the sense that we approved such a thing. If it took place within the context which I have just sketched to you, that was a different thing. That is why I believe it was within the context of the structures and the principles of the National Party.
MR DANE: I think with respect to you Mr Vlok, it is just a question of semantics. You made mention of the fact when you were questioned by my legal friend on behalf of COSATU, that he asked you about Jay Naidoo, there was a threat against Jay Naidoo and you said if there had been a threat against Jay Naidoo, you would have stopped it because you didn't want important people to be intimidated.
MR VLOK: I didn't say I would stop the threat, I said that if there was such a threat and I became aware of it, then I would have asked the Police to investigate the matter and to discuss the matter with Mr Naidoo to find out how we could assist him. To find out whether he was afraid, etc.
MR DANE: In regard to the question of the churches, I take it in broad principle, you accept that and the reason I am asking this question is because of certain aspects of the affidavit, but you accept that persons can share a common goal without necessarily being supporters of each other, and perhaps if I can elucidate that best by way of example - let's take the recent Nelson Mandela, before he was released, that was a principle supported by many people, correct?
MR VLOK: Correct. There were many people in the country who were opposed to apartheid, I can think of political parties such as the Progressive Federal Party who were in Parliament, Ms Helen Suzman who was a vocal opponent of apartheid.
MR DANE: To amplify and to extend that, you could in terms of let's say a protest meeting at the time, you could get people from COSATU and people from the South African Communist Party, people from the Progressive Party, all in one protest meeting, isn't that correct, supporting a particular principle but without necessarily being a member of the Communist Party or a member of COSATU, isn't that so?
MR VLOK: I must point out that at that stage there was an Act which prohibited illegal gatherings, but if it was an ordinary political opposition, they were allowed to gather and they were allowed to talk.
MR DANE: Yes, for example let's take the example of funerals. You get people at funerals in those days of activists, people from the South African Communist Party would attend the funeral, people from COSATU, people from the Progressive Federal Party, different people attending a funeral of an activist, isn't that so?
MR DANE: Yes. Because members of the Communist Party attended that funeral, it doesn't make other people who attended the funeral, necessarily communists, unless they specifically supported the Communist Party, correct?
MR DANE: I understand that, I am talking about the question of support. I am trying to elucidate and distinguish what it means when you get different people at one gathering, because they are all at a gathering for a particular purpose, it doesn't mean that they support necessarily the other people at that gathering, or parties?
MR DANE: Now, you are not suggesting in amplification of that, that the South African Council of Churches supported the African National Congress in your affidavit, or are you? I am speaking about, and I want you to think of this carefully, I am saying support the African National Congress as opposed to supporting the getting rid of apartheid and the replacing of it with a democratic system?
My perception was that the SACP and the ANC were one, they were an alliance. The ANC was dominated, 25 of its 30 members in the Executive Council were also according to our information, members of the South African Communist Party. That created a grave problem for us.
The South African Council of Churches, once again I don't know whether the church itself, I was not aware that any of its member churches ever said that they supported the SACP/ANC alliance, but spokesmen for these churches, I don't know if they were representatives, but they were spokespeople, repeatedly said we support the ANC/SACP alliance. That is the evidence which I had.
MR DANE: Mr Vlok, I am speaking about the South African Council of Churches, forgetting about individual members who may have belonged to any church. I am speaking about the South African Council of Churches.
MR DANE: Actually said that they must be careful about being seen to support any particular party. Can I read it to you, and I read from a book which you have referred to - I beg your pardon Mr Chairman - I am reading from Kaye Burman's book, the annual survey of the Institute of Race Relations, I think you actually referred to it in your affidavit at some stage Mr Vlok.
If I can refer to the 1986 edition and I can read it to you. It deals with the South African Council of Churches, the Annual General Conference of the SACC was held in Bosmont, Johannesburg during June.
The President of the organisation, Bishop Manus Buthelezi said in an opening address that the church in South Africa could not afford to be partisan endorsing particular parties or groups. Christ had founded only one church on earth in which different ideologies and philosophies could come together. There was room enough for all viewpoints to interact. The church must be there for all and provide unity for all.
I never saw any decision, resolution that the SACC supported the violence of the ANC/SACP alliance, but that they in fact gave support to the ANC/SACP alliance in all these areas in which the alliance was active, we have no doubt about that.
MR VLOK: Can I say Chairperson, we for instance looked at the funds which they got from abroad, whether that did not contravene the Fund-raising Act and we were very careful and we scrutinised certain members of the SACC and very carefully looked whether we could succeed in any case against them.
MR VLOK: We couldn't prove it, but I want to reiterate this point, I can't say that the member churches of the SACC such as the Methodist church, the Anglican church and the Church of the Province, etc and all those churches, that they acted unlawfully and illegally. That I can't say, we never had evidence about that.
MR DANE: No, listen to me please. I beg your pardon, maybe I didn't put that correctly, in terms of the information that you were getting, you never received any information whatsoever that they Church of the Province of South Africa or the Methodist church was doing anything wrong or unlawful?
MR VLOK: Can I give you one example which we had, where we had a problem, I must be completely honest with you. The activities of the SACC relating to the boycotting of municipal elections, in August of 1988 they issued a document, a pamphlet Crisis News - Don't Vote says church leaders.
Here they say we are committing an offence in terms of the Emergency Regulations by issuing this statement. We looked at this and we said that we could not act against these people for this particular instance and just left the matter there.
MR VLOK: I don't know. But there was an offence and the normal course of events, it would have been investigated by the Police, this matter was sensitive and that is probably why it went to the Attorney General. I had not problem with that.
MR DANE: Other - you have mentioned the Lutheran church, the Church of the Province of South Africa, the Methodist church, the Catholic church, they did nothing wrong. What churches did something wrong?
MR VLOK: I once again would like to reiterate that we were very sensitive in our conduct towards churches and people of the church, so I want to return to the point that I made that within some of these churches were individuals who had committed offences and done illegal things, and regarding them, we considered our options for action and tried to decide whether or not we should do this.
MR DANE: So in fact, what you are actually saying is that individual church men did something wrong, but the organisation for example the South African Council of Churches, didn't do anything wrong, but individual members of the churches may have done something wrong?
MR DANE: If you will bear with me a moment Mr Chairman. And these "innocent churches", for want of a - let me just use that phrase - were they members of the South African Council of Churches at the time, at 1988?
MR DANE: I would have thought that at the time you would have known that the Catholic church was a member there, South African Council of Churches being involved with that operation to be carried out against the churches involving the bombing of the building. I would have thought ...
MR VISSER: I am sorry Mr Chairman, that has never been the evidence before you. There has never been evidence that they acted anyone acted against any organisation, the evidence was that the building was made unusable.
MR VISSER: But many organisations, we know that many organisations occupied that building Mr Chairman. Not one of them has come to you to oppose the application, except the South African Council of Churches.
But may I just finish my submission Mr Chairman. The case here before you is quite clear. There was acted against a building, not against any organisation but as to what was happening in the building.
All the witnesses had said so far, they are not blaming any particular organisation, there was the UDF, there was the South African Parents Support Committee, there were a number of other, also there were church organisations there. It wasn't the intention to act against them.
ADV DE JAGER: Clearly Mr Visser, a building standing there, can't do something on its own. It is being destroyed because it was occupied by certain persons or certain bodies, and it was done in order to disadvantage those bodies, to propagate or whatever they have been doing, or to preach or whatever they have been doing.
So it was the Council of Churches that was put to a disadvantage. In the case of COSATU, it was COSATU the organisation who was put in the disadvantage, and that was the intention. It wasn't the intention only to blow up the building, the intention was to act against those bodies.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, with respect, the evidence was that there were a number of organisations that occupied that. It was never as we understood or presented the evidence, intended to say that this was against the South African - this was an action taken against the South African Council of Churches.
The action was taken to prohibit actions that were taken and matters which originated from that building, which caused unrest in the rest of Johannesburg and elsewhere, to stop that. That was the intention Mr Chairman. The intention was to act - I thought Mr Vlok was quite clear in his evidence.
MR VISSER: That is correct Mr Chairman, but the only point I am making is that there were a number of organisations occupying that building and the intention of the Police and the ex-Minister was to put a stop to activities which originated from that building, and it was not confined only to the South African Council of Churches.
Mr Chairman, a lot can be said for example about the role of the UDF, which they played particularly in that year. If the impression was conveyed Mr Chairman, that it was an action directly solely at the South African Council of Churches, it certainly isn't the perspective which I had in this matter.
With your indulgence I would like to give you an example. I am hoping this would be in order. During May of this year, in this venue an amnesty hearing took place for Mr Abubaker Ismail also known as Rashied and others.
I don't know whether it was you Chairperson who was here, but the applicant was Colin Mark de Souza. He submitted an affidavit here, it was submitted and is made available as part of the documentation of the Truth Commission.
He referred to a person by the name of Charles Jacobus Martin who also made an affidavit. He was a representative of the church and he said I do know the applicant Mr De Souza. The context of my association with him in the past is the following: During the mid 1980's I served as a Priest in the United Congregational church in Bonteheuwel. I sympathised with the political struggle waged by the UDF/ANC and worked very closely with community and political organisations in Bonteheuwel.
During this period the Emergency Regulations were enforced and many young people were detained without trial and suffered severe repression at the hands of the Security Police. At a General Synod meeting of the United Congregational church of Southern Africa, a resolution was passed urging ministers to assist refugees and victims of repression by inter alia providing sanctuary or safe houses. I have assisted many comrades in finding safe houses and I cannot recall the specifics of each and every incident.
I can confidentially say that I never approached people and proposed to them that they should leave a certain area. Nor did I encourage people to undergo military training with the ANC. I was always approached by someone needing sanctuary or someone on their behalf, who initiated such a move.
