source of information, it's just that you were at hand and we quite appreciate the fact that you were prepared to come and to present your testimony in quite a forthright way. Thank you very much for that, we do appreciate it. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: The next witness that we will listen to is Mr John Horak. I would ask him to come forward please. We are just waiting for Mr Horak, who is outside, to come in. Whilst Mr Horak is settling in, can I just mention once again that we prepared a schedule of the witnesses to be heard and we had given a rough indication of the time at which we would hear them. And unfortunately as things go in practice, it is not always possible to stick to the minute and we are obviously a bit behind schedule at this stage and we apologise for that, but we are doing our best to try and accommodate everybody. Mr Horak, good afternoon and welcome. I will, before you start I am going to just ask you to take the oath. Would you like to affirm.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Horak, you have been a journalist but also a member of the South African Police, as it was known at that stage. And you have prepared a submission to us, setting out the relevant circumstances and information surrounding your work and activities. Would you like to proceed and present that to us?
MR HORAK: Thank you Mr Potgieter. I had hoped that I would have more time because you yourself spent about 30 hours with me, so you should know. Sir I want to thank the Commission for the opportunity to be here in fact, because I had for a long time wanted to appear here. I also want to thank you personally and Mr Lewin for the relationship we have built up during this time and for the way you treated me. And I am glad to be here. I am the only senior police officer who ever stood up to the police while a serving officer and challenged them. In the end, they issued a statement to say that I did speak the truth in all matters and gave me indemnity. That is while in, there were other policemen over the years who did challenge them, but they did it because of other reasons. They either had criminal charges facing against them or something like this. I served roughly 27 years in all on newspapers and in 1985, when I wanted to leave the police, the rug was pulled from under me because by then I had become a committed journalist in fact. And the police saw a danger in this and they asked me for time and on a Saturday morning I was phoned and said that they had found the answer and they would announce that I had been appointed Chairman of the Strategic Communications Committee in the State Security Council and that effectively killed my newspaper career. My job in newspapers was different from anybody else in a similar capacity. I was not there in a very secret capacity. I was basically, I had to establish myself as a type of listening post/drawing board/sounding board. I will explain what I mean by that. Many people, many journalists, many Editors knew the story or they might have known and not known, if you understand what I am trying to say here. My job was to inform the establishment in the Security Establishment on thinking in newspapers, on what was happening in newspapers. I had a specific instruction not to be an informer on journalists. And the reason for that was they did not want me to be caught out in that respect and journalists' informers came two a penny. There were many and there was a reason for that. One of the main reasons being that people were not well paid at that time, another reason was that people were split along ideological lines, another reason was that there were straight prostitutes and many journalists came to me and approached me in fact, from the rank of assistant Editor of the Sunday Times, for instance, asked me to introduce them to the Intelligence Forces so that they could work with them. I could give you many similar examples of reporters and over the years, I probably introduced 40 to 50 people to the Intelligence Services whom I had not recruited, but who had approached me because of the position I was in. And then at various occasions over the years, Editors and senior people approached me for help while I was in the newspapers. There would be the case of, there would be certain instances here which I would, could mention and there are others which I, in line with our discussions, cannot mention where people for instance couldn't get a passport, where I was approached to assist. I will go from the sublime to the ridiculous here, where a non-political individual, that is why I will give his name, but just to illustrate what I am saying, like David Mollet, as a young reporter came out from the UK, addressed a meeting of jockeys at Newmarket, encouraged the strike which was then totally taboo in the country and they wanted to put him out. I was asked to see what I could do and I changed it. I had it changed, he stayed in the country. I played such a role when Arthur Ash was refused a visa to this country. A newspaper individual approached me and again I approached certain people and a few days later he was granted a visa. There was a news Editor at the time when Don Mattera was banned and a month before the time, I told this news Editor that this was the date and place and they were totally amazed by this. There is the question where General Coetzee called me and said who should write the Craig Williamson story. I selected Ken Owen and General Coetzee, who had a direct lead with Mr Tertius Myburgh, who was very well connected to the Services, asked me to go and ask Myburgh whether Owen could do this story and he then told Owen that he, Myburgh, had selected him. But when Owen got to Security Branch Headquarters, Coetzee told him that he was very glad that John Horak had selected him to do the story. There was the relationship where I introduced Craig Williamson to Ken Owen and it resulted in Craig being able under another name, during the Tricameral parliamentary elections, writing a column in the Sunday Express, in the paper that Ken was editing at the time. There was the question of an article I've got here where Mr Rex Gibson in a column in the Star newspaper, on the 16th of August 1987, he wrote there were occasions and they always knew the spy in the newsroom and he said, actually there had been occasions where we knew who the spy was. One who outlived his usefulness was suddenly transferred from journalism to an officer's desk in some police headquarters somewhere. I am the only guy that was ever transferred from a newspaper to a police headquarters. After I had come out in 1985, which I did not want to do, Mr Rory Wilson who was General Manager of the sound group, told the Beeld newspaper on Friday, August the 30th, 1985, that they had suspected me, the Editors, for eight years and that they had adapted an internal new system, so that I wouldn't have entry to it. So I believe that there are dozens of examples I could come up with here, that it was a question we know, we don't know. By the time I got to Security Branch Headquarters, because of my background, I had been suspected of having been out of touch and in the late 1980's, during the state of emergency, I was made Chairman of the Media Committee during the state of emergency in terms of those regulations. I was removed from that because, and these things are available, specifically they wanted the Weekly Mail and the New Nation banned under those regulations and I stalled on this and they couldn't get a aye or nay out of me and I was then supposed to be weak and I was moved and an investigation was held into me and I had been told that I had been in the newspaper world too soft, I was no longer in tune with the government. By 1988, I was in touch with the ANC and then things started changing for me. And things became quite bad for me within the Forces. I was stabbed with knives, which I know there was a lot of intimacy within the Forces because of my newspaper situation. My car burnt, my house burnt, and so on, and I went until 1990, when this could no longer continue, and General Van der Merwe tried to keep me in the Force, but I had to leave then and I was - subsequently a contract was put out on my life to the CCB and I had to, the ANC, Patrick Lekota took me out of the country in 1991. When I came back, by then I was forgiven by all, including the President, the present State President. I made my peace with all people. The only area of life where I am still not welcome in is of course the Press, because they normally tell other people how to conduct their lives, but they don't conduct it in terms of their own whatever they say they believed. There are no hard feelings about that. When I came back, three weeks before the 1994 election, there was a kidnap attempt on me by the military. Mr Alfred Nzo took it up with the Transitional Council of the time and they admitted that the military was responsible. They said it was an instruction that had not worked right through. Including of course my own church chased me away, they said I had become a communist. But now, why does one become somebody or why do you go into the way that I did? I come from a very conservative thoroughly Afrikaner background home and in the particular environment of today, it was almost a Godsend if you got an opportunity to do something that was perceived to be the country. By 1969, I knew I was no longer what the job I was doing, and I can prove this. By 1974, one of the people I had befriended on the newspaper was Mr Benjamin Pogrund. Now 1974 I was told to stay away from him because Security Branch Headquarters had come to the conclusion that I had become a friend and I had lost sight of my object and that my reports showed that he no longer was an enemy, but that he was in fact my friend, which he became. He is today a good friend of mine. There are many instances, he knows about this too and he has known about it for many years. I went to see Ministers. I think one needs to understand the times I went to see Ministers of Religion, whose names I can give to you and said look, I don't know, I've got problems now and they prayed for me, saying praying for strength from God to continue in what I was doing and then I would come back again, totally confused and I would go on again. There were times in newspapers when I deliberately tried to give myself away and I actually told people things, knowing that it would be carried over, but I could never admit it openly, because then I would have been in rather serious trouble, I probably would have been wiped out. I remember that in 1980 I got a phone call one day, there was a journalist from the Sunday Times, Barry Rutter on the Mail too, and according to all newspaper reports he had committed suicide. I got a call one day after dispute, pointing out to me that I'd better be careful of a Rutter will be done to me. It was also done to me. I have evidence and here I just want to bring in something else. Before or just after I left the Force, Max du Preez was going to do a book on me. And we had a lot of tape recorded interviews which still had to be edited. When I disappeared from the country, he published those unedited stories and I can tell you today, that he in fact saved my life. Because had it not been published, I would have vanished. In the UK, the South African Intelligence Forces tried to kill me. In Nottingham I drove a motor car which took fire and Scotland Yard determined that the fire started in an area in the boot where it couldn't possibly have started, but it did. So for nearly my last 15 years in newspapers, yes 15 years in newspapers, I was in this sort of quandary and this also helped or adds to the statement that I believed that the Editors, those that didn't suspect, knew what was going on. Mr Louw, Mr Raymond Louw who is present here, confronted me on several occasions. I always denied it, but he had the ammunition to - to correct him my ammunition at that point in time. So I think one drifted into it. The first time I asked questions about what I was doing, seriously towards outside and to the police, was in 1970. Roughly 1971, when the Timol situation developed. Now you have to understand that your agent isn't closely connected, he doesn't go and visit the Security Branch Headquarters, so it was obviously a little bit of a waste and I asked General Coetzee, who was then a Major, I said I don't believe this evidence. The next day he brought me a book, called the Penkofsky Papers, by Olaf Penkofsky in which Penkofsky describes how the Russians trained the agents that one of their methods was that they had to commit suicide by jumping from windows. So it placates you for a little bit. When I went to work overseas, there I came into contact with other situations. And gradually by the time Craig Williamson, who is present here today, in roughly about 1982, he sent a message to people which he got from his own officers, that they no longer wanted reports from me, because these things were useless. The final reason why I would tell you that the, why I can allege that the people knew was on a morning on the Sunday Times, I got a call from a man called Derrick Bruner from Parliament and Derrick is today one of Sam Njoma's bodyguards to the best of my knowledge. And he told me that Coco, which was General Coetzee, it stands for Coco, Colonel Coetzee, when he was a Colonel, had said that I must go to Mr Myburgh and tell him that I must offer him all assistance possible. It was a shock to me, I said I couldn't take it. A little while later General Coetzee phoned me personally and said I had to go to Mr Myburgh, he had troubles and I had to go and see if I could assist him. And I said, but what must I do? He is not supposed to know officially who I am. He said, just go to him. And I said how far should I go? He said even if you blow your own cover, defend the man. I then went down to him and I, think it is today common knowledge in those circles, I went down to him and I said what had happened and he said to me he knew I was coming. I subsequently discovered that it was in connection with an Editor who had found out during the information scandal that Myburgh might have had links to the Security Establishment and that he was going to confront him during the no-confidence debate at the beginning of the year down in Parliament. So I can certainly tell you that those people knew who I was and where I was connected. And they helped me and I helped them to no end. One of their reporters who subsequently switched to the sister publication had to go to the Thompson Foundation for training, he couldn't get a passport. I arranged a false passport for him. He went to the Thompson Foundation and came back. They knew it because subsequently I had to inform that particular senior editorial person to tell this reporter, that when he wanted to renew this, he had to go back to the man who gave it to him, which was Andre Beukes who retired as Commissioner of Police in the Cape recently. He in fact issued that passport. It was a bizarre world those years, very bizarre in fact. And on your newspapers you had great divides at any given time, probably half the people on a paper like the Rand Daily Mail, was given to be informers and the other half was given to be communists. Divisions, there were these lines. I could draw out the lines to you. You would ask me one of the reasons about the Rand Daily Mail, a question you posed in your letter to me. I would like to speak on that one. It was important to the government of today that the Rand Daily Mail not die. Because there was a strategy in fact that was used by the embassies abroad. It went something like this, that here is this paper, internationally recognized as being vehemently opposed to the government, so how can it be a dictatorial situation within the country? But in a nutshell was the line being taken. Your problem started more in the so-called liberal establishment that killed it. The liberal establishment of today, or the so-called liberal establishment of today, wanted to give out this great picture of how they cared for the suppressed and the freedom movements and what have you, but at the same time, they were capitalists. It suited them to paint those double pictures and they wanted to make money out of it and at that time, increasingly there was pressure on financial situations. And that was the first time, because newspapers in this country for many years, were formed for ideologically and not profit, motives. Many newspapers in this country never made a profit in their lives. The Citizen has never made a profit, the old Transvaler has never made a profit. Beeld went without a profit for several years. There were other motives for this and when those papers were financed during those days by getting the telephone directories to print, and that type of situation. A large percentage of the English press at that point of time, was in the hands of Anglo American through various types of fronts but with the exception I think at one stage, the Natal Witness. It is a daily and the Citizen, virtually every other one had direct or indirect, it was the way they were manipulated. And the Mail, it was not the wish of certainly the Intelligence Establishment, and the media committees within those, advisors within those establishment that the Mail should die. It was not the government, it was seen by the government as a tool to be used for their own ends and Roodie especially in the days of the Information situation, saw in the Mail a very worthwhile partner. In the end, it was people that had gotten shaky in this country and financial lines, the mining bosses and so on, they were no longer prepared to put their money there and they looked for other reasons. I know of campaigns that people went to certain companies where the companies were told that by advertising in the Mail, you would be promoting communism. And here I know of a specific motor firm that no longer advertised in the Rand Daily Mail. There was such tactics along other lines happening in the country. But they were not necessarily by the official establishment, it wasn't the attitude of the establishment at that point in time.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Horak. Can I just to get a little bit more clarity on the situation of the involvement of the Security Establishment in the media, you were what would have been described as an agent? In other words a professional ... (intervention)
MR HORAK: Yes, certainly. They were agents, informers, sources and people best described as sleepers in the papers. An agent was a professional police officer, he had a job to do. It is like being transferred to anywhere else. Informers were people who gave information either voluntarily or were recruited in some way. These informers, one should categorise because they fell in different categories. At any given stage in my time serving on the newspaper, half the people were pro the establishment and the other half were anti the establishment. South Africa had a very peculiar situation and there were basically two English language newspaper companies and two Afrikaans companies. And journalists were in a fix. If the one didn't like them, they could go to the other one, and that was about the end of their career. And that is one of the reasons why they were lowly paid and not properly looked after. So, you got journalists. Let me think of a particular individual because of liquor problems, had permanently been an informer, he was always short of money. So he did it straight for money. He was handled by Craig. There was another man who was ideologically totally opposed to what the SAN group stood for. But he rose through the ranks, he played games. And all the time, he would try to undermine it, so he did it for ideological reasons. There were other people and they were in the majority, believe me, who had come to the conclusion that to get on in the papers, you had to have a particular ideological leaning. And they, I would give you two types here which is very important. They would like to get at their colleagues in order to open opportunities for themselves. And a great many of those people there were in all ranks and of all levels, who would simply to eliminate certain people, out of the promotion race, promotion stakes, would go with stories. Or just to get at colleagues in fact. They came two a penny, there were plenty of those people. Then there were the people who came to me. Now, they were people who believed that the struggle was wrong. Who were opposed to policies like the Mail for instance, had at that time or the English language press in general, had rather. And they felt they wanted to do something. But they didn't have the guts to approach the police or anybody openly. Because of their status in the business world, because of their status within the press and then they would come to me and they would tell me a story. Like when the Mail was going down, there was in the company a very senior man. He was not a full Editor, but he was close to it. He would call me to his office and say I think you people would like to know what is happening in the board room now. I never asked it. And then I would keep quiet, I would turn around and I would go back. Tomorrow he would come to me, he would say were they interested in what was said in the board room yesterday, because there is this meeting now. He was a very senior man. And he is still very senior in this country not in newspapers any more. There was that type of individual who went through as a liberal and described himself very proudly as a proud liberal. I didn't give him the title, he gives it to himself. Then you had sort of your sleeper type of operator. Your sleeper type of operator was the person who knew things, you approached him or he was approached before or he came to light, but he didn't really want. It is only when his conscience bothered him that he wanted to come out of something. Now in this connection, there is only one journalist that ever, and I challenge anybody else to stand up to dispute this, that ever got into serious problems because of action I had, that I explained to you. The, and I will give you this name now, I have apologised along the road to this individual. On my desk, one day landed an envelope. But by then these things happened fairly regularly. I opened the envelope and there was in handwriting a lot of names. It was a list of names, so I assumed it was from one of these people again and I handed over this letter. Somebody took this letter, went through these names and eventually discovered that all the people on that list was receivers of the SA Communist. A magazine at the time. And that list is what landed Tony Holiday in prison. His name did not appear on that list, but that is how the thing was connected. That somebody in the SAN group, it took me about three years of looking at people's handwriting, to see who did this and there was no indication, except for the names, why this list, but that is the list that led to him. I was approached on the paper, now I just want to tell you, there were good informers and bad informers. Now, I need to explain this. Let me explain this to you this way. There was a Nazi, there is still a very senior man in the Times Media Group at this moment. He came to me and told me about a man called White. It was round about 1980/1981, who was starting Nazi cells in Hillbrow and it was sort of, it became very militant. A lot of newspapers wrote about him at that time, he made headlines at the time. He was expelled subsequently from the country. And he told me that he would very much like to do something about it. I introduced that man to Brigadier Hennie Muller and as a result of that man's work, that fellow it was an Irish fellow, was forced out of the country and there were riots going on in the German Beer Hall in Kotze Street and all sorts of places. That man did something which irrespective of which government was in power, he would still be listened to. And in that respect, that is what I call a good informer. And he is still in newspapers. On that point, just to try and tie up this point, I just want to tell people and I can speak of authority here, because after the elections I was asked by the ANC to be one of the founder members of the new Secret Service, which I formed last year in January I was going to go to Moscow as the Deputy Ambassador. Unfortunately I picked up health problems which I am suffering from, mainly a back problem. Thank God, not a head problem. And I couldn't take up this position. There are today more people on the newspapers working as informers and as agents than under the old regime. And in the SABC. It is necessary. A government that doesn't do it, wouldn't be doing its duty. Because it is not spying on the paper, they are using those people and governments around the world - I could tell you that in 1970 I was in contact with an MI5 individual and by then more than three quarters of all foreign correspondents of Britain were in some way sponsored by the British Intelligence Services because it was so prohibitively expensive to put a man in the field. If you get to things like telephone tapping today, it is far more. The only reason being that today in Parliament you are told that there are only so many applications, but if you go to the Establishments' farm in the Pretoria district, from there in fact they've got apparatus today that you can listen into any phone call, anywhere in the world. And I say anywhere in the world without going near the phone or without going near a post office. The equipment has become more sophisticated. So people that believe that is not going on today, one of the reasons why I couldn't mention names here, is that I know of people who worked in the old side and whom I am pretty sure, is still employed in the new side. And it is against the law, it is a criminal act to identify them.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Horak. I know that we can carry on, but we do have time constraints. But just finally, can I just ask you during those years that you were active as an agent in the media, did this that is called almost infiltration, because you were on the English newspapers, did it apply to the Afrikaans newspapers as well?
