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Type AMNESTY HEARING
Starting Date 24 November 1998
Names CHICHELA ESAU MACHITJE
Case Number AM 7634/97
MR SAMUELS: No we're not ready as yet. The reason is that we are still waiting for our first witness Mr Kasrils. He was informed that the matter would be starting at 10 o'clock. He was incorrectly informed that the matter was starting at 10 o'clock. For that reason we are not ready.
It is still my instructions to ask for the matter to stand down for fifteen minutes so that Mr Kasrils may come in and testify. The reason that we wish to call these three witnesses is that we wish to set the history even though many parts of the history are not disputed. I still think it is necessary for example to explain the structures and the chain of command that would be an important issue in this matter. For that reason may I ask that the matter stand down until 10 o'clock?
MR SAMUELS: No but may I submit that these hearings have been set down for a specific number of days. We have endeavoured to reduce the number of applicants and we have done so. For that reason I submit that we will finish...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: That's not the point, the point is that it's tax money being used. Whether the matter has been set down for three weeks and two weeks and whether we're going to finish it with a week to spare is irrelevant. Mr Samuels, you know I have difficulty with agreeing with your request because whether it is fifteen minutes or ten minutes, there's people out there who form ideas and gain impressions which may be correct or not, it doesn't matter and I think TRC, particularly the Amnesty Committee, have a duty towards those people.
I must also say that the necessity which gave rise to yesterdays postponement is a result of, what I can only describe as sloppy preparation, whoever the cause of that may be. It seems to me that your request this morning is based virtually on the same issues. I know it's difficult for you to answer the question but one may ask how long is this carry on? Somewhere we've got to draw the line.
I wish to point out also that I'd like to think that neither of us here or none of us sitting on this panel are unable to put into perspective any type of evidence that may be led in any order and it's not necessary for a chronological set of - bits of evidence put before us. We can put in, slot it in where necessary and therefore I want to suggest to you that you start wherever you can and let's get on with the job and if your background witnesses become available tomorrow then let's slot them in then, we can do that.
MR SAMUELS: Thank you. I still wish to ask and with respect, for an adjournment, a small postponement on the basis that these three witnesses - it is again my same point that their relevant - it is information that is necessary to set the background to these hearings and my only submission is I appreciate that we could chop and change the order of witnesses but I would still wish to call these three witnesses to establish the background and I therefore again ask that the matter stand down for a while.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Samuels, the genie says you are running out of requests. The genie, you know the guy that gives you wishes? You're running out of your requests, you're using them up. We'll adjourn as you requested till 10 o'clock.
MR SAMUELS: As discussed yesterday I have prepared a list of applicants that we are considering withdrawing. I say that we're considering because we need to clarify them with the applicants themselves. I do not think that there will be a problem and I can assure you, I can say that we have forteen names on our list.
MR MAKANJEE: Mr Chairperson, if I may address you on that? When we lead the - each of us will appear for a separate applicant. When we lead the applicant we will introduce ourselves to the panel for ease of reference.
MR MAKANJEE: Mr Chairperson, due to the circumstances that we're faced with, we are approaching that on a day to day basis. In other words we will inform the evidence leader of the TRC before the witness is to be called, who will be leading that evidence.
CHAIRPERSON: Something concerns me, Mr Makanjee. Appearances at these hearings have cost implications. I trust that a suitable distinction will be made at the end of the hearing between you and your counsel because this is unusual. Yes proceed?
MR MAKANJEE: My apologies again. Mr Machitje is a commander involved and he will be testifying as regards to the situation in Thokoza at the time, in the form of background information from 1990 until 1994. He will then also be applying specifically for the orders that he had given to SDU members.
MR MAKANJEE: According to my instructions, my client participated in defending the community and mentions an attack on the community in September 1994 wherein he participated. My client also seeks ...(intervention)
MR MAKANJEE: Given the situation at the time, my client is unable to state whether people specifically died. He knows that marchers were injured at the time of his firing shots where he is unaware as he didn't stay on the premises long enough to actually ascertain if any life was taken.
MR MAKANJEE: I'm sorry Mr Chairperson, my client thinks that people have been killed as a result of his actions. He further did supply weapons to members of his unit for the purposes of attacking members of the other side or the IFP.
CHAIRPERSON: Now let's not get confused and you've got to be careful what you tell us now. Are you saying it's September 1990? He himself shot at people, he suspects some of them were either killed or injured and he also provided ammunition and arms to others in order to shoot at the same group of people some of whom may have been killed or injured?
MR MAKANJEE: After the discussion yesterday we wanted to also create a background picture for the panel. Apart from the incident that he is applying for now, Mr Machitje would be suitably qualified to introduce the background in the situation into Xhosa.
MR MAKANJEE: Mr Chairperson, my instructions are that the client - the panel does have a background into the development of the SDU's but not specifically into Xhosa. My client does have a map which he hopes to use to be able to show the panel exactly what the situation was into Xhosa itself. My client was an MK commander from 1990 until the formation of the SDU's in late 1991. He is therefore in a position to give that background from that period.
MR MACHITJE: I will say that when I was released from prison 5th of September 1990 I arrived inside Thoboza and found that there was a serious violence taking on and during that period I realised that this violence, it's clear that it's being controlled by professional people, people who have the know how and I stayed for two weeks, if I'm not mistaken and on the third week there was an attack which took place inside Thokoza and they attacked two consecutive days, day and night. As a member of MK I found myself in a situation where my community was being attacked and I'm not in a position where I could help them and assist them with anything but immediately when I was busy thinking about how to respond of the situation that is going on, one comrade from Kathlehong who unfortunately is not alive currently, his name is Comrade Jackie Macheko, he was a member of MK. He arrived and handed an AK47 to me and as I said earlier, when I was released I realised that people who are attacking the community inside the township are professional people and they have the knowledge of what they are doing. By then SANDF had deployed Koevoet, Battalion 32, inside the township and as I said there was an attack which took two days. I participated when I realised that during the attack the attackers were using a strategy that is well known which has been used by the regime in the past, to demoralise the liberation movement. People could defend themself but there was a military ambulance that was busy taking bodies, more specially bodies which were members of IFP. So it is during this period that I realised that I should participate. As I said I had an AK and the attackers intended to attack Phola Park. So on our way to Phola Park they were stopped at Thokoza Stadium and it's where the two days attack took place because when I was released I found the community armed themself already and I could see that there it was full of AK47's inside the township and I realised that there was no direction and on the side of the community of how to handle such an attack and as a kid who grew inside that township and as I say as a kid I'm well known inside the township. I could manage to assist, to show those who were defending the township that - what to do in fact and I said I participated. I was part of a group that was based inside the old Thokoza Hall and there were members of IFP who were inside the stadium and I could see that on the background the military cars which are moving with them and I did participate in shooting. If I can still remember I spent something like three magazines of AK47's during that day and earlier I did say that the attackers were using a strategy and that strategy was to demoralise the community of Thokoza. The army on the background was taking bodies and one day the violence stopped, the only bodies which could be discovered there were the bodies from the community.
Mr Chairman, I just want to raise something. We talk of Thokoza and we are not inside Thokoza and I'm aware that you people have the background of what happened but I'm quite sure you people, maybe some of you have never been even inside Thokoza so I thought maybe it would be better if I bring in Thokoza inside this story. So I brought a map where I wanted to, when you talk of Khumalo, we shall know how Khumalo goes inside Thokoza. There is a perception of people who are not staying inside Thokoza that when you talk of Khumalo, it's like the whole street was not operating, there was no life inside that street and I know that there was life. At one stage when the violence went on I gave orders to the external and internal members of MK who were inside the township that they shall give training to members of self defence units and we shall start making demarcation lines where we could see the enemy coming in.
MR MACHITJE: I've applied because I gave orders on a certain incident that I want to specify here. After my release I was appointed by the late Chief of Staff of the military wing of the ANC, the late Chris Hani and during this period he made it clear to me that my task it will be to organise defence units which are inside the township and make sure that members of MK who were inside the township, assist and give them know how to do self defence units and I'm here applying again for the distribution of ammunitions, explosives during the war inside the East Rand and this specific incident that took place in 1992 that I'm applying for too because I personally moved from section to section in forming or rather instructing commanders within those sections that there is a funeral of the wife of the so-called Reverend Mbegesini Khumalo.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Machitje, that's why we asked when you started to testify, for which crimes you apply for amnesty. Are you saying you want to talk about an incident in 1992? Is there a crime which occurred during that 1992 for which you wish to apply?
