PROCEEDINGS HELD AT
D U R B A N
ON 5 NOVEMBER 1996
[PAGES 1 - 278]
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe, could either you or counsel place on record the cause of the delay this morning. We've lost valuable time. There have been a lot of people who have been here from quite early this morning, who've been kept waiting, and I think it is proper that they should know why there has been this delay.
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman, the delay was caused primarily by the fact that one of the applicants, Mr Nofomela, was not present at the stipulated time, 10 o'clock. He was at that time at the Westville Prison here in Durban, and we could not get him out timeously because I was told that a strike was going on at that prison, a POPCRU strike, and the police who are herein present indicated that they were going to assist me to get him down here. So we had to get the police moving from this place to go and fetch him from the Westville Prison. He arrived five minutes ago, Mr Chairman. I had already indicated to the house. I told them the reason why we are waiting and I apologised to them. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Are we ready to proceed.
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, we are ready to proceed. The first incident we are going to deal with is that affecting the killing of Mr Mxenge. Mr Chairman, before we proceed may I request that the legal representatives herein present put their names on record first. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN: Yes, please.
MR JANSEN: I am Advocate C R Jansen. I appear as counsel for Captain Dirk Coetzee.
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, I am De Wet Marais. I appear as counsel for David Tshikalanga and Almond Nofomela, the applicants.
MR JANSEN: Sorry, Mr Chairman, may I also add that I appear on instructions of my attorney, Mr Julian Knight.
MR MOOSA: Mr Chairman, it's Imram Moosa. I appear on behalf of the family of Griffiths Mongise Mxenge, and I appear on instruction of Bheka Shezi & Partners.
CHAIRMAN: You may begin.
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, as I had indicated earlier on that they were going to start with the Mxenge matter. I have indicated to members of the Committee in chambers that I have placed two books on the table referred to as Evidence Book 2 and Evidence Book 3. Mr Chairman, I am going to refer to Evidence Book 2, page 54 thereof. Book 2, page 54 thereof, Mr Chairman. On page 54 there is a letter sent by us to the investigative unit requesting assistance inasfar as the service of form 2 is concerned. Mr Chairman will note paragraph (b) affects this hearing as far as Mxenge is concerned, and these are the people implicated. May I indicate that the first person, Sergeant B du Preez, has been informed. I have a return of service. The second one, Jan Abraham du Preez, the form has gone out, I have not received a return of service. The third and the fourth is one and the same person, Warrant-Officer Paul van Dyk. The form went out, but it was returned to me on the basis that the address given was a wrong address. The fifth one, Captain Andrew R Taylor, it has been served, I have a return of service with me. That is all in as far as it affects Mxenge. Mr Chairman, there is another person affected by the Mxenge matter. That is van der Hoven, who is a co-accused in the criminal trial, Mr Chairman. We could not get the address for van der Hoven in order to inform him. The
address was forwarded to me by letter late Friday in Cape Town, and by that time we did not have enough time to issue the form to him. But, Mr Chairman, I can make an undertaking that the attorney is in Durban, and I am told van der Hoven is in Durban, that the service will be done to him today. That is all.
CHAIRMAN: Aren't there other persons also mentioned?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, there may be other persons mentioned, but these are the persons implicated that I have identified.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. You may proceed.
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, I will then hand over to my colleague, Advocate Jansen.
MR JANSEN: As it pleases you, Mr Chairman, Honourable Members. As stated I appear for Mr Dirk Coetzee. Before I wish to call him as - the applicant as a witness, I just briefly wish to make a preliminary comment on the mode of leading our evidence. I understood this morning that we will be dealing with the three incidents, the Mxenge matter, the Khondile matter and the Pillay matter separately. Those are the incidents which relate to paragraphs 3, 5 and 10 of the schedule to the applicants' application.
Mr Chairman, you would, with respect, appreciate that as far as the requirements of the Act is concerned, especially where evidence relating to orders and the justification and the perceived justification thereof is concerned, a certain amount of background evidence relating to the Security Police, the culture therein, and background information in general, will be relevant as far as that is concerned. I intend leading the evidence about
the incident itself, and then returning to the background evidence as far as the Mxenge incident is concerned, but I will not be repeating that - all that background evidence in each and every case, as far as the Khondile and the Pillay case is concerned. So if that evidence could just then be seen as led - as being led as far as all the incidents for which amnesty is sought is concerned.
CHAIRMAN: You may decide to lead that evidence first before dealing with the specific applications for amnesty.
MR JANSEN: Yes, if you think that better.
CHAIRMAN: If it is convenient.
MR JANSEN: Yes. No, certainly we will do that then.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Yes, you may proceed.
MR JANSEN: I then wish to call the applicant, Mr Dirk Johannes Coetzee, to testify. He will be giving his evidence in English and he will be taking the oath.
MR JANSEN CALLS:
DIRK JOHANNES COETZEE (Sworn, States)
CHAIRMAN: Where possible, whilst you are leading this evidence, if you can refer us to the volume that has been handed to us as Evidence Book 1. I don't know whether you've seen this.
MR JANSEN: Yes.
CHAIRMAN: Wherever possible, if you are going to refer to page and paragraph, it might assist.
MR JANSEN: Yes, we'll do so, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
MR JANSEN: May I proceed?
MR JANSEN: Thank you.
QUESTIONED BY MR JANSEN:
Mr Coetzee, could you just stage your age for the record. --- I am 51 years old, Mr Chairman.
Where are you presently employed? --- I am employed with the National Intelligence Agency.
From the period August ... (intervention)
CHAIRMAN: Can I just interrupt you please. I would like to appeal to photographers that use flash lights that they must desist from doing so please. Our permission has not been asked in that regard, and had you asked us you would have then told you. I am sorry to cause you any embarrassment, but flash light photographs, we would like that to cease now. I am sorry, Mr Coetzee, you may proceed. --- Mr Chairman.
MR JANSEN: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Coetzee, from the period August 1980 to December 1981 you were the commander of the Section C1 Unit of the Security Police Headquarters. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And it was based at Vlakplaas. --- That's correct.
It was during your duties there that you were involved in the Mxenge matter, in the Mxenge murder. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Mr Coetzee, as far as your personal background is concerned, you were born in 1945 in Pokwani in the Eastern Cape, is that correct? --- In the Northern Cape, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
Sorry. Where did you grow up? --- At the tender age of two years, I think, my father moved to Pretoria and I grew up for the rest of my school days in Pretoria,
Did you grow up in an Afrikaans family? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Were both your parents Afrikaans? --- Both my parents were Afrikaans, that's correct.
Where did you go to school? --- I schooled in Rietfontein Noord, and Afrikaans suburb of Pretoria, my primary school, and Wonderboom High School in Pretoria, very near to my house.
Did your family belong to a church? --- Yes, they did, Mr Chairman, the Dutch Reformed Church.
How would you describe your family? Were they - more particularly politically? Were they conservative or progressive? --- Typical Afrikaner conservative National Party members, Mr Chairman.
As a school child did you have any black friends, or did you come into contact with black people of your own age? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman.
Was your - were your parents in any way involved in politics? --- My father was a member of the Ari Becker branch of the National Party in Wonderboom South, Mr Chairman.
Were any of your parents involved in military activities? --- That's correct, Your Honour. My father was a member of the Hercules Commandos in Pretoria.
Did you have any knowledge of the military activities he was involved in? --- Correct, Mr Chairman. In the early 60s he was one - his commando was given the instruction to guard Swartkops Air Force Base during the unrest in the early 60s.
Were you involved in the Voortrekker Youth Movement? /--- I
--- I was, Mr Chairman.
Could you just briefly tell the Honourable Committee Members what Voortrekker activities consisted of? --- Mr Chairman, it was a youth movement wearing para-military uniform, based on the traditions of our forebears, the Voortrekkers - going on camps, singing typical Afrikaans songs, being educated in the history of our forebears, and camping expeditions, etcetera, Mr Chairman.
In your understanding at the time was politics and religion connected in any way? --- 100%, Mr Chairman. And, to be more specific, the National Party and the Dutch Reformed Church.
Did you believe in the underlying philosophy or teachings of the Day of the Covenant or the Day of the Vow, 16 December? --- At the time I did with my heart and soul, Mr Chairman.
What did you understand? What was the background to the commemoration of that day? --- It was the specific day that God has given the Zulus into the hands of the Voortrekkers at Blood River, and a covenant that was made that day, a promise that was made that day to God. It will be a yearly commemoration of the specific day for the triumph over the Zulu nation which occurred on that day.
Again at the time did you understand that philosophy to be relevant to the present day politics of that time? --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
Did you believe that God in fact had given this country for the Afrikaners as its own? --- That was my belief, Mr Chairman.
Can you recall the advent of the Republic in 1961, and the festivities thereof? --- I can clearly recall
/it, Mr Chairman,
it, Mr Chairman, and especially in the year previous to that when Dr Verwoerd walked out of the Commonwealth. We saw it as a big step forward for the Afrikaner, and the specific day when we became called our own Republic - independence. It was a very great day which I attended personally at Church Square, and it made a big impression on me, Mr Chairman.
You matriculate in 1963, is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Were you obliged to do military training after your schooling? --- No, Mr Chairman, I wasn't, because at that time it was a nine-month military training period. On a lottery basis it worked, and I was allotted free - not to do military training.
Did you do military training? --- I did eventually, Mr Chairman, in 1966, when I volunteered and did my nine months' military training in the South African Navy, Mr Chairman.
Why did you volunteer? --- Well, I felt left out in the cold, and not being part of the nation that had to defend this country, Mr Chairman.
Do you think that was the average sympathies of a typical Afrikaner son of your age at that time? --- That was, Mr Chairman, I'm afraid.
At the time would you have been prepared to die for your country in the military context? --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
Would you have been prepared to kill for your country? --- I would, Mr Chairman.
Why do you say so? --- Well, it was - as I say, I was born into this environment, grew up in this
environment, where we were made to believe - I were made to believe that we were God's own people. We were the last southern Christian tip on the southern tip of Africa, that we were threatened with a communist revolutionary onslaught from the north, which if it was ever to succeed would plunge the southern tip of Africa into chaos, Mr Chairman.
Again would you in your opinion say that that was the typical type of attitude and understanding of an Afrikaans person of your age at the time? --- It was, Mr Chairman.
After your school career you worked for the post office until 1970, is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And then you joined the South African Police on the 1st of April 1970, is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
What did your initial police training consist of? --- In general law instruction, foot drill, physical training, musketry, rifle shooting, riot drill, first aid. Basically it was that, Mr Chairman.
What - at the time of joining the South African Police what did you know about the Security Police? --- Mr Chairman, not much, except that they were the elite corps, small family, the cream of the South African Police who was out there, who in a dubious twilight war was involved with the revolutionaries that threatened this country.
Did you have any aspirations of joining or becoming part of the Security Police? --- Mr Chairman, yes. I think it is each policeman's aspirations and wish to one
day become one of this elite corps, although the hope wasn't very great because they are such a small selected family.
Could you tell the Honourable Committee just briefly where you served in the police prior to joining the - initially the border post command at Oshoek? --- Mr Chairman, I first completed my training in the Police College in Pretoria, then served at the police station at Gezina on several levels, from complaints, accidents in the street, charge office work, station work. Then went to the Dog School for a training course in dog handler, as a dog handler. I then went to - transferred with my dog to Flying Squad, after which I did counter insurgency training with my dog, and then went to the then Rhodesian bush war in 1973 to serve there for my stint of three months. On my return I was transferred to Sibasa Police Station as second in charge to the station, where I again did all facets of station work and a boatmans course on the Kariba in Rhodesia. I then wrote my officer's exams in 1975 and became an officer in the South African Police, after which I was transferred to the Police College as a law instructor for the police students in the Police College in Pretoria. I was then with the students involved in the Soweto riots in 1976, June, after which I was then transferred to Volksrust as station commander towards the middle of '76.
In 1973 you were in the then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, is that correct? --- That's correct, and more specific, Bendura area, Mr Chairman.
Could you just briefly tell the Committee in what capacity you were there? --- I was at Bendura in
charge of four dog handlers, and we did tracking of any incident, land mine explosions or any other incident, where insurgents were involved in. It is there that I first assisted the Rhodesian Police in getting rid of freedom fighters that were killed in that war by driving them a little - a few miles out of Bendura on the road into the bush, digging a shallow grave, lining it with plastic, put branches in it, and up to seven corpses at a time of insurgents that were killed were then put into this grave, petrol poured over them, and they were set alight up to the stage where their head, feet and hands were burned so that they couldn't be identified, and they were then covered in that shallow grave.
Can you tell the Committee what your ... (intervention)
MR DE JAGER: Mr Jansen.
MR JANSEN: Sorry?
MR DE JAGER: Sorry. Are you leading evidence in accordance with, say, volume 1, page 13 or 14? Can you refer us, because that would greatly assist us, then we need not write down everything.
MR JANSEN: Yes.
WILSON J: You've just got to page 15.
MR JANSEN: Yes. Mr Chairman, unfortunately I did not prepare my evidence in accordance exactly with the chronology as is found in Evidence Book No 1. Evidence Book No 1 does seem to have - does seem to follow the same type of chronology. These are obviously round about the -the present evidence would be as from page 13, paragraph 3.
CHAIRMAN: You must just conduct your case in the way
that's most convenient to you and your client.
MR JANSEN: Yes. And, Mr Chairman, the questions that I now ask will relate to paragraph 3.7.6 on page 17. Mr Coetzee, could you briefly tell the Committee what your activities involved during the Soweto uprisings of 1976? --- Mr Chairman, as an instructor in the Police College I had to go there with some of my junior personnel and a lot of students, and we were based in John Vorster Square in the gymnasium, where we slept and ate. And we had to visit key points, which involved the bus depot, the mortuary in Hillbrow, and five other points. I know that - I think that they called it the Bantu Commissioner's Office in those days, or something like that, and the Magistrate's Court, etcetera.
And during that time what observations did you make that related to the uprising? --- I beg your pardon, Sir?
What observations at any of these key points did you make? --- Well, one of the worst ones was of course the mortuary, where corpses were, more than 200 at a time, stacked all over the place of young people that was killed in the unrest situation, and family members queuing outside, crying and trying to identify their beloved ones, or find out whether they were in fact at that mortuary and to identify them.
At that time what was your personal feelings or attitude towards, for instance, what you saw at the mortuary? --- A question of that they got what they deserved. They were involved in riots, they were - clashed with the police, and as a result of that was shot because they didn't want to listen.
In 1975 you did an officer's course, is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Mr Chairman, I now turn to page 20 of Book 1, paragraph 4.2. Were you lectured on the ANC during that officer's course? --- I was, Mr Chairman.
Can you tell the Committee what that comprised of? --- It comprised of a Brigadier Niels du Plooy from Security Police Headquarters, which visited us with a so-called "terr" in those days, whom they called "Bra Moss." It is one of the first ANC cadres that they caught, I believe. And they would come to the officer's course to lecture us with publications of - revolutionary publications, which were not allowed for the eyes of the world ever, and trunks - two police trunks full of guns, AK47s, land mines, limpet mines, whatever, and Moss would then demonstrate it to us. We were also lectured in detail by Brigadier Niels du Plooy on terrorism and communism and what went with it.
Were you impressed by these lectures? --- We were absolutely, all of us, hanging to his lips, Mr Chairman. Usually there was a lot of tomfoolery around when lecturers of other departments came to give us lectures on certain subjects for periods up to 40 minutes at a time, whereas when Brigadier Niels du Plooy arrived he was there for half a day and you could hear a pin drop, and it was absolute and amazing. You could sense the atmosphere. He would start off as - he would come over as a big Christian and start off in a soft voice, and work us up into a frenzy, and tell us how these vicious terrorists and blacks in the Eastern Cape has cut up nuns who served them so dedicatedly in education and health purposes and
Did you believe in the political system of apartheid at the time? --- Yes, I did, unfortunately, Mr Chairman.
Now, in January 1977 you became the commander of the border post at Oshoek, is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
What was the ordinary or normal activities of the border post unit? --- Passport control, Mr Chairman.
Was there any specific relationship between the border post command, or border post commands in general, and the Security Police? --- That's correct, there was, Mr Chairman, in that they all fell under the regional office Security Police office in the area, and Oshoek border between Swaziland and South Africa, where I was based, fell under the regional commander, Security Police, Eastern Transvaal, which was based in Middelburg, Transvaal, Mr Chairman.
How did it come about that you were appointed to the border post command? --- Late in 1976, whilst based at Volksrust Police Station as station commander, Mr Chairman, I was approached by the Regional Commander Security, Eastern Transvaal, Brigadier van der Hoven, at that time a colonel, and the Ermelo Security Branch commander, Captain Nick van Rensburg at the Volksrust Police Station, and I had a choice to either go to Oshikathi or Oshoek Border Post, Mr Chairman.
Did you at any time at that stage apply to go to the Security Police? --- No, I did not, Mr Chairman.
According to you what was the general practice? Did you apply, or were you hand picked, as it were? ---
You could apply for admission to the Security Police, upon which a vetting process would take place, but in the majority of cases it was - you were selected by superiors to come to the Security Police.
And do you have any idea why you were chosen? --- Well, I suppose because I was a successful policeman, Mr Chairman. I was successful in curbing crime at Volksrust. I was elected during my student years as best student of the year in the police station, and I was promoted through the ranks from constable to officer in five years, Mr Chairman. I can only guess. I am not ... (incomplete)
Other than your normal duties at the Oshoek Border Post were you involved in any other activities of the Security Police? --- I 90% became involved in the activities of the Security Police, and more specifically Ermelo branch under Captain Nick van Rensburg, and the regional branch, as I already said, Middelburg, Transvaal, Mr Chairman.
Yes, if you could have a look at the manuscript which is there before you, which serves as Evidence Book No 1. Those are the incidents which you describe from paragraphs 5.2.1 and on in the manuscript, is that correct? Mr Chairman, that's from page 41 and further. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman. I see it.
Mr Chairman, more particularly the incidents run from paragraph 5.2.6 on page 46 and further.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
MR JANSEN: With which branch of the Security Police were these activities conducted? --- It was the Ermelo Security Branch, all of them, although I did work in
certain cases with the Pietermaritzburg Security Branch, Lieutenant Jerry Fourie at the time, and now and again with Komatipoort and the Security Branch, Colonel Archie Flemington.
Who was the commander of the Ermelo Security Branch at the time? --- When I arrived there Captain Nick van Rensburg.
Is he the same Nick van Rensburg that is mentioned in the Khondile matter? --- That's correct, that's the same Nick van Rensburg. He transferred after that as a Lieutenant-Colonel to Port Elizabeth, Mr Chairman.
And who was the regional commander under which the Ermelo branch fell? --- That was at the time Colonel van der Hoven, who later became Brigadier van Hoven in 1980, and shortly thereafter transferred to Durban Regional Port Natal, Mr Chairman.
Is he the same van Hoven that is mentioned in respect of the murder of Mr Griffiths Mxenge? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Now, in your understanding at the time, were the police officially, as far as the outside world is concerned, supposed to operate across the country's borders? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman.
Now, these activities, mainly into Swaziland at the time, did you come to see them as normal or regular activities of the Security Police? --- No - of the Security Police, yes, but it was not in line with official police policy, or the Police Act, which specifically confines the activities of the police with inside the borders of South Africa.
Now, did - in your understanding of the Security
Police and its culture at the time were these kind of activities regarded as necessary? In other words activities that in fact exceeded their actual powers. --- It was regarded as necessary, Mr Chairman, yes.
The activities, these illegal activities of the Security Police, and the entire Security Police culture, with reference to that, did you understand that this fight against the ANC and the other enemies could be fought with the aid of the ordinary Criminal Procedure and Terrorism Acts at the time? --- Not sufficiently at all, Mr Chairman.
In 1979 you were transferred to the Middelburg branch, is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman, the Middelburg Security Branch.
In what capacity? --- As second in charge at first, and I later took charge after a few months of the specific branch.
Where did the Middelburg branch have its offices? --- In the same building and on the same floor as the Regional Office, Eastern Transvaal, Security.
Did you work closely to Colonel van der Hoven at that stage? --- Three office doors away from him, Mr Chairman.
MR DE JAGER: And where was this? In Ermelo or Middelburg, or ... (incomplete) --- In Middelburg, Mr Chairman, in the police headquarters in Middelburg.
MR JANSEN: Were you involved in any illegal activities during that period at Middelburg? --- I was, Mr Chairman.
You were in Middelburg for eight months, is that correct? --- I was, until August 1980.
And could you just briefly describe - just very briefly, because we're not dealing with that incident at the moment. --- Mr Chairman, about three nights after the Sasol Secunda plant was blown up by - allegedly by ANC insurgents, I led a four-man team into Manzini, Swaziland, on instruction of Brigadier van der Hoven and Brigadier Victor of Section C Headquarters, Pretoria. We were four people, myself, Warrant-Officer Paul van Dyk, who was still then falling under the Ermelo branch, Sergeant Krappies Hattingh of - the explosive expert of the Middelburg Security Police, Sergeant Chris Rorich, the explosive expert of the Ermelo Security Police. We went into Swaziland and we blew up the transit house in Manzini and the wooden house of Marwick Nkosi.
In your manuscript you place this incident at the time that you were already at Vlakplaas, is that correct? --- That's correct. I did so in my manuscript, but it is not correct. This manuscript was written in exile, with only my memory as help, and I was later pointed out
by Jacques Paux, the journalist, that the incident as I explained happened three nights after the Secunda blast, and that would place it then in June, the year whilst I was at Middelburg Security Branch, which I could well remember them.
It was then in August 1981 that you were transferred to Section C1, or the ... (intervention) --- It was in August 1980.
Yes, sorry, 1980. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Could you briefly tell the Committee how Security Police Headquarters were structured at the time? ---
Yes, Mr Chairman. I've got my 1981 directory of Security Police, the whole of the country. We had a headquarters section which consisted of the officer commanding, which was General Johan Coetzee at that stage, Major General Johan Coetzee. Then his senior staff officer or 2IC, Brigadier J A du Preez, Jan du Preez. And then it was divided into subsections from group A, Group B, group C and D, E, F and G, and some of these divisions, like A, was again subdivided up to A5 - A1, A2, A3, A4 and A5. B was divided up to B3. C was only section C1.
Okay, if you can just stop there. Section C1 is also sometimes referred to as Section C10, so whenever there's a - is it correct that whenever there's a reference to Section C10 in any documentation it's also a reference to Section C1? --- That happened after my time that they changed it to C10, but it's exactly the same section, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
Mr Chairman, we have a copy of that telephone directory, which I think it would be useful to hand up to the Committee. Unfortunately we only have one copy. We will make additional copies as soon as we have the opportunity. --- Maybe I can just - to complete the sentence. After the headquarters it was divided into regions, different regions, and the different regions then into branches, had several branches under the specific region, Mr Chairman.
Now, in August 1980 who was the head of Section C? --- In August 1980 it was Brigadier Victor. In August 1980?
Yes. --- Yes. At the time still Colonel Victor, Johan Victor.
And until when was he the head? --- It must have been until, I guess, in the early '81s, when, according to the '81 directory that I've got in front of me, Colonel Willem Skoon, W F Skoon, took over from him.
Yes. Just for the record, Mr Chairman, the Victor which is referred to is spelt V-i-c-t-o-r, like Victor in English or "k", yes. I've seen different spellings, yes. --- Excuse me, can I just mention that at that time in 1981 Colonel Victor was then the regional commander for Northern Transvaal Division, and given as J J Viktor, spelt V-i-k-t-o-r. I don't know whether that ... (incomplete)
Yes. What were you appointed as in Section C? --- To take specific charge of Vlakplaas - Vlakplaas Commando.
Did Vlakplaas have a commander before your time? --- Not a permanent one based on the farm. It fell generally under the section - Colonel Victor, who was Section C2.
As you found Vlakplaas at the time who were there and in what kind or organisational structure were they organised? --- There were a few ANC cadres, so-called turned ANC cadres, called askaris, about eight to 10 of them when I arrived there. They were based at the farm as a place where they could stay in safety, because the police were afraid that they might be tracked down by the ANC cadres and eliminated. So it was then used as a base where they could sleep, and they were fed whilst staying in Pretoria. And then when a region would need an askari or two to come and assist with the tracking down or surveillance for possible infiltrates they would connect
up with Section C in headquarters, security headquarters, and would arrange and send a car up from the specific region to pick up one, two or three - however much they would need - and take them down to their area and look after them. They were paid an amount, I think, of R200,00 a month only as informants.
So they were not members of the police force at the time? --- They were not, Mr Chairman.
Did the structure or the - were there at the time - sorry, were there any policemen, official policemen, permanently stationed at Vlakplaas? --- Only Warrant-Officer Letsatsi, who had to look after their welfare as far as if there's any problems to report to headquarters, and forth and back as necessary.
Now, did the personnel status of the so-called askaris and the organisational structure of Vlakplaas change during your time as commander? --- It did, Mr Chairman, and especially in the year from August 1980 til the end of July 1981, when the askaris were made official policemen with police force numbers, which entitled them to earn a police allowance as far as clothing was concerned, a far better salary, medical benefits, full police medical benefits, a full police - firearms that they could carry, official firearms. I arranged for passports, or so-called travel documents and pass books in those days, driver's licences, which would enable them to officially drive with police vehicles. I also arranged through the quartermaster for proper order forms as far as their food was concerned, diet, for meat, fresh vegetables, cheese, fridges on the farm, a portable generator on wheels, one of the big ones, so that they had
lights and a TV, etcetera.
And, as far as the organisational structure of the manner in which the so-called askaris operated? How did that change? --- That changed in the way that we pulled in - I pulled in seven policemen, with myself eight, with four vehicles, two policemen per vehicle, white policemen in the apartheid era, with a bakkie driven by a black policemen, with whom he would have then four to five askaris, depending on the availability of the askaris. We would then operate in four teams countrywide on request, and at some times as a full team in a specific area when needed.
MS KHAMPEPE: Can I just interpose here? When the askaris were appointed as policemen did they have to go for police training? --- No police training at all, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: So besides the askaris, and you, and the persons in command, there was nobody else there? --- No, up til the time, as I say, when Warrant-Officer Letsatsi was on the farm, and then at the end of 1980 headquarters selected Almond Nofomela, another two policemen, I think, John Mpofu and another one or two, to be based on Vlakplaas permanently with me. And then the white policemen at the farm was Sergeant Koos Schutte, who was actually the foreman on the farm, who was pulled in from the police garage to look after the askari vehicles. We had operational vehicles, to look after the farming itself; Warrant-Officer Connie Swikelaard(?), who looked after the claims, the travel allowance and claims; Captain Koos Vermeulen, who came from Bronkhorstspruit as
/a - when
a - when he was commander before, station commander; Paul van Dyk, who came from Oshoek Border, and more specifically Ermelo Security Branch; Louis Olivier and Louis Le Roux, Constable Louis Le Roux and Sergeant Louis Olivier; Constable Braam du Preez, the son of Brigadier J A du Preez. There was also for a short while Constable van Jaarsveld, Arends van Jaarsveld, which also came from Oshoek Border. And I think basically - there might be a name or two that I missed out on, Mr Chairman.
MR JANSEN: How long did this process of changing the entire personnel status situation and the organisational structure of Vlakplaas take? --- Basically a year, from August 1980 til the end of July 1981. We were fully operational on the 1st of August 1981, Mr Chairman.
Now, I would like to refer you to a document which was read into the record during the proceedings of the Harms Commission. Mr Chairman, if I could just explain. What will be read into the record now is a directive relating to Vlakplaas of the 12th of September 1981 by, I think, General Coetzee. But we do not have the actual document itself in our possession. That was handed in as an exhibit during the Harms Commission, but we have not been able to get a copy of that. But it was read into the record, and I will ask the witness to read from the evidence there relating to that document, and we will continue to try and get such a document for the Committee.
CHAIRMAN: Very well, you may do so.
MR JANSEN: Yes. Could you read that document into the record? --- I am referring to page 485 of the proceedings of, I think it's the Harms Commission, as Mr Jansen said. And the person says,
/"I am going
"I am going to refer to two documents which are contained in an affidavit by General Coetzee. The first directive is the following. It is dated 11 September 1981. The reference person is Colonel Skoon, and apparently it was signed by Brigadier du Preez and it reads as follows: "11 September 1981. Combating of Terrorism, Republic of South Africa. In an attempt to combat the increasing terrorist threat in the Republic of South a special unit for countrywide application has been established at headquarters. This unit, which will fall under Group C, consists of white handlers, rehabilitated terrorists, the majority of which are already members of the Force, and ordinary black members. The unit is divided into separate sections or groups, which will each be equipped with the necessary radios and equipment. The idea is that these groups or teams be sent to certain areas where there is a need, because head office would be better able to make a determination of where the needs are greatest, and the allocation of teams will be made in consultation with commanders by Group C, and it will be co-ordinated from headquarters. This is a relatively new
"project, which at this stage will probably need quite a bit of fine tuning, and the success of the project will depend largely on mutual co-operation and trust. It is not headquarters' intention that these teams take over your work, or to function independently in your units. In order to avoid confusion the following guidelines are established. The placing and withdrawal of teams will be dealt with by a senior officer of Group C in consultation with the relevant commander. As soon as a team has been placed out the senior member must report to the commanding officer. The team will, for the duration of their stay in a unit, be under the command and control of the regional commanding officer. The team must be used exclusively to help with the tracing, arrest and identification of terrorists. If you have identified any defects, or have any proposals for improvements, we would be glad to hear from you. Your personal involvement in this project will be highly appreciated."
Could you comment to the Committee in respect of that directive, firstly as far as the directive says that Vlakplaas - the Vlakplaas units must at all times operate under the control of the various divisional or regional
offices, firstly, and secondly, the purpose of these teams. --- Yes, Sir. First, Mr Chairman, I should comment that whilst in headquarters every morning at half past seven you would report to your section head, each lot of section officers at half past seven, which would then report at 8 o'clock, the section heads again, to the officer commanding, General Johan Coetzee and his second in charge, Brigadier Jan du Preez, and this 8 o'clock meeting they called the "Sanhederin," which is called after Jewish religious movement or something. Now, in the same way during those meetings you were briefed and debriefed on the 24 hours past, what happened and what should be done in the next 24 hours. In the same way, if I was down in Durban, for instance, I would report every morning at half past seven to the regional commander of the Security Police in the area for instructions, to brief him on what has happened over the 24 hours, and he would brief me on any further instructions or things that he wanted me to do.
And as far as the directive says that the units should only be used for the tracing and arrest of the mentioned terrorists? --- That in theory was the case, yes, Mr Chairman.
In the five months of your time at Vlakplaas which it was operational after - since August 1981, how many so-called insurgents, or how many insurgents were in fact arrested? --- One only, Mr Chairman, and it was so insignificant. It happened on the Western Transvaal border, just off Kopfontein Hak border gate, where Captain Koos Vermeulen picked up a hitch-hiker who turned out to be an ANC cadre. But it was so insignificant that I the
next day couldn't even remember the name, and he was handed apparently over to the local branch for further investigation.
You were asked about this incident during the Harms Commission. Could you remember it? --- I couldn't remember it at all. I think it was a name that was mentioned to me, but if they had referred to a specific incident where Captain Koos Vermeulen had picked up a hitch-hiker, and the next day a shoot-out occurred on a farm in a koppie - behind the house on a farm very near to Kopfontein Hak, where Koos Vermeulen used to pitch camp whilst working in the area, I would have remembered it then, yes.
Now, what according to you was the reality? What did Vlakplaas in fact do, the units? --- Well, I was only executing orders as far as dirty tricks were concerned, which involved stealing cars, murdering people, harassing people, anything but legal police work or as indicated in the directive.
Did you ever receive written instructions? --- Not at all. Never, Mr Chairman.
Did you ever make a written report about your activities? --- Not at all. Never, Mr Chairman.
You did once make a written report relating to the incident of Mr Selby Mavusa, also called Vusi in your manuscript. Is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
What was the nature and the purpose of that report? --- I think it was at a stage that I already had left the Security Police, when his lawyer got inquisitive as to his whereabouts, and then has written a letter to the
Security Police headquarters, and I then had to file a statement to say that he has worked with us for three months and then just disappeared off the face of the earth, and we believe that he must have gone back to the African National Congress. So it was to mislead, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: What was his name again? --- Vusi. Was he called Vusi Vumasela, or ... (incomplete)
MR JANSEN: Oh, Selby Mavusa. --- Oh, Selby Mavusa, but we called him Vusi, Mr Chairman. And that instruction I got from Brigadier Skoon.
Did you or did any of your members at Vlakplaas possess these well known - ordinarily well known police books? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman. The pocket books we kept in the vehicles was for writing in your petrol intake at different police stations only, and for no other purpose.
Did you ... (incomplete - end of Tape 1) ... at all.
CHAIRMAN: You were not required to? --- I were not required to keep a diary, Mr Chairman.
MR JANSEN: Was the activities of Vlakplaas in any way audited by the senior or other structures in the police? In other words to ascertain the extent to which you were now fulfilling your official purpose of arresting insurgents? --- Not at all. Not whatsoever, Mr Chairman. The only audit that would take place was my standing advance, which was ... (inaudible) ... a person from the Auditor-General's office, and he was usually entertained with a party on Vlakplaas, and that wouldn't have been a big - a problem.
Now, if I may also ask you at this stage, did the
Section C1 have any connections, or the Security Police headquarters, did it have any special connection with military intelligence at the time? --- Yes, Mr Chairman. We had in the same office at the time myself, Colonel J H Buchner, who later became the Commissioner of Police in KwaZulu-Natal, Lieutenant Colonel H D Baker, Trevor Baker, Lieutenant-Colonel Rolf van Rensburg, myself, and a Captain Willie Botha. There was an additional desk for a military intelligence officer, Major Kallie Steyn, who he would not occupy every day, but only when they were planning a cross-border raid into Angola or Mozambique. Then him and Colonel Buchner would frequently meet and plan the raid, crawling over aerial maps of the area and making use of the information that they got from the askaris at Vlakplaas.
In all the illegal activities that you were involved in in the Security Police were you ever caught by the ordinary police or the CID and charged? --- Never, Mr Chairman.
Were any disciplinary steps ever taken against you for any of your activities? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman.
The Pillay incident, the abduction of Mr Pillay, became known to your seniors. --- That's correct.
Were you ever charged disciplinarily for that incident? --- Not even mentioned. Never, Mr Chairman.
As far as you know in your time at the Security Police do you know of a single case where a court inquest or a death inquest found the police having been responsible for the murder of somebody? --- No, never, not the Security Police as far as I can remember.
Did you think you were operating above the law at the time? --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
In your manuscript you make various references to instances where you, as it were, covered your tracks or got rid of evidence, incriminating evidence. Why was this done? --- Brigadier Ferry Zietsman, who was the Security Police Chief before General Johan Coetzee, had the saying of the 11th Commandment, "Don't get caught," so you always had to prepare the mission that you were on in such a way that tracks were not at all left for the CID - to force them kind of in finding out. If they, with other words, stick to the theoretical - strictly to the theoretical way of investigating a case there wouldn't - they would never find any trail of any evidence.
CHAIRMAN: So this was regarded as the 11th Commandment, was it? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Never get caught. --- Never get caught. If in fact you did get caught in the end it wasn't a very big problem, it was an embarrassment to the police, but they would always sort it out at a later stage in a way, and I've got examples of that, Mr Chairman.
MR JANSEN: The dirty tricks, as far as it relates to the disappearance and the cross-border raids are concerned, what did these - what did they entail? --- Can you just come again.
What did these dirty tricks entail? --- Well, on illegal cross-border raids into neighbouring countries, breaking into the United Nation High Commission office for refugees, for instance as well, and stealing cars, blowing up houses, killing people, blowing up railways lines. Locally in the country abducting so-called activists
during the time, getting rid of them.
But relating more to the disappearances of people who were detained. How were their killings covered up? --- Well, it was easily done, because after officially being held they would be released, and abducted from the roadside then after everyone present has seen that they've been released in the charge office. Held then illegally, then either shot and burned on a pyre of tyres and wood, or - I don't know how all the other cases were dealt with, but in my - whilst I was there, on three cases I think, people were dealt with by shooting them and burning them on a pyre of tyre and wood, and then give the impression that the person has fled into the neighbouring country, back to the African National Congress, or, if his body is left on the premises, implicate the ANC, the African National Congress, as the perpetrators of the specific murder.
How was this done? How did you create the impression that the person went back to the ANC? --- For instance in the Sizwe Khondile case his car was taken through to Swaziland after his official release, and everyone has witnessed it, the uniformed policemen. And his car was left in front of The Holiday Inn in Swaziland, where it was discovered a few months later. In the case of Mr Mxenge, Griffiths Mxenge, his car was taken to a well known crossing point just to the south of Bothas Hoek Border Post, a well known crossing point in the security circles of ANC cadres, where the car was burned to give the impression that the ANC came into the country, pulled the mission, and then left for the border and burned the car before they went back into Swaziland.
How was a car - take any example - taken to Swaziland? --- Very easily. Fitted with false numberplates, Mr Chairman, and then taken through, so on your record there won't be traces of the car going through the border post, but eventually you will put back the original numberplates, and when it's found it's found with the original numberplates. But usually, on the Swazi side especially, records weren't very carefully kept.
And who would take the car over, and with what kind of documentation? --- The documentation was not at all necessary, and the big operators in Swaziland was Ermelo Security Branch, and at the stage specifically with the Sizwe Khondile murder his car was done by Lieutenant Chris Dieklifs, who was then branch commander at Ermelo, and who is now Colonel Christ Dieklifs, the Regional Commissioner of Intelligence of the Security Police in Mpumalanga, and Sergeant Chris Rorich, the explosives expert at Ermelo, who is now also a colonel in Middelburg in the new South African Security Police.
At some stage in your manuscript there's mention of use of false passports and the like. Did you as Security Police have access to the facilities to falsify passports and the like? --- We could falsify anything at the police printing press, which was based on the fourth floor in Wagter Huis in Pretoria Street, the Security Police Headquarters, from licence discs for motor car, which we did in abundance every year. Each Security Police car which operated had a false 100% duplicate of the Transvaal disc. Previously the third party too, when that was still intact, and then you would just put your number on that licence disc, whichever one you wanted to use. I, for
instance, used my initials, DJC, and my age at the stage was 036T. That was my car's numberplate, with a licence going with it, Mr Chairman. So that wasn't a problem at all.
And did the people at the printing facilities ever question your requests or activities? --- Not at all. It was usually done in conjunction with the relative section chief, and the press more specifically I think fell under - if you could just bear with me for a second. Under Section D5, and at that time it was Lieutenant-Colonel J D Theron, who left the police as a brigadier, and Lieutenant J du T. It must be something like du Toit. They were at the police printing press, plus Sergeant - I can't remember the sergeant's name. It will come to me just now.
You made extensive use in your activities of explosives and firearms, is that correct? --- I did, Mr Chairman.
