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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 18 November 1996
Names NATIONAL PARTY SUBMISSIONS
Case Number EAST LONDON MASSACRE II
MR POTGIETER: Thank you Reverend Finca. Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen. A warm word of welcome to you at this the resumed hearing into the event that has become known as the Bisho Massacre. We have previously listened to a part of the testimony and submissions in regard to this incident in Bisho between the 9th and the 11th of September. It was not possible at that stage to hear all of the testimony and to take all of the submissions and in view of certain submissions made at that stage it has become necessary to listen to further submissions in response, and for that purpose we will be having the resumed hearing today, the 18th of November and tomorrow the 19th of November, into the massacre.
Before we start may I bring to your attention just one or two household rules if I may. Perhaps it's important to explain that at this hearing no findings will be made in regard to any of the issues that are placed before the Commission. This panel simply receives the testimony and the submissions and findings are made eventually after all the facts are before the Commission and the Commission is satisfied that there has been a thorough canvassing of all the facts and the circumstances as well as a full investigation, or as full an investigation as possible into
Secondly, just to get it on record, although we are not conducting a court case, and although we are not sitting as a court of law there is a need to maintain decorum, there is a need to maintain a level of discipline at these proceedings and for that purpose I am reminding you of the need in this regard. Often there are emotional issues that are raised, and often not everybody agrees with what is being said but it is necessary in order to enable the Commission to hear all the sides to a particular incident, that everybody be given a full opportunity to present testimony, to make a submission unhindered, and I'm quite sure I don't need to remind you in this regard.
Finally insofar as the applicable rules are concerned it is necessary for me also to remind witnesses that in the event of a person wilfully misleading the Commission, or wilfully making false accusations and making false submissions, wilfully, that amounts to an offence and there is provision for appropriate steps to be taken against a person who does that. Also just by way of a reminder, I am quite sure that there shouldn't be a difficulty in that regard.
May I also before we start, introduce my colleagues on the panel with me this morning. I will start on my right, my far right is Advocate Ntsiki Sandi. He is a member of our Human Rights Violations Committee and he's based at our regional office in East London.
On my left is, and I've got to be very careful about this, Ms Pumpla Bogodo-Madikizela who is also a member of the Human Rights Violation Committee and like myself is based in our Cape Town office and works in the Western and Northern Cape region of the Commission.
Next to her is a well-known face in this part of the world, it's Rev Bongani Finca, who is the convenor of our office in the Eastern Cape in East London, and he is also a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee, he's a Commissioner.
Then right at the end, on my extreme left, is Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize. She is based at our Johannesburg Office, in the Gauteng region, and she is the Chairperson of our Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee.
As you have heard Reverend Finca reporting that we have a bit of a delay, understandably in view of the weather, and for that reason we have re-scheduled the items on the agenda and we will proceed immediately to the submissions on behalf of the National Party which will be presented by Mr Roelf Meyer, Premier Hernus Kriel and Mr Ray Radue. I invite them to the podium.
assume, Mr Meyer, that you will lead the submission. We have followed the practice of not asking people who make submissions to take an oath, so I won't do that, I will simply hand over to you and ask you to take us through your submission. Once you have done you can indicate which one of your colleagues or both of them if they want to add to what you have said. Thank you very much, over to you.
MR MEYER: Thank you Chairperson. Chairperson, members of the Commission first of all I would like to say thank you very much for the opportunity that the Commission has also created for us to be able to come to East London this morning and to testify to the Commission and to give evidence regarding the views of the National Party as to what happened on the 7th of September 1992 at Bisho.
We recognise the fact that Mr Pik Botha was before the Commission previously and no doubt he has given also certain views that related to the position of the National Party, but he has also given evidence in regard to his portfolio that he then held responsibility for, namely the then Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In the light of the submissions that were earlier on given to the Commission, and in the light of the fact that it appeared to us that there might have been some corrections that we would like to put to the Commission we have therefore asked the Commission, through the Chairperson and the Vice Chairperson to be given the opportunity, and we are very glad that, especially Reverend Finca, has taken care of the arrangements in this regard, and has made it possible for us to be here this morning. So we would like to express our appreciation to the Commission for the fact that especially at our request the arrangements were made
I am here in my capacity Chairperson as Secretary General of the National Party and therefore I will start off by introducing our submission. Premier Kriel, of course, at that particular occasion when this incident occurred, was the Minister of Law and Order and will be able to give evidence as to his experience of that particular occasion and he was assisted on that very day by Senator Ray Radue, who was the then member of Parliament for King Williamstown. We have drafted a submission Chairperson which we have made available to the Commission and also to the Press and in the submission we have stated our position as it will be clear from the document itself. But in order to save time and as the document itself is quite clear, will be quite clear for everybody to read we have also drafted an Executive Summary which I am now going to put for the purposes of my introductory remarks, and then of course Premier Kriel and Senator Ray Radue will also come in if they would so require and in any event would be available for questions. I am reading from the Executive Summary therefore Chairperson.
Certain submissions have been placed before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission regarding the tragic shootings which occurred on the 7th of September 1992 at Bisho in what was then the Ciskei. The National Party wishes to submit further information regarding that unfortunate incident. This submission is not intended attribute guilt or liability. That is a matter which has already conclusively been determined by the Goldstone Commission, but to assist the TRC in its endeavours to promote reconciliation by establishing the truth.
Circumstances leading up to the shootings indicate that rolling mass action, which when exercised responsibly within the parameters of agreed mechanisms in itself is a democratic tool to express one's opinion, but was under these circumstances deliberately organised to put pressure on a negotiating process, even whilst negotiations on the Record of Understanding which was signed on the 26th of September 1992, a mere three weeks later, was in its conclusive stage of finalisation. It was this document that put negotiations back on track and that eventually led to the free and democratic elections of April 1994 and the peaceful reincorporation of the Ciskei. On the other hand a dictator was determined to fiercely protect his fifedom until the last moment regardless of the consequences. This submission alludes to the dismal failure of the so-called Leipzig Option advocated by the SACP with the ANC in tow and the grave mistakes made by the SACP leaders in under-estimating the Gqozo regime's resolve not to abdicate its power because of the mere presence of the ANC/SACP alliance and its rhetoric.
The submission highlights the political agreement which had been reached by all parties at CODESA 1 and in its work groups. It focuses on the multi-party agreement which was supported by the then government, the ANC/SACP alliance and the Gqozo regime had all been party to those agreements which provided for a peaceful and constitutional reincorporation of the so-called TBVC states into the New South Africa.
It underlines the government's continued commitment to deal with this sensitive matter on an inclusive and agreed basis replacing unilateral action with consultation with all EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
government's honouring of its commitments to all inclusive negotiations at all times. It serves to stress the progress which had been recorded at working group 4, under the auspices of CODESA 1 and to question the ensuing occurrences against the background of unanimity between all relevant players in this strategy.
It notes that agreement had been reached inter alia between the government, the ANC/SACP alliance and the Ciskeans on reincorporation of the independent states, the restoration of citizenship, the testing of the will of the Ciskean people in respect of reincorporation, the necessity of retaining business confidence during reincorporation and most importantly that the reincorporation process would have to be formally legislated through the relevant legislative bodies.
The agreement reached in Working Group 4, pertaining to reincorporation were eventually all implemented in the interim constitution. Bloodshed had not been necessary to achieve this goal. The notion of reincorporation of the TBVC continued to be accepted by all parties, even after the collapse of Codesa II which had not been precipitated by the issues dealt with by Working Group 4. At no time after the collapse of the negotiating process did the ANC/SACP alliance distance itself from those agreements, nor did it at any time thereafter deny or break off its recognition of the Ciskei or its rulers as important players in the negotiating process.
