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Type Armed Forces Hearings
Starting Date 07 October 1997
Location CAPE TOWN
Names BISHOP MUTLAHELA STANLEY MOGOBA, M MODAN, BRIG D MOFOKENG, J P MLAMBO, J MKHWANAZI, E ZULU, L H MPHAHLELE, V L NTIKINCA
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CHAIRPERSON: Right. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, this is the first day of a four-day hearing entitled the Armed Forces Hearing. Today we will be hearing from the Pan African Congress and then the APLA leadership; tomorrow the former South African Defence Force; on Thursday the former South African Police and on Friday, the final day of the hearing, the MK which was the armed forces of the African National Congress.
I am delighted to welcome all of you here today. I understand that we have a number of guests from the United States. I don't have all your names in front of me. So let me simply say we are very pleased to welcome you and that we hope you will find the hearing both interesting and informative.
I want to welcome the members of the media and the Press and we will allow with, your permission, just a few more minutes for them to take photographs and to film, but thereafter we would ask them please to leave the front of this hearing so that we can move straight ahead.
Before I formally welcome Bishop Mogoba, let me just dispense with a few preliminary announcements about proceedings. We will adjourn for tea at 10:45 and resume again at 11:15. There will be a break for lunch between 13:00 and 13:45 and we will resume at that time and then depending on what progress we have made, we will determine whether or not there will be a tea break or whether we will simply close at 16:00. We are hoping that our proceedings can finish at four because we have other work and responsibilities, and of course, members of the panel have responsibilities as well.
I would like to say a very warm welcome to Bishop Stanley Mogoba who is the President of the PAC. We are delighted to have him with us. We are glad you accepted our invitation and indeed, expressed a willingness to be here and to open the proceedings on behalf of your party.
We have a number of representatives of APLA. In a few moments I am going to ask my colleague on my left, Dumisa Ntsebeza, to ask you to take the oath, which is required of all who appear before the TRC, and then we will be able to start the proceedings. So could I ask Mr Ntsebeza to do that as far as Bishop Mogoba is concerned, right away.
CHAIRPERSON: Just one other sort of one these silly little announcements, if any of you have cell-phones, please put them off now. It would help us enormously. Before I call on Bishop Mogoba to make an opening statement, I would like to introduce the panel.
Immediately on my right Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize, who is the chairperson of the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee of the TRC. She is a full Commissioner. She resides normally in Gauteng, but is specially here for this hearing.
On my far left, which I assume is appropriate and wearing a tie for the first time for many months, Mr Ilan Lax, who is from Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu/Natal, he is an attorney by profession. But he is a full Committee member, full-time working for the TRC and a very valuable member of the team from KwaZulu/Natal and we are delighted to have him here as well for these hearings.
Bishop Mogoba, you will know, as I introduced earlier that we are trying to get as much information as we possibly can about the conflicts of the past. This is demanded from us by an Act of Parliament and you of course, are a member of that Parliament, and the Parliament has instructed this Commission to try and get as complete a picture as possible of what happened during that time. So as once and for all, to know the truth and allow the people themselves to give their point of view, rather than being interpreted by other people. We have tried to do this over the last year and some months, and have had many, many public hearings as you know, with many different constituencies coming before us. We will take all of that information and try to get that complete a picture as possible, to put that into our final report and present it to President Mandela, who will then make it available to Parliament as a public document.
One of the commitments we have is an attempt to try and learn from our past, learn from our mistakes and our successes, so that we build a future which is based on democracy and justice, values which we haven't had a great deal of in this country, in the past, and yet, whilst we examine the past, we really are much more interested in building a future. We believe you can't come to terms with that unless you at least come to terms with what really happened in the past.
BISHOP MOGOBA: Mr Acting Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, honourable Commissioners, I want to thank you for offering us the opportunity this morning to share with you some of the past which we regard as being very, very unhappy. But before I say a word, can I ask that my initials be corrected. I realised I am listed as W Mogoba, instead of M S, which is Mutlahela Stanley Mogoba.
BISHOP MOGOBA: From very early in the history of our land, our people were divided on the basis of skin pigmentation and race. These God-given characteristics defined privileges and rights which determined the type and quality of life from the cradle to the grave.
Some political parties, which at one time considered themselves to be legitimate and legal, and waging a peaceful struggle, were stripped of that legitimacy and legality by the passing in 1960 of the unlawful Unlawful Organisations Act, the Suppression of Communism Act and later on a host of other similar laws, which placed our country on a winding road of conflict, armed struggle, racial strife, all leading to a precipice of bloody conflagration.
In the process the apartheid system reacted to peaceful protest with violent brutality. Our people took arms against their fellow countrymen and women and when I say "our people" here, I mean, the whole nation, Whites took up arms against Blacks; Blacks took up arms against Whites. The whole question of the saga of the border war and the counter to that, showed that we were a nation at war with itself.
The policy documents of our party, the Pan Africanist Congress which date back to 1959, show that we had high hopes for our party and our country. Non-racialism was propounded and phrases like one human race were taken very seriously. Tribalism, ethnic obsession and exclusive nationalism were roundly condemned. Inclusive national Africanism propounded by political philosophers like Anton Lambedi, A P Mda and Robert Mangashia Sobukwe, inspired many young and old people in our land.
Tragically, Sharpeville and the Poqo uprising, amongst others, signalled a frightening trend and development. On the other hand Herren Volkanism gained the upper hand and brought even more racial intolerance and polarisation.
Speaking personally, my own arrest and detention and trial, in fact, which was a travesty of justice, followed by my imprisonment, brutal treatment in prison - very brutal. The death of my daughter during detention and the manner in which I was treated at that time by my jailers. Later on - and I want to say that perhaps one of the most difficult times was when we had a hunger strike at Robben Island and as a result of that finally, I was sentenced to six cuts. I was tied to a bench and given six cuts. After very, very brutal solitary confinement.
Much later, after leaving Robben Island, I want to refer to the death of my wife, which I particularly believe was attributable to the suffering she had to endure during my detention, and the child that died in labour - my wife's labour. Much later, when I became a minister, the police still followed me. Actually I have been followed by the police for a very, very, very long time, and the more I tried to get away from them the more they pursued me.
But I want to refer particularly to the time when the church stationed me in Roodepoort, and later on Middelburg, and I was actually told to leave. I was endorsed out of those municipalities, actually sometimes within 24 hours, and with total disregard the authority of the church to put me there.
Now these are just some of the brutalities which show that our country was placed on a shameful pedestal the world over. I want to say whilst on that point, that I believe that there are very people who have not been hurt. We have hurt ourselves, we are a country that has really been hurting ourselves. I believe that most of the things that happened, happened as a result of that.
I have supported the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at all times. Even when personal hurt and humiliation was experienced. Because I am convinced that this country can never break out of its cocoons of hatred and bitterness unless we reveal all the truth and seek forgiveness. The greater responsibility in that exercise, of course, naturally lies with the perpetrators of apartheid. It is in this spirit that I have extended a hand on behalf of my party to the St James Church so that we can try to bury the painful past and help to bring reconciliation and healing to our members and to our beloved country.
I am also planning to further the overtures that have been made by my party already, to the Amy Biehl's family and all other families who are hurting and who were victims of the dreadful and unfortunate racial war.
The Pan Africanist Congress is appearing this morning before the TRC with the hope that we can help to expose the truth and to assist the process of reconciliation. But, in particular, to close - and I want to emphasise that - to close the third chapter of the past, in order that we can open a new era of peace, of justice, of tolerance and of development.
CHAIRPERSON: Bishop Mogoba, on behalf of my colleagues, let me thank you very much indeed for that very moving opening statement. You will know from our own discussions that we are committed to reconciliation and we believe that truth is indispensable, however harsh it may be, however uncomfortable it may be, however costly it may be, and you have, I think, certainly inspired me. Let me not speak for my panellists, let me say for myself, to hear your own commitment and pledge, having come out of the main maelstrom of suffering, personal and political. You are an example to many of us.
I am going to ask if there are any comments or any questions that my panellists may want to put to you before we proceed with the questions that we will put directly to the former commanders of APLA, and of course, to find out if they wish in turn to make an opening statement as well. But let me just stop for a moment there.
Well, let me say again, thank you very much indeed for that opening statement, which I think has set a tone which would be hard to improve on. We are not sure whether you are going to be with us for the remaining part of the session or whether you have to go to other duties. You are obviously welcome to stay as long as you like and welcome to go whenever you need to go. We are in your hands.
CHAIRPERSON: Could I ask the members of APLA if they wouldn't mind moving across a little bit, because this awful pillar here makes it very difficult for my colleagues across on the right. So it would help us quite a lot if you wouldn't mind doing that.
Brig Mofokeng, I know you are a very democratic party. So I don't want to assume anything and I am not assuming that you are the leader of the delegation. But one amongst equals, you must tell us, please.
BRIG MOFOKENG: Thank you, Mr Chairman and the Commissioners. Firstly I would like to appeal to the Commission that we are running short of the two important members of the delegation, that is Mr Mlambo and Mr Mkhwanazi. I was thinking in my approach that when I present they would be around here, because it is expected that they are also to respond to the questions that are going to be put forward. If we can follow the programme as stated, we will be presenting at 11:15, I think I will feel a bit comfortable in that regards.
CHAIRPERSON: Could - I mean, just help me, because we would like to try and make maximum use of available time, the programme was simply a guide and we were hoping for opening statements from everybody before we actually go into the questioning. We are not even sure if you are going to make those opening statements, and that's very much in your hands. If we could adjourn and try and take tea now and come back at 10:15, do you think that that would give them time to be here, to give them half-an-hour?
CHAIRPERSON: I would like to welcome the additional members from the PAC and APLA. You are very welcome. We are grateful to you for responding to our invitations to be here. We look forward to hearing from you during the course of the day.
Just to make sure in case there are new people since we adjourned, because of the adjournment, we will not be having an adjournment for tea. So that we will continue now right through until lunch time and then resume after lunch as indicated.
Brig Mofokeng, we were talking to each other just before the adjournment, and what I would like to know from you or any of your colleagues, whether you have any opening statement or whether you want us to simply immediately proceed with questions and then you can decide who would like to respond to them? I am in your hands.
BRIG MOFOKENG: My approach will be that of presenting a statement and of course, before that, introducing members of my delegation so that you know who you are talking to, and of course, maybe if some questions are, particularly some way you must know how to direct them and all that. So I am having a statement as an opening remark.
MR NTSEBEZA: Thank you, Dr Boraine. Then I must ask you all to stand and I think for purposes of convenience, I will swear all of you simultaneously. Now am I - you all, that is those who are at the desks and those behind you, are you all going to be participating?
MR NTSEBEZA: Right. That's okay. It is just that I was hoping to - let me read the names - M Modani, Brig D Mofokeng, Mr J P Mlambo, Mr J Mkhwanazi, Mr Enoch Zulu, Mr Mphahlele, Mr V L Ntikinca. Now I am going to swear all of you simultaneously.
BRIG MOFOKENG: I think it is better for me to introduce me, Brig Raymond Phitla, Col Willie Mazamzewe, Lieut-Col Sibiso Kumede, Lieut-Col Kulele Nabani. We expected Col Willie Nkongene, he is not around. Lieut-Col Lisikelo Mbethe, Supt Tanse Khonto, Abel Dube. I think that's it.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr Ntsebeza. Brig Mofokeng, you indicated that you had an opening statement. We have now, I think, received that, and I would ask you to read that into the record and then we can continue. Thank you.
Firstly, what I wanted to do is to introduce the members of the delegation and their responsibilities, because I realised that in the questionnaires and well, questions that you have been sending to the office, there are specific questions to specific people, so that we give meaning of the whole thing.
Secondly, is that I will be presenting the opening statement, but in as far as the questions are concerned, I envisage that the answers would be coming from my delegation as a whole, because of their collective responsibility, and because we are an organ, that is the high command the military commission of the Azanian People's Liberation Army.
Firstly, I would be presenting here as commander of the Azanian People's Liberation Army and of course, a long time chief political commissar of the Azanian People's Liberation Army and of course, by then with the (indistinct) of Ramore Daniels.
The next man I will introduce is Brig Lapampa Mphahlele, director of operations, Brig Raymond Phitla, director of military intelligence. These are the responsibilities that they held during the struggle, during their APLA days, but some of them have been integrated into the National Defence Force and other services of the State.
Col Willie Mazemane Zele, director of information. Lieut-Col Sibiso Kumede, director of medical services. Col Vuma Ntikinca, regional commander. Lieut-Col Xolile Mbane, regional commander. I was expecting Col William Kunene, director of training and manpower development. Col Barney (indistinct), also, I was expecting him as the chief of staff of Azanian People's Liberation Army. Lieut-Col Andile Ndabeni also, I am expecting him today. Lieut-Col Zikeleli Mbethi, director of ordinance and supplies. Of course, Supt Quantu, member of the high command and Abel Dumbe, member of the high command. Of course, not forgetting, I think as far as the political leadership, you might even know him, but I take this opportunity also to introduce Mr Mlambo, who used to be commander in chief of the Azanian People's Liberation Army. Mr Joe Umkumazi, he used to be a member of the military commission, and the central committee of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. Mr Enoch Zulu, who used to be a member of the military commission, member of the high command and a member of the central committee. And of course, at one stage, director of operations in the early days.
In the presentation of the Pan Africanist Congress we promise that this second presentation will concentrate on the mandate of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, APLA, which was earlier known as Poqo. The dictionary meaning of the word mandate is the power of the command given by someone in higher authority; the formation of the Azanian People's Liberation Army was inspired by the need to pursue the most noble of all causes; the liberation of mankind. The highest authority from which APLA derive its mandate, was the Pan Africanist Congress. The highest body that chartered the PAC policies and programmes.
We must, however, restate our previous position. As a matter of principle we do not see the armed struggle which constituted the major part of the mandate as something to apologise for; for APLA's mandate was not only necessary, but critical in over-throwing the most oppressive system of modern times. We remind those who have chosen to forget that, that this is a system that the international community had declared a crime against humanity.
In South Africa there are three liberation movements which had military wings. Of these only two are recognised by the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity and the non-aligned movement. The other two is MK and Azanlam, that of Azapo and the ANC.
Throughout this presentation we shall therefore insist that it is a shame and a mockery of justice to equate the activities of those who fought against injustice with those of the advocate of injustice. Those who fought to preserve oppressive oppression, together with those who fought for the liberation of mankind have all received a new status of being gross violators of human rights, now paying the price.
We have been called upon to accept and to pay the price of freedom of democracy through reconciliation. Again, the dictionary meaning of reconciliation is harmonising or bringing back into friendship.
The process of the TRC, however, starts from an unfortunate premises, that is our view, that APLA's activities were nothing else than gross violation of human rights, allegedly committed within the period of its mandate. We reject these premises.
Whilst we acknowledge with honour the TRC's mandate to promote national unity and reconciliation, we find it abhorrent that the very system that was intended to bring us freedom, and will have brought genuine freedom to our people, demands that the forces of injustice which perpetrated the atrocities of apartheid, be equated with those of the liberation movements.
While we do not intend to engage the TRC in unnecessary political arguments, it suffices to reiterate the legitimacy of our actions, less we allow those who have chosen to remain oblivious of the truth and historical facts, to achieve ... (intervention).
CHAIRPERSON: Brig Mofokeng, I am so sorry to interrupt. The interpreters, very hard-working people over there, who are interpreting into the different languages, finds that you are going a little bit too fast. If you could just slow down a little bit, I am sure we will get there. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: May I just say that there are ear-phones available for those who do not follow English, in, I think in Xhosa and in Afrikaans. They are available, if you want to make use of that, that is to the audience, but let me not delay you any longer. Thank you.
Whilst we do not intend to engage the TRC in unnecessary political arguments, it suffices to reiterate the legitimacy of our actions as APLA, less we allow those who have chosen to remain oblivious of the truth, and the historical facts to achieve their desire by criminalising our actions.
It is surprising that today the very people who sacrificed their lives and futures in defence of human rights, are criminalised, and are expected to apologise for their role in the overthrow of the apartheid regime.
It is in this context, therefore, that we make this submission and we are sure that history will vindicate our approach of refusing to apologise for defending ourselves as a nation through armed struggle.
The historical context. When the PAC was formed in 1959, no provision was made in its operational structures for the establishment of a military wing. That situation changed with the massacre of our people at Sharpeville and Langa in the opening days of our positive action campaign launched in March 1960.
In September 1961 the foundation for the military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress was laid by Comrade John Ntakubela and Clarence Makwetu. The presidential council based in Maseru subsequently appointed one of its members as commander to head this military activities. The reconciliation conference of members of the national executive council committee, held in Moshi in the United Republic of Tanzania in 1967, endorsed the organisation's stand on an armed struggle and set up a revolutionary command in recognition of exigencies of armed struggle; to set up and supervise the strategic and policy task of the armed struggle.
The revolutionary command took up the political command of the high command, that had already been established. The hierarchy was reviewed in 1971 and later a military commission as a sub-organ of the central committee, was established to direct the work of the high command.
In the review of the structures of the party, at the consultative conference in Arusha, Tanzania, in mid-1978, the name military committee was replaced by that of the military commission. A chairman and two other members of the central committee were designated as members of the military commission which also be responsible for the appointment of members of the high command.
The military commission subsequently drew up on behalf of the central committee, the directive for APLA, which outlined the operational instructions and military doctrine of the PAC. The military commission was later expanded to accommodate the new military structure.
Stemming from this historical context, the Azanian People's Liberation Army eventually evolved a competent organisational structure, that was to oversee the effective implementation of armed struggle against the regime.
The starting point of the armed struggle was to consider a mandate on the basis of concrete situation, between ourselves and the enemy we were fighting or we were facing. Our mandate was to organise and lead the armed struggle. The method of what to do was a political leadership responsibility. APLA's responsibility was how to do it. The key to the matter was whether we were capable of putting our struggle on the correct political line and employing correct methods of struggle. The crux of the matter was to satisfy ourselves within the limits of our understanding, that we could set our struggle on a correct course of development. And that was to develop military operations to the level where they served political objectives and achieved the anticipated results.
The enemy of the liberation movement of South Africa and of its people was always the settler colonial regime of South Africa. Reduced to its simplest form, the apartheid regime meant White domination, not leadership, but control and supremacy.
This was the desire of the European to continue to protect themselves from the "swart gevaar", the Black danger. The pillars of apartheid protecting White South Africa from the Black danger, were the military and the process of arming of the entire White South African society. This militarisation, therefore, of necessity made every White citizen a member of the security establishment.
Whilst uniformed men and women engaged in border and cross-border operations, non-uniformed men and women became the pillar of the so-called area protection. It will therefore be a fallacy in the context of White South Africa to talk about innocent civilians. Military trained and armed citizens defied the definition of civilians, to ask and attack on a training and armed individuals or individual was a military operation.
