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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 1 of Episode 83

00:16Bopape begins in 1988 when he was arrested with his friend Bheki Nkosi. He was taken to John Vorster Square and never seen again. The family of Stanza Bopape tried desperately to find out what had happened to him. The police said Stanza Bopape had escaped from custody and three months later the then Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok repeated this allegation in Parliament. Many did not believe this version of Stanza’s disappearance. This week, former policemen started unravelling the elaborate cover up of Stanza Bopape’s death in detention.Full Transcript and References
00:38Stanza Bopape was a 28 year old Pretoria activist and the leader of Mamelodi Civic Organisation when he was brought to the notorious John Vorster Square Police Headquarters in downtown Johannesburg in 1988. It was here on the dreaded 10th floor that so many detainees before him had been questioned. Now it was Stanza’s turn. His interrogators were intent on getting information regarding Bopape’s alleged involvement with the so called Maponya Terrorist Group. Bopape, the police say was uncooperative and in their words ‘stubborn.’ After some hours they decided to go over to torture.Full Transcript
01:19In the first instance it’s not legal to use any method of force, but in the security branch I experienced that it was a sanctioned approved method which was not the case in the detective branch.Full Transcript
01:39Lt-Col At van Niekerk gave permission for an electric shock machine to be obtained from the Sandton police station. It was Sunday and this man, Johan du Preez was off duty. But he was quick to comply with the request. As soon as he arrived with his machine the torture plan swung into operation. Du Preez stayed on to help and Col At van Niekerk stood by watching.Full Transcript
02:03He arrived with the device and Mr Bopape was then placed on a chair in the corridor before Van Niekerk’s office and his hands and his arms were tied with, they call it Velcro strips, Mr Zeelie provided that, it’s a big large, heavy chair and his legs were tied to the legs of the chair.Full Transcript
02:37And I started to turn the sling of this shock device. // It was for a short while, l think it turned once or twice and then it was stopped and asked whether he would cooperate, he answered no or sometimes he remained silent and it was repeated two or three times. // Can you say how this machine is turned? Is it a sling that is turned quickly? // Yes, almost like an old fashioned farm telephone. // And everyone that you mentioned Mr Zeelie, Van Niekerk, Mostert and yourself, you were present. // Yes, that is correct. // Did anyone do the talking? // Many talked, many asked questions, but mostly I would say that I asked him because I was busy with the interrogation. I asked him questions and he didn’t answer me or he said he was not going to cooperate. // And you say that the machine was turned approximately two three times, what happened then? // Then his head just fell over forward. Full Transcript
03:49I thought that perhaps he was just pretending, acting but Van Niekerk said that something’s wrong. Everything stopped and Mr. Bopape was taken from the chair.Full Transcript
04:01We immediately untied him, placed him on the floor and Sgt du Preez gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation. It seemed that he was dead already and I think all of us standing there, including myself, Lt Zeelie, Mr Mostert, Mr Engelbrecht and Mr du Preez all thought that he was dead. If I remember correctly some of the members felt the pulse, several parts of his body. I believed the man is already dead.Full Transcript
04:47All the policemen involved in the torture say they cannot understand how Bopape could have died from the three shocks administered to him. They say the shocks were not lethal, that they did not intend to kill Bopape and that he probably died from a heart attack.Full Transcript
05:05Chair person, I was puzzled, I did not believe that he could have died as a result of the shock that we gave him and it bothered me that he died so quickly.Full Transcript
05:26Bopape’s body was carried into an office. // I took one bag and placed or pulled this bag from his head side over the top half of his body, and the second one I used from his feet. I can’t say whether I only used two bags or perhaps even more, but I did ensure that the body was totally covered.Full Transcript
05:57The policemen it seems was preparing the body for transport and disposal even before they had received any orders to do so. At some point information was received that the Eastern Transvaal security branch would dispose of the body. The Johannesburg policemen however would be responsible for cooking up a false story that Stanza Bopape had escaped while pointing out certain spots in connection with terrorism.Full Transcript
06:20The body of the deceased, Mr Bopape was taken to the cellar where it was transferred into the boot of Lt Zeelie’s vehicle. We left in one car whilst Sgt du Preez and Mr Engelbrecht followed us in a second vehicle and we drove to Bronkhorstspruit.Full Transcript
06:51They then took the body from Mr Zeelie’s vehicle and transferred it to Mr Van Logellen”s vehicle. Full Transcript
07:05After the handover of the body the building of fake evidence for a fake escape docket began in all earnest.Full Transcript
07:11The escape entailed that we would say that we took Mr Bopape out to Sebokeng in the vicinity of De Deur close to the Vaal Triangle, where he would have indicated the address of a specific contact person. The role of Mr Bopape was played by Lt Zeelie. We stopped in Lt Engelbrecht’s vehicle, we punctured the wheel with a knife, we jacked the car up and Lt Zeelie played the role of Mr Bopape. He sat in the back, both his legs and his hands chained. He had the keys in his pocket [inaudible] in the front seat the keys were taken out, some of the chains were loosened and Lt Zeelie, who played the role of Mr Bopape, he shifted … left hand side of the car and me and Mr Mostert and Engelbrecht was busy with changing the wheels.Full Transcript
08:45The arrangement was that I would escape in Bopape’s shoes. I would run through a maize field and at another point Du Preez would pick me up and take me back to John Vorster. The reason why I acted as Bopape was the fact that I was not involved with the interrogation, or that I was supposed to be involved there.Full Transcript
09:23I pulled out my service pistol and shot several shots and Lt Zeelie disappeared in the dark and about a kilometre further down there was a vehicle with Mr du Preez waiting for him.Full Transcript
09:40After I ran for about 300 meters into this maize field, I sat down and then I also loosened this chain on my one leg. I can also just mention that from the vehicle up to that point where I sat down I at times let the one part of the foot chain fall so that it would appear, that it would in fact make marks as I was running.Full Transcript
10:23The fake escape basically involved only me, Mr Mostert, Mr Engelbrecht. Mr Mostert changed the flat tyre and we went back to the police station, which wasn’t far from there. All the necessary branches were informed about this, the dog unit, the service officer – I phoned him myself and told him what happened, because he didn’t know what happened – and later Gen du Toit turned up … and right there and then the security branch officer of Vereeniging was also unaware of this fake escape. He put together reports and it was sent to head office and as was the norm, to all the security branches in South Africa.Full Transcript
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