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Type Media Hearings
Day 1 BROADCAST MEDIA
Names NOMAVENDA MATHIANE, DENNIS CRUYWAGEN, RAYMOND LOUW, ARRI DE BEER, MAX DU PREEZ
CHAIRPERSON: We are ready to start. Good morning ladies and gentlemen. We are proceeding in the first section of today's hearings with submissions from the Forum of Black Journalists and I will straight away proceed to call Messrs Oupa Ngwenya and Mondli Makhanya. If you could take the stand please. I believe there is a slight change in the people. You will introduce yourselves. Most probably before you sit snugly and comfortably in those chairs, I will ask Advocate Potgieter to administer an oath to you and then we will proceed.
ADV POTGIETER: Gentlemen, just before you do that, perhaps you can just, just give your names, just, when you switch on that microphone in front of you there is a red button. If you touch that it will switch on.
CHAIRPERSON: Let me just extend a formal word of welcome to you and to say that we are pleased that you have taken the opportunity to come and give us a perspective of the Forum of Black Journalists. We have heard submissions from black journalists in the two days that we have been here, giving the perspective of the UBJ, of MWASA maybe there is something to be said again about the Forum of Black Journalist giving a perspective. Commissioner Hlengiwe Mkhize is going to facilitate your submission.
MS MKHIZE: I would also like to add word of welcome. As the Chair has indicated that for the past two days we have had an opportunity of interacting with journalists from, coming from different perspectives. One of the things which has been raised time and again is the question of the training of black journalists which, I hope, in your presentation you will highlight problems that were encountered or hindrances to proper training of black journalists. Also there has been a question of the relationship of the media and the State which has, yesterday clearly with one witness actually admitting that he, in the media room, worked closely with security forces or to be specific, to be exact that he was also employed in that capacity as well. So, those are some of the problems which we think it will help a lot if you can address as well in your presentation. Thank you.
MR MAKHANYA: Thank you, good morning and thank you for giving us the opportunity to make our submission today. The thrust of the submission by the Forum of Black Journalists and the Black Editors Forum is that the newspaper industry in this country played a pivotal role in the upholding of apartheid system and that it colluded wittingly with the apartheid system, with successive apartheid Governments to perpetuate the system of apartheid. This it did by enforcing discriminatory laws within their own institutions, by using terminology and language which was ideologically congruent with the National Party Governments and in conflict with the various liberation forces in this country. As a result of that, the, organisations such as the ANC, the PAC and the Black Consciousness Movement were known as terrorist organisations and they were demonised by the press, by the various media houses in the country and they were called terrorists and organisations which were operating within the country such as the United Democratic Front and the Azanian Peoples Organisation were coined radical organisations and extremist organisations and this served to demonise these organisations and paint them as evil bodies. Within these institutions there were separate amenities. There were different toilet for blacks, different toilet for whites, inferior canteens for blacks and better canteen for white staffers and newspaper houses also served to implement pass laws, job reservation requirements and preferential employment practices in the Cape for instance. We believe by doing so the press houses served as an extension of the apartheid State. They did nothing to oppose these, they did nothing to show that these acts were actually unjust and immoral acts, they merely implemented them as was. We also say that they took sides, openly took sides, in the apartheid conflict by saying that, by allowing white males to go and serve camps in the SADF, by allowing white males to be police reservists and, on the other hand, immediately anybody among other black staffers or white staffers who took part in anti-apartheid activity was victimised. If you were detained you would either have your salary cut off while you were in detention, if you were jailed you would be fired while you are in jail. We have in our greater submission details of people who were victimised in this manner, and we say that by doing so the media houses, both Afrikaans and English, took sides and said that this side of the conflict was the legitimate side and the other one was illegitimate. They actively discouraged active opposition to apartheid among their staffers by basically saying that once you took part in such activity you were taking part in illegal activity, but whereas if you were actively involved in establishment politics you were not victimised at all. What they also did was to oppose all the activities undertaken by anti-apartheid forces and liberation organisations in opposition to apartheid. They opposed the arms struggle, they opposed sanctions, they opposed consumer boycotts, they opposed the stayaways which were all acts which the liberation forces and the anti-apartheid organisations were using to crush the apartheid system and we say that by doing so they served to perpetuate the apartheid system. The only alternative which they put forward was that there should be peaceful negotiations, but these were all parts towards such negotiations and by doing so they actually helped to maintain the system. With respect to the advancement of black staffers, black staff were basically used, they were used by the system, by the media houses, basically to be running boys. They were used to go and cover the stories in the townships, the ones that white journalist, maybe, could not do because they were possibly scared of going into the townships, but in so far as career advancement there was none whatsoever. There you reached a certain ceiling at some point and the racism in those institution was highly entrenched. The pay scales were also basically determined by your race. White journalists always earned better than black journalists. In terms of how far you went in the corporation was also determined by your race. Mr Chairman, various people who will come to the platform later in the day will give further details of this. I will take questions at this point.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you very much for giving us your perception of the past. If I may ask you, can you just tell us a little bit about the Forum of the Black Journalists as to when was it formed and the thrust of this forum.
MR MAKUE: The Forum of Black Journalist was formed roughly 24 months ago. It did take centre stage and attracted public attention when it was officially launched here at the SABC in January this year. The surprising aspect of it is that although we have been operating quite above the ground, we were equally taken aback by the amount of or the surprise that the launch of the FBJ caused especially amongst our white colleagues in the industry, in the profession in the craft. We started this Forum of Black Journalists basically to come together as a monolithic group, we shared same values, same experiences, the same problems, same joys, same sorrows in our career as journalists, as black journalists. Although from time to time we have been misconstrued to be a union, we had been at pains to explain to all and sundry that we are not, rather we are a pressure group, we are an interest group of Black Journalists whose main aim is to advance the training and development of black Journalist. As a cardinal point we recognise the fact that as black Journalist, by and large, we have been less trained and less skilled than our white counterparts in the news rooms and also the fact that our, if any development on our part, by our bosses, that kind of development and advancement has been determined by how good a boy or a girl you are unto them. We had decided that the time had come for us determine our own, to shape our own future, determine our own destiny within the profession. These are the basic aims on which the Forum of Black Journalist was found, but it is not an antagonist group towards the establishment as some critics may want others to believe, because since January this year we have been working in close contact with the bosses, I mean with editors with the proprietors of the media in this country we are, we had been in close contact with, for an example, Sanef, at its highest level, through also, members of us who happened to be black editors. That is about it.
MS MKHIZE: Okay. I should think that that is important, as I have indicated that over the past few days that has been of major concern. You, in your presentation you have just mentioned that in the past people who were struggling for liberation, for a cause of, for a cause of liberation were punished and those, at the same time opportunities were created for people to serve the States in operations which were anti-liberation struggles. As Forum of Black Journalists by virtue of your formation, are you not at risk of ending up being heavily influenced by your ideological position?
MR MAKHANYA: Yes, in answer to that I will say that we are professional journalists, we know the distinction between what I, myself, may consider to be an ideology to me and what I have to do in carrying out my craft and there is no way, I think, that we can be influenced in that way. If there, if such a development were to happen it would be indicative of lack of professionalism on the part of particular members of the Forum of Black Journalists.
MR MAKUE: May I also add on that, Mam. We in the FBJ whenever people come to join the FBJ we do not require of them to disclose their ideological alignings or so. So, as a result you have, in the Forum of Black Journalists, people who probably would belong to the ANC, the National Party, the DP, Azapo and some, of course, who belong nowhere. So, really, that is not a determinate factor of people operating within the Forum of Black Journalists. There are no politics that are involved there. The only politics that I can talk of is the advancement in the training of black journalists. Not politics as far as political organisation or parties are concerned.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you. In your presentation, also, you referred to racism as have been a major obstacle in the development of journalism in this country. In my understanding of racism, I mean in simple terms, is the setting whereby race is used as a factor in setting up structures, creating opportunities, determining who can do what and in calculating certain values which are formed by ones race. In this Forum of Black Journalists is race an issue? There is, I mean, I am asking that because I see the formation as having a risk of modelling after what you hated the most in the past?
MR MAKHANYA: There is no risk of that developing out of the Forum of Black Journalists. The Forum of Black Journalists, essentially, our reason for existence is to change, is to act as a body to change the inequalities which developed in the past and we are a pressure group, we are a group that is very active in the media industry in changing both the composition of the media establishment and the mindset of the media establishment. We hope that we will, if we are successful in our endeavours we will work ourselves out of existence.
MS MKHIZE: Yes, the reason I am saying that, because yesterday we heard from other witnesses, Pat Sidley saying, giving an explanation for a certain position which they took on grounds that, well, basically we are a white middle class. So, that is why I am thinking that it is important for us not to take naive and informed positions about our behaviours. I am saying this not as a critique of what you are doing, but as a way of assisting us to understand who you are, what you stand for and how can this forum contribute towards improving most of the problems that we are talking about. As a formation which, as I understand what you are saying, is informed by where you come from, the oppressed group, so to say, how are you going to deal with the risk of over identifying with the present Government in view of the fact that they are also an emerging survivor group, so to say. This, for us, is very, very important, because we have heard the risks of naive or, what can I say, blind alliances between the media and the State.
MR MAKUE: Mam, over and over again we have been asked the same question about our relationship with the Black Government and we have over and over again made the position very clear that we are a group of black journalists, professional journalists and that the Government is the Government in the way we look at the Government and there is no conniving whatsoever between us and the Government. There is no way Forum of Black Journalists will be, ever, be used as some extension of the Government or some surreptitious group that has been planted there to push the line of the Government. That is not the case. In fact, we are more closer to our white colleagues in the news rooms than we are closer to anyone who walks around in that Parliament under the name of the, the title of an MP. If that makes sense.
MR MAKHANYA: As, just in addition to that, we have monthly forums at which we invite various speakers to put their points across to a body, I mean, like, to a body of journalist from all over Johannesburg, from various media institutions. Basically, we call these Imbizos. What happens there is that we bring people from across the political spectrum, from all organisations they have been there, we have called academics and we have called people in the business sector to come and address us and basically it is to give journalists a full view of everything that is happening across South African society. So, there cannot be anything that should paint the FBJ as something that is or might in, at some future stage, come closer to, let us say an ANC led Government. Of course, we are on our guard, we are wary that because we are journalists people will try to manipulate us, people will try to get us on to their side, we are conscious of all that and we are alert.
MR MAKUE: And, also, Ma'am, you rather look at the FBJ as something that is an anti-thesis to what is happening, to what has been happening in the newsroom in the media houses, you should look at it as something, does that to do away with the status quo, because that is exactly why we decided to come up as one group. Also, in order for the powers that, the proprietors to know that whenever they want to talk to black journalists, they can always go to a particular body, that is an identity, as opposed to the previous when they would just pick up on their own little boys and girls and go and talk to them in privacy and later claiming to have spoken to a variety of black journalists. I think that, in so far as us coming together, that make that kind of a selves.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you very much for having come forward. The questions which have been raised are raised because they are very, very important for the future of a media in this country for us and I will give you back to the Chair so that other Commissioners can ask you questions.
MR LEWIN: Thank you Mr Chair. Could I just ask one question in relation to what we heard yesterday about the union side. You are not, the FBJ is not a union. That, do you have plans as part of this overall picture to move towards what we are all moving towards, national unity? Is that possible within the journalistic sphere, do you think?
MR MAKHANYA: Well, look, as I said the aims of the FBJ are dependant, the existence of the FBJ will, okay, let me start again. The aim of the FBJ is to effect change in the media structure in this country, to equip black journalists to be on the on the same par as their white counterparts, those of them who are good, obviously. We hope that, at some future date, when all that has been achieved, there will be no need for an exclusively black organisation like the FBJ. We will, if we are successful, we will work ourselves out of existence essentially and that will also be dependent on how the media institutions, how quick they are in implementing change, in co-operation with us.
MR LEWIN: And do you, do you agree with the point that was made yesterday that one of the prime areas for change, where change needs to be introduced as soon as possible is at the top in terms both of ownership and also structures. It is not just the need for a ground swell within news rooms.
MR MAKHANYA: Yes, we do agree with that, because at this point change and, unfortunately, change has got to be driven from the top and at this point in time the top is white. So, you have change that is being driven by white owners of, white owners and white managers of predominantly white institutions. So we are basically objects of that change, we are not subjects of it. So, yes, I, we do agree that it has also got to start at the top.
MS BURTON: The years of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are covering the 1960 to 1994 period, were characterised by increasingly stringent legislation which affected all journalists and, perhaps, particularly black journalists. As you have identified that was compounded very often by ownership and editorial policies. I would like you to say where you think the balance lies between those two different forces impacting on the lives of journalists and then, also, arising from that, where does one put ones energies into finding a better way? Are we looking at better legislation, for example, freedom of information legislation, but also protection of sources, that sort of thing and I would like to know whether the FBJ is working on that and, you have already talked about the question of addressing the matter of ownership. Thank you.
MR MAKHANYA: Well, in our submission we do state that the legislation did play a very vital role in hindering the free flow of information during those days and, but that is an excuse that is used by people who ran the media at the time for not, an excuse for not having gone further in exposing the atrocities and the injustices that were happening in the country. The media houses could have gone much further in exposing police brutality in townships, for instance, and they chose not to, they deliberately chose not to. They could have done much more to challenge those very acts which inhibited the press from doing its job, they chose not to do that. They, in fact, went into agreements with the Government to prevent the free flow of information and, so essentially the onus lay mostly with the media houses themselves. The Government was an unjust Government, it was an illegitimate Government, it was an oppressive Government and it was expected of them to implement legislation which would restrict the free flow of information. So, the onus was on media houses to come and challenge that and we saw towards the end of the 80's, the emergence of the alternative press, newspapers which were poor, which had no resources, which had no monies, but which did much more than the much better monied main stream institutions, The Sun, The Argus, The Naspers' of this world. In challenging Emergency Laws, for instance, we remember in the 80's papers like The New Nation and The Weekly Mail which would push the bounds to the utmost limits, things which main stream newspapers, huge newspapers were not prepared to do. So, that, I think, was the greatest hinderance to press freedom of the time. In so far as legislation was concerned, yes, it played a key role. Things like Section 205, things like the Restrictive Emergency Laws, they and various other security legislation but I do not think it was the key thing. The key thing was that the press houses were quite happy with the status quo while the mouthed opposition to it, they were not in a situation of discomfort with the situation in the country. They were in a situation of discomfort in so far as it impacted on the bottom line, not in so far as there was an unjust system around them.
MR MAKHANYA: We do want to advance our careers. Well, I think the move of, putting of, basically, a black owned company buying into a major institution like TML and actually having control of it was a great step forward, sort of like in as far as the ownership of the media in this country was concerned, because for the first time you actually, we have one of the major newspaper houses which, one of the major newspaper houses owned by black people and in the past week we have seen yet another, basically, another major deal with Kagiso Trust taking a stake in prime media but ownership has also got to be taken a step further and be used to change that, to change the environment in the various publications and since Times, since Johnnic took charge of Times Media, okay, before I get there I must also point out that it was also disconcerting for people in the FBJ and in the BF to see that two of the major, two of the major cash cows and two of the major influential publications in that stable, Business Day and Financial Mail not fully falling into the hands of black people. As you know there was a separate deal involving those and that did not please us. We would have much preferred it to have gone much further, but let me say that I think the ownership of Times Media by black run company also needs to be used to change the environment in those various publications and we have not seen that begin to happen and it is still, nearly a year later, it is still, basically, at the rock face. It is still a company run by the same people who ran it before and there does not seem to be any movement, any visible rapid movement towards changing it into a company which has a black, a sort of, like, a respectable black face, shall I put it. By saying that I mean, basically, having respectable black people in positions of influence within that institution, but hopefully we will see that happen within an, we can say that it is maybe early days yet to comment on that, but I think we hope that it will happen soon.
MR MAKUE: Mr Chair, may I as well add that particularly from the viewpoint of the Black Editors Forum which has been very vocal on this, we have been for the idea that we must have media diversity in this country and for TML, for an example, to now come under, to be owned by black people, we in the FBJ will see that rather as a step in the right direction towards this aim, towards achieving this diversity in the media. However as Mondli was saying earlier on, we would be extremely disappointed if at the end of the day you find that these so-called black companies with Chairmen or Chairwomen of notable people with a struggle, credentials, just buying on these things in their capacities as Chairpeople and not doing anything to effect change. If a company or organisation is black by its operations, by its very nature, we will then have to see. Of, of course, it maybe a little early or it may be a little unfair for anyone now to start lambasting whatever the slow pace of change that we see in the TML run newspapers, particularly Sunday Times.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, it remains for me to thank you for having come and not only having come for having given us the benefit of your views and opinions and as frankly as the circumstances of your employment could allow you to do so. I can assure you that those in the leadership of Times Media Limited who have anything to do with your employment will take cognisance of the forum before which you are appearing and I am sure there will be nothing untoward that will happen to you. It is necessary for us to have a perspective and, as you are all aware, part of the mandate of the Commission is for us to make recommendations to the President and, therefore, via Parliament to the entire nation to make sure that circumstances that lead to violations of human rights should never recur again. W we are eternal optimists and I think we share, we will share your view that Times Media Limited will yet become what you want it to be. Thank you then. Without further ado, let me thank you and will call on the next people to be on the panel.
ADV POTGIETER: Thank you Chairperson. Mr Tissong, welcome again, thank you for having made yourself available to appear here this morning. You are the first of a few people who will, in the course of the morning, share with us your experiences as black journalists during the years that we are interested in as a Commission. You have, as part of a larger submission, in fact reduced to writing some of those experiences and that is what we would be hearing from you about. So, I would hand over to you to speak to what you have placed before us.
MR TISSONG: Okay, I gave everything, submission, but I will not read it, because you, probably, have that on record already, but I will just speak through some of the main points I raised in the submission.
MR TISSONG: And my experiences in the media started in 1981 when I joined The Argus Company working for The Star newspaper and, as I say in my written submission, one of the first things I noticed when I joined The Star was that there were no black people in positions of authority at the newspaper and there were very capable journalists working for The Star at the time, like Don Mattera and Jon Qwelane, among others, who will be giving submissions here today. I discovered several years later, when I had an opportunity to be on a TV programme with Raymond Louw, that this was actually a conscious thing by the media houses at the time, not to promote capable black journalists into positions of authority in the newspapers, because they would then, necessarily, give orders to white journalists and the media houses did not want to give an excuse to the Government of the time, the National Party Government, to clamp down on these newspapers. So, without telling us, who were the journalists working there, that there were no prospects for promotion in The Argus Company and Sun, at the time, they just kept us in lower ranking positions, covering the townships, covering the homeland beats and things like that. Another thing I also mention in my written submission is that the editorial managements of these media houses use to get their cues from the security police. That they would check up on our backgrounds to see whether we were okay to work in the media and my particular experience here was that the deputy editor of The Star within three months of my employment at The Star, called me into his office. His name was John Pitts. He called me into his office and gave me a dressing down from a very dizzy height, that I should leave my politics in the street if I want to continue being employed in the newspaper. I asked him what was going on, because I was very new to the newspaper. John Pitts and I hardly knew one another and I did not know what he knew about my background, but I also subsequently learnt that he got, probably got information from the security police of my involvement with organisations like the South African Students Organisation, among others, before I got employed at The Star. The security police probably gave him some sort of background on me and this was used in him attacking me. Because of the conservative environment that The Argus Company created in news rooms, where there was no progress for black journalists, there was also an attitude among our white colleagues that they could come into the establishment and within a few months or a few years be our seniors no matter what the capability levels were between us. I had this particular experience where there was a clash between myself, the person who was assigned to the news desk and her senior, where for a week I had written lead stories on a page, on the courts page, where I was covering a case of a African National Congress guerrilla who had detonated a bomb in the Nedbank Building in Doornfontein. The only creative input by this white young journalist to my copy, to my story was to remove my name from it. After three days of my, this big story appearing in the newspaper and my name being removed from it, I approached the person who did it and asked her why did she do this. Then she did not respond to me, she just gave me a glaring look and then this was followed by a memorandum, very aggressive memorandum from her senior, Andrew Walker, who I understand is still employed at The Star, where he said that if I have a problem with the way my stories are being handled at the newspaper I must take it up with him, but because of the way I construed his very conservative attitude as a person and in his dealings with the black staff at The Star, I did not bother to take this up further with him, because I expected no sort of comfort from any discussion with him. One of the complicating things about Andrew Walker, that I experienced, was that he had a very close relationship with Craig Kotze, who was here yesterday, and he was very protective of this person. This got me very worried that I would prefer not to have dealings with people like Craig Kotze and Andrew Walker. Another complication that I experienced in working at The Star was that a lot of the stories that we would cover regarding activities of the liberation movements would not get treated with the respect they deserved. That, for instance, I was involved in covering a story, I cannot remember what year it was, 85 or 86, in which a group of youngsters had their heads blown off in Duduza township. I, when I got into work that morning I received a phone call from my contacts in Duduza township, because I had established, at the time, a very extensive network of contacts all over the place. They called me to say that a lot of their friends had just been killed that morning and their suspicion is that a security policeman had infiltrated their cell, their cell of activists in Duduza township. He had given some rudimentary training to these youngsters in the use of hand grenades and had told them that he was an MK operative who was there to train people to further the struggle. On this particular day when he said particular targets should be hit in the townships, he dispatched these youngsters to different, about seven different venues, with the instruction that at the stroke of midnight, or whatever the time was, they were to pull these hand grenades and hurl them at these targets. Unfortunately, for these youngsters these were zero time hand grenades, that when they pulled the pins their heads blew off, their hands blew off and stuff like that. My contact in the township gave me this graphic detail and described the person who was involved, who they suspected to be the security policeman involved in this deed and I wrote the story that a security policeman was involved in infiltrating the cell in Duduza township and he caused the death of all these youngsters. It turned out later at hearings, very recently at the TRC, that this was Joe Mamasela. When I wrote the story about this security policeman infiltrating this cell in Duduza township, that was treated with a pinch of salt by my seniors at The Star, because of what I suspect to be their very strong conservative atmosphere, viewpoints and the kind of atmosphere that was prevalent at The Star at the time. This story was given over to our crime desk which was headed by Craig Kotze and Chris Steyn and the story was completely twisted, that the story was turned into these being mystery blasts and the involvement of the security police was toneddown. There was no recourse for us when we wrote stories like this. That once we had written our story, handed it over to our seniors, they would give it over to people like Craig Kotze for it to be doctored and this is why true perspectives of what was, what actually went on would never reach the public. This frustrated us a hell of a lot in the news room. I would also recall, not my personal experience, but the experience of another colleague of mine, Themba Molefe, where he had also written a story about security force operatives wearing balaclavas in the townships who were involved in killing people. He was jumped on from a dizzy height at The Star for writing this kind of story, but some of it did eventually get in and the police came back and wanted him held for, to account for the story in terms of Section 205, at the time. He was actually saved when City Press published the pictures of these balaclava clad security force people with a corpse next to them and he got off the hook because of that. I think I will take questions from you.
ADV POTGIETER: Well, thank you for sharing those experiences with us. In fact, on that, on the hand grenade case you eventually got charged, not so, for, in terms of the old Police Act, for reporting untruths concerning the police, not so?
MR TISSONG: Yes, I was subsequently charged. Rich Mkondo, with whom I had written the story, I wrote the story from my, the information I had received over the phone in the newsroom and when Rich Mkondo came in he also had similar information and we arranged, between the two of us, that he would go to the township to give the eyewitness account of the blood, the targets, etcetera, and I would remain in the office to put the story together. This I did and then when the police came down on us and were going to charge us, my friend, Rich Mkondo, ran away to the United States.
MR TISSONG: I was left to hold the can and appear in court in terms of an Act which said I had lied about the activities of the police. I made several court appearances and at some stage the prosecutor and the investigating officer, whoever it was, told the lawyer who was representing me that they would not, that they are not dropping the case, but they are suspending further prosecution of the case and up to now I have had no word whether they will proceed to accuse me of Joe Mamasela's deeds.
ADV POTGIETER: Yes, I very much doubt that. It might be cold comfort, but, I mean, you have already indicated to that or referred to that, that that was one of the things that came before the Commission and that, you know, the so-called operation Zero-Zero Hour has enjoyed the attention of our investigators and we have been able to uncover very interesting lines of authority that led to that particular incident, but at least that should be vindicating you in some way.
ADV POTGIETER: Although, of course, as I say, look, it is, it might be cold comfort at this stage. The other thing that you referred to was that it was said to you some time after you had actually been at The Star, that they had followed this policy of not promoting black journalists into any, sort of, senior positions for fear of upsetting the Government, attracting attention to their papers, but there was no law against promoting black people in newspapers. That was something that was self-imposed by the paper, not so?
MR TISSONG: Yes, that was definitely something self-imposed by the papers themselves, because it looked like they did not want to upset the then Government of the day by putting black people, capable black people in positions where they would be giving orders to their white colleagues, but in a certain way, I feel that they could have tested the waters by making appointments such as these and defending them, but they did not. Instead, I feel that companies like The Argus Company, at the time, which was very conservative, probably used the Government as an excuse, at the time, to further their own beliefs in the apartheid regime, at the time. That it might have discomforted the people themselves without their being a law in place to keep black journalists, capable black journalists, lower down the ranks and to promote white journalists above them.
MR TISSONG: I felt very terrible about it at the time, but it happened so many times, not only to me, but to other journalists as well. That they would write stories and the only creative input would be that their names get removed from these stories. It was very strange that, they probably did not want to upset their market which was white readers, at the time, by seeing that so many stories in the newspaper had the names of black people attached to them. This goes back to this problem of apartheid being so integral to the operation at the newspaper. That there were no laws forcing them to do these kind of things, but some of the people employed by The Argus Company, at the time, were so conservative that they just felt that this is the natural thing to do.
MR TISSONG: It, the effect, the long term effect of some of us having started our careers with newspapers like The Star, at the time, was that we were held back. We, our careers were stifled and the only way that some of us could further ourselves was to get out of that kind of environment, because after seven and a half years of working at The Star, I was employed as a reporter, after seven and a half years I left as a reporter. It was the same experience with other journalists as well. That they would never progress beyond the low level that they came in at. This is why we sought employment elsewhere.
ADV POTGIETER: It was asked of the two previous witnesses, at The Sowetan has there also been a change in ownership from black, from white to black? Was it not also, previously, owned by The Argus group?
MR TISSONG: The Sowetan was previously owned 100% by The Argus group and through some arrangement with a group of businessmen under Dr Motlane, there was a 51% takeover of The Sowetan operation by New Africa Publications. Since them they have increased their stake in the publication.
ADV POTGIETER: Now, just, in general, if you can comment on that, because, you know, it is a general question, not specifically in regard to The Sowetan, but what is your experience, what do you pick up from your colleagues, in general? This, sort of, transformation, let us call it, at the top, in terms of filtering down to the bottom, ... (intervention).
MR TISSONG: I think I should also make mention here that I am also the General Secretary of the Black Editors Forum and one of the things that we are fighting about is not only a diversification of the media in terms of who owns the media houses, but also the way the operations are run. That to reflect, truly, what is going on in the country there should be greater involvement by black people in the running of those publications. In our view, it is not enough for Johnnic to be in effective control of TML, but the TML operation is still being run in the way it was five, ten, 15 years ago. To us, that is not enough. That there should be some sort of programmes in place by the media houses to correct the situation of the past and, as far as we are concerned, we do not see strong evidence of this taking place. That we could run into the year 2000 and the pre-election structures of these media houses still remain the same and that will be a problem to us.
ADV POTGIETER: Well, thank you. Can I wrap up just by asking you if there are any, sort of, specific recommendations that you would want to make in order to improve the, in general, the situation of the media against the, sort of, experience that you came from? If you have some that you can think of now, perhaps, you can share it with us. Otherwise, if you want to consider it, you can also let us have it subsequently.
MR TISSONG: I would say that we have discussed this kind of problem before and the Black Editors Forum and through the South African National Editors Forum, as well, we have discussed the problem of the high centralisation of the media in white hands. That there should be diversification of the media and it will be my recommendation to the TRC, with specific regard to the media question, for further diversification of the media and, also, some sort of programme where blacks are trained and promoted in these structures, so that there is not only capital control of media houses, but there is also operational control of these media houses.
MR TISSONG: This is a question that we have wrestled with quite a lot in the media and, in fact, I think if we, who are operationally involved in the media, have to follow this up more seriously, our newspapers would actually grow in terms of circulation with greater involvement of women. I think it is our view that there should be a greater involvement of women in the media. Not only in terms of the generation of stories, but also in terms of executive control of the media. I do not know if I have answered your question.
MR LEWIN: Just one brief question, Mr Chairman. Going back to, for instance, the Duduza story and the way it was covered and carried by the paper, would you say that the way in which it was covered was evidence of the media helping to make that sort of thing possible?
MR TISSONG: I would say yes, because by not exposing some of the atrocities that the security forces of the time were involved in and, in fact, having these censored and watered down was depriving the South African community as a whole of the truth of what was actually going on in the townships. I think that the Duduza case actually illustrates the particular problem.
