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Type Armed Forces Hearings
Starting Date 08 October 1997
Location CAPE TOWN
Names GEN CONSTAND VILJOEN, GEN JOUBERT, JOHANNES JAKOBUS GELDENHUYS, JOHAN LODEWYK MEIRING
CHAIRPERSON: If the photographers and those who are filming would now begin to end please, so that we can make a start. I think weíve been fairly generous with our time. I thank you very much for your co-operation, I appreciate that. I would like to extend a very warm word of welcome to all who are present at this hearing today, in particular Iíd like to welcome General Meiring of the SANDF and General Viljoen, who will be making a presentation very soon - former head of the SADF and will be speaking specifically on that area and the past.
Several others will also be participating in the hearing and to all of you, we are grateful and appreciative of your co-operation. It is our hope that we are going to have a very productive day, a day where we hear each other, where we assemble information which is demanded of the Commission by our founding act. And that is all we are looking forward to receiving. In particular we are anxious to know the perceptions and the motivations, the planning throughout the period of conflict. We have asked exactly the same questions of other key role players in that conflict and will continue to do so during the course of this week.
Yesterday for example, we listened to the APLA commanders, former APLA commanders and members of the PAC, tomorrow we will have representation from the former South African police and on Friday, former leaders of MK so that throughout the week weíll be trying to assemble a picture which will assist us in making our final report to President Mandela and of course to Parliament, which is demanded of us.
I would like to introduce the panel. On my right is Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize who is Chairperson of our Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee and a Commissioner who resides normally in Gauteng but like all of us travels extensively around the country. On my far left is Mr Ilan Lax from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu Natal, based in Durban who is a Committee member and a member of our Human Rights Violations Committee and has joined the panel for these two days. On my immediate left is Mr Dumisa Ntsebeza who is head of our investigative unit, a Commission based in Cape Town. My name is Alex Boraine, Iím acting Chairperson of the Commission. Archbishop Tutu is outside of the country at the moment and will be returning only at the weekend.
I would like to also welcome members of the media without whom our work would be far less we think, particularly in terms of involving not only those who are here today, but so many people across the nation, both in terms of radio coverage, in terms of TV and the print media. Iíd like to say a special word of welcome to the interpreters, I think we forget sometimes the huge and excellent job that they do. And whilst Iím talking about them, may I remind you that translation is available in English Afrikaans and Xhosa, so hand set are available - headsets are available.
I hope you wonít take them away with you, they will be of no help to you outside of this building but please make use of this if they become necessary for you. And just a more frivolous announcement, Iíd be grateful if all cell phones including General Meiringís, can now be switched off. I have switched mine of and Iím sure everybody will do that. We will adjourn for tea but weíll be slightly flexible to see what progress weíve made, but approximately around half past 10 and then we will adjourn for lunch at 1 oíclock. And we hope to conclude - and weíll be grateful for your co-operation, to conclude around about 4 oíclock because of other commitments, both by the panel and indeed by those who are with us today.
GEN MEIRING: Thank you. Honourable Chairperson and Commissioners, due to the criticism of the first submission made by the former South African defence force and after correspondence with Doctor Boraine of the Commission, it was decided that a second submission was necessary. As Chief of the South African National defence force, Iíve facilitated this by calling up a group of retired members of the former South African defence force to prepare this submission.
This in itself was problematic Sir, as many former members do not wish to become involved due to an inherent distrust of the TRC. It should also be borne in mind that not everything which occurred in the past was documented. It was thus necessary to rely largely on the memory of these former members. Iíve corresponded on numerous occasions with the TRC through Doctor Boraine, requesting that the TRC provided us with an indication of those issues which the Commission would like us to address in the second submission.
There was no active material response to these requests, all we received were the documents attached to the Section 29 and Section 13 notices which naturally made our preparations that much more difficult. And led not only our being in a position to present this document only today. Due to the time restrictions which you have placed on the presentation, it is assumed that further questions arise from this. I undertake as far as possible Sir to answer these questions within 39 days of receipt if there are any elaborate questions concerning this.
Chairperson, I request you to read this submission not in isolation, it should be read in conjunction with the first submission which was made as well as the numerous answers posed to the questions after the hearing of the first submission. In effect those three elements, the submission today and the first submission and the answers to the questions, questions and answers, make up the entire submission of the former SADF.
The new submission has been prepared in co-operation with the four previous chiefs of the South African defence force and Iím honoured to have three of my predecessors here today. Unfortunately General Malan is not able to attend, due to being overseas at the present moment in time. For your information Sirs, the following are the terms of office of my predecessors:
Itís now my pleasure to hand over to General Viljoen, who will present the South African Defence Force submission. So, I thank you and ask to be excused for a few minutes and Iíll be back again, thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: General Viljoen excuse me, two things, (1) weíd like to swear you in before you commence your report and (2) I hope that weíre going to get a copy of that report before you start. And Iíll ask Mr Ntsebeza to do the swearing in, thank you.
After having completed the first submission, we decided on a higher level - this first submission was done by Mortimer, we decided to become involved and my colleagues asked me to present them here today for specific reasons. Iím the oldest here today and they all served under me but a very important reason is that I was involved in the development of the strategy of the South African defence force and was involved in cross-border operations in Southern Africa. And probably Iím the best suited to talk about this very important matter.
Iíve taken an oath to speak the truth and I will do just that. I will refer to the matter that it had been a long time ago, itís a very broad scope, many things had happened, I consulted widely, I consulted with my colleagues because Iím going to make remarks on certain period after Iíve retired. My colleagues are all present here and Iíve asked them - should I make any mistake in my presentation, they should bring it under my attention but I will remind you that it was a very big organisation, it stretched over a long period and many things happened.
Regarding this document, itís a very huge thick document and I did not provide it to you or the press because I am not going to talk according to a specific order, Iím going to jump to and fro because I canít address this whole thick document. I want to suggest that you could rather study the document at a later stage and rather listen to what I am saying. The scope of my presentation will firstly be to make a few introductory remarks.
Immediately afterwards I will pay attention to the third force activities, then to the Steyn Report, then I will come back to Chapter one of the thick document in which I want to address the fundamental matter of the perceptions and motives of the defence force. And I would like to assist you because you have a very important task without having military background and I want to put it as simplistic as possible then.
In Chapter one, I want to discuss the context, the strategic context discussion of trans-border or cross-border operations and South African defence force involvement in the South African theatre. I wish to start then by certain introductory remarks. The purpose of our submission is to assist the Commission in itís investigation regarding gross violations of human rights. It is not our purpose today to use this time to criticise the other side against whom we acted and to put ourselves in a better light.
Today we wish to assist you in your task because we have reason to believe that we can make a contribution to provide a more balanced final report in the end. A one-sided report will harm reconciliation and will do no good to our predecessors if this is not placed in the right perspective. This is why we wish to assist you in this regard, not only today but even when you write the report and need further assistance.
Our collective group, the old South African defence force - we still have strong ties. The solidarity and ...[inaudible] which you find a defence force canít vanish overnight when itís changed into a new defence force, therefore we as commanders are dissatisfied especially under old members, people who served in a dedicated way and tried to follow a career in a dedicated way. Itís in the interest of our country that this feeling will not run out of control and this is why we wish to provide better perspective to the Commission. Many lies are told in this process which is rather a process to tell the truth and wrong perceptions are created.
The first submission made by the ...[inaudible] of the defence force was criticised by many of your Commissioners, even you yourself. We realise that there was prejudice and there were also main articles written in newspapers in this regard. We tried out utmost best from that time up till now to find what your needs are and to determine what we should submit to be complete. Weíve written a lot of letters to you, you did not answer these letters and we still do not know what exactly you expect from us. In August, we took the initiative to say - and in August that in the interest of - in the national interest and in the interest of the army, we will make the presentation.
A few days before this presentation, it was cancelled and this was followed by this process for which we were subpoenaed. This submission which is important for your task - we still want to present that. It is clear to us that none of the Commissioners have an insight in military operations. In the first instance or the first submission, we perhaps made a mistake using military terminology and that is why we want to assist you. And we request that you will treat us fairly and that will be the path to reconciliation and peace. That is just as important for us as for any other political party.
One of the problems which became clear during the previous presentation was that thereís a difference in political culture. The previous defence force was politically neutral while the Commissioner and our previous political opponents were politically highly motivated. Our first submission was clean from politics with the exception of General Magnus Malan who was a previous minister. This problem was ...[inaudible] that no political party handled the interest of the previous defence force. The previous Government, they did not support the interest of the previous defence force.
General Malan was the most senior member and Iím nearest the active politics and Iím assuming responsibility to talk here today, not as a politician but as a former head of the defence force and Iíve given this undertaking to my former colleagues. In the first place, I request the Commission to try and understand the reluctance which there against the previous defence force, it comes from our ...[inaudible] - we served the former State with effectiveness. During this transition period we also served effectively.
After Ď94, this same group formed a core to handle the assimilation of the other security forces into the army. This we also did with dedication. This dedication and effectiveness came from the patriotism which we felt for South African and from our professional approach to the noble task of a soldier in uniform. If we look to the previous constitutional dispensation, I would just like to make a few remarks. The previous defence force served the sovereign State with a legal Government and not political parties.
The Stateís international defence was handled by us and the Stateís obligation to act according to itís mandate to protect the people and also to protect South Africa in this regard. Our internal behaviours was according to the previous constitution of South Africa. The old defence force was during the previous dispensation, a builder of bridges - Iím sorry, Iíve omitted one paragraph. The old defence force strived to - in a practical way politically and on a racial basis, to incorporate everybody into the defence force. Weíve developed a defence force from the nation.
It was under difficult circumstances when the political policy of the past made it difficult and the defence forceís acceptability was not good but we achieved some success. During the previous dispensation, the defence force was a builder of bridge who promoted good relationships between all peoples in the country. This approach corresponds with our strategy would not have been possible. The old defence force, due to itís professional approach served the Government of the day without fear and even acted outside our mandate to inform the cabinet about the necessity for making political adjustments for the sake of peace.
We often and honestly warned that the defence force operations were only gaining to time to achieve political stability. Then there was a change of Government in a very dramatic way, the defence force still kept on acting professionally. If there was any complaint against the defence force, it was that it was so effective that the politicians gained a false sense of security instead of realising the necessity for political change and to retard this political change. The eventual stability during the political negotiations must be due to the effectiveness and loyalty of the old defence force.
It remains an open question whether the opposing military forces would have worked out better peace time proposals than the politicians did. As an old defence force and if MK and other forces opposing us, it seems as if weíre finding it easier to establish reconciliation as we can in the political sphere. Despite the virtually faultless service of the defence force and during the transition period, it did not avoid political suspicion. We as representatives of that organisation feel alienated by what we consider to be the unjustified hostility of the Government and organisations against us.
Firstly, the previous Government, when a new dispensation started becoming possible and which served the Government of the day was ignored and at the same time the previous Government - without any valid reasons, started discrediting the old defence force. One example was the Steyn Report which I will deal with later. An incredible list of allegations were investigated, assassinations, destabilisation, train murders, gun running, illegal training, manipulation of the negotiation processes and general criminal activities were some of these allegations in this report.
A police investigation by three senior policemen and various internal investigations were undertaken and even 5 years after, no proof could be found of any of these allegations and no legal steps have been taken to substantiate these. Yet the previous defence force - Government allowed the services of 23 of our colleagues to be ended. This incident and additional to the other untested evidence of third force activities contributed to discredit this highly regarded organisation of ours. We regard these as scurrilous allegations.
We want to ask you that this - we want to tell you that this creates a perception of our organisation and that we are not being trusted, that we are not being honest in our actions. Apart from this, the decision to hold the Kwamakuta trial in Durban brought further discrediting of the defence force. Various previous heads of the defence force and other officers were humiliated for more than a year. All of them were found not guilty but the discrediting of the old defence force continued. During this incident a lot of pressure was applied to me personally from Government circles to convince these accused to change this whole trial from a judicial trial to a TRC trial. They did not accept this because they said they were not guilty and they wanted to prove it in court.
A year after the finding, the TRC have again tried to do that which could not be proved in court - to prove it with untested evidence here. These incidents, especially in the absence of investigations into other parties, which creates the impression of a witch-hunt. That the new Government is allowing this is also proof of antagonism at Government level against the old defence force which served the country so loyally and of which most of the members are still the most important part of the new defence force.
We will work with the new stated aims of the TRC. We are also interested in putting the past behind us. We want to assist with gaining better insight but not in the sense of persecution. We donít want to be used as a group for propaganda purposes and to be victimised. We donít say that weíre the angels of the past, what I do want to say is that we as the former defence force believed with integrity and our knowledge of this sort of war, of which many case studies were studied to find the best methods. We discovered that it was all about the hearts and minds of the people and therefore these violations of human rights would have been contrary to our aims. Therefore, we deliberately avoided these and trained our forces accordingly because the battle was about the hearts and minds, there was a lot of propaganda on both sides and this propaganda is aimed at changing peopleís perceptions. It changes facts to achieve itís purposes and all these accusations against the old defence force is an example of this sort of propaganda.
What I want to point out is that the nature of the operations of the old defence force were determined by the strategic actions of our erstwhile enemies. We referred to the ANCís strategy which was instituted after visits to Vietnam. The ANC then looked for, developed and recommended a strategy:
"The combination of a political and military struggle, the mobilisation of the whole of the people to fight the army, the unity of the internal situation and the international solidarity and the partyís leadership role over the armed forces"
The underground ANC actions led to various results such as the isolation of South Africa. With some exceptions the politicians showed little appreciation of these elements and it was in fact the old SADF which played a leading role in developing this security service of the State - you must adapt or you must die. The State security system also poses questions which we will try to answer. We say that the old SADF did not act without authorisation, it always acted with the sanction of the Government. The strategic sterility of the previous dispensation drew the defence force closer to the political centre of things but this was only to oppose the revolution.
It was therefore the ANC which devised the international role of this battle, this struggle. There was involvement with the USSR and the use of neighbouring countries basis and this also led to joint operations with other countries against this tendency. The TRC cannot give international amnesty for cross-border operations, so thereís general agreement that cross-border operations and the details of these cannot form part of this amnesty process.
Regarding your investigations, it is very risky to investigate these cross-border operations but to help you to extend or expand your report, we would like to explain how in theoretical terms, the SADF conducted itís operations. Our legal advice is not to get involved in the details of cross-border operations. I saw the Minister of Justice, Mr Omar and I approached you and Bishop Tutu and nobody could supply a solution to this dilemma. I fixed your attention on the negative factors which are unproductively acting on us.
Now, the rest of the presentation will deal with several subjects which will answer some of the questions that you have put. We hope sincerely that the misperceptions about the SADF and itís operations will be cleared up and we are pleased to be able to help in this. I want to say a few words to draw a conclusion - Iíll do this in English. To sum up, let me put the following submissions on the table Mr Chairman.
The intention of our defence force in Southern Africa and South Africa, was just in that it was to maintain peace for the sake of a peaceful negotiated settlement under stable conditions. The force that we used was well trained and well disciplined and we were justly proud of this force.
Fourthly, we are satisfied that in the context of the cold-war situation, force was the only resort as both sides politically were not initially politically prepared to negotiate. Ever since 1975, we the SADF advised the then Government to explore other solutions too.
Fifthly, the production of non-...[inaudible] has always been respected by us. We were faced with the most difficult situation when the war was taken to the "human bush" by our opponents, using them as human shields.
Sixth, the conflict ended in a negotiated settlement, there was no military victory nor a military defeat. The constitutional accord which followed we all should respect, states on national unity of reconciliation that there should be understanding, not revenge, reparation, not retaliation, ...[inaudible] victimisation. For this Chairperson, we will settle and be part but not for less. The SADF was the legal instrument of a legal Government.
Seventh, we specifically request that your report should be fair and even handed. For this reason we offer our co-operation and offer to give further assistance if you require some to put our part in the conflict for your sake, in the right perspective. As former leaders Chairperson, we accept the moral responsibility for the conduct of our subordinates in the execution of our command. That by means of the preliminary remarks by way of introduction.
Chairperson, I now wish to switch over to the important aspect of the accusations of a third force. There was a general concept of a third force and in our position today there are actually two concepts applicable. Firstly we have the tuitional concept of a third force being the kind of force running parallel between the SAP and the South African defence force. In other words, itís a third force much the same as you have in Italy of the Carabanarian.
Now the Oxford dictionary defines a third force as a political group or a party acting as a check-on between two opposing parties. A specialised force - itís a specialist force parallel to the police force and defence force with para-military functions, specifically organised, equipped and trained to plan, co-ordinate and execute counter-revolutionary actions and to quell civilian riots and to combat internal terrorism.
Chairperson, the SADFís disposition towards this third force is very clear. There was on 4 November 1985 - four days after my retirement, the State Security Council issued an instruction to a working committee to launch an investigation into a possible establishment of a third force. And I can understand because I could remember in the last months of my service, I could remember the problem of the internal situation building up. And I can recall that the SADF was not really looking forward to this and I think the South African police also had the problems of dealing with this because they had their own normal police functions to carry out.
And there was a discussion as to whether a third force to deal with the internal situation to take over from the police, to take over from the defence force, whether that would be necessary. So this commission was established and eventually it reported back on the 8th of May 1986 and the commissioner of the then SAP informed a committee of the State Security Council that it was not feasible to establish a third force because of legal and financial implications.
The Vlok Committee consequently recommended that a third force should not be established but that the capabilities of the South African police should be expanded to cope with the internal situation because that was the prime responsibility of the South African police. So the third force in that sense of running parallel between the defence and the police was never established but there had been some discussions in this regard.
I think it was the discussion in this regard that eventually led to the discussion of the other kind of third force that will be available. There is apparently another commendation attached to the idea of a third force, that is when perpetrators to incidents of violence, murders and atrocities, cannot be identified or traced and it is suspected that such perpetrators or organised, managed and employed to promote hidden and sinister objectives to the benefit of organisations that handle them.
I want to refer to Commissioner Listner in the Kwamakuta investigations, actually came to the conclusion that the third force of which the accusations were made was not part of a third force that was considered by the State Security Council for implementation, as a parallel force between the police and the defence force. So regarding the other kind of force, I can say that there is no indication whatsoever of any official sanction for actions within the defence force in line with this paragraph 12, that is sinister actions of operations. It was certainly not sanctioned at any level and I can say that categorically for my period and Iíve also consulted with my successors and they have also given me the assurance that there is no such force.
Can we now turn over to the Steyn Report and the Steyn Report was actually a report which started off as the main accusation against the idea of this sinister kind of third force that people suspected, or the people thought that we were guilty of. I am aware that this Commission has had discussions with the Steyn Report, so I assume that it will not be necessary to read out again all the details but it is well known that Lieutenant General Steyn was appointed to conduct an investigation.
This was the result of certain indications from within the defence force - the counter-intelligence within the defence force, became aware of certain actions of certain actions of the ...[inaudible] collection that might have involved criminal or other dubious activities. They then reported it as just a function of counter-intelligence to make such a report but another organisation, the National Intelligence Service which had the responsibility for analysing the political spectrum and regular briefing to the State President, they also carried their own investigations in this regard.
This National Intelligence Service was of opinion that the South African defence force could stage a coup if the negotiations went the wrong way. This opinion was conveyed to both the Government and members of foreign intelligence agencies. The NIS also conducted itís own investigations into the activity of the directorate of ...[inaudible] collection. The South African defence forceís role in the national management system has already been substantially reduced by their - at this stage and in the light of the views expressed by the NIS, National Intelligence Service, the perception seems to have been created in Government circles that the South African defence force could not be trusted.
It is believe that this was discussed at cabinet level too. So that led to the Steyn appointment and this followed after the 16 November Ď92 raid by the Judge Goldstone Commission of the ...[inaudible] office in Pretoria and they thought that they had now discovered the heart of third force activities in South Africa. Lieutenant General Steyn made use of the information of the investigations internally within the defence force and also the National Intelligence, what they were prepared to give to General Steyn.
Available information indicates that Steynís various reports rely heavily on NIS material and not on the internal material of the defence force. Allegations in the Steyn Report alleged that various elements of the South African defence force were involved in the planning and the execution of such acts as - and I mention them all, assassinations, inter-organisational conflict, ...[inaudible], train massacres, discrediting - Iíve mentioned the lot of them.
The important aspect of the Boipatong massacre - a terrible incident, destabilisation of internal and external situations, stockpiling of arms abroad, training of resistance movements, internal military training, arms smuggling, manipulation of the negotiation process, setting up CCB type of organisations as a resistance movement, involvement in right-wing activities, chemical and biological warfare programmes and general criminal activities. A formidable accusation of which many of them were on the ideas of the third force accusations.
Then General Conradie of the police investigated this and he went through 200 files at the Directorate of Covert Collection. Their conclusions - Brigadier Blignaut and Lieutenant General Conradie, was no illegal activities had taken place, the methods of the handlers and the performers were professional, DCC was well structured and no evidence of hidden agendas, there was an overlap in domestic intelligence collecting functions, there was no evidence that the DCC was operating outside itís line function, all evidence indicated that the DCC personnel were engaged in their professional tasks.