It is in this context, therefore, that the Azanian People's Liberation Army did not have the burden of problem of the so-called soft or hard target. In all honesty, the term soft or hard target did not exist in our vocabulary and it was a foreign concept.
It should be noted that the killing of genuine African civilians had intensified in the course of time. Africans attending night vigils, commuting to work, et cetera, more especially in the Eighties and Nineties, were brutally massacred whilst the White community lived in harmony and tranquillity. The decision was aimed at carrying out legitimate reprisals in forcing the regime to end the killings of African people, by intensifying the armed struggle.
The only requirement was proportionality. It should therefore not surprise anyone that targets like the St James Church, King William's Town Golf Club, Heidelberg Tavern, et cetera, which are more prominent or known by everybody, were selected. The leadership of the Azanian People's Liberation Army takes responsibility, and full responsibility for that matter for all the operations that were conduced by the cadres and members of the Azanian People's Liberation Army.
The APLA forces who carried out this operation, followed the directions of their commanders and these directives were from highest echelons of the military leadership, that is both the high command the military commission.
Putting the record straight. From 1978 to 1984, the PAC had an unstable existence, particularly in Tanzania. What we used to refer to as crisis. This is a period in which internal conflicts made a serious dent on the organisation's image and performance. As a result of this internal disputes a consultative conference of the PAC was held in Arusha, Tanzania in 1978. This conference resulted in the expulsion of over 60 members. The expelled members subsequently formed an organisation called the Azanian People's Revolutionary Party, APRP. Despite these expulsions the organisation continued to be unstable. Subsequently clear conflicts emerged and namely, the internal leadership squabble or conflicts, conflicts between the leadership and the cadres. The internal leadership conflicts resulted in the expulsion of the then and the late chairman of the central committee of the PAC, PK Labalo and a few other members who allegedly were his supporters.
The conflict between the cadres and the leadership on the other hand, resulted in the death of the members of the PAC triumvirate, David Mamumza Sebeko who was shot and killed by six APLA cadres who were expelled from the military camp in Itumbi, south of Tanzania. The six APLA cadres were arrested and subsequently sentenced to an effective 15 years in Tanzania, each, by the Tanzanian High Court and therefore cannot be made an issue any more as they were formally charged and sentenced.
Consequently, the remaining PAC leadership lost total control of the forces at Itumbi camp. Eventually the Tanzanian Defence Force intervened and in the operation to wrest control of the camp, four APLA cadres were killed by the Tanzanian Defence Force, TDF.
Meanwhile, dissentions among the APLA cadres in the camp resulted in disappearance of an APLA cadre by the name of Owen Ntuli. Allegations were made that he was murdered at the camp, but these allegations were never confirmed.
After the arrival of the late Jonah Dubegela in 1981, after serving his 13 years on Robben island, Dubegela upon his arrival was unanimously elected chairman of the Pan Africanist Congress. His main priority was to reunite the Pan Africanist Congress and eventually a call was made for all PAC members who were either expelled or had left on their own to come back into the fold, and rejoin the organisation. This call received a positive response and even those members who had formed the new party, APRP and conditionally returned to the ranks of the PAC.
APLA's human rights record. Every APLA cadre was entitled to the constitutional rights afforded by the Pan Africanist's constitution and disciplinary codes. However, those rights were tempered with the practical needs of good order and discipline necessary to maintain a military force. Therefore, APLA faced the dilemma of maintaining military discipline whilst creating a system of justice, where individual APLA members were afforded maximum rights prescribed by the PAC constitution.
Note should be taken of the fact that APLA members were not employees but volunteers who were prepared to sacrifice their lives without expecting anything. Their only reward will be that the apartheid regime of the time will eventually be overthrown. Putting it simply, APLA cadres were not just soldiers living on orders but political fighters who had a say in how they should be led and commanded.
The rights that were offered APLA cadres can be grouped into three categories.The right to equal treatment, the right of individual APLA members to have open and fair participation in the process of decision-making, that affected their lives and wellbeing. The right to express opinions, to information, to attend meetings, make contributions and be greatly involved in the political life of the organisation.
These rights were essential and therefore, they ensured the following: high morale, confidence in the leadership and its decisions, fair selection of the most capable personnel for promotion, additional training, deployment, et cetera, general respect for the organisation and of course, security of the members.
As an organisation and institution, we take pride in informing the South African nation that in our entire period of existence, we never had a single detention camp, prison or any form of institution that was employed to violate members' human rights. No single individual can genuinely claim any experience of systematic torture, abuse or detention in any of our facilities or camps.
The so-called murders in the PAC camps, that the TRC has chosen to sensationalise and blow out of proportion - that is according to the questionnaires that you sent to us, are acts that APLA will never be ashamed of. While we regret any loss of life as a result of our disciplinary actions, we, however, still remain proud that all the disciplinary actions that were taken, fell within the confines of our disciplinary code and oath of allegiance.
You must consider the concrete and practical realities of the environment and circumstances that determined the continued existence of our organisation and its ability to carry out these functions as a liberation movement and of liberation movement. We could not hope to survive and to expound our activities without eliminating or demobilising the forces of destabilisation. Only one authority could survive or our organisation will have remained in a state of permanent instability and therefore failed to carry out its mandate of liberating the Azanian People.
We have already alluded to the period of instability that the PAC went through until the arrival of John Nupekela. The organisation could therefore not tolerate any further forms of destabilisation and subversion, subversion such as those carried out by the individuals concerned.
Whilst we accept full responsibility for our disciplinary actions, we, however, take great exception when anyone who abused the promotion of national unity and reconciliation, to criminalise our members and therefore distort facts, and spread rumours and lies.
If this is not a deliberate attempt to criminalise the Azanian People's Liberation Army, then what is it? It is shocking to know that such educated and legally qualified men and women can loosely refer to deaths as murders. Whilst we as laymen, however, know the difference between death and murder.
It is in this little knowledge that give us the impression that either the entire TRC or some members, therefore, while acknowledging our right to reconcile, have chosen to antagonise us for some political gain, best known to them.
To make matters worse even, in the TRC's correspondence with us, terms like "trickery, cruelty" are used by and while we do not know. Be that as it may. We, however, still believe that the record shall be put straight by the end of our presentation and during the question time.
It is true that a number of deaths did actually take place, not only in our camps, but in most areas where we had presence as APLA. These deaths can be categorised into the following; the natural causes, accidents - mostly vehicle accidents - murders, such as those of that individual; and, of course, executions.
Briefly the natural causes. A number of APLA members died as a result of natural illnesses, particularly malaria, as we were living in the tropical areas. A list can be made available of all the members and wherever possible, the nature of illness members suffered from. The Tanzanian Government and other relevant authorities may be contacted to verify this list.
Accidents. A number of accidents in the entire period of our existence took place in almost all the countries we operated. These accidents can be put into different categories, namely vehicle accidents, which were the majority of accidents that even claimed the lives of two APLA commanders - that is General Victor Qweta, that is Sabalo and General Phirin.
Murders. A number of murders did actually occur as well. These are called murders for they had nothing to do with any APLA programmes and discipline. In all these cases the law took its course, as I have already said above. That is the murder of Benedict Zondlo.
Those who committed these acts were charged in the courts of law and served their sentences. Among these cases is that of Zondlo, who I have already referred to, who was stabbed to death by a PAC member who was eventually charged and sentenced in a court of law.
Now executions. A limited number of Azanian People's Liberation Army members were executed mostly for acts of destabilisation and mutiny. These members were executed by orders of the APLA commander, who in his own capacity determined the individual who had to perform the task. We will prefer not to present a list of these members during this presentation, but a copy of all known members will be submitted, as indicated in your questionnaire, as to whether those who were eliminated or killed were executed; whether the next-of-kin had been informed. That's why we didn't include them here.
Secondly, it is to put into correct perspective, APLA's human rights record, that is deliberately being tarnished by people whose own agenda could be to criminalise our activities and therefore, deny amnesty to our people or members who are still languishing in South African jails.
We will go to any extent to satisfactorily answer any questions during the question time, that we may be called upon to answer. The only request we wish to make is that we should confine ourselves to the truth, for the truth is only what happened, not what we wish to or consider to have happened.
The nature of our operations. When we discussed our programme of action above, we endeavoured to define our targets and enemy. Our presentation will, however, be incomplete if we do not correct the sensationalised and maligned acts of repossession.
We would like to clarify once and for all that we have never engaged in armed robberies. It is only criminals that engage in armed robberies. We have always mentioned that our major source of income was repossession, revolutionary repossession.
From its inception, the PAC categorically stated that the land, our land and its resources were usurped through the force of arms. It was APLA's responsibility to repossess what rightfully belonged to the oppressed and dispossessed Azanian people.
It is in this context that we proudly and openly mention that banks and other financial institutions were targeted. We still remain proud and open about these acts, because they fell within the PAC political and ideological perspective. We therefore do not take kindly to allegations that we were armed robbers. Robbers are those who steal and defraud and not those who repossess what rightfully belongs to them.
I will be very hard, very cold in presenting these documents, these facts, so that we get clarity as to what is this organisation known as APLA, as PAC, and of course, I am here describing the war as envisaged by the Azanian People's Liberation Army.
APLA's expectation from the TRC. APLA has viewed with shock and dismay the privileges enjoyed by those who murdered and maimed the African people in the name of apartheid. More especially, since our people are still languishing and there is no signs that they are being released.
People like Dirk Coetzee and Brian Mitchell could receive amnesty. What is it that can make any APLA member not deserve that amnesty. I think I will have to be very clear on this, because already a number of our people have been refused amnesty. Maybe during the question time and during interaction with the Commission, clarification will be given in that direction.
However, the trend we see now is that of turning down our applications. It is a major concern to me as a person and to the former members of high command, and of course, to the former members of the Azanian People's Liberation Army. I think it is wise that we present it before you, because the essence here is truth, and of course, the objective is the reconciliation. It will not work if we start mincing our words without making ourselves very clear to anybody. The only impression we have at this point is that the TRC's political agenda to criminalise APLA's activities and thereby discrediting any of our achievements. Only history will prove us wrong, because we still have to see anything different, and we still have to be proven otherwise.
For instance, we are still surprised as to why there has been no inquiries into the deaths of the PAC members that have negative connotation to the PAC and APLA. We have so far not heard of any inquiries concerning the deaths of Jeff Matsemola, Mpula's children in Umtata, John Natikubela, Victor Queta and many others of the PAC and APLA. The only inquiries are those that have an aim to prove and expose the perceived negative side of human rights violation by the PAC and APLA.
I have tried to be as clear as possible, Mr Chairman, because the essence or the name of the game here is to be truthful and nothing else. If I offended anybody, it is unfortunate, but here we are describing history. We are describing war as perceived by Poqo, APLA and the PAC.
Brig Mofokeng, you have outlined the submission on behalf of APLA and PAC. What we will do now is to ask Mr Glen Goosen who is the national director, investigative unit to put questions to you. If there are questions that you yourself wish to reply to, obviously you will do that. If there are other members of your delegation that you want to refer to, we are perfectly happy for anyone to attempt that reply.
May I say before I hand over to Mr Goosen, who is assisted by Mr Paul van Zyl, that the TRC has no political agenda. Like you, it is committed to the truth, wherever it leads us. And if the questions are awkward, it will be exactly the same as some of your statements which you say may have been unfortunate or awkward, because I think it is good that we face each other honestly and openly. And I am very grateful to you for being as frank as you have been. The TRC is a controversial commission, it deals with many difficult problems and our only solace is that everybody seems to find us difficult, not only PAC or APLA, but we are criticised from all sides. I think that's inevitable and all we have to do is to try and keep an honest and open course. You have set that standard and I am grateful to you. Mr Glen Goosen.
Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. Brig Mofokeng, I am going to start by addressing the question to you. You will indicate who from your delegation might answer the question. It is not necessarily directed to you personally, but I will begin by addressing myself to you.
You deal to some extent in the presentation that you have just made, with some of the elements of the strategy, military strategy adopted by APLA, and perhaps, if we could start with that. In the PAC submission of the 20th of August of last year, the armed strategy adopted by APLA is described as a strategy of people's war. What exactly is meant by that term and what were the key elements of that strategy, understood by the APLA command?
BRIG MOFOKENG: I think I will answer that one. The strategy of APLA, as I described earlier on, what is the liberation war, what we referred to as people's war. It was based on the premises that ours is the struggle of the people as a whole, of the oppressed people. We adopted guerilla warfare and guerilla warfare basically, it is the strategy of the weak to fight the strong, until the ultimate destruction of the powerful.
So people's war basically, it is the involvement of the people in every front to wage struggle, to destroy the status quo or the regime. Of course, as the name shows, that Azanian People's Liberation Army, it is the army base on the people, on the course of the people as a whole and it remain a liberation movement.
I think others can maybe add on that, because it is quite a broad concept. Maybe if you want specifics, but before then I can call upon my colleagues to expand on that, because the liberation war is quite broad and is there anybody who will want to - because I don't get as to whether what actually did you want? Because, yes, it is based on people's war and guerilla warfare, as a liberation warfare.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, basically what it means is that when you strategise in the war, you are not only going to involve the people that have been trained in a formal way, but you are also going to mobilise the people, mobilise the people and organise them, into defensive units, so that they can defend themselves in a situation where the oppressed people running the gauntlet of racist brutality, each one of them had to defend himself. So APLA's mission therefore, was to arm the people eventually. Like you had a militia, people's militia, so you arm the people so that now everybody understand what the struggle is all about and what the defensive nature of the struggle is, and what is to achieved one, and what is their role, each one of them in the struggle. So the people therefore, in that sense, are involved gradually.
BRIG MOFOKENG: To add on that, it involved various fronts, like workers, that is the trade union front, the students front, the peasants front, the intellectual front, or the academicians, et cetera. So it involved everybody to participate in the destruction of the system. Brig Phitla wanted to add on that.
BRIG PHITLA: I think to put it in the correct perspective as well. The Azanian People's Liberation Army learnt from the other liberation struggles, all over the world. We took examples both of defeats and successes. From those defeats and successes, then we came with our own strategy and we had to adopt what we thought was best suitable for our conditions in South Africa.
Secondly, the experience it taught us, that in countries like in Cuba, where the liberation forces did not base their struggle on the support from the masses they claim to liberating, and therefore they remained (indistinct) and they were defeated. Whilst in other struggles, like in the People's Republic of China, where they correctly identified and associated themselves with the Chinese people, their struggle succeeded, because the whole struggle which they were waging had therefore justified itself through the support that they got from the people.
Therefore, our strategy of the people's war was based on the fact that our struggle could only succeed if it is supported by the people. We were recruiting from the people, we were sheltered by the people, we were financed by the people and we were fed by the people. Meaning, therefore, that our struggle was mostly supported by the people who were claiming to be fighting for. Hence, we are saying it is a people's war. Thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. I would take it from that, that the defining of particular military targets would be shaped by the notion that one is operating on a broad front, mobilising in different sectors of the community. Would that be correct?
MR GOOSEN: What then were defined as the strategic military targets of APLA, and is it possible for you to give a description of those strategic military targets, through the period of APLA's development? Obviously APLA operated over a number of years and not just in one particular period. What then were the strategic military targets defined by APLA in the prosecution of this people's war?
BRIG MOFOKENG: Ja. Ja, in military terms we are having strategy and tactics. I don't know whether you are confining yourself to strategic targets or even technical targets. But in our bulletins, in our submission, we always reiterate that our targets are where the police, the Army and all other security services or organs of the State, and of course, including other technical objectives and targets. I think I will also refer the matter to my delegation to expound on that. Anybody?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Before comrade speaker comes in, the strategy of APLA, in terms of the people's war, was actually defined by the situation that APLA was facing at the time. And the definition was given by the apartheid system itself, because of various defence Acts and amendments that took place during the apartheid regime's time. It was stipulated that every adult person had to be armed, White person had to be armed. Now if such a definition is given to an armed preparedness by a Defence Act, ipso facto every household therefore, that conformed with these instructions or with these laws, was a military garrison, in that sense.
You had commanders all over. So anything therefore that was defined or any entity that was defined in the Defence Act of the time, in terms of military strategy of the regime, was therefore a legitimate target. Thank you.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: I just want to add, Mr Chairman, that also our strategy was to start in the rural areas, to train the masses in the rural areas, arm them, to be with the masses, fighting with them in the rural areas. By fighting with them is to lead them, because we are training them at the same time leading them, in the rural areas, encircle the cities.
Now the targets there, as you know the South African situation is that the farmers are the first targets then in the rural areas, because they are the people who are occupying very big land of our country. So if you want to liberate the whole country, we have to start from there. The police, who are coming to defend them, we also regard them as our target. Thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Could you indicate by what legislation and at what point that legislation was introduced, which made it a requirement that every adult person, presumably every White adult person, had to be armed and trained?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: The record of legislation is there for anybody to research on. But the fact of the matter is, that there was training that was conducted for White adults. Women were actually trained in target shooting. Men were actually trained in target shooting, and in White schools there was a regimentation of the children to raise their awareness about the war that was to take place or was already taking place. So there was now that general mobilisation therefore. It is a source being the State itself, the machinery of the State. It was not just something that each and every school took an initiative on, but it was an initiative by the State itself, countrywide, so now there is a preparation for war. To the extent therefore that the State itself mobilised people in preparation for a war. To that extent APLA realised that they were facing the whole White community and this was not of their choosing, but it was described by the apartheid system itself, because it was based on racist philosophies.
MR NTSEBEZA: Mr Mkhwanazi, it seems to me that you possibly want to give us chapter and verse, and I would like to hear from the political commissar, as he was introduced, because much of the philosophy of this armed struggle would obviously have been informed by the position - I am not dictating the way in which you should make presentations, but Mr Mlambo would possibly be able to inform us on some of the thinking that went behind some of the questions that have been put already.
MR MKHWANAZI: Yes, Mr Chairman, I just want to confirm one point. While we accept the requirement that we should provide the law, and the onus is being given on us to do that, when it is definitely known that perhaps we are not lawyers ourselves, but as Mr (indistinct) said we will make an effort to provide, but the fact of the matter is, that it is a well-known fact that every adult White, unless this can be denied in this house, every White South African in this room, has been trained by the law which was - I think it was a conscription law, I think it is an open secret that there was a law of conscription in this country, and not one single person, unless for special reasons of health and what, who was a South African, did not go, who was not conscripted at a certain age. So I just want to say that we have that. That is common knowledge, besides the fact that we will provide the law. We are not just taking it from complete ignorance. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Could I just intervene here for a moment and say that I hope we are not going to be bogged down in this. I think the request has been made, but the fact of the matter is, that conscription was required of all White adult males for a very long period in South Africa, and I think you have established that as a fact, and I think you are using that as a background as to where, why you saw those who were White and were trained, as the target.
