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Type AMNESTY HEARING
Starting Date 24 May 1999
Names EUGENE A. DE KOCK
Case Number AM0066/96
Matter DE KOCK HEARING 1
CHAIRPERSON: The application before the Committee on behalf of Mr De Kock. It has not been possible to hear them all at one time, so they have been divided into six separate sections which will be heard in the next few months, each one, each application involves Mr De Kock and other members of the Force, but he is the uniting factor. Today we are here to hear what has been set down as De Kock 1, there are five applications before us and we have held two pre-trial meetings with the many legal advisors involved in the whole of the De Kock hearings. It was decided that it would be in all our best interests, if we devoted the first few days to the hearing of general evidence relating to the background, to the places such as Vlakplaas and to the factors which influenced the applicants. It is hoped that once we have concluded this evidence, it will be transcribed and then made available at future hearings and so avoid the necessity of repeating, repeatedly hearing this evidence, because it is quite clear, it will be relevant to all the Committees which hear these applications. I hope we can get through it all, I think from the co-operation that we had from the legal advisors at the various meetings, we should be able to do it. We are going to start with that today and I think for the sake of those recording, we should ask you all to put yourselves on record please, and the name of your client. The Committee consists of myself, Mr Sibanyoni and Mr S. Sandi.
MR PRINSLOO: Mr Chairman, H. Prinsloo, I appear on behalf of Pienaar and Van Zweel and my colleague Louisa van der Walt who has lost her voice for the moment, appears on behalf of Van Dyk and Rorich and Deetlefs, an implicated person.
MR NEL: Mr Chairman, Christo Nel, I act on behalf of a number of applications not to be heard in this bundle, but for people who worked under the command of Mr De Kock, and I am here for the general background of Vlakplaas.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, Roelof du Plessis of the Pretoria Bar, instructed by Strydom Britz Attorneys, I act on behalf of Captain Wouter Mentz, who has received amnesty in most of these incidents. I also act on behalf of Brigadier Jack Cronje in the Nyanda incident, and I also act on behalf of Mr Botha in the Ncgqulunga incident.
MR JANSEN: Thank you Mr Chairman, C.R. Jansen, instructions Julian Knight Attorneys. Mr Chairman, we act for applicant M.D. Ras, junior I should add in the Chand incident, we also act for the implicated person, Mr Almond Nofomela in the Nyanda and McFadden matter, thank you.
MR DE KOCK: No Chairperson. I would just like to qualify that in certain cases where there was unrest at hotels or street fights, we as members of the Police had to control it. Some of the combatants were injured and as a result did press assault charges which were never followed through, it was part of your service with regard to less pleasant people who disrupted the peace and so forth.
CHAIRPERSON: I am in the lucky position, that I have a copy of the Bundle handed in at the Khotso House and Cosatu House bombings, and that contains all the pages. Perhaps arrangements can be made that you gentlemen should have your - the missing pages should be supplied to all you gentlemen. Are you all missing them? Sorry to have interrupted, you can continue.
MR HATTINGH: Very well, I am going to ask you to proceed to page 188 of the Bundle before you, page 188. Mr De Kock, this is a summary of allegations which have already formed part of the general part of your application, but because this is specifically about Vlakplaas, we thought it favourable to present this particular aspect about Vlakplaas to the Committee, regarding Vlakplaas as a political and operational unit.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, while there is a lull, Visser on record, may I - I am getting terribly confused here with the Bundles and the papers, the Bundle that my learned friend, Mr Hattingh referred to first, can we mark that Bundle 1 because I see it is not marked, it is marked "Index", so that we know what we are referring to and then the Bundle that we are dealing with now, could that perhaps be marked Bundle 2, because that is also marked "Index"? And can we agree Chairperson, with respect, that that runs from page 1 onwards because I haven't got a page 199 before me.
MR HATTINGH: Thank you Mr Chairman, at the pre-trial that we had in Johannesburg, Ms Patel asked the people present to number the second Bundle from page 188 onwards and that is why we have marked ours accordingly. Mr De Kock, on typed page 6 we then discuss Vlakplaas specifically?
MR DE KOCK: As it later came to my attention and more particularly, during the TRC process, initially it deals with the reason for the establishment of Vlakplaas - which factors led to it and then certain rules for the formation and management of such a Unit and the objectives thereof, however, I have a vague recollection thereof. The first time that I came to hear of this memorandum, was during the Harms Commission, but my recollection thereof is very vague.
MR HATTINGH: In the report, it is stated that Vlakplaas was initially established as a central accommodation point for so-called "contaminated witnesses" who were also referred to as "tamed terrorists"?
MR HATTINGH: And later the Unit became more fixed, during 1983 it was announced in a letter that Special Division C1 had been established with the objective and circumstances of application of the Unit? According to the memorandum, it was the apparent intention to bring this fact to the attention of other Security Branches throughout the nation, so that they could make use of the services of this Unit, should they have such a need?
MR HATTINGH: In the report, it is suggested that the Unit would be used for accommodation of so-called askaris, that would be persons who were previously connected to political organisations such as the ANC and the PAC, who had been arrested and who had then expressed their willingness to cooperate with the Police in the future?
MR HATTINGH: Gen Coetzee's viewpoint was that Vlakplaas' primary goal was combating terrorism and that the services of the so-called askaris were used in order to identify terrorists who had received training in neighbouring countries and to assist with their arrest?
MR HATTINGH: The white members or let me rather put it more generally, the Police members of Vlakplaas, in opposition to the askaris, did they have any particular capacity when it came to the identification of terrorists?
MR HATTINGH: On page 13 of Volume 2 Gen Coetzee states - this actually begins in the introductory paragraph which you will find on page 11 - there he says in paragraph 2.2.5 that according to him, for the purposes of personal identification of such terrorists at that stage, there would be at least the following categories of persons who were available and he mentions former terrorists, he mentions Police informers and then on page 13 Policemen with a particular aptitude for this type of work?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, upon my arrival at Vlakplaas, after my transferral, I heard especially from Warrant Officer Kobus Schutte, who was Head of the Mechanical Division of Vlakplaas regarding information, also with regard to the death of Griffiths Mxenge and the delivery of two former Renamo soldiers at the Mozambican border to Mozambican agents and then also among others, with regard to the tracing of terrorists. That I received in more detail.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I am not certain because I was not transferred from Ovamboland or at least my initial transferral made me available for regular services, in other words it could have been the Uniform Branch or the Investigation Branch. In other words, nothing similar to what I have already been used for. A week later, however, there was a telex report that I was going to be transferred to Section C1.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I believe that the expertise which I obtained among others in South West or then Namibia, regarding covert operations and cross-border operations and the more vague aspects of clandestine operations, made me suitable for a transferral to Vlakplaas.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, they were already Security Police members, these were people who were committed to the government of the day and the National Party in particular, along with its policies. These were all people who would not have hesitated to take action, especially physical action with regard to terrorism. They would have been people who would have been prepared if necessary, to act illegally or to undertake cross-border operations.
MR DE KOCK: Some of the members were qualified Instructors in terrorism, they were all trained Task Force members of the Special Task Forces. Some of the other members were all former Koevoet members who had already completed border duty but had been used in operational combat situations particularly. Some of the members had already been at Vlakplaas when I arrived there, and had already obtained the expertise with regard to cross-border operations and interrogation within the RSA. So everything that went along with active action against terrorism, was what these members were required for and that is why they were recruited during their applications.
MR HATTINGH: I am going over to page 18. There you state that shortly after your transferral to Vlakplaas, it became clear to you that Vlakplaas was not only used for the identification and arrest of so-called terrorists, nor the accommodation of such terrorists at Vlakplaas?
MR DE KOCK: No. That was the cover up, apart from the real duties thereof, that was just the facade which was presented for the more central Combat Unit, by that I mean the active Counter Insurgency Unit.
MR DE KOCK: He was the Overall Commander, he himself did not lead the Section, but he was the Overall Commander. What I mean by that is that he didn't accompany us with cross-border operations or lead such operations.
MR HATTINGH: One of those is mentioned on page 18 at the bottom of the page and this would also be one of the incidents which during the course of this first amnesty hearing, will be dealt with, the Nyanda and McFadden matter?
MR DE KOCK: It was aimed at an attack on the Head of the ANC's Natal machinery in Swaziland, particularly on the leader Zwelibanzi Nyanda and his second in command and then an ANC supporter and collaborator by the name of McFadden.
MR HATTINGH: And then in June 1985, when you were still under the command of Brigadier Jack Cronje at Vlakplaas, you were also involved in the provision of handgrenades of which the delay mechanism had been removed?
MR HATTINGH: And briefly what happened there was that people who were suspected of being involved in attacks on Policemen, and homes of Policemen, would be provided with handgrenades of which the delay mechanisms had been removed so that as soon as the pin had been removed, the handgrenade would explode in their hands, is that correct?