MR TISSONG: I would say that was widespread and fairly common, not only at The Star, but other newspapers in The Argus group and The Sun at the time and the Afrikaner media houses, the SABC as well, but that was a given, I would say.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, Mike, it remains for me to thank you for having come and to, also, express my feeling of warmth at the fact that upward mobility has been possible for you, as a person, and which would be a fair indication that things have not really stood where they have been. You will know, particularly, that when in 1987 we met in the US, funny thing for people to meet outside South Africa for the first time, and we talked about these problems, you were still just a reporter. I do not know whether that was before or after Zero-Zero Hour and I only hope it was after your friend who had abandoned you, took the occasion to come and meet you at Washington DC when we were there. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: I do not know whether the next deponent is here, Thami Mazwai. And Jon Qwelane? Yes, no, I was, I saw Don, but I just wanted to make sure that the two that were coming up, oh yes, yes. I do not know if Jon Qwelane is ready, I mean Don Mattera is ready. I could take him at this hour.
MR MATTERA: I see. Well, I am a Muslim by my faith and I do not take the oath, I attest to the truth or rather the truth that I will speak, because there are many forms of truth, particularly in this beleaguered country.
MR MATTERA: I would like to say this, comrade, is that sometimes one wonders when one sees people sitting there, whether these people are ably equipped to handle this issue, whether these people have studies this issue, because I do not know what the line of questioning was yesterday on people like John Horak, I do not know what the line of questioning was on such people, but I trust you and I trust that you have the bona fides, not only of finding the truth, but being able to examine one of the tragedies. You know, in Shakespeare there is this piece that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, well, Denmark was rotten, meaning South Africa was rotten and white people, particularly, particularly shared and lived and thrived on that rot. They lived, and you count the ones that did not, on your fingers. You could count Beyers Naude, Helen Joseph, I can go to town on a few of the names, but they lived in the state of Denmark, they shared and perpetuated that rot and that rot sunk deep into every facet of life. Yes, there were many good people in the white people in the world, in South Africa, as there many black bad people. So, when you look at me and talk to me you have to see many aspects of this person. You have to see this person who had been kicked out and robbed of a home in Sophiatown, branded a Coloured despite his objections, his family's objections. You have to see this person moving into an environment, a political environment, conscientised by the African National Congress through people like Robert Gesha, Trevor Huddleston and be given a new set of values, a new way of life, a new thinking from the thinking of the streets, from the gangster to the poet to the politician to the journalist. So, I do not think this one session is enough for me if we have to arrive at some truths. Firstly, the state of journalism cannot be divorced from the state, the rotten state of South Africa as it pertained. We cannot look at journalism in isolation to the fact of the colour bar, that white people, if there are such creatures, were given a status that was almost the same thing that Hitler gave to his people. These people began to believe in the whole Arian notion to the point that they internalised it and lived by it and killed for it and destroyed in its name, both politically and in journalism. I am, I was never naive to suppose that white people were so generous in the media that they would see me coming in and offer me the world. I saw the media as another terrain of struggle and it was a terrain of struggle, because since 66, when I was campaigning actively for the release of Mandela and Sobukwe and many others, I never received the publicity for those campaigns. In 1967, 68 with the launch of the Black Consciousness Movement, I had been conscientised from a non-racialist who saw the good in white people, who supplicated to white people for the goodness of their hearts, turned to black consciousness. Conscientised by Steve Biko and still told that black man, black woman, you are on your own. So, for all these years I had been campaigning as a non-racialist from Sophiatown, campaigning with noesis, trying to change the status quo with Helen Joseph, with many other people. I became a different kind of enemy for the State. The State then began its vilification programme, which I will come to later. In 1968, with the launch of the Black Consciousness Movement, I ventured into newspapers news rooms. What did I find at the Rand Daily Mail? I found black people sitting in a corner, designated for black journalists. The whites, Clive Emden is here and he will attest to that, Peter Wellman, all of them worked in that white group. The blacks had their corner, Isaac and many other people, Mayakiso, Moejapelo, these people were put in a corner. They ate in a separate canteen with iron plates, iron mugs, iron spoons while their white counterparts ate from porcelain. I found this and I objected to that. I objected very strongly to that fact that black journalists were allowing themselves to be demeaned. They were allowed to have representative membership within this white journalist union that was called The South African Society of Journalists. Blacks were not allowed. The like of Mayakiso, Gordon Siwane, could not be members. I objected very strongly to that fact. Again, I found fawning, cringing black people. They did not go through the baptism that I had gone through and I could not say to them with the force of whip that you guys were wrong. Then the editorials stank, they were stinking. Particularly, on the issue of the military excursions into the front line states. Mopping up operations, the one, as the editorial says, the SADF went in and they mopped up, they cleaned up Lesotho, they cleaned up Matolo, they cleaned up Botswana. They did not say that pieces of flesh were lying on the trees. It was not their worry. So, if a thorough has to be done, go into the dealings, the editorials of Alistair Sparks, Raymond Louw, Rex Gibson. What did they write during the time when we fought this war against these people? What did they say, what were their views about what constitutes a terrorist and what constitutes a freedom fighter? We braved that, we spoke out, I spoke out, I braved that and I saw there was a need to start a journalist organisation with Bokwe Mafuna, Willie Lenglapo, Harry Mashabela, Joe Kolwe. There was a need to set up a journalist organisation that would speak for the people and so was born the term liberation journalism. Just like liberation poetry, just like liberation theatre. The black journalist could not see himself or herself outside of the parameters of struggle and so we formed the Union of Black Journalists, but let me go back. Let me go back to when we were preaching the Black Consciousness ideology. Young people like Ramaphosa, Terror Lekota, Popo Molefe, I can go on, a long list of young people that were conscientised into the stream, making them understand that there was a war, not only that the black people had to fight physically, but there was a war that had to be fought internally and I became one of the proponents of that law, having left the Coloured Labour Party, after being conscientised by Steve Biko to move in that area. So, the other programme began. The programme of vilification. Now, this John Horak, that you guys love so much, that now has the, has membership of the African National Congress, who is this creature? This is the creature that worked at The Rand Daily Mail and started terrible whispering campaigns schooled in the art of vilification and dirty tricks, this John Horak. This is the man that said watch out for Clive Emden, he is an informer, watch out for Dennis Beckett, he is an informer, watch out for Tony Holliday, he is an informer, watch out and he continued his vilification and his dirty tricks at The Rand Daily Mail. The same man, if he is a man, who said Peter Magobane was the nigger in the wood pile, that Winnie Mandela had sold out on Nelson Mandela and had given Nelson Mandela away. This is the same John Horak who joined The Star and came with that same programme of vilification. Be careful of Don Mattera, he is not banned, he is an agent, he is a CIA agent. Be careful of Roshid Tjopdat(?), be careful of Joe Nazir, be careful of Riaan Malan. This same man, this same creature went on on a spree of vilification. This same man found me crying in the toilets when I had received from detention a roll and, a toilet roll written with agonising details of torture. This same man wanted to grab this toilet roll for me, from me and I pushed him away. I phoned somebody called Beyers Naude and I said I have this toilet roll, please come and fetch it. He came and took it from me. Eleven o' clock the cops raided me. I was detained in front of The Star, beaten and taken to John Vorster Square. "Waar is die kakpapier?" they said. Where is the toilet roll? So, who is this John Horak? Who is this man, now, that comes here and tells you that he knew about agents. His work was vilification. His work was to destroy a whispering campaign, a campaign that resulted in almost 350 raids on my house, 150 times detention. This is the agony of what the black journalist went through. So, for us black, journalism became part of the liberation movement. We had to exert all our energies, all our strengths, all our brains to fight this enemy. Liberation journalism became that. Bokwe Mafuna, Tenjiwe, many such young people moved, Harry Mashabela, whose neck was broken by the security police all because creatures like that. Now, let me take you back to some history. Are there Jewish people here? Thank you Clive. The likes of Heinrich Himmler, the likes of Goebels, the likes of all the people that helped to destroy and murder so many people throughout the world had their informers planted in all kinds of places. Pastor Niemolan, the Protestant, knew of that. These people were sent to their executions and death by the whisper of some agents who did not like a certain family, who did not like, the same thing occurred here. There was a holocaust of the truth and the holocaust of black lives in South Africa in a way that beggars description, in a way that made us being picked up and killed and tortured. One such torturer, Olivier, Col Olivier, said to me in 1977 after I had been detained for the toilet roll, Mr Mattera, it is people like you who will cause the Kaffirs and the whites to kill each other, a person like you. The poems which you write, the poetry, the books which you write all lead to the destruction of the white nation in South Africa and we will never allow that. That piece of shit paper, I have to keep to that word, because that is the only way to describe this kind of person, because that is the term that they used for the toilet paper, we want that and we want it now. This young man that had written to me was terribly tortured, he was broken and they wanted his name and I said I will never give his name to you. He hit me. I hit this dog back. I was hand-cuffed behind my back and beaten and I came out with a vengeance for anything that represented the cops and anything that represented this stinking state of Denmark, in which white people, particularly, remained silent while the atrocities against their brothers and sisters were perpetrated. I would like to say this. If it had not been for Nelson Mandela helping to bring this country to a peaceful resolution, John Horak would have been dead by my hand. He is the kind of creature, the kind of animal that helped to destroy and vilify us. It did not buy with the black community, because the black community knew who we were, but here the whispering campaigns among these white liberals and their friends tortured and destroyed the mindsets of many people and I was one of those. I came to The Star in 1973. I entered on the second of January with a man called Tony Deegan, a junior by many years, a very talented and humane human being. Three months after that Tony Deegan was given a position on the news desk. I am a wordsmith, I have handled the English language in a way that other people cannot handle it, because this has been my gift, but I found that at The Star you had to be a white person and a white Rhodesian, most of all, to mean something and this whiteness, this claim to superiority and biological, I do not know what it is, played a very important role. I saw myself helping to open up the columns to black people, black readers, interviewing SASO, bringing them closer to understanding and using the newspaper, to prosecute the BC ideal. I saw that there was no place for me and when I was banned in 1973, let me just go back to the 30th of September. I had been campaigning with Joe Variava, Abue Asvat and many people in Lens for the setting up of a non-racial creche in an all Indian area, because we felt that the women who worked in service for the people there needed a place to bring their children there. So, we helped launch the Tamaray Creche. On the evening of the launch, the reading of my poetry, the main speaker, four shots were fired at me and a Volkswagen owned by some doctor who ran to Canada. A man called Bowa, security police, phoned The Star, spoke to Ron Anderson to say we have been informed that Don Mattera has been shot and he is lying in a ditch and I was standing next to Mr Anderson. So, who knew that I was going to speak at this meeting? Many people, but Horak also knew. So, I could have been killed and I was banned and house arrested for first three years, taken out of the newspaper and told to stay home while Mr John Jordie and Tyson campaigned for my return. During that time I could not come to town, I could not go into a bookshop, I could not attend my daughter's birthday, I could not go to church, I could not attend my cousin's funeral, I could not do many things and so the raids began and increased. When the Booysens Police Station was bombed I was raided from Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday by Haystack and his crew. Not once did it appear in the paper. Not a single Rand Daily Mail, Star newspaper, Beeld, Rapport, nothing had appeared. So, comrade, when I told you that I have to have the whole day, ten days it is to tell you that security agents not only had a free run. Horak carried a gun at The Star. He was allowed to come with a gun into The Star newspaper from 1973 when he came to work, I think, in 1974 and 75. Mrs Bondishio worked in the library. She was a confirmed spy. Nel, the farming editor, was a confirmed spy. There was a cloud and a question mark over Tony Sterling. John Horak's whispering campaign in the newsroom that vilified people, his own colleagues, that led to the banning of my poem Protea in the terror edition of Newsas, which used my poem, The Protea, in the silhouette of the policeman beating the student and so these young provocateurs were allowed to continue their dirty tricks, their vilification during that holocaust. So, I am sure you have some questions to ask me and I can go on and on just to tell you that we had formed the Union of Black Journalists and what we did was take the SASO Constitution which said black student and we took out the word student and we put the word journalist there and so liberation journalist, then, was born and we continued in that way, sacrificing, playing the role that others were afraid to play. So, I will await your questions.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much comrade Mattera for giving that very moving account, which virtually is a moving account of your own experiences, but then, also, a perspective which we, in the Commission, need to know in order for us to discharge our mandate, which is to present as complete a picture, as complete a picture as possible of the gross violations of human rights that happened in the period dictated by the Act, 1960 to 1994. It is something to think about when one takes into account what your personal experiences were, not only in the news room, but as a consequence of your activity in the newsroom which led to your arrest, detention and torture. Torture is defined in the Act as one of the gross violations of human rights. Now, can I have a sense of what you consider should be a recommendation that the Commission should make to those who are in charge to make sure that what happened in the era under consideration should never recur?
MR MATTERA: Yes, comrade, I accept that, there is one point I would like to make, a very serious point that Mike Tissong raised, no, the earlier, I think Mondli Makhanya raised. I would just like to amplify, very briefly, on that. When I worked at The Star I was made to understand, firstly, that I was a Coloured and these were blacks and that Coloureds receive a kind of treatment that blacks did not receive. Coloureds could pee in the same toilets with whites and blacks had to go around the corner to the open door, where there were no doors, shower and pee in that place and so I had always fought against this Coloured thing, because I had rightly believed that I am an African and I am black, but the insidious thing about this was that in that situation at The Star, whites looked at each other, not all of them, I suppose, with the same awe and respect, particularly, a boy called Dennis who was a 32 Battalion member and who was feted and loved because he was a crackshot at The Star. I cannot know Dennis' surname, but he worked with Battalion 32. There were others, too, who were, had positions of Sergeant. I do not know what other positions they had. That point I would like to stress on. They were in the newsroom and they boasted and they were feted about having been members of 32 Battalion and having been crackshots. The Rhodesians, the Selous Scouts also bragged, the Walkers and his father and many others bragged about this and their photographer having been members of the Selous Scouts and having been part of that campaign to kill black people in their country. In the same breath, those people found sucker, found comfort, found a place for themselves in The Star news room. I just wanted to make that and amplify on that point. Then there was a newspaper called The Alkalam. Because it was a Muslim newspaper and Indians, Muslims, Indians were said to be Muslims there, nobody every covered their problems. The Alkalam newspaper that I wrote for was banned because of my writing by the State. The Alkalam was taken off the street, The Alkalam suffered, its editor was almost crucified and even in his own community he had been attacked for being, daring to put across the liberation perspective in his newspaper. I just wanted to add that, because it would be a travesty if we forget that there were other small fringe newspapers, unknown to all of us, whose editors and journalists suffered the same fate on many fronts as we did. So, Alkalam was that kind of newspaper and Alkalam was in the forefront of liberation journalism during its tenure. So, I will come back and, to your point. Sir, I think two things I have always campaigned for. Having been in the African National Congress Youth League, we had a slogan "Freedom in our lifetime". I always believed I wanted to see in my lifetime black people rule this country and really rule it. Every facet of every way of life to be ruled by black people. Then, those people who consider themselves to be Africans, who consider themselves part of this country should fall into place, should serve in this and if there were whites, let them go to their white countries where they came from. If they were, because I would like to add, that I have never a German say to a Frenchman, you know, I am white. I have never heard an Italian say to a Swede, I am a white, but it is when they are here that they become to bear their whiteness down and their whiteness profits them. So, I would like to see a situation in this country where true, true anti-racism takes place. Not the wishy-washy kind that has one black guy as a manager, one black woman shunted into a corner and this is non-racialism. We need to go and have a total catharsis and purge of this situation. We need to understand that white people are here by our sufferance. They are here by our sufferance not their sufferance and they need to understand that this is not Europe, that this is not America, this is not India, this is Africa and they must learn to fall into place and share, with black people, that which they have denied black people for so long. The newspaper is only one terrain, I am proud that I have Dr Motlane as my Chairperson, but if Dr Motlane does not raise my standard of living as a black journalist, he is useless to me. So, we do not want meet and greet black people who own newspapers but cannot effect the changes that we need. Lula Maloetie has got the potential to be the first black woman journalist in this country, but what happens to this child. She has to leave the country to go and study further, because it will never come in her lifetime. I am saying that the likes of Ramaphosa, the likes of Motlane, the likes of Dikgang Moseneke and many others must truly take the bull by the horns and transform this media and, truly, to represent the demographics of this country. The demographics of this country are that black people have been denied their life, they have been denied their stay, they have been denied this for centuries and it is time that we spun the coin around. Heads they win, tails they win. Thank you, Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for that and, unfortunately, we are running very, very far behind. I do not know if there are any questions. I will allow one question or two questions, one question per panellist.
MS BURTON: (Speakers microphone not on). I am very glad that you mentioned (indistinct) because I think that one of the, sorry, one of the responses, one of the reactions to the fact that so much news was denied to the public was the establishment of many other ways in which people communicated news and I think when we hold a media hearing we must remember that poetry is also a medium of communication, that in our country banners and posters and t-shirts were also media which carried important news and messages and, also, those many publications. One might, perhaps, call them a femoral media, the pamphlets which appeared on our streets, the journals like, being a Capetonian, I know Muslim News, the Western Province Council of Churches crisis news ... (intervention).
MS BURTON: ... Cross Roads publications. One thinks of so many, Saamstaan in the Southern Cape and they were published quickly, they were disseminated quickly, they were one way in which people heard about what was going on and that is a rich tradition which grew out of that struggle. I wondered if you would like to say something more about that and, also, how we incorporate that richness into our future traditions of media.
MR MATTERA: I think, Ma'am, diversity is a very important facet of democracy although we espouse democracy a bit. You know, it is not, it is the most crucial, the will of the people and I think diversity is a very important pillar of any, it should be an important pillar of any country that wishes to establish, finally, a non, a truly anti-racist, universalist state where people are people and not, as I continue to abjure, black and so on, and diversity of the media will always be a fallacy, will become a fallacy if those who now have moved into avenues of power want to usurp and grab everything around them and not allow the independent voice, the hand bill, the little newspaper to continue. I think it is in the nature of business people to be avaricious, it is in the nature of Governments to look for consensus, but we have a good Government now that allows diversity, that you can talk to and there is a door open and I think that Government should establish a media diversity fund to help to promote people who have their divergent views and may not be the populistic view that all of us want. I think that, particularly the SABC, has tried very bravely to give voice to so many silenced voices and they must be praised and I think, also, the likes of the Weekly Mail, for which I have worked for, they tried very hard during trying times, I think some flower, some petal should also be thrown to their door for having kept alive, for us, this very important flame. Madam, one of the things that I have always deeply felt that this country, this system cheated us of, it was the right to be ourselves, the right to be the selves we choose to be and not the selves that everybody else wants and, for me, that has been the greatest tragedy, the greatest loss to, besides the human life, they have taken away from us the right to be ourselves, the selves we choose to be. I hope that with this new Government and with other ensuing Governments, the right to be yourself, to be different should be encouraged and, where necessary, if it does not militate against the broader national good, we should encourage it, we should help to plant the seed. Like our President, many of us had long forgiven other people who have hurt us, but hurt, as the Jewish people will tell you, has a way of following you wherever you are. Fifty years on you want to remember. Do not take away the right of people not to remember. Always encourage the people the right to remember, because Milan Conderras says that the struggle of humanity against tyranny and oppression is the struggle of memory against forgetting. Let the people remember and let them, through remembering, be humanised so that we can truly take our country forward and forgive creatures like John Horak, Craig Williamson and all these butchers whose fingers are dripping with blood and let us move forward. I am prepared and I have been prepared to do so, to move forward. So, I thank you for this opportunity to speak.
MR MKHIZE: Thank you very much. I have listened very carefully to what you have said, especially about, the things you have said about how we should engage with what we have been hearing over the past three days. I should think that warning is helpful to us. Just one question. You said that white people in this country believed, internalised, naturalised what was constructed, the ideology of the Nationalist Party Government and, as a race group, they began to act, especially in a news room, on the basis of those socially constructed identities. I wonder whether you think the print media can be used as a medium through which alternative identities could be planted, because it is like something which need to be done over a long period of time. At this point in time we have a monster in front of us, the Constitution of the country, which does not allow discrimination of any kind. We have the Government of the day which is, which does, also accommodate ... (intervention).
MR MKHIZE: ... racism, but at the same time on daily basis people, especially when they are brought together, they end up talking about racist practices. So, it is like, it is something which needs to be worked on vigorously, but what we have heard, especially over the past two days from people like, you have mentioned, like Craig, is like the media was an important platform to make sure that people of this country begin to see the dangers which were coming with liberation movements. So, based on what you are saying, I do not know whether our media, as an institution as it exists today, is in a position of helping the country to transform.
MR MATTERA: Yes, Mam, you know, during the war in 1939, 1945 war, they instituted the Marshall Plan to try and rehabilitate and reform Europe and save the starving Germans at the time, but what we need in this country, in my humble opinion, is also a Marshall Plan of sorts. Firstly, if I had been, hypothetically, the editor of The Sowetan newspaper or of The Star, I would stop racial connotations of any kind. I would not say a black man was arrested for raping a white woman, which seems to be the great norm, it seems to be the big thing these days. A man raped another woman and that is important. It is a heinous deed, it is a heinous crime, but if we continue to show racism in our reports, if the media continues to select, as The Citizen does, the white side of the news and if The Sowetan continues to do that with that side of the news, of the black side of the news, we are, again, entrenching the mindsets. What the media, new magnets should do, is to seriously engage and de-racialise this country. Its columns must be de-racialised. I am a poet, not a Coloured poet and we must continue in that way, we have to engage racism. This is not happening. It must be engaged, seriously engaged. We must thrive seriously to create different mindsets. I used my poems as swords of liberation. Now my poems are to play new roles, they have to be balms of healing, they have to act as ointment to heal the contusions and the bruises that my people have suffered, but I must be allowed to be able to come to terms with that horror of the past, so that I can look at the future with a different eye. White people must learn to see that future and not see a Black President who is going to kick them out and drive them to Israel, drive them to Australia. They must see a country in which they can live, in which there is a role for them to play. So, the media must assist in helping to create different mindsets. The schools in Eldorado Park are still managed by Coloured teachers. The schools in Soweto are still managed by black teachers. The white suburbs are still the white suburbs and they will remain so in ad infinitum if there is not a conscious effort to say some white, some white families will say I want to go and live in Soweto, let me go and see. They never do that. What we are saying, we have removed the value of human beings and we have placed them in the northern suburbs. They must aspire to the northern suburbs, they must aspire to that. So, our journalism is the journalism of aspiring to power, to money and to position. All of that has to change. For our children too, all of that has to change. Madam, I thank you, but I am rambling and I do not want to do that.
CHAIRPERSON: It then remains for me to thank you Comrade Mattera. Even an eternal optimist, like myself, must sometimes be disappointed. I had really hoped that there would be a poem, but what you, a poem.
CHAIRPERSON: But what I have learnt in terms of the poetry coming out of your lips, I have gained by a presentation that comes from the heart, by a language that is a tool in the hands of a master and I thank you for that.
CHAIRPERSON: Tea will be served and, at the back of the room and it is going to be 15 minutes. We will have to assemble here at half past 11 and, at their request we will take Times Media Ltd immediately after tea.
CHAIRPERSON: The problem is that in Times Media Limited we have a Chairperson who is an apt negotiator. I have, since the last time I spoke, negotiated with him that we put Times Media Limited after Thami Mazwai and Jon Qwelane. We will call Thami Mazwai and Jon Qwelane to the podium. Each is speaking independently of the other, but from the point of time management, we are wanting to put them together and where is Thami Mazwai? Maybe go ahead, let us hear you. Oh, it is you. Shall we all get settled please. We would like to start. We have terrible time constraints, there are people who have to be out of here and, JQ, welcome and Thami is making his way to the podium. As I said, both of them are going to be making presentations, but they are going to make them separately. We are having them there now for purposes of managing time. Mary Burton is going to be leading or facilitating both of you and, but before we do so, I would like to ask Commissioner Hlengiwe to swear you in.
MS BURTON: Thank you. I seem to have received instant promotion in that I am to facilitate both of your testimonies to us this morning. I would like to welcome you both here very much, thank you. Thank you for the documents which we have and for the facts that you are going to bring before us this morning. I think I will ask you, without any further ado, Mr Qwelane, are you going to start? Thank you.
