|News | Sport | TV | Radio | Education | TV Licenses | Contact Us|
Type AMNESTY HEARING
Starting Date 01 June 1996
Names HENDRIK GERBER
MR GERBER: Chairperson, on the 14th January 1965 I joined the police, I was 16 years old. After a year's training at the Police College I was placed at a station. I performed service in the charge office. I was too young to perform any other service, I was not allowed to carry a firearm. In 1967 I was transferred to Springs uniform branch, where after a while I applied to be placed on the patrol dog
course. The application was granted and I was transferred to Pretoria Dog Unit and I started the course. It was a four month course and before completion of this course, one afternoon I was called to the office and told that I had to report to Safety Headquarters the next morning for border service.
The next morning I went by car with my patrol dog to the Botswana border. At that stage the whole border operation was aimed at combatting of terrorism and it was controlled by the Security Branch in Pretoria under the leadership of Colonel Jan Harmse.
During this period I met black members of the Security Branch. We lived in an old farmhouse on the border. Our task was to patrol the area and to inform the people living in the area of possible attack by terrorists from across the border. Often during our patrols we were fired at. It was reported to Colonel Harmse and he suggested that we should keep it quiet because we did not want to sow panic amongst people living in the area as well as the general public.
After four and a half months I returned to my station, Springs, where I was in control of a unit aimed at the arrest of Black people who had committed passbook contraventions. My team and I, consisting of about 14 Black police officers, regularly performed raids. (Inaudible) contraventions. After about five months my patrol dog died as a result of conditions of extreme heat at the border and I was transferred to Murder and Robbery. Here I really experienced violence. We often had to witness scenes where people had been killed, there were armed robberies and I really had to deal with violence at first-hand. This was round about 1968. Whilst I was performing service in this unit, I also experienced certain techniques of interrogation which included various forms of coercion and torture. During this period I worked very long hours, I was very seldom at home, in order to combat crime. I was married at this stage and my wife could not tolerate the situation any longer and we were divorced.
After about eight years I tendered my resignation to the South African Police. I was approached by the Rennies Group to work for them as an investigator at Fidelity Guards. I reported to them. I was given the post and under the command of Captain Dreyer I performed my duties. We were a small staff, about four to five persons and they were all ex-policemen. After a while in Johannesburg, I was transferred as regional head of Safety and Security for Natal Province.
I implemented and installed new systems for the company, we had various branches throughout Natal, and when I was satisfied that the systems were up and running I decided to leave and joined Price Forbes, a broking company as part of their Risk Management Team. During this period we performed security analyses for big clients throughout South Africa, such as for instance Sasol I in 1980 where we pointed out various serious loopholes in their systems. A complete report was drafted and was handed to top management in an effort to try and rectify these loopholes and gaps and to implement the necessary measures in this regard to reduce the risk.
During the time we worked at Sasol top management's fear was a terrorist attack on their premises. I also visited sugar mills throughout Natal where I performed similar analyses and the general fear was terrorism there as well. During this period I was also a founding member of the Institute of Criminology under the Professorship of Jakob van der Westhuizen and I was also a member of the Institute for Strategic Studies under Professor Mike Hough and Dr Wim Booysen.
After about a year at Price Forbes I was approached by Fidelity Guards once again to return to them and I was appointed as a Group Security Manager for the Republic with my headquarters being in Johannesburg.
During this period there were numerous armed attacks on bank vehicles, armoured vehicles, in which the criminal element was clearly discernible. These were organised attacks. During this time guards were disarmed, without killing them, and cash removed from the vehicles. During this time we also got a contract to (inaudible - microphone not activated) right throughout the country .... our guards had to undergo a training programme organised by the Defence Force. I was involved with the taking of fingerprints and the sending of fingerprints and the processing of these prints to the South African Criminal Bureau, after which we received SAP69s in order to make the selection process very strict.
In the early eighties, roundabout 1983-84 I through sources at my disposal going back to police days I learnt from informers that we could expect an attack from liberation organisations busy infiltrating the country. It was clear that some of these robberies had been performed in a disciplined manner where AK47s were also used.
At that stage it was well-known that AK47s were not available in South Africa, but that terrorist groups infiltrated the country with these arms in their possession. This was before the trade in arms across the border really took off.
In this period, 1987, I went to Durban to do an investigation there and one evening, just in front of the hotel where I was staying, round about six o'clock in the evening, I was attacked by four black men as I got out of my car. They hit me with a blunt instrument through the face, it crushed my nose, my cheekbone, fortunately I had my briefcase with me and I used that to ward off the attack. I was armed but unfortunately my firearm was in the briefcase but I am sure the black men didn't know that. An eye-witness later told me that he saw four black men in a Mazda with a Transvaal registration number leaving the scene and that these men had on the previous day made investigations and enquiries at the hotel to ask whether I had arrived.
MR GERBER: No firearms were used. My car was parked in such a way that all four could not reach me as I opened the door, Chairperson, and I think that saved me from further attack. I immediately had to go back to Johannesburg for an emergency operation. My sources later told me that men from PAC and APLA living in Pretoria had received instructions to tail me and to kill me by setting my car on fire. At this stage I realised that the attack was not only against Fidelity Guards but also against the rest of the country and that these attacks were increasing in intensity. Prior statistics showed this. Banks were constantly under fire and robberies took place on a daily basis.