There was a briefing then of the State President after General Conradieís Report had become available but apparently the General Conradie Report was not submitted. General Steyn then briefed the State President using the unconfirmed information from NIS and NID investigations. Media reports indicated that he reported the following:
Secondly, a number of individuals within the structures investigated had an influence to the top management - on the top management of the SADF, thus by implication the South African defence force could be construed as being involved in the creation of violence and intimidation.
Thirdly, there was a need for encompassing action at all levels including the top, personnel should be dismissed, strong control should be instituted and where possible court action should be instituted. He recommended that Generals Liebenberg, Meiring and CP van der Westhuizen be confronted for various misdeeds and that they be requested to take early retirement or be forced to do so if necessary. He recommended simple action or prosecutions should be applied to sub-ordinates within this organisation. He recommended also new appointments which should be made and new operational and financial control procedures to be instituted.
General Steyn also recommended that some issues be referred to the South African police, the Attorney General, the Auditor General and the Goldstone Commission. In January Ď93, the documents used for the briefing were handed over to the Attorney General of the Transvaal and to date, no prosecution has been pursued. In the meantime we had the dismissal of 23 of our colleagues. In General Steynís opinion the revelations had caused an embarrassing problem to both the defence force and the State. A decision was thus taken to purify the SADF, apparently before the cabinet was briefed.
General Liebenberg was produced with a list and told to select the names of personnel against whom immediate action should be taken in the light of the Steyn documentation. General Meiring and van der Westhuizen assisted in this selection. General Steyn also sat at the first meeting in this connection. In the meantime Mr Roelf Meyer who was then a Minister, was in the United States on an official visit and he apparently phoned the State President on two occasions and probably emphasised the United States requirement to see the State President acting forcefully.
The names selected were presented and negotiations took place on the dismissal of these people - the early retirement of these people and others were placed n compulsory leave. General Liebenberg was given one week to advise the personnel concerned but on arriving back in his office the news had already been broken in the media. Apparently it was leaked in the United States. The following investigations were also conducted in pursuance to the Steyn Report: the SA police and the Attorneys General, the finding of which indicated that there was not a shred of evidence that could be found.
Although requested on various occasions by various people, the NIS, National Intelligence Services were not in a position to provide any further information or they refused to make available their sources. By the ...[inaudible] Committee to investigate and the re-appointment of CCB members which cleared DCC of all allegations. The ...[inaudible] Committee oversaw the termination of the DCC front companies and the restructuring of the DCC.
And then there was a Gleeson Board of Enquiry appointed, also to investigate the allegations against certain individuals. This board was terminated because of the pending investigation by the Attorney General of the Transvaal. So Lieutenant General Steyn persisted with his own corroborated allegations and suggested to the Minister of Defence that the Goldstone Commission investigate allegations in connection with taxi and train killings. Following this the SAP spent 14 days of intensive investigation at 5 Reconnaissance Regiment, allegedly one of the main perpetrators but could find no evidence that the unit had been involved in instigating violence.
We have a doubt about the role of National Intelligence Services in this regard. In October Ď92, Judge Goldstone raised his concern about the role of the National Intelligence Services, with the State President. The Commission only had access to two MID source documents dealing with alleged criminal activities. The allegations relating to the involvement in violence, the train violence, the IFB violence etc., emanated mainly from the National Intelligence Services and the Goldstone Commission had failed to obtain access to their source documents despite the seriousness of the allegations. The National Intelligence Services could thus not substantiate them.
Further developments - a senior officer in the group whose services had been terminated, wrote to the State President requesting a court martial to clarify the aspects on which was being accused in this whole case but despite several reminders he received no reply whatsoever. In addition, civil applications were instituted by three individuals in connection with their dismissals - all these cases were settled out of court by the payment of relatively large sums of money to the applicants and their names were cleared.
In conclusion, no written report by General Steyn could be found. He appeared to have made use of unconfirmed and uncorroborated allegations supplied by NIS and MID, the counter-intelligence of the defence force themselves. General Steyn did appear before your Commission - we tried to get a report from your Commission but it was impossible, so we are not informed about anymore information that might have come to your knowledge in this regard.
I have made this report on this situation but there are now a number of unanswered questions. Firstly, in this briefing of the State President, General Steyn suggested a further investigation because none of the allegations had been confirmed, yet the State President went ahead with his action. The question is, why?
The Conradie Report, secondly, was available before the briefing of the State President, yet not mention was made of itís findings - why? The rules of natural justice state that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, yet these were not followed - why? Much of the information used in the decision to terminate the services of the 23 officers emanated from the National Intelligence Services who could or would not substantiate it or disclose their sources, yet it was acted upon the to the detriment of 23 of our colleagues.
Now some 5 years later after numerous investigations - I think this case has been over-investigated, no prosecutions have taken place, no concrete evidence has come to light. It seems the major role players and the 23 officers were the victims of actions based on unsubstantiated reports and rumours, more likely emanating from dubious perceptions that from hard realities. It appears from an objective evaluation that the conduct of dismissal of the officers concerned was arbitrary and arose from a subjective perspective. Whatever the motives of the main role-players, the facts appear to indicate that a gross injustice had taken place. In fact I think if ever there is something possible such as a gross violation on the damage or the violence supplied to the minds of people, it must have been to these 23 officers and I know most of them personally and I was completely taken by surprise when I learnt from the press what had happened to these people.
Chairperson, this has been the main accusation of the third force activities and this has been as I said, over investigated and there is no substantiation of such an allegation. I realised that there are some thoughts regarding the idea of false flag operations and that the false flag operations could be coupled with the idea of the third force activities.
If you consider the way in which our opponents operated within the townships - they also operated in civilian clothes, they also pretended to be civilians, I would say that must also be a false flag. So, if we operated in civilian clothes too, it cannot be regarded as a false flag type of operation but I end off by saying that we categorically deny that this kind of allegation has been part of our policy within the defence force.
Chairperson, I would like now to switch back to document 1 of the document here and that is the development of the South African National and Defence strategies. The background of these external operations of external involvement, the background of the internal strategies that now developed, we think are aspects of great importance to the Commission when you have to write your report regarding what happened in the past.
Iím sorry that I will not be able to deal with this in all the detail that I would have like to because of the time limit but I still regard it as very, very important. In dealing with the South African National Defence from 1960 onwards, it is necessary to place the development of the military conflict in Southern Africa during that time, into the right historical context so as to review the motives and perceptions for military activities in the proper perspective.
Politicians of the previous Government and senior officers of the South African defence force often publicly referred to a term: "total onslaught". This term comes actually from Andre Bufre who is a French strategist and the terms used to describe the situations that existed at that time. The term: "total onslaught" actually contains two sub-terms: "total war" and "revolutionary war" and this is actually in my opinion, the essence of the conflict of the past.
Let me first deal with the concept of the: "total war". We had the first and the second world wars. Wars are good examples of total conventional war, total in the sense of involving just about the entire population of the entire economical activities of a country such as Germany, such as the UK and total in the respect of great violence being applied in trying to coerce the opposing group to surrender.
I would like to refer to the strategic bombing offensives that was taken in these wars, from Germans on to the UK and from the UK on to the Germany side of it. And also towards the final developments in the second world war when we had the application of nuclear power in the battlefield. The strategic bombings as well as the nuclear power application, led to heavy loss of civilian life.
Further characteristics of these kinds of war as they developed was that of the psychological operations which was a new introduction to war. These operations were aimed at encouraging the one sideís population and the forces and discouraging those of your enemy. This resulted in dislike and hatred of the enemy and this was the inevitable result also in the case of our own conflict.
Another feature of: "total war" was that military resources were often used for the purposes other than primary aims, for example the air bombardment to effect economic warfare to destroy the armaments productions capability of a place such as Germany. Objectives such as the destruction of industry and for psychological objectives such as the destruction of civilian moral. So war has always been - in the last two world wars, also very much directed against civilian populations too.
"Total war" can be defined as a conflict in which political, military, economic and psychological resources of at least one belligerent State are fully engaged and the survival of one or more of the belligerent States is at stake. For South Africa it is well known that we had in this conflict, political, military, psychological and economic factors ever since we started the war in 1960. So that is the concept of the idea of: "total war" as it developed in the second and the first world wars.
Now the: "revolutionary war". I think one must accept the fact that there was a total rejection within the feeling of especially the Western world but I think in mankind, that the destruction of civilians and the number of casualties, considering the destructiveness of nuclear weapons was a fact no longer acceptable to mankind. And therefore we had new kinds of war developing especially after the second world war.
One of those revolutionary wars - and this became the major form of conflict in the post-world war two period, can be described as a modern adaptation of total war with progressive application of political, thatís ideological, economic, for example sanctions, psychological, the application of the factors of fear, allegiance etc. And those were combined with varying degrees of military action and violence. Military action and violence in our case for example, mass action, intimidation, bombs, mines and attacks.
Basically "revolutionary war" is the pursuit of the policy of a politically inspired and organised group in the country, by all means available, also by outside support and the success is obtained by the creation of a situation of instability inside the country and political intolerability through the war of attrition. Thus producing a climate of political collapse which is exactly what happened within South Africa with and the acceptance of a negotiated solution without necessary defeating military opponents on the battlefield. In this kind of war the objective is very seldom, itís hardly ever that of a military victory but rather of a political collapse.
So in the South African situation, we had the situation developing that there was never a defeat on the military side, there was also not a victory on the military side but the instability and the war of attrition and the political collapse eventually had caused the developments in 1989 to 1994. The key ingredients of the South African war therefore, I would say was violence, the military side of it, the mass action side of it, the terror side of it. The terror aimed at non-combatants became a very important ingredient.
The terror aimed at non-combatants is actually coupled to the concept of psychological war because war still remains a means of coercion and the idea was that through terror and through the actions also against civilians, the other side would be coerced in order to surrender. Another key ingredient of the South African war was that of propaganda and Iím referring to Radio Freedom, Sishaba and also to the own forces papers and the SABC.
Then another key, the last key or the second last key ingredients that I want to mention is that of intimidation. The kind of revolutionary war we had is a war directed at the minds of people, it influences people to think and act a certain way. And the intimidation factor through necklacing, burning, threatening etc., and discipline within especially the townships, that factor of intimidation was a very important key ingredient of the South African war.
So if you add to that, the concept the "total war" aspects of political initiative and also economical isolation and the idea of killing the opponent economically - the war of attrition idea, if you add that that gives you the concept of the kind of war which weíve had up to now.
The intention therefore was, to promote fear, instability and mobilisation of the masses. Fear, instability and mobilisation of the masses then would add to psychological situation and that would add to the political collapse or be the final coercion that would be sought in this way.
As there has been news during world war two, the intensive use of psychological operations bred dislike and hatred or creates sympathy on the one or both sides. External support as well as the need for external manoeuvre and freedom of action is of vital importance to the revolutionary movements. The external areas must also be chosen so as to inhibit and paralyse the external freedom of action of the Government forces, compelling them to be on the defensive, thus creating a scope for the revolutionary forces and making their opponents commit vast resources on the protection of the population and infrastructure.
So this is where the external operations came from. It was not possible to apply the key ingredients of the war from the liberation side without having external support in the South African situation. The external support of the ANC came mainly from the USSR and it also came from external areas within the front-line States where they operated. The Soviet attitude to such conflicts, the conflicts - the revolutionary wars was originally defied by Lenin who stated that they could only develop effectively in direct association with the revolutionary struggle of our Soviet Republic.
This became the permanent strategy of the Soviet block which saw the solidarity with the liberation movements of the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America, as a permanent area of collective action of communist parties. Thereby revolutionary struggles were made an integral part of the Soviet global strategy during the cold war era. And that brings me to the concept of the cold war era.
CHAIRPERSON: General Viljoen, I apologise for interrupting you, Iím just trying to decide how much of this youíre going to read because we have a very full day as I think I indicated. Weíve already had well over an hour and Iím just wondering - Iím sure youíve other points to make and there is no way that we can follow this entirely without careful study. We appreciate very much the thoughtfulness in providing this for us but I would suggest that we have to look to the timetable. Itís now a quarter past 10 or thereabouts, do you think you could finish within the next half hour - entirely?
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson if I do, then maybe I will rush through it. Can I ask what is the possibility of adding some of my time for late this afternoon onto this? I think this is very important and Iím now building up to the development of the Southern Africa situation and also the internal situation and I think this is for the sake of the discussion of a forceís hearing, absolutely crucial. Maybe I will need another 45 minutes, I think so.
CHAIRPERSON: Could I suggest that you try to summarise where possible, without reading every paragraph and letís try to finish at a quarter to 11 and then we can have additional time later this afternoon.
GEN VILJOEN: Can I just enquire Chairperson, am I speaking too fast for the sake of translation - are they having difficulty, because Iím inclined to speak very fast. And Iím deliberately trying to slow down because I realise that there is translation.
CHAIRPERSON: Let me find out if ...[inaudible] No, they say you - so you can keep at the same speed, thank you. And if we could then try to finish, say by a quarter to 11 and then take whatever is remaining later this afternoon, thank you very much.
GEN VILJOEN: My apologies Chairperson, but we regard this as very important. Chairperson, if you come to the cold war, then what happened in the post-world war two situation, is that it was no longer acceptable to have wars between - for example the USSR and the USA because of the destructiveness of a nuclear war. In other words the nuclear power became a deterrent in itself.
The cold war situation developed and eventually we had in South Africa, on the one side the USSR block as a super power combining within the possibility of internal blocks such as for example, Angola, Mozambique and the liberation movements. In 1970/75 round about, this was opposed by another super power, the USA, and they gathered around them the ability of some other groups or proxy forces such as Unita, such as South Africa, such as Renamo etc.
So we had a situation developing where it was not possible or where it was not likely that there would be a complete total war situation. The people sort of followed the concept of fighting through proxy wars. And this is what happened in South Africa, we had the interests of big or major powers, super powers amplified and cared for by the proxy wars in situations such as this. So here we had the two opposing groups.
Most revolutionary wars were thus not only wars of liberation in Africa but also proxy wars for the super powers. The revolutionary war situation in Southern Africa was therefore not only a war of liberation, it was part of a bigger struggle in the world - the USSR and their satellites versus the USA and their satellites. There was a major conflict of ideologies such as communism and interests such as economic interests and this was complicated in Africa by the anti-colonialism situation and also by the anti-apartheid sentiments that existed in the world.
Soviet policy had some explicitly declared objectives in Southern Africa, firstly to establish and improve relations with the front-line States of Angola, Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia. Those were strategic political objectives. The USSR also tried to support and strengthen the national liberation movements in South Africa. That was the indirect war idea, the idea of proxy wars. And the USSR also decided to support progressive programmes adopted by African Governments which had embarked on non-capitalist development. That was the economic side of the war.
Iím now referring to the idea of a total war and Iím just listing the different aspects of participating. Then the reaction of the United States and the reduction of the United States and the Western European influence. That was another objective that they could achieve by proxy wars instead of a direct confrontation, USSR / USA. And then to obtain the right to bases and reconnaissance in the area, thereby establishing their influence, thereby also make it possible for them to eventually dictate a presence in specific areas.
The USSR also had the idea of limiting American and West European access to mineral resources in the region which considering the mineral wealth of the countries in Southern Africa, is a very important factor - thatís an economic part of the total war or the cold war. And then the threatening of oil supply routes of the United States and Western Europe around the coast, is another economic and military strategic aspect. So this was a good example of major power interests served by the proxy war situation to keep yourself as a major power into a position - into a favourable position.
The USSR therefore gave military aid and weapons and pre-positioned weapon systems, such as the anti-aircraft system in Angola, they gave technical assistance such as operating these, such as flying sophisticated aircraft. They gave economic aid and they supplied the intelligence and the intelligence training. And through this they established in Southern Africa, socialist orientated States such as Angola with the MPLA as the main instrument in 1975, such as Mozambique with Frelimo in 1975, which followed the idea of Marxism communism and it was intended for South Africa too.
So in this way the USSR was for us a conventional threat, a real physical conventional threat because they were actually present and they had their proxy agents present in Southern Africa. And there was the revolutionary threat that is, the assistance to the liberation movements fighting against us. So South Africa saw itself on the side of the West as an ally in the cold war conflict. They worked with the international anti-Communist forces and they had to counter the internal insurrection or revolution within their own areas.
I would just shortly go through the development of this strategy. The threat did materialise, South Africa became only to feel the full effect of the threat when we had the Soviet intervention as a dominant feature in anti-colonial revolution such as ...[inaudible], Angola, Mozambique, Rhodesia, from the late Ď60ís to the early í70ís. Prior to this, the South African defence force had actively begun to study revolutionary wars and we did so because we realised what the opposing side was going to use in South Africa. We used the cases of Malaysia, Kenya, Algeria and we studied the works of Bufre, CA Frazer, John McKewan, Mao Tse Tung, etc. This is how the was developed or the revolutionary war developed in Southern Africa.
So just quickly to remind you that in Angola, the South African defence force started with helicopter support to the Portuguese when they were still there. In Rhodesia, the police assisted the Rhodesian security forces - the SADFís involvement was very small, only regarding some aircraft and especially helicopters. In the case of Mozambique, the South African defence force involvement was very limited, logistical support, military liaison and exchange of intelligence.
During 1975, the SADF had taken over responsibility from the police for counter-insurgency operations in South West Africa/Namibia. It was our responsibility to do this in terms of the mandate of league of nations and we did actually do this for the sake of the defence of South Africa too, because it will be come clear to you with my further arguments, that we had a strategy of keeping the attacking forces as far away from the home or the heartlandís of our territory as possible.
The Cuban involvement which was part of the USSR block, started in 1974 with - no it was already in the Ď60ís, with some 200 instructors to the train MPLA in the Congo Republic and Russian aid to the MPLA between Ď74 and Ď76 - estimated by the Western military sources, had been in the area of 400 million US dollars and it grew to 4 billion dollars by 1987.
The 200 instructors that we started off with in 1965 eventually grew later on to 7.000 troops in October Ď75, 14.000 in February Ď76, 17.000 in March Ď76 and at the end of the war in Ď76, the number of Cuban troops increased gradually to counter the military threat of Unita and Kabinda and separate movements and to maintain the MPLA in power. At the height of this level in 1985, it reached the top of about 50.000 troops in December 1988. I mention this to give you the idea as to what developed in our perception, as a real threat towards the security of not only South Africa but the whole of Southern Africa.
This caused the Vorster Government - the then Vorster Government, to become involved in a total war situation and I was personally involved in this. I was the representative of the South African defence force that first negotiated with the idea of giving support to Unita and FNLA and this was because of the Vorsterís Governmentís expansion of their ideas of defence of South Africa - their participation in a total war.
This was a significant change in our defence strategy and to side on the side of FNLA and Unita against a Soviet backed MPLA in Angola, was a step in a direction which associated the South Africans with real Africans because previously we had been involved with colonialist forces. Iím referring to the Portuguese situation in the Angola/Mozambique situation, Iím referring to Rhodesia too, now Zimbabwe.
In 1975, we found it necessary - at that stage the situation had collapsed totally in Southern Angola and we found it necessary to protect the economic interests by taking the ...[inaudible] Ruakana scheme and protecting it and keeping it in operation for the purpose of supplying electricity and water to South West Africa.
So the aim of this operation by the Vorster Government was to have a political, economical and military enforcement. It was therefore a start of a limited war and it started actually with the problems of the Alvor Agreement that was not kept by the forces within the Soviet block.
On the 5th of December the US Congress voted against further covert assistance and the amounts that Iíve mentioned on US aid, was the maximum that could have been given without Congress authority. And when it was taken to Congress for the increase of this, the Congress voted against this mainly because of the Vietnam syndrome and the other problems at that stage within the United States.
We were involved in the Angola war for the specific reason to enable Unita and FNLA to enforce the ALVOR Agreement which they thought would be enforced by the OAU and it would only be enforced if they could recapture their traditional areas after the occupation of these areas by the MPLA backed by the Cuban forces. And they could only recapture that with some assistance from us because Unita and the FNLA forces were forces trained in guerrilla warfare and they did not have the ability to do some kind of conventional attack.
This is why we were involved as instructors and also assisting them in recapturing their traditional areas. And that we had done exactly according to the plan and by the 9th of November 1975, we were in a position that the OAU could then enforce the ALVOR Agreement. And the ALVOR Agreement basically determined that there should be a Government of national unity, there should be a Government of all the different groups in Angola participating.
This we had in position by the 9th of November 1975 but the OAU failed politically until about 26 January 1976. On 26 January 1976, the OAU eventually had a vote on this and it was 22 versus 22, so this then caused the collapse - the political collapse or what we tried to do in Angola. Although we succeeded every inch of it militarily, we failed politically.