This underlines two important issues. Firstly, that the government of the day had fully cooperated in including all TBVC states and their constitutional future in the EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
multi-party negotiating process. At no time and nowhere did the then government try to prevent the constitutional reincorporation of all TBVC states and at no stage did it try to preserve any of the TBVC states' independence indefinitely.
Secondly, that the ANC/SACP alliance had accepted and actively supported the TBVC states' status right to participate in a negotiating process. It vociferously advocated and supported the inclusion of those states in the process and actively cooperated with all of them at the negotiating table.
The government had adopted an even-handed and fair attitude towards all of the TBVC states. It sought to accommodate all interest groups in the process and often mediated and facilitated talks between differing parties. It sought to create circumstances within which the constitutional future of the TBVC states could be determined by agreement with all parties and interested groups concerned.
In trying to achieve this it was often caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The ANC/SACP effectively, but irresponsibly exploited the government's dilemma of having to fulfil its duties in respect of impartial and good governance whilst having to take part in the negotiating process at the same time. It reflects on the ambivalence and opportunistic attitude of the ANC/SACP alliance in accepting the Ciskei's presence and participation at the negotiating table, yet trying to hold the government responsible for all the Ciskei's actions, of, at times rejecting independence of the Ciskei, yet forcefully defending the independence of its allies, the Transkei and EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
The submission traces all the positive steps taken by the government of the day to avert bloodshed or a crisis. It provides a reminder of the successful mediation undertaken by the government on a previous occasion when a march to Bisho had been peaceful. It indicates the number of steps taken on all fronts by the government to ensure the peaceful and free exercise of political rights in the Ciskei.
The submission includes, Chairperson, details of the weak and deteriorating relationship between the government and the stubborn Gqozo regime, and how the government sought to use its good offices as a positive influence on the increasing tensions developing between the Gqozo and ANC/SACP alliance.
The submission traces the contributory causes of the shooting starting with the attempted coup d'etat by Onwod Gozana and Charles Sebe in late 1990, resulting in a clash between Oupa Gqozo and Chris Hani, leading to the mass action and the Nehawu strike action against the Gqozo regime in March and April of 1991. The first attempted and failed march of 25 November 1991 to Bisho. The second campaign of mass action designed to facilitate the occupation of Bisho which was foiled when exposed by the media. The peaceful march to Bisho on 4 August 1992 after the then government had successfully mediated between the Gqozo regime and the ANC/SACP alliance. Finally the tragic and unnecessary violent confrontation on 7 September 1992.
findings on the strategy namely, that had the Ciskei authorities acceded to the pleas of the South African Government the SAP and the NPS to allow a peaceful and negotiated mass demonstration to take place, the violence could have been averted. That the Ciskean defence forces' failure to close the gap in the fence of the Bisho stadium amounted to gross negligence and unprofessional. Its condemnation of violence or strong-arm tactics to physically occupy a town or public facility as the ANC had been planning to do, especially when the vast majority of South Africans believed that no effort shall be spared to move to a democratic government by peaceful means. Its finding that the threats made by some leaders of the ANC/SACP alliance to embark on mass action with the intention of intimidation and directly causing the change of existing power is against the letter and spirit of the National Peace Accord. And its recommendation that the leadership of the alliance should publicly censure Mr Kasrils and other persons who were responsible for the decision to lead demonstrators through the gap in the fence and thereby knowingly and negligently exposing them to the danger of death and injury.Chairperson I would like to read, lastly, the concluding paragraph on page 20 of the main submission, paragraph 5 on page 20.
The epitaph to this sad and avoidably regrettable tragedy will be written by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.The tragedy had been totally unnecessary because it had been avoidable. All relevant parties had been involved in open negotiations on the constitutional future of South Africa and of the Ciskei. All relevant parties had committed themselves to a peaceful resolution of conflict
and a peaceful transition and the government and the ANC were in the conclusive stage of preparing the Record of Understanding. Those who were killed and injured at Bisho were at the wrong place at the wrong time being led by irresponsible and reckless leaders against the tyrant and the regime with weapons wrongfully shooting at them, and although all measures had been taken to try and safeguard a peaceful outcome to the crisis they paid the ultimate price for reasons we may still not fully comprehend. They should not be forgotten.
The National Party therefore requests that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its final report on the tragic shootings at Bisho on 7 September 1992 include a list of the names of all children, women and men who died on that fateful day under the burning African sun. Let the names and tragedy of that day remind us all, and our children, of the price they paid for us to enter into the New South Africa.
MR KRIEL: Thank you very much Chairperson, Honourable Members of the Commission. I think my contribution will be more on the efforts made by the then South African government to try and prevent any bloodshed on that day.
Let me first of all say this to you Sir, that it became quite clear from the media, as well as information that came to the South African Police at the time that the march on that fateful day was going to cause problems and trouble and may lead to bloodshed. That is why I believe the South African Police, and they have to talk for themselves, but
...room were set up to deal with information and if necessary to be used as a place for negotiations. The late Mr Gert Myburgh who was then my deputy minister of Law and Order, he arrived here. So did Mr Wynand Breytenbach, the deputy minister of Defence. So did the then member of Parliament who is now Senator Radue, he also arrived there, as well as myself who was then the Minister of Law and Order.
Now Sir you will recall, and I think that evidence must have been led, that there was an application from the ANC/SACP to hold this march. It was agreed to by the South African side magistrate. It was eventually also agreed to by the magistrate of the Ciskei. But in spite of this it did not meet with the approval of Brigadier Gqozo at the time.
However, on that morning, and I was during that morning constantly also in contact, and so was Senator Radue, and especially, and I want to mention one other name and that is the Ambassador at the time who was Mr Piet Goosen, we were in constant contact, trying to make contact with Brigadier Gqozo, with the Peace Monitors, and two of them were present that day if I remember correctly, it was Mr Antonie Geldenhuys and Dion Rudman, and we were trying to sort-of set up a shuttle diplomacy that day to try and prevent
Eventually and to our great relief at that stage Brigadier Gqozo told us, or Mr Goosen if I remember correctly, that he will not act against anybody taking part in that march. You can imagine, Chairperson, our relief, but just to make sure we decided we wanted to have a look at the march but at the same time also personally make contact with Brigadier Gqozo.
We therefore got into a helicopter, the people I just mentioned, flew over these thousands of people preparing for the march. We then flew to where Brigadier Gqozo had his office. We landed. We were escorted into his office where some of his then people from his military council assisted him. We met, I congratulated him on his wise decision that he will not prevent the march from taking place. He was very nervous at the time, I must say this to you, that he was worried that the march could be just a sort-of a facade to get rid of him and his government. In any case we had a discussion about this. I said to him at the time that if everybody sticks to the rules of the game then nothing will go wrong on that particular day. I then took my leave and left, again with the helicopter and landed back at the South African Embassy at the time. I told the other, or we came to the conclusion, both Senator Radue at the time, myself and the late Gert Myburgh that we have a chance to avert any bloodshed that particular day.