MR QWELANE: Thank you Mr Chairman. I am a South African citizen, I turned 45 years old exactly a week ago today and I am a journalist. I have been one since my first days as a freelance reporter on the Mafikeng Mail back in 1972. At present I am the Editor In-Chief at Mapuga Publishing which is a black owned publishing house. I joined the full time staff of The World newspaper in 1975 and since then I have worked for just about every major newspaper in Johannesburg. In the time that I have worked as a journalist, did the media render themselves guilty of human rights violations and do I have examples to back up any such charges. I think at the outset, Mr Chairman, it is not only important, but also a necessary act of honesty to acknowledge that the media in this country, particularly the English language newspapers, performed some noteworthy tasks in attempting to keep the South African public informed. It is also important to acknowledge, with honesty, that those newspapers, in the main, stood out by supporting the families of journalists who were imprisoned without trial. This they did, for example, by continuing to pay the salaries of the detained journalists and, thus, not falling into the trap of finding them guilty without charge. In one instance the Sunday Times even payed for the Supreme Court defence of their journalist, Enoch Duma, who was charged under the Terrorism Act. Yet, curiously, these same media turned very angrily against us in 1977 when 27 of us, all black journalists, marched in protest against apartheid and were arrested. They did not care that it was a march of conscience and sparked, largely, by the banning of newspapers the month before and the murder of Steve Biko by the security police in the same month. Ridiculous comments denouncing our march and our motivation were printed by the white editors. Notably, in this regard, the white editor of Post Newspaper, which was then owned by The Argus company and editors, generally, instructed those of us on the march to choose between forfeiting pay for the time of our arrest or signing leave forms for that time. Of course, the contradiction did not touch them at all, that our march was against the very things they purported to denounce in their eloquent editorials, but I must, Mr Chairman, also acknowledge, with honesty, that it was the English language newspapers whose journalists demonstrated periodic flashes of courage and brilliance by exposing the gross injustices perpetrated by the system of apartheid and, I guess here, one has in mind the reporting on the inhuman conditions in South Africa's prisons, the info scandal, the unmasking of the CCB and the expose on the Vlakplaas dirty tricks network and, of course, as I have already stated, these editors on these newspapers often waxed eloquent in stinging editorials condemning the apartheid system. Yet again, as shown by our anti-apartheid march, which they never supported, those editorials were in retrospect acts of shallow self-righteousness which were very rarely matched by practice. The only conclusion I can draw in the circumstances, is that they were playing to the international gallery and they opposed apartheid only to the extent that our oppression must be made more comfortable. Mr Chairman, I am going to charge the mainstream newspapers with denying people information and, therefore, violating one of their basic rights. There will be other violations which I will highlight, but denying information to the public will service now and again as I go along. Black journalists of my generation were not given any training at all. Indeed, anything and everything that I, personally, know about journalism and in journalism has all been learnt by trial and error. I have never once spent a single day, not a single hour in any course in journalism organised by anyone. I supposed in every sense of the phrase, I could describe myself, truly, as a self-made bloke, but, then, so are many other black journalists. In very many cases the lack of training was used as a convenient excuse to deny black journalists promotion on the newspapers on which they worked. It was the policy of job reservation and practice, not withstanding the eloquent condemnations and editorials against the policy of job reservation itself. It often, of course, depended on the goodwill of the particular editor to correct what was evidently wrong in denying blacks promotion. Nearly every single one of the liberal establishment English language newspapers had a so-called extra or so-called Africa edition. Whatever the rationalisations, these editions, Mr Chairman, were apartheid editions intended for blacks and intended to segregate news on racial lies. Typically what passed for news in these editions, was often regarded by news editors as being unfit for white human consumption. Conventional newsroom wisdom held that blacks loved to read about sex, soccer and crime. Indeed, these were normally the kind of stories that found themselves placed in the extra and Africa editions. What was common to the so-called extra and Africa editions was that their inside pages were otherwise the normal business or finance pages would be located were dropped and these pages were filled with just a load of trash about townships. In other words, apart from changing the front and back pages of a newspaper to give it the so-called black feel, important finance and business news was dropped altogether in additions destined for the black areas and you can go to any newspaper library, you will find what I am talking about. It is there. White newspaper editors and their apologists always claimed to be the custodians of the public's right to know, but I think the example of the extra and Africa editions with no finance and business coverage gives the lie to that spurious claim and, of course, the right to be informed, Mr Chairman, is a basic human right and in misapplying themselves in the manner which I have just described, the mainstream liberal newspapers were guilty of violating the basic human rights of black people through denying them information and there was more to that. The existence of separate apartheid style newspapers necessitated the demarcation of news rooms on racial lines even if it was not said so in words, in practice it was there. The staffing of the segregated news rooms was also on racial lines and I am speaking from experience, Mr Chairman, because I worked there on these newspapers. Obviously, from this flowed the next logical step, that pay scales were miles apart for white and black journalists. Again, paying different salaries determined by race for people doing the same job was blatantly discriminatory and was an obvious violation of our human rights. Indeed, the pay grievances came to a head in 1980 when black journalists across the country mounted what became the longest strike at that time in South African labour history. Canteen facilities and toilets were also cruelly segregated. By early 1976 I was working at the Sunday Times which was in the same building as the Sunday Express and the Rand Daily Mail with shared canteens. blacks had a separate canteen from that for whites and when we protested those protests only elicited a third canteen. The whites only remain, the Blacks only remained, the third one was coyly named the International Canteen, while the fundamental rule remained of apartheid canteens and, of course, at The Star, where I arrived a few years later, things were much worse. Even the food served by the apartheid canteens was not the same. Where in the whites only canteen they used stainless steel knives and forks and bone cups and saucers and plates, in the Blacks only canteen, believe you me, Mr Chairman, the crockery was the type used in prisons and mental sanatoriums. We were using zinc plates and zinc mugs. The cook used a pick axe handle to stir the millie meal. Toilets were strictly segregated. Whites had spacious facilities with wash basins and mirrors and three ablution blocks, cubicles for men on each floor. I never really visited the white women's loos, but I have no reason to believe they were of sub-standard. Toilets for Blacks, on the other hand, comprised one tiny cubicle at the top of the stairs on each floor. Were these human rights violations? Well, Mr Chairman, were they not? In early 1981 the apartheid regime tightened the screws on the Pass Laws and fines for employing a so-called unregistered worker were increased to R5 000,00. What I am saying here I am deliberately, Mr Chairman, withholding names of people, because I do not want to unnecessarily embarrass people. It has simply got to do with the submission, but the stir when the Pass Laws were tightened railed self righteously in condemnatory editorials while the newspapers own officers tightened the apartheid screws on the workers and I should know. For not registering at the Pass Office the assistant general manager in charge of staff, at the time, withheld my salary unless I went to register with the Pass Office. For three consecutive months I worked without pay until a senior white journalist working on the Africa edition, which white journalist, at the same time, was an official of the South African Society of Journalists, went upstairs to the assistant manager to demand that I be payed. Mr Chairman, my human rights were grossly violated in that instance. Explanations I was given at the time were that while the newspaper abhorred apartheid, it was still bound to obey the Law. If that was so, Mr Chairman, why then did the editorials contradict the practice if the yawning difference between practice and sermon was not duplicity and, therefore, a violation of the gullible readers' human rights, generally, then what was it? Let me give you an example of the treatment of news by the liberal newspapers. There was one rainy Saturday afternoon early in the 1980's, Mr Chairman, not long after the launch of the Sunday Star. A call came in to say a man had stabbed his wife to death and then hanged himself, leaving there seven minor children orphaned and destitute. I told the man in charge at the newspaper about the call I had received. He was very excited and said it sounded like a good story and he told me to go for it. A minute or two later he was back at my desk asking if the people involved were white and I asked him what their colour had to do with the story and he got angry and ordered me to answer him. When he learnt they were Blacks he lost interest in the story. A few minutes later another call came in. This time from a white woman motorist travelling on the Ben Schoeman freeway. Near Midrand she had spotted a truck full of sheep stuck on the freeway. She moaned about the plight of the animals caught in the rain and, of course, she also decried peoples' cruelty to animals. Believe me, the same editor told me to leave the story I was working on and go with a photographer to Midrand. The next day the photograph and tale of the stranded sheep made the pages of the white edition of the Sunday Star and the story of the seven destitute little children managed only page two of the Africa edition. Such treatment of news, Mr Chairman, constitute a violation of peoples' rights to be informed. At any case, the callous disregard for Blacks illustrated here speaks for itself, but, then again, the standard question news editors always asked was is the story of white interest, but, perhaps, among the worst cases of human rights violations practised by the media during apartheid, in this particular instance, was perpetrated by The Star. In the early 1980's Ruth First, a prominent anti-apartheid activist, living in exile in Maputo, was blown to bits by a powerful bomb sent by the apartheid machinery. The Star brazenly published a report stating that her husband, Joe Slovo, had arranged the bomb. Naturally, Slovo was very incensed, but because he was banned in exile in London at the time, there was little he could do to clear his name except by protesting it, sorry, his innocence, but, even then, The Star stuck to its smears. Slovo successfully sued the newspaper in a British court for defamation and he was awarded damages, but in an editorial, The Star sneered at the outcome of the case, claiming it was not under the jurisdiction of the British courts and taunted Slovo to come back home and fight the matter in a South African court. Of course, the newspaper also refused to pay the damages. About a year later when the smear had firmly stuck that Slovo had, allegedly, murdered his own wife, The Star then meekly published a belated apology, but even then the newspaper arbitrarily chose to pay the damages it owed him to a charity, to a charity of The Stars own choice. What does this say to you, Mr Chairman. That our self-styled champions of fairness can behave in this despicable manner by using apartheid legislation, that is the banning of Slovo, to savage him with such impunity and get away with it. Was that not a case of human rights violations, I ask you? I can even tell you, right now, as a Commission, that the Chairman of this very Commission was, in the 1980's, often described despairingly by news editors in private as a rouble rousing Bishop. The State of Emergency produced its own crop of contradictions and human rights violations. While editorials, once more, pronounced piously on the evils of the emergency, mainly the curbs on the press, it seemed to me and other black journalist at the time, that some senior people on newspapers were only to happy for the curbs. Otherwise, how does one explain the constant and angry admonitions towards, to tone it down and be objective, man, which news editors also voiced even though our stories were 100% true and correct. Numerous stories were spiked which means they were completely rejected, because they highlighted police and army atrocities in the townships. At this time I was working on the Sunday Star though much of my time was spent in the newsroom of the Daily Star, for which I also wrote, because the flow of news at that time was such that most stories could not be held over for the weekend. Even when one wrote about retaliatory by completely legal campaigns, such as marches or stayaways, one was not allowed to give detailed information of the times and places and routes of such marches. One was use to the arguments by news editors that they did not want the newspaper to be accused of promoting or inciting boycotts. I know the recent blockade of routes by white journalists is outside the scope of today's enquiry, Mr Chairman, but I bring it up only for comparison. The campaigns which were denied space in the newspaper in the 1980's were by blacks opposing an illegitimate white regime. The campaigns, nonetheless, were legal because they were not banned. The recent blockade of routes, on the other hand, was given ample space in the newspapers long in advance and even routes as far away as the Eastern Cape and Natal were spelt out detail as targeted areas of the blockade. Now, those calling for the blockade were a little known bunch of white journalists advocating law breaking against a legitimate Government which happens to be black led. What I am saying is this, the protest against a white and unjust Government were planned by blacks and they were denied space, despite the fact that those protests were legal. On the other hand, the recent protest was staged against a black and democratic Government by whites and they were given acres of space to advocate the breaking of the laws of the land. Now, what does this say to you? Does this say to you anything about consistency or lack of it? Is this not a glaring example of their violations of human rights? One could go on, Mr Chairman, but I am also well aware, I am also aware of my allotted time. Finally, Mr Chairman, I want to charge all the mainstream newspapers, every single one of them, English language and Afrikaans language, with collusion with apartheid. I also want to charge them, Mr Chairman, with having a hand directly or indirectly in the murder of thousands of black people by the apartheid army and police. I am not off my rocker. Consider, Mr Chairman, that the major newspaper owners of this country in the 1980's were all members of the Newspaper Press Union. On at least one occasion they were summoned to a secret meeting with P W Botha just before the dictator embarked on his so-called total onslaught. At that meeting the newspaper bosses agreed with the dictator and ratified the agreement to the effect that South Africa was facing a so-called communist total onslaught which could only be countered by a so-called total strategy. Now, having got the legitimacy he wanted for his designs, Botha then unleashed the emergency and a reign of unprecedented terror on our people. That secret pact could have gone unknown except that P W Botha was not a very intelligent man. At some public meeting he spilled the beans and the truth was out about the true nature of the emergency and who had fully supported it and in this case it was all the major publishing houses of this country. They had signed a pact with the dictator that there was a need for a so-called total strategy to counter what they perceived as a total onslaught and the results are known to all of us. The point is that if the media owners had been honest in their intentions with P W Botha, then why keep their pact with the dictator about a total strategy so secret that even their newspapers never wrote about it except with embarrassment after Botha's mention and that was long after the deed. Was this pact not a tacit violation of our human rights? Did the media owners, by their endorsement of Botha's madness, not help to delay the day of our liberation? Can we not correctly say that the blood of those who were murdered by Botha's police and soldiers, in the name of total onslaught, is on the hands of the media owners? Mr Chairman, I say it is. Thank you.
MR MAZWAI: Okay. Thank you. I was, thank you Mr Chairman. I was informed, of course, when I, by my colleagues that earlier on when you started this session, you thanked the media houses for being co-operative. I just wanted to bring to your attention that some of the black journalists who are giving evidence today, they had to take day off and some of them had to take leave for them to be able to come here. I have been a journalist since 1969 when I joined the then Golden City Post as a cub reporter. The previous year I had been expelled from the University of, from the University College of Fort Hare. The Golden City Post was, basically, a black operation although whites were in management from news editor upwards. We only had a black Assistant News Editor and that was Godwin Motshlome and there were a few black sub-editors. Now, a sub-editor is as good as a journalist. There is no seniority about it, but the blacks were supposed to become excited when they were appointed sub-editors. The significant feature, of course, during this era was that any white who came into the newspaper, whether it is The World or Golden City Post, came in as "die baas", as somebody in authority. At no stage would he ever get to take instructions from a black editor or a black news editor. The Golden City Post did not touch politics although it thrived on reporting transgressions under the Immorality Act. It also specialised in sex stories. Political stories were spiked as a matter of course and we, thus, did not waste time doing them. I then joined The World after being fired from the Golden City Post. I would like to put it on record, of course, that I was not fired for any good reason, it was my misbehaviour, but I would not like to mislead the Commission. I then joined The World as a sports reporter. Here again, coverage was devoted to, this newspaper, coverage was devoted to soccer, murder and rape. Furthermore, it was quite made clear to us that we could not be members of the PAC, ANC or any banned organisation, because journalists were supposed to be neutral. They could not take sides in the ongoing conflict, but, of course, I mean, our masters and their white journalists could belong to members of the, could become members of the SADF and even vote on election day and there was, and nothing was said about this. In fact, when white journalists went to the border to go and fight against soldiers of the ANC or the PAC, their jobs were guaranteed until they came back, but if at all you were found guilty of being a member of the ANC or the PAC, you were fired as a matter of course. All power in these, in The World was vested in the then Editorial Director, Charles Steel, and we had a black Editor, M T Morane. In fact, Morane got a letter of increase on the first of January like all of us and he got it from Charles Steel. The World was owned by The Argus and it was a Bantu section for The Star newspaper. We got politics from The Star and World, as The World newspaper, as the, The World reporters could not touch politics as a matter of law. I must mention here that because I had been a, according to my records at the newspaper, I had been a political prisoner between 1963 and 95, I was specifically told that I must not touch politics by a long barge pole, because whatever I would write would threaten the newspaper. All this changed, of course, when Percy Gqoboza took over as editor on his return from the United States and with the outbreak of the June 16 uprising we could be on the forefront of writing the story in Soweto as it, in Soweto and in other townships as it unfolded. We covered the unrest extensively and ... John Misikeli took over, the then newly established Post Transvaal and there were no apologies with The Post, the paper was simply rightist. Homeland politics were highlighted and if they at all Matanzima was coming to Soweto a car was, a reporter and a car were assigned to flow him to wherever he went to and we were to have a full report on what he was doing with the pictures, with pictures and everything. However, news about the ANC and PAC, Azapo and Black Consciousness Movement, about black politics perse, what we considered as relevant politics were ruthlessly suppressed. When Priests went on march in 1978 they read a statement from the dock. I was given the statement, but Post refused to publish it. Mr Curly said it was revolutionary and he was not going to publish it. When Solomon Mahlangu was sentenced to death, the front page of The Post described him as a killer. I objected to Mr Curly and said how can you call him a killer and he said, a Judge of the Supreme Court had called him a killer and the newspaper was going to call him a killer. In any case, had he not killed people and, of course, by people he meant the three whites who had been killed. My relations with this gentlemen were so bad that he once asked me to his office and said if I thought his editorship was right wing, why did I not resign. Of course, I told him that I would not do his dirty job. The newspapers of the day regarded guerrillas of the ANC and PAC as terrorists and when we, as black journalists objected to the use of the word "terrorists" we were told that this is what they were and the newspapers were going to use the word "terrorist" and, in any case, if at all they use the word "guerrilla" they would be giving respectability to their activities and it was not the policy of these newspapers to give respectability to such acts of terror. So, every newspaper in the country used the word "terrorist" at will. We also had to be very careful, I mean, what Jon has said about what we wrote about the police. Stories that made them villains seldom saw the dawn of day. They were spiked or rewritten. I recall an incident in 1976 in the Central Western Jabavu when the police shot at students, they were on their, in a helicopter, and they were shooting at students. When I wrote that these police were in a helicopter and they shot at the students, the then sub-editor, who was white, told me it could not have happened. It was just, and that was the end of the story. At this stage, I mean, a white, whites use to be brought in from The Star to come and help produce the, come and produce The World, but their job was to rewrite some of the stories, were to rewrite some of the stories, some of our stories and make them acceptable. In the early part of 1978 several journalists were in detention. The incident that Jon Qwelane has referred to and, of course, The World had been banned and we decided to go on a march protesting their detention. This was shortly after the Priests had gone on march. Needless to add, I mean, we were inspired by the march of the Priests. We were arrested and after two days we payed admission of guilt fines after being in police custody. As if this was not enough, The Rand Daily Mail and The Post, from where we came from further punished us be deducting two days from our leave or two days salary. We were told that we had disgraced the profession and had been used by lawyer Shansheti who made a lot of money by defending politicals. The industry was only shaken when the newly formed Media Workers Association of South African went on a strike demanding better wages. Working conditions at black newspapers and black journalists and black journalist's salaries were under par. The bosses would not talk to us or backed down and the strike lasted three to four months. The 80's were horrifying. I was now working, The Post had been closed down after this strike and The Sowetan had taken its place. Successive States of Emergency reduced our ability to report. The Argus head office instructed us to check all sensitive stories with lawyers before publishing them. In fact, as news editor I had to phone lawyers with all the stories that were before me and then the lawyers would then become news editors and say you take out that line, this is permissible, no, that will get you into trouble or sometimes, no, you have got to scrap that entire story. Self censorship was the order of the day. Editors were continually called to head office, that is black, that is the editor of The Sowetan, continually called to head office for briefings. The others had made it clear that if the police closed The Sowetan it was the end of the road. However, what was a damning enlightenment on all the English language newspapers was that the Government declared States of Emergency and these States of Emergency had provisions for the suppression of any news that could be construed as revolutionary or it, or could be, incite people to illegal, so-called illegal activities. The newspapers accepted this. It was only when Cosatu decided, Cosatu and the United Democratic Front, it was only the Cosatu and the United Democratic Front and, at one stage, the Natal Indian Congress, and other organisations that challenged these laws. The newspapers refused to challenge the laws even those these were the laws that actually affected the free flow of information that were telling society what was happening in the townships and so on. In fact, I think it was in 1978, when the police had banned a meeting by MWASA, that we were called to a lawyer's office and told by the lawyers that The Argus had decided to pay for that, for any legal action that we could bring against the police for this meeting, for the ban on this meeting to be overturned. The lawyers told us that The Argus felt very embarrassed that it did not do anything about the media regulations and only the United Democratic Front and Cosatu, were the only people who were fighting these restrictions. Of course, Natal newspapers joined in later, because it had now become quite an embarrassment to have community organisations engaging in a fight that should have been theirs as a matter of principle. At a, yes, I think I have, yes. I was detained in June 1981 for interviewing one of the June 1976 student, (indistinct). I refused to give evidence and I was sent to jail for 18 months after having been in detention for eight months. Now I just want to come, to credit The Sowetan, at the time, because they payed my salary for the entire period I was in jail and I also endorse Jon Qwelane's points that quite a lot of blacks, black activists who were in detention were always, always had their salaries payed. However, those convicted for participating in the activities of banned organisations would be summarily dismissed when convicted. Although, as I have made this point earlier on, whites could go for their, to their military and would have their jobs guaranteed. Of course, one has also got to mention that there are, that, of course, later on in 19, in the 80's, the unkindness cut of all for black journalists was that when the UDF and Azapo were at war with each other. Again, it was the black journalist who was the meat in the sandwich. Tremendous pressures were put on us by both sides involved in the dispute and black journalists were just terrified to write anything about this feud. In conclusion, I think that there is no denying that the English language media, from the 60's onwards, was in an apartheid mindset. That apartheid mindset continues up to this present day. The hypocrisy that we have fought in those days continues to this day. If I may just give an example of how news were, are, continue to be manipulated where the black experience with the national questions is still not on the agendas of this newspapers, can be supported by the complaints that are coming from black academics, from black professionals as to the true role of that, the mainstream media is playing, where, if at all, as a black person you are found with your finger in the tin, it becomes a great big story, but black successes are relegated to the background. I had quite a humorous experience last week when I wrote a letter to The Star complaining, responding to an article that they had written about me. The letter was so carefully edited that instead it made me a fool and this is the type of fairness that The Star likes to boast about and, in conclusion, one can also say that the attitude of the mainstream media is also seen with the contempt with which they hold our new institutions of civil order, of our democratic society. Jon Qwelane mentioned about the blockades by some groups of journalists. Just a few weeks ago we had a situation in which two newspapers defied a court order. They defied a court order, showing absolute contempt for the courts of this country. None of the newspapers in the country dared criticise them and when I criticised them, I have been crucified by my colleagues in the media as who gave me the mandate to do that. This is the type of attitude that you find today where, because this is a Black Government, therefore, when you, as a black journalist, you have got to say, you have got to write a positive story about the Government or about South Africa, the changes. You suddenly become a lapdog of the, you become a lapdog of the Government. In other words, you become a good journalist only if you write stories that are critical of the ANC and of the Government. This continues up to the present day. I think I will just stop there. Thank you very much.
MS BURTON: Thank you Chairperson. Mr Qwelane, you charged the media houses with a series of human rights violations and backed up your charges with some very grave allegations. Charges of denying information to the public, of discrimination based on race and on different political loyalties, like the example you used about military involvement and on the selection of news for the different aspects of the newspaper. You also charged the media houses with colluding with the State in this and I think we have to listen to this very, with great interest and seriousness. And Mr Mazwai, you have endorsed much of what Mr Qwelane has said and you have also pointed to the ongoing difficulties for independent journalists and the importance of maintaining that in the future. I think, for us on the Commission, it will be important to look at ways in which we can recommend that these aspects to which you have drawn attention should be encouraged for the future. You referred to the banning of The World, I think that was in 1977, am I right?
MS BURTON: And I certainly remember when Mr Gqoboza came to Cape Town to speak to the Government to warn them of the impending crisis in Soweto and in return was, in fact, chastised for encouraging such action. It does seem that the banning of The World did have an impact on the concern of other newspapers as the country went into the 80's with increasing suppression of news, that, probably, newspapers were afraid that the same thing would happen to them. What would you think that they could have done differently in those circumstances?
MR QWELANE: I simply believe that, thank you very much, Mr Chairman. I believe that if what they were parading all the time was principle as, indeed, they have told us they have principles and they stick to principles. If you have principle and you are as principled as the ladies and gentlemen of South Africa's mainstream media love telling us, then you should be prepared to go the extra mile for such principle. In the 80's when the Government came with media curbs, it was not the newspapers that challenged them, it was the unions. We knew then that the Natal bench was a lot more lenient in its interpretation of the emergency regulations. Much more lenient under the "verkrampte" bench here in the former Transvaal. So, unions took the Government to court to court to do what the media, themselves, should have done. That was the essence of it and, of course, later the Jimmy come lately's of the media jumped on the bandwagon and claimed then that they had challenged the curbs when, in fact, they had not. To answer the question, I think they should have done much more than the pittance they did.
MR MAZWAI: Yes, and I think that after the banning of The World newspaper and Weekend World in 1977, The Star carried a story in which it had decried the, it decried the banning of The World, but it was a significant sentence in the editorial that appeared on the front page which said that we, at The Star, always felt that The World had really gone beyond their bounds of responsible journalism. Now, if at all your sister newspaper can go, now I am not, this is not a direct quote, but this was the sense of what they were saying. Now, if your own sister newspapers can go, can say that about when you have been banned, it clearly illustrates to you that, it clearly illustrates the mindset in the media at the time. Therefore, once if the mindset in the media, at the time, has been that, I mean, that, is that the ANC is a terrorist organisation, the PAC is a terrorist organisation, MK are terrorists and so on. So, therefore, they did not have it in themselves to take actions that would really make them newspapers South Africa could be proud of. Lastly, I think that really, I mean, that the Government could go for a black newspaper was really, I mean, it was testing the water. The white newspapers could have continued in the same vein that The World was going and I doubt if the Government would have had the guts, after the outrage by the international community, the Government of the time would not have had the guts to also close a white newspaper, because the Government was trying to deny that there is a crisis, was telling South Africa that things are normal. It would not be able that things are normal if it closes down a paper like The Star. So, they did not go far enough in, and I, and with hindsight, I can agree that they did not go far enough, because if one has got to have an analogy, use an analogy, you do not expect journalists, a white journalist who has been a journalist for 15 years and he is looking forward to being appointed an assistant editor and there is only one vacancy and then because of affirmative action, that position is given to a black journalist. You do not expect that white journalist to go about singing the praises of affirmative action. This is the similar situation that the newspapers of the time found themselves. Newspapers are not objects, the people in newspapers are people and these people were part of the conflict in South Africa and because of the colour of their skin, they were the recipients, they were the people who got the privileges that the apartheid State was dispensing. Therefore, those people could not, in all honesty, be expected to vigorously fight the hand that gives them these privileges. So, these newspapers did not have it in them, because their beneficiaries to challenge the media as they should have done.
MR LEWIN: Mr Chairman, if I could just raise one point, accepting all that we have heard, one point that I do not think has been raised. There were, during the or during the run up to the election, there were a couple of very disturbing incidents that took place both in the East Rand in the KwaZulu Natal where the community showed a definite antagonism to journalists and a certain rejection of journalists and the role of the journalists. Now, there is the old sore about journalists being in the same status as or being second only to second-car salesmen. Do you think that what you have described, the way in which black journalists, particularly, were denigrated all the time, how they were demeaned in society, do you think that there has been or there is a correlation between the two and is it a danger that we need to face in the future?
MR QWELANE: Thank you Mr Chairman. The reason I did not go into all that was because I was really mindful, personally, of the 30 minutes I was allotted. There is a heck of a lot more to that than just misty eye, because it is residual, It comes from the late 70's and right through the 80's. The way that the media operated and, particularly, the curbs on the press during the 80's right through to the end of the 80's with the State of Emergency, meant that newspapers had to obey certain strictures of the emergency, certain curbs. Now, it was a little difficult having to go and explain to people who knew you had witnessed the same, shall we say, State atrocities, like the shootings and all that. You come and you have got a figure of, say, arbitrarily, ten people shot dead and the official organs of State come back and say, no, there were two people shot and, in fact, the dead are the police, are only policemen and everybody else was not into it. Now, you are necessarily forced to write this sanitised version of the truth, which was nothing else but lies. It was not, of course, as extreme as all that, but, usually, numbers would differ. You, I know, I was at one instance, for example, where a photographer, Peter Makobane, was shot. I was right with him when this happened. Yet, the version we got from the official sources that you, necessarily by Law, had to count, was totally different to the real situation. Now, activists in the townships monitored our work as closely as the system itself, the security police and the Government itself monitored our work. So, in a sense, we were really caught between a rock and a hard place and, of course, this increased and as we went towards the elections, there was also, at another level, an ideological battle between the pro-catharist outfits, ANC, UDF, Sasco, that sort of thing and, on the other, the pro-Africanist outfits, the PAC, Baso and Azania and that kind of thing and, of course, at some level there was also the black consciousness outfits and, of course, right in the fringes was the IFP which you never really knew what it wanted, you know. Whether it wanted, I mean, the others you could tell, they were fighting for our support as journalists, but with that other lot you really could not make up your mind what the heck was going on with them, but having said so, yes, that was a serious difficulty and it also made our task a lot more difficult. I suppose that, as we go along, there will be lessons to be drawn from that state of affairs. Yes, the coverage was not, perhaps, as it should have been, but the antagonisms came about, largely, because of the way news was treated when it finally saw the light of day in print. Thank you.
MR MAZWAI: Well, I think, our relationship as black journalists with the, a few of the organisations was such that they would come and fetch you from your home and say this is what was happened. You would be taken to the scene and you would see five corpses. Then you would go back to your office to go and write the story. Then the police would come and say, no, there were only two people who were killed and then when you would go to your, to the powers that be on your newspaper and say five people were killed, but the police say it is two. Then you would be forced to change that story, particularly, as, when it goes through the lawyers, because then, all of a sudden now, what you saw what your eyes could not be trusted. You now had to say, answer questions as can you give the names of those five people, can you really say that they were all killed at the scene. In other words, you were even made, as an individual, to doubt the story that you had written or what you had seen. At the end of the day then you start writing the story of two people who were killed, what the police said. Now, when you go back home in the evening those same youngsters are waiting for you. Then they say to you now what happened, tell us, because we took you to the scene, what do you say.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, it remains for me to thank you for having come in spite of all the heavy strictures of time and other responsibilities that I am so consciously aware of. We have gone through three, this is the third day now, of perspectives, none of which is quite exactly like the other which, for that very reason, is an enriching experience. I have no doubt in my mind that when we sit down to write the report, we will have been enriched by the testimonies which all of those who came before us have given. I need, therefore, to say to you that I was concerned when it appeared that you are not appearing, because it is clear we would have lost a richness which cannot be substituted by any other people, because it could not have been given in the way in which you have given it. Thank you. I will, without further ado, call on the Times Media Limited. At last. Gentlemen, welcome. Since I began to be sitting on these sessions, from Monday, I have become comfortable in just saying gentlemen, because I think these hearings have been so gender insensitive, but then the starting of my making. Gentlemen from Times Media Limited, welcome, and good afternoon. I do not know in which way you are going to be making your presentations, but before you do, I will ask Commissioner Mary Burton to swear you in and thereafter, immediately thereafter I will ask Hugh to facilitate your presentation. Mary.
MR LEWIN: Thank you, Mr Chair. Gentlemen, thank you very much. You have seen this morning the way in which the session works. You have seen also the way in which time does not work and you have heard a considerably amount already. If you have not seen coverage over the last two days about comments that have been made, you have heard this morning, already, some of the criticisms that have been levelled at, excuse me, what has now become called the mainstream press. I would just like to thank you, firstly, and record that you have made a substantial submission which we have on record and I think what we would appreciate now, if you could take us, very briefly, through that and, possibly, already begin to meet some of the or provide some of the answers to the questions that have been raised and I am sure we will raise a few more. Thank you very much.
MR RAMAPHOSA: Thank you, Mr Chairman, in absentia, to you as the catalyst. Our presentation will be in three parts. I will do a brief introduction to the presentation. Thereafter Mr Lawrence Clark, the Chief Operating Officer of Times Media Limited, will give a brief summary followed, thereafter, by a summary from Mr Neil Jacobson, the Deputy Chief Operating Officer. With us, as a delegation from Times Media Limited, we also have Mr Brian Pottinger, who is the Editor of The Sunday Times, who is sitting over there, Mr Rick Wilson, who is the Editor In-Chief of Times Media Limited, Port Elizabeth newspapers, Mr Neville Woodburg, Editor of The Evening Post and Prof Gavin Stewart, Editor of The Daily Despatch. So, we are well represented. Mr Chairman, it is a pleasure to present to the TRC today a summary of our submission. This is a submission that has been commissioned by the Board of Directors of Times Media Limited on the role played by TML and its publications in South Africa during the period 1960 to 1994. It is my understating, Mr Chairman, that your Commission's main objective is to foster and enhance reconciliation in our country, but that in this regard, you want to examine the role that was played by the media during a period of repression and turmoil in our country. Essentially, to ensure that what mistakes and shortcomings the media committed during that ugly period in the history of our country, should never be repeated again. Also, so as to ensure that such practices that were described here in the eloquent submissions that we heard, such as discriminatory practices in media houses or institutions, things such as separate canteens, or as Jon Qwelane called it, international restaurants in and national restaurants in media institutions never, ever happen again so that we never, ever have separate toilets and we never, ever have conditions of employment that are different for both black and white employees of our companies and that we should see meaningful change in the representation of our people, as a whole, in media institutions. Our report or submission seeks to portray the context in which our newspapers operated during the apartheid era. We will, Mr Chairman, in this submission not try to gloss over or to defend ourselves or to try and paint ourselves white in any way, white in that way, not in racial terms. We will not try and gloss over the mistakes, the errors of judgement, and there were many, we will not try to gloss over our shortcomings and weaknesses. We will, however, try to highlight our positive contribution to change in South Africa. We refer, in the submission, to TML and SAAN as being the same organisation as SAAN was renamed TML in 1986. The submission seeks to assess the role that was played by TML and its publications in serving its various constituencies. It is important that the Commission should keep in mind that while the editorial function is the public face of the media, media companies, in the main, serve a number of stakeholders and these include the readers who must be fairly and accurately informed and this issue was dealt with and many areas were pointed out. Second one is the advertising paternity who must be provided a cost effective and responsive advertising medium. Next category is the staff who are entitled to fair wages and decent conditions of employment and a fairly conducive environment in which they should work. Many issues were raised about bad practices in the past which also impact on our own company. The next category is the shareholders who require a well managed company that delivers a reasonable return on the capital that they, as shareholders, invest. It is a fact of life, Mr Chairman, demonstrated recently by the sad closure of The New Nation, that newspapers, like any product must be commercially viable if they are to survive at all. Again, the Commission needs to keep this fact in mind as well as the fact that directors of newspapers, newspaper companies have the same vigorous duties and responsibilities to prudently and wisely manage and protect the capital invested in those businesses. We must bring to the attention of the Commission a series of practical difficulties that we experienced in preparing this submission. There have been tremendous changes at TML in recent years and very few senior staff, editors or directors, from years gone by are still in the, employ of the company. In particular, the control of TML changed hands last year as a result of the National Empowerment Consortium, of which I am Chairman of, acquired a controlling shareholding in Johnnic. Thus, almost all the directors of TML are new. I am also new in my position and new in this company. That should be borne in mind.