I was in constant contact with the Security Branch and members of Murder and Robbery Unit and we exchanged information. I recruited more sources and informers and I also learnt of a PAC Askari in custody, he was serving a sentence at Diepkloof Prison, Julius Xhosa. He worked for Soweto Security when this unfortunate incident took place and he was sentenced to imprisonment with the option of a fine. During this period I also learnt from Brig Daantjie van Wyk. He had overall command of the special units at police headquarters in Pretoria. He approached me and asked me whether I could not organise a position for him at Fidelity Guards. He was very close to retirement. I discussed this with my director and it was approved and Brig van Wyk took my place and I returned to the investigation unit and I was in overall command there.
I discussed the Julius Xhosa incident with Brig Van Wyk and I told him that it would be a good thing to recruit Julius Xhosa and we decided to pay his fine and to get him out of prison. I had long discussions with Julius Xhosa and he was prepared to act as an informer within the company. It was clear to me that he was very afraid that his identity would be revealed. But at that stage all our sources, all our sources which we were using, were terribly afraid, they were afraid of intimidation and in fact of being killed, of murder. Julius Xhosa was a source of very valuable information for me and I shared this information with my colleagues at John Vorster Plein and various security branches and I was in contact with security people throughout the country at very high level.
At one stage information was passed on to us that one of our big branches in Johannesburg would be robbed. An ANC in a senior position at this branch was allegedly involved in an armed robbery of R245 000 during which people were
killed. I decided to disconnect this person's telephone, he lived in Tembisa, and with the help of members of Murder and Robbery on the East Rand we disconnected his phone one night and we decided to install a microphone in his office so that we could monitor all his telephone calls. We observed this particular branch for six months. This was the branch which was identified as the next target for the armed robbery. I delivered a brand new bakkie to the informer for his use to infiltrate these people. During this period my colleague, Johan van Eck, joined us in 1988. I knew him well and his father well. At that stage he was a General at Headquarters. General Van Eck was also my District Commandant at Murder and Robbery previously - he was also my rugby coach.
With his informers as well as mine and the rest of my staff, consisting of former security policemen, our main objective was to protect the firm and to exchange information with security branches. I was also approached at one stage by police headquarters. I am sorry, I am confusing the issue a little bit. (Inaudible - microphone not activated) Engelbrecht, he later became a General, to (Inaudible - translator's microphone not activated) All the senior officers from the Murder and Robbery branches as well as Attorneys-General from the Ciskei and the Transkei were invited to attend the conference and we exchanged information during the three-day conference. I was also requested to act as the guest speaker to discuss some of the problems which we were experiencing, especially in the Ciskei and the Transkei as well as (Inaudible - microphone not activated). It was a very successful conference and I sponsored part of this conference.
MR GERBER: Yes, I am sorry, 1991, 27th March 1991, just past midnight I received a telephone call from the Fidelity Guards branch in Hillbrow. I was informed of a serious armed robbery which had taken place involving about eight armed men who had entered the premises, shot some of the guards and robbed a considerable amount of money. I immediately left for Hillbrow and when I arrived there I noticed there was total chaos. (Inaudible - microphone not activated) We immediately launched an investigation and a search. The vehicle was spotted behind the Ponti Building, a very high block of (inaudible).
I immediately noticed that there had to have been a very serious shooting incident. Inside the vehicle there were lots of AK47 shells inside the vehicle and also outside the doors which were open. The money, R4― million, all the money was found in the vehicle as well as firearms.
I returned to the scene of the crime and we started investigating the area. We wanted to ascertain how access had been gained to the premises. I found a big carrier bag amongst the vehicles. In the bag I found green uniforms similar to the ones worn by the guards. I found more firearms.
MR GERBER: On the scene of the crime, on the premises. There were also two hand grenades of Chinese origin in the bag. I immediately realised that it was impossible to gain access to the premises, especially by eight people, it was impossible for eight people to just walk into the premises without anybody having noticed them and to commit such a robbery without any suspicion being raised.
My suspicions were confirmed by our sources. The attack which we had feared had taken place. I had talks with the Security Branch personnel, Major Deetlefs from John Vorster, and I was also told at a later stage by Brig Frik du Toit, Regional Commander of the Safety Branch, John Vorster Square, that APLA had brought in two cases of Chinese hand grenades. At this stage the assault was not only aimed at Fidelity Guards but also at banks. It was very clear that these attackers were (inaudible) for a cause, and they were also looking for firearms. It was not only confirmed by my own sources, but also by the Security Branch and members of Murder and Robbery.
During May 1991 one evening round about ten o'clock I received a telephone call from an unknown black person. He did not want to identify himself, but I recognised his voice. He told me that if I went to the Fidelity Guards branch in Hillbrow the next morning at five o'clock, I would find the deceased, Samuel Ranaka, there busy negotiating with members of the PAC. That morning quarter to five I was in the basement area where he was performing his duties. The office was also in the same building on the first floor. I gained access through the front gate and went down to the basement by means of the fire exit. I did not find Ranaka there, but a different guard who was performing his duties. I noticed that the Incident Book that the handwriting in the Incident Book had changed and that a page had been torn out of this register. Whilst I was speaking to the guard, I heard somebody running down the steps. It was the deceased clad in a type of karate uniform. He was out of breath and I asked him where he had come from. He told me he had been in the toilet on the first floor and I said it was impossible because I had been there just before going down to the basement and that there had been nobody there. I asked him where his uniform was. He showed it to me, it was in a plastic bag under the table inside the office where they were performing their duties.