Were there any infrastructure provided by the police as far as this is concerned? --- There was. It was handled more specific by the technical division, which fell under Section D for Delta 3. Later on in this specific 1980 directory I've got the name of Vaal du Toit, who was one of my officer's mates, Lieutenant Vaal du Toit, the one that was later implicated in the Motherwell bombing. And they would give the - they would help you with time devices, specific time devices, according to the needs that you had.
There's various reference in your manuscript to people who were either explosive experts or explosive desks. Could you just explain to the Committee how your
typical Security Police branch had access to explosive expertise? --- I would just mention in Security Police Headquarters the explosive desk fell under Section A4, and at the time it was Lieutenant-Colonel Frans van Eeden, who's left the police as a colonel I believe, and Captain P J Hattingh, Paul Hattingh, which at a stage was colonel. I don't know whether he's still in the police. They would be the experts at Security Police Headquarters. On each branch one of the Security Police members would be sent on an explosives course for three months, basically to inspect the mine dumps in these areas, see to it that all the explosive dumps at the mines in the area - basically to see that all rules and regulations as far as explosives were concerned is complied with, and whenever explosives were transported the vehicles and the red flags were shown in the right manner. So each branch had its own so-called explosive expert.
Now, in the incidents - more particularly the Mxenge matter - that fell between August and December 1981, in those instances did you at all times operate in conjunction with the regions where the incidents took place? --- I don't understand the question. Can you just please repeat it?
The incidents which we will be testifying about here, more particularly those which happened during this time that Vlakplaas was operational, from August to December 1981, did all of those incidents take place in conjunction with the various regional or branch offices? --- 100%, Mr Chairman.
Now, your unit at Vlakplaas, was it part of your work to do the gathering of intelligence information on
any particular individuals? --- Not at all. We didn't carry any personnel files or collect any information, Mr Chairman.
Was it part of your work to assess the severity or not of a specific individual's security threat, in other words the extent to which an individual posed a security threat to the State? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman.
Who did this work? --- This was usually on regional level, with headquarters sectional, and the Security Police level. In my specific cases I couldn't place any specific incident higher than General Johan Coetzee.
Now, the typical kind of command that you would receive, would the content of that command be made known to you in the presence of, for instance, the other policemen or askaris that were working with you? --- No, not at all. As less as possible people present. Usually on a one to one basis, Mr Chairman.
Why was this? --- As a result of the need-to-know chain, which is there to protect the command structure and the information structure, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: And I take it these commands were not in writing? --- I beg your pardon?
I take it that the commands were not in writing? --- No, no, not at all in writing. No, Sir.
MR JANSEN: Now, before you left the Security Police did you have any aspirations of progressing higher up in Security Police ranks? --- I think it's every policeman's desire, yes, Mr Chairman.
Would it have helped for you to have questioned any of these activities? --- If it was according to our
security work a legal instruction, and you've questioned it, you wouldn't have been in that position that you were, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: I don't understand what that answer means.
MR JANSEN: Can you just repeat it? With somebody who had questioned any of the activities, or showed a reluctance to participate or do what he was told, would such a person have progressed in the Security Police? --- Oh, sorry, not at all, Mr Chairman.
Now these, for instance, incidents where people were killed, did you regard the orders in that regard as being justified at the time? --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
Did you regard it was lawful within the Security Police culture? I am not talking about strictly legal. --- Yes, Mr Chairman. The short answer to it is yes, I did.
Did you regard it as necessary for the protection of the State? --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
Now, why did you regard such serious transgressions of the ordinary laws of the country as being justified? --- Mr Chairman, because the normal, common law of the country, according to our Security Police, was not sufficient to deal effectively with the revolutionary total onslaught, and in a quote - I don't think I can put it better than a quote from Mr Williamson, who was seen as our expert on terrorist matters, when he said that, on page 22 of my manuscript, paragraph 22.214.171.124,
"Law enforcement officers, such as members of the SAP and other organs of the Security Forces understand that the RSA is faced with a revolutionary
"onslaught which, if it is ever allowed to succeed, will plunge the southern tip of Africa into chaos."
A quote from Captain Williamson in the October 1981 issue of the police magazine, SAPAMAS, in an article with the title, "Why Spy?" If you would allow me to would just like to mention another quote from this article where he says, in the second - next paragraph,
"Therefore the only real answer is secret operations against the enemy using many of the secret operational methods devised by the communist revolutionaries themselves."
MR DE JAGER: Could you kindly repeat the page?
CHAIRMAN: Page 22.
MR DE JAGER: Page 22, thank you. --- Page 22.
MR JANSEN: Were orders ever given in a literal or a direct manner, in other words were orders given in the form an instruction to kill this or that person? --- No, not explicitly used that words, Mr Chairman.
In what kind of way was it put? --- You would hear - rather hear the drift that, "Make a plan with so and so," or a nod of the head, even a sort of go - if a certain person was discussed you would get a nod of the head, and it was a problematic area and so you would get that nod, wink, wink kind of attitude.
If you could turn to ... (intervention)
MR DE JAGER: Was that even on a one to one basis? --- Yes. Yes, Mr Chairman.
Why then only a nod of the head if it's on a one to one basis? --- Well, I can only again put it in the
words of the famous Craig Williamson, or notorious Craig Williamson, when he says this type of conversation - he says it is - he was explaining to a chairman presiding at my departmental trial exactly this dubious way of talking. He says,
"It is a very devious way of talking. It is something that security people will understand, and also I think for people in the profession, people who speak deviously to each other, and who have a very intimate rapport with each other, understand intimately, understand very well what is going on in this type of conversation."
And it is a quote from Craig Williamson in my internal trial, 10 June 1985, Volume 6, page 292 and 293. So what I would actually mean is the whole drift of the conversation would be in the end - it could even be as pulling up of the shoulders and, "Make a plan with him."
MS KHAMPEPE: May I just find out, is this quotation referring to the manner in which orders were given by superiors to people of your calibre? --- Yes, in a way. Yes, our way of talking in general, Mr Chairman, where - for instance, in Mr Mxenge's case I was asked to make a plan with him, which clearly meant to me that we must kill him.
What I want to understand is whether it referred to the manner in which instructions were issued? --- Ja, it was in the same manner, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
MR JANSEN: If we can turn to the Mxenge matter. I think it's a matter of public knowledge that Mr Griffiths Mxenge
was killed on the 19th of November 1981, is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Now, were you involved in his murder? --- I was involved in the murder, yes, Mr Chairman.
Mr Chairman, if you could just bear with me. Prior to November 1981 did you know Mr Mxenge? --- Not at all. The name didn't mean anything to me and I didn't even know the existence of such a name, Mr Chairman.
Can you relate to the Committee your involvement in this Mxenge matter? I think if you'd start with your presence in Durban at the time. --- Mr Chairman, during November, early November - from early November onwards we were operating as a whole Vlakplaas team. All four teams were operating in the Durban area on instructions, and as usual I reported to Brigadier van Hoven's office as officer commanding every morning at half past seven, and every afternoon at 4 o'clock for debriefing and briefing. A few days before the 19th of November, on a morning briefing, he asked me to make a plan with Mr Mxenge. He then in very short terms briefed me that he was an ex Robben Island convict, that he was an attorney, that they were trying to build up a case against him, because he was an acting instructing attorney in all ANC cadres cases who were caught in the country, and that an amount something R200 000,00 went through his bank account. He then took me over to the office of then Captain Andy Taylor.
MR DE JAGER: Did he add - sorry to interrupt. Did he add anything to the words, "You must make a plan with Mr Mxenge"? --- He did, Mr Chairman, in the sense that he said we must not use guns or make him disappear, we
must make it look like a robbery.
MR JANSEN: Can you continue.
CHAIRMAN: Can I have the name again? Who was it that gave you those instructions? --- Brigadier van der Hoven, the regional commander then in Port Natal in the C R Swart Square Security Police.
MR JANSEN: Can you continue. What happened thereafter? --- He then took me across the passage to Captain Andy Taylor's office, the officer who handled the Mxenge case, who was on his specific case dealing with his surveillance, his phone tapping, etcetera, who then gave me a short description of his office and his house, of how many dogs he had on the premises. If I recall correctly he said it was four.
Before you continue, did van der Hoven tell Taylor why he had brought you there? --- It was a very short conversation in the line of, "Give Dirk the information on Mxenge." So it was very clear to me out of that conversation that Andy Taylor already knew what was planned, or what went on in van der Hoven's head, or that they had discussed it previously.
Okay, could you continue with what happened with Taylor. --- Captain Andy Taylor also supplied a photograph of Mr Mxenge, which was, I would guess, about two by three inches - bigger than a passport photo, with a checkered jacket on. I think it's one that was shown to me also - just a larger version of it was shown to me one day by a TV journalist in the programme. And he then sent one of his black juniors with us to go and show us Mr Mxenge's place of work, his motor car, which was parked opposite the offices, where there was at the time no
building but just a prefab wall, and ... (intervention)
Do you know the name of that black colleague which went to show you? --- Unfortunately not, no, Mr Chairman.
Continue. --- As well as the Audi which was parked behind the wall opposite Mr Mxenge's office. He then also went with us to show Mr Mxenge's house, and the information was also given to us that he usually works late at night, and his wife usually leaves before him. I requested Brigadier van der Hoven at the time to arrange with Brigadier Skoon for him to send Joe Mamasela down for me as I would pick him as one of my team members. At the time Joe Mamasela was actually working with West Rand Security, Captain Jan Coetzee, who succeeded me on the 31st of December 1981 as commander at Vlakplaas, but whenever Captain Jan Coetzee didn't have work for him he would work with us, or when I needed him it would be arrange with Captain Jan Coetzee. So Brigadier van der Hoven arranged and, according to my recollection, Sergeant Schutte brought Joe Mamasela down on the 17th of November during the night which the dogs were poisoned. He brought down with him from Vlakplaas a hunting knife and two Okapi knives. Four pieces of meat we got from the police single quarters kitchen, and I had a bottle of strychnine in the back of my car, green crystals which the farmers used in the earlier days for jackal, to kill jackal that caught their sheep. Small slits - I made four pieces of meat, small chunks of meat with four slits in it, and put knife point - only a small knife point of strychnine in each piece of meat. This was not for the dog to taste the strychnine, and if you put in too much
the dog would vomit it out. We then, on the night of the 17th, gave the pieces of meat - went to Mr Mxenge's house. Myself, and if I recollect, if my memory doesn't let me down, Captain Koos Vermeulen, Paul van Dyk, Almond Nofomela and Joe Mamasela drove to Mr Mxenge's house, where Almond and Joe got out of the car and the meat was distributed in the yard of Mr Mxenge. The next day some of the dogs got killed, I don't know exactly how many, and the idea was to leave it open for them to decide where they want to commit the murder, either at his place of work coming out, or on the road, or, if the situation might fall into their discretion as the right moment, at his house without being hampered by the dogs. Almond and Joe observed Mr Mxenge's office and his movements. The murder took place a day or two, if not three, after the poisoning of the dogs, and in fact on the night of the 19th of November. I had an arrangement with them that I would meet them ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 2)
CHAIRMAN: Very well, this will be a convenient stage to take the adjournment. We will resume at 2 o'clock.
MR JANSEN: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
DIRK JOHANNES COETZEE (Still under former oath)
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman and Members of the Committee, before we continue I just want to put this on record, that during lunch time I was with Attorney Christo Nel, who is the attorney to Mr Andrew Taylor, whom we have informed, as well as van der Hoven, and I indicated to him that the Form 2 is going to be served. Then he said, "No, there's
no need for that. We waive you serving it on us. We are aware. We shall do whatever is necessary on our side."
CHAIRMAN: That will be recorded. You may proceed.
MR JANSEN: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN CONTINUED:
Mr Coetzee, when we adjourned you were busy testifying about the poisoning of Mr Mxenge's dogs and the arrangement to meet the members of the team at the bar afterwards. Could you just continue from there. --- Mr Chairman, on the Thursday night of the 19th it was a rainy night. I did not do my usually early rendezvous of 8 and 9 o'clock, but did go there at 10 o'clock. I found the bakkie with which they travelled parked in front of the pub in Field Street. I parked behind it and I went into the pub, where I found Joe Mamasela with Mr Mxenge's jacket on, his watch on his wrist. He handed me a wallet, which he said they took from Mr Mxenge, and car keys. They told me that they have already changed into new clothes, and I took all their old clothes and shoes from them, because the instructions was that they should dress in old clothes before the operation, and make sure that there is nothing in their pockets that could fall out or be left at the scene which could identify or may leave leads at the scene.
If I may interrupt at that stage. Did you give the members of the team any instructions as far as the way in which the murder had to be committed? --- Yes, I did, Mr Chairman. I said they should specifically not use guns, and must make it look like a robbery, and it was decided on knives, that Mr Mxenge will be killed with knives.
Did you give them any instructions as to how they should go about to conceal their involvement, or possible police involvement? --- Well, they should not leave any tracks at all at the scene.
Yes. Did you give them any further instructions as to how they should go about achieving that goal? --- By putting on old clothes, which they should hand to me after the operation, which they did. They took his car away, they parked it on the parking lot between C R Swart Square and the Magistrate's Court, and handed me their clothes, and I left. I then went to Warrant-Officer Paul van Dyk and Constable Braam du Preez, whom I gave instructions to take Mr Mxenge's car and leave for Golela Border Post, where we had a Security Policeman based, Frik Pienaar, Warrant-Officer Frik Pienaar at the time, where I would meet them on the road by lunch time the next morning just - or the next afternoon, just before Golel Border Post, when one continues from Durban on the North Coast Road. I then went to the married quarters on C R Swart Square to Brigadier van der Hoven's flat where he was living with his family, and reported to him that the mission has been completed, and according to reports that Mr Mxenge was killed; that the vehicle was already on its way up the North Coast. And he was concerned about whether we left any possible traces or tracks then, and I assured him that I don't think so. He asked me to report back to him the next morning. I did go back on the morning of the 20th at half past seven, and he said it was instructions from headquarters that we should immediately pull up the whole team and get out of Durban as soon as possible back to Vlakplaas in Pretoria. I instructed the
team accordingly, after which they left, and I on my own
went up the North Coast Road, where I met up with Paul van Dyk and Braam du Preez just to the south - a few kilometres to the south of the Pongola River, before you reach Golel.
If I may interrupt at this stage again. Did van der Hoven tell you anything, or relay to you any report-back or any repercussions of the death of Mr Mxenge? --- He did at the morning meeting told me on the 20th that Mr Mxenge's wife has phoned already to inquire whether the Security Police hadn't possibly arrested him the previous night, because he did not come home. I met up with Paul van Dyk and Braam du Preez, and we took the car to an empty police house at Golel Border Post, which I can identify, and which was vacant at the time, with other words between the 19th and the 23rd of November 1981. The car was parked in the garage, and Warrant-Officer Frik Pienaar undertook to look after the car for us. We locked the garage. We thereafter returned to the Golela River, and, coming up from the Durban side, just after crossing the river, to the left-hand side, next to the river, we turned into a small little road, where Mr Mxenge's jacket and wallet was burned, and his watch and the numberplates of the vehicle was thrown into the reeds next to the river.
If I may interrupt again. You said the Golela River. Should that not possibly be the Pongola River? --- Pongola River. My apologies, Mr Chairman. We then proceeded with my police car, myself, Paul van Dyk and Braam du Preez, to Pretoria, where on Saturday morning early I visited Brigadier Jan du Preez at his
smallholding, where he was busy amongst his fruit trees on
the smallholding. He told me that Mr Mxenge's death caused an uproar and the whole world was buzzing, and I then asked, "What should I do with the car because it's brand-new?" and whether there was a possibility that we could exchange the car with another unit, for instance Kufoot(?) with a car they might have for use for us, and he immediately said, "No, we must burn the car and get rid of it." On the Sunday night after the murder we - myself, Koos Vermeulen and Paul van Dyk - took my Datsun car, with an additional 25 litres of petrol, from Vlakplaas and proceeded to Golel, but because of the fact that my Datsun's spare wheel was flat I stopped at Bronkhorstspruit to borrow Captain Koos Vermeulen's spare wheel from his Datsun Laurel. He insisted that he wanted to go with. We then left, the four of us, down to Golel, where we picked up Mr Mxenge's car. Either on the way there or on the way back, I can't remember, we put in petrol at Piet Retief Police Station in my official car, and Warrant-Officer Paul van Dyk signed the petrol book. The 25 litres additional petrol which we took with was for the purpose that should it be traced later they would try to prove that I could do the distance to Golel, and where the car was burned, and back to Pretoria with my vehicle. I could prove that I didn't have sufficient petrol in the vehicle to do that distance. So the 25 litres were added on the way back, I think, if I remember correctly. At Golel Border Post we picked up Mr Mxenge's Audi. I drove it, and Sergeant Koos Schutte, after taking five litres of petrol from the car underneath, because he couldn't get a pipe through the petrol intake - there was some blockage,
I don't know, a sieve or something, to burn the car with.
I drove it, and whilst driving, and while Paul van Dyk and Koos Vermeulen were driving in front with the police car to make sure there's no roadblocks, Schutte took out the radio and the speakers of the car. The first turn-off before Pongola - before Piet Retief, we turned off towards Mahamba Border Post, and then again getting to the T-junction shortly before Mahamba we turned again left, and fairly soon right on the Botha's Hoep Border Post road. That area was very familiar to Warrant-Officer Paul van Dyk because he himself and Warrant-Officer Frik Pienaar was the two representatives of Ermelo Security Branch office respectively based at Oshoek Border Post, Paul van Dyk, and Pine Pienaar at Golel Border Post. They then led - Paul has then led us to a crossing point, a well known crossing point of ANC cadres coming from Swaziland into the country, a few hundred yards to the south towards Mahamba Border Post from Botha's Hoep. In an opening in the plantation the car was parked just far enough away from the trees so that it couldn't cause a forest fire, and petrol was poured over the seats of the vehicle. The boot was opened, the engine was opened, petrol was poured over it, and eventually set alight after Sergeant Koos Schutte has removed certain articles. I can't exactly remember what, but I think it involved the spare wheel, seat covers, and I know he struggled with the batter under the left back seat, which he couldn't get out. Eventually - and the radio, of course, with the speakers. The car was then set alight. It was the Sunday night/Monday morning. I know I previously said round about 3 o'clock. All I can just add to that is that on
our way back to Ermelo, which is - it's a 100 kilometre
distance between Piet Retief and Ermelo, and on our way to Ermelo, shortly before Ermelo, it was dawning. It became daylight, but we were still driving our lights on. As we drove away from the scene - which I can also point out, and the remains of the vehicle at this day is still at that specific spot, I visited it over the weekend with my lawyers - we could see the vehicle burning. We arrived back at headquarters, and on Monday morning when I reported for work Brigadier Skoon's only question was concern again, "Have you left any possible traces or evidence at the scene," without discussing anything that had happened At a stage - I can't remember whether it was during that same day - Brigadier Jan du Preez walked in and suggested that bounty money of R1 000,00 be paid to everyone involved. After asking a report from me, just in short what happened, with other words who did the killing and who not, I said the only people that was reported to me that did the stabbing of Mr Mxenge was Joe Mamasela, Almond Nofomela and David Tshikalanga. Brian Ngulungwa had just stood by with a gun, but never did any stabbing. The authorities then, Brigadier Jan du Preez and Brigadier Skoon, decided that only the three of them, namely Joe Mamasela, David Tshikalanga and Joe Mamasela - Nofomela, the three of them would receive R1 000,00 each. Brian Ngulungwa did not receive any money. I shortly afterwards received R3 000,00 in cash, which I did not sign for, and Brigadier Jan du Preez said they would make it up with a claim of the Kufoot Unit(?), which fell directly under Security Police Headquarters. In this '81 directory too it's indicated as Oshikathi Special Unit. Through a claim /in what
in what way, whatever, I have never seen that. And I've
handed the R1 000,00 then to the individuals that were involved.
If I could just return to your exit from Durban at the time. Who gave the orders for you to exit the Durban - for everybody to leave the Durban area? --- On the Friday morning, the 20th of November, after the murder, at the half past seven meeting Brigadier van der Hoven said the orders from headquarters was to pull up immediately and get out of town and get back to Vlakplaas.
And on the probabilities who would those orders have come from from headquarters? --- He told me it was orders from Brigadier Skoon to immediately pull up.
You said previously that you didn't know Mr Mxenge prior to November 1981. Who was responsible for gathering information about Mr Mxenge as far as you knew? --- Captain Andy Taylor and one or two of his men, black colleagues that worked with him. He was main - the chief investigating officer on Mr Mxenge, who intercepted his mail, bugged his phone, and gathered the information on him.
And, as you stated, you weren't responsible for the assessment of a specific person's threat to the country's - or the Government's security. Who would have done that assessment of Mr Mxenge? --- The final decision would have been with Brigadier van der Hoven, who would have relayed it to headquarters in consultation with Andy Taylor, and then would - after he would have decided would have taken it up with Security Police Headquarters.
What did you understand by van der Hoven telling you that they were trying to build up a case against Mr
Mxenge, but they couldn't succeed in that? --- That he
was a thorn in the flesh to them, but he was sticking to the rules of the law, and by doing that they couldn't get a charge built up against him, a case built up against him to charge him in court criminally within the law available to them.
According to your understanding of what they told you did the money that was received by Mr Mxenge originate from the ANC at the time? --- That's correct. It was also reported in that way in the next morning's Afrikaans newspaper, I think it was Beeld. General Johan Coetzee made a statement to the effect that it was the ANC, and it was because of some quarrel between Mr Mxenge and the ANC. I can't exactly remember, but I'm sure we'll get that newspaper and one will see that, as always, the actions were blamed onto the ANC.
And what was the purpose of burning the car near the Swaziland border? --- To give the impression that the murder was committed by ANC cadres as a result of the quarrel between Mr Mxenge and the ANC, and then they fled back to Swaziland and burnt the car before crossing the border, because it was right next to the border.
Did you regard this request or instructions from van der Hoven to kill Mr Mxenge as an order? --- That is correct. In short, yes.
Did you regard it as - in that Security Police culture as an order which emanated after an assessment of the necessity thereof had been done? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Do you still today believe that those were necessary or lawful orders? --- Absolutely not.
Why do you think differently today? --- Well, at
the time, yes, but with hindsight absurd and absolutely - I mean unjustifiable.
But why do you think differently today? --- Well, I think after I left the environment that I worked in, the security environment, after I left the country and I met up with these people that was portrayed to me as monsters of the ANC, Jacob Zuma, JJ Njele and these people, after I saw the human kindness, the warmness, the heartiness, the - just normal human beings, I couldn't believe that I've ever done this against these people, that this was my attitude towards these people.
Yes. Just for background, for the sake of the Commission, could you just explain how it came about that you left the country? --- After I've left the Security Police on the 31st of December 1981 I didn't even think of exposing what I was involved in, because up against a wall I just know that there was no ways that I could do it inside the country. Then, Mr Chairman, on the 19th of October 1989 an ex-colleague of mine, Almond Nofomela, spoke from death row on the eve of his execution about these Government-sanctioned hit squads that he was involved in. It was widely published in the news on the 20th. On the day on which the McNally Commission of Inquiry was reported, the two-man commission, on which Advocate McNally, then Attorney-General to the Free State, and Lieutenant-General Albyn Konradie, the CID chief were presiding, and Brigadier Krappies Engelbrecht was later incorporated on it, and I was then placed before a choice. I heard then that all my other former colleagues, Paul van Dyk, Koos Vermeulen, even Gene de Kock, who wasn't at
the farm in my time, Brigadier Skoon, Joe Mamasela, all
has testified that they left me for last, notwithstanding the fact that my name was mentioned, so I knew that if I'd stayed back in this country, to save my own neck I will have to get out. That was my first priority. Or take the easy way out and make Almond Nofomela a liar. I decided to go to save my own neck, and not make ailment a liar, and leave the country through the help of Jacques Paux, and a Captain Andre Simon, who worked with IDASA, who then made contact with the ANC in Lusaka, and acted as middleman for me. The only message I received back was that they were prepared to listen to my story with no promises at all. I then, two weeks thereafter, was still not approached by the McNally Commission, and on the 5th of November, the Sunday morning, I left for Mauritius with the journalist, Jacques Paux, to first give my full story to him on Mauritius, before proceeding to London on the 8th, where I've met Mr Jacob Zuma and Mr JJ Njele of the ANC on the 9th of November 1989.
Your contact with the ANC at the time, was that the first organisation that you had contact with where black people were in prominent positions and in positions of command? --- The first ever in my life, Mr Chairman.
Since your return to the country in 1993 you have had a meeting with a relative of Mr Mxenge's, is that correct? --- That is correct, Mr Chairman, and that was after the 4th of - I returned on the 4th of July 1993, and I think it was early '94, round about February, that I met with Dr Mxenge, one of the brothers.
What is your present attitude towards what you did to the Mxenge family? --- An extreme mixed emotions of /anger,
anger, deep-seated anger, for allowing me to get involved
with this, all this nonsense - humiliation, embarrassment, and a helplessness of a pathetic, "I am sorry for what I've done," and I can do nothing else to them. What else can I offer them? A pathetic nothing, so in all honesty I don't expect the Mxenge family to forgive me, because I don't know how I ever in my life would be able to forgive a man like Dirk Coetzee if he's done to me what I've done to them. But I will hope that this will be the beginning of a new era in my life. I can just turn my back on it and walk on.
Since leaving the country in 1989 what have you - what have you been keeping yourself busy with? --- Well, whilst in exile I was not at all active involved with any ANC activities, although the ANC cared for me well with an allowance that they gave to me and my two sons, and dedicate my life that through the media, where the pen is mightier than the sword, after I've seen what I was up against in the McNally and Harms Commission, determined to expose the truth about this country's horrible past, the small bit that I can contribute towards it. In person I've gained nothing. I've lost all I had. I am 51 years old, I haven't got a house, a car. Not I think that I deserve one, I am just saying. I didn't end up with golden handshakes of R1,2 million and R2 million, and luxuries. But until the day I die my soul won't rest until the truth about the past of the apartheid era is not out to the world, and the other beloved ones who lost beloved ones in this horrible era of absurdheid - until that's out.
And since you returned to the country what steps
have you taken to ensure that the truth comes out? ---
Well, I for instance went to the Judge Richard Goldstone. I introduced Joe Mamasela the second week in August 1994 to Dr Jan D'Oliveira's office, and more specific to Director Ivor Human and Advocate Antoinette de Jager.
Could you just elaborate on the circumstances in which you introduced Joe Mamasela to the Attorney-General? --- The Attorney-General's office couldn't get access to - they couldn't access Joe Mamasela, he was very evasive, and I had met with him in '93, December. We became on a very good footing again, and I convinced him to open up and come forward and just meet with the guys, and then decide for himself about the future, because I can assure him that he will not be able to make peace with his past until such time as the truth comes out. When I was approached then by the Commission I did set up a meeting. It took place in my house, and did Joe come, and from there onwards they started working independently of myself. I also assisted the Commission in getting access to Matthew Mabisera, one of the three labourers on the farm, who was an ex so-called Rhodesian freedom fighter. There were three based on the farm. And he also did not want to speak to the investigation team, special investigation team of Jan D'Oliveira. I took them to Matthew's house on two occasions, and introduced - and convinced him to work with the team, which he did eventually.
You also had a meeting with Eugene de Kock at some stage, is that correct? --- I did, Mr Chairman. I, through Joe Mamasela, on the 28th of December 1983, had a meeting with Gene de Kock at the Midland ...
Sorry, is that 19 - you said 1983? --- In 1993, I am sorry, at the ... (intervention)
CHAIRMAN: On the 23rd of November? --- On the 28th of December 1993, at the Pizza Hut at the Menlyn Hyperama, where Joe Mamasela and myself were present. At a stage Captain Balletjies Bellingham also came in and he drank coffee with us. I tried to convince de Kock to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to convince him that the war is over, and that the only way out is to open up about the truth, but I could see that I was not making any impression on him. He did, however, arrange for another meeting two days later through Joe Mamasela, but he never turned up, and that was the last that I saw of him.
Yes. You ... (intervention) --- I should also just mention that I met up with Paul van Dyk, who went off as a major. I made contact with him and Captain Flip de Beer, who is presently charged with the murder in Komatipoort, on several occasions, three or four, and tried to convey the message to them too. They on the other hand also arranged a meeting with a Colonel Geysber and another ex Security - or Security Policeman, whom I conveyed the same message to.
CHAIRMAN: What was the purpose of all this? --- To try and convince them that the sooner we all stand up for the truth, Mr Chairman, the sooner the truth will get out and we can get the past behind us, because the only way we can make peace with our past is to talk about it, to know what it was all about, and before we can bury the past we must know what to bury.
MR JANSEN: Colonel de Kock was, among other charges,
convicted of an attempt on your life, is that correct?
--- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Were there any other attempts on your life? --- There was - well, one well documented one in Britain, Mr Chairman, when on the 11th of April 1992 Captain Pamela du Rand and Lieutenant Leon Flores met with the Ulster Royalists, terrorists in Northern Ireland, to negotiate a contract murder on my life. They were eventually arrested on the 15th of April 1992 by Scotland Yard, and held at the Paddington Green Police Station under the Terrorism Act. A lot of communiques went out between the ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 3) ... of all these attempts, and to know that I am one step ahead.
Mr Chairman, there is just one issue as far as the facts concerning Vlakplaas which I omitted to ask at the time, if I could just ask that question now. What kind of firearms did the members of Vlakplaas normally carry with them? --- They had their usual police pistol issue, which at the time I think was a 9mm Parabellum. In the cars we had official shotguns, pump action shotguns, and an FN rifle. But in the back of my boot of my car, specific car, I had a case at the time of 40 kgs PE4 explosive, I had a crate of Russian hand grenades, offensive and defensive. I had Makaroff and Tokoreff pistols. I had AK47s with ammunition. I had time devices prepared - I think it was six - by Vaal du Toit from headquarters, for car bombs or any other explosions that I need. And there might - oh, and amongst others were five HMK 9mm machine guns with silencers on, and on the side of it canvas bags welded onto it so it will catch up the empty shells. I also a briefcase which was fitted
with a 9mm machine pistol, which General Johan Coetzee
received as a present from the Americans during a visit. I don't know whether it was they were visiting him in South Africa or when he went overseas, which he donated to the technical division, and which Captain Vaal du Toit has built into this briefcase. It had a silencer on, and that specific case you can then just pick up under your armpit. The trigger was then at the bottom of the briefcase, and the hole of the barrel was behind a ticket showing which airways you're flying on, so you would just knock at the front door, pick up the briefcase under your armpit, and pull the trigger, and there will be this soft sound, with all the empty bullets falling in the suitcase.
Did any of the other Vlakplaas members wear and handle firearms that were more specifically from Russian and Eastern European origin? --- Not at that time. At my time only during special operations if deserved, but not - not loosely left with them to operate with.
And at the time what - you said Mr Mamasela was not with Vlakplaas on a full-time basis, but was with the West Rand Security. Is that right? --- He was, Mr Chairman, working under Captain Jan Coetzee, who took Vlakplaas over on the 31st of December 1981 from me, but as I say, when Jan did not have work for him he would leave him at Vlakplaas to operate with us. He was just paid an informant fee by West Rand, and otherwise whilst working with Jan Coetzee and I would need him, like in the Mxenge case, I could call on headquarters to arrange for Joe Mamasela to come down.
Do you know what kind of a firearm he used? --- He had an unregistered Russian Tokareff pistol that he
carried with him in a small little leather pouch.
As far as your knowledge goes were there many people in the Security Police that used these weapons of Russian and Eastern European origin? --- At the time not, except for Komatipoort and Pietermaritzburg, and then more specifically a Makaroff pistol with a silencer on, which they used at the times when - of the ANC cadres, in the case of Vusi and Peter and Sizwe Khondile, when they were doped with knockout drops that we received from General - I picked up from General Lothar Neethling's forensic police laboratory. After they had been doped they were shot with this Makaroff pistol at pointblank in the head, before they were burned on the pyre of tyre and wood.
Were official records kept of these weapons? --- Not at all.
What was the purpose of using weapons from Russian and Eastern European origin? --- Always to implicate the ANC, Mr Chairman, like in the case of Brian Ngulungwa, when he was shot, The one person that was involved with us in the Mxenge murder, and subsequently Colonel Gene de Kock was found guilty of being involved in his murder in some way or another. AK47 shells were found on the scene to again implicate the ANC. For instance a burial was organised at Vlakplaas for him, and it was to all and sundry obvious that the ANC was responsible for his murder at the time.
As it pleases you, Mr Chairman, Honourable Members, I have no further questions in chief.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, in the light of the request that
was made to the Committee in chambers by the Mxenge family
that they carry over cross-examination to the following day I do not intend putting any questions to Mr Dirk Coetzee until they shall have cross-examined tomorrow.
CHAIRMAN: Did you ever have occasion to question orders that were given to you about eliminating individuals? --- Excuse me, Mr Chairman, can you just repeat that?
Did you ever have occasion to question orders that were given to you to eliminate individuals? --- Never did I question any orders, Mr Chairman.
Did you ever do anything to satisfy yourself that the targets that had been selected for elimination were selected on sound, reliable evidence? --- No, I did not, Mr Chairman.
Did it never occur to you to do that? --- Mr Chairman, no, seeing that it's coming from the superior - from a superior working on the specific case. No, it did not.
Did you know anything at all about what mechanism there was that would make sure that the targets that were selected were, in terms of the police, justified targets? --- No, not at all. I did not, Mr Chairman.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight perhaps it is easy to say that a number of these targets ought never to have been targets. --- I think none of these targets should have ever been targets, Mr Chairman, with hindsight.
WILSON J: You I think made it clear - I just want to confirm - that the reason why Mr Mxenge was targeted - I am sorry. (Pause) You have, I think, made it clear, but I just want to confirm, that the reason why Mr Mxenge was
targeted was because he was being a nuisance defending people charged in the criminal courts. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
So he was targeted for doing his work as an attorney. --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
There was no suggestion of any other reason as far as he was concerned. --- No, because he was a staunch supporter of the ANC and acting for them on their behalf, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
And the money that was mentioned came into his books and was put through his books. --- I accept - I have never seen the entries myself, as I said, that it was specifically handled by Andy Taylor, but it was told to me.
It was never suggested it was fraud or anything of that nature? This was money - ANC money that was given to him. --- In short it was carried to me that way, that's right.
All right. Now, I'd like to ask you about - sorry, if I can find the - why was it necessary, I was a little confused by this, that you went up just before Golel and hid his motor car there in an empty police - vacant police house? --- It was a brand-new car and ... (intervention)
Yes. No, I am coming to the next. And after that you took his jacket, his wallet and the numberplates, and burnt them and threw them into the river. What was the purpose of that? --- To destroy evidence. And his watch, and I suppose together with the knives, except the hunting knife, Mr Chairman.
Sorry, I just - at that stage you hoped to keep the
car. You were destroying stuff that could be identified as Mxenge's other than the car, because you thought it was a new car and you could use it. When I say "you," I mean the armed forces could use it. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman, to use it to - for instance, exchange it for a car that they could use up at Kufoot. Send Mr Mxenge's car to South West Africa and get a car down from that side again that we could use here.
So you weren't at that stage contemplating burning the car? --- No.
If you had you would have left everything in the car and burnt it all at once. If you'd known the car was going to be burnt there was no need to burn the numberplates separately. --- Well, the - no, the numberplates, the jacket and the wallet was burnt separately, but after burning it you could clearly still see the impression on the numberplates, so it was rolled up and thrown into the river. But I suppose if one thinks that the car - if we knew that the car eventually was going to burn it could have just as well been left.
Because the car was identified as his immediately it was found, wasn't it? --- Exactly, ja, Mr Chairman.
And the knives you've told us about, is it correct that the hunting knife used was returned to Koos Schutte and was kept by a friend of his? --- That's correct, Mr Paul Pretorius, and I've given his number in Pretoria in 1989. It's a 5-7 number, and I can still show where the house is, Mr Chairman.
And you said also that he knew what the knife was used for, he knew the history of the knife. --- I knew it, but it was a precious hunting knife of Koos Schutte,
/and I knew
and I knew he would, as a confidante, take care of it, not to ever bring it forward.
Thank you. --- Thank you, Mr Chairman.
MR NGOEPE: You made mention that - I think Nofomela and two others, each were given R1 000,00 after the killing of Mr Mxenge. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman. It was Mr Joe Mamasela, David Tshikalanga and Mr Almond Nofomela.
Did they know beforehand that, quite apart from whatever allowances or salaries they were getting from the police, if they successfully killed Mr Mxenge they would get separate payment, specific payment for that? --- Not at all. It was not at that stage in use in Vlakplaas. That was the one and only time that anyone received money for an operation at Vlakplaas to that extent. I did later learn that it was a - well, it was a kind of rule with the Kufoot contingent, and that is where it originated from.
But would I be correct to say that the payment they received was specifically for the work that they have done, namely to kill Mr Mxenge? --- That's correct, for the good work they've done, in the other way that they would usually issue medals to - for white operatives in overseas operations for the good work they've done, or in the Gene de Kock trial, in the same way they rewarded the three black colleagues of mine with R1 000,00 for the good work they've done.
And most probably had they bungled up the operation, or not succeeded in some way in killing Mr Mxenge, they would not have received this money. --- For sure not, Mr Chairman.
Now, somewhere in your evidence you mentioned that - or before I get to that. You yourself, did you get
anything for a like nature in respect of that incident? --- Not at all. No white member ever in my time did get any money, Mr Chairman.
But ... (intervention) --- No white members at all, or any other black members for that matter, got any money for any operations during my time at Vlakplaas.
Was it standard practice to pay people for successful operations? --- As I say, that was the first and one and only time during my stay in Vlakplaas, but I believe it came out in the Gene de Kock trial, for instance, that it was common practice then in Namibia that you would bring back the corpses of people that you've killed, loaded onto the armoured vehicles, and they were paid R2 000,00 per head, which they divided amongst the units - the unit members.
Mr Coetzee, if - I haven't look at the papers that Mr Maphumela's papers, nor that of Mr - the other gentleman, but if they were to say in the papers that they did not receive any financial benefit from the killing of Mr Mxenge would you agree with that? --- I beg your pardon?
If they were to say that they had not received any financial benefit as a result of the killing of Mr Mxenge would you agree with them? --- Absolutely not. They will not deny it, they will admit it, I am sure, because that is the truth, Mr Chairman.
Now, earlier on just - I am moving on to something else. Earlier on in the course of your evidence you said that the 11th Commandment was that you'd not be caught, but then you went on to say that even if you were to be caught you were told that it would be sorted out. In
other words you would be helped out of trouble. --- There will be - you will be helped in the end, yes.
