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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION HEARINGS
Starting Date 09 September 1996
We would like to remember the deceased now, Sputsu Cameron Matikinca, Tobile Kali, Vusumzi Sydney Nqabisa, Monde Ben Mfenge, Nathaniel Mnyamezeli Myeha, Luzuko Ramncwana, Vukani Mbula, Zwelitsha Lali, Xolani Kaleni, Thembinkosi Harold Billie. We would like to ask Father Nangna to say a prayer for us.
Let us close our eyes and pray. Can we first sing this hymn. [singing of hymn] Dear God be with us, where there is hatred let us sow love, where there is danger let us sow peace, where there is discord let us sow harmony, where there is doubt let us sow faith. Dear God, where there is despair let us sow hope, where there is darkness let us sow light. Dear God where there is sorrow let us sow joy and make our presence dear God, make it unnecessary for comfort, let us be the comforters, make us understanding so that we should not want to be loved but rather let us love because it is in giving that we shall receive because it is in forgiving that we shall be forgiven, because you have taught us God that it is in death where we will be born into life everlasting. You have done all this God and You'll do all this in the name of Your Son who has died for us and risen for us so that we can live in Your Spirit. Amen.
We would like to bid everyone a hearty welcome to this gathering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We would like to welcome everyone to this special sitting of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We welcome you all to this event hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We would like to bid a special welcome to those that are going to be giving evidence and also the family members who have come to give them support and we welcome those who will be making special submissions. I want to express my appreciation to my fellow Commissioners and Committee members and staff especially the Regional Manager and his staff in our office in East London who have all done a splendid job of work all along but each time they seem to excel themselves and we want to say thank you to them for arranging this hearing.
This is an event hearing which is meant to give a window on a specific kind of incident in which gross violations of human rights have happened so that we may be able, perhaps, to draw conclusions about any common characteristics on features that may be part of events of this kind, massacres as here, as in Boipatong, KwaMakuta etcetera. From 1990 to 1994 we were as if riding a roller coaster, sometimes we would be on the crest of a wave of optimism as a breakthrough seems to have happened in negotiations in Kempton Park and then, at the next moment we would be thrown into the nadir of despair and it seemed like we would be entering a horrid night and this Bisho massacre was something of that kind, when our hopes for a settlement seemed to be being dashed.
We will be hearing from those who suffered as a result of that event, survivors' victims but we will also be hearing from other important role players who will be making submissions that may help us to understand a little bit the psychology and mind of those who gave orders, those who seemed to be moved by bravado etcetera. One of the things that we have been asked as a Commission is to find ways and means that we will recommend, that will ensure that things of this kind never happen again in our country.
We will be looking to see how we might be able to inculcate, instil in all of us in this land a deep reverence for human life against the prevalent cheapness that we see for instance in the high level of criminal violence that is happening at the present time in our country. We hope that as we listen to those who are not statistics but human beings of flesh and blood, that you and I will be filled with a new commitment, a new resolve that our country will be a country where violations of this kind will not happen, that the context will be inhospitable for those who seek to treat others as if they were nothing.
May I also, ahead of time, express our appreciation to those who help us by providing translation and now that I talk about translation, yes, all right I will, I'm being given wonderful signals over there. As you know these are headphones. For those who don't know the 11 official languages of this country, you may use one of these. Xhosa will be heard on channel three and English will be heard on channel two and please do not remove these things from the venue. They bite! Once you leave the venue with these things it turns into something horrible, a monstrous thing that hurts you.
So I want to say thank you to those lovely persons in the booths who do a wonderful job. We are saying that this is not a court of law but we have had many hearings and people know how to behave with dignity and we are very grateful for that. We just want to remind you that this is how we show our solidarity with people who have suffered as much as they have suffered. We will also not be giving, making findings at the end of this hearing but that is something that is going to happen a little later.
May we also remind you that although we are not a court of law, if anyone deliberately misleads the Commission, then they will be guilty of a criminal offence the same criminal offence as if they had done it in a court of law but I'm quite certain nobody wants to come here and [indistinct] but I have to give you that warning. There are wonderful, I mean all of you are very warmly welcomed but we want to be able to welcome the Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr Kasrils, Mr Ronnie Kasrils and Ms Kasrils and their speaker and deputy speakers of the Provincial Legislature, Mr and Ms Winty and Ms Nash. We welcome as well all the mayors who are here, actually you are supposed to stand when I call you out so that the people can see you and if they like you [indistinct]. We would ask the mayors to stand please. MEC's, there is MEC Ngonyama and Umhlalo and Mangocho. They say that Cyril is here. The speaker's microphone is not on. The speaker's microphone is not on.
I would like to introduce members of the panel. Father Mcebisi Xundu, he is a member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee and he is based in our office here in East London. Tiny Maya is a member of our Human Rights Violation Committee and she is based here in East London. Commissioner Bongani Finca. Why did you applaud for him and not for the others? He is a member of our Human Rights Violations Committee and he is also the boss man in our office, our original office here in East London and they are doing a splendid job of work. Then Alex Boraine who is Deputy Chair of the Commission, a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and he is based in our headquarters in Cape Town. Oh and his spouse is here just to make sure he is behaving, Ms Boraine. Dr Mapule Ramashala, he is a Commissioner and a member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee and she is based in our office in Cape Town. Dumisa Ntsebeza is a Commissioner, a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and he is also head of our investigating unit. Should they applaud for you? And then Ntsikelelo Sandi is a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and he is based in our office in East London.
I want to introduce the people who are sitting also behind here. Advocate Denzil Potgieter is a Commissioner, a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and he is based in our office in Cape Town. And it's a very special pleasure to welcome back June Crichton. She left because, she is a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee. She resigned because of ill health and very wonderfully she has received a clean bill of health and has resumed since the 1st September which is wonderful. June Crichton.
Chairperson, I report to you on the matters that are going to come before the Commission at today's hearing. They do appear in the programme for today. We are proposing sir that we take these cases in groups of five, if you agree, although we will take perhaps the first two before tea and then take the rest after tea. The cases are fairly similar, they deal with the Bisho massacre and for that reason we think that it should be possible to take them all together.
The witnesses that are coming before the Commission today are as follows. Ntobeko Osward Mafa who appears on attempted murder on himself. Buzelwa Eunice Matikinca who appears on two matters. There was an attempted murder on herself and there was the murder of her husband who was involved with her on the same march. There is Ncumisa Alice Kali who appears on the matter of the murder of Tobile Kali. Monwabisi David Hlakanyana on attempted murder on himself. Mzwabantu Nqabisa who appears on the matter of Vusumzi Sydney Nqabisa and the violation is murder. I report at this stage on those five cases which are going to be the first five cases for this morning.
There are going to be ten more cases which we will take in the afternoon session and I propose that in the interest of time, I report to you at that stage when we take those cases. Could I at the same time report that we will be taking submissions as per our programme on political parties and individuals who the Commission has invited to give testimonies in order to arrive at a clearer picture of what happened on that day and on the political background which lead to the Bisho massacre march.
Mr Cyril Rhamaphosa and Mr Smuts Ngonyama will be making a submission on behalf of the ANC and Mr Rhamaphosa has made a request that he be taken, if it is possible, just before tea so that he goes back to his very pressing assignment in Johannesburg. I propose sir that we accept that request and take him before tea.
The submission by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Mr R F Botha. I am told sir that he is on his way from the airport and may be joining us soon, who I propose that we take him immediately after lunch, followed by a submission by the Honourable Mr Kasrils, the Deputy Minister who will be testifying on his own particular involvement on that particular hearing.
Thank you Honourable Chairperson. Good morning. We spoke yesterday and you made a promise that you would briefly tell us and just give us a background or an idea about what this march was all about, where it originated from and what happened there. --- It was on the 7th September in 1992 on a Monday. At the time I was a student at the Cape College of Education in Fort Beaufort and the organisation at the college had informed us, the South African Students Congress had informed us that on Monday there would be a march and that march was being organised by the three organisations, The African National Congress, The South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU. That march was organised and the intention of the march was to force the regime to free political activity because at the time it was under the government of Brigadier Oupa Gqozo who was leading the military council here at the time. We moved from there as students and other supporters of the organisations, the organisations which I had mentioned, and we went from where the starting point of the march was, which was Victoria Grounds in King William's Town.
You then left Victoria Grounds, what time was that and where did you go from there? --- We left Victoria Grounds being lead by the leaders of the organisations I have mentioned, towards Bisho and we left as that group of these people and our intention was that we were going to come and make our demands quite clear.
And as far as you know, where did the problem start, where did the shooting start? --- I think that approximately after 1 p.m. when we were going up the road that leads towards this field, the Bisho stadium, the march stopped and as one of the people that was in front, I wanted to know what was happening and I found that the march had stopped and it couldn't proceed and it was obvious that there was some talks between the leaders of the march and the representatives of the government. It became obvious that people were panicking because the march was not proceeding and after a while people were seen running towards the stadium, since that was where the march was headed anyway. I joined the group that was running towards the stadium with the intention that I wanted to get there as soon as possible and find myself a place to sit and have a better view of these people and our leaders. During that chaos of running towards the Bisho Stadium all of a sudden there was this - chaos erupted and we didn't know where it had started. You wouldn't even be able to say whether we were being shot or what was going on because we didn't realise immediately that we were being fired upon but I found that these people that ran in quickly into the stadium were coming back, back towards our direction and after that, after a little while there were screams that we are being shot and I realised that we were being shot because some of the people were screaming saying that we should lie flat. I also lay flat but I found that some people are running past me because at that time it was not easy to establish exactly who was shooting and where the shooting was coming from. All you could hear was this noise which was terrifying.
Did you get up from where you were laying? --- I also thought I'd rather get up and run away, that maybe I would survive that everything that was happening but unfortunately I just ran a short distance, a distance of three metres and I felt something burning on my left-hand side and I found myself on the ground the next moment. I didn't realise there and then that I had been shot but when I tried to get up I found that I couldn't and I didn't even know what the cause was. I attempted several times to get up and I realised that I could not get up. I then realised that I quickly had to ask people for help, the people that were running past me and I shouted for help, asking people to please help me get up and remove me from where I was and there were those comrades who were running with us who heeded my call of distress and they came to me and asked me what happened comrade and I said to them I don't know whether I have been shot or what and thereafter they looked at my body and when they looked under my jersey they found that there was blood on my side and they took me and ran with me. In all this time shots were still being heard and they ran with me and we got to the road from which we came and that was where I was able to get onto a bakkie. I was loaded onto a bakkie and there were also other people who had been injured who were being loaded onto this bakkie. Others were groaning and we did not know what had happened to them. We were then taken and rushed off to Gray Hospital here in King William's Town.
How long were you in Gray Hospital for? --- When I got to Gray Hospital there were many people who were also obviously injured and I was taken and x-rayed to assess the extent of the damage, the injury, and I was taken in for x-rays where after the doctors came to me with my x-ray slides and showed me that there was a bullet lodged in my body and they said that they would not be able to treat me at Gray Hospital, that I would have to be rushed to East London because I could also feel, at the time, that it was even becoming difficult to breathe and I was then transferred to Frere hospital in East London where it was found that I had a bullet lodged in my back and that I had been injured in my lung, my left lung, and that there was a lot of blood in my lung and they hurriedly treated me and drained the blood and I was admitted in that fashion.
What did the doctors at Frere hospital say to you about your injuries? --- After three days of observing me and trying to find whether there would be any change in my circumstances, they found that there was no change, that I remained the same, that the use of my legs wasn't returning to me. They came back and told me that there was a bullet lodged in my spinal cord and that bullet had caused damage to me in such a way that I would never be able to use my legs again. In other words I was paralysed from the waist down.
How long were you in hospital for? --- It became apparent that I had to be transferred to Conradie hospital so that I could receive better treatment because here in East London they realised that they were not well equipped to deal with my rehabilitation so it was better that I had to be sent to Cape Town and that is where I was sent to and I was there for three months. I was discharged on the 18th December 1992.
After your injury were you able to go back to school and complete your studies? --- Yes I realised that since I had come thus far in my studies it was best for me to go back. I went back to the same college and completed my studies, my teacher studies, which I completed successfully and I am now a family health worker.
I am certain that this changed your life drastically, this injury, especially finding yourself in a wheelchair. What is it like being at home and teaching at a school while confined to a wheelchair? --- Yes life changes when you are in this situation because it is not the same as before. One encounters a lot of problems in society and in the community and in life in general. I could say that at home I have problems in the sense that I do not come from a well-off home. My situation is very difficult in the sense that we live in a 4-roomed house and this 4-roomed house is in a very small area and it is very difficult to move around freely. You also find that sometimes it is even difficult to go by yourself freely and go outside. Even when I am at work you find that the circumstances are such that it is not for one in a wheelchair because you must remember that our schools are not well equipped schools and they haven't been prepared for people in my situation so I do experience difficulty in those circumstances.
Who assists you at home, for example in washing and dressing and preparing yourself and doing everything you have to do, even getting around in your wheelchair? --- I get assistance and support from my parents and my brothers and sisters but there are also people that help me generally in the community especially when I move around, for example towards town you would find people that push me around and things, in my wheelchair.
How do you get to school and how far is the school from your home? --- The school is not too far but it is difficult for me to go in this wheelchair so I hire a car to take me to school every morning and fetch me and take me back home after school.
Was there ever a case about this matter or was anyone charged or did you consult with attorneys? --- As far as the case is concerned, we made statements which were submitted to the investigators and we are still waiting for the prosecutor to announce whether there was ever a follow-up. As far as the civil claim is concerned, I did submit, institute a civil claim against the government and I think that it was the government of the day that was responsible for this because in days gone by, the side of the government collapsed and nothing became of my claim.
That is fine, maybe we'll speak privately. I am certain that you do have a request or a wish that you would like to place before this Commission. What would you like the Commission to do for you? --- Firstly, it hurts me that on that day there were people, so many people who lost their lives in that manner because on that day we were not fighting and to prove that there were no weapons being carried by anyone. It was people who were suffering, who were utilising their rights to show that there's a [indistinct] there afterwards Brigadier Gqozo and do so freely and I am certain that these people would feature in South Africa's history, that their names be mentioned. It would hurt me to find that their names be overlooked and I would like there to be even a memorial stone that could be built where their names could be on there to just be a constant reminder that these are the people that lost their lives utilising their rights and making their contribution towards the freedom of our country, so that our children and future generations can see that here there was a loss of life from innocent people. Here there were this type of victims and I would like for there to be a memorial stone which should be set up in memory of these people because they were not fortunate enough to see the change that came about after that tragic day of the 7th September. Fortunately I was fortunate enough to, as a black person and a citizen of this country, to be able to vote and participate in the change in our country.
You had another request as far as the facilities in your area were concerned. --- Yes, I have a wish that there should be an improvement, especially as far as sports facilities are concerned because I am certain that there is a lot of talent but there are no appropriate facilities where this talent can be developed and that is where one finds that the youth ends up getting involved in other activities and I would like to make a contribution towards sport because I find that it is one of the things that could make our country a better place.
Is that all you would like to say? --- What I hoped would be the last thing is that I would like to ask this Commission or the justice departments of this country that they expose who was responsible for shooting us and secondly, why we had to be shot at and also who had instructed them to shoot at us because for now, we do not know who they are. Fair enough we know that Brigadier Oupa Gqozo was in charge then and that we were against his regime but there were others who were behind this whole thing because I would like this Commission to expose who was responsible for it and we hope and trust that they will come forward because for now, the people that are coming forward, coming to share their pain, are those whose rights were violated, but the perpetrators have not as yet come forward for us to see who they are, and know who they are and I hope that all the people of South Africa are interested and have a desire to see these people who perpetrated these deeds.
Can you please tell us shortly on this time when he was shot. --- When I arrived at Bisho, let me first tell you I'm from Ndaba location here near town. We went to the township from Ndaba township and we took taxis which were coming to the march. We arrived in King William's Town in the stadium and after the meeting with the leaders in King William's Town we went to Bisho. When we arrived at Bisho, what we saw is that in front of the Parliament there were soldiers and these soldiers were having guns but we didn't think that we were going to be shot because the march was a peace march. When we looked back, when we faced the stadium we heard the shots and these shots were coming from the stadium. We stood and we didn't know what was happening. When the shots were again fired, when we were looking at the stadium because we were far, there was a wind and at that time we were being shot and my husband, other people were lying down in front of the leaders' cars and we were being shot. Others were crawling and many people were falling on top of me and I couldn't see my husband at that time.
When did you see your husband? --- When we woke up because the shots were not fired at that time, there were comrades which were helping us because we couldn't stand up. People were all over us. We jumped the fence which was on the road. When we were on the leaders' cars we saw that people were lying there and the teargas was also fired, and after that teargas was fired we were shot. We tried to crawl, everybody was trying to crawl and these comrades helped me and they put me next to a tree. When I was there and the shots were fired there was a [indistinct] in front of us and I saw my husband lying next to the fence. They were three and my husband had a cut on the left side on the head. I called him three times and I said Zizi, he shook his hand. I called him again and he shook his hand and then the fourth time the hand fell down. When I went to him the other comrade helped me and he took me from my husband and I heard a shot passing by and it hit the comrade on the leg and it was taken by another one and I was crawling to him and other shots were fired again. I cried and I couldn't stop because the shots were fired directly to them because they were three. The other man was shot on the head and it was clear that he was dead and the other child who was 10 or 11 years was shot in the head and it was clear that he was dead also and the shots were coming to them. When we were still shot the military cars came in with the soldiers and there was this helicopter on top of us and we couldn't see where the shots were fired but we just heard the noise and we were unconscious because there were many shots fired. Then came the Red Cross car and they took me next to it and they tried to take us to that car and I was taken to that car to the Gray Hospital. I was treated there. I couldn't stay there because I asked where my husband is and they said he is in East London. I thought it funny, went there to take me from the hospital and the car of the Indian man took us to home. It is where we met with a road-block and we arrived at home at 7. I couldn't sleep when I arrived at home. People called a car and they took me to the hospital in Fort Beaufort. I didn't know at that time that my husband was dead. When I was at the hospital I was treated there and then in the morning at half past three I asked them to take me home because I was going to East London and then they said the doctor will not agree and I asked them to phone the doctor to release me and then the doctor agreed and Mr Nglangsi came to take me. He came together with his wife and they took me home. When I arrived at home the family of Matikinca were all there and I didn't know anything at that time but I thought that they came to see me and support me. I saw Mr Nglangsi taking a Bible and they all sang and they told me about my husband's death on the 8th.
Which standards are they in? --- The first one is doing second year in Cape College. The next one, he was doing arts in Port Elizabeth in a coloured school because it's not found in our school. He was doing a second year when his father died because the school was closed down and they were supposed to go to town and I couldn't afford to pay the fees.
What about others? --- The other one is doing motor repair in Zweletemba. She is a girl. The other one is studying in Salkoeliga in Fort Beaufort and she is doing standard 8. The last one is doing standard 9 in Tubaletu, the one born in 1980. My grandchild is in crèche.
All of your children, after the death of their father are depending on you? --- Yes they are all depending on me and my cousin is helping me. My cousin is staying here in Bisho and one member of our family.
Do you have a request to this Commission? --- Yes I do have a request. I ask the Commission - firstly there is something I didn't say. After I was down and people were hitting me I had a problem with my left kidney and the treatment is so expensive and I can't afford it. My request to the Commission is that the doctor told me that I couldn't work because of this treatment and I have high blood because my leg sometimes has a problem and I ask the Commission to help me with the education of my children. Another request is that my husband died, in our township we are so poor and when he died he was formulating bricks for our church because we were going to build a church and he died not finishing that job and I ask the Commission to do that job for us.
I would like to greet you Ms Matikinca and Mr Mafa. The question that I am going to put to you can be answered by either one of you. I would like to start by asking on the day that the soldiers were shooting at the people, as people that were there, do you think that there was any need for the soldiers to shoot?
Is there a way in which perhaps the people that were marching that day, in your perception, posed a threat to the soldiers or the buildings in Bisho? --- No, and one would be lying in saying that there was.
Mr Mafa would you like to add something to that? --- I would like to answer. The way in which the march was organised, we did not pose any threat to any life and we did not put anyone's life in danger and we ensured that there was not going to be any attacking of any government buildings and besides, this march was being, was under the scrutiny of peace monitors who were specifically there to take care of such circumstances on that day. That is why we can say with absolute certainty that this was a peaceful march and the intention of that march was to resolve things peacefully and that is what surprised us, that we should see ourselves being fired upon in that fashion.
Finally, let us just go back to where you live in Fort Beaufort. I find that both of you, when this incident took place, were residents of Fort Beaufort. Tell me, the march or the meeting that was going to move from King William's Town to Bisho, how did you hear about it in your community? Were pamphlets distributed or how were you people notified about this meeting? --- Since I was a student at Cape College we were notified by the local branch of the ANC which told our branch of SASKO that there was going to be this march and SASKO in turn informed its members and also the students. Thank you Mr Chairperson.
Thank you Chairperson. We are going to hear from a number of witnesses today and yours is the first and it just brings us right back to the horror of your own experience and I want to say first that we extend to you both our very deepest sympathy. It's not easy to come to this Commission and to relive what you experienced but if it can help towards the resolution of the conflict as well as the healing of all those concerned then it will be worthwhile. Mr Mafa I want to say a very brief word of real thanks for your own approach.
You have, towards the end of your testimony, spent much more time thinking of other people than yourself. You refuse to remain a victim. You are not a victim, you have risen beyond that and your example inspires all of us. I want to just underline the comment you made about the possibility of a memorial stone of some kind. I assume you mean that that should be on the site as to exactly where it all took place. Thank you very much, I just wanted clarity there.
Now you've mentioned that you received some compensation and we are not interested in going into that at the moment but do you receive any kind of disability allowance at all? --- Yes I used to receive a disability grant before I obtained employment but ever since I received employment it has been stopped.
Just one other question concerning your own situation. You mentioned that one of the problems is getting from home to your work. I'm just wondering if you have any contact with the social welfare department concerning the possibility of some form of transport, whether you've made some enquiries about that or whether you would like us to try and see if that is a possibility. We can't promise we can simply say but we will certainly try if you haven't. Could you tell us about that? --- No I did not get into touch with anybody about my transport but I would like the Commission to, I would appreciate it if the Commission could assist me in that regard.
Thank you and finally we all, I think, know now that the court case involving an incident, or much more than an incident, a massacre, which took place four years ago has not yet been resolved but we understand that that court case is going to happen very soon. It is our hope that some of the questions you have raised, both of you, concerning as to who gave the orders and shot you and who killed people, who was responsible. Some of these things are going to come out. Our own investigators obviously will work hand in hand in an attempt to find the truth and we hope that before too long, that truth will be known. Thank you.
We thank both of you and I would like to add by saying that it surprised us that your requests are so humble. You did not ask for anything for yourself but rather for others and we salute people like yourself and we thank you for thinking about others, putting others first before yourself and you too ma'am. We thank you for, in spite of the sacrifices that you have made, I would, I am tempted to say that we should remind ourselves that we paid a very high price for the freedom which we are enjoying today for the liberation of our country. It did not come free.
There are many people who were injured, who suffered, who have died so that we can reap the rewards of our liberation struggle. We thank all of you and we would like to say especially to you that we hope that God will comfort you and strengthen you and you too teacher. In Zulu they would call you onjulongo but we are very proud of you. I mean here you are as a young man, you would want to be able to walk and play sport, you're not able to do that, although I mustn't say that quite, I mean, there are those that come from Atlanta so you might be able to play basketball but I mean you would not have wanted that to happen that way and we need to keep remembering that our freedom has come at very great cost and that must make us want to guard it because there are those that want to destroy it in many ways. We mustn't allow that to happen. That is one other memorial that we can erect. It is not a physical memorial, it is a memorial that can last forever. When we pay respects for those who paid such a heavy price by our retaining our freedom, guarding it and not allowing it to be messed up by all kinds of other people who want to undermine it but thank you very much. ... end of Tape 1, side B ...
I just want to welcome again all of you but could we ask members of the legislature [indistinct] ... I haven't asked you individually, could you stand, I mean you're all over the place. Could all the members of the legislature please rise. Please don't be shy. Please give them a round of applause - and we welcome members of the clergy. Could you all please rise., thank you. And we have the Premiere's wife Ms Mshlaba, we cannot see you - thank you, we've seen you.
The Chairperson has asked if I would extend a very warm word of welcome to Mr Rhamaphosa as well as to Mr Smuts Ngonyama. Mr Rhamaphosa you have indicated that you have a very important appointment that you have to go to and that's why we have drawn it forward. We may have to delay tea in order for you to complete your presentation and obviously the Commission and committee members may wish to put some questions as well.
I assume that your appointment has to do with the Constitutional Assembly and nothing else. Anyway, we are very, very happy to have you and we are grateful that you have come to try and give some light on those dreadful events of four years ago and we ask you to make your presentation now. Thank you.
Thank you Chairperson. Thank you for the warm words of welcome. With your kind permission I would like to request that Mr Ronnie Kasrils also join us at the podium. He is a witness, he will be relating events that took place on that day, in his personal account but if you do permit a witness who is about to give evidence to join an ANC delegation, we would appreciate it.