MR HORAK: Oh, very much so. Very much so, Sir. I was approached by Afrikaans newspapers on various occasions and offered a job, and in the SABC of course. When I went to the SABC in the early 1960's, there it was no infiltration. The SABC was asked to employ me in a particular situation.
MR HORAK: Yes, yes, they were told. Yes, they were told by General Venter, that they needed a man in the SABC and they were sending me there. And they full well knew. Also I want to tell you about a public broadcaster of today, there was a problem, technically everybody who worked for them, were informers. And I will tell you why I am saying this. No, if you read a Broadcast Act of today, it is stipulated very clearly that the SABC had to support the government of the day. It was a law. And when anybody joined there, they were read this particular law. It was law, they had no choice. So anybody who worked there, knew from day one, that they had to support the government of the day. On the Afrikaans press, right now, on a paper like Beeld, there appears names in the by lines of people who was serving officers in STRATCOM quite openly in my day in the Security Branch. They were there. The Afrikaans press certainly was terribly involved, I could identify - I would give you one example. After I left the police, I tried to get a job and a newspaper interviewed me and asked me to come the next day. The next day when I arrived, with very embarrassed faces they told me that unfortunately they couldn't go ahead with employing me, because of certain signals that had been sent to them from government quarters. An hour later I walked in a Pretoria street and a man's wife, who was in that paper, but who was in that point in time a senior policeman, came up to me and said, so you didn't get a job in this paper. It is the first time I had seen him in three years. He knew exactly, I knew exactly what was going on. And there was certainly misused to a greater extent. One should never forget that in the 1970's still, even in the 1980's, the Editor of Die Burger, was a member of the caucus of the National Party and he sat in on caucus meetings. That was official. He guided the policy, so it was official policy that was given. But I also want to tell you that on the top management of my own company, which may sound a little bit humorous, but it is a very sad story and I am going to use his name, because he is innocent and I think everybody here knows that he is innocent. I want to use the name of Bernard Nakum, he is today a businessman. Bernard Nakum wore his regimental tie in the SAN officers. He was a Captain in the military, quite openly, nothing secret about it and he was a member of NUSAS. And somebody in the Establishment criticised him and things weren't going well for me either at that point in time. And I told people about the criticism of Benny Nakum at Headquarters. About two or three weeks later, Benny, it is possibly today the first time that he will know what really happened. Benny Nakum was stopped by Mr Lester Walton, who was then the Managing Director of the company in the passages, and said I want you to wear your tie every Friday. We will leave it at that. But what I am trying to say to you is that there were influences at work. And it wasn't as a front level.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, we are going to have to conclude now unfortunately. I just want to hear if there are any other questions from my colleagues. There are none? Mr Horak, it just remains for me to thank you for having made yourself available and for having been prepared to respond to the questions that we had put to you. We unfortunately always have the difficulty of time when we are dealing with these things at our public sessions and it is really all that we have time for at this stage. But I want to thank you very much for having come and to your Attorney as well.
CHAIRPERSON: We are going to take an adjournment for lunch, but a shorter adjournment that what we had planned for initially in order to try and catch up with our schedule and in order not to inconvenience people too much. We will adjourn until 1:30, when we will very sharp and we will reconvene at 1:30 with the testimony of Mr Williamson and I apologise to him and to Mr McPherson whom we had thought that we would be able to take before we actually adjourn for lunch. So we will now take the luncheon adjournment until 1:30.
MR NTSEBEZA: Thank you Chairperson. Let me take the opportunity to also welcome you Mr Williamson and your legal team, Mr Levin and I didn't get the other gentleman's name. I don't know how you propose to make your submission, whether you have a prepared submission which you would like to talk to. In this event, if you have, then possibly that is where we should start and then thereafter we possibly have to contextualise your submission.
MR WILLIAMSON: Yes, Mr Chairman, I think I will briefly summarise the basic points of the evidence that I am able to give which relates to documentation that I have handed over to the Commission, to your Investigators and I think that questions on that will probably then be the easiest way then to go.
MR WILLIAMSON: Thank you. The media, a target of State Intelligence operations. I am by no means an expert of media operations by the State, I was an Intelligence Officer and as such, obviously some of the Intelligence operations that we conducted, related to the media. Now, the reason why during my years in the Intelligence Organisations, we concentrated or were interested by the media, was firstly because South African and Western experts in counter-revolutionary warfare, had trained us and taught us that the media was used by the Soviet Union and their surrogates, such as National Liberation Movements, to conduct political and psychological warfare. Not only against South Africa, but against the West. So the media in general, and certain journalists in particular, were therefore targeted and monitored in order to detect and neutralise their so-called agent of influence role in the media. I have handed in various documents to you. One on the psychological and political warfare dimensions of Soviet support for international terrorism. Another one on international front organisations. The first is by Samuel T. Francis, an American academic. The second is by Western Intelligence Agency. Third is a bron verslag (source report) on Soviet active measures, again from a Western Intelligence Agency. Document four is chapter XXX, Die Propaganda Bedreiging (propaganda threat) which is a draft chapter from the Annual Intelligence Review of the Secretariat of the State Security Council Propaganda Threat, which is a draft chapter from the Annual Intelligence Review of the Secretariat of the State Security Council for 1981 and 1982. And then to finish off the documents in this section, I have given seven examples of source reports done on radio media and other media reports. Mr Chairman, very very briefly, the belief, the political belief at that time was that National Liberation Movements were conducting terrorism against South Africa and that a large element of terrorism was a psychological rather than a physical war and that therefore propaganda of the deed needed to be reinforced and explicated by the propaganda of the word and that the Soviets and their surrogates sponsored terrorism and used terrorism as an extension of their policy and they termed this policy relating to exploitation and propaganda in the media, as active measures. And this is why I have given you certain documentation on front organisations and active measures. And I want to reiterate that it wasn't only the South African Intelligence Services that regarded this information as being accurate and true. It was the entire Western world, Intelligence Agencies and a lot of the information that I have given you here in fact, came from those Agencies. There is a document here on the use of journalists by the KGB. It states for example journalistic cover is frequently used by the KGB because journalists generally have better access to a wider range of influential individuals than diplomates or other officials. Then Mr Chairman, the Chapter in the Annual Intelligence Review, I think I must first tell you that once a year, during the time of the previous government's State Security Council structure, the politicians were given an overall view by the Intelligence Agencies on the entire threat against the nation, against the State. And this is a draft chapter from that and relates to the what is termed the Propaganda Threat and it sets out very clearly that the State at that time regarded the media as part or in particular the non-government supporting media, as part of the revolutionary onslaught against the country at that time. It also goes as far as to discuss the role of so-called resistance culture and novels for example samples of books which were regarded at that time as being part of the resistance literature, is "'n DroŽ Wit Seisoen", by A.P. Brink and Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. Then Mr Chairman, the second aspect of my evidence relates, that is why we were monitoring the media. The second aspect is to do with manipulating the media and using propaganda and following the theory of fighting fire with fire, the South African State at that time embarked on its own operations to use the media for political and psychological warfare. And this was in an attempt to counter Soviet style active measures which were in fact at that time being used against the State. And this attempt grew into the now well-known COMOP and STRATCOM activities. COMOP's are communication operations, it was mainly a military term and STRATCOM, strategic communications. That is mainly a police term and then later became the State Security Council term. In order then to attempt to keep the population in South Africa either pro-government or at least actively neutral in the political struggle for the hearts and minds of the people in the target community, the Security Forces in general and the State Security Council's structures, used various elements. A special relationship existed between the SABC TV and radio news departments and the Intelligence community's units responsible for STRATCOM. And there was in fact a war for the hearts and minds of the target community and the State was at a disadvantage because it did not own or control any credible print media. And this could and was counter-acted by use of TV and radio. Several documentaries on the ANC were made and broadcast and at least one series was attempted which attempted to portray the SAP in a positive light. The SABC was also used at the time of cross-border raids to present the actions taken in a positive light. And then Mr Chairman, as part of the supporting documentation under this section, I have documents first of all, B1 to B4, which are documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the South African Defence Force. CV's and information on so-called influential people. Many of whom were writers or journalists who were brought out to South Africa, paid for by the State, in order to use them in the propaganda war against the liberation movements, the ANC and of course the Soviet Union and everybody else. Here are some examples of the particular individuals, people who were brought out and I have to emphasise that the way we treated these journalists was to use them as allies in a common struggle and at one time, I wrote a memorandum which I have included to you, to General Coetzee and I quoted a British soldier, Brigadier C.P.R. Palmer who published a paper called Public Opinion in the Armed Services and it was published by the Royal College of Defence Studies. And he basically said that the effectiveness of the Armed Services, the Security Forces and the survival of a nation may well depend less on the ability to put up a stiff fight, than on the acceptability of that fight to public opinion. And that brutalised and horrific media portrayal of Security Force action, can lead to public opinion being so shocked that the will of the nation to resist, may be lost. So, that was essentially what we were trying to do to use these journalists to put across out point of view in this war. There were also during this type of proceeding, journalists who were recruited and paid to present the line or to give us information on an Intelligence level. There were also other journalistic related operations. For example, I have given you a report which was done by the police on the exposure of the affair that Dr Allan Boesak had with Ms Scott. And the full chronological, it is laid out in 13 pages, on how this operation was carried out, how different newspapers were used and how the Star finally printed the allegations. And at the end of the day, the idea of this type of operation and in specific the operation against Dr Boesak, was in order to discredit him and to break down his political effectiveness. And I can refer you to another document I have given you, which I have numbered B4, which relates to a media briefing but it also relates to the previous example I have given you about Dr Boesak, because and I will read. It is a Ministry of Foreign Affairs letter, signed by the then deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Barend du Plessis, addressed to the then Minister of Law and Order, Louis le Grange and the heading is United Democratic Front UDF/ANC, confidential submission to the media. First paragraph, in an attempt to limit the movement space of the UDF and in terms of the decision by the State Security Council that the UDF and its officials should be discredited, we felt that by means of a confidential submission to selected Editors of the South African newspapers, to try and temper publicity in South African papers in this regard. So this is about a briefing to Editors in order to get them to play down the UDF factor in South African politics. But what is important is that it says here very clearly, that this is being done as a result of the decision and order of the State Security Council that the UDF, its officials and patrons must be discredited. Then Mr Chairman, the final example I can give in this aspect of media operations was that publications and films were produced, financed by the State. Usually by the Defence Force and that these were published and released through co-operative or friendly journalists and for example during Oliver Tambo's world tour, I think in 1987, wherever he went in the world, the propaganda video's and publications got there before him, all of which concentrated mainly on necklacing, on Mrs Winnie Mandela's famous matchbox with matches speech, etc. etc. So I have given you a copy of one of those video's and I have given you also some of the documentation that accompanied this type of video. They were released in Australia, United States, Canada, these sort of countries. Then finally Mr Chairman, the third aspect which I can speak about is that journalists, because of their access and because they have reasons to ask questions, are targets of recruitment by both Intelligence Agencies and Revolutionary Movements. These people can recruit journalists and use journalists so in our counter-intelligence function we did have a special section that monitored journalists, but this was often done in order to determine their involvements in ... (tape ends) ... They monitored David Beresford. At the time of the arrest, I think they called them the Armscor 4. The Armscor Officials who had been arrested in England for sanctions breaking, for sending some - not weapons, but military related equipment to South Africa, and it was believed at that time, that David Beresford had been tasked by an Intelligence Agency to find out certain information and we monitored him for that reason. I also included a source report that I wrote about a member of your panel, Mr Hugh Lewin. Where he was monitored while a journalist overseas. But again, he was being monitored not because of the journalistic activities, but because of his close relations with the African National Congress and other people. And finally, I was requested in my subpoena to give you whatever information I had about SANA, the Southern African News Agency. I have given certain budgets and letters and information which isn't really I don't think of very much use. Basically SANA was a genuine organisation. It was set up by certain South African journalists, during the period probably 1977 to 1980 roughly. It was of course to a large degree under my control. And while the people involved in it, were bona fide journalists, obviously they received instructions from me. I could ask them for certain information and obviously that information then got passed back to the Intelligence Agencies in Pretoria. Mr Chairman, that is basically the synopsis of what I have been able to find. And what I have given to you, and just to summarise at the end that I was not in fact a COMOP or a STRATCOM officer myself, I was an Intelligence Officer and my involvement and the examples I have given you of use of the media in propaganda operations, is because of my personal involvement in these operations. As a result of the fact that we had certain Intelligence capabilities that were needed to carry out these operations. I think I can respond to questions.