MR RAMAPHOSA: Yes. Most of the managers and editors who ran TML during the period under review have either departed or, sadly, deceased. At current editors, in almost every case, are fairly recent appointments. Therefore, TML, in drafting this submission, asked one of the past editors to prepare the submission as he was one of the people who was in a senior position during the period under review. Former and current staff of TML were invited and asked if they wanted to submit comments to the editor, who was, the former editor, who was drafting this. We have, thus, done our best to produce a meaningful submission for the Commission under fairly difficult circumstances. We have also tried, Mr Chairman, to answer the specific questions that have been raised by the Commission and we appear before you to give you a summary and I am going to ask Mr Lawrence Clark to give the first part of the summary of our submission and thereafter we will be happy to respond to questions, after Mr Neil Jacobson has made his input.
MR CLARK: Thank your Mr Ramaphosa. Our submission places on record what we believe is a proud record of keeping the South African public informed and defending human rights. Indeed, when I joined the company in 1985 I personally felt very, very proud that I was working for a company which I believed was helping to bring about the much needed change in the country. We are, however, not arguing that SAAN, TML and its publications were uniformly excellent or equally outspoken. Perfection is something that many aspire to, but no one ever achieves. Of course, there were errors of judgement, but we believe the contribution to change made by our papers far outweighs any errors. On balance, TML was a positive force for change in South Africa and a staunch critic of apartheid. In particular, we reject any allegation that these papers colluded with the Nationalist Government. On the contrary, we consistently advocated political change and we did so in the following ways. We opposed every piece of legislation that heightened oppression, repression or eroded human rights and exposed the consequences of such legislation. We acted as a safety valve by encouraging dialogue rather than conflict. We demonstrated daily that not all whites supported apartheid, thus, keeping alive ideals of a just society. We tried to give dignity to all in South Africa. Indeed, Mr Mazwai, who testified just before us, then the News Editor of The Sowetan wrote of The Rand Daily Mail in April 1985. It was the first paper to regard blacks as people. We provided a communication bridge between polarised communities. We challenged lying official versions of events such as the Soweto uprising, the death of Steve Biko, Boipatong, the Guguletu Seven and the Uitenhage massacre. We refused to cower before Nationalist bullying. We pioneered investigative reporting in South Africa and we provided a platform for courageous and ingenious journalists to chip away at the edifice of apartheid. For example, for every example where TML newspapers failed in these respects, many more examples can be found of where they succeeded. I would like to address the question of editorial culture. Editorial independence was a golden rule at TML during the days under review and remain so today. The ethos of SAAN TML has, for decades, been pro-democracy, pro-free market, liberal and anti-apartheid. Beyond that broad company philosophy, directors and managers do not influence the editors. Managers do not tell the editors what to write. They have not done so in the past and they do not do so today. Thus, SAAN TML, above all the other newspaper groups has bred what Rex Gibson, a former Editor of The Rand Daily Mail and Sunday Express, calls a unique journalistic culture in which a commitment to editorial independence bred generations of editors who were principled, stubborn and doggedly individualistic. For example, on the referendum on P W Botha's constitutional reforms, SAANS Johannesburg publications split. Two urging a yes vote and two a no. Many people find it difficult to believe, to this day, that the directors and managers do not instruct the editors, but it is true, as the editors here would be able to testify. The question of the Government. We must remember that the pursuit of truth took place in the face of a deeply hostile Government. Ever increasing repressive legislation, several States of Emergency, constant threats of closure, which were very real, bannings or censorship and sustained Government attacks on the English press and TML newspapers in particular. We did not doubt the willingness of Government to act against the media if given the chance. Thus, our editors sought to operate within the Law, but looked constantly for loopholes. Included in our submission is a letter from our long time legal adviser, Mr David Hoff, of Bell Dewar and Hall, who is a co-author of what was known as the Journalist's Bible, namely the newspapers man, newspaper man's guide to the Law, which details the more than 100 Laws which restrained and handcuffed the press. In his letter Mr Hoff states there was consensus from SAAN TML editors that boundaries of free speech and open debate were to be pushed to the limits and that Bell Dewar and Hall was enjoined to find a way to publish material rather than merely prohibit it. He continues that during the States of Emergency that prevailed during the 80's, the considered position taken by SAAN TML editors was that the Emergency Laws and regulations were not only unenforceable through vagueness, but were morally illegitimate. They were, accordingly, largely disregarded and the Law was broken on many occasions, but as a broad principle, SAAN TML tried to act within the Law for two reasons. Firstly, it would have been foolhardy to poke a finger into the eye of the Government crocodile which was looking for reasons to close us down and, secondly, as directors we had a fiduciary responsibility to protect interests of our shareholders. The question of persecution of editors and journalists. The fact is that, notwithstanding what I have just said, SAAN TML enjoyed legal persecution at the hands of Government. Nearly all of SAAN or TML's editors endured prosecution. Some on numerous occasions for what they published. Some had criminal records arising from executing their professional duties. At least four were convicted of crimes for publishing what the State wished to hide and at least six journalists were jailed. Proof of the dedication of journalists and editors can be found in an international recognition of the courage displayed by our newspapers in those days, with a number of Major Global Press Awards going to our publications. It is often overlooked that our newspapers played a major role in breaking down apartheid not just in eloquent leader columns, but by reporting facts. We exposed the myth of apartheid by reporting issues such as torture in cells, deaths in detention, Steve Biko's head wound, political assassinations, the Broederbond's sinister influence, massive malnutrition in so-called homelands, prison abuse, forced removals and many, many more immoralities of apartheid. The result was that we were subjected to a continual barrage of threat, criticism and harassment from Government and many examples are listed in our submission, pages 22 and 23. At the end of the day, we fought to stay open and to continue publishing rather than throw ourselves on our own swords. We believed, and still do, that we served the public interest better this way. We, thus, strenuously reject any suggestion that our newspapers or our company aided or abetted Government or its agents in perpetrating gross violations of human rights, but there were weaknesses. We do not suggest that our record was perfect. There are certainly examples of imperfection and of insensitive and incorrect reporting. Indeed, with the benefit of hindsight, some of these errors, and I believe they were genuine errors, today seem indefensible, but there was never collusion with Government or moral of support of apartheid. There was timidity and there were errors made in the heat of the moment. For it must be remembered that the production of a newspaper is not a measured, leisurely activity. It is a frantic, nightly rush against deadlines where decisions are taken in haste and, often, with incomplete facts. The point is that SAAN TML editors were never instructed by their employers to tone it down politically. With regard to the editors. It brings us to the question of the dismissal of editors. Several editors of prominent publications were, indeed, dismissed by the Board, but this was for commercial and not for political reasons. This is underscored by the fact that their replacements were people who generally shared the same liberal anti-apartheid views. No examination of the role of media during this era is possible without touching on the closure of The Rand Daily Mail. I was not a member of the Board at the time, but joined the company as Financial Manager in December 1985, some eight months after the closure of The Mail. What was clear to me then was that SAAN was nearly bankrupt and the closure was an act of economic survival. The Board had to stem the massive losses being incurred daily by The Rand Daily Mail and, thus, keep the companies other publications alive to continue their fight. Could The Mail have been saved? Perhaps, but we will never know. The reality is that it was not and South Africa, thus, lost a great and campaigning newspaper, but I have not come across anything in my 11 years with SAAN TML that suggests that the decision to close it was made for anything other than commercial reasons. I would like to, at this stage, hand over to Neil Jacobson, so as to save you from the boredom of my monotone.
MR JACOBSON: Instead you can have the boredom of my monotone, Mr Chairman. Thank you. Another issue that has been raised and discussed today has been the role played by the NPU, the Newspaper Press Union. Now, we have some practical difficulty, again there, in that none of us present, including the editors present, were members of the committees or the NPU at that particular time, particularly regarding the Police and Defence Liaison Committees, but, certainly, the submission argues and the information we have been able to gather, indicates that these committees were an attempt to, at least, get some information out of a State clampdown. They were driven, I believe, by the principle that some information is better than none. Now, the editors themselves, Mr Chairman, participated in this process and Mr Gibson, one of those editors, describes those committees as being more sensible than sinister. From the companies viewpoint we repeat that at no stage were the editors instructed to tone down their copy. Was the NPU's contact with Government a mistake? It is impossible to judge without full access to the facts. It certainly looks difficult from this particular perspective, but either way, I think we believe it was a genuine attempt to elicit information which was otherwise not available. The point, I think, we must never forget, Mr Chairman, is that the channels of communication had been closed down by the Government and the key lesson that we should all learn from this is that no Government must ever allow, to be able to do that again. Let us never forget that everything that we are talking about today was effectively a response to the actions of Government and to restrictive laws and that the press was, therefore, as much a victim of the process as everyone else. I would like to talk briefly, although we do cover it in some depth in the written submission, about discrimination in the news rooms. We have heard some moving stories this morning which have humbled all of us, I think. I have no reason, whatsoever, to doubt the allegations that have been made about discrimination within the news rooms. I am sure there was discrimination in those news rooms as a result of the Law of the time or because of personal prejudice or insensitivity or human weakness and I want to say, Mr Chairman, that Times Media Limited sincerely regrets any such indignities that were imposed upon people in our news rooms, but was there a policy of discrimination? I do not believe so. To quote Mr Gibson from this, our submission again, "Newspapers are produced under conditions of stress. Sensibilities get trampled on creating perceptions of racism even when none is intended",and in the final analysis, Mr Chairman, was SAAN's role, SAAN's TML role may have been imperfect. It is also true to say that our leaders, our newspapers were leaders in providing opportunities for black journalists that simply did not exist anywhere else. We have also heard and, particularly, yesterday a great deal about spies in the news room. Tails that certainly have horrified all of us and turned our stomachs, I think. Again, I would like to make the point that the newspapers were victims in this process. The fact that the State saw fit to plant spies in our news room, I would suggest, decries any suggestion that we were willing lapdogs of the State. It seems to me to make a mockery of any suggestion that we colluded with the State. I am told that there were plenty of rumours of spies. I am told that people pointed to each other. We have heard about the whispering campaigns today. The fact of the matter is that the policy of our newspapers was to subscribe to the principle of innocent until proven guilty. It has only been very recently that the facts, the proof have come out as far as spies were concerned. Those spies were never planted by the newspapers, they were planted by Government and, therefore, as I say, the newspapers themselves, were as much victims of this process, but let us look forward, Mr Chairman, and let us deal with some of the questions that have been raised by the Commission. What can be learnt from the past so as not to repeat these errors as we go forward into the future? We need to ensure, Mr Chairman, that never again is a Government allowed to apply the sort of policies and rules that inhibited the freedom of the press. We need to accept, I believe, that there will always be tensions between Government and the press, because good Government demands a vigorously critical press, to be the public watchdog and to be a break on power. The press equally, Mr Chairman, must equally accept and recognise its responsibility to be fair, to be balanced and to be accurate, but, most of all, we must recognise and enshrine the fact, enshrine the fact that the free press is the very foundation of a democracy. Let me turn briefly, in conclusion, to the questions in the documentations sent to us by the Commission requesting our presence here today. Some specific questions were raised. I would like to touch on those very briefly and give you our answers to those. The first question was how TML had responded to the legal framework and the extent to which it attested the limitations during the period under review. I think we have touched on that fairly extensively already and, certainly, in the written submission we go into some detail on it. By and large, as Mr Clark stated, we acted within the Law, seeking not to give a hostile Government the reason it was looking for to close us. We believed we could do more good by staying open than by being silenced. Nevertheless, it was not easy. We had lawyers at our side all of the time, at huge expense, to test the Law at every single step. I refer again to Mr Hoff's letter in which he states, unequivocally, that his brief was to find ways to publish material, not to suppress it. I think also, Mr Chairman, that proof of the fact that we pushed the limitation lies in the fact that many of our editors and journalists, and we have heard some of them who worked for TML Publications today, many of them were persecuted because of what they wrote. If we were not pushing the Laws, how could they have been persecuted. Thus, I state, as I have already twice, that we, too, were victims of apartheid in this sense. We were asked to speak on the companies attitude to black workers and I have already admitted that discrimination existed at times, that I have no doubt, and I have already apologised very sincerely for that discrimination that existed in the past, but I do not believe there was a policy by the company to discriminate. I would like to quote something that Mr Neville Woodburg, who has been the editor of The Evening Post for many years, wrote to us when we asked our editors to give us some response on this. He says that, "In the Editorial Department we did not ...",this is of The Evening Post, "... we did not treat our black staff any differently from anyone else. While the Law stated that separate toilets should be used by the different races, all of our staff used the same toilets, certainly during the time I had been with The Evening Post from 1970 to the present. In other parts of the building there were separate toilets, but then under pressure from The Herald editor, Harry O'Connor and myself, these were scrapped in the early 1980's in defiance of the Law."Certainly, the newspaper I worked on in that period, Pretoria News, which was part owned by TML, there were no separate toilets and there was one canteen for all staff, but I do not doubt what we have heard earlier on today. It is, thankfully, in the past. On the positive side, Mr Chairman, we hired and trained, imperfectly, both white and black journalists. Myself included use to complain about the poor standards of training of journalism, but we hired and trained more black journalists than any other publisher in South Africa. SAAN TML by no means was perfect, but we opened the door sooner and we opened the door wider than anyone else in this profession in this country. We were asked about the companies relationship with Government and, I hope it has been, it has become quite clear from our submission, that our relationship was antagonistic and confrontational with Government. We make lengthy reference on pages seven, eight and nine of our submission to a long list of assaults on our newspapers by Government which indicate the level or persecution and harassment that our journalists endured. We were asked to address the question of the companies role within the NPU. The NPU was established as far back as 1882 as a body to deal with, primarily, commercial issues, standards of printing, news print supplies, market research, circulation figures and so forth, and when Government started interfering with the free flow of information in this country, the NPU seemed to be the natural body from which this problem was tackled. Now, I speak for TML, not for the NPU, but it does seem to me that whatever mistakes were made, the primary drive was an attempt to, at least, get some information out of a Government unwilling to communicate. As it happens, Mr Chairman, the NPU, just these past two days, has held its annual congress and the members of the NPU, being primarily the major newspaper groups, have decided that it is time, in view of the changed circumstances in South Africa, that the role of the NPU needs to be reviewed, that the role of the NPU needs to be redefined, that we must redefine the purpose and the mission of this body to seek, to make it representative of all newspaper interests in South Africa. Finally, Mr Chairman, we were asked how our newspapers had approached the question of violence in KwaZulu Natal and elsewhere. I am, quite simply, not in a position to answer that question, because, as we have stated, it is never and has never been an editorial policy handed down from management to editors as to how they should handle a particular story. Should the Commission so wish, we have several of our editors present who, I am sure, would be more than qualified to answer that question, but there has never been a policy from us saying you must handle this story or any other story in a particular way. So, I am simply unqualified to be able to answer that particular question. The editors are very willing to give a statement should the Commission so require. Thank you, Mr Chairman, that is all I have to say.
MR LEWIN: Gentlemen, thank you very much and I would like to thank you, also, for the frankness and openness with which you have made your presentation this morning. I think we are in much the same sort of difficulty as you, because we were not there either. So, but we do have a number of queries and, I think, a number of puzzlements which we need to sort out. Maybe I should start the most recent and at the top. Mr Ramaphosa, how do you feel about your new baby? How did you feel, can you think back, ten years, how were your struggles at that stage covered, as you saw it then?
MR RAMAPHOSA: I thought you meant the other baby, but you mean TML. Well, reflecting on the role that, say, TML newspapers played and, more broadly, English newspapers played, I would agree with the assertion that, in the main, English newspapers played a very courageous role. They were out there to impart information when the Government was trying to restrict the impartation of information to the general public and, in the role that I was in, a number of years ago, certainly in the union movement and later in politics, I found in the union movement that the struggles that were being waged by workers, out there in the small outlying countries, were largely being reported on by English speaking newspapers in Johannesburg. I remember the role that The Rand Daily Mail played and some of their reporters, people like Steven Friedman, people like, a number of others that played, Phillip van Niekerk, played an important role in concentrating their attention on the struggles of ordinary people out there in the small countries of our country and I thought they were being very courageous. Up to points where they would even infiltrate mine hostels against the restrictions that were being put before them by mine security and the police, generally. In terms of politics, I think some of the inputs that were made or the submissions that were made by some of the earlier people, Jon Qwelane and the others, think they are right in the way that the publications tended to approach news, particularly, as news related to black people. I think that is something that has to be changed. That is a mindset that needs to be changed and I believe that the criticisms that have been levelled here, the issues that have been raised here are not going in one ear and going out the other, they are being internalised and we are highly sensitive and responsive to some of those and we will make sure that we are more careful and I am glad that our editors or some of our editors are here. They are internalising much of what is being said here.
MR RAMAPHOSA: Well, I had wanted to respond to that towards the end and actually say that I welcome, may I say as Chairman of TML, I welcome the criticisms that have been levelled against us by, you know, Mike Tissong and Jon Qwelane and all of them who spoke this morning. I welcome those, because this gives us an opportunity to have a much closer introspective look at our selves. Clearly, everybody wants to see transformation blooming in these institutions that were previously owned and control by white people. We are, essentially, saying that the replacement of control structures should not just mean a decoration of black faces. It has to result in thorough going transformation and we are going to be moving and it is early days yes, but major steps are going to be taken to change and to transform those institutions. Fortunately, Mr Chairman, at TML's level we have adopted it as our intended strategic objective to transform our company so that we have a fair, meaningful representation of the true demographics of our country in the makeup of the company. It should not just result at Board transformation, but throughout, including in our news rooms, including in our management structure.
MR LEWIN: Thank you very much. If I could just raise some of the questions that have been put to us, because we, obviously, have to try and analyse and put these things together and then make our final report with recommendations. One of the points that you have mentioned today, which I am very pleased to hear, because it is not actually in your submission, is the question of the firing of the editors and, in fact, we have a fairly lengthy submission from one of the former very well known and leading reporters on The Sunday Times, Maggie Smith, Margaret Smith, writing from London, where she reports how, after 34 years, she was summarily fired when she was in London under great stress. Now, none of you, presumably, were part of that and there is not a great deal that can be done other than, possibly, write a nice letter to her saying sorry, but how do we explain, using your phrase now from the, from the report, the commercial imperatives as against the editorial imperatives thinking, for instance, about not only the way the editors were fired from The Daily Mail, but the way in which The Daily Mail was closed. You say, again, this was a commercial decision. We heard yesterday that it was very definitely a political decision. Can you advise us on that?
MR CLARK: Yes, Mr Chairman, I certainly was not party to the decision, but I, as I said earlier, I have come across nothing other than individual perspectives, particularly from the editorial side that indicated that some of those decisions were made for political reasons, but I have seen nothing and I have heard nothing on the management side, nothing in any official records which indicate that that was so. Certainly, the closure of The Mail, I saw the mess, the financial mess that SAAN was in at the time in 1985. It was on the verge of insolvency and desperate action had to be taken to save it even then and if they had not actually closed The Mail down, I believe the company would have folded and collapsed and that would not have been in the interests, I believe, of the rest of the publications. So, I can only confirm my perspective from where I sit.
MR CLARK: I think that The Mail found itself in a very difficult commercial position where it had attracted a vast number of readers, but it was not being well supported by advertisers for reasons which one can go into in a, at length, but to try to summarise, effectively, the advertisers were saying that the readers were not part of their target market and, therefore, what the, the publication of a newspaper is a difficult thing at the best of times and The Mail found itself in a very difficult position in the market. The more readers it gained, in fact, the more it cost the company to produce, because of the cost of news print and distribution and it was not being supported by advertising. Again, this happened before my time, but I have certainly spoken to some of the managers at the time and I have no reason to doubt that that was the way in which they perceived it.
MR LEWIN: Well, that is, yes, that is on another par. Could I ask, which I think is a related question and I do not know whether, I mean, I do not see how you can actually answer it, but let me ask the question, because it is something that has been raised. Coming down to very practical points, specifically in relation to the figure of Mr John Horak, who appeared yesterday. I mean, he explained how he was there for 25 years almost or 27 years and seemed to be implying that everybody knew who he was, that the, that everybody had, sort of, put him in that position and he called himself a listening post so the people could come to him and he could put them in touch with other people. Yet, his final appointment by senior management at TML or at SAAN, his final appointment was to make his manager or group managing editor which put him in charge of all the newspapers, all the syndication system and, therefore, in charge of the entire computer system so that he could dip into anybodies copy anywhere, here and overseas. We have a story, for instance, of someone in London being requested by John Horak to do a quick brush-up on the anti-apartheid movement so we can run the story. Clearly, he was not asking about the, he was not asking those things for reasons of getting a decent story. How was it possible to appoint a person like that after he had been there for so long, after there had been so much said about him, into a position like that?
MR JACOBSON: Mr Chairman, I would deeply like to know the answer to that question as well. I think it is utterly appalling, I think it is horrifying that a sleaze-ball like that can be put into a position of authority. I do not know the answer. I would love to know it.
MR LEWIN: Right. Could I ask your comment on, in terms of moving forward now, because, clearly this is what is important. You, again, talk in your submission about white newspapers seeing things through white eyes, inevitably. How do you see that whole model changing?
MR RAMAPHOSA: Well, I think, Mr Chairman, broadly, you know, newspapers have to see things through South African eyes where we being to move away, as I indicated earlier, from this parochial mindset where we see ourselves as addressing a particular audience. We need to be responsible and, hence, we also raised that we have got so many stakeholders and one of the key stakeholders are the readers and we put them first. The readers have to be South Africans. I mean we have a publication, The Sunday Times, which is a national, in fact, even more than a national newspaper. It is the widest circulating newspaper in the country and that newspaper is, as you will have noticed, it is in the process of being transformed, it is changing and it is, it sees itself, the editor is here, it sees itself as a South African newspaper, not as a northern suburbs newspaper. It has to be responsive to the entire South African population and articulate the views, the experiences and, indeed, the aspirations of all the readers that it is accountable to. In the end it is accountable to the South African society as a whole.
MR LEWIN: Mr Chairman, I am being told the lunch is getting cold, but I would like to ask one further question, because it arises out of a submission that you might not have seen reported today, which came yesterday from a group talking about the alternative press, talking about the life and death of some of the papers like South, Saamstaan, Grassroots in the Cape which reflected a similar pattern up in this area and the suggestion was made that papers like this are, because of the role they play, are tremendously important as part of the community. One of the reasons for their dying and one of the reasons for their not being able to be sustained is that their funding, which was largely foreign funding, has dried up, obviously. One of the suggestions was that it would be in the interests of everybody if they were supported. Would your company, as a mainstream, more important, therefore, healthier, larger, more financially viable company be in a position to make some assistance there?
MR RAMAPHOSA: Well, Mr Chairman, I think it is certainly something that we need to think about. Don Mattera or Mr Don Mattera, as he prefers to be called, comrade Mattera, raised the question and I thought it was quite an interesting suggestion that there should be some fund and we are not new to funding broad based type of projects. We are involved in funding training of journalists, more broadly based, journalist schools, not necessarily journalists will come to TML only, but journalists will go to whatsoever other publication and, I am sure, this is an initiative which we can look at quite, quite seriously. Of course, there will be competitors in the end, but alternative media serves a very important purpose in the life of society and, particularly, in our country where not everybody has access to your mainstream newspapers. They are able to articulate, at times, type of sectoral news, community news, local news and there is a role for them to play and it is a suggestion that we would like to canvass further and discuss ourselves internally.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you very much. I will be quick, because the male Chair is using his muscle now. I really think, much as I am aware that we do not have much time, but I think it is important for our record to get clarity about Times Media Limited. We have listened to people arguing for the, for space, for blacks, in particular, arguing that in the media world racism has been a fundamental problem. It happened in, you know, in terms of, small things like tea facilities, toilets, you name it and escalated to reporting and I, taking it further, one will think of images about different people in this country, the power of the media in portraying images of people. Where, when you started here, when you gave your presentation, the opening remarks were, we reject to having colluded with the Government, blah, blah, blah and yet when Cyril, Mr Ramaphosa was introducing the representative, I got an impression that, it is like, it is still, really, predominantly white male dominated niche. Just, I am interested in how you view your base, you know. You seem to be coming from different worlds. There is nothing wrong with your structure and, yet, to me, based on what other people have been saying, it is, like, you still have a big problem in your hands. So, I just want to tap your views as to how do you see your structure where it is now and how is it going to be and important media, I mean, in terms of taking the media forward.
MR RAMAPHOSA: Ms Mkhize, I would like to repeat what I said, but put it in the following terms. We are a black controlled company, as TML, with the National Empowerment Consortium holding a majority shareholding in our controlling company, which is Johnnic. Our ethos is, essentially, the transformation of the institution that we now have control over. Processes are in motion, they are being put in place and they are being executed to transform this TML and I am rather glad that you note that the delegation is predominantly white. We are not going to try to make an excuse for that or run away from it. That is what we find in TML and these gentlemen, who sit next to me, admit that that is a problem and have, therefore, embraced this transformational targetry that we now want to proceed along. I am rather pleased that that has been accepted. If your Truth Commission meets again in another year, you will find that TML will be transformed from what it is. We are taking measures and, hence, I also welcome the criticisms that were raised earlier by the speakers or the people who made submissions before me. This is a matter that we take seriously. We are not just being flippant about it and we have to do this for commercial reasons as well. It is not just for political reasons or for TML to look great or whatever. It has to be done for commercial reasons, because there is a commercial imperative for companies to transform themselves to begin to reflect the true demographics of this country. Much more than that one cannot say except to say that, or to stress, that there is a lot of vigour, there is a lot of commitment from the new controllers of this company to transform TML and to make it a company of the new South Africa that we are in.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you comrade Cyril and your delegation. As I say, it remains for me to really indicate my appreciation for the frankness with which your delegation approached us and gave us a perspective which we, obviously, have to take into account in view of other perspectives. I think, particularly, it is gratifying to note that there is a conscious realisation that there is a need to move and move ahead as speedily as possible. I need to say, for my part, that in order for a meaningful future to be built, there is a need to take the present and, especially, as it is also shaped by the past, I would hope that in an endeavour to also say, those who criticise us as the mainstream media, must take into account what we have done and we have done well. That that predisposition should not lead to a resistance to accept some of the realities, unpalatable realities of the past, because that will, unfortunately, lead to what lawyers call confession and avoidance, where you say, yes, I was wrong, but... My experience is that that causes the twin objective of this Commission, reconciliation, come very hard, of achievement, when once there is, possibly, an unconscious resistance to say what are the others, what are the other people saying, because it is only when once you are able to absorb and allow yourself to absorb all that the other people are saying that you will be able to say, wait a minute, I thought that I knew what they were going to say, but now that I have given myself time to think and listen to what they are saying, I am able to find out what they are saying and (indistinct). I come from the Eastern Cape and the Eastern Cape has a newspaper that has got a long tradition. It celebrated 125 years of existence last (indistinct) and as we grew up, it was the champion of progressive thinking in that part of the world. I heard you site the manner in which it dealt with, for instance, the killing of Steve Biko and stuff like that. So, to me, that was an image I had of that newspaper and I still have that image, but part of my task in the Commission is to investigate things and one white reporter came to me and said, you know, I had an experience that made me very uncomfortable in that newspaper. Where a black reporter, Tenjiwe Mtinso, was assisted by that newspaper. She was given the opportunity to be a reporter, but it was on condition that she should not expect to be remunerated. He says, I came on as a white reporter, I got into the system and before I knew what was happening, I was well ahead of Tenjiwe. I, being a white reporter who could manage economically and otherwise. Even as a trainee reporter I was getting payed. It is a small story, but it just indicates that when we hear these stories and put to you, for consideration, it is not because we have suddenly found (indistinct). We are saying, listen to what that story says, because it does not make us unaware of the fact that had the Daily Despatch not been there, we possibly would never have known about how Steve Biko died and many other such stories. There will be lunch served, cold lunch, and it will only be for 25 minutes and we should be back here at two o' clock. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We have strictures of time. Can you please get settled. The submission we are going to take is from Independent Newspapers and I believe the people, you will place yourselves on record, obviously. I will ask Commissioner Mkhize to swear you in, but I believe that the people before me are Rory Wilson, Moegsien Williams, Shaun Johnson, Ivan Fallon, but you will, obviously, place yourselves on record.