Thank you. There may be questions that only he can answer. Chairperson, we wish to thank the Commission for permitting the African National Congress to make a submission on the events of the day when many people were massacred in Bisho. In our submission we will seek to deal with, very briefly, the context in which that massacre took place, the political context.
We will also seek to deal with the situation in the Ciskei at that time, or the so-called Ciskei. We will also deal with attempts that were made by the leadership of the Tri-partheid Alliance and a number of other organisations, to address the problems in this area.
We will also explain to you what happened when we held what we call a major march, the first march which was attended by 60,000 people and we will also deal with how we went about planning for, or preparing for the march for the 7th September and also deal with the events of the day themselves. In our conclusion Chairperson, we will seek to raise a number of questions which we believe needs to be addressed. The massacre on the 7th September 1992, Chairperson, needs to be understood within the context of the broad struggle which was being waged by millions of South Africans to bring democracy to our country and it also needs to be seen against the breakdown of the multi-party talks at CODESSA in May of that year.
The ANC and its allies in the Tri-partheid Alliance launched a massive national campaign in June involving a whole range of actions and at that time it was popularly referred to as rolling mass action, and rolling mass action involved marches, demonstrations, sit-ins, town and city occupations or assemblies. It also involved workers taking one action or another in their workplaces, and it also involved many other forms of peaceful protests and the specific attention was to be given to the Bantu stans, especially Bophuthatswana, the Ciskei and KwaZulu Natal homeland and the objective, the overall objective was to bring about democracy to our country but the specific one was to make sure that there is free political activity, which freedom, which fundamental human right was suppressed especially in these three areas - Bophuthatswana, the Ciskei and KwaZulu Natal.
Whereas after 1990 Chairperson, South Africans had started experiencing a measure of some political freedom and mobility, where in a number of other towns and areas in our country we were able to hold meetings. We were able to hold marches. We were able to participate in a measure of free political activity. In these three areas, these freedoms limited as they were broadly in South Africa because there wasn't democracy, we were not able to enjoy and participate in, in these three areas.
For a proper understanding of the purpose of the march of the 7th September it is necessary to give a brief account of the political situation in the Ciskei and the circumstances that also led to that march. The Ciskei was governed by one Brigadier Oupa Gqozo who was the head of the military regime and he had acceded to this position after seizing power from the administration which was headed by Lenox Sebe. The highest chief executive structure was the Council of State over which Brigadier Gqozo presided and he tended to rule by decree.
Oupa Gqozo's regime had no popular mandate and it is a regime that had persistently refused to allow free political activity to take place in the Ciskei. Simply put, Chairperson, Oupa Gqozo was not seen as a person who acted in the interests of the people in this area, he was seen as a person who acted against a legitimate interest of people in this area and as a result he was abhorred and deeply hated by people in this area.
The Ciskei security forces which prodded him up and gave him sustenance to misrule this area, were under a command of officers that were seconded by the South African Defence Force. It was these officers who provided the Gqozo regime with the managerial capacity to carry out various actions against our people in this area and also against their organisations, primarily the ANC. They also provided the background of intelligence reports which underpinned the strategy that was utilised by Gqozo. In addition sir, it was De Klerk's government which provided the Gqozo regime with the necessary finance to continue operating.
The Ciskei government had attempted but had been unable to develop a base of popular support for its policies or to retain the support of all the people who were associated with it when it first came into power. At the time of the march over 20 cabinet ministers appointed by Oupa Gqozo since he came to power, had been dismissed by him for one reason or another or had resigned. The Administration of the Ciskei including its security forces, was largely under the control of seconded former South African government officials. Most of the black military officers had also been dismissed by Gqozo.
We have names of a number of the security officers who were seconded and those will be outlined in the document that the Commission has been already given. Although the Ciskei regime when it came into offices, enacted what it called a Bill of Rights, it had not permitted free political activity within the Ciskei and had consistency used the provisions of the Ciskei National Security Act to curtail political activity and this it did, notwithstanding a ruling by the Ciskei Supreme Court that the provisions of their own laws were against or in conflict with the Bill of Rights that they had incorporated into their own legal system.
The Tri-partheid Alliance as led by the African National Congress, on the contrary, had widespread support within the borders of the Ciskei. They were not permitted by the Ciskei regime to organise freely in the Ciskei or to voice their opposition through normal democratic channels to the policies of the Ciskei. This had been an ongoing source of grievance among the supporters of the Tri-partheid alliance which has been exacerbated by the attitude that was taken by the government of Oupa Gqozo, even at the CODESSA negotiations, and at these negotiations the regime, the Gqozo regime had purported to represent the people of the Ciskei and had adopted positions which were obstructive of the democratic process and contrary to the wishes of the people of the Ciskei.
Even at CODESSA level we kept on raising, Chairperson, with Oupa Gqozo, Mickey Web and all those who worked with them, how they could sit at the negotiations table. But at the same time act brutally against the people of the Ciskei and even prohibit them to express themselves freely through the democratic process and to this, they had no coherent reply and continued to insist that they represented the wishes of the people in this area, arguing that the ANC did not represent the wishes of people in this area, and if it did, it did so through coercive means.
Attempts by the alliance to hold marches, to organise meetings in the Ciskei in order to voice opposition to Oupa Gqozo's government and the policies that he was pursuing had systematically been frustrated through the use of the Ciskei National Security Act and may I add also through the use of the Ciskei Defence Force.
Permission to hold marches and meetings were consistently refused and peaceful demonstrations that were held without permission were brutally broken down or broken up by the Ciskei Security Forces. Sir, numerous attempts had been made to resolve this impasse through negotiations, through discussions, through sending intermediaries and so son, and some of the attempts that were made I just want to highlight.
As early as August 1991 the leadership in this area, the Tri-partheid alliance leadership was instrumental in convening the border peace conference in August 1991 and this border conference as it was being planned, the leadership had sought to invite a number of interested parties, including the Ciskei regime itself.
They had also invited the South African government, the then South African government, the National Party, churches, business formations, various civic organisations, trade unions and this was done to address the deteriorating situation in the Ciskei border region.
The Gqozo regime did not attend. The majority of delegates identified the policies of the Ciskei regime as an obstacle to peace and stability in the region and a number of proposals were made. One of them was for the formation of an interim administration pending re-incorporation.
You will recall sir, that at that time, urban negotiations, we were also dealing with the whole question of how the so-called independent states could be re-incorporated back into South Africa. Negotiations were also held with the Ciskei regime, direct negotiations, the leadership of the African National Congress including, including its president, Nelson Mandela, had been involved in one or other form of discussion and negotiation with Oupa Gqozo and his other officials. The leadership of the ANC in this area had held several meetings with Oupa Gqozo on the issue of repressive government through the headman system, the lack of free political activity and also specifically the use of Section 43 of the National Security Act.
But all these efforts and attempts were to no avail and during the course of all this, Gqozo kept on making promises, promises also to President Nelson Mandela about correcting a whole number of anomalies but all these were never met. Tri-lateral negotiations between the South African government, the Ciskei and the ANC were also held and it was at one of these sessions when Oupa Gqozo specifically said that he will repeal Section 43 of the National Security Act but once again, Chairperson, this was not done.
Legal and Constitutional attempts were also made to address the problem. We approached the Court to see how best this could be resolved, once again to no avail. There were local and regional dispute resolution attempts that were made through committees that were set up, to no avail.
During July and August of 1992, peaceful public protests were held in the region, culminating in an attempt by the Tri-partheid alliance to hold a mass demonstration in Bisho, to voice opposition to the policies of the Ciskei government and its suppression of free political activity. Approximately 60,000 people participated in the march. They were prevented by the Ciskei Security Forces from entering Bisho. Their attempt, the intention was that the protest should take place in Bisho itself.
The rationale for this, Chairperson, was just as people were protesting in Cape Town, in the heart of Cape Town, in Pretoria, in Johannesburg, people in this area saw no reason why they should not carry out their peaceful protest at the seat of the regime or near their offices.
They were prevented by the Ciskei Security Forces from entering Bisho but after negotiations that were conducted through the intervention of the National Peace Secretariat, an assembly was held at the Bisho stadium and speeches were made protesting their activities and policies of the Ciskei regime.
This manifestation did not result in any significant change in the attitude of the Ciskei regime. On the contrary it became, if anything, more repressive. It seemed like even Oupa Gqozo had lost his head. Even as some of us spoke to him on the telephone he was completely beside himself.
Attempts to hold meetings or marches at various places in the Ciskei were broken up by the Security Forces. Supporters of the alliance were harassed and subjected to a wave of repression and this, sir, did not only take place in the big towns in this area but also in the villages where quite elderly people were prevented even from holding meetings to discuss even local problems.
The alliance decided that in the circumstances a major protest with a national focus should be organised in the Ciskei to draw national and international attention to the demand for the creation of a climate for free political activity and the end to violence in the Ciskei.
This was to be a march into Bisho and the holding of a people's assembly in the town, and may I say sir, similar manifestations were taking place in our country in other towns at more or less the same time and people in this area felt and believed that just as they were South Africans and other South Africans were participating in similar manifestations elsewhere, they should not be barred, they should not be prevented from participating in such manifestations which were in the main, peaceful and under the tight leadership of the organisations that were leading them.
The principal demand of the alliance which was to be highlighted by the march was for free political activity and an end to violence. Political repression and violence in the Ciskei were associated with the Gqozo regime and so the call for free political activity and an end to violence was linked to a demand for Oupa Gqozo's removal by the South African government. For he personally was seen as an obstacle to free political activity and to peace in this area.
The march was to be peaceful and conducted as far as possible in accordance with guidelines that were set out in the Peace Accord. Its goal was not insurrection, it was to send a clear message that repression of free political activity in the Ciskei should not be tolerated.
The message would be directed not only at Oupa Gqozo but also to the South African government which was propping up the Gqozo regime, which, at the time was also refusing to listen to good reason at the negotiations when we kept raising the position or the problem of the Ciskei.
A demand would be made for Oupa Gqozo to resign and for an interim administration acceptable to all representative bodies in the Ciskei to be installed, which would permit free political activity to take place and create a climate in which this would be possible. A demand would be made to the South African government to support these measures and to use its day factor control of the Ciskei to help achieve them. The intention sir, was to march to an open space on the southern side of the central business district in Bisho and to hold an assembly for a minimum of 24 hours.
The assembly would demonstrate the strength of feelings of the people participating in the march and the substantial support which they had. The extent of consultation at all levels of the ANC and the alliance structures, including endorsement of the plan by the National Executive Committee of the ANC, is demonstrated by a chronology of events, meetings and incidents that took place and it is far too long for me to even repeat it.
In short, resulting from painstaking decisions at the border regional level, following the march of the 6th August, the recommendation for the action of the 7th September was endorsed by the national leadership of the Tri-partheid Alliance as well as the National Executive Committee of the ANC.
At the meeting of the ANC National Executive it was decided to immediately send a number of national leaders to the border region to assist with the preparations. It was stressed that thorough organising and planning must take place to ensure success for this march. As a result, leading members of the National Executive such as Steve Tshwete, Ronnie Kasrils, Raymond Suttner and our beloved departed Chris Hani, were despatched to this area where they began to work with the steering committee or the strategising committee.
Other members in the region included people like our then Chairperson of the province, Selumkosop Cooper, Andrew Hendriks, Lucille Meyer, Donnay Kunie, Crispian Olwer and our departed comrade Kenjane. ANC further submits, sir, that it did not see itself as the only organisation which could resolve the situation in this province or in this area. It was supported by a popular front which included Nafcork, the churches, the border council of churches and other regional organisations.
It was on the basis of this broad support that the ANC as leading the Tri-partheid Alliance proceeded to plan for the march, and as it planned for this march sir, it took careful care, made a point that it informed and notified the relevant authorities of its intention to lead this march and to gather people at Victoria grounds in King William's Town and to march from there to Bisho where a gathering would be held on the southern side of the central business district.
The authorities were notified, those that were notified were the King William's Town town municipality ... end of Tape 2, side A ... holding meetings with Brigadier van der Merwe of the SAP. Representatives of the alliance also indicated their willingness to co-operate fully with Brigadier van der Merwe to ensure that events would be peaceful but they also made it clear, they made it clear sir, that the alliance was firmly committed to proceeding with the march and that that march would take place.
Representatives of the alliance also held meetings with the National Peace Secretariat but in addition, the alliance also took active steps to prepare carefully for this march by making sure that there would be an effective and efficient marshalling system and it proceeded to train marshals and to make sure that guidelines were clearly laid out, which guidelines the marshals would follow.
It was made clear to all persons participating in the march that it would have to be peaceful and that under no circumstances would people participating in the march be allowed to carry any weapons to participate in any acts of violence. There was effective communication with the crowd and we made sure that we had all instruments that are necessary, sound systems to communicate with the crowd. Arrangements sir, were also made with the King William's Town municipality for water trucks to be made available to provide water to the marchers right up to the borders of so-called Ciskei. A committee of the alliance was elected to ensure overall control.
On 31st August details of the proposed march were communicated to the Council of State by means of a letter. The letter contained assurances that the demonstration would be peaceful and that there would be full control and proper marshalling. On the 6th September an application was brought by the Commissioner of the Ciskei police who was making an attempt to frustrate or stop the march. He sought to interdict the holding of the march and a whole series of events ensued around this, culminating in the Supreme Court directing the magistrate to consider an application for the holding of the march and in the event, only in the early hours of the morning of the 7th September, the magistrate gave an order, an order which stipulated the type or the nature of the permission that he was giving.
By that time sir, the Tri-partheid Alliance, leadership, membership and people broadly in this area were already committed, totally committed to proceeding with this march. Contacts were made also with the National Peace Secretariat and other bodies. By the time the magistrate's decision was received, there was already a fully blown mobilisation in this area and people were not as we assessed it, going to be in a mood to countenance any retreat. They wanted to march into Bisho and to re-assert their right to free political activity as it was being celebrated and demonstrated throughout the country, suave in KwaZulu Natal, Bophuthatswana and in the Ciskei.
Preparation for the march started early in the morning of the 7th September 1992 at the Victoria grounds. A strategising committee had been appointed consisting of two members from each of the components of the alliance and representatives from the National Leadership. It was there decided that the march would proceed along the main Bisho - King William's Town road, up to its intersection with Jongilanga Avenue and from there proceed to an open space south of the Ciskei People's Development Bank at which an assembly would be held right in Bisho.
The Chairperson of the ANC in the border region led the march together with other members of the Border Regional Committee, members of the National Leadership and various other leaders in the Tri-partheid Alliance. It had been made clear by the leadership that there should be no violence and that the demonstration should at all times remain peaceful. They proceeded to Bisho, determined to achieve their objective of holding an assembly in the town where they would declare their other demands. Although it was appreciated that the Ciskei Security Forces might attempt to prevent the assembly from taking place, it was never contemplated, it was never contemplated sir, that they would use lethal force to prevent this march.
[2[ The test as to whatever any action taken satisfy the principal of minimum force is stated therein as would a reasonable person have used the same degree of force or have considered it essential to have taken the same actions.
That sir, was their code. After the march had commenced, some members of the strategising committee proceeded ahead of the march to the Ciskei border to reconnoitre the situation there. This advance group consisted of Ronnie Kasrils, Andrew Hendriks, Smuts Ngonyama, Crispian Olwer, Lucille Meyer, Donnay Kunie and our departed comrade, Kenjane. On their arrival at the border approximately 15 to 10 minutes ahead of the main body of the march, they found that the road had been blocked by rolls of razor wire which had been erected in a way which would prevent people marching, from proceeding along the Bisho road.
There were discussions between these people and representatives of the National Peace Secretariat at the point where the razor wire had been erected. Assurances were given that the march was peaceful and that no soldiers need have any fear and the march was already proceeding and these people were giving assurances about a situation which they themselves had witnessed.
An earnest plea was made that the Secretariat should ensure that the Security Forces would not shoot. The members of the committee then went to inspect the stadium. The razor wire had been installed in a way which left open a route into the stadium which was alongside the main road.
Ciskei soldiers were deployed at the Fort Hare campus and along the ridge, and the Ciskei police behind the Peace Secretariat. The advance group noted this and also noted conditions in the stadium. They observed that a section of the stadium fence on the northern side, approximately ten metres long, had previously been flattened and provided the only unobstructed route out of the stadium. Ciskei Defence Force members were visible approximately 250 metres away to the right of the flattened fence but to the left of the opening there appeared to be an unobstructed path through which marches could proceed if they chose to do so.
A subsequent study, Chairperson, of the deployment maps and the inspections in loco showed that some soldiers must have been hiding behind shrubs intertwined with freshly cut branches and a mound of earth behind which there was a trench, and they were therefore not visible to the left of the advance group.
The advance group itself having noted the gap in the fence and the possibility that it offered of moving out of the stadium, returned to the main body of the march. They reported on what they had seen and discussions which they had had with representatives of the Peace Secretariat, it was decided that some of the leaders, some of the leaders and the Chairperson of the region here and a number of others would attempt to meet representatives of the National Peace Secretariat and ask them to use their influence with the Ciskei Security Forces to permit the march to proceed into Bisho. Other leaders, including Chris Hani and Ronnie Kasrils, would then lead the marchers into the stadium. Some of them would then go through the gap and attempt to reach our goal which was the central business district and there they would await the outcome of negotiations between the leadership and the National Peace Secretariat.
It was hoped that the presence of a large number of people at the CBD would enable an agreement to be reached allowing the leaders to proceed also with those that they were leading to the CBD. The march arrived at the razor wire barricade and the leadership headed by Cyril Rhamaphosa and others, deployed itself as per agreement and arrangement.
A line of marshals was formed right in front of the razor wire directing marchers into the stadium. Other marchers led by Chris Hani and Ronnie Kasrils, moved at a fast pace into the stadium. They paused briefly in the stadium to rally a large group behind them prior to moving through the gap in the fence. Most of the marchers were then still on the South African side of the border and the march itself extended back from the wire for a distance of approximately one kilometre.
The shooting itself: When the front of the group had proceeded through the gap in the fence, was approximately 60 meters beyond the gap, the shooting started without any warning whatsoever. At this time there was a large crowd in the stadium and an even larger crowd still on the main road on the South African side of the razor wire barrier.
The shooting was widespread and was directed at the people who had moved out of the stadium. Some still coming in, people still seated on the grandstand and people also alongside the main road, including leaders of the alliance and members of the National Peace Secretariat who were about to conduct negotiations across the razor wire.
The shooting consisted of two sessions of automatic rifle fire. The first volley lasted for between one or two minutes and having been there myself sir, I thought it lasted forever, and was followed by a second volley shortly afterwards which, it has been estimated, lasted for about a minute.
There was terror and panic all around as we all heard the sound of gunfire. During the rifle fire, whistling sounds followed by explosions were heard near the stadium and the main road close to the razor wire. These explosions were caused by rifle grenades launched at the crowd. Some of us thought that these were bombs that were being thrown at us. As is clearly indicated in the South African Police video supplied to the Commission which we will hand over, four mini craters were found where unarmed marchers were present and not anywhere near the Ciskei Security Forces.
Sir, there was no warning of any nature prior to the shooting. The unarmed crowd posed no threat to life or property and there was no excuse for the prolonged violent and murderous attack by the Ciskei Defence Force. It resulted in the deaths of 28 marchers and injuries to about 250 people.
The indiscriminate nature of the shooting is demonstrated by the fact that a member of the Ciskei Defence Force was shot in the back of the head clearly by people on his own side. There was no explanation for the failure to repair the flattened portion of the stadium fence or to place razor wire across it on the day of the march or to deploy soldiers there.
This and the concentration of soldiers who were covering the gap from a position in front of Jongilanga Avenue suggests that, it suggests sir, that there was a trap set for people, there was an ambush set for people who might choose to move out of the stadium. There is no other explanation that we are able to give for the existence of that gap. Had they sought to prevent people completely from going into Bisho, that gap would have been closed and soldiers would not have hidden themselves behind shrubs, they would not have hidden behind an earth mound, they would not have been in a trench.
Immediately after the volley stopped there was confusion amongst the marchers. Pandemonium broke out and all attempts were made to try and attend to the injured and there was blood flowing everywhere. The saddest part, the saddest part sir, was to see women, fairly elderly women, middle aged women, dropping to the floor and crawling and being terrified. It was to see terror written on the faces of young people. It was a terrible and a sad day.
In conclusion, the ANC and the Tri-partheid Alliance regrets the loss of life that took place on that day but our submission is that the responsibility for the Bisho massacre rests squarely with the Ciskei regime and with the government of F W de Klerk where the real power, the real power behind Oupa Gqozo resided. Oupa Gqozo would never have had the courage, would never have had the nerve to do what he did if he did not know that there was a real power behind him and F W de Klerk's government was the real power behind him. Subsequent investigation showed most of the dead and injured were running away from the unbridled attack on them, rather than endangering the life or property of anyone in the Ciskei.
We would submit, Chairperson that the evidence shows that there was a plan to trap those whom they knew would want to emerge from a gap in the fencing. The circumstances under which lethal force could be used on a crowd of demonstrators, had previously been enunciated in a number of Commissions.
The conduct of the Ciskei Defence Force on the day of the massacre was criminal and failed to measure up to three standards or their own standing orders on the use of force. To compound matters, Gqozo showed no remorse, no remorse whatsoever, for his criminal actions by threatening a repeat of the action if similar action were to arise.
There are a number of questions which need to be clarified and possibly clarified through and by this Commission. Why was the gap left in the fence, is a question that many of us still ask. Were the Ciskei Defence Force soldiers concealed in order to ambush anyone venturing through that opening? Why were no warnings given? Having lived in this country through the years of repression, we became accustomed to the fact that much as the brutal South African machine was quite vicious, it was also given to some civility.
It was given to also warning people if they were in a situation which they felt they needed to take action on. They would either use loud hailers, they would either shoot in the air, they would use all manner of things before opening fire. This was not done and the question we ask is why was there no warning?
We would like to know as some of the witnesses have already said, who gave the order to open fire? Many South Africans would like to know, was it Oupa Gqozo or was it someone else elsewhere? Fifthly sir, we would like to know why live ammunition was used instead of non-lethal methods to control the crowd. Why were rubber bullets not used? Why was teargas not used? Why was even water, purple rain, or whatever other means, why were these not used?
There are questions which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can hopefully find answers to, so that the whole truth about this deplorable massacre can emerge. We remember those who fell at Bisho, they are our martyrs, they did not die in vain, and as you, Chairperson of the Commission said as you opened, we paid a price to achieve this freedom but sir, it's possible that this is one of those prices we did not have to pay.
We extend our condolences to the families of those who died and to extend our sympathies as the African National Congress, to those who were injured. We urge those who were responsible for the crime to come forward to this Commission to tell the truth, for it is the truth that is going to heal our land. It is through the truth that we will be able to have full reconciliation. Thank you Chairperson.
Thank you very much. I am aware that you are seeking to catch a plane. You are? So I will perhaps ask my colleagues if there are questions they want to put to you and then we could excuse you. Doctor Boraine?
Mr Rhamaphosa thank you very much for that very clear outline of what happened as you saw it and in your own experience as part of the planning. I want to try and get some clarity about one issue. On page 11, 23[iii] you quote the magistrate's order. Now in his order he mentions that the gathering is to take place at the Bisho stadium yet it was clearly the goal of the marchers to go beyond that and go to the CBD. Was this, were you and others who were in charge, aware that this was going beyond the order?
Yes as we clearly indicated, many attempts had been made to communicate the intention of the march and through these attempts we had sought to make it clear that we wanted, intended and were committed to marching right into Bisho and we even had the route clearly mapped out and the route that we had wanted to take was communicated, was communicated to the authorities and it was also a matter of discussion when the magistrate gave the order.
So when he gave the order, when he gave the order this order was found by nearly everyone, leaders of the Tri-partheid Alliance as an order which once again, once again sought to frustrate the commitment that we had to attain free political activity. May I say sir, that there had been a number of other applications to magistrates in this area, specifically to this one and this magistrate was known to be the type of magistrate who just refused to grant permission.
The fact that the permission came in the early hours of the morning, was, in our view, another attempt to frustrate the march because he could have communicated this a lot earlier, but it was communicated on the morning when preparations were already finalised.
Second, tell us again, you were there, you would have been aware if anyone had used a loud hailer, if any warning shots were fired, and any helicopter was used, any kind of warning whatsoever as to the intention of the soldiers to open fire. That's the second question. I know you have dealt with that but I think it's very, very important to get this on the record again.
And finally, looking back, is there anything different that you yourself would have wanted to see happen, knowing, what you couldn't know, knowing that the soldiers were going to take the drastic action which they did. In your planning, in your thinking, is there anything different, looking back now with the wisdom of hindsight, is anything different that you would have done or would have demanded of your group to have done that could have possibly prevented this massacre. Just those questions. ... end of Tape 2, side B ...