Whilst we were sitting in the Embassy waiting to find out what will happen eventually when the march will take place we were kept informed that the march started and that everything was going according to plan, that everybody stuck to the route, and then all of a sudden Sir, the very
Unfortunately that is what happened, shooting did take place. Shortly afterwards when everything calmed down after this horrible thing has happened, Mr Antonie Geldenhuys and Mr Rudman returned to the Embassy. They gave us a full account of exactly what happened. I didn't see what happened at the march as such because I was in the Embassy. They gave us a full account of what happened. Later that afternoon we were also presented with two videos by the South African Police Services that they took. We had a look at that, and I can only recommend to this Commission that if they can get hold of that, and that should be available, that that will be a very informative piece of evidence for this Commission really to see what happened on that particular day.
So you will Chairperson, Honourable Commissioners that we did try to prevent people from being hurt that day and from being killed. We did not succeed. I will not sit in judgement as to who must take the blame, but it certainly wasn't through lack of trying of the then South African Government, and what we tried to do that day and before that, through the Police Services, through politicians, through diplomatic representation to avoid this, certainly we have tried to prevent that.
May I just say that I would like to give perhaps a slightly local perspective of the whole situation. When the mass march was announced there was a great deal of trepidation in King Williamstown, both among businessmen and among the local residents. They were aware of the fact that there had been a call for rolling mass action. And they knew from previous experience that this disrupted their lives immensely. There was also a fear that there could be repercussions if the march was finally frustrated at the boundary and that frustrated people should return again via King Williamstown. It was therefore in the interests of the people of King Williamstown and in the interests of the Republic as it then was of South Africa, to ensure that the march as far as humanly possible would be made to be peaceful.
I had, and there is reference to the question of Codesa, I had had the privilege of being one of the National Party representatives at Working Group 4 which dealt with the reincorporation of the TBVC states and I can confirm personally that there had been complete consensus and agreement between the then South African government, the ANC/SACP alliance and also the Ciskean regime who were represented at those talks, that the process and procedure for a peaceful transformation of Ciskei and reincorporation would take place, and that was never, ever queried.
had specifically agreed to the mass march within the borders of the then Ciskei. There were three conditions. The first was that it was to be peaceful. The second was that it had to follow the route designated by the Ciskean government and thirdly that the rally had to terminate at 4:30 in the afternoon, 16H30, to allow the people to return home peacefully.
Now Mr Kriel has clearly indicated the background as to what took place. I wish to confirm that I was also part of the delegation that went to Brigadier Gqozo's office at the time. I was present when Premier Kriel thanked Brigadier Gqozo for cooperating finally, after a great deal of pressure I may add. Premier Kriel also reminded him at the time that it had been then President F W de Klerk who had broken the ice by allowing mass marches, particularly the one in Adderley Street in Cape Town, and that we believed that this was a democratic right which was owned by the people and that in fact what Gqozo had finally decided was the right thing.
He expressed his concerns at the time that the leaders of the march had indicated that they would not abide by the decision of the magistrate, but that they would try to Bisho. He was very concerned. He indicated that he had given orders to protect Bisho.
Now we move on to the situation where, and this appeared later in the video which I trust that members of the Commission will look at, which I also was privileged to see, that the National Peace Committee at the boundary repeatedly warned and advised the marchers to be very careful to adhere to the Zwelitsha magistrate's decisions and conditions of the march to stay within the designated
Unfortunately that did not take place. After we had returned to the Embassy I wished to confirm with the National Party Federal Information Service for purposes of a possible media release precisely what had happened in King Williamstown up to that stage, and I sent personally, through the Embassy's fax, a fax to the NP Federal Information Service at 13H49, that was immediately prior to the tragic events, a fax which I would like to share with the Commission and which I will hand in the original, if I may read it Chairperson.
"The National Party views the whole position in the Border Ciskei region in a serious light. We welcome the presence of a strong contingent of the South African Police, backed up by the South African Defence Force as a necessary precaution against possible bloodshed and as a reassuring factor for the South African citizens residing and carrying on business in King Williamstown. The position is now clear. The march has been sanctioned by both the magistrate in Zwelitsha, Ciskei, and the magistrate in King Williamstown. The important conditions are that it must be peaceful and abide by the agreed route, and also that it will terminate in the independent stadium in Bisho at 16H30. No march will be permissible in Bisho itself. The South African Government and the Ciskei Military Council have accepted these terms and the march is proceeding at this time. It appears that there are approximately 18,000
people taking part. The ANC and its alliance partners have been fully informed of the conditions. Any breach of these on their part could lead to serious confrontation with the Ciskean Security Forces. The National Party therefore expresses the hope that all parties will abide by the conditions laid down by both magistrates, and that the march will proceed lawfully and peacefully. The NP welcomes the thorough protective measures taken by the SA Police to ensure the safety of the people of King. It accepts unequivocally that everything possible has been done in this regard. The National Party rejects criticism that the declaration of the magisterial areas of King Williamstown and East London was an over-reaction...."
"It is the NP's view that the position is so serious, and the danger of conflict so real that the additional powers placed at the disposal of the police were in the circumstances absolutely essential. It is also clear that this is a temporary measure to cover this mass action protest march only. I personally welcome the presence of Minister of Law and Order Hernus Kriel, and his deputy minister Gert Myburgh as also Mr Wynand Breytenbach, deputy minister of Defence, as well as the senior officers of the South African Police and defence force in King Williamstown. I express my sincere appreciation
To finalise my few remarks, one might ask and as the National Party has already indicated clearly we take no sides in this matter. It's for the Commission to decide as to exactly what happened. But if one was personally asked, and I refer only to my own personal view now, what was the cause of the shooting, I would say that the actions of Mr Ronnie Kasrils amounted to a flagrant and reckless violation of the conditions laid down by the Zwelitsha magistrate. Mr Kasrils was aware of the high emotions generated by the mass march. He was aware of the strict conditions imposed on the Ciskean side, especially that a demarcated route into the stadium should be followed, yet he chose wilfully to disregard the warnings of the National Peace Committee and the magistrate's conditions, and he initiated the breakaway. I believe, myself personally, that it is his action that led and was the effective cause of the whole tragedy.
I honestly believe that if the marchers had stayed within the precincts of the route and gone into the stadium, held a demonstration in the light of the Codesa agreement, that no firing would have taken place and the tragedy would not have occurred.
ADV SANDI: Thank you Chairperson. Perhaps the most suitable person to answer the questions I will be asking is Mr Meyer. Mr Meyer did you say you may have to make a correction to what Mr Pik Botha said to this Commission?
MR MEYER: No, I don't think I said that Honourable Commissioner. I indicated that Mr Pik Botha spoke from what I read, according to his submission, he spoke mainly regarding or on behalf of the position that he held at that stage as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and obviously he was called upon by the Commission to come and speak in that capacity, namely his own dealings with the situation in that capacity since the Ciskei was then regarded as an independent state, and of course he had to take responsibility of, by the South African Government, in that capacity. So what he actually presented to you on the previous occasion was his own experiences and memories in that capacity. What became clear to us after having heard of the submission that he made to the Commission was that there were also other aspects of what the government at that stage did, as Mr Kriel has particularly referred to, in trying to prevent the tragedy of the 7th of September. And we thought that it would be appropriate therefore for the National Party to ensure that that particular experience, that Mr Kriel and Mr Radue could share with the Commission should also be submitted to you, and that we would like to reflect from an overall perspective, therefore, how the National Party see the events that led up to the shooting and what actually went wrong at that occasion. So there was no indication from my side that we wanted to correct what Mr Pik Botha was saying, it was just that we thought that it would have been necessary actually to give some more
MR MEYER: Let me put it in these terms Commissioner that I think we all had certain experiences in dealing with Mr Gqozo at that stage. I can reflect on what I was aware of in terms of our attempts to negotiate a peaceful constitutional outcome where the Ciskean regime, through Mr Gqozo and his delegates participated at Codesa and thereafter also at the multi-party negotiating process at Kempton Park, and it often occurred to us that we are dealing here with a difficult person. So whatever the description is that one would use in terms of how we experienced the gentleman, I think we all came to the same conclusion, and that is we were dealing with a person that could act irresponsibly with power. And in that regard I think we can share the views that were also submitted by Mr Botha to the Commission.