MS BURTON: Thank you, Chairperson. I would like to welcome you all here this afternoon and to thank you for your extensive submission which we have before us. Thank you very much, indeed, for your participation in this process. Mr Fallon, are you going to, I am only saying that, because you have the mike in front of you, but are you going to introduce the discussion.
MR FALLON: I am going to make a very brief introduction, if I may, and just start off by saying that I personally arrived in South Africa in 1994, the end of 1994, following the response by Dr Tony O'Reilly and Independent Newspapers of Ireland to the call for international investment in the new South Africa and Independent invested in the old Argus Newspapers at that time. I just want to make the point, but I make it quite strongly, it is a very serious point, is that that investment was actually made before the election. It was seen outside South Africa as a very significant vote of confidence in South Africa. It was seen inside South Africa even more so, as a vote of confidence in the new South Africa and your own Chairman has actually said that a number of times. It was, in fact, the biggest investment at the time and remained so for quite a long time. So, it was a very significant investment, it was a, if you like, it was a high risk investment, seen from the outside. Here it was seen as a vote of confidence and I make that point because, whatever has been said about the old Argus Newspapers today and before the Commission in the past few days and what we ourselves have said in our substantial submission to you, Tony O'Reilly and Independent Newspapers have, from the very beginning, indeed, from before the beginning, been significant friends, internationally, of the new South Africa and, as a company, we remain so. Now, my knowledge of the period under review is, obviously, simply because I was not here, is very sketchy and based upon hearsay, reports I read and what I have heard here. So, with me I have got three colleagues, I will introduce Rory Wilson, on my left, who is actually one of the very few Senior Managers in our present company hierarchy who has any experience of the period under review. He was, he is, did seven years with the old Argus Company, but five of those, in fact, were as Managing Director of Sowetan, which was sold during his time to Nail. On my right is Moegsien Williams who is the Editor of the, who was the Editor of, is the Editor of The Cape Argus now and was the Editor of The Cape Times, Pretoria News and formerly was Editor of South, which is the alternative weekly newspaper. On the extreme left is the group Editorial Director, Shaun Johnson, who in his short stay with our company, has already edited three newspapers and he, as is the case with several of our recently appointed executives at Independent, was a prominent member of the alternate press during the period under review. In the audience here are a number of other editors and senior staff of Independent. Now, at the outset I would say, for reasons I do not need to elaborate, the expectations about our company are far higher than other media companies, particularly, those who saw fit not to appear before this special hearing on the media. We are the publishers of the most visible daily newspapers in South Africa and we understand why we have this high profile, but this, possibly, explains why we have been, I think, subjected to rather more criticism than other groups. In the event, we accept that challenge that this high profile brings. Because none of us here today has deep insight or knowledge of Argus, we rely heavily, in this presentation, on a report compiled by a retired Argus editor, John Patton, which you have in front in you. This report was commissioned by our former chief executive, John Featherston and was submitted to the TRC in February of this year following Archbishop Tutu's call for media hearings. Now, in an accompanying letter to the Commission, John Featherston said that the report was not definitive, he described it as an attempt at an independent and objective overview of The Argus Company from 1960 to 1993 and a means of beginning, within our company, a meaningful debate about the past which could confirm our efforts towards transformation now and in the future. He said it aimed to identify areas in which the company and its staff or rather victims or perpetrators of human rights abuses or played some part in allowing human rights abuses to occur, Featherston pointed out that the report emphasised shortcomings and achievements and he expressed the regret of the company for those failures. Now, in our submission today we, too, use the Patton report as a springboard and we, too, believe that while there were many achievements at the old Argus, there were also too many shortcomings in the activities of that company from that 1960's through the 1970's and 1980's. We make no bones about those shortcomings. They did exist, we regret them deeply and we associate ourselves with the apology already offered by John Featherston, but I would say in that like, that the company has changed dramatically not just in the past 15 years, but in the past three years. I certainly reject, very strongly, the allegation made by Thami Mazwai that the apartheid mindset, as he described it, exists in this company today. It, very definitely, does not exist. The new Independent Newspapers has for some years been engaged in a process of transformation and reconciliation. It is a very vigorous process. It is our response to the types of imbalances and injustices which are highlighted in the Patton report and we will deal with that process of change and transformation in the transformation we make today. I am going to ask Rory Wilson to pick up at that point.
MR WILSON: Thank you. Mr Chairman, at the time the Patton report was submitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission it was published as a public document and at that time, as you probably are aware, three, many of the past executives of our company, The Argus Company, objected to that report and the issuing of it. In fact, three former editors described the report as inappropriate and they described our actions as being inappropriate in saying, in that we apologised in that report. I quote, "... for our actions for which we were not responsible ...",Instead these three editors have pointed to the role of the former Argus Company as, quote again, "... a constant critic of the Nationalist Government, opposing its policies and exposing injustices, cruelties and wrongdoing ..."The new Independent acknowledges the courageous stance taken by many editors, by many journalists, by many members of staff in, on many different occasions and in, and very different circumstances on different issues. We do not seek to minimise these many good things that these Argus people did over the years. However, we believe that the mood of the country, at this point in its history and the interventions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, are now rightly focused on the injustices and the abuses of the past and, indeed, what remedial steps have been or should be taken and that will be the major focus of our presentation. Before dealing with the main points of the Patton report, we also need to point out that there a number of retired people, particularly management people, who were not consulted by Patton and who might be willing to testify about the activities of The Argus Company during the apartheid years. We did not feel it was our duty to, we did not think it was appropriate either, for the current leadership of Independent to invite such people to come before this hearing. In any event, the understanding of the current Independent leadership is that The Argus Company, during the apartheid era, was a rather staid, cautious and slow moving newspaper company which, according to its mission statement, placed South Africa's advancement and wellbeing before else, all else and pursued a balanced policy calculated to enhance the welfare and progress of all sections of the population. Rather like the Times Media situation, in fact, identically to it, the editors in our newspapers are not told what to write and they never have been in the, The Argus Company. They were free to produce the newspapers that they felt were appropriate for those times and in those circumstances. While they did that, the editors kept an eye on, at least, the managers kept an eye on the bottom line of the company. As we have heard from other evidence before this hearing, the, The Argus Company operated within a hostile legal and political context. Journalists were constantly harassed, threatened, abused and intimidated for doing their duties they, as they saw it. They tried, simultaneously, to serve the interests of a, largely, white readership and, at the same time, a repressed, restless black majority. A very difficult job under any circumstances. I think it is true that the editors, particularly, in the, The Argus Company and other executives sought constantly to find loopholes and often tested the limits of the Law through different States of Emergency. The constant propaganda barrage of the State against the communist onslaught created a climate of hostility and antagonism towards the newspapers of The Argus Company as opponents of the Nationalist Government. Apartheid, security and media Laws and regulations proscribed and restricted free news coverage of newsworthy, but political, politically sensitive subjects. This interfered with the normal functioning of a newspaper as a watchdog of the people. Particularly, Laws, prevented black reporters from practising freely in large areas of public life. In this respect, both the company and black journalists were victims of Government generated human rights abuses. Political developments polarised emotions in society making it extremely difficult for journalists to be strictly and effectively objective. While sketching you this rather harsh environment in which journalists had to operate, the Patton report highlights a number of shortcomings. It is clear that the old Argus Company was strongly driven by commercial motives and that this often blunted the cutting edge of its newspapers in exposing the wrongs of apartheid and human rights violations. While apartheid Laws made free access to a full range of news sources more difficult, it is our belief, and it is, certainly, one of Patton's conclusions, that our company made insufficient effort, particularly in the earlier years of the period under review, to overcome these obstacles. As we heard this morning from Mr Mazwai and others, our newspaper staffs were, generally, too white and in the critical editorial area, black staff began to be introduced on any serious scale only during the 1970's. It is also our view that our companies newspapers made insufficient attempts to generate news from disadvantaged communities and we accept the charge that was made this morning that this created a distorted view of South African society as a whole. Our newspapers often failed to provide a proper balance in their coverage of political events and the staffing imbalances, certainly, aggravated that. Black editorial staff members were employed, as I say, only on a significant scale from the 70's and promotion of black journalists into executive positions took place only in the latter part of the period under review. When editors, eventually, put their minds to avoiding and evading the restrictions embodied in Laws and regulations, many loopholes were found enabling the press to do a better job, but I think it is true to say that these efforts, really, only started being made with any seriousness in the 80's and probably only in the second half of the 80's. Argus Company newspapers, while steadfastly opposing apartheid at all times, pursued gradualist goals within white politics for many years before opting for constitutional settlement through negotiation with all representative groups. Finally, I think we need to acknowledge that the emergence of the alternative press in the 80's certainly showed up our company as having to, some extent, lost touch with the oppressed masses. So, I think the summary of our position, Mr Chairman, is that working conditions, the dynamics of the society as a whole, made newspapering a very difficult exercise, but we believe that we should have done far more to overcome these antagonistic conditions. The new leadership of the company has devoted a great deal of time and effort in looking at ways to ensure that the imbalances of the past, that we have just described, are a thing of the past and that they do not persist into the new Independent Newspapers. A great deal is being done at all levels in terms of training, specifically, education, upgrading of staff. Last year we ran a very successful fast tracking programme for senior editorial executives in conjunction with the Nieman Foundation. We have, this year, run a very successful executive development programme, taking senior managers in all departments and giving them crash courses in management. A, sort of, accelerated training programme. Last year we negotiated a very comprehensive affirmative action policy with all our trade unions and that commits us, as a group, to enormous amount of progress in this connection between last year and the end of 99. I am happy to say that we are already making significant improvements there, both in the appointment of black staff and, of course, of women staff into executive positions. A new group Training Director has been appointed with the task of co-ordinating the companies diverse editorial training initiatives and is developing new ones. It is the first time in Argus' long history that we have much such an appointment, now by Independent, and it is an indication of the seriousness with which we approach training and transformation. Talking as a Managing Director of one of the three regions of our company, I can say to you that one of our major focuses on virtual daily basis, is the transformation exercise which is far more than just creating the right numbers and the right people in the right places, but we spend a great deal of time on attitude transformation. The transformation of peoples' attitudes. Similar initiatives are going on at the Independent Newspaper School of Journalism and I have to say that many of the people who have given evidence before this Commission, in fact, were graduates of that school. We have been working, this year, in conjunction with the Knight Foundation of the United States in developing a series of special courses aimed at the training of, particularly, of sub-editors which is a major gap, we think, in the South African journalism scene and is essential to the transformation of our newspapers. We have, also, reorganised our services at Parliament and, again, another key aspect of that is the transformation of that service coming out of Parliament. Mr Chairman, I think, finally, we should say that Independent Newspapers is the only group, newspaper group, at this time, which has launched new newspapers in the last two to three years. We are creating jobs and, for journalists, particularly, and we are investing in newspapers, we are investing in journalism. In summary, then, our position, I think, is that we think some good things have been done in the last few years, but we need to say, categorically, that, while we think we are on the right track, the directors and the senior executives of our company acknowledge that we still have a long way to go in improving the internal climate of the company and making it a more nurturing, developing and supportive environment. We believe that this is the way to respond to the past and, indeed, in a sense, it is the only way can respond. We regard our company as one of the great institutions of South Africa and we see that, we think we have a very important role to play in the future and we intend to play that in the guise of a very new company, not an old Argus Company, but a new independent company. We want to be major contributors to all elements of the so-called new South Africa. Mr Chairman, my colleagues are ready, willing and available to answer any questions.
MS BURTON: Thank you Chairperson. I think we would like to thank you for a very positive picture of the way that the company is structured now and its plans for the present and the future and, as Mr Wilson said, it is a way of responding to the past, but, as you know, it is part of our task to look at those years which are, the TRC's mandate, and to make sure that we remember what happened there. So, what I would like to say, and it is not really so much in the form of a question although you may wish to respond, is what I would also have wished to say to the TML representatives if I had not feared the wrath of the Chairperson and that is really to look at the way in which the public was deprived of information during those years. At the Commission we are often, often told by members of the public, you are having such a terrible time and to think that we did not know what was going on. Well, now you can guess that those comments come from, largely, white English speaking people. So, there are, they would have been the readership of that sector of the media and that is a heavy responsibility to carry, that there was a role there to inform that public who might, one can always say people do not read what they do not want to read, but nevertheless, there a number of people who were able to say they did not know what was going on, is too great for this country to bear. Change might have come quicker if people had really been conscious of what was happening. It is important, I think, for us to try and work out the balance between the commercial interests and the power of the advertisers and the body of the readership that the newspapers served. Even now, as we have done our work, perhaps, much more in small rural towns, we have found that some of those small newspapers have not wanted to talk about the TRC and its work in those towns, because their advertisers will not like it. So, one has to keep that balance, I think, as we look into the future, very, under a very tight reign. The other thing that I would like to say arising directly out of the Commission's work is that our corroboration teams go back to look at those newspapers of the period for evidence of the testimonies that will corroborate the testimonies that people make to us. It has extraordinary to be reminded, again, of the little unrest monitoring boxes that the newspapers published citing the daily events and at the beginning of the State of Emergency they often appeared on the front page and gradually, as the months wore on, they tended to move further and further back into the newspaper. So, it was not a question of the fact that that could not be published, inadequate as it was, but it was not the news that the public wanted to read. We do have to recognise that, maybe, we all have a responsibility, that our newspapers are needed by our public and they do have a responsibility to give us the information that we, as the reading public, have to have. So, I think it is very positive that you take that into account in your submission and refer to it and I really regard the new plans that you have as a way, the past cannot be undone, so this is a way of responding to that and I would just like to acknowledge that. Thank you, Chairperson.
MS MKHIZE: I have been looking at your document, especially from page 52, where you talk to conclusions, saying it is well prepared, making it almost difficult for us to raise issues of concern. Having said that, I would say, on paper, as it stands there, under the conclusions, it is impressive. We have heard people especially from the Black Journalists Forum and some unions arguing for space for them, mainly because of their experiences, they have reached a point where they think, it is like having doubt that established media forums in South Africa can be of any help and we were trying to say to them, look, maybe we need to look at ways of exploring existing resources in this country and see how they can be utilised in the betterment of all journalists, irrespective of colour and, also, making sure that print media, for instance, is not tailored for a white middle class community or this class, but for the people of South Africa. I would like your views on that.
MR JOHNSON: Thank you, I think we are very mindful of those issues, particularly as people who are newly in leadership positions in this company come from quite a range of backgrounds and, certainly, as far as Moegsien and myself are concerned, a background that included the experience of the, eventually, rather unsuccessful Independent Media Diversity Trust, the Swedish model that was looked at very closely by Comptask and all of those issues. So, I think that they remain very high up as a priority. Certainly, we as a company, are looking very hard and have been in the last couple of months since the new leadership in the form of Ivan Fallon took over, as to how we serve what we call the publics of South Africa and where the gaps are. I am happy to say, that subject to a lot of homework still to be done, we are looking at launching more newspapers ourselves as Independent Newspapers to address communities that we think we are not dealing with properly at the moment, but beyond what we do ourselves, I think that it is the genuine attitude of this company, the diversity is good for the country, diversity is good for the industry, diversity is good for us and we would like to participate, genuinely and sincerely, as much as possible. Moegsien and I have talked about it at great length. The one area in which we have clear resources is in training. Rory referred, for example, to the Nieman initiative that was last year, significantly, it was not confined to Independent Newspapers journalists, but broadly to try and increase the standards as much as possible, but I think that there is, without speaking with the authority of my colleagues, but that there is the time and the space in the country now for serious discussions around how the existing institutions which are very, very important and others can talk about co-operating in terms of increasing diversity. So, I think the time is right and the attitude is right.
MR LEWIN: Thank you Mr Chairman. Again, it is very much a question of asking for some guidance on questions which we have which might fall outside of your particular experience, but they are questions relating specifically to your submission and to Independent Papers. If I could ask, there is a rather peculiar statement on page 54 which is very much domain to our, to what we are looking at, it is point 15. It says, "A major problem in accessing culpability on human rights abuses arises from different agendas of liberal journalists as opposed to liberationists."Do you think you could somehow explain that?
MR LEWIN: I mean our problem is that it is making this link, as put earlier, that all the white press was colluding with apartheid. Taking that statement and then trying to link it with the fact that our brief is quite specifically to look at the committing of human rights abuses and the role played by the media generally, but this, I think it is one of the few references in the whole report to human rights abuses. So, I thought you might be able to explain it.
MR FALLON: If I could just, I mean, as I understood it, as I understood this report, there was a great debate between the so-called liberals and the liberationists and most of our editors prided themselves on being liberals and there is a liberal tradition of journalists, journalism in South Africa which is slightly different. It took me a long time to pick that up too, it took, it has a slightly different meaning to how I would use the liberal in the UK. I spent most of my career, but it is this debate between that the liberals felt that they had to give as objective, fair journalists, they had to give both sides of the argument whereas the liberationists felt that the newspaper should have actually committed themselves very positively and one-sidedly, if necessary, to a cause which they felt was totally one-sided and by giving the other view, ie, the State view, you are actually unbalancing the story rather than balancing it.
MR LEWIN: If that, thank you for that explanation. I mean, does that then go on. If I could give one example that also came up yesterday in the testimony of Craig Kotze. We, in fact, went through about 100 of his stories over a period in the 80's and early 90's under his byline as crime reporter. Every, I mean the pattern that came through from them was completely no balance, completely the mouthpiece of either the Minister of Police or the police themselves or his own antagonism to the general mass democratic movement. What interests us is to know how was it possible for him through a large number of years, actually, to write those sort of stories if the management and the editorial management was not, in fact, in sympathy with his lines.
MR WILLIAMS: Maybe just to respond, first, to your initial question and on my personal experience, I joined the Cape Argus in the middle of the 70's and I could very clearly identify with what Jon Qwelane and Thami Mazwai, for instance, were saying about that period and, in fact, to also what Don Mattera was saying, because we arrived on newspapers with a lot of anger in our heart about the situation. As far as Cape Town is concerned, on the Cape Flats, the oppression and the iniquities of apartheid and, in a way, when I joined The Cape Argus, that was one of the reasons why I joined the paper, was to write about these, the evil of apartheid. We came into a newsroom where, obviously, with, where we found a cleavage, a dichotomy as far as our white colleagues were concerned. In fact, we operated in the same newsroom from two different worlds and, I think, this is what Patton was also trying to say, trying to distinguish between the kind of anger and our reportage of what we saw on the Cape Flats and, I think, Jon Qwelane spoke out quite eloquently about it. The kind of dilemmas that we found ourselves in as journalists, black journalists, having to go back to a community where we just received some information and, you know, having to justify what appeared in the newspaper and we have to explain, you know, that these sub-editors are all white and they do not understand and they, make excuses on behalf of the newspaper. That was the particular problem that, I think, as black journalists we had. Coming to the whole question of people like Craig Kotze, I suppose we will never know the real truth, whether editors or management knew about the activities of people like Craig Kotze. I, the kind of editors I have worked with, I doubt that very sincerely, but ... (intervention).
MR WILLIAMS: But I, in my experience in The Cape Argus news room, with people who I also suspected of being spies and plants of the security establishment, they were always accommodated, in a way. We got the facts on the Cape Flats, in Guguletu and Khayelitsha and Mitchell's Plain and they got the police comment. They were accommodated because they had this greater access to the security establishment. Information, in fact, I think it was a practice on some of our newspapers, never to appoint a journalist with an English sounding surname, because it, as a crime reporter or as a Defence Force correspondent, because it may not go down well with the Afrikaner establishment, within the security establishment. So, if you look through the bylines on these, in the newspapers over these years, you will always find Defence Force correspondents, crime correspondence with an Afrikaans sounding surname. In a way they were accommodated, because they were of some value in serving the needs of the newspaper and maybe that gave people, like Craig Kotze, the impression that they were accepted also.
MR LEWIN: Thank you. Do you think this might have had something to do with another point which Don Mattera actually raised this morning, but which has come up before and that is the influx of the Rhodesians, because at the time of independence in Zimbabwe, 79, 80, there was a large number of journalists who gapped it from Harare, took the gap to Joburg and Cape Town. The reason they did so was for very, very strong political reasons and, certainly, sitting in Zimbabwe reading the reports emanating from South Africa, one could see a particular vent in their stories. Particularly, how they reported both on South Africa, but also on events outside and across the border. Do you think that that might have had an effect?
MR WILLIAMS: Yes, I have no doubt that, and I need to preface my response by saying that I have, some Rhodesians who emigrated to South Africa and I have worked with quite, very serious professionals, but without a shadow of a doubt, they came with a conservative approach to, they saw the liberation of Zimbabwe as an evil thing. It, in fact, it displaced them, they are now without a job and I would, could understand, maybe, to a certain extent, why they would be anti the liberation struggle in South Africa. This clearly, when I joined The Argus subs room, at the time there was huge influx of former Rhodesians into The Argus subs room and it reflected in the news columns of the paper. I think Don Mattera is quite correct.
MR LEWIN: Thank you. If I could just return to another, yes, just my last question, Mr Chairman, another rather peculiar quote here. We, I, you did talk about the fast track programme last year. I just ask if there were any black women on that programme and then point to page eight where there is a quote from your submission saying, "Why were there no women editors? The simple reason was society dictated it. There were no all-round women journalists. It was not that the newspapers kept them out, there were not any trained in society."I see we do have some all-round women journalists in the audience, but I just wondered whether you could comment on this and how one gets over that very blatant gap.
MR FALLON: I think the, if I could just address the Nieman initiative. This arose, essentially, from the very first international advisory board meeting that Independent Newspapers had in Cape Town in June 1995 when in the discussion we had then, we had various major international people who came for that discussion. It was very, very clear that Independent Newspapers was not going anywhere until we had serious black properly trained editors in place in some of our newspapers. At that stage, I think, we had one out of 16 and how do we go about that. Certainly, when I arrived in South Africa people told me that they, I was not going to be able to appoint any, because there were not available men, man. Anybody, black, white, black, men or women, there were no decently trained black journalists in a position to be promoted to run our significant flagship newspapers. That was what we identified as an immediate short term gap which we set out to fill and we set out to fill it with the best people we could find and we set up a proper process which the, as you know Mr Lewin was involved in, at the time, in finding the best possible candidates and we arranged a special request on Dr O'Reilly to Harvard and Nieman, that they would lay on a special course. Now, this was seen as a very short term measure. We expanded it, as you know, with the help of the institute to make the seven that we sent to Harvard, 13. There were a number of women on that. I do not think there were any black women, but there were women and, actually, to have women on the course, at all, was seen as a very, very major achievement. I think that was actually and a lot of those people have come through since into quite significant positions in the company. Now, it is an ongoing process. There were no women and I appreciate it is an enormous gap and I apologise for it. I wish there were. In the same way we actually also get criticised for having no women on the International Advisory Board which is something that we are also trying to do something about, but it is, undoubtedly, a significant gap. It is something I am extremely uncomfortable about and something, I think, we will, in the future, work even harder to fill.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. It remains for me to thank you, gentlemen, and I say so comfortably, because I have been saying gentlemen ever since I started, except only for yesterday when there was one lady who came and it speaks to what you have been asked by Hugh Lewin. I do not, of course, entertain the hopes of Cyril Ramaphosa, that there will be another time when the Truth Commission will be going through this exercise. You can be sure that the time for women from Independent Newspapers to be representing your views before the Commission has, unfortunately, gone past, but having said that, I would sincerely hope that the programmes that you have set for fast tracking both, all the disadvantaged communities in terms of gender and race will be on course. I, and I do not think it should, there should be other circumstances by other than sheer will on your part to use your, the powers that you have to make sure that it stays on course. In this country there have had to be drastic measures to cause certain things to happen. We grew up in an age when, even in sport, you would be told that there are not sufficient or sufficiently trained people of the group that sought to be promoted. I grew up at a time when it was Fifa who insisted, when we were told that there are not sufficiently trained black soccer people, playing people in South Africa, they just insisted that, well, for as long as you do not have them, you will stay outside. If there are no black players, go and find them and it was wonderful how quickly they found and we now have a team in South Africa which we can call a truly South African team as far as that sporting code is concerned. I do not know whether you have any international sanctions, bodies which would cause you to be fast on the move, but I think from just what you said today, we can hope that, with the passage of time, those programmes will reflect in the years to come, the extent which you are committed when you said the things that you said to us today. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Then our next submission will be coming from both Dennis Cruywagen ... Shall we settle down so that we can register some progress? I am aware that you, in terms of our programme, you are supposed to be giving your submissions separately, but I am also aware that Dennis did make some appearance before this Commission in Cape Town, and in that context had pretty much highlighted the sort of things that, as a journalist, he wanted to talk about, in the context of those hearings. Especially, in his capacity as journalist covering the (indistinct) incidents and similar lines in the Western Cape. I would therefore assume that by agreement, you will allow Nomavenda to give a perspective which I do not need to dictate, but otherwise before you do start, I will ask Commissioner Burton to swear you in.
MS MKHIZE: I would also like to add a word of welcome to that of the Chair. Nomavenda, we have had an opportunity of interacting with you during the hearings which were covering the '76, June '76 Soweto riots and also you have assisted us on other instances as a Commission. But today, as I am looking at your submission, you are looking specifically at the struggles of black female journalists against their black males. So I would like you to take us through your submission and then we will ask you a few questions for clarification.
