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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 1 of Episode 70

11:35It is a fact that our country, especially during the conflict of the past, was plunged into a war psychosis where these words and expressions which were derived from the military became part of a vernacular just as other expressions with the same import became part of the revolutionary language.Full Transcript
11:54These words and phrases reflected the general reaction amongst the majority of white South Africans whenever a murder or bomb explosion by terrorists was announced. It was reasonable therefore that members of the security forces would have interpreted a phrase like ”wipe out the terrorists” to include killing them.Full Transcript
12:18If it was reasonable for security force members to interpret phrases like that at the time to mean that they should kill then those who formulated and used those words at the level of the State Security Council, cabinet and so on, would bear responsibility for that language use and would bear responsibility for the killing that in fact did ensue.Full Transcript
12:53It was never the intention on the part of the political authorities to use those words. I told you where they came from. Our omission was that we didn”t actually go and look at those things and correct it. But it is true, that as it flowed down the structures, right down to the ground, it could have created or increased the opportunities for people acting outside the boundaries of the law. // If you as Minister of Law received a memorandum which comes from the Eastern Cape Joint Management System which says the leaders of the UDF must be eliminated…surely it was your prerogative to say, if this means arrest, let it be … in those terms because we don”t want a situation arising afterwards that people will eliminate people, in the sense of killing them, when in fact what was meant was that they should be arrested or be detained. // May I say immediately that you are correct in saying that the submissions which we received and the documents which we received in the State Security ...moreFull Transcript
14:42When the person then pitched up dead instead of being detained, what did you do? // Now I can”t take it any further than saying that”s what we intended. We never gave a direct instruction…Full Transcript
14:55The politicians can say we didn”t give that order, because they didn”t give that order. It”s nowhere stated that we said so and so should be killed. We said so and so should be eliminated, but we meant that that person should be detained. And then never having any real knowledge, or real appreciation of the effects of that misinterpretation. It places the politicians, would you agree, in the lucky, enviable situation that they can formulate an approach to a problem but not bear the immediate consequences of that policy in the way in which it is carried out. // I wouldn”t describe my position here today as lucky or fortunate but I want to say this. This document in which ”eliminate” and ”take out” and so on appears, this document comes from eleven years ago and eleven years ago we didn”t think that we would sit here today and have to explain the use of those words. // How do you account for the fact that right across the country, across all sections of particularly ...moreFull Transcript
17:14There were two newspaper cartoons this week that I think captured this part of the evidence very well. This one is by Zapiro appeared in the Sowetan. And this one is by Peter Marshe and appeared in Beeld. We translated the words from Afrikaans. So they say they didn”t know much. Former Vlakplaas commanders Dirk Coetzee and Eugene de Kock are already on record saying they had no doubt that Vlok knew exactly what Vlakplaas did. The next question is. Even if they claim they did not know are they prepared to go further than former State President De Klerk in taking responsibility for these abuses?Full Transcript
18:02‘En was U houding dat hy ook een van die generale is wat besig is om hulle verantwoordelikhede te vlug. Dit moes u op daai stadium baie verstaanbaar uiters bitter gemaak het meneer De Kock en u is nog steeds bitter vandag.’ [Was your attitude not that he was one of the generals evading responsibility? That must have made and is still making you very bitter Mr. De Kock]. // [It didn’t make me bitter, it made me sick].Full Transcript
18:20Because he said the reaction of generals – he was talking about now, not politicians – just makes me sick, makes me ‘voel naar.’ Not angry, I just feel sick at the whole thing. They’ve dumped us. They’ve dumped us. Now the same people in many instances were getting medals, were getting praised, getting rewarded for the good work that they had done. We questioned the politicians again and the generals and what they’re really saying and what you seem to be saying, but correct me if I’m wrong, that they led us up the garden path. We didn’t know that they were doing these things. They misunderstood us, we may have used the language, but really that’s not what we meant. So in other words they defied you as minister, they defied the generals, if the generals are to be believed.Full Transcript
19:24I don’t know how the man on the ground saw the position. I don’t know how he could have said the pressure was great and how I can act illegally. Perhaps of the greater pressure we exerted on them, they experienced greater pressure to act illegally and perhaps then that is also part of my submission where I say that I’m sorry or we are sorry that we pressurized them to such an extent that it led to people being killed.Full Transcript