MR MEYER: I can't recall that. Mr Kriel might also assist me in this regard, but I can't recall that that was something that was specifically discussed at Cabinet level. But it would be difficult for me to say off the cuff no to that, but I can't recall that that was specifically discussed. Because what we attempted to do, from the side of the South African Government, was actually to get a
possible. I might point out that throughout the period after the normalisation of the political process has started in 1990, it was our endeavour all the time to, as quickly as possible, find a way forward as far as an all party or a multi party negotiated settlement is concerned. Therefore throughout 1990 and 1991 we tried to urge all the parties to come to the table for negotiations as quickly as possible. In that process I would say that the first and real objective of the then South African Government was actually to find, as quickly as possible, a negotiated settlement, get all the parties there and that eventually of course happened when we got all the parties together at Codesa 1, and that was the main aim that I believe the South African Government amongst ourselves shared, but it was certainly also the main aim that was shared by all the parties as I indicated in the submission, inter alia also by the ANC and its alliance partners.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Thank you Chairperson. Roelf Meyer, I would like to refer my comments to you. You, in your submission, you make reference to the fact that all parties were involved in the negotiations and you frame your debate in a particular way which reflects a specific perspective suggesting that putting the blame of responsibility on the shoulders of the ANC and suggesting that the ANC should have trusted Gqozo's commitment to the process of negotiation. I think that perspective ignores an important context which is that within the Ciskei itself there was a lot of heavy anti ANC culture which was reinforced, seems to have been EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
Defence Force secondments within the management of the Ciskean Government. So I think that is a very important context to remember even though all these parties were involved in negotiations and the ANC should have, theoretically, trusted the commitments by that process and by Gqozo especially. But what was happening on the ground, there were state of emergencies, there was a very anti-ANC culture, so those factors should also be considered, I think.
The second comment I'd like to make is around your submission that the South African Government, the then South African Government made every effort to ensure a peaceful and free exercise of political rights in the Ciskei. I am wondering whether the ideas, your ideas to achieve that peaceful and free expression of political rights was then reinforced or not by bringing on board of people like Major General Victor who used to be the head of the ANC/PAC desk in the headquarters, security branch headquarters, who was also in charge of Vlakplaas activity according to the dossier that we have of him, and in fact Dirk Coetzee who is supposed to have reportedly told by the dossier that Dirk Coetzee reported to Victor, now Victor was the Commissioner of Police at the time in Ciskei and he was seconded by the South African Government, I am wondering if those strategies, you know bringing somebody with that kind of background to the Ciskei whether that in fact assists your ideas, would have assisted your ideas of ensuring peaceful and free expression of political will within the Ciskei? I am just wondering what the relationship between bringing a person with that kind of background, with the Vlakplaas
it helped in fact bring about peaceful change or whether in fact it achieved the opposite. And what the South African Government's role in bringing that kind of mentality within the governance of Ciskei was. Those are the comments that I would like to make.
The final comment is about your submission and how in fact it seems that the South African Government at the time remains blameless, totally blameless, and it's either the Ciskei Defence Force or the Ciskei Police or the ANC. One of the documents that we have makes reference to the involvement of the South African Embassy in the planning of the deployment of forces around the march. And generally the involvement of the South African Embassy in appointing former South African Defence personnel to the Ciskei to manage departments like Finance, the Army, the Police. And I am really wondering what exactly was the role of the South African Government in maintaining a certain kind of mindsets within the Ciskean government and in fact in encouraging the anti-ANC thinking, or even in encouraging a certain kind of management of policing within the Ciskei.
MR MEYER: Thank you Chairperson, thank you Commissioner for the comments. Maybe Mr Kriel would like to respond to your second comment in regard to the specific gentleman that you have referred to. Can I say....(tape ends) ... the right to organise the march. I think there's sufficient proof of the fact, through our submission now, but also through what Mr Pik Botha has early on testified before the Commission, namely that both on the 4th of August and again on the 7th of September the then South African Government, definitely, was not against the taking place of such a march EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
and the demonstration, and that it was a sort-of ongoing type of event at that stage. I can recall that between June and September of 1992 many such demonstrations actually took place right through the country because it was quite clear that the ANC wanted to make a point very clear to the nation as a whole at that stage, through demonstrations, and in support of their demands to get negotiations going again. And what we are actually saying is that by the time of this tragedy on the 7th of September we were in fact very close to come to agreement on the Record of Understanding and that it was practically not necessary for the ANC actually to proceed with the demonstration at that stage because the point, so to speak, was already made and that we were on the conclusion, almost, of the Record of Understanding.
So, yes, the ANC had the right, no doubt about that, to organise the march and one might even say that the reason why they selected Bisho as the venue for that demonstration, one can also, from the perspective, if one has to be objective, understand. But on the other hand, as Mr Radue has clearly indicated the way in which it was conducted that led to the shooting was quite clearly going too far and that was the problem that we believe the Goldstone Commission has already concluded on.
That is why we are saying in our submission it is not for us now, in any event a person like myself was not present, and one can only judge from the facts that were presented to, for instance, the Goldstone Commission. And we believe, on the facts that were presented to the Commission, right then, during the month of September 1992, because the Goldstone Commission report was actually delivered before the end of that month, so the facts were
very clear in everybody's mind at that stage, and on the basis of those facts the Goldstone Commission came to certain conclusions and we are saying maybe that would be the best to stick to those findings and take that as the acceptable factual basis to come to any conclusions.
On the last comment the question of responsibility, it would be difficult for me to actually respond to that, maybe Mr Pik Botha might have been in a better position to respond on behalf of his department, the then Department of Foreign Affairs. But I think what became clear from the evidence presented to the Goldstone Commission as well as the information available to us, that the then mission of the South African Government under Ambassador Goosen, actually tried to do its level best to find a way forward as far as peaceful handling of the situation was concerned. I have no evidence available to me that indicates that there was actually any form of cooperation to assist and support the Ciskean Government in what they have done finally on that particular day in planning for that and whatever, but of course I have to speak in terms of information available to me and therefore it would be difficult to respond specifically to any other alleged information.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Before you do, thank you, just two little comments. The first one refers to your comment that you think Pik Botha might be a better person to respond, I don't agree with that, you are here as the representative of the National Party and it's very hard to perceive things, events, in the way separating them in terms of who ran what departments. The National Party were in government and I don't agree that he would be a better person.
know that the ANC, not only the ANC, just events we have to see them in a context and in the fact that Goldstone sat and made their findings does not really mean that everything is conclusive. Other commissions on the third force were never conclusive and the new findings, in fact the Goldstone didn't tell us who that man who is supposed to have ...(indistinct) that they were being shot at by the crowds, was, we don't know who it was so there is still room for further findings. Thank you. Mr Kriel.
MR KRIEL: Chairperson, Commissioner I have been racking my brains to try and give you an answer on the person of Victor. I cannot remember whether I appointed him or whether he was appointed by my predecessor but I can ascertain that and send through the information to you because I want, if you need that information, then I believe you should have it. So I will from my side try and find out precisely what happened.