MR DE KOCK: The Security Branch of Springs by means of sources which they had in the area, activated or identified some of these activists and the askari, Joe Mamasela, then infiltrated some of these activists and collected this group for an even or equal action.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, in particular he was given an SPM limpet mine which had a much greater charge of explosives as a device, so that there could be no doubt that this man would die. In other words, he who would later have been able to identify Joe, had to be eliminated.
MR DE KOCK: Once again, from Vlakplaas it came from Brigadier Schoon and then Gen Ich Coetzee was the Overall Commander, because it was his Intelligence members who infiltrated the sources and collated the information and participated in the action.
MR HATTINGH: And you have given evidence about that beforehand, but please repeat it. After the incident you went to the home of Gen Coetzee who was the Commissioner of the South African Police and reported to him regarding the incident?
MR DE KOCK: He was not surprised upon our arrival, or the fact that we had arrived at his home. The incident was put to him thoroughly in his home, the persons who were present at that time were Gen Coetzee, Colonel Visser, Brigadier Schoon, myself, Major Chris Deetlefs, Colonel Louis de Jager and there may have been one other person present. The entire incident was thoroughly described to him.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, Brigadier Schoon was approached by me with regard to this operation. The request came from his brother who was the Head of the Security Branch at Josini and I then appointed Captain Paul van Dyk to execute the operation which he then successfully did. Later feedback indicated that this person was delivered to Josini Security Branch and that he was interrogated there.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, it was reported to me that this person, after his interrogation, was taken to a missile range on the coast where the Air Force undertook missile exercises. This person was killed there, his body was destroyed with explosives.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, the order at Vlakplaas came from Brigadier Schoon, but Gen Gerrit Erasmus was the person who requested it. It was about a group of activists who were involved locally within the Republic, in acts of terrorism and in particular the death of a Policeman. Initially a kombi full of 16 persons would have been sent through to Swaziland, later on it was reduced to five and ultimately it was three people who were killed in Swaziland.
MR DE KOCK: Yes. Initially everything had gone successfully, until I received a report from the person in the Vehicle Unit here in Pretoria, that the Police in Swaziland had made enquiries regarding the particulars about a vehicle of South African origin and that it appeared that it was a Regulation 86(c) vehicle. In other words a vehicle that had been found by the Police to be a stolen vehicle and was later used for Police services. This then led to a duplication of a similar vehicle and the Police from South African could then say that that vehicle had to be a stolen vehicle and that the correct vehicle was still in South Africa.
MR HATTINGH: And then in 1990, you were also involved in the Chand incident which is also one of the incidents which will be heard during these hearings. Who gave the order for the execution of this operation?
MR DE KOCK: ... (tape ends) ... obtained information regarding a transit or halfway house on the Botswana side and after the processing and observation of this information, a report was submitted to Brigadier Schoon and Brigadier Loots and we obtained permission to eliminate this transit house. I would just like to mention that the BSB members accompanied us in the regard that Botswana was allocated to the Military as an operational area as Swaziland was allocated to the Police. I don't want to involve them unnecessarily, it didn't come from them.
MR DE KOCK: This came from Brigadier Schoon. Amongst others, I had to draw up a report if we had the capacity to do this, and the information which we had surrounding this and Brigadier Schoon brought it to me and handed it over to Gen Van der Merwe, who were on their way to a Security Council Meeting and approximately two or three hours later, I received the documents back and it was approved and I was told to go ahead.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson. There was much tension at that stage between Lesotho and South Africa in Lesotho, because members of the ANC were accommodated there and were allowed to use it as a base. And this had regard with the increase of attacks in the Western Cape, from there.
MR DE KOCK: If one draws up such an information document and you give the basic planning thereof, and it has to be typed and it is checked for language and in this instance, it was a hasty situation, I could only find a red pen and I just jotted down the information briefly and with also our capacity to go ahead with such an information, and this piece of paper with the red ink was handed over to Gen Van der Merwe.
MR DE KOCK: That is correct Chairperson, and at many instances we went over into Angola and although some of these operations was - there were certain operations which we had to go in as far as 100 km's into Angola.
MR DE KOCK: Because of information which was collected by some of my members and through some of my sources, such information reports were submitted and it was cleared with the Commander amongst others Brigadier Schoon and then one would get approval or approval would not be given.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, firstly it was the Police Medal for Courage, it is a Silver and Two Decorations Star for Excellent Service, something which is only given to Generals and then amongst others at some stage I was awarded or an application was made for the Police Medal for Courage, the Gold, but by then the attitude had changed and this never went through as well as my Counter Insurgency Medals and Service Medals that I had received.
MR DE KOCK: No Chairperson, the higher hierarchy and in this particular case, the Chief of the Security Police as well as the Commissioner and the Minister, they could not have known about these awards because they had to approve them and then in the instance of the Police Cross for Courage, the Silver one, has to be awarded by them, themselves.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, it was the primary task of C1 to be of assistance to the other Counter Terrorist Units and to supply them with additional manpower and to support them in their capacities for the counter insurgency operations.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, from Durban. And in another instance it was Gen Engelbrecht where we had to assist with the removal or a neutralisation of a person who had worked with the Soweto Intelligence Service before and I was approached by the Commander of Komatipoort in the matter of Sweet Sambo. There was an instance or two instances where I supplied AK47's and ammunitions which had to be transported down to Durban after persons were killed there who were not in possession of any weapons.
MR HATTINGH: The request was that you establish a fictional weapons cache point which would be found and which would be used as an excuse to launch attacks on safe houses which accommodated ANC and PAC persons in the neighbouring countries?
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson. I would just like to state it correctly here, I was the person who would supply the limpet mines, the handgrenades and the other explosives, but the establishment or the burying of the weapons, would be done by Captain Jan Coetzee from Krugersdorp and then Colonel or Major Martin Naude who was the Chief of Section C2.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Captain Timor Coetzee, one of his agents was arrested for armed robbery and then threatened to expose Timor Coetzee's activities and this person was later taken away and he was shot and blown to pieces close to Nelspruit.
MR DE KOCK: Briefly Brigadier Loots and Major Krause requested from Brigadier Schoon at a meeting that there was an ANC member which was detained in the cells at Mafikeng and he could not be released under any circumstances and that it would be a problem for the Security Branches, not only in Mafikeng but in the whole Western Transvaal and that this person had to be killed, and this is what happened.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, I do Chairperson, and to put it in a broader sense, for any actions of members of Vlakplaas and in particular Vlakplaas, I take responsibility there, although I was not personally involved or I was not present, I want to make two references there, the one is to Komatipoort. There was an incident there, I was not present myself and I was not informed. Only after my arrest, I heard about the facts of what had happened there. I however take full responsibility for what had happened there. And I would have covered up this incident myself if I was present, and I would have done it myself. Secondly I would like to mention that these people were involved in a situation which was not of their own, they were only there in assistance, and I take any responsibility for any omission or action which any of the Police Special Task Force would have executed or were involved with at Komatipoort.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, in co-operation with the Vlakplaas members. It would be negligent of me if I did not mention that in a specific incident in Natal, where Warrant Officer McCarter and Sergeant Bosch and one or two other members of Vlakplaas were involved in the death of an ANC member after he gave evidence in Amanzimtoti and I also want to take responsibility for that. I did not clear that with my legal representatives, but I have just remembered now and as Commander of C1, I take responsibility therefore.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Gen Engelbrecht asked me to call Gen Steyn, which I had done then but before that telephone call, I personally spoke to Gen Steyn in the corridor of Headquarters with regard to this same instance, the instance of Goodwill Sekakane.
MR DE KOCK: The request was that I had to supply them with explosives. They interrogated a Inkatha leader because of weapons which was found with him and during this process, the Inkatha member died and they wanted the explosives to plant it at his body and to detonate it to create the impression that he had blown himself up.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, initially that I only had to supply them with explosives, that members of the Security Branch in Pretoria experienced some problems and that a man during interrogation, had been killed. I refused but after a second request, I complied and I supplied the explosives. Later I heard I think it was only after my arrest, I heard who was involved and what was the circumstances surrounding the death of this person.
Thank you Mr Chairman, we are still on page 31 of Bundle 2. Mr De Kock, with regard to these instances which we have handled here or have dealt here with, would it be correct to say that Vlakplaas would be a Cleaning Unit to call it that, to do other Branch's work for them?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, members of Vlakplaas and myself on several occasions travelled to Ovamboland to fetch weapons which were of Eastern origin and at the same time, we received South African weapons to be used in training. These requests were directed by Brigadier Schoon in co-operation with Gen Dreyer who would usually let me know if there was enough weapons and ammunition and explosives from an Eastern Block origin and these weapons were fetched in order to train persons and for actions inside the country or outside the country, as it was needed.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, I think that if one would go around looking, but these weapons and ammunition and explosives had to be as close to the operational premises as possible for immediate use, if one would need it.
