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Type AMNESTY HEARINGS
Starting Date 26 July 1998
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MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, the next witness for further cross-examination is Gen Van der Merwe. I don't know whether you wish to take him now, it seems to be that it is the logical next step to take, is to finish his cross-examination and then perhaps go back to Bellinghan and then we can go on with further matters of the day.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR RADITAPOLE: May I proceed Chair, thank you. Mr Van der Merwe, before we start, I understand you had been requested and had also undertaken to investigate where possible property that was seized during raids on Cosatu might be and whether it could be returned. Have you had any success?
As soon as I received the list, I made it available to the South African Police Services, who undertook to make enquiries country wide regarding the relevant incidents and to provide me with all relevant information which is still available.
I have received information from the South African Police Services, but unfortunately it is only of application to three of the incidents, but I will nonetheless attempt by means of these three incidents, to discuss the document because at this point in time, there is no indication as to how long it will take to obtain the information regarding all the other incidents, but I think that the three incidents might to a certain degree, offer a level of perspective and make it possible for me to answer the question that was posed to me and in so doing, reach a certain point regarding this.
I have received information regarding incident number 20 on the list. This information I must add, I actually received from the applicants who themselves have appeared here, and have applied for amnesty with regard to those specific incidents. It is an incident during which members of the Security Branch were involved.
With regard to incident 24, that is an incident during which a petrol bomb was thrown into the offices of NUM in Welkom and in that incident, two persons were charged with arson, a certain Messrs Earley and Cronje and they were also convicted of arson and later received indemnity for that and according to the information given to me, both of them are members of the AWB.
Then incident number 44, this incident also involved a bomb explosion in the offices of NUM in Welkom. These incidents took place on separate dates and also during the investigation into this incident, two suspects were traced. According to SAPS due to incomplete evidence they could not prosecute these two persons, but they were also members of the AWB.
Chairperson, this morning I once again made enquiries with SAPS and they have not received any further information. With regard to certain incidents, the case dossiers have already been destroyed - according to the existing instructions, a case dossier will be held for three years, with regard to arson or malicious damage to property and consequently, it is very problematic for them to trace the relevant information back because they have to rely on other information and details contained in different documents, so therefore it is quite a lengthy and difficult process, but to get to the point which was made, and that is whether these documents formed part of a campaign against Cosatu and other Trade Unions, I would like to make it clear that I never issued such orders and I was never aware of such a campaign.
What would be probable with regard to the other incidents, is that members of the Security Branch may have been involved and that those members who were involved, in the light of our action against Cosatu were of the view that they could act in a similar manner, and that this would enjoy the approval of their superiors as well as the government.
I cannot comment on that, but just to take it one step further, and I apologise for burdening you with this once more, because I have given evidence on this a number of times before, during 1996 when we began with the process of assisting and supporting our members with their amnesty applications, I organised a gathering at the South African Police College where with the co-operation of SAPS, all members country wide which may have been involved in any actions, or deeds in the past, were gathered and I expressly stated it to those members that we should have the opportunity by means of the amnesty process, to deal with certain unlawful deeds in such a way that where I or any other Generals gave an order or behaved in such a manner that it would have influenced them, we would accept the accountability because those on ground-level who executed these tasks, should also be able to join the process.
I also emphasised it at that gathering that all members who were involved in such deeds, should make full use of the opportunity because if they were not to do so, there would be no manner in which I or any other Generals or Commanders would be able to assist them if any criminal proceedings or civil suits be brought against them.
On that occasion I also strongly emphasised that if they were to decide to make use of the process, they should bear in mind that each and every incident in which they may have been involved, will be exposed and that the full truth should go hand in hand with this.
In as far as it regards members and ex-members of the Security Branch, there was no doubt in their minds. Many members made applications for amnesty, some for serious offences and some for less serious offences.
If there are any other pending amnesty applications, I am not sure, but I can definitely tell you without any doubt, that if members of the Security Branch were involved, they would definitely have applied for amnesty.
Are you suggesting for a minute that members of the Security Forces, all of them, are so honest as to testify in relation to matters where there is no inkling, there is no evidence, there is just no possibility that these things would be revealed. Are you for a minute suggesting that we must take this as a given?
MR VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, I don't think that any member of the Security Branch would be as foolish as to maintain any incidents in which he was involved, especially when a certain aspect of such an incident may emerge and implicate that person.
MR RADITAPOLE: In fact, is it not a fact that a wide view is held that many applications for amnesty, particularly from the senior people like yourselves, have come around as a result of the foot soldiers? As a result of information coming from Colonel De Kock's trial and other trials, that because you have been named there, because you have been exposed somewhere, that now you are applying for amnesty?
MR VAN DER MERWE: Absolutely not. I think that Ms Gcabashe would be able to help me with this. Many of our members who were involved in these negotiations, at the South African Police College where I encouraged them to come forward, and as a result of which many of them applied for amnesty, from my side, I said to the people that I would be applying for amnesty regarding the incidents in which I was involved, and that I was notifying them of this and that they could, with the greatest freedom, apply for amnesty and also mentioned that I was involved.
There was no incident or case regarding which I was confronted by any member, and I have also conceded to those incidents which I do not remember. And I have no doubt as to the integrity of the members and I am more than willing to accept accountability for those incidents within which I was involved.
MR RADITAPOLE: You see General, I would clearly like to limit myself to this issue, to Annexure G, but you are raising a lot of issues also very general, which really require of us to take certain things as a given.
MR VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, I accept the question in as far as it relates to the STRATCOM perception and not the ordinary viewpoint of the Security Branch in combating any undermining elements, but I don't have any knowledge of any determined project or campaign which was aimed at acting illegally.
If you are referring to STRATCOM projects, there were definitely projects, but I wouldn't be able to furnish you with any specific details regarding Trade Union projects. If you wanted more information regarding that, one would have to consult those who were more directly involved, and therefore better informed regarding the subject.
MR VAN DER MERWE: As I have already said, there were certain projects which were approved and were aimed at exercising specific influences regarding the Trade Unions, but I don't have specific information regarding that. One would be able to obtain such information from those who were more directly involved.
MR VAN DER MERWE: No, it occurred within a specific project which normally would be recommended by the Commissioner and submitted to the Minister, and within that framework, the specific STRATCOM action would be managed.
MR RADITAPOLE: Now, am I understanding you correctly to say in as much as your feeling is that if any Security Force people were involved in the incidents listed in Annexure G, and they would have come up, but am I understanding you correctly to say if indeed the Security Forces were involved in these incidents, that you would take responsibility for those acts?
MR VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, in the sense that I accept that it would have been approved by me regarding the Cosatu incident as well as the government, even though I did not expressly authorise it, I will accept the level of responsibility for it.
MR VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, I would only be answer that if I had known what the circumstances and considerations were. And to what degree it would have made a contribution to the threat perception, how the government would have been effected by it and what the consequences thereof would have been.
I am more looking at your aim to decrease what you described as a massive, as a revolutionary climate as you understood it, in a practical manner of speaking, in that sense, the general sense, not to say would you have supported it some people were killed outside the offices of FAWU and then FAWU offices were bombed.
Saying in general Cosatu was perceived to be a thorn in the side of the government, it was seen to be in alliance with the ANC and so on. In that sense, if these activities had the impact of in your eyes, slowing down Cosatu or discouraging it from involving itself in matters other than labour issues, would you have supported these acts?
MR VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, it is always very difficult to deal with a hypothesis because one is not experiencing the same circumstances whereas when you would be in a situation where you would have the circumstances to consider.
If I have to assume a general viewpoint regarding the question, I would say that it would definitely have depended upon the nature of the threats, and whether it was possible to manage that threat in another more legal way, whether it would be in the interest of the former government to go over into such action and in terms of the consequences of such a deed, and the advantage which it would result in.
MR RADITAPOLE: All right, let me give you a concrete one then. Item 20 which you have just confirmed. 29 August 1987, bomb blast occurs at Cape Town Community House, which houses Cosatu's Western Cape offices and its affiliates.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, with all due respect, the witness is asked to speculate about things. He has told you that he can't tell you today whether he would have authorised or would have agreed with it unless he knows the full facts.
Now he is asked about a specific one. Are we going to go through the list and he is going to give the same answer every single time because no human being can be expected to say today, unless he was involved with that particular incident, with the particular facts and circumstances, as to what he would have done and even if he does venture a guess, where does it take us Mr Chairman?
MR RADITAPOLE: Mr Chairman, firstly, I am not going to go through the whole list, I have referred to a particular incident which the witness has pointed to, as the applicant has pointed to, that is the first point.
MR RADITAPOLE: Chairperson, I have pointed to incident number 20 which the applicant has identified following investigations as identified as an incident which apparently was committed where the Security Branch was involved. I don't see the basis for the objection at all.
MR VAN DER MERWE: Mr Chairman, I don't have any knowledge regarding the circumstances which were relevant or the considerations which were made when it was decided to arrange the explosion in the Community Hall in the Western Cape, so therefore it is very difficult for me to give you my opinion based solely upon the information contained within this paragraph.
MR VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, I did not authorise it. I think that somebody from the Cape liaised. If I understand correctly, it was actually decided on local level with the aid of the Head Office staff, but I am not aware of who exactly made the decision.
ADV GCABASHE: And let's assume the highest person in the Police Force had made this decision, the Regional Commander or whatever, would that person, would that portfolio have the authority to make a decision like this, just to help me understand who had what authority?
MR VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, nobody had any capacity. These incidents took place under the circumstances where each and every person acted according to his own judgement and where the other means regarding that judgement, didn't offer any other way out.
Which capacities would a Regional Commander have, let's take for example the Western Cape Commissioner, whatever his rank may have been or the General in command or the Divisional Commander, was it left to his discretion to decide what would be done in his area?
MR VAN DER MERWE: I think that there is a distinction so that the Divisional Commander within his region, could arrange his matters and had the capacity to make decisions regarding these matters. In the same breath, one could say that the same would be of application with illegal deeds, but even a member on a lower level, could have taken a decision that under the circumstances, which he faced, within a certain situation, he would have to perform a certain illegal deed and under those circumstances, one would say that his decision to go over into such action, would have to be judged regarding the relevant circumstances of that situation.
MR RADITAPOLE: Now, this concept of people acting within a particular framework, would I be correct in trying to locate it in this area, that firstly you bomb Cosatu House, you give a green light that this is okay, you can do this, this is in 1987. The following year, you bomb Khotso House, you confirm that this is still okay and within these periods, you have these explosions going all over the place, people are being attacked, all Cosatu affiliates, do you not agree that simply by having done this from your level, that in fact you had given carte blanche for members of the Security Forces to do anything that was similar to achieve your objectives and the politicians' objectives?
MR VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, I have already said that it is quite possible that members as a result of the fact that we acted against Cosatu House, I haven't mentioned Khotso House, could have gained the impression that it would have met with our approval.
To say that we would necessarily have given it the green light, perhaps takes it too far, but on the other hand, that from those circumstances along with other circumstances, that that could have created a certain perception with a certain member, yes, that is possible.
MR RADITAPOLE: Please Gen Van der Merwe, there were complaints all the time, it was in the press, it was clear as far as the progressive movements in the country were concerned, as far as even, I would dare say, people like the DP or the PFP were concerned, whoever was at the time, the blame was laid at the door of the Security Forces?
MR VAN DER MERWE: That is true Chairperson, but those were assumptions that were made, or suspicions. I am not aware of the fact that there were any facts at that stage on which those suspicions were based.
MR RADITAPOLE: Well, in any event, you didn't have to say we did Cosatu House, all you had to say was whoever is involved in these activities, stop them? They are not policy, we want you to stop them, why didn't that happen?
MR RADITAPOLE: Well, did you never have any suspicions that some of the Security Forces might be involved, having considered that people might have perceived the bombing of Cosatu House as a green light?
MR VAN DER MERWE: Yes, although one must immediately say that these incidents for the most part, took place in such a way and at such a level, that it didn't cause much sensation and didn't actually give cause for any concern or worry.
MR RADITAPOLE: Well, what would you say if I said to you that the only reason why, one of the reasons why you did nothing about these activities, is that you formed communality of purpose with whoever it was who was carrying out these attacks on Cosatu?