MR MAKANJEE: My apologies Mr Chairperson, I think that was a result of a misunderstanding between myself and the evidence leader. We will see that the panel has got copies of the further particulars. My instructions are that my client also ordered a full scale attack on the IFP during a funeral procession through Khumalo Street to the Schoeman Cemetary. The attack took place in 1992, this is the attack that my client is referring to Mr Chairperson. My client does wish to apply for amnesty for this event as well as is contained in his further particulars.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Makanjee, I know of no crime the elements of which would be what you described. Perhaps the results of what he ordered may have given rise to crimes like people being killed in which case it would have been murder or assault or attempted murder and so forth. You tell me that he gave the order for an attack on a funeral procession. That doesn't help us. That in itself is not a crime because we don't know what occurred. Now that's what I'm asking you, what is your client applying for, in respect of which crime and that is not for him to say, it's for you as a trained lawyer, to be able to advise him what crime he would have committed.
MR MAKANJEE: My apologies Mr Chairperson again. The witness - it was not our intention initially to call this witness as the first witness. I realise that is not the panel's fault, I just want to place it on record.
ADV DE JAGER: On the facts that he's given you, would you say there was a common cause to commit murder or that he was a party to conspiracy to commit murder or attempted murder or public violence or whatever? ...(inaudible)
MR MAKANJEE: If I could just recap. My client gave an order to members of his cell that they should do anything at all costs including shooting at marchers, which did occur, to prevent the marchers from proceeding through to the funeral site, to the cemetary.
MR MACHITJE: If I may recall, I'll say yes maybe two or three people, even though I don't have their names, but all I can remember is that there were people who died that day and that was the last funeral procession ever the IFP took to this cemetary going through - passing other sections.
MR MACHITJE: As I said earlier that it's so unfortunate that we are talking of Thokoza and we are out of Thokoza and I'm having a map that I want to respond on. There was a tendency within - whoever was controlling this violence helping the IFP that when there is a funeral they will go to that funeral and when they come back they will leave dead bodies on their way back to their stronghold, their hostels I mean.
MR MACHITJE: Yes people were being attacked. As I say it was one of the patterns that was followed during the violence inside Thokoza so I gave orders that the funeral of the wife of Mbegesini Khumalo should be attacked and if the strength of the committee is not going to be shown that day it means we are not going to be in the position of stopping the IFP and whoever was helping them.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Machitje, I think it is common knowledge that in this particular area there were pitched battles between members of the IFP and members of the ANC, not so? For whatever reason, is that not correct?
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Machitje, listen to me. Don't try to understand the question or foresee what I'm getting at. Let's just answer the question. There was a pitched battle, the attenders of this funeral it was believed had established a habit of leaving dead bodies in their trail. Did I understand you correctly?
CHAIRPERSON: And now I have established that even this funeral procession was part of a pitched political battle, do we follow each other? And therefore the incident you refer to falls squarely within the Act. I'm not trying to catch you out, I'm trying to establish whether the incident you refer to is something that we are able to deal with. From your answers we are able to deal with it. Do you follow?
CHAIRPERSON: I'm explaining to the witness that the reason for my questions was to establish whether he was referring to an incident which is capable of being dealt with in terms of the Act. That's all. Can you proceed?
MR MACHITJE: It's true that everybody knows of what happened inside, it was a part I think even the TRC missed some of the events that took place inside of Thokoza. When you talk of methods which were taken inside, the TRC mentioned drive by shootings. There are certain patterns which were used inside Thokoza and I went through the final report of the TRC and those patterns are not there.
MR MACHITJE: And as I say there were patterns. I wanted to give this panel those patterns which were followed during that period because I'm aware that they don't have on their records that pattern and one of the methods which was used, I indicated the funeral pattern which we stopped and there was no other funeral which took place inside, going through Khumalo to the Schoeman's graveyard. But there was one tendency which even kids will know inside Thokoza that when the electricity goes off there will be an attack and there was a situation which even kids inside Thokoza will tell you about it that when telephones go out of Thokoza to reach people say in Johannesburg or Pretoria then there will be an attack. So those are some of the things I wanted to reveal and talk about. One last thing ...(intervention)
MR MACHITJE: No here I'm not talking of the cutting, you know when you talk of cuts, it was clear that somebody was controlling this. There will be lights off inside the township whereas inside lights will be on at the hostel.
CHAIRPERSON: Now I'm going to ask you similar questions that I asked you last time, that these attacks that you referred to during the black out, if I can call it that, and when the telephones didn't work, who as far as you were concerned were the victims and who were the attackers? Was there any political undertones in those attacks?
MR MACHITJE: Earlier I said to you people that when I was released that as a trained person I could detect that people who are perpetrating this violence inside Thokoza are professional trained people and that is why at the end of the day people have this belief that when the violence started inside Thokoza it was ethnic cleansing and I don't believe that.
CHAIRPERSON: I need some clarification on that score. Are you saying and please tell me if I'm barking up the wrong tree, that these attackers were professional people who were party to what is commonly known as a third force or were they members of a political party who were perhaps trained by the third force?
MR MACHITJE: Normally I won't say third force because to me when we talk about third force we talk about a force that we don't know. I will say the past regime was responsible for that and that is why even the former president will be proud to say people inside Thokoza should give - should come forward and give evidence of how they attacked because they knew exactly that people who are held in this attack, they can attack and clean their movements.
ADV MOTATA: Mr Machitje, other than these say organised attacks by professionals, are you saying there was a complete absence of criminality. I'll tell you why I'm asking you that, there's a famous section out in Khatlehong, Malaleki Section, where even the SDU's fought amongst themselves, that they were perpetrating these criminalities. Now when we look at the political aspect, the picture, are we saying you are applying for amnesty for the incidents which you have mentioned which are not very clear to me up to this stage, that your SDU's were basically there to fight the Inkatha Freedom Party, are you saying that to us?
MR MACHITJE: From the IFP which was assisted by Koevoet, ISU. The East Rand Theft Unit was also involved in that. The car unit, the theft unit - the Germiston Car Theft Unit was also responsible or involved in ...(intervention)
MR MACHITJE: Firstly I'd like to give you the explanation of colours which are there, what it stands for, the green line it's Khumalo Street and the yellow line is Buthelezi Street and where we have "x" with a red mark, those are places where people normally call it flashpoints. Where I've marked with a black "x" during the violence there were no houses. These are recently built houses and where I've marked with a blue "x" it's Sienda Street, this is a street which was at a later stage used as an alternative road for the community of Thokoza to leave the township. So as I say, I'll attempt to bring Thokoza inside this hall. As you can see how Khumalo goes inside Thokoza. The violence went to a stage where Buthelezi Street was a demarcation line, members of IFP couldn't cross to the township and members of the community couldn't pass to - across and I've identified the deployment of the army, the Internal Stability around Thokoza. On the far left Koevoet had a base and at a later stage was used by the Internal Stability Unit. In the inside of the township where I've written "army", the military immediately created a base there, there is a base that is called Steenpent and Koevoet was deployed there. Just around there on my pen, there was a hostel which was called "Sun City". It was a company hostel and when the violence started people who occupied that hostel left the hostel and the ISU occupied that hostel. And right - going back to Buthelezi and the demarcation line, we have Njasafi where I've written "hostels" and we have Kutusa, we have Madala Hostel. Houses which were facing those hostels were - the majority of people staying there were members of IFP. On top here next to Phola Park we used to have a hostel by the name of Kalanyon. There were no houses as I indicated that with the "x" black mark the hostel was attacked when I was still in prison and when I came out of prison I found that people destroyed that hostel brick by brick so there is no hostel currently as we are talking. We have a hostel in the street that separates Khatlehong and Thokoza which is right around here on bottom. We had a hostel that was called Buyafutsi.
