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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type SUBMISSIONS, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, LEONARD KNIPE
Starting Date 18 February 1997
Location GUGULETU 7
Chairperson you would have noticed that although Mr Knipe was represented by advocate Uijs unfortunately he has been here yesterday and today, and couldnít make it this afternoon, I will be representing Mr Knipe on instructions from De Klerk and Van Gend, Mr Adri Brand who is sitting on my right hand side.
been a policeman for 31 years during which period I rose through the rank to my present rank and during which time I have always striven to police objectively without bias and professionalism. During my period of service, I have always openly advocated equality and non-radicalism, particularly within the Police Force, as it was then known. My advocating of these principles often brought me into conflict with elements within the organisation, which prejudiced me and which one resulted in my being suspended.
for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and especially the Chairman. I believe that it is imperative that the history of the country, no matter how hurtful it may be, be discovered and made known. I also believe that it is imperatively necessary that all peoples of our nation make peace with each other. Because of my beliefs, I will now and in the future strive to assist the Commission to achieve its goals and will answer any questions with openness and candour. It is for this reason that I am somewhat unhappy at the manner in which I have been summonsed to appear this august body, to provide evidence or to answer questions relating to the tragic death of seven men at Guguletu on the 3rd of March 1986. I deal with my feelings and unhappiness in paragraph 3 herein below.
investigators attached to this Commission before a notification in terms of Section 29 to appear before the Human Right Violation Committee, was dropped off at my office on the 12th of November 1996. In fact the notification for me to appear here today was the very first contact made with me. No prior interview was accorded me by any investigators of the Commission.
investigator the evidence which I am about to give. I have in fact related it before in open court, my evidence being subjected to cross-examination on that occasion. What I am about to say, I would say to anyone at any time without any form of compulsion being exercised upon me to do so.
anything which could be remotely constructed as an abuse of power or a violation of human rights. Indeed, as will appear from what I say, I have to a certain extend suffered because of my principles.
approach to me, and the immediate thereafter issuing of a press statement, telling the world that I amongst others, was being summonsed to appear before the Human Rights Violation Committee has created the impression that I have in fact, in the past been guilty of human rights abuses. This has caused hurt to my loved ones, has prejudiced me and has led to false perceptions being created. I respectfully believe that this action taken while senior members of the Commission were out of the country, has in itself violated my human rights.
state unequivocally and without fear of contradiction that I was not part of any planning of any of the actions which led to the tragic deaths of the seven young men. I did not conspire in any way with any person to take such action, in fact, I had no prior knowledge of the action.
I have studied a copy of a statement that I submitted during the inquest investigation. I have read the Inquest Court judgement, although I wish to add that I did not give evidence before the Inquest Court, but only at the trial of Mr Tony Weaver. I have read a transcript of this evidence given by my during the trial of Mr Weaver.
I wish to add that it is my sincere opinion that the decision to investigate Weaver was an abuse of power and that such investigation and prosecution should never have taken place. This belief was one of the reasons which led to me leaving Murder and Robbery Unit and taking an alternative position, which itself resulted in sever financial and personal loss for me.
3rd of March 1986. To the best of my recollection, I and other members of the Murder and Robbery Unit were mustering for parade when a police radio report of the shooting was broadcast. In consequence thereof, my colleagues and I hastened to the scene. I arrived to find members of the Security Police, the Riot Squat, the Guguletu Police, the Flying Squad and others on the scene. The area had already been cordoned off.
Major Brits who was the senior rank in Murder and Robbery Officer at the scene was assigned to the investigation and I assisted him to the best of my ability with the preservation of the scene and the collection of evidence. My colleague and I, detective Warrant Officer Welcome Mbele, performed these task together. To the best of my recall, the only action taken by my which was not directly related to the investigation was taken in collaboration with the explosive expert on the scene, the then detective Warrant Officer Schalk van der Merwe. There was a reasonable fear that there might be an unexploded device under one of the bodies on the scene and a rope was attached to the belt of this victim. The body was then pulled over onto its back from a distance, for the purpose of safety only.
Thereafter Warrant Officer Mbele and I went to each body, made notes of the positions in which the bodies lay, the clothing of the bodies, what weapons [if any] were in the deceased possession and what wound each deceased had sustained. I also searched each body and removed items of value such as jewelly, money and correspondence. Items removed from each body were placed in individual transparent plastic bags. As standard procedure, I wore gloves. Later that day I handed all the exhibits and the records of observations to Major Brits. I went about investigating the matter on the scene as I would investigate any other violent crime. I acted objectively, without preconceived notions and, I respectfully believed professionally.
arrived the then Divisional Investigations Officer. The scene was photographed and videotaped. A helicopter hovered overhead. The traffic noise from the nearby freeway and the noise on the scene was excessive and disturbing.
completed and in full view of local bystanders, media representatives and colleagues, I instructed that blood be washed from the streets. My sole motivation for doing this was in the belief in the dignity of death. I had previously experienced dogs arriving on the scene of a violent crime, licking the blood. This I did not wish to happen. I acted out of this motive of respect for the dead and their loved ones only when giving this instruction and seeing that it was carried out, which it was, publicly and openly.
further involvement in the investigation. I am unable to comment on the investigation or the manner in which it was conducted.