Can you tell us in broad terms in which way you would be? --- I can. For instance, not in the Security Police set up, but with the specific case of Captain Jack Le Grange and Sergeant Robert van der Merwe, who murdered two drug addicts and seriously wounded a third one. At a stage after Almond Nofomela was sentenced to death in 1987 - I think it was round about '88 - they received two death sentences, the two white policemen, as first offenders, and 18 years for the one that they injured seriously. Eventually their sentences were commuted by the State President to 25 and 15 years, and after three and a half years they are out on the streets. Whilst Almond Nofomela, as a first offender, murdering a white farmer in 1986, received the death penalty only once, his sentence was commuted to 20 years, life in prison. So what I want to say, if they want to help you there is a political will, there's a way out, like in the Jack Le Grange/Robert van der Merwe case. Three and a half years, two murders, a serious assault, GBH with intent to kill, and they are out on the street. So that is the 11th Commandment. There's also the classic example of Major Menz, who's also now frequently mentioned, who was involved in quite few incidents. He was at a stage in gaol for two years, or they received a year's sentence on two charges of assault, and after a few months General Johan Coetzee got them out of gaol in 1980/81, and the lately - I think he's still in the police, a major in the police. So they were caught, had to go through the channels, and eventually was then helped in that way.
Captain Coetzee, during the hearing of some of the applications we were told that there was yet another level at which senior policemen could come to the assistance of some people, and we were told that they could in fact frustrate investigations, or cover up. --- Absolutely. They always call it the sweeper. In the Harms and McNally Commission it was very clearly General Krappies Engelbrecht, who was incorporated onto the Commission - in fact after the week and a half of evidence at the McNally Commission Paul van Dyk came to my house and told me that they have all testified that Almond is lying, that the Commission is starting to believe it, and if myself and the man up top - now they were referring to Vendaland, where David Tshikalanga lived - if we would now just also deny it will all be over, that'll be it. And the man that informed them of it was Engelbrecht, Krappies Engelbrecht kept them informed. Krappies Engelbrecht then went on with Brigadier Herman du Plessis - at the time of the Sizwe Khondile murder he was Captain du Plessis. He was as a sergeant I think also involved in the Biko murder, Sergeant du Plessis. The two of them, together with General Ronnie van der Westhuizen, came with the Harms Commission to London as the chief investigators of the Harms Commission. So obviously there with the specific purpose to see where things are going to, and then to see to it that it does not get out, and it gets covered up.
So the tendency or the practice to engage in cover up was a fairly common phenomenon within your operations, the sphere of your operations. --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman, and I might just demonstrate this by saying that although the Security Police family made only out a
small clique of the broader police family, and then I am talking about 3-4%, one will always see that this little family was always in top positions in the police. Like, for instance, General Mike Geldenhuys, who was Security Police Chief, a short stint with National Intelligence, and then Commissioner of Police. After him General Johan Coetzee, who was Security Police Chief, became Commissioner of Police. After him General Johan van der Merwe, who was Security Police Chief, became Commissioner of Police. And as CID Chief, National CID Chief, it went exactly the same. General Verdi Zietsman was Security Police Chief and then Chief of the CID. After him General Stan Schutte, that was Security Police Chief, then became Chief of CID. So, although they then hear of a murder scene like the Mxenge murder, I can promise you that they knew exactly where it came from, but they would then don on their CID cap and strictly stick according to the rules, the theoretical rules, and see to it that they don't use their skills of the past, and their experience of the past of the Security Police family, to rather expose this murder, but rather use that to cover up this murder.
MR DE JAGER: My colleague, Judge Wilson, asked you for the reasons why Mr Mxenge was murdered, and he put to you that he've done his work as an attorney and that was the reason, because he assisted people. --- Basically, in the words of the time, he assisted the enemies of the country, and African National Congress, yes, Mr Chairman.
In legal representations. --- That's correct.
Was that the only reason that was advanced to you? /--- That's
--- That's correct, that they were trying to build up a case and just couldn't get him in because he was sticking strictly according to the law, and he was a thorn in the flesh, and we have to get rid of him, that's correct.
So they in fact told you that he was - there was nothing against this man, he was acting according to the law, and they couldn't make out a case against him. --- They brought it over in the way that he received funds from overseas from the ANC, which I didn't know whether that was legal or illegal, and with that funds he was orchestrating or assisting ANC cadres that came into the country in their court cases, yes, Mr Chairman.
And that was the only reason given to you? --- I beg your pardon?
And that was the only reason given to you why you should arrange for him to be killed? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And that was the only reason you had in mind when killing him? --- It wasn't a specific reason, it was that it was decided by higher authority that he should be eliminated, and I didn't question that and I just did that, I saw to it that it got done, Mr Chairman.
So as far as you yourself was concerned you didn't question any of the orders, you didn't make up your own mind whether there was a political motive or not? --- No, not at all, Mr Chairman.
So as far as you're concerned you didn't kill him for a political motive? --- No, the specific ... (intervention)
You only killed him because you were ordered to do so. --- No. The political motive behind it was
because he served a stint on Robben Island, he was actively sentenced under the Terrorist Act at the time, that he was an active supporter of the ANC and the enemy of this country, and that was the political - and assisting them to get off the hook in criminal trials.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Coetzee, why were the dogs poisoned, Mr Mxenge's dogs? --- Mr Chairman, it was to leave the decision for the place of the actual murder in the hands of the operatives, to leave a more wide open options. You could either do it at work if the occasion was right, it was late enough, if it was deserted enough where he parked his car, or you could have done it on his way home, or then, if he stops at home and gets out of the car, you could do it just there at the car. And I believe, according to hearsay evidence, that that is in fact the way that his wife was killed later on in years. But that was so if they would decide to kill him at home then they would not be attacked by his dogs.
You took the decision that the dogs should be poisoned, isn't it? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
At that stage had you decided on how Mr Mxenge was going to be killed? --- Yes, it was with knives, that's correct.
Now, it was of cardinal importance that the killing was to appear to be a robbery. --- That's correct.
That it's not connected at all to the police. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Why then were the details of the murder left to your underlings, Almond and Nofomela, to work out? --- They should just - the factor - what was left to them is the right place to decide to do the murder, and it was
discussed beforehand that he should be killed with a knife or knives.
But you must at best have given serious thought to how the killing was to be conducted. --- That's correct.
And at the least discussed with your underlings the modus operandi for the execution. --- Well, as I said, he should be killed with knives, and of his belongings should be sort of taken to make it look like a robbery. That was discussed, yes.
Did it not appear to you that your underlings may actually carry out the execution in a clumsy way, and thereby leaving traces that would connect the killing to the police? --- It was a possibility. That's why I told them specifically to dress in old clothes that I can take hold of after the murder and destroy, to make sure that they wear no watches with serial numbers on that could fall off their arms during a possible struggle, or any pocket material, like cigarette boxes with numbers on, or matchboxes with numbers on, but to make 100% sure that they had nothing on them, and whatever they were dressed in I took hold of until such time as it was reported to me that nothing at all, no traces, were found at the scene.
Now, in your evidence you stated that that Saturday morning you went to Brigadier Jan du Preez' house to inquire what you should do with the car belonging to Mr Mxenge. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Why was it necessary to clear that with Brigadier Jan du Preez when the order had been received from Brigadier van der Hoven? --- He was the most superior. He was headquarters, and if there was any decision about the possible change of cars with Oshikathi Special Unit
they fell under Security Police Headquarters, as Brigadier van Hoven, so it should have been agreed by headquarters themselves. It wouldn't have been allowed for Brigadier van Hoven to clear it out with Brigadier Hans Dreyer at Oshikathi.
CHAIRMAN: May I just ask you a question. You've used the word bounty to describe the R1 000,00 that were paid to each of these people. Is there any difference in your mind between a reward and a bounty? --- No, not at all. It was actually a word that I learnt from the journalist, and in Afrikaans they called "kopgeld." Now, I think "kopgeld," head money, comes from the notorious Kufoot Unit, where they were paid R2 000,00 per head. So bounty actually came from a journalistic term, but it was reward money in my seeing.
And you're quite clear in your mind that at no stage was there anything to indicate to your colleagues that this was a job they have to do for which they will be handsomely rewarded? --- Not beforehand for sure. 100% I can assure you that, Mr Chairman.
WILSON J: You did mention when you were being questioned about this earlier that you did not know of any payments being made to white police officers, but that they got medals. --- Yes, and what I had in mind specifically was the London bombing in 1982, when I had a little tea party, General Johan Coetzee, with Craig Williamson, Gene de Kock and others involved, during which they were awarded with medals of some kind.
And did this happen frequently, that they weren't perhaps public awards, but that they received decorations
for their undercover work? --- That came out, yes.
I think, and correct me if I am wrong, that evidence was led at the de Kock trial that he was the most highly decorated policeman in the South African Police Force. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And was this for his murders, assassinations and other such work? --- 100% sure. For no honest one police day's work.
So that, I think, tends to prove that his superior officers were fully aware of what he was doing. --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman. I have also got a newspaper clipping of General Johan van der Merwe on The Star, when him and his attorney or advocate addressed the Standing Committee on - I think when they were talking about this Peace and Reconciliation Act, where he clearly said, "No policeman can act on his own in this manner without his superior knowing about it," and he feels - and then he speak for himself - "That we have been prostituted by the politicians."
And a record would of course be kept of all awards made. They would be documented at a higher level. --- In Special Force orders every single one of them, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
MR DE JAGER: The car had to be recognised, because the whole scheme was that people should think they had taken his car back and they had burnt it at the border. --- Well, there's no question of specifically thinking of being recognised. If they eventually - if it doesn't burn out completely, and they recognise it as Mxenge's car, then they would see that this people has actually left the /country
country after burning the car.
But wasn't that the intention why you took the car
there, so that people may think they've gone back with the car and left it there? --- That was the intention, ja.
And so it should have been recognisable as Mr Mxenge's car. --- If they recognised ... (incomplete - end of Side B, Tape 3) ... that this is Mr Mxenge's car if the CID, through their investigation, detected that it was Mxenge's car. Usually numberplates are taken off when cars are stolen, they are usually fitted with false numberplates, so to - I suppose not to make it that obvious.
But, Mr Coetzee, you yourself decided to take the car there and to leave it and to burn it there. --- That's correct.
So it was your scheme. --- That's correct.
And now please explain then ... (inaudible) ... to take off the numberplates? --- Well, in the end, without even the numberplates on it, Murder and Robbery was from Durban that same day when the car was found, and they took photos of it, and on the docket they have identified that car as Mr Mxenge's car.
CHAIRMAN: In the light of the attitude of Mr Mshe and counsel for the Mxenge family that they would like to reserve their questioning of this witness until tomorrow morning, would there be any point in allowing you or asking you to re-examine this witness, or would you rather do that later?
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I think it would be more sensible to reserve my re-examination until all other examination is finished. I don't know whether my learned
friend, Mr Marais, has any questions.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Marais, do you have questions to put to this witness?
MR MARAIS: Yes, Mr Chairman, I have some.
QUESTIONED BY MR MARAIS:
You said, Mr Coetzee, that you regarded it as an order which you received that Mr Mxenge should be killed. Did you then in return order the other persons who did the actual killing to go ahead and execute it? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And what would your attitude have been if they had refused to comply with your order? --- Mr Chairman, that poses a big problem. I can just quote what happened with Brian Ngulungwa, for instance, when he knew too much and then decided to backtrack. He was killed, and it was admitted. What happened to the Motherwell three policemen and the askari when they threatened to expose? With other words they were involved and then threatened to expose, and they were blown up in a car bomb by their own white colleagues, for which they were found guilty. And in the same way if the team has been involved, and the murder was executed in the end without the one that pulled back, I am sure they would have made a plan with him, in the sense that he then knew too much and could possibly expose it.
And was this type of retribution for refusing to obey orders known amongst the constables, the student constables at Vlakplaas? --- I think it was quite obvious to him, because I can, for instance, mention the case of Isaac Ace Mohema, who just asked to much questions to the liking of us at Vlakplaas, and he eventually disappeared, and the was taken care by Captain Koos
Vermeulen in the same way - doped, shot and burnt.
What did ... (intervention)
WILSON J: Was he a constable or an askari? --- Was that Isaac Ace Mohema?
Mmm. --- No, he was a man that came over from the ANC and joined Vlakplaas - askari.
They were much more vulnerable, weren't they? --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
MR MARAIS: Of the three persons who executed this killing - or the four, who were policemen and who were askaris? --- The only real policeman was Nofomela, Almond Nofomela. David Tshikalanga was a student constable at that stage. Brian Ngulungwa, who was chosen because he came from the Umlazi area and he knew the area very well, was a Zulu and an askari, and Joe Mamasela was an askari working for Captain Jan Coetzee of West Rand.
Would you, when ordering these persons to execute a killing would you tell them any of the details that were told to you when you were ordered to do it? --- As less as possible. Because of the need-to-know chain they only need to know what is necessary for them to do the job. With other words the place of work, his house, and in very short sentence or terms who he actually is.
But the reasons for his killing, would that be explained to them? --- Not in full. That he was a thorn in the flesh for the Security Police, that he as an ANC supporter, and that it was decided by higher up that he must - they must get rid of him.
What kind of training would the other two applicants in this matter have undergone with regard to their political awareness and the ANC in particular? That is
now Almond Nofomela and David Tshikalanga. --- Almond
Nofomela was a full-fledged constable at this stage. I don't know what specific information he got at the Police College, but I think it was very clear to him after arriving at Vlakplaas what it was all about, and any fairly intelligent guy could quickly pick up what was going on there. David Tshikalanga has been with me since 1973, and also for a time whilst I was in Swaziland, so he had a broader experience of my involvement in the so-called counter insurgency war.
Tshikalanga worked for you as a gardener before he became a student constable, is that correct? --- I met him in 1973 at Sibasa whilst he was schooling, and I supported him with his schoolwork and clothing, and in the afternoons he worked for me in the gardens, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
About your evidence that if you were caught in an illegal - in the execution of an illegal act that it would not present a serious problem since they would sort it out, in your words. If I can refer you to the killing of the farmer Lourens that Almond Nofomela was sentenced for, and for which murder he is now serving a term of life imprisonment. If he were to give evidence that in preparation for his defence in that trial he was ordered by Eugene de Kock not to disclose his involvement in the Vlakplaas affairs, and that he must not make it public, and that he would be assisted and that the problem would be sorted out, would that fit in with your experience in this regard? --- It would be 100% correct, yes. And when I asked - I might just add, Mr Chairman, when - or mention to you honourable Chairpersons, that when Paul
came to me that morning to say, "Everything's okay.
"They've made Almond a liar, and the Judges does not believe him," I said, "Why didn't you help Almond? We used him, he fought out his heart for country and fatherland and for us," Paul said he told Brigadier Skoon so, and Skoon's answer was, "Let him hang. He knows too much." So they kept him obviously on a string. I even at a stage phoned his lawyer, which, if the name was mentioned to me before, gave me the assurance that Gene de Kock and Paul is assisting him, and will be assisting him to make sure that - because I told him, "If they are not going to do it I can tell you what is going to happen," exactly what then happened after 1989. But they kept him til the last day before his execution, and when his poor mother was running up and down between the gaol and Brigadier Skoon's office, who refused to see him. A message was sent to him, "You must take your pains."
Mr Coetzee, it was put to you that you did not form a political motive with regard to the killing of Mr Mxenge. Would you say that you formed that political motive in a wider sense by your activities in the Security Police, and not maybe with regard to each and every specific instance? --- That is 100% correct, Mr Chairman. As the result of Mr Mxenge's support and his past history he was, according to our knowledge, furthering the aims of the ANC, and that was enough for us - for me as an explanation. I mean if Brigadier van der Hoven would have come and just said, "Go and kill that schoolchildren coming out of school," I would have refused for sure.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS
WILSON J: But we've been told of other people who were told, "Those children coming out of school are going for military training." Would you then have killed them? --- No, that is in the Soweto context again. I know that in the '76 most of the children that were killed in the riots were Soweto children, yes. I was not thinking exactly in that context, again being removed from a black township as a white man, thinking of a school in town, for instance locally, and not where there was riots. But I agree. At that time in '76 it was a lot of black children leaving the country, that's correct.
So you would have - if you'd been told to kill them coming out of school you would have done so. If you had been told to kill them in the townships coming out of school because they were going for military training you would have believed it. --- I would have believed it, but I don't think I would have sat at the school gate killing them at the school gate. Maybe at the border whilst crossing the border, yes, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Coetzee, I think that further questioning of you will have to be reserved until tomorrow morning, and will you be here before half past nine ... (intervention) --- I will be.
... tomorrow morning, so that we can resume with your questioning. --- I will be here, Mr Chairman.
Thank you. --- Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe, where do we go from here?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, may I request that we adjourn
until tomorrow at half past nine. I want to avoid calling
the next applicant before the present witness has been - present witness' cross-examination has been finalised, lest it becomes clumsy, Mr Chairman. That is my request.
CHAIRMAN: Does it inconvenience you in any way if we adjourn at this stage before starting with another witness?
MR MARAIS: No, an adjournment won't inconvenience at all, Mr Chairman. We were expecting to run into more days than one.
CHAIRMAN: Very well. This hearing comes to an end for the time being. We will now adjourn and resume at 9.30 tomorrow morning, and I trust and hope that all the applicants will take necessary steps to ensure that they are here, so that we can make a beginning in time tomorrow morning. I will now adjourn.
WILSON J: Can we add something to thing? Mr Mshe, will you notify the Prison Authorities that we are not starting at 10.00, we're starting at 9.30, so that they can make arrangements?
CHAIRMAN: We'll adjourn until tomorrow morning.
PROCEEDINGS ADJOURNED TO 1996/11/06
PROCEEDINGS RESUMED ON 1996/11/06
APPEARANCES AS BEFORE
DIRK JOHANNES COETZEE (Still under former oath)
CHAIRMAN: Mr Moosa?
MR MOOSA: Mr Chairman and the Committee, I wish to place on record our sincere appreciation for the opportunity availed to us to consider our position. Having considered that position carefully we are of the view that our position, that is our opposition to amnesty being granted to the applicant, is best served by asking him no questions at all. Thank you.
NO QUESTIONS BY MR MOOSA
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe?
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I am equally indebted to the Committee for the chance given to me. We have no questions - I have no questions to put to the witness.
NO QUESTIONS BY MR MSHE
MR DE JAGER: Mr Coetzee, you've stated in evidence that you grew up in a conservative Afrikaner house. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Would you advance that for an excuse for committing these murders? --- No, Mr Chairman. I think we must look at it in context, not only the Afrikaner - the conservative Afrikaner house that I grew up, but the complete environment, the complete non-contact at all with the black Afrikaners of my age at all, so in context yes, but not singly just the household.
You grew up in a city in Pretoria. --- That is correct, Mr Chairman.
Many conservative Afrikaners grew up on farms. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
But they didn't become murderers, and even Afrikaners growing up in cities didn't become murderers. --- Yes, Mr Chairman. It's difficult to explain. I can just by indicating that never before I joined Vlakplaas did I commit any murders, stole cars, or anything to that extent, and never thereafter. It was a war situation as I saw it, and it was a question of using the same methods that the enemy used, illegal methods, to achieve our goals, namely to try and prevent the total onslaught from succeeding, the revolutionary onslaught.
But, Mr Coetzee, you were transferred from Oshoek, or from Middelburg to Vlakplaas. You took with you, as far as I could gather, some of your colleagues who were with you at Oshoek, or at the - for instance van Dyk. --- That's correct. Eventually after a year, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
Did you request them to come? --- I've asked him whether he will be interested and he said yes, and then I arranged it, Mr Chairman. It was a free choice.
The people serving under you then, how many of them and who were they that were serving under your command previously? --- If I can just - I think there's a list. I would like just to refresh my memory, but I can start off by Sergeant Koos Schutte, Warrant-Officer Connie Swikelaar, who was mostly involved in administrative work, myself of course, Captain Koos Vermeulen from Bronkhorstspruit, Constable Arends van Jaarsveld from Oshoek Border, Constable Louis Le Roux, or Louis Roux, Sergeant Louis Olivier, Sergeant Balletjies Bellingham, and Constable or Sergeant - ja, Constable at that stage Braam du Preez, the son of Brigadier Jan du Preez. As far /as my black
as my black policemen colleagues were concerned I can remember Almond Nofomela, I can remember Constable Joe Mpofu. I can remember Warrant-Officer Letsatsi, Dan Mohabudi. Constable Dan Mohabudi at stages were at Vlakplaas, but I think he more fell under the Northern Transvaal division based in Pretoria, but he frequented Vlakplaas. And then, as far as labourers were concerned, there were three ex-Rhodesia freedom fighters, Matthew Mabisera, Nixon and Godfrey Ndawana, two brothers. Nixon has since died in a motor car accident.
Yes. Mr Coetzee, what I wanted to know is whether you requested or influenced these people to come to Vlakplaas because they were under your command previously? --- The only people - no, Mr Chairman, not in full. The only people that worked under me, served under me previously, was Paul van Dyk and van Jaarsveld, Arends van Jaarsveld. Koos Vermeulen was on his own request as a friend when he heard that things were going to built up at Vlakplaas, and the rest was chosen by Brigadier Jan du Preez's son. And the Constable Louis that I said - Le Roux, was a friend of Constable Braam du Preez, so - Balletjies Bellingham came from Northern Transvaal Division, I never knew him at all.
All right. Mr Nofomela? --- Mr Nofomela - the policemen, except for Warrant-Officer Letsatsi, was chosen after completing their training at Hammanskraal Police Training College at the end of 1980. At the time Colonel Trevor Baker was sent to Hammanskraal to select people for Vlakplaas. I had no insert in that choice at all.
But didn't you sort of brought up Mr Nofomela? Didn't he work in your garden? --- No, Mr Chairman,
it's Tshikalanga, David Tshikalanga.
Oh, Mr Tshikalanga. --- That's correct, yes.
Yes, sorry. --- He travelled actually after the school - after I've left Sibasa in January 1976, and during the school unrests in 1976 he eventually joined me when I was at Volksrust, station commander. He then joined up with me. He phoned me, traced me down through my parents, and then came to live with me at Volksrust, and then went on to live with me when I was transferred to the border post, Oshoek Border Post, and from there to Middelburg. And he had frequent contact with Major Nick van Rensburg and was accepted as one of the family in the end, and he then - when I moved to Pretoria, Middelburg and eventually Pretoria, he came with me, and they made him a - they gave him an informant fee at first. I can't remember the ... (intervention)
Yes, but he was always with you and under your influence. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman. That's correct.
Since he've worked in your garden. --- Yes, after school.
Yes. --- Yes, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Coetzee, in your opinion was General Johan Coetzee aware that C1 was in fact used for hit squad operations and not used to perform the originally intended function thereof, and in particular in this case was he aware that Brigadier van der Hoven had given instructions for the elimination of Mr Mxenge? --- My answer would be 100% yes. He was in a meeting that Friday morning, and was called out of the meeting to be informed, according to Brigadier Jan du Preez, of what happened to Mr Mxenge.
And on frequent occasions afterwards he was very
interested in which specific individual was responsible for it, and Brigadier Jan du Preez' answer was, "It's better for you and me not to know." Now, I think that was as a result of the need to know. Brigadier Jan du Preez will have to explain that. But for sure, as for instance in the Joe Pillay case he personally congratulated me before he knew that it was a complete disaster in the end. He congratulated me the morning after the van Heerden sitting with, "Good work done," and mentioned at the time to me that, "One of these days the ANC in London is also going to be dealt with." And that in the end proved to be the London bomb blast, when they were busy smuggling explosives in the diplomatic bag, which came to my knowledge, and eventually the ANC offices were blown up in London.
But in this case why should then Brigadier Jan du Preez be reluctant to get him apprised of who had conducted the hit operation? --- I would not know at all. I think if one looks at the newspaper report, especially in the Afrikaans newspaper, which I saw either that Saturday morning or the Sunday morning, where he made his statement clearly as usual implicating the ANC, and holding them responsible, or making it to look that they were the responsible people, clearly shows that typical - in context again, that he 100% knew. He was just curious of which specific individual in the end did perform this operation.
Now, when you reported to Brigadier van der Hoven about the success of the operation that Thursday after the murder had been committed, and you again has a meeting
with him for the second time the following day, would it
not have been more probable for you to have asked for further instructions with regard to the fate of the car from Brigadier van der Hoven? --- I can't - I did not do it because, as I said previously, it would have been in the hands of headquarters to decide on the eventual fate of the car, because I must have put it to Brigadier van der Hoven, I accept, that as it is a new car instead of just destroying it - according to his knowledge I think it was that we must destroy the car, but I was trying to get the car usable in another part of the country in exchange for a similar car, which we called askari cars for operational purposes.
I don't think that was your evidence yesterday. You did not discuss how the car was going to be destroyed with Brigadier van der Hoven. --- No, I did not. I did not discuss it with him.
Why was it not discussed? Why should it be the issue for discussion with headquarters when the person who had given you instructions to eliminate Mr Mxenge was Brigadier van der Hoven? --- Well, as I say, that is exactly what happened. It was left in my hands to destroy all evidence, and from his point of view I am sure he would have - it was his attitude that I will destroy the car. But I did not want to do it before discussing it with Brigadier Jan du Preez.
And you've also given evidence that Brigadier van der Hoven said it was imperative that Mr Mxenge should not be murdered by shooting him. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Did you find it rather odd that he should not order
the firearm to be used? --- Not at all. I think what
he had in mind was a plain robbery to make it look - a murder, and make it look like a plain robbery, and not use a firearm. The reason why I think - and the logic, if there is any logic in it, I think Brigadier should explain, Mr Chairman.
Was it not odd to you that the use of knife should simulate a robbery better than the use of a firearm? --- Yes, I accepted that it would - that that was his attitude, that using a knife for the murder would make it more look like a black on black robbery.
In your opinion, Mr Coetzee, do you believe that the killing in fact succeeded in simulating such a robbery? --- In the end, with hindsight?
Yes. --- Not at all. I mean it was an absolute slaughter. It was a mess. Why it got out of hand to that extent, I mean one should ask the people that were on the premises, and that is Joe Mamasela and Almond and David.
Would you not be blamed because you did not participate in the actual detail on how the execution was to be conducted? --- Can you just repeat the question?
Would you not blame yourself for not having participated in the details, the final details of the execution of the instructions from Brigadier van der Hover? --- Well, if at all I do I usually did lead from the front in operations, but as I say because it was in the black township of Umlazi, and a white person would stand out like a sore thumb, it was - I could not participate in the actual final operation.
Lastly, Mr Coetzee, you stated that the reason why
Mr Ngulungwa did not receive a payment of R1 000,00 was
because he had played a passive role. --- That is correct, Mr Chairman.
Does this mean he did not participate in any manner whatsoever in the execution of your order? --- Not in the physical assault on Mr Mxenge. According to the report I received back from the team was that he just stood by with a gun in his hand, and therefore did not participate physically in the murder of Mr Mxenge.
Did you confirm this with Mr Ngulungwa? --- No, I did not as far as I can remember. It's quite a while ago, but I did not discuss it with him.
Who gave you the report of the extent of his participation? --- Mainly Joe Mamasela and Almond Nofomela, and in a way Tshikalanga, but the greater reporters was - or the more detailed report I got from Joe Mamasela and Almond Nofomela.
When they were given instructions to execute the order to eliminate Mr Mxenge were they aware that they were going to get a special bonus in the event of them successfully executing those orders? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman. As I said, that was the first time, and the only time during my stay at Vlakplaas, that people got money as a reward after a operation.
At what stage of the planning on how Mr Mxenge was to be executed did you decide to include Mr Tshikalanga and Mr Ngulungwa? --- Right from the start. Mainly Mr Tshikalanga to add more people to the operation in case they were short of hands, and I could trust him because he's been with me for such a long time. And from the start Mr Brian Ngulungwa because he was a Zulu from
Umlazi, knew the area very well, and, as I say, if anyone would address them of the passers-by in the street there would be a typical Zulu with a Zulu accent present, so that the foreign accent of Joe, Almond and David Tshikalanga would not be a factor if someone might have picked them up at a stage during observation or whatsoever.
Did Brigadier van Skoon knew that Mr Mamasela was brought to Durban for purposes of eliminating Mr Mxenge? --- It was specifically arranged - requested by me to Brigadier van der Hoven, and then Brigadier van der Hoven to Brigadier Skoon. And as I said, when I walked in the Monday morning after the murder into Skoon's officer there was no discussion whatsoever on the details of the murder. His first question was, without me reporting about anything about Mr Mxenge, was, "Have you left any traces?"
WILSON J: When were you at Vlakplaas, from when to when? --- I arrived there, Mr Chairman, in August 1980, and I left Vlakplaas on 31st December 1981.
Now, you've applied for amnesty for 14 incidents involving a gross violation of human rights. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
One took place in June 1980. --- That's correct. I think it's the ... (intervention)
The bombing of a house at Manzini. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And one took place from January 1979 - to 1979, also Manzini Post Office bomb. --- Ja.
Every other incident, as far as I can see, took place - and Joe Pillay was the first half of 1981. --- /That's correct,
That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Every other incident took place in August to December 1981. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
So there was very little activity in 1980, or the first half of 1981. --- From August '80 til August 1981 I basically concentrated on building up the teams, getting the people transferred, getting the askaris appointed as policemen, arranged for all their documents to be in order, arranged for proper foodstuff for the farm, so it was for the structure on Vlakplaas, to get that off the ground and properly functioning.
Did you know what you were building up a team for? --- Yes, Mr Chairman, I did.
Was that you knew a building - you spent a year building up a team that was then going to be going to be engaged in the elimination of people. --- Not all of them, but selected from that personnel at Vlakplaas, yes.
But that was the purpose of building up a team. --- That's correct, and as I say in theory as the document that I quoted out that was handed in at the Harms Commission.
Did your senior officers accept that you spent a year doing no ordinary police activities, but building up the death squad? --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Can I ask you a question or two about Brigadier van der Hoven. As I understand it the decision to eliminate Mxenge was conveyed to you by him. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Do I understand that to mean that it was in fact his decision, or did you understand that he was conveying to
/you a decision
you a decision taken by somebody else? --- I understood it as conveying to me a decision that was taken
by headquarters, Mr Chairman.
Well now, do you know who he was accountable to? --- He was accountable to - directly to Brigadier Jan du Preez, who was the senior staff officer of general Jan Coetzee.
Does that mean that it would seem that Jan du Preez would be the one that would instruct van der Hoven? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman, and I can 100% sure accept that it would be with the consent and after discussion with General Johan Coetzee and even higher.
MR KHAMPEPE: Who was higher than General Johan Coetzee, Mr Coetzee? --- General Johan Coetzee as Security Chief served under the direct - or in his next direct line of command was the Commissioner of Police, who was General Mike Geldenhuys at the time.
CHAIRMAN: Is your impression that each time instructions were given to you by Brigadier van der Hoven he was merely conveying a decision taken by his superiors? --- I accept that, yes, Mr Chairman.
Was it ever told to you by him that these are not his decisions, but he is merely conveying decisions taken by others? --- Never discussed. As I said, as a result of the need-to-know chain I was only told what I need to know, and no questions - I never questioned the hierarchy, how far up was the instructions agreed to, up til what level. Never.
So when whatever was requested of you was accomplished would you convey that to somebody higher than Brigadier van der Hoven, or would you ... (intervention) /--- No, Mr
--- No, Mr Chairman, I would only report to my section head, Brigadier Skoon.
MR NGOEPE: Mr Coetzee, I don't have a clear picture of your personal movements that evening. --- I beg your pardon?
I don't have a clear picture of your personal movements of the evening when Mr Mxenge was killed. --- I was just roaming around town, as all the other guys, having the odd drink, visiting the other - my other colleagues who were not in discos or whatever, because we were basically there to be called on if needed by the askaris if they ran into trouble or picked up anyone. So I was driving around Durban having the odd drink.
But you had a standing arrangement with them that in the event of a need they should get in touch with you? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
In what way? On radio? --- I beg your - no, I don't think at the time they had a radio in their bakkie, but by coming to C R Swart Square, where I frequently rendezvoused, or meeting at the pub which I should have rendezvoused at eight, nine and 10 at night, but that night I only went there at 10 o'clock.
But if you were driving around between various points how would they be - how would they know exactly where to find you? --- To wait for - when in need they should just go back to C R Swart Square Police Station. There was always some of the other policemen present there, and everyone usually knew in what area or where the other guys were.
What was envisaged if they ran into problems? I want to get a picture of this arrangement between you and
them, because I don't think that you were completely
detached from the operation. --- I - I ... (incomplete)
In what way would you have been of assistance to them, for example? What were the details of the arrangement between you and them? --- If they ran into personal trouble, where they needed to use their - they were all - well, not all, there were policemen amongst themselves of the black colleagues, and then sort it out as it be needed at the moment, and then as soon as possible afterwards then trace me, or, if it was one of the other teams, their white colleagues in the cars to get hold of me.
Well, for you to do what, for example? --- Well, to then decide on the matter and how it should be sort of dealt with. Was it a shooting incident that took place then I would have reported immediately to Brigadier van der Hoven. For instance if it was an illegal shooting, or at a shebeen a quarrel broke out where they visited, and they got drunk perhaps, and then with his help then sort it out.
Was it in fact not envisaged that you could provide a back up for them? --- If necessary yes, and, as I say, later on we did get radios into all vehicles, but at the time we as yet had not had radios to operate with.
And if there was to be a possibility of a confrontation with the local police you would have intervened one way or another? --- I would have. They would have identified themselves and said who they were, they were here with Security, and they should contact me, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
So in the end what you are saying is that you parted /with them
with them at - where? At the office of Mr Mxenge, when they were observing the office? --- I only pointed it
out, and we departed from C R Swart Square Police Station during the morning and in the evening.
Well, no, I am talking about the evening in question. --- I last left them after our afternoon briefing after 4 o'clock, when they went to town and to observe Mr Mxenge, and I went my way.
When next did you meet them? --- The first time 10 o'clock that night.
After they had already committed their foul deed? --- After they had already committed the murder, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
MR DE JAGER: Mr Coetzee, just another question. Do you know anything about Trevitz? --- Not at all, and it did not exist in my time, Mr Chairman.
Were there anybody or responsible persons for identifying targets? --- Not what I knew of. Not to my knowledge, Mr Chairman.
So you don't know how Mr Mxenge was identified as a target? --- No, I don't the exact procedure, no.
And you don't know by whom. --- No, I would - no, I can't name the exact persons. That Brigadier van der Hoven and Andy Taylor I am sure would be able to give this Commission, Mr Chairman.
And on the facts and surrounding circumstances you came to the conclusion that people higher up would know about it. --- Absolutely, and it is proved ever since in ... (intervention)
You never discussed it with people higher up than van der Hoven or Skoon? --- And Brigadier Jan
du Preez, for instance during the reward money with the
for the murder, and at the stage - at an occasion I was also instructed to get rid of Marius Skoon in Botswana, but that operation was stopped at No 99, and Brigadier Jan du Preez walked into Brigadier Skoon's office whilst I was making final preparations and say, "The operation is called off. The general has stopped it." And it later proved that they were already busy with a parcel bomb that they prepared for Marius Skoon, which eventually exploded in Luanda and killed his wife and child.
And do you know whether there was any political decisions about this? --- About ... (incomplete)
About identifying targets, or instructing people to commit these deeds? --- Yes, for sure. The political - if I understand you right, Mr Chairman, the targets were all people that were in some way involved with the ANC, either by supporting them or ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 2) ... a military arm of the Government, and our operations were exactly performed in such a way to further the aims of the Government of the day, and to keep them in the chair.
WILSON J: Mr Coetzee, as far as I can see, and I'd like your views here, a number of these people who were eliminated were people against whom the police could prove no case. --- Most of the time, that's correct.
So if they couldn't legally do anything they decided to assassinate them? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And this was a police decision to assist the police. --- That was a police decision. How high up it went I can't say. On an occasion or two I can prove Ministers' involvement, Mr Chairman.
But the general picture we get here of the people listed is that they were people who were not proved to have committed an offence, and couldn't be charged in court, so the police murdered them. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
They were people who were a thorn in the flesh of the police. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
MR NGOEPE: Mr Coetzee, I don't think you were on the same wavelength with Mr de Jager when he asked you the question that he - his last question. What he wanted to find out from you was whether there were decisions taken by politicians that certain people be eliminated? --- I have no first-hand knowledge in my days of that. I can only quote what subsequently came out and was said by the former Commissioner of Police, General Johan van der Merwe in public and in newspapers, when he reacted and said no policeman could have acted on his own in such a way that we did, and the Government of the day, the National Party during those days, should take collective responsibility for it. And in the end his advocate was quoted as saying, "My client," referring to former General Johan van der Merwe, former Commissioner of Police, "My client has told me last night that the politicians has prostituted us." And, if I followed newspaper reports correctly, General van der Merwe went on in public to implicate Adriaan Vlok, Minister Adriaan Vlok, the previous Minister of Law and Order, and the previous President of the country, President P W Botha. To my own knowledge as I say, hearsay from my Section A3 colleagues, Craig Williamson and them, as far as the remark of General Johan Coetzee was concerned after congratulating me on the /Joe Pillay
Joe Pillay abduction, before it became knowledge that it was a mess, and his saying that one of these days the ANC will be dealt with in London. I subsequently learned from the individual, Peter Casselton, who personally was involved in the bombing, and Craig Williamson, that the explosives were smuggled in the diplomatic bag with the permission of the Minister of Police during those days, Louis Le Grange, because the military - the diplomatic bag goes through Military Intelligence offices. All parcels in the bag is subjected to scrutiny except on the order of a Minister that it should not be scrutinised, and that is exactly what happened in the case of Peter Casselton's parcels. So in that specific incident I knew of the Minister's - Minister Louis Le Grange's involvement.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Jansen, is there any re-examination of this witness?
MR JANSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman.
FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN:
Mr Coetzee, were there any channels, whether formal or informal, for you to check on the type of information that was gathered on somebody like Mr Mxenge? --- Not at all. I was not the - as to put it quite bluntly, I was the hit link in the need-to-know chain. How the information - the information they had I was only given what I needed to know about the specific case, or what they deemed necessary to give me for the operation.
Were you aware of any mechanisms for you to check on the validity of the target, or the so-called validity? --- I had no access to any files. I didn't carry any files, and if you want a file, for instance in police headquarters, from the file room you had to ask for it in
writing, and as a result of my position I was not
entitled to ask for files to that extent, except for the general file - I think it was called S18, something - the general file on terrorist activities, so-called terrorist activities, which dealt with the formation or reforming of the structures at Vlakplaas from August '80 to August '81.
During your stay at - or during the period which you were the commander at Vlakplaas did any of your seniors, such as Skoon and some of the generals, visit Vlakplaas? --- Yes, they did. General Johan Coetzee visited it on a few occasions, the Section C Chief - first Brigadier Victor, and later Brigadier Skoon - on a weekly, if not twice, three times a week basis.
As far as Mr Mxenge's car is concerned, would it ever have been considered using that car in the Durban area? --- Not at all. Not at all. The only possibility - we had called cars which we called askari cars. Some of them were stolen vehicles fitted with false numberplates and false discs, and I know at a stage that -for instance, in Swaziland we stole cars, and Windhoek's Security Branch stole cars for headquarters, and specifically, more specifically Section C, when Brigadier Victor was there, for the Rhodesian Policemen then formerly. They said it was to be used for - or replace vehicles that was blown up in land mines, but I later could detect that it was more for their police friends in Rhodesia. Some of these cars went to them.