What is important is to realise why we had to eventually withdraw in March 1976. It was never the intention to capture Angola, it was a limited war enforcing the Agreement and the political siding with the anti-Communist forces of Unita and FNLA. It was also because of very strong political pressure that the USSR exercised through the United Kingdom. That was then eventually decided that the operation had failed because of the OAU failure to apply the principles of the ALVOR Agreement.
We had certain lessons learnt from that. Firstly, we had to update our armaments package, which we did. This led to a very major or great development in the armaments industry inside South Africa. Secondly, it was established that the build up of surrogate forces and Soviet armament on the South West Africa/Namibia borders was continuing at an alarming rate. This was also aimed at providing SWAPO with secure bases in Angola and inhibiting any large scale intervention by South African forces.
The South African defence forceís need for intelligence reconnaissance and a widespread covert capabilities made it essential to continue with the development of special forces these specific reasons. And Iíll come back to special forces just now. The third lesson emphasised the value of the link to the anti-Communist movements such as Unita, after which the revolutionary take-overs in Angola and Mozambique became one of the remaining buffers against the further east block expansion in Southern Africa.
So eventually - if we now think back, we have learnt some valuable lessons but what the final contribution we feel that we have made - and I say this because of the discussion of motives and perceptions, we feel that the downfall of communism in 1989 was actually caused by a number of Vietnamís of the USSR of which the Southern Africa theatre was one and we were one of the major role-players in the Southern Africa theatre. The other theatres are of course Afghanistan and the Middle East.
CHAIRPERSON: Could I just interrupt to stress again that we will be studying this I promise you, every line and every word so even if you do skip it will be considered very seriously by the Commission.
GEN VILJOEN: The problem is Chairperson, my presentation - I amplify the presentation with my personal experience in this because I didnít write the book itself, so Iím putting in practice what is in theory. Iím coupling the practice - what happened with the theory which is in this. If you just read the theory, you will find it very difficult to follow and thatís the reason why Iím trying to deal with this. So Chairperson, this is how the idea of international involvement of South Africa across the borders in the affairs - let us say, of countries such as Angola.
It was all connected with the important international conflict of international - of communist expansionism. This is the way we saw it and this is as far as we are concerned, a very, very, important motivating factor for us. In fact it was certainly the major motivating factor and the fact that eventually this was achieved through the collapse of communism in 1989, at least gave us the satisfaction that this part of it, we did contribute some important aspects in this regard.
Chairperson, I now want to read to you on the issue of cross-border operations and cross-border raids. What Mr George Schultz, the United States Secretary of State had said. He said: "From a practical standpoint a purely ...[inaudible] defence does not provide enough of a deterrent to terrorism and the States that sponsor it. It is time to think long, hard and seriously about more active means of defence, defence through appropriate preventative or pre-emptive actions against terrorist groups before they strike".
So this is basically the approach that we had also with the idea of cross-border operations. It was therefore in this time of 1976 when we returned after the Angola assistance towards Unita, that we completely withdraw to behind the border of South West Africa but soon after that we found the SWAPO forces moving down, establishing basis just across the border and we had to apply the principle which I just read out to you about Mr George Schultz.
From 1976 onwards - also regarding the ANC situation, now I want to switch away from the South West Africa towards the RSA front. The ANC by now had the new strategy based on what they called: "The Four Pillars of the Revolution", a strategy for a peopleís war. The Four Pillars were: the underground structure, mass mobilisation, armed offensive and the isolation of South Africa. From Ď76 onwards, Angola became the maintaining centre of the ANC with Lusaka as the main operational centre.
After Ď78, Mozambique became the pivot for armed action against the RSA with regional headquarters, the so-called machinery, being established at Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho. South African was being encircled from the North. By the late Ď70ís, both SWAPO and the ANC therefore had achieved two major requirements and that is, they had extensive external support and they had a source of arms with this external support. And they had also achieved the principle of external manoeuvre.
They could effectively force us, or limit our freedom of movement within the other areas because we did not cross the border just for the sake of crossing the borders. It was also a very, very, serious consideration before we crossed the border because of many implications such as international diplomatic security council - UN Security Council resolutions, we all had to bear this in mind.
So what I want to emphasis at this stage Mr Chairperson is the fact that our operations across the border and in neighbouring States - was actually put by General Malan, the Minister then, when he said: "in the present operational situation there is no controlled neutral zone between the RSA and the host countries of itís enemies. The result is that the enemy is able to establish and operate itís bases, arms depots and logistical roots close the RSA borders with the approval of the host country concerned".
This means that the enemy can cross the border to lay mines, kidnap and intimidate and then within a few hours, return to the host country where he is unassailable. No Government in the world can afford to tolerate a situation of this nature, consequently when the situation arises, the SADF has no other option than to launch pre-emptive operations across the border in order to destroy the enemy bases, depots and logistical roots and in this way to discourage the enemy actions on the other side of the border.
So Chairperson, skipping a number of aspects, we at that stage - we were confronted on the Western front and the internal front with two problems. The one problem was that in the South West Africa situation SWAPO situated their bases in Angola close to MPLA and Cuban forceís bases, thereby making it difficult and risky for us to attack these bases.
Inside South Africa, the ANC - we thought that eventually they would follow more or less the same strategy as SWAPO did, but they soon found out that it was not possible for them to do that. And eventually the Cuban forces - sorry, eventually the SWAPO forces operated with the MPLA forces inside Angola and they assisted each other mutually whenever we tried to get at the SWAPO forces.
In the case of the ANC and the PAC it was slightly developing differently, their cadres were not operating from bush bases as we had in the case of Angola and South West Africa but mostly from houses, camps, similar facilities in or out of the outskirts of towns such as Maputo, Matola, Gaberone, Maseru and later also in Harare. There bases were mostly clandestine facilities, small facilities and they often changed regularly. A targeted bases could therefore be active on the one day and be gone the next day.
Military factors such as accurate intelligence, security, surprise, infiltration and ex-filtration for the attacking force were of primary importance. Because of this there has always been the danger that such facilities could included civilians, thus endangering the lives of property. So SWAPO used the proximity of the Cuban bases and the ANC used the proximity of the human bush principle, firstly in the exterior situation and then later on interior situation too.
Now in doing this, the ANC made a very important decision when they said in around about 1985/1983/84: "we do not have forests in South Africa, the military machine would smash us if we would send a force from outlying areas, our masses have to serve as our bush, the Black community is our bush. This was a very, very, important strategic change. And Chairperson, strategies follow strategies and I would now like to take you back to this position because the year 1986 has been a very, very, influential year as far as the development and the character of the conflict in South Africa is concerned.
CHAIRPERSON: General Viljoen, I wonder - this is a very important section and I donít want you to rush through that. Iím wondering if we shouldnít adjourn at this stage and then ask you to pick this up again later this afternoon. Weíll necessarily extend the hours, itís not a problem for us as weíre very anxious to hear your full report and I donít want to rush you at this moment particularly on this critical issue. So with your permission, I would like to adjourn now so that we can have a break for tea and whatever else people need to do and then we will return here at 10 past 11 and then we will resume with other witnesses and go back to your report later this afternoon.
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson, can I just say that I need about - I would say 10 minutes more but I will do that after the - because what Iím saying here, Iím now building up towards the establishment of the special forces and the CCB which is for the sake of our discussion today, very, very, important. I need about a quarter of an hour, I have a number of transparencies which I have to show you because if I show that to you, you will much better be in a position to understand what takes on further when we come to the evidence of the other Generals.
CHAIRPERSON: Could I say that - you know, to try and assist good productive work, that we can use the next 10 - 15 minutes but I do want to say that we then have to have a cut-off point. So if I use the sword at that stage, I know that you will agree that it was very good military tactics. All right, so why donít you finish that section now on the condition that we do finish promptly at 11 oíclock. Itís now just before a quarter to 11 so youíve got about 17 minutes, okay?
GEN VILJOEN: Can I have transparency number one please. Now this is just to show to you the rise of violence in South Africa. In the first incidents we had an average of 52 incidents over the years Ď76 to 1983. That virtually doubled towards the end of 1985 and it became 97 and then we had a rather steep rise to 1989 of 153. I just emphasise that those were the average violent incidents in South Africa.
Next transparency please. Chairperson, this is a very important transparency. The problem that I had personally, is to understand why it was ever necessary for the defence force to go to the establishment of an organisation such as the CCB. And then I started to work on the figures and I want you to look at those graphs. The soft targets - that was the number of incidents on soft targets, that is the dotted line. You can see how that rose from 1983 until 1986 when it reached the peak of Ď83.
On the other hand the solid line was the one of hard targets - security forces, that dropped down to 17 in 1986. And what Iím emphasising to you is, this is what happened when this decision was taken - the Black community needs to be our bush. So here we had a complete new situation. We could deal militarily with the kind of threat which we had in South West Africa, easily but we were confronted in 1986 with a special situation. It was something that we - as I say, strategies follows strategies.
Just an indication as to how this policy of the ANC was instrumentally applied through the Radio Freedom when they said - there you can read for yourself, you can quickly read - much quicker than I can do. Iím told that itís necessary to read for the record.
"After arming themselves in this manner - that is for fighting, our people must begin to identify collaborators and enemy agents and deal with them. The collaborators who are serving in the community councils - those were the ...[inaudible] part of the third ties Government, must dealt with. Informers, policemen, special branch police and army personnel working amongst our people must be eliminated.
Every homestead, every village, every township must be turned into a revolutionary base of the people. Make the country ungovernable etc., and the whole of South Africa must change into a battlefield. The time has come for Whites to be regular visits to the graveyards".
The point Iím making - 1986, the year immediately after my retirement was a crucial year and the people really had to think hard towards finding new directions. You will also recall that in 1986, the then Government found it necessary to publish some special regulations, some safety regulations in order to reinforce the ability of the people. Those were emergency regulations.
So the point Iím making - this let to the greater involvement and the greater importance of special forces and the CCB. And now I want to quickly switch over to the idea of special forces. Iím sorry, Iím not going to really be able to deal with this. There is a definition - Iím not even going to mention this but ...[intervention]
GEN VILJOEN: Iím now on page 2.6. There is a definition on what the special forces really is - a United States definition, thereís also a South African joint warfare manual definition. What I want to emphasise is, when we come to page 2.7 at the bottom, is that it stands
"the reason that all activities with the respect of special forces are planned and authorised under strictest security at the highest level. Non-...[inaudible] is a requirement for external activities"
And I want to switch over to page 2.8 by saying that South African defence force special forces had the functions of intelligence gathering of deep penetrations attacks and applying force discriminatorily, not indiscriminately. Which is a very important motivation with us when we decided on this kind of forces because if you think about the indiscriminate use of force in the second world war in bombing - strategic bombing, then this was a much better system and much more in line with the tradition of a just war principles, than to apply small scale forces that can discriminantly use the necessary force.
Economic way - there was also an economic way of using force and it was preventing escalation in Southern Africa. It was easy to use a small force like this and then there would not be a heavy big reaction on the other side causing a lot of lies and more fighting.
Now on the command and control, all I want to say is they were highly trained, they were specialists, they were a scarce commodity and a very valuable force and usually engaged in rather sensitive operations. So invariably the level of control used to be very high. In my case and I think also afterwards, it was certainly the case of the South African defence force.
We had one very interesting case - let me tell you about this. We were attacking - also a cross-border operation and we were using vehicles and we had the worry as to what would happen if the other forces would find out and they will chase us. And then we said that would cause a big fight and that a lot of unnecessary loss of life, so eventually we came to this very good solution - "perde myne", and we made a lot of "perde myne" - you know ...[intervention]
GEN VILJOEN: Thank you very much. And it did happen exactly this way and when we through this out without firing a single shot we avoided a rather big fight. So the point Iím making is, this kind of special forces had some very, very valuable and good applications provided it would be handled at the top level.
Now regarding the CCB, I will deal with the CCB and the functions. Firstly, the CCB operated externally and internally. There was an increasing requirement for clandestine and covert operations of a new kind in 1986. A small group known as D40 was originally organised for this purpose. D40 developed into Barnacle which later was transformed in the CCB. The CCB was a covert military organisation managed by a managing director under supervision of a senior officer special forces.
The function were - and thatís very important, infiltration, in other words deep infiltration within the enemy itself and penetration of the enemy. Penetration also in the areas - the deep areas where the enemy operated and secondly, the disruption of the enemy. The CCB was organised into 10 regions, of which 7 of the 8 regions were operational regions. Each region was responsible for the collection of itís own intelligence including region 6 which was the internal region where they collected military intelligence internally.
Although this was a private structure for the purposes as I said before - in order to be able to handle with the situation after 1986 when the graphs changed, the Government - the military structure still had to be authorised by the Government and the military structure had to follow within our defence force, certain military procedures for authority.
"In times of warring conflict peopleís perceptions change and they act differently to just viewpoints and actions in times of conflict from a narrow peacetime perspective is dangerous and negates the reality of experience in times of conflict".
"During this time the Governmentís policy was clear - stop the perpetrator of violence at all costs. The carrier of the car bomb, landmine, limpet-mine from the neighbouring States had to be destroyed outside the borders or inside the country before he could commit his atrocity. The destruction of the terrorist is based and his capability was the mission of every soldier"
Iím referring this to you before you cut me - no, I still have some time. I would like to say that we developed some special strategies around about this time and now I want to have the transparency on the strategy please because at that stage we were looking for strategies and ever since 1980, we thought as to how to handle the change in attitude and the change in strategy by our enemy. And this then gave us the defence strategy.
Thirdly, effective intelligence network to support operations. That for example included the CCB action. Cross-border operations into neighbouring States has a preventative action in self-defence. Many, many cross-border operations were coupled to this.
Chairperson, I specifically mentioned this here because this was our mandate. This was the political instruction as a defence force and it is around this strategy that we carried on after 1980 and especially in the very crucial stage of 1986, some important decisions had to be made in this regard. Chairperson, from 1984 onwards - can I have the next transparency please, the conflict started to really enter into itís worst and most uncompromising phase.
Iím just going to mention in the transparency what happened in the period September Ď84 to August Ď90, the destruction of so many homes 7187, 1779 schools, 1265 shops and factories, 81 offices, 66 post offices, 49 churches, 29 clinics, 12.188 delivery vehicles, over 10.000 buses, over 4.000 SAP vehicles, 152 trains - all damaged and destroyed. The financial loss from Ď85 to Ď86 - 90 million rand in this regard. Necklaces and burning - you have already seen the graph, but it was 399 necklaced and 372 burnt to death.
Chairperson, this was a crucial challenge to us, how do you deal with a situation such as this. It was our responsibility to protect the people. We were not involved with the internal situation of taking the war to the people, we had to protect the people inside. That was our mandate and that is the reason why we went on.
And I now want to emphasis to you that within the RSA, the police were still the primary responsible organisation and we had to quickly find ways and means of co-ordinating between the police and the defence force because accountability wise, the South African defence force co-operated - and Iím reading on 3.37, the South African defence force co-operated with all departments and other role players in joint planning and joint execution of operations and accepted full responsibility for the execution of allotted operations or tasks.
The South African defence force could not accept accountability for determining tasks or decisions to undertake an operation or activity because of legal restrictions. The police remained the accountable insistence internally throughout for all security force deployment but we co-operated with the police. In the national management context, each department acted in accordance with itís mandate and itís budget within each line department.
The South African defence force observed this principle and never infringed on the terrain in this respect but I must say it was difficult. We were suddenly confronted with a situation where complete in strategy by the enemy and we were rubbing shoulders with the police. We were very close to each other and it was not always easy to exactly discriminate between the tasks of the police and the other people. Iím referring to the issue of accountability and the importance of close co-operation between us and the police.
CHAIRPERSON: Could we use that as a very good moment to stop? Thank you very much for your co-operation and for your contribution thus far, this is not the end of it, it will continue in the afternoon. We will adjourn now for tea and we will return here for those who wish to but those who have to at 20 past 11 and for those on the panel, those you are giving evidence today, if youíll use that door over there please and go down to the 7th floor where tea will be made available for you as well. Thank you very much - 20 past 11.
MR CILLIERS: This is of course an objection, you are the author and responsible for your own procedure but we want to submit and we want to emphasise that it is of the utmost importance that you in fact listen to the submission of General Viljoen, and I understand the time limits that you have but itís very important that the submission of General Viljoen is presented to you before you listen to specific evidence on specific aspects in order to give you the understanding and enable you to understand and evaluate the evidence that you will receive in a proper perspective.. I would submit that it is really of importance that you rather proceed for a short further with General Viljoen after the tea adjournment, instead of proceeding after you received in fact, all the evidence.
MR COETZEE: Can I just - my name is Etienne Coetzee and I appear on behalf of inter-alias General Geldenhuys and Admiral Putter. They have been subpoenaed and are going to be witnesses I understand later on in these proceedings. I support my learned friendís application.
I think it is in the interest of my clients specifically that this panel gets a proper perspective, which is the intention of these hearings before specific questions take place at a later stage and I think itís in the interest of the whole hearing that a proper submission be made at this stage, it be heard in full and thereafter specific witnesses asked questions. And I support my learned friendís application, thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Could we come to order? We have considered the request made to us by legal counsel and a strong believer in negation politics, weíve negotiated to compromise. General Viljoen informs us that he needs another 10 minutes, Iím going to give him 15 but we will have to make that absolutely quite rigid otherwise we simply arenít going to finish today. So General Viljoen, weíre in your hands.
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson, thank you very much for your leniency. I ended by showing to you the development mainly in 1986 and I just wanted to say to you that this to us was a real worrying factor because previously we were fighting a military kind of was in bush, in isolated situations. Here we found the war overnight or within a couple of months, completely transformed. The protection was our responsibilities, We could not send our troops in uniform into the townships because if you send a man in uniform there they are immediately seen, so, we had to find some other ways of operating in the townships but not being seen in the townships.
The pressure of the Government was also heavy because the Government also had a responsibility especially towards their 3rd tier Governmental officials which were entitled to protection. The revolutionary climate within the townships grew and the whole operation became most unpleasant. And the flow of intelligence was very, very difficult and we had to do some special arrangements in order to get the flow of establishments going again.
So we therefore found from 1984, but especially from 1986 onwards, a situation where the operations had a complete new character characterised by a total disregard of human values and thereby causing permanent damage to the human kind that we worked with. Iíve shown you the transparency on the damage done, just think about the damage on education, the damage on the attitude of the people, just think about the damage done in reconciliation, the problem that we are faced with today.
This to us was difficult - how to approach this thing because in approaching this thing we have to be very careful because in the application of the just war tradition we had to bear in mind as to how do we react on this because if we now start fighting terrorism with terrorism, it would be equally bad as the terrorism itself. Iím referring to a piece from the source material and I want to read this, it is a French peasant ...[intervention]
"This question must be posed to all modern war but it poses a particular challenge to terrorism for the claim is typically advanced that for the overwhelming justice of the cause justifies the kinds of actions that terrorists commit"
I was going to deal with a number of other subjects, I was also going to deal with some aspects of intelligence - military intelligence, especially the issue of communication operations but I think I will leave that now. And I would like to conclude by saying a few things and I will switch over back to Afrikaans again.
In conclusion, I want to refer to our acceptance of responsibility. As previous heads of the army, we do not want to avoid responsibility for our activities. We want to put it on our shoulders of our subordinates who acted in a disciplined way in executing their duties. We will not follow the way and try to place all the responsibilities to the top structures of the politicians. This old defence force was undisciplined and would not have acted without authorisation.
This struggle cost many lives, not as may as in big wars but these incidents were accepted so intensively by the people in the communities. It caused a lot of hatred. Every life is precious and the loss of a life is not acceptable. We would have wished to avoid that but without negating our accountability, we did not choose this struggle, we reacted. The strategy of terror had in itself the essence of the violation of human rights.
The inter-action between strategies caused an unworthy character on both sides. The world reacted against the destruction by nuclear war and certain steps were taken to avoid that. And this war to interact on the spirit of people, this should also be regarded as unwanted. This is a war in which people become victims. In my contribution I wish to warn against easy judgement against uniformed people from both sides. It is easy today during the luxurious circumstances where you can have a good nightís rest to criticise the army and also the revolutionary people.
These judgements will debase the spirit of these people. This positive observation is the spirit between these people and can take place much easier than in the political atmosphere. To put it shortly, we who fought against one another can make peace easier until the politicians come between us. Forgive easier and make peace easier until political intervention, then the relations tend to harden.
And a last observation. The Commission was dissatisfied that so few defence force members applied for amnesty. So few, almost a million were involved in operations over the years and thatís true that a very few people applied for amnesty. I want to give a few reasons. In the first place the army is by far consists of conscripts, they came from all levels of society and for all political spheres. I was not possible to contravene acts or these things would become known and the conscripts changed too regularly to become part of the gross violations of human rights.