10. In the spirit of reconciliation, I would like to add that I regard it as a tragedy that seven young men died as a result of the evil of a political system which caused so much pain and suffering to all the peoples of our country. In addition, I could so easily have lost colleagues on that day during the fire fight which I am given to understand took place between the security forces and the deceased. If I had been empowered and in a position to do so, I would have taken steps to avoid the tragedy. I personally regard it as unfortunate that I was not able to do so.
which is suffered by the loved ones of victims of violence. I can therefore appreciate the suffering endured by the families of the seven young men in question and wish that could have been averted. I extend my sympathy to those who were affected by the occurrences of the day in question.
Mr Chairperson I believe that copies of the statement that Mr Knipe made at the inquest as well as a copy of his evidence at the Weaver trial is available. I would also like to point out that the detective Warrant Officer Welcome Mbele that he refers to his statement that was his partner at the time, at Murder and Robbery and should not be confused with Mbelo whoís evidence the Commission heard in camera some while ago. Thank you.
Thank you Commissioner Wildschut for holding the fort in my absence. I have taken note of your remarks advocate Van Zyl. Any questions that are going to be put to this witness oh! I am made to understand that advocate Potgieter is going to be leading the questioning of this witness - advocate Potgieter.
The connotation, the perceptions that have been created is that I committed murder that was what the [indistinct] articles that were written in our daily newspapers, was that I was one of the seven people who were into confess to the murders of seven young men, that is the unfortunate perceptions that went out because of the actions of the Committee.
I have never - I have never subpoenaed a witness without having an interview with him, never in all my 31 years as a policemen have I ever interviewed a witness or not interviewed a witness and subpoenaed him except in the case on occasions with the press when they will not answer questions that we have to resort in 205ís - but at least weíve given them the decency of speaking to them beforehand.
Do you - do you understand that there is this principal of transparency about the work of this Commission and that the concept of doing our work publicly - to share the information that we obtained and to try and give answers to people who are questing for some information, is really an underlying sort of bottom line in a way for the work of the Commission.
So whatever we do, I mean we got the public there, we are linked up to - and hopefully soon again to the radio broadcast which reaches millions of our people in the country, we got the television present at our proceedings. Unfortunately weíve got these lights going with that and thatís - we must apologise to you for the discomfort that, that causes.
But that is - that is how it is - this is the - itís quite a unique process, weíve never seen it in this country before and itís so important to have these things in public and to get you to a platform like this so that you can speak and your colleagues can speak and the families of the victims can hear and see - perhaps for the first time a lot of them have never had the privilege of being present at an inquest.
A lot of them have never understood what an inquest is all about and so on, so we are trying to create that sort of situation here and I guess what I am trying to convey to you is that - that is how this process works - we not accusing you of anything, we not suggesting that you - that you committed a gross human rights violation. We asking you to come and to share what you know about this incident and thatís really all that this is all about.
Commissioner Potgieter I believe that many other people have appeared before similar commissions without being subpoenaed. People that have committed gross human rights abuses, people that when their stories are told, makes one revolt with revoltion, that came before commissions without being subpoenaed. I am fully aware of that, I am fully aware of the importance of this Commission and I think that is being conveyed in my statement.
I however, do believe that an injustice was done to me, to summons me to appear without any investigating officer having the decency to approach me and say have you anything to say I would have given my full and utter co-operation to the investigating officer. I have no problem in being here, I support the Commission in itís entirety, I just feel that I have been unfairly treated.
And you see weíve heard the testimony of many other of your colleagues who were involved in the things that happened on the particular day and none of them seem to share your - your view, your difficulty.
I have been lumped by the media as being party of that group, the media have not the sense to realise that there is a difference. I have been branded in the media as part of the group of people that shot and killed seven people, that is my objection.
And - and in fact what happens is that - you have the opportunity now and weíve created an opportunity here to say whatever you know about this incident and to deal with the injustice that the press seem to have done to you.
Now I just want to - to just see whether I understand insofar as the Commission is concerned and the way in which this matter has been dealt with what your - the basis of your complaints are. I think if I look at your statement you seem to feel that there should have been a prior interview with you.
Well I believe if the - if there was expertise on the part of the investigator, I might have been able to give information dealing with other matters which is being investigated by the Commission and I place myself at the availability of your investigators to hold a proper interview with me.
All right we - we note that - we and we are grateful for every bit of help that we can get and we really note that, we know that you - as Iíve said earlier and I was quite serious, you - you are a police officer with a long-long years of experience, so we appreciate that.
Now that was the first issue, I am just trying to understand what the grounds of your dissatisfaction is and then you also seemed to say that you see this as a form of compulsion. If I read paragraph 3.2 of your statement correctly you conclude that paragraph with the following sentence.
So what is the difference I mean you - you donít have any objection to being here, what is the difficulty I mean with or without the subpoena youíve said you want to help this process so I canít understand perhaps you can help us.
To be subpoenaed - to make a public statement that the man is being subpoenaed to appear before a human rights commission, creates obviously the impression that he has committed some or other human rights abuse.