I was aware that the Police were looking for Mr De Souza. I cannot recall whether he himself or someone on his behalf, requested that I provide a safe house to him. In 1987 I contacted the Organising Secretary of the Western Province Council of Churches with the request to assist in providing sanctuary to Mr De Souza and two others.
The Organising Secretary provided us with money to enable them to go to the SACC in Johannesburg. I was also provided with the details of a contact person in Johannesburg, which I in turn provided to Mr De Souza.
Now Mr De Souza says in his amnesty application, he is applying for amnesty for amongst others the Wits Command bomb blast, July 1987, and everything else that occurred as a result of that, and he says towards the end of May 1987, I together with my brother Timothy and John de Vos and Andre Robberts, alias Styles, were approached by Mr Charlie Martin also known as Reverent, who was to ourselves a known MK operative, to undergo military training at the ANC.
Arrangements were made for ourselves to travel to Johannesburg where we were to stay with my cousin, Raymond Fernandes and to await instructions from Mr Martin. It was during the end of May 1987 that we arrived in Johannesburg, although I cannot recall the precise date.
Upon arriving in Johannesburg, I contacted Charlie Martin by telephone, who instructed me to make contact with Mr Ike Mogetsi at Khotso House who would be taking the matter further. At this time Mr Andre Robberts, alias Styles advised that he did not want to be part of our activities and arrangements were made for his return to Cape Town.
After three days at the safe house, we were moved back to my cousin's flat in Hillbrow. It was at this time, that Mr Mogetsi gave me the first instruction regarding Wits Command and his instructions were to conduct surveillance and to make notes of the placements of guards, the time at which guard changes occurred as well as to make observation regarding perimeter fence to see if there were places where a package could be concealed.
During this period, I together with my brother, and John de Vos, received a subsistence allowance of R250-00 per fortnight from the Paymaster at Khotso House, a person known as Rose. Towards the middle of June 1987, I was again tasked by Mr Ike Mogetsi to together with my brother Timothy and John de Vos, to attend a night vigil in Soweto, where we would be put in touch with other persons who would be making arrangements for our exit from the Republic of South Africa to undergo military training.
At the time of this meeting with Mr Mogetsi, I was introduced to a person at the offices of Khotso House, whose name I cannot recall. In preparation for these hearings, I have identified that person concerned, to appear on page 103 of Volume 1, photograph 14 who I am advised is Heinrich Johannes Gröskopff, although he did not introduce himself to me by his real name.
After having arrived at the vigil, two persons unknown to myself, approached me and told me that they had been sent by Mr Ike Mogetsi to fetch me. I was taken by these two persons to another venue in Soweto, where I again met with Mr Mogetsi. Mr Mogetsi handed me a large packet wrapped in brown paper, containing a South African Defence Force uniform and boots and instructed me to attend Wits Command and to gain entry to the premises for the purposes of obtaining information in respect of the interior layout.
The night vigil that we had attended, was on a weekend and on the following Monday, I duly attended the premises of Wits Command, dressed in a South African Defence Force uniform. I was carrying at the time, my civilian clothes in a togbag.
I presented myself to the two guards on gate duty at Wits Command as a National Serviceman requiring information from the Personnel Department and under that false pretence, I managed to gain entry into the building.
I spent approximately 20 minutes inside Wits Command, making observations of the office layout, entrance and exit points as well as to observe the vehicle entrance, situated at the back of Wits Command, to establish what gate control measures were implemented regarding the access of vehicles.
I could not gain entry to the first floor of Wits Command as I was scared of being found out and then I left the building. I proceeded to a public toilet near Joubert Park, where I changed out of the SADF uniform given to me, into my civilian clothes, whereafter I proceeded directly to the office of Khotso House and again met with Mr Mogetsi.
Mr Chairperson, I am simply trying to say that I don't think that the churches per se were involved in these activities. I don't believe it, I have said so in my documentation. I believe that there were certain people who were abusing the opportunities and the building and other such things.
CHAIRPERSON: You say in your application Mr Vlok, at page 35, you say after your second meeting with the State President, Mr P.W. Botha, after we had discussed and considered all the information, we were more convinced than ever that the South African Council of Churches and its facilities, under which Khotso House were being abused by ANC insurgents and activists.
MR DANE: And as I understand you Mr Vlok, the bottom line is it wasn't the South African Council of Churches that was doing anything wrong, as far as you were concerned, it was certain individuals. Isn't that so?
MR SIBANYONI: Mr Chairperson, may I just ask one question. Mr Vlok, the crux of the statement by Rev Martin, would you agree that it was to come and negate or to contradict what De Souza says in so far as him, Rev Martin, is supposed to be involved in recruiting him for the ANC and sending him to the SACC? He came here even asked for an opportunity to say something before the Committee was to deny involvement?
MR VLOK: I have no argument with Rev Martin when he says that he did not partake in recruitment. But he cannot deny that he assisted Mr De Souza, he offered him shelter, he gave him money to travel to Johannesburg.
MR DANE: I just want to put one thing clear. Was it a statement or, well, as it please you Mr Chairman, the only thing that I want to get absolutely clear, he makes mention of the fact that he sympathised with the ANC/UDF struggle. There was nothing wrong with sympathising with the ANC/UDF struggle at the time, was there?
MR VLOK: I can read it to you once again. He says - oh, Mogetsi, I beg your pardon, I don't know at all. We only have the name and the affidavit. Mogetsi was somebody who was in Khotso House and arranged certain matters, a Paymaster by the name of Rose.
MR DANE: Yes, that is correct. Thank you Mr Vlok. You say at page 31 of Volume 1, right at the bottom, at such an occasion Mr Botha for example would indicate to the church leaders that the South African Council of Churches' magazine, New Nation, referred to Marxist communist systems of Mozambique. Do you see that?
MR DANE: Then let's ignore the fact that at some stage you referred to two occasions that you were present, if you were present at the one occasion, you can't remember what happened, all that you can remember is this particular one?
MR VLOK: That is correct. The State President on our side was there, Gen Malan, who was the Minister of Defence, Pik Botha was there, Kobie Coetzee was present as well as the Minister of Law and Order who was Louis le Grange.
Various people were present and it was quite a representative group of attendance. Someone was present who was a member of the Bishop's Council of South Africa. We referred to New Nation and he reacted to that.
MR DANE: According to the affidavit, it was mentioned to the church men who were there that the New Nation referred with approval to the system of Marxism/communism applicable in Mozambique, is that correct?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, the entire situation in the country was discussed. The representatives of the South African Council of Churches told Mr Botha what their concerns were regarding apartheid and the state of emergency and the detention of people, they spoke for quite some time and put it as such to Mr Botha that his government would have to do something about it.
MR DANE: I don't think in the light of what you have just said and conceded, that much turns on it, but from the SACC's point of view, they don't have any recollection of this meeting having taken place.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, one bit that hasn't been put to you yet Mr Vlok is that according to this affidavit, you said that the article spoke of the approval of the Marxist/communist system of Mozambique and elsewhere and it was trying to introduce it to South Africa?
MR VLOK: If I remember correctly, and I say once more that this took place quite a number of years ago, after the South African Council of Churches held a discussion with Mr Botha, and it was a very amiable discussion, and they put their case and stated what they wanted for change in this country, Mr Botha told them that he would explain what the government was busy accomplishing. At that point he was busy reforming apartheid.
It was not sufficient, but he was busy doing that. The country was burning down, he said to them. And he asked for their assistance. He said I have a problem with the New Nation which appears on street level, that was his impression and it was also my impression, that it propagated communism for South Africa. He asked them to help him with this and their reaction was hold on a minute, apartheid is even worse than that which is going on in Mozambique.
Now, as I understand your affidavit and that begins at page 33 of your first affidavit, you refer to a meeting of the State Security Council in June 1988. Now, Mr Vlok, you apparently, can you just explain if you would, how it came about that this was raised, this bombing of Khotso House, or the damage?
MR VLOK: Mr Chairperson, may I just point out to Adv Dane that there was a submission, there was the normal submission made, information given to us about the situation in the country and what was happening.
MR DANE: The Security Council was very much alive to the security situation in South Africa, wasn't it ever debated at the State Security Council, who did this, who has the wherewithal to bomb a building this size in down town Johannesburg and the cheek to do it? Wasn't that discussed?
MR DANE: You know Mr Vlok, was it not considered that this might be some other splinter group which was potentially very dangerous for the country because they displayed this expertise to be able to bomb the building? Was that not raised by National Intelligence for example?
CHAIRPERSON: If you thought it might have been the ANC who bombed the building in the middle of Johannesburg like that, surely the State Security Council would have insisted that the Police take every step, every possible step to find out who had done it and where they had got the explosives from and how they got them into Johannesburg?
MR VLOK: I can't answer that, but I am saying it and I think you are saying it. Apropos of the fact that there was information, you must remember we were in the middle of an election campaign, Parliament was in recess and you must remember it was the 6th of May and I think we probably only met again in July, it was the July holidays.
But the information as to what was going on in the country, that was available in all the Intelligence fraternities. It was conveyed to everybody who needed to know about it. I can only tell you what I knew.
ADV DE JAGER: Is the only reason or one of the few reasons that could have existed as to why this question was never raised, the fact that even if they hadn't known, they all suspected that it was the Security Forces?
MR DANE: No comment. Mr Vlok and I don't want to dwell on this point much longer, but I can recall in those days that if an explosion went off, it was very important to determine whether the explosives at the time were commercial explosives, explosives of foreign origin, that was very important to determine in those acts of sabotage.
MR VLOK: That was not in my field. I didn't try and find out what was used. I knew that the Police were investigating and the section responsible for that, would ascertain what type of explosion were used.
MR DANE: They knew and that is why - let me ask you this, if they had said to you, if the State Security Council had said to you, Mr Vlok, what is the problem, what is going on? What would you have said, would you have told them the truth or would you have lied to the State Security Council?