As far as the numberplates are concerned, can you remember whether the car travelled to Golel with the original numberplates on, or with different numberplates on? --- We fitted false numberplates on at the parking
lot before the car left for Golel.
Why would that be? --- For possible identification on the road. There might - someone might pass the car or drive behind the car who knows Mr Mxenge, and know the specific number of his car.
And can you remember whether the numberplates that you threw into the river, whether those were the ones that were the false numberplates fitted onto the car, or the original ones? --- I accept that it would have been the original ones. I think to confirm that one should maybe look at the murder docket, because I know the policemen of the Murder and Robbery Squad in Durban did - they had no difficulty in identifying that that was Mr Mxenge's vehicle, and they took photos of that car at that scene the day after the burning, or that very same day, I think in the later afternoon. That was reported to us by Frik Pienaar from Golel. So maybe when one looks at that photos, and there was any numberplate still fitted to the car, one will be able to detect whether it was the - in fact the original numberplates that were thrown into the river, or perhaps then the false numberplates and the originals were then still on the car. Or whether there were any numberplates at all on the car.
In answer to one of the questions you said that prior to being at Vlakplaas and thereafter you weren't involved in stealing of cars and the murdering. Should that not have been a reference to your Security Police career as such? --- It is exactly just that. I did that only whilst being in the Security Police, never before that and never after that. And I always also say that I did not create hit squads as such, but activists
did disappear long before my time, during my time, and it escalated dramatically after my time.
That's all the questions, thank you, Mr Chairman.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN
MR DE JAGER: Mr Coetzee, were you ever convicted of anything? --- Criminally not, nothing at all. I was involved in a departmental trial in 1985, charged on seven counts that I behaved in a manner unbecoming to my rank, which basically resulted or was a result of myself trying to expose illegal phone tapping by the then Commissioner of Police, Johan Coetzee, and the then Minister of Police, Minister Louis Le Grange. I wrote letters to the different - to Mr Koos van der Merwe, to Mr Wynand Malan, who discussed it with Minister Chris Heunis at the time. I eventually wrote letters to Dr van Zyl Slabbert, who sent up Mr Thiaan van der Merwe of the DP, with whom I had consultations for two days, and to whom I even in a vague manner - well, explained what was going on during my time in the Security Police, but it was more specific about the phone tapping, illegal phone tapping. But apart from that no criminal record. I was eventually found guilty on four or five counts that I behaved in a manner unbecoming to my rank because I said police will plant people with diamonds if they can't catch them; that - I got certain information as to the illegal phone tapping from a friend of mine who had a relationship with a policeman's wife, and as a result of that I was charged; that I was absent from leave without duty for one day (sic); that I approached Major Craig Williamson to bring $150 000,00 for a friend into the country, which they made a big scene of, but if one thinks that Craig Williamson is an
international thief and an international terrorist, who stole millions and brought millions into the country, the $150 000,00 - it might seem very unethical from a Security Policeman, but if you look at it in context it was actually a drop in the ocean as far as what was going on of stealing and money and atrocities higher up in the police of more senior people.
Sorry, what did you say about dynamite, or didn't you mention dynamite where these people are concerned? --- Diamonds. Sorry, diamonds.
Diamonds? --- Ja, illegal planting of diamonds. It was about - at the time it was about the resignation of Minister Fanie Botha when this trial resulted, and then they illegally tapped the phones of Brigadier Blaauw and Mr Frans Whelpdon. And at the time Mr Franz Whelpdon was a friend of mine, and after making sure with Brigadier Rolf van Rensburg, the Regional Security Chief at the time of Northern Transvaal, that it was not a legal operation, I then went to Franz Whelpdon and warned him. And then from Vaal du Toit I learned that they were busy with an operation because he had a very close relationship with Brigadier Erasmus of - the chief of the gold and diamond branch, that they were busy with the operation with Craig Williamson's informants to do an illegal diamond deal with Whelpdon or, if it did not work out, "We'll plant him in the end to implicate him."
CHAIRMAN: I'd like to bring you back to the circumstances of the present application relating to Mxenge. You were asked by your counsel whether you were aware of any mechanism that would be available to you to check on whether people who took decisions to eliminate an /individual
individual took that decision on reliable information, and I understand you to say you were not aware of any mechanism. --- No, there was no mechanism. And if I would question or start roaming around trying to get into files I would immediately be dealt with with either a transfer or some charge of treason.
So because of the position you occupied and the role you played you didn't think that you had to verify on whether the person you were going to eliminate, that the decision to do so was based on reliable information concerning that individual. --- Coming from my superior I accepted it as reliable, and if I had ever questioned it, or any other commander before or after me would have, they wouldn't have been in that position very long, they would have been transferred. The security culture is not formally taught, you sort of grow into it, and your direction of specialisation is then determined by your attitude towards the ANC and your skills, etcetera.
It must have come to your knowledge at some stage during your activities that you were busy eliminating people who were being eliminated perhaps on information which was not good. Innocent people might be eliminated. --- No.
Did it never come to your knowledge, did it never concern you? --- It never concerned me. I was always aware that if they had people like that that was a thorn in the flesh they had checked him for quite a while, they had a lot of information. Although he was acting legally according to the security establishment he was a staunch supporter of the liberation movements and was involved in it.
WILSON J: But you did know that at times people -
innocent people who happened to be in the house were killed. --- During - ja, it did happen once during my time, specific with the blowing up of the wooden house of Marwick Nkosi, where his 10-year-old child was killed. I didn't know that he was married. The information I had was if the green Valiant is parked in front of this wooden house then he is at home, and that was the only concern. He was at home and he had to be blown up. I didn't know he was married. I never asked the question whether he was married or whether he had children.
Joyce Dipali's house. An unknown woman was killed. --- I don't know who was injured and killed in the house, but we were only told again by the Zeerust Security Branch that if the blue bakkie is parked in front of the house then Roller and Joyce Dipali is there, and it was said at the time that she was a very good shot, could outshoot the men, and we were just concerned to kill anyone that come out of that house.
Yes, you killed anyone, you didn't care, and you killed an unknown woman. As you say in your application she was unknown, you don't to this day know who she is, you haven't told us. --- I think it was proved in the end that she was not killed. I thought she was killed, but I think she was only injured according to documents that was eventually received from Botswana and handed in at the Harms Commission. But it could have happened, that's right.
But you said you were prepared to shoot anyone. --- That was in that house, yes, Mr Chairman.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Coetzee, what was the condition of
Mr Mxenge's jacket when it was handed to you by
Mr Mamasela? --- As I can recall it it was a sports jacket of coarse material, and it was absolutely clean. It was very short. Mr Mamasela's arms - you could see it was too small for him, but not dirty at all.
In your application you've motivated the action which you took as having been justified and in accordance with a political objective which was sought to be achieved, and you say that it was intended to intimidate lawyers not to act for the ANC. --- That was part of it, part of the eventual reason.
And you stated that the whole action was to simulate a robbery. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
So that it should not have any connection with the Security Police. --- That's correct.
How would then something which an ordinary man in the street would not connect it to the Security Police intimidate someone? --- Ja, well I think eventually the car story at the border, which implicated the ANC, would have proved that point.
WILSON J: But how would that intimdate lawyers from acting for the ANC if they thought Mxenge had been murdered by some robbers or by the ANC itself? --- Ja. Actually I should say, Mr Chairman, that this application was prepared on very short notice at a very late stage, and I think at the time there could be facts in there that did not - that does not ... (intervention)
That are not consistent. --- Not consistent with the eventual planning of the murder.
MR NGOEPE: But I thought yesterday you had an explanation. You said that it might - people might think
that there was an argument possibly between him and some
cadres over some money. --- That's correct. That was the report that was handed out by General Coetzee in the end.
MR DE JAGER: Mr Coetzee, only for the record, you say you had only a short period in order to complete your application, is that correct? --- That's correct.
But you insisted that this application should be on the roll. You actually criticised the Committee in public for not hearing your application.
MR JANSEN: No, with respect, Mr Chairman, that's a factually incorrect statement. As far as I have it there was criticism by Mr Coetzee against the fact that his application was sent back, the original one, but there was not - there was not a demand from Mr Coetzee that it be on the roll at this stage. In fact that - as far as I am aware the request was from the TRC's point that it come on the roll as quick as possible. If I could just straighten that.
MR MSHE(?): I don't think you are entirely correct, Mr Jansen. Mr Coetzee mentioned through the media that he had submitted his application a long time ago, and he had not as yet heard from the Amnesty Committee.
MR NGOEPE: Let us not engage in some hair-splitting exercise. The fact is that there was a time when Mr Coetzee got the impression that his application was not enjoying adequate attention. --- Can I just - sorry.
MR JANSEN: Yes, that is accepted, Mr Chairman. I think maybe what the misunderstanding is about, when Mr Coetzee talks about the application that was drafted under pressure of time, that that refers to the present
application serving before you, and not the original one that was sent by him. I think maybe that should then just be cleared up.
CHAIRMAN: I understand that. I understand that there are inconsistencies, or there may be inconsistencies in the argument advanced in support of your application. --- Yes, Mr Chairman.
Is there anything you would like to add to what you have said? --- No, I would just like as far as the application just to say that I have originally submitted it in March on my own, without the help of a lawyer, for myself, Mr Tshikalanga, and Mr Almond Nofomela, and I took it by hand down to Dr Alex Borain, and only after five and a half months, I think, when Advocate Tim McNally decided to arrest me, then I lashed out at why there was any delay in hearing my application. But otherwise if it comes to the end I would just again, as I say, as pathetic as it might sound, and for what it's worth to - especially to the Mxenge family, the children at first, the mother and the brothers, my sincere - and I can assure you coming from my heart - apology for the grief and sorrow I caused your family, and I know there's absolutely nothing that I can do but just ask you for - apologise to you, and I think it's unfair of me to expect from you to forgive me at all for that, because if I must put me in your situation I don't know how I will ever be able to forgive someone like Dirk Coetzee if you did something - what I did to your family, if you did that to my kids or one of my beloved ones. But I hope, sincerely hope, that with the years that pass that the wounds might heal. I will have to live with my conscience for the rest of my life,
and with the fact that I killed innocent people, with hindsight completely innocent, a ridiculous act, but I don't think anything sane can come out of an unsane system like apartheid. And I really hope that your wounds will in some way be able to heal over the years.
Thank you very much. If there are no further questions of this witness do we proceed with the next applicant, Mr Mshe?
MR MSHE: That is so, Mr Chairman. The next applicant will be, I want to believe, David Tshikalanga.
MR MARAIS: No, Mr Chairman, the next applicant will be Almond Nofomela.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Mr Coetzee, will you stand down so that the next witness can be heard. --- Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Yesterday I announced that I did not countenance, and will not countenance, the use of flashlights in these proceedings, so please desist from using flashlights, otherwise I will now allow any photographs or any photographers to be present. And I do not like the idea that when a witness is giving evidence that he should be distracted by the cameras focusing on him and flashlights flashing at him.
MR MSHE: The witness is going to testify in Xhosa I am told. I am told the witness is going to testify in Xhosa.
MR MARAIS CALLS:
ALMOND BUTANA NOFOMELA (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
Mr Nofomela, how old are you? (Pause) Mr Chairman, I see the witness is just being instructed on the use of the headphones.
MR MARAIS: Mr Nofomela, the questions I ask in English will be translated to you into Xhosa, and you can then supply your answers in Xhosa as well. --- I hear you, Sir.
Mr Nofomela, how old are you? --- I am 38 years of age.
When were you born? --- I was born in 1958.
And what was the composition of your family? How many children were there? --- There is 11 of us.
Where did you fit into this family? --- I am the first-born.
Where did you go to school? --- I first studied in Burgersdorp and then Garankuwa.
And how far did you advance with full-time schooling? --- I finished standard eight full-time, and then I corresponded my matric.
Where were you when you did matric by correspondence course? --- I did not complete my matric, I only have four matric subjects.
At what stage did you do that? --- Two years. My fourth subject I completed in 1993.
Was your family religious? --- Yes, they were religious.
And did you attend church regularly? --- I went
to church frequently whilst I was still living with my family.
Was your family politically aware, and was there political discussion in your household? --- We never had political discussions at home.
What were your personal political affiliation when you left school? --- I was not politically orientated at all, I was just a sportsman.
At present you are serving a life sentence, is that correct? --- It is so, Sir.
For what crime is that? --- I killed a white man from a farm in Brits.
And how long have you been in prison now? --- Nine years. This is going to be the 10th year.
When did you join the police? --- In 1979.
What training did you undergo after joining the police force? --- I was trained for six months in Hammanskraal about guns and how to use them, about the law and how police should work.
At that stage did you receive any training in the political arena? --- I was not trained.
After you left Hammanskraal where did you go? --- I left Hammanskraal 1980, December. I went to the Security Headquarters.
Did you apply to go to the Security Headquarters or were you selected? --- I was selected. I was selected at the college.
Do you know on what basis you were selected? --- I would not know. I was told that my profile was checked and he said that he believed that I should go to the headquarters.
WILSON J: How long had you been at Hammanskraal then? --- Six months.
Where were you before you went to Hammanskraal? --- I was in Krugersdorp Police Station as a student constable.
MR MARAIS: Did you do well during your training at Hammanskraal? --- Yes, I did well, Sir.
Were you interested in joining the Security Branch of the police? --- I agreed when they told me. It is not something that I aspired to. I had no idea about it.
You arrived at Security Headquarters then in December 1980, is that correct? --- Yes, Sir, it is so.
Is that in Pretoria? --- Yes, it was in Pretoria.
And for how long were you at the headquarters? --- I was fetched by Solly Mahawu from the headquarters, who already worked there. I was then taken home to deliver my goods as I was from the college.
Did you work in the headquarters of the Security Police in Pretoria? --- I worked from two to three days and then I was taken to Vlakplaas.
When you arrived at Vlakplaas who was in charge of the farm? --- There was Colonel Victor and Captain Dirk Coetzee.
Who was your immediate commander? --- It was Captain Dirk Coetzee.
Did you receive specific training at Vlakplaas about what your duties there would entail? --- I was not trained during the Dirk Coetzee era, but I was trained later on.
What were you told when you arrived at Vlakplaas about what your duties would be? --- I was not told specifically what I was going to do. I was just showed the askaris that were already there. They said that these are the people that came from the ANC and from the PAC, and I was going to work with them.
Were you told what kind of work you were going to do with them? --- Not at that time when I was introduced to them. I was told when I left with them what I was going to do.
And what was that? --- I was told that they were going to identify the former Comrades.
Was the ANC and other resistance movements indicated to you as being the enemies of the country, and was that the enemy that you had to fight as a member of the police? --- Yes, that's what I was told.
At Vlakplaas? --- Yes, Sir.
Did you see any of Captain Dirk Coetzee's superior officers at Vlakplaas during the time that you were there? --- Yes, quite a lot of times, Sir
Who did you see there? --- Colonel Skoon, Colonel Baker and Colonel Buchner.
What was your personal belief about the fact that the ANC was pointed out to you as the enemy of the State? --- I did believe it.
And were you willing to assist the police force in their fight against the ANC? --- Yes, Sir, I was prepared.
And were you prepared to accept orders from your superiors in this regard? --- Yes, Sir.
Now, you heard the evidence that Mr Coetzee gave
about the incident regarding Mr Mxenge yesterday. --- Yes, Sir, I did hear.
Can you recall what your first knowledge about this was, and when you got your first instruction in this regard? --- Yes, I do remember.
WILSON J: Can I clear up something please. Was the evidence he gave interpreted to you yesterday? The evidence Dirk Coetzee gave, was it interpreted into Xhosa? --- No, it was not interpreted to me, Sir.
MR MARAIS: Did you follow the evidence that Mr Coetzee was giving in English? --- Here and there, Sir, I would understand.
What was your first instruction about the killing of Mr Mxenge?
MR DE JAGER: Sorry, Mr Marais, perhaps before we proceed. Mr Mshe, what about the other applicants, have they got earphones? Did they follow what's going on now? Shouldn't we arrange that they could follow the evidence? (Pause)
WILSON J: Mr Nofomela, you were asked yesterday if you wanted headphones, weren't you, and you said you didn't? --- Yes, Sir, that is so.
MR MARAIS: Mr Nofomela, can you indicate to the Committee when you received the first instruction, and what the first instruction was that you received about the killing of Mr Mxenge? --- I got my instruction when I was in C R Swart by Dirk Coetzee, that there is an attorney in Umlazi that should be killed, that I should be part of the people who are going to kill him. He then told me that Joe should also be there. Joe was not there at the time. He then gave me his car. He said he would
arrange that I should find Joe at the farm. I took Dirk's car. When I got to Vlakplaas I found Sergeant Scott Gede. I can't remember whether I found Joe at Vlakplaas or in Soweto. I then came across Brigadier Skoon. He told me that there is a mission that should be completed in Durban. Usually when they're talking about a mission they are talking - they are referring that has nothing to do with identifying ANC and PAC members. It means something else altogether. It could mean you should go and steal a car. That was a mission, something illegal. I then only had to listen to what Dirk Coetzee would instruct me to do carefully. Joe and I then went to Pretoria - sorry, Durban.
You're referring to Joe Mamasela? --- Yes, Sir.
And you and Joe Mamasela then returned to Durban after being given these instructions by Brigadier Skoon. --- Brigadier Skoon only talked to me. Joe was not present at that time. I was the only one who was told that I must listen to every word that Dirk Coetzee says. He did not tell me the content, he just told me that there's something Joe and I should do.
What happened then when you arrived back in Durban? --- We were then called. Dirk Coetzee emanated from where he would sleep. I can't remember what the time was. I was with Joe and Brian Ngulungwa. I can't remember where we picked up David from, but we were told to pick him up. There were four of us. We were told that we must go look at the place where Mr Mxenge stays, and what car he uses, what route he usually uses. We were shown the house. I can't remember the time, but the people that were there were Captain Taylor, Sergeant Myeza was also
there, Brian Ngulungwa, David Tshikalanga and myself, also Dirk Coetzee. Those are the people I remember. We went to see where he stays and where he works.
MACHINE SWITCHED OFF
MR MARAIS: (Inaudible) ... of the translation. --- Everything is all right.
I did not hear the answer to my previous question.
CHAIRMAN: Perhaps you can repeat that question.
MR MARAIS: Was this on the day before the actual killing took place? --- Before we went to check where he stays, which routes he uses, and which house he stays in we just went to check where he stays.
CHAIRMAN: They question was whether that was the day before the killing? --- No, it was not the day before we killed him. We did this over a few days. It was a process. It was not the day before we murdered him.
MS KHAMPEPE: My I just find out - may I interpose, Mr Marais? When did you get to Durban with Mr Mamasela after you had been instructed by Brigadier Skoon to listen carefully to what Mr Coetzee was to say to you in connection with an important mission you were to conduct? --- I remember that when I met Brigadier Skoon I went immediately to Joe. I can't remember whether I got him in Soweto or Vlakplaas, but I did not sleep in Vlakplaas, I went straight to Durban. We could have arrived that night or early in the morning. I can't remember.
Mr Nofomela, I just want to find out the date and the month if you can be of assistance with that information. --- It was November 1981. I cannot remember the date precisely.
MR MARAIS: Mr Nofomela, you were involved in the poisoning of Mr Mxenge's dogs, is that correct? --- Yes, it was not me, it was Dirk Coetzee who poisoned the dogs.
Now, on the day of the killing of Mr Mxenge can you describe to the Committee what took place? --- We went to his place of work. It was time for him to go home. We found his car still there. Brian Ngulungwa knew the area quite well. I can't remember where it was. He then drove ahead of us and we followed him. When we got to his house we actually used another route and we got there first before him. We then parked our car not far from his house. We then waited for him there. When we saw him coming he stopped. Brian - I can't remember whether it was Brian or David, but they stopped the car such that they could stop Mr Mxenge. Joe had a pistol, I had my own Makaroff. He then asked us if he could help us. We said yes. We asked him to shift over. He switched his car off. Joe then entered into the car. I got into the car at the back. David followed us. Then we got next to the Umlazi Stadium. When we got there then David stabbed him, David Tshikalanga. He is the first one who stabbed him. And then from there, with the exception of Brian - Brian just stood there with his gun - that's when we started stabbing him until he died.
Did you personally stab Mr Mxenge? --- Yes, I did stab him.
Certain items belonging to Mr Mxenge were removed from the scene. Do you remember which items? --- I remember Joe taking his jacket and wearing it, also his watch, also his wallet.
Did you at that stage then leave the scene and leave Mr Mxenge's body at the Umlazi Stadium? --- Yes, Sir.
Where did you go from there? --- We all went to C R Swart Police Station, where Dirk Coetzee was, to tel him that we had brought Mr Mxenge's car and that we had killed him.
What were your instructions about the killing beforehand from Mr Coetzee about what you should use to kill Mr Mxenge? --- They said that we should not use the guns that we were carrying at all, but we should use knives that he had given us so that it would look like a robbery.
And when you reported back to him after the execution of your act was he satisfied? --- Yes, he was satisfied.
CHAIRMAN: Perhaps this might be a convenient stage to take the short adjournment. We'll adjourn for 15 minutes.
CHAIRMAN: Yes, please proceed.
MR MARAIS: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
Almond BUTANA NOFOMELA
QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS CONTINUED:
Mr Nofomela, you were giving your evidence about taking Mr Mxenge's car back to the police station at C R Swart. What happened there? --- (Incomplete - start of Side B, Tape 2) ... changed the numberplates, and then we gave Dirk Coetzee the clothes which we had on and we went our separate ways. And he told us not to go Umlazi, take the van that we were travelling in and change
the numberplates and put on the canopy. It did not have a canopy at the time, and he told us to put on the canopy and not to go anywhere, remain in and around town until he got into contact with us again. And that is what happened, and they left and we remained behind.
There was evidence that you received an amount of R1 000,00 after this event. Do you remember that? --- Yes, I remember that as well.
(Inaudible) ... when you received the money? --- It was after a while, possibly a week or two after the incident when Dirk Coetzee and gave me the money, and he also told me that David Tshikalanga and Joseph Mamasela were also going to receive it.
Did you have any idea before killing Mr Mxenge that you would receive money after the event? --- No, I was not told anything about money at the time.
When you received this order from Dirk Coetzee did you question the order at all? --- No, I would not have been able to ask. You were not to ask any questions when you were given an instruction.
Thank you, Mr Chairman, I have no further questions of this witness.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS
CHAIRMAN: I understand your evidence to be that when you went to Vlakplaas your original duty was to assist in identifying ANC members, is that correct? --- Yes, Sir, that is correct.
Did you in fact do that? --- Sometimes I did so.
Are you in a position to tell us how many ANC Comrades you identified while you were at Vlakplaas? --- I did not identify them personally. They were identified
by the askaris who had come from ANC ranks and come to work with the Security Branch at Vlakplaas, but those that were with me at the time did not identify anyone, not in my presence.
It soon became clear to you that you were required to do some work other than identifying ANC Comrades? --- Yes, Sir.
And what did you understand that to be? What were you required to do? --- I did not know what it was. I just saw when I had to execute that I was supposed to do a certain job. Initially I did not know what it was, but when I was eventually told it was when the instruction was to be executed.
WILSON J: You've told us how you got into the car with Mr Griffiths Mxenge, the four of you. Was he sitting in the front passenger seat then? --- I remember him sitting in front, Sir.
And who was driving? --- Brian Ngulungwa was driving the vehicle.
And you drove to the Umlazi sports ground. --- Yes, Sir.
And he was then stabbed, David stabbed him. --- He was the first one, Sir, that's correct.
Was he still sitting in the front of the car? --- He was already out of the vehicle.
Oh, did you take him out? --- He was sitting between Joe and Brian in front and I was sitting at the back. When we got to Umlazi Stadium Joe first got out and pulled him out.
David stabbed him then when he was standing there, is that so? --- Yes, Sir, that is correct.
(Inaudible) --- Then we all stabbed him, myself, David and Joe Mamasela.
Was he still wearing his jacket? --- I don't remember him having worn it at the time.
Can you give any reason why he was stabbed so many times? --- The reason I suspect is that all the time he was not falling to the ground, he was fighting.
He fought to save his own life, didn't he? --- That's correct, Sir.
Did he have any weapon? --- No, not that I know of.
And the three of you, who were the only three armed with knives, went on stabbing him. --- Yes, Sir, that is correct.
There were two Okapi knives and one large-bladed sheath knife, is that so? --- There were four. There were three Okapis and one other.
Are you sure of that? --- I am sure, Sir.
And having then stolen these goods which you've told us about you went to report back to Dirk Coetzee, is that so? --- Yes, that is correct, Sir.
And you've told us you went to C R Swart Square, where he was. Did you meet him there? --- Yes, Sir.
All four of you? --- Yes, Sir.
Where did you meet him at C R Swart Square? --- In his sleeping quarters. I cannot remember exactly where that was.
Are you sure of that? --- Yes, I am sure about it. I think it was something like a pub. I cannot remember too well. It was something like a pub.
(Inaudible) ... pub that he was sleeping in? ---
The pub was next door to where he used to sleep, but I cannot remember if we met him at the pub or at his sleeping quarters.
You heard him yesterday giving evidence saying he met you in a pub at 10 o'clock, all four of you were in the pub when he arrived there, didn't you? --- I heard him, but I am not sure about it because I cannot remember it as clearly as he does.
You say this was at C R Swart Square, the police station. --- The reason I say it was at C R Swart is because that's where we gave back the vehicle. Where we went to - and furthermore I cannot quite remember.
How is it that you can't remember? After having committed a brutal murder like this, and going back to report to your commanding officer, you can't remember where you went? --- It's a long time ago, and what I remember is what I was sent to do, firstly. What happened thereafter, and whatever else transpired, I cannot remember in as much detail because I had not recorded any of these events to refresh my memory at a later stage, you know, to be able to know what happened thereafter, and where it happened, and so on and so forth.
MR NGOEPE: Did you say that when you went to Vlakplaas you were told initially that you were to help in identifying ANC members or ANC cadres? --- Yes, Sir.
Yes, what? Were you to identify ANC cadres, in other words people - ANC Umkhonto we Sizwe members trained outside and then coming into the country? --- Yes, those were the ones that were to be - that were identifying people, not me. I was accompanying them.
Just tell me what were you told you were going to do when you were taken to Vlakplaas? --- As I have said I was fetched by Colonel Baker at the college and told that I was going to work at Vlakplaas at Security Headquarters. He did not say anything about Vlakplaas. When I got to Vlakplaas I worked for about two to three days at the headquarters, where were packing files. There were three of us from the college. And therefrom we were taken to Vlakplaas. At Vlakplaas we found Schutte and the others, and they told us that we were going to stay there.
It is your evidence that when you were taken to Vlakplaas you were not told the purpose of being taken there. --- We were never told what was going to happen there.
Because I had a note - I suppose you'd say it's incorrect. I had a note here when my brother here to my right asked you a question. His first question is that when you went to Vlakplaas you were to help in identifying ANC members. --- You are told when you are about to do something. You are not told beforehand so that you have information for a while. You are told at the time you are to execute something. So if you are to go out with askaris you are told before the time. But I mean long before then, while you are at the farm, you are not told that you are going to do such things, or go out with these people until such time as an instruction is to be executed. Then only are you told about it.
WILSON J: (Inaudible) ... evidence-in-chief was that he said, "When I left with them I was told they were going to identify their former Comrades."
MR NGOEPE: So your evidence is then that you would be -
on occasions you accompanied the askaris as they went about the business of identifying ANC members. --- That is correct, Sir.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Nofomela, in your evidence you seem to state that you are the one who brought Joe Mamasela to Durban. Would I be correct in stating that? --- I remember it was such.
You heard the evidence of Mr Coetzee, which was to the effect that a Sergeant Koos Schutte, a mechanic and foreman at Vlakplaas, is the one who brought Mr Mamasela to Durban. So you are the one who brought Mr Mamasela, and not Sergeant Schutte. --- I remember it being myself.
Can you explain to us why you chose to execute the killing of Mr Mxenge at a stadium? Was there a particular reason behind your selection of that particular place? --- As I have said Brian Ngulungwa was the person who knew the area very well, and he chose that we should go there because there was not going to be any disturbance.
Had you not previously gone to the stadium, as you had done with Mr Mxenge's place of work and his home, to conduct surveillance? --- I cannot remember us going there.
How many operations had you been involved with of this nature prior to the killing of Mr Mxenge? --- I trust that it was the first one.
Were you given any instructions with regard to what was to happen to the car after Mr Mxenge had been killed? --- It was said that if we could bring the car we should.
/MR DE JAGER:
MR DE JAGER: What happened to your bakkie? Where did you leave that, or did somebody drive it to the scene? --- It was driven by David Tshikalanga from Umlazi to the stadium, and from the stadium to the courtyard at C R Swart I drove it. Joe and Brian were driving Mr Mxenge's vehicle.
WILSON J: Who drove it to the stadium? --- David Tshikalanga was driving the bakkie that we had travelled in to the stadium.
MS KHAMPEPE: Can I just make one inquiry? Did Mr Coetzee at any time ask you about the extent of Mr Brian Ngulungwa's participation in the murder of Mr Mxenge? --- Yes, Sir.
And what did you tell him? --- I told him that Brian was holding the Makaroff that I had, and that he did not stab anybody. That is the report that I gave him.
Had Brian been given an Okapi or a hunting knife which he could have used if an opportunity had presented itself on Mr Mxenge? --- Yes, he was. He did have a knife. There were enough knives for us all.
Thank you, Mr Nofomela.
MR DE JAGER: What happened to Brian otherwise? Was he demoted, or what happened to him? --- I do not understand the question.
Well, Brian didn't participate in the killing, so he didn't carry out the order insofar as the killing is concerned. Did they do anything to him apart from not giving him R1 000,00? Was he demoted, or transferred to another section, or did he stay on at Vlakplaas? --- So he remained at Vlakplaas. I do not know if he was demoted or anything. I don't know anything about that.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Nofomela, do you know who drove the car from C R Swart Police Station to somewhere in Golela where it was ultimately destroyed? --- According to information that I got from Dirk Coetzee long after this incident he drove it.
(Inaudible) ... to drive it to Golela? --- No, it was not me.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Moosa, are there any questions that you wish to put to this witness?
MR MOOSA: No questions, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
NO QUESTIONS BY MR MOOSA
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe?
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
QUESTIONED BY MR MSHE:
Mr Nofomela, you were asked by your legal representative as to whether you did the poisoning of the dogs, and you said no. Would you remember that? --- Yes, Sir.
(Inaudible) ... telling this Committee the truth? --- That I am the one that gave the dogs poison? I gave them meat which was poisoned.
(Inaudible) --- It is possible that I did not understand the question properly. I threw the poisoned meat, and Joe also threw poisoned meat.
The question was put to you by my learned friend that did you give the poisoned meat to the dogs, and you said no. --- It was probably a mistake on my part. The truth is that I did that.
Now, how many times was Mr Mxenge stabbed? --- I cannot remember, Sir.
Less than 20 times? --- It's possible, Sir.
More than 20 times? --- There too, Sir, I cannot dispute it.
(Inaudible) ... testified before the Harms Commission about this very incident. Do you remember that? --- I remember, Sir.
(Inaudible) ... tell the Harms Commission about the number of stabbings? --- I cannot remember what I said.
Now, can you tell this Committee what was - or how long did it take you - by you I am referring to all of you who were on the scene. How long did it take you to stab this man and to see to it that he is dead? What was the duration? --- I cannot say, but it was a long time.
Are you in a position that you can estimate the time? --- I would be lying, Sir. It was a long time.
(Inaudible) ... Mr Nofomela, as you are seated here you have been remembering and recalling mentally what happened. Did it take you an hour, or more than an hour, or less than an hour please? --- It's possible that it was less than an hour, Sir.
Now, I want you to tell this Committee - you've told us about the stabbings. Tell us what happened finally before you could leave the scene to Mr Mxenge. --- I remember him lying there when we were going to leave.
(Inaudible) ... was his throat not being cut with a knife? --- I did not look at that. I cannot give evidence to that effect.
(Inaudible) ... open with a knife? --- Sir, I did not take note.
Just a moment, Mr Chairman. (Pause) Now, let's go
back to the question of the money you were given. What was it for? What did you understand by this R1 000,00? --- When I was going to be given it by Captain Dirk Coetzee he said it was because - Skoon was giving us the money in appreciation for what we had done.
(Inaudible) ... responded to this question from my learned friend that before the killing you did not know that you were going to be given money, but my question to you is, did you in your own mind expect any form of compliment for the job? --- I was expecting to proceed with the order which I was given, and whatever was going to happen thereafter I was not anticipating or expecting.
(Inaudible) ... expect some form of a promotion in the police force? --- Sir, as I said this was the first thing I had done something like this. I did not know what would happen after something like this. I did not have any expectations.
(Inaudible) ... the money received in the Mxenge incident did you ever receive money before for a job well done? --- I cannot remember, Sir.
What are you saying really? Are you leaving out the possibility that you did get some money in the past? --- No, I had not received it before, Sir, and I cannot remember being given any money. This is the first thing that I had done, and I had not been given any money in advance.
(Inaudible) ... you were not given, or is your answer that you can't remember? --- I cannot remember, Sir.
(Inaudible) ... can't remember in your evidence, Mr Nofomela, perhaps you should try to take your mind back
to some of these incidents. Are you saying that you are not able to remember as to whether - or let me put it to you this way. Mr Mxenge, was he your first victim? --- As I had said the reason I cannot remember having received money is that there was nothing else similar to this that I had done prior to this. That is why I am saying that I cannot remember receiving any money.
(Inaudible) ... anything. If you had never killed anybody, and you are sure that you had never killed anybody, then it's not a question of whether you can't remember if you had been paid for having killed anybody. Straight away you would say that since you had never killed anybody you had never received any payment. There's no question of, "I can't remember. --- I am sorry, Sir.
In your application, page 2 thereof, paragraph (e), you state the following.
"I was following the orders of my commander, Captain Dirk Coetzee. Such operations were regarded as necessary in the type of war we were fighting."
"In the type of war we were fighting." Do you recall that in your application? Now, what type of war was this you were fighting? --- Sir, Vlakplaas, when you get there and you are told about people from political parties like the ANC and PAC and others, you are told that these are people who fought with the Security Branch that you are now part of, and you are told that they are from the ANC, telling us what the ANC and PAC are like, and you would find that you are in between because you are also part of them, you are fighting with them, and you are part of the
people that are fighting at Vlakplaas. So in that explanation I am saying that I ... (incomplete - end of Side B, Tape 2) ... including the ANC and the PAC.
(Inaudible) ... were you told about all this you have just told us? Is it upon your arrival at Vlakplaas, or later during your stay at Vlakplaas? --- You get told these things at Vlakplaas not at any specific time. There are the people like the commanders who would tell you that, "Now you are in such and such a place, you will do certain things," and telling you how bad the person is that you are supposed to be fighting, and then you would believe that what you are doing is justified, because this person is as bad as they have made them out to be.
(Inaudible) ... when were you told about this ANC and all? --- I was told at Vlakplaas. I cannot remember exactly when.
(Inaudible) ... believe in what you were told then? --- Yes, Sir.
Were you ever trained or told before about the type of war referred to, and the fighting between the Government and the ANC? Were you ever trained along these lines? --- Sir, training was after Colonel de Kock's time, after Dirk - was during Colonel de Kock's time, after Captain Coetzee had left. He would show us videos showing you how bad things were and what tactics you were to use. In the time of Captain Dirk Coetzee there was no training. You would be told theoretically how to go to war, and how bad these political organisations were, and about others who had defected from the political organisations. And they would tell you that - how bad the political beliefs were.
(Inaudible) ... right at the beginning you stated that you are from a family highly religious, but not a political family at all, and that you never deliberated in such, and within a short space of time you are at Vlakplaas, there is no training, there is no nothing, but you tell us that believed there was a political - or you believed there was a type of war. I cannot connect the two. --- I agree, Sir, with what you say. I said that.
(Inaudible) ... told him you were never coached about it, or even perhaps brainwashed about it. --- Sir, at Vlakplaas - what happens at Vlakplaas is something that you cannot explain to people outside, how you could get out, and what you would believe and not believe inside, because you do not choose whether you should do something, or believe or not believe things. I agree that I believed it. I wasn't forced to believe it, but I had -I could not dispute it either in any way.
(Inaudible) ... political organisation did you belong then? --- I was not a member of any organisation.
Will I be right if I state that you did what you did in the killing of Mxenge and other incidents simply because you were carrying out instructions or orders? --- Yes, I cannot argue with you there.
(Inaudible) ... when doing that you had nothing about any - you did not have any intention or idea of bringing about any political change whatsoever. --- Out of my own I did not even know him. I was told and I was given instructions. I was given orders, so I could not choose whether I wanted to or not. I agree with you,
So it cannot be said in your application that what was done by yourself, particularly with the Mxenge matter, it was with any political objective. --- The way I was told was that there were political motives.
(Inaudible) --- I believed it, but it was not my policy to go and look for the profile and ascertain the facts.
(Inaudible) .. if I state to you that you did what you did to Mxenge mainly to impress Dirk Coetzee, your commander, or the authorities. --- Besides that I was doing it - what you are saying is true as well, but also because I did not have any choice.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MSHE
CHAIRMAN: Any re-examination?
MR MARAIS: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
WILSON J: Could I put something before ... (incomplete)
CHAIRMAN: Yes, certainly.
WILSON J: We have been given a book called Evidence Book 3, which sets out the report of the Harms Commission, where they deal with evidence given by this applicant before the Harms Commission. Is that evidence going to be made available, and if so should it not be put to the applicant? It appears that he said a great - or several things to the Harms Commission which contradict what he said here, or supplements what he said here, and in fairness to the applicant should that not be dealt with, rather than it be introduced at some later stage? I refer - have you got a copy of that?
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, I am making use of the other
applicant's. I did not receive a copy.
WILSON J: Because I refer in particular to page 16, where, according to the record there this applicant travelled with Coetzee to Piet Retief in Mxenge's car - at the bottom of the page, the second to last paragraph. Do you see it?
MR MARAIS: Yes, Mr Chairman, I see that.
WILSON J: Page 20, in the third paragraph marked with a star, he appears there to have confirmed that Mamasela was taken to Durban by Schutte. These are merely details, they're - but more important, perhaps, at page 22, paragraph C84, he says they were instructed to kill Mxenge in Pretoria on or before the 4th of November by Brigadier Skoon and Coetzee. And finally at page 29, in about the fifth paragraph, the large paragraph, he there says,
"In evidence Nofomela ascribed the assault with a blunt instrument to the use or a wheel spanner. What apparently happened was that a knife stuck in the deceased's body, the deceased extracted it himself and began to fight back. Nofomela then fetched a wheel spanner from the car with the purpose of stabbing the deceased, but just struck him on the head."
Well, I think that those are matters that should be dealt with in evidence, and that he should have been questioned about. It can, of course, be done later when a copy of the actual transcript of his evidence is available.