Why I donít understand that, why - why canít you just be a witness, why canít you just come and help the process - and itís important you see Director Knipe itís important for us to flesh out these things, so that there is not this sort of misunderstanding you know there is a lot of misunderstanding around the process of this commission and we being accused of all sorts of things you know some people suggest that we are you know the hunters of witches and I donít know what ever else you know.
I can only reiterate that I would have appeared before this Commission willingly - I found it in affront for somebody to come to my office and drop of a subpoena without the courtesy of a phone call without the courtesy of a hello, that a subpoena is dropped, just dropped with my secretary to appear before this body.
But I canít leave the impression unchallenged that the mere fact of being given a subpoena to come to proceedings is an indictment is a suggestion that youíve committed a gross human rights violation. And I mean if that is the attitude then we are going to have great difficulty in achieving what we really setting out to achieve in this process by reconciliation - understanding and so on.
At no time have I committed any act or omitted to do anything which could remote to be construed as a an abusive power of violation or human rights.
Mr Chairman I think one of the major problems to reiterate is that when one drafts a subpoena - sorry - an affidavit one is doing so blind, one receives a subpoena to appear before this body, one is not afforded even a telephone call to explain what the nature - what is required of you.
If you remember I entered into correspondence trying to determine what was required of me. I do believe that I should have been afforded a visitation from an investigator to determine whether I was prepared to make a statement - whatever the case may be.
I respectfully believe that this action taken while senior members of the Commission were out of the country, has in itself violated my human rights.
May I just again remind the people who are attending these proceedings that the proceedings must be accorded a measure of decorum that defeats this sort of proceedings that there are. I certainly would not wish that people should [indistinct] a witness even if the replies that the witness gives seemed to be of a nature that people may consider [indistinct] end of Tape 11, side A Ö [indistinct] as and when they like.
Thank you Chairperson - Director Knipe we just want to round this off. Are you suggesting that the Chairperson should be involved in your subpoena or in generally in issuing subpoenaís or what - I am trying to understand.
As Iíve indicated you - you have been part of the command structure of the Murder and Robbery Unit in this part of the country for some years before - well in the old days, in the days of the South African Police not so?
I was at Murder and Robbery from í79 to 1986 - I left shortly after this incident. Went to Sea Point for 18 months, took charge of Murder and Robbery in Durban, returned to Cape Town and assumed command of the Unit in 1990.
On the day that this occurred, the new commanding officer now General Visser, Commissioner Visser was to arrive I think from Potchefstroom - he was to assume command of the Unit. And at the time when the incident occurred, Visser had not yet stepped off the plane, Major Brits was in charge.
Major Brits - now indications are that around the 27th of February - a few days before the actual incident, there were already plans being formulated in regard to this - to this incident and Murder and Robbery was - was part of the planning even at that stage. Are you suggesting that your colleagues in the command structure had sidelined you.
But isnít that a bit unusual - you part of the command structure - your colleague who is on a equal - who is on par with you, Captain Kleyn, is involved on the scene and you also later involved on the scene, but are you suggesting that under those circumstances Kleyn was led in on this operation and you were not?
I had fallen foul during my career with the Security Police there was a dossier on me held by the Security Police. The Security Police and I did not work in close relationship with each other, only subsequently those wounds were healed.
Not really no - no. No - on occasions but I would not term it - term it close co-operation no - close co-operation would have been with Forensic - with Flying Squad, those were far closer co-operations much closer co-operations with the Riot Unit - there is obviously inter co-operation between all sections within the Police Force but there was no special nexus between Security Cape Town and Murder and Robbery Cape Town. The was a far closer nexus with other departments or other sections.
Because in this incident as Iíve indicated to you earlier, Murder and Robbery has been involved right from the word go in the planning but youíve explained why you would possibly have been not included in - in the planning because of your own situation with the Security Branch at that stage.
Mr Chairman I am sorry to interrupt, but I do not believe that the evidence certainly that Iíve heard, was of the nature that Murder and Robbery was involved in the planning right from the word go, that would proceed the Sunday night meeting - I do not think that the evidence that Iíve heard, was that they were involved prior to the Sunday night meeting.
Well thatís the evidence - well I think advocate Van Zyl has answered himself, thatís the evidence that he has had. He says according tot he evidence that he has heard which is the position. So he has answered himself - he has obviously not heard all the evidence.
Mr Chairman I didnít want to delay the proceedings unnecessarily but if there was such evidence, then certainly there was such evidence then at least put it to the witness and even to me for my reification. Then we - we understand where we are and where we working from.
Perhaps letís take it a bit - just slightly further back, what was the situation in the Western Cape at that stage? In terms of unrest - in terms of attacks on the police, in terms of those kinds of incidents?
Now would it be - would it be fair to suggest that the situation was such that it was felt that the police were not in control of the situation in the Western Cape as a result of the extend of this sort of incident etcetera.
I do not believe that we didnít have control over the situation - no. I donít believe - its a relative concept - I think it depends where you live, there are many factors when one makes such a statement that should be taken into consideration.
If that was a view - it was not a view that was known to me. I do believe that at certain stages the assistance of the Military had been called in - I cannot recall if that had happened in í86. But there were many occasions that the situations were so serious in the townships that the assistance of the Defence Force has been called in - however cannot be specific to í86 - I simply cannot remember.