All I can say is two things. The first one is, to be, or at that stage to have been seconded to the Ciskei to be head of their police service or their Weermach, those weren't jobs that people were really looking for, if you understand what I mean, you had to use tough measures to send somebody here to give the necessary leadership because nobody wanted to come to the Ciskei at that stage.
You also referred to other officials that were seconded by the South African Government, yes that is correct, especially in the field of finance, because our conclusion that we came to through reports that we received, was that the expertise was really very much needed to prevent the total collapse of government at that stage, and therefore we had offered help at the request at the time till the
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Thank you. Your indulgence Mr Chair, just one last time. The point I was really making about Major General Victor is not whether you appointed him or not, but that if the South African Government were committed to peaceful change in Ciskei why would it bring a person to the Ciskei to head the police division, a person who has a background like Major General Victor, that's really the point I was making.
MR KRIEL: As I've said to you I don't know Major General Victor. Apparently you've had some information and evidence before you which I have not the privilege to know about, so I am not qualified to comment on whether Victor was involved in Vlakplaas or what the situation was in respect of the General.
MR POTGIETER: Premier Kriel just on that point before I go to Reverend Finca, General Victor was appointed as Commissioner of Ciskean Police in April of 1991, I don't know whether you held the Law and Order portfolio at that stage?
MR POTGIETER: And then there is a media report in our possession, it comes from the Weekly Mail for the period October 30 to November 5 1992 and it refers to the fact that, well the section of the report reads as follows
"Last month Law and Order Minister Hernus Kriel named Victor as one of 100 policemen currently being investigated for undisclosed crimes. Details of the state of the investigation have not
MR KRIEL: No, because if I remember correctly we had more than one Victor in the service, and for me just to say that he was the one would be very - it would be un- I cannot say that to the Commission because I honestly don't know, and I will be lying to you if I pass any comment on that.
MR POTGIETER: We do understand in fact that you have got to respond off the cuff, but you have indicated that perhaps it is possible for you to ply your mind to it and if needs be perhaps we can be liaising with you in this regard and perhaps in some other regards as well.
"Those who were killed and injured at Bisho were at the wrong place at the wrong time being led by irresponsible and reckless leaders against a tyrant and regime...."
etc. I'd like just to get clarity Chairperson from the leader of the NP delegation on whether that is a quotation or whether this is a statement submitted by the National Party? Because I just want to reconcile that with other statements that they have made in this submission.
MR MEYER: It is a statement Reverend, but can I explain because this is actually the conclusion that one has to come to, and that is that unfortunately those that were shot and that were shot at were there because they were actually led to be right there where they were shot by the person who we believe, unfortunately led them irresponsibly to be in that situation. That is the conclusion that we are actually making. It's not their fault. It was not them who wronged, it was not they who made the mistake. They were there rightfully because they thought they were participating in a demonstration, but unfortunately they were led too far. And then the reaction also from the other side I also expressed, already was totally reckless.
REV FINCA: Thank you Chair. Could I find out from Mr Meyer who are these people who the National Party is referring to as "irresponsible and reckless leaders"? Could we not assume and just get the names of these people?
MR MEYER: Chairperson it is quite obvious that the person who led the demonstrators at that stage, at that very moment into this opening, through the gap in the fence, was Mr Kasrils, according to the findings of the Goldstone Commission and other evidence I believe submitted to you already. So it was him in person, but I believe also it was indicated through other submissions and also in the Goldstone Commission that this was part of the so-called Leipzig Option, and whoever was responsible to design that for this particular day and for this particular occasion was also acting recklessly and that would be our submission.
MR MEYER: According to the information available Reverend to us, because again I must emphasise that not one of the three of us were at that very particular situation on that occasion, but according to the information that is available to us the actual appearance of those that went through the gap led to the starting of the shooting, and it is in that context that this statement has been made.
REV FINCA: Chairperson thank you. I would like to raise then the question that I had originally prepared before I looked at the statement, and I would think that perhaps I will raise the question and direct it to the three members representing the National Party. There is a view, and I think it's a very strong view widely held by a number of people in this country and even abroad, that the South African government had the power and had the means to prevent the bloodbath, what they lacked was the will to do so. We have put this question to Mr Pik Botha when he was here and the answer we received was not satisfactory. I think we would like to re-submit the question to you, that in fact it is not true to fact that the South African Government could not have done anything about that situation. They had the power, they had the means, they intervened in Ciskean affairs right to the point of appointing Cabinet ministers when they wanted to do so, but in this particular case, and the submission is made to us EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
that because lives which were in danger of being lost were Black lives, and Black lives are cheap, the RSA government did not have the will to act in this particular instance. I would like to put that view to you and hear what your comment is on it.
MR MEYER: Chairperson thank you very much. I think this is an important issue that is being raised by Reverend Finca. I would first of all like to state categorically that a perception or a submission that might have been made to the Commission in that regard, namely that the previous South African government failed in its duty because Black lives were not dear to them, I reject totally that suggestion, that submission or that perception. That is absolutely incorrect. I think proof is there as it was submitted here this morning by Premier Kriel and Mr Radue that they were actually sent, a delegation of the South African Government was specifically sent to Bisho on that very day by the then State President Mr de Klerk to ensure that the demonstration can be carried out peacefully. It was for that reason that Premier Kriel went to see Mr Gqozo and ensured that he allows the demonstration to take place in a peaceful way. And with all due respect as it is being proved by Mr Radue's fax which was sent just before one o'clock that day, it was actually accepted by all present at that point in time that the demonstration would be carried out peacefully, and that there was actually no reason, at that very moment, to further intervene or interfere.
The question overall of how we handled the situation as far as the TBVC states are concerned I think is also a relevant one Commissioner. The point in that regard I would say is by September of '92 we had a total break-up of
negotiations and by the 7th of September of '92, if one just looks back a little bit at the perspective of how matters developed, one must recall that by the 16th of May of that year Codesa II collapsed, so multi-party negotiations came to an end. In spite of that, however, the work of Working Group 4, which is also indicated in the submission, was confirmed by the parties. In fact I think one can say that Working Group 4's report was the only one that was actually approved by Codesa II before it collapsed on the work of the other working groups. In other words although the parties could not reach agreement on the work of the other working groups, including the question of progress with the interim constitution, at least there was agreement between all the parties on the work of Working Group 4, and that included the South African Government, the ANC and all relevant parties.
What I am saying by that is that there was confirmation by all parties, including the South African Government, that the TBVC states must be reincorporated into South Africa and it was a question through which means it should take place, and the obvious answer to that was to get agreement on an interim constitution, to ensure the reincorporation. Now after May of '92 for almost a year there were no multi-party negotiations, in other words progress towards the interim constitution could not take place, but between June and September of '92 the relevant parties, including specifically the South African Government and the ANC, were on a bilateral basis involved in ironing out the stumbling blocks impeding the negotiations as it was then perceived. And that was the main, or the crux of the whole objective at that stage, to get negotiations back on track so that we can EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
It was therefore, with due respect Chairperson, to my mind not the appropriate moment then to find other ways to deal with the TBVC states, but to get negotiations back on track with a view to come to an agreement, as quickly as possible, also on the question of reincorporation of the TBVC states. And that applied to all four of them, Transkei, Venda, Bophuthatswana and Ciskei and that was the view held by the South African Government. And with all due respect, although Ciskei might have been a pain in the neck, both to the South African Government and to the ANC there was not a reason for any deviation from that agreed policy position, that was the agreement between the South African Government, the ANC and all other relevant parties at that point of time.