MR MARAIS: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Yes, I will attempt to deal with some of the contradictions now, although it's
not normally, I think, procedural that it is dealt with in - in evidence-in-chief, but mostly in cross-examination.
WILSON J: In cross-examination. I don't suggest ... (intervention)
MR MARAIS: And it has not been dealt with.
WILSON J: I don't suggest that it's your task to do this.
MR MARAIS: I will in brief deal with some of the aspects in re-examination if I can be allowed to do that.
FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS:
Mr Nofomela, you now heard it is pointed out that you went with Mr Coetzee up towards Piet Retief when the car was driven there. What do you remember about this incident? --- I remember saying so. The reason for me having said so is that there was no one with me when I was talking about what happened to Mr Mxenge, and I knew that whoever else was with me when I was given the instruction was going to deny it. So, according to my knowledge Mr Coetzee told me where they were going with the car, and who they were going to meet, and so forth, and I merely completed the chain by knowing that I could point out where the car was taken and turned back, and not that I went to Bothas Hoep or Piet Retief or any other place with them.
Then you were also reminded now of your evidence before the Harms Commission with regard to your use of a wheel spanner during the attack on Mr Mxenge. Can you remember that now? --- I remember that, Sir.
How did that occur? --- There was a time where David Tshikalanga stabbed him with a knife and it got stuck in his chest, and I remember it having been the
knife that I was using. David took it from me, and I didn't have anything, and then I went and fetched the spanner and I hit him on his head, and that is where he fell after he had taken the knife out of his chest, and he nearly stabbed me with it. After he had fallen I remember Joe and Tshikalanga going to him, looking for the knife that he had, and I went back to the car. When I went back to the car - coming back from the car towards them I met them on the way back and they said we must go.
WILSON J: Why didn't you tell us that? Weren't you told by your counsel you had to make a completely honest disclosure to us? Why did you not tell us this? --- Sir, I was asked questions and I was answering questions. I mean I could not answer something irrelevant to the question that I was being asked.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Nofomela, why was it necessary for you to go for the wheel spanner? You have just given evidence that Mr Brian Ngulungwa was passive throughout the duration of the killing. Why did you not take the knife from Mr Ngulungwa, why go to the car and take the wheel spanner to participate in the execution of Mr Mxenge? --- Sir, I thought that an iron was bigger, and it had been a long time since we were stabbing this person and he was still fighting, and the knife was taken, and I thought that if I hit him with this iron he would fall.
WILSON J: Why was your knife taken when each of you had a knife? (Pause) Why was your knife taken from you when your evidence is that each of you was armed with a knife? --- Sir, I would not be able to answer that question because this thing happened in a short space of time.
MS KHAMPEPE: (Inaudible) ... evidence to say that the
knife which was stuck in Mr Mxenge's chest was Mr Tshikalanga's knife and not your knife. --- He took mine from me. I do not know i that is the one that he stabbed with, but he took mine.
Why did he take yours? You each had a knife. This is what my member is asking you. --- It was at the time when I was standing there not doing anything. I don't know where his was, and he thought that mine would be more effective than his, but he did that.
Did you have a different knife? I thought you all had Okapis. --- They were not the same, because the one that I had was a big one and they had Okapis.
MR MARAIS: Mr Nofomela, you in your application for amnesty applied for amnesty in regard to 16 instances of gross violations of human rights, is that correct? --- Yes, Sir.
Most of these events occurred after - if not all occurred after the killing of Mr Mxenge, is that correct? --- Yes, Sir.
And do you remember that even at the time of the Harms Commission there were certain contradictions between you and Mr Coetzee that were apparent even during consultation before your evidence before the Commission? --- Yes, Sir.
To what do you ascribe these contradictions between the evidence of yourself and Mr Coetzee? --- As I have already said, Sir, when MR Mxenge's car was taken from Durban to Pongola, Bothas Hoep, Piet Retief, I did not go. I completed the journey there with what was happening because I knew where it was all going to end after having been told by Dirk Coetzee. As far as the other things are
concerned, such as who fetched Joe Mamasela, I cannot say that it is a blatant lie. What I remember is that I was given an instruction by Dirk Coetzee, and he had even given me his car to fetch Mamasela in.
WILSON J: Well, did you fetch him? --- Yes, Sir.
Why did you tell the Harms Commission that Schutte brought him down?
MR MARAIS: According to my recollection I am not sure that that statement is according to the evidence before the Harms Commission. I have not checked this summary contained in book 3 since I did not receive a copy. Maybe if this can just stand down for a moment ... (intervention)
WILSON J: (Inaudible) ... according to his evidence Nofomela was already in Durban ... (inaudible)
INTERPRETER: The speaker's microphone is not on.
WILSON J: Page 20. According to his evidence Nofomela was already in Durban, and Mamasela was taken to Durban by Schutte. It would appear that Harms was there quoting from Nofomela's evidence. I have no record of it, as I said at the beginning. I am just relying on that.
MR MARAIS: Yes, Mr Chairman, I see that quote from the finding of the Commission. As I say my recollection of the events is not that clear on it.
MR NGOEPE: But are - have you looked at the first paragraph with a star? Isn't that paragraph with a star to which my brother is referring a summary of Coetzee's evidence? You see the first paragraph with a star? That is actually a summary of the applicant's evidence, and there the applicant actually says that, according to the summary, it is the applicant himself who brought in
Mamasela to Durban on the 4th of November.
MR MARAIS: That is correct, Mr Chairman, and that is his evidence here, and then it seems to me from that page that I am looking at now, and as I say it's the first time I am looking at it, the second paragraph deals with Coetzee's evidence or original statement. And then maybe the third paragraph, where he refers to his evidence, that refers to Coetzee's evidence and not to Nofomela's evidence.
CHAIRMAN: I am not sure at this stage whether anything really turns substantially on these differences about what happened in their evidence at the different tribunals, but if you think that it is a matter of significance, and you would like to clear it up, you may do so.
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, I also do not think so, and I think maybe it is a matter that can be left to argument.
CHAIRMAN: Are there any other questions you wish to ... (intervention)
MR MARAIS: No, I have no further questions in re-examination.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS
MR DE JAGER: You said in your application that you considered it to be a war against the ANC, is that correct? --- Yes, Sir.
(Inaudible) ... did you consider yourself to be in this war? --- I was on the side of the Vlakplaas group.
(Inaudible) ... on whose behalf did they fight? --- Vlakplaas was fighting for the National Party Government.
Were you under the impression, or were you told, that you're fighting on behalf of the Government? ---
Sir, it was quite obvious that I am fighting for the Government, because most of the things I was doing I was doing to people like myself, fellow blacks, and not whites, and the whites were in government then.
CHAIRMAN: Are there no other questions? Yes, you may stand down, you're excused. --- Thank you, Sir.
CHAIRMAN: Your client does know that he is required to be here in respect of his evidence on other matters, does he?
MR MARAIS: Yes, Mr Chairman. Mr Nofomela is not going to give evidence in these proceedings again. He was not involved in the other two matters that are under discussion in these proceedings. But he will be giving evidence at a later stage, I gather.
CHAIRMAN: In respect of matters in which he is involved?
MR MARAIS: Yes, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Very well. But you don't want him to be taken him back to prison now, do you?
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, no. I think it will be proper if he stays here if he is needed again.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, I want to believe my learned friend is going to call the next applicant.
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, yes, the next applicant then is David Tshikalanga.
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, the application for David Tshikalanga is immediately after page 48. The book is divided into two, but thereafter the numbering is ceased. Immediately after page 48 starts Tshikalanga's application. Mr Chairman, I am told - the witness told
/that he is
that he is going to testify in Venda, but an oath can be taken in any of the languages. He understands.
MR MARAIS CALLS:
DAVID TSHIKALANGA (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
QUESTIONED BY MR MARAIS:
Mr Chairman, I see the witness is not wearing the head phones yet. (Pause) Mr Tshikalanga, how old are you? (Pause) Mr Tshikalanga, how old are you? --- I am 40 years of age.
Mr Tshikalanga, where were you born? (Pause) Mr Tshikalanga, where were you born? --- I was born in Venda.
No, that was again not the full answer that ... (incomplete)
CHAIRMAN: Are the questions being interpreted to him?
INTERPRETER: Yes, they are. They are being interpreted. Yes, we are.
MR MARAIS: (Inaudible) ... interpreted. Mr Tshikalanga, can you repeat again, where were you born? --- I was born in Venda. I was born in Venda.
Mr Chairman, I seem to hear the witness saying ... (inaudible)
CHAIRMAN: Please be careful, so that the answer given by the witness is given fully in translation.
MR MARAIS: How many children were there in your family?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman ... (inaudible) ... sort this out.
CHAIRMAN: We'll take a short adjournment to sort this out.
CHAIRMAN: Please proceed.
MR MARAIS: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Tshikalanga, you were telling the committee about your family relationship and how many children you were. How many were there? MS KHAMPEPE: (Inaudible) ... not getting an English interpretation.
CHAIRMAN: Is his evidence being interpreted into English? --- What I said was, what you were asking me was about my birth place. I did tell you where I was born, Sibasa, in Venda. That is the main town, Sibasa. Secondly you asked me about the family members at home. What I am trying to answer you is all about my family situation. We - I was referring to the family members from my mother, in accordance to your question. I am not talking about my own family, my children.
MR MARAIS: And how many brothers and sisters did you have? --- I had only one sister and there were about five brothers.
Mr Tshikalanga, how far did you advance in school? --- I did pass standard eight.
And was your family a religious one? --- Yes.
Was there political discussion and awareness in your family? --- No, there wasn't anything like that.
(Inaudible) ... did you meet Dirk Coetzee? --- I met Dirk Coetzee - well, if I am not mistaken or forgetful that was in 1973.
Where did you meet him? --- That was at Sibasa.
And did you then work for him in his garden? --- Yes, after school I used to work in his garden as a gardener.
(Inaudible) ... happen that you ended up at Vlakplaas? --- Well, I can simply say that all the time when I was attending school my main aim was to finally work as a policeman.
But you started working at Vlakplaas before you became a policeman, is that correct? --- Yes, that is true.
What kind of work did you do then? --- Well, I was just an ordinary worker in ordinary types of jobs. Like, for instance, I used to cook for some wives or some foreigners, people like Mkehle, and there were a lot of people who used to come to such places from other countries.
And was Dirk Coetzee then already at Vlakplaas when you arrived there? --- Yes, he was already there.
When did you then join the police force? --- I joined in 1981.
And when did you do your training at Hammanskraal? --- That was in the same year, 1981, there in Vlakplaas.
(Inaudible) ... between 1973 and 1983 what kind of work did you do? --- Well, what I can say is during school holidays I used to phone Dirk Coetzee and tell him that I will be coming for a visit, like in Volksrust or in Oshoek or in Middelburg.
So you followed Dirk Coetzee wherever he went? --- Apparently I can say that. That is what I was doing, because I used to visit him quite often.
During November 1981 you were still a student constable, is that correct? --- Yes.
What did you know at that time about the ANC? --- Well, as a person who was staying with people who some of
them were coming from Mozambique or elsewhere - Zimbabwe, and even including askaris who were defectors from the ANC, that is - well, I heard a lot of things from those people.
Was that at Vlakplaas where you heard these things? --- Yes, indeed.
Did you regard the ANC and other resistance movements as the enemy of the State? --- Yes.
Did you receive any training at Vlakplaas? --- Are you referring to the year 1981, or - because I was a student constable, and after that I went to the college. I am not sure exactly which specific year you are referring to.
Did you receive training at Vlakplaas before you went for your training at Hammanskraal? --- No, the training - there was no formal training other than these ordinary things which askaris were telling us.
Do you remember what month you went to Hammanskraal? --- If I am not mistaken it could be in 1981, November. December, I am sorry.
During November 1981 you were in the Durban area with a group from Vlakplaas, is that correct? --- Yes.
And during this time you received instructions that a certain lawyer had to be killed, is that correct? --- Yes.
From who did you receive the instructions? --- What I can say is during the time when they took me there were other askaris who were with me. I can't remember who they were. It was in the hotel or disco-like place. Almond and Joe Mamasela and Brian Ngulungwa,those are the people who took me there.
CHAIRMAN: The question was not that, you know. The question is did you receive instructions?
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, the question was from whom did he receive the instructions. --- Shall I answer that? I was instructed by Joe Mamasela and Almond, who had received it from Dirk Coetzee as he had been the one who was responsible in giving authority.
What instructions did you receive from them? --- What they told me was that there was a specific person who had to be eliminated by means of knives, not through guns or whatever. We had to kill him using knives.
Were you told why? --- Yes, because it was to be like a robbery kind of an activity.
Did you accompany the group while surveillance was done of the house of the lawyer and the office where he worked? --- If my memory still serves me well I think there was a time when I saw his photo, and then if I am not mistaken I also seen the office, which was a double-story one right here in town.
Can you describe the events that occurred on the day of the actual killing of Mr Mxenge? --- Yes. On the day when Mxenge was killed we left for - when we were four. It was a little bit drizzling, it was raining a little bit. And then we went - I think the house was on a hill. Well, we were travelling towards that and there was a red Passat which just emerged, and we were told that it was his wife getting out. It was a station wagon car. Then the car passed. Lucky enough not long - before long another car appeared behind it. That was an Audi car, and we were told it was him, and Almond got off the car and opened the bonnet of the car, pretending as if there was
a problem from the car. Then he ... (intervention)
CHAIRMAN: (Inaudible) ... further confusion. Which car is he talking about? Obviously not Mr Mxenge's car. --- You mean the one which was from the house or the one which followed, or which one are you referring to?
MR MARAIS: (Inaudible) ... somebody opened the bonnet of a car. Was that the car that you were in? --- That was the car we were using on travelling, the one we used when we were travelling.
(Inaudible) --- If I am not mistaken it could be Almond.
(Inaudible) ... four of you. Who were the other two there? --- It was Joe Mamasela, Brian Ngulungwa, Almond Nofomela and myself. Who we were - ja, all in all four.
(Inaudible) ... bonnet of your car then to pretend that you had a problem with the car, is that correct? --- Yes.
(Inaudible) --- Thereafter, after a while - that was after this Mxenge car had been parked behind that van, because now the way was not so wide in such a way that it could pass. Then thereafter that is when Almond and Joe Mamasela and Brian Ngulungwa went to him straight away and hinted that they had a problem, they wanted some jumpers, as if the battery was flat. After all I suddenly heard them say to me, "You must bring the car, follow us," and then they were driving along.
(Inaudible) ... did you go to then? --- As I was following I was just following them. They reached an open ground which looked like a stadium. That was where you could play soccer.
Was Mr Mxenge taken out of the car at the stadium?
--- Yes, they took him out. When I arrived it was just rush, push, push. They were dragging him out of the car.
And what happened then? --- There was stabbing. Well, the mention(?) of stabbing went on. It was like a fight.
Did you stab Mr Mxenge? --- Yes, I did.
Who else stabbed him? --- Almond and Joe Mamasela.
What did Brian Ngulungwa do? --- I can tell you that he was holding a pistol.
After the stabbing where did you go? --- We went to C R Swart Police Station, at the gate outside.
Did you meet there with Dirk Coetzee? --- Well, I am not very sure whether I met Almond. These other people went in to call him because we were standing - we were just parked outside.
(Inaudible) ... received R1 000,00 later. --- Yes.
Do you know what that was for? --- The way it appeared it was like in appreciation of the mission that we have rendered.
Did you know before you committed this act that you were going to receive money afterwards? --- No. There was not any idea about that.
Did you at any occasion question orders which you received from your superiors? --- Could you repeat the question please?
Did you at any time question orders that you received from your superiors? --- It was very difficult to question the authority, because there were a lot of things that other people were doing that one could
not ask where they were coming from and why.
At Vlakplaas did you ever see any of Dirk Coetzee's superior officers at the farm? --- Are you referring to Dirk Coetzee's seniors, or what? Could you be very clear with that regard?
(Inaudible) ... senior officers of Dirk Coetzee. --- Yes, there were a lot of people who were in Vlakplaas.
Do you know any of their names? --- Colonel Victor was there.
(Inaudible) --- Victor. Brigadier Skoon. A number of them used to come because that's an office. There were a lot of people coming.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman, I see it is 1 o'clock now. This is probably a good time for the break.
CHAIRMAN: Very well, we'll take an adjournment now and resume at 2 o'clock.
QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS CONTINUED:
CHAIRMAN: Yes, please proceed.
MR MARAIS: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Tshikalanga, the body of Mr Mxenge had a great number of stab wounds when it was discovered. If I am not mistaken it was in the region of 40. Why was it necessary - or regarded as necessary to inflict that many wounds, or for what reason then were so many wounds inflicted? --- If I am telling the truth it is not because - it is because he was
fighting for himself, and because he was fighting it's then that we were forced to stab him so.
Can you tell the Committee what each member of your group did during the fight? --- What I can say is this. I, Almond, Joe Mamasela, we were involved in stabbing him all of us.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. I have no further questions from the applicant.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS
CHAIRMAN: I'd like you to explain to me what you mean when you say that Mr Mxenge was fighting for himself. Tell me how he was fighting. --- In the beginning, while we started stabbing him and while he was forced out of his car, it was not an easy task, but they were dragging him, and they dragged him out of the car and he was refusing. And then there was an incident in which we started to stab him. He was not just offering himself as a sacrifice, but he was refusing when he had the pains. He tried to defend for himself. Even by hands and all he was trying to fight.
My question was how the fight took place? What was he doing when you say he was trying to fight? --- I mean he was trying to fight using his blows and fists.
So, until he was hit on the head with this spanner he was still on his feet? --- Yes, he was fighting still on his feet.
WILSON J: We've been told that you were the first person to stab him. Do you agree with this? --- To tell the truth I cannot tell if I am the first one or not, but what I know is this, I stabbed him. It's true that I stabbed him.
We were told he was dragged out of the car by Joe Mamasela and that you then immediately stabbed him. --- I am not sure that that is true. The way he is putting it is the way in which he is thinking it happened in that way, but I am not sure if I am the first person to stab him, or I might not be the first person.
But you were present, you took part in the stabbing until it was over. Is that so? --- Yes, it's true.
And you saw him being hit over the head with the spanner, and he fell to the ground. --- Yes, it's true.
And you stayed there - all right, so you saw all that happened. --- Yes, I saw everything.
Can you tell me who cut his throat, almost cut his throat off? --- I mean that thing happened - it happened while we were all busy working, doing the same duty, and I cannot remember between Almond and Joe Mamasela.
So it was Almond or Joe Mamasela you say? --- Yes, it might be that.
I presume he was lying on the ground by then. --- Yes, because he was beaten by the spanner to fall down.
(Inaudible) ... had been knocked down by the spanner and was lying on the ground when this was done, no longer a danger to anybody. Is that so? --- It might be so.
And who cut his stomach wide open? Or who cut his stomach open? --- There I might tell the truth, because we were doing this stabbing, being three, and it was in the dark, and everyone was doing his duty, so that I cannot tell who is responsible for cutting the stomach open.
Was he then lying on the ground again? --- I am not sure. I might tell the lies. I don't know. Maybe he was standing while he was cut opened, but I don't know whether he was on the ground or on his feet.
You're not suggesting that after his stomach had been cut open he remained standing fighting, are you? --- You mean when he was doing what?
Are you suggesting that after his stomach was cut open he remained on his feet fighting against you? --- What you are saying is something which I did not observe, and maybe I am not sure, but what I know is this. That stomach was opened while he was still on his feet, because he was stabbed so many times while he was still standing, without taking into consideration into which part of the body.
All the stab wounds are on the front of his body, is that so? --- To tell the truth I stabbed once by that knife which remained in the body, and I was unable to remove it from the body. I stabbed first in the front of him.
Are you now saying you stabbed him once, and your knife then stuck in the body and you were unable to remove it? --- Yes, true.
Do you remember you gave evidence at the Harms Commission, when you made a statement? --- Yes.
And you remember that in your initial statement you said you were a mere onlooker. --- I will ask your question again - repeat your question.
Do you remember saying in your initial statement that you were a mere onlooker? --- I don't remember that.
And then when you gave evidence you said you stabbed once only. --- Yes. If I am saying that I was an onlooker, then I am saying that I stabbed once, then there is contradictions which I cannot understand, or I cannot hear your question clearly.
Going back a little. Where did you see Mxenge for the first time that afternoon? --- I did not see him in the evening - or during the day.
Weren't you waiting outside his office? Didn't you see his car there, and didn't you follow his car? --- No.
So that evidence that we heard this morning was untrue? --- The evidence given by me or whom?
The previous witness, Nofomela. --- I am not sure if he said that. He might have mentioned that I was present while they were following him.
All four of you - all four of you were together all the time, weren't you?
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, my recollection of the evidence this morning was not that they followed the car. They went to the house on a rainy day on the hill and they waited there. They saw the car of Mrs Mxenge, the red Audi, leave the premises of the house, and then the other car approached.
WILSON J: That's him, not the previous witness. --- Yes, there is contradictions because of the offices and going to places. Then it seems there is no relation. If you are saying I went there ... (intervention)
The previous witness said, "On the day of the killing we went to his place of work. It was time to go home. His car was still there. Brian Ngulungwa knew the
area well. We drove after him. We got to his house first and parked near there and waited for him." You remember that? --- Even if he have said that I don't think he mentioned that I was there, because in my evidence I've said that they picked me up somewhere else, not that I went with them to the office.
This is when they went and picked up Mr Griffiths Mxenge. He told us that, "Brian and David stopped the car. Joe had a pistol. I had a Makaroff. He asked if he could help, and we then drove him to Umlazi Stadium" ... (inaudible) --- When saying in that way they are talking of the place where we went and wait for him, and there is no relation with going to the office. That is something from Umlazi.
CHAIRMAN: I know this incident happened a long time ago. I want you to tell me about your movements on that day with your colleagues. Where was it that you met that afternoon? --- Well, I am not clear. Are you asking me as to what - I am not clear. Could you repeat your question please?
Where on that afternoon, the afternoon when Mr Mxenge was killed, where was it that the four of you met together? --- I can't remember exactly. It was during the day, but I can't remember exactly.
Did the four of you go to the office or the area where the office was, Mr Mxenge's office? --- Well, I can say that on my previous statement I said I can't remember exactly, although there was a place where we went round and I saw his office. Well, including his photo. That is what I said previously. Not that on a specific day we went straight to these other people to the office.
Just answer the question. After you had visited the area where Mr Mxenge had his office what did you do? --- You mean when I had gone to where Mxenge was? When? What time exactly, in the evening or during the day?
I am talking about the time when you went in the afternoon, I understand, to Mr Mxenge's - to the place where Mr Mxenge had his office. --- Well, nothing in particular happened. We were just travelling as a usual routine.
Did you see Mr Mxenge leave his office? --- No.
From there where did you and your colleagues go to? --- Well, we were just moving up and down without any specific direction.
Yes, eventually where did you get to? --- Finally we eventually - or during the time when we were about the execute Mxenge?
Before executing him did you go to his house? --- No, we didn't go to the other place.
I don't know whether you have difficulty with the interpreters, but please tell us. I have some difficulty in understand your evidence. The four of you go to the area in the afternoon where Mr Mxenge's office is. You then drive around. My question is, after driving around where did you go to? --- Yes. I am saying that from there we were just travelling up and down. I cannot say exactly where we went to. That is what I am saying.
Did you not reach the area where Mr Mxenge's house is? --- No, I didn't go specifically.
MR NGOEPE: Didn't you say that on the day Mr Mxenge was killed it was four of you. It was drizzling a little bit, and you went up to the house which was up the hill, and at
some stage you referred to a red - I thought you said Passat - and that you were told that it was his wife's car. Isn't that what you told us? --- Yes, that is what I said, but what I am saying is I think there's contradiction, because I don't know exactly whether it has to do with during the day in the office or the evening part. I don't know exactly which part you are looking for.
CHAIRMAN: You know, I don't accept that. I don't understand your difficulty, because I've led you from the time that you watched where Mr Mxenge's office was, it was time to leave. You drove around, and you seem to have difficult in explaining to us how you arrived in the area where Mr Mxenge's house is. --- All right, let me put it this way. Well, I just want to try and explain in full detail. I realise that we might not be on the same vein. What I am saying is during the day when we were just travelling up and down I saw the office. Myself in particular I didn't go to the place where Mxenge used to live. During the time when I went to see the house was in the evening, during the time when this execution took place.
Did the four of you get there together? --- Yes, we all went there.
When you arrived at the house Mr Mxenge hadn't yet arrived. --- Yes. That was before - we didn't reach the house exactly, we were just in the neighbourhood. That is where we saw the red car, the station wagon red car. I think it was a Volkswagen, a Passat or something like that, which was just being driven down the hill. What I heard was that it was Mrs Victoria Mxenge's car.
And then I think - well, I can't remember very well. We went round and then went to the other places. That is when, not long, another car arrived. That was going towards the direction of Mxenge. Then that is where Almond stopped the bakkie in which we were travelling right in the middle of the road, and he opened the bonnet. And then the car which was coming from behind - I don't know exactly whether it was Brian who said, "This is the man we are looking for," and the car stopped at the back because there was no other space in which it could pass on the side because the way was not very broad. So that is where they said - he asked if at all there was a problem, and they said, "No, well apparently the car doesn't want to start," and they were asking for the jumpers.
About what time was all that? --- In the evening.
What time? --- I'm afraid I can lie. I cannot say exactly what time it was.
Was it dark already? --- Yes, it was late evening.
MR DE JAGER: Did you take the dagger from Almond? --- Well, regarding the knife, I don't have the true evidence because I know everybody had his own knife. I don't know exactly what happened.
No, but your knife stuck after you stabbed. --- Yes.
So you couldn't get it out of the body, is that correct? --- Yes it is true, I couldn't take it out.
Did you then take Almond's knife to proceed with the stabbing, or what did you do? --- No. Almond - the late was the one who took off the knife from the body, and
he was trying to stab Almond, and Almond then ducked. That is why he went to the place where the spanner was.
I want you to listen carefully, and if you can't follow what I am asking please tell me. When you - are you still listening, or have they finished? When your knife remained in the deceased's body did you take the dagger from Almond? --- I don't remember doing that.
You've heard his evidence here. He told us that you did do that. --- Yes, I heard the evidence.
And he said after you've taken the dagger from him he went and fetched the wheel spanner. --- Yes, I heard that.
Did you see him taking the wheel spanner from the car? --- Yes, I know, I am quite aware of that.
Was a wheel spanner taken from the deceased's car or from your bakkie? --- Well, without telling a lie I can just say I am not very clear what happened then.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Tshikalanga, when did you get to Durban in November? Can you approximate the date thereof? Was it the first week of November, the second week of November? --- I did not hear the question.
When did you arrive in Durban in November? Was it on the first week of November 1981, the second week of November 1981? I want you to approximate for me. --- I am afraid of telling the lies. I am not aware, I cannot remember.
How soon before Mr Mxenge was killed, which is on the 19th? Let me say how long had you been in Durban from the 19th of November 1981? Had you been there for two days, had you been there ... (intervention)
CHAIRMAN: After the death?
//772 MS KHAMPEPE: Before. Before the 19th of November. --- I just guessing at the moment because I have said that I am not sure. I think it was during - it was after four days, four days or three days, which I am not guaranteeing that because I am saying I am not sure.
What was the purpose of your visiting Durban, Mr Tshikalanga? --- I mean we were not here to visit. I mean of all the people who were in Vlakplaas all of them used to go to different places - Northern Transvaal, Eastern Transvaal, or whatever. I was out being on duty.
And you were on duty at whose instructions? --- We were under Dirk Coetzee.
Did he instruct you to come to Durban from Vlakplaas? --- Because we used to be counted that these people are taking which direction, these people are taking this direction. I was one of the people who was directed to come to Durban.
By Mr Coetzee? --- Yes.
Did he tell you what duties you would be performing in Durban? --- He did not tell us, but it was our daily routine to keep on moving to various directions with the askaris.
Now, you have stated in your evidence that you were apprised of the instructions to eliminate Mr Mxenge by Mr Nofomela and Mr Mamasela, is that correct? --- Yes, that is what I've said.
(Inaudible) ... Coetzee that there was a need to eliminate Mr Mxenge? --- I am not sure, but it might have happened where he told us that, but I am not sure. But I think there's an incident in which he told us about the killing of Mxenge.
(Inaudible) ... it have been before you had a discussion with Nofomela and Mamasela, or after, but there was such a discussion. --- May you please repeat your question?
You had been advised by Mr Coetzee of the need to eliminate Mr Mxenge before you had a discussion with Mr Nofomela or Mamasela. --- To tell you the truth this thing happened very quickly, to such an extent that I cannot give the true evidence of that, whether it came in which way, or whether - it was so fast that - the command used to be given - even like killing or poisoning the dogs I was not there. It came to my attention on the day on which we were going to execute.
When did Mr Mamasela and Nofomela tell you that they had been ordered by Mr Coetzee to execute an order which was in the form of killing Mr Mxenge? Was it on the 19th? --- I think I will tell the lies. I don't know the date.
Mr Tshikalanga, that's when the murder was committed, on the 19th. It should be easy now for you to recall whether you were told of Mr Coetzee's order to execute Mr Mxenge on the 19th, or whether it was prior to the 19th. It would be something very easy to recall. --- Because you are explaining to me that the day of killing Mr Mxenge was on the 19th it is true that - what I cannot tell is this. I do not know whether it was the 19th, but because you are telling me that it was on the 19th, the day on which he was killed, then it is true.
So you were told by Mr Nofomela and Mamasela on the 19th that you had to execute an order received from Mr Coetzee. --- May you please repeat your question.
Were you advised by Mamasela and Nofomela of the need to kill Mr Mxenge the very day Mr Mxenge was killed? --- Yes, they took me somewhere and then they were talking about that while we were going to that place where we were going to look after him.
Did you then discuss that Mr Mxenge would be abducted and taken to the stadium? --- No, in that some of the things - but the way in which it happened and the way in which I explained in the beginning, it happened that when those men were out of the car, when going by Mr Mxenge's car, and with him, they are the people who know the direction in which we were going, but I was just told to follow them by using a bakkie.
(Inaudible) ... you must listen to the question and only respond to what you've been asked. All I wanted to know is whether when you were told that Mr Mxenge had to be killed, and you had to participate in that murder, whether you were also told that he would be abducted and taken to the stadium, where he would be killed? --- Yes, it's true.
WILSON J: When were you told that he was going to be killed? --- The same day in which they came and took me.
Was it while they were taking you to where you met him that they told you he was going to be killed? --- Yes. When they came to took me, while we were on our way they told me that we are going to kill that man.
Was that the first time you had heard that you were going to kill him? --- Yes, it was for the first time.
Are you quite sure? You're now telling me that you
heard for the first time that you were going to kill Mr Griffiths Mxenge when you were on the way to do it. --- It was the first time to hear about him.
Where did you get the knife from? --- Those guys I was with them came with the knives, and they told me that the knives were coming from Dirk Coetzee.
Are you sure ... (inaudible) --- Yes, I am sure.
Did you at no stage say they came from somebody Schutte? --- May you repeat your question?
Did you at any stage say that the knives were provided by Schutte? --- What I can say is that those knives I saw them later, after they were in the possession of Schutte. I don't know where he took them to, but after - that was after five months.
Are you sure it was only afterwards, and not before? MR DE JAGER: Mr Marais, did perhaps during the interval, or at any stage, did your client complain about the interpretation? Can he follow what's going on?
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, I did not discuss it with him since he was giving his evidence at that stage, and I did not think it proper to talk to him about his evidence. He did not come to me about it in any way.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe, are there any questions which you wish to put to this witness?
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
QUESTIONED BY MR MSHE:
In your application, referred to on page 4, indexing of page 4, it is written in paragraph (iv) - you say,
"On orders of our commander, Captain Dirk Coetzee, Almond Nofomela, Joe Mamasela, Brian Ngulungwa and I abducted
"Mr Griffiths Mxenge at his home and took him to the Umlazi Stadium."
Is that correct? --- Yes, it is true.
Is your evidence not that you abducted him when he was on his way home, where you parked your car in such a way as if you had a problem with it? --- Well, it is true that we abducted him on the way.
So it is not true that you took him from his home. --- No, we didn't fetch him from home. I didn't say that. It was close to home.
Now, how long before the murder were the dogs poisoned? How many days before the murder? --- I can't say exactly because the involvement of dogs and the like I was not involved there.
Ja, but you knew that the dogs were to be poisoned, you knew that dogs were poisoned. --- Yes, I just heard about it later on. Then when I looked at it afterwards, although I am not very sure of what I am saying, whether it was after some time. It could have been after three days or so.
Now, can you tell us the total number of days that you people spent in Durban before you could murder Mr Mxenge? --- Could you repeat your question please.
The total number of days that you people spent in Durban before you could kill Mxenge. --- Well, I am not sure, as I did say. It could have been three or four days. I am not sure about that.
It still could have been eight or nine days? --- That is also a possibility. I am not too sure. I am not really sure as to how long.
In Evidence Book 3 that was given to your lawyers
yesterday - page 28 thereof, Mr Chairman and Members of the Committee - page 28 thereof. This is an extract from the Harms Commission. I am going to read what is said by the Harms Commission in as far as the wounds are concerned. I want you to confirm whether that is true. That will be the third paragraph, Mr Chairman, the paragraph starting,
"A proper autopsy was performed on Mxenge's body. The deceased had 45 lacerations."
Would you say that is possible? --- Well, I can't deny that.
"All of these were knife wounds ..."
--- Yes, indeed.
"... except the wounds to the head, which had been inflicted with a blunt instrument such as a hammer."
All right. The last sentence of that paragraph reads,
"The salient aspects of the murder are that: (1) Mxenge's throat was literally cut off."
Would you dispute that? --- Well, I might say so in that.
Who did the cutting off of the throat? --- Well, as I said before I can't remember exactly whether it was Almond or Joe Mamasela.
At what stage did you see the throat cut? --- Well, what I am saying is when he had fallen down there was a time in which the people were still on top of him, and I can't say exactly how the cutting took place. He was - that's also the same regarding the holes, because we
didn't see what happened thereafter.
Would you say that it's possible that at the time when the throat was cut off this man was already dead? --- Well, I am not really sure about that.
But you agree that the cutting of the throat would have been done as the last thing after the stabbings, several stabbings, when he was on the ground? --- Yes, I believe that.
And the next point,
"His stomach was cut open."
--- Well, I can't deny anything. I am saying after that I didn't see what happened, or even the following day or in the morning or something.
Sorry, for that. Could you repeat? --- What I am saying is as far as you are saying I can't say I really deny, because I didn't see him thereafter. I didn't look at him physically thereafter as to how much suffering he suffered, or the holes and other things.
Mr Tshikalanga, I find this funny, because one of the learned Committee Members read out to you your evidence in the Harms Commission, where you stated that you were an onlooker. Do you remember that? --- Well, you mean being an onlooker, just a mere onlooker?
Looker, onlooker, a person standing and looking at what was happening. --- Well, it's not true. It's not true, because as I have said I also stabbed him, because that is when the knife remained there. I was really involved in that.
Well, let's go a little bit back. Your knife got stuck on his chest, and when you were asked by one of the Committee Members whether you took Nofomela's knife you
said no. Do you remember that? --- I don't remember that.
After your knife got stuck on his chest, you couldn't pull it out, what did you do? --- Well, I realised that the person who died, or the late, or the deceased, tried by all means to take the knife out of the chest, but then he was also struggling, and I went to the other side as he was pushing this side, because he wanted to stab whosoever was before him.
You have not answered my question. Your knife got stuck, you couldn't pull it out. What did you do thereafter? Did you stand there and look at him, or did you go to anything or do any other thing after the knife got stuck there? --- Well, I stepped aside. I didn't do any other thing after that.
Is it correct that you stood there and looked at what was happening? --- Yes, because - well, could you allow me to explain briefly again? What happened was when I did stab him, and it got stuck, he tried by himself - we mean the deceased now. He tried to take the knife out of his chest, and after having done that he was coming straight to us. Well, what I did was to run away, and the same happened to Almond.
You know, you're not answering my question. Now are you saying you ran away? --- Yes, truly.
Did you leave your friends on the scene continuing with the stabbing? --- Well, I am not saying that I ran quite far. It could have been from here to the place where the audience is.
Just let's make this thing simple. What did you do? --- Well, I didn't do any other thing other than having
stabbed him once, the knife got stuck.
And after the knife got stuck you became an onlooker, not so? --- I was never involved again after that.
So you were in a position to see and witness what your friends were doing on him as you were standing there and doing nothing again. --- Yes, I might say so.
Now, it continues that,
"An ear was practically cut off."
Would you dispute that? --- Well, I can't deny that, although I haven't see that physically clearly.
As you stood one side, when you turned yourself into an onlooker, how long did the stabbing continue by your friends? --- I don't think it took that long. Well, we then left after some time when the late Mxenge was lying down there.
Still in the same book - at page 49, Mr Chairman. It is the post-mortem report. May I just find out this. At the Harms Commission was the post-mortem report ever handed in? Were you questioned about it? --- I can't remember.
Did you not give evidence there about the stabbing, the wounds, and all what happened to this man up until his death? --- Well, if I were to - I think I will just say what I overheard, but - that they say there were 42 holes.
The post-mortem consists of a number of pages. I do not intend reading that, but seeing that your legal representative has a copy thereof I'll go straight and ask you questions on it. What is contained in the post-mortem - there are annexures thereto about the abdomen and the
back. That's page 2. About the chest and the back. These are the wounds that were found by the doctor. He continues, he tells us about the chest, furthermore continued. Then he tells us about the head and the neck, the wounds thereon found. Would you dispute what is being stated by the doctor who conducted the post-mortem? --- No, I can't refuse anything there.
In your application at page 5 of the index, under paragraph (d), you stated that,
"In this regard I was aware thereof that the ANC and other political organisations had been identified as the enemies of the State."
Now, who did the identification? --- Because I am saying that before, even when we arrived at Vlakplaas, the manner of those people who were working there was to fight against the ANC and all other political organisations which were against the Government.
(Inaudible) ... application again you say,
"Political organisations had been identified as the enemies of the State."
My question is so simple. Who identified them as enemies of the State? --- Do you want the name of the person or what? I don't know. You may clarify me there.
The name or the person or persons, or organisations, or whatever identified these enemies. --- I can say that the Security Branch was against the ANC.
Do I hear you to be saying that it is the Security Branch that identified these enemies? --- Yes, it is the department of Police Force which was against the organisations.
Your then commander, Mr Dirk Coetzee, has told this Committee when asked a question by one of the Committee Members as to the involvement of the Security Police in identifying these people, and he was asked specifically about ... (inaudible) ... and he said they had no business to identify people, they only received information. They did not even have access into these files. They do not even carry files. Would you say that was incorrect as said by him? --- Yes, that's true.
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I don't think that Mr Coetzee was referring to the Security Police in general in his evidence when he said that. He was referring to himself at Vlakplaas.
CHAIRMAN: Is that so ... (inaudible)
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman, I'll continue. Now, did you have any opportunity of verifying these identified enemies?