MR VLOK: In the light of the information which we received, Mr Botha wanted to know from me what the South African Police were planning to do in respect of these activities which could result in loss of life.
His request was that something should be done. He pointed out to me that there was a dispute between the government and the South African Council of Churches and he also asked me to look at the report of the Eloff Commission of Enquiry into the activities of the Council and he asked me to report back to him within a week.
Those are the two things which he said and I then went and I thought about what he had meant, and it could only mean one thing. When I spoke to Gen Van der Merwe, it could only mean one thing namely that we have to act illegally.
ADV DE JAGER: And if you had to keep people away from the building who wanted to enter the building, how would you have kept them out? Say the leader of the SACC came to the building and wanted to enter, what would you have done?
ADV DE JAGER: No, I am talking about if you should throw a cordon around the building, and people arrive there, employees for instance, and they say that we want to go into the building, and you tell them, no you can't.
MR VLOK: We could have kept them out using violence, but that would have caused us to incur all kinds of claims because the building belonged to the SACC and if we had no reason to keep them away, then we could have faced litigation.
MR SIBANYONI: But you personally, did you ever have that perception that he intends you to cordon off the building, or if the intention was to cordon off the building, the question of people getting injured or killed, should it have come into - become an issue?
That is when we said can we do something to actually carry out this instruction? So theoretically all these other things were possible, but I can only tell you what Mr Botha discussed with me and that is what Mr Botha told me, those two things. That is all that I can report to you.
MR VLOK: Mr Botha said render the building unusable and I then went and I applied my mind to the facts, and I decided that Khotso House in these circumstances should be rendered unusable by means of explosives.
ADV GCABASHE: Could I ask Mr Vlok, I will go first, thanks Chris, did it occur to you at all to go back to Mr Botha and say there isn't a legal way of complying with your request, maybe it is not such a good idea at all?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I thought that Mr Botha had given me the instruction and that I could carry it out, in spite of the fact that it was an illegal action, I was prepared to take that responsibility.
ADV DE JAGER: But Mr Vlok, if he had something legal in mind, and the next day he reads in the newspaper that the building had been damaged by a bomb, then surely he would have come to you and said Vlok, what have you done?
ADV GCABASHE: But just to follow up on that, there was a culture of either covering up or accepting the illegal acts of subordinates within the Security Police certainly, that is what I have come to learn from these hearings.
I must say once again that there were more than 100 000 Policemen, there were 2 000 Security Policemen, and they were all involved in these things. Only about 300 of these people applied for amnesty, so it wasn't actually a culture that existed.
It was just something which existed with some people, because we were involved, and that is why people thought that they could do certain things, but the deliberate establishment of a culture of covering up right from the top down, that I did not experience.
MR DANE: Mr Vlok, the proposition was put to you that theoretically when Mr Botha gave you this instruction it could have meant for you to act lawfully, it could have meant for you to for example, surround, cordon off the building and it could have meant that if people tried to get through, you should shoot.
We could not act against the people. You must render that building unusable, we must deny them the further use thereof. What did you understand him to mean when he said we cannot act against these people, because to surround the building, would be a way of acting against them?
MR VLOK: No, what was meant here was that we could act in terms of Security Legislation against the people by for instance detaining them in terms of Section 29 or the Emergency Regulations, that we could issue banning orders or restriction orders in terms of the Emergency Regulations and that we could curtail their activities in such a way.
This comes from the President who never debated the issue of COSATU House because as you say, you assumed everybody knew about it, and he says get rid of that building, make sure nobody gets killed. Come on, if you are telling the truth, are you trying to say that you didn't know what he was getting at, that the instruction to you was to demolish that building by unlawful means and you knew it at the time, that the instruction was given?
MR VLOK: I did not say that I assumed that they know about COSATU House, I said maybe. I see Adv Dane is waving his hand at me, but he is playing with semantics here, but I am the man on the spot here, so let us not try and mislead each other here.
The fact of the matter is that when Mr Botha said that to me, I then wondered how I was going to achieve that. I really wondered how we were going to achieve this, but we didn't have any further discussions, I just left.
MR ROSSOUW: Mr Chairman, for the record, Rossouw. Mr Chairman, I've got the unfortunate news that one of my clients, applicant 28, that is in Volume 2, Mr Douw Willemse was attacked last night, or yesterday during the day and he was apparently stabbed and he is at this stage in Medforum Hospital.
Mr Chairman, under the circumstances and in the light of the lengthy procedures, I was wondering whether I can request that Mr Willemse's application be dealt with in Chambers if the Committee is satisfied on his application, he made a full disclosure and all the requirements have been satisfied.
Otherwise whether the Committee would give him leave to be excused from the proceedings at this stage, so that arrangements can be made that he be taken back to Mossel Bay where he is residing and if the Committee requires him to give oral evidence, that myself be informed at a later stage of such development.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, I don't think at this stage we could possibly say we will decide to deal with it in Chambers. It may well be though that when we have heard all the evidence, it is unnecessary for him to give evidence. We will of course ask the other interested parties, whether they wish to cross-examine him on any aspect.
But adopting a realistic approach to matters, it may well be that this hearing does not conclude on Friday. So it may well be that he is given the opportunity if he wishes, to return in some months' time, but in the meantime certainly, I think he can be excused from attendance.
We will reserve your rights consequent upon his having not been here, should anything emerge in his absence that you subsequently wish to cross-examine on, when you have received instructions, we will permit you to do so.
You of course can take a note of anything that you think might be particularly interesting. I think I can also say with confidence speaking for myself and the members of the Committee and the other applicants and their legal representatives, that we would wish you to extend our sympathy to him for this unfortunate incident.
Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr Vlok, yesterday when we adjourned you were giving evidence about being congratulated in the State Security Council, do you remember, being congratulated in the State Security Council, do you remember that?
MR VLOK: I can't remember who exactly was present, but if I remember correctly I said that it was the ordinary members of the State Security Council as I have indicated. According to memory if I had to say that the members of the State Security Council were the President who was the Chairperson, I could go through the list once more if you wish.
MR VLOK: The Cabinet at that occasion, if I remember correctly were the permanent members or the invited members of the State Security Council. The Minister of Justice was present as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Defence who was a member of the Council and then there were also senior Ministers who were members, who were not permanent but invited to the meetings.
Mr Botha and I never discussed the violence against Khotso House and what had to be done there. I realised that there was nothing else to do. I once again discussed this with Gen Van der Merwe and we realised that we could not do anything else with this order. We came to the conclusion that even if we considered the theoretical possibility of cordoning the building off with troops and so on, we would eventually get to the point where we would have to act illegally. That is the conclusion that we reached.
If you had to say to me that with this set of facts, you should have realised that it would be an illegal action, then you would be correct. If you were to tell me that the only conclusion, the only logical conclusion which could have been made from this set of facts - that would be correct as well.
MR DANE: I beg your pardon, with Gen Van der Merwe, did you and Gen Van der Merwe when you were discussing the bombing of Khotso House, discuss who you were going to blame for it, how you were going to cover up this unlawful act on your part?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, we did not discuss who we were going to blame. The case of Shirley Gunn who appeared on the scene was like a god sent to us, we didn't decide that we would blame somebody specifically.
We told each other if I remember correctly, that we couldn't publicly accept the responsibility for this, and that is why we had to spread disinformation in the process. Not how and who, we didn't have anybody in mind to put the blame on.
MR DANE: Obviously, I mean it is an obvious conclusion, there was a night watchman there and it is clear that somebody, somebody might have been walking passed the building, there was going to be a massive explosion, they could have been injured.
MR DANE: As it pleases you Mr Chairman. That is an interesting point that the Chairman has just raised that there were numerous people from Vlakplaas there to ensure that people weren't injured, but according as I understand it, to the evidence that was given by Colonel De Kock, they were also instructed if need be, to kill other Policemen who may ...
My instructions which I discussed with Gen Van der Merwe was that there should be no serious injuries and no casualties. Those were my instructions. I must concede that the possibility did exist that people could be killed.
But this was left in the hands of the Police experts in whom I had the greatest confidence and I heard afterwards that in that environment people had been placed, there were patrols which were put in place by the South African Police to cancel out that possibility and I am still grateful to this very day to the Almighty Father that very few people were killed.
MR DANE: That no one was killed, yes. After the incident, you refer in your affidavit at page 37, of Volume 1, page 37 of Volume 1, page 34 of your first affidavit, the December 1996 affidavit, you said - do you have it before you?
MR DANE: I just want to, I don't understand what this statement that you've got from page 38 of the Bundle, under the heading Facts which came to light during the Investigation, you say Gen Joubert gave you that?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, the memorandum was given to me because these facts contained in the memorandum, apart from the sections within in which were disinformation, or aimed at being disinformation, he said to me these facts are the truth.
MR VLOK: He first discussed it with me orally and then I asked him to place these facts which he had given to me over the phone, in the form of a memorandum and he sent this over to me in order to confirm.
The important point here is that according to our information, the information that he gathered, the facts were correct. It was correct that Shirley Gunn went to Khotso House and according to him, there was no doubt that she took explosives to Khotso House, according to the information that he received from his witnesses.
MR VLOK: No, but that was the mistake. That is why we blamed her, that wasn't right. Gen Joubert also told me that the Police would be looking for Shirley Gunn for other deeds of terrorism and he gave me a list of these deeds as well. It is also in the document.
If you would allow me, you would recall that Shirley Gunn brought a civil suit against me and during that matter, certain documents came to light, and one of the documents which was exposed, was a Police dossier in which it was said that it appears that Ms Gunn was detained on the following case docket. Cape Town, CR605/88, Sea Point, CR160/88, Bishop Lavis all regarding limpet mine explosions in Cape Town, Wynberg CR162/01/89 regarding the unlawful possession of arms.