Mr Chairman I have difficulty with remembering States of Emergency etcetera. I am a criminal investigator - I was not a fey with political investigations. It could have been - there could have been state of Emergency in í86 I simply cannot recall. It didnít make my work any easier or anymore difficult.
Thank you Chairperson - let me ask you this, was there not concern amongst the higher echelons of the police about the situation in the Western Cape in the townships - in the black areas? And the view that something has to be done in order to put an end to what was regarded as an unacceptable unrest situation and so forth, particularly also with attacks on the police?
That might be - I was a captain at that stage I would be able to answer that question more fully today with the seniority that I have now, but then I was a Captain - those were not sort of things that was discussed with Captains.
Murder and Robbery had a predetermined manifested and they investigated in accordance with that, unless instructed otherwise by top brass. We had a defined mandate and that was a pretty restrictive mandate, it was actually a mandate which was quite sickening in the old days - we would only investigate murders where the victims were white. Those were the sort of mandates we had at a stage.
I also canít recall - I donít know if it arose during this investigation, or it arose in casual conversation. I have never to the best of my knowledge worked with anyone thatís been attached to Vlakplaas. But obviously in any organisation there is talk and I have heard of Vlakplaas and in the last few years one has heard much more of Vlakplaas.
Again very difficult to answer that question. I can recall meeting a chap called Bellingham on the scene of the crime that day or the scene of the shooting correction - the scene of the shooting that day. I found the man a bit up noxious and I remember asking where does he fit into the picture, where does he come from.
Now whether he was told he is from Vlakplaas or C-10 or whatever it is, and Mr Chairman you must - you must please understand that I was never really interested in that part of policing. But whether he had come from Pretoria with Askariís - and I think thatís the first time that I heard of so-called Askariís too. I had very little knowledge of those things.
I - my investigation was confined to the action which I took on the scene as deflected in my statement. I had personal problems and thatís also deflected in my statement - thatís why I left Murder and Robbery. I thought it was a huge error for Murder and Robbery to have investigated the case. I donít think itís ever proper that people investigate against themselves. That was a mistake.
I also think that the investigation was of sub standard I was alarmed that the day after the shooting that the firearms were still lying around the offices. The investigation was not of the standard expected of Murder and Robbery and I took a conscious decision and I left the Unit.
But you were - you had these reservations - you saw - you came across Bellingham - you didnít click with him. You had all these difficulties around this - this question. Have you ever raised it before today?
You didnít think it appropriate when Mr Tony Weaver was facing criminal charges to raise because look those criminal charges somehow involved this whole - the basis of this incident - irregularities that were then alleged to have occurred and so forth - didnít you raise your reservations there - isnít that a proper thing to have done.
Again I think itís a question of perception. I believe a witness is not necessary typed cast in one way or the other. A witness goes to court to answer all the questions which are put to him honestly and I do believe that is what I did during that trial.
Now Director Knipe I hear you when you say a witness is a witness that comes to Court to assist the Court to come to a balanced verdict. Now but it is so as a State witness that you are being called to support a case brought by the State against Mr Weaver, is that right.
And that as you would like us to understand now, you were giving evidence in a manner that would expose the truth without necessarily wishing to proceed against Mr Weaver - you had no interest in him being convicted - you only wanted to expose the truth by your testimony is that right.
I was - I was questioned if I remember correctly about the cleaning of the road and one or other points and I answered those questions honestly, that was the limited of the evidence which I was called upon to give.
Yes no - no I appreciate that, but what I understand you to be saying to us, is that your intention in giving evidence was not necessarily to cause Mr Weaver to be convicted - it was to assist the Court to come to a balanced verdict.
And I think what advocate Potgieter is trying to get at, if that was your frame of mind, and you had these concerns lurking, which you have expressed today in very weighted terms - wasnít it [indistinct] upon you at that trial to find an opportunity to say I believe that the trial - the charges brought upon or against this particular accused person, is an abuse of power.
No - thatís not what Iíve said. I have said it is easier to make a statement today than it would have been ten years ago, if I had been asked the question I would have answered it, I gave my evidence in accordance to the way the questions were put to me, they were answered honestly and truthfully.
I am going a step further because this is where we are now, are you saying you were afraid to volunteer your views about how the prosecution of [indistinct] was an abuse of power, because it might have jeopardised your career.
Then put it the other way, are you saying that you deliberately refrained from expressing your views because to have volunteered your views about how it was an abuse to charge Weaver would have jeopardised your career.
Well perhaps Mr Chairman I should try to explain it more fully to you. What I am saying is that if I had been asked I would have answered it, I asked all questions put to me to the best of my ability - I did not give opinions.
Thatís exactly what I am saying we went beyond that, we said you have admitted to us that you felt that prosecuting Weaver was an abuse of power. And I went beyond that and I said as you testified there, didnít you feel it was [indistinct] upon you to voice that view in view of the attitude that you took and your reply that well I was a Captain in those days - if I had indicated those views, I would still be a captain.
My subsequent questions have been a clarification of that reply and I am asking whether therefore you felt that in the interest of your own career, you would rather keep your views to yourself than hazard them at that sort of inquiry.