Just for your information, I was not so trained and I have never owned a gun. I don't know even what it looks like. So you have a benefit over me. So I just want to make the point that we can't generalise, but the main point that you are making, is that conscription of only White adult males was introduced, was carried out and I think that's the point and I hope we will not be bogged down on that one. Thank you.
Mr Mkhwanazi, it is also a well-known fact that thousands of White conscripts in fact refused to participate in the South African Defence Force. Some people in fact went to prison for fairly long periods, precisely because they refused.
It is also a fairly well-known fact, if we are going to use that appellation, that very large numbers of members of the White community opposed that system of militarisation and conscription. How does that fact bear with the notion that every single White member of the White community would then fall within the definition of a legitimate target?
MR MLAMBO: Yes, Mr Chairman, I just want to emphasise here that when we look at this aspect we should appreciate the complexity of the situation. In 1960, March, our founding president said we are ready to die for the cause of liberation, we are not yet ready to kill. But on March 21st our people were shot. And in 1961 we had pistol clubs that were ... (indistinct - microphone switched off).
MR MLAMBO: I am saying pistol clubs were encouraged and even by the then government. Even pistol clubs for women. And it should be noted here that the people that formed the ranks of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, were live human beings. Some coming from the most deprived communities and that was part and parcel of those people who had to constitute the army of liberation. Therefore, even though principally the question of the war was directed at the armed forces, principally, it was directed against the armed force of the regime. We did organise and that organisation built up over a time to a point where the regime could say that they have to, the White people in the country have to adapt or die. That was the message from PW Botha.
Taking cognisance of the changing relations between the once totally weak, totally hopeless people, that is the African people, who were totally disarmed, even African policemen or soldiers were not initially allowed to carry guns. Even in 1963, at the time there were general swoops, when we were arrested, that was not possible.
So the organisation of our own war effort, did help to liberate those African people who felt that Umlungdala, the White man can never be defeated. It built their self-confidence. It liberated them mentally that we can fight and to destroy that White power. So we were in the process of that. And so many times did the previous regime boast that we have destroyed Poqo, we have destroyed APLA, but in the mid-1980s they realised that there was a continuing presence and a growing presence of APLA inside the country. That's why you had to get those statements taking, the Whites - I am talking from the then State President - have to adapt or die.
So we should grasp those elements. And that we were fighting against the system of White domination which exploited our people economically, which dehumanised them socially, which denied them any political participation in shaping their own destinies.
So the situation which we are facing, was a very, very complex situation. Particularly when we were denied the formal channels of challenging the system. It remained to this organisation, the PAC, to even say because we were the first organisation to do this, as an organisation we were the first to say the entire structure in the country, even the government, was totally illegitimate. Therefore, our struggle was a total one in that particular sense. In the sense that we realised that we have to fight against the system.
Many things were taken for granted in the past. But when we stood through our president and other leaders in 1960 to say we refuse to plead, which was totally unprecedented, we had to do it, because we were being called upon by the situation.
Therefore, the armed struggle was a continuation of that political war and it did not mean that this was purely perhaps a racist approach, because in the prosecution of our own struggle, there are many African people who also died, who became targets of APLA occasionally, because of the role which they were seen to be playing in the struggle, to oppress our people.
There are occasions when police stations were attacked or when the instability, for instance in Kadi police station, one of the big attacks, there were about 70 or many who were attacked there. There was not a single White person there.
So that we want that the Truth Commission must please appreciate this particular element, and that when you are fighting a war and sometimes you would not have adequate resources, we would say the armoury of APLA is within Azania itself. The logistics of carrying a lot of guns from far off was a very, very difficult process. A very costly process. When you had to pass and no government would allow you just easy passage with your guns. No government would allow you that. So we will say you must repossess guns and every household in the country, a White household was a source of guns, as well as the police stations and various other institutions.
BRIG PHITLA: I think it is important for us to put it on record as well, that we are not oblivious of the fact that there were no White people who genuinely supported our cause. Unfortunately they didn't have stickers whereby we could identify them in the streets, that this person is supporting our cause. This is an unfortunate situation. But we are not oblivious of that fact, that not all Whites were supportive of this apartheid regime. APLA has also gone out of its way to make an attempt to recruit amongst the White members of our society. Unfortunately we couldn't make much progress. We can only boast of two. If I remember well it was Richard Gibson who was eventually made a PAC representative in Algeria, and presently we also have one member who is now in the Defence Force, in the intelligence corps, Capt Petro Salban. So when we talk about Whites, we are not oblivious of the fact that there were those who were supporting our cause, and we made it an effort to make sure that we draw them into our ranks, so that together we could fight the system.
But what we are doing here is to generalise it, because those Whites were supportive of our cause, they were basically a minority. Hence, on their own they couldn't fight it to overthrow the government and the system that they were opposed to. Hence, they were always overwhelmed, as the National Party, hence it was always in power because the majority of those who are supporting its policies, always brought it into power. So this is basically the correct perspective.
BRIG MOFOKENG: Mr Chairman, through you, we are very conscious of the existence of the conscientious objectors. I do believe the lawyer is trying to bring it up as part of the resistance by part of the population. I must say personally that even now history is still to convince some of us that whether Hitler didn't enjoy any fanatic support from the masses of Germany. So I don't think it is up to us to say whether the regime was not supported or not, but I think history will definitely decide in that regard. I don't know whether we are - we made ourselves very clear in that.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much. In the August submission by the PAC, reference is made to the fact that APLA regarded armed actions as the conduct of politics by other means, and I think that's what we were talking about earlier when the notion of people's war was raised.
BRIG PHITLA: I think in the command structure of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, the most decisive department was that of the commissariat. The political commissar for a very long time in our structure, created confusion, vis-a-vis the chain of command. Reason being the fact that we always ensured that politics led the gun, and when I talk about confusion, it is because at the end of the day when we had to command, the position of the political commissar had always to be consulted. In military terms this may create problems, because a commander has got to issue orders as he deems fit and as he sees the situation. But the command structure was such that the commander at the end of the day has got to be politically accountable. And he had to be politically accountable through consultation with the political commissar.
Hence, the political commissar played an important role in determining the life of the Azanian People's Liberation Army. So whatever we did had to enjoy the blessing of the commissariat, because at the end of the day all our actions had to be politically justified.
BRIG MOFOKENG: Ja, to continue on that, of course, as a former chief political commissar for almost 20 years in the Azanian People's Liberation Army, the existence of that body as I also indicated earlier on, was to ensure that APLA acts according to the PAC's political line and objectives. It was very important as Brig Phitla is saying. We inculcated political and ideological indication in the minds of the cadres and members of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, so as to see that the ultimate objective of our war is political, is political freedom and liberation. It was really important because in our view, if anybody was not given political education nor training, will basically be a bandit and criminal and he will not be in a position to justify his actions at the end of the day.
This basically, we drew it from - we were influenced in the majority of the cases by our training, from the Eastern Bloc, from the Red Army, from the Chinese People's Liberation Army, from the Cambodia, from Vietnam, from Yugoslavia and other areas. The political commissariat was basically playing a very decisive role.
If we are to refer to the Second World War, Hitler had to go to an extent of issuing an order or Catel, Marshall Catel issuing an order that if he arrests the members of the Red Army of the Soviet Union, and if you identify a political commissariat must be immediately executed. Because he recognised the decisive role that was played by the political commissar. Even more than that of the commanders.
So that is the outlook, that is the approach, that is the military line of the Azanian's People's Army, to ensure that cadres don't go astray. Go anywhere, even in the jails of South Africa or anywhere, and you discuss the political line of the PAC, you will get - that will be confirmed, that we insisted on the political objective and the political nature of the struggle as waged by the Azanian People's Liberation Army. Thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Would it be possible for you to give us a practical example of how that played itself out in the organisation or guerilla units and for example, in the determination or the identification of targets, the control and accountability that a political commissar would exercise in those circumstances?
BRIG MOFOKENG: For instance, in the lowest unit, there is a commander, there is a political commissar, there is logistics. Which means, that even at the lowest unit, we ensure that there is somebody playing a role of the political educator. Can somebody add on that?
MR PHITLA: Basically when we gave this responsibility to the commissariat, the whole aim was that every unit that was to be deployed must have the three which Brig Mofokeng has mentioned; the political commissar, the man responsible for logistics and a commander. But unfortunately, with time we realised that we couldn't afford to have this system, because firstly, we were short of political commissars. That is a fact. Because political commissars had to be people with a certain level of acumen. People with a certain level of education, because it was supposed to be people at least who could be able to read and study and teach politics and ideology. In the process of development of our army, we ran short of political commissars. And hence, the majority of the units that were deployed, it didn't have political commissars.
But wherever there were political commissars, political commissars consulted with commanders for whatever operation that was supposed to be undertaken. And if the commander had decided to implement that programme, he would have done that with the consultation of the political commissar.
But there was another aspect that intervened as well. Because to a certain extent the element of security had to come in. And the element of security dictated that if the commander decided that only him would know about the target, then that would be so. And the political commissar would not be informed. But this would be sorted out after the operation itself, because at the end of the day, we had to account to the political leadership. So this is basically how it worked.
MR GOOSEN: Could I just follow up on that one, Brig Phitla, while you are up. In circumstances where the majority at a certain point the majority of units deployed did not have political commissars, or in circumstances where the political commissar would not be informed, because of security considerations as to what the target was, how in those circumstances was political control and accountability maintained for the operations conducted by APLA units deployed on the ground?
In units that would have been recruited and assembled inside of the country, would those units have or those personnel have benefited from the political education process provided by political commissars, inside the country as well?
BRIG MOFOKENG: I think it should be appreciated here, that APLA was operating under dire conditions. Communication was not as perfect as the communication was for the apartheid regime. Because they controlled every territory of the country. They controlled the communication systems. Now APLA had to operate on two plains, in exile and in the country. Sometimes instructions or communication would take days before it reached its destination. And then there was also the question of an uneven development. We indicated earlier on that mass mobilisation was part of the people's war. Mass organisation was part of the people's war. So it is obvious therefore, that in the process of educating and training and mobilisation, there are those people who will benefit more than others in terms of sequence and time. So that there are those people, therefore, who will be better developed than others. We do not have training camps in the country. What training camps that we had in this country, were such that we were running the gauntlet of being observed by the security system. So there are those people, therefore, who were trained not outside in Yugoslavia as the commander has already said, but they were trained inside the country. So the relayed system of training therefore, had its imperfections. And it must be appreciated, therefore, that these are the conditions that we had to operate in. Consequently you will find, therefore, that from time to time there will be people who have enough and adequate information and there will be people who do not have adequate information. What does this mean therefore? It simply means that if you have adequate information about any situation, whatsoever, then the likelihood is that you are going to make correct decisions or adequate decisions. But if you have inadequate information about any situation, not only in war, but any situation, even the kitchen, the likelihood is that your decisions are not going to be effective or maybe inadequate, maybe wrong. So this therefore really puts the whole situation in perspective.
Let us not assume here that the communication system was so squeaky-clean that communication simply went through without any hitches. And talking about hitches, is actually an understatement. We had tempestuous times in our communication systems, and there were communication breakdowns and stuff like that.
But this does not remove the fact that the intention was to have a squeaky-clean organisational structure. The intention was that every communication from the political leadership through the political commissar, through to the commander, and the operatives on the ground, the intention was that this communication must reach its final destination as intact as it was when it was originally sent out.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much. I asked the questions precisely for that reason, because in the August submission, 1996, of the PAC leadership, the first presentation of the Truth Commission, at page 7 of that submission and I just want to read a passage of that. I am not sure that you have the copy before you. Let me read a passage of that and then formulate the question thereafter. It reads
"A new pattern arose in the 1990s where civilians within the White community were attacked. In the nature of guerilla war, which is unlike conventional war, detailed plans could not be made from Dar-es-Salaam. The actual targets were decided by local commanders. We also found that internally trained cadres could mount many operations without early detection and arrest. This advantage had a disadvantage. In the militarised environment in our country in the 1990s, in the face of Third Force violence against our people in vigils, in places of worship and in trains and taxis, internally based operatives often made errors that APLA had earlier avoided. There was little political work done, unlike in the camps abroad. These are the causes of the departures in the 1990s, which, we as political leaders who declared war, must and do take responsibility for. Even if war itself was forced upon us by the aggressor, the upholders of White domination."
Now the point I want to ask you this, I think you have indicated that certainly we are not operating and you were not operating in a perfect environment, where lines of communication were such that you could maintain them without detection and there was no difficulties with that. We accept that.
But it is apparent from this passage, PAC leadership submission to the Truth Commission, that the lack of political training, which is understandable in the circumstances, problems with the conduct of operations in a guerilla war, which is understandable in the circumstances, that the operations of the 1990s are described as departures, errors previously avoided, by APLA.
That, unfortunately, contradicts the position that you adopted in your earlier statement this morning, where you specifically state that attacks like the St James Church attack, the attack on the Heidelberg Tavern and similar attacks which occurred in the 1990s, were specifically ordered and were within the knowledge of the APLA high command. Is there a contradiction here between this submission and the position that you have put forward this morning?
BRIG MKHWANAZI: I would want to say that there is no necessary contradiction. In the submission this morning it has been indicated that we were in the process of waging a people's war. Now a people's war must definitely take into cognisance not only the ideal type of situation, but it must take into cognisance the environment in which the war itself is taking place. In the August submission it is indicated there that not only the question of the success in internalisation of the struggle, was a factor, but also the increased militarisation that was taking place, even inside the country, where there was a lot of violence, mass violence against our people. Sometimes in their places of worship, I think it is said so in the August submission of 1996. Sometimes in funeral vigils, places of worship, sometimes at taxis and also buses, their trains, et cetera.
So now commanders who were the people who took the decisions on the targets, because targets could never have been spelt out, way out from Dar-es-Salaam. The local commanders themselves did take into consideration some of these factors, and the impact that this would have had.
Unfortunately I do not have the material right now. In one of the incidents that occurred in the 1990s, the King William's Town Golf Club incident, you will find a situation wherein if you read the print media of the time, they would actually say that yes, this thing has been severely attacked, in certain parts of the media, but within the oppressed African communities, it was something that was seen to be very, very, very right because it was at the time when there was a lot of violence committed against ordinary people, innocent people, because these people had never undergone any training. They were never a threat to anyone, but they were just being massacred, senselessly.
So I now want us to be able to integrate that aspect that there are those aspects of the environment of increasing violence, Third Force activities, as mentioned in the 1996 presentation. I think in Brig Mofokeng's presentation he did indicate that some of the activities were both of a - the nature of reprisal and also self-defence. So I just wanted to bring in those elements.
MR GOOSEN: So far as the APLA high command is concerned, the actions against White civilians as described in the August 1996 submission, those were not departures from policy. Those were not a, as it were, a new pattern which arose, because of the difficulties with either political education or lines of command or the difficulty of commanding guerilla operations. Those were in fact strategically determined targets, targeted by the APLA high command?
MR MKHWANAZI: What I am actually emphasising here, is that to carry the people along with you in a people's war, you might have emphasised certain things at a particular time. And you have to take cognisance of the changing situation, changing environment. That's what I was particulary emphasising.
MR GOOSEN: But not a departure, as described in the August 1996 submission, it talked about it as being departures; departures from previous policy, a different and earlier strategy, not departures, but merely an adaptation of strategy in the changing circumstances of the 1990s. That's the position of the APLA high command.
MR MKHWANAZI: I think that is correct to say that because of a developing situation, what we have actually stated in the 1996 presentation, that is we are the political leadership, and I was part and parcel of that presentation before this august body, but on a further discussion with the high command, this point was emphasised, that no, this thing we had to take cognisance, even of those elements that are mentioned in that very presentation, that we had to adapt to the changing situation and carry the people along with us, who were the main constituency supporting us.
BRIG PHITLA: Yes. Just to add there one perspective to this question. It is a fact that in the Nineties we had the pressure of lack of the commissars. This was a result of the fact that the rate of recruitment was higher than ever before in our organisation. It is therefore a fact that the level of education that could be given to the recruits, was not as it was externally. Because the difference here is that in the camps, when people woke up in the morning, they ate, worked and dreamt politics and nothing else. And therefore, people had ample time at their disposal to discuss and do everything that was political. Whilst in the internal environment, this was different. We should realise that some of the people were recruited had other occupations somewhere else. They might have been students, they might have been employed somewhere else, and therefore political education had limited time. So that is a fact.
Secondly, I don't think there is a problem here in terms of talking about possible errors. Because we have not identified the possible errors. What we have referred to in our document, is specific operations that we are talking about. It is not possible errors. We are not denying the fact that there could have been possible errors. The document only indicates that the operations that were undertaken were not errors themselves, but possible errors might have been there. So there is no question of departure as such.
CHAIRPERSON: Could I take this just a little further, because I think we are on a very, very important point here. I think that what we are trying to ascertain, as a Commission, is where does the buck stop. Who accepts final accountability for any action, of any organisation, not just APLA or PAC. What I am finding a little difficult to understand is - and let me put it quite bluntly, what I hear you are saying in effect, and I may be mishearing, and you will correct me, is that APLA was really a law unto itself. That within APLA there was considerable political debate and education, but there does seem to me, from what you have said thus far, a difference between PAC and APLA at certain stages, and I think it is reflected in the earlier report, which was given to us by the political leadership. And now we are talking directly to the APLA operatives and commanders and the chain of command.
Here you state in your submission that it should come as no surprise that targets like St James Church, King William's Town Golf Club, Heidelberg Tavern were selected and that the APLA leadership of APLA takes full responsibility for these operations, that there is no regret expressed and nothing to apologise for.
Now that doesn't seem to square with what we hear from the leadership of the PAC. So I am just trying to discover now, is APLA then accountable finally to the political leadership, not merely to the political commissar, but the ultimate political leadership or is it an organisation which is, as I stated, a law unto itself.
I find, it is difficult for me to understand that on the one hand there seems to be this commitment to reconciliation and on the other, a total lack of any acceptance of responsibility, other than it was a normal target such as St James Church, King William's Town Golf Club, Heidelberg Tavern, et cetera. Is there a contradiction here because I am not getting the full picture.
MR MKHWANAZI: Ja, Mr Chairman, there is no contradiction in that regard. Maybe to clarify the misunderstanding. PAC was or is the leadership of APLA and Mr (indistinct) will draw the PAC and it is the structure. Earlier on we defined what war is, how did we perceive our war of liberation. Of course, we even went to the extent of quoting clauses that war is just the continuation of politics. Basically it must not be expected but in the fighting situation we behave like politicians, et cetera. It is a bloody situation, it is a bloody mess on the battlefield. I think you have to be very clear in this regard.