[indistinct] ... no knowledge whatsoever that any of the people participating in the march could have been armed. I saw no arms, I saw no firearm, I saw no stick, I saw nothing that amounted to an arm or a weapon. Your question, was there any intention by the soldiers to warn us - the answer to that has to be no. There was no signal, no attempt to even begin to signal to us that they will open fire. There was no loud hailer as I said. There was no fire opened into the air, nothing whatsoever. We were just, we were still standing right against the razor wire, with the Peace Secretariat on the other side, and they had a number of vehicles in between them and I was one of those leaders who was standing right up against the wire and a little bit further on we could see soldiers standing and some of them lying flat on the ground and if they had warned us in any way, I think we would immediately have noticed it and we would possibly have responded to it. Just as we were talking, they opened fire. The Peace Secretariat people were also taken by total surprise.
Why did they open fire, I think their opening fire had a lot to do with their intention to prevent the democratic processes that were underway in the country - to prevent it even by force of arms. Oupa Gqozo himself on a number of occasions had said that he would never agree that the Ciskei should be incorporated into South Africa. That we would have a free and independent liberated South Africa but the Ciskei would remain an independent island and we would have to deal with them as though it's a foreign power. I think it had a lot to do with that.
Is there anything different that we would have done had we known, now in hindsight, that they would have opened fire? Had we known that they would have opened fire, yes I think we would have dealt with things differently. Our discussions, negotiations with them could have been different but we just did not know.
[indistinct] ... Mr Rhamaphosa said, as a follow-up of Dr Boraine's question - there are allegations that some of the shots came from above, specifically from the helicopter. I know this was a very confusing day but what were your observations on that?
Yes I have heard of those allegations and also had sight of the helicopter that hovered at some stage above us. I do not have evidence before me that can confirm or refute that but I have heard of those allegations.
Thank you Chair. I don't know what your deadlines are, or - Cyril I would just like to say that firstly, you should bear with our questions and if our questions sometimes give an impression that the alliance now is on trial, it is as a consequence of the mandate to the Commission. We have to try and be even handed and sometimes it seems perverted now to us to appear to be blaming those who were victims or those who were leading masses of the people in an endeavour to install a democratic order in this part of the country.
Now having said that, it seems to me that the issue is going to turn around the question of the break-out and I'm sure when Ronnie testifies we will also ask questions surrounding to that. On page 7 of, oh, on page 7 you say the march was to be peaceful and conducted as far as possible in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Peace Accord. Now its goal was not insurrection. The first question is - were you as alliance leader satisfied that the goal of the march not being insurrection was understood as such by Oupa Gqozo. That's the first question.
Now the second question in relation to that is, it seems clear from both what you have said and from the objective facts that even though there was a Court Order, now let's put aside your reservations about the judiciary which are clearly indicated in your comments about that sort of order, but there was a Court Order which it appears the alliance leaders were quite prepared not to obey. Now how do you square up the fact that you had a Court Order which said - hold your march and, but do not go into the centre of the town, Bisho, but confine yourselves to the stadium because it seems that, that at the end of the day is going to be the issue.
And the third question allied to that and I think too it will be the final question - it seems that as part of the so-called Goldstone rules for mass demonstration, those rules usually, in fact they emphatically called for each side to know exactly what the other's deployments and plans are. Now it appears from your submission that neither the National Peace Secretariat nor the Ciskei authorities were taken into confidence about what appears from your submissions, to have been a planned breakout, it having been the intention of the people to hold the march where they wanted, I mean to hold the gathering where they wanted it to be held, namely in the centre of the city.
Now what would the alliance views be with regard to the Goldstone rules for mass demonstration in so far as that might appear to have been a contravention of that standing rule. You didn't disclose to either the Ciskei authorities or the National Peace Secretariat that look, if you are going to confine us to the stadium we're certainly going to break that, we are going to get into Bisho.
Can I just indicate what you must already have seen for yourselves that we are dispensing with the tea break so that we can try and accommodate as many witnesses as possible. I hope you will bear with us. It's democratically agreed. Thank you very much.
I think I should still be able to make my flight if I leave at quarter past twelve. Chairperson, with regard to the question of whether we were satisfied that Oupa Gqozo understood that we did not have insurrection in mind, it is very difficult to can say at that time that any one of us understood Oupa Gqozo.
I had been in discussions with him on a number of occasions either face to face or also on the telephone and I never reached a point where I could say I understood him. But we had sought to make it clear through communicating our objectives publicly, through various authorities and may I say even not to try and make it personal that I had at some stage during the course of the turmoil there, had said that you know, all we want is free political activity and the rest will follow. One thought that he understood all that.
How do we say as you ask sir, we can reconcile our action even against the Court Order that had been issued. The Court Order by the Supreme Court was to direct the magistrate to apply his mind to this and the magistrate accordingly proceeded to grant permission, type of permission that in our view sought to frustrate the objectives that we had set. As I indicated earlier, we had dealt with this magistrate before. We had dealt with magisterial authority in the Ciskei before and by and large our applications, our attempts, our approaches to them had, if not dismissed out of hand, had been blunted, had been undermined and so forth. So when this one came at the very last hour, at the very last hour in the early hours of the morning, setting out what the terms were when decisions had already been taken, and when people had already been mobilised it was difficult if not impossible. It was going to be impossible to comply with this order.
Given also sir, that the magistracy in that area was seen as part of the oppressive machine that acted in collusion with the regime of Oupa Gqozo in as far as denying our people free political activity.
On your question that it would appear that it could be read that this was a planned break out of the stadium in that we did not communicate to the authorities of the Peace Secretariat and so forth, I did say sir, that having sent the group of people who were going to reconnoitre the area and look at the conditions of the wire as well as the conditions in the stadium, I did say that they did report back and instantaneously the decision was taken, that seeing that there is this opening, this opening is there, that could well be the route that we should take right into Bisho. Remember that the objective was to go into Bisho and when this opening was seen, people did not in their own minds think that this was an ambush, this was a trap, they did not think like that. They just saw an opening, we wanted to go to a particular destination and whilst the route was controlled by wire fence and all that into the stadium, but through the stadium there was this opening.
Our argument and our submission is that if the intention was to prevent us from going out of the stadium, the people who could put up a wire fence could have taken care to raise the wire that had been flattened, could have taken care to close the stadium completely with the wire fence as well. They could have taken care that everything ends up in the stadium to frustrate our objective but they didn't do that. They didn't do that, they left the opening knowing what our intended objective was. So we could not communicate sir, to the Peace Secretariat because the decision was taken instantaneously.
Can you just, just as a follow-up ... [indistinct] can you comment on a finding I think, which suggests that videos indicate that while the crowd was breaking out, the soldiers were still running to take up their positions in the area. Now in view of the suggestion that there was an ambush and a trap, the Pickhard report seems to indicate that that may not be sustained on that basis, that if it was a planned thing, they would have been there at the time of the break-out but they say, he says the videos indicate that when the break-out took place, it was only then that the soldiers ran to that area where they could have been in a position to.
I will not be able to speak with any form of expertise sir, but the evidence that we have is that there was a collection of soldiers, not all the soldiers were there but a collection of them who were seen to be harbouring behind the shrub, behind the earth mound so that when people broke out, they had to reinforce those who were there so they ran, in my view, to try and actually shoot because most of the people were shot...
Chairperson thank you, there are two matters on which I would like to hear Mr Rhamaphosa's comments. The first one deals with the question of a possible ambush. Mr Rhamaphosa you will note that the three enquiries into this matter, the Pickhard Commission, the Goldstone Commission and the CDF Board of Enquiry. I know that the Pickhard Commission did not co-operate with and the CDF Board of Enquiry did not co-operate with, but Goldstone as well, all reject the possibility of an ambush. You seem to be quite convinced that there was a clearly, carefully, intelligently planned ambush. I would like to hear your comment on why these three enquiries have rejected that theory.
The second question is on the question of the break-away led by, in your submission, by Mr Kasrils and Mr Hani. You are aware that Mr Kasrils has been criticised by all these Commissions - Pickhard of course which you would expect because you did not submit to them but Goldstone as well, criticises Mr Kasrils almost individually for this break-away.
Your submission to the Commission today is that this was an ANC position, thoroughly discussed, thoroughly canvassed and it was an implementation of an agreed upon strategy. Did you submit this to Goldstone and why did Goldstone ignore it? We will of course raise the question with him as well at a later date.
Chairperson, Mr Ronnie Kasrils is sitting right next to me. For some reason or other, he believes that his freedom of speech for the moment has been completely curtailed in this Commission and he is boiling inside and would like to respond to those two questions because he was much more directly involved with those two. I don't know whether he is permitted or that should stand until he makes his own statement.
Thank you very much. Mr Rhamaphosa thank you very much for availing yourself to the Commission and for a very succinct and eloquent disposition. We are grateful and the Commission allows you to stand down.
Thank you very much. Right you are. Mr Ngonyama are you not remaining behind? Order, order, order! It's quite important, I mean I want to, I don't want to be too rough on you but I think it is important that we make quite clear that this is a Commission.
It really is, it is important, it is important because when we make our findings, people mustn't say that the Commission has been swayed by, you know, and we need to, because there may come people whose views you do not particularly like and I have to protect them and would want us please to be, don't make our life more difficult than it is already. I'm therefore making an appeal that though, whilst, I mean I understand your feelings and now and again I allow you to express them but on the whole, go to the stadium to hold the rally, this is a Commission.
All right, I mean I don't want to be too rough on you. I think I mean that on the whole you behave well but it is, it is important that people don't get the impression that we are being swayed. Thank you very much.
Mr Ngonyama, again welcome and thank you very much for coming to the Commission. You have also tabled a statement and without wanting to reduce your freedom of speech, I want to suggest that quite a lot, understandably quite a lot of the first part of your statement has already been referred to by Mr Rhamaphosa.
Not quite as well as you've done it but nevertheless he has covered it. What I would like to ask you to do and obviously you are free to do as you wish before the Commission but it would help us enormously in terms of time and in terms of our opportunity to actually ask you questions, if perhaps you could start your submission around about page seven which is paragraph 17 which actually starts with the march itself. I think that's what the Commission really wants to hear from you because you were there, you played a leading role, you could give us information.
We could read a great deal of documents and we will and we will have to, and I promise you we'll read your full submission as well and our researchers will go through it very carefully but if you could consider helping the Commission by starting there, I know we'd be very grateful and when you are ready, please start. Thank you.
Well thank you Chair. I think I will definitely take your advice and in the interest of time, having also consulted with the leadership, I would have definitely liked to stress on the context that prevailed in the former Ciskei before the Bisho massacre, and which definitely culminated ... end of Tape 3, side A ... into that fateful day and which was preceded by the dismissal summarily of 3,000 civil servants and quite a number of other people that were killed, assaulted before the Bisho massacre, but be that as it may, I think you have promised me that you will definitely go through the document to get to the context of what was happening in this area.
Now moving to the march itself, I need to start maybe with paragraph 12 where we say that the first march in early August which culminated in a march ... [indistinct] to Bisho that was organised by the ANC border region and its alliance partners, and this march was halted at the border of Ciskei. After intensive negotiations with the Ciskei Defence Force the marchers were then allowed to move to the stadium. I wanted to stress that one because it is very critical of what ensued thereafter.
Then this march unfortunately had very little effect on the negative attitude of the Ciskei government and its Security Forces towards the process of democracy in the area. Numerous meetings and consultations took place involving alliance partners, churches and structures of the popular front as it was indicated by the last speaker, and eventually a national day of focus in the Ciskei was decided upon. This was endorsed by the National Alliance, by the campaigns committee of the ANC nationally and it was agreed that on the 9th September 1992, a further march was to be held in Bisho, and this march, the objective was to hold a people's assembly in the Bisho CBD to express our demands, calling for the free political activity and the end to violence as well as resignation of Brigadier Gqozo but subsequently this date was eventually changed to the 7th September, in particular to coincide with De Klerk's conference on federalism that was organised together with De Klerk's, or National Party government's allies. That is why we had to go for the march on the 7th September because we wanted to highlight the plight of the people of the area, quite strongly.
This event of holding a people's assembly in Bisho was along similar lines as also it was indicated with many other incidences and of the similar mass action campaign that were taking place in other parts of the country and in particular within our area in the border region at the time. We had heard a campaign of a similar nature in King William's Town without any negative incidences at all. And it was always an imperative that moral high ground be retained through a focus on the climate for free polal activity and ensuring that the march and the proposed assembly remained peaceful and without incident. I don't want to get into the details again of the preparations but quite a number of intense preparations were made for that day.
On the morning of the 7th September a meeting was held at the Border Council of Churches offices where final briefings and preparations were made for the march into the Bisho CBD and from there we moved to the rally at the stadium in Victoria Grounds. Thorough briefing was given to everybody and the destination and the objective of the march culminating in a people's assembly in the Bisho city was made clear to all. A great deal of emphasis was made on that day on the peaceful nature of the march, even to an extent of as people were coming in the stadium they were searched by marshals.
I need also to make the point that the marshals as it was mentioned, they were well trained long before the march and on the day of the march, 6 o'clock in the morning they assembled at the stadium to get the briefing. 1,200 Of the marshals were organised right through the length and breadth of the region and the march started at 12 o'clock with approximately 80,000 people participating. The march paused at a number of intervals along the route while marshals ensured better control.
During the procession of the march on the South African side of the border, no problems were experienced at all. At this point SADF, traffic police and South African Police personnel accompanied us right through as we were moving up but surprisingly, Chair, approximately when we were about one kilometre away from the Ciskei border, the South African Police and SADF seized to accompany the march.
At approximately 1 o'clock together with Mr Ronnie Kasrils, Andrew Hendriks and Donnay Kunie, amongst others, I travelled ahead in a bakkie driven by Doctor Chippie Olwer to assess the situation at the border and to see what the possibilities were of entering Bisho.
At the border we found that the road had been cordoned off with razor wire set in such a way that the marchers would be headed to the left towards the stadium. There was a strong Ciskei Security Force presence along the right-hand ridge near the Ciskei government buildings and directly ahead at other government installations.
At this point the peace monitors John Hall and Anton Geldenhuys and members of the press were informed that the marches would arrive within plus or minus 20 minutes and although they were determined, they were disciplined. They were unarmed and peaceful. It was also made clear to the peace monitors that the march would culminate in the holding of a people's assembly in Bisho CBD.
When we continued onto the stadium it was noticed that there was a gap approximately ten metres wide in the fencing surrounding the stadium where it had been flattened as we learned later. This gap was situated towards the north of the stadium. This route potentially provided no obstruction to the march. CDF members were visible to the right-hand side almost 250 metres away at the radio station. On the left of the gap there appeared to be an unobstructed path which would give access to Bisho's CBD. It was believed that we could veer westwards to the left to avoid any confrontation with the soldiers.
We thereafter returned to the head of the march and informed the march leaders what we had seen. Agreement was reached by the collective leadership on the plan of entry and a decision was taken that the march would split in two. The first section led by Chris, by Cyril Rhamaphosa and would continue to the border while the other which would include Ronnie Kasrils, Chris Hani, Linda Mnti and myself amongst others, would enter the stadium and attempt to enter Bisho via the gap in the fence.
We are firmly of the opinion that this would be safe as there were no security personnel visible in this particular area and would not imagine that the soldiers would open fire particularly since our plan was to avoid coming into contact with them. At approximately 13:25 the march arrived at the border and the leadership deployed themselves as per arrangement. The section I was in then entered the stadium. On emerging through the gap in the fence we managed to move very fast through the veld and had managed to cover approximately 50 metres before the first volley of shots rang out. We immediately dived to the ground for cover. There had been no prior warning of any sort that such drastic measures would be taken.
There is no doubt in my mind that it would seem as though the gap in the fence was left for the express purpose of luring us as marchers through it, particularly as it was later learned that there was a unit of soldiers hidden to the west of the gap, with a direct line of fire at oncoming marchers.
There was a lull in the shooting which led marchers to believe that it was all over. This was obviously another ploy to wreak maximum havoc amongst marchers, as another volley was released catching marchers again by surprise as they were attempting to regain their composure.
I believe that it was this second volley, Chair, that accounted for the majority of casualties. After this volley I made my way back to the main road assisting Ronnie Kasrils with his injured bodyguard Bushy Vanqui. At this point, seeing the deceased and injured strewn across all over, I became aware of the full scope and extent of this massacre which had accounted for 28 lives and injured almost 200. It shocked and stunned us all to see the brutal and hideous carnage that had taken place. It must once again be clearly stated, Chair and the members of the Commission, that at no point prior to our, and our move, prior to or during the shooting, was there any provocation by marchers nor were the lives of the CDF forces in any danger, nor were there any attempts by the Security Forces to exercise any form of accepted crowd control, nor was there any obstacles placed in the way of the march through the gap in the stadium fence, nor were there any instructions or signs made by the CDF to indicate what the marchers may or may not do, nor was there any warning given of possible actions that might be taken by the CDF to stop the march.
These facts together with the fact that the CDF forces opened fire on the march across its entire flank almost simultaneously and that this fire continued uninterrupted for some minutes in the first volley before erupting again in the second volley, leads me to conclude that this massacre was premeditated. On the part of the CDF the seconded SADF officers that commanded them and the Pretoria regime of F W de Klerk were clearly the culprits in this brutal massacre. It was them who were responsible for the killings and must now confess and tell the truth if reconciliation is to be achieved and mean anything. I would like to briefly draw the attention of this hearing to the further terror that was unleashed on the people on the days immediately after the massacre. These attacks included the unforgettable and unforgivable cold-blooded murder of the Budd family who were in their 70's asleep and posing no threat at Umzubumfu near Alice. The brutal assault of four elderly villagers including a 70 year old man by soldiers in the village of Ngwele on the 9th September 1992.
Similar random attacks took place at Zwelitsha, Massingata, Dimbaza, Digititana and many other places on the days following the march. As if this was not enough, further in Zwelitsha on the 9th September a school principal, Jeff Nculombo on his way to the shop was shot and killed by CDF members.
On the 10th September 1992, a 22 year old youth Pagamisa Pike was beaten to death by soldiers in headman's house at Digititana. A grenade and petrol bombs were hurled at an ANC executive member Themba Mbasabeni's house. On the 11th September 1992 another 22 year old youth Malusi Ngobo was shot dead by CDF soldier Blackie Mgamba in Peddie. On the same date in Mildrift, four ANC members were arrested and detained, again under Section 26. Also on the 11th September 1992, two villagers were shot and injured by CDF members dropped from a helicopter at Tembeni village near King William's Town.
This reign of terror, Chair, continued until the installation of the Interim Administration. In the so-called Ciskei just before the national general elections, killer death squads bent on murdering and maiming people who happened to oppose this regime, roamed the area.
Examples of this include on the 16th December 1993 such a squad attempted to kill Mr Sam Kwelita now a provincial member of parliament as he was alighting from his vehicle at his home in Dimbaza. On the 23rd December 1993 Mongezi Dudula another teacher was slain while entering his home also in Dimbaza. There is a case presently underway where Mr Mquoana a senior ADM official and others that are indicated in such killer squads. It is alleged that a hit list bearing the names of various activists and a large quantity of weapons was also found in this process.
In conclusion, Chair, I would like to say more and more of such incidents proved that the Gqozo Regime was determined to quench their thirst with more and more blood of the innocent and that they were not worth rationalising with at all. Ultimately what was proved by this march was that freedom and basic human rights cannot be withheld from people even if they have to stare down the barrel of a gun. Such atrocities as committed by the Ciskei Regime, all its strength and the resolve of our people to continue struggling for freedom even if one's life was the sacrifice.
We remember all our fallen heroes and heroines, their sacrifice has not been in vain. We honour them and their families in the democratic South Africa. I hope that this Commission will manage to extract the truth on all issues raised in this statement and beyond. I am extremely grateful for having been offered an opportunity to put the statement. I thank you.
Thank you very much for the very helpful statement. I would like to refer to your statement, well a few questions so let me refer first to page 7. You mentioned that one kilometre from the Ciskei border the SAP and SADF ceased to accompany the march. Did any of their leaders give you or any of your co-leaders indication as to why they broke away, and I can understand if it was crossing the border, there may have been some clash, but one kilometre from the border, was there any indication, any announcement?
On page 8 at the very top and this refers back to some of the earlier questions we were asking of Mr Rhamaphosa. You say it was also made clear to the peace monitors that the march would culminate in the CBD. Did they react in any way, any of their leaders, did they try to say don't do it or did they say that's fine, did they have any reaction at all?
Well at the time when we stressed the peaceful nature of the march and the fact that the march would culminate into a people's assembly in the Bisho CBD, the peace monitors and I did stress the fact that we need to be very, very careful in as far as maintaining order and of the march itself and but we stressed the fact that we would definitely go through and get into the people's assembly at the Bisho CBD.
There has been some speculation I understand, that the gap in the fence which is obviously very critical to the whole story, that that particular gap was caused by the first march, August the 6th was it, and that it simply had not been repaired. Have you any knowledge of this at all?
Then onto paragraph 25 on page 9, just a brief question there, but a very important one because it ties up again with the questions asked by the Reverend Bongani Finca a little earlier. You say that it was later learned that there was a unit of soldiers hidden to the west of the gap. Now how did you learn that?
Now that is a very, very serious charge as I'm sure you understand. I want to ask you is there any possibility in your mind that another reason may have been, and remember you were there, I wasn't there so I'm trying to learn from you, but trying to understand it myself, was there a possibility that the people in charge, the people who actually gave the order to fire, rather than having a premeditated plan actually panicked rather than had a carefully …[indistinct] I don't know, that's one of the things we are trying to find out. What is your view?
Well my view is that there is definitely, there was no panic at all because they had all the necessary facilities to communicate with us and warn us and to utterly stop and they could have given quite a number of reasons why they feel that we should stop, or even give whatever other kinds of warnings and use whatever other means to try and bring obstacle to us from advancing but they did not do that. They took a decision to use extreme methods of killing the people. That is why I say it is definitely premeditated.
Mr Ngonyama thank you very much. If my questions sometimes appear a little clinical you will appreciate that we, this is our job, but I do want to conclude by saying that I'm very grateful that you are alive and that I sympathise with you very deeply for the horrific experience that you and so many others must have had on that fateful day. Thank you.
Sir I'd like you to tell the Commission why, about, according to your opinion was this intention to go to the CBD, was it a way of breaking the government because you realised that there was no other way in which you could make an impact and enough of an impact to overthrow the government and also show the magistrates that you went all out to do, to go about things in a lawful peaceful manner.
It was not our intention that whether there was and whether or not that we are going to do this. Our intention was to communicate to all the authorities to get them on board to understand the seriousness of the situation in the area. That was definitely the reason. We had to inform the authorities. That was the situation.
Can I just add with the permission of the Chairperson. You say, was there another way to show that you do not agree with that government and the methods the government was using to shoot and kill. You people had one weapon and that was your march to show the government that you did not want ... [indistinct] and did you have any other way besides this weapon of this march to show them?
No there was no other way especially since we had negotiated in various forms and days just before the march, a proposal was made by the churches for the holding of a referendum within a period of 21 days and that time noble proposal was never responded to positively by the South African Regime. We had tried various means to express ourselves.
On many occasions as I've referred to in my statement, even when people were holding meetings ... [indistinct] those were frustrated because they were being attacked. There was absolutely no other, I mean this was the most peaceful way, the non-violent way of expressing ourselves, especially that we are unarmed completely.
This method that we used tallied with the international way of expressing ourselves through non-violent means but at the same time informing the powers that be that this is the course that we are going to take. Thank you.
Thank you Mr Chairman. I would like to ask Mr Ngonyama, at the time that the alliance took a decision to go to the CBD in certain ways and in that way it would defy the Court Order. Did the allies realise at the time that Brigadier Gqozo had taken a decision that he was also not going to adhere to the conditions of the order in a sense that he would not allow the march to proceed to the stadium even though the Court Order had said that it should be allowed to proceed to the stadium. We were already aware that there was defiance on his side on this particular issue.
Thank you Mr Chair. There is just one question I want to put to you Comrade Smuts Ngonyama but before that I just want to say I'm personally pleased that you have come because at least one thing is going to be clear today.
There have been a number of people who have been confronting me and saying I was also in that march and no attempt by me to say no I was doing a case in Lady Frere on that day, has been able to convince anyone - said no you were there, and I'm sure it was because they thought I was you or you ... [indistinct]. Anyway there is this question of the weapons. You have alluded to it and I think we have to deal with it. You have alluded it in this fashion, you have said you as the organisers or as the leaders of that march were intending to make sure that it was a peaceful march, that no people were armed and all that and you know the marshals and I suppose the leadership wanted to make sure that no one was carrying any weapons.
Now you will be aware that there have been two reports and my unit has gone into those reports and have presented a report where one of the reports, and that is the Pickhard report, says whilst it cannot be justified to call the march an armed invasion, there were some weapons on the marchers. They say there were two handguns, that's what the report says, that there were two handguns which were found dropped on the scene and a video footage suggests one person had a long rifle and that the press and the clergy were reported to have seen weapons in the crowd. The press and the clergy reported seeing weapons in the crowds. Now I just would like your own comment about that. I'm not saying whether you saw that but this is the report that I have which is based on the Pickhard report.
Well in my own assessment, due to the fact that we had actually stressed the peaceful nature of the march, we did not allow any exceptions in the rule. That is why we made it sure that each and every person that got into the stadium was searched and that was the situation to us as the leadership, and unfortunately as part of the leadership as part of the strategising committee of the region I was called by Judge Pickhard even to actually testify on that I would say then that that would be his personal position especially that we were seeing him part and parcel of the Ciskei Regime at the time.