Yes, now apart from that - apart from you - youíve - youíve indicated to us that your attitude as a witness is to assist the Court to get to the truth and thatís ideally that is really what itís all about - right.
I donít - I donít - I really canít understand the distinction - isnít - isnít the criminal trial even worst because somebody is now facing a criminal charge - a person might loose his freedom - his liberty as a result of that - the consequences can be most serious - isnít it - isnít it an appropriate stage to tell the Court everything.
No I - I think we have a difference of opinion Mr Weaver was charged on a separate case to the Inquest - there were two separate cases - in entirety - Mr Weaver was alleged to have made statements about the Police Force which were untrue - as I understood it. And I was called to give evidence pertaining to the washing the blood off the street.
When - when the - shall we call the bubble burst - and the original inquest failed, because of very substandard investigation it was re-assigned to different people and I was perfectly satisfied that, that investigation was done competently.
Ja - thatís fine - thatís the one thing but you made a statement - and in that you statement you dealt with investigation issues - because you spoke about what youíve done on the scene in the line of investigations.
Was there any reason youíve made a statement already is there any reason why as part of the Inquest proceedings, you canít make a subsequent statement dealing with your difficulties and your reservations.
If I may finish - then I heard that the thing had gone wrong - and I think I was in Durban when that took place, I was in contact with Colonel Segal who was then entrusted to the investigation. And I satisfied myself in conversations with him that the investigation was being done properly.
Yes - yes no we will come to that, but wasnít it the more reasons, youíve now left this Unit, youíve left this Murder and Robbery Unit and you are now in fact we assume freer to speak, wasnít that even a more appropriate stage for you to have submitted your supplementary statement setting out your reservations.
No - no you see thatís a wrong premise - I said with hind sight Iíd agree with you - but I did satisfy myself subsequently that the investigation was being conducted properly. So yes perhaps I take your point. The first nine months or so I should have possibly have expressed my reservations in writing.
Now itís even worst because you know that the result of the first inquest based on that inadequate investigation was that nobody was found to be responsible and that was really the end of the story at that stage.
No I - that - the second inquest fell - made the same finding. I donít think the quality of investigation was thorough that is the point that I am raising. I am not - I am not questioning the so-called objective facts that might have occurred that day. I am saying that the investigation was not thorough enough and when Segal and then conducted the investigation, I think it was a very thorough investigation. And that is the point, I donít think and the thorough investigation - the inquest finding was identical to the first finding.
No but after - after the first inquest - after the Magistrate made his findings in respect of that, that was really the end of the matter, the docket was closed then - in respect of that matter - no so.
But what is - what is - what is the normal situation once an inquest has reached a conclusion - thatís - isnít that the end of the matter especially when there is no indication of a finding that somebody is responsible.
I was not aware that it had been completed. I have been at pains to say that I left - I did not like certain things at Murder and Robbery which included aspects of this investigation - not the only reasons, and I decided to leave. I had no further contact with the investigation as far as I am concerned the investigation might also have improved after I left, I donít know.
Ja I think - I went to Durban in early í88 I think - I think the basic investigation started in í88. It is very possible that as I said I know I had regular contact with Segal advising him - trying to advise him as to aspects which I thought needed clarification.
All right I think we donít need to take that further at this stage, youíve already offered to be of further assistance to the Commission so Mr Rossouw is available we can always follow that up and deal with that.
In fact perhaps in the interim just to be of some assistance I am instructed - advised that the - that, that probe was started the very day after Mr Weavers acquittal so that if you could be of some assistance, perhaps you can apply your mind to it.
Letís just get to the scene quickly unfortunately the time seemed to be running out on us, itís normally our biggest enemy. Letís just first of all place you on the scene, this was - this came out of the blue as you have indicated to us, you were told at the parade that you must go to this intersection of these two streets.
Again it is very difficult to be adamant - and dogmatic about time frames I seem to have a recall that we were mustard for parade when a radio report had come through stating that Murder and Robbery chaps had been involved in a shooting, and my recall is that we all left our offices at Bishop Lavis and travelled through to Guguletu.
Itís possible Mr Chairman. As I say my recall is that we were mustering for parade - we muster for parade at about 7:30 - 7:30 to 8:00 now - I think the statement made then would probably be more accurate than I recall now.
I would have expected to hear it but there was also a lot of noise on the scene and I donít know if the shooting took place where exactly on the scene I was. I know I was - one of the first things that I did on the scene and concerned me was the danger that the one victim might have had a hand grenade under his stomach and that was concern and thatís why we tied a rope to him and I busied myself initially very much with that action.
Now you donít need to respond immediately you can think about it and as I say look this is not - this is not the end of the road - this is a process it will - we can discuss this as well but according to the objective evidence there was shooting happening still at 7:56 - four minutes to eight on the scene.
One other thing and Iíll try and just cover some of the more important things for these purposes here, the Exhibits that you collected on the scene what did you actually do with them - how did dispose of them?
They were all placed in plastic bags labelled in other words - I can remember the one gentleman had muti around his neck and one had documents and the one had a firearm etcetera - etcetera. Everything collected from each corpse was placed into individual plastic bags - labelled and handed to Major Brits.