MR NTSEBEZA: Yes. Yes, the cameras must give way to the monitors. The video must stop until you are in a position to look. When there is no sound, they must replay it, there must be proper coordination.
†"In recent years a new phenomena has entered world politics. Political organisations in many parts of the world show increasing readiness to resort to violence in the hope of achieving what they have not been able to achieve through negotiations. These terrorist groups are inter-connected. They train in the same camps, and receive support from the same governments. Even the slogans and phrases they use are often identical. Many of their atrocities are committed deliberately to attract media attention. The revolutionary groups, the more murderous the deed, the more certain the coverage. For the media, the more sensational the event, the more certain are high ratings. It makes no difference if the event was created simply to attract media attention. By such means extremist groups are able to publicise their causes before world audiences while more moderate groups are largely ignored. One of the growing number of countries plagued by terrorist atrocities is South Africa. There the organisation principally responsible is the African National Congress. It's present leader is Oliver Tambo" " The moderate Blacks were not selling the peoples, we were presenting a non-violent strategy, a strategy that did not say 'Burn Baby Burn'. A strategy that said people must come together and sit around a negotiating table and this is not sensational stuff, it doesn't sell the papers." "It's a tragedy that most Americans only sea or read about the dead and injured in South Africa. And terrorism, violence and repression for behind the terrible television pictures lies another truth, South Africa is a complex and diverse society in a state of transition." "In the course of our research it has become abundantly clear that the situation in South Africa for example is very different. In many important ...(indistinct) and contemporary media orthodoxy, would have us believe." "We have seen a lot violence and a lot of bloodshed in the past and I would hate to see a future South Africa built on violence and more bloodshed". "The reverend Mr John Gegotchia is director of Operation Advance and Upgrade, a Black self-help association with two hundred and sixty thousand members. I asked him about the ANC's role. 'The ANC is not the authentic leader or authentic voice of Black people in South Africa. It is one of the voices yes, and secondly the ANC does not represent the majority of Blacks in South Africa. Unfortunately the Western Media and the Media biased media has made it that the ANC is the sole representative, it isn't and it does not represent the majority of the people in the country. If it did then there would have been no need for the ANC to embark on violence to win the hearts of the masses because they would have had the masses on their side anyway'. What is the true nature of this organisation? I asked Craig Williamson a former South African Intelligence Service Officer who spent 10 years as a member of the South African Communist Party working closely with the ANC, many of whose leaders he came to know personally. 'Nicholas the answer is that the ANC is a terrorist organisation, an international terrorist organisation exactly the same as organisations such as the IRA, the PLO, the Red Brigades and the Bader Meinhoff Gang. It is an organisation made up of people such as the Joe Slovos of the world, people who have been trained in the Soviet Union as international terrorists, have been trained in Cuba and have been trained in the Middle East to carry out the most horrendous acts of violence that I have ever seen in my life' The honourable Ken Beasley is a former...."
MR NTSEBEZA: Thank you Mr Williamson, if you can then resume. Just a few questions. It seems to me, and you'll correct me if I am wrong, that what you referred to as your operations, that is now the operations of the Security Forces, had basically two aims. Not in any order of importance, certainly one of its aims was to attack the mind set of the Liberation Movements via the media and create a certain perspective, an otherwise perspective than that which was being there simulated by the Liberation Movement and it was also to gather Intelligence. Would you agree with that?
MR WILLIAMSON: Yes, Mr Chairman. I think as part of the political psychological aspect of war, the idea of propaganda was firstly to try and win the hearts and minds of the target community. And if one could demoralise the National Liberation Movements in that process, obviously that would be of advantage, and secondly as I think I said in what I said earlier, the actual gathering of hard Intelligence through the media, through use of people in the media, was I would say that was where I was more primarily involved. So those were the two key factors.
MR NTSEBEZA: And it seems to me that even though those words to win the hearts and minds of the people were popular, especially in this country, during the state of emergency, that those who were in charge of Intelligence Services in this country, the Security Forces, had had a long term view of what might be and they had prepared instruments and resources for the implementation of a programme of winning the hearts and minds of the people and that infiltration was one of these. Would you agree with that? For instance, to give an example, early on in your career and I am talking about the 1970's here, you were removed from your post and you were placed in Wits as part of an infiltration programme so that you can gather Intelligence of views that were oppositional to the Establishment's views?
MR NTSEBEZA: Funded, yes. And in that way with you placed strategically within IUEF, you were legitimately able to gather and get authentic information from journalists who were in SANA, who themselves may have been thinking that they are doing work for a politically correct organisation IUEF.
MR NTSEBEZA: You would find somebody within SANA, asked by IUEF to go for instance to an ANC conference in the Soviet Union, whatever it is, and that person would give as much information about what happened in those conferences as was possible, file it through to IUEF in the belief that it was for a progressive organisation, and via you, that information would get to the South African Security Forces?
R WILLIAMSON: Yes, that is correct, that is exactly how it worked. I can give you for example one of the last requests that I ever received from SANA. The 19th of November 1979, which was only a few months before I was exposed. Here is a telegram from Botswana asking for permission to go to Zimbabwe to cover the Zimbabwean elections. To make contact with Mr Chantete and Vusi Maki. Vusi Maki of the PAC. Chantete was a well-known Attorney who was involved in defending political prisoners and who at this time, I believe, had already left South Africa. And then there was a request for an assignment inside South Africa to look at Inkatha, to visit resettlement areas and obviously I would then approve that, give the budget for it and perhaps give them some further instructions on the type of coverage that they should undertake. And that obviously would be determined by my Intelligence tasking from Pretoria.
MR NTSEBEZA: In fact, you've got to correct me if I am wrong, even when you left the SAP and then you know your career was in other directions, in the Intelligence Services, journalists still became very useful tools in the formation, certainly in Intelligence gathering. I am reminded here of the work that Peter Caselton was doing with the Swedish journalists. Would that be a typical example of how even in that form, journalists were being used?
MR WILLIAMSON: Yes, Mr Chairman, I have in fact given you documentation on Mr Bertiel Verdin, a Swedish journalist and in his case, he was in fact one of those journalists introduced to us as part of a Foreign Affairs programme. He came to South Africa to cover you know, for some journalistic reason and who was then recruited for other purposes. If I can just refer to that document. Sorry, which number is it? Yes, I have a memorandum. This was actually while I was still in the SAP, where I wrote to Colonel Goosen, who later became Brigadier Goosen. You can see on the top it was referred then to General Coetzee, saying the foreign journalist Bertiel Verdin, for whom you had made arrangements will visit South West Africa, Namibia, left the country on Sunday. He was particularly impressed with the positive and rendered a positive report to Mrs Thatcher and Mr Reagan's Foreign Affairs staff. And he also undertook to work with Mr Brian Crosio to investigate which South African exiles in Britain were also trained terrorists. And in his case, as has been well documented, his relationship became a close relationship with the Security Branch. He was paid for the information which he provided and in his case, interestingly enough, when he was charged in Britain, for the role he played, in receiving documentation stolen from the ANC and the PAC offices, he was in fact acquitted because as a journalist he had the legal right to do what we were paying him to do. It was not a crime for him to do what we wanted him to do. This was one of the reasons why these type of people were used, because he not only had the access, but in fact it was not illegal for him to do something that would have been illegal for a South African Police Officer or Intelligence Officer.
MR NTSEBEZA: And from the point of view of the South African Security Intelligence offices, he being (a) a foreign journalist and (b) a Swedish one at that, he was strategically very convenient for your purposes, because he wouldn't have credibility problems at first glance?
MR NTSEBEZA: Yes, and Sweden was always also known to have been a supporter of the Liberation Movement in the form of the ANC, so he would also be able to get closer to the ANC without having any acceptance problems as a Swedish journalist?
MR NTSEBEZA: Now, you possibly want to tell us about the categories of Human Intelligence employed by the Security Branch. I say so because Mr Horak has indicated that there were all sorts of, there were agents and this, maybe you want to tell us whether in your own way of dealing with the media, you had those sort of categories of people. Whether you operated specifically in the media, via people who were contracted, via people who were agents, via people who were informers, etc.
MR WILLIAMSON: When you are dealing with agents and informers, it is the motivation, I heard very briefly what Mr Horak was saying, but I think I agree broadly with his categories, that you have professional agents. Full time serving members of the Intelligence Organisation. Then you have a whole spectrum of other people. We had what we called HK (Headquarter) sources. We had regional sources, like WWR, Witwatersrand sources. And like in the Soviet or other Intelligence Agencies, often the coding given to the source, was an indication of his level, his or her level in the hierarchy as it were. There were ideologically motivated people, there were people who were purely motivated by a pecuniary interest and there were a lot of Walter Mitty's who enjoined to be in this exciting, dark, dangerous world and I think it relates to agents in the media just as much as to agents in any other place. And the motivation and control of an agent was the same, whether he was in the media or anywhere else.
MR NTSEBEZA: Now, whatever category of agents maybe it was to a certain specific type of media persons whom you were targeting. Whether on contract or informers or whatever, did you have any formalised briefing sessions or workshops or "bosberaad's", at which you know, the whole purpose of them being used and targeted, was discussed and gone into?
MR WILLIAMSON: Yes, Mr Chairman. The media because of the centrally important role that the State saw it playing in the counter-revolutionary and the revolutionary struggle, there were a lot of attempts made not only to have specific agents who were recruited in the media who were doing specific jobs, in other words, like Mr Horak for example. He was an RS who at one time was handled by myself. The important thing was to have a different level of involvement in the media. Your agents of influence, people who would write certain stories or who would plant certain stories or who would take a certain line on a particular story. But then overall there was the Editorial policy of the paper and that was dealt with at a higher level and I was not really involved in that until I went down to Parliament and became a member of the President's Council. And at that time, I was involved in certain what I called STRATCOM type operations, where senior members of the media were taken on a "bosberaad" up to the border to Special Forces' bases, with the highest ranking Officers of the military, maybe of other Intelligence Agencies and there were, I recall one in 1987, shortly after I went down to Parliament, where a "bosberaad" was held where the main focus was on the Soviet Union and what they were going to, or possibly what they could do about Namibia and Angola and the withdrawal of the troops. And so Mr Horak, in his evidence also did touch on it. You have to see the State's relation with the media as a macro continuum. It goes right from the owners of the media, the people who owned the newspaper, the Editors who controlled the policy of the newspaper, right down to the chap who can clean the dustbin at night and stuff it all in an envelope and give it to you and you had to have agents through that entire spectrum. One was, I would refer mainly a tactical agent and the other was a more strategic agent. Somebody who would be able to influence the broad policy direction of the newspaper.
MR NTSEBEZA: In fact, I have a curious photograph here. I don't know whether it is speaking to what you have just said. I can identify you and I can identify one or two, one person who I think is a media person. And a number of Brigadiers. If you can take a look at that and see if it is possibly what you are talking about.
MR WILLIAMSON: Yes, Mr Chairman, this photograph was taken at Fort Doppies, the 3rd to the 5th of July 1987. And virtually the entire general staff of the Defence Force were there. The Minister, General Malan, General Geldenhuys, General Kat Liebenberg, The Chief of Staff, Finance, I can see him there. Chief of the Air Force is there, Chief of the Navy is there. The Chief of Military Strategic Communication, COMOPS is there, Brigadier Van Wyk. I am there. And then there are various journalists there. Mr Tertius Myburgh is there, Mr Willie Koen. Mr Alf Ries, some highly placed journalists. And this was a "bosberaad" basically up on the border, close to the Angolan border and the main focus was Soviet, how we South Africa and the newspapers and so on, were going to act or relate to what the Soviets were going to do. Soviets and Cubans were going to decide about pulling troops out of Angola in relation to the peace process.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Williamson, just one issue. As a Commission, we normally have to notify people who might possibly have something negative said about them. We always try to do that as far as possible, but often names are mentioned in testimony and we are not aware of that beforehand. You have referred to Mr Beresford as one of the journalists that were monitored, or you were somehow keeping an eye on him. Just to get it on record, and beyond any doubt, is it correct that there was no evidence that was found that would link him to a foreign agency or anything in that sort of respect?
MR WILLIAMSON: No, there was no evidence found and it appeared that in fact, there was a whole investigation and it was a leak that had in fact occurred I think in Armscor and their lawyers, and the Guardian in London had come to know of a visit by the legal team from Britain to South Africa, so it had nothing to do, our monitoring of him, in that case, didn't bear out the allegation that was made.
HAIRPERSON: Thank you, I just wanted to have that confirmed on record. Then I must thank you that you operated with us, even before today, in assisting with the documentation and the records that were at your disposal, which was actually made available to us. We quite appreciate the help that you had given us in this regard.
CHAIRPERSON: Welcome, we as you have obviously - we are running a bit behind schedule and we are trying to catch up, thank you for your patience. Can I just administer the oath to you and I assume it is your legal representative with you. Good afternoon and welcome.
MR LEWIN: Just a second, so that people can just get interpreting equipment so that they can follow in English. If we can just wait for people to collect their headphones. Sorry. Does everybody who requires headphones, have them now? May we continue Mr McPherson, thank you.