At this stage Samuel was also a suspect in a R60 000 theft of a money container. This had disappeared from the safe area, there from the basement area, a couple of days previously. The video monitors had been tampered with, had been opened and some of the tapes had been removed. I then decided to take Samuel to my office to wait for my staff and his manager. At this stage I was determined, as a result of the information which I had received, to clear up this matter. (Inaudible) ... inside Fidelity Guards had been involved in this robbery. Later that morning some of my staff members started arriving at the office as well as Samuel's branch manager. I called him to my office and I told him what I knew. I also decided to call the shop steward to my office. I was experiencing great pressure from the Trade Unions at that stage in connection with the interrogation of people in my office. Both these members agreed they wanted to find out what the circumstances were and that we had to pursue our investigation of Samuel to expose everybody involved in the robbery.
I contacted the investigating officer, Detective Officer Dempsey. I had to contact Lieutenant Steyn, his section head. I spoke to Lieutenant Steyn and told him what had happened. He informed me that he was involved in an urgent bail application in the Supreme Court and that he couldn't help me, but that I had to continue with the investigation. At this stage Honourable Commissioners I must mention that we were busy with investigations on an ongoing basis. I had opened files similar to police files, I took statements for the police. I was appointed as a Commissioner of Oaths by the Department of Justice to facilitate matters and in this way we constantly exchanged statements with the police. We investigated matters very thoroughly so that it could be handed to the Department of Justice for prosecution or whatever. So I liaised with the police on a very high level. When I realised that nobody could help me I decided to speak to Samuel. It was clear that he was very uncomfortable. Some of my investigators, for instance Oosthuizen, he isn't here today, and two black investigating officers, Jack Makoana and Julius Xhosa, I asked them to also speak to Samuel to see whether we could get any information out of him. As I have already said, these people were nervous. This man was nervous, he didn't want to say anything in the office. I then decided that he had to be taken to a field across from the Johannesburg Market for interrogation and questioning.
He was taken out of the premises by a side exit and taken by vehicle to this open field. I was in radio contact with them and at a later stage Johan van Eck also followed them in his bakkie. Because I still had other duties to perform at the office I went there a little bit later.
Upon arrival there I noticed that members from the electricity department, workers from the electricity department were busy working on the robots and that they would be able to observe us. We were trying to talk to Samuel. I noticed and realised that this was not an appropriate place for an interrogation so I decided to go to Cleveland forest area where we usually had braais.
When we arrived there I took Samuel out of the car and I spoke to him. I asked him to help us with urgent information, we needed the information very urgently. I told him that I could help him if he gave me the information I needed, namely who the men were that were involved in the robbery on the 27th March. He denied any knowledge of the incident and I decided to extract the information from him by means of coercion. These methods were commonly known. During the Commission's sessions throughout South Africa these methods have been revealed. I had a rope and shocking machine in my car.
MR GERBER: No, it wasn't always (inaudible) operation from the people. I tied Samuel's feet together and hoisted him up in the tree, upside down. I then attached the shock machine to his private parts. I pulled a bag over his head and we started applying shocks. We constantly spoke to him and asked him where the other people were, the other people that we were looking for. Each one of the investigators present took part in this procedure, shock procedure. The two black investigators spoke to him in his own language. Samuel, however, refused to part with any information. At one stage I sent the black investigators to go and buy some cooldrinks Samuel was still hanging from the tree. There was liquor in
During these type of investigations and interrogations alcohol is always used. No right-thinking person can act in this way without your conscience plaguing you. During the day Oosthuizen took out a firearm and shot two shots in the direction of the deceased where he was hanging from the tree. We spoke to him very seriously and said that it must not happen again. It was at no stage our intention to kill Samuel. Later that afternoon Jack Makoena and Julius Xhosa came to me and asked if they could leave. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon. Jack had to attend a class and the other one had to be dropped off at his home, and I said yes, they could leave.
MR GERBER: Your Honour, at one stage I took some of the bluegum leaves lying around there and I set them on fire to cause smoke right underneath Samuel's head. There were no flames at any stage, just caused a lot of smoke, and I did this to make Samuel even more uncomfortable. At about half past five, quarter to six, it was already starting to get dark and we decided to remove Samuel from the tree. It was clear that he was very uncomfortable as a result of being suspended from the tree all day. I told him to walk up and down a bit to improve his circulation. And after a while he came and sat down a little distance a way from us. I spoke to him again and I explained to him that all these things were totally unnecessary if he would just cooperate with us. He made no comment. In the next moment Oosthuizen took out his firearm and shot Samuel through the shoulder without any reason, without saying anything. Samuel immediately jumped up and charged Johan van Eck and grabbed him as if he sought protection from him. My colleague pushed him away. At this stage there was a lot of blood, he was also covered in blood and he ran in the direction of the bakkie which was parked not very far away. He tried to jump into the bakkie. He was presumably trying to protect himself, but they pulled him away before he could jump into the bakkie and then Samuel started running in the direction of the mind dumps, not very far away. That was when I realised that we had big problems. I took my firearm and I shot Samuel. He fell down into a ditch and - because it was nearly dark at that stage. I went to my car to fetch my torch and started moving in the direction where Samuel had run. I found him, he was lying on the ground and when I shone the torch on him he jumped up again, grabbed the torch and started running again. He ran further along the ditch. I still had my firearm in my hand and shot two shots. I heard him falling again and I moved in that direction. (Inaudible) stomach. I shone the torch again and I noticed that he had been fatally wounded. I felt his pulse, I felt his throat. There was no pulse any more, he was dead.