MR DE KOCK: To estimate, I can't really estimate Chairperson, I can only say that it was a lot. I know at two occasions we amongst others, had a 10 or 15 ton truck which we took to Ovamboland along with a five ton Bedford truck as well as four or five one ton bakkie vehicles, which had trailers and at occasion, besides the vehicles which we took, we also brought some vehicles from Ovamboland which also had trailers, in that instance, two each.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, we had two reasonably large rooms. The one was prepared as a weapons safe and when we did not have enough space, we prepared another room, and we stacked these rooms as well. There were also two shipping containers, I think it was five metre type which we also used for storage for these weapons and ammunition and explosives.
MR DE KOCK: I would say 80 percent was from an Eastern origin, amongst others pistols and ammunition, assault weapons like the AK47 and ammunition, PKM machine guns, RPD machine guns, SKD machine guns, RP7 missile launchers, 82 mm rocket launchers, handgrenades, detonators. If there is anything that you could think of, it would have been there. Amongst others in one instance, we had six or seven SAM7's, these were missiles which would be fired by troops on the ground.
MR DE KOCK: No, there were no enquiries Chairperson. Although there were some requests for new AK47's with the equipment like magazines and so forth, which some of the senior Officials wanted to licence of their names, as well as the SKS rifles, which was a hunting rifle and then on a regular basis, the supply of AK ammunition for these licensed arms.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I cannot give you the specific time or date, but upon a certain day, I was warned by Gen Staedler that the press would be taken through the Security and Police Head Office to Vlakplaas, the Police had denied the existence of Vlakplaas as a Unit which was tasked with these operations and also denied that weapons were stored on these premises. He warned me that the press intended to visit Vlakplaas, we then evacuated Vlakplaas with regard to weapons or any other staff or equipment so that the premises could be opened up to the press for their inspection.
MR HATTINGH: If there were no other intentions with the establishment of these weapon stock pile locations at Vlakplaas, would it have been necessary to evacuate the premises for the visit of the press?
MR DE KOCK: That is correct. And it wasn't long, and by that I mean perhaps a week or two, until this name was also mentioned, and once again that ammunition and weaponry had to be moved and it was moved to Maleuskop, the Police Training Base for Intelligence.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I wouldn't say that he knew about the specific type of weaponry, however, I did inform him that we were looking for storage and he made two of their weapons storage safety rooms available for this purpose.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, Brigadier Schoon was very much aware of it, as well as Gen Staedler. As far as I recall Gen Engelbrecht as well, because he was the Investigator for the Harms Commission incident.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson. We could obtain explosives from the Special Task Force which worked with explosives quite frequently for the purposes of training. They also destroyed explosives which had passed its expiry date and as a result of the quantities that were available, we could obtain some of these explosives to set off in order to maintain the high level of expertise of staff members.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, among others it was provided to the Soweto Security Branch as well as the Security Branch in East London for the training of their askaris. Furthermore to the Security Branch in Cape Town as well as the Eastern Transvaal. Initially I kept a register of those weapons and ammunition which I had allocated, but I later destroyed it, that being the register.
MR DE KOCK: The South African weapons and ammunition which I provided to them, was for the purposes of training, but I do believe that the weapons and ammunition that were of communist origin, would be used for actions which they had initiated themselves or planned. However, I do not know about the exact nature of these actions, I could not draw any other inference.
MR DE KOCK: Yes. I do not wish to say this light-heartedly, but with regard to both incidents 11 and 12, these telephone calls came very late at night, twelve o'clock at night or one o'clock in the morning, and then I would have to send members to Durban in great haste, they would sometimes be met half way and then they would deliver the weapons. I had the feeling that such incidents may probably have taken place on other occasions, and they may have been provided with more weapons so that they would not have to contact me again in future for other such operations.
MR DE KOCK: That is correct. These weapons were supplied to the Directorate of Covert Collections which was Military Intelligence component in order to assist them in the achievement of their objectives in the Transkei.
MR DE KOCK: That is correct. I would just like to qualify that, they were 9mm HMK's which were used by the South African Forces, but were adjusted to be fitted with silencers and they were also used during incidents in Swaziland.
MR DE KOCK: Upon my arrival there were six or seven of these weapons which were fitted with silencers. After I took over the command and there was an escalation in actions and cross-border operations, the number increased. There were also hand fire weapons, such as pistols which were fitted with silencers, AK47's were also fitted with silencers, Scorpion machine guns were fitted with silencers. We had 16 Uzi's which we also adapted to be fitted with silencers and at a certain stage, from the Secret Fund, by means of Colonel Koekemoer, .44 Rouger pistols were purchased for us with silencers and with telescopic sights.
MR DE KOCK: Among others Colonel Koekemoer from the Financial Division, as well as Brigadier Schoon, Brigadier Cronje. I cannot say that there were other Generals who knew about it, I would simply accept that they did know about it.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, I refer you to the attack on Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique as well as Zimbabwe where weapon stock pile locations were established. Then we also had the case that before that attack, the Defence Force launched an attack in Botswana and attacked the wrong facility and because there were no weapons or ammunitions to be found among the equipment or property of the people over there, that was brought back, I was then requested to provide Makarov pistols. I then provided two and these pistols were then planted in this property which was returned in order to create the impression that there were members of the ANC who were indeed attacked there.
MR DE KOCK: It would have been for the construction of equipment - among others silencers that would then be the adjustment or adaptation of a radio cassette player which would have to be fitted with a detonator for the purposes of detonating somebody's skull. That would then be the general adjustment of equipment.
MR DE KOCK: Upon a request of Anton Nieuwoudt from DCC, a manuscript which was intercepted between Swaziland and the South African Council of Churches, was adapted to detonate should somebody open it. And this manuscript was sent back to Swaziland.
MR DE KOCK: That is correct. In this case it wouldn't be the pen itself, but the holder of the pen. It was an address which was found for one of the ANC members who was shot dead in an ambush near Piet Retief. A Parker pen set was adapted and sent to this address in the hope that it would also kill the person who would receive the item of postage.
MR HATTINGH: I beg your pardon Chairperson, we will return to that when we deal with the Dirk Coetzee matter. Incident 49 on page 40 would be the handgrenades about which you have already given evidence, which was fitted with - from which the delay mechanism was removed?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, every morning at seven o'clock on weekdays, there would be a meeting of all the Unit Heads at the Security Head Office in which there would be an exchange of information and the exposure of new strategies for the Police or strategies which were being used by the opposition, and this information was usually obtained by means of infiltration.
MR DE KOCK: The identification of terrorists as well as the interrogation and identification of targets. Furthermore they also had a component which had membership on the Trevits Group, which then decided about target identification, not only as a facility but also in terms of people.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, we were an Operational Unit and there were no inputs which I would have been able to offer there, apart from telling people that we had launched an attack in Swaziland and that so and so had been killed. This would not have been relevant or appropriate in such a meeting, therefore there was no input that I could offer which would not be a contravention of the secrecy which reigned around Vlakplaas.
MR SIBANYONI: Excuse me Mr Hattingh, speaking about those choices, were there only two alternatives, was there only one alternative, in other words to choose to be an askari or alternatively to be choose to be charged before a court of law? What if a person chooses neither of these options, what would happen to that person?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, the short period of training only took place during 1991 or 1992 with the view on incorporating them within the new South African Police Services, under a new dispensation, however that never took place. Initially however, they received no training with regard to the legal aspects and weaponry, with the exception of that which I began with when I took over.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, as an incentive bonus, there was an official scale of remuneration which was established by the Security Police with regard to the return of weapons, the arrest or killing of a member of one of the terrorist organisations and then some of these askaris, as an incentive bonus, would then receive remuneration should they identify a member of the ANC or trace weapons.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, when they were not members of the Police, they were paid from the Secret Fund. They were appointed as Head Office Sources and upon their appointment as members of the South African Police, they enjoyed all the same privileges as a member of the Security or the South African Police, such as pension, medical aid, housing subsidies and so forth.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson. One of the risks was that there were persons who would defect and return to the ANC or to the PAC, on the other hand, one could find a person that would remain within the Unit but then provide information to the ANC and the PAC without your knowledge. That was a permanent nightmare to wonder when you would arrive one day at Vlakplaas and then see that there are 50 askaris who had defected and are now in Botswana. Every possible precaution without developing paranoia amongst them, was applied in order to create a counter information system. Some of the askaris received an additional salary in order to spy internally on his own people if I might put it that way, some of the telephones at Vlakplaas were among others, tapped.