So the point was that Gen Joubert told me that he had this information that this lady and other people went into Khotso House with explosives. That is the impression that he had and that is what he conveyed to me. Then we said but here is the opportunity to say that this lady had explosives, and as a result of that, the Police even though they did cause the explosion, she was there with explosives. That is why I said it was like a god sent for us, as part of our disinformation campaign.
MR DANE: I don't want to go into, it sounds very complicated all of this Mr Vlok. I just want to refer you to page 51 of your affidavit in the Bundle, page 48, at the bottom. You refer to a news release, a document which you issued to the news, a news release to the media I take it.
MR DANE: And there you've got this, that is at page 50 it starts where you give a whole lot of facts about what Ms Gunn is supposed to have done, and then at the bottom of page 51, you say members of the public are invited to assist and you say that they must phone Colonel Krappies Engelbrecht.
MR VLOK: I don't know Chairperson. Suffice to say that this was the name that Gen Joubert put in the documents, in his affidavit as well as the press release. I am assuming that he was the Investigating Officer from the Security Branch, he was the person who was investigating the matter.
MR VLOK: I don't know whether or not he knew about it, and the reason why I say that is because I told Gen Joubert this lady is innocent regarding the Khotso House incident, we can't detain her for that, please don't do that, and it also appears as such in my application.
In the dossier that was made available to me, I saw that Colonel Engelbrecht and someone by the surname of Mostert, had questioned her regarding these other allegations for which she had been detained, and they also questioned her among others, regarding the Khotso bomb explosion, so I don't know whether or not he knew.
MR DANE: You are discussing now the inter alia, the bombing of Khotso House and you say I was also naive to think that we could keep this a secret. Too many people, amongst other the entire Security community knew about it?
MR DANE: So as I understand it, what you were saying was that the whole Security community knew about the bombing of Khotso House, and knew as I understand that you were involved in it. When I say you, the Security Police had done it?
CHAIRPERSON: In the light of the decision that there must be disinformation, that this must be covered up, is it likely Mr Vlok that a competent Police officer and I think I am correct in describing Mr Engelbrecht as a competent Police officer, would have been put in charge of an investigation like this, without being told look, you must keep this quiet?
There was any danger was there not, if he had not been told, that he would have come out with a statement saying Mrs Gunn had nothing whatsoever to do with Khotso House, I am satisfied of that as a result of my investigation?
MR DANE: To come back to this issue of Khotso House, you already testified yesterday that in regard to Khotso House, one of the reasons that it was bombed is that you had information from informers that - if you can just bear with me for a moment - that it was used for communications and there were even explosives on the property, correct? You had information to that effect, or you received information to that effect?
MR DANE: Now we know during that period of time that, and when I say that period of time, I am speaking about 1987/1988 that there was a lot of people on the run. When I say a lot of people, a lot of activists on the run in South Africa at the time? In fact there were thousands, isn't that correct, all over the place?
MR DANE: That is one of the reasons why there were so many campaigns at the time, free the children, there was a committee dealing with the detainees and with the children detainees, all this, wasn't there at that point of time? I am not being specific I am generalising for that 1987/1988 and a lot of those people went to Khotso House, correct?
MR DANE: Because a lot of them were receiving funds from Khotso House? Children were receiving funds, detainees were receiving funds to assist them and that was common knowledge. Detainees families, they were receiving money, that was common knowledge?
MR DANE: Yes. You had information that you have referred to that there were explosives there and that people came from - terrorists were there and so forth, that you got that information from informants, is that correct?
MR VLOK: I was present when some of the Policemen, Gen Erasmus and Gen Van der Merwe testified regarding informers and I accept that if the information was reliable as they explained it, then these informants would have received remuneration.
MR DANE: And we also know that and correct me if I am wrong, that nobody in that period of time, was ever charged. Nobody from Khotso House was ever charged for any offence in terms of committing an offence in Khotso House, or am I incorrect?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I told you that verification of the aforesaid information with the objective on court oriented Police action, was extremely difficult. I can see the point that you are aiming at, but I can't tell you whether or not people were charged.
MR DANE: I am not speaking about the, maybe I was incorrect, maybe I shouldn't have said generalised, I am talking about the SACC, was anybody who was a member of the SACC organisation, ever charged for any offence committed in Khotso House?
ADV GCABASHE: Mr Vlok, could I just ask you, information of that nature, you know that there were possible prosecutions or people may have been charged, I know you are not aware of that, this is what you are saying now, but isn't that the kind of information you would have deliberated on either at the State Security level or separately with Mr Botha in deciding what to do about Khotso House?
Isn't that important enough to say these are the types of things that are going on, these are the prosecutions that have taken place, or so many people have been charged specifically, this is why this place has to be dealt with rather urgently?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I think that that is a very fair question in the sense that it states that if people were prosecuted and if the prosecutions were successful, if the legal process would have been successful, it would not have been necessary for us to take this type of action.
ADV GCABASHE: Sorry, just to finish it off, and no attempts either because I understand your problem with the evidence. We have heard a lot about trying to get the right evidence to court, but attempts? You said nothing, nobody said anything about the attempts and the failure because of lack of evidence apart from successful, just the attempts?
Was enough consideration given to this, could a charge be brought against somebody according to the law or court regulations? That attempts were made to see whether or not we could gather enough evidence to assess the risk for an informant, if we were to use this person's information in going to court, it was also taking into consideration if we could detain someone who was a member of the SACC because that would be a very sensitive detainee.
If we were to touch such a person and touch the organisation consequently, it would lead to widespread international ramifications. All those aspects would have been taken into consideration, so I don't know about anybody who was charged, but I am certain that the South African Police and the entire Security Branch, those who had to see whether or not prosecutions could be instated against these people, most definitely took a thorough look to see if this could be done.
ADV GCABASHE: Mr Vlok, I am almost there, now did you specifically look at this? I understand that the functionaries might have prepared these reports, did you specifically have to deal with this issue at those higher levels, either at the State Security Council or with Mr Botha as you discussed the issue?
MR DANE: So, the point is this, as you have said, despite having in your arsenal at the time, the Internal Security Act which was a draconian piece of legislation in terms whereof a person who accused, had to in fact virtually if an act was proved, prove his innocence, isn't that correct, you were aware of that?
MR DANE: In fact in terms of those regulations, a member of the Security Force could arrest people without a warrant and detain anybody if in the opinion of such member, it was necessary for the safety and maintenance of public order, isn't that so?
MR DANE: If a member of the Security Force is of the opinion that it was necessary for the safety of the public, he could enter any building, any premises, search any vehicle, seize any object, isn't that correct?
CHAIRPERSON: And it is perhaps unnecessary, but I take it when you say charged, you mean in connection with offences against the security of the State, you are not referring to traffic fines or things like that?
CHAIRPERSON: But was no attempt made to discover, I can understand now and this is confusing me, that the South African Council of Churches was an organisation that would presumably have been held in high regard by numerous South Africans, and comprised many established churches.
But we have been told again and again of the other organisations that had premises in Khotso House, which were not held in the same regard at all. Were their premises ever searched, was the garage searched and things of that nature?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I don't know. I don't have any personal knowledge thereof, I accept that the Police did everything in their power in consideration of the circumstances, who was in the building and so forth, in consideration of all these surrounding circumstances, they did everything in their power before the situation was brought to me.
CHAIRPERSON: And we are now told and I presume the Police who were watching the building that night prior to blowing it up, must have known that Ms Gunn and two other people went into the building shortly before the explosion, carrying bags, one of them as if he had things wrapped around his body. Did they follow them?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, no. I don't think that the Police who blew up the building that evening, knew about this because according to Gen Joubert's document which he submitted to me, information came to light thereafter which made these facts known to him.
CHAIRPERSON: But we have been told about many Policemen being all around the building to make sure that nobody came near the building, who might get injured or killed? Haven't we, wasn't that what the Vlakplaas Police were there for to make sure that nobody was killed or injured in the building?
MR VLOK: You are completely correct if you put it that way. I am just not certain whether or not she went that evening or a day or two before. I wouldn't be able to tell you because I don't know exactly how the report which Gen Van der Merwe gave to me, read.
MR ROSSOUW: Mr Chairman, I don't want to interject, I may just say in all fairness that I put in cross-examination that my clients will testify that the period within which they operated and within which the Policemen were watching the building, and the period the operation took, was about a minute or it was really a very short time.
CHAIRPERSON: So there might have been meetings being held in the building, dozens of people might have gone into that building, and the Police hadn't bothered to check before they exploded it. Is that what we are now being told? No precautions taken to see who was going into the building that night, who was there that night?
MR ROSSOUW: Mr Chairman, the only point I am trying to make is that we are going to listen to the evidence of about 25 other people who were involved in this, and who will be able to tell the Commission exactly how long they took in respect of the surveillance, how long they were employed around the building, when did they arrive there and when did they leave.
CHAIRPERSON: I am merely preparing to make sure that if it is going to be suggested that they were there for a few minutes, that there was no proper surveillance of the building and that Mr Vlok's instructions were not complied with.
CHAIRPERSON: I am not talking about the people who put the bomb in, I am talking about the surveillance of the building. We have been told repeatedly how every step should be taken to make sure that nobody was injured or killed, which would obviously necessitate ensuring that there was nobody in the building that night, who might be except the unfortunate caretaker.
Paragraph 5, although no eyewitnesses could be traced regarding the explosion, a couple of days after the investigation began, a person came forward who alleged that on the evening of the explosion, he saw a coloured man and a white woman who he picked up at the station and dropped off at Khotso House.
I am not certain at what time the explosion took place that night. The other witnesses would be able to tell us that, but I accept that people were still entering and exiting the building that evening.