MS MATHIANE: Thank you, Commissioner. I would like to say up front, I joined the profession in 1974, which makes me to come from the same generation as Jon Qwelane and Thami Mazwai. And I would like to say, I agree with them entirely with what they said this morning. They told the situation in the news room. Having said that, I would like to say that although I am representing myself as a working journalist, my submission is based on interviews I conducted with a number of women who have since left the profession, as well as with some who are still practising as journalists. There are those who want to make out that black female journalists suffered the same fate as their male counterparts. But the truth of the matter is that while we were together in the - while we were together with the black male reporters in the struggle, in the news room, in the union movements, paying the same dues, we were treated differently by white editors and news editors. And when black men were promoted to senior positions, such as to become editors, nothing much changed. It is important to state from the outset that black women journalists in the profession, having the same academic qualifications as black male journalists, however, for years editors and news editors relegated black female journalists to fill-up women pages. In spite of the network of contacts that the woman would have, high standards of education, she would be hired to report on domestic affairs such as cookery pages, fashion, health, horoscopes, Dear Dolly columns and church businesses. Interesting enough though, when major stories in these bits broke out, who would be sent to cover that? Male journalists. A woman who went out of the profession said she was sent out to cover a weekend conference on family planning. After all, it is women who have to do family planning not men. So she had to cover the family planning conference in Pretoria, even when her newspaper had male reporters living in Pretoria, and covering the area. The irony of this incident was that they both turned up at the same conference in Pretoria and with the Pretoria male journalist. He was able to file his story on Sunday night, while the female journalist was only able to do so on Monday. Guess what her news editors said and the black man for that matter? He had the temerity to say to the black woman she had been scooped by her male counterpart. Women in journalism, women in the newsroom were deliberately kept down. Men were earmarked for promotion, while women's efforts were played down. Even if a woman had written a good story, she wasn't given credit for it. And yet, one often found mediocre standard stories pinned on the notice board, with congratulatory remarks from the editors. Overseas study trips were offered only to black male journalists. Women were able to travel abroad on trips which they themselves had negotiated and organised, and they often had to take paid leave. When journalists Sophie Tima and Sanzima, the photographer covered the 1976 Soweto student uprisings and took young Hector Petersen, who was injured, to hospital, Tima was not credited for the role she played on that fateful day. I suspect that her news editor known - had her news editor been aware that a major international story was about to break that morning, he would have sent a male journalist to Soweto instead of Tima. Sanzima got an award for the photograph, of course pictures always get prominence over news, but Tima, who undoubtedly played a very important role recording the historic event, which, as you all know, impacted on South Africa's history, her newspaper said nothing about her heroic actions. It did not matter to the newspaper that she was sought out by leading international newspapers for interviews, and that in the later years, based on their views and their knowledge of what Africans go through in the townships, and how unemployment affects every facet of African people's lives, Tima was asked to make submissions to the Wiehahn Commission on Labour Reforms. Her newspaper continued to ignore her. Had she been a male reporter her newspaper would have developed her and groomed her for editorship. It would have recognised her strengths which are, her large network of contacts, not only in Soweto, but all over South Africa, that she speaks and writes both in English and in Afrikaans, as well as other major African languages. Which is more than I can say for some of the editors I know. There went another journalist because of lack of recognition. She left the profession. Women journalists say they still find themselves working on articles, starting off with nothing, and when the story becomes big, a male journalist gets assigned to it and women, the woman is told that the story is too big for her to handle. As part of my research I spoke to Joyce Tsiwani, who told me that while she worked at the Rand Daily Mail, together with Joyce Sikakani, like they were the only ones who would not have typewriters or desks. All the black male reporters, even the stringers on that newspaper, had typewriters. I quote her: "I had to wait until the male reporters had finished using the typewriters and only then could I wrote my story". She was forced to leave the profession. Fortunately she is doing much more worthwhile work in some NGO, which proves you can't keep a good woman down. What is the situation today? There are few black women who are holding important positions in the news room. Women magazines have had women editing that, but that is another story. In most of the newspapers there are no black women in senior positions. Sowetan newspaper has one female occupying a senior position. She is an assistant news editor. An interview with her reveal that there are no support structures in place for her. She said to me you are thrown in the deep end to either swim or sink, she said. She says she is thoroughly marginalised and left out of the boys' club. She does not socialise with them after work, and they make sure she is not one of them. She has nobody to run to when there is a crisis. It is as if she is being set up for failure, she told me. When her peers in the newsroom were given cellphones, she was excluded, and had to scream and threaten before she got one. This takes place in black-owned and run newspapers. "I am never told anything", she says, "I have had to look for a reporter and told he was away on a study trip overseas", she said. There are two females, I am told, female editors at the Sowetan and one at City Press who is on a part-time basis, and there is one at Business Report. The boys' club does not only exist amongst black journalists. It extends to politicians who treat women generally differently from the way they treat white male and white female journalists, as well as black male journalists. If some politicians are hostile to black male journalists, they tend to be worse when they deal with black women journalists. When you complain about them to our news editors, we are told to be assertive. When we try to be assertive, we are accused of being aggressive. There are times when I feel that getting information from our politicians is like trying to get water from a stone. And yet, I am ever so shocked at how easily available the same politicians are at volunteering information to male journalists, and our male counterparts who can get stories on the golf course from the politicians, and who drink in the same holes with them. We are not exposed to such venues. There are black women sub - no, there are no black women subs at the Sunday Times, Business Day, The Star newspapers. I mention these newspapers because we have heard and still do have black women journalists in their employ. However, I must hasten to add that there are white female subs at the above newspapers. Just as there are white female journalists who are occupying senior positions such as news editors at the same newspapers. There are those who will argue that being a sub is not a great position to hold. That there is no power that goes along with it. I agree, yes, that may be true, but I see subbing as an edit skill to reporting, and the salary scales are higher. There are more skills - the more skills one acquires the more marketable one is. It may not, maybe for some, be seen as upward mobility, but it certainly is better than being stuck on the reporter's desk, even when one feels you no longer fancy being there. Like our male counterparts, we want recognition for the work we do, for ourselves and for the women who will come after us. It is not enough that the community regards as role models, while the newsroom treats us with disdain. Before I conclude, I would like to say that I am not actually bitter that my rights were violated and my growth was stunted as a journalist, because it wasn't stunted, instead I blossomed, disregarding whoever may think, but I think I blossomed. But I just think that actually South African newspapers are poorer for not having developed black women and for that it is a shame for South Africa. What I find even more sad today, is that as I sit here and talk to you, there are no black women journalists in our midst. What should that tell you, South Africans? Thank you.
MR CRUYWAGEN: All I can say is that I worked with some talented black female journalists and they have been very good and they have been in the field with me and faced bullets next to me, and the black males and the white males I have worked with, have never treated them as anything but equals. One of the black journalists is now deputy editor of the Weekly Mail & Guardian, Riana Rossouw.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you. Coming back to what you have just said, Nomavenda, you said you trained more or less at the same time with Jon Qwelane and Thami Mazwai. Can you tell us briefly about your training, where did you train, where you started and your experience?
MS MATHIANE: Academically I trained as a teacher, but I opted for journalism. I have never had training in the news room. That was a hands-on training. The training that I had was perhaps when I travelled abroad and did courses abroad, but I didn't train. I went to no training school in South Africa.
MS MKHIZE: In terms of what you are saying, clearly it is like, besides what we have heard from mainly male journalists, there are also issues which are specific to females. But I want to get clarity. Are you saying that black women were treated differently from their female counterparts as well, or I am trying to see whether you are saying besides the race issue, there is an added burden of being a woman, or are you saying it is only a problem of race only for black women?
MS MATHIANE: Well, I thought I said if black journalists were having problems, then black women journalists were even having more problems, because we were not treated in the same way as our male counterparts were. We were not earmarked for promotion. Nobody paid any attention to developing black women journalists.
MS MKHIZE: Okay. Thank you. Thank you, that point has been noted. We have spent a lot of time hearing or getting different perspectives. One of the issues which has been raised, you do not, it is not mentioned here in your presentation, but I would like you to get to your views on that. The relationship that journalists had with the State in the past. It has really created problems. Yesterday we listened to, we had an opportunity of interacting with one journalist who, when reporting, will concentrate on what Ministers were saying, without going an extra mile, by trying to get alternative views on whatever he was working on. Then there are cases like you have a feeling that politicians do not treat black female journalists with respect. So...
MS MATHIANE: Black journalists, whether black or male, I am not aware that they had any relationship with the State. I don't remember a black journalist having had to call a Minister in the apartheid years to interview him or her. It was not our domain, it was white journalists who were doing those stories. We were dealing with black communities. So I can't imagine a state where one would have to call - one would have had a relationship with the State. Today, although we wrote about these people, when they were activists, they are now different people. They are politicians. They are no longer acceptable to us as they were in the past. In fact, I find, what I find sad for the state of affairs is that they are ever so willing to talk to white journalists, more than they would like to talk to us. Those are some of the frustrations we have with black journalists, our politicians. Even if you wrote about them, during the apartheid years, when they were activists, today they'd rather give those stories to white journalists than they give them to black journalists.
MS MKHIZE: Why - I am still trying to understand your views on how you see the relationship - how the relationship should be between the government - the State and the media. Based on what we have heard, especially yesterday, it is like you are better off if you do not interact with members of Parliament. If you concentrate on what the public has got to say about them, because if you strive hard to work closely with them, you might end up finding a niche whereby you collude, so to say, instead of being the voice of the public.
MS MATHIANE: I don't think we want to have a relationship with politicians, but I think the line should be open. I think in an age of transparency, they should be able to - we should be able to pick up the phone and ask for a statement. That is what we want. We do not want to hobnob with them, that is not our role as journalists. As journalists is to report what is going on. But if there is a need for them to respond to our stories, then they should do so. I don't think we are looking for a lovey-dovey relationship with politicians, no. I don't think I would be a journalist if that was the situation.
MS MKHIZE: Before I hand you back over to the Chair, we, as we are sitting here, we have been listening and also trying hard as to - because partly we have got to make recommendations about how and what should be done in future. Now you have brought another dimension to the story. In our own view, I mean, first of all, I must put my cards on the table. I agree with you. In the South African media if we don't have a female voice we are missing out a lot, because the way you see things, you name things, you are influenced by your consciousness, not only as a - on racial grounds, but also on gender. You know, do you have any views as to what should be done in developing competent female journalists?
MS MATHIANE: It is not puzzle. It shouldn't - we shouldn't even be debating on what should be done. What should they do for white journalists, the same way that they earmark white journalists who when they are entering the profession, they could do the same thing for us. I mean, it is easy to see that someone is a good journalist. In six months you know that that is a journalist material and that is not. Why can't they do that, why can't they develop us?
MS MKHIZE: As one of the - I mean you refer to yourself as a senior person and you, in terms of perception, you are aware, have you got a vision or a plan in your own mind as to what should be done, which you can table to maybe before a relevant Minister, challenge the Government, have you got a vision? Even some of the black journalists that you interviewed, have you thought of the solution, as you were talking to them?
MS MATHIANE: When I talked to them, the journalists that I interviewed, they said to me why bother even going to the Truth Commission, I mean, what is going to come out of it, you know. And some people have said for black women journalists to have meaningful positions, they need to start their own newspapers, and I turn around and say have black journalists started their own newspaper? I mean, it is very well for people to say we should start our own newspaper when they haven't. So what vision do I have? I just think, you know, the same route that we have taken over the years to train white journalists should be done. black journalists should be sent to universities and there are also journalists who come out of universities, who are also not even getting promotion. So there is a problem there. Management should open up and just train journalists the way that they train, the same way that they trained white journalists.
MS BURTON: Thank you, Chairperson. Ms Mathiane, I would like to move away from your very gender specific submission and ask both you and Mr Cruywagen. We have been looking at ways in which our print media might have served us better in the past. I would like to ask whether you want to comment in terms of the kind of reporting, the sort of stories that you were able to report on, from your own knowledge, and which were either spiked or not given adequate attention. When Mr Cruywagen spoke at the hearing in Cape Town, together with photographer, Willie de Klerk, they gave us very clear indications of the way in which journalists who were known in that community and were trusted and were willing to go out and get the stories, very often didn't see those stories appear in print, or when they did, they were not always acknowledged for them. So, I would just like your responses to some of those problems and ways in which the newspapers might have served the public better.
MR CRUYWAGEN: I think one has to see the editors at the time as products of their time and products of a particular political situation. They were perhaps not as critical as one would have wanted them to be, and they were upholding a system in which they believed that what the other side was doing was wrong as far as they were concerned. That is how I prefer to look at it. I think in itself the fact that we are sitting here today, and looking what had happened in the past, is a victory for what we believed in. I don't think a lot of these editors thought at the time - neither did we for that matter - that we would sit here and reflect on the past. I think what we have to ensure now, is my colleague has said we should train black journalists the way we trained white journalists. I don't want that. Just as we have to overall the education system, we have to train journalists for a new South Africa. Not train, use the old training methods to produce journalists who are not suited for the new South Africa. And that is the challenge. The challenge is to have critical journalists, and journalists who do not hobnob with the Government. When the ANC and other liberation movements were unbanned, leaders like Archbishop Tutu said I am taking a back seat, the politicians are free. The challenge is for journalists to take a back seat and say now let's do our job and let the politicians get on with running the country and let us be critical. That is what we should do.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mary. While it remains for me to thank both of you, for having come, and for having given us a view of what you consider can still be done. In particular, I would like to thank Nomavenda. Both of us share a common hatred, which is why I corrected myself very quickly, and that is around the pronunciation of names. I have had occasion to have altercations with her when she called me Dumisani, instead of saying Dumisa. But I have been looking at some of the cases that we are dealing with in the stormy years. Especially in the Eastern Cape. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the articles that Nomavenda used to write about; violations of human rights in the Eastern Cape; in Xala rural areas of Xala where Bathadondo was killed and there Nomavenda was writing about stories in that part of the area. So you have come a really long way and it therefore, is something for me in particular, that pains me to hear you talk about lack of advancement opportunities in the media world, and you relate that to the only thing that it can be, that has held you back, and that is because you are female. Because it cannot be lack of experience. It certainly cannot be lack of courage, because not only were those stories shunned by most reporters that I know of, but for black and female reporters to have been keen to write stories that covered the killing of Bathadondo by Vlakplaas operators, in the way in which you did and many others, is a mark of your commitment to your calling. One would only hope that our society is going to be very sensitive to this gender-specific issues, and that we should treat them very, very seriously. Thank you for having come. Mr Cruywagen, I indicated that we are in the fortunate position in the Commission to have heard you, especially in the context of the incidents in the Western Cape, but we thank you for accompanying your sister. Not that she needed that sort of accompaniment. (Laughter). But we think that you were prepared to sit with her on the session.
CHAIRPERSON: We will now proceed, almost immediately, and I hope he is here, and call Mr Raymond Louw. If he is not here, maybe we proceed to call Mr Arri de Beer, and if neither of them are here - oh, Arri is here, oh. Or Raymond is here, please Ray. I will defer to age - your age. Before you even sit down, maybe I want to ask you to stand up so that Mary can administer the oath to you.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, the Commission also has a mandateto present as complete a picture as possible, but we know it is not good. So I hope you will give us as whole a truth as is possible for you to do so. Let me start by saying that maybe you have a form in which you would like to make your presentation in, in which event maybe you should start right-away, given that you are also conscious of the constraints of time that we have, and that within that period we will possibly have time for the panel to put some questions to you. If you can therefore, proceed.
MR LOUW: Thank you. Thank you, Mr Chairman. I would like this submission to be read in relation to the submission that we presented as part of the Freedom of Expression Institute presentations to the Truth Commission. I am thinking particularly of the over-arching document which dealt with the general situation and the history of that particular period. I have broken this into a general submission and into details of the Rand Daily Mail and its reporting, and various events that took place during the period that I was editor of the Rand Daily Mail and general manager of South African Associated newspapers, which covers the period from 1966 to 1977 as editor, and 1977 to 1982 as general manager. Briefly, about my career. I joined the Rand Daily Mail limited as a copy holder in the works department in 1944; joined the editorial department in '46 as a reporter, and then went off to Britain, where I worked on several newspapers, came back to South Africa in 1956 and work successively as night editor Rand Daily Mail, news editor Sunday Times, news editor of the Rand Daily Mail and then editor of the Rand Daily Mail, followed by general manager of South African Associated Newspapers, the owners, until relieved of that post in 1972. I am now a member of the - I was a member of the executive board of the International Press Institute, from 1979 to 1987. I am now fellow of that institute and I hold various positions in civil society, mainly deputy chairman of the Freedom of Expression Institute. I am here because I have been requested to make a submission about my role in the media during my years as editor of the Rand Daily Mail and general manager of SAAN. I have been requested to discuss my impressions of the situation of the media during that time, in relation to the commission of gross human rights abuses and of course, to count my experiences and conduct as a journalist that are apposite to your enquiry. Personally one shrinks from exposure of this kind where one is expected to examine and be introspective about one's own conduct as well as that of colleagues in a very public way. In thinking back on those years, I am reminded that the great good fortune though, that I had in working with an extraordinarily remarkable group of brave, skilled and committed journalists and colleagues on the Rand Daily Mail and its associated newspapers. In that respect I welcome this opportunity to pay tribute to their courage, loyalty and commitment to their craft in frequently difficult and extremely lonely and frightening circumstances, if not dangerous, on occasion. They did a quite outstanding job in trying to tell the public what was going on. I should point out that though the newspaper and the group ownership was opposed to apartheid, and though the journalists did an extraordinary job in exposing many of the evils of the system, and the sufferings it caused, when no other papers were doing this work to any large extent or to any extent at all, most of the journalists were not anti-apartheid activists as such. They regarded themselves as journalists first. They saw their job as gathering the news and telling readers what was going on. Their job was to uncover the truth and to print it. Part of the truth was the terrible deeds being committed in the name of apartheid, and these they excavated from the quagmire of government obfuscation and published. Of course, this is a generalisation. They were not all like that. Some, especially the black journalists were black activists first and journalists second. But it was noticeable that in the atmosphere of a dedicated news room, their activists' tendencies were frequently sublimated by the professionalism demanded of them. The Mail with the Daily Despatch and The World and Ilangalaas in Natal, was one of the main employers of black journalists in the newspaper industry. Ensuring particularly from 1976 onwards, that black writers came into their own and were increasingly given opportunities for advancement and training. The trend at the Mail had started earlier in the Sixties, when a black opinion column was started, with among others, the late Natnikaze as the writer. Many of the most prestigious black editors and writers today received their early training on the Mail. Among them, SABC chief executive officer, Zwelake Sisulu, City Press editor, Kulu Sebiya and former New Nation editor, Gaba Tgwana. There were many others such as writers Harold Pongola, Obe Musi and Doc Pakisha. These black journalists had it tough, and never more so when the assignment was one calculated to bring him into contact with the security forces or the authorities in some form or another. These were the stories about black spot removals like Morsgat and Lime Hill, stories about malnutrition, such as which appeared in Kuruman and caused two British doctors to flee the country. Demonstrations that ended in violence and death, police raids, or whatever. It was frequently also rough for white journalists, but there was nearly always the distinction of the black journalist being arrested and manhandled, while the whites would perhaps be detained and questioned. The Rand Daily Mail's news staff was a political and cultural mix. Perhaps more so than other English-language newspapers. There were English, Afrikaners, Blacks, Coloureds and occasionally Indian. Some of the English were from the Johannesburg Northern suburbs, others from the coastal cities. The paper had become to be regarded as the mecca for South African journalists. Some were National Party supporters, others United Party or Progressive Party, some were Communists and some were ANC or PAC. When I was editor I did not enquire about political sympathies. People were expected to do their jobs professionally. Of course, there were others with their own agendas, the spies and informers, who we have heard so much about here. We knew they were about and sometimes we thought who they were. It turned out that in some instances we were correct. But I did not encourage spy-hunting within the newsroom because I believed it would destroy morale. Four or five journalists approached me over a period of time and told me that they had been asked by the security police to spy on the Mail. They wanted advice and I told them that I could not give them any. It had to be their decision, but I did warn them that if they decided to spy, they would never be able to break free from the security police, as Mr Horak apparently discovered to his cost. They would always be in their power. I knew I was talking to people though who had made up their minds to reject the offer, but were letting me know what their situation was, should anything happen to them. Of course, the dilemma was who were the others, and who did not confide in me, and how many were they. I certainly do not think they were as many as John Horak named yesterday. I interpreted his statements as trying to give the impression that spying was a kind of regular job, that everybody in the newspapers was involved in. Instead of this despicable trade that it is. I reject his attempt to cast a slur on the staff as a whole, with contempt. He also said that I confronted him on several occasions with being a spy. I presume the intention was to try and give the impression that I was quite happy that there were spies around the place, and particularly, that I knew him as a spy. In fact, I challenged him once. The staff had told me that they were certain he was a spy. I called him in and put it to him. He denied it vigorously. I told him that I had to accept his word. I had also had a representation from another senior member of the staff, who told me that he was quite convinced that Horak wasn't a spy. In the absence of proof there was nothing I could do about it. Though afterwards, obviously I was very wary of him. I thought there was very little we could do about spies. A spy hunt would have destroyed the newsroom and the paper. We did, however, take precautions when we were dealing with highly sensitive information. We discussed it with the minimum of our people. The people whom we believed in and whom we could trust, and if matters were to be discussed, we would move out of an office such as mine, which could be bugged, into the passage outside. We sometimes took to writing notes to each other. It sounds somewhat dramatic, melodramatic now, but after the (indistinct) in 1965, when we believed that we were being bugged in the office and in some cases in our homes, we became sensitised and cautious. Of course, it was an uncomfortable way of working and it added to the many pressures on us. One of the more remarkable spying operations was carried out on my successor, Alistair Sparks, during the investigation of the Muldergate scandal. To his consternation he discovered that his secretary was a spy. He had become so concerned about the sensitive material his reporters were dealing with, that he arranged meetings with them at the Carlton Hotel up the road, or he made telephone calls from a hotel room, when they were overseas, so that he would not be bugged. But his secretary was privy to all the arrangements and was in a position to alert official eavesdroppers. The climate. It was a highly pressurised environment. Newspapers with their concentration on the media scene, deadlines, generally are. But we had always to bear in mind the array of laws that were like the spikes on thorn trees, ready to impale one in an unguarded moment. The laws hung about one like a cloud. A list was handed in by the Freedom of Expression Institute, so I am not going to dwell upon that area. We had plenty of examples of the authorities acting when laws were broken. There were the bannings of left-wing publications such as New Age, Contact and Torch, early on during the National Party rule. These propagated universal franchise in an open society and suffered the consequences. There was the harassment and frequent imprisonment or banning of their staff, and of course, the editors themselves were banned. I think some of them were charged as well. At the other extreme there was the Daily News editor, John O'Malley and his assistant editor who were convicted for advertising or having made known a banned gathering, merely by publishing details of the gathering and when it was to take place. An example of such as this, of the Government's rapid crackdown on whatever was considered a breach of the law, led us to believe that the authorities were itching to take action against the paper, for any breaches of the law. Apart from the court cases, there was always the fear that the Government would ban an issue or the paper itself. I don't believe John Horak's story that the Government did not want to ban the Mail, because of its value to its image overseas. It wanted to be rid of the Mail and the attempt by Louis Luyt, first to buy the paper in 1976 and then to try to cause its collapse, by introducing the Government-funded Citizen in opposition, supports that view. If it had sufficient justification, we believed, it would ban the paper or issues of the paper. Indeed, proof came later again, in another form. After the closure of the Mail when the Government banned the Weekly Mail, which by then had, I would have thought, gained similar diplomatic value, and New Nation. To ensure that we did not fall foul of the law, we had lawyers constantly on call for consultation on the legal implications of stories that we intended running. When a story containing information which was thought to be in contravention of some kind, the reporter would call the lawyer and ask his advice. Our lawyers became adept at suggesting the removal of words or terms rather than outright rejection of the story. In this regard the newspapers at SA Associated Newspapers, now Times Media Limited, are indebted to the brilliance of the late Kelsey Stewart, who was the first lawyer to specialise in media work and who devised a multitude of stratagems to enable us to go out further on the limb than we thought possible. We saw our role as challenging the law to the maximum, to enable publication of the maximum amount of information. We did not see it as defying the law, because the consequences of such action we reckoned, would be swift. Charges before court or other action by the Government, followed by sacking of the journalist and/or the editor and replacement of the latter by someone who would be less confrontational and possibly less keen on disclosure. In the case of the Mail our closure would have had severe economic effects on the company, as we saw when Anglo-American misguidedly closed the paper in 1985, and the company's overdraft increased fourfold in one month, forcing it to sell its printing plant and its offices. But despite all this, the Government constantly amended the law when loopholes were found. At the same time the legislation was tightened-up and became increasingly more oppressive. We were also only too well-aware that the Government would have been delighted to, if it were presented with a breach of the law by the newspaper or the company, which had nothing to do with the editorial content, say a breach of one or more of the labour or health laws. We were conscious that if we contravened one of these, some bureaucrat could close down the paper or the building for a day or whatever. A shut-down of several hours at a crucial time of day could stop production and cause the loss of an issue of the paper and the loss financially would have been considerable. Because a newspaper office is also a factory, SAAN fell under the Factories Act, the Printing Industry Industrial Council regulations, the Physical Resources Act and municipal health legislation and the effects that it had on the company, and I will hand in these notes. I have taken a few pointers from it. He states that the point about all these laws, whether they empowered minor bureaucrats to close down operations and for compliance with the letter of the law was achieved. They also encouraged members of the staff - and he is referring here to the rather more conservative members of the staff who were in the works department or in other, the administrative sections of the building - to oppose any liberalisation moves by management by conferring on them special rights of segregation that they could appeal to if wished them, to uphold. The Physical Resources Act, writes Hall, governed the total number of black people we could employ, by setting the percentage of the total labour force in a factory in a white area, who could be black. We came under increasing pressure on this point as blacks were employed in the editorial, accounting, advertising and sales departments. In these departments the Industrial Council and the conservative SA Typographical Union did not rule, but the Department of Manpower and other departments would get onto us. There was also some law which determined that while people of any racial group could rise to supervisory and management positions, they could only do this as long as those they supervised or managed, were of the same racial group, with the exception of course of whites. This meant that there was a ceiling on the number of blacks who could take up jobs in the news room, but more importantly, it prevent blacks from taking up senior positions where they would have supervisory powers over whites. There is no doubt that had SAAN or the Mail tried to take on more blacks on the editorial staff, or elevated a black to a supervisory role over whites in the editorial department, someone in the production department, which was populated by conservative whites, would have blown the whistle and the company would have been in trouble. Hall writes that the municipal Department of Health would respond to complaints of the employees, the conservative employees in the company, in addition to the planted informers, who objected to the removal of the race reservation signs in the toilets and wash rooms. That is in the editorial departments. They were always intact in the works department. The inspectors would watch until signs were restored, and he says he would leave them up for a day or so before removing them, and then the cycle would be repeated again. Factory inspectors did similar policing duties on the signs on the lifts, although when I questioned him about this, my impression was that the lifts at SAAN were in fact desegregated. Hall's department introduced in 1971 a fully integrated wage and salary scale policy, and in 1974 the department published a report on the effects of three years of integrated wages and salaries on the structure and efficiency of the operation of the company. By this time, he notes, the department had stopped keeping or submitting to the authorities statistical records of racial distribution, to ensure that salary reviews and budgeting would be based on skills, competencies and people's graded positions and not on skin colour. By the mid-Seventies the canteen had been integrated. In the mid-seventies the company also introduced a special training and development programme, which were eight-day residential courses held in venues out of town, which did not object to the non-racial component of the courses. Though the law required strikes by black workers to be reported to the police, Hall says that this was not done, and when the police heard of a strike and enquired, he denied that there was a strike, but admitted that there was a heavy rate of absenteeism. A personal letter was addressed to each MWASAemployee who was engaged in the strike to point out a position which would have prevented the worker from being arrested and jailed for taking part in an illegal strike. The wording of the letter related to an absence from duty. We promoted three journalists to head the township team of reporters. The township reporting team was a group of reporters who worked on what was called the township edition, which went to mainly Soweto and to other townships around the Witwatersrand. Those reporters were black reporters. Anyway, we promoted three journalists to head the township team of reporters. But it did not work out. One Lawrence Mayekiso asked to be relieved of the position after six months, because I was told, and I am not altogether sure of how accurate this is, but this is what I was told, he was intimidated either by members of the staff or the many freelancers who sought jobs. He feared for his life. At first African or township reporters were housed in a separate room but later when open planning was introduced, they were placed in a section of the general news room. The reason was, like the sub-editors, sports features or finance departments, it was more efficient for reporters working on a dedicated section of the paper, to be grouped together around their news editor. In recent weeks black journalists have complained about being forced to eat out of enamel plates and mugs. At SAAN there was an efficient editorial chapel which dealt with staff complaints. If reporters had been subjected to this treatment, they should have raised it with the chapel. MWASA members refused to join the chapel, but when they raised it with the news editor of their section, the complaint was attended to. The news editor of the township edition assured me that they have no recollection of their staff being forced to use other than the crockery available to all the others in the news room. The chapel would also have been the forum for them to take up their allegations that their copy had been stolen by colleagues, who sold their material under their own bylines to overseas papers. The practice of stringers for overseas newspapers, milking newsroom copy for despatch overseas, had been in operation for many years, and white reporters, as well as blacks complained about it. It was impossible to stop, because it had become ingrained in the news room. Stringers claimed that they had picked up the information, if one did challenge them, stringers claimed that they had picked up the information from other sources. The evening papers, the radio or their own contacts. They also claimed that they had access to the London papers, knew what they wanted and how copy should be written for them and those papers would not accept copy from reporters they did not know. Of course, there is the question of compensation that they should have perhaps paid, but that never seemed to get anywhere, apart from saying yes, I will think about it. Editing the Rand Daily Mail was a challenge, when one was faced with the super policeman like hardline Prime Minister John Balshazzar Vorster, with his ever eagle Lieut-Gen Hendrik J van der Berg, whom Vorster appointed to head up BOSS. In a moment of candour Van der Berg sent a chill down people's spines by stating that the men of BOSS would kill for him. The repressive laws were piling up. South Africa entered the war against SWAPO in Angola and suppression of news became ever more intense. My battle was easily defined against the forces of the apartheid regime. Though the company's board of directors had always been nervous of the Mail's crusading against apartheid, the company chairman, when I became editor, Cecil Payne, was a tower of strength. Though not a newspaper man, he was an accountant. He quickly adopted the rules of good journalism and gave his editors editorial freedom. He was the subject of a barrage of criticism from businessmen, some politicians and others. But then the atmosphere changed. Payne was succeeded by Ian McPherson, who had made his fortune looking after the interests in South Africa of US mining magnate, Charles Engelhardt, and Payne became deputy chairman. McPherson had links with Cabinet Ministers, especially Finance Minister Owen Horwood and he was connected in a small way with the Info Scandal, although that only came to light later. He was the meeter and greeter, the classic go-between in whatever deal required smooth talk. He did not like the Rand Daily Mail's liberal viewpoint or its crusading spirit, certainly not its contrariness and rebelliousness. As he settled in his seat I found slowly but perceptively, the pressures beginning to mount inside the company. Then as the mid-1970s arrived the battle was on two fronts. One, somewhat straightforward against Vorster, the security system and the National Party Government and the other against the machinations of McPherson. Eventually in 1977 McPherson, at the head of a board, frightened by the Soweto uprising and confronted with the Info Scandal, Citizen about to be launched in competition with the Mail, fired me. The process had been started some two years earlier with the softening up period. Every two months I would ride with managing director, Lester Walton to McPherson's office, where we would discuss how the paper had handled the more dramatic news. Or one could ascribe as the news bugging the government over the previous few weeks. McPherson asked questions, but never acknowledged whether he had understood or accepted the answers. The board clearly felt that a conservative Citizen would harm the Mail and increase its losses. The Mail had gone into a loss situation about 1975. I was kicked upstairs to become general manager and there I was left to rot for a while. It was clear in my mind that the firing was political and that the board was not only frightened but angry. Walton told me at one stage that the mood of the board is to throw me out of the place. I had upset them by writing a front page leader some months earlier, about an attempt by Louis Luyt to by SAAN and turn the mail into a Government-supporting paper. The editorial staff was alarmed, I was angry at the prospect of a sell-out to the Government and the leader reflected those concerns, in very blunt terms. I was told that the board was very angry, but it was not cited as the reason and I have now lost the rest of them, for my departure.