MR DE KOCK: Some of the black members who were proficient in the black languages were used to listen to the tapes. Of the white members, there was only one, a Mr Van Heerden, who could speak a black language, but he had different tasks.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, the whole aspect or set up of Vlakplaas could have created a great loss for the Security Branch and the Security Police and then also for the government naturally. By nature of the situation there was a lot of support from foreign countries for the ANC and the media also supported them. The identification of askaris working at Vlakplaas, would have led to jeopardy for their families or their children who may have been at school, who could be placed at a disadvantage by activists.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, they did the type of work where if they recognised somebody who was coming in from abroad or a neighbouring State, and identified that person as a former ANC member of PAC member, it would have been expected of him to expect that that person was armed because he would be dealing with a military trained person who would know how to defend themselves or attack somebody else and among others, they also had to be capable of protecting themselves or their families when they were on duty.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, the weapons which I issued to them, were official Police weapons. Upon my arrival at Vlakplaas, I saw that some of these members were carrying Tokarevs and Makarovs but upon my assumption of command, I issued official weapons to them which would be on the Security Branch's State account.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, that was the initial case, however, we had the problem that these people refused to go out or do work if they didn't have firearms and I could not expect of such a man to take on a trained or armed member of the ANC without being armed themselves.
MR HATTINGH: You also say in the same paragraph, at the bottom of the page, "nonetheless firearms were issued to them in order to put them in the position to protect themselves against possible acts of vengeance"?
MR DE KOCK: Yes, in many cases some of the askaris abused these weapons, especially at shebeens where they went, shots were fired. There were cases during which some of the members of the public were injured and this led to the situation that in specific cases, I had to remove weapons after their time of duty, so that they would not have weapons when they went home. There were also two or three cases during which I did not issue weapons to these persons at all, because they were a danger, not only to others, but to themselves.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, the explanation was just not acceptable. The manner in which he explained that he lost the weapon, did not make sense, it indicated that this weapon was sold or it was exchanged or in some instances it was exchanged for alcohol.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, no. One sits there with a person who did not change ideology, one could not curb these people's thinking because there was always the feeling that you would get it in the back.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, there were no members who openly threatened to do so, but some members did return, I refer to the Mnisi's. When I just started at Vlakplaas, in the same month two Mnisi brothers went AWOL, we had an instance where Mabotha says he was kidnapped, but I foresaw that some of these people would try to run away at any time.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, discipline was a difficult situation because one was not departmentally - you could not charge them departmentally and one had the problem where you could not charge him criminally because he will stand in a court and say but I work for the Unit at Vlakplaas and he has knowledge of operations or he has heard of operations or he was involved with some of the operations, so again this posed a problem and this led on a reasonable scale to the cover up of illegal actions of these members or these askaris.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, those who were appointed as members of the Force, received their yearly increment and those who were not, could be remunerated additionally by means of false claims to bring them on an equal basis as those, the askaris, who were members of the Force. They were entitled to living expenses when they went out on operations, but these who were recorded at Head Office as sources, were indeed, but this led to allegations of discrimination and to stop this, we would pay them from the Secret Fund, so that they would be paid on an equal basis as the others.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, it was not a fixed policy but there were askaris, for instance in the operation at Swaziland with Siphiwe Nyanda and in other instances, there were askaris who were used, for example in the matter of Japie Maponya. There were occasion when they were used but I tried to limit it to a minimum.
MR DE KOCK: The ANC and PAC regarded them as traitors and pamphlets were handed out. On one occasion there were eight photo's of askaris with their names and their MK names and it was said that they were traitors and it was indicated in several languages that these people had to be killed wherever they were to be found.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, I think if I recall correctly there was a Thabo Magagi who was an ANC member, Brian Ncgqulunga’s name was there, Steven Mfanda, there was another one by the name of Frankie Mosekwa and there were four others, I cannot recall their names now.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, in terms of vehicles we used vehicles which was not associated with the SAP, the SAP had the practise that vehicles would have a specific colour and is not provided with all the accessories when it is bought, but vehicles of those nature were used, and the members moved around in civilian clothes, they could wear beards and whatever. But nobody from the outside or any other person who was not invited or who was cleared beforehand, arrived at Vlakplaas.
MR DE KOCK: There was a guard which would be in the vicinity of the gate, he would just sit there, although he had a concealed weapon which would be within reach, for example an R1 and away from there was an LMG, but all the impressions was that it was a bona fide farm. At some occasion persons would arrive there who would be looking for water for his vehicle, and this was refused and when he requested what was going on, it would be told to him that this was an agriculture project so we tried to cover up that this was a Police base.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, when I took over, I put together a construction group which was under the command of Warrant Officer Van der Bijl and he had his own team. He took members from the public which were cleared and they were appointed as HQ sources, they were not HQ sources though but this was done through false claims and this was how their salaries were paid, so no outsiders came to Vlakplaas. At one occasion power lines had to be laid to Vlakplaas and even the Contractor had to be cleared before he was allowed to render this service for the facility.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, the premises was guarded, there were two guards there on a permanent basis who had R1 rifles as well as an LMG for assistance, and the weapons were however hidden. Those guard services would be applied during the night and during the day, additional lighting was also established so that the premises would be more safe.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, we had some game which would run around there, if one would pass there then he would see this game and the front view and the side view of the house created the impression of a type of establishment, there was nothing military in nature that one could see or that one could see from the road side and even for a stranger who would arrive there, he would have found that there is not as much activity there, but he would not see any indication that there was any Police activity there.
MR HATTINGH: You have read in the memorandum of Gen Coetzee that farmers in the vicinity did some enquiries and there was a meeting there and he explained to them that it was a Police facility. Did you however try to maintain the covertness of the Unit there?
MR DE KOCK: This documentation was arranged or the credit cards were done by Colonel Koekemoer from the Intelligence Service and it had to be ensured that the accounts be maintained so that the bank does not make any enquiries and then arrives at a person to whom it was not issued or a person who did not exist.
MR DE KOCK: Yes at Head Office, and with the upgrading at Vlakplaas and with the reconstruction that took place there, we did it ourselves later. We liaised with the senior personnel from Internal Affairs and we could get this documentation very much quicker.
MR HATTINGH: We will deal with that later but in brief he threatened that he wanted to rejoin the ANC and he could have exposed the murder of the Mxenge's where he was also involved and probably some other occasions?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, this was for the protection of the Security Police and thereby the protection of the State or the government under the National Party. An exposure of these activities, for example in the instance of Ndaba and others, could have led to the fall of the government even before the negotiations. The Security Police were adamant that no such actions had to leak out to the outside.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, at one occasion and this was the first time when I became aware of it, Colonel Martin Naude and I had to write out a claim, this was at the end of the financial year, and there was quite an amount of money left in the Secret Fund and we had to write out a claim, the one amount of R46 000 and the other of R48 000 so that this money could be withdrawn to empty the Secret Fund, so that it would not lead to a cut in the funds for the following year.
MR DE KOCK: I would believe that it was known to some of the other Branches of the Security Police, amongst others the fact that our claims went through in a shorter period because we were registered at Head Office, or part of Head Office and the Security Branch at Durban used us, Gen Steyn, who made use of this funds at Vlakplaas.
MR HATTINGH: Let me ask you the question in this manner, Mr De Kock, we shall shortly arrive there, but at Vlakplaas, on a regular basis in a loyal manner, did Ministers and members of the Force who were entertained at Vlakplaas, was there any official providence to pay for this, for food or whatever, to be used at these entertaining sessions?
MR DE KOCK: The Generals knew, Chairperson, the Commander, Brigadier Schoon knew. Functions took place at a regular basis and sometimes gifts were given to senior personnel amongst others, the Generals and Brigadiers.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, the furniture was not bought by the Department of Public Works, I refer to a matter, we had to write a claim for the Chaplain’s office for furniture and carpets there and at some stage, I don't know if it was for the Minister's office himself or for his Secretary, I bought some furniture, and this furniture was bought from the private sector and not from any other source, amongst others. For example I can refer to a ice machine which had to be used and this cost about R16 000 or R17 000, as well as an ice machine for Vlakplaas for functions which cost the same, this was not from the same budget and this was not bought as normal equipment we used there.
MR HATTINGH: No Chairperson, I did not see the furniture myself, but it would be luxury furniture. In one instance I bought furniture for some person and it was luxury furniture, it was which one would find in a Director's office in the private sector.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, not only at Vlakplaas but as well as the Intelligence Service and I know in particular of two Synchro Volkswagen buses which was seriously damaged at Sodwana as well as a double-cab vehicle which was rolled over on the beach, that had to be recovered as well as vehicles of Vlakplaas where the askaris had some differences in a little bus and the bus was shot to pieces.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, yes, members were deployed when our period of service began and they were deployed for a period of three weeks, a full three weeks, sometimes a few days more, it may have gone into 25 days at a time. These services were a full 24 hour service, we were not bound by 8 to 5 or 8 to 4 working hours, it was high risk service, 100 percent high risk service by nature of the situation and the members very seldom had the opportunity to go home during that three to three and a half week period. Furthermore when the members returned to the base for that seven to eight day period of rest, the black members and the askaris in particular, would take that seven to eight days off whereas the white members would be serving at all times on a 24 hour stand-by basis.