MR MACHITJE: I indicated that I was in prison and what I will tell you is what I know and ...(indistinct) inside Thokoza. Inside ...(indistinct) it was a mix of people staying there, different cultures and I don't have a full background of what started the violence which caused the bringing down of the hostel and I was made to believe that TRC had that information because it appeared as if the argument which took place inside the hostel between a Zulu guy and a Xhosa guy led to a war which at a later stage people who are said to be behind the violence use that to give a picture that this is an ethnic thing, it's a war between Xhosas and Zulus. As I said to you, this is Thokoza inside Vosloorus. I just want to give you a picture of when the violence changes at a certain turn where I was involved with instruction of stopping them, travelling to Khumalo Street. They were stopped just next to the stadium, there was a - there where I've written "stadium", there was a garage. We have two sections there, Thokoza Garden on top and Beirut underneath and the funeral procession was stopped right at the middle of those two sections, it's where the attack took place and as I said earlier that was the last funeral procession that went through the street. I talked about the perception that everybody had about Thokoza of Khumalo being a dangerous street. You know Khumalo was a dangerous street up until a certain period. The demarcation line was Buthelezi Street and from there going up as I said, these are the people who I strongly believe were members of the ANC and the ANC had a stronghold of this township and I just want to mention one other thing which I think normally when we talk of Thokoza, people have a wrong idea of what really happened inside Thokoza. I once gave orders that members of central command or SDU's as I said should immediately go to every taxi owner inside and a meeting was called at Mahaum, Mahaum is just next to where I've written "army". It's when we took a decision that to stop the tendency of taxis taken inside the hostel. Taxis should turn at Nkaki Street, Nkaki Street is just down here. So taxis from Thokoza will normally turn there and go up and go to town.
CHICHELA ESAU MACHITJE: (s.u.o.) I am showing Thokoza to the people and what I want to say is the war that took place inside Thokoza denied so many people an opportunity to live a normal life and I have an example that I want to make, that is a kid who is sitting here and his name is Sibusiso Nobase. This kid, if one looks at him, one will say he is a baby and yet he is not a baby, he is eighteen years old and if he was not staying inside Thokoza one will really believe that this kid, his future will have been taken care of. The kid is currently doing standard eight. One other thing that I wanted to indicate here is earlier I mentioned that I distributed arms or ammunition inside the township. The person that I'm going to mention has applied for the distribution of arms and he has applied for amnesty. His name is Comrade Robert McBride. He is a person who normally handed to me. Thanks.
MR MACHITJE: As I say the violence inside Thokoza you know made it difficult for kids to realise their dreams. A kid like Sibusiso is staying inside Thokoza, nobody knows that there was look alike of Webster inside Thokoza and he is not the only kid that is facing that situation, so many kids will stay inside Thokoza, some many people inside Thokoza. The war really cost a serious damage to them.
MR MACHITJE: I think every kid inside Thokoza, psychologically they have a problem and it's unfortunate that some of them or their parents won't be in a position to help them. I'll make an example of me. As I'm talking with you I was admitted at Louis Pasteur some time last month for post-traumatic stress disorder and it had to do with the violence inside Thokoza and I can imagine those families whose parents are not working, they don't have money to take their kids for treatment and lastly I would like to ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: But Mr Machitje, this is what I don't understand, had it not been for Thokoza or what occurred in Thokoza, lost children would be in exactly the same position because of apartheid, not so? That's why I'm trying to find out how is what happened in Thokoza related to the problems of the children today? Did it make it worse, the fact that their parents haven't got money can be traced back to the apartheid regime, not so?
MR MACHITJE: I don't know how to put this but what I'm trying to indicate here is when we talk of Thokoza, people think of violence. People think of Khumalo Street and people think that everybody inside Thokoza never had a normal day to day life so the kid that I'm pointing currently, he was staying inside Thokoza and I don't have any knowledge what effect the violence has cost him but what I know and I wanted to indicate is if he was staying say out of Thokoza, around any other township, he will be famous and it's unfortunate that he is staying inside Thokoza and lastly, I'd like to apologise and when I say I want to apologise, I'm not apologising for people who died on the other side, IFP, no no, I'm not apologising for that because the violence which was alleged inside Thokoza killed people on both sides and I know people on both sides who died. So I'm saying sorry for participating in a war that was alleged against a community and which led to so many people dying. Thank you.
ADV MOTATA: But I'm interested in Sibusiso. You say he looks like a young kid whereas he is eighteen. So during this violence in Thokoza was he injured in the process or what happened because you make mention of him?
MR MACHITJE: I mentioned it because I wanted to give you an example and I will say Sibusiso at one stage attempted to be an actor but because of violence it disappeared, it disappeared with Thokoza and it disappeared with Khumalo Street and his dream, I don't know if he will be in a position of reaching it or so it happened. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Machitje, I hope you don't mind but for other pressing reasons we're going to ask you to stand down so that another witness can be called and dealt with and you will be recalled to answer questions from Mrs Patel, is that okay?
MR KASRILS: I think that it's well known in terms of the media coverage and the history to some degree but whether it's well known to South Africans who never set foot in Vosloorus, Thokoza is a different question and I must say that having arrived here today driving in the area for the first time since the election and the first time since having visited this area quite often on behalf of the ANC in the period where the conflict broke out on such a horrific scale in the latter half of 1990. It was like coming back today to a different planet. To be able to drive in the streets without fear, without tension, without the expectation of suddenly encountering any nature of danger was an extreme relief and what has struck me is the peace in the area and the tremendous efforts by the community to get the area going. I wanted to just make that point in terms of a very strong impression on me in terms of coming to the hearing here today.
CHAIRPERSON: I say I don't want to burst your bubble but this peace and quiet that you talk about, the peace and quiet you talk about may very well be welcome but if you see these chairs that are empty in the back of the hall, we have been informed there's certain section of this community perceived to be aligned to a particular political party who cannot or for some reason fear to come here. Now from our perspective that's just not on because the purpose of us going through this process is to really heal the nation and I was wondering maybe, a person in your position could whisper a word or two in the right ears? Well not necessarily, I'm just making a small request.
MR KASRILS: Thanks, I listened carefully to the point. I would like to comment though. I wonder what the true reason could be because in actual fact the ANC and Inkatha Freedom Party are in a Government of National Unity. Today we work closely with the leadership of that party. There are very cordial relations and for the last several years, certainly since the election, both those political parties at community level as well as at provincial and national level have been coming together to discuss the common programme and common problems so I'm not sure whether there's - one can say there is intimidation in any way.
ADV DE JAGER: We would think if the leadership's example would work through to the grassroots level and the grassroots be aware, as you said now, of the cooperation between the leaders it would certainly contribute to a peaceful solution here.
MR KASRILS: Well I am aware of discussions that take place at the community level, even here on the East Rand and of people who are now from various political parties, certainly the ANC, local leaders who visit the hostels and have discussions and I have been given to understand that this takes place in a very normal way so I must say I can't really comment, I think it's unfortunate but I must say your Honour, I have attended a lot of TRC hearings throughout the country and it's not unusual at times to find many empty chairs unfortunately.
CHAIRPERSON: No, in addition to that we've been informed, rightly or wrongly, truthfully or otherwise, that there are certain reasons why the chairs are empty and I thought it my duty to mention it to you and see what can be done.
MR KASRILS: I will certainly do so and enquire about this. I was asked about the situation then and was beginning to refer to the outbreak of violence in - at the end of July 1990. This was just four, five months after the lifting of the ban on the ANC and there was great hope about peaceful development in our country to enable us to work through negotiations to the election and certainly one will remember that the ANC and it's alliance were very positive in that regard. The nature of the violence that erupted took everybody by surprise. The nature of the violence was so horrific and barbaric that it's very difficult to eradicate it from one's memory and emotions but cold figures alone will remind us that an approximate 700 people died between August and September and the majority of those people were in the Witwatersrand, in Soweto and on the East Rand where the violence in that period broke out.
The killings continued without let up and by the end of the year over 1800 people had been killed, again largely on the East Rand, to some degree the West Rand and Soweto. By April of 1991 another four months later, 2400 people had been killed so it's in that particular period of bloodshed in which over 150 people were being killed a month that one really has to understand the response of the communities to this war that was launched against them and I say a war launched against the communities of Catorus, Vosloorus, Thokoza, Soweto and the East Rand because in actual fact the vast majority of people killed were the normal township dwellers and if we could remind ourselves the nature of the attacks were varied. We lived through that ghastly period in which drive by shootings took place, absolutely random shootings at bus queues and taxi ranks. Drive by shootings where people in the taverns and the shebeens were gunned down. Further shootings when vigils occurred and when funerals occurred and mixed with those killings were the killings on the trains, killings by hit squads where community leaders were singled out and assassinated whether they were members of leaders of the ANC or of a community organisations and trade unions, many began to die in that method, in that manner and then within all that, what began to occur were the nightmarish attacks on people in their dwellings such as at Swanivale on the West Rand, later at Boipatong and in many cases in this particular area of the East Rand where people in balaclavas normally but in very large numbers, hundreds strong, would descend from the nearby hostels. This happened throughout the Witwatersrand and attacked the nearby dwellings, set them alight and killed people in the streets.