This, I must say, it is a normal or usual propaganda or perception, more especially of the media industry, that APLA was a law unto itself. But that is not the case. That's why we always reiterate that. But if the Commission or the South African people do not understand that war means blood-shed, means killing, means death, then I do not understand how are we to clarify that.
We were at pains, to be even political, to sound political in our submission, to show how the politics is linked with the war itself. So in that regard I think it is very clear, and the decisions, unless - maybe I don't understand you well, Mr Chairman, that you expected that in every decision that we take - it is an organisation. APLA is an organisation with the principles and the rules and regulations. We perfected and developed it as an organisation that is subordinate to the Pan Africanist Congress. It has the power, the authority, the command, to execute the armed struggle as it perceive it, correct. Thus, every decision could not be referred to the leader or to the central committee of the time, because that will make the central committee, which is the political body, the actual execution or the implementing or the military organ of the organisation. So I think my colleagues will add on that, that there is a difference in terms of the operation. But basically it is the carrying and the promotion of the political objectives of the PAC.
BRIG MOFOKENG: Mr Chairman, I want to add a small dimension here. Perhaps to clarify your mind. First of all, I want to say that it must be understood the bottom line in all this discussion, is the fact that whatever action was done, and whatever the circumstances, the basic aim was a political motive to liberate. It was a block, whatever was done, was one block on the wall to climb to liberation. That is the basic line.
Now on the question which you think there is or you perceive there is a contradiction. There is no contradiction. Because I don't have that copy. If you continue with that submission made by the political leadership at the time, it says in spite of all this understanding or whatever it is, the top leadership of the PAC accepts the responsibility. Because the top leadership of the PAC had this organ which is APLA, which is answerable to the leadership of the PAC.
CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry to pursue this, but I think this is very important. We are talking about the 1990s, organisations which had been banned were now legal. Communication must have been very, very difficult. I accept that entirely, but perhaps a little more improved as a direct result of that. So let me put the question quite specifically. And I do so against the background of many hearings of many other political parties, where there does seem to be a major problem of political accountability and military operations, security operations.
Now, let me put it this way. The very incidence that you refer to on page 3, which I have read out, let's just confine ourselves to those, because they are quite specific; St James Church, King William's Town Golf Club, Heidelberg Tavern. These were three specific incidence. In this case, was the political leadership at the highest level consulted prior to these attacks and if not, in the aftermath of these, did the political leadership have any objection, or did they condone these incidence, so that in the end APLA and PAC were actually indivisible and one.
So it is quite specific. Either they knew or they didn't know. If they didn't know, when they did know, what was their reaction. Because one of our responsibilities as a Commission is to try to understand the final accountability of any of the events which took place during the conflict, for or against. Thank you.
BRIG PHITLA: In the first instance, the structure of the Azanian People's Liberation Army ensured that APLA always remained accountable to the political leadership. We mentioned it in the document, that top - on the structure of the APLA leadership was the military commission. The members of the military commission were both members of the central committee and members of the high command. The commander of the Azanian People's Liberation Army was also a member of the central committee. Hence, we also gave him the title of being secretary of the defence, to give him a political title. So that he remains politically accountable.
Hence, also the leader of the party was called commander in chief of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, because he had the responsibility over the Azanian People's Liberation Army. Therefore, we remained accountable.
It should be realised also that in the Nineties, the PAC itself had another development as a result of the unbanning. We had parallel structures also in the organisation. We should take note that there was this internal structure which initially became PERM, and it is this internal structure that later on also mostly became the leadership of the PAC. So the Nineties were marred by a number of other developments.
Let me put it on record as well, that the Azanian People's Liberation Army for a very long time was trying to resist to stop with the armed struggle. But because we remained accountable to the political leadership, when an order was issued that we stopped, we stopped. Therefore we had a daunting task of ensuring that our fighters accept this order from the political leadership, because we remained accountable.
I think at this point in time it may be important for us not to say that APLA was law unto itself. Possibly we could say maybe the political leadership suffered from ineptitude, that may be quite a possibility.Now ineptitude has got nothing to do with one being a law unto himself.
We have also indicated in this document that the high command was appointed by the political leadership. Therefore, the leadership was at liberty to dismiss the high command if it felt the high command was now not in line in its political aims and objectives.
BRIG MOFOKENG: I just want to add here to the answer. When these attacks took place, before the attacks took place, the leadership, the political leadership was not informed. It was only the military people who were aware of these attacks. When the attacks took place, the people who claim were our publicity department. The political leadership inside the country, Bennie Alexander, for instance, (indistinct) when they were interviewed by the media, they denied this. I don't know whether maybe they are afraid because they are inside the country, if they claim they will be arrested, whatever. But the military people claimed these attacks. Thank you.
BRIG PHITLA: Unfortunately I forgot to respond to it. There was an understanding between the military leadership and the political leadership, that some of the operations could be denied. We should take note that even the South African Government continued to deny the existence of the South African forces in Angola, and this didn't mean that the South African Defence Force is unaccountable or they were a law unto themselves. We therefore adopted this tactic ourselves as well. The political leadership, as it deemed fit, because it was going through international platforms, and some of the activities of APLA possibly in those platforms, they couldn't justify them at that time, for fear, maybe of losing, to get money or any other thing, which had nothing to do with policy. Therefore, they were at liberty to deny those operations. Even our department of publicity and information, if it meant the safety of our forces, they had the right to deny that operation as well. There were a lot of other exigencies that intervened.
In my capacity as well as director of military intelligence, it was my responsibility to ensure that there is less communication whenever operations had to be undertaken, because the communication networks were not under our control. Mostly reports that we give in after the operations had taken place, to ensure security of our forces.
CHAIRPERSON: There is just one part of the question which still is unanswered. I am very grateful to the answers that you have already given, but let me just put it again. When these particular incidence took place, the political leadership you have told us, was not informed prior to that. So they had no knowledge of that, but they, of course, like all of us, had knowledge of it afterwards. There must have been discussion. Were these acts condoned by the political leadership or was there a difference of opinion after the fact?
MR MONDANE: Ja, it is a pity that we are trying to isolate this into something like a neat package. There could not have been any neat package here, because there are many other incidents that have happened in the past, not only in 1991 or 1994, sorry, or in 1993 or any, but which happened in the Sixties, for instance.
Now if we are going to adopt that kind of argument, it would be called upon to account for every incident. Now in a war situation there are major incidents and in others less major incidents. Now it is unfortunate that you insist on isolating just a few incidents, and ignoring, I mean, the gamut of all the operations that have taken place under the auspices of APLA. Let us just not paraphrase ...
MR MONDANE: Ja, it is a, what's-you-call, a sign of human weakness, that when examples are used, depending on the paradigms of people what, how they are thinking, they would choose certain or rather to capitalise on these examples. Yet, examples are simply there to establish or demonstrate a basic principle.
But to isolate an example and ignoring the basic principle can prove to be unfortunate in the end. So what we have been saying here, and even the president of the PAC, when he opened this, said it. But let me start with how the operations were carried out, again, for the sake of emphasis.
That the political leadership in Dar-es-Salaam could only issue broad instructions and broad intentions and objectives of the liberation movement, in terms of the global situation that they were confronted with. The military command or the military commission was an entrusted with the task of detailing this global perspective. The political commissar, therefore, would use this as a paradigm for giving instructions to the commander. The commander would simply carry out that - those instructions in terms of his skills, in terms of what he thinks is a strategic target or not a strategic target. Now his package is still very, very broad, because he has got to hand this over to the regional commanders. Subsequently from the regional commanders to the local commanders on the ground. And we have indicated here, that from that level downwards, communication was very, very difficult. Not only communication but the level of skills seemed to deteriorate - rather as it went down towards the what's-you-call-it, towards the ground operatives.
Now I know - let me be specific, so that maybe we can put this to rest. It is unfortunate that only these are selected. Nobody talks about Boiphatong, nobody talks about the incident - the incident that happened. I hope you will do that when you interview the SANDF. Nobody talks about those Africans that became casualties. But we will accept. We will accept the paradigm, because it is a reality and it is valid for those people who hold the paradigm.
That the important, the important incidents are those that affect White people. It is unfortunate. But it is a perception that we have. The perception may be wrong, the perception might be right. But on a consistent basis we observe this in these hearings. That those incidents that involve White people are highlighted. We are not making these observations because of a racist paradigm, or a racist attitude, it is simply an observation that we make.
I think here the specific examples that you want to concentrate upon, Mr Chairman, is the incidents of St James and the Amy Biehl ones. Maybe if we deal with them in sort of skirting around them, if we deal with them directly, we shall put this to rest and then you can deal with other things later on. So I will assume therefore, according to the paradigms that I have observed, this is the one that you are specifically concerned with.
Now on the ground you find that the local commanders have to choose their own targets. Mr Mlambo has already said here that the contextual situation was the one that determined the kind of targets that the commanders on the ground used to choose. That is one. The second one, the frenzy that was in existence, especially in the case of Amy Biehl, in the townships there, was the second one. Then there are other factors also that come into operation here, and the one that is paramount here is the level of skills, military skills, and also political skills on the ground.
Now my president, when he opened here, said that he reached out to the Biehls. I personally reached out to the Biehls when they were here. I was very, very impressed with their kind of attitude, because they described the kind of situation of the death of Amy Biehl as a situation similar to a situation that a Red Cross operator would be confronted with. A Red Cross operator goes into a conflict situation, not as a combatant, but someone who wanted to assist as in the case of Amy, but knowing very well in her mind, this Red Cross operator, that there is a likelihood of being caught in the cross-fire there. As it happened with Amy Biehl, she was caught in the cross-fire. She was caught in a situation of frenzy.
During the hearings here, being assisted by one of the Commissioners, the - rather one of the people that gave evidence, spelt out exactly what happened, blow by blow from hour to hour. Now that incident was caused by frenzy. There was no command whatsoever from APLA in that regard. But it was this frenzy because what they had, what they had, these people, was the broad instruction. Now combat Phitla here said earlier on that there were Whites who were with us, but unfortunately there were no labels put on their foreheads to say that they were working with us.
So from the point of view, therefore, that the operatives on the ground at the very, very lowest level, Amy Biehl turned out to be a legitimate target, but in hindsight she was not. My president said it here and I have said it several times, that we have reached out to the Biehls and when my president goes to the States, he is actually going to visit them to express the regret that we feel about specifically the Amy Biehl situation.
The St James, what's-you-call-it, attack, also falls within the same ambit or the same rationale, that the local commanders chose the target in terms of the frenzy that existed, chose the target in terms of the psyche that existed within that area, and the psyche actually which was informed by the operations of the brutal apartheid system, where our people, innocent as they were, were actually attacked in churches, attacked in schools, attacks on the roads, attacks in - attacked in buses and churches.
So naturally, in a war situation you don't sit down and confer about these things, you react to them. So this is a context therefore, that would like the Truth and Reconciliation what's-you-call-it, process to take into consideration. That while we are sitting here and listening to each other, in turn, the situation was not the same there. Nobody was there to listen to anybody, to explain; you see now, I am going to attack a church, and these are the reasons and this rational. There is no such thing in a war.
So you find also that in other war situations there are many casualties that have happened. Comrade Phitla has said already that we are not discounting the possibility of mistakes having happened, and mistakes have happened, and we acknowledge that these mistakes have happened. The only thing that we are doing, both as APLA and as PAC, is simply to take responsibility for those mistakes, because it is through our own failings, the failings of our own structure, the failings of everything that is human, that causes mistakes. If we are going to stand here and be pretentious about our operations and pretend that we have not committed any mistakes, then we will be fooling you. So that it is an honest position therefore, that we have expressed ourselves about the Amy Biehl situation. We have expressed ourselves about the St James' affair and we have outreached to them, and our president has asked to hold a service at the church, to show that we want to be reconciled with those people. I don't know why we should spend this whole day and we don't have all day, to deal with other more important matters or equally important matters on this one example.
Now let me emphasise again. We say that we do not apologise for the struggle itself. We did not say that we did not apologise for incidents or isolated incidents. For the struggle itself, as a whole we don't apologise for it. But we have expressed that there have been mistakes and for those mistakes anybody who is human would look upon those mistakes as a human failing and regret it. But this does not supposed to mean that we apologise for the struggle, because we will never apologise for the struggle.
CHAIRPERSON: I understand what you are saying and I certainly don't want us to spend any more time on this issue. I just for the record mention that I didn't even raise the question of Amy Biehl. This is what you have done. I have not referred to it at all in my own questions. I have referred only to the incidence which you yourself have put before the Commission for whatever reason. I want to hand this back to Mr Goosen now. But just that I can understand, and I think it is right that people should understand your position, and that is that we are asking questions about APLA, because APLA is here today. We will not ask questions about APLA tomorrow. We will be asking questions about the SADF tomorrow. So too with MK and so too with the Police. Let's be quite clear on that. We are respecting your presence, and that is why we are trying to get information from you. If you are saying now as you have said, that as far as the St James Church is concerned, it is a matter of regret, then that is an amplification of your testimony before us. I am not saying that you are arguing that you are apologising for the struggle, not at all. But if that is a particular incident which you say is a matter of regret, well, that's fine. Then it adds to your report. Thank you. Mr Goosen.
MR NTSEBEZA: Maybe before Mr Goosen goes ahead with his questions. I think I need to indicate that maybe two, three points. Firstly this is not an adversarial engagement between the Truth Commission and the PAC and the APLA leadership. I think I need to stress this because I am becoming very concerned with the sort of direction which this particular proceedings are taking. There seems to be a perception in the PAC leadership that the Commission is on a witch hunt and certainly, I think Mr Modane has stopped very nearly short of saying so, that we seem to be seeking to find out those things that are in our view, commenting negatively about the PAC and APLA and their activities. For what it is worth, I think it would be very remiss of us, and certainly of myself and I am sure I am speaking on behalf of the panel as well, to let that go unchallenged. I speak on behalf of a Commission which I voluntarily became part of, and part of our exercise is to make sure that we discharge the mandate which seeks to present as complete a picture as possible of incidents which we call in terms of the Act, gross violations of human rights that took place in the context of the political conflicts of the past.
So no one is on trial here. Certainly not the PAC, not APLA. We are engaged in an information-gathering exercise, the purpose of which is to inform not only us, but the nation as a whole, of those things, the motives and perspectives that shaped the political history of this country, in a way that produced the APLAs of this world, the PACs of this world and other formations. Today, it is your day to give us the benefit of those aims, those motives and those perspectives.
In gathering of information, you must expect that there will be questions which will be put to you. They will be robust, they will be penetrative. I want to make it very clear that on no account because the questions are robust and penetrative, should they be regarded as amounting to a witch hunt. If anything, they are amounting to an endeavour by us in the Commission to make sure that you utilise this opportunity, not to be defensive, but to explain in as clear a way as you can command, why certain things happened the way they did.
I am grateful for this, to the extent that the majority of the questions have been answered in that fashion. I beg to differ from my comrade, comrade Mondani, for the defensive stance that he has taken, where he brings in people like Amy Biehl when they were not even being referred to. In fact, as we are this stage, the question which was a simple one, remains unanswered. Was the leadership of the PAC aware of what took place in the incidents that it itself has brought to us, and if it only became subsequently aware of these incidents, did the leadership condone it, for right or wrong reasons. There needs to be an answer to that. But let me deal with the other question.
I want to make it very clear here that no one in this Commission is calling upon anyone to be apologetic for any act. The "just war" debate has been brought before us in the submissions by the liberation movements before, and certainly, in some of the submissions and replies to questions. The Commission, as far as I know, is not asking for a moral position to be expressed. It does, however, seek a minimum threshold of moral accountability. By and large that has come out in the submissions that we have made. In fact, on that very page that you have referred to and on others, it is quite clear that there is an acceptance, an accountability of sorts, but we are not sitting here simply to receive one phrases or one sentences. We are here to satisfy not only ourselves, but all those who have an interest in these proceedings. That what is said is in fact what is meant. I have no doubt in my mind that by and large what is said is what is meant.
So I will just ask all of us to bear in mind that it is a complex process that we are involved in. It needs all of us to be laid back, and to appreciate that we are not at war. Fortunately those times are past or are nearly past.
Certainly in the context of what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is about, we are keen to be able to say in a question and answer engagement with the APLA and PAC leadership, we are able to come to a finding that the minimum threshold of - or moral and political accountability that we called for, has been satisfied. You can only get satisfied if we reply to questions that are put.
I am insisting on a reply to the question. Was the political leadership, when it became aware, able to take a position as to whether those were justifiable at the time operations, and that does not mean we exclude from our understanding of the issues, the fact that those laudable steps that we have taken, that the PAC leadership have taken, meeting the Amy Biehls and all that, are things that were forgotten.
COL ZENE: It is unfortunate that St James, Heidelberg and King William's Town have become such a big issue, and I know they became a big issue to a certain section of the population. They are just but three of probably scores if not hundreds of attacks that have been mounted by the Azanian People's Liberation Army.
We may as well go further perhaps and ask questions as to were reports made prior to or after to the leadership about specific operations within perhaps, let's say there were 200? No. We do not make reports about individual operations. We can make a report that we are opening a southern front ... (intervention).
MR NTSEBEZA: Comrade Zene, I am sorry, I must interrupt you. We are concentrating on operations that have been brought forward in the report by Comrade Mofokeng. I insist on the reply to the question that was put. Not because I am isolating the three incidents. You will be aware that I was involved in the defence of many, many, many APLA cadres as a lawyer, and I am aware of many operations. So I am not one of those people who is insisting on only three incidents for the sake of insisting on three incidents. I am very much aware of all those cases that I defended, defending APLA people. I am asking this question for a specific reason, and for the specific reason, is that we need to concentrate on the questions put and the replies must concentrate on the questions put.
BRIG MOFOKENG: Through you, Mr Chairman, and we will continue responding and trying to answer and clarify the question as demanded by TRC. I must also emphasise that more than any other, we are one of the - amongst the groups or the organisations that support fully the efforts of the Government and the establishment of that, even if we express our fears, our concerns, et cetera. I think we are on record of coming last year to see the chairman of the TRC, just to see, to get to know what is it all about, and I express my appreciation, because this is the only process that assuage our hearts, our - of those who suffered. And even ourselves, I mean it is a psychological process to help some of us. So that please, let us not be mistaken in this regard. We appreciate this process. That's why even some others, other people do perceive or sometimes thinks that if you are from war, if you have killed people, you ultimately run mad, et cetera and so on. But basically, the essence is that if you have been involved in war or in killing, et cetera, obviously there must be a process where through church, through whatever, et cetera and so on. So we are supportive of that.