REV FINCA: Lastly Chairperson, Mr Meyer you are held in very high respect by a number of South Africans for the role that you have played in the transition of this country, and there is a sense, if the Chairperson find the comment unacceptable, there is a sense in which we expect slightly more from you. It's really very sad for me to get a sense that you are saying there is not an iota of accountability that should be attributed to the South African Government for this loss of life, when in fact it is common knowledge that very many responsible people in this region in particular, one of those persons is here in this hall, he has just come in, Bishop David Russel, wrote letters of appeal to you, pleading with your government not to continue your support for the dictatorship that was continuing in Ciskei pointing out exactly to what ultimately happened, and how the South African Government decided to nurse an ally in EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
MR MEYER: I think Chairperson, Reverend, of course the Commission has the obligation, not only to find out about the truth of any situation of the past, that relates to the conflict of the past, I believe it also has the right to make an appeal on all of us about the morality of what took place in the past and therefore I accept your question in that spirit. I fully accept that. And in the same spirit I would say yes the mistake is obvious, the mistake that we have created an independent state like the Ciskei is the most obvious of those mistakes. And I would not deny responsibility for that as far as the previous South African Government is concerned. Whatever happened that particular day, and where the blame was for that particular day is almost different to that question. The real question therefore is how could this have been avoided, and it could have been avoided by not having had the Ciskei as an independent state at all.
DR RAMASHALA: My question relates to Bisho in specific, but to the gross human rights violations in general which were supported by the then government of the day, and I'd like to refer you to your last sentence on page 20.
"The National Party therefore requests that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its final report on the tragic shootings at Bisho on September 7 1992, include a list of the names of all children, women and men who died on that fateful day under the burning African sun. Let
their names and tragedy of the day remind us all and our children of the price they paid for us to enter into the New South Africa".
I want to say to all three of you this is the first time that the National Party has even said let's list, and I think it's too easy to say let's list because the blame on this side is put on Brigadier Gqozo and Ronnie Kasrils. Never before in the past has there been a request to list, and we are talking about thousands, I'd like to put faces on this list and some of the faces are in this room and ask the question, and may I plead that I am not looking for a political answer, that one of my fantasies is to be a fly on the wall in a meeting of the National Party and ask this question, not about the list of the people who died but the children who were left fatherless, motherless, whose futures were changed for the rest of their lives, the question I ask, have there been any discussions or are there any discussions currently going on within the National Party about what should have happened to these children and what should be happening to these children and their future? I want to bluntly refer to the golden handshakes that have been publicly pointed out. I would like to publicly refer to the rewards that were given to the people who successfully committed missions to kill and to kill and to kill. We have been very successful in killing. We have been very successful in maiming and leaving people crippled for the rest of their lives. We have been very successful in leaving children without parents and without a future. Have there been any discussions at all within the National Party about these children, about these women who were left without? I mean because these questions, these discussions EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
would point to assuming responsibility ....(tape ends) ....and thousands of children, particularly Black children who have been left without a future and we all point to guns, we all point to statistics, we all point to who has done what, but I really have never heard any discussions from the political parties about these children and our future, because these are our future South Africa. Please Sirs, I am not asking for a political answer, I am asking for your souls, I am asking for you to bear your souls. Thank you.
MR MEYER: Chairperson I would like to thank the Commissioner again also for raising this issue, and I think, may I first of all say I think you have made an appeal to us, but not only to us, the three of us who are here, not only to our Party, I think you have made an appeal to the whole of South Africa, to all political parties but also civil society in general, the community out there, everybody in South Africa. I don't think it's possible now, I would not do right to the issue you have raised if I try to respond now to that question. I can say, yes, we are in various ways within the National Party attending to this question and related questions. What I would like to suggest is that we have a responsibility to come back to the Commission on this very question. We have already indicated to the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission that we are preparing a further written submission to the Commission and I would like to suggest that this very issue should form part of that further submission to the Commission. And that equally so others who can come up with proposals and suggestions as to how this issue should be dealt with should also do the same, for
the sake of the Commission who has in the final instance to attend to this as far as its report is concerned. But I think Madam Commissioner if I may say, you have raised with us an issue which is probably the most important one in the final instance of the work of the Commission, because if we can't find an answer to the very question that you have put, then the work of the Commission with all respect is not going to be in the long term worth anything.
May I say that I don't think it's only those that have suffered directly, but there are many, many South Africans, thousands of South Africans who have also indirectly suffered through apartheid, that we have to consider within the whole spectrum of what we want to do in the future. So it's not only a question of the specific terms of reference of the Commission, namely how to address human rights violations of the nature that has been described in your terms of reference, but it is in the final instance us as politicians, as political parties, that have to give direction as to how we are going to rectify the wrongs that flowed from apartheid in a very general sense.
DR RAMASHALA: Chairperson may I ask Mr Meyer and his team that as you prepare that submission you consider the following comment from the communities, particularly the greater Black communities and I want to quote
"They get amnesty. They get the golden handshake, (meaning rewards). They get retirement pensions worth millions. And we get nothing. And on television they smirk or they smile to boot".
perpetrators on your side who so far when they apply for amnesty and present themselves, and even say they are sorry, none of them has said this is my contribution, I would like to do the following, it stops with I am sorry. None of them has said as a demonstration, perhaps of how sorry I am, this is what I would like to do. None of them have done that. So as you prepare that submission could you please address that, because that is the more tangible thing that people are asking, and people say that is a re-victimisation, that is a de-humanisation and that has caused more pain than you realise. Thank you.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you Chairperson. Mr Meyer you will appreciate the fact that we haven't had time to look at your document, I will just ask a few, not really questions, but points of clarification. On page 1 of the Executive's Summary, there is a paragraph starting with "Circumstances leading up....", the last sentence there it says,
"This submission alludes to the dismal failure of the so-called Leipzig Option advocated by the SACP with the ANC in tow, and the grave mistakes made by SACP leaders in underestimating the Gqozo regimes' resolve not to abdicate its power because of the mere presence of the ANC/SACP alliance and its rhetoric".
indefinitely. That argument it seems to be a contradiction given the fact that people who then led a march, that march led to brutal shootings of defenceless marchers, it's a contradiction which I would like you to talk to, because given your statement I would imagine that nobody will decide to shoot anyone in view of the fact that it was no longer an issue. So it's a point also which I would like you to sort-of clarify us or elaborate upon.
"The NP wishes to achieve reconciliation between all who were affected by this incident by establishing the truth so that all can make peace with their adversaries and themselves and so that all can tackle the challenges which face all of us".
I would just like to put it to you that I can tell you straight away that having had the advantage of talking to survivors in different communities we are not likely to achieve peace if we have no way of declaring in full the thinking which went on at the time and how people sees it especially now when they look back. As some of the fellow Commissioners have indicated people might be gracious when they appear before us but often when we do community education they raise penetrating questions regarding what happened and why was it done.
The last question which I have, I would just like to know whether there were specific instructions given possibly by the Minister of Law and Order at the time to all people who were armed, particularly people who represented the State and the government so as to handle the situation differently as against what had happened in June 16, we have EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
heard about the six day wars, the seven day wars, this incident happened at the time when peace negotiations were well in advance, one will assume that the State and government officials were given specific instructions to handle the situation differently? So I would just like your comment on that as well. Thank you.