Mr Ngonyama, I am going to ask you a question which I have asked before to some of the witnesses who appeared this morning. Right at the time the members of the Ciskei Defence Force opened fire, were the people in the march in any way a danger to the soldiers themselves or the buildings around, if any buildings around, if any buildings at all?
Is it perhaps in any way possible that members of the Ciskei Defence Force could have used this as an opportunity to revenge themselves, given that there was a very bad relationship between them and the community, if not one of animosity at the time.
Well to me that would be neither here nor there. The issue is them being the instruments of the State and them being used to kill the people. To me that is where the primary issue is, the lives of the people that were slaughtered on the day. Whether that was done in the pretext of revenge or to perpetuate the situation in the area, to me it is really immaterial. Thank you.
Thank you Chairperson. Mr Ngonyama I refer you to page 9, paragraph 26 where you say there was a lull in the shooting which led marchers to believe that it was all over and then there was a second volley and in your opinion, accounted for the majority of casualties. Could you just give us some ideas about what triggered that second volley?
Well I won't be able to give the reasons why the second volley took place. As I stated in my statement that my only assumption is the fact that this was another ploy to wreak maximum havoc, to actually take people by surprise when all of us think that it is all over and we begin to stand up and walk.
For instance, myself, if I were to explain my personal experience, I was actually shouted down by a comrade that was next to me because I was standing up to go and assist a comrade that was gunned down in front of me and I was told that I must lie down again. And at that very time the second volley had actually started. So to me in my own assumption, this was another ploy to wreak maximum havoc.
I believe that psychologically in order for us to determine that this was a planned encounter, the question I need to ask is there was, the lull seemed to be orchestrated because everyone stopped at the same time, or the firing stopped at the same time and then the second volley started at the same time. Thank you.
Thank you very much. I am talking and you are also talking. Thank you very much for the submission you have made. The speaker's microphone is not on. The speaker's microphone is not on. It would help us, thank you for your submission which would help us to draw as complete a picture as possible of the human rights violations that have happened as a result of the conflict of the past during this period.
Thank you very much. Order please. Because they didn't applaud for you it doesn't mean they don't like you. Oh I see the Premiere is here too. We welcome you. You may applaud for him. I suggest that we take a break. ... end of Tape 4, side B ...
... and we would just want to welcome Mr Pik Botha. Do you hear me? No. I want to say that we would like to bid you a hearty welcome and I am going to bite my tongue, maybe I should just speak English. We appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to come here and be with us, to come and make your submission and to come and give evidence. We are sure that you will enable us to have an important perspective on the event that we are investigating.
We expect that - that you will perhaps give us a written, I mean, you will give us a copy of you submission? A copy is being made, all right, right you are. Thank you very much. Without much ado then we hand over to you.
Thank you Mr Chairperson, honourable members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and thank you for the invitation from the right Reverend Finca.. It was actually started by Dr Boraine. I appreciate the invitation. As we are moving out of public life, the private life can become lonely at times so I thought it, myself it would be a good thing if I could come here and give my perspective and some information on the tragic events which you are considering.
May I just warn that I really only have one copy of my submission. I've been working, Mr Chairperson, very hard on this the past few days, I had to work through three to four thousand pages of documentation and the copies that I handed over would not be amended, would not be corrected or edited. I would gladly make afterwards available photocopies if there is time. The tragic events at Bisho on 7 September 1992 stunned South Africa and the world.
Time constraints will not allow me to deal fully with the many and varied facets which surround this tragedy. It happened in the darkness of despair which took hold of the country after the high hopes inspired by the progress made since February 1990, after those high hopes suddenly came to an end in June 1992 with the suspension of bilateral talks between the then South African government and the ANC.
You will recall how the country rejoiced at the release of Mr Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners on 11 February 1990. This was followed by the first meeting at Groote Schuur between the government and the ANC on 2, 3 and 4 May 1990, establishing a working group to attend to the immediate obstacles to Constitutional negotiations. Then followed the Pretoria Minute of 6 August 1990 concluding with the following words which were, in my opinion, striking. I quote:
'We, that is the ANC and the then South African government, we are convinced that what we have agreed upon today can become a milestone on the road to true peace and prosperity for our country. In this way we do not pretend to be the only parties involved in the process of shaping the new South Africa. We know that there are other parties committed to the peaceful process. All of us can henceforth walk that road in consultation and co-operation with each other. We call upon all those who have not yet committed themselves to peaceful negotiation to do so now.'
During the 1991 session of parliament, numerous discriminatory enactment’s were repealed including the Lands Act of 1913 and 1936, the Group Areas Act of 1966, the Population Registration Act of 1950 which was, in my opinion, the keystone of apartheid. That also fell under the axe bringing to an end the era of institutionalised racial discrimination. As the pillars of apartheid fell one after the other, South Africa was placed on an irreversible course of reform towards becoming a full democracy on the African continent.
'It was agreed that the African National Congress would not allow attacks by means of armaments, firearms, explosives of incinerary devices, infiltration of men and material, creation of underground structures, statements inciting violence, threats of armed action or training inside South Africa. The democratic process [this is important] obliges all political parties and movements to participate in this process peacefully and without resort to the use of force. The population at large has the right to express its views through peaceful demonstrations. Violence and intimidation from whatever quarter accompanying mass action should be eliminated. Peaceful political activities and stability must be promoted.'
That's what we agreed with the ANC. The signing of the National Peace Accord on 14 September 1991 was hailed as another important milestone on South Africa's course of reform. The National Peace Accord was intended to promote peace and prosperity in violence stricken communities and for South Africa as a whole. It contained recognition of certain fundamental rights in order to ensure democratic political activity. These include freedom of conscience and belief, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association, peaceful assembly, freedom of movement and free participation in political activity.
Soon thereafter on 21 December 1991 followed the Declaration of Intent at the convention for a democratic South Africa, the World Trade Centre. Nineteen organisations and parties met at the World Trade Centre on 20 and 21 December 1992 for a meeting which later became known [1991 I'm sorry] as CODESSA 1. The parties declared their solemn commitment to, I quote:
'Bring about an undivided South Africa with one nation sharing a common citizenship, patriotism and loyalty. Work to heal the divisions of the past, to secure the advancement of all and to establish a free and open society based on democratic values. Strive to improve the life of all our people and ensure equal opportunities and social justice for all South Africans.'
The Declaration of Intent was signed by 17 of the 19 organisations. The IFP objected to the concept of a unitary government which according to them did not leave enough room for federalism. The Bophuthatswana government stated that it wished to keep its options open. All 19 parties including the two non-signatories, however, participated freely in the work of all five working groups. Much work awaited the various structures created by CODESSA 1. South Africa was experiencing a decisive period in its history. A premier meeting of CODESSA took place on 15 and 16 May 1992 to consider the reports of the various working groups. A crisis struck the proceedings.
I do not intend to deal with that crisis today. It almost wrecked the negotiations. Indeed it suddenly became clear that the more important parties would have to face more severe obstacles than was generally believed up to that point. And then came Boipatong 17 June 1992. As could be expected, the massacre unleashed intense emotions and set suspicions on fire which almost crushed all hopes of a peaceful negotiating process to resolve South Africa's Constitutional crisis. The ANC called off all further bilateral discussions with the government. I remember this announcement well. I was acting State President on 21 June 1992 when the announcement was made.
I called for urgent talks with the ANC to consider all the facts and issues surrounding the Boipatong massacre and reaffirmed the government's commitment to negotiations with the ANC and other parties but the future then looked unstable and dark, and yet I knew from my experience with the negotiations on Namibia's independence that the government and the ANC would have to talk again and I said so publicly repeatedly. There simply was no alternative. They did so on 26 September 1992 when a new beginning was agreed to and a record of understanding was agreed to on that day but Mr Chairperson, between June and September 1992 events occurred which kept the country on the brink of disaster.
The massacre at Bisho on 7 September was such an event. This tragedy was preceded by an equally explosive event on 4 August. The ANC had planned a march on Bisho on that day as part of the ANC's mass action campaign. How did the landscape look at which I found myself as Minister of Foreign Affairs, you may quite rightly ask.
Negotiating the Komati Accord, Rhodesia's independence and the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola to pave the way for South West Africa's independence, stand out in my life as rewarding work which enriched my life. Managing relations with Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei was the most depressing and distressing experience of my life. I inherited the nightmare of an impossible dream.
Independent black states with presidents, prime ministers, parliaments, cabinets and heads of departments like other states, yes, and capitals and airports. In one case even a snow plough to be operative at the airport after a representative of the country learned from an airport official in Canada that snow ploughs are normal equipment at international airports. It sounds funny but it isn't. It is sad, immensely sad.
By the time Brigadier Gqozo assumed power in Ciskei after a coup on 4 March 1990 my officials, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and I had already devoted much of our time, too much perhaps, to restore a modicum of order in the financial mess which embroiled the so-called TBVC states. Sovereignty was the boomerang. The moment I tried to exert pressure the response was that they were independent states and that the Minister of Foreign Affairs had as much authority to interfere with the running of their countries as he had in the case of Britain or any other foreign state.
The only consolation I have of this part of my career, this depressing part is that I thwarted the independence of a fifth calamity KwaNdabele. The cabinet was on the point of approving its independence arrangements when I proposed a number of conditions which would have entailed direct control of all the finances of the would-be new state, a prohibition on a casino, no broadcasting structures and a number of other features normally associated with independence. I knew beforehand that my conditions would not be acceptable for the leaders of KwaNdabele and that ended their dream, or nightmare of becoming independent.
My first major objective in normalising relations with the Ciskei after the coo was to negotiate an agreement which would give the South African government a say in some of the affairs of Ciskei, only some of them. Brigadier Gqozo however, on his part had a different opinion. I made it clear to the new military leader that in future the head of state of Ciskei would no longer have the unfettered authority to appoint his cabinet all by himself. I insisted that the South African government would designate the encumbrance of certain cabinet posts, just some of them.
Brigadier Gqozo however objected. He said that he should have the right to approve our nominees. He argued that such a provision was in reality a humiliation and an inroad on his sovereignty. Why, he asked, should Ciskei suffer this humiliation. The record of the other three independent states was not better, he said, than Ciskei. There he had a point. It was accordingly agreed that South Africa and I quote:
[a] Economic affairs, finance and state administration, the incumbent of which portfolio should ex officio serve in the legislature.
Then followed a detailed programme, that was my agreement with him, of commitments and responsibilities which Ciskei undertook to implement as part of the envisaged financial and economic adjustment plan. The agreement was signed by Brigadier Gqozo and I on 26 February 1991. For a time I thought it might work but it did not. I did not at that time foresee how Brigadier Gqozo's stature would grow within the ranks [I emphasise within the ranks] of a group which was formed by Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, KwaZulu, the Conservative Party and the Afrikaner Volks Unie, shortly after the government and the ANC agreed to the record of understanding on 26 September 1992.
The group was called The Concerned South Africans Groups, COSAG and was formed out of their opposition to the record of understanding which they rejected. Brigadier Gqozo became a protected member of COSAG. Whenever I made the slightest hint that coercive measures could be taken against Ciskei, I was attacked by the leaders of the group expressing solidarity with Brigadier Gqozo.
Relations became strained and acrimonious. The secondment of officials who refuse to tow his line were terminated and replaced by inept, inexperienced persons. At one stage he refused to have any communication with our ambassador here in Bisho. I spent much time considering ways and means to have him removed as head of state particularly after the killing of Mongwane Onward Gonzana and Charles Zante Sebe, by Ciskei Security Forces.
My legal advisors told me that there was no constitutional way to do so. I personally suggested to him on more than one occasion that he should resign. I can dwell for hours on the distressing relations which existed between us. I am not here today, however, to pass judgement. After all, all of us stand to be judged one day and I am painfully aware of my own sins and failures.
However, the facts concerning our relationship should be made known, that is what this honourable Commission want me to do. Brigadier Gqozo himself described that relationship in a number of communications. After a television programme in which I participated on 4 August 1992, the day on which the first ANC march took place, he conveyed the following sentiments to me. I quote from his letter:
'The Ciskei government wants to lodge a strong protest in connection with the incorrect presentation of events in Ciskei on 4 August 1992 by the Honourable Minister during last night's Agenda programme on SABC TV. As far as the Ciskei government is concerned the Agenda presentation was a misrepresentation of the actual facts at a time when even the final outcome of the mass action was still in the balance. The manner in which the situation was portrayed by the Minister negated the restraint and responsible way in which the Ciskei government had handled the situation and gave undeserved credit to the ANC.'
On 31 August 1992 in reaction to a meeting which my Deputy Minister had with the judge, Judge Claasen, presiding at the inquest into the killings of the late Mr Ganzsana and Charles Sebe, Brigadier Gqozo despatched the following letter to President F W de Klerk. I quote:
'There can be no doubt in your government's mind that I have been continually supportive and positively committed to the moderate alliance which previously existed between our governments. It is surprising that all this has been in vain. I am totally disillusioned by recent occurrences. I refer particularly to the visit by your Deputy Minister and his [indistinct] to me on Friday 28 August.
I wish to record at some length my dismay and disappointment at the messages he conveyed and particularly the attitude and motive of your government, if correctly reflected in your Deputy Minister's conduct. Without obtaining facts, your government saw fit to judge the decisions of my cabinet and indeed resolve that you could no longer regard me or the Ciskei as an alley.
Your government proceeded to advise me that I should act against the advice of four advocates in the trial and give verbal evidence after I had undertaken to file affidavits and submit to interrogatories. Your officials made contact with the presiding judge and I am left with the impression that your government is interfering in the due process of our courts. While I have absolute faith in the Ciskei Supreme Court bench, I see no reason why you should go behind my back to Judge Claasen.
Does this not constitute a mistrial? What messages were your officials convey, because of the real situation I'm compelled to suspect the modus. I'm distressed and concerned by the attitude of your Deputy Minister and subordinates which implies that your government was relying on the results of the inquest to remove me from Ciskei.
If Deputy Minister's attitude is correct, your government is not at all serious about reforms but is simply covering its own interest. Tricks to use the inquest to get rid of me will not work, he said. I will be recording to the Supreme Court that I find your contact with the judge to be indefensible. You could have checked with me or my officials, the normal channels, a route your officials arrogantly disregarded.
We are not only fighting the ANC SACP because of their despicable policies of intimidation, arrogance, violence and domination but are called upon to defend ourselves against your government practising the same evil against Ciskei when we so desperately need to develop. Please do not underestimate our determination to resist the ANC SACP tactics. We would hate to have to resist your government's tactics with the same vehemence.'
'I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 31 August and at the outset to express concern at the tone of your letter and in particular at the inferences which you have made and conclusions drawn about my government's motives. Accordingly I would like to clarify certain fundamental issues. The South African government scrupulously respects the independence of it judiciary as well as that of Ciskei and other countries.
There can thus be no question of interference in the judicial process of Ciskei and any inference is totally devoid of any substance. Regarding your references to discussion with Judge Claasen, the facts have been furnished to me as follows. In view of the urgency and importance of the matter the Deputy Minister expressed a need to establish first hand before discussing the matter with you, the following:
Mr Justice Claasen furnished the Deputy Minister with the requested information. The Chief Justice of Ciskei, Mr Justice Pickhard, was present throughout the conversation and can confirm that no other matters were discussed. Even while the best of relationships are maintained, issues of concern may and do arise from time to time. When that occurs, the two governments have responsibility to accept each other's motive to resolve differences in open and frank discussions.
The future of our subcontinent is in the balance at the moment. I would appeal to you as a leader in an important region to continue to support attempts to bring about the broader democratic dispensation which our common objective. I am sure you will agree that it is imperative that the volatile situation in the Eastern Cape and surrounding areas should be diffused. I believe that through close co-operation with the existing peace structures this could be achieved.
In this manner the possible loss of life in a confrontation which would have incalculable implications for all of us could be avoided. The point I want to make, Mr Chairperson and Honourable Members, the point I want to make is that Brigadier Gqozo was in fact not a puppet of the South African government. His government was dependant to a large extent on funds from the South African exchequer that's true but so were Transkei and Venda. Bophuthatswana to a lesser extent. He could have done what another military leader did if I exerted too much pressure on him, draining the civil servants' pension fund to pay current expenditure. It happened in the Transkei.
My department, in order to achieve discipline in fiscal matters, on occasion delayed transfers of funds to some of the TBVC states with no orderly impact. The leaders lived like before. The hundreds of thousands of government employees would have paid the price. They included police officers and nurses. They would simply not have received their own salaries.
If I could use the parallel of a building, I would say that the executive structures in the TBVC states, all of them at that time qualified for demolishing, but if a bulldozer were to be chosen to do the job it could only be done with devastation to the valuable surroundings.
In any event as from the beginning of 1992 Working Group 4 of CODESSA 2 had the task to report on all proposals and make recommendations with regard to the relationships between South Africa and the TBVC states and the people of these states under a new South African Constitution.
From the reports submitted by Working Group 4 that the [indistinct] of CODESSA 2 on May 15 1992, it will be noticed that 18 of the 19 parties including Ciskei, including Ciskei shared the view that re-incorporating of the TBVC states into the new South Africa was desirable. Only Bophuthatswana reiterated its preference for a non re-incorporating but stated that every option which promised a better future or a future at least as good as its position at that time, would be regarded as a feasible and realistic option for consideration. Again with the exception of Bophuthatswana all the parties including Ciskei agreed that: [and I quote]
'The TBVC states will participate in transition arrangements as proposed by Working Group 3 on the understanding that these arrangements shall mutatis mutandis impact on the TVBC governments and territories in the same way as they impact on the South African government and the RSA.'
'The people of the TBVC states shall take part fully in the processes of Constitution making and transition arrangements including elections as may be proposed by Working Groups 2 and 3. Their participation will be arranged in such a way that their votes in the national election shall signify support for or rejection of re-incorporating. The results of such an election shall constitute a sufficient test of the will of the people. South African citizenship will be restored to the citizens of all the TBVC states who would have been South African citizens but for the Constitutional independence of the states, immediately after the testing of the will as envisaged.'
In addition, consensus was reached on a number of important issues relating to the practical ... end of Tape 5, side A ... African government persuading those governments to comply with agreements reached in CODESSA as well as in the National Peace Accord became an arduous and exacting task. This was the case with all four of them, not only Ciskei.
Indeed, Mr Chairperson, investigations into irregularities committed in the four states during the two or three years before re-incorporating are still at this moment in process. We have not yet heard what went wrong. The countries still wait for the results of what happened in Transkei, Ciskei, Bophuthatswana, Venda.
I have often been asked, I, you went to President Mangope one night in March 1994, that's now me, to inform him that he was no longer president of Bophuthatswana. You deposed him. Why could you not have done the same with Oupa Gqozo? It is a fair question. The answer is that the circumstances were different. By 1994 the Transition Executive Council was in place.
In August/September 1992 we had the report of Working Group 4 of CODESSA 2 but no agreed mechanism to deal with the deteriorating situation in Ciskei. Indeed the opposite was the case. Bilateral talks between the government and the ANC were suspended, a vacuum, a vacuum filled with bewilderment, fear, uncertainty, suspicion, controversy, bellicosity, provocation and threats.
Up to 7 September 1992 I firmly believed that agreement between opposing parties anywhere in the world was not impossible on condition that both were brought to realise that conflict would not resolve the dispute. The events of 7 September 1992 severely damaged that belief particularly after the peaceful outcome of the 4 August march.
Another important point of difference between President Mangope's retirement in 1994 and Brigadier Gqozo's rule in 1992 is the fact that Brigadier Gqozo at that time, still had the support of his Security Forces and senior personnel. The ANC was aware of this situation hence a special pamphlet which was distributed shortly before 7 September 1992 in which a direct and earnest call was made by the ANC to all Ciskei civil servants and Security Forces to refuse to carry out Brigadier Gqozo's orders and to join the people in ending his rule.
Brigadier Gqozo's rule finally came to an end on 23 March 1994 when he himself called me to say that he had come to the conclusion that he should relinquish power in an attempt to reduce the growing tension. I immediately agreed and obtained President de Klerk's concurrence to appoint the Right Reverend Bongani Finca and South African ambassador Peter Goosen as joint administrators of Ciskei. The two gentlemen fulfilled their onerous task in the most exemplary way.
The same can be said about Professor Chart van der Walt and Mr Jock Magora who were appointed as joint administrators of Bophuthatswana. The agreements on these appointments partially restored my faith in the capacity of opposing parties to bridge suspicion and mistrust and in a spirit of give and take, to arrive at realistic solutions in the interest of both.
I would like to deal now with the 4 August 1992 ANC march because that has never been well documented and I will, in the course of my presentation, for the first time reveal certain facts. Fearing violence during the march planned for 4 August 1992 I decided to send Deputy Minister Renier Schoeman who was then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Bisho, to assist our ambassador in negotiating an agreement allowing the ANC march under conditions acceptable to Brigadier Gqozo's government and the ANC.
It was a time when passions were reaching boiling point, aggravated by killings, burning of businesses and homes by both sides. Brigadier Gqozo refused to allow the march. The ANC insisted that they had the right to protest peacefully.
I agreed that the ANC had this right and exert pressure on Brigadier Gqozo to allow the march. At a meeting between Brigadier Gqozo and Deputy Minister Schoeman at 12h00 on 3 August 1992 Brigadier Gqozo said that his government had given clear reasons why it was not allowing mass action in Ciskei.
The mass action was a result of the ANC's failure to negotiate at CODESSA he said. It was aimed at discrediting President de Klerk, Chief Minister Buthelezi, himself and others. The ANC was thus not welcome in Ciskei. The marchers were also not welcome.
The ANC had conducted the mock trial of Brigadier Gqozo in South Africa. They had also done much damage in Ciskei, for example setting vehicles alight. Brigadier Gqozo added that the UN, the United Nations could not observe marchers in Ciskei because no marches would be allowed to take place.
Outsiders were trying to force their will on Ciskei by arranging marches. The government would use it's Security Forces to stop any marchers and turn them back. The United Nations observers were not welcome in Ciskei since they would be entering Ciskei with the enemy, it is the marchers. However they could visit Ciskei on the initiative of the Ciskei government. The latter would brief them on the situation and let them speak to the victims of violence. Brigadier Gqozo said that whenever he asked for a meeting with the South African government, it took some time to get a response, yet if the SA government had a problem affecting Ciskei it expected Brigadier Gqozo to grant an immediate meeting to discuss the problem.
In addition his perception was that the South African government was prepared to speak only to the ANC. Deputy Minister Schoeman responded by pointing out that Brigadier Gqozo as a respected leader, should ensure that he emerges from the present situation in better shape than beforehand. If there is concrete evidence that the ANC intends to topple his government by way of mass action, he should bring this evidence to the attention of the United Nations Security Council. There are many more ways to deal with the proposed march than by banning it.
As regards the UN observers, Deputy Minister Schoeman urged him to allow them to observe activities in Ciskei. This would not preclude him from registering his strongest objections to the activities of the ANC. He should focus on aspects which place him in a positive light. That was the advice my Deputy Minister endeavoured to give him.
Brigadier Gqozo remained unbending. It was clear that it was, that he was not in a mood for negotiating. According to Deputy Minister Schoeman his view was that Ciskei would take the responsibility for any repercussions arising out of his halting of the march.
Brigadier Gqozo added, Ciskei did not have sufficient security personnel to protect the lives, property and interest of Ciskei citizens. The only way to do this was to stop the marchers entering Ciskei. If they were to enter Ciskei they would run amok. This shortcoming could be blamed on South Africa. In 1990 when Ciskei wanted to increase its Security Forces, South Africa would not provide the funds. South Africa said at the time that it was entering a new Constitutional phase and that all matters should be viewed in a regional context. The South African Security Forces could assist the Ciskei in times of need.
Ciskei and South Africa also had a non-aggressive pact in terms of which the one country would not allow its territory to be used as a springboard to launch attacks against the other country. Ciskei would appreciate it if South Africa would deploy its forces at certain key points. However this would not change Ciskei's attitude concerning the stopping of the march the next day.
Ciskei had made it quite clear to all citizens that it would not tolerate marches in Ciskei. It had told its citizens to go about their normal tasks. Public servants had been told that they faced a dismissal if they did not come to work during the mass action campaign. The result was that the attendance figure was higher than usual. To allow marches at this stage would be tantamount to losing face.
If Ciskei were to permit marches, the Brigadier said, it would involve itself in mass action. This would not reflect favourably on Ciskei's strength. Also the ANC would derive favourable publicity from the change in attitude. The United Nations observers can be told that they should approach the Ciskei government in the first instance, the government will brief them, show them around and show them how it stops marches.
Deputy Minister Schoeman succeeded, at least succeeded in persuading Brigadier Gqozo to allow the UN monitory team and National Peace Committee to enter Ciskei as long as they were not seen to be part and parcel of the ANC march. Later that afternoon, that is now 3 August, Mr Chairperson, Brigadier Gqozo telephoned our ambassador and requested that South African troops guard key installations in Ciskei. His humble attitude the afternoon contrasted sharply with his behaviour earlier that day.