MR McPHERSON: I will start from the beginning again. During the period 1989 to 1990, I was Unit Commander of covert strategic communication of the South African Police and it formed part of the Security Branch of the South African Police. In terms of the subpoena served on me the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is particularly interested in this period from 1989 to 1990, during which I was Chief of Strategic Communication of the South African Police, as far as covert operations were concerned. In order to understand this concept of strategic communication, I would like to give you a definition. I must say this definition sounds very complicated in isolation, but it took us about a week to formulate it. It reads as follows: It is the planned, coordinated carrying out of the deed and or the presentation of a message by means of communication instruments in order to influence attitudes, values and life views of individuals or to create a particular attitude or maintain an attitude, or to neutralise enemy propaganda or to utilise it to one's own advantage and to pursue national objectives and achieve these.I think we can understand STRATCOM easier if we think of psychological warfare as a concept. It is carried out by other countries, like the Republic of China for example, Taiwan, they refer to political warfare. In Europe they refer to psychological warfare. In the USA they call it civic action. And in the former Soviet Union, they called it active measures. STRATCOM was a covert operation, in other words it was done in secret, rather than overtly, in other words, in the open. To clarify STRATCOM as operated by the South African Police and to place it in perspective within the structures, it operated under the National Management System. And this came into operation, 1 August 1985. The Strategic Communication branch controlled and coordinated all STRATCOM operations on a national level and under the Secretariat of the National Security Council. Each department such as the South African Police, operated within its own line functions to operate STRATCOM. The way in which permission was achieved for STRATCOM was to submit a motivated memorandum of the particular operation which you wish to implement to your relevant Minister, during these times. It was Minister Vlok and if authorised by him, it was submitted to the Strategic Communications branch after which it was registered on a national level as a project under the State Security Services. It was also a requirement that all these projects of ours, of all departments involved in STRATCOM, were to be submitted to the State President annually and thus on 21 December 1989, I made a submission to State President F.W. de Klerk and some of his Cabinet Ministers and to the DG's of the relevant departments involved in STRATCOM operations. The aim of appearing there was first to achieve permission, firstly a judgement by the State President whether this was in line with policy and secondly to gain access to the funds, secret or special funds, which were allocated for this purpose. The amount allocated for the financial year 1989/1990 for the South African Police budget, amounted to R4,5 million and you as the TRC, with the interest in the media, will be interested to know that we used about I would say less than R50 000-00 for the operation within the media. We cannot doubt that the Republic of South Africa, was a target of revolutionary warfare and the concept of war during that period and today still, was not limited to an armed conflict where only military means were involved. Today we refer to concepts such as political warfare, economic warfare, psychological warfare. The African National Congress by means of its armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, declared war against South Africa and I would like to just briefly state that after the second World War, the concept of war was broadened dramatically from pure military action to a much more multi-dimensional form of warfare and a much more total strategy. To return to the media, if you were to ask me why the Police became involved in this aspect of society, during the 1980's and 1990's we experienced that the ANC and also other opposition groups launched an attack, a venomous attack on the South African Police as such. They doubted the credibility of the South African Police, they brought it into disrepute. And in that light we registered an operation around the media and this operation had various objectives. The first of which was to get involved in image building and communicating this image of the South African Police, that was to counter-act the negative image created by the opposition and held up to society. It was also important to change this perception. A second objective was to counter-act, to have the successes of the Security Branch placed in the media. A third objective was to counter-act enemy propaganda and to give prominence to attacks against the community in the newspapers. How did we go about this? We firstly recruited journalists who supported our cause and thus created a network by means of which we could place prominent articles and carry into effect these objectives which had been defined beforehand. This would lead to these Organisations and individuals being discredited, uncovering negative aspects regarding these Organisations, corruption in their ranks and it would attempt to gain, to destroy public sympathy with these Organisations. The theme of these articles, the presentations were always a counter-revolutionary message against violence and it addressed peace in the country. I myself as Superintendent McPherson, in the course of years, created and built up a network of media contacts. These journalists fell into various categories. There were policemen who had infiltrated Organisations and established themselves as journalists. I had paid agents. There were also basic informants. I had many people whom I knew and friends and then there were journalists who were helping us without them even realising that. There was a total of about 40 journalists whom I regarded as my contacts. If I were to reduce them to essentials, I would say two were police members, four were paid journalists, four were informants whom I paid upon occasions and ten were friends and then twenty were used without their knowing it. They were involved with the media and I will mention them not necessarily in order of importance. Sunday Times, Pretoria News, Rapport, SABC TV, SABC radio, Beeld, Citizen, the Star, Citizen, SAPA, Reuter, BBC News, Huisgenoot, Rooi Rose, Republican Press and Insig. What I would like to state is that some of these journalists still have prominent positions in the media world, and some of those who have left are still in good positions. Countless operations were launched via the media over the years and it is difficult for me to remember all of these. I can refer you to six instances in brief.
MR McPHERSON: There was the case of George Da Costa, he was Head of the Security Services or Intelligence Services of Mozambique. He came over to South Africa in the 1980's as a defector and although he didn't bring along with him any documentation, he brought with him a lot of knowledge. We inter alia compiled certain documents as a consequence of this regarding certain events in Mozambique. They were real events, but the documents didn't exist. We then fabricated the documents with the necessary stamps, signatures etc. We inter alia obtained a Portuguese typewriter to make them look more authentic and with this story we went to Republican Press and submitted it to Scope. George Da Costa asked his price, they paid him R11 000,00 and these documents appeared over five issues beautifully taken in by the public and one of the documents inter alia indicated that Minister, that the Mozambique Minister of Security had seven of their heroes killed by a firing squad. He had given the instruction, but this was never documented. But this document appeared. Scope also appeared in Mozambique. And the government fired this person. It was a temporary set back, because he was reappointed at a later stage, but to us it was a success. It must be regarded from the perspective of the time, because Mozambique was strongly supported by the Soviet Block, Cuba and Eastern Berlin. And that was the type of activity that we were involved in. As far as operation Vula is concerned, the Investigating Officers in the matter, discovered computers in safe houses, in various cities in South Africa and we succeeded in breaking the code relevant to these computers, regarding information reports in the covert operations of the ANC. And we drew off 6 000 pages with valuable information inter alia that the late Joseph Slovo formed part of the group and that although he was in the Negotiation Council and part of the Groote Schuur Conference, he had collaborated with this group. I passed this information on to certain journalists, leaked it to them and it caused quite a bit of trouble. As a matter of fact, the late Joseph Slovo nearly lost his position in the negotiation group as a consequence of this. TV documentary which was also done in the 1980's, the ANC offices in London operated as if they were the foreign office of the ANC and carried a lot of authority in Europe. It was very important for us to uncover the activities indulged in by these offices and upon our visits in that area, it was very clear that trained MK members and similar persons, who were actively involved in the armed struggle, regularly visited the offices, but the British government did not want to close these offices. We cooperated with the SABC TV staff who wished to compile such a documentary, we did all the research. We provided them with all the photographs and they sent a team overseas. They photographed the offices and homes of various individuals and they compiled a documentary which actually had its resignations within the British government as well. With regard to Olivia Forsyth, she was a Lieutenant in the Security Branch. She was in Quatro Camp in Angola where she was held for four years. After her return to South Africa, we obtained information that the Pretoria News had her full statement made to the ANC in Lusaka in their possession, and that they intended making a voluminous article out of this. I negotiated with the Editor of the Pretoria News and said to him that Olivia was with us, that we were drafting her story, that we were debriefing her and that we were prepared to give her full story to the Pretoria News as an exclusive and all that we asked in return was that when they published the story of the ANC, we would be granted an equal opportunity also to state our side of the case. The logic behind all of this was that should a story be published, and it would be to one's disadvantage and one had to react to this, in the papers the next day, the damage had already been done, and whatever you did the second day afterwards, or the third day afterwards, or a week afterwards, would not be believed by anybody. But if one received an equal opportunity, there was at least a chance that people could see these aspects in perspective. We then succeeded in negotiating this and it increased the status of Olivia Forsyth in this whole matter. Another action after the elections of the National Executive Council of the ANC, after they had all returned to South Africa, just before the elections, we had an article placed in the Citizen. It was titled 37 Reds elected to top ANC body. The purpose was to indicate that the South African Communist Party had the upper hand in the ANC. And it was just a matter of destabilising things. The names were published of everybody elected and where their loyalties were. Another action was with the Gaberone invasion in the 1980's. During this invasion 13 insurgents were killed in Gaberone. We prepared the necessary press releases, the photographs of people who were targeted, the plans of the houses of which they were living, etc. were all achieved proper background material for the media, and all these things were prepared and upon the return of the attackers, a press conference was held and inter alia one of the articles published in the Sunday Times on the Sunday, was entitled the Guns of Gaberone. The last action which I would like to use as an example, a person came to our offices and offered to write a negative book around Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. He offered us just an entry amount of R120 000-00 and he would have the book published in the USA. And obviously we couldn't obtain permission at such brief notice, but something else happened. A Miss Gilby, who was an American citizen, came to us and said that she had basically finished writing the whole book and all that she needed was certain information that she just wished to have confirmation of information that she already disposed of, to ascertain whether it was correct. I obtained permission to have her look into Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's file at Headquarters. We obtained permission. The book was published in the United States, without any costs involved for us. That is it, thank you Mr Commissioner.
MR LEWIN: Mr McPherson, thank you very much. If I could just ask you a couple of questions to follow up what you have told us. Thank you very much for giving such precise details. If I could go back to the, you talk about the National Management System and the different projects that you were handling. You had this budget of R4,5 million.
MR McPHERSON: It involved firstly, okay, the two policemen's salaries which was basically you know, basic salaries. They had to have police vehicles, police cars under their own names, and the petrol. Then when it came to other projects, we had offices that had to be paid, monthly payments, renting. In certain projects, okay, specifically, you are referring specifically to the media. Yes, okay, then certain people had to fly, you know certain journalists had to fly to certain instructions that we gave them to attend say a specific conference. It could have been in another country. So that involved money and then also the salaries of payment made to the say four journalists that were on the pay roll. And then other money was spent on say lunches and paying journalists for taking certain peoples that had to be interviewed for lunches and say travelling expenses, hotel expenses and so forth. So basically looking at this operation and referring it or having to refer it to other operations, it was actually quite cheap.
MR McPHERSON: Yes, he approved the, this fell under the counter-revolutionary project and he approved it in principle. Of course he wouldn't know which journalists are working for us, or the detail. We should have submitted the different objectives and strategies. So you just presented the objectives and the strategy to him and he would have asked us but what was the aim, and you had to say it was you know, to help build the image of the Police, counter propaganda from the opposition and it had to, the main aim had to be for peace. Especially in the last years whilst the negotiations was continuing, the main aim had to be to propagate peace for the country.
MR McPHERSON: That was before. That was in 1985. That was a bit earlier. Then the government regarded it as war and P.W. Botha was then the State President, but the same had to happen in front of him. Every year all secret projects had to be presented to him, by the different roll players which were basically the South African Defence Force, South African Police, National Intelligence Service and Foreign Affairs.
MR McPHERSON: No, not the report in itself, but the aim was to get that kind of result through what you presented to the media. Well you had it ready and so they could just take and grab the press report, the photographs, everything was ready. It was easy for them to write the report, everything was at their disposal. They didn't have to do much thinking, or interviewing and so forth.
MR McPHERSON: That is right, yes. Yes, because people like Minister Pik Botha, he had to see to the aspect of foreign intervention and what the reaction of the Gaberone government was going to be, once this has happened.
MR McPHERSON: After February 1990 another representation had to be made to President F.W. de Klerk and they have cut it more than half. Because at that stage, many of the people that were working for us, were becoming scared and we had discovered that some of them, had already been to the African National Congress and confessed to what work they had been doing for us. And we had to give assurance to the State President, that the projects we were still running, that people in our employment could also not run over and become an embarrassment to the government. So only those projects that propagated peace and that were, that could not have become an embarrassment, only those projects, were approved.
MR LEWIN: How did the business of recruiting new people, to be sent into the newspapers as recruits, you mentioned at some stage that these people were also paid and that you had a budget for putting them through university. Could you tell us about that?
MR McPHERSON: Yes, but that was not necessarily to do with the media. It was more a student body action. A National Student Federation, and it had nothing to do with, it had to do with the Student Organisations, nothing to do with media in itself.
MR McPHERSON: No. Yes, well you know, some of them that studied at Rhodes University that did journalism, we once had one of them, that got into the media, but we didn't train or had people specifically trained for the media. We concentrated more on people that were already positioned in the media.
MR LEWIN: And Mr Horak has told us that he was one of two agents, paid agents. You give the impression from your list of 40 journalistic contacts that there were probably a great deal more than the two that he knew of.
MR LEWIN: Will you introduce us? Could I ask some questions, because yesterday we dealt at great length about the SABC. I get the impression from your description of the ANC office and the operation that you carried out there, you are talking now about a propaganda operation of the SABC making a documentary.
MR McPHERSON: Well, it is rather us wanting a propaganda documentary, but the SABC was prepared because they needed the publicity and it was a good story at that time and they knew people would watch it. So it was also of importance to them to do the documentary.
MR McPHERSON: Yes, you see Mr Commissioner, what you must understand, in those years, I think, people were very much against violence and act of violence, well from any side, that was taking place in the country. And we could walk into this building and you would always find somebody that had something to say about a bomb that went off, that they could hear it nearby going off and people killed and people maimed. So it was different in a sense that you as a policeman, although they knew I was from the Security Branch, and although they knew what work I was involved in, in the sense of covert operations and although they saw some of my work in the newspapers and in other levels, I was still very much accepted here. There was no feeling of animosity. I could not feel it anywhere. And, but I think it was the feeling of the people of that time. And the same would have happened, say in the Pretoria News offices. I could walk in there, get a cup of tea and everybody would accept you without really asking questions. They never thought I was there to spy on them. And they knew where they stood with me, I was very open.
MR McPHERSON: Let me put it this way. The majority of the people were for the South African Police. So it is as you say that you still needed one person that you could send whenever you wanted to have him sent somewhere without having to complain, he's got something else to do.
MR LEWIN: Just two more questions, Mr Chairman, if I may. Mr McPherson, you talked about Olivia Forsyth. At some stage there was a suggestion that she had been sent to Daisy Farm. Can you tell us about that?
MR McPHERSON: She was there many, many times I mean. She did her training there. She used to visit it while she was still at Rhodes University. And I don't, I can't understand the gist of the question.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr McPherson, I want to thank you for the evidence you have given. For the detailed information you provided us with. We really appreciate it. Thank you very much and also to your legal representative.
CHAIRPERSON: Our next witness is Mr Craig Kotze. Can I ask Mr Kotze to come forward please. I am sorry, Mr Kotze, yes, I think they have explained to you, thank you for your patience. Mr Mike Loewe, we are going to just have to adapt the programme a bit. We are going to take the testimony of Mr Mike Loewe who needs to be excused as soon as he is done here. Mr Loewe, good afternoon.