But before the explosion would take place, I would want to make sure that nobody was in the building? You are correct, but I think that the possibility of their seeing Ms Gunn and following her, is rather uncertain. I don't know if that existed with anybody.
MR DANE: Mr Vlok, the point is with those powers that the Police had at the time, having regard to your evidence that if an offence and you said this yesterday, having regard to your evidence that if an offence was committed in Khotso House, you would have acted against the perpetrator of the offence, having regard to the fact that there was supposed to be according to your information, explosives in Khotso House, but nothing was ever done, I put it to you, this was all speculation.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, you will understand that I can only rely on the information which was submitted to me and from that information, I would not like to say that Khotso House was the place where the ANC stored all its explosives.
If we say that it was there, then that was my perception that at certain occasions there explosives were taken into the building, kept there for a period of time, because it was dangerous to walk around with this explosive material.
That is where this information comes from which was submitted to me by Gen Joubert, and he told me we've got somebody who says that there are people in the building who might be carrying explosives, and it was the opportunity where we decided to blame her for the explosion.
MR DANE: The point is and I don't want to dwell on this in too great a detail, how does one know where the truth lies here, because the Police were the masters as I understand it had a specific Department, for propaganda purposes?
According to the evidence as I understand it from you and I may be wrong, but certain Security Police killed people without you knowing about it, and without being sanctioned by their superiors, that is why there are so many applications.
The Security Police could easily have manufactured this evidence. I am not saying that they did, I am saying they could, we don't know. They can say there are bombs there because they want to implicate somebody in that building, we don't know. How does one get a handle on all of this?
You are getting it from information, you are getting that information from informers who were paid and the point that I make is, despite all this information, not one person from the SACC was ever charged at any stage. I put it to you that was because, well maybe I should not put it to you, I will argue it due course, but do you understand the problem that I am having?
MR VLOK: Yes, I can understand this, but the Advocate must also understand what my position was. I would receive information and the information would be submitted to the State Security Council, it was evaluated information, we would try to determine with the greatest level of certainty that the information which was given by the informants, was reliable. We tried to test this information and I would be the first person to say that there may or may not have been errors with this information.
It may have been wrong, yes of course, and that is why I have a great degree of sympathy, but your question is that we are looking for the truth, that is why we are here, that is why I am here, that is why we have all applied, to reveal the facts and to determine what the truth is.
MR DANE: You say at page 58, paragraph 203 the UDF - in Khotso House, they had meetings in Khotso House on a weekly basis on the ground floor, there were hundreds of supporters of those persons, and after the meetings, there would then be violence in the centre of Johannesburg and damage would be done to buildings, etc.
MR DANE: But, no the question I am asking you is the reason, is that one of the reasons when you debated with Mr P.W. Botha about the bombing of this House, was one of the reasons that people are coming out of - UDF meetings are held there, people are coming out of the meetings and they then are causing damage in the city, was that one of the reasons for the actual bombing of the House?
CHAIRPERSON: Well, there is a lot else isn't there? There is information that guns were taken into the building, there is information that money was paid out to people going overseas for training and returning, it wasn't just the two points you made, there were numerous points as I understand.
You see, was the reason that the building was also bombed because of that document that you had yesterday, that there was a boycott call of the 1988 local elections, was that not a reason why the building was bombed?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I think we agreed just now that all the evidence, all the information that we had, were all contributing factors to the decision that we should act to make the building unusable.
You have put up these reasons for Khotso House being bombed, you have named a whole number of reasons, but you yesterday testified that the SACC is made up of the Lutheran church, various churches who had done nothing wrong. Do you remember saying that, testifying to that effect?
MR DANE: Yes, that is right. Now, I put to you that the reason as I said why this building was bombed, because it was part of a campaign by the government and I would like you to comment on this, to actually attack and wage war against their perceived enemies and that is why the previous year COSATU House had been blown up, why Khotso House was blown up, why Khanya House, was Khanya House blown up? Burnt?
MR DANE: And I put to you that at that stage, the government was in fact out of - in terms of what it was doing, and when I say the government, the government though its arm, the Police, was indiscriminately waging this war and in fact even this Cry Freedom application of yours, supports that hypothesis.
Here in the Cry Freedom which is a small thing, the film was passed by your own Publication Board for viewing, you didn't agree with that, you went and intimidated the people from going to the movies? Is that correct?
MR DANE: Yes, I am talking about the motivation. That is the motivation for what you did, and all this other information you have actually glossed, you have glossed it in order to justify what you did. And in fact it was because you were waging a war against them.
We were waging a war against these organisations, but we were waging a legal war in the sense that we were using legal means as far as possible, and it was only when we got to the point that we realised that we had to do something and we had no legal instruments left, when we actually turned to the illegal means.
MR DANE: You see the church's attitude, and I want to debate, this is the final point that I make, you made reference in your affidavit to the Lusaka document, the Lusaka declaration, do you remember that, it is somewhere in your affidavit?
MR DANE: Gen Van der Merwe referred to it and I know that it is not, perhaps you didn't, I seem to have a recollection that you did refer to it, but I just want to put this on record in regard to the South African Council of Churches' attitude, paragraph 8.9 of Gen Van der Merwe's affidavit, page 14 - that is the second affidavit that he made, Exhibit E, it is stated here the South African Council of Churches acted as a channel to give, to carry out the decisions of the World Council of Churches and during the Annual General Meeting in 1987 the following resolutions were taken to act as guidelines for radical churches and church organisations in the onslaught against the RSA.
And the point that I make, that I make, that I want to deal with is 8.92, the violent actions of the liberation movements were justified since they were acting against the unlawful violence of the government, Lusaka Declaration. You are aware of the Lusaka Declaration?
MR DANE: And the reason I am putting this to you is this suggests that the SACC supported violence actions against the government, and the reason I am raising it is because I want to put to you that in so far as that was your understanding, or was that your understanding, it was incorrect.
If I may just refer you to the Race Relations Survey to which I referred yesterday, 1987, can I read it to you Mr Vlok, at page 232 of the Survey for that year. It says the Lusaka document was drawn up at a conference convened by the World Council of Churches in Lusaka during May.
A key section of the document read while remaining committed, and this is the document, while remaining committed to peaceful change, we recognise that the nature of the South African regime which wages war against its own inhabitants and neighbours, compels the liberation movements to the use of force along with other means to end the oppression.
The Church of the Province of South Africa, discussed this document and passed the following resolution in regard to it: The provincial standing committee understanding the pressures which led to the liberation movement to respond to violence with violence, understanding the pressures, aware that there is present insufficient factual evidence - let me leave that out about disinvestment - recognising the commitment to peaceful change laid out in the Lusaka document and acknowledging the urgent need to correct the church's current abysmal failure to bring about meaningful change and end to aggression.
Now in regard to this Lusaka Declaration, the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, Douglas Buchanan said at a Provincial Standing Committee regarding the document, that the Provincial Standing Committee's acceptance of the Lusaka Document was far from meaning that his church accepted violence. It meant that it understood how violence begets violence.
In fact the church had made the strongest call for non-violence that it had probably ever made. What it did do was to call for negotiations between the various warring groups to build a better post-apartheid society, implore church members to look at Jesus' way for non-violent change and appealed to everyone to place themselves to these ways.
What this states, and I am putting to you that the SACC if you say that they justified the use of violence, that is not correct. The acceptance of the Lusaka Declaration, was that they understood the forces that give raise to the use of violence, but they themselves never supported or justified the use of violence. Do you accept that proposition that I put to you?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I have repeatedly said and we argued about it yesterday as well, that the South African Council of Churches and its member churches, of which I knew that they had never supported the violent struggle of the ANC/SACP, at least not openly, but it is also true as Adv Dane has read that they said that they understand it, and they didn't condemn it.
Some did, but I would like to read you a quote in this regard, something which Archbishop Tutu said on the 6th of November 1988 and that is why I in my documents always said that I don't think that people such as Archbishop Tutu and Rev Frank Chikane, they were always opposed to the use of violence.
Archbishop Tutu said in Kenya and Nairobi although I am opposed to all forms of violence as a way of dismantling apartheid, and this is what we are preaching about, I am opposed equally to the violence stirred against the people by an unjust system.
That is the balance. This history of the church contains records of support for the heroic leaders in history who used violence to liberate their people. That is a quote which I would like to put on the table in this context and I would like to say to Adv Dane, that the Lusaka record and I am referring to the church looking for a basis and theology, that was followed by the Kairos Document.
If we talk about that Kairos Document, what that tried to effect in South Africa in respect of the oppressor and the oppressed, then we could actually be busy for quite some time, and perhaps the theologians should talk about that.
Whether a perpetrator who had done wrong, is entitled to amnesty. If they have acted correctly, they wouldn't have been here. They are here because they committed offences and that is common cause, they have committed the offences.
What we should ascertain is whether it was committed with a political motivation, with an act associated with a political objective, not even with the motive itself, but it should be associated with a political objective.
That is what we have got to judge in the end. We will appreciate it if you could concentrate in being helpful to decide whether it was so or not. If not, they can't get amnesty, if so, well, then one of the requirements of the Act is met. The other requirements should still be dealt with then.
MR DANE: As it pleases you Mr Chairman. The point that I want to make clear in putting that proposition to Mr Vlok, was in as much as there was any suggestion that the SACC supported any form of violence, I was putting on record, that is not correct.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, certainly nothing has arisen from cross-examination that calls for any re-examination. None of the issues of the act has been addressed, so I have no re-examination. You are looking at me Mr Chairman, but I think Mr Penzhorn still has questions.
May it please the Committee. Mr Vlok, there are just a couple of aspects which I think are relevant for the record. For the record I am Penzhorn, on the instructions of Mr P.W. Botha who has been implicated in quite a few of the aspects covered by my learned friends in cross-examination.