"The APLA forces who carried out these operations followed the directives from their commanders, and these directives were from the highest echelons, that is the high command of the military leadership."
In as far as APLA, we take responsibility, whether it was bad or good. Somewhere I said we will be pouring cold bath of reality. It is reality, it is hard, it is painful and we will not be in a position to change history. We must put it as it is.
MR MLAMBO: Honourable Commissioners, I would want to also underscore the fact that there were members of the military commission who comprised, particularly the chairman, who was the head of the organisation, and other leading personnel, who were members of the political leadership, who served in the military commission. They were the link between the political leadership and the military leadership. I want to say, therefore, that it has been indicated here that we entered a new situation, particularly of increased violence, in the 1990s. Particularly Third Force violence, maybe unexplained type of activities.
Obviously, because fine tuning our broad objectives of saying we want to see political, I mean, armed activities taking place in this area or want to say armed activities being intensified, et cetera, which were being worked out, ultimately, by the people with the technical expertise, professional training. The leadership of the high command. They are the people who did the selection of targets.
Even here, we have emphasised in the August submission, and it has not been in any way challenged even by the high command, that selection of targets was done, particularly in the context of a guerilla warfare, by people nearest some of the targets. People nearest the environment which you wanted to influence, perhaps in a particular direction.
We should indicate here, that it should therefore come as no surprise if at any stage your investigation unit were to produce that well, so-and-so in the leadership of the PAC had an interview and he was a little taken aback with the events as the then had unfolded in this particular incident or in that particular incident.
Obviously the correct thing that happened, was we talked about some of those incidents because as they have indicated, that is the military leadership as indicated. In many of these or in many activities, the actual selection of targets was done by the military commanders including the Commissariat who were the representatives of the party, putting across the political line within the military structures.
Now, this new type of thrust of emphasis, if for instance we were to look at some of the things that Tom Lodge often wrote. He wrote at one stage that the APLA commanders say their main point of attack, that was in the 80s, is principally aimed against the police, the army, the armed forces, the protectors of White domination. They seem to be actually carrying it out in terms of their operations inside the country and we cited several operations within the period of the 1980s. So, in the 90s a new form of emphasis or adaptation of the thrust or struggle did emerge and it did take us a little off-guard, we were surprised and we did discuss and I am sure that initially with the question of King William's Town, for instance, we were completely at a loss and we discussed and certain explanations were made to us by the high command. Some of those explanations and the context of the changing environment and they needed to carry, with us, the constituencies that were the main pillars of support of Apla, did, those explanations filtered through to us and we understood.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes. I think the question is simple. After the leadership had been informed about these operations, did they condone them or not and I do not think my colleagues I have answered the question. The answer is simple. When we reported these operations to the leadership, I indicated it earlier on, that the 90s created a political problem for us, because we had parallel leaderships where those who were inside who were now trying to use the support to also try to project themselves. You see, really, I would not like to be asked further about this, but it is a fact I am only putting here. So, when we reported this matter to the leadership there were individual members of the leadership that felt that this was an error, but the leadership, as a collective, never came up with a position to tell Apla that you were wrong.
I think it is important, therefore, for us to draw a conclusion that they condoned it or not, because we as Apla, if we were told that we had committed an error and then we would have had the task to sit down and review our operations and, therefore, try to follow a new pattern, because the previous operations were wrong, but this instruction never came to Apla to say you were wrong and, therefore, review your operations. So, it is up to this body to conclude whether the operations were condoned or not. I hope I have answered the question.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. On page three of the submission that you made earlier this morning, Brigadier Mofokeng, dealing with this same paragraph which we have been debating for some time, the issue that I want to raise with you is there raised by you and your delegation and that is the question of proportionality. You indicate there,
"... that the decision was aimed at carrying out legitimate reprisals and forcing the regime to end the killings of South African civilians and this was done both in reprisal and self-defence and the only requirement was proportionality ..."
BRIG MOFOKENG: Yes, actually, on these attacks, as he, has already been indicated that we were very much concerned about the killings of the African people attending the night vigils, commuting to work, the Boipatong, etcetera and so on and so forth, and we were concerned that only the African people are suffering in this regard and, of course, the oppressors were to also to feel the pinch. I will quote the late Chairman of the PAC, John Nataipukela, that,
and we do emphasise the question of reprisal and self-defence that also the oppressors must also feel the pinch and must also be killed. That was the equation and it follows from there. Is there anybody who wants to add on that?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, yes I just want to add, Comrade Chairman, that during this time when our people were being killed in the townships, members of Apla, those commanders who were inside the country were very angry to the extent that they thought that maybe our people will say they are not protecting them properly or successfully. That is one of the things which made them to take this decision of mounting these operations. They feel that, they feel guilty that if the war is being taken to the Black townships, they must also take the war to the White areas. That was one of the reasons. Thank you.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: We were really engaged in a regular type of warfare and we had wanted really to bring out, because what must be understood that there was a culture of White militarism in the country that had been entrenched for decades and it had kept our people down. We were in the process of breaking the idea that a monopoly of military art or military skills, ability to defend ones self or ones people could be a monopoly of only one section of our population. So, that aspect that, perhaps, White militarism in the country did lead to militarism within the African community. We should take that into consideration.
We, therefore, had not seriously discussed the idea of signing the Geneva protocols and we had not, at any stage, seriously tabled those. I know that, I have been one of the people who had, perhaps, had some discussions with members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and we were looking into certain aspects of it at the time when some of these activities of the 1990s took place, but up to that point we had not even said, as a military commission, to debate that issue or even, as a central committee, to take decisions on it.
MR MOWENDE: At this earlier hour, I think we must clarify certain things, because the perceptions that you decried earlier from our side are built upon certain things like the type of questioning that is being levelled here. See, there are two paradigms here. There is a paradigm of offensive and there is a paradigm of defensive and we have stated here the paradigm of the, of defensive, because we were fighting a defensive war. We did not start the war. Now, the type of questioning that I can see here has ignored that paraphrasing on our part, that we were actually fighting a defensive war and even the facts that we put forward here, that we were fighting a defensive war, and we proved it and established that we were fighting a defensive war, but the type of questioning here is based on the paradigm of the offensive.
We must justify here, according to Mr Goosen, why we were on the offensive. There is not one question that he asked where we are called upon to justify our defensive action. I would advise him that while we will accept the position where we have got to justify our offensive, he must also maybe construct questions now, for the rest of the day, that will tilt the balance where he is asking us to justify our defensive action. Otherwise the perception will be that we are put, we are being put on the dock here where we have got to justify, in fact, the moral obligation is being put on us here to prove or rather to justify the whole system of apartheid and its consequences and I think that is unacceptable. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Goosen, I want to rule on this and I want to say that I think this is a total misinterpretation of Mr Goosen's questions, I think his questions have been fair, they have been specific. His most recent question is a question we ask every political party. I think this is what you must understand. These are questions not specifically designed to ask you to justify everything you have done or have not done. We are trying to get information. Whether or not you were a signatory to the Geneva Convention, the protocol, is a legitimate question. It is not meant to put you on trial and I do want to make it very, very clear that we have no agenda, none at all. We have specific questions and many political parties, in this very room, have taken the strongest objection to the very questions that you are now taking objection to and we are simply trying to get a complete picture from your point of view.
The main reason why we have not focused on the defensive character of your war is because you have made that very clear in your statements. The earlier statement and this one, you have made it very clear where you are coming from. What we are trying to understand is how this interplayed in the total conflict, because there were many other actors. We are listening to all of them. Please accept my absolute assurance that there is no multi-fides in anything we are trying to do here and Mr Goosen is a valuable member of our staff whom we have asked to lead the questions, but we identify ourselves totally with those questions as being a honest attempt to get to the truth, nothing more and nothing less than that. I hope you will accept our assurances.
CHAIRPERSON: Are we all here? Thank you. Dr Boraine had indicated that I would Chair the remaining section of the, these proceedings. So, I think that is the basis on which he is not here, but he has just walked in. So, let us proceed on that basis.
DR BORAINE: I apologise for my lateness. Unfortunately, there was a call which I had to reply to and I have asked Mr Ntsebeza if he would take the Chair this afternoon. I will be here for most of the time. You know that Archbishop Tutu is out of the country which means that I am assuming his role and Mr Ntsebeza is now the Deputy-Chairperson, acting of the Commission and I have asked him if he would please take over. Thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. Mr Chairperson, just to pick up on the point at which we finished off just before the lunch adjournment. I am grateful to Mr Mowende that he indicated by the comments that he made that I am, in fact, acquitting myself in respect of the job which the Commission has asked me to perform today. I accept the fact that if questions are asked and one is being effective, you are likely to be criticised for being effective. That happened on a previous occasion which was a fairly celebrated instance and I will not go into that right now.
I would like, though, to come back to the question about proportionality and indicate and ask what the Apla high command was intending to convey when it states that in respect of a particular decision to carry out an attack that the only requirement there was the requirement of proportionality. What does proportionality mean in the circumstances?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, before opening for the members to respond I would like, Mr Chairman, to introduce the added members of the delegation who arrived late this afternoon. It is Colonel Willy Nkunene, Director of Training and Manpower Development of Apla, Colonel Barney Glajawo, the Chief of Staff of Apla, Lieutenant-Colonel Andile Tabena, a Director of Personnel and Sergeant David Phillips, a Director of Recruitment.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, proportionality is as the name or rather the word suggests. You attack in proportion to the offensive that you receive. In other words, to put it very, very, to put as my grandmother would have put it, you do not attack an elephant with a needle nor do you attack an ant with a hammer.
MR GOOSEN: I beg your pardon. Do I take it then from that, that in determining which target to attack, in the words that are set out in the third paragraph, at the end of the third paragraph on page three, that all that matters then is the political and psychological benefit that the organisation would derive from such military operation. Is that correct?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Not really. I would remove the phrase "all that matters". I would remove that phrase, because then you are excluding every, in your other things. This is just one of the objectives, a psychological victory.
BRIG FICHLER: I think here the problem is that as our struggle developed, there are certain operations that we undertook, which operations would not have happened if certain activities on the part of the South African Government and its security forces have not happened. That is where, now, the element of proportionality came in. Some of the operations we had to undertake were a result of what had happened before. Like we alluded in the document that the environment at that time was such that there were massacres in the trains, like in the Boipatong situation as well and we were under pressure, as well, from our people asking us where are you, because the problem now was that only one side was suffering.
This is why, now, we talk about political benefits as well, because as a political organisation we had, at that same time, make sure that we maintain the support that we enjoyed from the people. If we could not do certain things that our people wanted us to do and then also we would have lost political support. So, that is the political benefit, also, we are talking about and when we talk about proportionality here, we could have easily gone for much easier targets than the adults. We could have gone for creches, we could have gone for institutions for the disabled, but we had to look at proportionality. Some of the things that we could also, politically, justify and defend.
If we had gone for children in a nursery school, we would not be in a position to stand on this platform today and proudly speak about those activities. So, therefore, we looked at our operations on two levels as well. First, the political benefits that would be derived by those activities in terms of also the support that both Apla and the PAC would enjoy. Also, when we talk about the psychological effect here, also we wanted also to put pressure on the White community as well. It served to be politically involved and put pressure on its Government to, that we are also suffering now so that the whole political process should not be as a result of the Black community only talking about suffering. Also the White community should also talk about the Whites suffering and if you look at the history itself, Apla became so widely publicised now, because the farmers and other sectors of the community were now feeling some of the problems and that is the psychological impact that was also derived. So, that is basically what we are trying to mean in the document.
MR GOOSEN: So, whilst you would recognise that there would be some limits to, which would determine the actions initiated by Apla, the limitations that you would impose in launching those actions would, obviously, be determined from moment to moment on the basis of the psychological and political benefit which the organisation would derive from those actions. Is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: The question is what limiting principles applied. In other words, what factors would the Apla command take into account and regard as serving to limit the negative impact of a particular targeted action, of a particular attack, for example. On what principles would you determine, would you apply a limit?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Thanks Comrade Chairman. The first one would be political motivation. Whenever an operation is not politically motivated, that operation falls outside our ambit of our definition of a target. That is one of the main things, but I need to put more emphasis on the fact that Apla, as we have put it before, had no problem of identifying other hard or soft targets. What actually happened here is that hard, the so-called hard military targets, as we said the security police were our primary target, the security arrangements of, and the army of the oppressor were. It was just a matter of putting more emphasis on what actually, what actual targets we need, primarily, to target.
It does not mean that at a certain point in time when we felt that the situation has changed to the extent that we needed to extend our targets to include the so-called White civilians. We could not do that, we could still do that.
CHAIRPERSON: Before you do so, can I swear you in? In fact, if the new arrivals, any of them is going to be participating in testifying, maybe Brigadier Mofokeng should read all their names into the record and I will swear all of them simultaneously.
COL GLAJAWO: Yes, what I wanted to add is the limiting factor of anything that would constitute a target to Apla would be it must fall within the mandate and that adds to what he said, it should contribute to a programme which is pre-determined by the Apla leadership, it should conform with what the parties directives are and also that there should be involvement of those that are going to carry it and there should be serious commitment on their part. So, in short what I am saying the limitation would be the mandate itself.
MR GOOSEN: Would the Apla high command have considered the operation of international law, humanitarian law and the law, in particular, relating to the conduct of armed operations? As a limiting factor in determining whether or not to launch a particular operation?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: I would think that this particular question is related to an earlier question which had been raised, the question of our position, both as a party and as an army, towards the Geneva protocols. We had a very, very insensitive regime that has oppressed our people for centuries and humanitarian considerations were not really very, very operative and I had said earlier on that some of these questions did arise in our interaction with the International Committee of the Red Cross, for instance, an organisation with which some of us had interacted with even in our prison days, but you had a situation wherein the opposite number was the White regime which was totally insensitive and, hence, its policies were condemned as a crime against humanity.
So, you wanted somebody to tango with and there was none on the other side, but as a political party, we, as the PAC, were not necessarily opposed to those international standards, because the very, very concept of just war, a peoples' war, is based on the fact that if you are standing on a just premise, fighting against a very powerful side, it is when you take correct decisions which can enjoy overwhelming support that your strength will rise from one point to yet a higher point. Therefore, the acceptance or otherwise of the views, particularly of the constituency from which we derived support, would be very, very decisive.
Let me indicate here that there was a time when there was an indiscriminate type of situation, vis a vis, the police, including municipal police. At some stage we moved to a position where we did not go on with an indiscriminate attitude towards them, because we could realise that there were some rumblings even within their ranks and later on, with discussions that we had even with organisations like Popcru, etcetera, we were very, very discriminating at a later stage, vis a vis, African policemen, but at the, some stage, as we had indicated, round about 86 or 87, at (indistinct) police station we went on full-scale in attacking, etcetera.
So, that aspect that it cannot be said it is this and this forever and ever, unaffected by developments, a developing type of situation. So, now, I wanted that aspect to be taken into consideration, but this type of struggle we were engaging in was to change their relation of forces that from nobodies we become somebodies and we move on up to a stage where we would have equal strength and the regime had actually come to realise in the 1980s and early, well, it was the end of the 80s that, a situation was developing wherein they were getting into a no-win situation militarily speaking, a stale mate. In spite of the fact that we had hardly got liberated zones, that is, that we could say at all times we control this area, etcetera, etcetera.
So, it is to change the relation of forces and we would have to continue evaluating our positions. Does this help our struggle? Does this help enlarge the support? Does this help even in isolating the other side, both nationally and internationally? So, that now, we would take some of those aspects into consideration, but it does not mean that a position taken at one particular time is a fixed position which would remain forever and ever. It would have to be evaluated from time to time.
BRIG FICHLER: I think to be specific on this question so that we minimise, also, follow-up questions on this one specifically, I think it is better I make a contribution. The fact of the matter is that we did not consider any international humanitarian law. At no stage did, in our camps, educate our forces about international humanitarian law. The first time I understood what international humanitarian law is, is when I integrated into the SANDF and that is when I got the meaning of what international humanitarian law is and what I discovered, also, when I integrated into the SANDF is that, equally, the former SADF did not even know what international humanitarian law was.
So, you have forces here that were engaged in conflict without knowing what international humanitarian law was. So, this is, basically, the situation that existed and I would request you not to make a follow-up questions on international humanitarian law, because we did not have it and we did not even educate our forces on it.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Well, my final word on this is that it is through history that we were forced to declare war against the system, against the State, against the regime, the former regime and the objective and the aim of that war was, basically, to preserve peace, to restore order, to ensure harmony, to ensure (indistinct) among the people and the law, the revolutionary law or liberation law or whatever you can call it, must be understood that we wanted to preserve humanity by fighting and destroying the factors or the system that was, basically, trying to destroy the humankind. So, basically, this is the broad approach in terms of whether you call it humanitarian law or law for the revolutionaries or the reactionaries, but the thrust was to ensure that in the final analysis, we live in harmony as fellow, as fellowmen in Azania or South Africa. Thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Mr (indistinct), I am afraid I have to follow it up. I would be shirking my responsibility if I did not. For the very simple reason that it is a fundamental precept of the moral and legal order that governs international relations and international law, but the fact that you are prosecuting a just struggle does not entitle you to engage in unjust acts and that is a fundamental principle of international law. Indeed, the Geneva Protocol, protocol one adopted in 1977, long before 1990 and long before you may have had interaction with the Red Cross, was specifically drafted and enacted to cater for wars of national liberation recognising wars of national liberation as a particular form of international armed conflict and making provision for the protection of guerrillas who prosecute wars of national liberation.
Would you not regard it as a fundamental failure of leadership that the Apla high command and the PAC leadership did not, in fact, bother to establish what international law was and did not educate its members about the conduct of operations in accordance with international law?
"... we remind those who have chosen to forget that this is a system that the international community had declared a crime against humanity."
I hope your question is also, you also take that into account. That even the international community, United Nations and all other agencies recognised that we were fighting against a regime and they declared that system as crime against humanity. It is part of what one will call s the international law and, secondly, from this morning we have been reiterating that we were engaged in war and I do not think we have been trying to duck or shift or, on that concept. It was war. Whenever contradiction has reached a certain level of antagonism, war is unavoidable and in our country, at a given time, war was basically unavoidable and whether you decide or you prefer to refer to it as violation or illegal activities, but we consider it as war of liberation fighting and war, as I stated earlier on, involves killing and bloodshed.