MR LOUW: I am 25 minutes into the excursion. Mr Chairman, I have here a list of the stories that I wanted to draw attention to. I think that what I will do is just talk on them, just by chapter headings, and I will get to that in about five minutes. If that is acceptable or should Ijust hand it in?
CHAIRPERSON: You see, I think hand them in, because I am sure there are questions that need to be put to you. I have got a couple of questions, and we are in fact, I think we have already done the 30-minute period, 25 thereof, which was allotted to you. Maybe you will, should hand in those because we already have a fairly detailed submission from your side. If I could then proceed to ask questions.
CHAIRPERSON: I was wanting to know if you know her. She has made several points but one of the points that she has made was that she was forced to resign from SAAN after 34 years of service, at a time when she was stateless, without a passport and when she was supporting a family. She has the impression that this was due to an attack on her by Brig Johan Coetzee who was then Brig Johan Coetzee of the security police, at the Steyn Commission of Inquiry into the media, when she was accused, among others things, of being a Communist. She has a view that although she was told that her dismissal was due to financial problems and the need to cut staff, the London office staff was increased and functioned for many years and she therefore thinks that it was because the security police weighed heavily with management or the proprietors of South African Association Newspapers to an extent, that she was made a sacrificial lamb. Now what would be your attitude to Margaret Smith?
MR LOUW: Margaret Smith is a good friend of mine or was a good friend of mine. I haven't seen her for a number of years. But I had nothing to do with her employment. She was employed by the Sunday Times. She went to London, I think, by arrangement with Tertius Myburgh. She worked in the London office. I was then involved slightly with her because I was in charge of the operations in the London office for a while. I think - yes, the main thing that I had to deal with the fact that she had to have some readjustment to her salary at some stage, but I had nothing to do with her departure from the company. In fact, I think that may have taken place after my rather more precipitative departure from the company. I think the person you should ask that question of is Lester Walton, the managing director at that time of SAAN.
MR LOUW: I think the stated reason, let's put it that way, yes, the stated reason was because the paper was losing money. I believe that the owners of the paper were got at by the Government, who said, which said, and I think it was a special emissary from the Broederbond that made the approach to them, which said that the Government was going to change its policies and change them drastically, but they did not want a newspaper like the Rand Daily Mail around to confront them when they did make those changes, in such a way that it would be embarrassing to them. I think that the owners gave in on that argument, or at least that they accepted that argument. I believe now that it was a political closure and that it was done to enable the Government to get on with the job of whatever it was about to do in 1985. It should be noted that M-Net got its licence in the same month as they closed the Rand Daily Mail. M-Net, as you know, being a - or was then a consortium of the newspaper ownerships. Although that has also been denied that there was any connection. I suppose the third matter is that the chairman of - the then chairman of Anglo-American, Harry Oppenheimer was given a special medal by PW Botha for services to the country, although it wasn't mentioned that the services had anything to do with the Rand Daily Mail. Those are pieces of circumstantial evidence. But there were other factors that were at play. There was a concerted move within the company by several senior staff members, among them the advertising manager and the then managing director, to change the Mail from the kind of paper that it was into the specialist publication that it subsequently turned into, that is Business Day. They felt that the company would be more profitable if the Mail was closed, because it was losing money. But their figuring was wrong, because the Mail's overdraft as I indicated earlier, went up rather substantially. The Mail had only made a perfunctory attempt - when I talk about the Mail, I talk about the advertising department of the Mail, had made only a perfunctory attempt to gather advertising in the three years before the Mail was closed. I got that from a very high-up person in the advertising industry, the chairman, in fact, of one of the big advertising companies.
CHAIRPERSON: Ja, finally from me. There has been the criticism that newspapers, including your newspaper, had taken a position that was perceived by the black community certainly, as being anti-liberation movement, and that this was seen in the manner in which you referred to, you know, insurgents or guerillas or freedom fighters, that even though there were neutral terms like for instance, insurgent or guerilla, your newspapers as a matter of routine, referred to those people as terrorists. What your comment be on that sort of thing?
MR LOUW: I would say that may be referring to other newspapers, but not the Rand Daily Mail. We agonised over that. We had considerable difficulty, because there was the law of supporting a banned organisation, which made it a little difficult to in fact adopt a position of great sympathy with the liberation movements. One could deal with it, of course, by leading articles, in terms of their posture as a liberation movement, shall we say in technical terms, one can deal with it. But one had to be rather careful that one didn't go overboard and then be accused of supporting the liberation movements. On the terminology, we had great difficulty with the terminology because they were Cabinet Ministers who were using the term terrorists consistently, and we had - if we quoted a Cabinet Minister, we used the term "terrorists". When we referred to ANC MK soldiers, we referred to them as guerillas. I am not quite sure though when that policy came into being. But it must have been in the late - well, it would have been in the - about the mid-sixties, that we referred to them as guerillas, terrorists when we were quoting Cabinet Ministers and we were quoting the Cabinet Ministers as saying terrorists and then we said that if they committed the act of terrorism, such as blowing up a supermarket or something like that, we referred to it as the guerillas committing an act of terrorism. But we did not call them terrorists all the time. You know, one of the points of these accusations that have been made against, particularly the Rand Daily Mail, and the "conservative liberal white Press", is that there is little chapter and verse ever brought with these allegations. It would be very helpful to us to have before us a cutting or several cuttings showing this sort of thing.But that's my recollection and I have tried that out on quite a number of staff members, to ensure that my recollection is not faulty on this subject.
MR LEWIN: Sir, could I just ask a couple of questions arising out of points that have been put to us. One this morning was that this business arising out of the Factory Act of not allowing or of not making promotions for people because it would avoid censure from the Government. You say that this would be to keep you out of trouble. Do you recollect at any stage whether you ever tried this and to see what trouble would result?
MR LOUW: No, I don't think we ever tried it. I have read to you the relevant portion of the legislation that applied. I don't think that we were encouraged by the fact that we appointed four black people as news editors of the township edition and the thing not working out. I don't think that we felt like persevering with any such thing, particularly in the light of the legislation. I think the quote to you this morning was the fact that I had said in a television programme that we had colluded, as the management and the policy, not to appoint black journalists to positions of authority. That is so totally wrong. I made no reference to a policy at all. What I said was that the law prevented us from doing it, and I didn't go any further than that. There would have been no point in the managements of the newspapers, taking a policy decision to abide by the law. They would have made a policy decision, probably to break it.
MR LOUW: But it was never pursued on the basis of promoting black people into positions where they had authority over white staffers, in my time in the news room. I think it did happen after that, during - Alistair Sparks promoted John Mojopelo to deputy news editor in the newsroom, where he would have been giving instructions to staff, white staff members, but that was after my time.
MR LOUW: My feeling is that they were a great success, and that they were read avidly by the people that they were intended for. Now I have had that thrown at me about "apartheid" editions of newspapers ever since we started the township edition. But we had, if you want to take the analogy a little bit further, we had an apartheid edition for Pretoria and another one for the East and West Rand, another one for the country. They were all separate editions designed to reach certain readerships. Nobody ever complained about those editions being, shall we say, segregated from the main edition. It was a perfectly normal newspaper practice to in fact, present editions of the publication to various areas, under different names and secondly, with material which appeals to those particular audiences. Now the township edition has got this or attracted this opprobrium because it is a black edition. It started off as a very small edition and it started off with rather innocuous black news, but became more and more political as we went on and as the readership developed. It did also increase in size and eventually it went into the sports area as well. It also, obviously, attracted a bigger staff, because we started the township edition, I think with two people; one white and I think the other one was black. It attracted a greater staffing and a greater degree of freelancing. Now when we were faced with this criticism that the township edition was an apartheid edition, we said well, if it is regarded as an apartheid edition, surely the readers that we are attracting by that edition would have rejected in favour of the morning final edition. So what we did, is we used to print sufficient quantities of the morning final to enable us to put the one parcel of the township edition there and the next parcel next to it, the morning file edition at the bus stops in town, and people coming, black people coming off those buses would have the choice of whether they wanted the morning final edition or the black edition. And the answer was very clear, they wanted the black edition. The reason why they wanted the black edition was because it had a lot of news of great interest to them. But the other feature of the township edition, which was very important, is that it enabled one to cover a whole range of events, both political and semi-political and non-political in the townships and to cull those, for insertion into the main edition to the newspaper, which would normally, if there hadn't have been a township edition, have got that kind of story. A number of those stories, quite a number of those stories went into the main edition. So it informed the normal readership, the white readership of the Rand Daily Mail of what was going on in the townships. Now that was a very important element of the township edition, although that wasn't its main reason. There was criticism that we didn't transfer enough of those stories to the main edition.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you, Mr Louw for having come, and I am quite aware of the fact that the time constraints are such that we are not able to put into what we are trying to achieve, as much as we would like to do. But I think you have endeavoured within those constraints, to give a perspective which is very, very important. I think what has also assisted us, was that in your presentation you were able to incorporate your own responses to some of the things that were said by specifically Mr Horak and others. So the days that you spent here, other than just coming for your own presentation, have been fruitful and it has also enriched us. Thank you very much for having come.
CHAIRPERSON: Without further ado, I would like to call Mr De Beer, Arri. Before you sit down, I think you have become very wise for sitting in and knowing what the ropes are. I will ask Commissioner Burton to swear you in.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I only hope people do have the mechanisms of translation, otherwise that will be allowed. I would just like to indicate at the beginning of these proceedings on Monday, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chairman of the Commission, did indicate that it was a pity that the Afrikaans medium in the form of Naspers and others, had not taken up our invitation to come and give us a sense of their perspective. It was a pity because there would obviously be things said about that Press as there has been, and there have been a lot of things that have been said about the Afrikaans newspapers, and that we would be poorer for it, that we don't have a perspective, certainly for the mainstream of Afrikaans newspapers. It is particularly therefore, for that very reason, that we must take into cognisance the fact that their absence here is not for a lack of trying by those who were organising this occasion. We tried to get a submission from the Afrikaans Press, Naspers. It is my information - they specifically refused. It is my information, I have not verified it, but it is also my information that in one particular newspaper, I stand corrected, Die Beeld, had wanted to come, some journalists had wanted to come and appear before us, and it appears that they were warned if they did, they would be putting their jobs on the line. Now if that information is true, it is a great pity. It is against that backdrop that we are extremely pleased that Prof De Beer, you have been able to find the opportunity and the time to give us a sense of your own views about the media, and that you are going to be communicating to us with particular regard to the Afrikaans Press. Welcome.
PROF DE BEER: Thank you, Chair. Chair, members of the panel, after having listened to some of the evidence during this session of your Commission, I realised that with your permission, Chair, I need to clarify and qualify certain aspects. Firstly, I have to state that I appear today at this session of the TRC out of my own free will. This was a very conscious decision that I have taken. I have earlier made a written submission to the TRC, which I believe you have a copy, and I was invited to attend today at this hearing, to make a verbal submission. Secondly, Chair, the printed agenda for today might give the impression that I will be speaking on behalf of the Afrikaans mainstream Press. This is not the case. I appear in my personal capacity as a former full-time and part-time journalist in the Afrikaans Press and as a university media lecturer and media researcher. My submission relates to the Afrikaans media from the 1960's to round about the 1980's. This is reflected in my submission to your Commission of the full original text of an article published earlier this year, in a shortened version in Beeld, as well as a longer version in Die Volksblad. My submission, should, therefore, be seen as pertaining to the time-frame mentioned above. However, the present media situation, like other societal systems in the post-apartheid democratic South Africa of the 1990's, pose a number of issues, which necessitate serious and critical analysis and discourse. This can be gleaned from research papers and publications on the South African media in the 1990's, that I and other research colleagues have made public over the last few years, and which I hope to continue with. But, as I have stated, Chair, today's submission deals with apartheid and the Afrikaans media, as I have mentioned. I will make my basic statement in Afrikaans, whereafter I will highlight some issues from the article submitted to you and mentioned above. With your permission, Chair, I will be using Afrikaans, mainly for two reasons. As Breyten Breytenbach eloquently stated "Afrikaans is the term of my soul; Afrikaans is die tong van my siel". Secondly, Afrikaans has been derided as a language of the oppressor and the oppression. However, I believe Afrikaans is also the language of freedom and reconciliation. I will now follow with the Afrikaans section. As this concerns my work as a student lecturer and media research person, and it also relates to my experience and personal view of the Christian faith and South African reality. This submission must be seen against the background which the role of Afrikaans-medium media, teaching and media research had played in respect to the policy advancement and application or not of apartheid. As a point of departure I would like to state the following. Few things have had such a radical effect in my life and my awareness, as the revelations before your Commission of the atrocities of Vlakplaas. As the sickening story developed on TV, it increasingly disgusted me. This and the other disconcerting and upsetting information which came to the fore in the last years of apartheid, increasingly made me aware of the certainty that I myself and fellow Christians and Christian Afrikaners, particularly, had failed miserably in giving effect to the most basic principle of Christianity, namely to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. It is my firm conviction that I myself and millions of other fellow Afrikaner Christians, could not be held directly and primarily and personally responsible for complicity in the gross violations of human rights as committed by Vlakplaas murderers. However, I am equally aware and convinced that I and my fellow Afrikaners, are individually and collectively responsible for that which was committed under the ideological cover of apartheid against our neighbours in the Christian sense. There are many pseudo-legalistic and particularly sarcastically spiteful arguments in the Afrikaans media and elsewhere, why people or institutions should not appear before the TRC. These are almost as cynically brutal as the friendly open faces of the people who testified in the Vlakplaas and Hani cases as the perpetrators of these deeds, where they chose their words with great circumspection to condone the deeds before the TV and the public. I have many perceptual problems myself regarding the nature and functioning of the TRC. It was again emphasised in a main article of the Star, but one fact cannot be denied, and that is that the TRC despite possible, shortcomings, is a very important national forum in a decisive phase in the history of our country, for individuals and institutions such as the Afrikaans language Press, to come and defend themselves regarding apartheid and their actions, and their consciences, in particular. This applies to all the people operating in the media. Against this background I wish to address a request to the TRC and to everybody who might be interested, to state the following in the greatest humility. That I unconditionally accept that apartheid is a sin against God and humanity. That particularly in my media work as well as in my media lecturing and research, but also in other circles of life, under certain circumstances, had effectively kept quiet about apartheid when I should have protested more volubly. That through my inaction in my media work and media lecturing and research, as well as through some of my actions in other circumstances, I wittingly but also unwittingly was co-responsible for and allowed the shadow of apartheid to be cast over the country and its people. For the above I accept unconditional responsibility, admit to my guilt and request in all humility the understanding and forgiveness of my fellow countrymen. It is also in this spirit that I stated similar points of view during the first meeting of the 1993/1996 SABC Council and upon the occasion of the founding meeting of the SA National Editors Forum. This is also the intent of the proposal which I submitted to the Senate of my colleagues, with my colleagues, at the Senate of the Potch University and which I also expressed within the context of the Reformed Church of which I was a member. That is then the official portion of my submission. I again thank you for the opportunity to be present here today and to express these thoughts. Now I would like to refer in brief, with your permission, and add a few things to the article which appeared in Beeld and Volksblad and which I had submitted as part of my submission to you. Many Afrikaans media people had a material question, including researchers and lecturers, whether people should or should not appear before this Commission. The one point of view which is maintained in the Afrikaans Press, is that everything that could be said about this matter had already been said in the Afrikaans language Press, and that adequate writing had taken place on this matter. This is a question which everybody has to reply to for himself. But I am not convinced that everything which the Afrikaner Press did during the apartheid years, collectively or individually, had been adequately answered. However, it is a question which I understand is not an easy one to answer. One of the factors which cannot be replied to adequately, is the role of the Commission itself. It would be far-fetched in my opinion to regard responsible Afrikaans editors and journalists in the same vein as the Vlakplaas perpetrators, or to negate the role which the Afrikaans-language papers played in the political process of reform. But should one keep mum about all of this, it would also twist around the facts of history, if, at this stage, we simply without any further incisive discussion, deny the role of the Afrikaans Press and particularly, during the early years of apartheid. One cannot wipe clean the historical slate when papers in particular, during the Eighties and Nineties helped erase the vestiges of apartheid, and because from another context, a lot had been published and said about the Afrikaans Press. Some Afrikaans Press circles have stated very clearly that there were no plots in the Afrikaans language Press to cover misdeeds which had been committed or violations which had been committed or to just hide these or cover them, but the point is that the whole of the Afrikaans Press played a very important role during 1948 to 1980, in implementing apartheid. Then one doesn't even refer to the second decade in the Afrikaans Press support effort of segregation and the thoughts that were central to segregation. Every right-thinking Afrikaans journalist or media student cannot mention the apartheid matters of the previous decades without going against the grain of truth and fairness, if one tries to justify all of this. However, the question which may be asked in this discussion today, is very pertinently, is whether the Afrikaans newspapers in the apartheid era, did give proper reporting on these wrongful deeds and fallacies of the past, or whether they had kept quiet too much. So this rather concerns the matters of deeds of omission than deeds of commission. If this is the case that people had been keeping too quiet about this over the years, the question stemming from it, is whether to a greater or lesser extent, we have not misled the South African public and gave the progression of South African history a negative foundation. To support this point of view I would like to refer very briefly to some examples, in the submission to you. If one looks at the collective issue; whether the Afrikaner Press collectively had been keeping mum for too long about that, it is a fact in the heyday of apartheid years, at least three Afrikaans papers existed which were official mouthpieces of the NP, that many people of the NP were involved in the Press groups in leading positions and exercised their effect very carefully, and they criticised many people for points of view which are now commonly accepted by the Afrikaans Press as facts of life. One could also just ask the following types of question. How openly timeously and enthusiastically did the Afrikaans Press comment on, for example, the accumulation of apartheid legislation such as the bizarre of refusing a Japanese jockey a visa or the purposeful implementation of the Group Areas Act. How effective was the Afrikaans Press in adding to facts which were uncovered, for example, by the Rand Daily Mail, in the prison scandal, the information scandal, the death of Steve Biko, et cetera. Another question which could also be asked, is how a small alternative Afrikaans newspaper such as Vrye Weekblad, which was mocked and scorned by part of the establishment of Afrikaans Press, was able to report with limited resources, about the horrendous activities of Dirk Coetzee and Third Force activities in black townships, whereas in most of the Afrikaans Press, there was a deafening silence in this regard. I have to finish off. It is not just broad collective media policy which is involved. As in all other human dramas, such as Vietnam, Bosnia and Northern Ireland, et cetera, it is the individualised cases which more often is impressed more prominently on one's conscience and with which one is more prominently aware. A few examples. As a young Afrikaans journalist I was responsible for covering a motorcar accident where a young black child had been knocked down by the car. I tried to have her admitted to the Ontdekkers Hospital, which is just down the road, but it was practically impossible because an ambulance from this hospital was not prepared to come out and we had to wait for an ambulance for blacks, from a black hospital, to come and take her to that hospital, whereas she was bleeding to death a 100 metres from the Ontdekkers Hospital. In a similar manner in the old Western Transvaal, I saw how people were chucked onto lorries, after the houses had been flattened and their possessions had been taken away. This was covered by the English Press, whereas the Afrikaans Press judged that it was not newsworthy. In a similar way, many other people can testify and probably have clearer and more illustrative examples which appeared in the English Press and not in the Afrikaans Press during the heyday of the apartheid years. But any Afrikaans Press person who worked or is still working in the Press, should at least - it is not important that everybody should come to the Commission and it is also not necessary for everybody to deny what happened, but we cannot violate history by pretending Afrikaans newspapers or journalists were not some of the greatest supporters and champions of apartheid. This is a given which can't be dismissed lightly. In conclusion, no person in his or her right mind can deny the role of certain newspapers and journalists in the Afrikaans media in the process of reformation from the Seventies to the Nineties. To mention but some examples, Schalk Pienaar's point of view regarding an inclusive nationalism or Tom Vosloo in the early Eighties, who already stated to his readers that the time would come when the National Party Government, together with the ANC will have to go and sit around a negotiation table. Similarly, it cannot be forgotten that - it cannot be stated that we have to comfortably forget about the Forties to the Sixties, in all convenience, because this was the period when the National Party established with the willing and enthusiastic support of a large section of the Afrikaans Press, the foundations of apartheid and expanded them. Thank you.
MS MKHIZE: Professor, as a scholar of media, if you are to write the last book on your career, what sort of issues would you cover, especially taking into consideration all what has been revealed by the TRC process about what went wrong in the past with our media?
PROF DE BEER: Chair, thank you for the question, Ma'am. We did, indeed, write a book, it was in 1993, and it was called Mass Medium in the Nineties, and it was only after this book appeared, that we realised - when I realised, as editor of the book, when a young black journalist from the then Technikon Northern Transvaal said to me you know, this is a very white book, and when Graham Addison, a colleague and friend and a former journalist, full-time journalist wrote a review in one of our journals, stating that the mindset of this book was confined to the "mielie driehoek", meaning Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein and Pretoria. And over the last three to four years, we realised yes, indeed, our mindset was that of the "mielie driehoek". That was the way we perceived reality, that was the way we perceived South Africa. Though, I think, we didn't really fulfil our duty, I think if one look at the 1997/1998 edition, you will find a different version, a different look, a different perception. To come directly to your question. I think if you look at this particular Commission and its work, and one has to write about that in years to come, one of the main issues that will come to the fore, will be how Afrikaans-speaking people like myself, did not know and I didn't mention it earlier, but let me give you one or two examples. I have a very good friend of some 35 years standing, who was much mor involved in the struggle process that I could ever dream to be. I almost lost his friendship because I believed that there was no such a thing as the "derde mag" (Third Force). I did not believe it was possible that somebody could do acts such as was published in Vrye Weekblad. And one of the main reasons why I couldn't believe it, was because I said to him it is impossible, because I know the people in Cabinet, I know a number of them on a very personal basis, and those people will not allow this to happen. When a friend of his disappeared, our friendship almost went out of existence, because I could not believe that any Afrikaans government, any party with people that I knew, could be the reason for such a person to disappear. So I would say the one thing that this Commission has done, was to open up the history, not only the history of pain, of those who were in the struggle, but the history of ignorance that so many white Afrikaans-speaking had also almost had to endure.
MS MKHIZE: Just a brief related question. Is there a way in which you think media as a science, can be introduced in this country in such a way that it is not so much a question of believing, but enabling people or giving them the licence through which they can take a critical look at what is unfolding before them, and be able to take meaningful positions?
PROF DE BEER: Yes, Ma'am, indeed. I believe that media studies were introduced in high school, which will give young children the opportunity to get to know mass media, but mass media in its full perspective, not only the mainstream media, but also community Press, community radio. And yes, you are quite right. Right now there is a change going through the whole higher education system, and we as people in the field of media education, have to make incredible paradigmships and we are - the example is set to us by people who were excluded previously from the broad media education field. And we have had such a meeting just the week before last, or last week at Rhodes, where it was incredible to see the synergism between different points of view coming or actually moulding a new paradigm on media education in this country.
MR LEWIN: Prof De Beer, could I just ask - what you have said is very telling, particularly when you refer to your closeness to Cabinet friends. How was it possible, do you think, that either they didn't know or that they didn't let other people know? I am just thinking, yesterday we heard from one of the people involved in setting up for the Cabinet Minister the whole preparation, for instance, of the Gaborone raid. Setting up the entire media structure to handle that. How was it possible?
PROF DE BEER: I think it was a question, this is just shooting from the hip. It was a question of a mental psychological and religious turn-off. I cannot for - I just cannot see how people in high places could not know if they had asked the question. I can understand or I can still not understand how it was possible for newspapers like Vrye Weekblad, Weekly Mail, to report on happenings in this country and then for people in high places to say they didn't know about it. It boggles the mind, I cannot understand it.
PROF DE BEER: I can't really put myself in the shoes of any other person, Chairman, but if I were to be somebody in important policy-making position in this country, and I received Weekly Mail and Vrye Weekblad on my desk, the most obvious thing must have been to ask what's going on here; are these guys mad, are they just - are they sucking it out of their thumbs, what is going on here. I cannot imagine that somebody who was in an important, responsible position as a leader, a political leader of this country, from a certain perspective, could not ask questions and could not get answers to it.
PROF DE BEER: I was on a friendly footing with him, Chair, I don't say close friends in that sense. I know him by first name. I know his first name, I mean. Yes, I had by occasion asked certain people what is going on in this country, and the answer was you know, it is all, it is Communist propaganda, it is the - you have to realise we are in "die totale aanslag" (the total onslaught), et cetera, et cetera.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, thanks again then, Prof De Beer, for having come, but also for having said the things that you have said. We have met in the course of our existence as a Commission, people who have not been able to say the things that you have said. It is not easy for any one person to say I could have done more; I was in a position to have made a difference, but I didn't use all the opportunities and the resources at my disposal to influence change, and it is gratifying to get somebody like you say so. One can only hope that there are more people like you, because if there are, then maybe there is hope for some of the objectives of the Commission to be achieved. In the course of this week alone, we haven't had many people who weren't quite prepared to say the things that you said about yourself and about what you could have done. So thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: On a much more serious vein, Max, you are here I suppose, to talk about the Vrye Weekblad, but I am just envious seeing that there is a programme called Special Report. I would not like it that because you are here there is not anybody who is going to produce this particular most "special report", because I would hope to appear and appear with you on Special Report and see what that looks like. So please make sure that we have made arrangements for you to appear. You will be facilitated by Hlengiwe Mkhize, but Mary Burton will swear you in before you do that.