MR LOEWE: Thank you very much. This submission was solicited from me about a year ago in Port Elizabeth and that is why I am here today, I had been ... (tape ends) ... 1986 when I was working in Port Elizabeth as a journalist, in which I was detained for 83 days. I just want to say beforehand that in making this statement, there are names in the statement which refer to people that I still work with, Editors who are clients of ours. I am the Editor of a company called East Cape News, which arose out of East Cape News Agencies and so there are difficulties. There are difficulties in saying these things, we still deal with these Editors. And there are also other journalists in the Eastern Cape who one deals with on a day to day basis. Whom we believed were informers or working for the State or any one of the categories that had been raised today. The East Cape News Agency did in fact collect statements from 21 Civil Rights' activists and journalists who were working in Port Elizabeth at the time and in the Eastern Cape. It is an incomplete list, but we thought at the time it would be a useful contribution to the Commission and we just it off our own bat essentially. The period that I am dealing with started in about 1984, when I left the University of Cape Town, where I had a history in the Student Media and went to Port Elizabeth and got a job as a general reporter on the Evening Post. At that particular stage, in the early 1985, the student boycotts began to break out in Port Elizabeth and the Editor of the Evening Post was happy to send me out to report on this. However, after writing three page leads in one week, I was suddenly pulled off the story. And informed that I was no longer to write about politics. I asked him at that stage whether that entailed not being able to speak to black people, and he said yes. And it was soon after that, a few months later, that he called me in and informed me that I was being sent to the subs room, where I was going to sub under the then coach of the Eastern Province Rugby team. I didn't last very long on the Evening Post. There is a context to this which I suppose I should declare. At that stage and I think Olivia Forsyth was probably responsible for this, myself and another friend of mine who was having a relationship with Joanne Becker, had been approached by the UDF and asked to assist the UDF in getting its opinions and facts and comments and statements into the media, and I think perhaps quite naively had done this. I think, my suspicion is that Olivia Forsyth got hold of this document. She was a student, she was a journalist, an activist in Grahamstown. We had links with her through our University connections and so on, and Becker was fired. And I think I was pushed out of the newsroom. I then went off and we began freelancing and I say we, myself and a group of young black messengers at the Evening Post, Herald who wanted to be journalists. We pulled together into an organisation, which we called our News Agency. We set up a news agency, which we called Vukani. It wasn't long after that when the second state of emergency was declared that we were all detained, myself, Mbulela, Linda, were detained by the Port Elizabeth Security Branch. And to cut a long story short, the guy in charge of that was Carl Edwards. He had links I think with Craig Williamson. Other Security Policemen there were people like Lieutenant George Beeton and a man called Richard Rademan who was essentially my age. He had been to school in the Eastern Cape like me, and was very similar to me. It was quite an incredible experience to be interrogated, he was my handler, by him. One of the first things that happened to us was that we were arrested essentially at a gathering called by Civil Rights' people in Port Elizabeth to look at the emergency regulations and to see what they entailed for us. We were a very scared group that met. And the Branch raided us with four or five cars, ten of them and took us off to a processing centre where people, black people, where the scene that greeted you were long, long rows of black people standing there, bloodied, full of sweat, the sense of fear was palpable. And all being processed, and we were all being processed in this way. From there, we were taken to Rooi Hel or North End prison where I was, we were all thrown into one cell together. A group of essentially white detainees, four of us, we were given no books, basically it was a prison regimen for us. And from there we knew that we would be picked off one by one by the Security Police and taken up the hill to Louis le Grange Square where we would be interrogated. As it turned out, not all of us were given that treatment. It was I think myself and Dominique Shosan who was a UDF activists and church worker and a friend of mine, plus one other guy. And the process was one where Carl Edwards would come and visit you in the prison itself and say look, we just want you to write for us. He would give us a pseudo sort of professional time, we just want information. And I first agreed, and then I wouldn't write, and two weeks later he came for me. They handcuffed me, and there was a bit of a scuffle outside the prison and they drove me up to Louis Le Grange square where I was to spend, I think the next three to four weeks, in a cell with the door closed. Mattress, blankets and a Bible. Four blankets and a Bible. The first weekend the door was closed almost permanently. So you would have a grill door and then a solid door and the idea was that they said they knew I was claustrophobic and that I would break sooner or later, that I would write reams and reams and the used crude language to describe how I would write, it would flow from me like - you can imagine. And so at that stage the detainees decided that we would write statements. There was nothing really essentially to hide. But there was a point of a principle as a journalist to write for these people was pretty repulsive. But in any way, I did write. I started off writing simple statements, about my school and where I came from, the Eastern Cape and so on. This was not enough and eventually they took me up to the 6th floor at Louis Le Grange Square, with a table, just a plant, nothing on it, and Rademan said, he took me up to the window and I hadn't seen the outside and he opened it, he struggled a bit and he opened it and he said, feel the mesh, please feel free to jump, won't you? And he left me there for half an hour. Luckily just that sense of seeing the sea, it is an amazing view from the hill in PE, was quite an inspiration, so that backfired. So I thought great, when they started the whole number. And they all traipsed in, four of them. Some with guns. Carl, and they began to interrogate me. Essentially what they got out of me perhaps, was they wanted to know about a trip to Zimbabwe, it was that stage, about 1986 and I eventually revealed yes, I had been, I had spoken with a former conscientious objector friend of mine, Brett Murdel and Brett Murdel had fed me a story about he was disillusioned with the struggle and I fed that to the cops. It later transpired that Murdel was in fact a high ranking MK Officer and had tried to recruit me. I had actually declined thinking at that stage, that my role as a journalist was more important than my role as an activist. And in a subsequent interrogation period a few days later, they were all gone. It was just myself and Rademan and all he wanted to know was had I been reporting in the townships. And the answer was yes. And that was the end of that and then I was left to sit in the cell. Eventually I decided that there was no ways I was going to get out of this thing and I went on hunger strike. I became very ill and the police was saying you are not going to get any medical attention, but a man then appeared. One night I had a very bad asthma attack. I banged on the door, no one came. I had stashed a few drugs that they had given me, behind the loo. I took all of them and I got through the night. The next morning a District Surgeon called Dr Krige appeared, Alice Krige's father appeared and basically threw the cops out, looked after me, had me submitted to hospital where I spent ten day recovering from severe bronchitis, hole in the lung and so on. After that period, the police had been laying to my parents. It was clear that they had essentially lost the fight. And a long loosing battle that I had, it was clear that they couldn't carry on with the interrogation and I was taken back to North End where it was just one incident where they handcuffed me. They put someone in the boot, one of their own members in the boot to bang on the back and to shout how Sergeant, Sergeant, where are you going. Don't kill me. But I realised that they never gave off their rank and how did this guy in the boot know that he was a Sergeant, so I started laughing loudly and there was this instant silence and a Security cop called Bennie Botha, he was driving the car, he leaned back behind me and grabbed me with my handcuffs. He was Sergeant Bennie and he grabbed me and pulled me around the back, saying that he was going to kill me and so on. And Rademan also threatened while I was in hospital, that he would come around and he and George Beeton had played with my drips and so and, and he would say look I am going to kill you if you now get out of Port Elizabeth. To cut a long story short, at the end of 83 days, I was released, but I was banned. I wasn't allowed to be a journalist or a member of the ECC or the UDF. I didn't mind the political restrictions, it was the journalism that I think was the one that I thought at that point. And after a long battle, first of all my lawyer David Dyason, advised me just go on ahead and I went on, and we formed an Agency called Port Elizabeth News, which was part of a whole group. At that stage it was developing in the Eastern Cape. Pen Elnews in East London were run by Frans Kruger, Louise Flannagan. The Albany News Agency in Grahamstown and that is the Agency that I run today. They dropped the clauses that came to the court and I ran the Agency for a year and then left Port Elizabeth. And that is the great substance of my evidence.
CHAIRPERSON: And there was no real substance, there was nothing really of substance that the police could possibly have been interested in but for the fact that you were involved as a journalist, I should imagine?
MR LOEWE: Well, it became clear to me that no matter what my essentially miserable contribution to the political side of my life in PE was, that was irrelevant really to them, it was the journalism I think at the end of the day. I just want to say one thing as well about the media. There was Times Media country down there, well one of the Editors of the Herald, Kosie Viviers, I think fought a fairly brave struggle. He would go to court with his journalists and every now and then would have a strategic loss, I think. I was a man under a lot of pressure, but he was dedicated to getting the story out. Neville (indistinct) was, as far as I was concerned, abandoned his journalists, and abandoned his principles as an Editor. And to this day, the man is still in that chair. I hope he does not lose his contract as a result of this, but I still feel that those people should somewhere account for what was going on in those days. He has never spoken to me. He deals with me, in fact he still complains the other day, he complained about a black journalist that had been trained by an organisation very close to us, the Development Media Agency, which Lolyon mentioned, complained that this guy had had no training. My sense there is that nothing has changed. If anything should come out of this submission, it should be an impetus for a change within the media. The kind of things that we are saying, change has to take place in the newsroom, they can't just take place at the top. This is something that I hope will happen. The Independent Group are very different. And also, I just want to say one thing, in the Eastern Cape, well even Post might be bad, while the Herald might, I only had R10 000-00 the year for affirmative action, the Daily Despatch is different. It does try, it gives a lot of attention to the question of affirmative action, of changing the paper from within.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We do have the submission that you have made as well, and thank you for raising all of these things. And sharing your experience with us and with your colleagues. Thank you and go well.
CHAIRPERSON: Just before we proceed, I could perhaps just announce that the last two witnesses on the list, Thami Mazwai and Don Mattera will not be heard this afternoon. They will be part of the programme tomorrow. So we will then for the rest of the day, listen to the testimony of Mr Kotze and the "South and Grassroots" representatives.
MS MKHIZE: Good afternoon, I would also like to welcome you once more. We are in a difficult position. Since we didn't get your last submission prior to this. I would like you in presenting what is in your submission, briefly, especially highlighting those areas which you think are important and so as to give us time to ask you questions.
MR KOTZE: Thank you, if I might begin. I make this submission in full support of the process of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa, to reconcile and heal the wounds of the past. Thus enabling all our people to constructively participate in building a genuinely non-racial democratic and prosperous South Africa. A balanced and fair approach to this process is essential, if the danger of leaving behind seriously disgruntled elements with the capacity to actively resist and undermine democracy, is to be avoided. As President Nelson Mandela has warned, democracy in South Africa did not come about by military victory of one side over the other. The SAP and the SADF were never beaten in open battle or overwhelmed by revolutionary violence. Indeed, it was exactly the strength and power of the SAP and SADF that made a negotiated settlement and democratic elections possible. This created a power balance in which neither side could be violently overthrown and made negotiation the only viable alternative. During both the conflict torn 1980's and the subsequent negotiation years in the 1990's I was never ideologically or politically motivated. I did not wake up every day and say good morning South Africa, another fine day to defend Apartheid. I realised even in the early 1980's that Apartheid was dead and the only question remaining was how it would be dismantled. By revolutionary violence costing untold lives or by negotiated settlement of some kind or another. In the 1980's no one could say how Apartheid would be ended. But I could not support any violent overthrow in direct contrast to the feelings of others, including journalists, who directly tried to overthrow the then government. Due to actions by both the State and Liberation Movements, an utterly abnormal situation reigned in South African during the Apartheid years and no South African Institution, including the media, could function normally. Normal conditions and considerations simply could not and did not apply. This resulted in a distorted working environment for especially the media, where duty, truth and what was considered right and just, were extremely subjective concepts and very much in the eye of the beholder. This effected everybody regardless of political, ideological or other affiliations. To put it bluntly, everybody was forced to choose sides in an ever growing conflict. Nobody and no institution was allowed the luxury of de facto neutrality. I chose the SAP and the SADF, not to defend Apartheid, not to fight the liberation of the oppressed black people per se, but simply to avert the slaughter or Rwanda, Liberia, Ethiopia, Chad, Sudan, Matabeleland, Angola and Mozambique in South Africa. My convictions were reinforced by continuous and intensive personal exposure to the arbitrary revolutionary violence of liberation movements. Anybody, even ANC supporters, became a victim of indiscriminate necklacing, car bombs, petrol bombs, limpet mines, AK-47 hand grenade attacks. This contrasted with the more target approach of the Security Forces, which tried not to alienate the masses by concentrating on persons falling under the broad definition of activists, or be it sometimes in a brutal and murderous fashion. Of the thousands of people who died in the political conflict during the 1980's and the negotiation years, I believe that only a relative hand full can be attributed to the action of the SAP and the SADF. However much individual Security Force atrocities are highlighted and publicised. These views cannot simply be dismissed as the view of a white person clinging to the unnecessary privilege of pigmentocracy. Tens of thousands of black, coloured and Indian persons voluntarily joined the Security Forces during the Apartheid years for the same purpose and not from ideological convictions. Indeed, as far back as I can remember, blacks were in the majority in the old SAP. It is exactly these thousands of black men and women who voluntarily joined the old SAP and SADF who now formed the back bone of the new South African Police Service and are committed to defending the democratic order in South Africa. Despite having served during the Apartheid era. President Mandela has also publicly recognised this, by openly stating that service in old policing structures, even the old Security Branch, does not automatically disqualify one from loyally serving in the new democratic structures. Mr Chairman, in the interest of saving some time, with your permission, I would like to skip over the next profile of my personal profile, to get down to the real nitty gritty of the day's proceedings, if I may. Thank you. During my period at the Star, I not only openly did military camps as an SADF Infantry Officer, but also served as an official undercover Intelligence Agent of the Security Branch of the SAP. I was deployed in terms of the then RS, which is an acronym for Republic Security Intelligence Programme of the Security Police. Other prominent agents already known to have been part of this particular programme, were Craig Williamson and Olivia Forsyth. Although due to the need to know Intelligence principle, I had no contact with them and had no knowledge whatsoever, of their activities. I have subsequently learnt that Mr John Horak was also on this programme. Even today, whilst directly involved in building the new South African Police Service, I do not regret this. I believe I played a role however small, in ensuring that the SAP was ultimately able to maintain cohesion, underpin the negotiation process, smash right wing extremist threats to the 1994 elections, and so safeguard the very same elections. In saying this, I do not plead for sympathy, only for understanding of the forces and dynamics which invalidated normal consideration for everybody. On both sides of the conflict in what was a defacto war situation. At the Star, it was my distinct impression that many reporters had become journalists not to inform the community as fully and truthfully as possible, but in order to fight for their favourite political cause as they saw it. There was always a very strong black consciousness, BC, AZAPO, PAC sentiment in the Star newsroom. Later, however, ANC sympathizers seemed to have gained the upper hand along with bombing, necklacing, petrol bombing and assassination campaigns in the townships and elsewhere. A climate of advocacy journalism prevailed. Making it impossible for the newspaper and journalists to function as impartial observers in terms of normal journalistic practise. In short there could be no normal journalism in an abnormal society. It was a sobering experience to realise that many journalists sitting in the same newsroom and accompanying me to townships and other crime scenes, could easily be infiltrated agents or soldiers of liberation movements and even of foreign Intelligence Agencies. I was convinced that several journalists were in fact ANC, MK or other agents, actively promoting a specific cause at the expense of factual, balanced reporting. Even at that stage, well-known journalists had committed acts of terror and had joined liberation movements, quite openly. This is confirmed by the submission of Forum of Black Journalists, to the TRC. Not only is MK member and journalist, Rafic Rohan mentioned, he personally admits to MK membership, but it is openly stated that many journalists, especially black journalists, did not see the need to adhere to normal journalistic principles and were openly part of the struggle. Infiltration of liberation movement agents into the media, was a logical step in the ANC's openly stated policy of armed propaganda. The operational strategy for MK operatives to plant bombs and carry out indiscriminate acts of terror whilst others, or the same, planted in the media, would either highlight certain of these acts for deliberate propaganda effect or suppress the more gruesome or brutal atrocities committed by the comrades, especially against black policemen. It is an undeniable fact that many journalists were actively involved in both propaganda and terror/military operations. Some of those who are known at this stage include Arnold Geyer, Rand Daily Mail reporter who along with fellow journalist and MK member Damien de Lange, fire bombed offices of the then PFP. David Radkin of both the Star and the Argus, planted pamphlet bombs, joined the ANC in Maputo and was subsequently killed in Angola I believe. Marian Sparg also of the RDM, who placed bombs in two police stations. Rafic Rohan self confessed MK member and journalist for the Daily News. Damien de Lange of the Rand Daily Mail, who earlier cooperated with Arnold Geyer and became leader of the ill-fated Broederstroom ANC MK cell. Damien de Lange is now reportedly a Colonel working for SANDF Military Intelligence. This short list