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, will you please allow me, I must now start opposing these questions. Firstly Mr Chairman, may I make a submission to you that I find it very difficult to slot the questions into any aspect which relates to the application for amnesty as provided in Section 20. The second point is this, this is not an inquisition. My learned friend is not here on behalf of the Attorney General to find evidence against General Coetzee(?) or anyone else as to his complicity on any basis in any other issues.
One can understand the broad basis Mr Chairman, of credibility, yes, certainly but it goes only so far. At some stage or other Mr Chairman, my learned friend has got to cut to the trace. He is restricted by the provisions of the Act just as much as we are. We presented our evidence in terms of the Act. I've heard no questions, no indication even, on what basis the questions are being put.
Now I understand Cosatu's point of view, they said they're not opposing the application but in a sense that makes it even more confusing because I'm not sure what we're busy with. With great respect Mr Chairman, this witness doesn't have to answer these questions. He'd not on criminal trial for incidents in which he might be involved.
CHAIRPERSON: It does appear clear doesn't it, that the applicant has no knowledge, he's already said so, you have questioned him and he has no knowledge of these events. Cosatu is aware of the fact that various other applicants have applied for amnesty in respect of these events. The information will become available. What is the purpose of proceeding with it now, when we are hear to hear applications in respect of other matters?
MR MAFOJANE: Well Chair, the broad answer is this, and Mr Visser has referred to it in one sense, our position remains and the answers as yet I think have failed to deal with this situation, that it does appear there was a campaign.
The answers that are coming are simply not helping us understand whether or not there was a campaign and all I'm doing is trying to get to the bottom of it to see whether in fact these answers are answers that will help the Committee itself to come to a decision that there was a campaign, and if there was a campaign, to determine whether or not these applications in fact make full disclosure.
As it is it seems issues are being picked out and we are saying these issues are being picked out of a broader campaign and therefore if that's the case, that they are being picked out of a broader campaign in relation to which amnesty hasn't been applied for, then that may be an issue that will help the Committee assess the applications.
CHAIRPERSON: I'm afraid I don't understand this: "broader campaign". You have put, you have made your point as I understand it, by suggesting to the General that he must have made accord with them. I don't think you can take the matter any further by just going on and on, do you?
MR DANE: Yes. In regard to General van der Merwe, Mr Chairman I would just like to place on record that on behalf of the S.A.C.C. we appeared, I appeared here, instructed by them to set the record straight in regard to inter alia the fact that they didn't support, nor been involved in violence nor support the S.A.C.P. Alliance as suggested.
MR DANE: Oh, I see. Well as - in regard thereto Mr Chairman, - perhaps I should then repeat it. On behalf of the S.A.C.C., we appeared to set the record straight in regard inter alias to the fact that the S.A.C.C. didn't support violence nor was involved in it, and as I've already indicated, not support the S.A.C.P. Alliance as suggested and wasn't involved in those unlawful acts.
MR VISSER: Would my learned friend go further and enlighten the Committee as to whether he is continuing with his objection Mr Chairman. Because I understood Mr Rob to tell you at the inception, that there's an objection by the South African Council of Churches against the applications of Mr Vlok and General van der Merwe. I'm not certain whether that still remains or whether that has now changed.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, may I please come in here. In all fairness, I have a document which I found this morning, which is a document running to about 38 pages which deals specifically with the South African Council of Churches involvement with the ANC and the SACP. It has numerous quotations of officials of the S.A.C.C. It exactly what the S.A.C.C. aligned them with, decisions taken, etc.
I intended to deal with this document when my client, Mr Bellinghan is called again, and I wanted to ask you if I could deal with that specifically, with that issue but maybe it would be fair to Mr Dane to perhaps present him with the document and if he has any questions to General van der Merwe, that he can deal with that.
ADV DE JAGER: I just want to repeat what we've said previously. If you've got documents, we had a pre-trial conference, we're busy for more than a week - okay, I agree that you said you only got this document this morning, but even on getting it this morning, please make it available to everybody involved the next minute if possible so that they can prepare on it and know what it's about because we don't want to spring surprises on anybody here. We want the procedure to be open and everybody should have access to all the documents.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR PENZHORN: Mr Chairman, you kindly permitted me some cross-examination of General van der Merwe, following what some of my other learned friends have said. I have only basically one or two questions in that regard. If you wish to, I can put that to him after the break but if you're looking for ...[intervention]
MR PENZHORN: General, just a couple of aspects arising from other evidence which was led and which concerns the matter of Stratcom. We have been referred to the whole issue of Stratcom as the State Security Council and the Cabinet approved it, Stratcom operations, now arising from that the following
In evidence we heard about hard and soft Stratcom, in your capacity as Commissioner of Police you served on the State Security Council and on occasion you also attended meetings on invitation as head of security and safety. This distinction between hard and soft Stratcom, do you have any recollection that that distinction was ever debated from the State Security Council's side? I must tell you that I don't have such a recollection but you might.
GEN VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, no. In all fairness I must say that the State Security Council never dealt in any particulars with Stratcom issues. According to my recollection during meetings of the State Security Council after 1990, it was simply this: A subject as such that was dealt with, no particulars, no projects and my impression was also that at the State Security Council the projects and the details were not dealt with and that the detail surrounding Stratcom matters were dealt with at the secretariat level of the State Security Council.
GEN VAN DER MERWE: No. In all honesty, I can't actually testify about that with any degree of authority because the secretariat in turn had contact with all the various branches of the intelligence community and what they discussed and what distinctions they drew is not something which I can tell the Committee about now with any authority.
If you really need authoritative evidence about that, it would be necessary to call a specific witness. I can't say whether they on their side made the distinction and I can't exclude it as a possibility either.
MR PENZHORN: The essence of Stratcom, if I can put it like that, was to try to conquer the hearts and minds of the population and to condition them on that level to be able to establish a climate for peaceful negotiations?
MR PENZHORN: I would like to ask you about two incidents which we dealt with here specifically, and that is the Cosatu House incident and the Khotso House incident. There is no way in which these two could be defined as Stratcom operations.
MR DANE: No, I'm not going to. I spoke to my learned friend about the document there. He says to me he doesn't know who the author is, so I can perhaps describe it, having read it, our submissions are that it's dribble and my learned friend can do with the document what he wishes.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, may I just comment thereon? I asked my learned friend if he could indicate to me if he disputes any part of the contents of the document, that he should indicate to me which part of it he disputes. If he disputes any of the exerts from certain other publications, I will endeavour to do the research and provide after the hearing with that on the basis the Act provides for.
CHAIRPERSON: Well I can understand him saying he does not wish to accept the document. I had some difficulty reading it, in determining who had drafted it and thought it may have been one of the applicants.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, I can tell you that the document was amongst the official documents which was in the possession of my client, Mr Bellinghan. It came into my possession when we dealt with his amnesty application. It was in my possession.
I searched for it three times through all the documents in my office, which at this time I'm sure you're aware runs into thousands of pages. I only found the document this morning. The document is an official South African Security Police document. Who the author is is unclear Mr Chairman. Mr Bellinghan has indicated to me that these kind of documents were used frequently at courses but we're unsure where the document was used.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, perhaps if I may add my voice. Apart from those issues Mr Chairman, as far as the document was tendered for General van der Merwe to field on, I may tell you that he says he doesn't know this document. He hasn't checked any of the references. He hasn't had time to properly study it and he would prefer not to answer any questions in regard to this document.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, may I perhaps, if you will allow me, reiterate. The applications of the applicants thusfar in regard to Khotso House and for that matter Cosatu House, has not been on the basis that the actions were directed at individuals or organisations. They were directed at buildings where certain activities took place.
That is the perspective, and therefore Mr Chairman, we wouldn't like to get involved in a fight as to whether or not Cosatu or the UDF or whoever, or the South African Council of Churches, did or did not participate in violent acts in the struggle of the past. It's not part of our application Mr Chairman, with great respect.
CHAIRPERSON: Well if one looks at Mr Vlok's, the papers filed on his behalf, they appear to indicate that the South African Council of Churches was active in various matters and that this is what caused action to be taken. It is not just about a building as such.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, excuse me, may I just place my position on record? Insofar as the Act makes provision therefore, that when you apply for amnesty you have to show that you acted against or in opposition to a political party or a supporter of a political party. I have advised my clients that the case to be made out is exactly that. I don't want to enter into an argument with Mr Visser, but the point is that my clients need the evidence of Minister Vlok and General van der Merwe in that regard.
The argument that I want to present to the Committee and that is why I'm presenting this document, is that the actions were really part of the security forces' actions against the liberation movements, the actions of the liberation movements in the country, the actions that they undertook from Khotso House as part of the whole struggle of the liberation movements, and that the South African Council of Churches was used by the liberation movements for that purpose, and this document shows that. I just want to make that clear Mr Chairperson.
MR DANE: We don't accept it, and as I described it earlier it's in our view dribble. In regard to the application of Mr or General van der Merwe that we discussed beforehand, I'd like to place on record that in regard to General van der Merwe's application and our attitude to it - the S.A.C.C. has always supported the TRC and in fact was instrumental in setting this whole system up, we've come here to put the record straight. We have, with respect, from the concessions made by Mr Vlok, put the records straight. And in the circumstances, as a result of the concessions made by Mr Vlok, we withdraw our opposition to both General van der Merwe's application and Mr Vlok's application. We leave that in the hands of the Committee obviously. In regard to the other applicants, we will not be questioning them and at this stage our attitude is that the task is done and we would like to withdraw.
GEN VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, I will distinguish is as follows: If the question is whether on official level they could liaise with me directly, the answer is no. Normally official liaison would take place through the Minister of Law and Order but if it was about any other informal matter they could liaise with me directly.
MS GCABASHE: The question is really asked in light of the Cosatu House bombing and the Khotso House bombing, and I would then have to ask you: at that informal level, did any of them ask you about either bombing?
MS GCABASHE: Thank you. A slightly different aspect, and correct me if I'm wrong, I've been made to understand that where policemen were involved in unlawful activities that you disapproved of, which you would have normally speaking, they would either be disciplined or charged, that's correct. This is just generalising.
GEN VAN DER MERWE: Yes, inasfar as it pertained to actions which were separate from any aspect within the conflict, in other words within the context that we are dealing with this Committee. If it was about misconduct on a criminal level, yes.
MS GCABASHE: However, if you had not sanctioned these particular operations, I'm just looking at like operations, would you then have disciplined or charged policemen? Is that what you are saying, unless they were sanctioned within the framework of the duty to protect and serve and stop intimidation, terrorists and the rest, you would have penalised one way or the other?
MS GCABASHE: You could say yes, that and any other really. What I was trying to distinguish in my mind is the difference between sanctionable acts and ones that you would not sanction. Now in your previous answer you said to me criminal, you said criminal acts for instance but I'm not too sure as to what you categorise as purely criminal within the framework of what you were doing as policemen, as security policemen.
GEN VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, in all honesty I will distinguish as follows: We would, if there was one or other illegal deed, the normal investigation of such a matter would be allowed to run its course. I'm speaking of incidents which fell outside the ambit of the matters which we discussed here. Members of the Investigative Unit would normally investigate those matters and the law would take its normal course.
MS GCABASHE: Coming back to Cosatu House and Khotso House specifically, did you liaise with the other intelligence divisions of other Ministries? I know you didn't do it before, but afterwards, did you share information at all with the other branches?
GEN VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, at that point I served on the Co-ordinating Information Committee which was chaired by Niel Barnard. During the first meeting which occurred after that, insofar as I can remember, no questions about Khotso House or Cosatu House was posed to me, but I must tell you that my personal impression was that any person within the intelligence community who was familiar with the security situation, especially regarding the circumstances surrounding Khotso House and Cosatu House, would have realised immediately that a member of the security forces was involved in the situation and in light of the activities of the Security Council regarding the activities of the organisations and other matters, they would have known that the security forces were involved. They didn't ask me anything about it, which obviously was an indication that they either had a strong suspicion or knew that we were involved.
MS GCABASHE: Then again a slightly different aspect. I asked Mr Vlok about what I perceived to have been a culture of cover-ups and he disagreed and said there was no culture as such of cover-ups. I was still trying to understand in particular what Mr Penzhorn had put about Mr PW Botha's instruction, whether it did in fact come from the top to the bottom as you have stated in your evidence or whether it was from the bottom to the top and that there has been no full disclosure. I'm just trying to understand. He assured me that no, there was no culture of cover-ups. In context of that, would you agree that there wasn't a culture of cover-ups or would you say that these things happened quite often from Generals down to foot-soldiers, people did indeed cover up?