19:51And the question then is, is the political authority not primarily responsible then. // I agree with you. Perhaps I should refer to my amnesty application. I can only agree with you, that it’s not only against the policemen, but also against the people who gave him his instructions and who authorized his actions, namely the state.Full Transcript
20:16Yasmin Sooka … hey, I am chairing here … // Then if we take what you say further all the politicians should have applied for amnesty in these cases where killings were a result or gross human rights violations were a result of these kinds of actions? // I listened to what my former colleague, Pik Botha said here this morning. Somebody asked him about the letter which he wrote to Mr. De Klerk. I agree with Pik Botha, that that was the correct way to do it. But to apply for amnesty is a personal matter. I thought hard and long about my amnesty application. I struggled with it. I really questioned whether I should do it. A lot of people in the community from which I come would say it’s a disgrace.Full Transcript
21:21Then do I understand that it is because there was no effective mechanism to prevent abuse that you in effect now accept overall political and moral responsibility for the abuses that did occur? // That is correct. I accept responsibility because I was the political head of the department and I’m not going to run away from my responsibilities. Not towards the people out there who actually put me in that position and who had trust and confidence in me. And I will accept the responsibility also vis-à-vis the good people, the 99 percent of good people.Full Transcript
21:57One small question, when you accept I think moral responsibility, what does that mean? // As I understand it I can’t run away from those occasions where somebody as a result of my action and as a result of misunderstanding my words, committed an offense. I am morally obliged to stand by him and to say I accept moral and political responsibility. // What would that mean, I am sorry, being slow thinkers… in a court of law, what status would that statement have? I mean here is a person who has committed a murder because they have misunderstood your instructions and you say I, not he, I take moral responsibility. What does that mean? // Actually I can’t answer that, I don’t know what it would mean in a court of law. I must be very honest. But here where we are busy with reconciliation in the Commission and that reconciliation is based on morality and on moral values I have to say to you that for me means that I can’t distance myself from these people. That I must accept joint ...moreFull Transcript
23:40Now where do you take it from now? I ask myself, I can’t ask my colleagues. Everyone must speak for himself. I said to myself, not for the sake of this meeting but here this man, should I not have done more?Full Transcript
23:58You fall short here of taking criminal responsibility and I think one could actually question that. The whole concept of vicarious liability, the putting into place things like Vlakplaas, the CCB, where you must have a sense that things can go horribly wrong. Now I think that’s what we would like to get an answer on. // I guess nobody has the answer. Maybe, and let me try to put forward some of one’s own views in that regard, maybe it’s just a question that things have developed over a period of time in such a way that in the end we were all part of a frame of mind - politicians, officials, people in minor positions even – that believed that there was an enemy that had to be wiped out, that believed that there was not a just cause on the side of the majority of South Africans and that believed that for the protection of the minority that was the right thing and the only thing to do. Maybe it was in the end fear that dictated.Full Transcript
25:30We have seen very few former politicians, generals and foot soldiers expressing genuine regret for the evils of the past. The apologies we have heard so far mostly went along the lines of, if we hurt people, we are sorry, but we didn’t mean it. Adriaan Vlok and Pik Botha also expressed regret.Full Transcript
25:51I would like to express my unqualified regret towards any person and or organisation which was innocently disadvantaged or prejudiced by my actions. In the cruel struggle for survival it was often the case that there was no mercy shown and unacceptable things were done and mistakes made. I also made mistakes and I’m sorry that my fellow South Africans had to suffer in the process as a result of my actions and I’d like to offer my unqualified and sincere apology to those people. At the end of the conflict to the past where we stand now, just as in the case of most of the other war situations in history, I believe that the only lasting remains are the victims; we are all victims of the conflict of the past.Full Transcript
25:44I realized that I could have done more to turn the tide of apartheid earlier. I acknowledge that I could have done more in the State Security Council, in the cabinet and in Parliament to ensure that political opponents were not killed or tortured by government institutes. I could have and should have done more to find out whether the accusations that government institutions were killing and torturing political opponents were true. Not one of us in the former government can say today that there were no suspicions on our part that members of the South African Police were engaged in irregular activities. The decisive question is not whether we as a cabinet approved the killing of a specific political opponent. We did not do so. The question is whether we should have done more to ensure that it did not happen. I deeply regret this omission. May God forgive me.Full Transcript
27:02‘After the break… // Leon Wessels crosses the Rubicon // Looking back at human rights violations // The Intelezi Shield.’Full Transcript
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