'The Ciskei government recently requested the assistance of South Africa in guarding certain key installations in Ciskei. The request was repeated today. Arising from incidents of plundering and arson which had already taken place in Mdantsane today, the embassy supports the request by the Ciskei government for additional troops in Ciskei. Our department, i.e. Foreign Affairs, should thus recommend that the South African Defence Force should deploy additional troops within Ciskei with the specific task of guarding the factories in the industrial areas. The same troops will serve as a stand-by to protect strategic key points in King William's Town if necessary.'
I then requested the ambassador to arrange an urgent meeting with Admiral Burt Bekker [Minister of Finance here in Ciskei], Mr Jimmy van der Merwe [Minister of Posts here and of Telecommunications and Public Works], General Victor [who was Commissioner of Police], and Brigadier Olche [Chief of the Ciskei Defence Force.] I urged our ambassador to ask these persons to persuade Brigadier Gqozo to allow the march planned for the next day.
The meeting took place on the evening of 3 August. During the meeting it became clear that all the arguments put forward earlier that day by Deputy Minister Schoeman were unacceptable politically. There had been cases of arson that afternoon.
The problem was that approval had been given for a rally at Mdantsane but the approval was withdrawn later. The people went from the site of the rally to the centre of the town. On the way they started veld fires. They burnt down the Ciskei Building Society building. They tried to burn down the telephone exchange. They destroyed some other buildings. The Ciskei Security Services had 250 men on the ground who would shoot persons caught in the act of arson.
The meeting that evening lasted for two and a half hours. It was the considered opinion of Admiral Bekker and his colleagues that Brigadier Gqozo could not be swayed to change his mind. He was too deeply compromised. On the question of South African troop deployment, my staff felt that our troops should be on duty in King William's Town to protect the town and South African interests.
On the morning of 4 August the situation was thus that two companies comprising 180 policemen had been stationed in King William's Town. There were only a few people arriving at the stadium in King William's Town early the morning. Permission for the use of the stadium had been granted until 16h00. At my request our ambassador sent a note to the Ciskei government again warning them of the serious and negative consequences which would ensue if any harm came to the UN observers. At about 11h00 there were about 1,000 people at the stadium. Droves of taxis were on their way to the stadium. The UN observer and five persons from the Peace Secretariat were meeting with the Ciskei cabinet at my request. It was reported later to me that an agreement had been reached between the ANC [represented by Mr Chris Hani], the UN observer Mr Josè Campino, Dr Antonie Geldenhuys [Chairperson of the National Peace Secretariat] and the Ciskei government, on the following lines.
The marchers could hand over the petition at the road-block or they could proceed a few metres into Ciskeian territory and hand over the petition, or a few people could take the petition to the Parliamentary building. The rest of the marchers would remain where they were. At least some progress was made at that stage but the march was not over. At about 12:45 the Deputy Town Clerk of King William's Town reported that a portion of the marchers had split away and were taking a different route.
At about 13h45 Dr Geldenhuys telephoned the ambassador to say that Mr Chris Hani was going to take the marchers through the road-block. This appeared to be contrary to the agreement reached earlier that day, that only three persons would proceed beyond the road-block and present the petition at the Parliament. Dr Geldenhuys thought that a blood bath was imminent.
He requested the Deputy Minister to persuade Mr Chris Hani not to proceed beyond the road-block. It was a critical moment. At that moment I was at a meeting in Minister Roelf Meyer's office in Pretoria. He cleared his office for me. I relayed a message to Dr Geldenhuys to ask Mr Hani to phone me. Mr Hani was driven to the Amatola Hotel nearby from where he telephoned me. He explained his dilemma to me. He said that the crowd was becoming uncontrollable.
All they wanted to do was to go peacefully to the Ciskei government building. He assured me that the march would be peaceful, that they would not enter buildings, would not stage sit-ins in buildings, would not harm anyone.
They had the right to protest peacefully. We had a lengthy conversation. I agreed with him that they had the right to demonstrate peacefully but emphasised that grave consequences could be expected if they proceeded without a further attempt to come to a mutually acceptable arrangement. I undertook to speak again to the Ciskei government, to accept the marchers on Ciskei territory.
Mr Hani showed understanding. He was not insensible to the potential loss of life but found himself on a knife's edge. The marchers were getting restless. They needed guidance. It was clear that Mr Hani was under severe pressure from his own supporters to go ahead with the march. I then made an appeal to him to wait at the hotel so that I can first contact Mr Cyril Ramaphosa.
I was convinced that we could work out something which could prevent a disaster. He agreed. I then telephoned Mr Ramaphosa. I said to him that if the march continued, people are going to die and maybe very, very many of them.
We have only one country I said, we will have to share it, we cannot carry on like this. We cannot sit and talk to one another as I'm now talking to you, I said to Cyril, knowing that in minutes hundreds of people may be shot dead. We will have to take the blame, you, the ANC, Brigadier Gqozo, the South African government, I, all of us, we're losing the respect to the outside world. We are creating the impression that we are incapable of controlling this kind of critical situation.
Mr Ramaphosa reacted by sharing my concern but pointed out that the ANC could not accept Brigadier Gqozo's high hardness in preventing peaceful political expression the way he did. They owe it to their supporters to uphold that democratic right of peaceful assembly and protest.
I agreed but again emphasised that there would be time and opportunity to attend to Brigadier Gqozo's attitude and to change things but when people are dead we will faced with the grim reality that nothing here on earth would make them live again. Human decisions and minds could be changed but not the finality of death.
Mr Ramaphosa concurred and said he would speak to Mr Hani to see what could be done to save the situation. I do not know what Mr Ramaphosa told Mr Hani but I remain convinced that that conversation that day, contributed to the eventual peaceful outcome.
I also again spoke to members of the Ciskei government warning them against the incalculable consequences of shooting any of the marches. I told them that the world's media representatives were there. The UN observer was there. Dr Antonie Geldenhuys was there. My staff were there. All of them would be witnesses of the shooting which could be averted. I also urged Dr Geldenhuys to try once more to persuade the Ciskei government to allow the marchers to gather in the Bisho stadium.
I also requested Deputy Minister Schoeman to telephone General Bantu Holomisa to speak to Mr Hani. I do not know whether such a conversation took place. Shortly before dark the Ciskei government agreed that the marchers could gather in the Bisho stadium. One condition was that they should enter through the back entrance, they did not but tempers had by then cooled off sufficiently to contain the situation.
The Commission may wish to have insight in an article. It is a retrospective consideration of the events written by Professor Raymond Suttner which was published in the 'Daily Despatch' on 20 August 1992. I believe I should just read a few passages because this gives the other side of the picture and that is what went on in the minds of the marchers. He says: [i.e. Professor Suttner]
'Gqozo said we would not be allowed to set one foot into Ciskeian territory. On the following day at least 80,000 [or 60,000 I'm not quite sure, this Photostat is not so clear] pairs of feet entered his territory and held a rally in the Bisho national stadium.'
Then a little bit later he says 'I knew the South African government couldn't afford a blood bath. [He is right when he says this] but when facing guns and when journalists are ordered to move out of the firing line, you place less reliance on theoretical evaluation and concentrate more on which way to dive when they start shooting, looking for a ditch to fall into, pinning out to avoid being trampled by soldiers or hit by rifle butts.
When the Vaseline came around I grabbed as much as possible preparing for teargas. Then later we set off 15 in a crowd of 8 to 10,000. It does not seem big enough. I wonder about the possibility of a physical confrontation. We march in blazing heat at a fast pace. More people up ahead file into the crowd from the sides.
The marshals are in full control. After four kilometres we are asked to stop so Chris Hani can speak to a Brigadier Meintjies. He appeals to Chris in terms of an agreement that we should not proceed further and we hand him our memorandum. Chris says thank you very much brig. we appreciate your efforts but we are proceeding.
The brigadier is not happy but we proceed. We are told by an African officer through a loud hailer that if we go any further they will take action and they look like they mean it. The Riot Police are Africans but the command, white. Representatives of this Xhosa Bantu stam seem usually to be called Rossouw or some foreign e.g. Dutch name. The crowd is ready to push on, move through and deal with the consequences. Meanwhile we surge forward step by step.
To our surprise and joy the Casspir retreats 100 metres and the soldiers pull back. The sense of apprehension returns. We hear there is deadlock at Stophile hence round Vaseline for the teargas. A number of people proffer advice on how to breathe and so on. We also discuss what to do if live ammunition is used. We discuss whether we should lie flat but the probability is to be trampled when the crowd surges forward. It's getting colder and we are thirstier. We have no food and soon it will be dark.
We had not participated a long drawn out siege. The negotiators return off and on. All the time the crowd surges forward bit by bit and the Casspirs retreat again. Rossouw warns the press to stand behind the Casspir. Are they trying to set up the atmosphere for us to anticipate shooting while not actually intending it.
Gradually the atmosphere relaxes again and our people start drinking water from the front of the Casspir. The discipline of the crowd is consistent. When asked to sit down, they sit down. The marshals hold the crowd back with rope. At one point people surged forward because there is a snake in the grass but they soon reform in a disciplined manner.
How the people who cannot hear the announcements maintained their discipline is hard to understand. Later we learned that what was said at the front rippled back. We're at the final deadlock. They refuse to allow us to march to the National Assembly in Bisho with the delegation taking the memo further but there is an alternative destination. Why not go to the stadium in the centre of Bisho and have a rally? Permission is given for that but they say we must go backwards and around to get there. We say we will go forward and we'll round in Bisho. They offer to cut the fence for us to go directly to the stadium but we did not wait, we marched forward, not waiting for an answer.
This is, in my opinion Mr Chairperson, at least giving some idea of what went on that day from the point of view of one of the marchers - no one less than this very prominent member of the ANC, Professor Suttner and I thought it is of extreme importance that we should try at all times to hear always both sides, all the sides. It is interesting to hear him describing the diplomacy that we tried to practice. He says:
'The crowd is ready to push on, move through and deal with the consequences. There is a respite. The United Nations people intervene and there is a message that Pik wants Chris to phone him and this leads to more than four hours of waiting. Cyril and Holomisa are involved and Geldenhuys is shuttling between the two sides.'
It gives you, I think Mr President, an honest analysis of the tension that went on that day and when I say this, this stands in very stark contrast, very very stark to the events of 7 September. The march on 4 August started with hard line positions which, in the morning and until late the afternoon, seemed to offer no hope of escaping from a blood bath.
The events leading up to the massacre of 7 September 1992 are fully documented. The Commission is respectfully referred to the documents. I have made a list and would not like to use your time to read all the documentation. It contains the reports of the Goldstone Commission, the Picket Commission, letters from Mr de Klerk to Brigadier Gqozo, to President Mandela, President Mandela to President de Klerk and so on and press statements that were made by, media statements, it's all listed here and also a letter which I received from Mr Errol Spring who was of the Border Industrial Council, and my response to him.
The South African government and I were extremely concerned about the situation which had arisen in the Ciskei border region at the time. The government had been in constant communication as I indicated, with all the parties involved, in an endeavour to ensure a peaceful resolution. State President de Klerk had, as I said, exchanged letters with Mr Mandela, with Brigadier Gqozo, with others. The government had held discussions with Brigadier Gqozo. It had sent Deputy Ministers, this time Breytenbach and Myburg, to the area to negotiate with a view to the proper management of the situation.
Simultaneously the government had taken steps inter alia through the Declaration of Unrest Areas in order to enable the Security Forces to deal effectively with the volatile situation on the South African side of the border and to ensure that protest actions would be peaceful, lawful and in accordance with the terms of the Peace Accord and the guidelines of the Goldstone Commission as well as the conditions in the magistrate's Court Order. You will recall the magistrate allowed the march under certain conditions.
You will notice, with respect, Mr Chairperson, that in ... end of Tape 5, side B ... and the ANC SACP Alliance are severely sanctioned. In regard to the Ciskei government, the finding of the Goldstone Commission, not mine, the Goldstone Commission was:
'That had the Ciskei authorities acceded to the pleas of the South African government, the SAP (the South African Police) and the NP's (National Peace [indistinct] to allow a peaceful and negotiated mass demonstration to take place, the violence which occurred on 7 September could have been averted.'
'The manner in which the Ciskei forces fired at the demonstrators can only be condemned in the strongest terms. Anyone who has watched the videos of the shooting will have experienced a feeling of disbelief that the shooting could have continued till what appeared to be an interminable time. Indeed it appears clearly that the soldiers in the vicinity of the Yongilanga Crescent continued to fire at the fleeing crowd, virtually until the last of them disappeared from sight.
The firing was indiscriminate and even if there had been isolated firing from the demonstrators, the reaction of the Ciskei soldiers was completely disproportional. Not one Ciskei soldier in that area was injured and as already indicated, the high probability is that the one soldier who was injured in the Fort Hare vicinity, was shot by one of his fellow soldiers. When the crowd in that area turned to flee, on the CDF version, the continued and prolonged firing was quite unjustified and unlawful.
It must be emphasised that even if the CDF [Ciskei Defence Force Commander] and members believed that they were under some kind of attack, even if they believed that the crowd was intent upon overrunning them and going to Bisho, even if they believed that one of their members had been shot by a demonstrator, their indiscriminate and prolonged shooting at innocent demonstrators was morally and legally indefensible and is deserving of the strongest sanction.'
In regard to the conduct of the Alliance Organisers the Goldstone Commission came to the following conclusion. At all times the Alliance leaders must have been aware that the Ciskei authorities were in earnest in their refusal to allow the demonstrators into the Ciskei. That was made absolutely clear in public statements. It was reinforced by the order obtained from the Ciskei Supreme Court. It was conveyed in unequivocal terms by the National Peace Secretariat and National Peace Committee.
It was conveyed by the State President to President of the ANC. In particular the Alliance created even more confusion by it first seeking an order from the Chief Magistrate, even to the extent of obtaining a mandamus from the Supreme Court. Having obtained an order, the Alliance chose to ignore it, fully realising that the Ciskei authorities were bound by it. By all accounts, the notice by the Alliance that they would not follow the terms of the Court Order, was inadequate.
The threatening statements reportedly made by some Alliance leaders in the days preceding the march could only have been calculated to harden the attitude of the Ciskei authorities. The threat made by these leaders was that the occupation of Bisho would continue until Brigadier Gqozo gave up his control of the Ciskei. In these circumstances Judge Goldstone says:
'For the Alliance leaders to have approved of their followers running through the gap in the fence in the direction of Bisho, was irresponsible and deliberately placed such people in imminent danger which resulted in death and injury. In the present climate of negotiation in South Africa and the policy with regard thereto by all the major political parties, the decision to have risked the lives of their followers by advancing out of the stadium was unfortunate and unjustified. If their intention was to draw public attention to the policies of the Ciskei authorities, they could have achieved that by more appropriate mass action on the South African side of the border and even in the Bisho stadium. To have deliberately withheld that intention from the National Peace Secretariat was disingenuous and rendered useless the role which was played by it.'
Mr Chairperson, it only remains for me to say that this was a tragedy that was feared and predicted. It happened. We can never recover time. You cannot advance it and you cannot recover it. You cannot bring it back. There is a famous verse from the prophet which says:
'our love [indistinct]' [it was a man in the anguish of having lost so much and then he said] 'our love could [indistinct] eye with fate conspire, to grasp this sorry scheme of things entire, would not be shattery to bits and then remould it nearer to the heart's desire.'
This is one of those instances. We cannot rebuild it. We cannot. We cannot bring back the dead but we can once more in my opinion, extend to their families and friends our condolences, our thoughts and our prayers and in appropriate cases, material assistance and compensation. I thank you for your patience in giving me this opportunity.
Chairperson, we have invited Mr Botha to testify before the Commission today because we are convinced that there is a great need, especially in this region, to establish truth about certain things and that the possibilities of reconciliation, not only because of the Bisho massacre but of the events that followed thereafter.
The possibility of burying the past hinges solely on getting the truth about some things. So we will be raising quite a number of questions, Chairperson, as you permit us but the first one that I want to raise with Mr Botha is just a comparison of the submission that he has made before this Commission today. I compare that with the memorandum that he submitted or that his government, which I suppose that was drawn by his department of Foreign Affairs, submitted to the United Nations which deal with the same event.
I asked you, we are supposed to be a Commission that listens to every side. I told you this morning. If you do not want to adhere to these conditions I would be very reluctant but I have the authority to clear the hall. I don't want to do that and if we are a democracy, one of the things that we are having to learn is that we have to give everybody a fair sharing whether you agree or not.
[Indistinct] is bad and I said that this morning when I spoke about the fact that we are not a political rally, and so I trust that you are here because you want to hear the truth and we need to establish that truth as much as we are able to do so. So I rely on you to be disciplined people that we always thought you were.
Thank you Chairperson. I was still saying that the submission made, I suppose through the Foreign Affairs Department, to the United Nations which covers 20-odd pages mainly devotes, I think 18 pages of that submission, to the critical analysis of what the Alliance of the ANC and South African Communist Party did, and very little blame is attributed to those who were responsible for the shooting. Now I want to find out from Mr Botha, it may be that he has obtained new insight since that submission has been made. Has there been more insight and when has this taken place?
Yes it must be clear, the emphasis that I put on Judge Goldstone's report, that memorandum was despatched by me on 7 September to the United Nations when the events was not only fresh in one's memory but when we had to rely mostly on media reports, reports of observers here etc. I have a copy here. I do not agree with the honourable member when he says that it was one-sided. I made it also clear that the attitude of the Ciskei government was to be condemned in severe terms. Chairperson, having gone through the 4 August event and playing a humble role to prevent bloodshed, then to have been faced with this second event, was personally to me a very painful experience. I must be honest, I thought it was unnecessary.
We had agreed in CODESSA on the TBVC states, procedures were agreed upon. I, at that moment thought it was unnecessary. We had a meeting. We had a meeting the day before the 7th in President de Klerk's office and there we decided that if Brigadier Gqozo, if the next day the court says that he must allow the march, which we expected, and he didn't, that we would then have taken drastic steps against him.
And it was when you are in that frame of mind, 4 August was there, the point was made. Professor Suttner here tells you, the ANC regarded that was a victory for them. No bloodshed. Now comes 7 September barely a month later. I thought it was unnecessary.
At the same time I must admit that the ANC like any other party, had the right of peaceful gathering. It is of course a tragedy, or ironical, that that right was not really practised all over the country. There were vast parts where you couldn't hold a meeting at all if you belonged to a certain party, but be that as it may, I, the answer is yes, when the Goldstone report came out with a proper analysis of the facts, having seen the videos, I accepted immediately Judge Goldstone's analysis and then realised that my submission to the United Nations was partly framed in a state of emotion and, but what I did was I immediately sent the Goldstone report to the United Nations and I also invited, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, a United Nations representative to come and acquaint himself with the situation but the answer is yes.
REV FINCA: Thank you Chairperson. The next question deals with the fact that there is a conviction in many people's minds that the South African government had the means to stop the massacre. You mentioned in your testimony that you actually had an arrangement where you appointed certain ministers to cabinet of Ciskei as per agreement with Brigadier Gqozo and also of course many of the people who were in charge of the Security Forces here were seconded officials by the RSA government.
I would like to hear Mr Botha's comment on the fact that they had the means but lacked the will to stop this massacre, or alternatively, there is another suggestion that the South African government had covert operations here in Ciskei which were aimed primarily at destabilising Transkei with a view of removing Bantu Holomisa there, and that acting against the Ciskei decisively in a manner that would have stopped the march would have compromised those operations which were there at the time.
I don't say these are facts but we are here trying to get to the truth and that is our only opportunity to get to it and it is not usual that we have got a person of your stature to raise these questions with and perhaps we could hear your comments on those two suggestions.
Thank you Mr Chair. In fact our investigative unit have been providing background material on this matter and one of the propositions that they have put, and I would like your comment on this, is that at that critical period, 92, the South African government found itself in a dilemma and this is what brought about the dilemma.
Ciskei was a very valuable ally for the South African government in the negotiations process and therefore its continued existence under a strongly anti- ANC government was crucial because Ciskei was still being used by these strongly anti- ANC government elements as a base for covert operations by conservative SADF elements, who planned to launch an armed attack on the Transkei intending to kill Chris Hani and Bantu Holomisa.
You need the Ciskei, you need it under an anti- ANC dictatorship. Elements in the South African Defence Force need that environment for covert operations and Chris Hani and Holomisa being at that time in the Transkei, one of the objectives was to mount this armed attack, take out Chris Hani and Bantu Holomisa.
But at the same time Gqozo had become an embarrassment to your government, particularly because of that inquest which you talked about. You had sent this gentleman, your Deputy Minister on the 26th August and the inquest, this refusal to go to the inquest of Charles Sebe and Onward Gonzana and this refusal to your Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Raymond Schoeman, and of course also Mickey Webb and all those people, specifically to discuss, you had sent these men specifically to discuss the refusal to allow the inquest.
The support therefore by South Africa was crucial to Gqozo at that time in order to deal with the march. That's the scenario. I would like to therefore get your views on this. You have on the one hand an embarrassment but on the other hand you need to retain him to the extent that there are these other designs.
Mr Chairperson, if I had any wish to get rid of Mr Chris Hani, I would simply not have stopped the events on that day. I would not have called him to an hotel, pleaded with him and with Cyril. I cannot speak for other departments. The fact of the matter is all my documents are either with the UN, contained in speeches, or in files. The Commission is welcome to call them up.
Ciskei was an embarrassment to me. I cannot see for the life of me how anyone can allege it was an ally. I just don't see why and how, particularly after we started the negotiations. I quoted at length here to indicate that full re-incorporating was agreed to. Full re-incorporating. There was never any doubt in my mind that the sooner re-incorporating could take place the better.
It was an impossible situation but the same happened in Transkei, the same happened in Venda, to a lesser extent in Bophuthatswana. I said earlier today that the country has not yet learned what happened to certain hundreds of billions. People were promoted who should not have been promoted but that is a different matter. I'm answering the question. There is not even the slightest possibility that I could have rejoiced in the continued independence of any of these states. I made public statements which I will give the Commission in which I said all three military dictators must go. The sooner the better. All three of them, because there was no way and I invite you now to consult with the Auditor General.
There was just no way to get any picture of what went on with the finances in these three states. Just no way and the moment you tried to touch them they said, look you're a white guy from a white government, don't touch us, we're independent and this is a just an old form of baaskap and apartheid.
It was a very difficult position to be in, very very difficult indeed. I just want to assure the Commission. I know of events but I do not know the truth about those events. I still don't know exactly what the facts are surrounding the killing of Charles Sebe. There was an attempt here to invade the Ciskei, remember the late Mr Lenox Sebe asking me to bring President de Klerk here to Cabin. They showed us weapons and arms here near a government building, which they discovered.
I was aware that Mr George Matanzima had the Salute Scouts Commander trying to train people, for what, I don't know. I was Minister of Foreign Affairs having one struggle, that was to try and get the budget's approve of these four states. That was to try to stop them from going to Austria to buy buses whose doors open on the wrong side of the road. I, if you, that assurance here today, that was my struggle. Mr Bantu Holomisa, General Bantu Holomisa once said to me that, he said to me you don't know what's going on in your Security Forces. Maybe I didn't.
I did my best with the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Please call in a man called Dr Deon Richter. He will tell you of the hours we spent together to implement adjustment programmes. It was clear to me that TBVC states had to be incorporated. The sooner the better. I propagated it. As a matter of fact the ANC said no. I prepared the Bill, Mr Chairperson, which I wanted to take to Parliament. It was stopped. They said Jo don't go, you're not going to deal unilaterally with this, you'll wait for incorporation until the election because the ANC didn't want, at that stage, to get rid of Bantu Holomisa or Rhamashan in Venda. These are the facts.
Mr Chairperson, yes I would like to catch a plane in East London at 5:30 if it's possible. Now if the Traffic Officers won't prosecute my car driver, I can spend a few more minutes here and there is a date with some media people out there but I'm in your hands.
Well I, we will appeal to the, the Premiere is here, will you tell your traffic cops not to, maybe they should even escort you. We will try, just maybe, I'll, I think maybe say five more minutes or so. Thank you very much. Boraine?
Chairperson, thank you very much. The paragraph on the bottom of page 4 which you have referred to now again. 'Managing relationships with the TBVC was the most depressing and distressing experience of my life. I inherited a nightmare that was once a dream.'
Now I want to suggest that it is inevitable that the majority of people who did not believe in the establishment of so-called independent states were, could hardly be blamed if they felt that the South African government, having created these states, could never really disown parenthood, that they were the parents of this, the father if you like, of these states and therefore had authority to exercise control.
I think you will concede that the South African government never hesitated to exercise control when it wished to do so, certainly for a very long period of time. Now it does seem to me that what you are saying is that in fact what the South African government of that time created, was a Frankenstein or something that got out of control and yet when it clearly needed to be stopped in its tracks, those who created it couldn't do that because these people now said, we're independent, keep your hands off us baaskap or you know, the way you described it.
What I'm saying is that in a very real sense the responsibility of what happened on September 7th is not just ... end of Tape 6, side A ... and that this was a consequence and what we are living with now is a legacy which is extremely hard to manage. You yourself have indicated this and anybody knows as they look at the situation now, two years after elections, that there is desperate poverty in these parts of the world, that there is unbelievable corruption which has taken place over a very long period of time and that there were attitudes demonstrated on that terrible day which had no respect for life.