GEN VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, once again it's a very broad and general question. One would have to restrict oneself to specific incidents, because to give a general answer would imply that one would become stuck in the details and these details varied from individual to individual, so let's just discuss Cosatu House. I think that the facts there are rather obvious. I don't think that anybody was expected to cover anything up regarding each person's involvement.
GEN VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, it's very difficult to say whether the members involved were informed, I wasn't directly involved. Firstly, the investigation was undertaken by the Security Unit itself. They were involved with that. It's logical therefore that they should have managed the investigations so that the true facts wouldn't come to light. If that is what you are referring to as a: "cover-up", then yes.
MS GCABASHE: So although there might not have been a culture, there were numerous incidents of covering up? This is essentially what you are saying. And you would have to look at each specific incident to ascertain whether there was a cover-up or not.
GEN VAN DER MERWE: Yes, but what I understood from you, if I might repeat. You posed the question as follows; if it was expected of one person to cover up the more senior members' involvement in the incident, not the incident itself as such, or did I misunderstand you?
MS GCABASHE: No, my perception has been that if a junior officer, and you would be junior to PW in that instance, if a junior person did something that was unlawful or illegal, that junior person would more or less be assured that the senior person would cover up for that person or ensure that that fact was not brought to light. And that would apply to you in respect of PW, as it would apply to a very junior Warrant Officer as in respect to yourself for instance.
I'm just trying to understand that, both in light of Mr Penzhorn saying that his client's instruction was just a broad statement essentially and in light of the fact that there was a cover-up of some kind at the end of the day. There was disinformation, maybe that's more correct, at the end of the day, with respect to Khotso House.
GEN VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, once again I would not like to say that there was a general culture. In certain incidents certain action was taken in order to cover up certain other actions which were taken. However, I can't take it any further than that.
CHAIRPERSON: I understand the question to relate to matters involving, with a political aspect, that when a junior member of the force committed an act which they believed to be in the political interest, that would be a cover-up. I don't understand there to be any suggestion that if a junior officer goes and steals money or something, he would expect a senior to cover up for him. It is confined to the political crimes, if one can call them that.
MS GCABASHE: Then a slightly different aspect, and it's a final question. Was any report given to you at all on the presence of for one, Paul Verryn, earlier on in the evening at Khotso House and the watchman, Mr Ntumba, in relation to your order that nobody should be killed? Those two people are mentioned in Mr de Kock's evidence at George, at the PW hearing. I'm just wondering, in relation to your instruction that nobody should be killed, did anybody mention these people and how they might have handled things in relation to these people?
GEN VAN DER MERWE: No, Chairperson, I didn't receive any report, although mention was made that a person was injured but I didn't receive a report regarding the specific circumstances of these persons which you have just mentioned.
something was lost between Miss Gcabashe's questions and your answers. The question is actually about this as I understand it and perhaps you should just comment on this; you gave evidence at various occasions that you did not tolerate any illegal actions by a policeman.
MR VISSER: But on the other side of the spectrum we have the reality that there are three cases of which we know which have been served to the Committee and where you yourself participated in an illegality, that is the other side of the spectrum, and you where you expected of persons who served under you to participate in those deeds.
MR VISSER: Then it leads to the question, as the Honourable Chair has said: "please confine yourself to security oriented actions within the political situation of the time", the question arises to what extent did this anomaly move to the one or the other side? Can it be said that these were the only two exceptions where illegality was condoned, or can it be said that there was a culture that it was consistent that illegality was condoned by you?
GEN VAN DER MERWE: No, Chairperson, I can simply give evidence about the incidents in which I myself was involved but definitely there was never any idea that persons could commit illegal deeds as they wished to and cover it up.
MR VISSER: Yes, and I think that the actual question which Miss Gcabashe posed to you was whether or not you can say in retrospect to what degree it took place, that illegal conduct was condoned from above. Forget about the perception of the foot-soldiers, we know what that was, but to what extent in truth and in fact could you say that you know that such illegal conduct was condoned from above?
MR VISSER: With the knowledge that we have now of applications which have been submitted to the Amnesty Committee, would you considering that number, regard the cover-up or spreading of disinformation as a natural trend or occurrence which was of general application?
GEN VAN DER MERWE: No. I would say that is simply conduct which emanated from specific circumstances where in those circumstances there was no way out for those who have to make the decisions because they were protecting the former government.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, if you'll allow me while the shuffling is going on, I'm afraid that I may have expressed myself badly and that there's a misunderstanding. The point about the South African Council of Churches and the other organisation, we know what the Act says. My learned friend, Mr du Plessis is quite correct.
The whole point here, the answer to the whole issue really lies in what you yourself have just stated. The question is not really the truth of the matter. Of course if the facts which the applicants believe to be true are so ridiculous that no-one could have believed them, that's a different matter but apart from that, we haven't seen it to be our duty in terms of the requirements of the Act, to actually prove the truth of the contents of what they believed, as long as they genuinely believed it. And what we've done Mr Chairman, is we've placed just so much evidence before you to attempt to show that they were entitled or justified to come to the beliefs which they held.
CHAIRPERSON: Well I think what the cross-examination was aimed at was to show that they didn't make the enquiries or didn't make the attempt to verify the reports they got, therefore they could not genuinely have come to the belief. And that is a question for our decision.
Mr Chairman, may I be allowed to lead, and it will be very short Mr Chairman, the evidence of Mr Bellinghan on this document of the South African Council of Churches? I'm going to be much shorter now that they have left. I don't if it was the effect of the document itself that made them leave, Mr Chairman, we can leave that for speculation.
I want to present the document simply for purposes of indicating to the Committee the frame of mind of the people who worked in the Security Force and the people on the ground who worked with the information in respect of the South African Council of Churches and their frame of mind. I'll be very short, I just want to ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Well will there be some evidence as to what the document is? I mean you can't just produce a document and say: "This influenced my frame of mind", unless one knows where it came from and what it was.
MR DU PLESSIS: Well Mr Chairman, the evidence can go as far as follows, and that is that the document formed part of a wealth of documents which was in the possession of Mr Bellinghan, which came into my possession when we drew his amnesty application, that the document was an official document. That is as far as I can go.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, Mr Chairman. The effect of the evidence is really, I don't want to concentrate on the document itself, but the other documents which are referred to in this document such as the Eloff Commission, which one can obviously go and verify independently and objectively.
This document contains excerpts and recommendations from the Eloff Commission. I just want to put this before you to show the frame of mind of the operatives in respect of the South African Council of Churches, and especially with a view to indicate that the South African Council of Churches and the church itself was used by the liberation movements and the ANC to further their own struggle.
MR BELLINGHAN: This was one of many documents which I utilised on training courses, where I gave lectures to colleagues in the Security Branch. The document comes from our files and it's largely composed of quotations from other documents.
There is an opinion expressed in here in which I am in agreement and it probably was written with an academic, written by an academic whom we tasked to do that but I don't recall exactly who that might have been.
MR DU PLESSIS: Alright Mr Bellinghan, I don't want to go through the document in detail. Could you look at page 2. There is an excerpt of Mr Oliver Tambo's New Year message which was given on 8 January 1979, and I just want your comment on the first sentence. It says
"The churches have in the past encouraged and participated in the practice of violence against our people, by urging and collaborating with apartheid, itself a brutally violent system which can have no future. Recently however to a significantly measure, church leaders are identifying themselves with the cause of justice, regardless of the consequences"
MR DU PLESSIS: Alright. Could we then turn to page 3 please. You will see there are recommendations flowing from the National Consultative Conference of the African National Congress which was held in June 1985. The recommendations were pertaining to the role of the church in the liberation struggle. I just want to refer you to numbers 4 to 10. Number 4 states
"We should aim to create ANC units, both within the established churches and independent churches and other religious bodies"
"We should work towards reaching churches in the rural areas since in the majority of cases they are the main form of community activity"
"We recommend that the movement should encourage trends within the churches and religious organisations that come closer to the struggling people. We should find ways of supporting the call by the churches to pray for the downfallen fascist regime"
"The movement should be give attention to the institutions like the Institute of Contextual Theology. We should aim at giving political content and direction to the work"
"Churches could become important platforms to expose the regime's atrocities internally and externally"
Now these were decisions apparently taken by the African National Congress in 1985, pertaining to the church's role. Was that how you understood the ANC's objectives pertaining to the church's role in: "End the Liberation Struggle"?
MR BELLINGHAN: Yes, Mr Chairman. It perhaps goes even further than this in the sense that they were called upon to collaborate in the people's war. So the regional political and military command structures would have made use of the church facilities and church finances as well.
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, further than what is stated over here, Advocate du Plessis mentioned numbers 4 to number 10, and I'm saying that it can be worded even stronger than what is stated over here, in terms of our perception of what the ANC and the churches ...[intervention]
"In the South African Council of Churches publication: 'Eku News"(?), number 3 of 1982, the following was said"
"July 1979 was perhaps a watershed in church/state relations in South Africa because at the annual conference at Hammanskraal, Doctor Allan Boesak made a clarion call challenging the S.A.C.C. member churches. The time has come that churches and Christians should adopt a programme of civil disobedience to actively defy the apartheid laws"
MR DU PLESSIS: And then you will see on page 7 there is reference to the 1981 Commission of Inquiry into the actions of the South African Council of Churches. Mr Justice Eloff has he then was, wrote the report and I just want to refer you to page 12. Page 12 refers to a resolution adopted by the South African Council of Churches in 1974, which said the following
"Included among them are the statements that Christians are not automatically obliged to engage in violence and war. That is applied particularly to South Africa, a fundamentally unjust and discriminatory society in which institutionalised violence had provoked a counter-violence by the terrorists and freedom fighters and that catholic and reformation theology regarded the taking up of arms as justifiable, if at all only in order to fight a just war"
MR DU PLESSIS: Well it states there, if you read the resolution, it deals with the question when Christians are entitled to take up arms and when it would be justifiable. The resolution states that it would be justifiable in order to fight a just war. That is how I read it Mr Chairman. That's the wording of the resolution.
Now Mr Bellinghan, if that means the taking up of arms, was your perception, and I'm just asking about your perception, was your perception that the South African Council of Churches for instance, if not actively then passively and tacitly supported the violence that accompanied the civil disobedience actions of activists?
"The commission came to the conclusion that the South African Council of Churches from 1974 onwards favoured terrorist organisations in South Africa"
Then you will find on page 17 over to 18, a reference to the Kitwe Consultation held in May 1982. There's reference to the World Council of Churches, the anti-apartheid, it looks like the anti-apartheid - sorry, the all Africa Council of Churches, I beg your pardon. And then you will see on page 18, the resolution taken at that consultation is referred to there, and it refers to a five phased initiative:
"That churches inside South Africa be encouraged to establish relations with Trade Unions, student organisations and other accessible groups in the country"
"African churches beyond South Africa be exposed to representatives of the various liberation movements"
"Western countries and churches be encouraged to overcome their reserve view of the liberation movements"
"The organisations of the World Council of Churches General Assembly in Vancouver in 1983 be asked to arrange for liberation movement leaders to address the assembly"
MR DU PLESSIS: Alright. Could we then turn to page 22. You will see there is reference to the summary and recommendations of the Eloff Commission which is quoted in full. And then I just want to refer you to page 24 of the document which contains certain of the conclusions. The conclusion of the Eloff Report inter alias contained the following
"That the strategies of resistance designed or adopted by the S.A.C.C. for the furtherance of its liberatory struggle to include an extensive propaganda campaign described by the general secretary as massive psychological warfare designed internationally to persuade foreign governments to bring political, economic or diplomatic pressure on the government and locally to conscientise whites and to politicise blacks and generally to endeavour to discredit the state and its institutions"
"Secret and covert operations increasingly characterised the activities of the S.A.C.C. It endeavoured to conceal the origin of certain of its funds and the manner in and purpose for which some of those funds were expended and in its involvement in the civil disobedience campaign. Its Director of Justice and Reconciliation planned the use of underground groups whose actions would be inconspicuous"
MR DU PLESSIS: And then lastly Mr Bellinghan, could you perhaps then just in conclusion comment to the Committee on the, I want to use the Afrikaans word, the: "wisselwerking" (interaction) between the South African Council of Churches, some of their members and the liberation movements and the ANC and their struggle.