INTERPRETER: I am sorry, I do not understand the question for my part.
MR MSHE: Did you yourself, if you were told that these are the enemies, the ANC, have any power to question the identification thereof, whether these are the actual people that are to be killed? Does it make sense?
INTERPRETER: I can understand. --- I never questioned anybody identified.
MR MSHE: Still on that paragraph, you say,
"I therefore merely followed my orders. Mxenge was an ANC lawyer, and killing him furthered the Government's war against the ANC."
Do you remember that? --- Yes, I remember that.
I understand you to be saying that anybody who was ANC was to be killed, and you would kill him. --- I mean if there were orders given to do that I was definitely going to do that, foresee no problem in doing that.
Now, Mr Tshikalanga, in killing Mr Mxenge what did you hope to achieve? --- Truly there was nothing which I was expecting to gain, but it was just to follow the commands, and I was on duty, and if we were supposed to do this then we were going to do it.
For whom were you doing this? --- I can say because I was on duty I was doing it on behalf of my job. I mean because the orders were given by my superiors to do that act it's then I am putting in a way that I as following the command from the superiors.
(Inaudible) ... conclude from what you have said that you did what you did not to bring any other change, be it political or social, but you were simply carrying out orders. --- No, we were doing it in order to gain changes, because the deceased I never knew him, I knew about him that he was involved in politics. It was something to do with politics, that is why we were given orders to execute him.
(Inaudible) ... changes did you hope to get - to do, or bring about? --- The changes that were supposed to happen were that the superiors were the people who were investing everything, and I think those people might be knowing that if they are making those people to suffer there will be changes so that they will not have ... (inaudible - end of Side A, Tape 4)
(Inaudible) ... changes are you talking about? --- /Well, as I
Well, as I am saying there are some areas where we are contradicting perhaps. When I say we were delegated to do whatever, we were not responsible in file holding. There were people who were responsible for holding the files or keeping the files. Those were the superiors who were able to see whatever was happening. In as far as we were concerned what I am saying there could have been other changes on those people who were responsible in doing those things.
I don't understand you, but we'll leave it at that. Mr Tshikalanga, isn't it so that you were fighting on behalf of the Government of the day at that time? --- Yes, it is true.
(Inaudible) ... that you were not fighting for changes, but in fact fighting to prevent changes, and that is the political objective that you were pursuing. The political objective consisted in the fact that you were preventing changes so that to preserve the status quo. Isn't that the position? --- Well, yes, I think it's true.
So that the Nationalist Government could survive and continue. --- It is indeed true.
In doing this, Mr Tshikalanga, in murdering Mr Mxenge, did you know that you are doing what you are doing in order to preserve a status quo? --- Yes, I think it's true.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. No questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MSHE
MR MARAIS: I have no re-examination, Mr Chairman.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS
WILSON J: I asked you earlier where you got the knives
from. --- Yes, I remember.
Now, I'm quoting from a report of evidence you're alleged to have given that says that in November 1981 Sergeant Koos Schutte spoke to you at Vlakplaas and said he was in the office, and told you you must be ready, you're going to go to Durban. Do you remember that incident? --- No, I can't remember.
And that you then said that Sergeant Schutte told you he was going to organise knives, and later returned with three hunting knives. However, old Almond Nofomela selected a knife. Do you remember that? --- I can't remember that. And when you were asked by Mr Maritz you said you didn't know why you and Joe Mamasela were not given knives, and that Sergeant Schutte joked with you and said, "Do you think you're going to kill a cow?" Do you remember this incident? --- No, I can hardly remember that.
Well, can you remember it at all? Can you remember giving that evidence and being asked about it? Did you give such evidence ... (inaudible) ... record available. This was at the Harms Commission in London. You did give evidence in London, didn't you? --- Yes, I believe that.
Do you remember the incident? --- No, I cannot remember that.
(Inaudible) ... second one I wanted to ask you about. You've told us that there was considerable fighting, that Mr Mxenge was stabbed, he pulled the knife out, he fought longer. There must have been blood all over the place, do you agree? --- Yes, I believe.
And yet you were asked apparently, again at the
Harms Commission in London, to explain why the inquest had found no signs of blood on Mr Mxenge's trousers. That there had been blood on his underpants, but no blood on his trousers. Do you remember being asked about that? --- I can't remember that either.
That again is reported in several places. That again was when you were being questioned by Mr Maritz. Do you remember Mr Maritz questioning you? --- I can't remember.
(Inaudible) ... the advocate who appeared for the police. I think you would have remembered him. You say you don't remember, so we'll have to get those records and check on the truth of that. Thank you.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Tshikalanga, you have repeatedly denied having see anyone slitting Mr Mxenge's throat when you were being questioned by Advocate Mshe. During the Harms Commission you categorically stated that you saw Mr Nofomela on top of Mr Mxenge, holding a knife to his throat, at which point you turned away. Do you remember saying that? --- Yes, I can believe that I said that.
So you in fact know how Mr Mxenge's throat was slit open. --- Yes, that - you see, this is - well, when I had to narrate that it was not a long time, in such a way that I had - it's so dreadful that sometimes I used to get worried considerably, in such a way that I couldn't just say what happened because it was difficult.
Mr Tshikalanga, we must remind you that one of the cardinal requirements of you being granted amnesty is that you must be open to this Committee and disclose the truth, and nothing else but that. --- Yes, I am trying to say whatever is true, although there might be other things
that I have forgotten there and there. However, I am trying to put facts together truthfully.
MR MARAIS: I have no re-examination, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Yes, all right. Thank you very much, you are excused.
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, if my memory is my good servant, and it is, Mr Chairman, Advocate Skweyiya had made a request that Mr Dirk Coetzee be recalled. I think this would be an apposite time, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Let it be entered on the record that at this stage Mr Skweyiya appears on behalf of the Mxenge family, assisted by Mr Moosa.
MR SKWEYIYA: Yes, thank you, Mr Chairman, as well as the Khondile family.
CHAIRMAN: As well as the Khondile family.
MR SKWEYIYA: Together with my learned junior, Mr Moosa.
CHAIRMAN: Let Mr Coetzee come back.
DIRK JOHANNES COETZEE (Recalled) (Still under former oath)
CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Skweyiya.
MR SKWEYIYA: Yes, thank you for the indulgence.
QUESTIONED BY MR SKWEYIYA:
Mr Coetzee, I've asked for you to be recalled just for you to clarify one or two aspects. You say that when you arrived in Durban you met Brigadier van der Hoven, is that correct? --- That's correct. I reported to him, Mr Chairman.
He then briefed you about the deceased, Mxenge. --- After a few days that we've been working here, yes, Mr Chairman.
Now, I presume that in briefing you he told you what investigations they had done on Mxenge. --- In very, very brief, just what I need to know, as I've explained the need to know chain work, and he gave me the information that I need to know for that specific operation.
And from that briefing you gathered that the police had no evidence on which they could charge Mxenge, am I correct? --- The specific report, as far as I can remember, Mr Chairman, was that they're busy trying to build up a case against him as far as him receiving money from outside the country for acting - for being acting lawyer for the cadres of the African National Congress that was caught whilst infiltrating the country.
No, my question is ... (intervention)
WILSON J: Was that alleged to be an offence, receiving money to defend people? --- I don't know to what extent. Whether the money has come from the ANC, it was
/seen as a
seen as a supporter of the ANC. To what exact extent I can't say, Mr Chairman.
MR SKWEYIYA: No, no, Mr Coetzee, my question relates to whether it was conveyed to you by the brigadier that they had no tangible evidence as at that stage ... (intervention) --- No, it was not ... (incomplete)
... to charge him. --- It was not conveyed in such specific terms, Mr Chairman. They were busy building up a case against him, and I presume it would have made it easier for them to just get rid of Mr Mxenge.
Did he convey to you that there was difficulty in building up a case against him, and for that reason it was better to get rid of him? --- Yes, they were working on a case, "But why don't you make a plan with Mr Mxenge." He didn't say, "Because we will not succeed," or went into a deep conversation about it, just in short that.
Now, are you aware that shortly before you met the brigadier and he gave this briefing to you that the deceased, Mr Mxenge, had in fact been called for interrogation at C R Swart Square? --- I was not aware of it at that time. I read about it in the newspapers apparently as a result of a report from Mrs Mxenge.
Do you accept that in fact Mr Mxenge was called and questioned a few days before his death, and he was allowed to go away? --- I will accept that that was the facts, although I haven't had at the time any knowledge about it.
Now, another aspect, Mr Coetzee, on which I want clarification, relates to Brian Ngulungwa, Tshikalanga, as well as Mamasela. At the time that you were the - between the time that you became the commander at Vlakplaas and up to the time that Mxenge was killed, who of these persons
/was a policemen
was a policeman in the employment of the South African - the then South African Government? --- I beg your pardon, Mr Chairman? Can you just repeat it?
At the time that you became the commander of Vlakplaas, up to the stage that Griffiths Mxenge was killed, who of the four persons I am going to mention, namely Nofomela, Brian Ngulungwa, Tshikalanga and Mamasela, were officially in the employment of the South African Government? --- Tshikalanga was a student constable.
Yes. --- Almond Nofomela was a full constable. Brian Ngulungwa has been appointed as a member of the police, although he was an askari and had no official training, and Joe Mamasela was still an informant on West Rand Security Branch - as an informant, and specifically handled by Captain Jan Coetzee, who succeeded me at Vlakplaas.
So he was just an informer, Mamasela? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And what about the other two? Were they in fact in employment as policemen, or not? --- David Tshikalanga, yes. The three of them, two policemen and Brian Ngulungwa, who was an askari and officially made a policeman.
At what stage? Before or after the death of Mxenge? --- One will have to check their record of appointment, but I accept that by that time they were officially already policemen, because I was putting the structures together for the year preceding August 1981. With other words, from August 1980 to August 1981.
Mr Coetzee, it's important. I would like you
between now and argument is presented to find out
precisely what the status of these persons was. --- As I say I can for sure say Almond Nofomela was a policeman, constable. David Tshikalanga was for sure sworn in as a student constable, with other words a full policeman, and on - I might - 99% sure say Brian Ngulungwa was also a sworn-in policeman by that time, but not a person that had full police training. Or, say, any police training for that matter.
Mr Chairman, thank you. That's all.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR SKWEYIYA
CHAIRMAN: Any re-examination flowing out of that?
MR MARAIS: No re-examination, Mr Chairman.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I also omitted yesterday to hand up the documents which I referred to in the evidence of Mr Coetzee. If I could possibly do so at this stage. Mr Chairman, the first document is the telephone directory of the Security Headquarters in 1981.
CHAIRMAN: This will be annexure - exhibit rather - is it Exhibit B?
MR MSHE: That will be A, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Exhibit A.
SECURITY POLICE TELEPHONE DIRECTORY HANDED UP AS EXHIBIT A
MR JANSEN: The second document, Mr Chairman, was the excerpt from Harms Commission evidence when the directive of General Coetzee dated 11 September 1981 was read into the record at that stage. As I stated we do not have a complete copy of the Harms Commission.
CHAIRMAN: Just the excerpt.
MR JANSEN: Yes, and we will obviously try - we will
endeavour to to some extent possibly get a more first-hand
evidence, possibly the annexure itself. Mr Chairman ... (intervention)
CHAIRMAN: The excerpt will be B, Exhibit B.
EXCERPT FROM HARMS COMMISSION EVIDENCE HANDED UP AS EXHIBIT B
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I also have another document which was handed in at the Harms Commission as Exhibit B137 of the Commission. It was not led in evidence with Mr Coetzee as he has no personal knowledge of this document, but it does relate to - or the document is an affidavit made by Mr Alfred Mzo, the present Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was then still in exile working for the ANC, relating to the ANC's knowledge of Mr Mxenge, and precisely what the relationship between Mr Mxenge and the ANC was, and that for purposes of the Harms Commission the affidavit was filed, amongst other things, to say that the ANC at no stage was aware of any misappropriation of the funds, etcetera. I think it proper - this is a public document, in the sense that it was presented to the Harms Commission and part of that evidence. I think it proper that it be placed before you as well.
MR JANSEN: The date is the 1st of June 1990, and it's signed at Lusaka.
CHAIRMAN: This will be handed in as Exhibit C
AFFIDAVIT OF ALFRED MZO HANDED IN AS EXHIBIT C
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, the other document which I in the course of the evidence today considered that may possibly - or should be handed to the Committee, is an affidavit by Mr Joe Mamasela. His official names are
actually Joseph Sepho Mamasela. An affidavit made to the
Attorney-General for purposes of the criminal trial which is pending in the Mxenge matter. What - I initially didn't think of handing this up, but, Mr Chairman, it does give again another - it certainly corroborates the fact that the incident itself did take place, and it does give again another version of what happened there that day. Unfortunately I don't have copies of this. I only have the one copy in my possession presently, so I would like to hand it up at a later stage.
CHAIRMAN: Well, we'll consider it when you hand it in, because his name has been mentioned several times in the course of these proceedings, and it might be necessary for him to be called to either corroborate or refute what is being said about him.
MR JANSEN: Yes, I accept that, Mr Chairman. Then we could possibly take the matter up at a later stage. I know that there's some controversy around the calling of Mr Mamasela.
CHAIRMAN: Well, the controversy was that we were invited in another application to subpoena him, we as a Committee, and we decided that a case was not made out for us to subpoena him at that stage.
MR JANSEN: Yes. If I understand it, as I stated, Mr Chairman, I certainly don't regard it as crucial to the applications before you, these three - well, Mr Coetzee's application. It is just that the actual details concerning the Mxenge incident has been canvassed to some details, and there are certain obvious discrepancies - discrepancies which were known, which have been a matter of public record, and I thought that possibly in that
sense it may - it may serve some purpose handing up this
affidavit, at least then just to illustrate how the other person that was involved in the incident clearly has that same problem of recollecting and reconstructing the incident in a completely different way, but corroborating on certain essential elements thereof.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Mr Mshe, where do we proceed from here?
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman, if my learned friend is not re-examining may the witness be excused?
MR MSHE: Be excused if he is not.
CHAIRMAN: I understand you have no re-examination of Mr Coetzee, is that correct.
MR MARAIS: I have none.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Mr Coetzee, you are excused. --- Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, with your permission I would deem it apposite for an adjournment until tomorrow. We have now come to the end of the Mxenge incident. I was informed by my learned colleagues here, and they will confirm that, that they are not calling any of the Mxenge family to take the stand, which then wraps up the Mxenge incident for this Committee, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Skweyiya, that is correct? You are not proposing to call any witnesses on behalf of the family?
MR SKWEYIYA: I confirm that, Mr Chairman.
MR MSHE: Then in that respect then, Mr Chairman, I would ask that we adjourn until tomorrow, and tomorrow we will start in the morning with the Khondile matter.
/MR DE JAGER:
MR DE JAGER: Mr Mshe, we're required to make a finding
about victims. Would you then kindly see that we've got information about the victims so that at the end we could make a recommendation?
MR MSHE: That will be done, Sir.
MR DE JAGER: The necessary forms to be completed, and perhaps ... (incomplete)
MR MSHE: That will be done, Sir. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN: Very well. The Committee stands adjourned now until 9.30 tomorrow morning.
PROCEEDINGS ADJOURNED TO 1996/11/07
PROCEEDINGS RESUMED ON 1996/11/07
APPEARANCES AS BEFORE
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe?
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman, we are going to start today not with the Khondile matter, but with the Joe Pillay matter, and I will hand over to my learned friend in that regard.
MR JANSEN: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I refer then to the application in respect of the abduction and assault of Mr Pillay. It's dealt with in the schedule to the application in 10, which starts on page 19 of the schedule.
CHAIRMAN: Application by Mr Coetzee?
MR JANSEN: Yes. Sorry, Mr Chairman.
WILSON J: Page 23.
MR JANSEN: Oh, yes, of the evidence book, yes. Sorry, I was on the typed numerical - sorry, Mr Chairman. And, Mr Chairman, I then just wish to call the applicant, Mr Coetzee, as a witness.
DIRK JOHANNES COETZEE (Sworn, States)
QUESTIONED BY MR JANSEN:
Mr Chairman, as indicated originally in the Mxenge matter, we do not intend repeating the background evidence, if that could just then be seen as part and parcel of this application. Mr Coetzee, it's a matter of public record that a Mr Joe Pillay was abducted from Swaziland on the 19th of February 1981. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Were you involved in that incident? --- I was, Mr Chairman.
Who did the actual abduction of Mr Joe Pillay from Swaziland? --- The askaris working under me.
During his abduction where were you at the time? --- In Pretoria at Police Headquarters, but later that night at my house after briefing my Section C chief, Brigadier Willem Skoon.
How did it come about that you were in Pretoria at the time? --- Whilst we were surveilling several ANC houses for the purpose of operations against them I was called back to Pretoria by Brigadier Skoon to come and make a full report on the progress that we were making. He instructed me to leave the askaris behind in Swaziland and ask Chris Dieklifs, Lieutenant Chris Dieklifs of the Ermelo branch, to keep an eye over them and meet with them on a daily basis.
Was ... (intervention)
MR DE JAGER: Sorry Mr - sorry to interrupt. You say the askaris working under you. Could you please name them? You said, "While we were doing this in Pretoria," or elsewhere. Could you say who are you doing those things? --- If I remember correctly the askaris that was with me in Swaziland were Amaru, a Portuguese citizen, coloured Portuguese citizen, Mr Petrus Kgaodi, an askari. Petrus Kgaodi, I think it's K-g-a-o-d-i, Kgaodi. Askari Thabu Magagi - Magagi, and an askari Jeff Busigu, and there might have been one or two more. The white policemen involved was Ermelo Branch itself, Lieutenant Chris Dieklifs, the commander, who is at present Colonel Dieklifs, Mpumalanga and Security Regional Commander, a Captain Paul Hattingh from the explosive desk - I think I mentioned it yesterday - at Security Headquarters, and at
the time Warrant-Officer Paul van Dyk of Oshoek, but who worked under Ermelo Security Branch.
Was the abduction of Mr Pillay planned at that stage that the askaris were present in Swaziland? --- Not at that specific night. Not for that specific night. It would have happened later on when everything has been intact, the surveillance has been done, all the plans for the different houses that we would have bombed had been intact. Only then, if necessary, Mr Pillay would have been abducted.
What information did you have about Mr Pillay? Who was he and what was he? --- That he was one of the senior ANC guys involved in the so-called Natal machinery. With other words, operating in Natal area on a senior level.
From where did you get this information? --- From Brigadier Skoon.
When did you hear of the abduction of Mr Pillay? --- I was in bed that night when I was called by the then commander at Oshoek Border Post, Lieutenant Koos van der Lith. His initials is J A C van der Lith. He's at present a colonel in the Pietersburg area in the new South African Police. I was called and told that the askaris has abducted a person and left him at Oshoek Border, that only one of the askaris stayed behind - I can't remember which one of the lot it was - but the rest has left in the same car back to Swaziland.
And then what was your reaction on that? --- My immediate concern was why he didn't order all the askaris out of Swaziland immediately, and I asked him to urgently make an effort to make contact with the askaris, because
they were staying in the Dutch Reformed Parsonage in Manzini, which was rented by a Portuguese friend of ours -of mine, Johnny Vas. To get hold of them and order them out of Swaziland immediately.
MR SKWEYIYA: Sorry to interrupt you. Can you repeat what van der Lith told you? You were too fast for some of us. I couldn't catch up with you. --- I am sorry, Mr Chairman. He told me that the askaris have abducted a man from Swaziland and left him at Oshoek Border, and one of the askaris stayed behind. He then also said that the rest of the team has returned to Swaziland.
MR JANSEN: What eventually happened to the askaris inside of Swaziland? --- They were picked up the next morning in the same vehicle by the Swazi Police and army, which followed them to the house that they lived in, tear gassed them out, arrested them, and detained them at the Manzini Gaol.
In your application you mention the name of a Paul Hattingh. Could you just explain to the Committee what his involvement was? --- Paul Hattingh was a very senior guy on the explosives desk, second in charge under Colonel Frans van Eeden in Security Police Headquarters, who would have done the explosive devices and prepared the bombs for the different houses that we would have identified.
CHAIRMAN: When was the abduction of Mr Pillay planned? --- It was just mentioned, but not specifically planned. We said we will come to the specific plan as soon as all the surveillance has been done on the different hide-outs of the ANC in Swaziland, and then only it will be decided on what would be done next - what would be done, whether
Mr Pillay will be abducted, etcetera.
CHAIRMAN: So the planning had not been finalised in that regard as far as the actual abduction is concerned? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman.
WILSON J: As I understand from your lengthier report you in fact had told the askaris to wait until you had greater certainty about the targets. --- That's correct. That's correct, Mr Chairman.
MR JANSEN: What happened to this person that you were told was with van der Lith? --- I beg your pardon?
What happened to this person that you were told was left with van der Lith? --- That was abducted?
Abducted, yes. --- I asked him to make contact with Ermelo Security Branch and hand them over. I also contacted the branch, Lieutenant Dieklifs, and the next morning he was brought up by two of Chris Dieklif's men, and if my memory serves me right it was Sergeant Chris Rorich, who is now Colonel Rorich in the Mpumalanga area, and Constable Johan - the surname I can't remember. And they brought him in the boot of their car, and he was inside a bag, what you call a maize bag.
CHAIRMAN: (Inaudible) ... Pillay? --- That was Pillay, Mr Chairman.
MR JANSEN: And where was he taken then? --- He was brought to Vlakplaas, and arrived there round about lunch time or just after lunch, the afternoon, and in the meantime I had reported at the morning half past seven meeting to Brigadier Skoon in detail what happened, and he organised for Captain Andy Taylor from Durban and Lieutenant Jerry Fourie from Pietermaritzburg Security Branch to come up to do the interrogation of Joe Pillay.
Why those two persons to do the interrogation? --- They were the people from the area, Natal, and who would know the - what he would have been involved in, and the whole set up of the ANC and the structures in Natal and Pietermaritzburg areas.
Were the Vlakplaas units ever involved in the actual interrogation of detainees? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman.
Was that a separate function altogether? --- That was the function of the branch, the Security Branch in which area the arrest would have been made.
Yes. Do you know whether your report to Colonel Skoon at that stage was reported higher up? --- It was reported higher up, because shortly after the morning "sanhederin" meeting at 8 o'clock, where the section chiefs met with General Johan Coetzee and Brigadier Jan du Preez, his second in charge, General van der Hoven personally congratulated me on the successful mission, without him knowing at that stage that the askaris were still in Manzini, and I was expecting problems.
General van der Hoven?
WILSON J: Who congratulated you? --- General Johan Coetzee in person, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Not General van der Hoven? --- No, no, General Johan Coetzee in ... (intervention)
WILSON J: Only Johan Coetzee? --- Only Johan Coetzee.
I also thought you said van der Hoven. --- Oh, sorry. That's a slip of the tongue.
MR JANSEN: When did the news break of Mr Pillay's abduction and the arrest of the askaris? --- Later
that morning before lunch time it happened, the arrest in Swaziland of the askaris, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: How many of them? --- One could check with the Manzini court records, but I think three or four were arrested eventually, Mr Chairman.
MR JANSEN: What happened to Mr Pillay then at Vlakplaas? --- He was just held there awaiting the arrival of Andy Taylor and Jerry Fourie, and it was obvious that he was seriously beaten up. His eyes were swollen, bruised severely, blue, and you could see he had a very rough treatment.
MR DE JAGER: Was that before Taylor and Fourie arrived? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman, before they arrived.
So before the interrogation started. --- That's before the interrogation started.
WILSON J: That would have been at Vlakplaas? --- When he arrived there he was already beaten up, ja, so it must have been during the abduction period that apparently they severely assaulted him, the askaris.
MR JANSEN: Yes. If I could just refer to a statement made in your application in paragraph (d) in the Joe Pillay matter, and it says,
"And during the course of his detention in Pretoria he was seriously assaulted."
What is your comment on that statement? --- No, he was seriously assaulted before he reached Vlakplaas, and whilst being interrogated by Jerry Fourie and Andy Taylor - I was present personally the whole time - and they clouted him a few times, and he was administered so-called truth serum by an army doctor.
Were the assaults - or the observations that you
made of Mr Pillay was the inference that - or was it your inference that he had been more seriously assaulted prior to arriving in Pretoria, or thereafter? --- No, absolutely before - prior arriving to Pretoria.
Yes. What happened then to Mr Pillay? You said he was kept at Vlakplaas for a while until Mr Taylor and them arrived. --- I was then ordered by Brigadier Skoon to proceed with Major Kallie Steyn of Military Intelligence, and I said in my manuscript a Sergeant du Plessis, but after seeing the copy of my note book that I carried - a police pocket book, but it was used for names and addresses only - the Military Intelligence sergeant was Tobie van Rensburg, who then took myself ... (inaudible - equipment faulty, no English translation) ... would have a break. Jerry Fourie and Andy Taylor, they took us to the observatory on the ridge just next to Klapperkop Fort, where the army had converted the observatory into a secret meeting place, and where we were then taken into an underground bunker, a lecture hall, what looked like a lecture hall on the premises.
What happened once he was at the observatory? --- There Andy Taylor and Jerry Fourie interrogated him. They clouted him a few times. He kept on denying that he was still actively involved with the ANC in any way. They eventually decided then, Captain Andy Taylor, Jerry Fourie and the Military Intelligence, Major Kallie Steyn, bring in an army doctor, whose name is not known to me, who was in brown uniform, with a drip with a so-called truth serum. They've made him lie down on a stretcher in a small little room behind the lecture hall in the bunker, and put the drip into his arm, and the doctor controlled
it. It had the effect that he lost control over his
thinking, kind of. It made him fall into a kind of relaxed position where he couldn't resist kind of, and if he would look that he's now getting control over what he's saying again explicitly the doctor would open the drip a little more, and he will then as if falling back into a very relaxed, sleepy situation.
And what kind of information was in fact obtained from Mr Pillay? --- It was nothing at all. It was absolutely clear to me as a bystander that this man was sure not actively involved in any ANC operations any more.
For how long was Mr Pillay kept at the observatory? --- If my memory serves me right that day from the afternoon until late that night, and he might have slept there the night, because we slept in a house. They've got four houses at the observatory, I think A to D, different category houses. We slept in house B, and the next morning Mr Pillay was transferred to Sergeant Koos Schutte's house, where in the servant's quarters he then stayed with David Tshikalanga guarding him, awaiting further instructions, because then in the meantime there was the international outcry as a result of the arrest of the askaris in Swaziland, and the knowledge that Joe Pillay has been abducted and were in South Africa.
Why was he taken to Sergeant Schutte's house? --- He was illegally detained. I was awaiting further orders. There was then indications that he would have to be returned to Swaziland at some stage, because that Sunday afternoon General Johan Coetzee and a senior officer from Foreign Affairs met with the Swazi authorities at Nersten Border Post, and they then agreed to arrange R800,00 bail
for the askaris that were arrested in Swaziland during their first appearance, and that we would then smuggle them back in the boot to South Africa, and then they would take Joe Pillay back to Swaziland after his bruises has healed a little bit. So Sergeant Koos Schutte and David Tshikalanga took Mr Pillay to Lothair Police Station, where he was handed over to Lieutenant Chris Dieklifs.
CHAIRMAN: What police station? --- Lothair. Lothair. Just outside Ermelo there's a police station, Lothair Police Station, on the way to Swaziland. Where he was then kept by Lieutenant Chris Dieklifs for a week, I believe, and then taken back in the boot of the car to Swaziland, handed a few rand, R15,00 I think, if I remember correctly, and just - and Dieklifs came back. And that was how that matter was eventually settle.
MR JANSEN: How were you informed of - or how did Pillay's movement from Koos Schutte's house to Lothair, and further to Swaziland - how did that come to your knowledge? --- By Brigadier Willem Skoon. Sergeant Koos Schutte himself, and then by Brigadier Willem Skoon on the morning meetings.
And at what stages were Mr Pillay guarded by Mr Tshikalanga? --- Just when we had tea, or a lunch break, or we discussed something, we would bring Mr Tshikalanga in to just sit with Mr Pillay.
You said that there was a plan or an agreement that the askaris would be granted bail and that they would be smuggled back. What in fact happened? --- They were granted bail in the end of the first court appearance, R800,00 each. Ermelo Police, Chris Dieklifs, brought them back in the boot of the car, him and his men, to South
Africa, and nothing ever happened again. Nothing was ever
heard of it again.
Was that reported to you? --- That's correct.
Now, were any disciplinary steps ever taken against you within the police because of the Pillay incident? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman.
If you could just bear with me for a moment, Mr Chairman. (Pause) What would the purpose have been of abducting somebody from Swaziland for purpose of interrogation? --- It happened in the past, and people were charged after being abducted from Swaziland in court cases in South Africa. There's record of that. If a case could be prove against him of involvement in some so-called illegal activities during those days.
And if such a court case, or such a case could not be proven what would then have been the purpose? --- I am sure if the askaris were not caught, if they came out clean, and it was proven in the end that Mr Pillay did not know nothing at all, there was a point of non return that they always talk about. "We can't send him back now, it'll cause an international outcry," and the next instruction, I am 100% sure, would have been to get rid of him.
But what would have been the purpose of his interrogation? --- To get information out of him as much as possible. If there's no involvement at all in any cases where they can charge him for then get as much information as possible of other ANC cadres, their movements, their houses in Swaziland.
The interrogation of somebody for purposes of getting information from them, was that something strange
or out of the ordinary for a Security Policeman at the
time? --- No, not at all. It wasn't.
And the original planning or the mentioned of the possible abduction of Mr Pillay, from where did that come? --- If my memory serves me right, from Brigadier Skoon.
CHAIRMAN: Again those orders were conveyed to you by him, is that it? --- By him, that's correct.
To you? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman. One should just acknowledge too the fact that the Eastern Transvaal Regional Branch, the Regional Head Office, was fully involved because Ermelo Branch was falling under the Regional Eastern Transvaal at the time.
MR JANSEN: Now, if the suggestion would be made to you when van der Lith phoned you and said that they had abducted somebody, why did you not instruct van der Lith to immediately return that person to Swaziland? --- No, the idea was to get him out to South Africa and to get the askaris out immediately, because if he was then returned to Swaziland at that stage the askaris were still in Swaziland, they were all there. If you returned Joe Pillay at that stage he would have gone to the police, and the askaris - what eventually did happen in any case - would have then been picked up by the Swazi Police as a result of the abduction that has been completed, and the return would have just made it an open and closed case for the arrest of the askaris then.
Then just to recap. The instruction to take Mr Pillay to Pretoria for purposes of interrogation, did that instruction also come from Skoon? --- The original one after Koos phoned me that night came from me, Dirk Coetzee. What would have happened after, if it was
planned, and the plans were intact and agree on, I am sure that would have been the instruction from Brigadier Skoon too, yes.
And the calling up Captain Taylor and - from Durban, where did that instruction emanate from? --- Brigadier Skoon and higher up. It wasn't made by me. I was just told to sit and wait, and that Captain Andy Taylor and Jerry Fourie were on their way.
Did you understand your part, or the general practice of detaining and interrogating them, whether legally or illegally, as serving some function in the war against the ANC? --- Can you just repeat the question.
Did you at the time consider that the interrogation of people, whether they are being held legally or illegally, was part and parcel of the war against the ANC? --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
Thank you, Mr Chairman, I have no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN
CHAIRMAN: When did you first see Mr Pillay after his abduction? --- I beg your pardon, sorry?
When did you first see Mr Pillay after his abduction? --- At Vlakplaas when the Ermelo - two persons from Ermelo, which was Sergeant Chris Rorich and Constable Johan something, arrived with him ... (inaudible - end of Side A, Tape 1) ... Mr Chairman.
And you noticed that he was already badly injured? --- He was severely beaten up, yes.
Severely beaten up. --- Yes, Mr Chairman.
Is anything done about people who are severely beaten up before interrogation? Is there such thing as medical treatment, x-rays and so on? Is that done? ---
/No, not at
No, not at all if they want to keep - if a person is so severely beaten up that he might die, or would not be in a position to be interrogated, they would always get in a doctor's friend, or a private practitioner whom they know very well, or a army doctor, to sort of patch him up to keep him alive while interrogation is going on, but not officially, Mr Chairman.
What were you told about Mr Pillay before all this took place? --- That he was part of the ANC Natal machinery, one of the more senior guys.
That's all? --- That's all.
That's all. And what was he doing in Swaziland? --- I later learned that he was teaching in Swaziland after this all happened.
Yes. --- He was a teacher.
It now transpires that a terrible offence was committed against a man who, to your knowledge now, did not deserve all this. --- Was absolutely innocent, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
Mr Mshe, did I understand correctly that Mr Pillay is in Canada at present?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, that is so, Mr Pillay is in Canada. And, Mr Chairman, Mr Pillay was contacted and he has since submitted a statement that he - in his letter, I've got a covering letter where he states that this letter can be - this statement can be made use of at the Truth Commission hearing, that is this hearing. I was going to inform the Committee that at the end of the evidence that I have that letter, which copy I am going to read into the record and give copies to the members of the Committee. He is not here himself, but he is aware of
what is happening now as per his letter.
CHAIRMAN: Is there anybody here present, or who can be readily available, who actually saw the beating up of Pillay? --- Except for the part at the observatory, where I personally was present with Major Kallie Steyn and Tobie van Rensburg, as far as Jerry Fourie and Andy Taylor is concerned, only the askaris, who are available. All of them still - except Petrus Kgaodi, who was killed, but Thabu Magagi is still available, Jeff Busigu is still available. Something might tell me even Stephen Mbanda, who was also connected, before it was started to become an askari, to the specific machinery, Natal machinery. There's people available, yes.
(Inaudible) ... they were involved in the actual abduction. --- That's correct. And of course, Mr Chairman, I think if one can speak to the station commander of Lothair Police Station at the time, and Chris Dieklifs can also confirm this, and Koos Schutte, Sergeant Koos Schutte, is also still available. And apart from that Mr David Tshikalanga can, I am sure, reflect what injuries he had. And of course Mr van der Lith too, Lieutenant Koos van der Lith, JAC van der Lith, J A C van der Lith, that's now a colonel at Pietersburg.
Mr Mshe, are there questions you wish to put to this witness?
QUESTIONED BY MR MSHE:
Mr Coetzee, when Joe Pillay was interrogated and assaulted by Andy Taylor and Jerry Fourie in Pretoria were you present? --- I was present, yes, Mr Chairman.
Can you tell this Committee how was he being assaulted by these two people in detail please? --- As /I indicated
I indicated it was a few clouts with the back-hand and an
open hand, because he was so severely beaten up, and of course the assault with the so-called truth serum that was administered, which of course is also assault.
Did you partake in the assault yourself? --- Not at all, Mr Chairman.
What did you do at the time when this assault was taking place, and interrogation? What role did you play? --- I was just standing by, Mr Chairman, like the two Military Intelligence officers, Major Kallie Steyn and Tobie van Rensburg.
Mr Coetzee, the Pretoria you are referring to here, is it the Vlakplaas? Where the interrogation was taking place was it at the Vlakplaas? --- The - can you just repeat the question please.
Where you say the interrogation and assault by Andy Taylor and Fourie took place in Pretoria, was it at Vlakplaas? --- No, Mr Chairman, it was the observatory on - I think it's Johan Rissik Drive if I have got it correct, next to Klapperkop Fort. There's this observatory which is converted into a secret military base, where they always had secret meetings from - with revolutionaries from Angola and - such as Jonas Savimbi and people from Mozambique.
MR DE JAGER: That was an old fort in the 1900 war, and it was converted into a museum sort of. --- The observatory, Mr Chairman?
Yes. Isn't that the one at Klapperkop. --- It is not on that same premises, it's just past Klapperkop Fort. There is this observatory, and it's got a bunker, an underground bunker, which is converted into a lecture
hall, and as I say they had specific houses there, certain
class houses, an A, B, C and a D house, where they kept secret guests during meetings that they held at that dome. It was converted in a very ultra modern meeting hall.
Now, as you have indicated that you were just there when the interrogation assault was taking place, what role were you to play there? --- Nothing at all apart from looking after Joe Pillay, because Joe Pillay was abducted by my people, and I had to await further instructions, depending on the outcome of the interrogation of Andy Taylor and Jerry Fourie.
What would the, "look after," involve or entail, Mr Coetzee? --- I beg your pardon?
What would the, "look after Joe Pillay," entail? What were you to do in order to show that you were looking after him? --- Well, he was my responsibility as far as to prevent him from getting away, escaping, to get him back to Lothair, or wherever I was instructed to get him to, so I was just standing by.
To prevent him from getting away or running away, and to ensuring that what is to be done - meaning the assault interrogation takes place on him. Is that what you mean? --- Well, actually Andy Taylor and Jerry Fourie was just doing the interrogation. He was my baby, if you want to call it that way, because he was abducted by my people. And it was up to headquarters, Brigadier Skoon, Mr Chairman, to eventually then decide on his fate. So I had to be present the whole time, and I was present until he was removed by Sergeant Koos Schutte to Lothair Police Station.
You see, Mr Coetzee, that's what I have a problem
with. You say he was your baby because he was abducted by
your people. Now, if he was your baby what were you to do with him? --- I had to be the man responsible to guard him, awaiting further instructions depending on the outcome of the interrogation, Mr Chairman.
Was he detained at various places, various police stations? --- No, he was not detained at any other police station than Lothair Police Station in the end, but not whilst being in Pretoria.
Was he at all the time under your surveillance? --- He was until - up to the time that I took him to Sergeant Schutte's house, to the servant's quarters, where he then stayed with David Tshikalanga for a very short time. I can't remember whether he slept there a night or two before we were ordered to let him go to - or that he must be taken to Lothair Police Station.
Will I be correct to state that since you were always present you witnessed all the assaults - all the further assaults on him up til he was released back into Swaziland? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Can you tell then, Mr Coetzee, all the assaults that took place on him - when and how was this done. --- It was ... (intervention)
Other than the Pretoria assault. --- No, just in Pretoria at the observatory. After that he was not assaulted at all when it was proved that he knew nothing. It was a question of the Chief of Security, General Johan Coetzee, and a senior official from Foreign Affairs that has sorted out the problem with the Swazi authorities already then, and it was a concern to get the bruises healed as quickly as possible. They couldn't take him
back at that same day, or day thereafter, because his eyes
were blue, purple blue, and his face was swollen, and they had to keep him to sort of get that sort of healed in some way before they could take him back.
Now, for how long was he in your custody before he could be released back home? --- In Pretoria I would guess two, maybe three days, Mr Chairman.
Now, you said in Pretoria, and where else was he kept? --- Lothair Police Station.
For how long? --- For about a week, where he was under the supervision and in the custody of Ermelo Security Branch, more specific the branch commander, Lieutenant Chris Dieklifs.
And where again? --- After that he took him through to Swaziland in the boot of the car. He wasn't detained any further.
So all in all he was in your custody for a period of eight days, will I be right? --- In my personal custody in Pretoria about two, I would guess, maybe three days.