At this stage we were in a panic because we decided whilst Samuel was still sitting on the ground to take him to a police station, probably Brixton, to detain him. The very negligible injuries on his body we could explain away, but to arrive at a police station with a seriously wounded or dead person was a different matter altogether. It could have been fatal for myself and my investigators. We decided to dispose of the body. My colleague Johan van Eck offered to put him in his bakkie and to take him to a forest area in Benoni which was known to him and to set the corpse on fire there. Oosthuizen would accompany him. As a result of the dust in the forest area we lost touch with each other on the freeway. They weren't in radio contact with me. The black investigators had the radio in their car and I decided to return to my home where I would then later contact Van Eck. At about quarter to ten that evening I phoned Van Eck at his home and he told me that he had set the body on fire. I told him not to come to work the next morning, but to clean his bakkie and that I would do the necessary at the office.
The next morning, quite early, the two investigators came to me to find out what had happened. I called them to my office and told them that Samuel Ranaka is dead. They didn't seem to be very shocked. Whilst we were discussing the matter they agreed to say that they had transported him from the forest area and that they had dropped him off (inaudible). I contacted Samuel's branch manager, Mr Roos, and told him that we had dropped him off and that he was supposed to report the next morning but that it had never happened.
After about a week there was still no sign of Samuel. We are not quite sure why. The incident was reported to the Hillbrow branch that he was missing. Brig Van Wyk took two statements under oath from the black investigating officers to the effect that they had directed an inquiry to a major at the Hillbrow branch.
At this stage I should perhaps mention that for the last six or seven years I often received freedom charters during surprise investigations. I found these in drawers, briefcases. I even found slogans painted on the walls, ANC, PAC slogans in the building of the Hillbrow branch.
MR GERBER: A month or so after this unfortunate incident Oosthuizen and myself and a former member of the Task Force met at a small bar near our offices. Oosthuizen then reprimanded me for the way in which I was conducting my investigations. He thought that he knew better because he was one of Eugene de Kock's men and they dealt with matters very differently, and he also tackled me about a written warning which I had given him, this is now after the murder, a warning regarding his conduct and his way of working. He often disappeared and I wouldn't know where he was. The next moment he pulled out his firearm. I was standing opposite him. He aimed it at my head and cocked it. I knew that there was a bullet in the barrel. That's the way we worked. And myself and Mr John Cook reprimanded him and told him to stop playing these games. He kept attacking me and tackling me about this letter which I had sent him, a notice, and he once again aimed his firearm at me. I then had my firearm behind my back and I removed the safety catch at some stage. I also had a bullet in my firearm and I then - when he aimed his pistol at me I shot him through the shoulder. I could have killed him if I wanted to. He fell to the ground. His firearm was in front of him and I removed it from him.
He was later admitted to a clinic in Johannesburg. An emergency operation was performed on him. I visited him but he was still in the operating theatre, and I decided to just leave matters as they were until such time as he contacted me and that is what I did.
He then contacted me on a Sunday after this incident. The incident itself happened on a Thursday evening. At that stage I hadn't reported the incident to my top management. Upon my arrival at the hospital with Mr Cook, who had also been present that evening, Oosthuizen suggested that he was going to report the matter. He was going to say that he had been attacked by an unknown assailant in a little quiet street in Hillbrow. I told him to do what he thought best. I then returned on the Monday and reported the shooting incident to my management. As a result of my senior position in the company they decided to suspend and Oosthuizen as well. I then later learnt that Oosthuizen had laid a charge of attempted murder against me at the Hillbrow Police Station. I made a complete statement regarding this incident and as a result of this statement in which I had explained all the circumstances, the senior state prosecutor declined to prosecute.
MR GERBER: As a member of the National Party I throughout acted in a bona fide manner, not only in the interests of the Fidelity Guards, but also in the interests of the South African economy, because these assaults were aimed at our economy. My contacts with the Security Forces, which was both at a grassroots level and at a very high level, was of very high quality and I decided and realised we were dealing with people who meant business and I acted in accordance with statements made by the National Party at that stage and I was part of a team, I was a small cog in a big organisation. The Police Security Forces etc., we wanted to prevent at all costs that terrorists could take over the country.
MR GERBER: Yes, I believed that. Maybe I can just mention at this stage that my sources, the sources which I used, were so afraid that they would be seen in my presence, seen to be negotiating with me, that I at one stage was driving around with R40 000 in my car to compensate these people whenever I met them at the places that they determined. At no stage did I do anything for personal gain. I constantly and throughout believed that I was acting reasonably. In my capacity at Fidelity Guards and as a member of the National Party and as a citizen of South Africa I believed that I was acting reasonably in the battle against these terrorists.
MR GERBER: The person who was working the safe was shot dead. I don't quite know. They gained access to the door, I don't know whether they knocked or rang a bell, we couldn't ascertain that, but he was shot dead in the door.