MR BELLINGHAN: It was as I said yesterday Mr Chairman. What I can just say in conclusion is that I personally never believed that the South African Council of Churches had a direct intention to overthrow the state by violent means. What I did believe and what I did explain to my colleagues on courses was that they did indeed collaborate with the revolutionary forces, and I can add the PAC to that and that they therefore associated themselves with the intention of those groups to overthrow the state violently.
MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chairman, I have no further questions. Mr Chairman, may I perhaps just say that I make the offer that if there is any doubt pertaining to any of the quotations in this document, I will do the proper research and report back to you on the veracity thereof if that is required.
CHAIRPERSON: ...[inaudible] great deal to say about the veracity of page 35, the second paragraph but it's not a quotation, it's the views expressed by the author. "As the Nationalist Party, especially since 1948, has advanced along the road of liberating the other peoples and population groups"
MR DU PLESSIS: Well Mr Chairman, it might have been Mr FW de Klerk who wrote this document, we don't know but that - oh, I'm sorry, that seems to have been a quotation straight from Mr de Klerk's mouth, Mr Chairman. You will see there is a reference to the Beeld of 30 June 1983. I don't know if that also comes from that. It seems to be part of that quotation Mr Chairman, so my speculation was right.
As I've stated, the importance of the document is to indicate to you exactly what was available to the security police at that time pertaining to the actions of the S.A.C.C. and what they subjectively believed the S.A.C.C. was involved in and what their subjective mindset was at that time.
MR VISSER: Yes. Mr Chairman, as presently advised I don't believe I have any questions to this witness. I must inform you however, I haven't studied the documentation which had been handed in during the course of the day. In the unlikely event that I might have a question tomorrow which is serious enough to cause me to ask you for an indulgence, I will do Mr Chairman, but at present I don't believe I have any questions to Mr Bellinghan.
Just to get clarity. As a result of your intelligence gathering activities at Khotso House, you compiled reports and you conveyed certain facts and certain interpretations of facts via your security branch to Security Branch Headquarters, is that correct?
MR BOOYENS: If I talk about interpretation of facts, obviously as a policeman you do not just blindly report a fact but you would also make certain conclusions and include that but making it clear that that's a view that you convey, would that be correct? That would be included in your report?
MR BELLINGHAN: Yes, Mr Chairman, any opinion expressed would have been clearly marked as a comment and of course it would be, the comment would be, considering the previous month's reports, what was happening at the time, the information would have been placed in perspective yes, under the comment.
MR BOOYENS: In your view, as a Security Branch Officer, would you say the deployment of your unit there which was basically an observation unit and which turned into a, well shall we call it a spying unit or an intelligence gathering unit or whatever one does call it in that kind of world, would you say that continued employment of that unit was justified, in your own opinion?
MR BELLINGHAN: Continued use of a church desk at Witwatersrand was justified. If you're referring to the static observation post across the road, some time before I actually closed it down it ceased to be a proper static observation post. So there would have been no real point in continuing with that, we never had the staff for it.
MR BELLINGHAN: I'm sorry Mr Chairman, I've answered you on the wrong aspect now. You've now asked me I think on the observation post that we turned into the, I can't recall, we had about 20 casual journalists and some were coming and going but the people that actually dealt with them was only about two of us on the staff, full-time Security Branch members.
MR BOOYENS: Perhaps I haven't expressed myself quite clearly. What I want to know from you, in your opinion you never found it necessary to say to Security Branch Headquarters: "Look you are wasting money with all this intelligence gathering about the activities going on round the Council of Churches and round what's going on at Khotso House, it's a waste of money, the place is completely innocent, you can spend your money in checking the activities of other places", would that be correct, did you feel it was a waste of money?
MR BOOYENS: Ja, I'm going slightly wider. Basically the investigations, shall we call it that, whether it involved the observation post and/or the church desk continue with its investigations. In other words, perhaps I should put it like this Mr Bellinghan, would you regard the activities and the information you received from there as something that would be of security interest to the security police throughout the period you were involved in it?
MR BOOYENS: And would it further be correct that the information gathered by you, and obviously by others as well, would ultimately then also siphon back to the ranks down below, having completed the full circle of having gone to head office and being put back in, I think they called it security reports or what did you call those things that you got from head office?
"During the period 1984 to 1986, myself and a few others compiled dossiers on premises of certain organisations such as Khotso House"
MR BELLINGHAN: These dossiers Mr Chairman, would not have been part of the official Security Branch files, they would have stayed with operators, and I can't testify as to whether the Khotso House dossier was in fact supplied to Mr de Kock or not. I don't know about that, I was at head office at the time, not part of Johannesburg.
Mr Bellinghan, in your evidence in chief you mention this whole concept of Stratcom. Now you also I think mentioned having undergone training in this Stratcom or at least having attended a course or a conference in regard to Stratcom. There's just one or two aspects which I'm not quite clear in my own mind about.
MR PENZHORN: In other words in your understanding, how would Stratcom operations differ from other operations? We do know that Stratcom not only applied to the South African Police but also to the military. Now in your mind what would the difference be between normal military operations and Stratcom operations?
MR BELLINGHAN: May I just say Mr Chairman, that as in the case of the events of the day there were many definitions of Stratcom and that certainly propaganda was the key aspect which would have been openly discussed at, for example the State Security Council but that it, propaganda goes about perceptions.
Of course when any action is planned, be it of a military nature or not, one has to and the state had to look at the perceptions of people, the different target groups, the different peripheral groups.
So it's better to refer to the perceptions of people. I think everything that the state did then caused a certain perception and as such would have come to perhaps the attention of the State Security Council, at least the secretariat and its various sub-committees.
MR PENZHORN: Now as far as these Stratcom operations are concerned, I think you testified that you could divide them on internal Stratcom operations directed, in other words to the police, to uphold and increase the moral of the people and then also to external operations which were directed to the public at large to create these perceptions or certain ideas etc., to further certain ideologies etc.
Now am I correct that at that time, or are you aware I should maybe say, the purpose of the counter-revolutionary struggle was to win the hearts and the minds of the people so as to create this atmosphere of calm and peace, this calm and peaceful atmosphere which would be conducive to negotiations for a new political dispensation?
MR BELLINGHAN: Once again Mr Chairman, the hearts and minds term is a military term. We never used that term but it certainly was part of the concept of perceptions and though certainly at a later stage when people in the Security Branch seriously considered that there could a negotiated settlement, which certainly was at quite a late stage of proceedings, then that would have been a factor.
MR BELLINGHAN: After I'd been on the Stratcom course in Johannesburg, Stratcom in the Witwatersrand area was part of my function there during this period '84 to mid '86. That is as far as Witwatersrand is concerned. After I went to head office my task was more on a national level.
MR PENZHORN: Now in your evidence you also mentioned hard and soft Stratcom. I think you gave as examples for soft Stratcom would be spreading disinformation, maybe covering up certain situations, planting news articles, trying to manipulate news as far as the Security Forces or the police was concerned. Could you tell me what you understand by hard Stratcom?
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, in the Security Branch of the South African Police, for many years there were ad hoc Stratcom actions and these were the most effective type of action. Some of these greater broader projects, especially the ones that we got from the military, some of them were not regarded as something that would be a final solution as such or something really that effective.
Just allow me to distinguish the fact that there was an official Stratcom policy too and then there was the unofficial policy. What I've been talking about the last few days with respect to "harde Stratcom" and active measures and so on, it was not the official policy of the Security Branch as such but it was the unwritten policy and it was one, when I was talking to the regions I used to refer to it as the G2 Manual. There was no G2 Manual.
MR PENZHORN: You see Mr Bellinghan, what worries me is - maybe I should ask you this, as far as unofficial Stratcom is concerned, which units of the police would have been involved in unofficial Stratcom?
MR PENZHORN: You what worries me is, and I stand to be corrected, but having perused a lot of the official documents of the State Security Council and some of their work groups in which Stratcom projects were outlined, not detailed, in some instances some detail was provided in regard to maybe some guideline that were given, but what worries me is I haven't come across the distinction which you draw between hard and soft and also not between official and unofficial. So is that because the unofficial policy was developed outside of the normal chains of command?
MR BELLINGHAN: G2 was the Stratcom unit at head office, G1 was Intelligence, G3 was Counter-Espionage. So when I refer to the G2 Manual, if asked a difficult question by a region, I would say: "Well in the G2 Manual" and then I would quote that authoritatively but it never existed because these things, as in the nature of things there was no official documentation.
MR PENZHORN: You say you would include the three instances which are currently under investigation before this Committee, you would include as first of all hard Stratcom. Would you also term these as unofficial Stratcom or actions in terms of the unofficial policy?
MR BELLINGHAN: Yes, Mr Chairman. Let's take for example the Cry Freedom. To separate a communication action from that would be futile because a perception had to be gained by people not attend that and secondly by people not to screen the particular movies. So perception was vitally important there.
MR PENZHORN: Would it then follow in view of the evidence of Mr Vlok earlier on, that no illegal actions were ever authorised by the State Security Council? That that was then part of this unofficial policy which was actually something which ran parallel to the official policy?
MR BELLINGHAN: I don't know what was authorised by the State Security Council exactly or not. What I can say is that although much of the work was illegal in the technical sense, we never saw it as blameworthy. Only at a very late stage did - in fact it was quite commendable at the time, only at a late stage did this element of it being blameworthy come in.
MR PENZHORN: Mr Bellinghan, I appreciate that. I think during the time the Committee has heard a lot of evidence in this regard because of the nature of the conflict at the time and certain actions, one leading to the other. I can appreciate that in your state of mind and as a matter of fact probably in the minds of many of the operatives, what they did they did they didn't actually perceive to be unlawful. I have sympathy for that and I appreciate that.
The only thing is that to me and maybe we should go to the Khotso and the Cosatu House incident. You also regard those two as Stratcom projects you say or Stratcom operations, that they could be termed as Stratcom operations.
MR PENZHORN: You see because I think you've perhaps anticipated my question and my feeling in this regard, that Stratcom in essence and from the type of actions as evidence, and I only unfortunately have access to documentation of those high echelons where these things were set down as policy, that I never got the impression that it went anything beyond the normal communications operations. In other words those things linked as I said, to the hearts and minds of people, the forming of certain perceptions, the influencing of perception etc., and that operations such as the Cosatu and Khotso House bombings in my frame of mind could never be placed under Stratcom operations.
MR BELLINGHAN: They are inexplicably linked with perceptions Mr Chairman, and in fact I can say that the, for example the South African Council of Churches had developed, since the Eloff Commission, had developed pretty much a perception of themselves as being untouchable and after the bomb blast I think that perception changed. So it's again about perceptions.
MR PENZHORN: You see what worries me is, if that argument is carried forward one could envisage an operation in terms of which a conventional force of the South African Defence Force attacked an installation in a neighbouring country as being a Stratcom operation because it could change perceptions somewhere.
ADV DE JAGER: Mr Penzhorn, does it really matter whether it's a Stratcom operation or whatever kind of operation? It's something that happened. We're dealing with the facts of Khotso House and Cosatu House and Cry Freedom. Whether he had the perception it was Stratcom or whether it was this or that strategy, let's get down to the facts and let's see what we can gather from the facts in order to see whether the facts meet the requirements of the Act.
CHAIRPERSON: Well the problem I have and I think it's the problem you're having Mr Penzhorn, is that I'm not sure if, when the applicant is talking about it as Stratcom operation he means it was an operation planned or handled by Stratcom or whether he means it was the type of operation that Stratcom existed for. If it is the latter, it is merely an adjective for describing operations. Perhaps we could clarify that.
MR BELLINGHAN: Quite right Mr Chairman, I don't mean that it came from the Secretariat of the State Security Council's Stratcom Division. I mean that's what it was, that's it was perceived and that's how we, perhaps on the lower levels if you like, envisaged it.
MR PENZHORN: Mr Chairman, if I may just say, I hear what Commissioner de Jager says and I think maybe he is correct. The only purpose of this is that it was disturbing to me having as I said, only at this stage having been mostly on behalf of my client, having perused documentation produced by the State Security Council etc., where a lot of mention was made of Stratcom operations.