MR DU PREEZ: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I feel a little bit like this is an amnesty hearing and I am applicant. I am just very glad George Bizos is not here. Mr Chairman, I would have spoken Afrikaans, but the interpreter said that he would like the afternoon off. We have heard over the last three days from black journalists, from white institutions and racial divides in our profession. It was high time that we as professionals talked about that, and I hope we will see a fundamental transformation from now on. I will not concentrate on this part of our history in the media, but rather what we as journalists wrote and what we broadcast and what we omitted. May I just say one thing on this topic. Journalism where race and colour are not dominant factors is possible. It has happened. At least among the ranks of the alternative newspapers, and it is happening. It is happening right now inside the SABC, specifically the team that I work with, the Truth Commission Special Report. The story we have to tell and the people we tell it to are far more important than our ethnic classification. And talking about women in journalism, as you know, the Truth Commission Special Report has always been 80% female. I want to talk today about the experiences of Vrye Weekblad. It was founded in November 1988 as an independent Afrikaans language weekly. I was nominally the owner of it, because nobody else wanted to put their names on that, in case of court cases, and I was also the chairman of the publishing company called Wending Publikasies, although the bank manager laughed in my face when I introduced myself as the chairperson of a company. Vrye Weekblad closed its doors in February 1994 after it lost an expensive defamation case, and we have no money to continue. That will, that part will be the end of my submission. The other Afrikaans journalists involved with the project knew from the start it was a highly risky undertaking, and not only financially. But we were so deeply frustrated as journalists and citizens with the way the printed media and the SABC molly-coddled the apartheid state, and praised the total onslaught government with faint condemnation, that we felt that we simply had to do something. I believe the treatment that Vrye Weekblad got from the previous government, their security forces and the legal system, deserve to be documented. So also the scandalous role, the mainstream papers played during the total onslaught years and beyond, to keep critical information from their ears. Vrye Weekblad's problems started before its first edition. Its registration in terms of the Newspaper Registration Act, was held back by the then Minister of Justice, "die groot verligte" Kobie Coetzee, pending a report by the security police. In an official SAP document marked "secret", and this is it - given to me last week - Genl Basie Smit and Maj W van der Westhuizen reported - "The influencing awareness raising role which the Vrye Weekblad played or may play in the target white Afrikaans-speaking population must not be under-rated. Furthermore, the degree of publicity, particularly of discussions with the ANC in the first and second editions of this newspaper, indicates the political approach."They demanded not the customary R10,00 for the registration of our newspaper, but R40 000,00. They knew we had little money. In another secret document, Col AZB Gouws reported to Adriaan Vlok, the Minister of Law and Order - "On all the legal options open to punish Vrye Weekblad ..."He said - "... declaring the paper an illegal publication in terms of the Internal Security Act or seizing it in terms of the state of emergency regulations, will probably be challenged successfully in court. But ..."He reported - "I could be sentenced to six months for publishing the paper before the Minister had registered it." We couldn't, because he was holding it back - "That we could be charged for publishing a picture of Nelson Mandela, that we could be charged with publishing a version of the words of a speech by a listed person, and that we could be charged with publishing a document of the Harmse Commission without its permission."He said he would discuss all this with the local Attorney-General, Klaus von Lieres, who became an intimate friend of mine later on. We were charged with most of these in due course. The relevance of all this is that there was a strategic decision by the Government in 1988 that banning or closing newspapers generated too much negative publicity; a new tactic should be used against the cash-strapped so-called alternative newspapers, harass them until they are tired and bleed them dry through the judicial system. Shortly afterwards I was convicted on the Internal Security Act for publishing an analysis of a debate at an international conference which included the position taken by the late Joe Slovo. The magistrate was unmoved by my submission of 11 newspaper cuttings of the time, which contained similar and even direct words from Slovo's speech. In December 1988, former State President PW Botha sued us for R200 000,00 for defamation after we exposed his links with a Mafia gangster. The case was dropped when he had a stroke. In February 1989 Vrye Weekblad was charged under regulation 5(b) of Proclamation R99 that we undermined the system of national conscription. One of the charges related to a straightforward report, factual report of a statement made in court by a conscientious objector, Charles Bester. In September 1989, six charges under the state of emergency were brought against us and in November another one. This time our crime was that we published a paid advertisement of the reception committee advertising a legal meeting. Other newspapers who published the same ad were not charged. On November 17 1989, Vrye Weekblad published the extensive confessions of the former commander of the Police Death Squad at Vlakplaas, Dirk Coetzee. My colleague then, who is again my colleague now, Jacques Pauw, spent several weeks with him, checking and cross-checking facts before we published. Coetzee's revelations were published world-wide, but not in South Africa. Genl Herman Stadler of the SAP denied absolutely that such a unit existed and this denial was given prominence by South African newspapers. Afrikaans newspapers started a campaign on behalf of the police to discredit Coetzee. On December 17 1988 Rapport had the banner headline, screaming "Hy's hier", with a story that Coetzee was half dead on a farm near Pretoria. Coetzee immediately faxed them a denial in his name, with his handwriting from Europe. But Rapport never corrected this. Beeld wrote in an editorial that one has to be mad to believe Coetzee. The Star's reporter handling these stories, was South African Police intelligence Capt Craig Kotze, a colleague of Coetzee who knew the whole story and history of Vlakplaas. He called Coetzee a psychopath. Coetzee phoned the Sunday Times a week after he left the country, offering to give them a full interview. The Sunday Times declined the offer and instead gave the security police all the details he had given them. I know this, because they said this on their front page that week. The only newspaper that joined Vrye Weekblad in its investigations were the Weekly Mail and later New Nation. The SABC was leading the discrediting campaign against Coetzee. Yet, as far back as 1987 the SABC knew and we will broadcast this programme on Sunday night, the SABC knew about Vlakplaas, when they interviewed some askaris with balaclavas on Vlakplaas. One interviewees was Glori Sidebi, one of the most notorious Askaris. In December 1989 Vrye Weekblad revealed that Siphiwe Mthimkulu was tortured and poisoned by the Eastern Cape security police and that he was seen in the company of policemen on 14 April 1982, the day he disappeared. All the newspapers ignored the story. They first reported on it when this information came out in the Truth Commission, seven years later. There is some detail about a private letter that I wrote, or a public letter that I wrote to FW de Klerk, but for the time let's just move on. Vrye Weekblad revealed in November 1988 that Eugene de Kock was the new commander of Vlakplaas and that he had taken part in a number of murders and executions. Like the murder of eight people at Piet Retief, and a month later, a Piet Retief policeman explained to us in detail how the murders too place. Only the Weekly Mail covered the story. It has all subsequently been confirmed in the Truth Commission and the De Kock trial. In January 1990 police Sgt Barney Horne told Vrye Weekblad in detail of police torture, SAP support for Inkatha vigilantes who murdered UDF supporters and of the murder of activist David Mazwai whose body was dumped down an ERP mine shaft. Silence from the mainstream newspapers. In February 1990 Vrye Weekblad revealed that the Stonewash professor was a paid agent of the National Intelligence Service. I was charged under the Protection of Information Act and after a whole day of in camera testing by Neil Barnard, fined R7 000,00, because we revealed the identity of a secret agent. In May 1990 Willie van Deventer revealed the inner secrets of the Army Civil Co-operation Bureau in Vrye Weekblad, and shortly afterwards we introduced our readers to a top CCB commander, Pieter Botes. Botes told us how he blew up Albie Sachs in Maputo in 1988, and explained the CCB's campaign against Swapo in a run-up to the independence elections. The assassination of my friend, Anton Lubowski was part of this campaign. The mainstream newspapers preferred not to publish or follow up any of this information, and the SABC tried to discredit it. De Klerk's only reaction was to ask the Harmse Commission to find out if Lubowski was a spy as Magnus Malan had alleged. Mr Chairman, while I am on the topic of Lubowski, please allow me a few remarks. Craig Kotze sat in this chair yesterday and repeated the lies told by the former Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan, that Lubowski was a spy for the military. We have known for years that Malan was lying, but now there is proof. My colleagues, Jacques Pauw, is sitting over there, went to see Rich Verster, as I believe, Mr Chairman, you yourself did recently, in Dorchester Prison in England, in May of this year, Jacques went. Verster was a senior spy-handler and held the rank of major in the shady military organisation called the Directorate: Covert Collection - DCC. Verster told us he will testify in any South African court or before the Truth Commission that he was sent to Namibia in mid-1989 with a task to infiltrate and recruit Anton Lubowski as a military spy or informer, because he had an Afrikaans background. He says he tapped Lubowski's phone and employed a well-known Namibian journalist and photographer to get close to him, and I know that this guy did get close to him. Verster says now he tried everything, but Lubowski showed no sign that he would ever be disloyal to Swapo. On the night of Anton's assassination by the CCB, Verster was told to return to Pretoria immediately. The military files on Lubowski were shown to him and discussed at great length at Covert Collection. There was no piece of paper, nor any indication in the discussions that Anton had ever done any work for the South Africans. Verster says he would come and testify that military intelligence then fabricated the documents put before the Harmse Commission of Inquiry. It is time for Magnus Malan and people like Craig Kotze to come clean and apologise to the parents and family of Anton Lubowski. Back to Vrye Weekblad. In 1991 a powerful bomb wrecked part of Vrye Weekblad's new town offices. A CCB operative and later known right-winger Leonard Veenendal confessed to Maj Johan Pretorius of the then Sandton security police that he had planted the bomb. He was never charged with it. A few months after that, attorney Bheki Mangeni was blown up in February 1991. Vrye Weekblad published a sworn affidavit by Vlakplaas agent blaming Eugene de Kock and his men for the murder. Total silence from the media. No action from the State. Again, all proved true in the De Kock trial years later. In August 1991 we published police agent Larry Barnett's confessions that he carried large amounts of money from the SAP to Inkatha and supplied them with arms. In June 1992 Col Don Horak, former Rand Daily Mail spy and instructing officer, exposed State Security Council dirty tricks in Vrye Weekblad. Silence from the media and denials from the State. I heard Horak thanking me for saving his life. I am not so sure if that is a compliment. Why is all this relevant, Mr Chairman? My point about all the detail, is that if the mainstream newspapers and the SABC had reflected and followed up on all these confessions and revelations, every single one subsequent, every single one subsequently proved to have been true, the Government would have been forced to then, to stop, to put a stop to the torture, the assassinations and the dirty tricks. It would have saved many, many lives. And South African citizens and politicians would not have been shocked or pretended that they are shocked at the revelations before the Truth Commission the last year. I think the question you asked Arri de Beer I would have answered yes, absolutely. The information was there. De Klerk knew it, everybody knew it. It was available. Hopefully Arri de Beer read it then. They did not believe it, because the SABC and the Afrikaans newspapers and the English language newspapers kept on saying these are woolly-headed revolutionaries and they are Marxist and media terrorists, you cannot believe them, they hate the State, this is the total onslaught. But the information was there as I proved. If the mainstream South African newspapers had done what good newspapers all over the world are supposed to do, nobody today would have been able to say I did not know. Only the so-called alternative Press lived up to this duty, and they did it with the fraction of the staff and infrastructure of the big newspapers. It suited big editors and the media bosses to look down their noses at these mavericks, these media terrorists. I find the newspapers self-righteous indignation around the recent Denel weapons to Saudi Arabia case very interesting. I mostly agree with them, but I do wonder where was their diligence and their commitment to the public's right to know when it was really important? I find it very, very said that the Afrikaans newspapers did not come to this media hearing. Instead, some of the senior men issued statements and letters asking the public to honour them for their bravery in opposing the AWB and the Conservative Party. To my colleagues at Beeld, who wanted to come here, I am tempted to say to them "julle is goeie kamerade" (you are good comrades), but it would probably be the wrong thing to say to them. I started my career at the Burger in 1973. I was a member of the first editorial team which started Beeld in 1974. I was a member of their Parliamentary team. I knew how intimate and cosy their relationship was with the National Party, its police and its Defence Force. I went to their parties too. I was there when those newspapers had all the information about the Information Scandal, but had a policy to never break a story, rather to manage it afterwards, in blaming it all on Connie Mulder and Eschel Rhoodie and saving PW Botha. I was there when Johan Grosskopf was axed as editor for asking straightforward questions after 16 June 1976. I was there when they helped cover up South Africa's presence in Angola. By 1982 I decided I was going to liberate myself and I joined the "giftige Engelse Pers" (poisonous English Press). It was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire, because I became the political correspondent for Tertius Myburgh and Stephen Mulholland. The Afrikaans Press claim now they have always been in favour of a negotiated solution. You will see it in the letter to the Truth Commission by Mr Hennie van Deventer, and had always encouraged the National Party towards this goal. This is not true, Mr Chairman. Why then, I would want to ask them, why did they then whip up an extreme hysteria when a few dozen of us, mostly Afrikaans-speakers, went to talk to the ANC in Dakar in July 1987? They called us Communists and useful idiots. Well, all we wanted to do was try and break some of the ice to make negotiations more acceptable to their constituency. If they really wanted to encourage negotiations, why did the Burger refuse to publish an advertisement of the Democratic Party propagating talks with the ANC? They can protest as much as they want, but one truth remains, until the last few months of the PW Botha regime, Afrikaans newspapers never opposed the National Party or their security forces on any important issue. Their argument is that they could not move too far away from their conservative Afrikaner constituency. I have no doubt in my mind, being an Afrikaner from a conservative rural background myself, that they could have pushed much, much harder, without alienating their readers. There has never been a viable right-wing newspaper Afrikaners could turn to. Anyway, the Afrikaner, I again say, I was always more progressive than the Afrikaans newspapers, and maybe from what we know now, that the news room, the Afrikaans journalists have always been more progressive than their editors and their bosses. I remember in 1973, there must have been a general election or something at that stage, we had a snap poll in the newsroom of die Burger of all things, and 80% of the journalists working for die Burger said they would for the Progressive Party. Yet, they worked for a mouthpiece of the National Party. Actually, one only needs to ask the Afrikaans editors of the Seventies and the Eighties one question. Beeld is today one of the most professional and respected newspapers in South Africa, making huge profits and increasing its circulation. At the same time, it is probably one of the most progressive white newspapers in the country. Certainly, the most progressive and open-minded daily Afrikaans newspaper ever. Why is this argument of pampering your constituency not valid now? Let me quickly conclude with the demise of Vrye Weekblad. The abuse of the legal system by the State continued against us. In 1991 and 1992 three senior civil servants sued us with State aid for large amounts of money for what they called defamation. Genls Leon Mellett and Herman Stadler - Genl Mellett who was also a former police spy on a newspaper. Basically his complaint was that we wrote a story that he played in one of these little picture books and we called him Captain Caprivi and actually he was Captain Duiwel (Devil). (Laughter). That was a real part of his complaint. We were also sued by Herman Stadler and Attorney-General Klaus von Lieres. In May 1992 Vrye Weekblad wanted to publish a story that it was not the ANC but a security policeman who threw a hand-grenade at Labour Party Allen Hendrickse's house, after he annoyed Chris Heunis with his swimming on a white beach. We asked the Commissioner of Police, Johan van der Merwe, for his comment before we published the story, but he ran to the Pretoria Supreme Court and Judge De Villiers granted an interdict against us. One of the three senior officers who applied for the interdict, was the source of the story, which has been subsequently proved totally correct. The vendetta through the courts eventually cost Vrye Weekblad its life. He had of the Police Forensics Laboratory, Genl Lothar Neethling sued us for R1 million, after we published Dirk Coetzee's statement that Neethling had provided him and others with poison which was used to drug or kill ANC activists. In the Rand Supreme Court Judge Johan Kriegler accepted Coetzee's version and found Neethling an unreliable witness. He dismissed the case. But the idea that a respected citizen and a member of the Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns could b ea killer and a liar was simply too much for the Judges of the Appeal Court. Vrye Weekblad was ordered to pay Neethling's costs and R90 000,00 for the defamation. The case dragged on for five years and eventually the legal costs for both sides added up to more than R2 million. Neethling was sponsored by the taxpayer, but Vrye Weekblad had to close, faced with this bill. Mr Chairman, the decision by the Appeal Court was one of the blackest moments in our judicial history. There is today absolute proof from several quarters that Neethling had lied to that court. As Judge Kriegler found, Neethling did in fact secretly prepared different kinds of poison, with the exclusive purpose of killing opponents of the Government. The Pretoria Attorney-General has a sworn affidavit by Vlakplaas policeman Steve Bosch, in which he tells of how he fetched poisoned bottles of beer from Neethling. The same Attorney-General has several affidavits, gathered during his investigation, into the activities of Wouter Basson and the chemical and biological warfare project that proved that Neethling told the courts blatant lies. Damning evidence of Lothar Neethling and his poison also comes from a former colleague of Neethling and Basson, who is presently a client of attorney Brian Currin. The Truth Commission knows who this man is. He does not want his identity known at this stage. Mr Chairman, but this is probably the most devastating evidence gathered against Neethling. This is an affidavit by a former State Prosecutor, called Johan Marnewick van den Heever. He states that he once used Neethling as an expert witness in a large fraud case and visited Neethling at the forensics laboratory. Neethling proudly gave him a tour of the facility and gave him several demonstrations. Then Van den Heever states: "I was very impressed with what Neethling had achieved at the laboratory and I was very impressed with what I saw. I indicated this to him and I could see he was very proud of what he had achieved. He also in general discussed his work with me and various breakthroughs and inventions that they had achieved at the laboratory. It was in this context that he mentioned to me that the laboratory had developed a poison which could precipitate a heart attack. He furthermore mentioned that the poison would not be traced at a post-mortem examination."Neethling had testified under oath before Mr Justice Kriegler that nothing like this ever happened in his laboratory. Van den Heever then tells another story. I include the affidavit in my submission. He tells another story about an accident Neethling was involved in which seriously undermines his credibility as a reliable witness. And this affidavit, and the original is in the possession of my lawyer, Carinovo. Mr Chairman, Vrye Weekblad was closed because of Lothar Neethling's perjury. Lothar Neethling was indeed a kind of Dr Mengele, who experimented with different kinds of knock-out drops and poison for the use of security policemen to kill activists. We know some of the names of some of the people who were killed in this way. But we don't know how many people died after drinking Lothar Neethling's poison. He should be charged with multiple murder, perjury and fraud. Fraud for getting our money for his lies and closing down a newspaper that could have played a very constructive role in the transformation of our society today. I truly hope you can help me bring this man to justice. Thank you.
MS MKHIZE: Okay, thank you. My first question to you, Max, is I want to know more about the Vrye Weekblad. Since it was well-known for its exposition of major cases, like the Dirk Coetzees, the death squads, given what we have heard over the past two days, I just want to know, to ask as to how did you get these stories? Was it through - did you get them from special sources or it was just an outcome of good journalism?
MR DU PREEZ: That is a very interesting question, because I heard Johan Pretorius say here, of the SABC, earlier, that they also tried to get hold of all these things on death squads, and they had no idea where Vrye Weekblad got their information. Well, maybe I should just tell Johan that if he wants confirmation, or he wanted information on police death squads, you don't go to the Minister or to the spokesman for the Ministry, because that's what they seem to have done. The answer, is firstly, a tribute to the last of investigative journalists, a man that I respect very much for what he has done in investigative journalism, and his name is Jacques Pauw. Most of these material came through his pen. He also produced for the SABC a brilliant documentary on Primeval on Eugene de Kock. But, there is another answer too. Dirk Coetzee had gone to other newspapers before with his story. He had been to Rapport, told his whole story and they chased him away. They didn't want to touch it. He went to the Sunday Times, they didn't want to touch it. And then when he came to us, when he came to Jacques, we said is there any way in which we cannot publish this, it will probably close us down. We knew that, November 1989, we knew that we would probably mean the end of us. And we said well, how can you not publish it. I mean, apart from your basic code as a journalist, it was the God-damn best story in years. I mean, what kind of a journalist are you if you are prepared to say go away, I don't want to know. So in that sense, good investigative journalism is the answer, but also to be prepared to take risks, to be prepared to take risks, to be prepared to push the parameters a little bit, to not be scared of court cases. I appeared in 47 court cases in my life. I spent virtually more time in court than in the news room, because it is a form of harassment. I was charged or sued for defamation more than two dozen times and mostly, it is to silence you and that happens today with the media, today, if somebody doesn't want you to go further with an investigation or criticise more, they sue you for defamation and then it is sub judice for a few years. And I have often said to my colleagues in mainstream papers, you have just got to push harder, this is a risky business. If you don't want to be there, then become a clerk, but while you are a journalist, you have got to, you have got to push a little bit. It is an exciting job to have, if you do it the way we did it. Otherwise it is pretty boring. So it was about pushing the limits, it is about taking risks and be prepared to listen to all kinds of stories.
MS MKHIZE: Having been part of the audience for the past two days, I mean, already I was, as I was listening to you, I looked at - I should think it is the third page of your submission where - or the fourth page, where you have something about silence from the large newspapers and denials from the State. I would like to just get your opinion as to, of the role of the mainstream Press under apartheid, especially looking at what should be done, to make sure that they regain respect from society.
MR DU PREEZ: It is going to be, Mr Chairman, very hard for some newspapers to regain the respect of the society. And the way they go about it now, is not the way to regain the respect of this whole society. This is not a divided society, it is not - we don't see this as a divided society any more, you can't write for a few white people in the Northern suburbs any more, you have to write for the whole nation. You have to be accepted by the whole nation. That's going to be a hard road for some newspapers. Newspapers, I mean we sat here and we listened to the spies talking to you. I have told you now that Mr Craig Kotze, who sat here, he even lied to the Truth Commission about Vlakplaas, who said he only operated as a journalist. Yet, he knew everything about Vlakplaas. He led the discrediting campaign of Vlakplaas - of Dirk Coetzee and the story. So it is hard to overcome that kind of a history. What, the mistake they should never make again, is to sit in Braamfontein or in Rosebank and not know that there is a Soweto and there is a Koppies and a Leeudoringstad and all these places, to pretend that that's not there. That's what they have done. I listened to some of the mainstream papers here, who still have black and white editions. I mean, every Saturday night when I go home, I am faced with a choice, do I buy the Extra or the ordinary one. Every time I think am I white or am I black, I mean, what's the difference, and it irritates me. There is no place for that any longer in our society. But it is a hard road because people have been conditioned. I think there has been a healthy debate in the last few weeks from people like Jon Qwelane and Thami Mazwai and William Mogobo and Robert Brandt and others in the Star. That's extremely healthy. Strong views. We heard them today again, from people like Don Mattera and Jon Qwelane, and we should now take that debate. It is not an attack, it is a debate that well, all of us as journalists should take to heart and say these guys are our brothers in the same profession and we know they are good. We know they're good. Jon Qwelane is one of the top people in this country. If he feels that strongly about this, there must have been something wrong. Let's fix it. And you are not going to fix it with arrogance, you are going to fix it with talking and that's a long road.
MS MKHIZE: On Monday we heard a lot about the SABC. One of the things which people raised as a cause for concern is the fact that the SABC has got a board of management, and the chairperson of that board is appointed by the President, and the argument which was presented by journalists talking to that, was like there is no way in which you can expect that person not to be loyal to the State, so to say. So I would just like to hear your comments about the SABC.
MR DU PREEZ: This is the Truth Commission. I would prefer not to say anything about the SABC. It is hard, because I am, I have a contract with the SABC. I have certain criticisms of the SABC. If I was unhappy fundamentally with the SABC I wouldn't be with them. But it is slightly unfair of me to ask for a criticism of the SABC. I would prefer not to say anything.
CHAIRPERSON: Maybe the way I understand it, is not so much to say what you would have said about the SABC to the Commission or otherwise, but your comment on the idea that was communicated to us, that because in the past those who were in command of the SABC were appointed by the President, and therefore that explains why they toed to the Government line. The same thing is applicable today, because in any event, even today, those who are in power in the SABC and in charge, are appointed by the Government, and therefore, there is no way that you can expect this institution to toe the Government line.
MR DU PREEZ: This is a slightly different process. I mean, we did start appointing the first board. It was a very good process of public hearings, which was unheard of before. Which made a very fundamental difference. As a working journalist with the SABC, I have never had any contact with anybody from the board. As journalists we get no orders from anybody on the board or anywhere else. We, I think it is fair to say, that the journalists at the SABC run their own programmes. I am not sure what the board does at the SABC. It certainly doesn't touch my life. Maybe the bigger, broader sort of policy and financial things, but I am a journalist, I don't care about those things. So I can truly say, I don't even know properly who is on the board. I know a few, but in the old days who was the board. The board chairman was for a long time also one of the top two of the Broederbond. Now we know as working journalists the SABC board now is a mixed bag. I mean, we have Arri de Beer on there and all kinds of people, except we don't even know what their political persuasion is. So there is none of this presence of the board, is an ANC or a National Party or a Broederbond. That is very different. My reading of the culture inside the SABC is that it plays no role.
MS MKHIZE: Continued education of journalists seems to be badly needed. What are the possibilities - already in your opening remarks you said something like you know, it is possible to have journalism and have people running a programme, irrespective of colour, class, race, but I am still - given what we have heard, it is like a lot more is needed than having good people doing it in that small corner, when it is almost impossible for others.
MR DU PREEZ: Mr Chairman, I think one thing here, is that we should restore the public image and the public status of journalists in our society. We don't have a high status in our society at the moment and that's our own doing. We were spies and we were bad journalists and we were cheats. We need to work very hard to restore that. It is not a very sought after profession in our country today. What I have seen in the last 10 years, were a lot of young talented black people entering journalism and as soon as they have the experience, they get robbed by big business or by Government, to be spokesmen or to pose a black face, because they get lots more money and more status in society. We want to, we need to again breed a new culture where it is kind of special to be a journalist. I mean, I am of the old school. It is the most exciting job in the world. It is the proudest profession in the world. The young people don't feel like that any more. They look at pay cheques. If we don't get that into our culture, this is a very noble and exciting profession. For the next 10 to 15 years we will keep on losing the new trainees to - I mean, the Truth Report Special Report, for instance, started with a young man called Zwandile Zote, who was a very good journalist and it was very nice to work with him. He was there for a month and he got an amazing offer from the State to be Public Works spokesman. I miss that guy until today. I couldn't blame him. He gets a fancy car and he has got some status in society and whatever. We want the Zwandile Zotes of the world to want to stay even for less money. And of course, I think there are proper journalism schools now. I hope the one at Stellenbosch will open up further. Hopefully it will lose its exclusive Afrikaans language character, so it can serve that whole community. But the other schools are great. There is the Institute for Advancement of Journalism doing great work. But I think the most - in my experience, is that the most important experience is on-the-job experience. It is on-the-job training and especially at the SABC. But there is also another culture in our news rooms that have developed, and that is very negative, a negative facet of journalism, and it chases away a lot of young talented people, and that is the authoritarian structures of news rooms. Whenever you see a good successful newspaper, then you can know that the journalists are trusted and that is the true, that is the situation, I think, also with the SABC, it is the situation with every newsroom that I have ever worked in. The more you trust your journalist, the harder he or she will work and the more committed they will be, the better your journalism will be. But we have an extremely authoritarian structure in the SABC and in every newsroom that I see around me, where you work for 10 or 15 or 20 years and then you get promoted, to drive a desk, you become a boss and you turn your whole character around and you deny everything you have done and said and thought before, and you become a boss. And journalists, this is my old school view, any journalist who likes the boss is a bad journalist.
MS BURTON: I would like to follow up on that and you earlier remarks about the need to have a debate and to talk among journalists about the future of the profession and I would argue that it would be critically important to draw in the media who have not been represented here in this hearing. Because I think one of the victims of what has happened, is that there will develop in public such a degree of cynicism and lack of trust, that one gets to the stage that people will say well, I can't believe anything any more, and I think we are near that point. I think that is in a way one of the negative aspects of all of these revelations, is that people who were trusted, are now revealed to have been untrustworthy. So I think it is critically important that we do that soon and restore a degree - I think a degree of scepticism is a good thing in the reading public, but a certain degree, anyway, of faith in the responsibility of the media. So I would encourage that debate to be ongoing. Thank you, Chairperson.
MR DU PREEZ: And I also would add that it is very important to draw in the Afrikaans journalists in this process. They are alienated after - and most of them are good, the ordinary journalists are good journalists and their hearts are in the right places and they are committed. We need desperately, I want to say this to my black colleagues, and the Forum for Black Journalists and the unions, those people are also Africans. More so than they would admit themselves, draw them in, it is good for them and it is good for all of us.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, this is the end of our day. I don't think we could have ended on a better note. When Don Mattera was speaking during the course of today's proceedings, I took the view that well, that is what you can expect from an unguided missile, like Don Mattera. Now when this Afrikaner comes and speaks to us, I don't know whether I should say this is what you can expect from an unguided missile like Max du Preez. But the one thing that is clear, is that if it had not been for the likes of you and Jacques Pauw, and the Don Matteras, but in particular, given the sort of society that you have just mentioned, people like you, Afrikaners, "verraaiers" in the view of those you socialised with, you grew up with, it must have been a terrible time to go into a bar, to go into any community of people, having known that you had just published the sort of thing that you had published in your Vrye Weekblad. Maybe you began to shun places like those, because you might be on the receiving end of knock-out drops.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Maybe that's what saved you. You really exceeded the proper limits and maybe there were no proper limits, and maybe this is what Mao Tse Tung meant when he said that there are occasions when in order to correct an imbalance, it is permissible to exceed the proper limits. I can testify that in the manner in which we are able to confirm virtually everything that you guys had been printing there, in that dark era, it was to the extent that it was exceeding the proper limits permissible for you to do so. I thank you very much. We have now come to the end of these proceedings, but before you leave, because in my view, it has been such a successful media hearing, by all accounts, it would be proper and fitting for Hugh Lewin, who has put a great deal of work together with a number of people, who I will not mention, to say something about who has made these three days of testimony possible, and generally, to conclude this day's proceedings. Hugh Lewin.
MR LEWIN: Thank you very much, Mr Chair. I would just like to mention some people by name and mention some organisations by name, because without them this would not have been possible. We began or I will end where we began, which was here, as Govan said at the beginning, it was highly appropriate that we should hold the hearings at the SABC. I am very grateful to them for making it available and making it possible for all the media - who are the second people who need to be mentioned - to actually carry on the work that is done here, for them to have things on hand. I would like to thank them, we would like to thank them very much. Secondly, I think what has characterised this hearing particularly, is the huge number of submissions that we have actually had and which came in before. Submissions which were solicited and submissions which were not solicited. There have been a vast number that have come in, and I think we need to thank all of those. Clearly it is only a very small proportion of the people who have submitted, who finally get to make - to be witnesses to testify here. That doesn't mean that everything that has been submitted is not made part of the record and part of the final report. At the same time there are specific people that we would like to thank. I don't know who to mention first. I mention FXI and Freedom of Expression, because that's where we began and particularly mention the people who worked for them and who produced a vast amount of information which has been very important for the background and actually for the testimony. So we need to thank them and their donors, don't forget that. I would also like to mention, particularly, the Forum of Black Journalists and particularly Abe Makue who has helped tremendously in getting this together. I would also like to mention for our own part, Hendrick and Christo Boesak who did all the work on the - did a large amount of work on the SABC, came and spoke to everybody. I would like to thank them very much and in doing that, also thank the FES for help that was given there. I would like to thank particularly Clive Emden and Raymond Louw for all the advice and support that they have given, and the person who has actually done far more work than anybody is Laura Pollecutt who was dragged in. I would very much like to thank her. Again, to thank the SABC, particularly this part of the SABC. Henley Studios, is that correct? Henley, which we are told is separate from the SABC, but we actually know it is very much part of the SABC. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved here in making this what it has been - and not to forget the caterers. I would finally, before the final one, I would like to thank the TRC staff, who have actually helped and nobody has actually seen them. Finally, what has actually been, I think the warmest part of the lot, is to thank all the people who have actually found this place and sat through the hearings and come, whether - I can remember, it seems about three months ago, but on Monday morning, there were a number of people coming and glowering and saying this is an impossible place to find. Well, it might have been impossible, but a large number of people did find it, and thanks to the dirty little black box in the corner and the people who write and who have produced the radio programmes and will produce more radio programmes, we have gone out wider. Thank you, Mr Chairman.