MR DE KOCK: That is correct, they were actually obliged by nature of the situation and the service because trains and taxi's wouldn't only run between eight and four. In other words these members, if they came in for duty at 12 o'clock, they would leave again at four o'clock the following morning.
MR DE KOCK: The members were always in danger, because they were facing a military trained opposition, who did not have a problem with being the first to shoot and they were also well known for the perseverance when it came to combat situations.
MR DE KOCK: When those black members would not be associated with the Security Forces, the white members would move in but they did move with them. Should any situation develop, the white members would then obviously be involved in the same incident.
MR DE KOCK: That decision came from me. Upon many occasions not only from Brigadier Schoon, but also from Gen Van Rensburg, as well as Gen Engelbrecht, I was told to see to my people. The definition of seeing to my people or taking care of my people, was that these people have to be taken care of and it had financial implications. The compensation or remuneration was for extraordinary circumstances and not for a specific incident. It was not to encourage people to participate in actions or to execute actions, but it was a remuneration, an extra remuneration, for extraordinary service or duty.
MR DE KOCK: No, such remuneration was sporadic, there was no fixed guideline regarding that. No person was offered any compensation to perform an action or received a reward after having performed a specific task or action.
MR HATTINGH: Did any of the members ever tell you when they received an order to participate in an action, what would I receive in exchange for this, what are you going to pay me, what would be tangible?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, what happened was that there was a fund which I kept and this sort of fund accrued over time and then I decreased it and divided it among members. Furthermore, upon occasion if the fund was running low, I discussed it with my Commanding Officer and it was supplemented. Because I kept this money in an illegal manner and also obtained it in an illegal manner, I then divided it amongst the members.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, in general I would give it to everybody and then especially to those members who had exposed themselves to additional danger and did this in compliance with my orders. This was not a question of these persons receiving any finances in order to serve as an incentive for later action. There was no such type of viewpoint within my Unit.
ADV SANDI: I hear, I don't want to interrupt you unduly Mr Hattingh, I hear Colonel, that you say the idea was not to encourage members to continue being involved in such acts or to be loyal, but clearly that was not to discourage them? It was not to discourage them at all?
MR DE KOCK: No, Chairperson, it could never have served as an incentive to further action. Under no circumstances was it ever said to them or was the impression created that if they launched an action, they would receive a reward. The nature of these services as we know by this time, were completely illegal. It was illegal, there was never the perception that one could be rewarded through the regular channels. This was something which I took upon myself in order to take care of my people in my own fashion, and all that I could do, I couldn't give them any medals because that would be an obvious reward, I couldn't give them a Kruger Rand and a certificate, this was my fashion within my viewpoint and in my simplicity of taking care of my people. Whether or not I was wrong, is my responsibility.
MR HATTINGH: Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr De Kock, just to continue from that point. When you gave money to members, was this only to members who had been involved in a specific operation or was this for members who were not involved in that specific operation?
MR DE KOCK: No, to tell the truth there were sometimes members who said "what is this for", and then I would just say "take it, if you don't want it, give it to somebody else". So it wasn't a question that somebody could think that he received this money for a specific operation or a specific objective, it could never have served as an incentive.
MR DE KOCK: No. And to a certain measure that Gen Krappies Engelbrecht one day asked me, this was after the Flores incident which will be discussed later I suppose, said to me, you, De Kock, must take care of yourself, because you keep on taking care of other people.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, I was assisted in that because the amounts were great. Just to tell you briefly, there were already indications that I would have to accept a package, my package would have been R1,45 million. Apparently there were other factors or powers who didn't want it that way and the amount of R1 million would have been paid out to me. The General then suggested that I should ultimately by means of false claims, obtain an amount for myself which would be of equal value to the other R450 000 and in that attempt, I then obtained R250 000 by those methods. I purchased a house and when he and I returned one day from Durban, he asked me to go passed the house that we had bought and by "we", I mean the Police. That is just an example and that is the amount which I then received on such a basis and I would like to mention that the SAP did receive that money back. They took a policy of mine and it was of no burden to the taxpayer.
MR DE KOCK: No. I would just like to state and this is perhaps a personal philosophy, there is no value that one can attach to such a type of action, there is no value that can be attached to the death of a person or the destruction of his home or family.
MR HATTINGH: Then on page 60, we come to actions by Vlakplaas members on own initiative or discretion. With the most cases, you have admitted that this was upon the order of a Commanding Officer, that you received an order to execute the operations. Did it ever occur that you had to use your own initiative?
MR DE KOCK: Yes, it did occur. The reason for that being that although one's operation might be very successful, although one may have spent a tremendous amount of time in obtaining information, there are always external factors which intervene in such an operation, something unforeseen and this would then lead to decisions which one would have to take on the spot and then one would have to take responsibility for what would happen as a result of that.
MR HATTINGH: What was your perception or your understanding of your position when it came to decisions that were made according to your own initiative or your own discretion, was this not permissible?
MR DE KOCK: No, it was expected of me, on the contrary, upon many occasions it was said "you shouldn't wait for us to tell you what to do, you know what to do, you know what the situation is in the country, you read the Security reports every day, you read the weekly and the monthly Security reports, act and execute your duties."
MR DE KOCK: No, with the exception of one incident during which Brigadier Schoon simply told me that the Commander of Eastern Transvaal had complained because I had gone to Swaziland without his knowledge, however, that was the worst.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, it was authorised and approved. And with that, I would like to define it as the following, if there should be a problem on the scene of an operation where there may be proof of Security Force's presence, then it would be covered up, evidence would be removed or destroyed, affidavits would be amended, files would be destroyed and records would be removed.
MR HATTINGH: On page 61 and 62 there are extracts from the evidence of Gen Van der Merwe before the TRC and from there it is also clear that he expected of his soldiers, to use their own initiative where necessary, is that correct?
"... as I have already said, people at grassroots level, had to in certain circumstances make decisions on their own."
MR HATTINGH: I think we will discuss that again later, but just for an example, I could refer you to the Sambo incident, the person who was known as Sweet Sambo. This is a person who was interrogated at Komatipoort by the Security Police and died as a result of the assault during interrogation, is that correct?
MR DE KOCK: Yes, I discussed it with Gen Engelbrecht, I went to his home and he discouraged me. I told him, or on the contrary his advice was that there should be a post mortem enquiry. I told him that the person had been injured to such an extent that his skull was so swollen that it would never go through a post mortem enquiry. In turn he told me that he did not agree and that there should be no action from our side, however, upon my own initiative, I decided that I would act in this matter. It was about the Security Branch members at Komatipoort, and by nature of the situation, there were certain secrets from the past of which they knew, and then I did offer assistance in that situation.
MR DE KOCK: Yes, Gen Engelbrecht was not available at that stage, I think he was away on leave or busy with an investigation. I did contact Colonel Herman du Plessis, he was second in command, that is when the family began to make enquiries about where Sambo was, and I informed Colonel Du Plessis about this and he and another General and a senior Brigadier, went to Nelspruit by helicopter.
MR HATTINGH: In the Japie Maponya matter, this took place on the request of Colonel Le Roux, you had no authorisation by yourself or from a senior Officer, you decided by yourself that you would assist Colonel Le Roux?
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, during the Harms Commission, this was the main incident where I was put in the spotlight and during the Harms Commission, this was one of the most sensitive matters and an inquest was held in court.
MR HATTINGH: After this and during the evidence of the Commission, it was heard that petrol was taken in by the Krugersdorp Police Officers and that there would be a record there to state that some of your members were at the Krugersdorp Police station that day. What happened to that petrol book?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, during my trial it came to my knowledge that that petrol register was taken down by Warrant Officer Nortje in my Unit and was given to Gen Engelbrecht and it was probably destroyed, because it was never found again.
MR HATTINGH: In Justice Van der Merwe's judgement in your matter, he mentions the fact that Gen Engelbrecht had enquired with Maponya's employer and took a statement from him to the extent that Maponya, a day or two after you had abducted him, was still at work.
MR HATTINGH: On page 68, at 2.6.6 you say the following that you believed that as long as your action was aimed at the enemies of the government of the day, it would carry the approval of your Commanders and this is what happened in practice?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, it did not create the perception but it brought about a knowledge that if any evidence had stayed behind and you could be connected with anything, then the State by means of the Police, will do anything in its power to protect you. It is not that they are only protecting you, they are protecting themselves as well, namely the Police and the State.