I'd like to state that this was not new to South Africa, that back in 1976 we saw elements of this occurring in the Soweto uprising and in the Western Cape in the townships there where again balaclava masked people from nearby townships descended on the community with clubs and guns. They were called the witdoeke and the reddoeke at that stage and they literally attacked people in the streets and the houses. Now I bring this to the attention of the hearing because there already had been a pattern established in South Africa. A pattern which was in response to the advance of the struggle against apartheid and in '76 and in the '80's, the East Rand was a very powerful stronghold of the liberation movement against apartheid. We would say that post 1990 the ANC submission in it's documentation to the TRC has talked about forces of counter-mobilisation and counter-resistance, sometimes called the third force, clearly linked to the security forces, the police and the military intelligence, the police in particular and various forces which were recruited, as it had been recruited in 1976 to attack people in Soweto and the Western Cape.
So the perception very strongly formed and I would say proved in a number of cases such as the Trust Feeds case in KwaZulu Natal was of complicity between the security forces and elements. The Trust Feeds case, Operation Marion in KwaZulu Natal showed cooperation between the defence force and the IFP to still the tide of liberation.
It's in that situation where unfortunately everybody in a hostel is seen as being hostile to the community who are experiencing this onslaught against them and I think we need to understand that context as to why in that situation virtually every community in our country that was under this kind of onslaught, responded and saw the nearby migrant hostels, rightly or wrongly connected with a political partly, rightly or wrongly connected with the security forces as being the major source of terror and war against innocent law abiding people.
It's in that situation then that the ANC comes under enormous pressure from the people, from the communities and everybody is saying to the ANC be it the national leadership or the provincial or the ANC members in a particular community like Vosloorus, like Catorus and Thokoza, "why are you not protecting us, your MK people have been trained, you have fought against apartheid, you cannot stand by and let us die in this manner." So there's enormous pressure that is exerted and I think it's very, very difficult for anybody, even if they wished to keep out of it, not to feel that they had the absolute duty and responsibility to come to the protection of the community.
It's during this period that the ANC at leadership level and at it's highest policy making levels, takes decisions about the protection of the community against violence and about the need to set up self defence units and I would just like to briefly refer to those key conferences. We're talking in the first instance about the ANC's National Consultative Conference that took place at Nasaret outside Soweto, a short drive from us in fact, in December 1990 at which this whole issue is taken up as one of the key issues, the unleashing of violence in Soweto and on the West Rand as well as elsewhere in the country. But those are the two key areas at the time.
Following on that conference was the ANC's 48th National Conference in Durban in July 1991 taking place now after something like 2400 deaths by April, this is now over 3000 deaths by mid '91 and the ANC there takes reports from it's Consultative Conference in December, there's debates on the issue and there is the decision that ANC supports the creation of the self defence units, calls upon members of MK to assist in the training, in the preparation of self defence units against the attacks on the community. Within a month there is a key conference of MK in Venda, the then Venda, which was addressed by President Mandela who already was on record at the July conference as exhorting the membership to come to the defence of the communities and at that conference in Venda in a speech which has come to be entitled "the oppressed must be their own liberators". President Mandela states:
"uMkhonto weSizwe should play a role in training and establishing popular defence units under the control of community organisations to defend our communities against State sponsored violence and crime."
So the policy decisions are there and it's in that period that a document called "For the sake of our lives" is written to give guidance to those involved in setting up the self defence units. It's a document which unfortunately in the record now is only, there's only half the document which has been preserved. It is possible to locate the rest of this document with very stringent searching which we've been trying to do through our various archives but the document which the defence has here, page 109 to 118 if that makes - of volume 1. I've informed defence is only half the document. I can assist this hearing with the remaining half of that document however. It's entitled "For the sake of our lives", I was very instrumental in assisting in the drafting of this document which went through a number of phases and discussions within the ANC and particularly the MK side. The document sums up the terror and the violence which I've referred to and stresses that a political solution should be found to the problem and the key way to solve the problem is a political way and at 1.3 it makes the point and this is written Chairperson and your colleagues, at the beginning of 1992 when one might say the conflict between the ANC and the IFP is at it's height, but at 1.3 the document states:
"Initiatives, such as of talks with Inkatha are extremely important. Campaigns at local and trade union levels to improve understanding between township communities and hostel dwellers are imperative."
It goes on to refer to the need for political pressure on the government of the day together with exposures of the role of the security forces in the violence throughout the country as a means of forcing and to quote "the Government to curb the killers" because the problem was and I'm saying this as an aside, that the people just could not rely on the security forces and on the police to protect them. That was a major aspect of the problem we faced.
"That side by side with politics, the political endeavour is the need to build structures that could protect people's lives and property and their homes"
Because obviously, one could not leave people to face the violence we've referred to and to die the way they were in such numbers whilst discussions and peace talks took place. So in the absence of the police force and the security forces, to keep opposing forces apart, to police the townships, to secure the communities, we were left with no other method other than to assist people to develop organs of self defence ranging from neighbourhood watches to sound the alarms and blow the whistles when danger was seen to actual units which would patrol the streets which would form lookouts, to help sound the alarm, to rally people and in the end to be able to defend people from attack.
MR KASRILS: Well precisely, so it's a correct idea and you're right, we discussed the same question with the farmers and I'm very sympathetic to them but the difference, Advocate, is that this government is able to bring the police and the military to the protection of the farmers even if we can't assure a hundred percent protection.
MR KASRILS: What the apartheid government totally failed to do was to provide any form of protection for communities who were subject to the most incredible onslaught of terror and really that is the essence of why people sought to defend themselves, how we tried to get it done in a disciplined way, the way we might in Sandton where people have got their gates and their alarm systems and cars and the police, but here in communities living cheek by jowl with buildings and areas where there were forces that were used against them. So I do agree sir.
MR KASRILS: Well could I actually respond by saying that the National Peace Accord recognised the right to the self defence units and in fact in our discussions with government at Kempton Park - and I was in the security commission with the then Minister of Law and Order as it was called, Mr Hernus Kriel. He accepted that the self defence units could be created and that indeed perhaps they could be provided with weapons by way of licensed firearms. We took that up but unfortunately the government very quickly forgot about that and we couldn't pursue that course.
The document goes on to assist people with how to go about discussions with the community in creating the self defence unit and stresses that there should be a non-sectarian approach, it shouldn't be an MK unit or an ANC unit, it should cut across the political divides to try and unify the community and indeed we had in mind the hostel dwellers being part of this and part of the community but unfortunately, the circumstances at the time, the beleaguered nature of the way hostel dwellers saw themselves, the way their mindset was exploited and clearly the role of the third force played it's role and they remained as cocoons or fortresses against the community.
In brief the document details the following. Organisation of a unit and it's structure, a street defence system, how to recruit, how to train, the question of weaponry, communications, intelligence, observation, barricades, support groups and very important, a chapter dealing with working with hostile forces. The hostile forces being referred to as perceived hostile forces such as police and military and hostel dwellers and in that chapter it articulated the need to make friends with those forces to win them over and come to solutions together and search the political solution.