Now what was worrying to me is that Mr Bellinghan could see these sort of operations being part of Stratcom, and if that were so then perhaps it could have been, the link could here once again point to the top. Although I think what is coming out here Mr Chairman, with due respect, is that this maybe is once again one of the instances of a communication gap as it were similar to the one which I think we discussed with Mr Vlok in regard to certain terminology, is that lower down on the operative field developments took place in the minds of these operatives in terms of which something could have developed and they believed it was in fact so. That they were participating and taking part in a Stratcom operation which per definition has nothing to do with Stratcom. And it's just one of those difficulties perhaps Mr Chairman, which once again with respect, this Committee and the Commission as a whole is being burdened with.
I think maybe as far as this aspect is concerned I cannot take it further than that and in that respect directly Commissioner de Jager is correct whereas it is not for the applicants in this hearing, whatever the name was it smelt sweet. I just deemed it necessary to establish the perception of Mr Bellinghan in regard to these Stratcom operations which as I said was something which I had not come across and which definitely in terms of my instructions, was never something which was anticipated from the top, from the State Security Council's side.
Mr Bellinghan, you testified yesterday that whilst you were compiling the dossiers on Khotso House you reconciled yourself with the fact that active measures would be taken against Khotso House, am I correct in my recollection?
MR BELLINGHAN: What I meant was, action would be taken in furtherance of the total strategy of the state which would include something like did happen. What I envisaged at the time was the possibilities such as housebreaking to get documentation, to get equipment that they were utilising, resources, perhaps arson, perhaps something of a more explosive kind. Something like that.
MR BELLINGHAN: Well there may have been an organic situation developing at Witwatersrand about that. I may even have spoken to some of the explosives people about that in view of having obtained the plans etc., etc., certainly.
MR ROSSOUW: Would you say in the light of what you've now explained, your feelings towards the activities in Khotso House, would you say that the other members who worked with you, especially Mr Beyers, would you say that it would be fair to conclude that they might have come to the same conclusion?
Mr Bellinghan, did I understand your evidence correctly that Stratcom aims were 80% propaganda type measures and 20% was aimed at military action? The 20%, would you classify that also as the so-called active measures?
MR LAMEY: Mr Bellinghan, then I specifically want to come back on Cosatu House. This specific operation, was it, did the idea originate from the Stratcom section of head office, in other words, sorry, Cosatu, I'm referring to Cosatu House. Can you comment on that?
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, our work was quite fluid, Intelligence work, Stratcom work, desk officer work. It was quite fluid, and where the idea came from I don't know but one person sitting over there may be well aware of Stratcom. He may have been on some lectures, he may know about it. It was just part of the work of the Security Branch. I doubt very much whether a Stratcom officer would have been called in to target certain places.
MR LAMEY: I'm not saying that the Stratcom unit itself had the manpower to execute such an operation. I'm just asking, do you know, you were at the time at the head office at Stratcom, at the Stratcom head office. Was the idea devised or spoke about to have a bomb blast at Cosatu House in order to further Stratcom aims?
ADV DE JAGER: Mr Lamey, perhaps General van der Merwe could have told us where he got the idea from because he issued the instruction. I think that question you should have put to him. Where did he get this idea from?
MR LAMEY: Well Mr Chairman, I can recall that Mr Vlok also testified that there would have been a secondary aim with regard to Stratcom. I just want to specifically ask this witness being then specifically in that section also regarding this aspect.
MR BELLINGHAN: As I understood my role over there Mr Chairman, it was purely one of disinformation after the event. I don't where the idea came down and what was going through the people's minds when they made up their mind about that.
MR LAMEY: Did you know before the bomb blast, before it took place, that such an event is going to happen and that Stratcom would have to play a role subsequent to the bomb blast in order to exploit the situation and to create the necessary perceptions or misperceptions among the public or the alliance?
MR LAMEY: Mr Bellinghan, in the light of what you've said I just want to the version of Mr Nortjč to you and just ask your comments about that. I'm just putting it to you in essence, I'm not quoting it to you verbatim. I don't know whether you've had an opportunity to look at his amnesty application where he refers in his political objective what he gathered it was.
I just want to place on record that he was an operative at Vlakplaas. He cannot dispute and does not dispute what was said by Minister Vlok or Mr van der Merwe, he's not in a position to do so and neither was he in a position to verify all the reasons for the operation but he says in his own mind at the time he couldn't understand the logic and sense of damaging the building with an explosion, he acted under instructions. What he did say was that he came to the conclusion that this was a Stratcom operation in order create confusion within the ranks of Cosatu. It also had a ...[intervention]
Further he states that he understood, and that was subsequent to the explosion, that the idea or the instruction had its origin, he doesn't say that for a fact but that is his own conclusion that he came to, had its origin in the Stratcom division of the Security Branch, whose aims it was to spread disinformation under the membership of the ANC as well as front organisations of the ANC of which Cosatu was regarded as such a front organisation.
He further states that the history of explosions were usually from the ranks of the ANC and therefore he comes to the conclusion that an explosion at an ANC friendly organisation or a building of an ANC friendly organisation could have created the perception that the explosion came with own ranks and in this manner it could have created confusion in the eyes of the general public, the organisations and its supporters.
In the light of what you've said in total about Stratcom, would you agree that his own conclusions in this regard, also in the light of your own evidence that explosions par excellence was a good example of a Stratcom operation and active measures, that his conclusion in this regard was reasonable and not something that was grasped from the air?
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, the perception of the applicant sounds very realistic and very reasonable in the circumstances to me, and it in fact refreshes my memory around Stratcom to a certain extent. It is possible that would have been one of the aspects that we looked at. I can also comment and say that he must kept his reservation to himself at the time, presumably.
MR BELLINGHAN: Well for two reasons, firstly, I don't think he was that senior that it would have mattered at that stage of his involvement and secondly, he participated and he has applied so I presume he must have just gone along with it.
MR BELLINGHAN: It's an active measure. In certain contexts I mean, fraud itself at face value has absolutely nothing to do with Stratcom but in a given context it's conceivable that it would be a Stratcom.
MR BELLINGHAN: There was a project, a Trade Union project which had initially come from the army. I can't remember what the code name was at the time. We refined it and re-modelled slightly and at that time it was code-named, Project Omega.
MR BELLINGHAN: Omega. There were some operations under that including if I'm not mistaken, the IFP Union AWUSA was one of the things. There was a registered company which disseminated information and gave out certain publications in the labour field. There were various people working on publications, disinformation, other information. The projects also changed as time changed.
MR BELLINGHAN: Towards then end of the life of - I might just add that I was not directly involved in any of the labour projects as the Chief Officer in charge but towards the end it was more towards facilitation of labour issues, trying to smooth over strikes, in other words arbitration and matters like that towards the end, prior to the unbanning etc., etc.
MR BELLINGHAN: I can't remember all the people over the years. Right at the end I think it was, no it escapes me at the moment Mr Chairman, I can't remember. It would have been people from Stratcom head office.
MR RADITAPOLE: Now I believe you also have had opportunity to look at Annexure G, the list of individual incidents of attacks on Cosatu and Cosatu's affiliates and members. Would you agree those incidents could be characterised as the hard projects of Stratcom?
MR RADITAPOLE: Well shall be deal with one concrete on Mr Bellinghan? Item 20 which has been confirmed, I'm sure you don't need to know the circumstances as it's been confirmed as a Security Branch operation, would that fall under hard Stratcom?
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, I think that I should point out that no action like this would have been part of the broader project, in other words Project Omega. Definitely from what I can remember having read the Ministerial memorandums which were first signed by the General or whoever was the Commissioner at that time and were then sent onto the Minister, none of them would have included anything like this, the official projects, Trade Union projects.
MR BELLINGHAN: It's conceivable that this could have been an ad hoc action which could have been perceived as a Stratcom. A Stratcom then in the sense that I know some of the people used the word as a verb and we used it as an adjective just now but some people also said: "Lets Stratcom, that place", so it could have been a verb in that sense.
MR RADITAPOLE: Ja, what I'm driving to Mr Bellinghan, is simply this, it's to get a concession from you that it's conceivable that there could have been an unofficial Stratcom project which involved a general campaign against Cosatu and its members, affiliates.
MR BELLINGHAN: I can't agree with that Mr Chairman, because firstly we were just one Intelligence organisation. There were others, there were even foreigners in this country operating together with people like the AWB. There was a broad group of right-wing organisations that were very disenchanted with the Trade Unions. So to say that this was orchestrated behind the scenes as being one campaign, I find it difficult to believe.
MR RADITAPOLE: Gathering from what you've said and how you've understood how people could perceive things to be hard Stratcom and how people could perceive things to be soft Stratcom, we actually find it difficult to believe that a campaign, an unofficial campaign against Cosatu could be a Stratcom project.
CHAIRPERSON: I think what you were saying is you find it difficult to conceded that all these attacks could have been, but do you concede that some of these attacks may have been part of an unofficial campaign by Stratcom?
MR RADITAPOLE: Mr Chair, I might need some direction from you. I'm not sure what status this document, Annexure S is going to be accorded by the Committee and I'm wondering if we could have a sense of what it is, which would help me assess whether to do anything about it or not. It's a document on churches and what the S.A.C.C. has called: "dribble".
CHAIRPERSON: We have been told it is a document that was in amongst the books, amongst the papers at the office where the applicant worked. We don't know who prepared it. We don't know how valid the quotations are. They are alleged to be quotations.
CHAIRPERSON: If you look at the document, you will I think see a reference to the fact that it was prepared while legislation was pending to create three different Houses of Parliament. While that legislation was pending this document was prepared. I think there's reference in it.
MR RADITAPOLE: Okay, so it was more study material, that's been suggested. Now I didn't quite understand the context in which you introduced it, were you introducing it to say it captures the state of mind of operatives at that time?
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, just because something was drawn up by Stratcom doesn't necessarily mean it is propaganda in the negative sense of that. Much of the documentation we drew up was factual, but certainly ...[intervention]
MR RADITAPOLE: Do you believe in, the point is this, what you say are factual quotations, factual things which you, factual is factual but then there's conclusions that are drawn. There are analysis made and there are conclusions made, did you believe in these conclusions at the time?
MR RADITAPOLE: If you turn to page 28, paragraph 3.5 - Chair, I'm going to have to read that if I'm going to have to quote an example, Professor Oosthuizen's reasons are quoted. This is in the context where he also agrees that the S.A.C.C. shouldn't be categorised as an affected organisation but he gives different reasons from the other people and his as I understand are specifically set out. This is what he says, he says
"Although I associate myself in all respects with the relevant findings and deductions of my fellow Commissioners regarding the tendencies in the S.A.C.C., and also with the recommendation that the S.A.C.C. shall not be declared an affected organisation in terms of the provisions of this section, I nevertheless wish to motivate my support of this documentation"
"S.A.C.C., from evidence before the Commission, appears to be an ecumenical body organisation which plainly adheres to the Christian faith and tries to justify its views and decisions on the basis of precepts from the gospel. This interpretation of these precepts has brought the S.A.C.C. to the conclusion that any form of racial discrimination in South Africa is a sin in terms of the gospel. In the light of this the declared policy of the National Government of separate development or apartheid as it is often referred, is views as sinful because inherently it has a distinction of differentiating between, on the one hand, white groups in South Africa and on the other, the black and coloured groups and nations. According to the S.A.C.C. this lists the continual oppression of the blacks and coloured by the whites. The S.A.C.C. openly and almost fanatically advocates a radical political change in South Africa whereby the South African Government, at present consisting exclusively of whites is to be replaced by a government designated by a majority of the people with black person as head of state. The General Secretary, Bishop Tutu, currently feels that Nelson Mandela should be appointed to that position. The latter is at present serving a life sentence for his part in a sabotage plot against the state"
"Although no fault can be found with the view that there is no justification in the gospel for any race or nation, to subjugate or press any other race or nation under any circumstances. It does not call for the exceptional perceptiveness, it does not call for exceptional perceptiveness or vision to foresee that within South Africa, the S.A.C.C. would cause exactly that which it condemns, which is this. Majority rule must necessarily within the South African context lead to a polarisation of blacks and whites, consequently to result in the dominations of the smaller number of whites ...[indistinct] the greater number of blacks and so doing subjugate the whites and other minority groups. Scant appreciation be shown for the interests and cultures of minority groups, the result will be oppression and rumination against them. Eventually there will be chaos and anarchy with communism inevitably stepping in to grab whatever remains. Accordingly the S.A.C.C. is pursuing an ultimate political objective which is totally unacceptable for the South Africa in the light of its unique population make-up"
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, perhaps I could say that there is no way I would have used Professor Oosthuizen's views over here, they're completely outdated. I wouldn't have used them. All I would have tried to do to the participants of the course, I would have just tried to justify why was the South African Council of Churches not declared an effected organisation. And it is only in that context that Mr Oosthuizen or Doctor Oosthuizen or whatever's, views might be applicable then. The part on separate development and that, there's no ways I would have tried to justify that. That is of a party political nature and really as such wouldn't have been very appropriate on a security course.