MR HATTINGH: Before we continue with the document, during consultation last week, a document was handed over to you, a copy of a document with the heading "General background". Mr Chairman, the document was handed in by Mr Wagener at the pre-trial conference at Johannesburg, we were all given a copy of this document.
MR HATTINGH: Please continue on page 69. You have already mentioned the fact that while the Harms Commission was ongoing, you received instruction to attack the Chand house and to kill Brian Ncgqulunga, is that correct?
MR DE KOCK: The information which was carried over by other members, I had no problem with that and if there was anything that one was unsure of, one would enquire about it, but I used their information and I had no reason to mistrust them with regard to information that they conveyed.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, the rank was applicable where discipline came about, but when one acts in an operational area, then a suitable person for example a Warrant Officer and then I would expect that somebody else would take over before I let a senior person take over. Colonel Baker, who is a senior Officer who is more used in diplomatic situations and despite his operational expertise, Nortje was the person who would be able to take the correct decisions while busy with an operation. In that instance, one had the right person for the right work there.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, to such an extent that I know of two instances in Swaziland where I said that if I were shot, Nortje had to take over, it did not matter what the ranks of the rest of the people who were there, were.
MR HATTINGH: Was anyone, or were you called in by anyone, the Commissioner not only your immediate Commanders but the Commissioners or higher Officers who told you "listen, you are not an operational Unit, you are supposed to identify terrorists and arrest them, why are you always involved in these shooting incidents"?
MR DE KOCK: No Chairperson, the senior staff did not want to hear of our problems. They wanted to have the package very nicely so that they could show it to the public, whatever your problems were and whatever accompanied it, they did not want to know about that. On the contrary you were rewarded with medals, it would not have happened if they were against it.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, at several occasions I asked Gen Engelbrecht and I told him that the Vlakplaas group must disband. The attitude was that the negotiations are not done yet, it could fall through today and then we still have you to push you into the field. There was never a desire to disband Vlakplaas at any stage.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I think that with regard to some reports it was that it stabilised. There were some unrest, but it did not increase or decrease but in small instances, it did increase with the conflict between the ANC and the IFP, but we did not participate in the Unrest Unit.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, my own Unit or some of the members in my Unit and myself, supported Inkatha and this led to some occasions where we supplied them with weapons and ammunition. But the river of weapons which flowed in this country, came mostly from Mozambique and in particular the part between Komatipoort and further south from Komatipoort, through that border.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, successes was the first of its kind in the Republic. The amount of weapons and ammunition, if I speak of weapons, I speak of rifles, rocket launchers and pistols, there were handgrenades and limpet mines as well, it was phenomenal. We had several arrests, I think there was a total of 24 arrests and in another case which we will handle later, four persons were killed.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, it did not have a specific - there was a market for the weapons, or a market for automatic weapons, especially in the East Rand and on the Rand itself, but those types of smugglers sold to anybody whether you were ANC, AWB or IFP, they sold to anybody. It did not matter what the colour of the flag was, it mattered what the colour of the money was.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, and without exception we found AK47's as well as ammunition in the petrol tanks. So much so that the vehicle could only drive a few kilometres, for example, just drive through the border post and drive about 10 or 15 kilometres further. The moment one gets a vehicle coming through the border post with petrol filters and containers with petrol, then you knew that you had to deal with weapons here. Later the smugglers realised that we caught up with them, they built in a type of a rack in the petrol tank because usually if you knock against the petrol tank, you will hear the ammunition rolling around and that was the main manner in which they smuggled weapons through.
MR HATTINGH: And the evidence of Gen Nyanda in this regard, his evidence in chief and his cross-examination, is attached to Volume 2. May I just enquire Mr Chairman, have you got that? The evidence of Gen Nyanda at Mr De Kock's criminal trial?
MR HATTINGH: Yes, that is correct Mr Chairman. Somehow I don't think that this is the complete section that we wanted to annex. There seems to be some of the evidence that have been left out, we will check and we will maybe come back on this later, Mr Chairman. We will see to it that you get the rest of his evidence as well, Mr Chairman, and I think that the part that I am relying on for, is the part that is not included in this Bundle.
MR HATTINGH: Thank you Mr Chairman. Very well, despite finding these weapons which were used in the political struggle, was Vlakplaas still involved with its previous activities as an Operational Political Unit?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, one of the askaris pointed out an MK member who was at a disco in Johannesburg. The MK member did not have permission to be in the country and the askari requested from us what he must do, he said no, he is waiting for his handler and the handler was a guard of Min Nzo and the rest of the askaris and Warrant Officer Snyman surrounded the area where this meeting would take place between the handler and the guard or the MK member and his handler and with the arrival of this guard of Min Nzo, who was also an MK member, in an ANC vehicle, and a shooting ensued and he shot one of my askaris and the guard, I think he was shot through the eye and he was shot in his body somewhere, as well as a member of the public also received a shot because we did not know whether he was an MK member or not, this incident eventually found its way to a Civil Court. I am not sure of all the detail here, I rely on a vague memory, but there was such an incident.
MR HATTINGH: On page 79, paragraph (c) you mention a third political - which was found and he was identified by one of the askaris, they arrested him. His wife was with him but they had left her behind, she had to call somebody that she knew because on the way to Pretoria, I received a call from Gen Beukes from Security Head Office and he informed me that the Chief of the National Intelligence Service on the West Rand was also on his way to Gen Beukes in Pretoria and he wanted to know if I could not release this ANC member because this member had been giving the Intelligence Service information for the past nine years and this member of the Intelligence Service wanted to meet with me and I decided not to see him, but I did release this ANC member. Later, I heard or I read in a newspaper after my arrest, that this person had retired from politics in the ANC.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, during 1991 and 1992 and even a few months before that, there were regular incidents which happened in the Transkei where people used the road between Sterkspruit and for example Dordrecht and vehicles which were driven by whites were regularly attacked by means of AK47's and persons with R5's and APLA was involved with these attacks. At some stage we prepared during December 1991, to attack those facilities at Sterkspruit and to destroy them entirely and the operation was not launched during December 1991 but we stayed prepared during the year, to attack these facilities and to destroy them.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, a special building was erected on Vlakplaas with many air-conditioners, I was the only one who had access to the building. Permanent guards were placed around the building and all Vula documentation and evidence was handled there and it was taken out from the computers and after Vula, the AWB's documents and computers and other evidence was handled there and was taken out from the computers.
MR DE KOCK: There were mixed feelings, but the overwhelming feeling was that the negotiations would not succeed and that there wouldn't be peace, that the struggle would continue and that ultimately Codesa would not succeed and that we would begin to fight each other again. That was the general sentiment and Vula was sufficient to convince me that we might as well just fight it out to the death and get it over and done with.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I cannot speak for all the members at Vlakplaas, but some of us were favourably inclined towards the IFP because they acted as a buffer against the ANC. I cannot say that they acted as a buffer for the PAC, because there was always some measure of peace between the PAC and the IFP, but the IFP was definitely anti-ANC and this was a favourable position for us and it enjoyed our support.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, among others, we provided weapons and ammunition as well as explosive devices and then upon two or three occasions, I also purchased vehicles for them, two vehicles were purchased by means of false claims from the Secret Fund and another vehicle was paid for from the Secret Fund on an official basis. It was given to Themba Khosa so that he could continue with the recruitment for his purposes of IFP activities.
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, two other members and I joined the IFP, we were card-carrying members of the Inkatha Freedom Party. Our request was however that our names not appear on their member list, so that when the Natal Security Police obtained it, we would not be exposed.
MR DE KOCK: I destroyed it approximately a week before my arrest, along with two big trunks of documentation, photographs and cassette recordings as well as computer equipment on which there was information.
MR HATTINGH: At a stage Mr Nortje joined them and we had his membership card. Very well, that brings us to page 84 and more particularly regarding that which you have just mentioned, and that would be the destruction of documents. What happened in this regard?
MR DE KOCK: After the disbanding, initially with the Harms Commission, there was large scale destruction of documents. We literally spent days destroying documents that had to do with our work and Vlakplaas, documents such as registers and files and everything that went along with it. However, there was documentation which remained and these documents which I still had, were destroyed shortly before my arrest.
MR DE KOCK: The documents with regard to the Harms Commission were done under order and the other documents, I destroyed through my own political naiveté, I wish that I was in a position to submit these documents here today.