MR GERBER: I was very closely involved with the security installations of this building, it was an old building, in the central of Hillbrow. We performed every possible precautionary measure, for instance, monitors, security gates etc. It was just not possible for anybody to just walk in there. They had to have had inside help.
MR GERBER: Well, as I've said, I saw myself as a small cog in the bigger State machinery as a result of our liaison with these people. At one stage in 1990-91 one of the biggest crime actions was launched in Johannesburg. My unit was contacted to assist in this crime-combatting action and I served on the Planning and Coordinating Committee of the Police. In order to plan this operation, it was held on a Friday evening, magistrates were present, they monitored the whole procedure, and it was a great success. And that's where I once again realised how close we really were in the combatting of crime.
MR GERBER: I realised that if we let him escape with a serious shoulder injury and he reported it that we would be in great trouble. There was tremendous pressure on me from the Trade Unions, as I have already mentioned. I notified everybody whom I could notify. I wanted to resolve the matter, I did not want to injure him or kill him, although I was prepared to torture him.
MR GERBER: Mcala Gang. They were a grave threat, not only for our company in Port Elizabeth, but also for other institutions in the area. My colleague had an informer to whom the area was very well-known and we decided in respect of Julius Xhosa and Jack Mgwana(?) and this informer, to send these three people to Port Elizabeth. At one stage Oosthuizen came to hear of this and he decided to sell certain bullets, AK47 bullets especially loaded with a substance known as RDX so that upon firing the AK47 it would explode. Brig Van Wyk decided also that AK47s had to be transported with one of our company cars to Port Elizabeth and I said no, this simply could not happen.
MR PRINSLOO: What inference did you draw from the fact that you in the Fidelity Guards premises after the big robbery, the fact that you found these Chinese stick grenades and AK47s, and the AK47 shells in the car.
MR GERBER: Oh yes, very definitely so. I have the same feeling as that held by my colleagues in the Forces and we were fully prepared to avert this armed attempt upon the Government of the day. We were prepared to use everything in our power to do so.
MR GERBER: Yes, throughout. I cooperated with them, especially where national key installations were concerned and in connection with potential clients who wanted to have their installations declared as strategic keypoints. Their greatest fear was a terrorist attack.
MR GERBER: Honourable Commission, I have been in prison for 3― years in a single cell. I've had enough time to ponder the matter. We listened to statements made by our President which strongly supports reconciliation. I have a lot of remorse in my heart today. I don't know if Samuel Ranaka's mother is here today, but I want to apologise this morning, I want to hold out my hand to her and say I am sorry. I am sorry for what I have done. Samuel had a lot of opportunities. I often told him and his colleagues that they were playing with fire but they wouldn't listen, they
just continued with what they were doing. I would like to extend my hand this morning and to ask forgiveness and reconciliation. But that's not all. I also want to apologise to my family from where I am sitting here this morning. I want to apologise for everything that I have done to them. I remarried. I actually forgot to mention that I remarried and my wife has supported me throughout under very difficult circumstances. We had many threatening calls. I had to sell my big house whilst I was in prison. And I want to say them thank you. And to all my colleagues and friends, all those whom I disappointed, I would like to apologise as well.
I would like to ask that other people in my position, they might perhaps not be in prison, but outside, I want to say to them that only a small part of what actually took place has been disclosed to the public and to the world at large, but nobody has actually spoken about the assaults and attempts on us and our lives, how we were intimidated, shot at, houses burnt down and the terrible battle which we had to fight as well. And for that reason I appeal to everybody out there to come forward and to tell the Commission where things went wrong so that there can be reconciliation in this country. They say that stress kills and causes you to kill, but nobody talks about how stress kills you as a person.
CHAIRMAN: Will you draw the attention of Mr Gerber that he is entitled to answer in Afrikaans. If he wants to listen to the headphone just in case he may not understand sufficiently the questions that are put to him in English.
MR MPSHE: Mr Gerber, as the Chairperson has indicated, you are entitled to answer in Afrikaans and you may listen to the interpreters on the headphones if you should need to do that. If you don't understand please just tell the Chairperson.
MR GERBER: Yes, that is correct. The company was very important to me, but the onslaught was also very important, the onslaught against Fidelity Guards. It wasn't just aimed at us, but at all financial institutions. They were all targets during that time and at that stage the liberation organisations needed funds and finance was a big problem for them.
MR GERBER: My sources made me to understand very clearly that people belonging to these liberation organisations were going to infiltrate firms and that is what in fact happened. Not only the Fidelity Guards but various other big companies. Keypoint installations were infiltrated and my chief objective was not only to protect Fidelity Guards but to strengthen the hand of the then Government in every aspect.
MR MPSHE: I understand you very well, but I want us to confine ourselves to the incident at hand. I said to you that you took this man to investigate or to interrogate him because of the armed robbery that had taken place. Are we still together there? Now my question I repeat. How is this armed robbery connected to the security of the country as a whole?
MR GERBER: At that stage there were about between 40 and 50 armed bank services, branches, it wasn't only the Hillbrow branch, we had branches across South Africa, and this particular crime committed in Hillbrow could very easily have spread to other branches and for that reason it was very important for me to solve this problem because we were dealing here with a gang of people who were totally ruthless and who would not have stopped at further murder and bloodshed.