MR MEYER: Chairperson, Commissioner, as far as the first point of clarification is concerned on page 1 of the Executive Summary, in that particular sentence we are referring first of all to what is being referred to in the main document also as the so-called Leipzig Option. I think that is terminology that comes from certain newspaper quotes that is being referred to in the main document where I think it was Mr Raymond Suttner was quoted by referring to that Option. There are extensive quotes in the main document referring to Mr Suttner and others who have apparently been responsible to design the strategy and afterwards they were called upon to give their reactions and so forth by the media, so that is what is being referred to there. I would say that I think the clarity will come if one reads the main document in that regard.
The other part of that sentence indicates that maybe on the side of those that led the demonstration there was an under-estimation of what actually Gqozo had in mind, and that there was something of, if one also reads the comments afterwards, again in the main document, it appears that there was almost a challenge that was executed by those that led the demonstration to see almost how far Gqozo might go in his reaction. And I think that is what is being indicated to in this sentence. But that links up with the next page and your second question actually.
In that regard Chairperson I think it's important to note that, and I think one has to make the observation that although the parties, be it at Codesa or at a later stage, all agreed to the reincorporation of the TBVC states they resisted it in various ways, up to a very late stage. I must remind Honourable Commissioners of for instance the case of Bophuthatswana they were not even after the conclusion of the interim constitution, or the negotiations on the interim constitution, they were at that stage even still not prepared to give up and to become part of the New South Africa. I don't have to refer now, because it's not relevant as far as this meeting is concerned and I believe the Commission will separately deal with that issue, but various other decisions and actions had to follow before the actual reincorporation of Bophuthatswana could be effected, although they were also part of the original agreement in Working Group 4. So what I am trying to prove with this point is to say the parties were all part of the original agreement in Working Group 4, but it didn't mean it's true.
Now with hindsight one can reflect on that and say it is clear that they did not right through up to the end, or at every given moment, agree to actually work for the execution of those agreements. And that again is reflected also, to my mind, in what happened on the 7th of September. Because in a certain way that was an indication of Gqozo's reaction against the agreement to which he was himself part of.
I hope I have tried to clarify that particular point that we are actually getting to in the submission, namely to say there were agreements, all parties were part of it, including the Ciskean Government, but they were not
MR KRIEL: Thank you Commissioner. I think the question you have put to me is a fair one and that is, if I understood you correctly, and that is whether there were any changes in methods to deal with situations. I can say to you that certainly at the time when the ANC were unbanned and other parties - when the negotiating process started and when I came to the Police the whole attitude of the Police was to use minimum force to handle situations. But it must also be remembered that at that very crucial time in the history of our country it was essential that we have a climate in which negotiations could take place. So we also had a duty to try and maintain order in our country.
Coming back closer to what happened at Bisho, I can say to you if you think that on that day we should have taken away all the weapons, there was no way that bar creating a war that we could take the weapons away from the Brigadier's army. I also want to say to you that there was no way in which the Police could search 18,000 people, I think that's the number they say that were there that day, to find and confiscate weapons. There are certain situations that it's just not possible to do that and that was one of them. You couldn't, with the number of policemen available and policewomen do that, it's just not possible.
We must also say to each other that at that stage it was not only the defence force in possession of firearms, but many of the people, not part of the old regime, were also in possession of firearms. I mean AK47's was a daily
REVEREND XUNDU: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Sir I would like to ask this question to Mr Kriel. Allegations at the time like the allegations that there was a third force, which was always denied, which has been proved true, there were allegations at the time that there was an RSA covert operations run by International Researches in Ciskei, I just want to make sure if there's an element of truth in that allegation.
REVEREND XUNDU: Thank you. We would like to know, because there is an allegation like I said there has always been the allegation that there is a third force element in the trains which has now been proved true, that there's an allegation that there was an RSA, RSA had a covert operation run by International Researches in Ciskei, we just want to make sure if that is the truth.
And further, one would like to know from you, if you can remember, how you responded to a media briefing or a statement that was made to the media after the shooting, because there is a statement that I think, if I remember rightly, the fact that those who were shot got what they deserved, coming from you specifically? I just want to clear that if you can remember if that was the case, thank EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
About the first part I am not aware of any covert operation that took place in the Ciskei, but I am not going to say that nothing like that ever happened. That I cannot say because things happened, unfortunately.
MR POTGIETER: Thank you Reverend Xundu. I just want to assess our time. As you can see we can debate for the rest of the day, but we have got some time constraints so I just want to assess what remains, what's in the heart of my colleagues, I don't want to cut them unnecessarily. Advocate Sandi?
ADV SANDI: Thank you Mr Chairman. I will ask my questions very briefly and I will request that the answers be very short and straightforward and to the point in the interests of time. Let me start by asking, there is a pamphlet at page 2 of your submission to which you refer, according to your submission that pamphlet that is at page 2, that pamphlet was distributed in this area by Nehawu or the ANC/SACP alliance, can you tell us where and when did you get this document? Did you believe its contents? And where is that document now? And have you been getting documents of this kind from the Ciskei area and who was supplying you with these documents?
The other question I want to ask, once again I must say in the interests of time, before the tragedy of the 7th of September 1992 there were consistent reports from this area of gross human rights violations, did your government believe those allegations from the people of this area and
ADV SANDI: I am not referring to any annexure, this is just a question about the gross human rights violations that were taking place in the Ciskei area, the question is did your government believe that such gross human rights violations were taking place and what steps were taken by your government to try and bring such violations to a stop?
My third question concerns the alliance between your government and the government of Gqozo. In a letter dated 31 August 1992 from Mr Gqozo and addressed to the then State President, F W de Klerk, he refers to an alliance which he wants to know if it has come to an end. Can you please give us some light what was the nature of this alliance? When did it begin and when did it stop? And also - maybe I should stop there, otherwise I will be bombarding you with too many questions.
MR MEYER: I will be brief as the Commissioner has asked me to be. Chairperson on the first issue the reference to the quote on page 2, I don't have the document available now but I would gladly respond to that by making the document available to the Commission, so if I may I will immediately on my return to Pretoria send that through to the Commission. I just don't have it available right now.
general, or allegations of general gross human rights violations that took place in the Ciskei, if I understood him correctly. If there would be specific points in that regard I guess it might be easier to respond and indicate what actions or steps we might have taken. But I must again point out that the situation as far as the TBVC states are concerned, in general, at that stage, even in 1992 were such that they were regarded as independent states, wrongly maybe one would argue, but the fact of the matter is that we, from the South African side, didn't have the authority over the Transkei, Venda, Bophuthatswana or Ciskei for that matter to act like the Commission might have suggested. These governments, again rightly or wrongly, were in full control of their own justice departments, they appointed their own civil servants in those different capacities, they had their own defence forces, their own police forces and so forth. The question is therefore difficult to respond to unless there are specific references that the Commissioner would like to point out then maybe one can follow up on that.
As far as the third question is concerned I don't have, unfortunately, that letter available to me that the Commissioner has referred to but I guess if that was what Gqozo has stated in that letter he might have referred to the so-called informal alliances that existed in Codesa. And then maybe I should just for a moment refer to that and inform the Commission that at the time of Codesa, between Codesa 1 and Codesa II, that was between December and May, December of '91 and May of '92, there existed an informal alliance that consisted on the one side of the ANC and its formal alliance partners, namely the SACP and COSATU, together with a number of other parties, I think they were
all in all seven or eight parties that were on the side of the ANC, an informal alliance as far as the negotiations are concerned. Similarly on the side of the then government there was also an informal alliance consisting of seven or eight parties and it's true that the Ciskean government was one of those parties in that grouping. There were also other parties for instance the Homeland parties of KwaZulu Natal, I am sorry, yes the IFP was there of course, but other Homeland parties like for instance the Deconquetla from the old Kwa Kwa, Shimoko from Gazankulu and a number of others and the Ciskean Government was also part of that grouping and I think that is maybe what Gqozo has referred to.