Now we have - we have had regard to all of these records and we donít find any record of those kinds of Exhibits that you refer to. What would your comment be on that if we canít find any record now of any of those Exhibits.
Was it as bad as all that, that an Exhibit that was collected from the person of - people who are alleged to have been involved in attempted murders and so on, on the police, was just - just disappeared somewhere.
Given the evidence that we got at this stage that Vlakplaas was involved in this - this whole thing - and given the indications that we have - that people were shot when they should never have been shot, there was no threat to the police, some were shot - busy surrendering - an indication which you might have heard, I donít think it was - it was - no it wasnít put to you, but it was dealt with when some of the other people testified but you might very well have heard it, about an indication of an Tokarev what ever itís called pistol was placed near to somebodyís body and so forth - I assume that youíve heard that when it was put to one of the other witnesses.
Given that whole - this whole sort of scenario - bad investigation - Vlakplaas indication - it looks as if people have been shot almost in cold blood - evidence is planted - some disappear what is your reaction to all this, how does it sound to you, how does it strike you?
On the scene I did believe that a hand grenade had been thrown - from what I saw - my personal observations - I believed that a hand grenade had been thrown - of the corpses were armed. I believe that a very serious warning light flashed when a gentleman by the name of General apparently came forward, I have already expressed my opinion that I do not think the investigation was of suitable calibre.
I donít think itís my task to say whether people are guilty or not, thatís surely the function only of a Court. But I think the decision to investigate the matter further was fully justified and perhaps this Commission is fully justified too.
Now given this sort of attitude that you have towards policing and fairness and so forth and quality of policing and how police should be doing their work and so on, assume that what weíve got here is a Vlakplaas operation where people were infiltrated - trained and armed and set up to launch an attack and were ambushed - shot and killed and that on the morning of the operation, at the briefing to prepare for the operation, the message that was given there was not to take any prisoners - shoot to kill.
Now assume that is the scenario that we got here, what is your attitude in regard to the policeman who have been involved and responsible, I mean are those - I just want to complete - are those the type of policeman that we should see in the South African Police Services.
I would like to answer the question in the following manner if I may. I believe that if the scenario is sketched by you, itís substantiated with evidence, there is more than sufficient grounds to open a charge of murder. Which should be investigated to the fullest.
And if the perpetrators are identified and a prima facie case is made out against them. That they should suffer the full consequences of their actions. And obviously if convicted such people have no place in the Police Service.
Perhaps just to add I mean I think the Chairperson has also indicated already that we are not about prosecution in a way I mean we - weíve got amnesty - we got the amnesty process itís there for people who need - who need the process.
I think Mr Potgieter you must appreciate that I am a criminal detective, working with criminality, and I see things in black and white. The scenario sketched to me I think that is the way I would answer it - if it is your brief to make recommendations, if there is evidence to substantiate what you say - then I think that would be a fair finding.
I just - just one final thing as I say look there are so many things that can we actually discuss and so on, but we will more than likely pick up on it again, this - just this one thing that came up as well, where it appears as if this was an operation that was intentionally done by white officers, it seems as if - you know purposely white police officers were chosen to form part of the - of this operation.
Very difficult to comment when you werenít party to a planning. I know there was a black detective on the scene a chap called Mbelo - I did speak to him and I thought - my impression was that day that he was part of the group that were at the scene. Now whether he was involved in the prior planning, that I cannot comment on, I cannot I wasnít there.
Thank you Chairperson, and good afternoon to you Mr Knipe, you presented yourself earlier on in your - in your written statement as a man of principal - you also described the investigation into this matter as having been sub standards and unprofessional.
I would have ensured that statements were taken from all the persons, I would have ensured that residua tests were taken from the hands of all the participants. I would have ensured that firearms allegedly used were all seized and sent for ballistic examination. I would have ensured that when evidence contrary to the police evidence was made available, that perhaps objectivity should have been displayed and not subjectively.
My question - thank you - thatís helpful but my question also includes the actual operation - how would you have done it differently the actual killing of these men - the actual way - the way in which they were caught. How would you have planned the operation.
If it is so and again this is - this is not personal knowledge itís going on what has been related to me and bits that Iíve heard before the Commission. If it is so that this Cell has been infiltrated - I would have endeavoured to make pro active arrests.
In other words I would have been fearful of allowing the planned action to have taken place - I believe that the planned action was very high risk. If it is so that two Askariís had become acquainted with the desperadoís that it should not have been impossible to affect pro active arrest.
Yes I understand perfectly in fact it is my view also and I think this is what the panel has been trying to say that if the Askariís had been involved and the policemen who were responsible for planning the operation, there was a way of arresting the seven men without shooting - now shooting them in the way that they did.
But again you know it all - I donít have those [indistinct] but if the - if the scenario is that Askariís had infiltrated the Cell then I do believe that it should not have been impossible to affect pro active arrest.
Well can I - can you allow me to paraphrase because what you said is on record I will paraphrase the Chairperson was asking you questions about what you said and what you should have said in a court of law and your response was that it was something to do with the realities of the time.