I don't know, understand how, I don't know any other way of describing what happened that day when I look at it and listen to the victims and so on, that, and Goldstone's own considered opinion, that this was, this was bloody murder. Now you can understand therefore, Mr Botha, I'm sure that there are those who still feel that somehow you and your colleagues had the power to pull the plug, either by simply declaring some moratorium, disposing of this man, providing a referendum, something in order to get to the will of the people before this conflict became unmanageable.
Now you have made a number of statements in recent months and years which reflect a considerable thinking of your own role and of the government's role and of what's happened in this country and so on. Does anything I say make sense? I am trying to get to the roots of the matter rather than just the actual events of those days.
It does certainly if we want to put all events in South Africa in proper perspective, say over the past 20 years, we will need a clinical gown analysis of how this tragedy developed. That's why I called it a dream that turned into a nightmare. I certainly believed that the original ideas, the original ideas to escape from the lack of a moral base for apartheid and to do so by the creation then of independent states where black people would indeed then be Prime Ministers. Katie Matanzima once said to me, in other words if I want to escape from apartheid I've got to opt for independence.
That was unfortunately the position. That was unfortunately the position and then of course over the years it became clear that not only could it not work because of a lack of a moral basis but because it made no economic sense whatsoever.
But then there was also, I must say today here, a very sincere debate in the minds and hearts of many Afrikaners, and I'm one, how to get rid of this. Maybe we should have moved faster, maybe we should have moved faster yes, and a human being is always inclined to find a scapegoat or to blame someone else. It is the way we are.
Even Christ was, you know, almost deceived by Peter when he said look I don't know that man. It's part of our sinfulness but what I do want to say here today is, where is that perspective because even if you made Ciskei not independent or, and we didn't, there were really elections here, how representative they were is not for me to say, it's not. But fact even if not a single independent state arose, you would still have had a need to manage the areas, the territories.
You would still have needed hospitals, clinics, roads, airports etc. You would have. Secondly, but even if you had not a single one, then clashes occurred in the Republic of South Africa. Sharpeville was not due to a, did not take place in the independent black state, it took place in South Africa, in South Africa.
So I think while I partly agree with Dr Boraine's implication, history, our history is so full of complexities, perplexities, so full of cantorial moral claims, the Afrikaner having been defeated by Britain, his language in danger, poor, scarcely making a living, wishing his Republic, his country, his language restored.
It was a wish, desire, and when he obtained it he then forgot his own poverty and his struggle and did not somehow succeeded in seeing the parallel in the black people, in the black communities. That would have been the historic chance for the Afrikaner to have noticed that comparison, and then to have done for them what the Reddingsdaadbond did for the Afrikaner but somehow tragically it didn't happen and it took a long time before it dawned I think, on the majority of whites that we are busy with something highly immoral in this country which could not be defended.
And then the negotiations, thank God, started and they went well. This is the point I was trying to make. The negotiations really went well. I remember so well that first meeting with Mr Mandela and Joe Slovo and Alfred Ntsor in Groote Schuur.
High hopes - we removed the obstacles, then came the Pretoria Minute, then came the D F Malan Minute, then came CODESSA 1. It followed one upon the other, the whole world was here. It was like a major celebration and then we were hit in 92 by that misunderstanding when a heated debate started between Mr Mandela and Mr de Klerk.
I myself tried to soothe tempers that day but saw that if tempers are high you better lie low, but be that as it may, there was a disappointment and what I was saying today, Mr Chairperson, was that it is a great pity because between that June and September, between that June and September, go and check the newspaper, was a morbid time in this country. It was a morbid, dark time. People were uncertain, selfish, obdurate because everyone was blaming everyone, fulminated against each other.
Of course in the end, yes Dr Boraine is right but then Van Riebeeck should have stayed in Holland and that would have saved us a lot of other problems but, but he came here and now we must just [indistinct]
To conclude, Mr Chairperson, looking back today I think I agree in miracoloco despite, and if then, if this tragedy, if the pain, the price the relatives and friends had to pay for Bisho 7 September, if that contributed towards the understanding eventually reached, maybe at least that would be some consolation to the families and friends. That that shook the country.
It shook the leadership, I believe, of all the major parties. It indicated to us, look we better get together, we better start to resolve our difficulties and go to the ballot box to get a new future for South Africa, but in the end yes. A last, just a last word, it wasn't really, Dr Boraine, that easy. Please believe me, when President Mangope built a power station, I think he spent 30 or 40 million on it. When I asked to see him and discuss it with him and pointed to him that that power could never be fed into the grid, into the South African grid because it is too expensive.
It would have been ten times more expensive. Then his reply to me was look I'm very sorry, my Parliament is sovereign and I voted it and he said then to me look I don't know whether your government will not one day turn against me and cut my power and in that case I would have my own power.
He revealed his thoughts and ironically I was the man who had to fly to him to depose him in the end. It was not that easy, believe me it was not that easy. When President Mepepu was inaugurated in Venda that evening and he pulled out the wrong speech, the speech he had to make the afternoon, he used his evening speech in the afternoon and I then said to Dr Hartzenberg as we were queuing up to get our tickets for going to the stadium, I said to him this won't go, it won't work.
Mr Botha, thank you very much. My question is a two part question and the first part is a follow-up from Dr Boraine's question. In order to deal with this question I would like you not to refer to your papers. I would like you not to refer to events, strategies, tactics, activities.
I would like you to speak from the heart, to speak from the heart in relation to this 33 year period, that is the mandate of the Commission. To speak from the heart because the Bisho massacre was not an isolated event.
It was part of a pathway of policy making and decision making, and because you were part of the decision making process, I'd like to get a sense of you about the state of mind, and when I say 'you' I'm talking about the royal you. The state of mind in the decision making process that culminated in Bisho and other Bisho's after that. Just, just from the heart, and then after you've done that I'd like you to share your thinking with us about where we go from here.
We have a divided nation not only divided across racial lines, but divided within its communities. We Would like to get the benefit of your thinking about how this nation, in your opinion, is going to reconcile with itself and ultimately heal itself. Thank you sir.
Well you see I could have resigned from the cabinet if I could not stomach decisions of the cabinet. I almost did so on one occasion, when I said the country would have a black president. But then I received quite a number of messages from all over the country saying hang in there because the history of splinter groups in this country politically, is that they disappear, they dissipate, they disappear.
Naturally I didn't personally agree with quite a number of decisions but I was on the point of resigning when, on one occasion I couldn't get a decision through on accepting Resolution 435 in respect of Namibia. That would have been, if the government did not accept it I would have resigned.
I would also have resigned if at that time, shortly before the late Dr Andries Treunicht broke away, the five western countries and Security Council then submitted to us Constitutional principles for Namibia and Dr Treunicht and Dr Hartzenberg opposed it and I would have resigned if the cabinet supported them then, but luckily they broke away there and they supported me.
There were a number of issues on which I would have been prepared to go but somehow they didn't come up. That doesn't mean that one agreed. I remember the tremendous battle to get the Pass Laws removed. Quite apart from that, the Immorality Act, you know, and how anybody could think, you know, how you should defend this abroad.
In Sweden or Germany you wake up and you see a headline that a Norwegian sailor was arrested yesterday in Durban for having slept with a coloured girl, or a black girl or an Indian girl. It was degrading, but that we changed, we could change it.
Looking back today, maybe there are some of us who could have broken away and created a greater turmoil, yes, but as I said earlier, you cannot recover the past and for us there was only the trying. The rest was not my business as T S Elliot said. If I did not succeed, if I did too little too late, then I'm guilty and that's it, and I'll have to account to myself to God then for not having done my duty.
On the other hand I would in all humble just warn, we must be careful in this country not to ascribe everything that goes wrong, to the past. There is a danger in that. There is a danger that we then will never rescue ourselves from the past because where do you end then? Where do we end then in five years, ten years from now on? There must come a time that you cannot say that because a certain road is not tarred, it's because of apartheid.
There must come such a time also and that's why I personally, you would have noticed in public statements, welcomed the establishment of this Commission. I saw the need for it historically speaking and I do believe that after completion of your work and as we move towards the next election, the new regrouping of political parties in this country have not yet taken place. It is inevitable as apartheid recedes, as the emotions and revenge and anger surrounding apartheid becomes somewhat more blurred, and it will, human emotion is like that.
Then there will come in this country a new regrouping, restructuring of political parties where blacks and whites and coloureds won't even notice each colour any more. It will be a question of principles, objectives in which they believe and it will be a more natural division. That is the way reconciliation will really be achieved. It will not be achieved in an artificial way and this Commission can of course assist.
You are already assisting. You are giving all sides in this country and I want to appeal to all my countrymen to come to the Commission and talk as we have done here today. I think it is an excellent opportunity for all of us as fellow South Africans to be able to sit like this and exchange views with each other in an open, completely open and sincere way and you have done it and I hope my compatriots will feel the same.
Also those who were in government before and elsewhere. Come and make a contribution but the real reconciliation will only take place if the present political grouping of parties which is still based on the apartheid era, the ANC, PAC, SACP are still, they came into the election as an extension of the struggle against apartheid. Which is correct. I'm not criticising it, I'm stating a fact. National Party the same, it didn't even change its name, it just carried on.
Then the DP - same. There's is still this image, even if Tony Leon says 'what' there is still the image it's a relatively high class super white kind of party belonging to Houghton. It's a fact etc. Now what I'm saying is that we must move out of that and it will come. I already have discussions with ANC members, business people, who say things to me which they will not repeat here, or publicly and I'm not going to mention their names but they are prominent people and, all over and in the National Party and all over there is a new movement coming into being I predict today here which will then undo the divisions of the past and a new restructuring of political parties where prominent black leadership, maybe a part of the National Party, part of the ANC, part of the DP, I don't know what INKHATA will do, it seems to me it's going to be a very tough one that.
I want to express our very deep appreciation to you. Just before you responded to Dr Ramashala's questions, you had, in fact you began responding to her first question before she asked it and I think that many will say that they were touched by your speaking your heart when you said something like it is one of the tragedies, of course you can't recall it but it is one of the tragedies that a people who went through the kind of experience that your people went through, should have forgotten that and forgotten the, sort of the parallels you say but it is again something that you said, you cannot recall the past but you can say, I mean that we are an extraordinary country.
We are an extraordinary country for you can sit here in a crowd that is overwhelmingly black, representing an old dispensation that caused very considerable anguish and pain and you can feel that you are able to say the things that you said. Some of which are things that were not popular, and yet we can sit here and people can laugh at the things that you have said. And you can also have spoken and we want to thank you, we want to thank you for coming.
We want to thank you that you bared your heart in the way that you have done and that we can stretch out hence to one another, not in a false kind of way, not in a way that pretends. When you come as who you are and when we accept you we have to accept you as who you are with the kinds of experiences that you have had and the things that you have learned and that this is a country that, I think in a way is unique in the world and I hope.
I mean that your plea to people in your community to come and know that they can say whatever it is that they want to say, so that we can begin to learn to accept one another as who we are and we want you to be able to make your particular kind of contribution to the richness of this country and you have made an important contribution and we want to thank you for that.
Friends, we have witnesses, we have eight witnesses and the minister. Would you be kind enough Mr Kasrils to, say if we took another say, three, four, five witnesses. We have got to indicate, we are not going to leave here without having finished. Those who want to go home are free to do so but those that were promised that they would be heard today, have to be heard and we have to honour our commitment to them. They are sitting here, grandmothers [indistinct]. I hope that you will have patience. Please call them in.
Your Grace we ask for Alice Nombeko Mfenqe, Remonica Myeha, Rosy Ramncwana, Mkhangeli Elliot Mbula, Biziwe Elizabeth Lali and Ntombembi Gazi-Kaleni. Please let them take the oath when they are settled.
Your Grace these people that are taking the stand are people that we are taking all together because all of them are victims whose families died in the march. Their story is basically the same because they were not at the march. I will ask that we take them in this order.
Ms Remonica Myeha will be following Reverend Xundu. Rosy Ramncwana - Ms Maya. Mkhangeli Mbula will be following Dr Ramashala. Biziwe Elizabeth Lali will be following Denzil Potgieter. Ntombembi Gazi-Kaleni will be following Dumisa Ntsebeza.
Thank you. What did you then do, did you go look for him at hospital? --- No we did not. We asked an elderly man to help us. Before we did anything he said he would phone Gray hospital to find out what's happening. After he phoned the Gray hospital he informed us that the corpse was in West Bank.
After your husband died, did you get any compensation from the government? --- After he died we sent to attorneys Smith and Thabata to lodge a civil claim. This year in March they gave us a report back that when my husband died he was already old therefore there's nothing the government can do. When I said that my children are still at school they said that I must find scholarships to educate my children. There is nothing the government can do.
Where do your children go to school? --- The two are still at school, the one is doing second year at Fort Hare, my youngest is doing standard nine at Ntzulanga High School. I have one that cannot go to school because there is no money.
What standards are your children doing at school? --- The one is doing second year at Fort Hare University. The other is neither working nor at school. My youngest is doing standard nine at Ntzululazi.
Is there something else perhaps that you would like to request? --- Because my husband liked sport I would like that, I'd be not the only one who is helped but the community at large, by building a sports centre so that the youth in my area can be helped.
Ms Ramncwana, on the day of the march you lost your grandchild Luzuko Ramncwana who was shot dead. You say that you realised when he was not coming home. How did you find out that he died? --- I am Rosy Ramncwana, my home is at Gaga, Luzuko is my grandchild. He left home in the morning the previous day when he went to a meeting at school. When he came back he told me that the following day they are going to a march at Bisho. Luzuko left in the morning to go to Bisho. It got late and we went to bed. Luzuko had not come home yet. When I got up in the morning on Tuesday Luzuko was nowhere to be found. I went to the ANC members to ask where my grandchild is because he did not come home. The other children that had gone with had gone back home. They said they would go and look for him. The ANC members went to look for him. At about 3 o'clock they came back saying they found Luzuko at Mdantsane at a mortuary. Luzuko was taken to West Bank and they operated on him. They found that - when the ANC members came back I asked them what is going to happen. They said that if it is all right he is going to be buried with the other ANC members. I said because of the situation at home, I request that he be buried at home. They said they grant my request that Luzuko must come and be buried at home. The corpse was taken home and he was buried at home by ANC members. Luzuko is one of three children of my daughter. My daughter went and got married and left these three children with me. Luzuko was in standard nine. I was looking up to him that one day he will be able to support me and those that [indistinct] but now it is impossible for Luzuko to help anyone. I live on pension. I cannot support these children. The one was born in 1980 and the other in 1985. They are still at school but in that difficulty.
Is there any type of compensation that you got maybe from the ANC or from attorneys? --- In 1993 I went to a lawyer, Mr Thabata. I was not welcome. I went back again in June this year and I found two ladies. The lawyer was not there. These women said you are too late, the Gqozo era is over, you are just walking around aimlessly. I got out of there weeping. I have no help, I did not receive any help. I went to Mdantsane, I've forgotten who I found there but her surname was Martha. She said that she was at the offices in Mdantsane. She said to me your name is not here but the other people got special pensions but I know that your name was not there. I told them that I did not get a penny.
I am convinced that you have a request. --- My request is that the Commission may help me with my children. After that if the Commission can help me construct a tombstone for Luzuko. I went to the graveyard recently and I found Luzuko's grave and there was a stampede of cows over it. There is nothing I can do.
The events surrounding the massacre have been described by several people. I would like to ask you to talk about the effect that the death of your son had on you and your family and then talk about what you would like the Commission to do. --- I was really disturbed by this. The mother was disturbed too and she is not enjoying good health. I was also hurt because he was a person who was helping me a lot though he was doing private studies, but after his death there was a great difference because we live together with my mother. I am not going to say much. I would like to say the Commission could see what it can do when it is making compensation towards the people otherwise I don't have much to say. I don't have anything to say much about him.
And you say that his death greatly affected your wife's health. Could you tell us just a little bit about it and also tell us if she is receiving any medical aid or medical care. --- No she is not getting any medical treatment. She did get it once when I would send her to doctors here in town but she used to complain about her nerves whenever she would think about the death of the son.
Mr Mbula, you also went to Mr Smith Thabata an attorney in 1995 to institute civil proceedings. When was the last time you talked to the lawyers? --- I last talked to the lawyers who is Mr Smith, last month because he had called me to give another statement. That was the only thing he had asked me for.
Did he tell you what was causing the hold up in the case? --- I haven't been to see him for the second time. Even on that particular day I did not ask him anything. I just concentrated on the fact that he was taking this second statement because even prior to that he stated that he did not know whether the Defence Force was going to accept this case because it was now another year. Where we had made enquiries, we were told that this matter was referred to the government so he told me that the Defence Force might accept the case or perhaps he could reject it.
In your statement you say that you would like to be granted reparations and damages by the Commission. Can you tell us a little bit about that. --- I cannot specifically point out what I want but if the Commission could give me some compensation I would gladly accept that.
Now would you like to tell us what you know about the incident and about his death? --- When Zwelitsha died after the march he did not come back the first day. We went to look for him the second day. He was found at Mapongo in East London, he was beaten up especially on the forehead.
What was the effect of Zwelitsha's death on yourself and the family? --- After my son died I've never been in good health up to now. When I was still pondering on that my husband died. That too had a bad effect. I'm in very bad health. I have grandchildren that I'm educating. My one grandchild has passed matric, the other is still in standard 9. I don't have any other help at all to educate them. The only money I receive is my pension money.
Thank you very much. Now is there anything in particular that you would like the Commission to attend to? --- I would like the Commission, as my child was buried at home, I'll ask that his grave, that a tombstone be put there so that there are no stampedes. I will request the Commission to have compassion especially about my children. I would also like to tell you that after my husband died, a policeman came to me wanting Zwelitsha's death certificate. I said that I should not give the death certificate to him but because he is from the government I gave it to him. A few months went by and I went to Alice to find this death certificate. They say it's not there, I would try again to retrieve it, they would still say it's not there. They told me the one time that it's in Bisho, until I thought I don't have any more money to retrieve this death certificate and I gave up.
Thank you very much, we have noted everything that you've said and we thank you for sharing the story with us. I don't have any further questions that I want to put to you and I'm going to ask that you be handed back to the Chairperson. Thank you very much.
I am going to speak Xhosa to you ma'am because I think that you do not want to put on your earphones. You think it's only doctors that put on earphones. Just relax. Just relax and sit back. I'm not really sure whether this statement giving your identity number is saying that you were born in 1918 is that so? --- Who me?
You have come to tell us about Xolani. --- Yes it is so. A child came to me on a Monday to tell me that Xolani has been shot in the head. They first lied to me and said he's been shot in the hand. I asked them why he doesn't come back because he has been shot in the hand. A young man then came to me and said Xolani has been shot in the head and he died. We then slept with that news, until on Saturday the people that were with him who came -
Please continue. --- I realised that my daughter was very unsettled. I asked members of the community to come and take her to hospital. Xolani was then not yet buried. He then got buried on the Saturday.
[Indistinct] came from the Chowie clan. --- They came back, those that told me about the death of Xolani and a young man called Lutile came with a group of people. They said they would come again on Saturday. Xolani was buried on Saturday. I did not ask for a death certificate because I was not well. After a while, a month after the funeral, I asked if the death certificate arrived. Nobody knew. I still don't have Xolani's death certificate.
Did your daughter leave them with you? --- Yes, because she was not in good health. I then supported them. They came when they were still very young. The one now is in standard five and the other in standard three. As the mother is not working they are supported by my pension.
Thank you. What can we do for you ma'am, besides your children? --- If you could just help me support these children because even if I say I want money, I know I won't get it. If you can make a way for me to support these children.
At least you are aware that we, as the Commission don't have money either but we do try to ask people so that their wishes are looked at in a significant way. Is there anything else ma'am? --- No there is nothing else except that I have this cry for my children.
If the present government who took the place of the Gqozo government and if there's a way that these lawyers, Thabata and van Heerden, you will not reject the money, will you take it? --- Yes I will take it.
I was disturbed when I was about to say that ladies and gentlemen, it seemed like it's easy to talk and encourage people because sometimes it's because we have not experienced what you have experienced. We go short of words endeavouring to be compassionate and help you but we can empathise a bit with all the pain that you went through. As I was listening to your testimonies that some of you just heard by the grapevine. No one decently and quickly came to tell you of the tragedies. This is why it seems like the wounds have been, even the task of having to go look for the members of your families in mortuaries, going up and down. It's all very painful and we empathise with you. This Commission has been given the task to report to our President in what ways that we can avoid such incidents in the future. We say to you that may the Lord strengthen you and comfort you so that His Holy Spirit my bind your wounds. Your wishes ... end of Tape 7, side A ... to help you but we will report and make recommendations to him. He will make the decisions. He will report back to us in Parliament and tell us in what way we can help you. We are very grateful that you came here and please be comforted. Thank you.
Our wish is that you should tell us as someone that was there, your own version, what happened. If you were here you would find that some of the events that are being spoken about are that people made mention of a helicopter that was hovering up above and it is the opinion that when the helicopter ascended, the thing from the top of the helicopter that was spinning, some people thought that the noise from the flippers of the helicopter were causing the noise but others thought that it was gunfire. So I am not trying to impose my opinion on you but the police that were investigating that I was talking to, are of the opinion that people were shot, the reason people are saying that they were shot from this helicopter is because they heard the noise of the helicopter starting up, because when a helicopter is about to take off it makes a noise so I would like you to please tell us your version of events as someone that was present. --- I would like to give evidence before this Commission that on the 7th September 1992 when I had come from Alice we were leading the march coming here to Bisho. We left Alice in transport and when we got to Victoria where we were going to gather, we arrived and our leaders were present there and the route that was to be used to come here to Bisho was discussed and those decisions were then taken and a route was decided upon and we then came with our leaders towards Bisho. En route I think I was probably in the third group. There was a group that was ahead of us and while myself and other comrades were proceeding, I can count Mr Tom from Alice in, he was one of the persons who was in my group. When we were approximately near the road that separates South Africa from Bisho, we realised that something was going to happen but as we proceeded, when I was going to cross, there is this road that leads towards the stadium that divides the stadium by fence from the north side to the south side, and there was a wire razor that had been put up there to prohibit us from going any further. What I saw was that the Ciskei police, it was not the first time that we had come to Bisho on a march, but this march was different because we observed the road for the manner in which everything had been set up, that something was going to happen but in the picture of my mind I thought to myself that in previous marches - previous marches had been allowed and although this one had also been allowed, what was so surprising was when we crossed [intervention].
Without interrupting you, we are going to run out of time and there are still several more people, please do not be offended but we are trying to - I was asking you the question in corroboration with the statement that you have put here before us and that is why we have called people like Smuts and others to give us the background picture and that you people should just add to it your personal experience. Please do not be offended. --- Let me then just go to the part where the helicopter was taking off. I was with Mr Tom and them in our group and I don't know how we separated but when we crossed the road separating the southern fence from the northern fence, before I got to that road we saw a helicopter taking off and in taking off I did not realise that anything was happening at the time but when it took off I [indistinct] who had seen people running back and heard gunshots. Upon hearing those gunshots ran back in the direction from which I came and while running I was paddling so to speak waving my arms as I was running and I felt a bullet strike my arm. I attempted to continue running and fortunately as I ran down the road I met up with a car that was parked on the side of the road and fortunately, the owner of the car was sitting inside and some of us ran. There was a boy in front of me who was a marshal and I bumped him and I hadn't realised that he had been struck by a bullet against his head but I then had knocked him while I was also running away with my injured arm and when I was in the car I asked this man, who I didn't even know, for assistance and he rushed me to Gray hospital and at Gray hospital I was admitted there and then and told that I would have to be transferred to East London where I received treatment. I was admitted there and I remained in hospital for three weeks. Thereafter I was discharged in November and that is basically all that I want to say to the Commission.
Thank you very much. What I would like to know is that what you have said and what is here in your statement is more or less the same. I don't know if there was some kind of mistake in your statement. You say that from Gray hospital you went to Frere hospital where upon arrival you were treated for your injury and then discharged but now in your evidence it sounds as if you said that you were in hospital for three weeks. Could we just get clarity on that while you are here. Is it indeed so that you just went to Frere hospital and were treated and were discharged? --- No, what happened at Gray hospital is that I got there and there was a group that had arrived before me. At Gray hospital they merely bandaged my arm so that it could remain in a set position and not bleed too much but where I did receive treatment was at Frere hospital. That is where they did everything.
Is there any wish or request that you would like to place before this Commission, any way in which you would like the Commission to be of assistance to you? --- For now, what I have heard, other [indistinct] also say, our joint desire is that we have got one wish for this Commission but I myself, personally, in my life haven't thought about the fact that I could also be one of them, hence whatever decision the Commission can take with regard to the victims such as myself.
Had you ever instituted a claim at attorneys in connection with your shooting? --- I never instituted a civil claim but I had gone to Smith Thabata and I was told there that I should go to Provincial Affairs and ask for the dockets or medical reports or something. They wanted several things but I never went back to them up until now.
In other words as far as you know they are continuing to investigate this matter? --- As far as I know they said that it was, the claim was still being processed but that investigators had come to me to take statements and that the Truth Commission had also taken statements that were submitted.