Then you handed him over. --- Then Sergeant Schutte and Mr David Tshikalanga took him to Lothair Police Station.
But I thought you said he was your baby, you were to take care of him. Now, why didn't you be with him right through up until his release? --- Sergeant Koos Schutte was one of my men, and as well as David Tshikalanga, and I was then ordered by Brigadier Skoon, after the meeting with the Swazi authorities by our senior officers and senior people in Foreign Affairs, to hand him over to Chris Dieklifs at Ermelo Security, who worked the Swaziland area and who would see to it that he gets back
to Swaziland. There was no a question of further interrogation or assaults at all, but only a question of healing of his wounds and then get him back to Swaziland.
Now, Mr Coetzee, besides the assault on him by Taylor and Fourie in Pretoria, as you have indicated, the other five days when he was not in your custody, did you know that he was being assaulted there as well? --- At Lothair Police Station?
Yes. --- Not at all. I wasn't present. I would not know.
Did you ever get a report as to what was done to him whilst in their custody? --- He was cared for in a very good way, they say, to win his friendship back and for his wounds to heal, and then they took him to Swaziland. But he was not at all further interrogated or assaulted according to the reports that I received.
I see. Did you believe in those reports? --- Well, I would if one think that at what level international outcry that caused, and the senior people involved in sorting the problem out with the Swazi authorities, and the agreement made there afterwards. So I think it was a question to get this row over as quickly and as quietly possible without inflicting any further injuries to the already badly beaten up Mr Pillay.
Mr Coetzee, if evidence can be led that Mr Pillay at once stage was further assaulted, in that his pants were ripped open and his private parts were squeezed, what would your response be to that? --- Where did this happen? Not in my presence, Mr Chairman.
Yes, that is precisely why I am coming with this, because you have said to me now that you believed the
reports, and especially that there was that outcry, international outcry, so you believed that no further assaults took place on him. --- That's correct.
What would your response be now to what I've said to you. --- I would not be able to argue with that because if it happened whilst he was in Lothair I would accept his word for that, but I don't know about it, and it was never conveyed to me in such a manner.
And if it is further stated that he was tied with a rope around the neck and the chest and pierced with a pin right through in the police station, and assaulted, what would your response be to that one as well? --- In Pretoria?
No, when he was not in your custody. --- I mean I can't go against it, I haven't been present, I haven't seen it, but it'll be very, very strange, because as I say the orders came from right from the top after the international outcry, and I would very much doubt if any policeman will then still try to pull rank and convert to such atrocities. But I can't deny it because, as I say, I wasn't present.
Yes. Mr Coetzee, I am saying this because I have in my possession a letter, or rather a statement which I am going to ask permission of the Committee to read into the record, written by ... (intervention)
WILSON J: Sir, you said evidence, if evidence was led. Are you going to lead evidence?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, I am not going to lead evidence, I am going to ... (intervention)
WILSON J: Well, why put to the witness, "If evidence was led," if you are not going to do that?
MR NGOEPE: I think the correct thing to do - I just assumed that you were picking up those things from the letter, but the correct way of dealing with it would have been to read paragraph by paragraph from the letter and put it to the witness and then invite his comment. That would have been a better way of dealing with it.
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman. That is what I intended doing right now when the question was asked my learned friend - ag, by the member of the Committee, that I am going to read the contents of the statement to him and invite his comments, and what I have said is actually from the statement itself. Thank you. With the Court's permission I want to hand over the part of the documents. That will be Exhibit D, Mr Chairman.
LETTER AND STATEMENT OF MR PILLAY HANDED IN AS EXHIBIT D
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, I just want to inform the Committee that the statement is preceded by a letter, where Joe Pillay himself explains certain things, but I am going to start reading from page 5, where it is stated, "In the matter of the judicial inquiry in South Africa." Mr Chairman, may I propose that I read the whole statement first into the record, and thereafter go back to the salient parts of the statement, if that is ... (intervention)
MR DE JAGER: Yes, but if you're handing it in as an exhibit, or as a document, official document, I don't know why my learned Brothers want it to be read in also. It forms part of the record already when handed in.
CHAIRMAN: No point is served in your reading the entire statement, Mr Mshe. We have it before us and it forms part of the record. If there are passages which you wish
to highlight, and on which you wish to put questions to the witness, you might as well give him sight of the statement. (Pause)
MR MSHE: Mr Coetzee, as - are you reading? Am I disturbing you? Did you want to read something? --- No, no, I'm - Mr Chairman, I just see this place where he mentioned that his genitals were squeezed and his pants were torn open. That was after the askaris abducted him, whilst he was still in Swaziland, and he's describing what happened in the car whilst they were driving towards the border.
Well, you wouldn't know, you were not there. --- No, no, I wouldn't know, but I mean the incident Mr Mshe has - Advocate Mshe has referred to I see is on page 2, paragraph 9.
WILSON J: Look at page 4, paragraph 26.
INTERPRETER: The speaker's mike was not on.
MR MSHE: Once you finish reading paragraph 26 tell me. I would like to put a question to you. --- Right. (Pause) Ja, he's - this specific page 26 he's referring to did not happen where his pants were torn open, and the thing that was attached to his temples - is that in the middle of the arm, or - must have been the truth serum that they administered at that stage.
As I read through this paragraph, this statement, I get the impression that he was not - he doesn't know exactly as to where he was taken to. He doesn't know the particular places where he was taken to. --- That's correct.
Was he blindfolded as he was being moved from one place to the other? --- He was brought to Oshoek in
the boot - ag, to Vlakplaas from Oshoek in the boot of a car, and if I remember correctly he was blindfolded taken to the observatory, Mr Chairman.
And did he remain blindfolded during the interrogation? --- Most of the time, yes. I think, if I remember correctly, Mr Chairman.
So he wouldn't know exactly at which place it was where his trousers were ripped open and where he was assaulted in all the various ways that he describes on page 4, which you have just read. --- Absolutely not, except whilst in the car from Swaziland. Otherwise I don't think he would have known the exact place.
But the interrogation in Pretoria, bearing in mind that he spent only two days in Pretoria, the interrogation must have all the time surely taken place in your presence. --- Yes, it was. That afternoon let - especially it was later afternoon, towards evening, in that bunker at the observatory, the Military Intelligence base. That's correct.
I have heard your evidence, but the impression I get here is that even though he does not mention the place, and given the fact that he spent only two days in Pretoria, and in your company, the impression I get from these pages is that most probably these things - the fact that his head was covered with a canvas bag, etcetera, etcetera, and all these things, and he was kept in handcuffs and shackles, most probably this must have been in Pretoria. --- Yes, it's true, Mr Chairman.
Do you recall those happenings? --- Not that his pants has been ripped open and - the only thing that happened, there was - there was in a way as - all I can
say, a few clouts he did receive, ja, well hard clouts by the open hand, because he looked pathetic, he was really badly assaulted already. And as far as his - I can remember whilst he was lying on a stretcher with a drip in his arm, and it is not to humiliate or what, but he had an erection and was fiddling with it, and that I say because that might give the indication of what kind of drip that was administered, but not at all his trousers were ripped - ripped open. Not in my presence for sure, and I was present the whole time I can assure you.
Was a du Plessis present during the interrogation? --- I was. I was present.
No, a certain du Plessis. --- Du Plessis?
You mentioned ... (incomplete) --- Yes, I first mentioned, then I said I think it's Tobie van Rensburg. No, Major Kallie Steyn, Tobie van Rensburg, Andy Taylor and Jerry Fourie, myself and David Tshikalanga.
Well, do you recall an occasion where a shot was fired at close range? --- No, not at all. Not in Pretoria whilst being interrogated.
Do you recall an occasion when he asked for water, and his request was turned down? --- That was possible. I can't clearly remember it, but that is quite possible.
WILSON J: Were there cannons, old cannons, at the observatory? --- Yes, there was.
And was the hall there about 60 feet by 30 feet, a large hall? --- It's a large underground hall, that's 100% correct.
But it makes it clear that that was the second place ... (intervention)
INTERPRETER: Sorry, the speaker's mikes are not on. The speaker's mikes are not on.
WILSON J: (Inaudible) ... the second place he was assaulted in. He refers to having - the vehicle arriving at its destination, and he was taken out and assaulted where the shot was fired. --- That must have been Vlakplaas, and for sure there was nothing we could interrogate him about at Vlakplaas because we an absolute no knowledge of his - what he knew about the ANC operations in Natal. But his first destination was Vlakplaas. There I was present personally.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Coetzee, was he ever taken to Sergeant Koos Schutte' house? --- He was. I can remember that whilst sitting on the back lawn at the back of the house it was on the news, the Pillay abduction that night. He heard it and he referred to it specifically.
And for how long was he detained at Schutte's house? --- It could have been a day or two, awaiting the outcome of the negotiations between General Johan Coetzee and the senior officials of Foreign Affairs at Nersen Border Post. I can't exactly say how many days.
Were you present when he was detained there? --- I left. I was there for long periods of time, and I left to my house. I think he slept there a night or two. I might be wrong, but Sergeant Schutte will be able to help.
So you wouldn't be able to know whether he was further assaulted whilst kept in custody at Schutte's house. --- I can't say first-hand, but I can fairly 100% assure you that he would not have been assaulted. Sergeant Schutte was the farm foreman, actually a very soft-hearted, kind guy. He just looked after the farm and
the vehicles on the farm. And David Tshikalanga was with him all that time, so I am sure David will be able to say whether that have happened.
CHAIRMAN: The order to have Pillay released was issued by who? --- It came from Brigadier Skoon, but I accept that it was ordered then from General Johan Coetzee after the meeting that they had at Nersten Border Post with the Swazi officials.
MR NGOEPE: I notice that he gives details of the assault which you didn't mention. He says,
"I verily believe that one of the captains was named Dirk Coetzee."
--- He's correct, and there were three of us captains there, and ... (intervention)
But the instance of my question is that he gives details of the assault which you didn't give us, and says that those assaults took place in your presence. --- It did.
Well then you should have told us about those assaults. --- I did. I said it was a few clouts that were given him. He was so badly beaten up when he arrived they really did not fisted - assaulted him with a fist ... (intervention)
No, he's saying more than that, a lot more than that. He says his head was covered with a bag, he was given water to drink. The water tasted unnatural, and he was later told that it did contain a drug. And that he was taken into a building in which were written the words, "Know your enemies," and so on and so forth. And then he was told - he was taunted. He was reminded about what they called a "flying Indian," and then they mentioned
Timol, whom we all know that he was allegedly - he allegedly jumped from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square building, and then he was told that that would - the same thing would happen to him. And then he goes on to say that there were two captains, and one of them was Captain Dirk Coetzee. --- That's correct, and it's quite possible that that could have been the line of conversation that they spoke to him.
Is it possible that he could have been taunted in that way? --- I beg your pardon?
Is it possible that he could have been taunted in that manner, in that fashion? --- Yes, yes, it's possible.
Well, I would have thought you would remember that, Mr Coetzee, surely. --- No, it's a long time ago, Mr Chairman, and as I say, exact things - I tried to remember as much as possible, but I mean he wasn't given VIP treatment. That I can assure you. And he would have been taunted. That's the normal way that they go about it. He was assaulted, but his pants were for sure not ripped open.
And his head was covered with a canvas bag ... (intervention) --- He was - as I said ... (incomplete)
... for a long time. --- Quite possible, because he was blindfolded, and it's an old method that they cover a guy's - I don't know whether they tried to sort of just blindfold him with it, or - what does he specific say about it? I am not at the page that you read off. Mr Chairman, can you just say?
CHAIRMAN: This was to increase his general discomfort and feel terribly distressed, so that he can't breathe
properly. In other words everything that could be done to humiliate him, to make him totally uncomfortable, was done. --- Absolutely true, Mr Chairman, but as I say, blindfolded for most of the time for sure, in such a way that I think that he couldn't breathe properly at times. That is sure.
MR DE JAGER: Was Stephen Mbanda present at the interrogation? --- Not at all.
Because he mentioned the name of Stephen Mbanda.
"During the course of that I was again shackled to the cannon, WR38, and questioned. The men then adjourned and began consuming alcohol. I was permitted to sleep briefly, but was wakened up by a man personally known to me as Steven Mbanda, also known as Sipho. Mbanda then subjected me to a violent physical assault, eventually stopped by several of the other men. The questioning then continued, along with numerous beatings. The following morning all of the men were reading newspapers. I was then permitted to wash and use the toilet facilities. Several days later I was again blindfolded and taken to another part of the building. I was placed on a ... my arm was injected with a drug, which I verily believe to be a form of what is commonly known as a truth serum, but that was several days later. And I was
"again questioned. On or about the 26th of February I was advised that I was going to be released."
WILSON J: Do you know Stephen Mbanda? --- I know him very well.
Do you know who he's talking about? --- I know him very well, Mr Chairman. He was one of the askaris on Vlakplaas, and he was also involved in that specific area of Natal machinery, also a senior member of that. That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And did you adjourn, as he said, or break off and start drinking there? --- No, not in his presence for sure.
Well, did you ... (intervention) --- Maybe that night at home.
Not whilst at the observatory? --- No, not at all.
MR DE JAGER: According to him he wasn't assaulted at all at Lothair. He was taken to Lothair Police Station, kept there for a day or so, and then taken further.
"On or about ..."
It's paragraph 44.
"On or about the evening of February 26th I was blindfolded and put into the back of a truck. We drove for several hours and I was left overnight in the car ..."
and then he refers to Struiker(?), who stood guard.
"The following morning the police vehicle proceeded to Lothair Police Station. I was locked in a cell."
That would be round about then the 27th of -
"On or about the 10th of March I was taken from the cell and transferred to another car."
So he was at Lothair from - it seems to be the 27th of February until the 10th of March, but it doesn't seem as though he was assaulted at Lothair. All these assaults was in the five-day period round about that he was kept at - as it seems to be, the observatory. --- And while abducted, that's correct, yes.
So he wasn't there only for a day or two, he was kept for quite a while at the observatory. --- Well, one will have to look at dates specifically. I accept Mr Pillay - his abduction was when again, Mr Chairman? Can you just remind me?
MR JANSEN: The 19th. --- The 19th of November, and he was taken to 26th. I can't think that it was that long because he was - according to my memory he was not at all detained at ... (intervention)
WILSON J: He was abducted on the 12th of February. --- Was it on the 12th?
MR JANSEN: No, with respect, Mr Chairman, my recollection from all the records that I have in my possession is that it was the 19th. In paragraph 3 of the affidavit. --- Ja, the 19th.
CHAIRMAN: Was Stephen Mbanda one of the people who were sent to Swaziland to abduct Joe Pillay? --- He could have been one of the guys, yes, Mr Chairman. As I said I can't remember all the names. One will have to look at the court records of Manzini, and then one man stayed behind, but I'm - but I think he refers to him as Jeff Busigu, who stayed behind and accompanied him. Somewhere
I've seen it. Paragraph 15.
"I was advised that ... was Jeff Busigu. Busigu and Lieutenant ..."
this is van der Lith he's referring to,
"... got into the vehicle, and I have been advised and do verily believe that the remaining four men returned to Swaziland."
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Coetzee, was Mr Mbanda present at the observatory assault? --- As far as I can remember the only guy from Vlakplaas that was present was Mr David Tshikalanga, but not Mr Stephen Mbanda as far as I can remember.
According to your evidence he was initially taken to observatory, later taken to Sergeant Schutte's house. --- That's correct.
And ultimately transferred to Lothair Police Station. --- That's correct.
Now, reading this document I don't seem to see him placing himself in Sergeant Schutte's house. Could he be mistaken? --- He can ... (intervention)
He seems to be very specific with dates. --- He can, Mr Chairman. If one would remind him of the news bulletin the night which - when he heard his name on TV, he will specifically remember the incident where we sat on the lawn behind Sergeant Schutte's house and he said, "That's my name that's mentioned there." And as far as the detention, I wouldn't like to say Mr Pillay is at all lying, but I would like to know possibly from the police detention records at Lothair to see exactly what times, because in my memory it was a very short stint that he
spent in Pretoria. Maybe a maximum of three, four days, because I know it was sorted out very quickly, the uproar. Is it possible to sort of ascertain what was the specific day that he was abducted, because that very Sunday the meeting between Foreign Affairs, General Johan Coetzee and the senior officials of the Swazi Police took place on Nersen Border Post?
MR DE JAGER: According to him he was in Pretoria - he was abducted on the 19th. He would have been brought to Pretoria say round about the 20th or the 21st, and he was again taken back to Lothair round about the 25th, and he arrived at Lothair on the 26th, so it was only a period of five days, six days in Pretoria. --- A short stint. Ja, to my memory it's a short stint. It wasn't long.
MR JANSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman, to the extent that it could be of assistance, I have, with the aid of modern technology, ascertained that the 19th of February in 1981 was on a Thursday. --- A Thursday, so the meeting would have taken place between Foreign Affairs - I know it was on a Sunday that the general had to go down to Nersen Border Post.
CHAIRMAN: The Sunday of the same week? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Mr Mshe, you were interrupted by members of the Committee, and it's over to you to carry on, but I want to know whether it's convenient for us to take the break now and resume within 15 minutes? Yes, we will take a short adjournment of 15 minutes.
DIRK JOHANNES COETZEE
QUESTIONS BY MR MSHE CONTINUED:
Mr Coetzee, I know that honourable members of the Committee have asked you about certain paragraphs in the Exhibit D, but I am going to ask you please to bear with me because I want to go through some of the paragraphs with you. --- Yes.
With particular reference to page 3, starting on page 3, from paragraph 19, up until page 6, paragraph 40. --- Well, up to page 6.
Yes, from page 3 up to page 6. --- Yes, Mr Chairman.
Now, we are going to handle it in this fashion. I am going to ask you to have a look at the contents of paragraph 19 and tell whether you know about the contents of paragraph 19, just like that up to the last paragraph. --- I will - Mr Chairman, will you just allow me please - or excuse me if I just refer to paragraph 18, before. That was Ermelo apparently where he was left that night, not apparently for sure. Then paragraph 19 refers to his journey from Ermelo to Vlakplaas.
That is paragraph 19 refers to Vlakplaas? --- Ja, from - his trip from Ermelo to Vlakplaas. (Pause) Yes, as I say I can't comment specifically what went on, but that was for sure the Ermelo Security Branch people putting him in the boot of the car and driving to Vlakplaas with him. That is what paragraph 19 is referring to.
And this was always in your knowledge? --- That he was on his way to Vlakplaas, ja.
Yes, but what I am trying to say is the contents of the paragraph were in your knowledge? You knew about this incident? --- That he was on his way to Vlakplaas, yes, I did.
About the assaults that ... (intervention)
CHAIRMAN: Are you talking about the details in paragraph 19 about the nature of the assault and so on?
MR MSHE: The assaults as mentioned on paragraph 19. --- No, not at all.
You didn't know. --- As I say, no knowledge of it at all.
Good. Paragraph 20? Thanks, Mr Chairman. Paragraph 20? --- That was now arriving at Vlakplaas, Mr Chairman.
The assault therein? --- Let me just get to it please. (Pause) He was for sure not viciously assaulted. I would accept that he would receive a clout or two. That I would. There is no du Plessis at Vlakplaas for sure, and never was in my time. But some of the juniors could have done that, give him a clout or two, yes. It's possible, quite possible, Mr Chairman.
And the happening on paragraph 21? Oh, you have already responded to this. --- Yes, I ... (intervention)
As questioned by one of the Committee members. Paragraph 22? --- I am just thinking of the - excuse me, Mr Chairman - the young Constable Johan, but I don't think he was du Plessis. Not at all. Paragraph 22. (Pause) No, the only thing I can testify to here in all honesty is that he was blindfolded and his hands and feet were shackled, chained together. That's correct,
You knew about this prior to seeing this on the letter? --- I knew to ... (incomplete)
This has always been in your knowledge? --- That's correct. That's correct.
Now, why was this not disclosed? --- Well, as I say, I can't - the specific details. I am sure - it's 15 years ago. I am sure that Sergeant Schutte or anyone else, or maybe Mr David Tshikalanga, will be able to add many more to it. So it's not a question that it was on purposely withheld from the Commission. That was not at all the intention.
Paragraph 24? --- 23, "I requested water." That could also be true, that he requested water but it was refused.
24? --- No, it's not at all true. I would have seen it. Not at all true. It couldn't have happened without me observing it.
And 25? --- No, it's not true, Mr Chairman. As I say, one must remember it was already towards afternoon and the news was already out that the askaris were picked up in Swaziland, and I can assure you it was panic stations, big panic stations in the South African Police, and especially the people that were involved in this abduction of Mr Pillay. So it would have been a very stupid act to add to his injuries, which at that stage could have been explained to the askaris, and to treat him in such a way.
And 26? --- (Pause) No, it's not true.
28? --- And 27 was also not true because Captain Jerry Fourie and Captain Andy Taylor were on their way
from Durban with the knowledge, if he had any knowledge, to check on it whether he had any knowledge. And then page ... (incomplete)
Page 5, paragraph 28. --- That was the journey. The journey he's referring to is Vlakplaas to the observatory, which is about 15 kilometres apart, and it couldn't have taken a number of hours, because it was already arranged with Military Intelligence, so it's about a half an hour's drive at the most from - if it's that long.
But you have already indicated to a question that was put to you that it's possible that a canvas bag was put over his head? --- Ja. Ja, it is true. He was blindfolded, that's correct.
No 29? --- That could be true, because he was always shackled to something, and he was kept shackled onto objects that couldn't be moved. That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And this was also not disclosed earlier on. --- Ja. As I say, I said that in my presence at Vlakplaas he was shackled, hand and foot chained. That I did say. And he was kept in that position from trip to trip, from building to building, as we transferred him.
Let's move to page 6, paragraph 36.
MR DE JAGER: Paragraph 30 I would like a comment on. --- He was not at all given water with any substance in at any time, Mr Chairman. And the next page 31 - ag, the next paragraph, "Sounds of jet fighters." Quite true, because we were very near to Waterkloof Air Force Base. And paragraph 32, there was no warrant-officer present there. It was Captain Andy Taylor, myself, a captain,
Captain Jerry Fourie, and Major Kallie Steyn with Sergeant Tobie van Rensburg. And the humiliation like in 33, quite true. It could be possible. I can't verify it in specific terms And I'm sure that - it's strange to me that he specifically from all these people who interrogated him, whilst we call one by names, he remembered my name only, so I would think that he picked that up in the Harms Commission, because Andy Taylor and Jerry Fourie was the main persons there. I was more on the background as Dirk Coetzee. And for sure we didn't refer to one another as Dirk Coetzee and Jerry Fourie, we said Jerry and Andy and Dirk and Struiker. Words like that were used.
Was there a lieutenant? --- I beg your pardon?
Was there a lieutenant, one of ... (intervention) --- No, there was not. I am sure as - if we can just get back to my book 2 there, it was all captains. I was already a captain, and Andy Taylor was with me in the same officer school in 1975, so he was a captain, and Jerry Fourie was our senior. He was already a captain a year or two before us. And Major Steyn, Kallie Steyn of the army, was a major.
At that time could he ... (inaudible) --- No, he was a major for sure. He was by far our senior.
MR MSHE: Can we move to paragraph 36 on page 6? --- 35 is true. 36? He slept that first night at the observatory. That's how I could recall it too, because we slept there too. He was left with Struiker in the bunker, chained and shackled to the - to some object that he couldn't be moved from.
37? --- I beg your pardon? Sorry, Mr Chairman?
37? --- That can be 100% true, yes, Mr Chairman. I can't remember it specific, but as I say it sounds absolute true.
38? --- So the following morning would have been the 21st of February, after he arrived at the observatory very late that afternoon, maybe round about 5 o'clock on the 2nd of February (sic), Friday. So the 21st, the morning with the water, was then a Saturday.
"During the course of that day I was shackled to the cannon and questioned ... (inaudible) ... adjourned and began consuming alcohol."
I can assure you we would not have consumed alcohol in that building, in that lecture hall. It was actually a lecture hall with like in a school classroom, tables and chairs, with a blackboard in front where people were obviously lectured. One could see that. And if we consumed alcohol we would have done it in the house, and I think we lived in D house. I am sure that can be checked and verified.
But, Captain, what would stop you from consuming liquor in a lecture hall? --- I beg your pardon?
What is there to stop you consuming liquor in a lecture hall? --- Alcohol? Well, we were on Military Intelligence premises. The previous night we were ordered not to come out underground. Admiral Bruce Pitter was there, and Brigadier - or General van der Westhuizen of Intelligence, because that specific night there was a meeting on between Jonas Savimbi and the South African Government, and they flew him in and we were not allowed to get out. And we were frequently visited by Military
Intelligence officers, and I am sure they wouldn't have been happy whilst being on duty during the day drinking alcohol in the lecture hall of that base.
MR DE JAGER: But it's not quite clear that it was in a lecture hall.
"During the course of that day I was again shackled to the cannon and questioned. The men then adjourned and began consuming alcohol."
--- Well, if we adjourned, Mr Chairman, then he couldn't have seen that we've used alcohol. He stayed underground permanently in the bunker, in the underground ... (intervention)
Mr Coetzee, did you consume alcohol during that period or not? --- It is quite possible, yes, Mr Chairman.
MR MSHE: You have already responded to paragraph 39. Paragraph 40? --- He was not - he did receive a clout or two from these people questioning him, Andy Taylor and Jerry Fourie, but I can assure you not vicious assaults because, as I say, because of the political uproar it caused, because of the predicament we were in as a result of the arrest of the askaris, they were for sure not going for a full out beating and further punishing on Mr Pillay.
Thank you, Mr Coetzee. Now, in your evidence you made mention of a doctor who administered the serum. Who is this doctor? --- It was an army doctor brought in. I am not sure whether it was on the first night of the 20th, or the following morning. An army doctor in brown uniform. He was never introduced to us. He was taken into a small little room right behind - still in the
bunker underground, but right behind the lecture hall, where he was made to lie down on a stretcher. Not a couch. I don't know what's the actual difference between it, but in any case. And that could have at the latest been on the Saturday morning. I see he mentions in paragraph 42,
"Several days later I was again blindfolded and taken to another part of the building."
It's absolutely not true. It happened either on that Friday in the evening, or at the latest that Saturday morning, in that same building. Ja, as I say, it was little room right behind the lecture hall.
Now, this military doctor, from which military base was he? --- I can't really say, but I am sure Major Steyn, Kallie Steyn, will be able to give the exact particulars. He was never introduced to us. He came in with a drip, the fluid he had was in a drip. They hanged it up on - I can't remember what it was, and then administered it into Mr Pillay's vein intravenous.
Good. Now, the administering of this serum, was it discussed by yourself and Taylor and others who were there before the doctor would come? --- No, it was discussed by Major Steyn and the two interrogators, Jerry Fourie and Andy Taylor.
You did not have a part in that part of the discussion? --- Not at all.
Thank you, Mr Chairman, no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MSHE
CHAIRMAN: After the release of the askaris who had been arrested in Swaziland did they make a report to you? --- /I beg
I beg your pardon, Mr Chairman?
Did they make a report to you? --- Yes, they did.
And can you remember what that report was? --- Rumours had it that they were on their way back to Manzini to rob a bank there the next day, and they were still in the same car with the same numberplates on it when the Swazi Police or someone spotted them in the street.
WILSON J: Sorry, did you say they told you they went back to rob a bank? --- That was the rumours amongst them. I can't know who specifically said it, but it came out from amongst the rumours after they returned, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: The fact that they were about to rob a bank in Swaziland, did that seem quite natural to you? --- Absolutely not. It was an extreme risk if they did try and plan that, and I could have assured them they would have picked up a lot of trouble if they did that in broad daylight, and rob a bank in Swaziland. So absolutely not normal with the normal procedures, Mr Chairman.
MR DE JAGER: Mr Coetzee, you were fully aware of the circumstances surrounding the Swaziland border at that stage, 1980 round? --- Circumstances, Mr Chairman? Can they ... (incomplete)
At the border, Oshoek and the vicinity. You actually were stationed at Oshoek and you often visited Swaziland, I presume. --- I knew the area very well, and Swaziland too, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
Ja. And so you were the best equipped to operate in Swaziland, for instance? --- Yes, apart from the Ermelo Security Branch, which has also been there since
1976, Lieutenant Chris Dieklifs and his representative at Oshoek Border, Paul van Dyk, who had an office and a house at Oshoek, yes.
And the askaris were under your command? --- They were under my command.
They were not under the command of Dieklifs or anybody else? --- No, they were under my personal command, although it was an operation in conjunction with Eastern Transvaal Security Region, and more specific Ermelo Security Branch. That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Did you ever - did you identified targets? --- They have already pointed out a few targets, yes. A Flat 7 and 9 it was called in Manzini. They've identified the house of Joe Pillay.
Ja, "they." Who are "they"? --- Sorry, the askaris that were present there that I've mentioned, Jeff ... (intervention)
On whose command did they do that? --- On my command, with the purpose to, after identifying enough targets we would then in one night try and hit as many of that targets as possible.
And you planned that? --- On instruction from Brigadier Skoon, that's correct, yes.
Because in your application you said, on page 19, paragraph 10 (iv),
"Towards the end of 1980 and early 1981, I planned a mission that intended to identify various ANC targets in Swaziland, and to blow up and eliminate the inhabitants of such targets. Members of Vlakplaas askaris were sent
"into Swaziland to do the necessary scouting."
--- That's correct, on instructions I did that. That's why I was entitled to take the second in command on the explosives desk in headquarters, which I couldn't have taken out of my own. It must have been arranged between the section heads and the approval of General Johan Coetzee. I was accompanied by him because he would have then prepared all the bombs. So it was done on instructions, and I was to identify targets and then blow up the places. That's correct, I planned it.
Now at this stage, the 19th of February, have you already identified targets? --- We have, but it took a long time because the people were very careful, the ANC cadres, when leaving home and going back to home, in shaking off any possible tailing. But Brigadier Skoon got uneasy about this lapse of time and then called me back, and I had serious reservations about leaving the askaris alone in Swaziland, and I told him exactly just that.
But did they have any explosives with them in order to bomb targets or do anything with explosives? --- No, they did not have explosives with them. It was left -we first pitched camp at the counter insurgency base at Oshoek, which is about a kilometre away on the mountain, but it was very rainy those days - during those times, so we locked up the explosives in the Oshoek Border Post vault, and Paul van Dyk - at the time in exile when I wrote that report I wasn't sure where Paul van Dyk at the time was, whether he was already at Vlakplaas or still at Oshoek, but he was for sure still at Oshoek. We locked all the explosives there and then went to Smoky Mountain
Village, where I knew the owner quite well, Doug Goldman, and he gave us a bungalow to sleep in free, and that is where the askaris came to meet me twice a day.
And before leaving Oshoek did they report to you that they've identified Pillay? --- Before I left Swaziland ... (intervention)
Going back to Pretoria for the two days? --- I think they did, yes, but I said them to leave it, leave everything until all targets have been identified and a plan was intact. Not to do anything at all.
And they acted contrary to your instructions. --- Absolutely, Mr Chairman.
Did ever afterwards or before acted contrary to your instructions? --- Well, they weren't the best behaved guys we've had. They all smoked and all drank heavily, and everyone that smoked smoked - also smoked dagga.
You were not smoking at that stage? --- No, I was not smoking. But drinking a lot, I was drinking a lot.
Ja. --- And so they were a rough crowd. Two of them, for instance, Bobby Madiba shot his girlfriend after a quarrel ... (intervention)
Yes, but were they - so in this operation they acted contrary to your instructions in abducting Mr Pillay. --- Absolutely.
What steps were taken against them for acting contrary to orders? --- Nothing at all I did to them. There was no disciplinary steps taken against them. We just knew out of the experience that in future not to ever to allow it again, because you have to keep your finger on the pulse with them. They on several occasions got out of
CHAIRMAN: May I ask you a question or two? I get the impression that the identification or identifying of targets was left to askaris in Swaziland. Is that correct? --- That's correct, as far as ANC, because they knew the ANC cadres, they could follow them, they could watch which houses they go into, and then inform us exactly the set up.
And so you would rely on the information that was given to you by a rough lot of people who smoked dagga, who drank, and lived the way ruffians lived. --- Absolutely.
And innocent people whom they identified would be targets for murder. --- Well, the possibility that it would have been innocent people would have been very small. I mean they wouldn't just have come up and identified wrong people, Mr Chairman, but it could happen.
But how much reliance could you place on rough motley of people like this? --- Well, as much as Vlakplaas allowed us to do in our operations, Mr Chairman.
Because there was no senior person who would make an assessment of the evidence that they would produce and say, "Well, now reliance is placed on this because we've verified facts." --- Yes.
The askaris identify people, they come to you, and they are given the go ahead. --- That's correct. It could be fairly well verified by Paul van Dyk, who worked Swaziland, and he could assess that quite closely because he had quite a good knowledge of the file-carrying information about the ANC cadres in Swaziland.
Yes. You're not suggesting that in this case that
happened. --- No, because ... (intervention)
Because here the askaris took it upon themselves to identify target and arrest Pillay. --- We asked them to identify targets. They reported twice a day. Paul van Dyk stayed with me, in that flat with me and Paul Hattingh, and they then took it on their after identifying the whereabouts of Joe Pillay. That is what happened, Mr Chairman.
MR NGOEPE: Mr Coetzee, maybe we don't understand you, what you mean by identifying targets. By identifying targets do you mean simply because they would have possibly known them before, and worked with them, they would just point them out and say, "There is the man you are looking for," or are you saying that they would provide the information as to the activities of the individual concerned, and then you would gather the information from the askaris and then make up your mind on the information you gather from the askaris, evaluate that information, and then decide as to whether that person is a proper candidate for elimination? --- No, no.
You understand what I mean? --- I understand. Your first assessment is correct, where they had to track down and trace and identify ANC cadres that they worked with and lived with in exile, and then follow them to their place of home - of house where they stayed, and then make sure that is the place that they sleep, how many other ANC cadres lives in that house, comes out and go there. So it was quite a long period of observation that would have had to take place before a final decision on the blowing of residences or houses could be decided on.
But does that mean, Mr Coetzee, that you would be
having the Security Police - maybe at their head office in Pretoria they would be having a file on Mr X, but they don't know who that Mr X is, they just have some information about him, and about his activities and all the things that Mr X does, and then they would then evaluate the reports about Mr X and say, "Well, he's a target for elimination," and then bring in the askaris to say, "We know that person lives in Swaziland. You go and identify him." --- The files in Swaziland, and the ANC cadres that lived there, was handled by Ermelo Security Branch, with of course a head office file too. All information coming from Swaziland through sources would have been fed through the Ermelo Branch, through the regional branch, to headquarters. So all the people actively in Swaziland involved, ANC cadres, were fairly well known - or very well known to Warrant-Officer Paul van Dyk, who worked on the border. They unfortunately also moved quite a lot, had safe houses, changed their routine to avoid specifically being tracked down - because routine is your biggest danger - and then being taken out. So the information that they would have collected and come back with, Paul van Dyk could have confirmed yes. And then I'm sure an assessment would have been made, and on the final go-ahead of Brigadier Skoon the targets would have been hit.
CHAIRMAN: But Warrant-Officer van Dyk himself would rely on people like askaris to give him information. --- No, they had their sources on Vlakplaas. Whilst doing surveillance, yes, he would say, "Such and such a person lives in such and such a house, or frequents that house."
No, no, no. I am talking about the activities of
such and such a person, not where he lives. We'll come to that later. But to identify an individual - identify in the sense that point a finger that this is one of the activists or terrorists or Comrades - that information, where does he get that from? From his informers? --- From informers in Swaziland. The Swaziland Police Commissioner and his second in charge, deputy at the time, also the person working at the fingerprint expert and taking photos were on the pay roll of the Ermelo Security Branch. So whenever ANC cadres reported or left the country for training students, and would report in Swaziland, we in a very short space of time would have their fingerprints, photos of them, their full names. We also raided the United Nations High Commission for Refugees office, all the files there. I was personally involved in that. And then we befriended the Dita Airline representative in Swaziland, Raoul Matheus, who gave us lists of all the names of the people that flew out of the country. So as soon as he would change passports in Swaziland we will have the full knowledge of it. Abductions were made from Swazi Police gaols with the co-operation of the Swazi Police, and I'm referring specific to Gloria Sadibe. His MK name was September. I would just - there was something else that I thought of now. Also one night on the road - on the road from Manzini to Mbabane, on the Lusita Road, Palace Road, Chris Dieklifs and Chris Rorich had an accident with their Cortina vehicle, and were fairly seriously injured, and when the Swazi Police came there they found a lot of secret - Swazi secret police documents in the boot, which was traced back to the later Commissioner of Police, Sandy
Mthinisu, who was also on the pay roll, and as a result of that he was transferred to Mahamba Border Post. So they were - and of course the Chief of the CID, Charlie Bell, was close to the South African Security Policemen. His brother was Joe Bell, that worked for National Intelligence in South Africa, and he fed information through on a fairly large scale.
These are all highly placed police officials in Swaziland. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
That were on the pay roll of the South African Government, of the Security Branch. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Coetzee, your counsel asked you a question why was Mr Pillay not returned to Swaziland when you discovered that the askaris had abducted him, when you were telephone by van der Lith, and your response thereto was that if he had been returned to Swaziland he would have gone - Mr Pillay would have gone to the police, and because the askaris were still in Swaziland they would have been open to arrest by the Swaziland Police. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman, and exactly the same embarrassment that it eventually ended up in.
Now, I just want to find out if it was not possible for van der Lith to have contacted the askaris to tell them to come back to the country. --- It was one of the most easiest things to do, and I do not until this day understand why he did not get up at that time of the night out of his bed, drove to the Dutch Reformed Parsonage, which was well known to us all, which was rented by Johhny Vas of Swaziland Engineering - why he did not do it.
Then, Mr Coetzee, why did you not suggest that to
him? You gave the order that Mr Pillay should be brought to Vlakplaas. --- I did do that. I can't remember exactly what time, but I said he must immediately get the askaris out of Swaziland.
CHAIRMAN: Any re-examination of this witness?
MR JANSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman, thank you.
FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN:
Mr Coetzee, the building at Klapperkop Fort, was that used by Military Intelligence mainly? --- That was a highly secret Military Intelligence base, yes, Mr Chairman.
Do you know whether that building is still used by Military Intelligence? --- I've got no idea, Mr Chairman.
The affidavit by Mr Pillay, Exhibit D, was dated in - excuse me - was dated on July 1990. Was that after you had testified to the Harms Commission? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman. I testified at the Harms Commission from the 25th of April 1990 until about the 3rd of May 1990.
The drug administered to Mr Pillay in your layman observation, did that seriously affect his mental capabilities? --- According to my observation it looked as if it loses control - they're trying - or that was what they were saying, that he loses control over his thoughts so that he can't resist, to sort of take his resistance of controlling his mind away from him,
Did he appear to be fully aware of what was going on around him while being injected with that serum? --- Absolutely not.
You say that no disciplinary steps were taken
against any of the askaris. Do you know whether they were actually policemen at that stage? --- At that stage I can't say. It was in February '80. It could have been in the process. I don't think so. I don't know. I'll have to check it in their personal records. I can't say, Mr Chairman.