MR MPSHE: The date mentioned on the letter is 7 November 1989. You will agree with me that it is a year before this offence was committed. Now when you went with Samuel and your other colleagues to the veld for interrogation, was there any shop steward present?
MR GERBER: I have already mentioned in my evidence that I took all precautionary measures possible as a result of the pressure from the Trade Union. I notified his manager to come and see me that morning. I notified Mr Fernandez, the shop steward, I told him to be present. When he heard the facts and the merits of the matter he was clearly, how could I put it, he was clearly excited that there had been a break through in the solving of this crime, especially when he learnt of the circumstances and he also said carry on, investigate and solve this crime and he also testified in court in the criminal case.
MR GERBER: Yes, I spoke to Fernandez in the office and I told him that we would take this man out for investigation because Samuel was clearly excited and scared in the office. He was afraid to talk to us in the office.
MR GERBER: I agree completely, but the gravity of the crime with which we were dealing spurred me on to investigate the matter further, even after all the precautionary measures. I contacted Brixton, I spoke to the officer, they couldn't assist me and as a result of that I decided to proceed on my own.
MR GERBER: That was the most appropriate place at that particular stage, especially since other employees were also involved and I knew that these people were afraid to give information because they were murdered, they were threatened and intimidated. And at that stage I thought the mind dumps would be the safest place to speak to him.
MR MPSHE: And you further testified there was no actual flames from the fire which you made except smoke. If I put it to you that there will be evidence to the effect that his head was actually burnt up to the skin would you dispute that?
MR GERBER: Yes, I certainly would dispute that. In the criminal case this matter also arose. Oosthuizen, who drove to police headquarters to disclose and reveal the whole case found no mark on the deceased's head. Julius Xhosa found no burn wounds to his head, the post-mortem revealed no marks, fire wounds, injuries to his head. Only jack Mgwana apparently saw a mark on his head. There were no marks on his head, there were no flames.
back. May I just mention something about the shooting? After Samuel was buried and the case was revealed, the body was exhumed and a further post-mortem was performed by pathologist in Diepkloof and Soweto and a point of a bullet was removed from his body. Our firearms were confiscated for ballistic tests and could not be connected with this bullet point. So it is clear that Samuel had been involved in a shooting incident at a previous occasion and that he was walking around with this bullet, piece of a bullet in his body.
MR GERBER: The investigation throughout the day was necessary to reveal his colleagues and cohorts in the crime so that I could arrest them. I needed their names. They had intended and planned to kill Samuel Ranaka. But after Oosthuizen had shot him everything just deteriorated and eventually he was shot dead.
MR GERBER: Jack and Julius was part of my investigating team. They were not members of the branch where Samuel worked. That is correct. After I told them that we had killed Samuel they said that they would make a statement to the effect that they had dropped him off in Berea at his home.
MR MPSHE: If testimony should be heard that you had suggested to the two colleagues that they should make a statement saying that the deceased had taken you to Hammanskraal, Daveyton and other places, how would you react to that?
MR GERBER: That was another suggestion of Jack Mgwana's that they had driven around with the deceased during the day, but the statement was taken by Brig Van Wyk. He had absolutely no knowledge of this incident. He took a sworn statement from them and they took the statements to the enquiries personnel at the Hillbrow Police Station. If I had threatened them or tried to influence them they could have told Brig Van Wyk about it or they could have told the police that, the police at Hillbrow Station. They could have told them that I was influencing them to conceal a murder.
MR GERBER: Honourable Commissioners, I agree they could have been afraid, but they had no reason to be scared. I was on good terms with them, we worked together as friends, we worked together under very difficult circumstances. They had no reason to be afraid of me.
MR MPSHE: Mr Gerber, to take it a little bit further. These two co-workers were present at the scene where Samuel was assaulted by yourself and others. They saw how you applied shocks to Samuel's private parts and they saw how you or your colleague shot at Samuel or they also saw how you reacted to Samuel. This was quite sufficient to make them very afraid.
MR GERBER: Each one of the investigators, even the two black investigating officers took part in the torture. They helped us to suspend Samuel from the tree. One or two people would not have been able to do that. They helped us to do that. That afternoon when Oosthuizen fired the shot they were present, but we did not shoot to kill him. Oosthuizen's defence was that he wanted to frighten him and that was the only time when a shot was fired with the two black investigating officers being present.
MNR GERBER: Ek neem aan, ons sou dit gedoen het, hom af te haal om weer met hom te praat. So hy kon seker een of twee keer afgehaal gewees het vir 'n kort rukkie en dan weer opgehang. Dis moontlik dat hy een of twee keer afgehaal kon gewees het; ek kan nie presies onthou nie.
MNR GERBER: Nee, U Edele. Hy kon vir hom ernstig beseer het as hy afgeval het, want hy sou direk op sy kop geval het. En sy hande was agter sy rug vasgeboei. So hy sou direk op sy kop geval het as hy sou afgeval het.
JUDGE NGOEPE: I am sorry, Mr Mpshe, I think we don't have this letter in our papers, and I think it must be properly received. I think you must properly put it on record and if you want it to form part of the documentation before us you must hand it up as an exhibit.