The defence force made a study in the 1960ís and realised that good relationships should be maintained because we want to operate correctly and we tried to establish training programmes in this regard and there was no place for violation of human rights. The most operations of the liberation armies were illegal. There should be more applications from that side than from our side. We can understand the position from the other side, they had to do these things to arrive to their purpose and that was why we requested general amnesty for situations of war.
The argument which is posed that the army was an unfair situation is propaganda but legally that does not put the actions of the old army against the laws. The old army - our primary task which has been given to us in a legal way, it was necessary to do these things and this will be the test of a reasonable person. Another reason why so few applications for amnesty came from the army was that we respected the non-combatants. We know terrorism and counter-terrorism ...[inaudible] killed non-combatants is not morally justifiable, thatís why we had to avoid that.
There are sources available to saying that in a struggle like this, certain officials may be targets on moral grounds. Regarding the principles of a justified war, activities should be planned in such a way so few people from the civil society should lose their lives. This was not always possible but we never - we always took this principle into regard. If this happened it was unavoidable but we do not regard that as gross violation of human rights. The army followed a progressive training policy and with regular intervals these people were re-trained as new tasks and strategies developed, new training was done. People were just not pushed into a certain situation, we had high level commanding officers, very high discipline and it had very good results. These people should not be estranged when they try to reach for reconciliation.
We always subscribed to high principles. Weíve tried to explain why in the South African defence force thereís no reason for many amnesty applications. It is a very painful recollection that there has to be a few amnesty applications. The people who deviated from the norm should not discredit this massive organisation who did their work well, this would create a negative perception. You were wrong in your supposition when you asked the question that the army was responsible and that they have to apply for the gross violation of human rights but thank you for allowing us to be able to bring this under your attention today and that we could have been any assistance to you. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much General Viljoen and thank you very much for keeping well in the time. Could I just ask you, the last presentation that you made that youíve just read from, is that available from here - it is in here?
CHAIRPERSON: Fine, thank you very much. I just want to make sure that weíve got the record. Thank you again, itís a long and arduous task that you performed today and we appreciate it very much and also to those who assisted you in compiling that. This certainly will be a very good backdrop for us to proceed in our work and I just want to make the point, without wasting any time, that it may be that we will want to meet with you once we have been able to read through this carefully, in case there are any clarifying points
And I think it was General Meiring who very kindly suggested that it there were further questions arising out of this, that we could find a way of getting those further answers within 30 days. So we will proceed along those lines. Thank you very much indeed and now I would like to call General Joubert to the stand please.
CHAIRPERSON: General Joubert, Iíd like to welcome you formally - youíve already stood so thank you very much for anticipating the need to take the oath which my colleague Mr Ntsebeza will now take from you.
MR LE ROUX: Mr Chairman, just before General Joubert starts with his testimony, he wishes to give his testimony in Afrikaans. I think I just want to, for record purposes just repeat my request that I made to yourselves in chambers, mainly that you are well aware that General Joubert has applied for amnesty and an application has been circulated and in front of you. On his behalf I am instructed to inform you that you are at liberty to take note of the full contents of his amnesty application ...[inaudible] want to regard it as part of his testimony today.
You will note from the amnesty application - it comprises out of two section, a general section as well as a section regarding four incidents. His request today is that he is prepared and willing to testify and answer any questions that the Commission may deem necessary on the general side of his amnesty application but regarding the four incidents that is noted in there, he did not intend to testify on it and he will request the Commission to make a ruling that cross-examination will not be allowed on those incidents.
The reason why I request the Commission to make such a ruling is that - as you are well aware, he has to present his amnesty application at a later stage before a different forum and cross-examination at this stage regarding those incidents might detrimentally effect the finalisation of that application.
Furthermore, as far as his personal background is concerned, he has himself prepared a very short summary of how he perceived his role as - and I want I want to put it on record at this stage, he acted as a senior through his career mainly in an operation capacity as a General in charge of a unit that were deployed operationally. Heíd like in his own words, to give an indication what was his motivations for that and I would ask you the indulgence to allow him to give that to you and thereafter, he will be more than pleased to answer any questions.
Finally, Iíd just like to point out that his application not to be cross-examined no the incidents must be seen as an attempt to try and hide anything, itís an attempt to protect his interests and rights as far as his own application is concerned. Thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Firstly, I would welcome General Joubertís own short statement before we proceed with questions. Secondly, I think on the matter of cross-examination we should leave that until a specific situation arises and we can consider it. Iíd like not anticipate it in the hope that it doesnít happen, if it does happen then of course we would have to listen very carefully to that.
Thirdly, we have already indicated to you that the force of our questions today will be of a general nature, bearing in mind that General Joubert has applied for amnesty and obviously the specific incidents will be dealt with in detail at that time. With that, let me say again to General Joubert, you are welcome and we will listen to your opening statement with care and then Iíll ask Mr Glen Goosen to proceed with necessary or relevant questions, thank you.
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, may I beg an indulgence only to attempt to be of some assistance to you. My name is Visser, I appear instructed by Wagner Muller and du Plessis for General Johan van der Merwe, sorry, General Johan Coetzee. Heís an implicated person in the evidence of General Joep Joubert and whereas we submit that we would have under normal circumstances in such a situation, the right of cross-examination.
We believe this is not the forum with which to clarify all those issues through lengthily cross-examination and itís our intention that if General Joubert is going to stay within the confines of the statement or the allegations which are made in his amnesty application, we do not intend to cross-examine him but simply to place on record at the appropriate time, what our response to that would be. It might be of assistance and thatís why I interrupted the proceedings.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson, could I just indicate that in the questioning of General Joubert, I certainly intend dealing with the substance of the amnesty application. As I indicated to Mr le Roux earlier, that I donít intend asking about the facts relating to the specific matters for which amnesty is sought. I believe that is a matter for the Amnesty Committee but I wouldnít want to interpret Mr Visserís remarks as meaning that we can merely deal with the statement as it is contained in itís general form in amnesty application. I will be looking for amplification and clarification of those general statements made in that amnesty application.
GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, may I start with the background? When I left school in 1961, I joined the SADF as a volunteer, I had 32 years service as a soldier. Iíve never had any other profession and only know one life and that is of a professional soldier. During my career I had many command posts of which I would like to mention some - commander of junior infantry training, commander, 5th infantry battalion, commander 1, SA mechanised infantry battalion, infantry battle school, commander 82 mechanised brigade, commander sector 10, Ovambu in the present Namibia, commander in general of special forces, deputy head of information, deputy staff head of general staff.
When I became aware - during those years of the previous dispensation and itís philosophies became widely known and became part of everybodyís daily lives, it was a time in which White people, especially the Afrikaner were politically very highly active and children were also being indoctrinated. Even at schools, the previous dispensationís philosophies were openly propagated. It was a shameful thing to think differently.
The philosophy of military service as an honourable thing was already instituted in cadet training at school, section 31(a) of the Defence Force Act and the conscription service. The likelihood of a war to gain control of the Republic was generally accepted. These are the times in which we grew up, nobody doubted that the future belonged to the Coloured people but we must stress that the enemy was not the Coloured population but the churches propagated this as gospel.
And the activities of the liberation operations - when I started becoming self-sufficient around about 1961, was then in force. Everyone, not only myself were exposed to one philosophy without question it. As a soldier since 1961, I was already the product of perceptions formed beforehand and the protection of this former dispensation became my daily task. I lived under military discipline and applied it. I executed orders which I received from my superiors and I tried to execute these as best I could and I expected the same from my subordinates.
I never doubted the political integrity of my leaders and accepted that the strategies, policies, planning which had been formulated at the highest level were in the best interest in the survival of South Africa. My motivation was to execute the policies of the existing Government and to maintain order. I believe that if I had to lead operations against the enemy, this was to combat communism and to prevent the subversion of the State.
"The defence of the Republic, prevention or suppression of terrorism, prevention or suppression of internal unrest, the preservation of life, protection of property, maintenance of necessary services, the maintenance of law and order, prevention of crime and co-operation with the South African police to be used in policing activities"
My motives were always my duties. My duty was always to execute my duties as a soldier, it has nothing to with racism, it was coincidental that the majority of the enemy had a particular skin colour and itís for this reason that my activities were associated with a certain skin colour. If Iíd still been in the defence force, my duty towards the present Government would have been exactly the same.
It was mostly people of my group who needed the protection of the defence force. The protection of the inhabitants of South Africa is apparent from many documents. Since the early Ď60ís, the enemy attained a certain identity, namely that of a liberation movement. Youíve listened to a lot of submissions in this regard so Iím not going to expand on this. Itís also quite clearly quoted in General van der Merweís application.
It is not surprising that there was a strong perception under South Africans that liberation movements were the aggressors and that the security forces had to counter this aggression. It is abundantly clear that the battle or the struggle took on dimensions where the security forces either had to give up or start using unconventional methods. It was clear that the ANC rejected a peaceful solution, this is also known to the Commission and I wonít expand on this.
"Through my position as commander of special forces and in the course of my duties as commander of the special forces and within the environment of my wider competence and general orders which I received from my superiors, to the extent which I did not get detailed orders, I believed that I still acted within my competence"
My application for amnesty is - the actions I took were aimed against liberation movements and political parties, the ANC which was involved in a political and military war against South Africa. And then also their assistants, activists and other people involved in the struggle with the aim of maximally disrupting these political and liberation movements. All my actions were done bona fide in the belief that it was necessary to counter the military threat and due to my training and background, I believed that each action during this phase of the struggle was necessary and just to counter this threat.
I received no compensation except my recognition which I got and no actions were made due to personal ...[inaudible] or any other considerations. Through the support of the NP and the Freedom Front, I made these applications solely on the grounds of my position as a commanding general of special forces. As a professional soldier, I was trained in a particular military culture and all that it entails. Part of that was to execute the policy of the Government of the day as it was set out by the Government of the day.
I never had any other motive than to perform my duty as a member of the defence force. Every action I performed and every action in which I was involved was according to my perception, in reaction to the threat from the revolutionary forces. The main aim was to stop this revolutionary onslaught. I did not doubt that my actions were approved by my superiors. The political military climate before and during these periods are contained in this submission. By the nodal point of the SADF and also in what General Viljoen said, with which I agree and which I request that it be part of my application.
The war had a clear military character which escalated up to the point that violence on all sides had grown enormously and that the actions by everyone impacted on helpless people. Each party guilty of violence found itís own justification for it. Any condemnation of this must be subjective or based on subjective moral considerations. I want to refer you to the following information which is contained in this submission. The nodal point where the nature and intensity of the struggle is apparent. The quotes are here in the application, Iím not going to repeat all of them.
What I want to say, in the middle to late Ď80ís, one of the main aims of the security strategy to halt the mobilisation of these revolutionary forces, especially the ANCís. The acceptance of this aim contained far more than was immediately apparent. In the mid Ď80ís it was clear that the onslaught could not be countered in normal conventional ways, so the defence force or the security forces had to become unconventional themselves. Military reaction depends on violence, uses violence as a means of achieving peace.
The success or value of violence lies in itís intimidatory nature on participants, sympathisers and helpers must be disrupted and destroyed. Against this background a large percentage of my training took place and as a result of this I took over command in 1985, as a result of my training. I also briefly want to stop with the CCB and special forces and I refer to the submission on the nodal point where it refers to the special service and the CCB and I want to add the following:
The special forces was a unit for overseas and internal operations. They were there to gather information on operations and external affairs as the intensity of the struggle increased. And before I took over command, the special forces started executing clandestine operations outside the borders against ANC bases but itís operations were for a long time restricted to intelligence gathering operations overseas. Special forces consisted of reconnaissance units and a small group known as D40 which eventually became Barnacle and then the CCB.
Under my command their task was generally expanded into a - to support the SA police in itís internal covert operations. The members of Barnacle were all in civilian garb and the name was never was never accepted. And because civilian front organisations were created, the name Civilian Co-operation Bureau was used. It was done with the full knowledge of all people at the highest level but it operated according to itís own set of financial rules and regulations which had been approved at the highest level.
Insofar as my actions are to be considered by this Commission, I declare that I committed these acts in my capacity as General Commander in the special forces, I saw it as part of my duty and that no personal enmity or any personal gains played a role in this at all. My actions were never motivated by racist considerations, personal enmity or personal gain. It was aimed at ensuring the survival of the Government of the day.
Individuals who were eliminated were identified as people who played a material part in the struggle or could play such a part and were thus a serious threat to the State. I regarded it as my duty to counter this threat. I considered the country to be in a state of full scale war. I never questioned the validity of the war and only served the country to the fullest of my ability and convictions.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. I am going to put the questions in English but you may answer them in Afrikaans. If you have a problem with the English, just say so and I will try to put the question in English. You were the General commanding Spes Forces from 1985 to the end of 1988, is that right?
MR GOOSEN: You indicated that when you took over command, of Special Forces the primary function internally in the country, the role of the Special Forces was the collection of Intelligence related to the activities of Special Forces also outside of the country,is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: Sorry, I beg your pardon, I will repeat it. Under your command, whilst you were the Officer Commanding Special Forces, the internal role of Special Forces was expanded as it were, and didn't only involve the collection of Intelligence inside the country, but also involved clandestine operations, covert operations inside the country, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: That is correct. You indicate in your amnesty application in fact that you had received an instruction in regard to internal clandestine covert operations to be carried out by Special Forces, is that correct?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: I think I must put this matter in the right perspective. I was asked to look, I must formulate a plan when the state of emergency should expand, how I could counter this situation, that is what happened.
MR GOOSEN: Now, you indicate that you received that instruction to devise a plan to enable Special Forces to be of assistance to the South African Police inside the country, who did you receive that instruction from?
MR GOOSEN: And that would have been a plan as you indicate in your amnesty application, to be of support to the SAP in the sense that Special Forces would engage also in unconventional and revolutionary methods in order to combat the revolutionary onslaught against South Africa, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: Indeed, you indicate in your amnesty application that at that stage the necessity for the use of unconventional and or revolutionary methods by elements of the Security Forces, whether it be the South African Police or for that matter, Special Forces as a component of the South African Defence Force, was accepted and recognised by the command of the South African Defence Force, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: Okay. You indicate that the principle of, that there was acceptance of the principle that unconventional and or revolutionary methods would need to be employed by elements of the Security Forces in order to combat the revolutionary onslaught, against the country?
MR GOOSEN: Perhaps I could quote the particular section and read it in Afrikaans where the amnesty application refers to that. You indicate "I also received instructions from General Geldenhuys to plan how the Spes Forces could assist. At that stage everyone of importance realised that unconventional and revolutionary methods gave the only likelihood of success. Is that correct?
CHAIRPERSON: I think we are looking for the ingredients of the plan, if you like a recipe rather than a full explanation and if further information is required, I think Mr Goosen will ask for that. So perhaps if you can do that in outline form?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: I can put it in very broad terms. It came down to the problem areas where the problems were most acute, were identified and these were in the command Northern Transvaal, Witwatersrand and the Eastern Province command. These were the three problem areas and we decided that I in cooperation with the Commanding Officers of those commands, and the Head of the Security Police for that area would meet and would determine what the targets would be.
The important targets which are important in regaining control. From Special Forces a team was sent out to the Security Police in Northern Transvaal and one was sent to the Security Police in the Witwatersrand command. Together they had to plan to devise our cooperation or support of the police, because we had never done that before and we acted in support of the police at all times and I think this is what you might want.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much General, perhaps I could just run through a few aspects of that. In essence the plan that you devised was calculated to by having Special Forces assist the South African Police, it was calculated to ensure that the ANC inside the country, the words you used were to totally destabilise and stop" them, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: And that for that reason it would be necessary for the Special Forces to engage in covert or clandestine operations inside the country. You have indicated the involvement of if you like, the Regional Command structure in the South African Defence Force as well as the South African Police in the identification of targets.
Is it correct that you indicate that "the revolutionary and covert aspects entailed amongst others (a) ANC members and people who contributed to the struggle, had to be eliminated. (b) The ANC facilities and supporting structure had to be destroyed and that ANC's activists hangers on and people who supported them, also had to be eliminated." Is that correct, is that the objective defined for this particular set of operations, if you like?
MR GOOSEN: Once as part of your plan, the Regional Command structures in the South African Police, Security Police involved would be responsible for identification of targets, before an operation, a specific operation was launched, would it be necessary to seek specific authorisation from your immediate superiors prior to the conduct of that operation, in terms of the plan that you devised?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, this question is a question which has an impact on my amnesty application and the various incidents I refer to. I can answer the question, but then I would expose myself to very strong cross-examination.
MR GOOSEN: General Joubert, I understand the concern, but let me explain the question. Perhaps that could set your mind at rest. I am not asking you for an indication for who specifically approved any particular operation that was carried out and I am not asking you to get into the detail of the incidents for which you seek amnesty.
MR GOOSEN: Fine, all right. This plan of yours, you were instructed to devise, was it approved by the Chief of the South African Defence Force and could you indicate under what circumstances it was so approved?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, once again, I devised this plan. During those times the circumstances were such that all people were busy and as I have mentioned in my application, it was very difficult to contact the Head of the Defence Force to discuss this plan with him on a formal basis.
Because we were pressed for time, one evening at a function I discussed this with General Geldenhuys. I explained it to him in broad terms and he told me, just as I've mentioned it in my application, he said it sounded good. I accepted it like that and with that remark General Geldenhuys gave me the authorisation to continue with these operations. That was how I interpreted General Geldenhuys. Whether that was what General Geldenhuys saw in this regard, that was a different matter, but yes, I did discuss this with him.
MR GOOSEN: That would have been, you don't set out a date in the amnesty application, but given the fact that you indicate it was early 1986 and in anticipation of the broadening of the state of emergency, we assume that this would have taken place approximately mid-1986, or by mid-1986, would that be correct?
MR GOOSEN: Correct, yes. Was it at any stage brought to your attention either by the Chief of the South African Defence Force or by any other senior or more senior officer, if there are, that the operations launched by Special Forces in collaboration with the South African Police in accordance with this plan, did not have the approval of the Chief of the South African Defence Force?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, these specific operations I did not get specific approval for these from the Head of the South African Defence Force because I was under the impression that he had given me authorisation to do that. I understood that he trusted my judgement.
MR GOOSEN: A key element of the target identification process that you set out in your plan, was that you would have to establish that the operation in which you would be supporting the South African Police was in fact an operation of the South African Police and that it enjoyed the, that it had been authorised appropriately. At any stage, was it at any stage brought to your attention, raised with you that the operations which you were authorising in accordance with this plan, were not approved of either by the Chief of the South African Defence Force or by his equivalent in the South African Police?
MR GOOSEN: No, that he did not approve. I know that you've indicated that you didn't go and specifically ask him in relation to a particular operation. What I am asking you is, subsequent to carrying out a particular operation and those operations were carried out in accordance with this plan, were you at any stage confronted by the fact that the Chief of the South African Defence Force or his equivalent in the South African Police clearly did not approve of the actions that you were carrying out, operations that you were carrying out in accordance with the plan that you had devised?
And I accepted that at least it would have been cleared and approved at the level of the Head of the Security Police. It appeared then that after one specific incident that that was not the case and then I immediately took action and developed a procedure to get these authorisation channels right.
MR GOOSEN: Yes, and in relation to that specific matter is it not so that your application indicates that General Geldenhuys was in fact aware of that particular instance and was then party to the development of a more water tight command channel in respect of the operation? Is that correct?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Yes, well it was reported. I reported it first to General Gleeson and General Gleeson then reported it to General Geldenhuys and then we started to get the ball rolling to get this procedure out.
MR GOOSEN: I beg your pardon, I didn't want to promote you unduly. Throughout your period when you were Officer Commanding of Special Forces, did either the Chief of the South African Defence Force or Minister of Defence or any other Officer come to you and say General Joubert, what you are doing with your command as Commander of Special Forces, covert, clandestine operations involving the elimination of targets, inside the country is totally and utterly unacceptable to us and is not approved of. Did that ever happen?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, that did not happen. But the fact that the Head of the Defence Force realised that a procedure had to be developed and this procedure was developed, was an indication that he was not satisfied..
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Now, can we perhaps talk about that procedure? There is a particular document General, I want to refer you to. It was provided when the subpoenas and the Section 30 notices were sent out. Those were just compiled, you may not have got all of the documents, but they are not all relevant to you.
That is a compilation of all of the documents that were sent to all of the people who received Section 29's and Section 30's. Just so that it is clearly understood, I am not springing a document on you.
MR NTSEBEZA: Adv Goosen, if you could just bear with me I would like to be on board your sort of asking questions, and I just want some clarity. Just following just on a little part of the questions that you have put to General Joubert. Do I understand your answers to his questions to be saying what was discussed by you and the Chief of the Defence Force, was the procedure of carrying out specific operations, not the principle of eliminating through the methods used. I mean through the methods that have been approved of certain specific targets. In other words, what you were discussing or what you were engaged in was what was going to be the procedure for the carrying out of specific operations, the approval thereof, not the principle which I understand had been accepted even by the Chief of the Defence Force, that in the climate that prevailed, it was necessary to eliminate certain specific targets? Do I understand that to be the position?