illustrates just how polarised the media itself was during the Apartheid years. Hundreds of black policemen and councillors were assassinated by MK hit squads in the townships over this period. But the full story was never told by ANC aligned journalists working in the townships. Advocacy journalism raised the highly disturbing possibility of direct conflict within the Star newsroom. This issue was never really sufficiently addressed by Editorial Executives. Although no physical violence manifested itself, I was subjected to high levels of psychological intimidation, often being heavily pressurised to turn even mundane crime issues into anti-police and SADF propaganda. It was clear that many journalists on the Star wanted to turn police reporting into yet another propaganda arena. Often I received anonymous death threats and abusive calls. Including calls from persons claiming to be MK members and ANC sympathizers. Initially I shrugged these off as being part of the crime scene. Criminals also regularly threatened me in the same way. I live constantly with the real threat of assassination, either as a victim of political violence in the townships or by other methods such as petrol bombing or a limpet mine on my private vehicle. This situation was worsened by the unenviable position admittedly of Editorial Executives, that Editorial Executives found themselves in. Namely enormous political and professional ferment. Traditional journalistic ethics have been diluted or ignored to such an extent that they had been rendered almost meaningless to every one. The main stream English press had clearly lost the battle for the soul of its own institutions. Added to this was the traditional hostility of the liberal English press. Including the Star, to even ordinary grassroots police and SANDF members, who did not receive the recognition they deserved in fighting crime and violence affecting the entire community daily. Editors would often be the first to criticise the SAP for not fighting crime effectively, all the while deliberately ignoring the fact that through knee-jerk propaganda and criticism which alienated the community, they were destroying the capacity of ordinary police officials to do just that. I was always especially close to policemen and women and detectives involved in crime fighting, and keenly shared their personal frustration at being caught between political dynamics and crime fighting. I became acutely aware that anti-SAP propaganda, much unjustified, much distorted, but some of it correct, was by destroying good police community relations, reducing the efforts of policemen and women to fight crime which affected everyone regardless of the political affiliation. The liberation policy of ungovernability added to this process to such an extent that even some black journalists realised that revolutionary activity was suppressing information flow to the same, if not greater extent, than the State. Another example is the Winnie Mandela Soccer Club who conducted a long reign of terror for years. Culminating in the murder of Stompie Sipei without certain journalists bothering to report it because Mrs Mandela held high ANC status. The suppression by ANC aligned reporters of atrocities by liberation movements, coincided with the propaganda campaign against the SAP on detaining children and youths, many of whom were in any case killers or involved in mob violence against policemen, councillors and any one perceived as the enemy. Suffice to say Mr Chairman, that Stompie Sipei received far better a humane treatment from the SAP than from an icon from the liberation struggle. These issues, and the brutal and violent treatment of black people by those enforcing boycotts and stayaways, were never sufficiently highlighted by liberation movement sympathizers on the Star and elsewhere in the media. The concept of ungovernability itself and its physical consequences anarchy, was never fully explored by such journalists, who could not have said they did not know because they lived in the townships. I was personally never directly exposed to police or SADF atrocities. So as a journalist, I could not write about them. However, many journalists daily saw liberation atrocities and violence in the townships, but suppressed it because it reflected negatively on the struggle. Such aspects must also form a focus point of TRC media hearings, especially since only a handful of outspoken and brave black journalists, condemned de facto news blackouts imposed by revolutionary forces in the townships, and supported by ANC aligned journalists. Such non reporting of revolutionary atrocities and events, indicated that Editorial Executives had lost control of events and were increasingly allowing themselves to be swayed by specific interests. Both by commission and omission. Another case in point was the assassination of Anton Lubowsky. I had sent through a story that the South West African police, the then South West African police were investigating that he had been assassinated by his own side, namely SWAPO. This story was published as a front page lead story in the first relevant edition, but then downgraded after protest by certain journalists, that the story was propaganda. Lubowsky was subsequently officially confirmed as a military Intelligence agent. This further confirmed that the main stream English media was hopelessly polarised and divided against itself during the 1980's and the 1990's. It was inevitable, the individuals caught up in this maelstrom, would either have to abdicate or make hard choices. There was simply no impartial and balanced journalistic focus to which one could owe loyalty. The threat of revolution and the polarisation of the media, compelled me to choose the side of an organisation as opposed to a political party or group which could most effectively combat violence and crime in my view. In my view, many journalists had already chosen sides in some or other capacity, whether through active membership of political and military organisations, or by involvement in some or other front of the mass democratic movement. I was also convinced that the SAP, despite many glaring faults and atrocities by some of its members, was indispensable to a future democratic South Africa, and that its efforts should therefore receive due credit. This did not even require the armed propaganda of the revolutionary forces, as by its very nature, policing produced and still produces countless daily services to the community. I reasoned as I still do today, that merely recording the newsworthy amongst these, in a factual and objective manner, would at least balance the books for the public. Inevitably certain questions will arise about my role as a Security Police Intelligence Agent and the fact that I was also a SADF Infantry Officer involved in quite openly combatting revolutionary violence. Those questions are most notably. Did I spy on my journalistic colleagues? Did I deliberately manipulate my reports or suppress news? The answer to both is no. This was simply not my mission and was also at no stage required of me by either the SAP or the SADF. During most of the 1980's, bona fide journalists merely critical of police and State, were no longer regarded as the enemy. The emphasis was by then on focusing attention on existing news which was readily available, but under-reported because of inherent bias by especially English liberal media, against the police. The guiding principles were that truth is the best communication or propaganda. And that one would be caught out if lies or distortions were disseminated. Ironically fear of English media vigilance in so far as the SAP and the SADF, but not the liberation movements, were concerned, acted to keep most SAP communications truthful and factual albeit often incomplete. My task was simply as outlined above, to report on, within the normal journalistic channels and processes, on what was being done to fight crime and violence. I was never especially favoured by any normal police structures, which themselves did not know that I was a Security Police agent with exclusive stories. I was expected to operate like any other journalist and I was in fact often scooped by opposition media on some very big stories. The Winnie Mandela/Stompie Sipei and the Olivia Forsyth story amongst them. Throughout I continued to rely on and extend my extensive contact networks in the SAP, traffic, ambulance and fire departments, etc. As well as in the community at large. At all times it was my mission to balance in so far possible, what I came to perceive as an inherent media bias in the English liberal media against the police. I was never involved in any human rights' atrocities by police, nor did I ever witness police covering up atrocities or crime scenes. This would in any case have been regarded as virtual suicide by any SAP member involved in such a cover up as any such activity would never in any case be formally reported in SAP structures. I often regarded with great amusement, attempts of some journalists to cheaply gained struggle credentials by getting themselves detained by the SAP, but I never did them the favour. I recall one white journalist's very obvious attempts to get himself detained, by showing me where he and other activists lived in a Yeoville commune in Johannesburg and all the banned or subversive literature in their possession. This was no doubt calculated to trigger the instant detention desired so ardently by many a journalist at the time. It must be understood that at high Ministerial level, I am now speaking as my role as a spokesperson for the Ministry of Law and Order, it must be understood that at high Ministerial level, one is absolutely reliant on the integrity and accuracy of information as provided by the police department itself. It was never required of me ever to tell a lie or to distort information. But it was expected of me to effectively market the viewpoint of the Ministry at all times. Throughout this period it was of the utmost strategic importance, that the moral of the SAP be maintained in order to play its necessary role in securing the 1994 elections and then formed the basis of the new policing order. It would seem that the Ministry's resolute and strong defense of the SAP during the negotiation years, paid off when shortly before the election, Mr Mandela announced that the SAP was vital to the success of the elections. This ended years of virulent political propaganda against the SAP, the effects of which are still being keenly felt today because good police community relations have still not been developed, despite almost four years of democratic government. To achieve reconciliation and serve the truth, it is vital that the full spectrum of infiltration of the media be examined by the TRC, without fear or favour. It would be grossly one-sided and detrimental to the reconciliation process if attempts were made to expose only the agents of the Security Forces. I have in support of reconciliation come clean with the disclosure of my personal role as a Security Police Intelligence agent in the media. Now, is thus the time to challenge all other individuals and organisations such as the ANC, MK, PAC, APLA, etc, to do the same and to come clean on their agents in the media, both past and present. Just as it evokes suspicion that after resigning as a journalist, I started working openly in the SAP, so it also evokes suspicion that after the 1994 elections several journalists, specifically from the Star included, and who were known to be supporters of the ANC, ended up as spokespersons in various central government ministries and provincial government structures. In another case, a journalist and Communist Party member reportedly convicted in Germany for spying for the former East German stasie, Intelligence Service, worked as a Ministerial spokesperson for the late Minister Joe Slovo. The same person is now a senior journalist on a Johannesburg newspaper. Other senior journalists have also been mentioned in various newspaper reports as being agents of not only domestic Security Agencies, but also of foreign Intelligence Agencies, such as Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organisation. This raises the alarming possibility that the government of the new South Africa, has been penetrated by Intelligence Agents posing as journalists, of foreign countries. The role of journalists openly sympathetic to the liberation movements and those who ended up working for them and government Ministers, should also be closely perused by the TRC in exactly the same way my case is being scrutinised. The question also arising is whether infiltrated liberation movement agents are not influencing the media today in support of specific political objectives. Thus posing a serious threat to press freedom and independence in a democratic South Africa. It is difficult to avoid the impression that the print and certain other medias, such as independent radio stations are once again under seige in the new South Africa, with attacks especially intense whenever incompetence or corruption in the government sector, are exposed. Lessons learnt and my personal development. The events during the decade of the 1980's and the seven years of the 1990's, have made a profound and lasting impression on me personally and on South Africa. I do not regret the cause I chose then or have embarked on at present with regard to policing in South Africa. Like South Africa, I have changed and developed in certain key aspects, but much still remains to be done. As a serving member of the new South African Police Service, I believe I have made a significant contribution based on my past experiences to change policing in South Africa. I must emphasise that even while serving as a Security Police Intelligence Agent, and as a Ministerial spokesperson, I did not necessarily agree with all established police communication practises and working procedures. I resolved to do everything possible to change the state of affairs, should I be granted an opportunity of serving in the new South African Police Service, which is now the case. I believe that I have made a substantial contribution towards a more transparent, credible and community orientated police service, although the change process if far from complete. From the establishment of the new South African Police Service, fundamental changes in many key areas of police relations with the media, were proposed to National Commissioner George Fivas. Many were accepted and implemented by him including the maximum level of transparency possible in a democratic policing environment, has been implemented. The media are now free to approach any member of the SAPS, not just official spokespersons as in the past. A pro-active communication philosophy was adopted to provide far more information to media and community about policing than in the past. Integrating communication structures with police management structures to limit the possibility of being manipulated or misinformed. A progressive approach to the use of controversial Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act, against journalists, limiting its application to journalists to the absolute minimum. And then lastly Mr Chairman, forbidding recruitment by the new SAPS of agents within the media and the immediate termination of the services of those still within the media. This reflects that many of the abnormalities which in the past required action, no longer exist. Much still needs to be done, before it can be claimed that the SAPS as an institution, fully understands and can function properly in the democratic environment of the information age. But I believe a firm basis has been laid. I make this submission in the spirit of reconciliation and disclosure and in what I believe to be the public interest. I am a firm supporter or a transformation process aimed at improving efficiency and accountability in both the government and private sector in South Africa. But an effective transformation process, requires that trust be established between persons and organisations previously at war in one or other form with each other. It is therefore imperative that if the seeds of future conflict are not to be sown again, the TRC be even-handed in order to get the full picture. With specific reference to the media, this means that not only must the role of the Security Forces in dealing with the media, be fully understood, but also the role of the Liberation Movements, their armed wings, Intelligence structures and that of foreign Intelligence agencies allied to them. The media was turned into a battle ground because it failed or was inherently incapable of comprehensively covering the full story on both sides. The result was that the media itself was turned from being an impartial observer to an active participant in the struggle. The media could thus in the conflict years be considered a legitimate focus for actions by all involved in the conflict of the past, and those who felt they were being unfairly treated by the media. Attention has almost exclusively been focused on the role of the SAP and the SADF in this regard, but compelling evidence and indications of infiltration by the media by liberation movements and the organisational fronts, exist. Indeed, this has been confirmed by MK soldier and journalist Rafic Rohan, as well as by the case of journalist Damien de Lange, who also became an MK member and later Commander of the ill-fated Broederstroom cell. The TRC is in a position to rectify this imbalance and therefore contribute towards allowing the media to, without fear or favour, properly perform its function. I therefore, again urge, the agents of the Liberation Movements, infiltrated into the media during the struggle years, to also disclose their identities. Media institutions can never claim the impartial respect afforded the Red Cross or the Green Crescent whilst allowing their power and influence to be used to support a specific side in any conflict. This is made all the more important because in a war situation, there can be no grey areas and if impartiality is claimed, it must be firmly and distinctly demonstrated throughout. The new South African Police Service has no agents whatsoever inside the media and has a policy of never recruiting such agents. The media in the new South Africa is therefore not infiltrated by police agents, but no guarantee exists that political organisations, including foreign Intelligence Services, have not done so. Thank you Mr Chairman.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you. I will just ask you a few questions aimed at seeking clarity on some of the issues which you have raised. You will appreciate the fact that we haven't had time to look at your document. If we look at the 1980's time and again, the South African Police took journalists with them on raids and into the townships. Did you ever accompany them?
MR KOTZE: What is your definition of a raid Madam, because if you are talking about police operations in terms of open crime prevention operations, yes, then certainly yes. I have accompanied the police on, without putting too fine a point on it, probably thousands of operations or investigations during that period. Yes, but not to the extent that other journalists would be excluded. Many of these were done quite openly as exercises by the SAP then.
†in charge of organising those specific actions that you refer to, would not know that I was in fact a police Intelligence Agent. So it would be more a case of the police informing all the media that such a thing would happen and I would go along.
MR KOTZE: It depends on the definition of close working relationship, but certainly from a media perspective I think you should utilise every single available source of information whilst at the same time, inserting the necessary checks and balances to obviously tell the reader that this is information from a specific source. So if that answers your question, but certainly I believe in principle, there should be a healthy tension between the media and all official institutions especially today.
MR KOTZE: Well, I think what is very important is that everybody was receiving the same information at the same time. Reporters from the Star, Beeld, Citizen possibly, theoretically under the same circumstances. I think it was very possible, because you could say that the police said the following. And in any case the final product of the newspaper was never determined by the relevant reporter. I think that is very important when considering the whole principle or question of media manipulation per se because the final product, such as the headline, the space to be devoted to a specific story is not decided by the journalist involved. It is decided by various other processes on the newspaper.
MS MKHIZE: Just based on what you have said to us, it is like you clearly took a position as to what was appropriate and inappropriate, looking at the role of the South African Police Services and what Liberation Movements were doing. For the purpose of this hearing, how would you see the role of a journalist? Is it to take a particular position and make sure that that line is pushed through reporting? How do you see it?
MR KOTZE: Ma'am as I mention in my submission, it is not possible to have normal journalism in an abnormal society, just as it was not possible to have normal sport, or political or diplomatic relations in an abnormal society. But having said that, I personally believe that yes, there is a journalistic holy grail that has to be strived after, or striven for in a sense of trying to maintain a semblance of impartiality, not taking sides and at least trying to be objective, if that is possible. I am aware of the philosophical debate that objectivity may not be possible at all, but nonetheless, one should strive for that, yes. But to finally answer your question, if it were possible during the war years, to do so, I would have done so.