I just want to make sure about this because in order for us to be able to be of assistance to you, we are able to, and investigate this matter that we can come up with something of substance, are you saying that they are proceeding with the claim which you had instituted, that you should receive some kind of compensation due to the injuries which you sustained? Do not confuse it with what we as the Truth Commission are doing but when you say that Smith Thabata attorneys are busy with a claim on your behalf, are you saying that they are doing it on your behalf, that they are doing it so that you can receive compensation for the injuries which you sustained on this day? --- Let me say for now that they said that they are proceeding but I am not sure because my medical report still hasn't been sent to them. It is still at the hospital, at Frere hospital.
Thank you Chair. In looking at your statement you say that you are going to give evidence with regard to the shooting of your brother who was a soldier and was a co-soldier with you at the Defence Force in the Ciskei in December 1992, is that correct Mr Nqabisa? --- That's right.
I am going to ask you a few questions which you will respond to accordingly. Firstly, I would like to ask you a question that is not related to the incident of the 7th September. In the Ciskei Defence Force, when did you join the Ciskei Defence Force, did you say 1987? --- Yes I joined in 1987.
Let us just focus now on that day in September. Can you just sketch a picture for the Commission about the events of that day. Can you tell us what happened? --- On the 7th September 1992, we left Bisho Military Base and were posted at this Fort Hare premises where we are today. We were B and C companies and in the company, I was in the B company platoon and each company has three platoons. In these three platoons, one section was deployed at the car park, the second platoon was deployed by the pavement near the car park and the third platoon was deployed and so on so forth. Each platoon was deployed according to sections and we were deployed in such a way that we had completely covered this campus.
Can I please ask you to look at me when you speak so that if I would like to ask you another question you would be able to see that. Are you saying that the manner in which you were deployed you were basically deployed in such a way that you were facing the people coming from King William's Town? --- Yes we were deployed in an extended line which is like standing in one row with nobody behind you.
Can you please proceed and tell us what happened thereafter. --- What happened on the 7th is that while we were still standing in our sections, sections 1,2 and 3, we had our commanders who were in charge of us in our various sections - the ranks of lance corporal, full corporal and sergeants and majors and so forth. What happened on the 7th September is that while we were standing watching the oncoming crowd, suddenly there was a dark cloud and chaos erupted. What happened was, while we were standing there watching my brother just fell. What we then did was that the corporal in charge of us said that we should retreat and retreat means that we should go back. So this commander who was in charge of us, Captain Kyushu, took us and told us that we should go and lay flat among the flowers here at the fort, here near the tap on the [indistinct]. We then slept there that night and we were wet and cold and we left there the next morning, when the people left, the people that had come to the march. Everything that had happened after we had retreated, our section, section 2 because they found that in our section there were casualties and an ambulance came and took my older brother and took him back to the base. I was not informed of what the nature of his injuries were.
Mr Nqabisa, was there any instruction that you had received on this day when you had been deployed there to watch this crowd coming into Bisho? --- The instruction which those who were present received on the 6th, the instruction was issued on the 6th from Brigadier Oupa Gqozo, was that he doesn't want any of the soldiers to go home, that we should all sleep at the base but I insisted and I went home and I had gone to even tell my sister and the residents that this is what is going to happen on the 7th and that they should not go to Bisho.
And was there any reason for you to think that this was going to happen? --- Yes there were things which I could have suspected because judging by the way the people in charge were behaving, they didn't tell us everything. You would be told to stand here and not even know why you are standing there but that person would know why they let you stand at that place and they knew everything and we were merely told to stand there and watch the crowd that were coming in towards us.
Did you say that on the 6th September, the day before the shooting, that you were supposed to be at your base but that you were not at the base? --- I was at the base on the 6th but I went home on my own at my own insistence in spite of them having said that no one was to go home but I went on my own and got into a taxi and went home.
Did you hear anyone say who had shot your brother, exactly who had shot your brother? --- What happened is that our guns had been tested, all our firearms had been tested but the ballistics report was never made available to me to know where the bullet came from which struck him fatally.
When you think because when something happens there are perceptions about how this whole incident took place and when you just think, who do you think shot at him? --- When I think about it, I don't know and that is the knowledge that I am still looking for today. I would like to know who shot him.
Tell me, on that day were all the soldiers who were there supposed to have been on duty or were there some who were off-duty on that day? --- Everyone was instructed on the 6th September that no one should go home, that everyone should report at the base.
Were there any reasons for you having resigned from the Defence Force? --- Yes there were reasons for my resignation from the Defence Force. Firstly, after this incident with my brother I changed and I couldn't work properly any more. Secondly, I was someone who upon waking up at the camp wouldn't want to speak to my superiors and they couldn't tolerate me. Thirdly, I saw that there was no other way, that I couldn't tolerate this place any more. I did what is known as AWOL [absent without leave] and I took leave without having been granted permission at base and I was taken to what is known as a court martial. This is what came with the whites when they came to Bisho Military Base and that is where I was on trial and I was found guilty and I was sent to prison in East London. From Fleet Street I was sent to the medium prison and that is where we were taken by the white men at the medium prison and were told that we were now free and that we were being released and that all my army uniforms and everything of mine that belonged to the army I had to give back and that is how I left.
Is that all you would like to say Mr Nqabisa? Before I ask your mother any questions, is that all you would like to say? Will you allow me then to proceed to your mother while you are still pondering anything else that you might not have said? May I proceed to your mother? --- What I would say is that I would like to know because it hurts me very deeply that the problem with my older brother is something that I hear all over the show. What I would like to know is where the bullet came from? Did it come from the Defence, the side of the Defence Force, where did it come from and who fired it?
Did you say Mr Nqabisa that what happened to your brother affected you even healthwise. Could you just elaborate on that for us. --- Yes my health was seriously affected because even in playing in sport I was someone that was very active but even up until today I find that I am inactive because I just cannot cope because it all comes back to me that instead of having people's children killed over here, I would rather take them all and live there by myself.
Is that all you would like to say Mr Nqabisa? We would like to thank you for the co-operation you have offered. --- Finally, what really gets to me is thinking about it because my intentions are that if it was me and if I was in charge I would have rescinded the instruction. I would have withdrawn the order and this effected my life and it made me a nervous person who gets angry very easily. Thirdly, I get violent very quickly, yet those are things that never used to happen to me when my brother was still alive and now no matter what I do I always say that gee whiz, you know, there were two of us before and now I'm alone. That is all.
Ms Nqabisa thank you very much once again. Good afternoon and I would once again like to express my appreciation for you for appearing before this Commission. You say that this, the tidings of your son having been shot there that day, how did you receive the news? --- Reverend Touw came on the 8th on the Tuesday.
Could you please come closer to the microphone Ms Nqabisa. --- Reverend Touw came to the house on the 8th at approximately after 10:00 came with some people and one of them was a [indistinct] girl and they had come to bring the news that in the mass action the previous day here in Bisho, there was this unfortunate incident that Vusumzi was the first person to be struck and that everybody else was injured because he was the first one to have fallen and that he was one of the first persons out of all the people to be injured here in Bisho.
Were they trying to say that the people that were in the march did that? --- Yes I am saying that he was the first one to be shot with, which sparked off this whole incident here in Bisho which lead to the death of all these people.
Your son who was giving evidence before you, said that this affected him severely, the fact that his brother had fallen and I found that in his evidence I observed that it seems as though they were very close and tell me, had it affected you in any way, the death of your son? --- He is right, it affected him severely and it affected me too because that was the last - the last thing I remember was when Reverend Touw was at my house and the next time I came to, was when I was in hospital.
As your son said, how do you think that the death of his brother affected him? --- He is a wreck. He is not what he was before. He has so much anger and he gets so emotional because thereafter he nearly killed his brother with the weapon and he did not even know how that had happened. Many people had to stop him. He is right in saying that it has affected him severely, mentally and physically.
Are there any other signs to show that he was really affected by this? --- Yes there are, so much so that some of the evidence can be obtained from the police station where they kept [indistinct] because you would find that once he went into this mental state, you wouldn't know what had happened, he would sort of just black out and people would have to take this weapon from him and the police would have to come to the house and stop him. It's right what he says that he was really affected because he likes to carry this weapon and he loses his temper easily.
Yes ma'am. --- My wish is that the killer, the person who shot Vusumzi, I would like that person to come forward because they really struck me a low blow and since I had gone to Tienies, an Italian by the name of Olivier in King William's Town, there was nothing forthcoming from the claim because I had submitted the claim and my file was taken from here with an [indistinct] from here because there was no finality on how much I should receive and when the office was taken to Pretoria, everything changed and the answer came back, the attorney saying that I should bring a claim number and I went to the soldier base at group 8 and I was told there that those were only for soldiers that had been injured and survived and that they did not have any numbers for soldiers that had passed away.
Ms Nqabisa is that all you would like to say? --- That is not all I want to ask the Commission for. I said that after this child had been shot in September, I had to flee and go and live at Kiep Kiep for about eight months because I was running away even from this one because I couldn't trust him. It was as if he could even kill himself and then I left. We found that the person we had left to care for our house was going to buy with the option of buying and in the flat which had been built by these children when they went to join the army, is that I had to even remove the sinks and to take everything of mine and when I got there I found that the village chief was looking for me and then asked me please to demolish the walls because the people that the assailants are going to hide behind these walls and then I went to the government to ask them for assistance which I did not receive and those people then came and they demolished the place and I was told to remove the old place after it had been demolished. So I ask the Commission to please assist me because I lost my place in that fashion and that is what happened.
Can you please tell us your story of the 7th in front of the Commission in short. --- On the 7th September, on Monday there was a march to Bisho. We went safely from Victoria grounds. When we were facing the Bisho stadium, comrade Chris told us to sit down. We didn't sit down. We went on our way. We went to Bisho and when we were there comrade Ronnie Kasrils was leading us and we went through the gates of Bisho and when we were on the field, the helicopter came and it drove us towards the stadium and I heard shots. After those shots we ran away trying to get to Bisho, to Bisho stadium. When we were near the bridge we heard another shot, that was a bullet passing me and the comrade in front of me fell down.
Did you go to the hospital? --- Yes I went to Gray hospital and the Gray hospital was full and we were transferred to Cecilia Makiwane and I was helped there. I didn't sleep there, I came back on Monday and I went home.
Thank you. As we have heard earlier, you were one of those persons who were also present at the march that we are talking about here and you were in fact shot and injured in that march, is that correct? --- Yes that is true.
Now we have already listened to some testimony about the circumstances as to what happened so I would like to take you straight to the point where the shooting started and then we can listen to your story from that point onwards. Now according to your statement, it was when you were about reaching the stadium that you heard shots. --- On the day of the march we were from Victoria Ground and we went up to Bisho in the march and we were coming, we were marching to Bisho. When I was near the stadium I heard the shots. I didn't know what was going on. When I was looking forward on the street where we were going, I saw other people falling down and others coming towards us and we turned back and I ran away. I didn't know what was going on. Others were falling down. I thought, I saw that something was going on. While I was running I just fell down and my leg was painful, I didn't know what was going on. When I was looking at my leg I saw that I've got blood in my thigh. I tried to run with my leg towards King William's Town and I couldn't proceed and one car came by and it tried to help me and this guy asked me what was going on and I told him that I was shot and he took me to Gray hospital. There were many people in Gray hospital and we sat outside. While we were still outside I was given the pills and I was injected. They told me to come the following day on the morning and I went back home with my shot leg. I woke up early in the morning so that I could be there at 7 o'clock. When I was there on the next day I saw the soldiers and they were all over the place. When entering the hospital they asked me where I was going and then I told them and then they told me to wait until 10 o'clock. I explained to them and I tried to persuade them to open the door for me but they didn't and the comrade came and the comrade went to the soldiers to ask them to let me in but they refused. The comrade told me to wait until 10 o'clock because the soldiers told me I would be admitted after 10 so I had to wait for 10 o'clock. Whilst I was still there the nurse came and asked me what was my problem because she saw me yesterday and then she was so surprised that the soldiers couldn't let me in and she took me there and she said she would talk to them. She talked to them and they admitted me. At Gray hospital they looked at the x-ray where the bullet was and they saw it. They told me that on the next day ... end of Tape 7, side B ... I have to go to Cecilia Makiwane so that they can take out the bullet. I went home and then the next morning I went to Cecilia Makiwane in Mdantsane. When I was there in Mdantsane I went in and I was given a letter from King William's Town so I gave them the letter. They looked at me and they examined me. They told me they can't take out the bullet from my leg and I asked why. I asked why they couldn't, they said that it is between the muscles and it will depend because if they take the bullet out I will be paralysed, I couldn't walk. I can't walk. They just told me they will give me pills and they told me I have to go there to get treatment and medicines and what about the bullet, and I didn't like this idea of having a bullet in my body and I persuaded them to take it out because I thought that this bullet would go around my body and they told me that that would not happen. They told me that there are people who have been shot and they have bullets in their bodies and nothing is happening to them. They just told me to go to the hospital for a check-up because if they took out the bullet I'd be paralysed. I accepted that and then I went home. When I was at home I told them what the doctors told me. My mother was so surprises and she asked me that why should I stay with a bullet in my body and then I stayed, it was there in my body. I woke up the next morning and I went to the attorneys to Smith to claim. When claiming they took my statement, they asked me whether I was outside or inside when I was shot and then I told them I was outside when I was shot. They gave me a week. They told me to come after eight weeks to check my claim. They asked me which doctors did I go to and I told them I went to Gray hospital and I went to Cecilia Makiwane. They asked me whether I have cards, the hospital cards and then I said yes and the x-ray of where the bullet is and I told them I have that. They said they will appreciate it if I will give them all that and then I had to go to Gray hospital and they had to check the damage in my body and then we were going to Cecilia Makiwane. I gave them all those documents and then they told me to go and check what was going on. I went there to check my claim and they told me that the money was there. All of us who were shot in Bisho, the money is there but it's not enough. It's only R3000 and the attorney told me he will do means that the money could be raised so that if I get the money I'll be satisfied and I asked the lawyer whether, how much is he going to take from the money I'm going to get and then he said I will only see how much he will take when the money comes and then I went back there to check what was happening. He told me the money was there and then he took that R3000 and gave it to me. He told me he will take the R1000 from the R3000 and then he gave me the R2000 and then he said that is all I'm going to get and I went home.
Now Mr Ceba, what is the affect of that bullet being on your leg, what is your leg like now, can you use it? Have you got full use of your leg or what is the position? --- My leg doesn't work properly, even in my job I sometimes get pains and I get cramps. I can't work properly with this leg.
Now you have a very specific request to the Commission, would you like to put that to us? --- Yes I do have a request to the Commission. I would like the Commission to help me, I would like it to help me to get pension for this leg because it is clear that I won't be able to work properly with this leg.
Mr Gusha, due to obvious reasons, time constraints, we would like to ask you to be very brief and just tell us your version of events that took place that day. You were shot, where on your body were you shot? --- In my scapula, my shoulder blade.
Could you please come closer to the microphone. --- Yes it is the bone and the back side, my shoulder blade and it was found that the bullet was lodged in the bone and they said that they wouldn't be able to remove it and hence the bullet is still lodged there.
Could you just tell us what your requests are to this Commission. What would you like this Commission to do for you? --- It would be difficult but I would like to do it because I have heard this Commission previously say that it hasn't got anything. I am a student and while I am school I am busy with standard ten and I would like to continue with my education and during the course of my studies what I have heard from doctors is that there are certain things that I am not going to be able to do. Another problem that I have is that I constantly complain about backache and I get tired very quickly, so I would then ask the Commission to assist me so that I can continue with my education and that it should give me assistance so that if ever I, whenever I experience these pains again that I should be able to consult a doctor.
Did you say that you made an application for a disability grant? --- Yes that is correct. We were in Mdantsane Constituency offices on a Friday and we were told there that the Truth Commission statement takers were not there yet and we were told to go back on Monday. When we went back the Monday and I tried to establish from the lady who was there at the Constituent offices how I could go about this and she said that you could try going to the hospital and there you could ask them for your medical report.
We thank all of you and would like you to know that we sympathise with you and those who have lost friends and family and the request that you have put before the Commission, even though you say shame, this poor Commission hasn't got anything, hasn't got any money. That is true but we are going to try by all means to see what we can do. Thank you very much. ... end of Tape 8, side A ...
Archbishop, Chairperson and fellow commissioners, I really welcome this opportunity to give a personal account, my own account of the appalling massacre that took place at Bisho on the 7th September 1992. I trust you have copies of my statement. You have listened this morning extensively to Cyril Rhamaphosa and Smuts Ngonyama dealing with the background to this march and the actual march itself.
In my statement I have obviously for the sake of being total, or holistic as South Africans like to call it, Archbishop, given my version from start to finish but with your permission I will gloss over the first section basically that background and of course I will concentrate on those sections which are very much my own particular conduct.
I am presently Deputy Minister of Defence in the democratic government of South Africa. At the time I headed the Campaigns Department of the ANC and I was also a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC and Central Committee of the Communist Party. We have heard about the march of the 4th August. I was not present here on that occasion. I was involved at the national level co-ordinating the countrywide marches, protests and demonstrations following the breakdown of CODESSA - that period that Mr Pik Botha refers to as the dream turned into a nightmare. It wasn't so for us. It was a tough period but because of the breakdown of those talks we felt we had to revert to mass action to give the people their voice behind the negotiation process so that we could really get it moving in a serious way.
So on the 4th August I was at the national level doing the co-ordinating work. Of course I heard a lot about that march and I think it's quite interesting to note that both Chris Hani and Raymond Suttner who Mr Botha referred to extensively this morning, were on that march, obviously came to certain conclusions as a result of that march and the frustration of having been prevented to go into the town and carry out a people's assembly there that in fact, they learnt the lessons from that march.
It was rather different to Mr Botha, with all due respect to his submission, and they were very strong in terms of advocating together with the Boarder Regional Executive and the structures here, the fact that we really needed to march again and reach that CBD.
More particularly since, is my submission and Smuts has pointed out, the repression in the Ciskei after the 4th August if anything really increased, the brutality increased and it was felt here that we really had to make it very, very clear not only to the Gqozo administration but to Pretoria that the people just could no longer tolerate, given the enormous changes taking place elsewhere in South Africa, that the Ciskei had to change. So approximately a week before the march I arrived in the border region together with Chris Hani and Raymond Suttner. Steven Tshwete came a couple of days later and we joined at the request of the Border Regional Executive, their preparations for the march of the 7th.
Our president who was at the National Executive Committee meeting on the 31st August when the chairman of the Border Region was present, said that this demonstration had to really be well organised, that we had to succeed and he was very strong about us coming down and being here for at least a week to help in the preparations. I addressed numerous meetings during the course of the week, all over the territory that used to be called the Ciskei, in villages, in the factories, in the townships. I really came to know in that week the suffering of the people here, their spirit and their yearning for freedom. That mood made an incredible impression on me.
My involvement in the struggle goes back to that dreadful massacre in 1960 at Sharpeville when I was a young white person with a privileged background and when that massacre took place I decided then that I had to join in with the struggle to change this country. The African people of this country inflamed me from that time. That is what had driven me, the struggle of the people, and if I've made my mistakes I've made them in good faith, attempting to do everything possible to change first of all the awful system of apartheid which I totally abhorred then and still do, and everything to see that we have the proper change in this country of the kind that the Archbishop referred to earlier today.
So I must say that my determination increased in terms of the campaign that we were involved in. There were two meetings I addressed that week and they particularly stand out. The first was an attempt on the 2nd September to hold a street corner rally in Peddie which we had to abandon temporarily when the Ciskei Security Police arrived on the spot and without any further ado began lobbing teargas at us. We immediately retreated. I was with a group of ANC comrades and the next minute I found I was in their company, we went to the magistrate's office to protest about what had happened and to demand the right to stage a little rally in that small town of Peddie and to my amazement when he said he couldn't do anything, the comrades sat down in that office and they said well we're staying here until you give us permission. So we were there for two or three hours and finally he had gone away to consult, he came back and he signed the order. I think in a little way it made us feel that the kind of protest action that we were involved in, in the Ciskei could actually work.
The other occasion was the burial of an ANC man, the chairperson of a civic organisation at Tentagate near Queenstown on the 3rd September 1992. I was there with Chris Dlamini, the COSATO the trade unionist. We were very moved. It was a political assassination quite clearly and I still hear the beautiful singing of that village congregation. We've dealt with the decision of the strategising committee which involved the members from the National Executive, other leaders of the Alliance and the local leadership, that the march would move into Bisho and we would have an assembly in the CBD area. That was emblazoned on our minds. That was the objective, and the mood was such that we were not prepared to be sidelined into the stadium as had been the case previously.
You've heard how the mass rally was held at the Victoria grounds in King William's Town in preparation for our march up the hill that morning. I didn't speak at that meeting but all the speakers made it abundantly clear what the objective of the march was and of course stressing the peaceful nature.
As the march ascended the hill towards Bisho, it was decided that a small group of ours would be despatched as Smuts had told us this morning, to investigate the situation. We were in fact a reconnaissance party but Archbishop, I don't use that in the military sense. We were really unarmed. We went to have a look and the names are listed there, there were six/seven of us including of course Smuts and Ngonyama. We drove in a little truck and we arrived at the border where we found the way blocked in the manner that Cyril Rhamaphosa and Smuts described, by the razor wire barrier.
We immediately went to that barrier to speak to Mr John Hall and Anthony Geldenhuys of the National Peace Committee and I also responded as well as Andrew Hendricks, to some questions from the media. We explained that the march was more or less 20 minutes behind us and made it clear to Messrs Hall and Geldenhuys in no uncertain terms what our intention was. I have included in my submission a document which I actually received from the police who are running inquiries at the moment concerning the march and possible charges. When I gave them the statement the superintendent kindly produced a document for me which I have given to you, which is a typescript from the police video. I found this very useful and I wished I'd had it much earlier because quite frankly, one doesn't remember exactly what one says. That is there for you.
I'd just like to stress a few parts there. There was a reporter who posed a question to me and it's clear they didn't give what the question was but he obviously must have said, are you going to hold a rally in the stadium. Kasrils to the reporter at the razor wire barrier: No, we don't simply want to go into the stadium at all. We really feel it is the right to cross this artificial boundary and come into Bisho and hold a peaceful [and I stress peaceful] demonstration. This is page 9 of my submission, and I make the point we are not carrying guns.
And then to Doctor Geldenhuys: We're really imploring you to see that the soldiers under no circumstances open fire and no soldier will be hurt by us. We will be calm. We do intend to make a point here today. That point is about the freedom of expression and the need for democracy in the Ciskei and we'd like you to say to the authorities that they should tolerate people coming to Bisho, holding a meeting, demonstrating, expressing their will and the point of that is to relay that to President de Klerk.
According to the typescript, the Deputy Chairperson of Border ANC and Hendricks concluded with a similar point and made the statement: Tell Gqozo that we are going to that open field there, pointing in the direction of Bisho. At this point, Chairperson, my statement becomes somewhat more and more specific to me so I'll make more use of it. The advance party, our advance party entered the stadium, we had a look around and we were extremely surprised to find on the northern side of that stadium that a section of the fence, ten metres or so, was totally flattened down on the ground and it was very easy to walk through it into the area, the territory, further territory of the Ciskei. I was very surprised.
My companions, Chippy Olwer and Donnay Kunie who had been on the 4th August march explained to me that when the people had come into the stadium, there was such a huge crowd they couldn't all get in through a narrow entrance, so a section of the crowd had flattened that fence and got in that way. It was actually very easy to break down a fence if one wanted to, especially if you've got such a force of people, which would have been the case on the 7th as well. What we were surprised about was the fact that that opening was still there, given the tremendous efforts that had obviously gone in that day to preventing us with the razor wire from moving out of the road and into Bisho itself.
We were very surprised as well that there appeared to be no soldiers whatsoever in the vicinity of that gap. I had a very good look and in fact I came up onto the slope overlooking the fence [I'm sure you've seen the stadium] and there's an embankment around. We got up onto that embankment even up on the stadium, to have a good look around. I could see no deployment of troops anywhere. I really need to stress this in view of other versions, even the views of some of my own comrades but nobody, no security were in sight in the proximity.
You've heard where they were deployed and we could see this, over at this complex here, the Fort Hare buildings, along this side of the road, the troops lined up, as one of the witnesses, the former member of the CDF had explained, the other side of the barrier as we came up, the Ciskei Police and the South African Police for some time. Beyond that barrier where this Telecommunications Centre is, at the cross-roads of Jongilanga Crescent [excuse my, no I think it's Jongilengwe - Jongilanga] and the main road. That Telecommunications Centre which we could see from inside the stadium had a large deployment of troops at that point.
We perceived that if we went through the gap and if we turned in a westerly direction, we would be moving totally away from those buildings and any deployment of troops as they were then deployed, basically at these buildings. We concluded that the troops were deployed to protect buildings and the sacred term 'property' which sometimes is used as though it's more important than people, were people or property endangered. We looked at this and it seemed as though that was the major reason for the deployment. More particularly since there weren't any troops in the vicinity that I've talked about.