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. General Joubert, the documents as I said is a compilation of the full set. We want to leave them there on the table in case we need to refer to any one of those with any of the other witnesses.
One of the documents that you would have received as part of that, is contained right at the end of the Bundle. If you could refer to that please. It is at page 104 and 105 of the Bundle. Do you have it there, I think the last two pages?
MR GOOSEN: That is correct. This is just picking up on the question of the if you like, the channel. The channel of communication and the basis upon which approval of a particular target would take place.
It is a document compiled by, and you will recognise the document, I am sure, given that at a much earlier stage during the proceedings at the Goniwe inquest, this document was made available to you and you commented on it in an affidavit which was submitted during the course of the Goniwe inquest in relation to this matter. That affidavit hasn't been attached here, but if you do want to see that, we can give you a copy of it.
It is a document compiled by the late Mr Meerholtz and it appears to be a minute of a discussion held with the Chief of the South African Defence Force at the time, at that stage also General Geldenhuys. You were present at this discussion, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: Yes. The discussion deals with certain matters relating to the CCB which was a front structure as we have been informed, which would have fallen under your immediate command or control as Officer Commanding Special Forces at the time, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: That is correct, yes. Now, if you would refer to - the first aspect to refer to there is paragraph 7. These here reflecting - the passage reading "methods used", Head of the Defence Force we regard these activities not as murder and define them as follows. An attack on a hostile target in an unconventional way not to involve innocent people." Could you comment on what was exercising the mind at the meeting as you understood it, the Chief of the South African Defence Force?
MR GOOSEN: All right, I will rephrase it Mr Chairperson. I didn't expect that the General would read the Chief of the South African Defence Force's mind. It refers to methods that would be applied. Methods that would be applied by CCB operatives, is that correct in the carrying out of operations by the CCB, is that correct?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Yes. Mr Chairman, I just want to establish the legality of this document. You will see this document has not been signed by anybody except by Corrie Meerholtz and it had not been verified. This document originated from an information and planning session which I held on an annual basis regarding the Special Forces and the CCB. This is one of these documents.
This is a highly confidential or sensitive document. It is supposed to be, it is not too sensitive anymore, because I have it in my hands now. I was very, very surprised when I was confronted with this document during the Goniwe trial. When the Attorney General put this document into my hands, because I did not have any recollection of such a document. I should not have existed.
The planning sessions did take place, that is correct, but whether the contents as described here is correct, neither I nor anybody else can vouch for that, because it had not been verified like ordinary minutes. What I am trying to say is this document should not exist at all and unfortunately the person who had signed this, is deceased.
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, all I am trying to say is that I am not one hundred percent sure whether this was how this point was discussed. The word "murder" could not have been mentioned for example, but the author of this document has perhaps inserted this word.
CHAIRPERSON: As I understand it, the document makes the point that certain procedures or killings should not be seen as murder. It is not saying it is murder, it is saying it shouldn't be seen as murder and then goes on to a particular definition. And I am just worried or concerned or puzzled that someone such as Meerholtz should actually write this up if it wasn't as he saw it, so if there is a particular denial you wish to make, if you dispute what is here, then of course it can be placed on record.
MR COETZEE: If I may intervene at this stage, I am Ettiene Coetzee for purposes of record, I appear inter alia on behalf of General Geldenhuys. As I understand General Joubert's evidence, he is disputing the authenticity of this document. He says I am not the author of this document, I don't know if terminology such as murder was used during this meeting.
I cannot stand in for this document and I cannot confirm the contents of this document. My instructions are from General Geldenhuys that he also disputes the authenticity and the contents of this document. I am also aware that General Joubert made a second statement where he also disputes the contents of this document.
It is my submission that this document is not a proven document, General Joubert denies the contents of this document as well as my client, and that no questions should be allowed, at this stage, further on this document, unless the document can be proved. Because both General Joubert and General Geldenhuys both dispute the authenticity and the contents of this document.
I indicated, in fact I will make available after lunch adjournment, we will make available the affidavit deposed to by General Joubert at the time that this document was presented to him. It is not placed in dispute.
What he says is that he cannot say that this as it is here reflected, a record by Corrie Meerholtz, who I may point out was the Deputy Officer Commanding Special Forces, is that correct? He was your 2 IC, Meerholtz, is that not correct?
MR GOOSEN: Well, if I can just finish the point that I am making, it is not that pertinent at this stage to the point, Mr Chairperson, that he can't say that the phrases used by Meerholtz in recording this here, were necessarily used at the meeting.
That is what he said, he doesn't dispute the authenticity of the document. Unless he wants to now indicate that he in fact does, but Chairperson I think an intervention like this, General Geldenhuys will be called. The position can be dealt with on that basis, if he wants to put something on record, that is fine, he will have an opportunity to do so.
MR COETZEE: If my learned friend wants to ask questions relating to this document, it is clear that this witness is not the author of this document. Now he is trying to prove the contents of this document through someone who is not the author of the document. I don't know how he is going to achieve that, General Joubert is clearly stating I am not the author of this document.
MR COETZEE: If I may have the opportunity to finish my submission, it is obviously clear that the contents of this document implicate on General Geldenhuys. I submit that this document must be proven and the contents of this document must be proven that it is at least, whether the witness agrees with the contents of the document, whether it is a true recollection of what transpired during this meeting and if he disputes the contents of the document, then it must be put properly on record. My learned friend starts off as if General Joubert agrees with the contents of this document.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson, with respect, perhaps if my learned colleague could allow me to develop the line of questioning, we will get to the point when General Joubert will be afforded an opportunity to say whether this accurately reflects the planning meeting that he had at the time with the Chief of the South African Defence Force or not.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Could you have regard to paragraph 9.2 of the document, it is a little bit - it reads "internal activities", paragraph 9 and I will deal with the pertinent portion, 9.2 "elimination of specific targets, a channel for handling these aspects is being established. This channel will be discussed on the 12th of May and the Commanding Officer of Special Task Force will be there." Does this record reflect what was discussed at the planning meeting, in particular at this stage, in particular, in regard to the establishment of a channel for the approval of operations involving the elimination of targets identified inside the country? Can you indicate whether that accurate reflects an element of the discussion held at the meeting which you indicate this document concerns?
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. General Joubert, you indicated at the outset when I first indicated the document to you, that a document of this nature, ought not to have been brought into existence, because it reflected the planning meetings, or a planning meeting, that you held and at that stage held on at least on an annual basis it would seem, with the Chief of the South African Defence Force. The issues raised in this document and the document was provided to you some time back, and you would have had an opportunity with your legal counsel to consider the contents of the document.
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, this was what I tried to explain earlier. These meetings did take place. I don't have a problem with that, but whether the contents of this document is correct, that I cannot guarantee.
MR NTSEBEZA: That is not the question General. The question is whether you can recall whether on the 28th of April 1987 there was a meeting at which you and the Chief of the Defence Force attended. I think that is what the question seeks to say.
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Yes, but that I have said. The meetings took place. Whether it was on the 28th, I am even not sure whether it was on the 28th or not. It could have been on any other date, but there was planning meetings held, that is true.
MR NTSEBEZA: In other words you are saying, you are not saying, when you say you don't know whether it was on the 28th or not, you are not denying that there could have been a meeting on the 28th of April 1987 at which you and the Chief of the Defence Force were present?
MR NTSEBEZA: And that there could have been a minute of this nature which reflected the proceedings at that meeting, except what you are contesting is whether these particular minutes are a reflection of a particular meeting at which you and the Chief of the Defence Force were present?
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. Just perhaps to wrap on a few aspects here, because you may want to adjourn shortly. A few aspects, General Joubert, minutes were not meant to be kept, is it not so, precisely because those meetings concerned discussions about the elimination or individuals and the method for approving such operations, is that not the case?
MR GOOSEN: Precisely so. One of those things must surely be approval at the highest level at the South African Defence Force by the Chief of the South African Defence Force that a particular person should be eliminated, killed. Is that not so? Wouldn't that be one of the types of things that are so sensitive you wouldn't commit it to writing? Correct?
One of those, must surely be the fact that the Chief of the South African Defence Force might be approving of the elimination of an individual, that that would be of such a sensitive nature that you wouldn't want to record it in a minute of a meeting, not so?
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. And is it also not correct that in your testimony thus far this morning, quite apart from when we dealt with this particular document, you testified positively to two particular facts.
One of which was that the Chief of the South African Defence Force in fact approved a plan which involved the elimination of individuals, individual enemy targets inside the country? Unconventional methods to be used, is that correct?
MR COETZEE: I am representing General Geldenhuys and I am trying to look after General Geldenhuys' interest and his testimony was not that he in fact approved. He referred to his amnesty application and he said I thought he authorised this. The question is not correctly put in light of the evidence given by General Joubert.
MR LAX: I am sorry, with respect to all of you, his evidence in relation to prior to putting together that plan was that he thought his original plan was approved. However, his evidence was also very clearly that in relation to the procedure to be put into place, that was discussed with General Geldenhuys and others, and that was his clear evidence, uncategorically.
MR GOOSEN: The first aspect to which you testified to positively namely that not in relation to the plan, but in relation to a specific matter, the elimination of an individual enemy target was in the knowledge of and approved of by the Chief of the South African Defence Force, that is one of the factors that you testified to positively, prior to us coming to this document, is that correct?
Two elements to your testimony outside of the ambit of this particular, of what we dealt with with this document. The first of those is that in respect of the plan, you understood that your plan which involved the elimination of individual targets that that was approved by the Chief of the South African Defence Force, that is the first aspect.
The second aspect that in respect of a particular operation, it came within the knowledge of the South African Defence Force and that that principle was approved by him. You at no stage were told that it was unacceptable to the Chief of the South African Defence Force, do you recall that evidence and do you confirm that?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, I don't understand one hundred percent what this question is because in my evidence I said regarding the approval of this plan, I was under the impression that the remark made by General Geldenhuys meant that authorisation was given.
Whether that was what General Geldenhuys experienced, I don't know, but that was how I answered. In the second incident, during a second incident, and that was regarding the involvement of the Police, I said that based on that specific situation, a procedure was developed according to which authorisation had to be obtained. That was how I understood that and that was how I experienced that.
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, I think at this stage and if you go back to what General Viljoen had said and which is contained in all these documents especially these thick set of documents, in these documents reference is made repeatedly to the elimination of people.
That was not a question at all. At the highest level people were talking about the neutralising or the elimination of people. This is not strange to me. We referred to eliminating. But now Mr Chairman, we can dispute for hours what is meant by elimination or neutralisation.
The second element is that at a certain stage because of a particular difficulty, a procedure for dealing with that approval had to be put in place, and the Chief of the South African Defence Force was involved with that exercise?
CHAIRPERSON: In conclusion before we adjourn, just try to satisfy my own mind about one additional point, and it is a question which I have put and my colleagues have put to other political parties and other political people participating in our hearings, just so that I can get this clear.
There was a plan which you helped to devise in your capacity as being in charge of that specific Unit. There may well be those who say they didn't like the plan and other who say we supported the plan. But what I would like to know from you General Joubert, is after the plan began to be put into practice, after the implementation of the plan, which included elimination and you can tell us after lunch, how you understood that, did anyone senior to yourself, either militarily or politically come to you and say this is totally unacceptable and you must stop? And so if you did continue the plan, you were actually disobeying orders? Now, did that happen?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, I have tried to explain it earlier. It did not happen like that. Nobody had told me now stop these actions. After a certain incident as I have referred to it, we decided to develop a procedure to contain this whole thing.
CHAIRPERSON: We will adjourn until a quarter to two and I would like to mention two things. One that an additional member of the panel will join as at this time, he has just arrived, he is Commissioner Lyster and second that because of other duties, that I have to attend to, I am not totally sure I can be here the entire time, I will try and do that because I think this is very important, but I will ask Commissioner Ntsebeza to take the Chair so that if I have to leave, for a few minutes at various times, then there can be some continuity.
I know that the programme indicates that we should be commencing the testimony of General Meiring. I don't see him here, but even if he is, I hope he will bear with us as happens with all these things, the testimony in the morning took longer than we have anticipated. If you could then get ready to start.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. General Joubert, we have spoken about the approval of a procedure in terms of which authorisation would then be granted for a specific operations in accordance with the plan that you presented. Could you indicate what that procedure was that was agreed upon?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, this procedure was drawn up a long time ago. I can't remember the exact detail, but I will try and recall as well as I can but in brief it boiled down to whenever we had to work with the Police, or whenever we had to support the Police, it meant that let us say and let's say a target had been identified, then a joint plan would be drawn up at an appropriate level, and then that plan would have to be at various levels in the Police, right up to the highest level, that plan would have to be approved, and only then could the operation be executed. This is in broad terms as I can remember it, Mr Chairman.
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Yes, Mr Chairman, it could have included that, but it could have been any target. Not necessarily a person who had to be eliminated. It could have been the destruction of a facility or something like that.
MR GOOSEN: Okay. All right, no I accept that it might be difficult to recall specifically when such a procedure might have been appointed. In terms of joint operations in which the Special Forces were deployed in support of the SAP using unconventional methods as you have indicated in the plan that you devised, operations continued in accordance with the approval procedure after the procedure was put in place, is that correct?
During late 1985 and early 1986, you indicate also in the broad context in your amnesty application it was also reflected in the submission made or presented by General Viljoen earlier today, there was a shift in the strategy deployed by the revolutionary forces, by the ANC in particular, which necessitated a in reaction to that shift in strategy, a change in the approach adopted by the South African Security Forces, it is in that context that it became necessary to deploy Special Forces using unconventional revolutionary methods in support of the South African Police.
And it is in that context that you devised a plan. Are you saying that the necessity for the deployment of Special Forces, using unconventional methods, in support of the South African Police evaporated after the procedure for putting that in place, was in fact put in place?
MR GOOSEN: Yes. You described the situation in 1986, in the mid 1980's, 1986 and through the period in which you were the Officer Commanding Special Forces as a period in which we were involved in full scale war, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: You indicate that you put in place a plan, certain operations were carried out. At a certain point a procedure for approval was put in place? Does it follow that your in consequence of the operations that were carried out in accordance with the plan that you devised, that the security situation in the country changed so dramatically for the better, that it was no longer necessary to deploy Special Forces in support of the SAP using unconventional or revolutionary methods into 1987? Were we no longer in a situation of full scale war?
MR GOOSEN: I never understood from the context of your amnesty application and the evidence presented, that this was solely that the deployment of Special Forces was solely in consequence of a request from the SAP, are you saying that that is the case? It was only on a request from the SAP?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, that was exactly so. We did not act without being requested by the Police to support them. This does not mean that they did not continue to ask for assistance, but they asked assistance from other parts of the Defence Force, not necessarily from Special Forces.
MR GOOSEN: But General, that is precisely the point. In effect what you are saying, and correct me if I am wrong, but in effect what you are saying is that situation in the country was such that it necessitated a change in strategy on the part of the South African Defence Force.
Change in strategy in that it now became necessary to deploy Special Forces in support of the South African Police in order to deal with this changed strategy on the part of the revolutionary forces. You put in place a plan, some operations were carried out and the need for that evaporate. In other words, the operations that you put in place, were in effect so effective that it no longer became necessary in 1987 and through to 1988, for further deployment along approved lines, but further deployment of Special Forces in support of the South African Police? Am I misunderstanding your response entirely or is that correct?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, I want to repeat again. The situation in the country did not change. The situation in the country improved to a certain extent, but not to such an extent that we did not need to continue, but the Police did not ask for assistance from us.
MR GOOSEN: So Special Forces then, you are saying, after this procedure was put in place, were as long as you were in command of Special Forces, were never again deployed using unconventional methods, or revolutionary methods which involved the elimination of people, were never then deployed internally in support or in assistance of or to assist the South African Police, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: No, no, I accept that you wouldn't be able to comment as to whether whilst you were Officer Commanding Special Forces, that would be to the end of 1988, but in the period from and you can't give a specific date but you would suggest that it might be early 1987 perhaps, from then through until when you left Special Forces and took up your position elsewhere in the SADF, if Special Forces were deployed in support of the South African Police inside the country, in which unconventional methods were deployed which included the elimination of individuals as you've testified, then such deployment would be unauthorised? Is that correct?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, it may be that unauthorised operations took place. If the Police had requested us again, and it had been done and authorised through the right procedure, then it couldn't have been an unauthorised operation. It is difficult for me now, because I don't know of operations which took place after that.
MR GOOSEN: Yes, so they would in fact be, because you were there and you were not involved in the authorisation procedure and you have no knowledge of operations carried out in which Special Forces were deployed from approximately the beginning of 1987 through until 1988, end of 1988. Then it must follow that they were in fact unauthorised?
MR NTSEBEZA: Well, putting it differently General Joubert, would you have authorised any operations after the date on which these procedures were put in place without referring to the principles that were agreed upon in terms of that procedure?
MR LAX: If I could just put it a different way to you. You say your evidence so far is that you don't know of any other such operations. You would have been the person who would have authorised any such operations.
CHAIRPERSON: I think this is exactly what I was trying to ascertain that in the light of what you have said. You said there was a plan, a procedural plan that was put into place which was going to be used in the approval of operations, but to your best knowledge, after the plan had been put into place, there never arose a situation to your memory where that plan was put into place.
In other words a plan which you and General Geldenhuys had been party to in agreeing should be used to approve the elimination of certain targets, when the revolutionary methods and unconventional methods were used in support of the police, that plan, according to your testimony so far never had an opportunity to be put into place during your time? Am I right so far? That is your evidence?
CHAIRPERSON: Right, now what the question seeks to establish as a matter of principle, if it were to be shown to you I am not saying it is so, if it had to be shown and demonstrated to you that during your time and after this plan had been put into place which had to be utilised for purposes of operations, if it were to be shown that there were operations, those particular operations in the light of what you have said, would be unauthorised operations, do you agree to that?
MR GOOSEN: General Joubert, what was the - in accordance with the plan that you devised you indicated that there were three command areas which you identified as the three key problem areas, Eastern Cape, Northern Transvaal and Wits command and you indicate that as it were Special Forces were deployed in a sense, made available to assist in the command areas Wits command and Northern Transvaal command, but not in the Eastern Cape, is that correct? What form did that deployment take? I want you to give me, I am not asking for the names of the individuals, I am wanting to know what Special Forces personnel would have been made available in those two command areas for potential use in joint operations?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: At that time due to the fact that that was supposed to be specialised operations, I had a limited amount of operators that I could detach to the commands, that is why I only detached people to two commands and I am not sure, I am under correction, I think it was two teams of five people and with now Lieutenant Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels in charge.
MR GOOSEN: That deployment of those two teams to the two command areas, did that remain current right the way through to 1988 or were they pulled back for deployment on other Special Forces operations?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: That is Mr Chairman, that is a very difficult question to answer because I don't know. I can't remember, but I can assume that if we didn't use them in the command areas, then they would have been pulled back for other operations, but that is difficult for me, that is.
MR GOOSEN: So one can assume then that in all probability they were in fact pulled back from those command areas from more or less the time that this new procedure was introduced because as you have indicated, no further operations were carried out along those lines.
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: It could have been that some of the other commands wanted support and then we will give them support, but then we will give the support to the command. The Army command, not to the Police and they were restricted to do conventional type of operations, no covert type operations. It could be of the other regiments from 1 reconnaissance regiment or 5 or whatever.
Are you saying that Special Forces operatives or Special Forces members were in fact not deployed for unconventional operations inside the country in support of the South African Police whether attached to a command or not attached to a command, in the period 1987/1988?
MR GOOSEN: Major General Eddie Webb? And in the new position that you then occupied, did you ever become aware of the possibility that or the fact that Special Forces had been deployed in support of the SAP inside the country for clandestine or covert operations, this is post 1988 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Eddie Webb?
MR LAX: Just while you are thinking Mr Goosen, if I could throw a question in. You seem to imply, now I might have been mistaken or it is implicit in one of your previous answers about Special Forces stopping assistance, that it might have been other Units in the SADF that did in fact support the SAP during that time and do you know whether that in fact happened and here I am not talking about conventional support, roadblocks, house searches, all that sort of thing.
Let's be clear, we are in the context of unconventional and clandestine operations. So I am not going to keep repeating that as Mr Goosen has each time, let's understand that is the context. Are you aware of any other actions?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, I want to put it very clearly. I also mentioned it in my submission. Special Forces did not only consist of covert elements, Special Forces also consisted of reconnaissance regiment, which had an air capacity. There were 4 reconnaissance was an air capacity and others with land capacity, but they were all Special Forces. And then we had the members of the CCB, who operated in a more clandestine, covert fashion. But these other regiments could internally support these other commands if they had been requested, but then they had to wear uniforms and so on. So that assistance was still being rendered to the commands. These were unconventional operations, so this is how it worked.