I am a bit worried on this matter, because it appears that as if we say we did not kill. By declaring war it is admission, we accept the responsibility that we did kill and I think it is up to the Commission to define that as violation or illegal activities, but we stated very categorically clear that we were engaged in war and in war it means the death and the killing of the people. We are here, basically, to admit that, yes, and give face to the faceless guerrillas or terrorists or whatever you people use to refer to earlier on that we were engaged in this to destroy the system that we consider as evil, as wicked, as disgusting and all that. In that way, we were part of international community. That is why even the international law you are referring to, which I take it that that law was adopted and taken, was adopted by the United Nations. The United Nations recognised the Pan Africanist Congress and other liberation movements fighting against the former settler, colonial regime and it would be the United Nations that will say, yes, because the terrorist organisation known as the Pan Africanist Congress does not obey or recognise the international law, therefore, it remain terrorists and cannot be, must not be recognised.
We are represented, we had a permanent observer status in the United Nations, because the international community, the world and everybody recognised the justness of our cause, the legal and legitimate course as pursued by Apla and the Pan Africanist Congress. So, I believe and I hope I have elaborated enough to show and to link our local struggle, that is in South Africa, Azania, the concern and the eagerness and the urge of the world community to see the oppressed people freed and liberated. So, we were part of that even if, as indicated by the Director, that some of us we were, we never delved deep into that aspect. Thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. The question remains, though, do you not regard it as a fundamental failure of leadership on the part of the PAC or the Apla high command, that you did not apprise yourself of what the position is in international law and did not ensure that your cadres acted in accordance with international law?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, let us put this in perspective. We are talking about international law. Before there was international law and written on paper, there was a set of morals, ethics and morality. That we had, at any rate, and the African people have always had it, because we have always fought wars on this continent. We did not have anything written. We had a set of morals and a set of ethics that governed our behaviour in war and in peace. That is why every African tribe knew what to do during a war and after the war in respect of, for instance, capturing of slaves or and stuff like, and how to treat captives.
So, the PAC also, for the mere fact, that the PAC recognised the basic tenet of humanness, human rights, which is enshrined in the PAC documents and no, and in no way different from the verbiage that you find on the very documents that you are talking about for the mere fact of that simply signifies that the PAC was happening in that areas. So, that now you cannot judge us on whether we read international law or we did not. You should simply judge us on whether we were cognisant, aware and conscious of the humanness of our actions and in our introduction here, we did mention some of these.
We indicated here that we did not have prisons where we kept people and that is one of the conditions that I commensurate with the recognition of human morality and human morals and, also, our cadres did not rape woman, for instance, wherever they went, we did not attack creches where babies were, we did not attack hospitals and stuff like that. So, this is part of the humanness that is enshrined in the document that you are referring to. You are referring to a piece of paper, we are referring to a mentality and a psyche.
BRIG ???????: This is precisely why I requested that follow-up questions on international humanitarian law should not be made, because I do not think there will be any key answers that you are going to get on this. Firstly, I would like to request that, maybe, you rephrase the questions, because it is a bit unfair when you say a person has failed, it means that person has been given an opportunity to know what is right and he has failed to observe that what is right. I have indicated it here that the first time I understood anything about international humanitarian law is when I joined the SANDF. I, therefore, do not think it is fair for a question to be raised that I have failed when I did not know anything about international humanitarian law.
MR GOOSEN: Yes, I will try to make it clear what I mean. The Pan Africanist Congress leadership and the Apla high command leadership, on the basis of the fact that you exercised leadership, political leadership from the late 50s, when the PAC first established, and placed yourselves in a position to, in a representative capacity, prosecute a liberation struggle for and on behalf of and in conjunction with a struggling people, you assume responsibility, you have a responsibility to exercise that leadership responsibly. Not to apprise yourself of what the prevailing standards are in the conduct of a war of national liberation, I would typify a failure, but I am asking you, as a (indistinct) to indicate whether you would regard it, in hindsight, in retrospect, from the position that you are now in, as a failure of leadership?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, I think this has been made very, very clear, that we did observe ethics, we did observe ethics. The only difference is that we did not extract those from the international documents that you are talking about, because we had them in ubuntu. You see, this thing of thinking that international law, like for instance, I mean, there was no African State in 1952. You understand, there was no African state which contributed to that, but this does not mean that the Africans, themselves, did not have a code of ethics and a set of morals. We had them in the PAC and we were exercising our leadership, therefore, in terms of ubuntu, which, actually, goes even beyond those pieces of paper that you are talking about.
MR GOOSEN: I am not going to take it any further, simply to put it to you that on the basis of the positions adopted in respect of the legitimacy of targeting White civilians, that by typifying White civilians in the manner in which you did, carte blanche, you would have violated international law in respect of that.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: I think to clarify, you, that the vocabulary of Apla and the PAC is that of the, we use to refer to as, European settlers and the African oppressed majority. If people want to make it a racial, racist issue, it is up to them, but, basically, it was the question of the liberation of the African oppressed against or from the European minority regime. Do you want to contribute on that.
LEKLAPA: Thank you. I think this point must be made clear once and for all. We did not attack White civilians, but we destroyed European invaders, dispossessors, criminals, because here you want to create a situation whereby our struggle is as recent as the PAC and that is not the case. Our struggle against colonialism is as old as when the colonialists set their foot here and showed their sinister motives of dispossessing our forefathers of the land and the whole struggle, the whole armed struggle was the continuation of that. Actually, we can draw the ancient wisdom from our forefathers when Dingaan said to the Zulu warriors (not translated). What did he mean? He meant that those dispossessors (not translated), the Zulu warriors did not ask among themselves who were the abatagati, who were the wizards, but they knew who the wizards were and they were Whites.
When Moshweshwe, King Moshweshwe of Basuto, in his wisdom, said (not translated) meaning that the Whites will always have solidarity in oppressing the Africans. He drew that from experience, from the practical experience that was going on and, I dare say, that the TRC is more concerned with the White life, because even the questions are being feted by a man who benefitted hugely from the dispossession of our people, because, as far as I am concerned, he who benefits by crime is guilty of that crime and every White person in this country benefitted from the crime of dispossession, benefitted from the crime of colonialism, benefitted from the crime of apartheid, but now you want to extract yourself from this crime and it is so displeasing that the grandsons and daughters of Moshweshwe, of Chaka, of Sekukuene are now bearing the burden of their abusers, because you are the abusers and you cannot deny that.
Because I have been waiting, let me just fire all my salvos so that I do not have problem at the end of the day. Now, I am standing here or seated here as someone who has been abducted from his sovereign country, that is Lesotho, and I have got documentations here which authenticate my case and that, as far as I am concerned, is an international thuggery and let me read it to you. It is from Ministry of Home Affairs, Local Government, Rural Act - no, no, this is very relevant, because the TRC classifies abduction as a gross violation of human rights, but you should know today that you have an abductee in front of you. You have called an abductee from another country and a comparison has to be made, because we have Katiza, on one hand, who is in a kingdom, a White owned kingdom, that is England, and you had me in exile, who was in an African old kingdom, that is Lesotho, but I was abducted, because of the perpetuation of White supremacy. Now, I, this should be clear that I appear before you as someone who has been subpoenaed under protest that you have violated your own rules. You said abduction is a violation of human rights, but you have me abducted from Lesotho, come and testify before you.
Secondly, we have made it, Comrade (indistinct) and Comrade (indistinct) have written to the TRC Chairperson to tell them that Apla documents have been stolen in Umthata and Maseru and that makes it very difficult for Apla applicants to furnish you with sufficient information that you are hunting for. It is a fact that those documents would have made a difference in the applications of the cadres and nothing is said about that and, thirdly, because the TRC has been running, you know, skirmishes with me over my non-appearance before the TRC, let me make it clear that I am not going to appear before TRC on cases involving Apla cadres as a person who has given an order until de Klerk, F W Botha, Malan and Viljoen and company appear and own up the evil deeds of South African Defence Force across the countries and inside the country.
And the TRC is all out to criminalise our struggle. For instance, the most successful urban campaigns, military campaigns in South Africa, perhaps in the whole African country were carried out by Apla cadres using scorpion machine guns. Those Apla cadres have applied for amnesty and one of them is Mishak Bhengu and had his amnesty application turned out, because the Act, according to the TRC, was criminal and for self-enrichment and that is a clear distortion of history. If attacking the South African Defence Force personnel is criminal, then which thing could be political? So, now, the TRC must desist from criminalising our struggle and not only Comrade Shadrack Bhengu, also Comrade Fichler, Colonel Fichler here, had his amnesty application turned down because, according to the TRC, what he did was not for political gain. The whole, military intelligence director, someone who had acted as a chief representative in Zimbabwe, this is a clear criminalisation of our struggle.
Thirdly, we have got George Nongabe and Daniel Rogers, during the lunch I retrieved messages from my (indistinct) link saying the TRC has turned down the applications of these two comrades. Now, if you are a commander, like myself, a Director of Operations, you lead to people to war. Applicant after applicant is declared to be a criminal. That is one way of saying you are a criminal yourself, because you have been a commander of criminals.
Now, fifthly is the question of truth. You have got so beautiful rosy definition or motto, truth, the road to reconciliation, but this is just a holy declaration. The TRC does not encourage people to speak truth. If it ever encouraged people to speak truth, we would not have people like Siphiwo Bolo, for instance, the (indistinct) of people who are now serving in Pretoria Central, being behind bars. We would not have people like myself who has been charged of something that he has never done, because when I was kidnapped from Lesotho I had no possessions of machine guns, of explosives, of ammunition, but that is what I am charged of. Then for me to get out of the hook of the law, I must lie to the TRC and say I did it and this is the sufficient details.
Now, all in all, the TRC does not encourage people to speak truth and, I dare say, this whole farce, this whole circus is doomed for failure, is doomed for failure for obvious reasons, because you cannot reconcile the dispossessed and the dispossessor, you cannot reconcile the oppressor and the oppressed and the fact of the matter is that the Whites are still firmly in power, the Whites are still calling shots and, lastly, to show you that the Whites are calling shots here - just pick this thing for me please - here you have returned L H Mphahlele. Well, I did not want to kick dust over this. I know L means Leklapa, I do not know what H means. Can anyone of the TRC tells me, I mean, tell me what H means or should I keep on guessing that H stands for something? Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Before you proceed, Comrade, I just want address myself to the remarks that have been made by Comrade Leklapa and I can only say what I stated earlier and I will do so very briefly this time. I know of no person sitting on this panel who is utilising a process none of which is, all of which is not of anyone of us is making. We found a process, we found an Act to which your political party contributed by being participant in Parliament in the discussion and making thereof. We are the agents of bringing about the aims and the objectives of the Act. We are not sitting in judgement and I want to emphasise that. We are not trying you and I am not aware that there is an attempt to put on your defence in the sense of attributing crime to actions that were perpetrated in the course of struggle.
You know, the TRC is a controversial place and institution and I cannot state it higher than that and I just want us, certainly in these proceedings, to be able to still go out of these proceedings and be able to say that session was tough, but it contributed to our understanding of the broader issues, which is why I take into account all the things that you have said about the TRC and about the cases that you are referring to and which is why, as Chairperson, I allowed you to go and discuss things which, possible, we will be able to discuss, in a better forum, much more fuller in the course of an amnesty application and I will hope that it will be possible for you to be able to, either in a supportive role or by yourself, to avail yourself for an amnesty hearing at which you will more specifically deal with the issues that I felt, in the interest of fairness and in the interest of enhancing our understanding of issues, you must be allowed to mention here, even though I felt this was neither the time nor the place, but I, again, need to emphasise that what I said earlier and that is we are not here sitting to deny or even to pass moral judgement or any judgement, for that matter, on the justness or otherwise of the war that was fought and we have heard other people, possibly, we will hear other people from the SADF who will just say the same thing as you are saying. That they were justified in fighting what they considered to be terrorists and we will interrogate them. You must be sure of that.
We will be as tough and as penetrative in our questions to them as we are to you and on the question of whether or not we are putting on the same pedestal acts by a liberation movement like yourselves and acts by an apartheid security state apparatus, that is not that question that we are in this process, evaluating. As I say, at the end of the day, we would all lose our credibility as Commissioners if we were ever to press you to take a position that says when you think it was so, your struggle was not just. At the end of the day I think we all come with a knowledge of what the international community had said about apartheid being a crime against humanity. I think that is common knowledge, but what we, as a Commission, have a task to evaluate is whether what I call a minimum threshold of moral accountability is able to be demonstrated, at the end of the day, by you and by anyone who comes before us.
At the end of day, I think it should be apparent, if it will be apparent, that you are able to say now, if you are able to, yes, there was a war, yes, it was unjust, yes, from our perspective, it was a just war, yes, people died, yes, people were killed and then, we fought a war in the best way we knew how, but now, through this process, I would hope you would be able to say so. We are able to say, as a leadership we are accountable for each and every action that was taken by our operatives, we cannot apologise for that. That much has come very clearly in the speech by Brigadier Mofokeng and, lastly, I would hope that we should not be uneasy in these proceedings by having to have these interludes.
There is no worst way of trying to explain yourself than if you are trying to defend your integrity. I only hope you are able to accept that all of us here are men and women of integrity, as the minimum, and that the rest should be for prosperity to judge in as much as you are saying prosperity will judge the cause that the liberation struggle has waged by the PAC and Apla, will become apparent in the course of time. So, I would hope that after you have said the things that you have said, we have now cleared the air for us to be able to carry on these proceedings without it being TRC versus Apla, PAC contest even if it is so in your own perceptions, that we are on a witch hunt. The best we can do, sitting as we are here, is to say we are not.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Thank you, Mr Chairman. To wind up the question by Mr Goosen, but before that I will, I just want to say that this is the body where we air our feelings, this is the body where we are required to narrate history, this is the body where we are to present ourselves before the nation, this is the body where we are to vent our anger. That is why even last year we asked the Chairman of the TRC the meaning of the truth and, of course, it was broadly based, etcetera and so on, but I must say that it must be accommodated if we feel a little bit triggered, because we are recently from war and we seized hostilities, we stopped the war and, as somebody will say, nobody won, but in the final analysis we had to integrate the former enemies regardless of the memories, regardless of the feelings, regardless of the deaths, etcetera and so on.
So, I want to say is that, please, accommodate us if we tend to resume or to show our true colours, to a certain extent and we are trying to be as frank as possible so that in the final analysis you draw out the truth and nothing else but the truth.
Going back to Mr Goosen's question, just to sum up. He referred to the 50s, during the rise of Africanism in South Africa and the ultimate creation and the foundation, establishment of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania in 1959 and in our document, this morning, we did indicate that in the Constitution of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania there is no structure known as Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army and there is no accommodation of the military programme, because, basically, it was political and we thought or they thought, that generation, because some of us were not there, that what they are dealing were understanding people, reasonable people, people who relate in fellowship with the other people, but we were proven wrong.
You study the documents, the statements of Robert (indistinct) so we get the founding father of the Pan Africanist Congress. There is nowhere he says war or military programme, etcetera, he emphasise the need for political change and for the liberation of the oppressed which mean that factor was accommodated and that went on until the banning of the political organisation, not the military organisation, the political organisations. That is the PAC and other organisations, 1960, and, of course, they were forced to go underground and under such abnormal situation they were forced to create and establish their respective military wings. In 1961, the 11th of September that is Apla and, of course, various kinds of operations started as early as all that.
Now, I wanted just to give that historical background that this is not a sudden discovery or a sudden upsurge. It is a history that stretches for four decades of political programme, political hostility and military confrontation between the State and the people and the oppressed. So, I just wanted to put it in the correct, more especially, when you refer to the creation, the foundation of the PAC and, ultimately, of Apla as to how do they link and, also, to emphasise the question of the defensive nature of the war we have been trying to advocate or trying to clarify, to explain before you and before the nation as to what actually were we trying to do. I do not know whether it satisfies. We are waiting for more questions. Thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much. Mr Chairperson, I am going to move to a slightly different set of questions. Regrettably, they are going to be as tough as the first set of questions or first couple of set of questions, part of my function. Hostilities may have been ended, but in the process of determining our own history some of us have a function of having to, at least, choreograph war.
I want to deal with the repossession units or the reference to the nature of your operations conducted, which is set out, I beg your pardon, on page seven of this statement this morning. You indicated that, and you clarify, that Apla cadres have never engaged in armed robberies, but you did, you do concede in that paragraph that one of the major sources of income, and I think in the explanation that you gave as well also of arms, was, what is termed repossession and what you described as revolutionary repossession. Is it possible for the Apla command to provide a list of those authorised operations?
MR GOOSEN: Certainly, I will attempt to. As I understand the position that you have set out here, you are saying Apla cadres are not responsible or, put it this way, Apla cadres have never engaged in armed robberies, have never, in a sense, engaged in criminal actions, but you concede that, at least as a source of income, that repossession, revolutionary repossession, was something that Apla cadres would have engaged in as part of the process of resourcing the organisation in order to prosecute the struggle, but you do not specify or provide, for that matter, a basis on which an outside body, such as the TRC, the Amnesty Committee, for example, can determine which operations, which repossession operations were authorised by the command and which were not. Is it possible to provide us with a list of those authorised operations?
COL NKUNENE: First and foremost in your statement, now, you assume that every operation that Apla undertook was necessarily sanctioned by the high command. I want to believe earlier on our, my other colleagues here have actually shown you the chain of command of Apla and if that has been done, I want to believe, by now, the TRC together with us should understood very clearly how Apla operated and, as such, such a question would not arise at all.
COL NKUNENE: Secondly, I want to say, also, that the question of repossession is not an issue that was brought about by Apla in the TRC or anywhere, but is an issue that has been brought up by the media and, probably, the TRC and also, probably, our cadres that are languishing in jail presently. We are putting this statement to put it very clearly so that the TRC should be aware that in the event that the TRC brings up such charges, we have already put it clearly to the TRC that Apla had never engaged in any armed robbery and as such, we should not be expected to submit a list of those. In fact, we are expecting the TRC to submit a list to us of those armed robberies.
MR GOOSEN: Let me indicate the difficulty. We have got literally dozens of applications for amnesty from persons who claim that they are Apla cadres and who claim that they were involved in and the acts for which they apply for amnesty, are armed robberies, murders, culpable homicide committed during the course of those robberies and they claim in their amnesty applications that they were involved in revolutionary repossession in order to finance the activities of units and in order to prosecute this, the armed struggle as prosecuted by those Apla units. Now, how does the Amnesty Committee or the TRC, for that matter, determine whether any one particular action falls within the ambit of an authorised repossession or not?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: No, I think on the question of repossession units or, code named beauty salon, I think somewhere it is indicated that the commander of the Repossession Unit was Comrade Thabla Maseko. He is currently held at Johannesburg Prison. So, I think, together with his colleagues, his immediate juniors, he can provide a lot of information regarding the statistics about the repossession missions, but, still, it boils down to the question of documents, because here we should not sidestep the issue of documents, because those documents were the property of the PAC, of Apla, and for the South African Police to take them and confiscate them, I think they did that with evil motives and, of course, it would go a long way in helping us, but a mechanism can be worked out whereby the Commander of the Repossession Unit can provide the whole list of repossession missions, not armed robberies. Thank you.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: I think to further explain this, maybe what we want is the context or the conceptual approach or understanding. We were supported by the international world, we were supported by the OAU and, in particular, we were supported by the Liberation Committee, the sub-organ of the Organisation of African Unity in terms of the material, in terms of the resources to conduct armed struggle against the then settler, colonial regime, but the resources were not always adequate, they were not always enough so we had to compensate and augment that by repossessing, as we referred there, that actually that is ours. We considered the material wealth of this country as belonging to the indigenous African people. I will make use of the language that we use to make use of earlier on so that I am not misunderstood.