I refer you to your letter dated 8th November 1989 addressed to Mr A THOMAS and also to your discussions with Mrs Marais and Fourie on Monday the 8th November. I hereby confirm the terms of agreement reached at the meeting in respect of the Fidelity Guards Security Department viz:
1. That all future investigations which involve the questioning of employees will be confined to a preliminary investigation stage whereafter the matter will be referred to the South African Police for further action. That the questioning of employees during the preliminary investigation stage will be conducted in the presence of either a shop steward or a co-employee. That all such preliminary investigations will be conducted in a question format and at no stage will any form of illegal violence be used or permitted. That, as far as is reasonable possible such preliminary investigations will be held within normal working hours.
MNR GERBER: Die oorledene was gesien, hy was nie direk die aand op diens nie, maar hy was gesien waar hy met een van die wagte onder in die kelder gepraat het, en dit het op 'n latere stadium met inligting wat ons gekry het, hom verbind dat hy moontlik 'n aandeel kon gehad het om toegang te gee tot hierdie vermeende rowers binne-in die gebou.
JUDGE NGOEPE: Did the police, be it Brixton or whatever police station, on any other occasion protect you in the manner that you thought they would protect you with regard to the deceased with his injuries?
MNR GERBER: Wel, hulle sal die man inboek in hulle register in hulle selle in en as daar verdere navrae of ondervraging moet wees sal hulle ons behulpsaam wees. Dan is daar 'n saak geregistreer waarop hulle dit doen.
ADV DE JAGER: So het u nie sy dood veroorsaak, kom ons vergeet vir 'n oomblik die marteling en die aanranding, maar u is skuldig bevind aan die moord en u vra amnestie op moord. Nou die rede of die doel waarom u die moord gepleeg het was omdat u bang was dat hy na die polisie toe sou gaan. Nou was dit nie in u eie belang gewees en het dit nie totaal niks te doen gehad met 'n politieke motief nie?
MNR GERBER: Die politieke motief - ek was heeltemal ten volle bewus gedurende hierdie ondervraging waarmee ons te doen het, Agbare. Dit was deurentyd in my gedagte en die ondervraging het ook daarom gedraai dat ons besig was met 'n linkse groep. Die skiet van die oorledene het gebeur binne sekondes, moes ek 'n besluit neem, of hy gaan wegkom in die donker in en ek het hom geskiet om hom te stop, nadat hy reeds ernstig gewond was. En dit sou vir ons ontsettende probleme, veral na aanleiding van hierdie brief ook, ontsettende probleme geskep het.
ADV DE JAGER: Ek is tevrede dat u misdaad - daar was 'n misdaad gepleeg en u het 'n ondervraging gedoen oor 'n misdaad. Inteendeel, ek stem nie saam met die metode wat u gevolg het nie, maar laat dit so wees. Maar wat het die misdaad - hoekom het u die misdaad verbind met 'n politieke oogmerk?
MNR GERBER: As gevolg van inligting wat ek deurentyd ontvang het Agbare Kommissie. Die oproep die aand ook voor ek vir Samuel gaan optel het, en hy my nie 'n redelike verduideliking kon gee nie, en wat die man gesę het, hy is weer besig om te onderhandel met die PAC.
ADV DE JAGER: U was 'n lid van die Nasionale Party, hy was 'n lid van die PAC. Daar is Nasionale Party mense wat rowe pleeg, daar is PACs wat rowe pleeg, daar is ander mense van ander politieke partye wat rowe pleeg, wat het u dit laat besluit dat daardie roof gepleeg is met 'n politieke motief en dat dit nie net 'n roof was soos enige ander roof nie?
MNR GERBER: Die inligting was dat hulle finansies gesoek het. Hulle het gegaan om finansiële instellings aan te val om hulleself, hulle koffers te vul as gevolg van 'n tekort aan finansies en vuurwapens. En dit is hoekom ek deurentyd, en my skakeling met Veiligheidstak, dit baie sterk oorgebring het dat ons te doen het hier met 'n terroriste organisasie wat ons geïnfiltreer het en ons baie ernstige skade byna, byna berokken het met R4― miljoen wat geneem was. Want hierdie hele optrede was dus gedissiplineerd gedoen, jy kon sien dit was nie die gewone krimineel van die straat af wat dit gedoen het nie.
MNR GERBER: Agbare, die manier wat hulle by hierdie perseel ingekom het, dit is nie maklik nie. Ons het elke moontlike manier, voorsorgmaatreëls getref dat enigiemand nie net in hierdie persele kan inkom nie. Sonder hulp kon hierdie mense nie ingekom het nie. Daar is monitorkameras, die hele plek vol, en ewe skielik is hier agt mense onder in die kelderverdieping in uniforms geklee, gewapen met AK47-gewere en hulle pleeg hierdie roof en 'n moord.
ADV DE JAGER: Ek wil nog net een vraag aan u vra. Hy was nou van tienuur die oggend tot vyfuur die middag onderhewig aan hierdie marteling, en hy het steeds ontken dat hy enigiets weet. Het dit nooit by u dalk opgekom dat hy dalk werklik nie iets weet nie?
MNR GERBER: U Edele, in ernstige gevalle soos hierdie, en dit is vorige ondervinding, dan weet ek jy moet geduld hę met hierdie tipe mense om hulle te ondervra, want hy weet wat dit vir hom werd is. Hy wil nie gebrandmerk word as 'n impimp wat die normale terme by hulle is nie. So as hy moet dit gaan uitkom gaan ons die ander mense ook optel en hy is die enigste een wie ons die inligting kon gegee het. So hy vrees vir sy lewe deurentyd.