Then we had a little discussion, I haven't elaborated on this in my report very much but in looking at that landscape, that was the view that we all felt. We had a discussion and we considered is it possible. We were of course very aware of the soldiers and what soldiers could do but we felt, move west, move quickly and demonstrate to the soldiers that we were not a threat to them in any way. We would go out westward into open fields and then veer back and around towards the CBD. Totally avoiding the concentration of troops.
We believed that this action would give them no basis or pretext to use violence against us and we felt this crucial to the safety of the march. To adopt this course of action leaders would have to be in the front, to lead our followers in the required direction. We all agreed on this approach and we returned to the march which was now maybe ten or fifteen minutes down the road. We reported what we had observed to the committee who were at the forefront and after a brief discussion, we didn't have very much time, it was a brief discussion, the decision was taken that we would in the South African rugby paalens go for that gap, so that the march would come up the hill and we would split in two.
Cyril Rhamaphosa and a number of our leaders would move to the razor wire barricade to discuss with Hall and Geldenhuys, Hani, Chris Hani, myself, Smuts and Ngonyama, Linda Mnti at that time the chairperson of the Eastern Cape ANC, would lead marchers into the stadium, through the stadium as quickly as possible, out through the gap in the way that I've described it. And this is what then happened, to a point of course.
We followed that scenario Chairperson. We came out of that gap. We broke into a run. We beckoned others to follow, to show them the way. We veered in that direction that I've indicated and we must have moved for 50 or 60 metres. Without any warning as you have heard already, the shooting broke out, the full volley fire. Our immediate reaction was to dive to the ground and seek cover. When you're under fire you're always not sure, is it real? Many people think, as I think you've heard somebody you mention, I think somebody referred to a journalist saying, it's blanks.
You cannot normally believe, unless you're a soldier in battle, that the authority are shooting at you, and you think well it's blanks or are they shooting over our heads. But whatever you think Chairperson, when you hear that first shot, a human being, unless you're in battle with your steel helmet and your defensive armour, you hit mother earth, in a kind way. You kiss mother earth, and you hope that there is going to be one or two shots and it's warning shots and that would give you an idea it's blanks. But this fusillade continued and as Cyril Rhamaphosa mentioned it seemed to go on for an hour.
It went on and on, and on, I couldn't believe it. I thought it would never stop and then I was aware of the sensation that made me realise this just wasn't blanks because it was like a swarm of bees over our heads whistling and bees and you realised blanks don't come whistling overhead. It was horrific and to compound that, was suddenly the whoosh through the air of launched hand grenades. Something which I am a little bit, had been used to, being a soldier, of course you hear from a lot of people on this march, Cyril I think said it, we thought they were dropping bombs on us but I could hear this vrrrr, vrrrr, vrrrr, which was the sound of a hand grenade as it's launched and I thought my God, they have really gone crazy and boom, and boom, and boom, and boom. Four grenades in this awful period of two minutes that seemed an agony of five/ten minutes. I really believed it was five/ten minutes.
After the first volley which has been estimated at 60 seconds to 90 seconds, which is a tremendous time of soldiers shooting with automatic weapons without respite. The slight lull which the Commissioner has referred to this morning in questions, the slight lull, 10/15 seconds maybe, we put our heads up just to check what it was. The people with me were all trained. Linda Mnti and the others, my bodyguard Petrus Wanto, so we hardly raised our heads and then voom, voom again, the gunfire, the crackle and we were down. Bushy, that's Petrus Wanto, had shouted to me, I've been hit, in that ten second silence and I was too scared to move a muscle.
The shooting came again and I lay there for another 30 seconds or whatever. We don't know what, we didn't know what was happening elsewhere, we couldn't hear any screams above this fusillade. It died down, we must've lain there for ten, twenty, thirty seconds. Bushy to me, I've been hit, I think a rubber bullet. Bushy, hold on I'll come, I'll come, cry to myself do I dare move, are they going to shoot again, another cry goodness, my God, I can't wait any longer so I crawled over to him. I turned him over and the blood was gushing out of his stomach. He thought it was a rubber bullet. You don't feel the pain unless it hits bone because of the heat. You get that pain later unless it's bone and then you're in terrible pain, and I said to him, okay don't worry. I didn't dare raise, I turned over on my belly and I pulled him next to me and laboriously began dragging him back.
Smuts came next to me as well as Linda Mnti and we went back 30 yards or so and by then we realised they weren't going to shoot again. We could hear the crying, we could hear all sorts of noises. We realised the shooting was over and we got up, we carried Bushy into the stadium and then it was, the carnage that we saw in that tunnel, six people dead already, a young man in his death throws, his companion, another young man from a village or a township, which I can never forget trying to give him the kiss of life and he had a hole the size of a cricket ball in his head.
The First Aid people were busy, these were the First Aid people we had organised. They were doing sterling work there and we began to help them as best we could and saw the extent of this carnage. I spent some time there and then I received a message from Chris Hani to say the soldiers and the police of the Ciskei were seen to be coming to the stadium, I must get the hell out and I must join the leadership to give a report and assess the situation which is what I did.
The Goldstone Commission's findings are that apparently 185 rounds of ammunition and four grenades were used, I presume from the soldiers deployed in the vicinity of the radio installation, and 240 rounds fired by the soldiers at the Fort Hare campus. That's a total of 425 rounds. We had over 200 people injured and 28 who were killed on the spot. It's not possible to hit 220, let's say it was 200 injured, we've heard that maybe it was 250 or 300 but let's say 200 were hit and 28 dead. It's not possible to hit 228 human beings with 425 rounds of automatic fire. When you open fire with an automatic weapon at a distance, and many of the soldiers were 200 metres or whatever, the weapon jumps in your hands, it's very difficult to keep it still, even against a crowd, and I wouldn't be surprised if something like 1000 were fired. Now I'm not alleging that, I don't know. It's surprising to me and I would like to draw this to your attention when you have the chance to hear the version from the soldiers.
You've heard how the Ciskei Defence Force shot, not only at us, those of us going through the gap, but also at people inside the stadium and others who were at the barricade there with Cyril Rhamaphosa and others who were down the road going back towards King William's Town. There were actually people lying dead there on South African soil and I would have loved to have asked Mr Botha this morning, why the Pretoria Regime never bothered to institute any legal action against the Ciskei Administration for killing people on South African soil. They gave no warning of any kind that they would open fire. No verbal warnings were given. There was no use of bird-shot or rubber bullets or teargas in advance. There was no firing of warning shots into the air or over our heads and I would like to stress that if there had been a warning, and I'm not saying this now, Archbishop, now from this point now, if there had been a warning of this kind, if they had fired a couple of shots at us, we would have stopped. It's not me alleging this now or claiming it now because the proof of the pudding is in terms of what happened to us.
The moment the shooting started we stopped in our tracks, we hit the ground and we returned. If those had been blank bullets fired over our heads we would have done the same thing. We wouldn't have then got up and charged again because we would know that to fire over our heads is a warning and the next time, watch out we will aim for you. If we knew that they were going to use live ammunition without warning we wouldn't have gone through that gap. I wouldn't have placed my own life in such danger and I certainly wouldn't have placed the lives of others on that march.
One is left to wonder and imagine the extent to which the Ciskei soldiers and their officers had been worked up to unleash such murderous fire on unarmed civilians, compounded by the almost unthinkable action of launching grenades into crowds, dense crowds of human beings and I make that statement in terms of trying to understand the foot soldier on the ground. We had one here today whose brother was killed.
The foot soldier who pulled the trigger at us and at the people throughout the centuries, or who strung Christ up on the cross, and I don't say that to curry favour, that's the foot soldier, that Roman legionnaire or the front-line soldier who is trained, left right, left right, by order, arm your weapon, load, aim, fire, and it becomes almost mechanical. To what degree were those Ciskeians' brother Africans to the people who were marching against them, worked up to believe by that evil system of apartheid that spawned Gqozo and this regime, were worked up to feel that hier kom die kommuniste here come the Reds, the Swartgevaar and the Rooigevaar or whatever.
Being black soldiers they would have been told we were coming and their lives would be in mortal danger. It was either our lives or their lives and the South African Defence Force soldiers, those white soldiers in command, their role in this. They had to train those soldiers and they mustn't be like Pik Botha who today makes jokes about African Heads of State, be they Ciskeians or Bophuthatswana. I don't take kindly to that joke because it's not exactly a joke about Lucas Mangope. It's a joke about us, we'll order buses from Austria on the wrong side etc.
To what degree is it that system to blame for those young Ciskeian boys, by the way hardly with education, they took them in here at standard six and what training did Marius Oelschig really give them? What did he put into their heads to make them act like pawns in the game. They were pawns in the game and that's why my friend, Smuts Ngonyama looks at this and he says there was some conspiracy. I think that needs to be considered. Sorry, if you can just bear with me. It is my submission that the responsibility for the death and the injuries that occurred on that day, this is page 15, fall squarely on the shoulders of that defence force and those in command including those who wielded power and authority in Pretoria, and by the way one needs to remember that it's Pretoria that provided the Ciskei and Bop. and everywhere else with every last tickey and sixpence and cent and rand that they had. So when Mr Botha says he couldn't really do anything, we've seen it happen all over the world, you turn the tap off and within a week or by the end of the month when salaries have to be paid, you get what you want.
What remains an enigma is why the large gap was left in the stadium's fence. It seems extraordinary that the Ciskei authorities didn't repair that fence, placed razor wire across it on the day of the march which would have been very simple or deploy soldiers there indicating to the marchers that we dare not go through. Because what's the point of hiding soldiers, if in fact they were in a hidden position. It either points to utter incompetence and, Chairperson, I don't say that that should not be ruled out, I've studied this situation as you can imagine. I don't think utter incompetence on the part of those in command of that defence force should be ruled out. Either that or cynical intent to lure people through the gap and given the considerable speculation in this regard, one really hopes that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will uncover the truth.
I've dealt with the events, Archbishop. Finally I respectfully ask you to bear with me as I come to my own very personal testament concerning my own conduct at the time. It's the first time in public that I have been able to do so. I attempted to explain myself to the press. The press had garbled versions of Red Ronnie. Goldstone Commission and if you want to dignify those other Commissions with the name Commission, Pickhard set up by Gqozo and the Ciskei Police. All three Commissions didn't get in touch with me, not even Goldstone. They gave me no chance. Goldstone gave me no chance to come forward. If I was so controversial and they were asking that I should be censured by the ANC I would have really had expected them to call me and say please give us an account of what you actually did. So my coming here today is a personal experience for me as someone who now personally comes to understand the wonderful role of this Commission in giving us the opportunity, whatever it is that we may or may not have done. I have been filled with anger and intense regret that a peaceful march ended so tragically with such senseless and needless violence and my heart and thoughts go out to all the families of the bereaved and I'm saddened by the fact that my friend Oswald Mafa who was with us this morning, has been left paralysed but one is strengthened by his incredible courage and fortitude.
These were the people who followed our leadership, who followed my leadership and to this day I truly agonise over my own decision as a leader of that group that was fired upon first. I accept in a profound, moral sense that I was an element in the events that culminated in the massacre and it still haunts me that perhaps we could have done more to avoid that terrible outcome, but in all honesty if we had known that the Ciskeian forces would open fire on us, we would never have taken those risks.
We did not imagine that Gqozo, as cruel and desperate as we regarded him, would dare react with such brute force, particularly at such a public event in the eyes of the world's media, and one can only speculate on the forces and the individuals who may have encouraged Gqozo, and I'm sure that there are forces and individuals who encouraged him, to make him feel that he could defy, defy civilised and right thinking people of the world in this way. Those people certainly share responsibility with him and today, as always happens in history, they have dumped him like garbage and we see that in fact, Minister Gqozo, Brigadier Gqozo was nothing but a little pawn in the game, just as his soldiers were nothing but smaller pawns in the game.
With the benefit of hindsight, some might say that our decision was a tragic miscalculation but at the time, such a possibility seemed improbable to us, particularly since our stated objectives and our visible conduct was so clearly non-violent. Should we have taken the risk at all? Although I have a military background as a member, a commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe, our approach on the march was motivated by a Ghanaian spirit of civil disobedience. Not that that was something new and superficial to us but we had used this in this country up to Sharpeville and I quote Ghandi's statement:
Archbishop, I mentioned how I became involved at the time of Sharpeville, I hadn't read this then. I wasn't political, I hardly read, I was one of these silly sports mad young whites. I came to read this later but this was what I felt, this was in my heart at the time of Sharpeville and I felt that I had to take a stand then against evil. If I didn't then it was, if I didn't, then I was really guilty as every white would have been and had been in this country, who didn't become involved.
We believed this non-violent mass action which we came to use in this period after the ANC's ban was lifted, was in that great tradition of Ghandi, Lethuli, Martin Luther King and others, and we believed it could end the evil of Gqozo's despotic regime. We felt this was possible in the Ciskei at the time, given the changes in our country. We took, we prepared to take certain risks because we believed in the cause of freedom and could not aqueous in tyranny or tolerate oppression.
For several decades, black communities in particular, together with Coloured and Indian and a few brave whites, resisted the brutal system of apartheid with the full knowledge that they courted imprisonment, torture, public beatings and death. In the Ciskei on the day of the march, tens of thousands braved that risk because they wanted freedom with a deep passion. The alternative is submission and that is simply intolerable. I therefore emphatically reject the assertion from some quarters that the leadership of the ANC should have refrained from engaging in non-violent action in the Ciskei or elsewhere at that time and throughout our history because such action might lead to violence by Pretoria and its surrogates.
It is absurd to shift responsibility to those who engaged in non-violent action and who were in fact, the innocent victims of that violence. I found it very moving when we came back to King William's Town ten days later and we had, with Reverend Finca here and others, a memorial and the burials and we had Doctor Amelio Castro, head of the World Council of Churches, there. He made a statement that really inspired me at this time of feeling of such misery, when he said the tyrants always try to blame the leaders of the people for the massacres. The blame clearly rests with those who pulled the trigger and those who ordered the killings, the CDF and the regime of De Klerk.
If we are truly to have reconciliation and it is to be more than merely a word, then we are duty bound to uncover the truth. Whilst the ANC took collective responsibility for its role, I do not seek to evade any objective inquiry into my conduct. I have particularly wanted to dispel the impression created in some sections of the media, that I led an independent break-away from the march. I think you have heard from others that it wasn't Red Ronnie deciding something on his own and I am very gratified to the ANC for always having made that clear. I am gratified that comrade Smuts is here to be able to say he was there, he took part in the decision.
I leave it to the imagination as to why the press liked to focus on me. I emphatically reject this allegation and I claim it is clearly politically motivated to a degree and as it is intended to suggest that I knowingly and wilfully led innocent people to their slaughter. Even if I had intended to do that, which I did not, I would have hardly led from the front and placed myself directly in the line of fire. When this invidious criticism was levelled at me, the ANC and those we led, stood by me including President Madiba and I value beyond expression, that support.
I am sincerely indebted, Archbishop, to the TRC for inviting me to make this submission here today and I thank you for having given me this opportunity. If you will bear with me I would like to say a few words about the Ciskeian soldiers who opened fire on the march. An irony of this rainbow nation of ours, as you've coined it Archbishop, is that with all the strange things happening, Raymond Mhlaba now here at Bisho where Oupa Gqozo used to laudit. Here I am, a Deputy Minister of Defence in this democratic government and I have a responsibility to the soldiers of this country including them, and to the members of former SADF who trained and commanded them, we are creating a new defence force of seven former antagonistic forces, and we can only do this on the basis of reconciliation, which is vital to the well being of our society and our future.
Can we blame any of the, any individual in their rank? I've had to meet them, old SADF, former Ciskei. I've been to the barracks here at Bisho. On tour of inspection with Minister Modisi, trying to create this new defence force which must defend and guard the freedom and the sovereignty which the Archbishop referred to, and I have had to grapple with my conscience. They were products of an evil system that conditioned them to fear the manifestations of democracy and they were programmed to believe that we were devils incarnate.
As I have mentioned, they must have been worked up as to believe that we were a threat to their lives. As recently as this past Friday I visited Defence Headquarters here in King William's Town and through the Commanding Officers, I encouraged them all to seek indemnity because they did commit a heinous crime. They must expunge their guilt by telling the truth and seeking forgiveness from their victims. They can shed light on what actually happened and need to be encouraged to seek indemnity because this is the key thing. They have been afraid to tell the truth. And I have been told stories about this officer and that commander and this one who is suicidal and this one who is drinking himself to death, and I must tell you that I have feeling for them, which is why I am making this statement and I have sent back this message to tell them they've got nothing to fear if they come forward. But that's not the only thing. It's not the only thing in creating a new defence force because anyone in our new defence force now must demonstrate by their actions as soldiers that they wish to serve and protect the people of our country and our democratic system.
We must never again have a South African Defence Force or security that is used as a repressive instrument against our people or as an aggressor against our neighbours. We owe this to those who perished, to those who ... End of Tape 9, Side A.
I just wish to again thank you Deputy Minister, for also the Commission to get not only a first-hand report, but to get a perspective and I daresay from the position of the investigative unit which had a background. We now are going to have a fair sense of balance and I would therefore like for the sake of the record just to make sure that we are going about our facts correctly.
When the Pickhard Commission met or set, is it your evidence that you were not called or you did not participate in that Commission so that your perspective can be given. That's now the first question.
The second question, also for the record, just for us to, because there are certain sections that I want to put to you as to what their conclusions were but I would like to know as a matter of record, historical record, that these conclusions, either about yourself and your conduct or about others, were done by judges, judiciary judges, some of whom are being respected and being banded about as examples of what judiciaries should be. But I'm keen to find out whether as a matter of historical record, it is your testimony under oath that when Goldstone also had a Commission and conducted this Commission of enquiry against the background of what you had said, where media, speculations about your particular role and when as a consequence thereof, he made not only certain findings about your conduct which were not flattering, but he actually called on the ANC to censure you, because I'm going to ask whether that was done and if it was not done, why was it not done etc. but is it so that your evidence under oath is that those conclusions were made by that judge without you ever having been given an opportunity to be heard. I just want for record.
Yes Advocate Ntsebeza that is the case. I received no invitation or notification from either Pickhard or Goldstone whatsoever. I've got no idea whether Goldstone discussed with the ANC, whether they should have anybody there but I don't think so.
Well to me it is immaterial but I'm not making a judgement now. I don't think it is material for me whether he should have had a discussion. I think the issue is whether a judge, let alone a judge who conducts a Commission of that nature and who then who comes with recommendations and findings, can do so at a time when the person about whom he makes adverse findings has not been given an opportunity to be heard. I think to me, that's the bottom line.
Now I don't know whether you are in a position to ask then, to answer then the further question, and the further question is: Are you aware if, according to the Goldstone Commission report, the ANC were aware that they were supposed to publicly censure you and other ANC leaders and if so, when was this done? If you were publicly censured by them, when was this done? If not, why not?
This was recommended. The ANC was well aware of it and I was, we received the Goldstone reports. The ANC discussed it at a meeting and it was decided that they would not censure me because the ANC did not feel that it was necessary that I should be censured.
Now one last question. Maybe you've heard that Mr Botha referred to a visit to the Ciskei Council of State by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Schoeman, on the 28th August 1992. Now I don't know whether you have had access to some Minutes of that meeting because somewhere you do express a desire for you personally, to know what must have been going on in the minds of the foot soldiers and you are asking the Commission to also find out whether the conspiracy theory can be sustained because it does appear from the evidence, and from all the objective circumstances, that there was this wide gap, whether it was as a consequence of incompetence or a planned design, but there was that route that was open and we have to look into the conspiracy theory.
You know it's very interesting to find that at that meeting, what might happen on the day of the march was discussed towards the end and one person who was present at that meeting was a certain gentleman called Mr Webb. I think he was a Minister of Justice then and there was another Minister called Mr Keyser. Now they took the view that they are so, in fact Keyser says here - another point is that the people tend to think of the brigadier as a dictator, 5% of our budget is spent on security forces who are so thin on the ground that if those people [those people are yourselves on the 7th] if those people get in here to Bisho we would not know how to handle them and thousands of civil servants are sitting there crumbling in their offices.
What is going to happen then if it comes from all sides? Our security forces won't be adequate on the ground. Now do you think if we were to look just as this as somewhat, do you think that it could have constituted sufficient reason for them, just the fear of being unseated by popular demand, that that was sufficient for them as a Council of State to have drummed into the heads of the soldiers that if those people come in here, you'll be lynched. If that was the thinking that they were prepared in a meeting to convey to Schoeman.
Well it's, I find it a little bit hard to speculate because one was not even sure whether what they're saying, let's say to Schoeman, is an actual situation or were they trying to use it as a reason to justify the fact that they're saying we can't agree. I think they're basically using it to say we can't agree to allow anybody to come in and simply have a march because this was being done throughout South Africa. We went to the Union Buildings with about 150,000 people on the 4th August with Madiba.
It was the biggest ever demonstration in South Africa. Not a street light, not a window was broken in Pretoria. We were doing that in the klein dorpe as well. Small dorps, small towns, big cities and what I would say is that they were just outright petrified of the democratic voice. If we had come into Bisho, and we were in the CBD, and we wanted to stay there and we felt that, like a strike, we were going to sit down and a type of sit-in and hope this would build up pressure. But we are human beings, we wouldn't have been able to sit there for weeks on end starving.
We, that's why we thought maybe 24 hours. Some of us thought maybe we could string it out to two/three days and anybody reasoning this would have realised that the marchers would have been in the CBD and as elsewhere 24/48 hours later, we would have succeeded in making our point and we would have had to have gone off. We wouldn't have been able to break down the doors and the windows and take over Gqozo's throne and Ministry of Justice.
They still had the guns and we were without arms. So if there was going to be any change, it would have had to have been a velvet change like in the former East Germany and Lifesig and these places, or Czechoslovakia or so. Certainly not Tinamin Square where the tanks came in. This was a little like Tinamin Square because they opened fire at us in the same way.
Yes. Sorry advocate, that part of your question I agree with. That's what I am basically saying in my statement when I say just imagine what they fed into the minds of the foot soldiers who pulled the trigger. That is one thing that comes to mind.
Another thing is the discussion you were having here this evening about the soldier who was shot in the back of the head, Smuts Ngonyama's type of theories, is it possible that there were some elements who deliberately wanted to shoot one of the soldiers so that there would be panic, and they would all feel that they were under attack and excite them even more in terms of the massacre because I think it is possible that some elements, perhaps at command level or conniving with Gqozo, might have considered the provocation of a massacre here irrespective of where we were deployed, would have given the chance to teach us a damn good lesson.
I haven't elaborated on that in my statement because I think this is a task for you and for any inquiry but I think it certainly is a line of inquiry to follow. I do say that perhaps it was sheer negligence and on that basis we were able to come through and then there was some pandemonium and the soldiers shot because they had been programmed, and I think when you put questions to the Defence Force people, those seconded officers from the SADF like Marius Oelschig and others, they will be able to tell you exactly what was the deployment plans on the day and on the ground. I do know what they were because I've asked them but I don't want to come and tell you second-hand and I'm not sure as to whether what they have told me is true either.
Mr Kasrils, as the Deputy Minister of Defence, are you able to say to this Commission what kind of changes your ministry is introducing in terms of changing the content of military education and training?
A great deal, Advocate Sandi. Minister Modisi’s whole approach is that the defence force must be fully transformed, must become representative of our people. It must be a force that defends and protects our people, our territory, our sovereignty and co-operates in peace with our neighbours. To change the mind-set of soldiers can't be done overnight and bear in mind that we have a mixture at present, MK, APLA, TBVC former SADF and we have now taken in some former members of the KwaZulu structures. It is eight elements.
We are moulding them into one common South African National Defence Force so a real home for all of them, in the process the whole ethos must change. They have to be educated for democracy, for civil rights, for international law on conflict and we have a civic education work group which isn't the military experts. We have academics, we have people from civil society, we have got parliamentarians together with military personnel, working out a whole new syllabus, a whole new approach. That is one element and obviously the educational factor is very important indeed.
Mr Deputy Minister, I want to express on our behalf again our appreciation and thanks that you had the humility to sit through until this time. I mean we are very grateful and in some ways we hope it is also an indication of the kind of ethos that is being established in our country, whatever, we still would like you to know that we are very grateful that you were willing to, and Mrs Kasrils as well, she sat through until this time. It is quite unusual, I mean, we would have finished about 5 o'clock, it is two hours after that because we thought it was important to try and cover as much as possible today.
I have been told by our regional office in East London that you have been wonderful in co-operating with them and they would like on their own behalf to express appreciation and thanks for the help that you have been, first of all that you were yourself enthusiastic about coming. You say it is the first sort of platform that you have had to explain your side of things but whatever your motivation, it is important for us that someone in your position was as enthusiastic as you turned out to be and they also want to say thank you for facilitating contacts that they had wanted with various members of your force whom they would have wanted to invite to come to the Commission and we are aware of your own commitment to this process that we are asked to encourage promoting national unity and reconciliation and we just want to say thank you very much.
Thank you. Who has asked you, who has asked you to clap hands? I think actually I mean that in, except for one or two of you, I'll ask the police to detain you, not to go out but I should thank you, the technicians, we don't always acknowledge you. Could you clap hands for the technicians please. You also behaved well, give yourself an applause. We are adjourning I hope until 9 o'clock. We will try to start on time. Thank you very much.