And I think that you are saying a bit more than something that relates to your personal position and your personal career and I just want your comment, I am wondering if in fact you not also saying that you not making reference to the difficulties of policeman to - or police officers to express their views but to also go according to their conscience - in other words you - I am wondering if you are perhaps not suggesting that the realities of the time made it difficult for people in the Force to stand by their conscience and by their moral beliefs - I am wondering if thatís not what you saying.
I understand that, what I am - you were expressing is you, I am not challenging your statement at all. I wish you to understand that, you were expressing an opinion and I am similarly wondering whether in fact you are not expressing a further opinion and saying that it was difficult for police officers to do something that was consistent with what their moral beliefs were or with what they believed in their conscience, is that what you suggesting?
I donít - I donít believe that it - there was any prevention upon a policeman seeing a colleague stealing money and arresting him - openly killing someone - I donít think we were ever hampered in doing that. But in the Force of the past, it was very dangerous to criticise the Security Police.
Exactly - so that difficulty reflects in fact in the way in which it was then difficult for you in a court of law to go according to your beliefs you stated in your statements that you a man of believe of principal and you were concerned about some of the things that were happening within this investigation.
But it was difficult for you because the expectations that prevailed at the time, did you not encourage you to express your independent view. In other words did not encourage you to act according to your conscience.
Your statement is correct to a degree, it is not - it is not as strongly as what you put it - I understand what you say, I think there were limitations placed upon how far one could sometimes go within a certain ambit.
I suppose maybe I should just tell you where I am coming from, I often wonder about the general mind sets of law enforcers or people who were working for law enforcement. I just often sometimes wonder what their mind sets was. And I was driven to my question by some of the comments you made and wondered if perhaps this is what was happening with you every time that you were caught up in a system that expected you to behave in a particular way while in fact you had other views or believes.
I donít know if I am answering your question correctly madam but I think - I think the realities of the situation were that we were involved in a low intensity war - people of South Africa inhabitants were seen as the enemy, we were not policing in a classical sense. People were perceived as being an enemy - not as being an criminal and there is a difference.
And - and there was strong indoctrination of course there was as on the other side there was indoctrination. The tragedy of South African society was basically that, surely and of course that affected people from all walks of life, we all had perceptions which might have been wrong.
You have answered my question thank you - I will move on to another question. In your work was it the first time in your work as - in your unit - was it the first time, was the investigation you were doing with this case, the first time you involved in an investigation.
No I think your interpretation and mine of an investigator might be different. I arrived on the scene and I have reasonable [indistinct] and experience from the scene and one of the things that I have tried to make it my duty to do is to have professional conduct on a scene of crime wearing gloves, putting Exhibits in plastic bags etcetera, etcetera.
Those are things that I have tried to implement throughout my career in the Police Force and that is what I did there. But Fanie Brits was appointed on the scene by I think the divisional head of the CID who was then General Van der Westhuizen as the investigator, I merely helped him to do the task as described and then on own initiative washed the blood off the street.
All your life - during investigations do you also take - make sure that police officers and other people were involved - who are involved in a crime submits their statements, do you also - are you also responsible for that?
Yes I - you know I think one is entitled to use a degree of common sense in that for example in the St James Church I think there were 1,500 people in the church the night of the atrocity we didnít take statements from all 1,500 people. I think you tried to bring people that are directly involved so the question of statement taking is broad but also narrow at the same time, you know you canít - you canít take statements from everyone if you at a rugby game and something goes wrong you donít take statements from all 40,000 people.
And you would - you would feel somewhat responsible about the process of the case as the unfolding of the case of the case that you investigating, you would somehow feel responsible you want to know what happens at every stage of the case since you are the investigator - of a case - of a criminal ordinary case that you doing - you would feel connected to the case to make sure that all your investigation - the material that you bring to the court is in order, is there and you somewhat feel connected to the case because of the investigator.
What sense of responsibility do you feel about the investigation of this case, [indistinct] you had a part in the investigation - what sense of responsibility do you feel about the outcome of the findings, the process of the investigation as it relates to the matter of the Guguletu 7.
Now you were part of this investigation I know that you were a part - only a part so obviously you are a part of the total picture when findings are made. When statements are given, or are made - are taken - whatever within a particular defined parameter some police officers, some people at the scene whoever else was involved but you were also in a way aware that certain policeman made statements and you are part of that as well in the sense that you knew that there were certain police officers who made statements.
And I think I might have affidavited one or two statements - the normal course of things one is at the office, and you affidavit a statement. And that is probably the sum total, I never saw the docket, I never read the docket it was entrusted to my senior.
But you were part of the investigation in a way it is something, I really just want to know if - if an outcome is made about a crime in which - which you were investigating or which you were part of - for which you were part of an investigation, surely you would want to know what the outcome is, wouldnít you?
Well just that when you see I am - one of the things I am wondering about you were part of this investigation, it was folded and finished and completed whatever, whenever it was. And you were there and you knew about the outcome and last year in November when we heard - we had a hearing at the Commission, Mr Lazaro gave public evidence - I mean gave his testimony in public and contradicted your colleagues - [indistinct] that he made a statement to him - and I am wondering as a person who was involved in that investigation, what - how did you feel how this was part of your - of your brief, you were involved in it, it was part of your investigation - what did you do, you heard it - you were sitting there and a man comes in, in public in and an official - in front of an official body and you were part of the investigation team.