There's a final chapter on tactics. Now I would simply like to add that we did not see MK members as constituting the entire defence unit, that the ordinary people needed to be recruited into the units and given discipline and training, that it was an MK members duty to do everything possible to assist, to train, to arm, to educate and so on. That's basically what this document refers to but what I would like to say in conclusion to this is that and as a writer of this document, it's one thing to have an ideal, an objective and to write very nicely about it from a discussion group or in a study or at a desk. It's quite another thing to place people in the real situation. It's the tremendous gap between theory and practice, between what we are attempting to do and should be doing as between what actually happens on the ground and I want to make this point here very honestly, not simply to find a way of coming to plead for defendants, I'm also an applicant, not in this court but I have put in an application and I'm sure I will be called at one stage or other in relation to the self defence units, the arming of the people for self defence and so on but the enormous difference sir, between the theory and what actually happens on the ground and all the problems that develop on the ground particularly in the most demanding situation that a human being can find themselves in and that is the struggle to survive against somebody who is attacking you with all guns blazing. In other words a war zone, a battle field situation and not a situation of an organised mighty army of the British in the Falklands or the Americans and the Iraq army in the gulf and the Second World War but a battle that rages, that any moment and any time and any second of night or day in a sprawling, depressed area such as this where people have got the flimsiest of shelters, where people are living cheek by jowl with one another, where suddenly an outbreak of violence occurs and young people who are driven by the most noble of sentiments and that's to defend their mothers and their fathers and their neighbours and their children and the brothers and sisters, are prepared to do that, have been prepared to do that, they've been prepared to go to jail or to die for that. They've had to in that situation whilst we have the leaders with perhaps a more mature view of documents such as the one I've indicated and policy are not at hand and they've got to respond and find a way of responding. I think this is the most essential point that I believe I can make before you here today.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Kasrils, you know I think basically we all understand what you're saying and mostly it's been an understanding that the Amnesty Committee was aware of, by the time but in exercising those or executing those decisions and setting up what was necessary, I'm sure you will agree that maybe on very infrequent occasions the criminals for want of a better word, maybe the third force saw opportunities to infiltrate and do things that were not planned. I think it is that type of notion which gives rise to enquiries such as these. Had it not been for that I think the activities of self defence units could not be questioned and I'd just like to known what or hear what your comments are on the possibilities of these ill-thought of creatures that infiltrate and caused mayhem and did wrong things for various reasons?
MR KASRILS: Can I make it very clear that I totally welcome hearings such as this and I would say that the applicants do as well, my knowledge of them. We don't see you as an instrument here of making people sweat and cringe about what they've done. Then I might be sweating but it's terribly hot.
MR KASRILS: And it's the only way to go forward. The question of infiltration is not just a problem and has not just been a problem for the South African liberation struggle. It is as old as the Bible, it is as old as history, we can read in the Bible about infiltration whether it's the Old or the New Testament, whether it's a Judas Iscariot and a traitor of that kind and previous history. So we've seen particularly in the 20th century and in the liberation struggles against colonialism, be it in Vietnam or Zimbabwe, the then Rhodesia, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Algeria and Algeria to a tremendous degree where the ruling power has used the entire historic arsenal to prevent justice from being achieved and on the one hand it's the full force of the army and the police and the courts and so on and the law and on the other it's what is being used in history, it tends to be called the third force, it's been called the dirty war, it's where the forces of the ruling order masquerade in various ways as liberators. Now South Africa and Zimbabwe struggled particularly because I believe South African Security learned a great deal from the Smith forces in Rhodesia which in turn learned a lot from way the British in Malaya and in Kenya dealt with patriotic uprisings and that was to, for example, capture guerillas or liberation fighters, freedom fighters, threaten them with death, compromise them in some way and turn them into what we call Askaris in this country who then infiltrate the liberation organ. They do the same thing directly with convicts and criminals from prisons and we've had many examples of this in South Africa where actual convicts are released while they're serving sentence and are done so on the basis that they would join the ANC and this was happening in the '70's and the '80's and they would join in order to be obviously informants that where necessary agents provocateurs, to carry out murders and assassinations or to go and pretend to the people that they came from the MK or the Zimbabwe Freedom Forces or SWAPO and would kill people in the name of those organisations.
Now the TRC has revealed a myriad of factors like this and what we found post 1990, when we began to think we had gone through the worst of the problems of the actual armed struggle that these methods were used against us and the communities in a multifold way and did exactly as it's being put by Judge Pillay and we are aware of this so that in the ANC's documentation which was presented to the TRC of the hearings in August '96 and 12th May '97. There's a great deal of time and trouble there, is spent on explaining how certain of these actions were carried out in the name of the ANC but by forces which actually came from the regime and at times criminal forces, became very problematic for us and that's precisely ...(inaudible)
ADV DE JAGER: ...(inaudible) but why they did it, what would you say in such an event and taking into consideration that you've written this pamphlet as you've said in theory but now we've got the practical situation in Thokoza. How would you say, was that a defence or an offensive deed?
MR KASRILS: Well in the first place it wasn't policy. Our policy did not say that we should attack people and kill people in that way, it was all about self defence. I'm talking about the policy of the self defence units. So from that point of view that was a deviation from the policy as laid down and the moment an event like that happened, the ANC leadership and I see Jessie Duarte sitting here today, she was very active in that period in the East Rand. Her, the colleagues of the ANC's regional leadership would race to these areas and remind the comrades and members of discipline, of policy as we would from a national level and I would say that those who carried out such an act wouldn't argue against us and say well, this is policy we're challenging the policy and therefore one has got to find another reason for it. I think it's quite easy to find the reason and that would be out of anger, out of retaliation, as a counter-action, as a deterrent, as a way of proving to the other side and unfortunately that's how perceptions grow in a war zone, that we can hit you back. So the power of a deterrent and we know this from the Old Testament, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and that's why I say - I think it's easy to understand what had compelled the individuals on the ground, having lived through the nightmare that I've described, that others can more capably describe than me, the deaths and the bloodshed and so on of feeling propelled to counter-attack and to say we can do it to you so "pas op", stop what you've been doing, it's tit for tat. Now that has happened in every conflict in history. An organisation, a leadership with principles, that pursues justice, is constantly striving to get people under discipline, to get people to understand that that isn't the way. But unfortunately, the dividing line is very, very thin.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Kasrils, I appreciate what you're saying and maybe we must take cognisance of all the noble concepts that you talk about but I wouldn't have imagined that the drafters of that document, the policy makers of the SDU's, would ever have imagined that a particular group of people forming a self defence unit had to wait to be attacked and run the risk of injury, or death maybe, before that group of people could comply with the criminal requirements of self defence. One couldn't expect people to wait to be attacked or am I wrong?
ADV MOTATA: Before you do Mr Kasrils, we say there is a broad policy laid down by the hierarchy of the ANC but if you come to the ground you may find that the theoretical notions put down do not translate to the actions that obtained from the ground and are you saying people whilst the broader policies says to you "look, this is the discipline we want", they shouldn't take cognisance of the surroundings and the happenings that probably we are not speaking of something conventional here. It's very unconventional and the understanding even from the media reports says that Thokoza, Kathlehong, Katorus, was a war zone and then now there are the people peacefully going to a cemetary, no attack, but they are attacked?
MR KASRILS: Well let's deal with the first question about could we expect people to simply sit back until they're attacked, shouldn't they therefore they go out to attack the opponents? The problem about that is identifying the enemy if you're talking about enemy and living within another community. So whatever the problems that arose and we did impose those problems and we made it difficult for our people and this is why whether it's regular and unconventional warfare, it's always easier for the attacker than the defender. It always is in a conventional war and unconventional war even more so. But these were the standards that we hoped to achieve, we couldn't develop and wouldn't develop a policy that would have simply declared war and said go out and attack and therefore it required tremendous degree of training and discipline and self control and I would think perhaps there you then have the breakdown and specially if we turn to the second question, you then have the breakdown and specially if we turn to the second question, that in an unconventional situation it is even more difficult but the ANC always had very, very high principles and sought to inculcate that within our people and sought to develop a method of warnings, early warning systems, self defence, so as to have a deterrent from defence rather than one of a deterrent from attack. I have used the term a very thin dividing line which is why we understood what had driven people to go against policy and could only strive to educate them and to train them in a more disciplined way to avoid such action as the one that you're considering.
CHAIRPERSON: You see Mr Kasrils, the application thus far I don't ...(indistinct) it's going to change, is based on the concept and notion of self defence, defence which in ordinary terms carries with it criminal implications and criminal law requirements. Now I'm not suggesting that that is how it operates but we have had evidence in respect of this event that at the very least there was a perception that whenever there was a funeral procession of people belonging to a particular political party or community and that on their return they leave in their wake the bodies of dead people which they didn't pick up at the cemetary that they were, right? But they killed those people and the victims so happened to be members or supporters of the opposition political party and there had been a pattern that had developed. This attack on this funeral procession was not an attack on the first funeral procession they had and given that scenario would you consider the attack on this funeral procession in those circumstances as having violated the code set down by the decision makers?