MR LAX: We are talking here within a context of these revolutionary measures, covert measures. So let's not confuse conventional and unconventional, I am fully aware what unconventional warfare is about.
We are talking in the context of what we have been talking about all day, and that you've been questioned about. Let's not confuse that and get into a semantical exercise. Let's be clear, did other Forces, other components of the SADF in the absence of your Special Forces, assist the South African Police in operations that entailed clandestine revolutionary and irregularly methods? We spoke about that, we contextualised those methods already. I am not going to explain what I mean by that again. Yes or no?
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. General Joubert, were there ever instances in which Special Forces operatives under your command and I include CCB operatives, because they fell under your general command whilst you were OC of Special Forces, ever instances in which those operatives engaged in operations inside the country which were unconventional and which involved the elimination of individuals but which were not in as it were, support of the South African Police?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, as far as my knowledge goes, during my time, we did no clandestine covert operations internally without the support and without cooperation of the Police, and if these things happened, I did not know about them.
MR GOOSEN: So I take it from what you've said that no clandestine covert operations were carried out by CCB operatives in the period from more or less the beginning of 1987 through to 1988, when you ceased being Officer Commanding Special Forces?
MR GOOSEN: Let me try to make it clear. You said that Special Forces operatives and that include the CCB operatives, would only have been deployed clandestinely or covertly using unconventional purposes inside the country, if they were so deployed in support of the South African Police. That is what you've said?
MR GOOSEN: Fine. And we know from what you've now said, no operations in support of the Police which were clandestine or covert unconventional, involving Special Forces operatives occurred after this procedure was introduced more or less the beginning of 1987 until after you left. You don't know about what happened after you left until the end of 1988?
CHAIRPERSON: Before you reply, I think, I don't know where Adv Goosen is getting to, but I think in all fairness to you before you reply, I must indicate that we have heard members of the CCB in a Section 29 inquiry, in which they testified under oath, and I would in fairness to you say you must think very carefully because you are also under oath before you reply. As I say, Adv Goosen was not part of that Section 29 procedure, and I am not sure he is basing his questions on what transpired. I was.
CHAIRPERSON: No, I was not calling upon you to explain, I just wanted to be fair to the witness. I just wanted to be fair to you that we may have in the Commission information that we have heard under oath which if you were aware we have, might possibly influence you to give a response which you would not give were you not aware of that information.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson, maybe I can explain my question because it is not based on specific instances. I was wanting to understand the import of the evidence that General Joubert has given thus far and clarity it so that I understand exactly what he is saying.
And that is that from what you've said, Special Forces operatives, including CCB operatives were not deployed clandestinely, covertly inside the country unless they were deployed in support of the SAP. That is your evidence, is that correct?
And you've indicated that Special Forces operatives, including CCB operatives, were not deployed internally in the country clandestinely, I think I've just said that, unless they were deployed with the SAP. No deployments of that nature post the introduction of this procedure, the beginning of 1987, were to your knowledge approved?
MR GOOSEN: But it would follow then that the use of CCB operatives, actions by CCB operatives, where they were either not supporting the SAP or were deployed, they were not authorised in that deployment, post 1987, beginning of 1987 through to 1988, that you have knowledge of?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Mr Chairman, I think we should be very careful when we look at the word eliminate. I can eliminate a person by arresting him. I can neutralise him by arresting him. Each case must be dealt with on its own merits.
If you can eliminate a person by not killing him, then you've eliminated him by means of arresting him or something like that. But there may be cases where eliminate or elimination in fact meant killing. I don't think we must generally accept that the term eliminate means kill.
MR LAX: No, I accept that, but in the context of your being OC, Commanding Officer of Special Forces, from 1986 to 19- whenever it was when you left, were there cases in which Special Forces cooperated with the police in eliminating people, ie killing people in accordance with the plan that you testified to before lunch?
MR LAX: And could you tell us how many people Special Forces acting together with the South African Police, eliminated and when I say eliminated, I mean killed? I am not going to go into the specific details but I just want you to give us a figure of how many people were in fact killed by Special Forces cooperating with the SAP that you are aware of?
MR LAX: And I think as you have said in your amnesty application, these people were not necessarily only ANC people, they were people who supported the ANC or assisted or followers or hangers on and they could, and they did in fact include ordinary civilians, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: General Joubert, the operatives who were involved in the operations which were carried out in accordance with your plan, how would those operatives have understood their mandate when informed that their function was to eliminate specified or identified targets?
MR GOOSEN: And when you became aware of the fact that unconventional methods were to be employed, you understood and that involved the elimination of targets, you understood that that meant that people should be killed?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: That is, Mr Chairman, that is what I tried to explain. If the circumstances was such that those were the best ways to eliminate a person, it would then have happened that he would have been killed.
MR LAX: Thank you Chairperson. I will be very quick. General earlier, right in the beginning of your evidence, when we first canvassed the issues of these unconventional methods of these revolutionary methods, you said that everyone of importance realised that these methods had to be used at that stage, and in essence approved that. Do you remember that, do you confirm that?
MR LAX: That was right in the beginning when we were canvassing those methods, you said everyone of importance accepted that that was what had to be done at that time. I think you say so in your amnesty application as well.
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Yes, well as far as I am concerned, Mr Chairman, as far as I was concerned, it was the government of the day, the departments involved in the security or responsible for security such as the Defence Force, the Police and so on. I think the State Security Council also had a certain say, that is what I meant by everyone of importance.
Now, one last question, there is the other Verster, Joe Verster. He was Head of the CCB and was it the practise that at the end of each year, he would submit to you for approval a year planning for the next year or following year, do you recall?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: Yes, Mr Chairman, that is quite correct. At the end of the previous year, we had reports from all activities of the Special Forces and we submitted these for approval and then we got approval in principle and then we had to separately get approval for each operation.
CHAIRPERSON: And in the context of the CCB, would you be the person that Joe Verster would submit a year planning for your approval? Would you be the person that would approve that sort of year planning?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: He will bring it to me, his year planning and then I will do a presentation to my leaders, and they will give a principled approval, but then each operation plan must be approved separately.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Now, I don't know if you would recall, would you recall if he ever presented to you a year planning in terms of which the proposal was that the CCB through covert means must deal internally and externally with the disruption of perceived enemies? In other words would you be able to recall just as you are sitting there, if he would have presented to you for your approval in the form in which you have said, a year plan in which there was a proposal for the elimination inside and outside of enemies as they were perceived?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, you see there were enemies that were identified by the CCB as enemies. I think we have gone through that, whether they were enemies, UDF, ANC, SACP and all those sort of people. Now what I am asking is if you are able to recall, and you know it is a long time, during your period would you be able as you sit there, recall if Joe Verster in his capacity as Manager of the CCB, if he would have presented to you a memorandum in which the proposal was that the enemies of the State, inside and outside the country must be eliminated by means of covert operations by the CCB, not in support of anyone, just by the CCB?
CHAIRPERSON: Are you categorically saying that there could never have been a plan for such covert operations by the CCB, either submitted to you or eventually approved by you during the time that you were Head of Special Forces?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, that is what I want to be, I want to be fair to you. When you say you can't remember it, are you saying it could never have happened or are you saying it could have happened, except that I don't remember?
MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, on a point of order, may I enquire as to how you propose to deal with the witnesses? I am sorry I was a little bit late this morning, due to our flight being delayed. I don't know if you made, the Chairman, this morning regulated the procedure, but I understood, or I said that I wasn't going to cross-examine this witness, but for the sake of convenience, I think it is properly proper that I should put to the witness a version of General Coetzee, so that at least you could have it on record and be aware of it and I think there are some of my colleagues who might also wish to put some questions to General Joubert. I would like to know when you propose to do that?
CHAIRPERSON: My apologies, I was here when that undertaking was made by the Deputy Chair and my recollection seems to have been that it would have been proper for you to do what you say you ought to do and I think the appropriate time would be now.
MR VISSER: As it pleases you Mr Chairman. General Joubert, just to put these statements I am going to present to you, in context, I am going to refer you to your written amnesty application with the undertaking that I am not going to go into any detail, except where it is absolutely necessary.
On page 9, you described that there was a plan and you gave your evidence this morning regarding this plan on pages 8 and 9. At the top of page 9 you said I accepted that General Geldenhuys this principle of cooperation between the Special Forces and the South African Police, that he had discussed that with his equal in the South African Police because internal operations were the task of the South African Police.
I am putting it to you that something like this had never been cleared with General Coetzee and he was never aware of any such plan. If you want to react to that, you can say. You've accepted he said he doesn't know, what is your comment?
MAJ GEN JOUBERT: The only comment I have Mr Chairman, is because they cooperated and during those circumstances, it was an extension of the emergency regulations. I have just accepted that he cleared it out with his equal, whether he did that, I don't know.
LEGAL COUNSEL: Mr Chairman, we have indicated initially that the circumstances surrounding these incidents, we wish to avoid today because they are the subjects of amnesty applications, then Mr Visser will have the full opportunity to cross-examine the details of those operations. In the light of that, I wish to state that my client do not wish to answer these questions at the moment.
MR VISSER: The objection is ill-founded. I am not cross-examining the witness. I am placing before the Committee the version of General Coetzee after this particular witness has confirmed the contents of his amnesty application before you this morning. I can't leave it just like that. I've got to put it to him. I am not cross-examining him. I am being very careful not to divulge any of the facts in his application with respect.
MR VISSER: Well, he confirmed the contents of his amnesty application, this is part of it. All that I want to put to the witness is, I am now directing his attention Mr Chairman, to the paragraph, he can read it, I am not going to say what it is, and I am just going to say General Coetzee is going to deny that. That is all I am going to say.
MR VISSER: General what you are saying in paragraph 4.4.13 and 4.4.16 on the next page as far as you mean by this that General Coetzee had knowledge of any elimination of persons or had any previous knowledge of elimination of persons, he denies it.
MR VAN ZYL: Mr Chairman, for the record I am Van Zyl. I represent Gleeson who also received a notice regarding the Act, and I just want to ask one or two questions from General Joubert regarding a certain instance and I want to put something on the record concerning the contents of his application.
Regarding the questions I want to pose to General Joubert is earlier today I showed a statement which you made during 1996, the middle of 1996, there is no date but you've signed it and you read the contents of that during lunch time, is that correct?
CHAIRPERSON: Aren't you in a very invidious position, where we should listen to you talking between yourselves, with us as a panel in which you are examining the pros and cons of a statement which is not before us?
CHAIRPERSON: I know what the purpose of the question is, but we are sitting here to be fully appreciative, whether the questions you will be putting to this person, are proper, are fair, and it is totally, totally disempowering for us as a panel to sit here whilst you are asking each other about a document which we do not have before us. Is it a fair request for you?
MR VAN ZYL: According to my submission yes, and the reason is the following. I am not going to pay attention to the contents of the document, I just wanted to know whether he says that the contents are true.
CHAIRPERSON: Unfortunately I cannot sit here where you are discussing a document whether it is the contents or not, which we do not have. Please facilitate to us the acquisition of a document which you are going to be using to ask a witness who is before us.
MR COETZEE: As the Commission pleases. In your statement you confirm that the minutes of the so-called document signed by Meerholtz is not a true reflection of the meeting which you attended, is that correct?
MR COETZEE: First of all I want to tell you I am not going into any detail regarding the incidents and the names of the people involved, regarding the incidents for which you are applying for amnesty. I am just going to address certain broader aspects and I am going to ask you questions specifically referring to your own application and your evidence of today.
First of all, I want to refer to page 11 of your amnesty application regarding the approval. Paragraph 4.2.16, this plan had to be presented to General Geldenhuys. That was a very busy time for everybody. Before a formal meeting could be arranged, I met him at a farewell function for the Chairman of Armscor and I mentioned this plan to him and he said that it sounded good. I accepted this as an approval of the plan and I also accepted that he would convey this to the Commissioner of Police.
MR COETZEE: I don't want to question you on your subjective beliefs at that stage, but you believed and that is also in your submission, that you believed in your own mind, that that was authorisation, but you accept that perhaps it was not authorisation, and that Geldenhuys did not regard it as an authorisation.
CHAIRPERSON: Adv Coetzee, I think he said so when he testified. I think he said if I recollect his evidence, that I've got the distinct impression that this an authority, but whether it was so or not, in fact is a different question.
MR COETZEE: Many questions have been posed regarding internal operations in support of the Police and repeatedly you told the Committee that you could not act internally without supporting the Police. The reason why you repeated this evidence today is because the situation internally was primarily the responsibility of the Police, is that correct?
MR COETZEE: And in every incident you pertinently asked whether the operation was authorised by the Police and confirmed according to you then, every time you established that we had to support the Police and from the side of the Police, you tried to determine whether the Police had authorised this?
MR COETZEE: I am not going into the detail of the third incident, but after a specific incident it came under your attention that there was possibly Defence Force involvement in one of these incidents for which you are applying for amnesty, is that correct?
MR COETZEE: After this incident, General Geldenhuys called the special meeting and on his own initiative he developed a procedure regarding authorisation to be obtained when Special Forces were to support the Police, is that correct?
MR COETZEE: I am putting it to you that although there was a state of war that everything possible was done to prevent that people should be eliminated in an unlawful manner, do you want to comment on that?
MR COETZEE: Although this was a time of war and during a war a lot of things happened, and I wish to put it to you that everything possible was done from General Geldenhuys' side to prevent that people should be unlawfully eliminated, meaning to kill them, and that is internally.
MR COETZEE: Could you just bear with the sword for a moment, I don't think there is anything else, I would just like to discuss it with my Attorney and my client, if you can just keep the sword for a moment.
MR CILLIERS: General, I don't want to go into detail regarding the principle, but I understand that one principle which was maintained or supported very strongly and is still being done so in the Defence Force, is the so-called need to know principle?
MR CILLIERS: Do I understand it correctly that what that entails is that except if it is absolutely necessary that a person should know or need to know what an operation entails, he would definitely not be informed beforehand regarding this operation?
MR CILLIERS: For example State witnesses in the so-called KwaMakuta trial gave evidence that it went so far as that when there was an operation and you had to fetch weapons to execute this operation, you would not tell that person for what you were going to use that weapon because it was not necessary for him to know?
MR CILLIERS: Well, you say it could be like that, or does that mean if he did not know and he had to fetch the weapon, you would tell him, was it a principle enforced in the Defence Force that you would not tell him?
MR CILLIERS: For example, evidence was also given regarding a situation in Natal where it was not necessary or it was not necessary to inform the Intelligence people in Natal regarding an operation there and the people were not informed based on this need to know principle. Do you agree that this principle was so enforced in the South African Defence Force at that stage?
MR CILLIERS: General, I want to put it to you without going into detail because it is not necessary to prejudice your application at this stage, that General Moller denies that he had any previous knowledge of the activities or part of the activities for actions for which you are applying for amnesty. I am going to keep it as wide and as vague as that. Do you want to comment on that aspect?
The Intelligence we gathered internally was used for targets outside the country. The 12th of June 1986, the situation escalated and I was asked to develop a plan to support the SAP internally and we did not have the necessary Intelligence regarding internal operations or internal targets.
In other words, we had to obtain this information for the people who possessed that information. And whether it was from General Moller or whether it was from his Intelligence staff I can't confirm one hundred percent. But the Intelligence did come from his commandment and from the SAP. That is the short and the long of this story.
MR CILLIERS: And then in summary what you mean with that is that you can't say and one can understand because it is 11 years later, you can't say that this information was not obtained from Moller personally, because you also say it could have come from somebody in his command?
MR VAN ZYL: Mr Chairman, again Mr Van Zyl. I hope that everybody has a copy of this statement. I also have a copy available for General Joubert. General do you confirm that you have read this statement today and that I have previously shown it to you?
Regarding a specific paragraph, pertaining to a specific incident, for the purposes of the record, 4.4.17 of your amnesty application, where certain allegations are made in which Gleeson is involved, regarding the contents of that paragraph or any other parts of your amnesty application, means that Gleeson participated in the planning or the participation on the murders of the persons referred to in that specific part of your application or that he would later be involved in the covering up and also later become an accessory of the fact, he would then say that he was not involved and did not act illegally. Do you wish to comment on that or not?
MR COETZEE: I only have, obviously there are various other aspects that I would like to canvass with this witness, but due to the time restrains, I cannot. But I suppose there will be an opportunity at a later stage.
MR VON LIERES: Mr Chairperson, with your permission, the name is Von Lieres, I am instructed by the Chief of the Defence Force and I appear on his behalf. Dr Boraine has asked that he be available this afternoon for questions.
As you know he attends here at the request of the Commission, he is not under subpoena and I was wondering whether General Meiring's position could possibly be finalised at this stage. If you intend to ask him any questions, could there possibly be an indication when you wish to ask those questions, because I am instructed that he is not available tomorrow and he would like to assist you as far as possible.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Von Lieres, can I please thank General Joubert first before you make any submissions. General Joubert, it remains for me to thank you for having made yourself available and bring your legal representative as well. I am of the view that you can now be excused and again thank you very much for having
CHAIRPERSON: Since I have heard what you said Adv Von Lieres, I was of the view that General Geldenhuys was going to be called next. Maybe we need to take a short adjournment for us to consider the position also influenced by what you are saying.
I am going to ask Commissioner Lyster to swear you in. Let me just say that we appreciate and we are thankful that you have been very patient here and you have stayed for as long as you have. I am just sorry that the programme didn't work out in the way we would have liked it and your legal representatives have indicated also the problems you might have with time, so we are hopeful that we will finish soon enough for you to be able to take the flight.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. General Geldenhuys, I understood from the submission made by General Viljoen earlier today that in the preparation of that submission, you were consulted and in essence the submission reflects the views of the former Chiefs of the South African Defence Force. Do I take it then that you would agree with the contents of that submission?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, I can't think of anything with which I don't agree, but the former Chiefs of the Defence Force, the one who served before me, three to five years, I was there for five years, so the other one was there for three, the other one was also three to five years, it covers a long period, we were responsible for the Defence Force over a long period and in my case it goes as far back as seven to twelve years ago and I have got to rely on my memory.
MR GOOSEN: You, in your amnesty application, General Geldenhuys, you deal at some length with the context as background to the and as a motivation for the particular acts for which you apply for amnesty.
You set out in particular that the situation inside the country worsened considerably in the period 1980 through to 1985, but in particular a period from 1984/1985 onwards, that the revolutionary climate inside the country was such that the South African Defence Force in conjunction with the South African Police, had to consider very seriously the adoption of as it were, different and more particular strategies to deal with that revolutionary onslaught, is that correct?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, I am a bit taken aback. The past two weeks I have been surprised by General Joubert, that his application for amnesty today would be the subject for a hearing. I am taken aback by this because my legal representatives, myself and General Liebenberg directed a request at the Amnesty Committee to in the person of Judge Mall, and Wilson, for an interview which they granted to us because our legal representatives felt that because of the questions put to their clients, they wanted clarity about the Amnesty Committee's procedures, methods and so forth.
During that interview with these two Judges of the Amnesty Committee, the confidentiality of amnesty applications was discussed and we got a firm undertaking from the two Judges that if anything should leak from these amnesty applications, it would not be from them.
I am surprised to find that I am being questioned about this and that it has been made public and it also was not set out with the documents in this Section 29 application, and I was not asked about it and I was not questioned about it.
General Geldenhuys' problem is that he has not prepared ln the contents of any application submitted. He said he was given the guarantee that nothing, it would remain with the Amnesty Committee and he is objecting to being cross-examined on any basis relating to any application that might have been submitted at the Amnesty Committee. That is his problem and that is the objection that he is raising. Explaining the question is not going to help.
CHAIRPERSON: I am exasperated at that sort of request that it should be made to us. We are not the Amnesty Committee, I cannot see in what way we can be expected to give a guarantee as to what the Amnesty Committee is going to be doing by the Human Rights Violations Committee sitting as such. And we are hearing evidence in terms of what we perceive to be our mandate and the procedures in which we gather information in relation thereto.
MR COETZEE: If questions are going to be asked relating to applications submitted at the Amnesty Committee, well then time will be taken to prepare on that document. That is not on the way we prepared for this hearing. That is General Geldenhuys' problem and that is what he is highlighting.
I have no problem if questions are asked relating to all the other issues that have been canvassed in these hearings and the documentation has been made available. We have not prepared on asking questions relating to any application submitted to the Amnesty Committee. That is General Geldenhuys' problem, and that is what he is highlighting, and he is not prepared to answer questions on that at this stage. He hasn't prepared for that in this hearing.
What you have said is on the record, we have taken note of it. And you are wasting time now with this. Mr Goosen please, and may I just say now, this is a ruling that you should go ahead and do what you wanted to do.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. I will ask the question then in the following way. Do you agree General Geldenhuys that the revolutionary onslaught against South Africa as you experienced it when you were in the position in which you were as Chief of the South African Defence Force, may be described as following through four phases?
Mr Chairman, I agree with that statement. There are many models used by different writers for analysing various kinds of revolutionary warfare. I am aware that there are other models such as those of McEwan and so on.