MR KOTZE: As I mention in my submission, I had no specific ideological bent, but what influenced me as an individual and as a crime reporter and as a military correspondent and as a Citizen Force soldier officer, being deployed in the townships, was the daily carnage being inflicted on the population, that I was exposed to. I knew intellectually that our Forces intellectually, that our Forces must at some or other time, also be involved in atrocities because human beings are human beings, but I rationalised that in the same way that I suppose an ANC member would rationalise necklacings or the Quatro Camps and the other executions and assassinations of police officials.
MS MKHIZE: The difficulty which I would like to highlight, is that it is very difficult to think freely if you are constantly compare yourself with other people. It is like you present an argument that I had to take a political position against somebody else and it makes it very difficult for us to follow through your reasoning about your role as a person in the past, if you constantly compare yourself to other people.
MS MKHIZE: You have an interesting history. You know, can you just tell us, you know, how you saw yourself developing either as a police or as a journalist? It is like you seem to have interest in both roles.
MR KOTZE: Well, I think I know where you are going, but the - do you want me to just physically describe my career profile, or do you want me to describe my personal feelings, which I believe I have already done.
MS MKHIZE: Based on what you have said and the report we have, it is like you had a commitment in wanting to make a contribution. You said something like you didn't want to see the country becoming like Rwanda, you named quite a number of countries and you played two roles in preserving the identity of South Africa. At a certain point you worked as a police officer and at a certain point you worked as a journalist. So that is the relationship I was looking at.
MR KOTZE: Indeed Madam, I did see a relationship. That relationship was that I was not necessarily ideologically motivated either as a member of the NP, which I never was, or a member of this or that political party. I didn't see myself as I mentioned in my submission, as opposing legitimate aspirations of black people and oppressed people, which in my own fashion I recognised as being oppressed. The fundamental issue for me personally was how would we replace the old order, through revolution with its accompanying violence and I had plenty of examples that I saw with my own eyes about how that revolution would proceed if it were allowed to proceed or through a negotiated settlement. So quite frankly, I see myself as a soldier/policeman in that process, using journalistic skills to achieve that objective.
MS MKHIZE: You know, we have struggled since yesterday looking at, I mean we have heard journalists saying to us it is important for the media to be independent of the State for it to be able to play a professional role. And just based on what you are saying it is like you see the media as an important tool of achieving whatever State objectives a person want to pursue.
MR KOTZE: I don't think that is necessarily correct. As I see it, the media was an important component of our society and it had certain functions. It therefore because of those functions, has enormous power and because of that power and because of the perception and the reality that it had in fact been infiltrated heavily by the agents of specific liberation movements, it was automatically turned into an arena of operations by the Security Forces. And in that capacity, I agree fully in principle of objectivity for the media in a democratic order, but I think it would have been somewhat fatuous and quite futile in the 1980's Apartheid era to have tried to even strive for those, because nobody would have allowed you to do it. There was no, Madam Chairperson, if I may add, there was no room for any ambivalence ultimately.
MS MKHIZE: I am sure your colleagues who worked with you then, will pick that up with you. I just want to ask you about your manner of reporting. Especially at the time when you had articles published in the Star regularly. You seemed to report in a particular manner, you know, if we might use your words you seem to have a particular approach or orientation. Was that influenced by your reaction to what you saw happening, the media being abused by liberation movements?
MR KOTZE: In part, yes, but I think largely if you look at the reports that I have before me and I assume you have them before you too, of examples of stories that I had written, that very largely they were based on knowledge that was already publicly available. And I think it was the SAUJ in their submission that I have read, who said that there is a natural empathy between crime reporters and police, to that extent certainly, yes, I would agree to that, so one tries to get the news from the police who are your main source. I think, well obviously for me, I knew on what side I was.
MS MKHIZE: It was in the Star, 31 August 1989 by Craig Kotze. It says Law and Order Minister, Minister Adriaan Vlok last night accused Archbishop Desmond Tutu of having figuratively helped to set the world on fire and then claiming to be the peacemaker. Mr Vlok, speaking at a meeting at Krugersdorp said he was very disappointed at his actions over the last few weeks. The fact that he positions himself in the limelight in the company of the MDM, which I suppose you refer to mass democratic movement and their blatant attempts to once again plunge South Africa into a state of unrest, violence and chaos is unacceptable. It looks like the end of the report and as I've said that I am not trained as a journalist, but can we refer to this as professional reporting?
MR KOTZE: Well, first of all, I have already mentioned that the final product of any report was not in the hands of the reporter. So I have had no control whatsoever over the final product of this particular report. Secondly you will note that Mr Vlok was speaking at a public meeting and that all the other media were probably also there or had received copies of his speech. So it was purely just factual reporting of what he had said.
CHAIRPERSON: No, but you see the issue that strikes one in this regard and taking into account the point that you make on page 9 of your submission, that you did not deliberately manipulate your reports or suppressed news, the point that occurs to one is that there is no reference to any comment by Archbishop Tutu to this opinion that is expressed by Mr Vlok. So it seems to be a patently one-sided report and I think that is the point that Ms Mkhize is trying to put to you.
MR KOTZE: Well, there was a modus operandi in the newsroom at the time that the crime reporter, namely myself, would make contact with the police and other reporters would also be tasked to go and try and broaden the story or get a new angle on the story from other sources. As I say, I didn't have final control over the way this report was actually placed. To be quite honest, I cannot remember the specific circumstances around this. Suffice to say that this was made at a public meeting of Mr Vlok at that time, and it was therefore quite legitimate reporting.
CHAIRPERSON: But it appears as an uncritical acceptance of his opinion you see, without - I had thought that there was some rule in journalism that you at least listen to the other side as well. Or am I wrong, are there no such rule?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but it is quite clear from this, or are you suggesting that you would for example in your original report, you would have had Archbishop Tutu's response to this and that your Editors cut it out?
MR KOTZE: No, I am not suggesting that at all. What I am saying is that due to the prevailing modus operandi in the newsroom, it would have been somebody else's task to have gone and got his comment and send it through to the news Editor who would compile the final report.
MR LEWIN: Mr Chairman, could I interrupt there because we are chasing this holy grail of factual and objective reporting. Could I refer to a later report in 1988, June 16, because this is a much longer one. I would say from the look of it that it was probably a page 1 lead. And it is the story, just to read the intro, of nine suspected ANC insurgents, three women amongst them, had been killed at a police roadblock near the Swaziland border in the past week. Minister of Law and Order, Adriaan Vlok said yesterday - the story then goes on to add to that a little bit, quoting the Minister, but inserted into the story, under your by line, is the sentence other incidents were announced yesterday in Cape Town, a man was blown up in Wynberg, limpet bomb found next to his body. Another limpet mine exploded in suburban railway line near Cape Town. Three days ago in Natal a man died when he is set to have tried to sabotage a railway line near Underberg and then Mr Vlok is quoted as saying that the explosives blew up in his face. I take that as bad subbing. Nevertheless, it then goes on to go to return to the Swaziland story. It is understood the women insurgents were the first to be killed by the police on South African soil. It seems that police, acting on information, were waiting for them. One group was in a stolen minibus. And then I am not sure, what is on a separate page here, so I am not sure whether it was the same page or whether it turned, but then quoting Mr Vlok, that when it was stopped at the roadblock, a man jumped out, opened fire. It tells the whole story, the second Toyota Corolla, one of the occupants shot the police with a pistol. No police casualties. Then we end off that story and could you comment on whether you actually added this tail piece or whether it was done by the news Editor, which would have been very strange in my experience of news Editors, but nevertheless, at least another six alleged ANC members had blown themselves up recently while on their way to commit acts of sabotage or terror in various parts of the country, say Intelligence sources. That is the whole story. It is a lead, it is given big treatment in the star. Can you comment on that as a search for this holy grail.
MR KOTZE: What I can do first Mr Lewin, is to just contextualise how this happened. This story broke I believe it was near Nelspruit with the killing originally of four ANC insurgents. If I am not mistaken? Okay, yes, if my memory serves me correctly, this particular one came after other media prior to this, carried reports of some ANC members being killed. Now, that is effectively means that we as a newspaper had been scooped. Now, as any journalist will tell you, when that happens the race is on for a new angle and for additional information. What then would happen is that you would try and trump the story that is already in the media, but try to get additional information. So, this was exactly I think the process that happened in this particular incident.
MR LEWIN: No, it is just that in terms of, I think we've gone through, well you've got the pile of the cuttings there, we've gone through about 100 articles, which you wrote in the Star as crime reporter in the 1980's and between late 1980's and 1990. And all of them follow exactly the same pattern. It quotes the police, it quotes police sources, it quotes Vlok, it quotes Intelligence sources, it quotes nobody else. You do get as far as referring in some of the stories to some opposition forces, spokespeople. The closest you get to an opposition spokesperson is in fact the DP. You have on occasion quoted Frank Chikane. A few times COSATU, but the overall impression which is put forward quite clearly by the Star, because these stories were given great prominence, is of a total antagonism to MDM and putting forward one particular line. Now, what I am asking as a journalist, is how can one begin to describe any of these stories as following factual and objective criteria?
MR KOTZE: Mr Lewin, I think you will agree with me as being a journalist yourself, that and the point I believe is being often made in various submissions to this panel, on the superficiality of the media and the shallow reporting of the media. I must agree with you on that particular aspect, yes, but there are situational factors that actually lead to that. The enormous pressure on daily journalists, simply just to get hold of the news and to report it, I think is a valuable contributing factor to this process. Yes, much was lost. I don't think it is realistic to expect every article that I wrote, to have included massive background pieces, because first of all the process didn't require it. And secondly, there was an enormous amount of violence and terror. The mere recording of which was a super human task.
MR NTSEBEZA: But I think the point that is made here Mr Craig Kotze, I mean, there is no time, we must really get over this, I think what is being made, the point that is being made here, this was no abberation, you had a systematic pattern of reporting and this is what you are asked to comment on and it has nothing to do with having no time to prepare and what have you. It has to do with a pattern that explains a certain set of mind, now was it your knowledge of being one of the members of the Security Forces that made you write that sort of fashion?
MR NTSEBEZA: But why can, in over 100, that is what Hugh has being saying, approximately 100 stories that you have written, we are able to see a pattern of absolute non-objectivity, where you don't even pretend to make an effort to give the other side a view of or an opportunity to put their side of the story?
MR KOTZE: As I mentioned in my submission Sir, that it was my job to focus attention on police successes. I say that quite openly. So I am not denying that in the least. But I think it is - your perception is probably in the eye of the beholder, as is truth, much of the time. So quite frankly I was run off my feet quite physically, as a crime reporter and I would just like to point out as well Sir, that on the same story that is now under discussion, you may or may not have it, but David Braun the political correspondent of the Star, in a later edition had exactly the same kind of story. SA acts to crush threat of insurgency. Now that approach was probably as much a result of my specific bent as it was of the Editorial policy of the newspaper I worked for and which was beyond my control specifically.
CHAIRPERSON: Are you done, thank you. You see, we have to learn lessons you see. We have to see how one should be approaching these sort of things, you know in future. Isn't the difficulty and that seems to occur to me and that is probably where all of this comes from, is the difficulty not that one can't hold two positions. I mean you can't be a policeman and a journalist and then you know be objective and actually be true to your calling as a journalist and there are very few people that I know of that hold two positions at the same time, so there has to be a conflict, not so? There has to be a conflict of interest there and it has to be undesirable to have that sort of situation?
MR KOTZE: I would agree absolutely with you Sir, in a normal society, but under the abnormal conditions, the question as much applies to those journalists who became MK members, who became active members of the revolutionary forces, was their objectivity not somewhat warped? I would say yes, we all suffered collectively from the abnormalities of the Apartheid era, but when we want to take this through to the future, I would agree with you absolutely in principle, that if the inherent conflict factors are not there, then we can begin to start approaching a normal society in all spheres and not only the media.
MR KOTZE: Absolutely, and I might add Mr Chairperson, that it is the only security related agency in this country that has done so. We haven't heard the same form the other official security institutions.
CHAIRPERSON: And inherent in that is the fact that I mean, it is a completely undesirable kind of thing to do, to have undercover policemen posing as journalists and then moving into the media and everything that goes with that?
MR KOTZE: What I am saying is that in this particular forum, as a serving member of the SAPS, there is certain operational intelligence detail, that I can't discuss here in principle and those questions, suffice to say that when I left the Star, I was already a Captain in the police.
MR KOTZE: That I am disclosing it, yes. Other people may have had, Mr Chairman, if I may add, their suspicions and I think it may even have been reflected in the media once or twice. I believe this is the first confirmation.
CHAIRPERSON: But you are unable to confirm whether you were actually a policeman already when you joined the Star or not? In spite of these sort of, it seems the openness with which you are approaching this issue. I mean I can't understand the difficulty around that. But if there is a genuine difficulty, I will not compel you to disclose it if there is a genuine difficulty.
MR KOTZE: Mr Chairman, on legal advise, I will be quite frank and open with you. I was what is referred to in Intelligence circles as an agent in place. In other words, I happen to already as I said in my submission, be an active soldier in the SADF doing camps quite openly, doing the same thing openly, but I was whilst I was a journalist, I was recruited into the SAP and became an agent.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for that information. Are there any other questions? Mr Kotze, thank you very much. You know it is important for us to engage in this kind of debate, so that we try and get to the bottom of things, and we try and understand what is going on and so on, not that we are putting people on the spot or whatever, you know, it is necessary for our purposes to have this kind of debate and we are quite happy and pleased that you came and that you are able to have engaged in this. And that you have been quite open and frank around your activities and you have testified to in public and we thank you for that.
CHAIRPERSON: I am going to ask you to please, the members of the media, just to deal with those issues away from the podium there. We are going to listen to the testimony of the representatives of "South" and "Grassroots". It is Rashid Seria and Moegsien Williams and they are accompanied by Johnny Esau. Gentlemen, good afternoon, a warm word of welcome to you from the best part of the country. I assume that all three of you would be making an input or would Mr Seria only? Oh, all three of you. Then unfortunately I am going to administer the oath to all three of you, but I will do it jointly before we start.
MR LEWIN: Gentlemen I would like to welcome you here and to thank you especially for (a) for having come from that part of the country and (b) for being so patient with us. What you have to say is very important and the fact that it comes at the end of the day is not any reflection at all. You can see that we have been under considerable pressure and we will continue to be for the next day, but what we are trying to do is to cover as many facets of the media as possible and what you have to tell us, particularly about the alternative media in the Cape is very important. So, if you could just please take us through your submission and then we will ask a few questions if necessary, thank you very much.