ADV DE JAGER: Inteendeel, mnr Gerber, in die vraag is dit selfs suggereer gewees dat hy moet erken nou maar net dat hy kan loskom van die boom af, hy moet aan Jack en Niklaas erken, wat sou so 'n erkenning vir u werd gewees het as hy maar net erken het om die marteling te ontsnap?
MNR GERBER: O nee, dan sou ek dit opgevolg het. As hy moes ge-erken het dat hy wel weet dan sou ek hom losgemaak het maar dit is waaroor hierdie hele ondersoek gegaan het. Ek wou sy vriende uitgehaal het. Sy vriende wat op daardie stadium 'n baie groot bedreiging was vir die land, vir die Regering, ek wou hulle uitgehaal het.
MNR GERBER: Omdat ek 'n besige kantoor gehad het in dieselfde gebou. Mense het in- en uitgegaan, in- en uitgegaan. Alhoewel ek my deur toegehou het kon ek sien dat hy is nie op sy gemak om daar te praat en vir my enige inligting gee nie. Dit is die gevoel wat ek gekry het.
MNR GERBER: Ek wou by hom weet wat die nag gebeur het, 27 Maart 1991. Wie is die mense wat saam met hom hierdie daad beplan het, wie is die mense wat hy die nag van twaalfuur tot ongeveer vyfuur in Hillbrow gesien het, waarmee was hy besig. Dit is die nag toe ek hom gekry het, die oggend.
MNR GERBER: Ons het ondervragingstegnieke gehad om die mense onder dwang te laat praat. Ek het op daardie stadium nie gedink, alhoewel ons die apparate gehad het, het ek nie gedink dat dit dalk moontlik kon wees dat ons hom gaan martel nie, maar indien hy nie sou praat nie, dan was ek
MNR GERBER: Nee, ek kan nie sę hy is altyd in die kar nie, maar daar is tye wat hy - hy word uitgehaal. Ons is ook maar bang vir bewerings wat gemaak word veral deur die Vakunie. Ons karre word visenteer en hulle kry die tipe goed.
MNR GERBER: Ek was nie ontsteld omdat die sisteem ingebreek was nie. Ek was ontsteld op die manier hoe iemand binne gekom het en niemand weet daarvan nie, behalwe dat dit kon geskied het as iemand hulp verleen het. Dit het my ontstel want ek het ten goed besef dat dit alleenlik kon geskied het met hulp van binne. Want niks was gebreek nie, niks was beskadig nie.
MNR GERBER: Agbare, daar was nie veel daardie tyd van die nag nie, dit was op 'n Donderdagaand. Ek kan miskien net bietjie meer duidelikheid gee. Op 'n Donderdagaand pak hulle salaris loonpakkies op ons persele om Vrydagoggend uit te gaan vir aflewering. So onder in hierdie area is daar die wag wat in 'n beskermde area sit wat die deure en al die slotte monitor en dan twee wagte, een of twee wagte wat in die kluisarea werk, wat die geldtrommels ontvang wat met 'n skag afkom van die eerstevloer af nadat dit opgemaak is in betaalpakkies. So op die meeste kon daar seker drie, vier mense onder in hierdie kluisarea gewees het en dit was dan ook later ons inligting dat Samuel wat nie op diens was nie daardie nag daar gewees het om te kuier by die man wat in hierdie area gewerk het, soos wat hulle ook later omgeruil het toe Samuel uitgegaan het die nag toe ek hom gaan soek het.
MNR GERBER: Hulle kon nie 'n verduideliking gee nie. Hulle het gesę vier het die man wat die monitors werk, hulle het hom aangehou en vier het na die kluisarea gegaan. Die volgende oomblik was die mense net daar binne.
JUDGE NGOEPE: Mr Gerber, I think that when you took the deceased out of the premises to some location where you wanted to interrogate him, the impression I get is that the intention to torture him was already there. That is why, when you arrived at a certain point and you saw the people working from the electricity department you decided to move away because they could have seen you as to what you could have been doing to the deceased.
MNR GERBER: Ek het ook in ag geneem dat dit Samuel se aandag sou trek as ons met hom praat en hier net so 'n entjie verder is daar mense wat werk aan die kragdrade en hulle wil ook nou weet, ewe skielik is hier 'n klomp voertuie en mense wat met 'n swart persoon praat. Dit is hoekom ek dit geag het om liewerste pad te gee. Ek kan net nog 'n ding noem dat die twee swart ondersoekers en Oosthuizen, toe hulle vir die oorledene uit die gebou uitgevat het, het hulle 'n sak oor sy kop getrek terwyl hy in die voertuig was. Dit het ons later gehoor.
JUDGE NGOEPE: I am not saying that you necessarily already had the intention to kill this man, if ever you did have such intention subsequently, but surely it seems to me that you are not going to say prayers with him.
MNR GERBER: Nie deurentyd nie. Ek was bereid om dwang te gebruik tot op 'n punt waar die man sy samewerking gee. En daarvandaanaf sou ek onmiddellik gestop het. Ek het geen rede gehad om hom verder seer te maak of te karnuffel nie.