CHAIRPERSON: The question is that the pattern was that on the way back the members of the procession would leave in it's wake these dead bodies and injured people but on this particular instance as I understand it, the attack was launched before that group even reached the cemetary with a view, with a vision of what's going to occur when they return.
MR KASRILS: Yes I think that that's really putting it in the context and that's understanding the motive of those who carried out the attack because what I was reminded of as you were speaking Judge Pillay, one needs to remind oneself of the events. These events were so varied and dramatic in those days that generally after a funeral and I'm referring here particularly to those of say hostel dwellers. They would from a cemetary come through the township and they would come through many different streets, there might be a main body of people, the procession would have broken up, people would be in side streets, some would go into houses on the way back to a hostel and attack people. I thank you for reminding me because this happened over and over again and ...(intervention)
MR KASRILS: I say you're reminding me of this because when we cast our minds back to that period this was happening on virtually every weekend and if you were in Soweto or Thokoza or so on a weekend it was a most frightening experience as one expected at any moment to be attacked and you never know where it was coming from and very often danger, security was at it's gravest post these funerals because you would have the attacks that we've both now referred to. So I can understand a motivation for an attack beforehand perhaps the motivation being let's strike first, let's deter first and let's teach these people a lesson.
ADV DE JAGER: Ja and on the other hand one could other understand, sitting back now, that people coming from a funeral having just buried one of their own people, perhaps a mother or a father that's been killed by the opposition, they would be excited in a sense they would be worked up at the funeral, emotions and they would come back and attack so we have this vicious circle in those unfortunate days?
MR KASRILS: Judge De Jager I would agree with you about how a cycle can develop but I really would be failing in my duty as a citizen of our country and somebody who did see so much of these events and try to study them and I'm saying this as an individual now, not as a member of the ANC. I think any historian looking at those events would see that the violence and the cause of the violence was really preponderantly on the side of the people who emanated from the hostels and not from the communities, that it really stemmed from that cause and I am saying that I understand too how hostel dwellers felt and how the security forces of the day indeed going back to 1976 played on the fears and the isolation of the hostel dwellers but I would really stand up in any company and argue that the preponderance was very, very much from the other direction and when we look at those who died, ninety percent or even more of the casualties were from the people living in the townships, the community, in other words rather than from those fortresses which the hostels were at that time which were receiving people coming from areas, their home areas to actually come to these areas in order to participate in the activities that we're discussing.
CHAIRPERSON: In your study or looking back in history, maybe it's an obvious answer, I don't know, were you able to categorise the hostel dwellers as opposed to the community into political allegiances?
MR KASRILS: I think it's very clear that they were aligned to the then Inkatha group, that that's where loyalties were, that's where connections were and many of the court cases sentences such as Captain Mitchell of Trust Feeds, the Operation Marion of the Defence Force, the training of the Caprivi people, the TRC revelations have all, I would say, shown that in the most unqualified way and of course the experience of the people living in the townships, was that that's where danger came from. I know when I would come into Thokoza and Catorus, Vosloorus and I came in on a number of occasions for funerals, to speak at meetings, sometimes to meet with self defence unit people and talk to them, that coming into this area was into a war zone and the danger and the fire and the bullets were coming from where the hostels were and the dividing line was as was shown to you this morning, was it Literary Street? Sorry, Khumalo Street as we saw in the map. So you felt physically the threat coming from that line of hostels on the other side of Khumalo Street.
CHAIRPERSON: I want to raise something with you seeing that you investigated this historically and it's just a theory that crosses my mind and I do so for the purposes of comparing. It seems to me that in this area and other areas north, maybe Natal, that whoever was manipulating all of these things had the opportunity and so to say tools to develop these unacceptable practices when in fact it was an attack really on the anti-apartheid forces. In other sections of the country like Eastern Cape, such tools did not exist and therefore the security police had to do their own dirty work as is being admitted to these days. Do you see any comparison between the two?
MR KASRILS: The nature of apartheid was to so divide us and to divide our communities, black and white obviously, coloured and Indian, amongst the African people according to language or ethnicity or region and even within regions, so we could look at a rather homogenous area like the rural parts of KwaZulu Natal and find fierce hostility between residents of villages as we found here in the melting pot on the Rand. This was what apartheid was about and if we're to understand say the tools that you refer to, if these happened to be migrant workers or whatever background, living in a township, living in a hostel be it in Durban where the rural migrant workers living in the hostels around Durban or in the Cape, anywhere in the Cape or in Jo'burg East/West Rand, those people living in the hostels, everything was done over the years which is why I think 1976 was such an important example, to keep them separate from the broader community because we could see in established communities whether your home language was Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Xhosa, you mixed and you related and you inter-married but where you had migrant workers in a hostel under specific regulations with a different kind of background and perhaps lower level of education, everything was done during apartheid period to create the division and hostility, so in that sense one sees the perfect mechanism or example or tool to carry out the kind of dirty job for the power and the privilege of the land and again we look at history and we see that every tyranny has always been able to find division amongst people, to find tools there to carry out their dirty deeds and we've seen in history, India is a very good example, it's one of the classic examples of how the British Raj finally had to withdraw after the mutiny of the Indian army, side by side with the mass struggle in India. In South Africa we can look at why apartheid failed in the end, why it collapsed because it got to a stage where in the end they couldn't go on using different people in the way they had and I would say we need to see how 1990 to 1994 was a period of tremendous intensity in terms of striving to find those tools, that it's interesting to see how in a place called the Ciskei under Brigadier Gqozo, Oupa Gqozo, how there they had to largely rely on the security forces of the regime but nevertheless strove to give the chiefs in the Ciskei some privileges and then through the chiefs there, there was an attempt which totally failed to develop some form of social force behind Gqozo. We saw the same thing happening in the then Bophuthatswana where I would say Lucas Mangope succeeded to a greater degree than Gqozo because of the wealth that he had which he was pilfering from the mineral rights that was able to establishing the beginnings of some form of bureaucratic class which supported him.
ADV MOTATA: Mr Kasrils, if we refocus and say we look at the East Rand which is the subject matter of this hearing that the hostilities emanated from the hostels and what we know and I think we should take cognisance of that, is that the hostel dwellers came from all over and if we want to say people were fortifying themselves against the Inkatha Freedom Party, can we really say if we had this healthy mixture of the so-called migrant labourers who all stayed at the hostels and with the evidence we have heard today that for instance you take Khalenyoni Hostel where there was in-fighting though it was hearsay largely and that hostel was demolished brick by brick? Can we say then all these hostel dwellers would have belonged because the hostilities emanated from there would have belonged to the IFP?
MR KASRILS: I think the - an unfortunate aspect of conflict of any kind is that we need to generalise and people will generalise and that's also human nature so if you take particular objects such as the hostel you refer to, I'm sure that within that hostel there would have been people who had absolutely nothing to do with any form of violence, wanted to keep out of it, perhaps would pack their bags and leave, prefer to do that if they couldn't - found that they had to remain there. A lot of intimidation was used, we know that, to force people into impis and lines of activity. So from that point of view it's always difficult to say that in a German battalion in the Second World War every single member there was evil or every single member there supported Hitler or was a member of the Nazi Party, but in the battle gunfire would open from the allied side on that entire battalion in the same way as with the bombings that Churchill or Rooseveldt carried out, had his forces carry out against the Japanese or the German people, so in the same way people here, moving against a hostel and feeling that this hostel represented death to them, represented acute danger, that it was necessary for the sake of their lives and their children that it should be demolished, they would do so given the chance and I know that the feelings were very, very high in those days and we were constantly trying at the political level to find ways to create to a cordon sanitaire around hostels which was done, if you remember, in one of the agreements with then President de Klerk and they agreed to put fencing around hostels, security guards around hostels, security checks of people going in and out. They failed to do that but that would have been another way of dealing with the problem, rather than having to destroy it brick by brick and in that way punish every member of that particular hostel. So I think it's just very, very difficult to distinguish, unfortunately.