So, it is along such lines, with that understanding, that we had to order, we had to instruct the units that they conduct repossession mission. Be it in terms of the weapons, be it in terms of the money, whatever, etcetera, as long as that will help the struggle. That was the understanding and this is not a new phenomenon in the history of mankind. If you take countries like China, for instance, if you look at the Chinese Liberation Army against the Komitang, they were so highly self reliant that they did not rely upon the outside world, because they repossessed, they actually expropriated from their enemies. I can make examples on and on and on, but this was part of the revolutionary methods of enhancing our capacity to destroy the regime. So, I think that is that.
In terms of tabulating, I do not think it is possible, because they were throughout the country and, of course, they, it will be indicated by the applications and the applicants that are coming forward, because I must emphasise that, because if, for instance, you take an individual with a pistol or with a rifle from Dar-es-Salaam or from wherever, with two magazines, after three days or so the ammunition is exhausted so he must repossess it from the then enemy. The money was given, will be exhausted at a particular time, etcetera. So, that was the understanding as to, as a guerrilla how to survive behind the enemy lines. So, this is, this tallies with our military line of, as Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army and, of course, we take responsibility in that direction, as a high command, for those comrades who repossessed what belongs, basically, to the African people.
So, basically, that was the thrust and that was how the things were, but as to the lists, it is not possible and I expect thousands, because this was the peoples' war, it involved, then, 30 million people, African people, where everybody can take part and contribute in whatever way and we expect more and more of our colleagues to apply for such activities, to comply with the Act that brought us here today. Thank you.
MR LAX: Thank you Chairperson. Just a question in terms of following up on this issue of repossession. Is the Apla high command saying that all such operations were repossessions or were there instances where, clearly, either your members or people purporting to be your members conducted repossession operations and just kept the loot for themselves and did not, actually, use it or appropriate it for the purposes of Apla? There must, clearly, have been some people who went on missions of their own. There is allusion to that by some of, by some writings by some of your members. I think one is in the panel here today and, perhaps, you could comment on that.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Chairman, Comrade Leklapa had already explained the existence of a special unit for this purpose. It does not mean, therefore, that this special unit was only formed quite recently. There may have been some cases before the formation of this unit where members of the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army as fighting units, not as special expropriation units, may have conducted these for the purpose of survival. So, it would be easy to judge, therefore, whether these were mere criminal activities by one, these activities would have been conducted by members of the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army. Those are the forces.
Two, it became important, therefore, that this, the purpose of expropriating what would not have been for self-enrichment, but the principle here, in fact, the order was that whenever such loot was received it had to be handed over to the commander. Thank you.
MR LAX: Just a follow-up question, to help the answer, possibly. How would you know the difference, how would you know, for example, that your members had not, had overstepped the mark and what, how would you be able to do something about that?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: May I take that up. I think we are reasonable people and we are dealing with a realistic and reasonable situation. I think the answers that have come from the members of the high command, one was that there was a special commander who commanded that unit and, I think, Brigadier Mofokeng did say that, well, perhaps, it is not easy, because these were all over, but the fact of the matter is that we, the high command is not covering everybody that attacked and took things and used the name of Apla and PAC. The commanders will know them and those people will account to the commander or will account to Apla, but I do not think Apla says we are making a blanket demand that everybody who says or everybody.
BRIG FICHLER: I think let me reveal to this body that Apla operated on the basis of a number of guidelines, not necessarily principles, that were drawn up. Either being originated by the leadership or maybe borrowed from other countries and one of the guidelines that were borrowed from the Peoples' Republic of China was what they referred to as the 15 points of attention and one of the 15 points of attention stipulated that you should, our forces should surrender everything that they captured from the enemy and this was a guideline, it was a standard which all our forces had to observe.
However, the question now calls upon us to make a judgement whether some of our forces did not misappropriate or use for personal ends whatever they might have captured and this will be a difficult question unless concrete evidence is put before us to prove that such a member had done that which I am not in a position to judge. Secondly, there is an element of human nature and if an element of human nature creeps in then that creates a possibility, but I do not think we are here to talk about possibilities so that we can judge people, but we cannot rule it out. It may be a possibility, but what governed our activities, it is the guidelines that we had to ensure that whatever was repossessed was brought to the organisation.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, in addition to that, as a concerted effort, even personally, well, as a trained officer, as a trained military intelligence officer to establish as to whether there were people who enriched themselves in that regard, I mean the last three years since my return I have not found any, but we are conscious of the possibility of people enriching themselves as Brigadier Fichler is saying. In the disciplinary code it is stated that there is no room for self-enrichment and given the size of South Africa and the length and breadth of my travelling around here, I mean, my travelling around here, I think by now I will have discovered the common tendency in that direction.
MS MKHIZE: If I may just add to the question which has been raised with an aim of improving our understanding of the repossession units. I just want to know as to what were limits. How was this marketed in, you talk about the peoples' war, how did people at different level understand the repossession strategy? Was it subject to many interpretations where people could do the things which, maybe, the commander did not have in mind?
MS MKHIZE: It is really a question about how did, you have said a lot about the peoples' war, that all African people had to be involved, had to fight the settlers. My question then is if you talk about repossession of what belonged to people, I want us to have a clear understanding of your thinking, how was this marketed at different levels?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, I would say, to give you just a little example, probably, to bring you into picture is if, for instance, I was in Tanzania and I had $20 000,00 and there is a number of cadres that must go home, definitely, you can tell the lines of communication and replenishment are very lengthy. To ensure that those cadres reach home to where they are tasked to go, I will have to finance, probably, that aspect, but as soon as they are at home their survival within, what we said are the guidelines, we would allow them, whether, of course, I am not talking about people who would go to the African community and try and conduct a repossession, but here, like we had earlier defined, the whole scope of Apla cadres, even if they, it was meant that they should go to a farm and in the farm they would repossess that just to enhance the programme of theirs and their own survival and to expound on that, then we condoned that. I would say that, because in the long run we would monitor.
If I know, let us say, in the Eastern Cape we had a cadre, five cadres that are operating there, constantly there would be report to the leadership, but as to how much was given and palmed there, at times it was really minimal, but we were happy as long as we see that there was progress, there were recruits that were coming abroad and we, the same people who are in that area would come and give reports. So, in short, we, there was monitoring of some, to some extent by virtue of the results in that particular area. Thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. I want to move onto the final aspect that I would like to deal with and that is to refer to page six of the, this mornings statement. I want to deal specifically with the question of executions of Apla members. I take it from the statement that is contained in the first paragraph there, that it is possible for the Apla high command to provide a list of those people who were executed in exile. You indicated this morning that you would prefer not to list these members currently, because family members had not been informed as to who those people were. I am not necessarily going to ask you to run through a list of those names now. I am sensitive to the interests of the family members as well, but I will ask the following questions.
When were these people executed, what steps has the Apla high command taken to date to inform family members of the fact that these people were executed and by when could we anticipate that you would be able to provide us with a complete list of all the peoples who, people who were executed?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Excuse me, I think on this one we would request the privilege of submitting the dates when we submit the names as well, because we cannot just say when, because whilst you say when it means you have to put the dates against the names. So, we would request for that privilege and, secondly, the question of the steps that we have taken. I must emphasise that we discuss this issue over a period on two reasons.
Firstly, it is a moral issue and, secondly, it is a political/security issue as well. We have been debating it and one of the steps we have taken was also to request the TRC itself to make use of this platform to request the TRC to assist us in the process of informing the family members. So, it is an issue that we have been looking at and trying our best to see how best we could attend to it.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much. I am sure that that, that perhaps the Chairperson or the panel could maybe address the specific request and arrangements could be made in that regard. I would like, though, before we move off the topic to deal with the broader issues, unrelated to the question of who those people were and that would relate to whether the people who were executed were afforded a trial, either before a military tribunal or before a tribunal convened by the political leadership. What procedures applied in the circumstances in those trials, were those people entitled to be represented to assisted in the presentation of their defence and who was responsible for the decision to execute?
BRIG MOFOKENG: Yes, in the first paragraph of the execution, I think it is indicated that it is the prerogative of the Apla commander, acting in his capacity as the commander, to issue such orders as to who is to be executed. So, I think that is that.
In terms of the representation, what basically happens or happened previously was that this kind of action will be followed by thorough debates, discussion and political education amongst ourselves and I must say, basically, mostly it surrounds the question of the mutiny and destabilisation within the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army. I think I can put it that way and that far. Any other contribution on this?
CHAIRPERSON: I would like to. I would really like to follow-up on that question. It has not been answered. You would really have kicked for touch there. May I just indicate that we put the same question to the ANC when they came here about Angola and Maharaj in his reply said, look, we did not provide any person with any representation whatsoever. The people that we executed did not have even a modicum of legal representation let alone any sort of representation. Now, of course, you are not MK, you are not ANC. I would, if it is possible, expect a very, sort of direct question, answer. Yes, we had the sophistication of a military tribunal, we did not have that. People were executed if the commander was just satisfied that, in his view, the person had committed an offence that was calling for him to be executed, he just executed the person on the spot.
It is an information gathering exercise we are engaged in. It is not a trial of whether or not what you did was or was not correct in the circumstances. So, please, do not kick for touch, comrade, Brigadier Mofokeng or ... (intervention).
BRIG MOFOKENG: When in Sesotho we say (not translated). Maybe the simple explanation will be that, you know, when the man has died and brutally killed and all that, you will always see a smile or whatever, etcetera, but it does not mean that we are laughing at the, that unfortunate situation. That must not be misinterpreted when I be seen grinning or smiling or whatever.
Well, I will agree and I will say that a liberation movement is not that sophisticated as to have the machinery of that sort set. That is why I say the political commissariat, the camp administration, the camp community, the army as a whole will sit down if we realise that there is the destabilisation. We did indicate that there were a lot, there was a friction within the PAC given certain period of time which, basically, resulted to the death of some people. Some of them very what, prominent figures, including the known ones like Sibeko, who was part of the leadership in that direction. So, I must say that it will follow a direction or a process of trying to convince each other, taking into account that we belong together, we are eager to go down south to go and fight and we take into account that, basically, it could be frustration, it could be the slow place of the implementation of the programme to go home, etcetera and so on.
That is why I will not go in terms of the numbers, but instead the limited numbers, because we felt it is not the solution. If it is taken it must be taken after all avenues, more especially political processes within the army by the commissariat and everybody had conducted, an individual had exercised his or her rights. I must say we did not have that. That is why we said here that the commander is responsible in his capacity, as an authority to give directive or orders for such executions to take place. So, it was not like the Supreme Court or whatever you call it around here with all the learned men around knowing the laws of the country, etcetera and so on, but it was rough and tough and painful situation.
I must say we did not have the, that kind of representation that everyone in this house will expect, will anticipate, will wish that to happen, given the nature, given the conditions and given the level of sophistication of the liberation movement which we cannot compare with the state, etcetera. So, I must say that it was really painful, hard, harsh and I can put it that way, that far and I do not think I will satisfy any person, more especially, as long as the names are not yet submitted, because the details will be important to satisfy the Commission or the nation that we are addressing now.
Is there any other comment again and before I wind up on this, is that in the oath of allegiance of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, in the oath of allegiance of the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army, in the military code of discipline of the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army it was indicated for an individual that he is joining as a volunteer and that he must take an oath that he will abide by the laws, the regulations of the organisation and I do not know whether there is a, our code around here, but what I am trying to say is that an individual who will join with the full understanding of the dangers that are involved, but he is doing whatever he or she will be doing at his own peril.
So, we always indicate, we always train people to understand the disciplinary code, the oath of allegiance, the rules and regulations he or she must abide by. So, it is catered for in the, in those documents. That is in broad terms. Any other addition?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: May I directly answer the question? The fact of the matter is that we did not have an institution or an institutionalised mechanism of giving people an opportunity to defend themselves. This is why in the document we are saying it was the commander's responsibility and this was the position of the military leadership and we took this decision purely on a security perspective, because we tried to ensure that whatever might have been done would be confined to those people who have done it. Now, I am saying this because personally my capacity at the time, as military attache, the commander once confided to me about one of these activities.
May I not get the follow-up questions at this point in time on this aspect, but the fact of the matter is that we did not have that mechanism. So, it was the commander's prerogative to decide what action was supposed to be taken and who was supposed to do it. Thank you.
MR LAX: Thank you Chairperson. There is just one other aspect in terms of maintaining of discipline and so on. We have heard about the difficult times, the sort of crisis, within which Apla and the PAC found itself in round about 78 and there are allegations that have been made that discipline was maintained in a particularly harsh manner at that time with floggings and beatings of people who were in dissent and so on. Are you able to confirm that, that that, in fact, took place and was, in fact, rife at that time under those circumstances?
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Well, I do not know where the Commission get that, but it must be made clear to the Commission that discipline is very decisive in the liberation army, like that of the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army and it had to be maintained every time. There were no harsh treatment meted against our people. Physically, the basic, what they referred to as punishment, will be crawling, running and all that which the soldier is trained to take. It was not the violation of the human rights as such. I think, I do not know, I am a bit disturbed by hush, hush behind here.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, even under those difficult times, as it is being said, here you had a situation where you had a disgruntled few leaders of the army in the camp and the cadres and they were in control of that situation. Then you had few that never abided by that leadership and one way or another those had to run away and go and report, let us say, in Dar-es-Salaam. Then, maybe, an extreme example is the killing of, as it was mentioned here, of the prominent leader where that group then decided that they will take action by sending six cadres as, I think the document clearly states it, but generally speaking, if there were situations of extremes maybe of ill-treating of cadres, in my candid remembrance or, I would say maybe one or two of the cadres it did happen, but I think that should be left as, also we have said, for later submission. Thank you.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Mr Chairman, I was at the time the Chief Administrative Officer official. I think to be straight and candid, it is true that there were no harsh, I think harsh is rather a harsh word to use, but in the context of the situation there was, there were forms of normal mediatory discipline like (indistinct) quotes. It is accepted norms. Of course, there were one or two beatings which became necessary. Now, that will account, I think, when the list is given. That will account for the minimal number of decisions which resulted into a supreme decision, because in the whole, the cadres were disciplined and I can categorically say there were no tortures.
If there were problems they would come and report to the office and we would solve those things amicably, but they were treated as brothers on the whole. I think if most of them would tell the truth, they would say on the whole we were treated as brothers, but discipline had to be maintained.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Well, to add on that, I will say what actually assisted was the, there was crisis in the organisation, but it was, the period you are referring to is that of the time we launched, what we use to refer to as Operation Curtain Raiser and Operation Home Going or Homecoming. It really raised the morale of the cadres in that direction and we were one in terms of going home and we forced our way through Zambia and Botswana. Of course, even the then Minister of Justice, Kruger, had to admit that Apla is reviving as far as Eastern Cape or Transkei, as they use to refer to it. So, in that regard I want to show that it was not only crisis, but there were also breakthroughs during that.
That helped in that direction and everybody was geared to be picked up or to be identified as a candidate to go home and we were working towards that objective. Yes, of course, there was that thing that these leaders doing that and that that led to the death of Sibeko, but it was, there was also that element within the cadres that now we are going home at last and it must also be explained to the Commission that we had a very tough situation. That in 1968 when some of our people based in Zambia wanted to go home, I am dealing with the morale now of the cadres so that you get the correct and complete picture.
When the cadres of Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army launched operations and by that time Mozambique was still colonise, Zimbabwe was still colonised, so it was very difficult to go through that and, of course, our people went via Mozambique and some of them perished in Villa Peri and others, of course, were intercepted and arrested by Botswanas. Basically, what I am trying to say is that it was very, very difficult, it shows how the cadres, even themselves, not only the leadership, but the cadres made efforts to go home and fight and in the final analysis, of course, with the benefit of the liberation of Zimbabwe and other areas we were able to increase, because of the proximity of that.
I must say that the frustration was not only caused by the problems within the organisation, but some were imposed by the situation where Kaunda was basically threatened by Vorster that before God knows what happens, he will overrun Zambia in 1968. That is why we were in Cosban from Zambia because of those operations of 1968 and that was a direct threat by John Balthazar Vorster that time. So, I am trying to show as to the problems that affected the morale and we had to explain and train and educate the cadres to understand the totality of the struggle, that it was not easy.
Even in the 70s when a lot of the recruits came into join the liberation movement, it was easy to take them up, but very difficult to take them down and we had to wade our, wade through. So, that that actually assisted in terms of the maintenance of the morale of the cadres and, of course, as we indicated somewhere that we, you did not even see the need to create or to establish the detention camps, because our emphasis, maybe now I am talking more as a political commissar than as commander, was that you will have to liberate the mind of many, you will have to enlighten the man so that he owns the struggle, he owns what he is doing so that it is not something imposed upon him.
That enlightenment, that training was very vital and it minimised the discipline problems, because the next man will be in a position to say, hey, what you are doing is out of order, because of the inculcation or, what other people will prefer to call indoctrination, but, basically, it was the political education conducted on the cadres to know actually what they are fighting for and that they are not criminals and that they are not bandits, but the armed civilians to overthrow the illegitimate regime of the time. So, basically, that was that. I am trying to put it in context not to confine it to a particular incident somewhere where a person was punished by, for, by crawling or by jumping, by running, etcetera and so on.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: I would like to get clarification from the question. Maybe I may misunderstand it, because if I understand it, the question is trying to find out if there were any harsh measures that were taken to discipline people. Is that how I understand it?
MR LAX: Yes, the question is based on accounts of some of your cadres who say that at that time things got harsh. The situation was difficult, there was a mutiny, some people did not tow the line and they got dealt with quite severely and that is what some people have alleged happened. I am asking and I have had a full answer which, basically, indicates, no, it did not really happen, there were one or two isolated incidents, but basically people towed the line, because they were, for want of a better phrase, well indoctrinated and had a good discipline.