This one to which reference is being made was contained in a handbook of the military college of the early 1960's. I found that unless you are analysing a very particular situation, that there could be other and better models, but in general terms, except where there is an immediate take over of power or a coup d'etat, that is to say in all other cases, where the battle had been fought, or the war had been waged over a longer period, the revolutionary war would more or less go through these four phases.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much. And would you agree that in the period 1985/1986 the assessment of the South African Defence Force was that the revolutionary onslaught in South African had reached, was approximating the stages where phase which could be described as phase 4?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, I think I myself can answer that in my opinion, that we were at the beginning stages of phase 4, but I cannot say that this would be the general view inside the Defence Force for the reason that various students and writers use various models to analyze a situation.
MR GOOSEN: Would you agree that with the submission that was made by General Viljoen this morning where he indicated that in the period late 1985 and then through into 1986, there appeared to be a shift in strategy on the part of the ANC in particular, a shift to deployment of guerilla forces where those forces would utilise the population as a whole as a shield? They would use the protection of the population as the bush in which they were operating and that that represented a shift on the part of the ANC, would you agree with that?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, I think it would be correct to say that there had been a change in the pattern of behaviour and strategy and that this shift from the rural areas to the urban areas of insurgents, was only one of those changes.
Other changes involved after the Nkomati accord, there was no more insurgency from Mozambique across the Eastern Transvaal border, but that infiltration then happened through Swaziland. Another shift involved the passive resistance which you described as phase 2. Civil disobedience, the holding of illegal and riotous meetings, stay away actions, boycotts and so on enjoyed a revival. You mustn't see these four phases as being divided from each other, because the one may continue while the other one is still in operation - 3 may start while 2 is still under way. And then you might be in phase 3, as in this case, and then you get a certain upwelling up of the other two phases.
MR GOOSEN: And would you agree that because of the shift in the revolutionary strategy, that necessitated on the side of the Security Forces, also a shift in the strategies employed, or the tactics employed to deal with those revolutionary onslaught? Do you agree with that?
I want to say that concurrent with this, with these changes, the changes among the insurgents from the Defence Force side, there was also insistence on adaptations for the statutory dispensation in this way you will find that in 1985 until 1988, I made a study, I calculated that security regulations had been issued, proclamations in terms of regulations against an average of one every five weeks which went along with the Security Forces' adaptation of the new strategy of MK and others.
MR GOOSEN: In fact if one had to deal with it in a shorthand way, it is quite apparent from the submission made by General Viljoen and it is also apparent from the positions that you yourself have articulated through to the Commission via the Amnesty Committee, that the situation in South Africa in the mid-1980's have become fairly desperate. You were embroiled in, if you like, a life and death struggle for survival. Those are not your words, or those of General Viljoen, I am not suggesting that, but that that would describe the situation that the country faced at the time? Would you agree with that?
MR GOOSEN: And presumably you would agree then with the statement made by General Malan which is as follows. I want to quote it to you "During this time the government's policy was clear. Stop the perpetrator of violence at all costs. The carrier of the car bomb, land mine, limpet mine from neighbouring States had to be destroyed. Outside our borders or inside the country, before he could commit his atrocity. The destruction of the terrorist, his base and his capability was the mission of every soldier in the South African Defence Force and was also the policy of the Government of the day. In this way the killings of innocent civilians could be prevented." Do you agree with that statement?
MR GOOSEN: General Geldenhuys, we could well be here until very late tonight, do you agree with that description of the state of affairs in South Africa at the time, do you agree that that was the position, the policy of the government of the day at the time, do you agree with that, yes or no?
GEN GELDENHUYS: I can't, Mr Chairman, I can't answer that question as if I had been in the cabinet and knew about it. If that was General Malan's position in a statement and he was in a better position, then maybe one should ask him.
CHAIRPERSON: What I think the question seeks to say is you were Chief of the South African Defence Force and quite apart from the fact that General Malan also was the Chief of the South African Defence Force at some stage, he was the Minister of Defence, that is what you recognise to be a statement which he made in his capacity as a politician.
Now, I think what the question seeks to ask is do you agree with the sentiments of that statement. Do they ring a bell, do they suggest to you an understanding by yourself of the position to be what it is stated there to be, that the carrier of the land mine, whoever, must be destroyed?
MR GOOSEN: In fact, I would be very surprised if you suggested that you don't agree with that at all, because that in fact is quoted by you in your amnesty application made to the Amnesty Committee, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: You received a subpoena from the Commission. Paragraph 3 of that subpoena, it was a standard subpoena issued to all of the people that appeared here, also to the people that appeared yesterday, the people that are appearing tomorrow.
It is pretty much standard format, because we are following the same format in relation to these proceedings as we followed yesterday and the day after today. Paragraph 3 says for the purposes of the above enquiry, because we had a couple of things that we wanted to enquire with you, we stated there for the purposes of the above enquiries, reference may be made to the contents of your amnesty application.
You instructed an Attorney to file an amnesty application on your behalf. I presume you would have had access to your own amnesty application. Now the fact that you may not have read it prior to coming today, is not a matter that you can raise, as an excuse for not answering a very simple question. Do you agree with the sentiments expressed by General Malan or not?
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much. And do you agree that it was in fact the mission of every soldier in the South African Defence Force to ensure the destruction of the terrorists, his base, his capability whether inside the borders of the country or outside the country, before he could commit his atrocities?
MR GOOSEN: Now, having that understanding of the situation faced by the Security Forces and having that understanding of what your duty as the Chief of the South African Defence Force was at the time, would you agree that in a period late 1985, early 1986 it was recognised by the South African Defence Force that it would be necessary to employ Special Forces using unconventional methods inside the country in support of the South African Police?
MR GOOSEN: No, that given the situation, given the assessment of the revolutionary onslaught against the country at that time, when you were and when you became Chief of the South African Defence Force was of such a nature that it would necessitate the deployment of SADF Special Forces in support of the South African Police inside the country for using unconventional methods?
MR COETZEE: Sorry, Mr Goosen, as we heard earlier with the previous witness. Unconventional operations entails a whole range of possibilities. You need to be a bit more specific in relation to the context of this enquiry.
MR GOOSEN: Perhaps I will skip the unconventional and start with the broader position first. Would you agree that it was recognised by the South African Defence Force that it was necessary to deploy Special Forces in support of the South African Police in operations inside the country?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Yes, Mr Chairman, I will agree with that, but I must put it very clearly that the whole Defence Force had for years been in support of the South African Police. We had training about this question of support for the civil authorities from 1950, not just only Special Forces, it is any capacity of which a Defence Force disposes, which can be used to support the Police of a country.
You will also find that the changes in approach, depending on changing circumstances, are also not new in the sense that the training manuals in warfare training manuals, are classified according to conventional, unconventional and under unconventional warfare you get various kinds of unconventional warfare and you also get for many years back, manuals dealing with counter-insurgency operations in the countryside and country insurgence in cities. And these were used to support the Police. Those elements of the Defence Force which could meet the Police's needs.
MR GOOSEN: General Joubert, the question is really quite simple. It was stated explicitly and certainly implicit in the submission made by General Viljoen, that in consequence of a shift in strategy by the ANC in late 1985, early 1986, it was accepted that the South African Defence Force would need to adapt its strategy and in consequence of that, it would need to intensify its support for the South African Police inside the country and that that would also involve a deployment of Special Forces or components of the South African Defence Force in operations inside the country, in support of the Police. Do you accept that that was the position articulated by General Viljoen?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, I said I didn't control whether this Commission did in fact make the statement as the questioner put it to me, but I assumed that it was put. The questions are not that the question is complicated, but it is so long that when we get to the end, I have forgotten how it started it out.
MR GOOSEN: General Geldenhuys, let me then cut through to the evidence of General Joubert earlier today was that he had received an instruction to formulate a plan in terms of which support could be provided by Special Forces to the South African Police for deployment inside the country in unconventional, or using unconventional or revolutionary methods. Did you provide, did you provide such an instruction to General Joubert or not?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, I told General Joubert he must prepare himself to give effective support to the Police when needed. But I am trying to put this answer in perspective by saying that I did not only said it to General Joubert, I told it to the whole Army, the whole Air Force. I must have said it in the Councils of the Defence Force, in all the Special Forces I told everyone we must give our support to the Police and it must be of a high quality. And General Joubert said he had to work out a plan about how he would provide this support to the Police.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. And you heard today the evidence of General Joubert that he formulated a plan which involved the use of Special Forces in unconventional and also covert methods and also the methods, the revolutionary methods employed against the Security Forces?
MR GOOSEN: Okay. I will find you the passage in a moment, but General Joubert actually presented sections of his amnesty application in which he states that that was the basis on which it was formulated.
Now, I will read the passage to you where he says "in the middle 1980's it was clear that assault could not be met, page 5, paragraph 251, that this could not be met by conventional methods and that it became necessary for the Security Forces to use unconventional and revolutionary methods".
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, there wasn't an operational plan as such presented to me. And regarding this paragraph it is quite a subjective view which General Joubert should answer himself. It is a view which he gives, a subjective view. But I don't want to split hairs about that.
MR GOOSEN: It may have been a subjective interpretation, but can I draw your attention to section 2, page 11 of the submission made by General Viljoen today, where a portion of a quotation from General Malan is quoted and I will read it to you.
It is, I think that was the original paragraph, it doesn't really matter, it is 2.11. The government judged that it was not possible to withstand this onslaught only by normal and traditional military actions. In the process therefore use was made of unconventional methods. These methods included cross-border operations, strategic communications operations, STRATCOM, disinformation operations, other covert operations such as the CCB."
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, I don't want to split hairs, but I am just curious that the word revolutionary methods are used. I agree that it appears in General Joubert's application, but I can't remember the exact words, and for anti-revolutionary tactics using revolutionary tactics wasn't quite right to me, but I can see the context within which General Joubert meant it.
And I see it was included in paragraph 12.9, but I don't want to quibble about it, I agree the thinking was about how to adapt to the various strategies and tactics being employed and that any effective possibility, conventional or unconventional, could be used to counter this threat. I agree with this.
MR GOOSEN: And General Joubert in his testimony indicates that part of the unconventional methods used was would also have been, was contemplated the identification of specific targets for elimination, meaning killing? Would you agree that that was contemplated at the time?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, we are talking about a Defence Force, and we are talking about war. That people were going to die and that people were going to shoot each other, was something that I accepted. Regarding me, as far as I can judge, there is a difference between killing and cold blooded murder as an illegal act.
MR GOOSEN: The essence of General Joubert's evidence was that he understood that he had been given an instruction to formulate a plan which involved also the elimination, the identification of people and the elimination of those people, the killing of those people, inside the country? That was the nub of his evidence, would you say that General Joubert interpreting your instruction to him, was acting reasonably in his understanding of that interpretation or not?
CHAIRPERSON: I don't think that is the question. The question is seeking to establish from you now that you have heard his evidence, and I think we have all heard his evidence, in fact there were statements that were put to General Joubert by your Advocate, we want Mr Coetzee, if he can only be allowed to testify, thank you, I know your very important role that you guard his interest, but let him testify, now what the question seeks to say to you is that you heard his evidence, he says I understood him when he made a typical remark for instance, to be saying this is your authority, I am putting it crudely.
Of course he did qualify his reply by saying well, it may well be that you know, that is not what he meant, but that is what I understood him to be saying, he was giving authority to certain things. Now what he wants to know is now that he says so, do you consider his understanding to have been reasonable or not in the circumstances?
Is it the sort of thing that a reasonable person should have understood from you? And it is a reasonable Commander in the Special Forces of the South African Defence Forces, understanding a specific remark made by the Chief of the South African Defence Force. What he seeks to know is he says so, he says I understood him to be saying so. What he wants to know, was in your view, that a reasonable understanding of what you were conveying to him?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, you are placing me in an extremely difficult position. Here on the one side is General Joubert applying for amnesty and I don't think that these kinds of questions whether I think that he made a right conclusion regarding what I have said, especially referring to something which happened 11 years ago, at a certain function, and I don't want now to give a judgement whether he made a reasonable conclusion. I think it is unreasonable to expect it from me to answer that.
MR GOOSEN: But as Chief of the South African Defence Force, an Officer who was under your command, under your direct command at that stage, for him to have formulated a plan. We are not talking about a person who is not in an insignificant position, he is the Officer Commanding Special Forces reporting directly to you, for an Officer in that position to formulate a plan which involved the deployment of Special Forces in support of the South African Police in a covert manner, to eliminate identified targets, to kill identified targets, inside the country, would that have been an unreasonable plan to formulate, or in the circumstances of the time, a reasonable plan to formulate?
We were informed that the nature of this hearing will not be about accountability or about accepting blame, but regarding motives and perceptions. When we work with subjective perceptions associated with culpability, this is an unattainable situation.
MR COETZEE: Various letters also sent by the Commission in this regard, specifically emphasising the point that the witness has now made. If necessary I can refer to the documentation if it is necessary, but I don't think it needs to.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson, with respect, we are dealing with the motives and perspectives of key personnel in the South African Defence Force, former South African Defence Force, in an endeavour as has been adequately explained by the Chairperson at the commencement of these proceedings, both yesterday and today, that what we are endeavouring ... (intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Goosen, the question is fair. The question is fair, we have been - you have been given a context in which the conversation or the request or the indirection between you and General Joubert took place and I think the question now is not ... (intervention)
MR GOOSEN: Sorry Mr Coetzee before you do, just take cognisance of paragraph 2 of the subpoena. The Chairperson is basically saying that the question falls within the purview of paragraph 2 of the subpoena.
MR GOOSEN: You have answered it without answering it. The question is in formulating the plan, was that a reasonable thing for him to have done or not? I didn't ask you whether you had approved it, I asked you whether you would think that him formulating the plan was reasonable, or not?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, when General Joubert discussed this with me during this occasion he referred to and I gave him an answer, there was no operational plan in place including these type of actions. His plan at that stage did not boil down to more than the fact that he would use people from the Special Forces and would provide them to the South African Police to support them during operations and requests by the South African Police.
It was not explained as it was done here, during this hearing today. He said himself that he shortly explained this plan to me and this is why I am saying, this shortly refers to how the men would be allocated to commands to support the Police and I said that it sounded good. Afterwards, according to General Joubert's own version, other procedures took place, other things happened in the development of his plan.
MR GOOSEN: General Geldenhuys, I didn't ask you whether he presented a plan, whether it was the same plan that was testified here today, whether you approved the plan or whether you didn't approve the plan, I asked you whether on the basis of the testimony given today, the plan that he says he prepared, that he says he presented to you, we can come to that just now, but the plan that he had prepared, was that a reasonable plan or not? That is the question?
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Now he testified that he indicated that he had presented the plan to you and that you had approved it in the manner in which he set out in his amnesty application. Do I understand from the answer that you gave when you were not answering the previous question, that you agree that he did present to you a plan but not necessarily a plan in the terms in which he has given evidence today? In other words that it involved the elimination of individuals, but a plan for the deployment of Special Forces in support of the South African Police. Did he present such a plan to you?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, I am being asked a question about something which has happened during a social occasion, 11 years ago. And I really can't give any specific particulars as I have already said what I can remember about that plan, it was no detailed operational plan as we usually used to do that, but it was a plan regarding the allocation of men from the Special Forces to various commands to support the South African Police.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. General Joubert testified that after he had from his perception, obtained your approval for the plan, that certain operations were carried out. Now we didn't get into the details in relation to those operations, because that was the agreement we are not dealing with the substantive matters for which amnesty was sought by or is sought by General Joubert.
But he stated in his evidence that certain operations were in fact carried out in accordance with the plan that he formulated. And he further testified that at a certain point, it was established that the proper authorisation as he had envisaged, had not been obtained from the South African Police, and in consequence thereof a discussion then ensued about the putting into place of a procedure to deal with approval of such operations. Do you agree with him that there was in fact such a discussion about putting into place an appropriate procedure to deal with such operations?
MR GOOSEN: And do you also agree with him that the discussion about that procedure, followed as a consequence of it coming to your attention, that a particular operation which involved the elimination of an individual, had been carried out?
MR GOOSEN: So I take it from that that an operation involving Special Forces people inside the country, and involving the elimination, the killing of an individual, had been carried out and that came to your attention subsequent to that operation and that in consequence thereof you then moved to set up a procedure to deal with those situations, is that correct?
MR GOOSEN: May I take it then that an operation involving a member of the South African Defence Force which involved the killing of a person inside the country which had not been authorised, had not been authorised by you, prior to it being carried out, would represent quite a serious problem for the South African Defence Force, is that correct? It is in fact a crime?
CHAIRPERSON: In fact in the interest of time, may I just ask the question. Now that when you came to know that people had been killed consequent upon General Joubert having gone ahead with an operation like that, did you as Chief of the South African Defence Force take any action against General Joubert?
GEN GELDENHUYS: It was Mr Chairman, to prevent another occurrence of the same type, but in the meantime General Joubert's position was that he thought that he was acting bona fide and that the operation was in fact authorised by the Police Chiefs.
CHAIRPERSON: Do you accept that? Did you accept his understanding of the position? I am talking about you as his Chief, as his boss? Did you accept the reasonableness of his understanding at the time and was that the reason that you felt that you shouldn't proceed against him?
It was something that in your view had been carried unlawfully, a person or persons had been murdered by a person who reported directly to you. Are you saying to this Commission that all that you could do in the circumstances was simply to say, these things should never happen again? But to the extent that the Police are enquiring about it, I will do no more? Was that all that you could do as Chief of the South African Defence Force to take preventive measures that these should not take place again, was that all that you could do?
This is a serious crime. You knew that there was a Police investigation underway. It no doubt also represents an offence in terms of the Military Discipline Code, unlawful, unauthorised actions carried out by a subordinate Officer and you did nothing about it? You didn't court martial him? You didn't report it to the Police? All you did was you took control of the situation by putting in place a mechanism in terms of which future such operations could be authorised?
GEN GELDENHUYS: It was reported to me by my second in command, if you like, who was the Acting Chief of the Defence Force in my absence, that it had been reported to the Police and that the investigation was already in some stage of progress, details I can't remember, but it could have been that they said that the inquest has already been initiated. That a suspect had been identified, and that an identification parade had already been done or was being arranged. And if at that stage, I would have established an enquiry, a Council of Enquiry, I had to use the same witnesses like the Police were using. At that stage, if I had established a court martial, it would have been interference in the normal course of justice.
MR GOOSEN: Did you approach the Attorney General's office with information to the effect that General Joubert had in a discussion with you confirmed that he had authorised the murder of an individual or individuals? You had very relevant information, evidence which you could tender. Did you at that stage, approach the Prosecuting authorities to make available that evidence, yes or no?
CHAIRPERSON: Can I piggyback a second question on that question. Did you for instance, when you understood that it was General Joubert's impression that the South African Police had authorised this thing, did you consult the Head of the South African Police and say listen something has happened here, and it is the understanding of the person who was involved in this thing, that you were actually authorising or you had authorised this thing?
CHAIRPERSON: The question still stands. It is a question, we just want a historical fact, both Mr Goosen and I. Did you do it? Did you ask the Attorney General, did you ask the Chief of the Police as the Head, whether there was an acting person, but as the Chief of the Defence Force, did you say okay, they may well have reported the matter to the Police, but now I am possessed with this knowledge of a murder or murders that have been committed by a person who is my direct underling.
GEN GELDENHUYS: Mr Chairman, all these things which you have mentioned now which I should have said to the Head of the Police, had already been told to him by my predecessor. As I said it was not a few days after the event that I arrived back, it was a few weeks after.
CHAIRPERSON: And you did not seek to know from the Head of the Police whether in fact General Joubert's understanding that here had been authorisation by the Police for that operation to take place, was in fact so? You did not?
MR GOOSEN: If I may just come in here, General was there in fact a full inquest into those deaths? In fact you know that there wasn't. There wasn't an inquest at which General Joubert gave evidence, was there? In fact the deaths were completely covered up, isn't that correct?
MR GOOSEN: Are you being serious that you can't remember, you know very well that those killings were unresolved until we obtained General Joubert's amnesty application a few weeks ago? Are you seriously suggesting that you don't know whether General Joubert gave evidence at an open public inquest into those killings, you can't remember?
CHAIRPERSON: And those were not ordinary deaths. They were quite sensational at the time. Quite sensational, in fact they lingered on until we received the amnesty application and you are under oath. You are not on trial, but you are under oath.
CHAIRPERSON: I have to indicate that General Meiring has been the most patient person today, more patient than (indistinct). So we really have to get into the job of finishing and so that we can take his evidence. Richard Lyster?
MR LYSTER: Okay, well he was a member of Special Forces and he applied for amnesty a few weeks a few weeks ago and he was granted amnesty for activities involving his training or his part in the training of the so-called Caprivi trainees, 200 members of Inkatha who were trained in the Caprivi strip in 1986 by members of the Defence Force, including himself, Colonel Nieuwoudt.