MR KASRILS: If I may, I just wanted to remind the Commission of the Goldstone and the Haremse Commissions and the revelations in those Commissions about the source of violence and particularly Goldstone. It's referred to in the ANC documentation of August 1996 and I would like to refer Commission to pages 63 to 66 in particular, it's just three pages, where the ANC deal with the SDU's.
MR KASRILS: Sorry of the August '96 statement to the Commission, August '96 and that's pages 63 to 66 and then I have submissions Sir, is the ANC's further submission of 12th May 1997 and the relevant pages there are 27 to 31. In addition to particularly Goldstone, there were the revelations by Mr Luthuli to the TRC about the third force activities, the Caprivi training and they way their units then carried out actions of terror in KwaZulu Natal.
ADV MOTATA: Just one thing about the Caprivians in the form of Dalokolo Luthuli. Didn't that spread even to the then Transvaal, that it wasn't confined only to KwaZulu Natal but it was felt here in the then Transvaal?
MR KASRILS: That's very much so and our belief was that when I talked about elements from KwaZulu Natal coming to the townships and coming to the hostels that the hostels were used as these bases for individuals who had been trained there, Sir, to be brought to the ...(inaudible) and had been to the TRC. Many instances and reports of weaponry being brought into these hostels and been brought by the AWB, by the Police, by the military and by those elements who had been trained as you've indicated. Thank you.
MR KASRILS: In my application to the Amnesty Committee, which I'm still waiting to be called, I apply for amnesty on the grounds that I in fact participated in providing weapons to the people of the East Rand, of Soweto of the West Rand, of other parts of the country. I did so as did Robert McBride in order to protect peoples lives in the way that is being described for self defence purposes. Now it really cannot be equated the question of protection for defence against those who wage war and are prepared to go to absolute extremes in their bloodshed and destruction. On our part we have admitted to failures on our part to occasions where our people have overstepped the mark and carried out actions which were against policy. The ANC leadership has accepted responsibility for that and we also ask the TRC to consider the context in which people made those mistakes.
MR KASRILS: Certainly and I readily would admit to being proud of the fact that I participated in a movement that sought at all times to find a way of protecting people and to do so in an organised and disciplined way. We preferred peace, we've shown this in fact and Robert McBride is a much maligned citizen of our country, has shown that in fact what had driven him was the quest for peace and justice and freedom so it's very, very different to view the actions of such people as against those who were doing everything possible to prevent change, freedom, peace and justice to come about. I think it's not correct to view people in the same way, it depends what cause you are serving, what the objective is about.
Mr Kasrils, I'd like to refer you to bundle 3 of the document, the application of one Mr Phineas Mpele, it's on page 148, without compromising your amnesty application that is still to be heard. I would however like your comment on Mr Mpele's allegations. If you refer to page 149, he states that he infiltrated South Africa under your instructions and then states further that in the post 1990 period during the process of the establishment and the support of the SDU, he was instructed to create DLB's for the defence units in Thokoza, Kathlehong and Soweto and goes on to state that he handed these sketches to yourself. Do you have any recollection of this incident, would you like to comment?
MR KASRILS: Yes sure, a DLB stands for dead letter box, it's from the clandestine literature and is common internationally and in an underground struggle it becomes necessary to safeguard the security and secrecy of people and their identities. It's obviously very risky for me to come and meet you supposing you're a member of the liberation movement or the underground and come to your house and bring you money or a fake passport or a gun or leaflets so we will set up a DLB between each other. I will take the material and hide it somewhere safe, it could be simply in the hollow of a tree trunk or it could be in a hole in the ground, it could be under a floorboard somewhere and I then get somebody to take a sketch to you or the instructions which indicates to you how to find that weapon or money or material so you then can safely go to take it without the two of us meeting. So in relevance to what's happened in South Africa, we developed such means in terms of bringing weaponry from outside the country, people would come inside, they would create DLB's and we would later bring the sketch to you as say the organiser of a Soweto MK unit. You would then be able to receive that material and in the period of the '90 - '94, we in fact had to resort back to some of these methods in order to distribute material.
MR MACHITJE: In 1989 on the 14th November I was arrested by security branch. I was charged for furthering the aims of the ANC and for attacking a house that belonged to a mayor, a former mayor of Thokoza, Mr Matsutsu.
MR MACHITJE: Yes I was instrumental in the formation of the central command of the SDU and as a senior commander of Thokoza branch, MK commander. I was not a commander of - a central commander of the SDU's.
MR MACHITJE: My role was to co-ordinate. When I talk of coordination I mean I had to collect whatever information on the ground that the SDU's were doing, the attackers and report it back to the ANC and whatever instruction that I received from head office to the central command I will take it to them. Basically the kind of work I was doing was that.
MR MACHITJE: If I may answer that one, I was not responsible for their daily activities. If I didn't put it on the application then I will just want to state it here I was not responsible on their daily activities.
MR MACHITJE: Yes in fact here we are talking of a person who stays inside Thokoza, I grew inside Thokoza and that doesn't mean I didn't know what they're up to. I said to you my ...(indistinct) was to know their activity and to report them to head office so I presume you people understand that, I was aware of certain things SDU's were doing.
ADV DE JAGER: Why I'm putting this to you is because you made a remark about the evidence leader, if she has read your application she would have known what you've said and that what wasn't what you've said, she was correct in asking you about it.
"I was instructed by the MK regional command to form structures and give necessary training where it's needed."
MR MACHITJE: I think it was not a policy of the ANC that we should attack people but as the case would go inside that township, as a person who saw what is happening daily. Earlier I indicated to you that there was a pattern which was followed and which the TRC on their final report don't have it and one of the patterns was the funeral situation that I indicated earlier and normally when there was a funeral for an IFP member - let me put it straight, let's talk about the funeral that I mention. Under normal situation when IFP members were marching to the graveyard, one will see them brandishing guns and the so-called traditional weapons and even kids knew that when they come back from the graveyard then they will start attacking innocently and they will kill on their way back to the ...(indistinct) so as a kid who grew inside the township I felt it's my responsibility to stop that. Those were my instructions from my seniors to stop the funeral.
MS PATEL: Then my question to you is were you in your particular position that you held entitled to take the kind of decision to order the kind of in a sense almost operation that you did? That's all that I'm trying to get at.
MR MACHITJE: I will respond by saying the violence which was alleged inside Thokoza, it's unfortunate that we don't have something that you can rely on to show what was going now but ...(intervention)
MR MACHITJE: I was not entitled in a sense of the leadership giving me the go ahead that if you want to take a decision you can take it but as a human being as soldier I will study a situation and I will take decision even without consulting with my leaders.
MS PATEL: Would this have been the norm that given a particular situation under certain conditions people at your level would be able to take certain decisions without clarifying that with the higher command structures?
MR MACHITJE: I will first give you a little bit of background. When I was arrested already inside the township Thokoza there were internal trained members of MK and when I was released it became easy for me to orientate myself with the situation and some of them were part and parcel of the defence of the community and yes, any decision that I will send in, any instruction that I will send in will be followed.
MS PATEL: And then just on the code of conduct, generally in terms of your own experience would the average member of the SDU, would he be au fait, he or she be au fait with the contents of the code of conduct.
MS PATEL: Meaning that would your average member of an SDU, the code of conduct that was in place, would they have known of it's existence of what's written in it and what is expected of them in terms of that code, in terms of your experience?
ADV DE JAGER: But the question is whether your foot soldiers, not whether you knew and whether you tried to step within the bounds of the code of conduct but did your foot soldiers know what's the contents of the code of conduct?
MR MACHITJE: I'll say maybe most, not all of them. Here we are talking of a war situation, a situation that was inside Thokoza, it was a situation where there were people, ordinary people who formed their own unit and defend their street and I wouldn't say if they apply and say we were members of a defence unit and we were not aware of a code of conduct and then I will be surprised.
MR MACHITJE: Yes there were measures which were taken, I'll make an example. There is an extension in Thokoza that is called Extension 2 where there are members harassed the community by collecting money and I personally went to a meeting which was called there and the decision which was taken by the community was that I must take it to my ...(indistinct) I disarm them so every weapon which was used by them was taken from them.
MS PATEL: Would these disciplinary procedures be generally known amongst the foot soldiers that there were in place and that they would be implemented if they went beyond the bounds of their authorization?
