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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 3 of Episode 16

19:42Six parties put their case to the Truth Commission this past week. We will concentrate on four of them. Let’s take a look at the different submissions. Did the politicians answer all the questions we as a nation have been asking for a long time? Did they accept full responsibility for their actions and that of their followers? What did they leave out, and were they truthful?Full Transcript
20:06First the Pan Africanist Congress. // The PAC is proud to have played its role in this historic task of overthrowing white domination in all its manifestations. We make no apologies, we have nothing to hide. // But there was a wide expectation that the PAC should explain the brutal attacks by APLA on white civilians. // A new pattern arose in the 1990s where civilians within the white community were attacked. In the nature of guerrilla warfare, which is unlike conventional warfare, detailed plans could not be made from Dar es Salaam. The actual targets were decided by local commanders. We also found that internally trained cadres could mount many operations without early detection and arrest. This advantage had a disadvantage. In the militarized environment in our country in the 1990s, in the face of third force violence against our people in vigils, in places of worship, and in trains and taxis, internally based operatives often made errors that APLA had earlier avoided. There was ...moreFull Transcript and References
22:52But Makwethu was not prepared to discuss the controversial APLA attacks such as those on the St. James Church, the King Williamstown golf club, or the Queenstown Spur. Full Transcript and References
23:00I’m not prepared to discuss St. James Church as we made it clear that we can’t because some of our chaps right now are languishing behind bars and they’re accused of that incident. It would not be fair on my part to say no or yes as far as St. James Church is concerned.Full Transcript
23:19The National Party submission was the most eagerly awaited as it formed the government during the entire period covered by the Truth Commission. Its leader FW de Klerk was also the last apartheid president. De Klerk started off well. // I stand before you today neither in shame nor in arrogance but deeply conscious of my responsibility, my responsibility to be open, frank, and helpful; my responsibility to present you with an honest document aimed at achieving a real understanding of the conflicts of the past. // Full Transcript
24:02But in the end De Klerk missed a wonderful opportunity to come clean in the eyes of the majority of South Africans.Full Transcript
24:09The revolutionary strategies adopted by the government’s opponents blurred traditional distinctions between combatants and non-combatants, between legitimate and illegitimate targets and between acceptable and unacceptable methods. The normal processes of law and even the government’s tough security measures seemed incapable of dealing with this situation. Members of the security forces watched with increasing frustration while revolutionary movements organised, mobilised and intimidated or killed their opponents seemingly at will. The security forces were expected to play by the rules while their opponents could and did use any methods that they liked. Consequently the then government began to make use of unconventional strategies which of necessity had to be planned and implemented on a need to know basis. In dealing with the unconventional strategies from the side of the government I want to make it clear from the outset that within my knowledge and experience they never ...moreFull Transcript
26:16This was not entirely the truth. For example, De Klerk’s Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok, knew of the Vlakplaas assassination unit and was a regular visitor at Vlakplaas parties. His Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan knew of the Civil Cooperation Bureau right from the start. Again, during the press conference after his submission De Klerk was not entirely truthful when asked why his government did not close down the Vlakplaas death squad when its former commander Dirk Coetzee spilled the beans in November ’89. Coetzee was backed up by two Vlakplaas colleagues Almond Nofemela and David Tshikalanga. But De Klerk’s government allowed Vlakplaas to continue their dirty business for three years between its exposure and it’s closing down in 1993 after evidence to the Goldstone Commission. In this time Vlakplaas supplied large quantities of arms to Inkatha warlords and assassinated several more anti-apartheid activists.Full Transcript
27:15Vlakplaas was also at a certain stage then disbanded, when allegations became substantially, almost … you couldn’t prove, you could no longer say that it was just rumours and we then took steps as information came to the fore. The people who were involved in the assassination are before the courts. I can only act and a government can only act on the best information it gets. And it can only use its normal channels to gather information. It is a problem, it was a problem, we didn’t do nothing about it. We went about it in a way to reach a solution, to find the true facts at all times. We never covered up.Full Transcript