ADV SANDI: My last question is, but before I ask this last question, I should first thank you for telling me that your government was not aware that at the time in question that gross human rights violations were taking place in the Ciskei area. Nevertheless the question I intend to ask now is that when this Commission received testimonies in Bisho during September one of the things we were told was that the SADF, the SAP and the Traffic Police accompanied the marchers in the direction to Bisho but about one kilometre away from the stadium the SAP, SADF and the Traffic Police withdrew, was this the arrangement and was this known by the organisers of the march? Had this been communicated to the authorities in the Ciskei that your personnel would escort the marchers up to that point? Perhaps a question that goes together with that is, was your government aware that there was a shortage of wire in the Ciskei?
....did not occur. But yes they did accompany in order to retain and maintain law and order within the boundaries of the then South Africa, but they stopped at the barrier which was erected on the boundary of Ciskei, and they had no jurisdiction officially de jure to proceed beyond that point in view of the independence of Ciskei. And so that is where the protection of the people marching, who also included South African citizens stopped. They could not go beyond the barrier, and it was beyond the barrier that the Ciskean security forces were in control. So that was the situation.
There was no problem on the South African side at any stage during the entire day and the South African authorities gave every assistance, together with the Municipality and the traffic police and the medical personnel after the tragedy occurred at the Grey Hospital in King Williamstown.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Thank you Chairperson. Minister Kriel I have been looking at some of the accolades that some of your men had, some of them work in the media as military intelligence, supporting Unita and you know those kinds of accolades, and I wonder what was the role of your department, what was its agenda in Ciskei in view of all these men who were seconded to the Ciskei in this important, very important military and police positions, what was the agenda of your department in Ciskei?
apart from the fact that expertise was needed to run a proper police force here, and we supplied in certain instances, seconded personnel to assist with that, but it wasn't a South African Police Force, it was a Ciskean Police Force and we seconded people to assist and to train people to look after crime. So that was our only agenda.
MR POTGIETER: Thank you. Premier Kriel you are reported to have made a statement after the incident that the shooting was triggered-off by, shooting that came from the side of the marchers. We have looked at the testimony, we have been unable to find any evidence supporting that, in fact from the ballistic tests that were done the indications are that a pistol that was found near the place where some of the marchers were was never fired, did you have any specific information in that regard that supported that allegation?
MR KRIEL: What most probably happened was that just after the incident took place you receive certain reports from various people. I could not verify those reports because I wasn't there, but if that turned out to be wrong it wasn't a statement that was made, that could have influenced anything, it was after the fact. And if the Goldstone Commission and other reporters find that that was not the case and if you should find that Sir I am quite prepared to accept that because I didn't see it.
they were nearing the barrier or at the barrier, but it was after our return from Bisho with the helicopter that I sent that message off and we were perfectly satisfied at that stage that as far as we were concerned, on the South African side, we had done everything possible to ensure that the march would be handled peacefully.
MR POTGIETER: Should we understand that the shooting incident could have happened because the evidence that was tendered to us tends to indicate that this happened around 13H30 and could it have been that that was only transmitted to you subsequently after it happened?
MR POTGIETER: And then just finally you have made the submission in regard to who should be held responsible for the incident and you have made the submission, we have noted that, but I would just like to understand that, is that submission limited entirely to what happened on the side of the stadium where that little splinter group broke through the gap in the fence and moved towards the Bisho town centre?
SENATOR RADUE: Yes. I think if one looks at the video which, if one can get a copy of the video for the Commission from the South African Police I think that the position will become very much clearer for you. As far as I recall it the position was that the marchers broke away from the official designated route, through the gap, over a grassed approach
to the stadium wall, there is no wall there, there is a grass verge, ran over and into the stadium, a number of them following Mr Kasrils, and it was only when they crossed the field and emerged at the far end through another tunnel in the stadium that the shooting commenced on the Bisho side. Subsequently, probably through panic and I think one has also to have reference to not only the Goldstone Commission's report but also to the report commissioned by Brigadier Gqozo and he probably will refer to it at some stage of Judge Pickard, who also was commissioned to have an investigation and made certain findings, it seems that once the firing commenced on the Bisho side that the troops in front of the Parliamentary complex panicked and open fire on the innocent crowd that was still on both sides of the boundary.
MR POTGIETER: Ja that is what my question is directed at. It seems to be common cause, if one looks at the findings of all these commissions, Pickard, Goldstone, the CDF inquiry and testimony that was presented to us that there was absolutely no reason at all to start firing on the southern side of the stadium, that's where the assembly buildings were and so on. So there doesn't seem to be any justification, I just want to see if we agree on that proposition first.
MR POTGIETER: And also it seems from the facts that were placed before us that as soon as the shooting started on the side where Mr Kasrils broke through with the splinter group, as soon as the firing started these people turned around immediately and they ran back, in fact we were told that that is also depicted on the video that you refer to. So these people showed no resistance once the shooting started they fled, they turned around and they fled actually.
MR POTGIETER: In fact Judge Goldstone found that on that scenario it is very unlikely that any shooting would have been coming from that group because they turned around immediately and they ran away.
MR POTGIETER: And of course the other point that was made to us was that there was no need to use lethal force immediately in the sense of shooting to kill people, you could have fired some warning shots and the people might have turned around and ran back.
MR POTGIETER: As I have said earlier we can debate this issue for the rest of the day but unfortunately, practically we can't, we've got some victims waiting to come and testify and we've got some of the security force personnel who will be testifying this afternoon, but it remains for me to thank you for coming and sharing your perspective with us. It is important for the Commission to listen to all of the sides and all of the perspectives in order for us to be able to make an objective finding in the end and to comply with our mandate. Thank you very much for coming.
MR MEYER: Chairperson from our side again also thank you very much for creating this opportunity, allowing us to interact, and I want to emphasise we have experienced it as an interaction and not only as a way of us trying to assist the Commission but also views, comments, observations that have been raised by members of the Commission here present this morning, we have seriously not only considered but will take back with us because in the end it will also be our duty and that is how we see it to assist the work of the Commission to come to a report that will serve the country and all its people very well in the process. Thank you very much for this opportunity and we wish you and the Commission very well.
MR POTGIETER: Thanks a lot. Before Reverend Finca closes perhaps I can just say that we have noted your indication that you are open for us to engage in a process around this and to give us access to whatever else you've got. We thank you for that. Reverend Finca?
REV FINCA: Chairperson thank you. I just want to, from the side of the office in East London, to thank specially the office of Mr Roelf Meyer for all the assistance that you have given us, your secretary has given us in preparing for your appearance and for their patience when things were not going right.
Chairperson if you will indulge me I just want to leave a last thought for this delegation, that we are engaged in a very painful process of trying to reach reconciliation for our country and we are seriously concerned and perhaps your submission may touch on this, on how is it possible that reconciliation will take place if this country continues to hear the same denials which we have heard, the same selective choosing of facts, the same propaganda which we had under apartheid? How is it possible that the victims will be led through the road of reconciliation? One senses a lot of frustration at this moment, but of course that does not detract from the appreciation that I feel for the assistance that we have received from these offices.