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Special Report Transcript Episode 7, Section 7, Time 31:48
General Leon Mellet was the public face of the ministry of law and order for many years. We met him on his farm, outside George where he recently retired, and we asked him about his and his colleagues’ impression of the Truth Commission process. // I’m worried that this is going to go down in history, and all the allegations made is put down on paper, on record, on tape as factual evidence. When in fact it is not factual evidence as such. It is one person’s side of the story. And human people can err, and human people are not all very honest. And I will be … I don’t think I’m wrong if I say, all the stories that are told are not necessary hundred percent true. And I personally would like to see, perhaps that we are also given a fair hearing, given a fair opportunity to say, but during those years, what happened? You know I still have recordings of, video recordings of policemen in uniform who are being chopped dead. I have recordings of people dancing, children dancing around burning bodies. Horrendous stuff. We were in the middle, at the time, of trying to bring law and order to the country during a time when all this was very inflammable. And, it is shocking to see young children dancing around burning bodies, people that had been necklaced and eating the flesh of some of these burning bodies. And when policemen arrive on the scene to try and create some order that they get stoned, that they get fired upon, that they get beaten up. So there was another side to the story as well. My greatest fear is that it’s gonna go down, the perception’s gonna go down that the police force from those years and the Defence Force from those years, we were bad. We were terrible. We made mistakes, yes. But I think there was also some good in the police forces. There was also some good in the work that we had done to try and bring peace to the areas. I remember many, many situations where I was involved, and I can recall many situations where people came to us and said, thank God that you people are here. We also like some peace at night. I think a lot of policemen went overboard, yes. But on the other side, too, a lot of people went overboard. And I would like to see that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission finds a balance between the two. To come up and say, but yes you people did have a tough time as policemen. We can understand it. But I will show it to the Commission, I’ve got it here, I will show them the most horrific material, video material where we involved in the heart of the burning issues. You know, when you see one policeman’s home had been burned down as many as eight times, losing all his belongings with all his children’s belongings. Policemen also had family. Members of the Defence Force also had families. People who were opposed to the ANC at the time also had families. They were also victims of the violence. It’s not only certain people who were victims of the violence. It was a terrible stage. I said to my wife yesterday, I said you know there’s no winner in a war, no matter what war there is. There’s only one who loses a bit less than the other, but there’s no winner. There was no winner in this situation that we found ourselves in.
Notes: Max du Preez; Maj-Gen Leon Mellet interviewed; Police and Defence Force, township violence, burning barricades
References: there are no references for this transcript