I donít necessary think that I was shocked by that, I have a problem with certain and this opinion and perhaps itís unfair to raise it, but I have a problem with the witness who claims that he saw photographs and he identified these people as people that he had consorted with in a shebeen.
Now as I can remember it those people were so badly shot up, I donít know how anyone could have made any identification from those photographs and I have a problem when he comes along with such a story and I would have difficulty in believing that, because that just doesnít ring true to me - itís - I have difficulty - I have difficulty - itís almost as if he has already making an alibi for himself with an identification.
I think - I think to me if I might just say to me the - the most damming remark in this entire inquisition that has taken place was the admission by Liebenberg that when the Security Police could not deal with the problem in Cape Town, they called in other people.
I just want to state also just for the record that in a conversation, well during the questioning of Mr Lazaro it appeared that he knew personally I donít know whether it was as a result of him getting the names of the people who were shot or whether he burnt, because the part where he talks about knowing these men, from the shebeens, is hand written so it obviously seems that it something that was added after he knew their names.
He associated them with having met them in a shebeen - that part is hand written and that is how it is, my question really was about your role in the investigation and how you felt if a part of your investigation seemed to have been in question in that way.
If it is true that his hand writing has been - signature has been falsified then of course I am shocked. But I donít believe that I have sufficient evidence to make such a finding. Also I do believe that he possibly hasnít been subjected to cross-examination. I do believe that maybe a different interpretation could come out - I believe - I believe that the truth can only be surely determined in a two way street that he should be subjected to cross-examination too and that is why that is at the back of my mind but I donít accept that at this point of time as necessary being the truth.
But if it is the truth, itís disgusting. Because then it - then it is almost as if my colleagues tried to set up these people in involvement in criminality to justify the subsequent action. And if that is so - I am [indistinct] but I canít express an opinion because really I believe that the facts as are known to me - I canít express an opinion on that.
It would be the same maíam again I have a difficulty in that the man was not subjected to cross-examination. Itís the basic tenancy surely of our law, I have had many a witness that has made statements and after cross-examination you cannot believe that itís the same story thatís being told. And I am just applying that caution before I judge people.
I am equally appalled myself that you as a senior member of your division can come to this Commission and tell us that an investigation after an events in which seven men were killed was sub standard and unprofessional, I am equally appalled thank you.
Thank you Chairperson, Iíll try not to be too long - I just have one or two factual questions and one has to do with the question of the timing, I know you said you were not absolutely clear about what time you arrived on the scene.
Thank you, now youíve told us about some of the steps you took putting individual items in individual bags and all that sort of thing - was recording the place where the various vehicles were part of that investigation?
Well I think for the moment Director Knipe you are excused and if there is any cause for you to be - to be needed in evidence we will call upon you. We have taken note of your concerns about subpoenaís and perceptions that there is.
These proceedings are now adjourned. It then remains for me to do the necessary namely to express my sincerest gratitude to all those who have made these proceedings the success that they have been. In particular I must thank the general public for the controlled way in which they conducted themselves during the course of these proceedings. Although I have had occasion to [indistinct] one or two cell phones for users thereof , generally the conduct of the public was such as it should be expected from a public in the conditions of this nature.
I must also thank the - I donít know how to pronounce this but the EON group who have made these facilities available for us - we are very thank full I am also reminded that we have had no power failure during the course of these proceedings it would have been a sorry sight if we had that, because I believe this is a theatre so we have to thank those that have made it possible.
I am also asked to thank Telkom and which I do, I am not particularly aware in what respect Telkom comes for special mention. But sometimes when you are the Chair you just do as you are told which is what I am doing.
But from me I must indicate that the families who have come here, and have in spite of the pain that this obviously evokes, been able to sit through and listen they are thanked for having come and in the true spirit and tradition of what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission stands for, one would hope that this process to the extend that it exposes some truths whichever way the truth exposes itself as - will ultimately lead to healing - will ultimately lead to reconciliation.
And I must in equal breath thank the witnesses who have come, I must thank the police who have braved it because this is a matter that has received public attention and itís something that 10 years later seems to be as alive now as it then was when it went through public inquest - Tony Weaver trials and related public inquiries. And there is a sense in which it becomes an albatross around anybodyís neck to have something of this nature not going away.
So the presence of the police who came here and endeavoured to give their own perspective is very much appreciated. Because indeed without their own input the Commissionís work will fail because as advocate Potgieter has said and most of the panellist indicated in their questioning, ours is that difficulty of endeavouring to find where the truth lies. So that at the end of the day, we should be able to make recommendations that are commensurate with what we believe we have been able to get at inquiries of this nature.
And without the victims and survivors families and the witnesses in the form of the police who were involved on this day in question, we shall never know, it should never be forgotten that we were not there, and we can only know what happened when we weight the testimony of those who have been involved.
And lastly but not in the least - thank are due to the ministry of safety and security who have provided the necessary security and I would like to be able to think that much of the tranquillity with which this proceedings were held, and the utmost fear that could easily and potentially have been out of hand but which otherwise was a calm one and conducive for everybody to be able to speak their minds has been largely due to the fact that people came here in the fair secure knowledge that they would be safe in their bodies.