28:08De Klerk did add that information on specific operations by the former security forces will at a future date be put before the Truth Commission by a group of generals of the SANDF and the former police force. And he did say he was sorry.Full Transcript
28:23I and many other leading figures in our party have already publicly apologised for the pain and suffering caused by former policies of the National Party. This was accepted and publicly acknowledged by the chairperson of the Commission, Archbishop Tutu. I reiterate these apologies today.Full Transcript
28:47The ANC presented the Commission with the most detailed and honest report of all six parties. Central to its submission was the party’s understanding of its armed struggle. // The majority of the people of our country, oppressed as a colonised people, had as equal a right to self-determination and a right to engage in struggle to gain this right as did other colonised people. We, like these other peoples could and did engage in a just war. This is so Chairperson because the overwhelming majority of the actions carried out in the context of that just war of national liberation do not constitute gross violations of human rights within the meaning of the Act establishing and mandating the Commission. Full Transcript and References
29:45Attacking soft targets or civilians was never ANC policy. Mbeki said the death of civilians could not be seen as a gross human rights violation if they died in the crossfire of a just war.Full Transcript
29:56This is a matter which preoccupied the leadership of the ANC for a very long time. From the beginning, as we tried to indicate, when Umkhonto we Sizwe was established its instructions were that there should be no loss of life. It’s why there was mention of strategic roads and communication systems and so on. But of course there is no war Chairperson that is conducted and there are no losses of life. The question that we had to consider was what happens when there are civilians who might get caught in the crossfire? Was it possible to insulate, to carry out activities which would so insulate the rest of the population that you could, in all instances ensure that no civilians were killed? And the decision was in the conduct of war it is not possible to avoid civilian losses. That in planning and carrying out operations we should make sure that we don’t target civilians, that we carry out operations such that there is as little loss of life of civilians as is possible. But that you ...moreFull Transcript
31:52But for those instances where civilians were hit, Mbeki expressed the ANC’s deep regret. He named a list of operations that did not go strictly according to ANC rules. The first was an operation that was never intended to be.Full Transcript
32:09There’s another matter Chairperson which you might want to refer to which was I think was described at the time as the Silverton bank siege. This is the only instance in which cadres of Umkhonto we Sizwe took hostages. There were three cadres who were going on some operation. They realised that they had been spotted by the police, and ran into a bank. They got into the bank and they tried to move all the civilians who were there to go and huddle in some corner while they talk to the police, making various demands. It was not planned, there was no plan to go into a bank and take people hostage. It was something that happened at the spur of the moment because they were confronted by the police. As they were negotiating with the police, the police stormed the bank, killed all three cadres who were in the bank and two civilian women, Valerie Anderson and Anna de Klerk.Full Transcript and References
33:29Mbeki also spoke about the Amanzimtoti supermarket bomb in 1985 where five people were killed and more than 40 injured. MK cadre Andrew Zondo planted the bomb after hearing about a South African attack on Lesotho in which more than forty people died. Zondo was later hanged for this deed.Full Transcript
33:47On being asked whether he had anything to say before sentence was passed he said I wish to say this to the people who might have lost their friends and kids and families that I’m sorry. Next thing I wish that my country be friendly to its neighbouring countries, referring to what had moved him to act in this way. As leadership of the ANC, Chairperson, we’d like to take this opportunity to say that the sorrow he expressed is a sorrow that the leadership of the movement would also express.Full Transcript
34:23The Magoo’s bar bomb in Durban in 1986 was also mentioned. Here, three civilians had lost their lives and 69 were injured. // Such intelligence information as we had indicated that these bars were frequented by members of the security forces. We regret and are sorry for the loss of life for those who might not have been part of those security forces. Full Transcript and References
34:49But maybe the most useful to the Truth Commission’s search for truth was the ANC’s list of more than a 1000 ANC members who died in exile. This included the names of 34 people executed by order of the ANC’s military tribunal. But questions around the mysterious death of MK commander Thami Zulu in Lusaka in 1989 were not answered to full satisfaction. Zulu’s parents told the Truth Commission last month their son was detained in Lusaka for a period in the so-called ‘green house.’ He died of poisoning a few days after the ANC released him. Full Transcript and References
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