MR VISSER: Perhaps it not for me to say anything about this Mr Chairman, but I thought the representatives of the S.A.C.C. have taken their leave and they've indicated that they no longer wish to participate and no longer wish to object. Now has their brief gone over to my learned friend? I'm just wondering Mr Chairman.
MR DU PLESSIS: While we're on the subject, could I interpose here as well Mr Chairman? I want to state on record that I've heard now for the first time that the S.A.C.C. called this document dribble. Now Mr Chairman, I will then do what I said I will do. I will endeavour to provide this Committee with proper proof of the excerpts of these ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Is this of any relevance? Your witness has said that he accepted it, he used it in teaching others, they would have accepted it. Isn't that the purpose why you introduced it, to show that it was one of the things which influenced the applicant and influenced his thinking?
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes. Mr Chairman, the view that that was enough, if you indicate to me that that was enough and I don't have to support the document by doing cross-reference and research in respect ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Well you are not arguing, as I understand it you are not arguing that the document is correct, you are merely saying that this is a document which came into his possession through official sources and he accepted it.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, the only question is Mr Chairman, if there is an excerpt of a speech published in Seshaba for instance, the only question is, is it accepted that that speech was published in Seshaba and that the information that they acted upon then ...[intervention]
MR RADITAPOLE: And would you agree that those lectures, if they had the intended effects, would certainly make people feel that Trade Unions were part of the enemy in a sense within the total onslaught or the total strategy?
MR RADITAPOLE: Mr Chairman, I have - I'm not through with my cross-examination and I might need some direction from the Chair again. There's been some confusion about the identity of Mr Bellinghan. Perhaps if I could ascertain that in relation to the issue of certain incidents of what could be soft Stratcom or hard Stratcom around thefts of monies via fraud of Trade Unions and which I'd like to address.
Now it's been quite confusing about whether this is the same Mr Bellinghan that's allegedly is involved in these issues or not. So perhaps if you could confirm that then I might start my cross-examination but I do not have complete instructions.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, may I come in here please? In respect of this matter, Mr Bellinghan's amnesty application is before this Committee. His amnesty application will be heard in future at a later stage, and the evidence in respect of this will be presented here and my client will be prejudiced if he is cross-examined on that aspect.
CHAIRPERSON: Why is it not relevant to his credibility, why can you put his credibility into separate sections? This is a problem that causes me a great deal of difficulty Mr du Plessis. I know the amnesty applications are set down for hearings at different times but if it is relevant to credibility how can one exclude it?
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, may I just answer you by saying I'm not sure that the Act provides enough protection for a witness under these circumstances, to testify about an incident he was involved in and for which he asks for amnesty but when he testifies about it when it is not in his amnesty application.
As far as I am concerned, and I see Mr Visser agrees with me and I think we've argued this point both previously before various Committees Mr Chairman, I am of the view and I interpret the Act in such a way that it does not necessarily give him protection for prosecution in that respect pertaining to evidence he may give here and admissions he may make in that regard.
MR DU PLESSIS: No, what I'm saying Mr Chairman, is the Act provides protection for an applicant in his amnesty application in respect of evidence given before this Committee in respect of his amnesty application. Now if there is an application in respect of that incident which there is Mr Chairman, and he has asked in another proceeding dealing with other amnesty applications including an application of himself but not in respect of that incident, the evidence he gives about this incident that he's asked about now during these proceedings Mr Chairman is not in respect of his amnesty application in respect the National Union of Mine Worker's matter. I don't know if you follow me Mr Chairman, but that's the point.
MR VISSER: It's an interesting question Mr Chairman, it becomes a little bit more vexed. The point I think my learned friend is really trying to make, is can this be regarded as an application process in which this particular applicant is, because if you look at it that way then you can say: "Well whether that incident is going to be investigated by us or not, that doesn't matter, you still have protection because you're in the process of making application", but the ...[intervention]
MR VISSER: But the contrary is also true. If application is viewed in the narrower sense it means only the application for that incident when that is heard. Of course we've got no authority on the proposition but whichever interpretation is going to be followed, is a matter which will have to be decided at some stage if this issue is going to crop up.
I must tell you Mr Chairman, that my personal experience of members of the Amnesty Committees before whom we've appeared has taken the view of: "Let's play this safe, we are not going to allow any questions regarding the merits of an application which is not before us". Certainly if there are issues of credibility or simply establishing fact: "Were you the person", as Mr Raditapole has asked, "Are you that person"?, well then certainly that is permissible.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, I may add and perhaps I can refresh your memory, both Mr Visser and I dealt with this issue before another Committee in Bloemfontein of which you were a member and I think Mr de Jager was a member as well, in the applications of Ngo and Motsamai which you probably recall Mr Chairman. I think we dealt with this in respect of cross-examination on Colonel Flip Loots for instance as far as I can recall, and Captain Hendrik Bokaba, and the decision there by the Committee was exactly as Mr Visser pointed out now. We argued the matter Mr Chairman, that such questioning could prejudice such a witness.
ADV DE JAGER: I think you could have a look at Section 31 (3) and (4) and especially the interpretation or the meaning of Sub-Section (4) has never been argued before us. So we've not come to a conclusion as far as that is concerned.
MR RADITAPOLE: Well Chair, could I make this proposal seeing this is a vexed issue, that perhaps you allow me an opportunity. I didn't believe that I would face this difficulty in relation to this ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: But what is the relevance of this questioning? Apart from you wishing to obtain information for your clients, the Trade Union, which I appreciate, what relevance has this questioning to the inquiry that we are engaged upon, which is whether amnesty should be granted in respect of the three incidents?
MR RADITAPOLE: Well Chair, I understand that obviously it would be helpful, it would have been helpful to my client if whatever information we could get would come, but certainly I understand that's not the purpose of this application. And for purposes of credibility Chair, it may help to be able to deal with some of these issues and ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Well we are not going to embark on a cross-examination of everything. He has told us through his counsel that he is the person involved. What I suggest you do is you make arrangements with Mr Mpshe to ensure that you are notified when the hearing into this incident takes place and then your clients can be represented. ...[inaudible]
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, may I please just say that my attorney has instructed me now that he has already co-operated with attorneys, Bell Dewar and Hall, the attorneys for NUMSA who party to this application, and they had contact with Mr Bellinghan and there were certain discussions.
"The government had reached saturation point ...[indistinct] made by the liberation movement and was contemplating certain counter-revolutionary action"
MR BELLINGHAN: Well I'd been on a Stratcom course and I had also been on various course, and from the type of memoranda from head office, from the type of informal discussions taking place I came to that conclusion.
MR BELLINGHAN: I can't specifically remember Mr Chairman. In any case I wouldn't have given any Trade Union names. It was I think a Major, it was a fellow colleague, a Major who ran the Trade Union desk, it was not I.
MR RADITAPOLE: So you are not able to tell us. Will you be able to tell us whether in your information collecting and collecting strategies, whether you had any sources from within the Unions, of information?
MR BELLINGHAN: Yes, I did have sources who worked in the Unions from time to time, especially some of the journalists I referred in the media agency. They were quite active in the, for example the Media Workers Association etc.
MR BELLINGHAN: I can't remember if there were any of my sources in Cosatu House on a permanent basis. If there were I can't remember it but certainly the Trade Union desk would have had sources in Cosatu House, definitely.
You spoke about Project Omega and you spoke about refining the project as it came from the army and you listed a number of things. I didn't quite understand the context in which they were being listed. You spoke about UWUSA, were you saying as Stratcom you decided on the formation and funding of UWUSA?
MR BELLINGHAN: That had already been established at the time that I went to head office. In terms of refinement etc., etc., what I did was I arranged a conference for every region of the Security Branch who was involved already in Stratcom at the regions on an informal level and I gave them the opportunity to provide input so that we could change the project and then report back to the head of the Security Branch at the time, as to what the input of the regions was because of its programme of decentralisation. So that is really what I meant by: "refinement".
ADV MPSHE: Mr Bellinghan, remember you testified to the effect that you were aware of five trained cadres entering or using Khotso House and these were identified by the Askaris and photos were taken thereof, do you remember that?
ADV MPSHE: I see. Now you further testified in your evidence that Cosatu and Khotso House was used by other organisations, for example you quoted the: "Don't Vote Campaign", the One Million Signature Campaign, the Detention and ...[indistinct] Affairs Campaigns, do you remember that?
MR BELLINGHAN: May I just say that the South African Council of Churches was involved in those campaigns themselves, but as to the illegality they were not illegal per se. Those campaigns were not illegal per se.
ADV MPSHE: Yes, but the evidence that we have is that Khotso House as well as Cosatu House were bombed because of the activities that were taking place therein and I want to believe that the activities of: "Don't Vote Campaign, the One Million Signature Campaign" are activities that may have made you people to bomb Khotso House, not that Khotso House itself per se was involved in illegal activities. This was established yesterday.
MR BELLINGHAN: Well it is so that it may have played some role in the formation of the decision but certainly my belief is that it went much further than that and that the reason, certainly a reason I would have put forward for something like that would have been the collaboration between the South African Council of Churches and organisations that they allowed to use Khotso House, and the African National Congress and the alliance, the broader front of the revolutionary front, including the PAC.
CHAIRPERSON: Well yesterday you gave a somewhat different reason, a possible reason Mr Bellinghan, one which struck me at the time as being an extremely plausible one. Do you remember telling us that the South African Council of Churches had begun to consider itself untouchable and that it was time they were taught a sharp lesson, words to that effect?
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, that was in the context of the fact that they could not, after the Eloff Commission there was no action that was decided to be taken against them, they could not be declared an effected organisation and in due of the government's reformed programme they were indeed untouchable in that sense and that my guess is that that would have been a factor as well in such a decision.
CHAIRPERSON: Very similar reasons may have existed the year before with Cosatu which was flexing its muscles an endeavouring to arrange all sorts of strikes and things against the government, that they were also taught a lesson. Do you agree that that is a possible cause?
MR BELLINGHAN: That is a distinct possibility Mr Chairman. It must be seen also in the light of the fact that for the government to maintain credibility for reform they couldn't act coercively in an overt manner, it had to be done in a covert manner.
ADV MPSHE: Now Mr Bellinghan, following up on your answer that these organisations, the: "Don't Vote Campaign" and so on were not illegal and we have evidence that one of the other reasons amongst other reasons as to why Khotso House was bombed was because weapons were stored therein, meetings were held therein. Now as a person who kept surveillance over this building across the road, did you have any opportunity of breaking into that building? As you say that is one of things you could do to gain information, get into the building and find out whether guns were stored there, AK47's and so on.
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, I did instruct some of the sources that were aware that they were working with the Security Branch, to indeed endeavour to see if they couldn't get into the files etc., in Khotso House. They weren't always successful. In some instances they were successful, they did indeed steal some documentation from Khotso House but there was nothing that, I certainly would have endeavoured and did endeavour to trace that information because it was a very vital and important aspect, but to my recollection there was no success whatsoever in endeavouring to find out what the story was behind the specific weapons that I referred to in my evidence in chief.
MR BELLINGHAN: According to a very good source that I had who had seen the weapons and it was indeed I would say established in my mind in any case, but what came of them we were not able to establish.
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, the source actually saw them in a boot of a vehicle and the vehicle turned out to be registered in a, from what his recollection of the number plate was, he was not 100% certain of it but it turned out to be falsely registered, the vehicle or the number plate was a false number plate anyway. He never had a chance to cross-reference the disc on the window to follow it up at all.