MR MACHITJE: I'll answer that by saying I indicated to you that everybody inside the township participated in defending the community so maybe most, not all of them, will have known that there are measures which are going to be taken if they - because here we had a situation, earlier I showed you a map of Thokoza. When the violence started there were problems like foot soldiers from a certain section will move towards a section where they hear there is gunshots and when they pass these other sections, because of that section not responding to that they will be disarmed or there will be a serious clash among themselves.
MR MACHITJE: What I said is there was a funeral of the wife of the Reverend Mbekesini Khumalo and as funerals of IFP was part of the pattern that took place inside Thokoza, I took it to myself to round every section commander and made it clear to them that funeral must not past Beirut section and Thokoza Garden.
MR MACHITJE: I'm not sure of how she died but that thing can be clarified with people who are here and if really he was killed when he was ...(indistinct) at Springs then I can confirm it, but currently I'm not quite sure.
MS PATEL: You stated there that you were released from prison and then after that you state that regarding the self defence units the latter had no proper control and lack of co-ordination, led to sporadic attacks or during sporadic attacks led to internal fights. Could you just give us just a little bit of background regarding those internal fights? What were they about?
MR MACHITJE: I don't have information of the internal fights that were taken place and earlier I made an example of SDU members moving from one section to the other and some will be concerned of why are they carrying guns, passing their section. So there were so many internal conflicts which inside the township, so I'm not ...(intervention)
MR MACHITJE: I wouldn't say it was power struggle, there was this belief that if self defence unit members roam around carrying guns in a section various - some people would know that ISU will immediately cover that section and people will be beaten, shot at and so that was the situation.
MS PATEL: Alright, just for clarity or completeness rather, you stated that you ordered the attack on the IFP members who participated in the funeral procession. Can you be more specific as to whom you ordered?
MR MACHITJE: I earlier say that I rounded every section commander in each and every part of the township and I'll normally work with members of the internal MK structure who were there and they assisted me in mobilising that attack and I cannot be specifically sure when I - who did I gave order but I only know the response of the whole operation because as I said earlier the attack took place and that was the last time the IFP passes through Khumalo.
MR MACHITJE: It's unfortunate that here you are talking of a war situation that is not known to some of the members and the information they have it's documentation that he received from whoever was in ...(intervention)
MR MACHITJE: I indicated that I rounded every section commander inside Thokoza and I gave an instruction that - and I cannot come out with names now, there are so many people who have applied and I'm quite sure you people have a list of commanders and the structure that is there.
MR MACHITJE: Well if that is the situation I'll say there was a structure that existed and among the people who I gave instruction there was an internal member of the MK unit, Seknini Morani and he made an application about his activities during the violence. The other person that I want to mention his name is Lucky Sepe and he made an application about his activities.
MS PATEL: There's just one final aspect. In your application you stated, in your application form page 19, 11 (b), 19 under 11(b). In terms of the incident that you've applied for, if my understanding of your evidence is correct, you stated that you made the order, you gave the order on your own without authorization from above, yet here you mention the names of three people. Would you like to clarify this for us please?
MR MACHITJE: I received a letter from the TRC where I should mention names of my regional commanders and I mentioned those names because every region in this country had a regional MK commander and their instructions to me was to assist SDU's who with the know how and the training, because we had a problem of you'll find a forteen year old kid with an AK not knowing how to handle it so my regional commanders instructed me to make sure they get training and that training took place, it took place at Vosloorus Stadium and Ilinge High School there in Vosloorus.
MS PATEL: So you're saying that your response to 11(b) is in respect of your orders to generally assist with the SDU's in the area, not in relation to the specific incident for which you are applying?
MR MACHITJE: Yes, Master was one of the commanders. When I first applied I didn't put all the names of the regional command because I thought if I say regional command it will be easy for investigators of the TRC to get those names because it was not a secret that there was a regional command in every region in this country.
MR MACHITJE: I didn't know what the service of the funeral will start but immediately when the procession moved from the stronghold of IFP I monitored them and by then everybody was moving towards Beirut and Thokoza Garden and as I said earlier it was a well known thing inside Thokoza that there will be a funeral and possibly it can pass at this time, there will be an attack.
MR MACHITJE: Yes it is true but with the situation inside Thokoza, here we talk of patterns which changed from time to time and when the central command was formed, the aim of that central command was to make sure that there is a coordination, a coordination where for an example if a serious attack is taking place inside Penduka. Other commanders would be immediately contacted and informed that there is an attack inside Penduka and they will immediately instruct members of the SDU or select a few of them to move to go to Penduka and assist because here we are talking of a war situation that when the attack took place it will be a horrific attack that one will have thought it's a battle between two armies or two countries fighting each other.
MR MACHITJE: I indicated when I revealed that when the attack took place the military used the past strategy of demoralising what they termed as their enemy. They will fight and bodies will be immediately removed so I'm quite sure there are people who died during that attack and by the end of the day when the violence stopped, the only people who could be identified were people who died on the community side. It was like IFP didn't have any injuries.
CHAIRPERSON: When you prepared for this application did you not take the trouble of trying to find out from your colleagues or friends or newspaper cuttings when exactly the funeral procession occurred?
CHAIRPERSON: Now on page 7 of your application - on page 17 of your application, you say you were instructed by the MK regional command to form structures and give the necessary training where it was needed. Can you see you wrote that?
MR MACHITJE: Yes I was referring to SDU. I earlier said when I was released there were defence units and they didn't have proper training, there was lack of discipline and my regional commanders instructed me to help them and make sure that they get proper training.
MR MACHITJE: There was no structures which was formed, what we did is from each section five members of SDU's were selected and those members were taken to Vosloorus Stadium and training started and it was a mix of those SDU members, MK members, trained members and internal MK members and they participated in training inside Vosloorus.
MR MACHITJE: I was present when they were shot at. I was a distance from the attack and I was using binoculars because as I said it was a normal thing inside Thokoza to know that when a funeral goes through Thokoza, you could see members of IFP carrying assault rifles, traditional weapons, so immediately when they reached Beirut section, that's where they were attacked.
MR MACHITJE: In indicated that a comrade from Kathlehong by the name of Jacky Macheco arrived. Jacky was aware because it was about two months after he was released from prison so when I was released he became aware that I'm out of prison and knowing the problem that the ANC found itself, they were negotiating and there was no proper department which was responsible for the safety of MK members so comrade Jacky knew exactly what was happening inside Thokoza and out of his concern he brought this AK and I participated on that attack and I could not remember who was next to me, I cannot mention names because as I said it was about two weeks after my release. CHAIRPERSON: So what you are telling me, you were not alone when you shot?
MR MACHITJE: Yes, the situation will be like when I participated I will normally participate - on the two days I participated with the attacks which were mostly intensified at night so it becomes a problem for me to say during that night who did I see participating.
MR MACHITJE: In daytime I didn't participate because my condition of release was that I shall not be found participating in any violence in a period of three years so during the day I won't participate, I will just monitor the situation and give advice where it's necessary because as I say normally at night it's where you couldn't see that there is somebody who is ...(intervention)
MR MAKANJEE: Mr Chairperson as indicated yesterday to my learned friend we had given a list of four names. However during the course of today it was indicated by yourself and members of the panel that you would not require for purposes of these amnesty hearings an indepth background as you are already familiar with the background in the situation.
MR MAKANJEE: That is correct. Unfortunately the two people who we intended to call today were people who also wanted to give the panel an idea of the background in the community at this stage. One member is presently testifying at Palm Ridge, the other member is here but we do not think it's necessary to call her at this stage of the hearing. We ask respectfully if there could be an adjournment now in order for us to then prepare on the actual submissions for people who have actually have been specific in the incidents.
MR MAKANJEE: Sorry Advocate De Jager, Mr Nkosi is at presently giving evidence in Palm Ridge. He is a member of the leadership and my instructions were that this difficulty was communicated to the Truth Commission and it was at the suggestion of the Truth Commission that the hearings be separate as far as the leadership is concerned.
CHAIRPERSON: Well it doesn't look like we've got much of a choice today. I'm going to adjourn this matter and I want everybody to listen, 9 a.m. tomorrow morning not 10 a.m., 9 a.m. and we're adjourning to the Johannesburg Institute for Social Services Centre. It's to be found on the corner of Queen Street and Battery Road in Mayfair and we will start at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning and if there's no applicant that matter will be struck from the roll. We have to get these applications done. We are adjourned.