I think I should state for the record Mr Vlok, that Mr Botha does not oppose your application for amnesty on whatever basis, but just as far as certain insinuations that were made during cross-examination, it is important that we try and clear up some of the possible misunderstandings.
I have sympathy Mr Vlok for the fact that all the incidents that we are talking about here, happened a long time ago. It is almost ten years or more and that the finer detail might not be so clear any more.
It is possibly as a result of that that there have been certain semantic differences that have arisen and I will try and look beyond semantics in the questions that I am going to put to you. That is just as an introductory remark.
Mr Pik Botha, as far as he is concerned, reference was made to the documents of a hearing before the Truth Commission and Mr Pik Botha in his appearance at the hearing regarding the State Security Council, where you also testified, said that there was never any resolution in the State Security Council as a recommendation as you put it, or it was the function of the SSC or in the Cabinet, that anybody should be killed in the country.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, that is not entirely correct if I may help my learned friend. Mr Vlok went much further, he said as far as he is concerned, and where he was present, at the State Security Council, they never took a decision to act illegally. So it goes much further than that.
MR PENZHORN: Thank you Chairperson, I will get to that. The next point is that there was never any resolution taken in the State Security Council or Cabinet, which would amount to a gross violation of human rights as defined in the TRC Act, is that correct?
MR PENZHORN: And then the point which my learned or more learned friend, Mr Visser has just put to you, there was also never any resolution taken by Cabinet or the State Security Council which would amount to an order to carry out an unlawful action?
I am referring to my client, Mr P.W. Botha, this discussion which you had with Mr P.W. Botha after the meeting of the State Security Council meeting, it wasn't a Cabinet meeting if I understand you correctly.
MR PENZHORN: You have already testified that at that SSC meeting, there was a presentation made in which the SSC was told about certain actions of terrorists relating to Khotso House, is that correct?
MR VLOK: Yes, amongst other things. Not only actions by terrorists, but also the entire set up at Khotso House, what the organisations were doing, what campaigns they were involved in, etc, so there was a complete presentation in respect of the total sum of activities orchestrated from Khotso House.
MR PENZHORN: Now, it is unfortunate and you have already said that, that we don't have the presentation to hand, because if we had, we probably would have been able to get a much better background as to the perceptions which existed at the time in your own mind and in the minds of others.
MR VLOK: The people who took the lead here, were the people who were involved in the Secretariat of the State Security Council. They from time to time, sometimes coopted people from National Intelligence or the Security Branch and Military Intelligence to give more detailed input about their specific areas.
MR PENZHORN: You have already testified that in the various structures that existed, the various Intelligence Services, correlated all the Intelligence collected by all the different Security organs, and it was then presented to the SSC?
MR VLOK: That is correct. And the information was verified as far as possible as to its accuracy and we tried to ascertain whether it was reliable and it was then collated and interpreted and presented to us.
MR PENZHORN: In other words, it was put to you I think by Mr Dane to what extent did you re-discuss the presentation, but what took place between yourself and Mr Botha was never a debate. I think my learned friend's words were while you were debating it with Mr Botha, it was not a debate, it was a short conversation, you were on your way out, Mr Botha was also on his way out, and the short conversation took place?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, Mr Botha told me after this presentation that we had now heard what the problems were and we all knew what they were, and that they included the problems that Mr Penzhorn now refer to in respect of making use of Khotso House by terrorists.
MR PENZHORN: The essence of this problem was that terrorists would go to that building and certain planning sessions would take place within the building. I think at some point you referred to the fact that they were also paid there and that explosives were also taken into the building by terrorists.
MR PENZHORN: In other words the emphasis was on the actions of the terrorists? In your evidence you already said that the government at that stage, did not in respect of the South African Council of Churches or its member churches, it did not place any of these in the dock?
MR PENZHORN: I think Bishop Storey testified during his trial in George or in Mr Botha's trial in George, that there were certain Trade Union organisations that had offices in Khotso House and you had no action against them.
MR PENZHORN: Now, Mr Botha's recollection of this time is also a little bit vague as a result of the lapse of time, but according to his recollection, the focus was very much on the terrorists using the building.
You have already testified that Mr Botha - let me rephrase, the conversation which you had with Mr Botha, the crux of it, was not that look you have tried all lawful methods or you have already considered lawful methods, and that you could not act in terms of these lawful methods, and that therefore you should go for an unlawful option, or action, am I correct?
I think it was unfair to you, it was quite a long question, but what it amounts to, what I am saying is this, in the conversation which you had with Mr Botha, the crux of the conversation was not - look, we cannot do anything to these people using lawful means, because it will have major international repercussions so you should resort to unlawful means?
MR PENZHORN: The nub of the conversation was that you should act, or that the Police should make a plan and that action should be taken because you were also aware of all the lives of innocent South Africans that were being endangered by the actions of the terrorists and you should act to make an end to this, and to this threat and to the abuse of the building by terrorists?
MR VLOK: That is correct. I would just like to point out that it was in that time in 1988, that the terrorist onslaught against the country escalated dramatically. Statistics proved that in that year, it reached its height. More than 300 incidents of terrorism took place in that year.
I just want to confirm that it was your evidence that this "unlawful plan" was not something which came from the Botha conversation, that is something which you thought of as an option after you had already left Mr Botha and up until you had the conversation with Gen Van der Merwe?
MR VLOK: Mr Botha at no stage told me that I should act unlawfully. Those are the facts, but it is so that when I gave the matter some thought afterwards as to how I could carry out the instruction, it is logical that on the facts before me, I could come to no other conclusion as that we should act unlawfully.
MR PENZHORN: In other words there could not have been any example present in Mr Botha's mind, he could not have thought well, look, we have already dealt with COSATU House successfully and blown it up, so the blowing up of Khotso House or the destruction of Khotso House, can simply happen along the same lines?
I think I am correct in saying that one of the considerations which you had at the time, was to act against the respective church leaders, but in the light of the international implications which it could have, you decided that would not be correct and that it would actually be very harmful to the country?
MR PENZHORN: Is it correct that somebody like Mr Pik Botha and I am referring to evidence which he gave before the Truth Commission at the State Security Council hearings, that his major concern was that the image of the country abroad, would be harmfully affected, it would be damaged?
MR VLOK: Mr Du Plessis was the Minister of Finance and any such action would have repercussions abroad, anything which tarnished our image abroad, would also have financial implications and for that reason he was sensitive on this score.
MR PENZHORN: Do you think in retrospect that the SSC given these persons with their very particular sympathies and sentiments, do you think that they would have approved action against the South African Council of Churches, given the factors I have just mentioned?
MR VLOK: In my evidence I said - during my application I said that Mr Botha earlier had given the order that the responsible Ministers in the various departments such as for instance departments who dealt with the Affected Organisations Act, and the Minister of Interior, Home Affairs, who was responsible for the Fund-raising Act, etc, that all those respective Ministers would have to go and see how they could act against the South African Council of Churches or its member churches and from that discussion, and it was probably discussed at the State Security Council meetings, and the answer time and again was negative, we could not act.
MR PENZHORN: I am trying to get the proper reference, in your submission in paragraph 30 of Annexure A, you said that the government's policy in relation to the revolutionary onslaught was to resist the onslaught with all violence and options at its disposal, and I think my learned friend Mr Dane also took up this aspect with you.
MR PENZHORN: To get back to the question which I asked you as to the prior approval by the State Security Council, if I understand your evidence correctly, you are saying that at that meeting there was a specific reference to the Khotso House incident during which congratulations were expressed to the Security Forces. Is that correct or were the Security Forces or the Police, South African Police, was the position that they were congratulated without any reference to an incident?
MR PENZHORN: Is it true that Mr Botha, it has been minuted, would from time to time congratulate the Security Forces in the State Security Council meetings if for instance violence was curbed in a specific area?
MR PENZHORN: Many of these congratulations were actually minuted. Was there any reaction from other members of the State Security Council according to your recollection, relating to the congratulations given the circumstances that these people were entirely cold as far as the matter was concerned?
What he does say is that he had the habit at the start of a meeting or in the course of such a meeting, to convey congratulations to the Ministers responsible for certain Security Forces for general actions committed, in other words for global incidents.
It would seem to me in view of the sensitivities held by Mr Pik Botha and others at the State Security Council meetings, that I think he would actually have strongly objected to such action if he had known nothing about the whole matter, assuming that the State Security Council didn't know anything about it.
MR VLOK: It is certainly possible as Mr Penzhorn said, it is ten, twelve years ago now that this happened, but my recollection is that it was more than greeting me and saying congratulations on your action.
What is possible is that there was a general discussion about other actions taken by the Security Forces. Perhaps we were involved in other things as well, perhaps the Police had been involved in other actions, and that he regarded it as part and parcel of that.
Mr Chairman, I have just got a couple of questions which I just want to get the relevant Bundle. Mr Vlok, I would just like to come to a couple of aspects which emerged from the cross-examination conducted by my learned friend, Mr Du Plessis and this is with regard to Exhibit B.
Mr Vlok, I don't think that for the purposes of this specific hearing, it would be relevant however, in the light of the fact that this has been included, I would just like to make a few remarks to you and this is about the semantics of these words such as eliminate and neutralise and so forth.
Do I understand your evidence correctly that what you say and I think your testimony was that one should look at the background of the discussions at the State Security Council and so forth, within which these terms were used.
MR PENZHORN: You also therefore agree essentially with what Pik Botha said in the State Security Council and I will read a passage from the evidence to you on page 42, on the subject of analysing and construing State Security Council resolutions and documents, it should be mentioned that we were relentlessly inundated with working documents, proposals, guidelines, assessments, predictions and memoranda drafted by a labyrinth of committees, sub-committees, joint management centres, assessment centres, working committees, task groups, ad infinitum.