"In order to give substance to the constitutional model for the white, coloured and Indian groups, a bill is at present before parliament"
ADV MPSHE: End of '88. You see the problem I have with this document and why I'm asking you these questions is because if you turn to page 2 of the document, paragraph 3 thereof, I will read for convenience. It says
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, I thought I made it clear that this was amongst a pile of documentation which I had. Having documents on churches I automatically assumed I would have used this amongst others. I've got documents similar to this on, for example the course I went on in Stratcom in 1984, granted they were written in Afrikaans but very similar to this and I compiled lectures and I took notes, depending on the nature of the audience, from a wide range of documentation for the training and the lectures that I gave.
MR BELLINGHAN: I assume that I used this document Mr Chairman. I'm familiar with it and I assume that I used it. I'm familiar with the perspectives ...[indistinct], I'm familiar with the Eloff Commission, I'm familiar with the quotations from Seshaba. The author I don't recall, and this was one of the documents from our files and from my files as well.
ADV MPSHE: But Mr Bellinghan, I'm getting lost now because yesterday when you spoke about using it, it was not question of assumption, you said: "This is the document I used when conducting courses". Now today all of a sudden it's an assumption.
CHAIRPERSON: Well what is being put to you Mr Bellinghan, is yesterday you categorically said that you had used this document in conducting courses. That is what is being put to you. You are now saying: "This was amongst my documents and I assume I used it".
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, may I please just come in here. Right from the start when we led evidence about this document I made it clear and Mr Bellinghan also made it clear that it was amongst documents that he found. He recognised this document, he testified that he recognised the document, that he accepted that it was, he didn't know where didn't know where it comes from, except that he recognised the document as a document that he probably, and we can go back to the record Mr Chairman, he said: "probably used at courses". During later evidence he accepted that it was the document that he used during courses.
Now Mr Chairman, there are all sorts of possibilities that we can look at here. One of the possibilities is that this document was adapted for later us. The other possibility is that this document is based upon a similar document that he used during courses.
MR DU PLESSIS: Well Mr Chairman, if he suggests that and we look at the wording of the document it may be so, but the point is that the evidence was presented to this Committee by Mr Bellinghan as having been quite unsure where the document comes from.
If the document was prepared after 1994, then that may be so Mr Chairman. He never presented it as if he knew exactly where the document comes from, he said he used it in all probability during courses.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, I remember distinctly when the evidence was led right at the beginning in respect of this document, he said: "in all probability". He thereafter testified in respect of the document that he used in courses and he accepted that this document was the document he used in courses.
Now it may be, and it may be correct that Mr Mpshe is pointing this out, that this document is a later version of that document Mr Chairman. That is the only point I'm trying to make. He never testified as if this was a specific document that he used during courses.
ADV MPSHE: Chairman, even if I take my learned friend's attempted explanation, that this may be an adapted version to be used later, adapted after 1994, but the evidence that I recall well Mr Chairman, I have no doubt that I do recall yesterday by Mr Bellinghan that this is one of the documents that was found in his documents, documents which he took for his own sake from his office when he left the office. I will just leave it there, but this was his evidence, that it was amongst ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: That's a question for argument isn't it? You've made your point that he has given evidence and it is on record and you are now suggesting that that evidence cannot be true in view of the assumption that it must have been post-1994, in view of the statement of the late Oliver Tambo.
Now Mr Bellinghan, perhaps on a lighter note, you testified and you made mention of post-traumatic stress and that people were stressed, there would be symptoms of nightmares, loss of weight and the like, do you remember that?
ADV MPSHE: So they had effect on the personnel because of what happened in Khotso House. I'm trying to link why are we told about the health and the loss of appetite of the personnel in the Police Force, vis-ŕ-vis the activities in Khotso House.
MR BELLINGHAN: You see Mr Chairman, at the time there would possibly not have been much impact for the operators involved in these things but at a later stage it became important. When for example the organisations were unbanned, it led to the personnel feeling vulnerable and in some instances even betrayed.
Mr Bellinghan, could we perhaps just deal with this issue that Mr Mpshe raised in respect of this document. Can you perhaps just explain to the Committee or give an explanation in respect of this document and especially, what I want you to do is explain to the Committee how many legal representatives you had previously who represented you in respect of your trial where similar documents were involved in etc.
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, I've been involved in various legal forums in the time since I left the South African Police. In respect of the Amnesty Committee, this is my fourth legal team. I've had changes for various reasons which I don't want to go into over here. It's entirely possible that an Afrikaans document which I had was for example re-typed or re-prepared and that the person who changed it to English for example, could have actually made the adaptation with the late Oliver Tambo for example. I don't remember.
CHAIRPERSON: ...[inaudible] you started your evidence after you were re-called by saying this is a document you used in training courses. You obviously gave the impression or you sought to give the impression that you remembered the document. Now you say in may have been in Afrikaans, when you were giving us detailed evidence yesterday about the wording.
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, what is important for me over here is that I'm familiar with the content of this document and the evidence I gave is in relation to the content of the document, not the document itself. If I created that impression with the Committee, then I do apologise.
As far as I am concerned it's very familiar to me, from Afrikaans document, from other documents, many other documents which I had from '84 on the course that I went on and later. The document itself as far as I'm concerned is from our files and I'm not quite sure, I'm trying to explain this because I'm sure there is a good explanation and I can't really think of it right now.
MR BELLINGHAN: Perhaps an English version or perhaps re-typed it. In some instances Mr Chairman, I can say that the photocopies of the documentation I had were extremely poor and copies were not able to be made from the photocopies of those documents, from the copies that I had. In some instances the moths had eaten them for example as well.
ADV DE JAGER: But then I want to put it to you, and I think then it's quite clear, that this document couldn't have been amongst the documents that you handed over and which came into your possession while you were still with the department.
MR BELLINGHAN: The first legal matter in which I was involved was during 1995, so it could have been something from my documentation which was prepared in this form, I really don't remember but I stand by what I say that I'm familiar with the content of the document and the content of the document I most certainly would have utilised on course and on training and on lectures that I gave during the course of my work.
ADV DE JAGER: I presume and I would think it's probable that the information was gathered before 1994 because since 1990 the ANC was a legal organisation, it's been disbanded and the information gathered in this document deals with matters prior to, as we've said, prior to 1985, but it's quite clear you couldn't have used this document because you couldn't have predicted in 1985 that Mr Tambo would die in 1994.
MR BELLINGHAN: No, that's clear to me Mr Chairman, but it is so, as you say the content of this document relates to at the latest the time period that I was still at the church desk in Witwatersrand and then my Stratcom time after that.
CHAIRPERSON: Someone could have prepared this document from all sorts of sources that you had available to you, to have a document that they could then produce triumphantly from those sources, because this document was obviously not one of the documents that you had was it?
MR DU PLESSIS: Well Mr Bellinghan, could I ask you one last question. During your trial the political question and your political motives were not dealt with in evidence but was it dealt with by your legal representatives during preparation, with you?
MR DU PLESSIS: And can you remember, did you get any other documents after you left the force? Did you come into possession of any documents or is it possible that you came into possession of any documents? Could this document have been one of them?
MR DU PLESSIS: Alright. Mr Bellinghan, could we deal with another aspect that I want to deal with, and that is the whole culture within the Security Police. I want to ask you a question directly, would you say that where you were involved in and the departments that you were involved with, could you say that there was something like a culture of violence and the culture of the use of violence against any opposition to the Security Police?
MR BELLINGHAN: According to my understanding of the situation Mr Chairman, there was no culture of generalise violence. Incidents that came to my attention, all of them seemed or did have a rational connection. The action and the objective or the, ja, the objective which was sought to be achieved, I understood that there was a rational connection in each and every one of the instances. I don't know of any instance where there was some type of random or generalised violence. So it would be wrong to say that there was a culture of violence. In fact I looked at the culture of the police in general during my masters thesis and the furthest that one could go is to say that there was perhaps an authoritarian culture but no culture of violence.
MR BELLINGHAN: Well it was specifically looking at the organisational structure, the authoritarianism, the people involved, in comparing it within a private company. So certainly, the organisational culture would have been one thing that I did look at.
MR DU PLESSIS: Now Mr Bellinghan, in your experience in the Stratcom actions that you were involved in and other operations that you had knowledge of, was your experience that such operations were conducted, or can I ask you this, what was your experience in respect of operations in general? Were they conducted by the South African Police with a specific view, to attain something, to reach a certain goal? Can you elaborate a little bit?
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, perhaps I should elaborate and say that the definition that I gave of strategic communication should perhaps include the concept of psychological warfare and in that sense all of the actions that I'm aware of would fall under that category.
Perhaps I never made it that clear yesterday when certain advocates questioned me, that certainly some departments of the government, most of them in fact, especially those under the National Welfare Management System, they would be fully justified in a limited acceptance of the definition of Stratcom as a communication action or a propaganda type action and that would be correct. But under the National Security Management System and in specific in the Security Branch the concept in my experience was broader and it included psychological warfare and political warfare.
In that sense I stand by the definition I gave of Stratcom and I believe that the actions that I'm aware of that took place in the Security Branch, including the actions for which I've applied for amnesty, certainly would fall into the categories of psychological warfare and then also the aspects surrounding perceptions over there.
MR DU PLESSIS: Right, now Mr Bellinghan, just another broad question again. In your experience the actions that you were involved in and that you knew the Security Police were involved in, can you testify and give the Committee an indication what your view is, against whom were these actions directed, the actions that you took and actions that the Security Police that you knew of took in general.
MR DU PLESSIS: Now can you recall any instance of action taken, similar to - let me ask you this, any instance of action outside the legal system taken against any individual or organisation who was not furthering the cause of the liberation movements?
MR DU PLESSIS: And Mr Bellinghan, any of the actions that you were involved in and actions that you know of, would you say that any of those actions were taken or done by the Security Police as a result of malice?
MR DU PLESSIS: No, Mr Chairman, but should it emerge that somebody for example may have taken a trophy or something like that from the scene, then I think a blind eye would have been cast on that, under the auspices of the Stratcom programme of the moral of the Security Forces.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, Mr Chairman, questions were directed to Mr Bellinghan as far as I can remember and I think to other applicants as well in respect of the culture of violence that existed within the Security Police. My questions, I mean some of the questions flowed from His Lordship Mr Justice Wilson now, but my question was directed specifically to the question about culture of violence, the question if there was a culture of violence and following from that if any of the actions in relation to the Security Police would have been enacted because of this culture of violence instead of with a political motive. That's the only reason why I'm asking that Mr Chairman and I think it flows from the cross-examination, with respect. But I'm finished with the point Mr Chairman.
Now Mr Bellinghan, the last question I want to ask you is about the South African Council of Churches, to what church do you belong and is that church a member of the South African Council of Churches?
MR DU PLESSIS: And can you comment to the Committee your own feelings and your own views about the actions of the representatives of the South African Council of Churches during this hearing, with specific reference to reconciliation?
MR BELLINGHAN: Perhaps I should put it slightly broader. My experience here has been that this a very adversarial forum. I experienced the South African Council of Churches and to a lesser extent the Trade Union representatives as displaying an attitude of hostility towards me. Maybe my ex-colleagues would have experienced the same and for the moment Mr Chairman, I've lost sight of the possibility of reconciliation in this matter and as far as the South African Council of Churches is concerned, I think my spiritual future looks bleak.
MR DU PLESSIS: Well Mr Bellinghan, could you perhaps just comment on your own feelings towards reconciliation and what you are prepared to say in respect of the actions about the liberation movements?
MR BELLINGHAN: From the side of any wrongdoing that I've been involved in, I unequivocally apologise to the South African Council of Churches, Cosatu who are here represented, and then to the people involved with Cry Freedom who are not here represented, Ster Kinekor or whoever they may be.
MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman, may I just lastly say that I have come into possession this morning of the Lusaka statement which was dealt with I think in cross-examination, the South African Council of Churches asked questions about it. I have a copy of the Lusaka statement and obviously I cannot introduce it into evidence through any witness. I don't know if you would be interested in having a copy of the document or should I deal with the document in argument when I draw the heads of argument?
MR RADITAPOLE: Mr Chairman, if I may just for the record and for what it's worth for Mr Bellinghan's consideration, Cosatu I think did indicate from the outset that in principle it's not opposed to applications for amnesty provided full disclosure is made, and that remains the position.