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, my career had come to an end in 1989 with the first revelations made by Mr Coetzee in the Vrye Weekblad. Vlakplaas which had been a popular recreational spot with top level Officials, initially I thought about handing in my resignation and giving notice and after that, I decided just to take my discharge. I was persuaded by Gen Engelbrecht and Gen Smit however, to take it easy if I might put it that way, and the general view was that all of this would blow over and that nothing would happen. By 1993 in March or April, I was informed that I would have to take a retirement package and that is what happened. However, there were certain clauses brought into the contract that should any legal action and I would call this criminal or civil legal action, should any such legal action originate with regard to my past, the State would intervene in such matters and absorb the costs. I was requested to keep to the general Secrecy Act and the oath that I had taken with regard to this information, which bound me not to speak out about my work in the past and that this would remain a secret. This contract along with the signing thereof, was given to me by Gen Engelbrecht, he managed this on behalf of the Police.
MR HATTINGH: In the light of this background which we have discussed, how would you have regarded Vlakplaas and its actions, especially with regard to Gen Coetzee's description of the objective for which Vlakplaas was established?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, Vlakplaas was an Operational Combat Unit, which was established for the political objectives of the National Party and the State of that time. It was and could never be applied for any other objective and that Unit was then used in such a fashion in all regards.
MR HATTINGH: When you were transferred from Namibia to Vlakplaas and you saw this Vlakplaas at which so many illegitimate things were involved, why didn't you say "no, I don't want to be involved in this, I am leaving"?
MR DE KOCK: What was happening at Vlakplaas at that stage, was nothing new to what I had experienced in Namibia in the North. Secondly, I was committed. On the contrary if I had not been transferred there, I would have requested to be transferred there. In all regards, I was committed in fighting the enemy to the bitter end, whatever the nature of that may be and I was entirely committed to the State and the maintenance of the National Party and the white dispensation.
MR DE KOCK: No. I am not involved in that. I would like there to be independent action without any intervention or interference, it should be a completely unbiased undertaking and I am leaving it entirely in their hands.
MR HATTINGH: In conclusion Mr De Kock, you have testified before various Amnesty Committees and during your criminal trial you testified in mitigation and you appeared before the TRC and during all these times, you expressed your sentiments about the deeds in which you were involved, the people who you killed, the people who you injured, the people whose property you damaged and so forth, in retrospect how do you feel about it?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, we wasted the lives of many people, not only those who we then regarded as the enemy, we also wasted the lives of our own people, young National Servicemen of 17 and 18 years of age, we destroyed young men of the same age in the ranks of the ANC and the PAC. There were cases in which people were not handling weapons personally or carrying weapons personally and during such incidents, we destroyed people completely, not only changed their lives, but destroyed their lives. We ruined the lives of their families in a sense, and changed their lives irrevocably. I feel that in all aspects, by living passed one another, we destroyed one another for absolutely no purpose ultimately. It was a futile exercise. We wasted the most precious item which can exist and that is life. I understand sentiments which say hang him, burn him, chop him up because that would also have been my sentiments if a family member of mine such as my son or my brother, had been shot. Whether we will ever be able to reconcile, is unknown to me, it will take many generations. I hope that this will happen, by that stage I will probably no longer be here as a result of age, not for any other reason. I would like to tell those families that the deaths of their sons and their daughters and their children, because it doesn't really matter how old you are, who you are or where you come from, you are still somebody's child, I am very sorry about it. We obtained absolutely nothing as a result thereof. There will always be a yearning and a sorrow which will never disappear and which will never be able to be rectified. That is all.
MR HATTINGH: Just one further aspect please, you have given evidence here regarding the past and the deeds in which you were involved which were covered up by the dispensation of the day. When you were eventually arrested or when there were negotiations at CODESA, how do you feel about the actions of the representatives of the former government with regard to the Security Forces in general, did they stand by you, did they disappoint you, how do you feel about it?
MR DE KOCK: I think if we found ourselves in 1902, people like F.W. de Klerk and Kobie Coetzee would have been sentenced to high treason. The National Party members who are running away now, if one of them could just stand here today and tell me why he didn't know what was happening in the past, I would like to know that. I would like to know from them, how is it possible that we were waging a war in South West that people on the other side of the border were being wiped out, that buildings were being blown up in the country, which were not the buildings of the South African Forces. If only one of them could convince me of what made him think that he was sitting in parliament and that it was decided by every person in this country by means of a ballot, not one of them would ever sit here and say that because they could have no logical explanation for that whatsoever. I will give you an example, in 1993 there was an attack in the Transkei. F.W. de Klerk was the President and he was also the Chief of the Armed Forces. I would like to know from him, who does he think did the shooting, it wasn't only because he sat down and decided that he wanted to do something and then people were attacked and they died? It is not logical and he is a man who claims to be a very logical person. I think that is a very false impression that he is creating. They are cowards, I don't think that God would even punish them because I don't think He wants to see them at all.
MR DE KOCK: No Chairperson, murder is a global international crime, whether it is a murder in India or a murder in Russia, Swaziland or South Africa, it all remains the same. By merely taking a step across the border of a country and going into another country, that does not give you the right to commit these acts.
CHAIRPERSON: I think it might be a good idea, because I have no idea which of you is going to ask lots of questions and which of you is going to ask very few. I think if you can get together between yourselves and decide what would be the most sensible way of doing it, so we will take a very short adjournment and you can chat to yourselves.
MR LAMEY: Mr Chairman, just again Lamey, I represent applicants in this cluster, Mr Klopper, Mr Nortje, Mr Willemse and also I omitted to mention that earlier, Mr Bosch. May I just put on record that I am just going to ask a few questions in general. So far as the evidence of Mr De Kock might be relevant relating to specific incidents, I might have to, if it would appear necessary, to come back on also aspects of the general background when we deal with the specific incidents. I hope that that would be in order?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes certainly. The idea is to put on record now simply the general approach of all the - certainly not all - of various members of the Police Force and not get to specific incidents, they will be dealt with when we hear the applications in respect of those incidents.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR LAMEY: Mr De Kock, an aspect which you mentioned towards the conclusion of your evidence with regard to the IFP, I received instructions from Mr Nortje and he says that apparently Mr Dries van Heerden arrived there with IFP membership cards at some stage and these were handed out to among others Nortje and he is speaking from his perspective. This was during the time when the weapons supply to the IFP took place. Mr Nortje says that although from Vlakplaas' side, and due to the problems that the IFP experienced with regard to losses which they incurred towards the ANC, there was sympathy for the IFP, however he was never a bona fide member of the IFP. He says that at that stage he was a supporter of the National Party and its government. If his recollection is correct, he maintains that those membership cards were also issued under different names, what is your recollection regarding that?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, my recollection is that my card as far as I can remember, was issued in my name and it was unpaid for. There were certain stamps which were brought to the card, which would indicate that membership fees had been paid. Perhaps Mr Nortje was not as committed to the IFP as I was.
MR LAMEY: Very well. Then the aspect surrounding the operation of the rank structure at Vlakplaas. Do I understand your evidence correctly in that you put a very general statement by referring to Nortje among others, as an example? It is not a case of you saying that where he was a member of a group for example, where there was an Officer present and you were absent, that Nortje would necessarily in every such situation have taken the lead? There would be cases during which there was action, during which Nortje was present, but that somebody else specifically in that group, had been placed in command by you?
MR DE KOCK: Yes, I would like to illustrate it as follows - suppose we had an operation in Swaziland, I would be there and we would take a person such as Colonel Baker and Warrant Officer Nortje and Vermeulen for example and one would usually look at the behaviour and conduct of people, their operational security and in the case of Colonel Baker, he would for example have stopped a minibus and asked the person driving the minibus whether or not we could borrow this. There would be a person like Nortje who would tell the person, you can fall where you want to, we are going to take your minibus. It was about assuring that there would be operational leaders in such a situation, that does not mean that Baker's competency is to be doubted. One would have to study the scenario as such and see what possible events could take place in such a scenario.
MR LAMEY: If somebody was tasked for the purposes of a specific action, and he was placed in command by you, or sent there to take command, then the responsibility with regard to the command and control, would reside in that person?
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR BOOYENS: Thank you Mr Chairman, specifically in so far as the Komatipoort incident is concerned, Booyens on record, it may become necessary, I have been told by the representative of Mr De Kock that he will be here in any case as an interested party, so if necessary I may have a few questions to him about that incident, which is the next application we are dealing with, which I do not think I should waste the Committee's time with now. Mr De Kock, just with regard to two aspects I would like to get clarity. The first, as regards to these false claims on behalf of Mr Bellingan and Baker, would it be correct, they say that at some occasion they received instruction to complete false claims and to write them out and that the instruction as far as they remember, came from you as a Commander, do you agree?
MR BOOYENS: And then they also say that it was never specifically told to them in which case they had to write out these claims, but they accepted that it was for operational purposes because one would not go and tell the Auditor General exactly what operations would be carried out?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, I would believe if they have a vague memory of it, I do have a memory of it, that I told them that Colonel Koekemoer was looking for money and then I would give an indication as to what was involved, but I would not say that they did know in every instance, what the money was for.