According to his amnesty application, he was instructed to go to the Caprivi strip to provide training to 200 Inkatha recruits who was being housed at a place called Hippo Base in the Caprivi strip and his job there was to train them inter alia in the use of Eastern Block weapons, rocket propelled grenades, hand-, land mines, plastic explosives, how to conceal evidence, how to avoid arrest and prosecution and such matters.
And he stated in his amnesty application that he was never in any doubt that the purpose of this training was so that these people could be redeployed in KwaZulu Natal and that they would be deployed to eliminate and by that I mean, kill enemies of Inkatha in KwaZulu Natal.
And he applied for amnesty arising out of his involvement in that training. And he was instructed according to his amnesty application, to undertake that training, by the Head of Military Intelligence who was a General in your Defence Force. Now do you know anything about that?
GEN GELDENHUYS: Yes, Mr Chairman, what I do know about this is and this is exactly my problem if preconceived ideas are taken too far, and that is that General Tienie Groenewald who was said by Anton Nieuwoudt, to have instructed him vehemently denied the allegation and I believe he has taken it up with the lawyers of the Amnesty Committee and likewise, General Jan Breytenbach whom Nieuwoudt said knew about this, said he never even saw him in the Caprivi.
MR LYSTER: So are you suggesting that Colonel Nieuwoudt is not telling the truth or that he acted in an unauthorised way and that he went to the Caprivi strip and trained these people off his own bat, what are you suggesting?
MR VAN DER HOVEN: Excuse me, Mr Chairman, may I just interpose here, I have also been instructed to write a letter on behalf of General Groenewald, sorry for the record, my name is Van der Hoven from (indistinct), and for the purposes of the record here, I have got the letter here which I wrote to the Amnesty Committee in so far as General Groenewald is concerned, and I am prepared to read the letter into the record. General Groenewald denies what Anton Nieuwoudt says.
MR LYSTER: Because Mr Nieuwoudt was a member of Special Forces and he said that that thinking was current at the time, it happened in 1986 that he had no doubt that these people were to be used to eliminate people in a clandestine and covert way.
GEN GELDENHUYS: Well, my reaction is that I would like to wait to see what comes out between this clash of allegations and counter-allegations because I find it very strange that after the training of Inkatha in the Caprivi had been subjected to such a long judicial procedure, that somebody pops up now whose name has never appeared and I am not aware of, I am surprised. And I am not surprised at the counter-allegations.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. I just want to go back to the matter that you were dealing with before Commissioner Lyster asked certain questions, and I just want to wrap it up on this basis.
MR GOOSEN: I won't Mr Chairperson. General Geldenhuys, you deny that you gave express authorisation to General Joubert to activate a plan involving Special Forces members in the killing of targeted persons inside the country?
MR GOOSEN: Would you agree with me that the fact that you became aware of an operation involving the murder of individuals, that you accepted the information from General Joubert that he was bona fide, he was acting bona fide in that regard, you accepted that it was reasonable, you did not convey that information to the Prosecuting authorities, notwithstanding the fact that there was a Police investigation and that the matters that were under investigation were significant in the public domain, and that the actions were unlawful with the serious implications for the SADF, that all of those factors taken together, suggest that by your lack of action, over many years, that you impliedly authorised a plan which involved the elimination or identified targets involving Special Force individuals inside the country?
MR GOOSEN: I put it to you that one of the reasons there was a negative result in that inquest, is because you didn't supply the Prosecuting authorities investigating that matter, with the evidence that you had that one of your Officers, a very senior Officer in the South African Defence force, was responsible for these murders, had authorised them.
MR GOOSEN: Two things in regard to that. You don't by virtue of the fact that somebody else has the same knowledge as you, lose your responsibility to comply with the law of the country with a Defence Act, in particular, and the second aspect is the fact that other persons, at a senior level, presumably both in the Police and the Military, and the South African Defence Force, had the knowledge that you had indicates that you participated in a cover up of that investigation?
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Goosen. It remains for me to thank you General Geldenhuys and your legal representatives. I am not aware that there are any other issues in relation to which you would be requested in which event, you are then excused.
It may well be that Admiral Putter might be recalled, because it is quite clear that we are not going to take the full roster today. We just want to put in the Head of the South African National Defence Force.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. I am going to try to be as brief as I can be. General Meiring, do you have a copy of the responses that were furnished via the (indistinct), available before you, because the questions I am going to ask, will touch on a few of the questions that were presented to you and the answers given in regard to those matters and it would be best if you had those documents in front of you?
is I will indicate the question asked, refer to it in the document and the response given. If you are wanting to see the actual response in particular, then we can obviously make that available to you, but we have drawn it up on the basis of the question and the answer and there is an additional question that we would ask in regard to that.
GEN MEIRING: Indeed Mr Chairman, but I must also point out that I have indicated that should any additional questions emanate, which I am not able to answer, I am willing to respond within a reasonable period of less than 30 days, to give you a written response on these aspects.
MR GOOSEN: All right, thank you very much. To begin with in the reply to the questions which is dated 10th of June, we have called that document A, it is on page 5 of that. The question was asked what form of action did the State take to halt revolutionary organisation and mobilisation and did this involve the neutralisation of political leaders? The response furnished was the strategy was to fight the strategy with a revolutionary movement and not the individual.
Ideally nobody was to be killed in order to avoid sympathy and martyrdom. Now I note there that the wording is ideally and that that seems to contemplate that killing should be avoided, but under certain circumstances it may be acceptable. And that is reinforced by the rationale for avoiding killing because it may create a situation of sympathy and martyrdom. Are you able to state unequivocally, would any member of the South African Defence Force who gave orders for a member of then banned organisations, an ANC or PAC leader or activists to be eliminated, would such a person be acting in the cause and scope of his duty as a member of the South African Defence Force and within his express or implied authority to do so?
GEN MEIRING: Chairperson, I facilitated the answers. I did not draw them up myself. However, I in my more than 35 years of service in the Defence Forces of this country, do not know of any such action whereby murder was authorised at any time. If that was what the question implied.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. On page 8 of that same document, a question that was asked is about the role of the Directorate Special Tasks. I beg your pardon, no question on page 13 of that document, the question was asked did the CCB authorise any actions of an unlawful nature and the response was that the CCB had no authority to authorise operations, lawful or unlawful.
In the light of some of the evidence which has been heard, you have not had the benefit of hearing all of that here and in the light of the fact that amnesty applications had been received in respect of from some CCB operatives, would you still request that we accept the answer that you provided that they had no authority to authorise any operations, unlawful or lawful?
This states emphatically at no stage during this time, however, was it official policy of the government or the military that the South African Defence Force or any organisation was above the law. Neither did the military see itself as a substitute or a caretaker of the government of the day. Neither did the former SADF (indistinct) a so-called silent coup, in order to be able to play the predominant role. I emphasise that we worked as far as humanly possibly Chairperson, as far as I know, within the limits of the law. Apparently everything wasn't always done that way.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you General Meiring. General just to pick up on a point that you made earlier. You indicated that you in fact facilitated the answering of the questions, you weren't responsible in the sense for the contents of the answers, is that correct?
GEN MEIRING: Chairperson, it is correct in the sense that when the questions were posed after the first submission of the old South African Defence Force was made to this Commission, we had a little point which we considered to be the managing actor in the present day Defence Force, to facilitate the answers requested from us. In many of these instances, records did not exist, we had to work from memory, we had to call up people to answer specific questions.
We had to do investigations. In that way yes, I was able to facilitate the putting up of the (indistinct) point, to answer the questions as truthfully as humanly possible in the limits of the knowledge that we had at that point in time.
MR GOOSEN: In that process of doing investigations or calling people from the former SADF to provide assistance, would you have consulted with the former Chiefs of the South African Defence Force and other senior Officers in regard to matters canvassed by the Commission in its questions?
GEN MEIRING: Chairperson, of course, and that is why the people are here today and this is why this second presentation was also made to you today, by General Viljoen. I would like to add that our position was not easier because of the distrust that existed and still exists in members of the old SADF about this Commission and the working of this Commission.
This week and we went on record this morning also to stress my opening remarks, but yes to answer that question, we tried to get as many people as possible that knew about the context of these questions, and this included the former Chiefs of the South African Defence Force.
GEN MEIRING: It is very difficult to consult on that matter, because the CCB was managed dead, if I can use that expression. The CCB ceased to exist, I am not sure exactly when it was. I think the end of 1993, the beginning of 1994, it was managed to a stand still by means of the assistance of an ombudsman, a Judge Van der Walt, Honourable Judge van der Walt, and acted on those aspects, one of the aspects thereof was to destroy the operational records of the CCB, that was done after the necessary call it action was taken.
So it was very difficult to consult on the CCB. First of all we didn't have people who wanted to come forward to tell us about that, and secondly we didn't have the information available in the records about this.
MR GOOSEN: General Meiring, I take it that you obviously had the difficult task of being the Chief of the South African National Defence Force with the South African Defence Force as an entity no longer in existence, obviously Officers who served in the South African Defence Force formerly, they were still around, but as an entity it didn't exist. Do I take it that in the answering of the questions, you would have attempted to reconstruct if you like, the perspective, approaches, policies and decisions of the former South African Defence Force in order to answer the questions posed by the Commission?
GEN MEIRING: Yes, in our submission Chairperson, we emphatically stated that as far as was in the means available to us and the time available, we have tried to reconstruct according to the wishes of the Commission.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Part 5, question 1, it deals with part 5, the questions were numbered. The title of that is Defence Force operations, anti-Marxist liberation movements. The question was asked that the (indistinct) document seized at Renamo HQ, Headquarters in August 1985, reflected continued SADF support for Renamo in violation of the Nkomati accord.
And the question is this and it is how it is reflected, in the SADF's opinion, what is the status of these documents. The reply that was provided was the SADF as an entity no longer exists, and the SANDF can therefore not give an opinion.
GEN MEIRING: Chairperson, yes, I think so, because that was the essence of what we had available to us. We do not have the entire feelings of the people concerned at our finger tips, we had to work with what we had. We called up people and if we asked them an honest question and they said they don't know or they don't want to say, we cannot force them to do so. We were working on the inputs from the various people concerned. And we did not have that answer and I think that was why we answered it in that specific way.
MR GOOSEN: It was not possible for the (indistinct) to by way of inquiries, to establish what senior members of the former South African Defence Force would have been able to state in regard to the (indistinct) documents and the fact that they reflect continued support for Renamo in violation of the Nkomati accord?
GEN MEIRING: As far as know, after the Nkomati accord, the arrangements surrounding the accord was not violated. I say this because at one stage of the game, I was the co-chairman of the Security Committee of the Nkomati accord, trying to manage and furnish that.
MR GOOSEN: Question 5, on that same section dealing with operation Katsen, the question is asked elaborate providing details, components and authorisation. Why was operation Katsen terminated by the Minister in October 1987, did any unauthorised or illegal actions take place under the guidance of this operation?
The answer provided was unknown. In the Goniwe inquest it was established that the operation Katsen file was stolen from the Eastern Province command. However, certain of the documentation stolen from the file seems to have been handed up by Mr Bantu Holomisa in his submission to the commission.
GEN MEIRING: Chairperson, I personally did not, however, operation Katsen is also the subject of an amnesty hearing. We were at the time given the understanding that we are not going to elaborate on aspects that are part of a hearing for amnesty and therefore we did not elaborate on that aspect further.
MR GOOSEN: Document B, page 11, we asked the question, to your knowledge did any decision or any structure of the National Security Management System, give rise to actions of an unlawful or unauthorised nature? The answer that is provided is the following: decisions that may have given rise to actions of an unlawful or unauthorised nature, could not be taken as consensus had to be reached on all issues. Similarly, the various structures comprised persons placed there for the purpose of preventing unlawful acts, rectifying matters which required it and facilitating cooperation. Where cases of an unlawful or unauthorised nature occurred, they were investigated and dealt with in accordance with the outcome of the investigations. What research, investigations or actions did you take in order to arrive at this answer?
GEN MEIRING: Chairperson, I can again refer to our submission, page 219, part 4, the function of the National Management System at regional level. It is contained from page 219 right through to the almost - it continues to in the 40's, it is a very long aspect concerning the - it is 244, sir. To the bottom, almost the bottom of page 244.
If there should be additional questions, I will try to answer that. If I heard the question correctly at this point in time, it seems to me that you ask what sort of actions were taken. At the time, as far as I could remember and as far as we have done our homework, if there were people that made themselves beyond the law, the normal course of the law took its turn at that point. I've got nothing further at this point to add.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you General. Do I take from that that the (indistinct) point did not interview key players involved in the National Security Management System, the State Security Counsel or the Secretariat or study State Security Council documents in order to formulate a coherent response?
MR GOOSEN: Any in Document C, page 3 dealing with the original submission, where we state that reference is repeatedly made to offensive preemptive actions and the question we asked is, did this apply to both internal and external security strategies, internal to the country and external to the country?
And to what extent was this position legally enacted and the response to that was as far as could be ascertained, the offensive preemptive position only applied to external strategies and internally, the SADF acted mainly in support of the SAP in the execution of their functions, which included preventative measures. The decision to follow an offensive/defensive or preemptive/reactive approach, was one of executive policy within the legal framework that existed.
In the light of certainly the last portion of General Geldenhuys' evidence and I am not sure if you had the benefit of hearing General Joubert's evidence, would you regard that as a complete answer to the question?
GEN MEIRING: Chairperson, I can't elaborate on the evidence that I did not hear. What I can say to you is that again we tried to express ourselves at the knowledge at our disposal on paragraph 3.10, where categories of external operations, and not to my knowledge no reference was ever made to a preemptive strike inside the Republic of South Africa. It was always done in the context of an external operation.
MR LYSTER: Yes, thank you. General, I think I just must place on record that I find most of the answers that you have given to be highly unsatisfactorily and rather disingenuous, but be that as it may.
There are a couple of things that I would certainly want to know more about and one of them is something that I don't think you were asked to prepare on which is operation Endeavour, which you will know was a clandestine support for the Lesotho liberation army, is that something that you are able to speak about at this time?
GEN MEIRING: No, I know personally nothing about that. I have vaguely heard the use of that name. But I can answer questions if you ask us on that, I have got nothing at my disposal and in my knowledge sphere of reference that I can answer questions on that.
MR LYSTER: Okay, well that is something that we would certainly like to have your response to. You must know that operation Endeavour was a clandestine directorate of Special Tasks operation, designed to provide military training to the Lesotho liberation army with a view to overthrow the Lesotho government. It was something that was told to us by a senior military officer during a Section 29 inquiry. That is something that we would like to receive detailed information about.
GEN MEIRING: Chairperson, I hear what you are saying. I cannot furnish that at the moment in time. I would appreciate it if the context of the questions for us not to do unnecessary work or supply you with unnecessary information, that we can have that and I will undertake as far as possible, to try and answer this questions as soon as possible.
CHAIRPERSON: General, I just want to ask maybe one question or two and then we should close. You most certainly do know that this Commission was set up amongst other things to provide for the investigation and the establishment of as complete a picture as possible of the nature, causes and extent of gross violations of human rights that took place between 1960 and 1994.
Now, in an investigation you get all sorts of things, and I think you should, or I should request you to bear with us where we sometimes fall short of concrete evidence, but then that is in the nature of Commissions. We get all sorts of things, rumours, allegations, information, sworn statements, amnesty applications and because we are a Commission charged with an investigative process, we wouldn't be able to ignore rumours, but what we think we should to is to be fair in our procedures. To make sure that those who are adversely affected by rumours, information, even by evidence in the form of sworn statements, get a fair opportunity to respond to those.
Now, it is an opportunities and moments like these that you may find that questions will be put to you, not necessarily because there is hard core evidence, but because an effort is made to establish whether a rumour is a rumour, a fact is a fact or a (indistinct).
Now, one of the purposes of the Act is to make sure that we have a future, and that is what I am worried about because as you know, we come from a past of strive and division and conflict and this bears on the remarks that you made earlier this day and which you repeated this afternoon that even this Commission is looked at with some suspicion, there is an inherent distrust, that is how you put it by members of the SADF.
In a submission that had been made by General Viljoen, I don't know whether you have a copy of the small part, that is headed introductory remarks, he states his position very strongly in paragraph 10, where he says we, and I think it takes into account, people like yourselves, where he says we despise such dishonest actions and non-existing rumours.
Now what I want to ask you and this is an opportunity for me to be able to say General Meiring, under oath, stated his position categorically on this issue, now this Steyn report in so far as in this document by General Viljoen purports to say there were assassinations, the encouragement of IFP violence, train murders, destabilisation, arm smuggling, training of resistance forces without authority, manipulation of the negotiation process, a coup d'etat, right wing violence and general criminal activities, now in so far as these are the allegations that are being made, and I am not stating it at any higher level than that, the first question is during your career in the SADF and in your career now in the SANDF, do you know of any plan that contemplated the things that are referred to in paragraph 10, and ask that because you are under oath and it is against the background that I have painted.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I just want to then in conclusion say there is very little that the Commission as the Commission can do to assure persons of its commitment to even handedness. Yesterday you may have heard that we were at the receiving end of precisely the same tenner of perception from members of APLA, that the TRC is on a witch hunt, it is seeking to criminalise acts which they were genuinely believing were acts in furtherance of a just cause, but central to their submissions was the fact that they have no confidence in the TRC.
You have not gone that far, you have indicated what you conceded to say it is an inherent distrust. I will want to say for purposes of today's record that there is no attempt by the Commission to call upon any people to apologise for things that they did if it is their view and perception that they did them for a good cause.
Secondly the Commission seeks to say that we were appointed in a belief that we are men and women of integrity. That is a difficult thing to defend, one's integrity, you can only state it. And whilst I am very sad that it is clear from what you said, there is an inherent distrust of the TRC process in the members of the South African Defence Force, we can only say that we will try our best.
If we put questions that are vigorous and robust, if as I indicated to you for instance, that there are people who would regard the sort of answer that you gave to a specific question, with a pinch of salt, it is not in any way an indication that we have predetermined issues that we have a witch hunt for specific institutions.
It is all in an endeavour maybe a lame endeavour, to arrive at a balanced view. I think part of these hearings, part of the reason that we have these hearings was because we felt that people were in the armed forces, whether statutory or non-statutory, have not had an opportunity to give a perspective. Their perspective as people in the armed forces. So to the extent that you have not only come but have stayed even beyond the hours that you were supposed to be here, you have assisted us and I need to record my personal and sincere appreciation for that effort.
I would only hope that since you represent the future, certainly in the armed forces, in so far as you have transcended the barrier of the past and you are part of the future, you should be one person that should make sure that all of the things that were contained in the Steyn report, remain only rumours and allegations certainly for the future because this Commission would have been in vain if any of the things that are mentioned as allegations, were to come about in the future and you are part of that future, and a very central figure in that future because you are at the Head of the armed forces.
I believe that subject only to those questions which would be put to you and which you have indicated you will reply to, we should bring the proceedings today to an end, but your legal representative indicates that he possibly needs to respond or you need to respond to the remarks that I have made.
GEN MEIRING: Chairperson, thank you, I am sure my legal representative would like to say something, but can I just enhance what you've said by looking at the future, by putting on the record today again, the submission I made to this Commission on behalf of the South African National Defence Force, that expressed the with of the reconciliation part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, indicating the road forward, indicating the way we came being integrated into a new South African National Defence Force, and perhaps your remarks should be mirrored against that specific submission which we made some time ago.
MR VON LIERES: Mr Chairman, I am sure that we have all been uplifted by the assurance of even handedness which you have just expressed so very thoughtfully and speaking for myself and also on behalf of my client, I accept those assurances wholeheartedly.
I must however, draw that to your attention which I believe requires your personal attention. I have listened with some amazement and a great deal of concern at the utterances of the member of the Commission My Lyster, who attacked the credibility of my client, General Meiring by describing his answers as being entirely disingenuous.
Now Mr Chairman, it is a normal principle of fairness in any proceeding that if a person wishes to make such a finding, that he provides the witness with a basis on which he seeks to make such a finding. I find it distasteful to have to mention this to you, but I do believe that the attack by Mr Lyster in these circumstances on my client, were not justified. I would just like to place that on record, thank you.
MR LYSTER: Yes, sorry the remark was not aimed at General Meiring at all, and I should have explained when I made the remark, that it was with certain of the, some of the material contained in the reply which General Meiring himself did not prepare, that he merely facilitated the responses to, so there was no personal slight intended at all on General Meiring.
MR VON LIERES: Thank you for that assurance Mr Chairman, through you, I just want to draw the member's attention to the fact that he needn't refer to the answers contained in the submission, but he addressed General Meiring and he said I find most of the answers you have given, highly disingenuous, so that is what I found of some concern, but I accept Mr Lyster's assurances that he withdraws any imputation of any incredibility on behalf of my client, and on that basis, I will let the matter rest, thank you.