MR BELLINGHAN: I was not the officer in charge of the project which was Omega, at any specific point in time through my years in Stratcom but that I was involved in Stratcom on the Trade Union side, I was on an ad hoc basis.
MS GCABASHE: I'm just not too clear about your involvement with Stratcom in the Trade Union area in 1987 when Cosatu was blown up, and I'm just trying to get that clear in my mind, whether you were involved in gathering information about Cosatu before it was blown up or whether you were simply involved with the disinformation campaign that you subsequently had to put into place, can you just clear that up for me?
MR BELLINGHAN: ...[inaudible] senior at the time, I think it was before the time of Major Kendall who I saw here the other day. I may even have been the senior at Stratcom at the time, I can't remember.
MS GCABASHE: I know I've got Brigadier Stadtler's name somewhere in my notes as being your senior, that's when you had moved to head office, and that you were second in command at that unit. Would it have been Stadtler at the time?
MS GCABASHE: Now similarly with Khotso House. You left for head office in 1986, Khotso House occurred in 1988. You were involved at the church desk prior to 1988, are you suggesting that the information gathering that you were involved with would have helped make this decision, be it directly or indirectly, on bombing Khotso House?
MR BELLINGHAN: Yes, Mr Chairman, I certainly had that perception at the time and I believe still to be a realistic idea that I had. May I just say that the actual dossiers that we prepared in respect of the photographs, the plans of the buildings, the security and all that type of thing, I don't want to leave the Commission with the perception that those dossiers were in any way 100% complete and they were not an ongoing thing. I don't want the Committee to have the perception that I'd left a dossier in Johannesburg which could have been just handed over like that to Major de Kock's team for example, and that they would have been fully satisfied with all the information contained in it.
I don't recall to what extent of completion these dossiers were when I left, to whom I handed them and what became of them. I can't give evidence about that but that I did work on such things, that is true.
MR BELLINGHAN: I would expect that to have happened under perfect circumstances but in the nature of things Mr Chairman, it was crisis management from week to week, from day to day and I don't know the extent of reliance upon those dossiers.
MS GCABASHE: By the same token it's quite possible that those documents were not looked at at all, they just got lost in the system and in 1988 when the decision was taken your particular participation in terms of information gathering was ignored completely?
CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, can I clarify that, I'm getting totally confused here. You would have your dossier where you had plans of the building, information about the keys, things of that nature. That would be kept in your offices but you would, as I understand it, weekly or every fortnight submit a report to the SSC, submit information rather which the Secretariat would gather together, the reports from all the intelligence gatherers and put before the State Security Council?
MR BELLINGHAN: Yes, Mr Chairman, through the desk officer at the church desk at head office. I think at the time it may have been Major Wentzel or somebody like that. There were two legs of information here, the one is with respect to the dossiers, the information which would have fallen under the active measures type thing and which was secret within a secret organisation and which would have stayed in my office and when I left I would have left it in the office and then the ongoing weekly reports which concerned the propaganda etc., etc., emanating from inter alias Khotso House ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: And you would also include in your weekly reports wouldn't you if you had information that people had been seen entering the building or explosives stored there, which would accumulate over the years?
MR BELLINGHAN: Yes, Mr Chairman, and those also would have been, those were not weekly reports, that would have been a report I would have done immediately I got the information. I wouldn't have waited until the end of the week to do that.
MS GCABASHE: Now in 1986 you closed the agency, yes, the agency from across the road, Khotso House, do you know what information gathering formula or structure was put in place after that to monitor what was going on between 1986 and 1988 at Khotso House?
I even had other media organisations for example not quite as, that wouldn't stand up to scrutiny as well as that one did, but certainly there was an ongoing structure for intelligence gathering which would have remained in place.
MS GCABASHE: Now at Stratcom head office would you get reports, between 1986 and 1988 would you get reports on the surveillance, on the intelligence that was gathered about Khotso house from those operatives who were in these other structures?
MR BELLINGHAN: Not specifically but there was a massive information, "weeklikse oorsig, daaglikse oorsig" a heap of documentation which landed on my desk, and certainly if I wanted something I could have drawn the file or just spoken to the desk officer. So there was formal and informal information which was available on a daily basis.
MS GCABASHE: So in the case of Khotso House you wouldn't confine your participation to any disinformation about Shirley Gunn, let's say even before the bombing itself you were involved and then you continued to be involved afterwards on the propaganda side of things?
MS GCABASHE: You also said that you thought Gunn's name might have come from Johannesburg, you weren’t too sure and you still don't know exactly who gave you the material that you then had to work on, and the material being Shirley Gunn and these other persons who were supposed to have been seen sometime during the day looking rather shady as far as the security system was concerned?
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, we had to be sensitive to the needs of the regions and that was the whole idea when I got to head office, about the decentralisation of Stratcom. We couldn't just carry on in an autocratic manner so we had to be suggestions, the recommendations and the needs of the divisions. So from the knowledge of the structure of Stratcom that I had, I presume that that would have come from Johannesburg.
MR BELLINGHAN: No, we were just one of those tasked. I know that others were also. For example the open, the uniform people dealing with the media also would have played a role, maybe they would have unknowingly played a role, I don't know.
MS GCABASHE: Then one slightly different aspect. Lectures, your work at head office between '86 and '90 I would really say, I'll cut it off at '90 when the different organisations were unbanned, who supervised this? I must be honest with you, I get the impression that you're a bit of a loose cannon, you could feed people anything and get it from anywhere and feed them. Just help me understand where you'd get your information from, how you would pass it on to other people, who would approve the information that you were passing on, how true, who could verify what you were passing on and how you would be assured that Stratcom was happy with what you were doing? You know, that it was in line with what they had wanted you to do in the first place. Just help me through that one.
MR BELLINGHAN: ...[inaudible] lectures on courses like handlers courses which would be primarily for intelligence but we had to inform the people about Stratcom, then I gave lectures on Stratcom courses which were primarily for people in the regions on a Stratcom level.
I also gave lectures on management courses, security management courses. I was invited on occasion, for example when I was at Johannesburg, to address church groups, outside church groups. So in some instances I would know from the target group how far I could go with what I wanted to say.
In other instances for example, if there was a handlers course the organiser, the one in charge of training would come to me and would suggest a topic. We would talk about a topic and then I would address that topic.
In other instances I would be asked to give any input that I felt was necessary at the time, for example on a handlers course, and then I may talk about Stratcom in general, what it is, I may talk about the importance of perceptions, attitude change. So many training courses, so many discussions.
Then also informally during the tea breaks during the discussions afterwards, those were also vitally important in conveying information Mr Chair. Maybe the braai afterwards etc., etc., the informal discussions. People would come to one and discuss things on an informal level and say: "Well in our region we have this problem, how would that fit in to the total national strategy for example, etc., etc.
MR BELLINGHAN: In the short space of time after I went to head office. At first I was second in charge in terms of seniority. This word of: "in charge" is maybe not so good because one was used to the extent of one's capabilities and there was always someone more senior than one in a militaristic structure but I had a fairly wide leeway to do or let's say my involvement, I could interpret it fairly widely.
really be by complaints or by somebody coming back to you and saying: "We don't like the material you are using, we don't like what you're saying"? Nobody did that, so as far as you're concerned everything you did was within government policy or certainly the National Party's perspective of what should be happening in the country at that time?
CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, can I interrupt again? The answer you've just given, I get the impression, tell me if I'm wrong, that you were regarded as the person with the technical expertise? Although you might not be the senior military ranking officer you were the person who was thought to know most about this so they left it to you to do what had to be done in spreading the Stratcom policy?
MR BELLINGHAN: That mostly concerned matters like the actions on the: "End Conscription Campaign", concerning youth, concerning the tertiary educational institutions. They were mostly propaganda actions.
MS GCABASHE: Then in relation to your senior, let's assume it was Stadtler at the time, if you went to the working committee, what fora would he be participating at as your senior, the same forum or a slightly higher, a different forum? I'm talking Stratcom now.
MR BELLINGHAN: ...[inaudible] too busy to concern himself with what these sub-committees had to say. I can't recall ever reporting back to him on anything that they had to say, I can't recall discussions with him. I had discussions with some of the Generals from time to time relating to some of the proposals that we wanted to make in regard to actions that were necessary to be taken in some of these committee's views at the time but I can't be helpful there, I don't recall any discussion with Brigadier Stadtler.
MR BELLINGHAN: It entailed assessment for employment, it entailed once again training or discussions on these intelligence courses, it also involved lecturing on other courses, management, it involved lecturing on still Stratcom courses. I was still invited to give lectures there. It involved ongoing assessment of agents, are there any changes in their behaviour which are noteworthy, any significant aspects which could perhaps merit attention one way or another.
At a later stage I go involved for example with the use of the polygraph which is commonly known as a lie detector. We had agents coming back who had been out of the country for 10 years and were problematic, so there would be the whole action around that agent to assess whether he is trustworthy and to what extent, and where we should re-deploy him. When for example many of the broader Stratcom projects were cancelled by the government we had to look at re-deployment of the of the agents and then to what extent could they safely be re-deployed within the structure of the South African Police.
Then of course Intelligence. Even until a late stage, right until I left I was involved with recruitment of Intelligence agents. We had a whole recruitment operation during this time as well which I was involved in, which I ran.
MR BELLINGHAN: I would ask the Committee to bear in mind the evidence I gave in testimony in chief, the first day that I did testify in chief and to bear in mind that as far as I'm satisfied with the content of the document.
I never really thought it would be an issue, as to who wrote this document, for me it's the content of the document. So insofar as anything I've said about the content of the document, I stand by that but as to who the author was I don't know.
MR BELLINGHAN: I've got no reason to doubt the accuracy of the document itself. Perhaps, obviously I can't ask you to accept any of the opinions expressed by the author of the document except insofar as I've testified to the same opinion. And I certainly can't ask you to accept the opinions of the people who wrote about, at the time of the Eloff Commission, but certainly the Eloff Commission has never been discredited so there is no reason to doubt anything that was said over there and any of the conclusions reached. And this document is chiefly again concerning the Eloff Commission.
MR SIBANYONI: Coming to the author of the document, I heard you saying the document was compiled by a person whom you tasked yourself. Now why is it not possible for you to remember who that person is?
ADV DE JAGER: Now as far as the quotations are concerned, for instance from Seshaba or from the Eloff document or so, I think your counsel told us that he could perhaps ascertain whether they are true quotes or what the position is. Was this information at that stage about what was written in Seshaba or what a resolution passed at the ANC Congress, was that forwarded to headquarters or were they in possession of it? What was the position as for as this information is concerned and those quotations are concerned?
MR BELLINGHAN: Mr Chairman, all of that information would have been freely available in the Intelligence community and at head office. Even at Witwatersrand we used to intercept these publications on an ongoing basis.
How I would go about for example getting such a document drawn up, I would take a lot of publications that had said something for example about the churches. I can recall for example The African Communist having a whole long story about it at one stage.
I can recall Seshaba explaining why the ANC had for example brought in a, let's call it a desk, for religious affairs. Those types of publications I would then give to someone whom I trusted, to be able to draw up something of this nature, an academic type of person, and say: "Well what we're looking at is compiling a document to show that the ANC's interested in for example churches, or some type of information document to say: "Why would they have a church desk now suddenly out of the blue", for example.
The publications, I'm familiar with these quotes and Seshaba and these type of things. I doubt whether any of these quotes are, there may be a few typographical errors but they are genuine quotations and many of them for example would be say the President of the ANC's annual general address and that would have been confirmed in other Intelligence reports too, where we had agents and sources within the structures of the ANC. So they would also have confirmed that that information also would have been freely available.
So Mr Chairman, in that regard I will argue about this but I just want to say at the outset that it's a bit unfair to make a deduction about Mr Bellinghan's testimony in this regard. As it pleases you.
CHAIRPERSON: ...[inaudible] want to clarify perhaps or develop. You talked about there not being a general - you were dealing with the question of violence and you said there wasn't a general culture of violence. The impression I have got from listening to the evidence at this hearing and at other hearings was that although there may have been no general culture of violence, it the Security Police believed that something was necessary and they could not achieve it by legal means they would be prepared to embark on other means, including violent means.