MR LAX: Just one other last question from myself and that is the issue of people that have disappeared, not just executions and so on. As we have found with other movements and, particularly, people who have come before us and said, look, my son disappeared round about this time. We think he went into exile, we do not know for sure. Is there any way you can assist us with lists of people that will have arrived at your camps or that you know of that left to go into exile in one way or another or that disappeared on route back or that were killed in engagements back here, because one of the other aspects is that there are allegations that, for example, the police and the SADF would sometimes bury cadres in paupers graves, because they were simply unidentified or maybe for more sinister motives. One does not know.
So, we are just needing to know whether you can assist us in some way with some degree of possible lists that you may have been able to compile either from your records or from peoples memories and so on, that will help us fill in those bits of the puzzle that are missing at the moment.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: We did indicate that we are very much willing to co-operate with the TRC, because we realise that it is playing a very important role to appease even our people. If the TRC or the member of the public or the nation comes and say I suspect my daughter or my son joined Apla this date, etcetera, can Apla provide us with information if she or he was there, we are very willing to do that and I think very prepared to co-operate with the public. If we do not know, we do not know. If we know we are, basically, going to provide every assistance possible.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: ... 68. Comrade Zulu was amongst them, those who were in that brazen action in Mozambique and where they fought until they reached Villa Peri. He and the other one, Comrade Makoena, retreated, but from that time up to this time there were, how many, four or three, six of our cadres, well, the others fell in the battle, but about six of our cadres are alleged to have been captured by the Mozambique, by the Portuguese forces and at time, at independence of Mozambique in 1975 we rang to Mozambique, we tried to find those people. Perhaps, the Government of Mozambique can co-operate better with the TRC to get the records.
The relatives of these people are still coming to us even in so many years and at some stage the people did write, these cadres did write home and at this stage they must be quite aged if they are still alive. I mean they are of our age group. So that, perhaps, we believe that the TRC can have a better ways of asking the Mozambique Government for whether those people are there. I think Comrade Zulu and the others can be able to give the details of the names of these people. We will be grateful if the TRC would assist us in that manner. In the same way as Comrade Dan has said, we will do our best.
There have been a lot of people coming to us, I mean, they have been coming to us also asking if these people joined and so on, I think as late as last week, somebody came to me looking for their daughter who was supposed to have left and wanted to know whether that person joined the PAC abroad and we went into that process to find out if they did. I thank you.
MS MKHIZE: I have three questions, but the first two are related. The third one is, in a way, independent. The first question is really wanting to know whether Apla, as an armed force, had a position or a policy regarding the handling of women as soft targets, if I might use your words. We have had instances of witnesses who were talking about how they were handled by Apla members for, especially those who were suspected or who were alleged to be collaborating with the system. They have related stories of being tortured. Also, in some of the stories women in farmer's families have been raped before being murdered and in some instances there have been allegations that that was done by Apla members. So, I just wanted to know whether you had a policy as to how to deal with women in particular in instances where they were, where they fell under the category of soft targets.
The second question I said is related to the first one is it relates to whether, are there any women who are Apla members. If there are, my question is do you think if you had brought them here today their explanations and understanding of the operations of your organisation would have added value to what you are saying or not?
The last one really relates to the rehabilitation of cadres. I would just like to know whether there are discussions today about what should be done in terms of rehabilitating those people who were exposed in, what you refer to, as peoples' war, especially because it tended to have attraction to people who were young, in some instances really children. So, I just wanted your views on those three.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Well, I think in the first question you will have to explain as to what do you mean. Do you mean the women within our ranks being abused or women in the ranks of the enemy being abused and considered as targets? What actually are you saying?
MS MKHIZE: Well, it really specifically, one, I would like to know whether in your planning you foresaw a situation whereby women would be part of, what you refer to, as soft targets? If you did, what were your views as to how women will be treated? Was that of interest to you at all. Like, for instance, when your foot soldiers gave reports, were there any instances where you were told that, well, we found, let us say, a farmer's house, an old woman as to how was she treated, how was she dealt with, was that an issue for you at all? That is what I am referring to not, I am not talking about women as Apla members in the first instance, but as.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: Yes, I think we did explain that the soft and hard targets, that concept is a foreign concept to us, but to answer you I will say that there was no specific order or direction that the women, as such, be attacked as women, because, I think, you must consider that the South African situation is a mans world and whether by the then oppressors or the oppressed, women were always put aside and in security they played a very minimal role. So, I will not really give you a satisfactory answer in that direction, but I do not remember specific instruction or orders that women and children must be eliminated and in as far as abuse or rape, I must put it clear that we emphasise in our political education no rape at all. Whether be it White or European women or African women.
If there is anybody appealing and is affected in the rape situation, I will, and I must be on record, that if anybody raped anybody in the name of Apla must never be given the benefit of the gesture extended by the President of South Africa and, in the Constitution or the TRC, because rape is not accommodated and was never accommodated and I think we are among the few liberation movements in the world that never experienced that in our camps and I am saying this with emphasis and with clear conscience. I think that is how I will answer the first question.
And then the second question I hope our lady comrades will not feel affected, because there is insinuation that they might not be in a position to be as fluent and as articulate as Brigadier Mofokeng to put across the military line and the political line of the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army and I must say both men and women in Apla were educated the same and they will put across the line as I have being putting. Of course, members of the leadership are more advanced given our training. I did not indicate as to what an extent were we trained, but in your questions you did enquire as to what countries offered that and the simple answer in that, I will say we were trained in three continents, that is Asia, Europe and Africa, but I must say we considered women as competent as men in every respect and they were given their rightful place. That is occupying any positing depending upon their competency and their expertise, their skill and training.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: As a matter of fact, we have women in senior command positions. It is unfortunate that they are not part of our delegation today, actually. I think by their presence they would have added, just like, perhaps, my presence is adding something, because we form part and parcel of the same team. It would have been best if they were here. They would contribute, definitely. Thanks.
KWANI: Yes, I am, I do not know whether I should say I am sorry you did not pursue the question about women in Apla, but I take it that there is no complaint, but I want to put it on record, although the question was not asked, that Apla has a record of treating the women well and equally. I know there are some instances where it is reported that women were abused in the liberation movements camps. In the Apla camps there is no record of that happening. Instead our young men married those girls that they loved and some of them sitting behind me have the wives who are comrades in arms. We have this on record and I think we are proud of that record that we kept our ladies as ladies and when we loved them and they loved us we married them.
CHAIRPERSON: There was a question on reparations and rehabilitation or whether there is any, sort of sense in which there is a debate within the PAC and Apla about what reparatory measures or rehabilitation measures ought to be take or what suggestions you have in regard thereto.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: I think there is a debate in the organisation about, because the people who were brutalised, our people who were brutalised by the system of apartheid and the existences of the struggle themselves. Fortunately, we have a lot of trained social workers, people who have been trained in social work and even in the SANDF, I think they are helpful to, sort of, deal with some psychological effects of our people who were traumatised and brutalised by the system of apartheid or even, perhaps, traumatised by the struggle, because even if you carry a gun to go and attack, I mean you are dealing with human beings here, it does have an effect even if you know it is for a good cause, you are an attacking, it does have that kind of effect. Some efforts are being made to help those comrades psychologically.
MEMBER OF DELEGATION: To add on this, counselling is very important. I think even the Minister of, is it Social Welfare, did indicate earlier on that there is a need not only by the liberation movement, but the nation as a whole to conduct counselling so that we readapt and readjust into the society. I think it is a national issue and then, secondly, among other things, I will say when we broaden it, that lately we, recently we, the veterans launched what we call the Veterans Association as an attempt, that is that of Apla, as an attempt to rehabilitate them, to cater for their needs and interests and readjust them back into the society and I must say the efforts by the Minister of Defence to integrate the armed forces into the National Defence Force helped a lot in that direction for this, for the freedom fighters to readjust and adapt back into the normal society, because they have been in an abnormal situation for a long time.
Of course, along the same lines are the question of the special pension fund for the old aged. So, I can go on and on and on, but I must say we are thankful of the State and the Government of the Republic of South Africa to make effort to accommodate the freedom fighters back to the normal situation. Thank you.
MR MENDANA: Can I just add to that, Mr Chairman? We, because of the length of the struggle, the amount of time that it took, we had people who joined the struggle at age 13, 14 and upwards and those people have never had the opportunity to go to school. Some of them are today in their 30s and some of them may be in their early 40s. Now, they did not have the (indistinct) to look after themselves or any families that they might want to build. Now, they are left destitute and there is no provision in this country for bursaries to assist people who want to go to school who are in that kind of position. So, I think the best form of rehabilitation, therefore, would be to make education accessible to these people.
It does not matter what age they are. They must make that choice, education and training. So, that now they can be empowered to join the economy and talking about economy, there is also a need for people who have got entrepreneurial skills or if they do not have entrepreneurial skills this can be developed maybe because it is too late for them to go to school or they do not have the motivation or the energy to sit behind a desk. Provision must be made, therefore, a fund must be made. I think, in fact, I must praise comrade Phosa in Mpumalanga. I think he has a fund like that that he is establishing or has established, but this thing must not be a provincial issue, it must be a national issue where people, as a matter of fact or as a matter of procedure, I nearly said entitlement, but it should be entitlement, they should be given the opportunity, therefore, to have access to the economy through training entrepreneurship or if they have got the entrepreneur skills, be allowed to establish their businesses, whatever, of whatever nature and whatever they want.
In that way, therefore, we, the country shall have (indistinct) the suffering that they have gone through and these people can be empowered to build up their homes and then also there are people who have lost touch with their families. They came back here, went to number three Skokani Street or something like that and found that there was no one and they are still looking for those people. Maybe they should also be assisted, because looking for your people needs funds and it needs a lot of communication and they must also be assisted in that direction.
Some people do not even have housing. I know of one or two people who do not have homes at all and they were in the liberation struggle and it is unfair that these people should continue suffering in this way.
I had a case, just recently, three days ago, Zinisa from Kumga called me in desperation. His application for a special pension was turned down and the man cannot walk, he is on a wheelchair. He is only about 32 years of age, he has got a family and he does get assistance from the welfare department, but the money that he receives is hardly enough for him to fend for his family. When he called me he was somewhere in Queenstown. I think there is an institution there in Queenstown that is attached to the Defence Department and there he had received a letter inviting him to come and join in that kind of core there of people who are disabled in one way or another and he was turned down. He even gave me the telephone number of the person that actually turned him down and these are the people and there are many other people who were in Apla who are disabled today.
Now, to seek for qualifications from them is unfair and also not to try, you know, studiously, to assist them in the direction of fending for themselves so that they can become independent economically, if we do not do that we shall have done these people a great, the greatest disfavour, because we are here enjoying the freedom and democracy that they gave their lives for. They are still alive and I think we can still reach out to them and assist them in whatever way they desire to be assisted. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Comrade Mendana. I am sure that your remarks and all that input by all of you has been taken note of in particular by Mrs Mkhize who you might or might not know, is the Chairperson of the TRC's Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee and, in that capacity, is the one who drives policy formulation and recommendations that ought to be made to the President as to what form reparation should take and I am sure in the immediate sense of those people you have mentioned, who are desperate, and in the long term sense of what the overall picture is going to look like in terms of what we are capable of recommending by way of reparations, Mrs Mkhize has taken very particular note of those issues and any other issues that you might have.
Let me say, you are not restricted by what we have said here or by what you have said here by way of making submissions. I think any aspects which are very urgent, as far as that goes, which you ought and you want to bring to the attention, especially the R & R Committee, as we call it, you should feel at liberty to do so in writing and very urgently.
MR MENDANA: (Indistinct) the previous issue, sorry. This is in reference to our cadres who are prison and they are serving long sentences, 55 years, 75 years, 30 years, 40 years and we have had the opportunity of visiting them. Now, we have got a dynamic here where they can only be released after an application for amnesty and that application for amnesty must also be successful, but we feel that a great injustice is being done to these people. First and foremost, maybe the TRC can approach the President of this country, because those people did not do those things for, rather as criminals, for their own sakes as individuals, they did not do them for personal gain. They did those things, because they got instructions from the liberation movement.
We, every country has got an instrument vested in the Head of State, in the President. That instrument is called clemency and I am sure that since we recognise what these people are in prison for, that act of clemency can be exercised by the President of this country. Maybe if the TRC were to have a tete-a-tete with the President of this country then you might be able to adjust your own expectations about the TRC and allow the President to exercise this act of clemency. That is number one.
Number two, these young people did not go to prison there as criminals. Again, as, I wish to emphasise that, but they are placed there with hardened criminals. Now, this is unacceptable. In a country where they, the level of crime is so high, you take people who have never been tutored in criminal skills and then you put them among criminals and in the state of frenzy and state of desperation and state of anger, they learn these skills and if they come out, either by clemency or otherwise, the possibility is that they themselves would find the option of criminal activities very, very attractive. Since they are so skilled the possibility is that they will be able to go on with any criminal activity that they might choose without being apprehended.
So, we are, in effect, creating a criminal situation by mixing them with hardened criminals, but that is only one part of the picture. The other part of the picture is that because they are not used to that kind of culture, they are politicians just like me, just like anybody in Parliament there, they are politicians. They joined the struggle out of political commitment to liberate their people, but then, you see, they are treated there as if they are animals. One of them, his cell was stormed last week in a, in St Albans there in Port Elizabeth and he was removed forcibly, just on the spur of the moment, to another prisoner, rather to another prison which is reputed to be a very, very tough prison where hardened criminals, incorrigible criminals are sent.
Now, for a politician to be treated that way in this country, a politician who has fought for the liberation of this country to be treated that way is quite unacceptable and I think the TRC must intervene in this regard and those people must be placed in a separate prison. One thing can be said, maybe cynically, about our former oppressors. They removed us from hardened criminals and placed us separately from them. That is why I am here today, because at the time that I was in prison if I had been put in the midst of hardened criminals, there is no guarantee that I could not have joined the, what do you call it, the criminal army, but fortunately, my oppressors kept me separate from those criminals, but here is this Government, a Government that claims to be enlightened, keeping political prisoners together with hardened criminals. I think this is a priority in the direction of rehabilitating this country. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Mendana. I am sure that we are taking note of the remarks that you have made and to the extent that it is possible and to the extent that it may be something that falls within our mandate, you have made a persuasive plea to us to do an intervention, I am not confident to what extent we would be able to make a meaningful intervention. As you correctly point out, this seems to be something in the area of the political leadership in Government and in the Government of the day. I dare say that in the end we will be writing a report which we ought to submit to the State President and in that report we will, obviously, be making recommendations.
Unfortunately, I am not even in the Amnesty Committee who are the ones who decide who should or should not get amnesty and, unfortunately, there is non of us on this particular panel who sits on that Committee and, as you know, it is a Committee that is as near to being considered judicial as any Committee in the TRC. The other Committees are not as autonomous of the Commission as that Committee is in the sense that since it has that task of determining who can or cannot be granted amnesty, the Act also provides that their decision to grant or refuse amnesty cannot be reviewed, not even by the Commission and I think the only route that is possible in an event where an application has failed and there is a basis on which it is thought it ought to have succeeded, the route remains that of taking their decision on review, but then that is a separate matter.
It may well be that the Amnesty Committee Chairperson or the Amnesty Committee as a whole at the end of the process in writing their report may take a view that there were hard cases that they had to deal with. Some of which, I think, Leklapa mentioned in the course of his contribution. I do not know. It may well be that they may take this view that in terms of the Law as they interpreted it, they were not able to allow amnesty to be granted, but that the broad view that they take of the issues is that the President may well want to consider that some of the cases, even if at a legal plane, are not capable of being considered for amnesty, they are in the nature of things, the sort of cases that the President may decide to exercise his Presidential prerogative.
I do say, and I want to emphasise this, that that is a possible route, but then again I am not in the Amnesty Committee and I cannot really persuade them to do so, but we have taken note, very, very serious note of the remarks that you have made.
I also would like to say, as Vumangos Ntikinca will know, this problem of political prisoners being placed with criminals is one that we will continue to grapple with for as long as the people who continue to be in charge of the prisons are dictated to by the letter of the Law as they understand it. Mr Ntikinca will know that there was a person who was kept as a criminal even though he had been charged with terrorism and because the terrorism charge had failed and he was found guilty of possession of, illegal possession of firearms and was sentenced to seven or eight years he was, however, kept as an ordinary criminal. When everything was pointed out that he was not a criminal and we struggled to persuade the political leadership of that day to recognise this fact.
So, those things are going to continue and we have taken note of the sort of things that you have remarked about in that regard. Again, it will be an institutional thing and I may well say that, to the extent that we will assist, I think there should be a sense in which the political leadership of the PAC should continue to interact with correctional services, with the President, with the Ministry of Justice to see to what extent they can persuade them to see things in the way in which you see them.
Now, it, therefore, remains for me at the end of this process to sincerely thank you for having come and I am eternally grateful to you for having been as frank as you were, for having stated your views and your frustrations and your anger and I thank, also, the members of the panel for rising to the occasion of taking Leklapa's anger with quiet solitude. We take all submissions that have been made today very seriously, because they are submissions which we need to take into account when we are going to be saying in that Commission report we now understand the motives and the perspectives of the armed forces that were engaged in that conflict.
We do not have to accept them, is not our duty to do so. We need to understand them so that we can incorporate them in the body of knowledge that is going to be documented so that it reflects the history of this country as seen by all the perspectives who were involved in the armed conflict and that we hope that that final report document will reflect some of the things that were raised today. So, it is with that that we feel your contribution was worthwhile. If during the course hereof tempers flew, interventions came, robust, it is all in the nature of a honest endeavour by all of us to seek the truth. I do not want anyone of you here to leave with the impression that we were displeased by the way in which you responded. I think all of you responded in the best way you know how, as honestly and as fully as you could.
I must just say, finally, that I need to say that we are in the month of October and the time is running very, very short. We would, therefore, urge you in relation to those things that you need to submit by way of documents, to quickly let us have those as fast as you possibly can so that we can complete the picture of our understanding of the issues that were at play, including the list that you are going to compile of the repossession units, executions and, lastly, of disappearances. In fact, the Director of Investigations and I are going to be twisting each others arms, because he is very much aware of the sort of time constraints that we have and there is so much that we can do between now and the end of October or even the end of December.
I am going to plead and twist his arm and do this so that we can go ahead and try and dig up some of the bodies which are in the Northern Province and some of which are attributed to the PAC or PAC cadres. Those bodies are lying in unmarked graves and we do get a sense that some of the people who were killed by security police, on investigations that we have made, are people who are Apla people, but we are unable to determine who they are. So, before we are getting to a stage where, because of time constraints, we are winding up the process of investigation, I think you would assist us to quickly contact us so that we can determine who of those people who are lying in those unmarked graves are your people so that if I succeed with my Director of Operations, we should proceed to the process of exhuming those bodies so that you can give them a decent burial. So, time is of the essence and there will be no more time for us to do those things if you do not do them with speed.