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Special Report Transcript Episode 10, Section 4, Time 29:35

Let’s face facts, the ANC as far as [inaudible] was concerned, they were at war with the South African government or whatever you like to call it: conflict. The fact is the whole basis was a war like situation. And all of a sudden the police was faced with this situation and they had to accommodate because they have to protect people, they have to protect lives. And you look at the acts of terrorism: car bombs, motor car bombs, necklace murders. The police had to protect people and as you know that there was a lot of questions asked, a thin blue line, can the police cope? And, during that period a lot of mistakes were made, certainly. // I certainly don’t think anybody disputes that the police played that role, but the question people ask at the Truth Commission for the last few months is, nobody is criticizing the police force for protecting or even detaining without trial because that was the law at the time … // That’s right yes. // But we have evidence of kidnapping, of sever torture, of disappearance, of murder by policemen. Certainly that was not an appropriate response to the ANC struggle? Is it allowed for the police force of a state to become like the movement they’re fighting? // Max, no I want to state categorically that there was never a policy of the South African Police to pursue that line. As I said, you know, in the process mistakes were made. And if there were certain atrocities by members of the South African Police, who was responsible for that kind of situation, then we cannot condone that. And I definitely cannot condone that. // Why didn’t you take those policemen to court? Why didn’t you take the Coetzee to court, why didn’t you take Eugene de Kock to court, why didn’t you charge them with murder then, in the eighties? Now we are doing it post-election. // It is a good question Max, but you must also appreciate the fact that the police force comprise about more than a 100 000 people, it’s a very large concern. And in the process, things might have happened that others wouldn’t know about. // But we told you in ‘89 what Dirk Coetzee said, and you called him a liar and now you’re charging him, or they’re charging him. // Well, it is not the police who charge people it’s up to the Attorney–General. I’m certain that investigations had been carried out during that time; I wasn’t in charge of those investigations. But I think, I also said at the time, if Coetzee made certain allegations or admitted to certain atrocities then he must take the rap. // But the police denied his atrocities. They said he’s lying that he committed those murders. Interestingly enough now he gets charged criminally for those murders, the police force you served with denied those things happened. // Max, again, who denied it? I think I, myself … well did the commissioner at that stage know about these atrocities? I don’t know. // They could have read Vrye Weekblad and they would have seen what Dirk Coetzee said. // Yes, I’m sure, but at that stage as you know Dirk Coetzee was abroad, and as you know investigations like this normally takes its course. So, in retrospect it is perhaps easy for us to say now, why wasn’t he charged? Why was it denied? But the fact is those people who these allegations, were they aware of the true situation? Who was responsible? Did Dirk Coetzee act under instructions? Who gave those instructions? Did these people … and that is a point I want to make… those people, did they act with criminal intent? Did they act for personal gain? If that is so, we cannot condone that and we do not condone that. // What about Vlakplaas? I mean Dirk Coetzee spilled the beans, left, and Eugene de Kock took over. And we don’t want to prejudge him now in the trial, that’s not the point; the point is we know certain things about Vlakplaas now that happened in the eighties. And right until after the ANC took over the government the police did nothing about Vlakplaas. It seemed to everybody that the police was happy with what happened at Vlakplaas because we had ministers going there having parties, we had Eugene de Kock and all his men getting medals for what they did, what does that say about the culture of the police force? // Again Max, I don’t want to … I think we must stay away from the odd incidents. Let’s come back to Vlakplaas. Ironically enough you know that we must look at why were Vlakplaas there in the first place. It wasn’t a murder place. You know in 1980 I took the Rabie Commission because Judge Rabie wanted to know, how do we deal with returned, rehabilitated terrorists? I took him to Vlakplaas and he discussed certain matters with some of those askaris. So that the point I want to make is that Vlakplaas was never intended as a murder farm or whatever you like to call it.

Notes: Gen Herman Stadler interviewed by Max du Preez

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a former guerrilla 'turned' or recruited by the security forces
 
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