MR SERIA: Thank you. Thank you for affording us this opportunity to make this presentation. Our presentation will cover the alternative media in the Western Cape, Southern Cape and other outlying areas for the period from 1979 to 1993 and includes publications like Grassroots and "Saamstaan", which were published on a monthly basis and South which was published on a weekly basis. This presentation was put together at very short notice and I think we are merely going to skim the surface here and we would welcome an opportunity to make a much more comprehensive presentation, within the next month, which we believe may be possible. We believe it is very important to record and catalogue the contributions and achievements of the alternative media in the Cape and to examine how these alternative models can assist in improving the flow of information from marginalised communities which is a problem we believe has by no means been exhausted. We represent the numerous journalists and political activists, who at very great risk an no personal gain, worked very hard to publish "Grassroots" "Saamstaan" and "South" and we would like today to dedicate this presentation to all these comrades. The 1976 student insurrection was followed by a period of the most severe State repression which endured for a couple of years. Slowly the oppressed recovered and renewed resistance to Apartheid began to evolve once again. Alternative media was one of the expressions of this resurgence of activism as the 1970's drew to a close. The control and shaping of the hearts and minds of people constituted a key priority in the National Party government's grand plan of Apartheid. Media laws and restrictions were designed by the Apartheid State to allow a one-sided picture of South Africa to emerge. The main stream newspapers opted for survival and profit and developed and perfected its own self-censorship code through its newspaper press union. The alternative media on the other hand, refused to compromise on telling the true story. And many black journalists and political activists were prepared to take risks which were greater than commercial consideration and the risk we are speaking about is that of placing their lives on the line. Thus it was in the 1980's that black journalists and community activists in the Western Cape took the first tentative steps towards creating a new media to cover news from the townships and rural areas. Communities which bore the brunt of Apartheid repression, to cover news which was to a large extent ignored by the main stream media. These publications, here we are talking about "Grassroots" and "Grassroots" comprise of Grassroots community newspaper, New Era and Learning Routes and "Saamstaan" and "South", were the catalysts for a proliferation of other alternative publications from within the trade union movement and the ranks of student, women's and sporting sectors. "Grassroots" had its genesis in the Media Workers Association of South Africa and the Union of Black Journalists with their long involvement in media freedom issues. The first alternative newspaper of the 1970's was a publication entitled the Bulletin, produced by the UBJ and which attempted to reflect an alternative perspective of the Soweto uprisings of 1976. "Grassroots" and other publications spawned by it were distributed throughout the Southern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and Karoo. These publications were successful not only in delivering news, but also in organising communities in opposition to Apartheid and assisting in the establishment of community organisations. There are four main areas that we would like to cover in this submission. Firstly the factors leading to the formation of the alternative media. Secondly the State's response and then the response of business including the main stream media and lastly the impact of alternative media on the liberation struggle. And we are going to do this in point form, because of the time constraints. Firstly the factors leading to the formation of the alternative media. The filling of the void left by the virtual absence of news from townships and rural areas in the main stream media, countering the depiction of the liberation struggle as a terrorist communist inspired insurrection, giving communities a forum in which to make their voices heard, share their experiences of struggle and express their political and social aspirations and contributing to popular mobilisation and the building of popular organisations. The State's response to our publications was completely out of proportion to the activities of media workers on these publications. Two of our journalists were shot and we have some pictures here which we would like to show at some point. The premises of "Grassroots" in Central Cape Town was destroyed in an arson attack, we have a picture of that also. Our people were banned and detained and those who were detained, were tortured and abused. The families were intimidated and harassed. The Publications Control Board banned countless editions. Our publications themselves, like "South" was banned in terms of the state of emergency in 1987. It was a campaign of constant harassment and intimidation. And a very good example that we could give also is how the Army utilised its printing facilities at its Head Quarters at the Castle in Cape Town. All our publications were taken, our masthead was used, the format of our publication was used and all the contents were changed to reproduce stories about all the good things that were happening in the country and all the pro-Apartheid propaganda. The third point, the response of business, including the main stream media. The alternative media relied solely on the support of foreign funding agencies and community based business people. It had no support from corporates in terms of advertising because the alternative media did not own their own printing presses and distribution networks, they were largely at the mercy of the main stream media companies. Most of the printing and distribution was done by the Argus company and Allied distributors. While helpful in formal and furtive, relationships existed with main stream journalists, their bosses were generally hostile to the alternative media. And here we can give a few examples also of the response of the newspaper companies. One of the final editions of "South" before its banning, we attempted to publish a poster of Holishashla Mandela. This happened at a time when the ANC flags and slogans, flags were being raised and songs were being sung about the ANC, all over the country or rather in many parts of the country and it was during that atmosphere that we tried to publish this very beautiful poster of Mandela. And the Argus refused to print that copy of the newspaper. And then on the day that the paper was banned "South", "South" was banned by the Minister of Home Affairs, Stoffel Botha, in terms of the emergency regulations, 20 000 copies of our newspaper were waiting to be distributed because we didn't expect the banning to happen on that day, we thought it would be happening on the next two or three days. And those copies had to be withdrawn, Allied publishing and the Argus company refused to distribute that. In conclusion, if you look at our front pages throughout the entire period, the primarily dealt with human rights abuses committed by the Apartheid regime. It is therefore our submission that the State's action against our publication could be considered a human rights violation in itself. Mr Chairperson and fellow Commissioners, we also have made a submission under those different categories of quotations from various people involved in the alternative media. And Moegsien is just going to highlight some of them with your permission.
MR WILLIAMS: Mr Chairperson, we in trying to pull this submission together, we tried to consult and speak to as many people involved in alternative media in the Western Cape and I am just going to take out a number of quotes on the kind of categories that Rashid dealt with here. On the question of the factors leading to the formation of the alternative media, I am quoting Ryland Fisher, who was a media worker in "Grassroots" and "South" and today he is the Editor of the Cape Times and I quote him. He says, speaking about the alternative media, it was born out of the desire by community organisations to have a choice, to have access to news from the Cape Flats, townships and rural areas. This was news not being reflected in the main stream media. I am quoting John Esau, who is sitting to my left here, who says, people wanted their local service to be known, they wanted to share and learn about other people's struggles. Derrick Jackson, who was very much a persecuted media activists in Oudtshoorn and the Chief organiser at Saamstaan, and I quote him, he says apart from the politics, issues that effected the majority of the people, such as the price of bread or bus tickets, were generally not considered newsworthy by the main stream newspapers. Mantsoo Jaffa, who was an organiser in Saamstaan and "Grassroots" and I quote him, it was not just a newspaper giving information, but also a base for community activism and for recording the views of large sectors of society, that was simply never heard. On the question of the State's response Mr Chairperson, I quote Saliem Badad and he says "Grassroots" was formed in 1980. Within a month, the first Editor John Esau was banned. He was followed by Lila Patel, who is now the Director General of Social Welfare and Pensions, and then Saliem Badad became organiser in late 1983 and I quote him. I had two long periods of detention from August 1985 to October 1985 and from October 1985 to January 1986. In January 1986 I was restricted from having any contact with the media or educational organisations. Other people also detained in that period were Ryland Fisher, Mantsoo Jaffa and Rashid Seria. Quoting John Esau, he says the police were quick to recognise the threat represented by "Grassroots" and other alternative media. One of the first consequences was my own detention on May, 25 1980. I came out in August, but in December the police decided that they had had enough and I was banned. The conditions were so strict, I was not even allowed to pass a book to my wife. I could not have anything to do with any media whatsoever, and that lasted for three years. Derrick Jackson who operated in Oudtshoorn where I think repression was probably the most severe, has the following to say. The State responded with periods of detention without trial, usual 14 days detention under Section 29 of the Internal Security Act. At one stage, virtually each and every morning when we got to the offices, glue had been put into the locks, meaning we would have to break down the doors and replace the locks. They would phone you at home in the early morning, swearing at you and trying to intimidate you. A member of the Security Police once phoned me and identifying himself and warning me bluntly that he was going to wipe me and Reggie Oliphant who is an MP in the National Assembly, and then Chairperson of Saamstaan that they would be wiped off the face of the earth. Ryland Fisher says and I quote him, because "Grassroots" was effectively a mouthpiece for community organisations, we suffered all the harassment and intimidation that community organisations suffered. So our media workers were detained in the same way that community activists were. Lila Patel says I cannot actually remember how many issues of "Grassroots" were banned, but we tried to cover the news in such a way that we were able to get the message out. There was also harassment around the newspaper and it was a struggle to maintain the political space in which to operate. I quote Ryland Fisher again,"there was a period under the state of emergency when we were in the Cine 400 complex in Gatesville", which is a township near Athlone and he says,"some of us had been detained and released, but we could not go back to our offices in case they detained us again". We all went into hiding, while the police posted a 24 hour guard outside our offices. At that time we had to produce "Grassroots" from safe houses and the boots of our cars. I quote Mantsoo Jaffa again, "The first reaction was from the typesetter in Oudtshoorn who worked on our first edition. He was obviously visited by the Security Police because after the first edition in 1984, he said he would continue doing our work, but only the sport stories". The Security Police also visited people who were interviewed, we had interviewed for a story on housing. Most of them were pensioners and were subjected to questioning about all this. I quote Saliem Badad again, virtually every second issue of "Grassroots" were banned by the Publications Control Board after it came out. It didn't effect distribution much, but it made you cautious because if you got banned three times in a row, you were suspended in terms, I think, of the Publications Control Act. And finally I quote Mantsoo again on Saamstaan, where he says, "We used to use couriers to take our proofs from Oudtshoorn to Cape Town to the printers. Once when we went to collect the papers, the printers told us that they had already been collected and that was the last we heard of them.The Security Police got there before us." Mr Chairperson, that is more or less giving an idea of the kind of harassment that the alternative press had to endure during this period.
MR LEWIN: Could you show us some of the pictures that you had as well? If I could just ask one question which is to assist us as much to comment on your submission. And obviously yes, we would be very pleased to have a fuller submission and we are very grateful to you for having put this together so quickly. So obviously if there is more that we can get, we would very much like that and that can become part of the record. Part of your submission you say and I think you actually cut this, but you say in terms of recommendations for the Commission as to the future of the media in our country, so you could include a suggestion the publications like "Grassroots" could be studied as models and as a means to give the masses access to the media. Could you comment on that because the brunt of your submission has been to suggest that alternative, the alternative press defines itself quite specifically in a political sense. And obviously in a very specific political sense and we are talking about, it is very much, these are struggle publications. What concerns me is that if one looks at what has happened to those publications and what for instance has happened to the publications of a similar nature, like Speak, Learn and Teach, Work in Progress, all the alternative media in this country, have died since the change. What do you particularly as the people who actually ran them and Moegsien as Editor of one of the major papers in Cape Town, what ideas do you have and how can we actually put meat on these suggestions that there should be an alternative paper?
MR WILLIAMS: ... from oppressed people, it was by and large an opportunity for poor people to have a voice. And at that period in our history of course, those people were very severely oppressed. We do find those of us who had undergone all these sacrifices over the years, to assist in making it possible for poor people to have a voice, we do find today quite ironic and we notice that the State is auctioning its for instance radio assets to these very high bidders, and so during those years, we had hoped and thought that one day when we have a new State, a new government, that that government would actually help that we won't experience those problems to produce those publications which would allow for poor people to have a voice. And really some of our very strong felt wishes and dreams when we do have a new democracy, that new democratic government would actually come forward and assist in making it possible for poor people to have a voice and we are saying we had developed these models in the form of "Grassroots", "Saamstaan" and the many other publications and often we also had financial constraints, notwithstanding we didn't relate to it in the same way as the main stream media, and that was of the most important consideration for us. We had to beg and borrow and often by kind hearted foreign donors and so, but we really hoped when a new situation dawned, that the State would assist and I think that hope still prevails.
MR SERIA: Mr Chairman, if I could just add to what Johnny had said. In Zimbabwe it was a model, it is called Moto and they were a community based newspaper and after the changeover in the country and when the Smith government, from the Smith government to the Mugabe government, that paper was actually supported by the government to become a rural community paper to assist in agricultural projects. And you know, in our country we had developed all these very important media projects. "Grassroots" was really a pioneer. After we had launched "Grassroots" and it was running for a few months, did we discover there were other similar projects in places like Papua New Guinea for instance. And we could bring their experiences and our experience together and we discovered they were very similar. So there is a lot of parts in the world where these models of alternative papers play a very important role in helping in communications and in the information flow, especially from marginalised communities. I think that is what we are saying. Something has to happen in this country and we've got a new government, a democratic government and you know, that is maybe the more obvious place where such a lead has to happen, to be taken.
MR WILLIAMS: Mr Chairman, I think your question will probably be best answered tomorrow when you have the Independent Newspapers and you hear in terms of what support they could give the alternative press. There are two factors why I give the alternative press, there must be as many voices as possible in this country. And from the main stream's point of view, I am speaking as the Editor of the Cape Argus, and a press freedom point of view, it is very important for us that there are as many voices as possible so that the views and aspirations of the majority of all our people can be articulated and that we can build a culture of press freedom in the country. The other problem Mr Chairman, why I believe alternative voices should exist for especially people at a lower income levels, is that our main stream newspapers are beginning to niche. Papers like the Cape Times in Cape Town very specifically are going at the top end of the market, in terms of its marketing and its vision and its content objectives. There are plans by the company I work for to launch a tabloid newspaper in the short term, but again you know, it is a question of again of isn't this again a monopoly that is going to emerge. A big company like Independent controlling again another title that is going to try and be aimed at the working class. I think the working class people should be able to produce their own publications. And there is no reason as Johnny pointed out, why the State cannot play a role as happened in such Scandinavian countries.
MS MKHIZE: Well, just a related question to what you are saying. Are you arguing that there is no way in which the voices of the poor and the oppressed can cut across regular media so to say? The reason why I am saying is because I am thinking of for instance gender issues. Some people had begun to say look, let's move away from saying let's have gender specific publications because they tend not to be read by people who must hear and understand the issues that women are struggling with and are just having been here for this two days, I have been thinking that maybe there is a one meter way whereby even regular press should begin to address not only issues which serve a certain economic group but issues which will facilitate and assist in thinking about the development of the people of South Africa as a whole. My fear with alternative press, I mean I understand where you are coming from at that time, that was the only solution, but I am not sure whether that is the line we should be pushing today.
MR WILLIAMS: I think Chairperson, Commissioner, you are alluding to a definite problem in the country. There are very important groups within our society that have no voice. The problem with the print media is and the last percentage I saw is that we reach about 15 percent of the population, obviously broadcast has a much wider and bigger reach. The commercial realities and the commercial imperatives of the commercial press, are such that the positioning in a way determines the readership and the readership determines the advertising. And to take a newspaper like the Cape Times, it pursues advertising aimed at a high income group. And it is nicheing itself in terms of that income group and in terms of that positioning. Yes, the newspapers do have a cascading effect. Whatever is printed in the Cape Times and published by the Cape Times, has obviously a wider impact and wider influence but at the end of the day, it is aimed very specifically at that particular group. And therefore I would say there is a need for a multiplicity of media in the country and I think we need to, as a society, find creative ways of bringing that about within the general context, but to expect the existing media to perform that role effectively and to the benefit of the majority, I think maybe that is a bit naive.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Well, gentlemen thank you very much. We sincerely hope that you will remain involved in the more extensive submission that you wish to put before us, we would welcome it very much and hopefully you will keep this debate around the alternative publications alive and hopefully we will find a way forward for that. But once again, thank you very much for having come and a safe journey home, thank you. That is the proceedings for the day. I thank you very much for your attendance and thank you to my colleagues on the panel. We will now adjourn until tomorrow morning at nine o'clock, thank you.