MR BOOYENS: Well, not in this group of applications, but I also represent Waal du Toit and the two Kock brothers from the Technical Division and I think on a previous occasion, during the London bomb hearing, it was put as a general statement that although the Technical persons were closely involved, there were many instances where they for example, would put silencers on weapons, they would not know it would be used in this operation, they would know that it would go back to you and it would be used in some operation?
MR BOOYENS: And that at the end of the day, they did not know whether it was used? But there must be some exceptions for example the London bomb and the Dirk Coetzee matter, but in other instances, they don't know if the equipment was indeed used?
MR WAGENER: Mr Chairman, at present I have no questions for Mr De Kock, however Mr Chairman, as you are aware I have been involved in another amnesty application until last Friday afternoon, I have indicated to you in chambers that I and therefore, I and Mr Visser, we have not been afforded adequate opportunity to prepare for this hearing. Furthermore I have sat here today and I have listened to long evidence regarding clients of mine, that is not even contained in the documents before us. So Mr Chairman, the short answer is, I will have to take instructions on a large number of issues raised by Mr De Kock and I would request you that if necessary, that cross-examination stand over till a later, appropriate time during this hearing. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: I revert to what I said earlier though. If possible, if you have any matters of general implication that you want to put, could you put them now, because we can get the general stuff transcribed, other questions are not so necessary. This is what I am thinking will be circulated to other hearings. If you can't do it, I understand.
MR VISSER: What he really wants to say is he will stick to his gun and he will pass the buck to me, Chairperson. Mr Chairman, we would like to follow your indication, because that is the way we understand the position to be. We are dealing now with the general background and not the facts and it seems appropriate that if there is any difference of opinion on the facts, that we should deal with them at the time when the incident itself is being heard. Chairperson, at the present time, as far as the background is concerned, I am not entirely certain whether the issue of Vlakplaas is meant to be either a different basis of approach to the amnesty application or the amnesty applications of the people who were attached to Vlakplaas, separate from the general background to which you have heard a lot of argument and a lot of evidence before. One can only think of the COSATU and Khotso House evidence. You have heard all the evidence that you are ever likely to hear about the conflict of the past, the position of Security Force members and all relevant information. As far as this hearing is concerned, we stay with that evidence and the submissions we have made thereupon. We have attempted to summarise that in a very, very brief synopsis in Exhibit A, of course it goes much wider than that and this doesn't profess to be a full document, but as a working document, in order to save time, we handed this in and I now understand that it has been circulated, so our position is this Chairperson, that for as far as Mr De Kock's evidence does not dispute and he has already confirmed it, does not dispute what we have summarised here and obviously then including the broader detail, which you have already in fact in the Cronje decision, confirmed as having been accepted, then we have nothing to say about the general background and with that Chairperson, that is the explanation why I don't have any questions at this point.
MR CORNELIUS: Thank you Mr Chairman, Cornelius on behalf of Britz, Snyman Vermeulen and Flores. Colonel, for future reference, if an askari is turned, you have given evidence to this, if he turns away from this position of trust at C-Section and he goes back to the ANC, there was no doubt that he would have been eliminated?
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, I have certain questions which I want to put to Mr De Kock, which I want an opportunity to check with reference to some of the evidence of Brigadier Cronje. I have requested my colleagues if it would be possible for me to deal with that tomorrow, if at all possible, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Subject, I don't know what I am going to be faced with on my left, but we had anticipated I think in our general discussions, that this would take at least two days. I don't think you had arranged for witnesses to be present until Wednesday, so I think you can certainly stand over till tomorrow.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR JANSEN: Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr De Kock, my questions will be of a general nature and deals with what your perception was of these general happenings. Firstly with regard to political context, is it so that you and your members at Vlakplaas were well known or knew what the security situation in the country was, during the middle 1980's?
MR JANSEN: And for purposes of the record, if you could confirm that in the later half of 1984, from September onwards, there was a serious political unrest, firstly in Sharpeville and then in the Vaal Triangle and this circled right throughout the country from there, is that correct?
MR JANSEN: Was it your perception and let's work with the perception of the average Security Policemen, that the unrest at that stage and the instability in the country, was much worse than at any stage before in our country?
MR DE KOCK: Yes Chairperson, just to give you an idea to join up with you, one of the doctrines of revolutionary war was to divide the State's powers, in other words there is serious unrest within the country as well as pressure from outside the borders and this leads to the division of power and also of manpower. This joins up with what you say, there was an escalation, that is correct.
MR JANSEN: To be truthful I think it has been placed on record on many instances during this process, we know of many instances where Policemen thought that they were the persons who stood between political success or political failure?
MR JANSEN: Very well, and although there were certain uncertainties with regard to when the National Party put out its feelers towards its political opponents outside parliament, we know today that it was approximately during late 1985, 1986 that such feelers were being put out?
MR JANSEN: Yes. Despite these feelers that these politicians were sending out, was it indeed true that they were very inciteful in their speeches and what they expected from the Security Police and the other Forces?
MR JANSEN: At no stage did they give the idea to the Security Forces that they, the Security Forces, had to change their perception with regard to the enemy, that the politicians were working to a political settlement?
MR JANSEN: And the Security Forces were his instrument in this approach or on the surface, in other words I am not referring to the invisible political activities, but the visible political activities, that was his approach?
MR JANSEN: Would it be right to say that the average person in your position and some of your members like Mr Ras and I assume all the other Police Officers who are represented here who were at Vlakplaas, they would have believed that they were embroiled in a struggle for life and death and they were right at the core of this struggle?
MR JANSEN: And it would have placed anybody in a position under you, or it would have placed the person under you, in a position that in most cases, if not all cases, would not know where the command exactly came from if it came from higher up than you?
MR JANSEN: One would accept that the execution of orders was actually seen in a military sense that if an order is given, it is given with one purpose and that is that it had to be executed, it was not open for debate?
MR DE KOCK: Chairperson, yes, it is so, but Policemen are individuals and they will ask questions, but they would not have gone out and withdrawn themselves from an order and walked away. I accept if you say that, debate that there would be a long conversation.
MR JANSEN: Yes, I think we see it in the evidence that you have given here, sometimes questions are asked, sometimes not, one could accept that with regard to certain operational things, one would accept that persons ask questions, things that they need to know if they become part of an operation.
MR JANSEN: And it could be that some were concerned with the legitimacy or the risk attached to an operation, but this was not in the general rule. The general situation was that persons accepted their orders as orders which were thoroughly thought through and which were bona fide?
MR JANSEN: The only thing that I want to illustrate with these questions is that if - one has lots of retrospective knowledge and a total other situation, if one looks at an incident that could have led to non-combatant persons, it is difficult to think of that situation or to put yourself in the shoes of the operative at that stage?
MR JANSEN: The other thing is because of the clandestine nature and the unlawful nature of your activities, I would assume that you never had any lessons with regard to what is acceptable in war situations and what is seen as justifiable according to international law and what is justifiable with regard to cross-border operations and the loss of civil lives and so forth?
MR JANSEN: These are things that a person at Vlakplaas would have learnt typically through the culture of the Security Police and the culture of Vlakplaas as it had existed before that person was there and as he experienced it as he became part of the Unit?
MR DE KOCK: That is correct Chairperson. I think in the matter in East London I mentioned that much depends on the Commander of such a group and his inherent integrity and viewpoint of matters at grassroots level. One sees that questions could be asked with regard to civil matters and that innocent people could be hurt, but one wants to avoid this, but one could get Commanders who are guilty of other instances which we see now in Serbia and Croatia, people had been taken to the World Court therefore, but the inherent attitude and the inherent integrity of the members of Vlakplaas, did not open them to any of those actions. But if you step up and you join up with the struggle, then it could be possible that with great reasonability that members of the public could get hurt.
MR JANSEN: One has the idea and you must tell me if you agree, that with regard to the operations although in certain situations it would have been made peace with the fact that there would be civil casualties, but nobody ever acted recklessly?
MR JANSEN: And furthermore one gets the impression that Vlakplaas was not, or the typical Vlakplaas operation was not one where persons would have joined in sort of senseless gruesome acts for example rape and senseless killing of any person who they met with?
MR DE KOCK: No Chairperson, I voiced the sentiment previously and I would have said that if I found one of my members raping somebody or molesting a child, I would have executed him right there, I make no secret of it.
MR JANSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman, could I maybe just place a problem that I have, on record, seeing that I am busy cross-examining. I had a trial that was placed in the course of last year already in the Regional Court here in Pretoria, that was placed from tomorrow till Friday, I have previously managed to postpone everything, but I have to be there formally at nine o'clock, just to make sure that everything goes, I will try to be here by half past nine, but it may be that I will be a bit late, so maybe ten o'clock will be safer.