MR PENZHORN: And in light of the evidence which you have already given with regard to decisions and considerations within the State Security Council and the Cabinet, was there in the background in the circumstances which have been mentioned by Pik Botha regarding the atmosphere, the background in which these decisions were made, was there ever any intention to kill people?
MR PENZHORN: If you look at page 46, I think this Bundle is not a chronological sequence of events, I have established that it is not alleged that the annexures are attached to specific minutes because I think in any event it is not like that.
MR PENZHORN: That is correct. My apologies Mr Chairperson, that this is actually a collection of various documents of working committees some of which were attached to minutes and documents for the State Security Council.
MR PENZHORN: If we look at neutralisation, look at page 23 of Bundle B, it says that the objective of that specific document and that is with the emphasis on the concept national strategy against the revolutionary war, it says in paragraph 9 on page 23, to neutralise the revolutionary war against the RSA. That is the objective, so that a democratic dispensation can be achieved in which all population groups can have equal share in the government of the country, without threatening each other's group rights.
MR PENZHORN: In other words, is it correct that for the purposes of the documentation and perhaps you could just assist us here for a minute, these working committees, I think you did testify regarding this, these committees were working committees and it was the Secretariat of the State Security Council which consisted of a number of people from National Intelligence and various Intelligence Services, who primarily compiled these documents?
MR PENZHORN: And with the members of the State Security Council, there was never a problem with interpretation regarding what many of these terms which were used rather loosely, such as neutralise and eliminate and so forth, in light of the context of the discussions which took place regarding these terms?
re not to be duplicated, so therefore the distribution thereof was limited, but such as with these documents which are being discussed here, such as the Strategy in Combating the ANC, as Mr Penzhorn has pointed out correctly, these documents were compiled by working committees, by officials and these documents were widely available.
There was not strict control over these type of documents. Where the minutes were much less available, these documents in many instances, would end up on the desks of different divisions and I don't think that there was very firm measures of control regarding where these documents circulated and that created a number of problems for us, especially with regard to the language usage within these documents as well as with those operatives who saw these documents and accepted or interpreted or understood literally the meaning of what was contained in these documents.
ADV GCABASHE: So in interpreting what was written in these documents, that operative would know that this is just a working document, this is a draft of something that is going to go on to other people, they are being asked for input?
They were official documents, I have an example before me, it says State Security Council with an address and the heading of the document would be for example Strategy for Combating the ANC, and from that one could see that it was an official document, but it was far widely available to various people who would attach a literal interpretation to the words used in these documents.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, this was supposed to be available to all the members of the JSC working group. I see that it is copy 3 of 11 copies, so therefore it was made available to 11 persons. Who they were, we don't know, but it was a working committee, so in other words it would be lower rank operatives who were involved in the compilation of this document.
MR PENZHORN: If you look at page 33 of that Bundle B, page 33 is a tabulation, a summary of this concept strategy and it has been divided into various divisions safety, constitutional and so forth. The two final inscriptions (vi) and (vii) are alternative authority structures of and area control by radicals and revolutionaries within liberated areas, must be neutralised.
And then if you will consult the relevant institution in that instance, would be the South African Police, the South African Defence Force and Justice, the implication of this as you understood it in light of your attendance at the meetings was as I have said before, not that radicals and revolutionaries should be killed by the Department of Justice or the Attorney General or whoever?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, perhaps that is a question which could be answered much better by the relevant Commissioner, but if I were to say it would be by placing Policemen on the scene, either in uniform which could serve as a deterrent or in private clothing, so that they could arrest someone who would be intimidating.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, they would be present there and by having a certain presence there, they would be able to scare off the intimidator and that is through our interpretation, would assist with this kind of situation.
MR PENZHORN: Mr Vlok, in other words the point that I am trying to make here, I don't think it is actually relevant for this specific hearing, but just for the sake of completeness, it might have been necessary to refer to these aspects within the Exhibits submitted to this Committee.
The problem perhaps arose because copies of documents ended up in places out of context, where the relevant persons didn't have the advantage of the background discussion from which this document originally came and that would essentially have constituted the problem?
MR PENZHORN: And is it correct that you were a member of the government, that you were a member of the Cabinet and the State Security Council at that time and you never intended by means of these documents, and this was also not the government's intention, to serve this as conduct for operatives?
The question regarding that which was put to you in terms of the meaning of informal policing. Does it not mean that it was intended and I would just like to find the exact spot, page 33, does it not mean Mr Vlok, that on a covert, unauthorised, illegal manner, action should be taken against intimidators, is that not what it means? Let's just look each other in the eye Mr Vlok, we both know what the words say, we don't need to beat around the bush, couldn't it have meant that?
MR ROSSOUW: And that is also in line with your evidence, the foot soldiers, the officers and other people who handled these documents and saw that this was a document circulated at the State Security Council, or at the Secretariat of the State Security Council, they didn't attend the meetings of the State Security Council and listened to the discussions which was held there?
MR ROSSOUW: Was there anybody on the State Security Council where you sat, who ever made the remark that listen boys, we must be careful, because this word usage could be interpreted incorrectly, we must be careful?
MR ROSSOUW: And if we take it further and look at page 38, am I correct that your evidence was that this was made available to the members of the JCS working groups? These were members of lower rank who would also have insight into these documents, that was your evidence?
MR ROSSOUW: Very well. Paragraph 1 under Introduction, five sentences from the end, if you will read the words that have been put there, almost all the actions which are identified after this, are implicit to Strategy 44 and other approved strategies.
MR ROSSOUW: And in the minutes of the State Security Council meetings, if one would consult these minutes, I haven't had the opportunity but one would accept that if this wasn't correct, if this document was submitted to the SSC and it was not correct, there would have been some indication of this in the minutes?
MR ROSSOUW: I don't know whether that is an answer that Mr Penzhorn is not accepting my challenge, but Mr Vlok if we look at this document further, I don't want to unnecessarily revisit things that I have done before, but let's look at page 42.
Paragraph 10 says Counter Insurgency Measures is an Important Part of the Counter Mobilisation Package. Successful operations must be carried out with a view to destroying the enemy. Mr Vlok, it is difficult for me to determine how one would be able to destroy the enemy within the normal legal structures existing at the time.
It is also difficult for me to imagine how one would destroy such an organisation's influence on all levels and I am sure that includes the military level, how one could do that outside of the Republic by means of lawful conduct and actions?
Judge Wilson referred to the top sentence, it says the freedom to act in terms of the Emergency Regulations must be utilised to the full, but if you read (c), it is difficult to see how within the limits of the Emergency Regulations you could destroy people and facilities.
Let us look at (e), it says there clean up the rotten areas now, before it becomes entrenched and established and a lot of violence is needed from our side. Irrespective of how people from abroad or the outside world, would react to that.
Stemming from some of what Mr Penzhorn asked you, when you went to see P.W. Botha in 1996 to inform him that you would be applying for amnesty, did you have a conversation about him coming forward to support the amnesty applications of the people involved in these incidents?
ADV GCABASHE: During that conversation, at no time did you discuss the instruction from himself as you understood it, because there is an obvious difference of opinion here as to what that instruction really meant?
ADV GCABASHE: On a slightly different aspect, this is just your opinion that I am seeking, you believe that the instruction was to do all you could to destroy this building? The instruction given to you after the State Security Council meeting?
ADV GCABASHE: Do you think that Mr Botha, P.W. Botha spoke to you about this that separately because he knew that the State Security Council would oppose any action taken by the Police specifically without involving them, just your opinion?
MR VLOK: It wasn't strange to me that Mr Botha spoke to me alone. That was his style and during his period as President, it happened that he would ask Ministers to remain behind and the others would then not know at all what was discussed or what the situation was.
I must tell you quite honestly that it is a possibility that the other members would have opposed it, but at that stage the members of the State Security Council and the government, we were in a dilemma as regards the activities of Khotso House. I want to emphasise the activities and that does not include Adv Dane's clients, the churches. I think we have solved that one, but we were really deeply troubled by the situation and it was causing an escalating revolutionary climate which brought us closer and closer to the final revolutionary explosion and we wanted to avert that.
I don't know whether if Mr Botha put the matter in the State Security Council, whether there would have been a discussion about it, I am sure there would have been, but we never voted about it. As to who would have been for it and who would have been against it, I don't know. All I can tell you is that afterwards, when they heard it and when we saw what the consequences were, nobody was angry with me, that is what I can tell you honestly.
ADV GCABASHE: Would I be correct to say though that had Mr Botha said to you at that meeting, make a plan, do something about this particular building, it would not have been anything unusual, he could have said the same thing in the State Security Council meeting?
ADV GCABASHE: A related area that I am not very clear about, did you at the State Security Council ever discuss the distinction between communist activities as you saw them, Marxist/Leninist leanings by particular persons in Khotso House or the community at large and distinguish that from what I would call and I just picked that up from the Eloff Commission report, social justice issues because that is what it essentially talked about, the Eloff Commission report? Just social justice or what we today call human rights issues, did you ever distinguish between the two when analysing what was going on in Khotso House?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I can't remember during the presentations, whether this distinction was drawn very clearly, but I must tell you that we had no problem with political activities that these people were engaging in.
But the moment when the violence aspect entered the picture, that is when matters became difficult and then we would say that is not the business of that particular organisation and they are causing problems. They are causing more problems than they are solving and we were in favour of political progress.
ADV GCABASHE: When we look at Exhibit C, this is part of what Leon Wessels had submitted, that is where I picked up the Imminent Persons Group report, which was filed in 1986 presumably or they were here during that period and it is in this report where in paragraph, if you start from the first top, three, they say that - I will just quote the last, relevant bit, unlike the earlier periods of unrest and government attempts to stamp out protest, there has during the last 18 months been no outflow of black refugees from South Africa. The strength of black convictions is now matched by a readiness to die for those convictions.
This is similar to a point raised by Mr Dane for the SACC, was there a policy discussion either in Cabinet or at the State Security Council on this report, and or on this particular aspect of how ingrained the resistance was within the country?
MR VLOK: We didn't discuss it specifically in those terms, but what we did discuss was the counter strategy of the government to deal with and manage the situation, and one of the elements of that strategy was that we should find a political solution which would be acceptable for these people.
We in the Security community knew that the resistance present amongst just the ordinary man in the street was busy escalating and that is why Gen Van der Merwe said that at one point there were 40 000 people in detention, and we in the Security Forces knew that we could no longer continue along that road.
Some people were detained for 15 to 18 months and ultimately we had hunger strikes which caused grave problems, so it was not a solution, it was just a holding action. From our side there was a very clear realisation amongst the members of the Security communities that the politicians, the government should urgently seek a political solution.
That was said repeatedly and that was discussed repeatedly and the Minister, responsible Minister for Constitutional Development, he played a very important role here, but that also had another side to it. If you act against an activists who could possibly take part in the negotiations, if you detain him, then you actually hampering the political progress, so it was a no win situation, and that is when Mr De Klerk came and said we should tackle this political problem, we should grasp the bull by the horns and open up the political arena and that is when we started making progress for the first time.
ADV GCABASHE: You see General, I think again Mr Raditapole put to you the whole issue they saw it, or they see it now as a campaign, they saw it now, a campaign against let's say COSATU as such having submitted the Exhibit with all the other incidents that you have said you don't know about, fair enough.
In light of that, is it incorrect to conclude that the Police realised that they couldn't win this fight, yet out of frustration which now borders more on ill-will, malice, just shear frustration, they continued to target organisations such as COSATU and the SACC and that in fact therefore, they were not promoting or meeting the political objectives of the National Party which was looking at the whole reformist way of dealing with the situation? Would you say that that is not the right conclusion to draw, that it is frustration, malice, ill-will?
In my amnesty application I tried to indicate why certain things took place, without the necessity for an order being given, the liberation movements motivated their people in the liberation struggle outside, and they continued to do so over the years and they motivated them to oppose apartheid.
So, it wasn't necessary for us to actually give an order to do something. In the same way it wasn't necessary for the liberation movements, it wasn't necessary to give certain orders. For the Security Forces, it was often a matter of a communality of purpose, to fight against an enemy.
So in my time and within my knowledge, there was never any talk in government circles of a campaign to bombard people's buildings and to kill them, there was no such campaign, but there was a communality of purpose to oppose that which we believed we should oppose and fight against, and this paragraph which you have quoted, indicates that in the liberation struggle even amongst the young black people, there was this sentiment that they said they had enough, they had a common purpose and they needed no specific orders.
MR VLOK: Yes, correct. It fell within the ambit and the framework of the National Party's programme of principles, it was part of their policy regarding religious freedom and freedom to own property, the Capitalist free market system, that all fell within that framework which we tried to defend and protect.
MR VLOK: No, as far as I was concerned, it still fell within the framework established by the political parties to promote and protect that which fell within the framework. Even though they never took a decision on violence, just as the liberation movements never actually took a decision regarding violence, they simply said that they acted against collaborators and Policemen, etc, but there was never any decision taken per se and the same applied to us.
MR SIBANYONI: Mr Vlok, I have a couple of questions for you. It was impressive at the beginning of your evidence, I heard you saying I won't quote you verbatim but I will just paraphrase what you were saying, you were saying words to the effect that you regard the TRC as an opportunity to achieve reconciliation between the parties who were in conflict in the past, and you are even praying to God that this should be successful.
MR SIBANYONI: I have a feeling that it would appear you go a step even further to the extent that it would appear that you are taking even responsibility for what other people did? Let me refer to an instance of the instruction to bomb Khotso House.
You know, we spent much time asking you as exactly who came up with that idea and at one stage it sounded as if it was Mr Botha who gave the instruction, but with the choice of the words you were using, it was not clear who initiated the instruction. That is one leg, the other leg is when it comes to the operatives on the ground, it seems you are saying you take responsibility in the sense that the words you were using might have given the impression or the interpretation which was not intended by you.
MR VLOK: Can I just say as far as Khotso House is concerned, when Mr Botha gave me the order, I had a choice. I analysed the information and Gen Van der Merwe and I discussed it and I came to the conclusion that I must do what I did. So I took that decision myself. I could have gone back and said no, I refuse and then take the consequences flowing from that.
But in the circumstances I thought that I should act as I did. As far as the operatives on the ground is concerned, and my approach to them, I have given it a lot of thought and as far as that is concerned, I didn't deliberately go out to embrace them, because it isn't a pleasant thing to accept responsibility for what happened, but what is important is what is right towards us all. What is right towards me, towards Mr Botha, but also what is right towards the people on the ground, who from the 1950's helped the National Party to retain power, so I think it would be unfair of me to run away from these people.
If in the process it helps them, and contributes to placing their actions within the framework, the political framework for which I accept political responsibility, then I do so because it is the right thing to do and because it is the truth.
MR SIBANYONI: But in the same breath you said at one stage it was realised that apartheid was wrong, that is why you decided to try and reform it. Do you still say, I am having the opinion that you were fighting to preserve apartheid which you now admit it was wrong.
That is why I said apartheid was wrong, and that is why we apologised for apartheid and the misery which it caused. As far as these incidents are concerned and as far as apartheid in general is concerned, I supported it and I helped to maintain it, along with other Policemen, and that caused a lot of pain and suffering for our fellow South Africans.
And for that I have apologised and I have said that I am sorry that it happened. I am asking people to forgive me that. While I have the opportunity, let me say that the Policemen who sit here with me today, and who have to experience this situation, I gave orders to these men and I have to apologise to them as well for having to go through this process, and I am sorry about that.
I really believed that as from the 1980's onwards, we were busy dismantling apartheid when we saw that it wasn't going to work, we then started dismantling it. Mr Botha was in the forefront of dismantling apartheid in South Africa.
I thought that the alternative to apartheid would be worse. I thought let us dismantle apartheid and I think Mr Botha deserved a chance to destroy apartheid totally. Yes, it wasn't enough and it wasn't fast enough, but it was as part of this process that I motivated the Security Forces to maintain the existing structures and system which caused hurt, so that it could ultimately be dismantled in an orderly fashion.
MR SIBANYONI: What will you say if I put this to you that it would appear the Police and other people were motivated on wrong premises to say we are fighting against communism, Marxist ideology and today we don't see that Marxist ideology and communism?
This fight started in the 1950's, the struggle and if we think back to what the world looked like in the 1950's, 1960's, 1970, and the early 1980's, that was the heyday of communism which according to the evidence, was actually conquering the world.
We have heard the evidence that international communism was busy taking over the entire world with everything that flowed from that, so we the Security Forces, are not given a lot of credit today, but I think that South Africa actually owes a debt of gratitude to the Security Forces that they, despite everything which went wrong and all the bad things which we have to admit, and I am in favour of admitting that, but that we in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's, even in the early 1980's, we prevented South Africa from being conquered by communism and by a communist controlled government.
I am in no doubt that if that happened, we would have had a communist government in South Africa with all the attendant problems as we see in other countries where communism has actually come to a fall. So communism actually has a window of opportunities. We got the opportunity when communism came to a fall, the communists were no longer as strong as they were, they could no longer dominate the ANC and other organisations and that was our opportunity and we grabbed that opportunity.
MR VLOK: Chairperson, the Internal Security Act was regarded by us and the Security Police as a very important instrument in acting against people who by means of suggestive methods were trying to overthrow the State.
That is why we built up an arsenal of legislation and it was a very important instrument in this arsenal of legislation. We intended to maintain that law until we, in South Africa, could achieve a different political dispensation in which it would no longer be necessary.
MR SIBANYONI: But if I remember some of the provisions of the Act to the effect that when a person is detained upon the order of the Commissioner of Police and within three months the Minister of Police has to confirm it.
If we look at the number of people who were arrested in South Africa, my view is you wouldn't be in a position to apply your mind in each and every case to can confirm the order and as a result, for example we take the case of Shirley Gunn, you wouldn't be in a position to know exactly what are the facts, is the order justified or not?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, I would like to give you the assurance that in the time that I spent there, I considered every case's information and evidence and it was a lot of material, especially with regard to the Emergency Regulations, it was a lot of hard work, but I considered each and every one of them, and there were many cases where people would bring an application to the court, where I would have to answer this question.
And in every case, I said that I have read what is contained within the submission and I have also concentrated on making a decision regarding that information whether or not in terms of the law, it was justified to detain such a person.
MR SIBANYONI: Last question Mr Chairperson, now that you’ve had experience before this Committee, what is the likelihood of you talking to P.W. Botha and say the TRC is not a circus, I think that it is an opportunity for reconciliation, because of the fact that you are saying he trusted you, he had some discussions with you, etc?
MR VLOK: Chairperson, Mr Botha left it to me to make my own decision whether I would appear before the Commission or not, and therefore in the same breath, I would also leave it to Mr Botha to make his own decision regarding the matter.
ADV DE JAGER: Mr Vlok, just one remark. I have seen that in just about all the applications and you also gave evidence and the Police says that we managed to keep the National Party and the government in power, don't you think that it is a mistake if a Police Force supports a specific political party and maintains it in a position of power instead of protecting the public and making that their chief task, however here it appears that the chief task of the Police was to maintain the National Party in a position of power?
MR VLOK: That is correct, it shouldn't have been like that. The Security Forces must stay away from party politics. In my last years as Minister of Law and Order, we amended Police legislation, and made it an offence for a Police Officer to belong to a certain political party. It was however, too late, but you are correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Certainly, as I said earlier in the hearings, I am assuming that all the applicants are accessible, that they are not in the process of leaving the country or anything and when they have finished their evidence they may leave here provided if we need them, we can get them back.