What kind of disciplinary steps could ever have been taken against someone who was not a member of the police, but just an independent - registered as an HQ informer? --- Well, actually none. If it becomes too embarrassment for the Security Police I suppose the next command would have been, "Make a plan with the man," but not departmental steps. No departmental steps ever in my time was taken against any member at Vlakplaas.
And then just finally, the words that you use in reference to the Joe Pillay case, that you planned the mission, you do also say in your application that the mission was planned between the Eastern Transvaal Security Police and Headquarters Security Police, and then you name certain senior officers. Could you just explain how those two statements must be seen in conjunction, the one where you say that you planned it, and when you say that the people at Headquarters and Eastern Transvaal planned it? --- Well, as I say, it was decided by the region, Eastern Transvaal Region and Headquarters, Mr Chairman, and eventually then left in my hands to execute the plan. With other words to identify targets, and then discussing it, set the final plan out, and then get the necessary green light to go ahead.
I have no further questions, Mr Chairman, thank you.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN
WILSON J: You have told us the askaris were not officially members of the South African Police Force. --- At first.
They were paid, however, for their services? --- Informant fee, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
Informer's fees, depending on the amount of information they supplied. --- No, Mr Chairman. I think they were registered as HQ informers, and at the time, if I haven't got it wrong, when I arrived on Vlakplaas they received an amount of R200,00 per month fixed, with food supplied and free board and lodging.
And their safety obviously depended to a large extent on their not being known as informants. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And is it correct that they also were obliged to continue as informants to supply information and to remain loyal to the police? --- Well, yes, they were, but the supplying of information was then, whilst at Vlakplaas, based there, mainly being like set out in - picked up by regions that had information about guys, ANC cadres in the country, and to come and pick up these informants, take them out, and hopefully for them to identify the insurgents.
And we have had evidence that when they lost faith in the askaris the askaris were eliminated. --- Some of them, yes, Mr Chairman, and I can specifically mention names. That's true.
So it was very important for them to remain on good terms with the police they were working with. --- That is correct. That is correct.
The second matter, which I think in fairness to the
askaris should perhaps be put on record, is - if you look at the letter written by Mr Pillay - have you got the letter as well? Page 2. He starts off,
"I was abducted by five men on February 19th after putting up a tremendous struggle, for which I was badly beaten."
--- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And he goes on in the third paragraph, where he starts,
"My struggle at the scene of the abduction paid big dividends,"
and after saying that,
"Jeffrey Busigu lost his South African passport,"
goes on to say,
"The morning after my abduction a very close teaching colleague just happened to make his way to Manzini, the nearest town. There he spotted one of my abductors and he reported the matter to the police, who later arrested four of my abductors. One of them, whose face I repeatedly booted while I was being dragged into the escape vehicle, pleaded with the police to get medical attention for his swollen face."
--- I can't - this losing of a passport I can now remember. One of the askaris did lose a passport. I can't - I didn't see the askaris thereafter that, only when they were released on bail.
On Mr Pillay's version it seems that there was a
fight. --- There was a fight.
And he was not the only one who suffered. --- I accept that. I accept it, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Yes, for the time being you're excused. --- Mr Chairman, can I maybe just make reference to page 7 on 43 - paragraph 43, page 7, where he says,
"On or about February 26th I was advised ..."
and then he went to Lothair.
Yes. --- It must have been on that Monday, the 23rd, I am fairly sure of that. At the latest, if not on that Sunday already.
So you say it will be about February 23rd. --- 23rd, ja, or even Sunday 22. I am sure if we - usually the small police stations don't destroy their records and one would be able to get documents as far back as '81 very easily.
Yes. --- But he was kept there for about a week as far as my knowledge is concerned.
Yes, thank you. Yes, thank you. --- Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, that would then be the only evidence in respect of the Pillay matter on behalf of the first applicant, Mr Coetzee.
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, I then call David Tshikalanga, the applicant also in the same incident. Mr Chairman, firstly I was instructed this morning by this applicant that he yesterday experienced certain problems in understanding some of the questions put to him through the
interpreter. He also indicated that sometimes it seemed to him as if ... (inaudible) ... to the answer that he gave. I discussed it this morning with the interpreters. They agreed that there was a problem yesterday with the interpretation, and a new interpreter is being used to translate from the English into the Venda, so hopefully things will go better today.
CHAIRMAN: I'm sorry you've had this difficulty with the interpretation yesterday. I hope things go better today.
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, it was also mentioned to me that Venda is one of the more difficult languages, and that the interpreters interpreting the Venda do not get as much practice at it as the Zulu and Xhosa interpreters, and that they are not as experienced in this specific field of interpreting that we are dealing with.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe, you're aware of this fact, are you?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, I am aware of the fact that there were problems yesterday, and as a result thereof the person responsible for the interpreters, Mr Theo du Plessis, flew down to Durban last night to come and sort out this problem. He was with us even this morning, and he gave me an undertaking that this has been solved.
CHAIRMAN: Have we a new interpreter?
MR MSHE: We have somebody he has arranged to come and take over for Venda.
CHAIRMAN: Is that somebody here now?
MR MSHE: They are already in the booth, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: So can we proceed?
MR MSHE: Yes, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Yes, please do carry on.
MR MARAIS: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
QUESTIONED BY MR MARAIS:
Mr Tshikalanga, the Committee is dealing with the abduction of a certain Mr Joe Pillay in 1981. Do you remember Mr Pillay? --- Yes, I do know about Pillay, but I don't know about the time when he was abducted from Swaziland. I just saw him when he was at Klapperkop, that name just like that at the military base.
Were you instructed by Dirk Coetzee to guard Mr Pillay when they were not present at the place where he was being kept? --- Yes, indeed I was instructed.
Was Mr Pillay ever assaulted in your presence? --- No, he wasn't beaten during the time that I was with him. I didn't see him being assaulted.
You then accompanied Mr Pillay to house of Koos Schutte, is that correct? --- Yes, we left together and we stayed there together.
Was he assaulted during your stay there? --- No, he was not beaten in my presence.
Could you see signs of assaults on Mr Pillay? --- Yes, he had signs of showing that he had been assaulted around his eyes, and below his eyes he was blue, showing that he had been assaulted. And he was also very weak. You could see that he'd really been assaulted before.
Can you remember how long he was kept at the
military base at Klapperkop? --- According to how I saw him I went there during the day, meaning after lunch, and then after that we slept there. The following day, if I remember well, we left and went to Schutte's house.
But how long did you stay at Schutte's house? --- I can't fully remember well, I don't have all the evidence. I think we slept there only for a night, and the following day we left. It could be about two days and then we left the following morning.
Where did you go from there? --- We took him to Lothair Police Station, at the police station there.
Was Mr Pillay ever assaulted in your presence? --- No, I never saw him being assaulted.
When you guarded Mr Pillay did you regard this as part of your duties as a policeman? --- Yes, it is indeed so. I took that to be part of my job. It was all part of our job when I was there.
Were you ordered by Dirk Coetzee to guard Mr Pillay? --- Yes, the order that I should stay with him whilst we were at the military base. They took him into another room, but during that time when they took him to that room I don't know what they did to him. But after that when he came back from there we stayed together.
And you regarded this as part of your job at Vlakplaas to guard Mr Pillay?
MR MARAIS: Yes, Mr Chairman, I will rephrase the question. --- Yes, it was in fact Klapperkop.
Did you regard the guarding of Mr Pillay as part of your job in the police? --- Yes, indeed it is so.
Thank you, Mr Chairman, I have no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe, are there any questions?
QUESTIONED BY MR MSHE:
In your application you stated that Joe Pillay was kidnapped, and during the course of his detention in Pretoria he was seriously assaulted. Now, by whom was he assaulted? --- I would not be able to give that information. What I am saying, he showed signs of having been assaulted, but I myself did not see him being assaulted.
Yes, but your application doesn't say, "He showed signs of having been assaulted," or "I saw him as being assaulted," you say he was seriously assaulted. --- It might be that what is written there is not quite accurate, but what I would like to say is that he did show signs that he had really been thoroughly assaulted. He was weak. It did show that he had really been thoroughly mishandled.
Can you tell us how he was, what is it that you saw to convince you that he was thoroughly beaten? --- You could see from his eyes. Below his eyes he was swollen and red. I could see also that he was very weak. He was very, very weak and he was in pain.
And what was the state of his clothes? --- I can't remember very well. I didn't saw any signs of anything on his clothes, but I can't remember the details of that.
You can't remember the details?
CHAIRMAN: About his clothes. --- Yes, I don't remember about his clothes. I can't remember any signs on
MR MSHE: Now, during your guarding of Mr Pillay was he left in your custody being a free - left in your custody unmanacled, or was he manacled? --- During that time I was with him, no, he wasn't shackled, he was free.
Were you guarding him even when he was asleep? --- Yes, I was there.
Where were you guarding him precisely? --- It was at Kloppers - Klapperkop, that's where I was from there, and then from there at Schutte's house. And in Schutte's house he wasn't shackled there, he was just a free person even at Schutte's house.
Just go back to Schutte's house. In Schutte's house were you put with him in a particular room, or where precisely were you with him during the nights? --- In Schutte's house he was sleeping an outer room which was next to the garage. I was also sleeping in the same room. There's nothing that happened during that time. He was also free there, he didn't have any problem.
Do you know the reason he was not shackled, why he was not manacled whilst under your custody? --- There were some arrangements that he would be taken back. There was no longer any problems at that stage about his situation
Now, why was there a need for you to guard him if there was no problem and he was even left as a free man? --- He was just kept in the company of somebody so that he wouldn't be alone, so that he wouldn't be a lonely person, there will be somebody who will keep him company.
Oh, you wanted him not to be lonely. --- Yes, that shows that.
(Inaudible) ... in order to make sure that he is not /lonely.
lonely. --- There was nothing I did, but we were just talking, we were just having informal conversation and finding out about what he was doing. He told me he was teaching in Swaziland, but there wasn't any serious conversation that took place between the two of us. But even from his conversation it shows he wasn't very serious.
Do you recall a time when he was left overnight in a truck, and you kept guard on the truck, shortly before he could be finally released? --- No, I wouldn't remember that well. When we left we left in a truck, but I can't remember the details, but I do know that we left to Lothair and then we left him there. But I don't remember what exactly happened thereafter. I don't remember what happened thereafter.
You left him "there." Where? --- At Lothair. We slept at Lothair, and then we woke up the following day and we went back.
You said in your application that - that's paragraph (iv) on page 5 typed,
"I was aware of his kidnapping."
Could you say more about that?
"I was aware of his kidnapping."
CHAIRMAN: Sorry, Mr Mshe, what paragraph are you reading from?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, page 5, the typed - the with pagination would be page 8 (iv).
CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
MR MSHE: Under, "Nature and particulars." Could you explain what you mean when you say,
"I was aware of his kidnapping"?
--- I heard those news thereafter when we went to see him. I knew, because Dirk Coetzee had explained to me that this person we had taken at night, and other people, and it did show that he had been taken forcefully, but it did also indicate that they didn't fulfil their mission adequately. It is in that sense that I say I did know that he had been taken forcefully.
Thank you, Mr Chairman, no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MSHE
CHAIRMAN: Do you wish to re-examine your witness?
MR MARAIS: No re-examination, Mr Chairman.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MARAIS
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, may I possibly just ask a question on behalf of Mr Coetzee?
QUESTIONED BY MR JANSEN:
Mr Tshikalanga, did you at any stage see any signs of blood on the clothes of Mr Pillay? --- As I have explained I cannot remember anything about his clothes, the condition that they were in. I can't remember if I saw any stains on his clothings.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN
WILSON J: You've told us repeatedly how weak he was, apparently as a result of the assault on him. Was there any need for him to be handcuffed or shackled? --- Well, I would say I wouldn't be able to give any answer on that. I won't say he had to be chained or shackled. I can't answer that.
CHAIRMAN: Yes, thank you very much. You are excused for
the time being.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe, do you propose leading any evidence?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, I do not propose leading any evidence. I just want to refer the Committee to the document that I have just submitted.
MR MSHE: Exhibit D.
MR MSHE: It is self-explanatory, the covering letter thereof.
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Is that all to be said in connection with the case of Mr Pillay?
MR MSHE: That is so, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Where do we proceed to now, Mr Mshe?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, the next move will be the matter of Sizwe Khondile. I don't know if the Committee wants us to proceed direct, it's now 25 to one, but we could do a lot by doing so.
CHAIRMAN: Yes, certainly.
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
MR MSHE: Then I'll hand over to my learned friend.
MR MARAIS: Mr Chairman, may I be excused from further proceedings then?
CHAIRMAN: You are excused from further attendance. Thanks very much for your assistance up to now, and, if it transpires for reasons beyond our control that you may not be appearing again, we shall look forward to any written
submissions you may wish to make which we might find useful.
MR MARAIS: Yes, Mr Chairman, I will do so.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Jansen?
MR JANSEN: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman, I then wish to call Mr Coetzee again to testify in respect of the Khondile matter.
CHAIRMAN: Where will we find this in the application form?
MR JANSEN: In the manuscript, Evidence Book No 1, it's on page 73, paragraph 126.96.36.199, and in the application before the Committee it is Matter No ... (intervention)
MR MSHE: Page 10. Page 10 of the application.
MR JANSEN: Yes.
MR MSHE: And page 6 of the typed.
WILSON J: Matter No 3.
MR JANSEN: Yes, matter No 3.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Yes, you may call your witness, call the applicant.
MR JANSEN: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
DIRK JOHANNES COETZEE (Still under former oath)
QUESTIONED BY MR JANSEN:
Mr Coetzee, in your manuscript you refer to Mr Sizwe Khondile as a Security Police detainee whose name you didn't know at the time, is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
When did you hear the name Sizwe Khondile, or when were you told that one of the stories that you are relaying relates to a person called Sizwe Khondile? --- Only when I was in exile after I left the country in November '89 with the African National Congress, Mr Chairman.
How as your story connected with the name of Sizwe Khondile by the ANC? --- By the fact that the car that he was driving was a Datsun Stanza that belonged to the later Chris Hani, and that he was arrested coming from Swaziland - ag, from Lesotho into South Africa.
In the car of Mr Hani? --- In the car of Mr Chris Hani.
And where did this car of Mr Hani fit into the - or this Datsun that you describe, where did that fit into the story that you were telling the ANC at the time? --- I saw the car parked in a police garage on the Jeffreys Bay Police Station premises, in a police garage after we have parked the car there of some so-called activist which we've stolen, an Audi 80.
When was that? --- It was September the 13th, I think. It was confirmed later that the specific car was stolen in 1981.
And were you told something about this car, and if so by whom? --- I was with at this stage Colonel Nick
van Rensburg, who was then based - the former one from Ermelo Security Branch, who was then based in Port Elizabeth.
What was his position in Port Elizabeth? --- He was third senior in rank. I don't know exactly whether he was branch commander, or fitted in the regional structure of the regional office, Eastern Province. I accept branch commander.
Continue. --- On his request I was supplied with a key and stole this Audi, which we took then to the Jeffreys Bay Police Station and parked in a garage there. He opened one of the adjoining garages and there was a Datsun Stanza car parked. After that he closed the garage and we walked in behind the charge office of the Jeffreys Bay Police Station. On ground level was the so-called white single quarters. When he opened the door there were two people, black men, males, one handcuffed to the bed, and the other one sitting on the bed opposite, which I identified as a Security Policeman. He just questioned whether everything was still okay and then we left.
Yes, and did you ever hear again of this detainee which you saw? --- Yes, I did, Mr Chairman, when they brought him up to Komatipoort Border, about 10 kilometres from Komatipoort on the Komatipoort Border Gate road, where I met up with Colonel Nick van Rensburg, Captain Herman du Plessis, at the time - also from Port Elizabeth - a Sergeant Jan,and I think his surname was Raath, and this same man with a Balaclava on, handcuffed.
Before you get to the Komatipoort incident, to return to Port Elizabeth, were you told anything about this detainee at the time? --- I was. I slept at the
time in the house of Colonel Nick van Rensburg whilst operating in that area, and on our way back from Jeffreys Bay Police Station he said that at a time they would have to make a plan with this man that I've just seen, because during interrogation he dived through a window with his hands handcuffed behind his back in an effort to get away from his interrogators, and sustained brain injuries. Now, I could not - it wasn't a question of seeing a man with plasters and stitches all over him. To me he looked quite normal, but apparently by the people that knew him well his behaviour became peculiar. He told me that they called in a doctor's friend, who warned them that there was some blood on the brain as a result of him falling on his head, and if they want to avoid a second bigger case they'll have to do something about it. It then became obvious to me that he was illegally detained, because he was held in a white single quarters, which was in those days abnormal, absolutely abnormal. We then discussed that at a time they will - of their convenience, he will let me know, and we will meet up at Komatipoort. His car, the Datsun Stanza, will be taken through to Swaziland to give the impression that after his release he went into Swaziland and went to the ANC.
In the Harms Commission evidence was led that Mr Khondile was officially released by the police on the 11th of August 1981. Do you remember that evidence? --- The 10th of August or the 11th, yes, I remember that, Mr Chairman.
Was it for you as a Security Policeman strange that somebody would be kept - would be detained illegally? --- It was for me as clear - immediately clear as
daylight that he was - they pretended to release him at Bloemfontein, where he was originally arrested and held by - at the time Warrant-Officer Hendrik Prinsloo, who is now Colonel Hendrik Prinsloo, still with Police Headquarters in the Security Section, and that that is where his car, the Datsun Stanza of the late Chris Hani, was officially held, and his belongings. Because he was then connected also in the Port Elizabeth area he was passed over to them for interrogation too. So they then released him, and abducted him on the road and brought him with the Datsun Stanza back to Jeffreys Bay Police Station.
CHAIRMAN: Did you say Bloemfontein? --- Bloemfontein at first, Mr Chairman.
Yes. --- The reports that I saw afterwards, he was detained and questioned originally by Warrant-Officer Hendrik Prinsloo of Bloemfontein, because Lesotho actually fell under the Regional Office of Bloemfontein, and more specific the Ladybrand branch office, which is at that Main Border Gate near Maseru.
WILSON J: Sorry, did you say he was officially released at Bloemfontein? --- He was officially released at Bloemfontein, where his car and belongings were handed to him, and then a big scene in front of the uniform branch personnel, I suppose, and when he then left on the road he was abducted ... (inaudible - end of Side A, Tape 3)
MR JANSEN: (Inaudible) ... Neethling trial you had difficulty in placing an exact date of the killing of Mr Khondile. In your application now you place it in the beginning of November. Could you just explain to the Committee how you've tried to reconstruct the date of Mr Khondile's killing? --- Yes, Mr Chairman. Quite a
time elapsed according to what I can - according to my memory, and the first time that I picked up poison from the - and knock-out drop, what we call it, from the police forensic laboratory, and specific from General Lothar Neethling, was on the 11th of October 1981, when Selby Mavusa was released from Brits Prison police cells after I got the instructions to get rid of him. With Vusi, as we called him, there was another askari, Peter Dlamini, which we were also instructed to take out at the same time. So I can remember picking up knock-out drops and poison from General Lothar Neethling for the first time on the 11th. The poison did not work. Koos Vermeulen, Captain Koos Vermeulen, went back the second day, after we administered it near Kopfontein Gate on a farm, which Koos Vermeulen used as a base whilst operating in the area. He went back on the 12th to collect some more poison from Lothar Neethling, a double dose, which also did not work, and then General Lothar Neethling left for overseas. At a stage - I think he returned on the 24th of October. He went over twice in a short time, but on the 24th of October we were in the Groblersdal area, and that was the day that General Lothar Neethling came back from overseas. We went to his house ... (intervention)
MR DE JAGER: You said the 24th of October. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
That was before the 11th of November. --- The 11th of October Peter - did I say he was released on the ... (intervention)
MR JANSEN: The 11th of August, Mr Chairman.
MR DE JAGER: Oh, sorry.
MR JANSEN: When he was officially ... (intervention)
--- He was officially released on the 11th of October.
August. --- No, it was October.
WILSON J: That was what he said in his first ... (intervention)
MR JANSEN: Sorry. Sorry, Mr Chairman, I am confusing it with the Khondile matter, yes.
WILSON J: He was picked up, I think, on the 11th of August.. --- At the police station at Brits, at the 11th of October.
MR DE JAGER: Yes, but you had knock-out drops for the first time obtained from Neethling on the 11th of November. --- No, I must - a slip of the tongue. It must be October. That was the day that Vusi was released from Brits Police Station.
Okay, thank you. --- On the 24th of October we were in the Groblersdal area after the shooting incident a day or two earlier of two guys in a caravan near Ogies by so-called ANC insurgents, and that Sunday morning, the 25th of October, I went back to General Lothar Neethling's house in Pretoria from Groblersdal, myself and Captain Koos Vermeulen, picked General Lothar Neethling up at his house, and he then doctored another dose of poison for us, which again didn't work. We then on the 26th of October, the Monday, went down to Komatipoort, where we met up with Major Archie Flemington at that stage, who was branch commander security, Komatipoort, and two of his men, and in my car it was myself, Captain Koos Vermeulen and Warrant-Officer Paul van Dyk, with the two people that we've killed, Peter and Vusi. Now, after that incident, because that was the first instance that I'd picked up knock-out drops, I accept that it was towards the end of
October/beginning November that I got instructions Brigadier Skoon to meet up with Colonel Nick van Rensburg at Komatipoort with Major Archie Flemington and his men. I knew that the operation involved that we had to get rid of the man that I'd seen in Jeffreys Bay, and I asked him to arrange with the forensic laboratory, specific with General Lothar Neethling, for knock-out drops for me to be picked up. I continued, myself and Paul van Dyk from Pretoria, down to Komatipoort, where we met up with Major Archie Flemington and two of his junior men, sergeants or warrant-officers - I can't remember the names unfortunately - and went to a piece of ground about 10 kilometres outside Komatipoort on the border gate road, on the farms where they join up, Avonstont and Constanopoulos. Whilst we were there we turned left off towards the mountain. It's very close to Lesotho border - ag, to the Mozambican border, and at the point where the old wagon route went over the mountain. Three cement slabs is still left there up until this day, which I was able to detect a few months ago, and in line towards the road, from the mountain to the road - it's a very short distance, I would guess about one kilometre, if not less -it was an open veld with a few trees around, quite a distance from the main road. Colonel Nick van Rensburg arrived with a Cortina vehicle with Captain Herman du Plessis, with the Sergeant Jan, and with Sizwe Khondile in a Balaclava and handcuffed. They took the Balaclava off when he got out of the car. I supplied the knock-out drops to - I can't remember which of his men administered it. There were - and in what drink, whether it was a beer or a cool drink in that specific instance. The drops have
the effect that if you put in four drops for a not too big person it was supposed to knock him down as if he had been administered chloroform or anaesthetic - what do you call it? If you would administer more, so it was told to me by the general, then he would eventually fall into such a deep sleep that he would die. Now, drops were administered to Sizwe Khondile in a drink whilst we were sitting around drinking ourselves, opening beer and whatever other drinks - alcohol, and after about 20 minutes to half an hour Mr Khondile started - he was sitting down and uneasy. He looked quite normal again to me when he arrived, as I said, not like someone with serious brain injuries that I could pick up. He eventually fell over backwards and lie on his back, and at a stage either Colonel Nick van Rensburg or Major Flemington said, "Well, chaps, let's get on with the job." In the meantime the two junior officers of Major Archie Flemington, with a Land Cruiser bakkie, brought dense bush veld wood, big logs of it, with tyres, and one of Major Archie Flemington's men, a sergeant or a warrant - a slender-built tallish man, light hair - took a Makaroff pistol with a silencer on, and whilst he was lying - Mr Khondile was lying on his back, shot him on top of the head. There was a short jerk and that was it. The four junior non-commissioned officers, Paul van Dyk, Jan, Sergeant Jan from Colonel Nick van Rensburg's branch, and the two Ermelo men, each grabbed a hand and a foot, put it onto the pyre of tyre and wood, poured petrol on it, and set it alight. Now, of course during - the burning of a body to ashes takes about seven hours. It is - and whilst that happened we were drinking and even having a braai
next to the fire. Now, that I don't say to show our braveness, I just tell it to the Commission to show the callousness of it and to what extremes we have gone in those days. And a body takes about seven hours to burn to ashes completely, and the chunks of meat, especially the buttocks and the upper part of the legs, had to be turned frequently during the night to make sure that everything burned to ashes. And the next morning, after raking through the rubble to make sure that there was no big pieces of meat or bone left at all, we departed and we all went our own way. I can just mention maybe perhaps that I did, with the help and assistance of a Japanese team, was able to honour Mrs Khondile's tradition in picking up her son's soul, and went to the place about three months ago to point out the place to the Japanese team, where the next day they took Mrs Khondile Sizwe's mother to where she could do the necessary traditional stuff that would have helped, but at the time I didn't have the courage to look her in the face. But after seeing her on TV, and what a beautiful person she is, and so I hope to in future meet up with her one day and look her in the eye, and the pathetic sorry all I can say, but generally one just wants to meet someone of the calibre of Mrs Khondile.
Do you know why Mr Khondile was taken to that site in Komatipoort? --- I think that was Colonel Nick van Rensburg's first experience of burning a body to ashes, and because he knew the area very well, because he operated there so long, to take the car through - and the people who did eventually take later Mr Chris Hani's car through to Swaziland, and parked it in front of The Holiday Inn, is Lieutenant Chris Dieklifs again as usual,
of Ermelo Security Branch, and Warrant-Officer Christ Rorich, who are both now colonels still in the Security Police in Mpumalanga.
And why were you involved by van Rensburg and the others in this incident? --- I would say because of the knock-out drops, and the reason why the knock-out drops was administered is because I don't think any sober guy would have had the courage there to just look a normal - look a normal person in the eyes, sober, and shoot him at point blank in the head.
The incident as far as the poisoning and the shooting is concerned follows the same pattern in very broad terms as in the Peter and Vusi incident, is that correct? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Now, at the time did you know anything about the security threat that Mr - or supposed security threat that Mr Khondile posed to the people in the Eastern Cape? --- No, I did not have any exact details about it, Mr Chairman.
Did you regard it as your job to evaluate that ... (intervention) --- Did I ... (incomplete)
Did you regard it as your job to evaluate that, or did you ... (intervention) --- That was not part of my function. It was Nick van Rensburg and his superiors' function.
When Nick van Rensburg told you that he must get rid of Mr Khondile did you accept that, whether with your involvement or without your involvement, he would have gotten rid of Mr Khondile in any event? --- It would in any case would have taken place, yes.
WILSON J: Sorry, have I misunderstood you? I understood
that this man had suffered injuries and was mentally unstable now. --- As I said, Mr Chairman, I could detect nothing from him looking at him as a person. I could see nothing funny, but apparently his behaviour became peculiar in some way. I didn't ask specific details about it, but he was able to walk, he was friendly when Nick van Rensburg greeted him in single quarters that day, and when he got out of the car at Komatipoort he was walking on his own. He looked quite normal to me.
But they decided to liquidate him because of his injuries. They didn't want another Steve Biko case. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
There was no question of him being a danger.
CHAIRMAN: At that stage.
WILSON J: At that stage. --- Not according - as far as I know, but if they would have released him they would have had a lot of trouble. That is what I could make out of it, Mr Chairman.
MR NGOEPE: They had reached a so-called point of no return. --- I beg your pardon, Sir?
Had they reached a so-called point of no return? --- There was also with point of non-return, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: The injury that affected this man, you said that you were told that he'd attempted to jump out of a window and fell on his head. That is something you did not witness, you were merely told about that. --- Not at all witnessed, I was just told about it. That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And where did you learn that he was mentally affected as a result? --- Well, as I said, they put it
/in a way
in a way that his behaviour became peculiar. That's what Colonel Nick van Rensburg said, and that a doctor's friend advised them that they were going to have big trouble, the second Steve Biko case.
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I note it's 1 o'clock. I don't know ... (incomplete)
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Have you finished leading the evidence of this witness?
MR JANSEN: No, Mr Chairman, but I am literally two or three questions away from finished in chief.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Perhaps you can just finish off if it's convenient.
MR JANSEN: Yes. Mr Coetzee, apart from being involved in a murder as such, was it common practice for people in the Security Police to either assist each other if so requested in something like this, and more particularly as far as covering up a specific crime? --- Yes, it was, Mr Chairman. I think it came out quite clearly in the Motherwell case, for instance, and in the Gene de Kock trial subsequently.
So a person like - in that culture, would you have understood that a person like Colonel Nick van Rensburg, having known you previously from Ermelo, would quite easily have involved you in such an incident, and would have trusted you not to say anything and to assist to the extent that you could be of assistance? --- That is 100% correct, and that goes for Paul too, Mr Chairman, who worked with Major Nick van Rensburg - Paul van Dyk. He was a warrant-officer.
And this mutual assistance and keeping each other's activities as a secret, did you regard that as part and
parcel of the Security Police operations and their activities against the ANC? --- That is absolutely part of the culture and our operations, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
Mr Chairman, I have no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN
CHAIRMAN: We'll adjourn now and resume at 2 o'clock.
CHAIRMAN: There are no questions you wish to put to your witness before cross-examination, are there?
MR JANSEN: No further questions, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr Mshe.
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, my learned friend would also like to put questions to the witness on behalf of the Khondile family. The representative for the Khondile family would like to question first the witness.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Moosa, you represent the Khondile family as well?
MR MOOSA: Yes, I do, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Do you have any questions of this witness?
MR MOOSA: I do, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Will you please proceed.
QUESTIONED BY MR MOOSA:
Mr Coetzee, you've already told the Committee that you did not know Khondile the first time you heard of him at Jeffreys Bay, is that right? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
So when you were told that this would be a second
Biko case your curiosity must have been aroused, is that right? --- I understood him to be then a detainee. I could see he was a detainee, and that it's going to be a second Biko case, yes.
Now, you're an intelligent man. You protest your intelligence in your affidavit, particularly at page 15 of Book 2, and you say that you would like to show that to a Court in South Africa. Is that right? --- If you can refer me to the specific page please.
Paragraph 96 on page 15 of Book 2. --- I haven't got the book. Mr Chairman, can I please get a book?
96. (Pause) "Given the opportunity I will prove."
MR DE JAGER: (Inaudible)
MR MOOSA: This is Evidence Book 2.
MR DE JAGER: Oh. Page 15?
MR MOOSA: Page 15, 1-5, of the paginated pages. You can see that, Mr Coetzee? --- What paragraph?
"Given the opportunity I will prove in a South African court of law that I am sane, and feel remorse, as does any other person. I will prove the truth. I will show that the actions carried out by myself and my unit as Section C1 were within the policy, practice and system ..."
etcetera. --- I accept that.
And before these paragraphs you talk about the fact that you are intelligent, that you passed certain courses in your B Iuris with distinction. --- That's correct.
And that you dispute the finding of the Harms Commission about your having psychopathic tendencies. Is
that right? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
In fact even before joining the Security Branch you had taken action on behalf of other policemen in 1976, is that right? --- Action in 1976?
Action about them having more humane conditions at the College.
CHAIRMAN: Made representations on their behalf.
MR MOOSA: Made representations on their behalf. Is that right? --- In '76 in the Police College, yes. It was because justice was not upheld. I mean we had to do departmental trials as presiding officers, and it was a complete farce. Yes, I did.
So that every time when something was done, even within the security culture, that was abhorrent, you were intelligent enough to know what was being done? --- I was, yes.
And you had a very clear idea of what you were doing. --- That's correct.
You have spoken to the media a number of times in the normal nature of things. --- I have, Mr Chairman.
And you have described the scene was Khondile's body was burnt before. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
In some of these reports you made a particular point about Khondile's flesh smelling good. --- It was a question that frequently came up from journalists, and the first time from Jacques Paux, who asked me, "But what does it smell like when a human being is burning?" what the flesh smells like, and I did say, "Yes, it smells like normal braai up to a stage, then burning meat, and then bones that you would destroy in the fire." Yes, I did.
And in these articles you've also said that it takes
nine hours for a body to be burnt. --- Seven to nine roughly, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
And that the ashes finally were thrown into the Komatipoort River. --- In the case of Peter and Vusi, but not with Sizwe Khondile.
As far as the Japanese crew was concerned, that happened to be journalists you were talking about, is that right? --- That's correct.
And Mrs Khondile was not approached by you, but by these journalists. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And as far as talking about what you knew about the Khondile incident, you realised that Khondile was missing as far as the family was concerned for as much as nine years. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
That Louis Le Grange said in Parliament that he had been released officially by the police. --- I am not aware of it, but I'll accept that.
Mr Coetzee, I must put it to you that intelligent as you are you could have broken with the Security Police culture at any given time. --- Yes, I could have, and then I could have ended up like Brian Ngulungwa, six feet under, Mr Chairman, as it was proven in exile when I tried to break with the security culture, or the news about the security culture, and I had to leave the country. There's two well documented murder attempts, assassination attempts on my life, one with a Walkman bomb and one with a contract murder with the Ulster Loyalists.
However, you did join the ANC after trying Parliamentarians and failing, is that correct? --- I did went to the ANC to get my back against the wall when I was before a choice to either stick with the rest of my
former colleagues and lie, or come out with the truth, yes, Mr Chairman.
Could you tell the Committee exactly what deal it is you arrived at with the ANC? --- I originally, as I already said, through Jacques Paux and IDASA'S Andre Simon, sent a message to them that I would like to speak to them on the police sanctioned hit squads, and the message I received back is that they will listen to me, and that was all. No promises was made. I then asked - sent a further message and said whether they will help me at least, if they do not accept my story, for four months to get onto my feet in exile, because I knew after leaving the country and exposing the truth to the ANC, and if they do not want to accept me or protect me, I will be out on my own in the cold, and I asked them whether they then would for four months just assist me to get onto my feet.
So you're saying that you were not promised amnesty. --- Nothing. No promises at all. The message was just the clear one, "We are prepared to listen to you," with no promises at all.
During the Harms Commission it emerged that you were busy writing a novel, is that right? --- It was not a novel, it was actually - I knew during the Harms Commission I was going to be up against a wall of lies and the mighty apartheid regime, so I decided to write a book, which is this one, "Hit Squads Manuscript, Copyright reserved." It is an unpublished manuscript. I wanted to print it in the form of a book, walk into the Harms Commission, throw it in front of the Judge and say, "There is my story." The rules we are playing outside there I can't repeat in a court of law because hearsay on
Vlakplaas is rule number one, conclusions is rule number two, hearsay in the third and fourth degree is rule number three and four. So that was what I intended doing, but in the end the lawyers who acted for me did not want to listen and pushed me into the Commission. In fact if you go to this unpublished manuscript on page 111, I think it was, at that stage when I was before leaving for the Harms Commission on the night of the 20th. Let me just get the page. I was on page 125, paragraph 6.1.2, when I said - I wrote a letter to,
"My Dear Eluza Zuma,"
This is Minister Jacob Zuma, who's presently here, with a long jrrrrrr, and then,
"I seek you here, I seek you there, I seek you f--- everywhere. Are you in heaven, are you in hell, you darned elusive pimpernel. This is as far as I got in Lusaka. I will continue this subversive communist document in London and let you have the rest in due course. Greetings, Comrade Dirk and the collaborator, Ben."
That was my brother. 20 April 1990. But the intention was to prepare a book for the Harms Commission because I knew in words I was going struggle, in rules I was up against a mountain.
So you had this manuscript ready before the hearing at the Harms Commission? --- I beg your pardon?
You had this manuscript ready before the Harms Commission? --- Up to page 124, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
The one thing about the evidence you're giving is in most instances we don't have any corroboration, certainly on the Khondile issue. --- Yes. I think from a layman's point of view not easily detected, because we were not actually in the habit of performing our crimes in a way to restage it in a court case later, but exactly to the effect to wipe out any possible tracks. But I think with a little bit of effort, as from the Swazi Police for instance, one will be able to find out that they did in fact a month or two or three after, say the end of October/beginning November, that they did pick up the Datsun Stanza in Swaziland, and - ja, that's about all. And except for the fact that at the police station at Jeffreys Bay surely some of those policemen must have seen that Mr Sizwe Khondile's car, the car of Chris Hani, was held there, and that he was detained in the single quarters.
You have said that you would like one day to meet Mrs Khondile and look her in the eye. --- I would like to do that in future, yes, Sir.
Mrs Khondile asks me to convey to you that that is an honour that she feels you do not deserve, and that if you were really remorseful you would have not applied for amnesty, but in fact stood trial for what you did with her son. --- I will honour her feelings as far as not wanting to see me. I can understand it. I would have felt exactly the same I suppose. And as far as the amnesty application is concerned, I think those days where the minority whacked the majority, the tail the dog, is something of the past, and that the Peace and Reconciliation Act was constructed by all walks of life,
all parties represented, and I think I am entitled as anyone else not to be isolated and looked at alone in single context, but in total to the right of the laws of this land, as any other individual that is involved, and according to that laws I then applied when the amnesty came up.
Thank you, no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MOOSA
MR DE JAGER: Mr Coetzee, did you - in any of the cases you're applying for amnesty did you in fact assault persons, because you're always a bystander looking at, not taking part? --- Yes, I was in all the cases, that's correct.
You never participated yourself? --- No. I was present in some of these instances. I was in command, so I am just as responsible as the person that pulled the trigger, Mr Chairman. And if the truth comes out from other sources it will be proven exactly that that is the truth. I did not assault or pull the trigger on anyone. And as I say, through that I don't want to distance myself, or pretend that I am not guilty. I was there. It's just the situation was as such that I was a superior, and there was enough juniors who volunteered.
I find it rather peculiar that you were always present, but you never take the blame in far as the actual deeds are concerned. You're taking the secondary blame of standing by and sort of looking on, but you never participated yourself. --- Mr Chairman, this is unfortunately the facts as it - as things happened. As in the Sizwe Khondile case, where I was the third most senior officer. Major Archie Flemington was above me, Colonel
Nick van Rensburg was above, and not one of them doped Mr Sizwe Khondile, or helped him onto the pyre - his body and his remains onto the pyre of tyres and wood, or shot him, or during the night turned what was left of the remains in the fire. Not one of them, so it was nothing unusual. So is was nothing unusual. It is the facts that as it happened.
So it's not unusual the officers giving the orders and the underlings they should carry it out. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And you ordered them and they carried out your orders. --- In my presence, yes, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Where did you learn of the fact that the vehicle that was found at Jeffreys Bay, the Datsun Stanza, belonged to Chris Hani? --- It was told to me in exile, if I remember correctly.
Oh, it was only at that stage? --- That's correct.
Not whilst you were involved in the matter. --- That the Stanza vehicle Sizwe Khondile drove belonged to Mr Chris Hani.
During the time that Khondile was being held or questioned in your presence was he implicated with the activities of Chris Hani? --- Not at all. As I say at ... (intervention)
Not at all? --- Not at all, no, Mr Chairman. Only what I knew about the story is what I've written of documents that was filed at the Harms Commission, and that I had insight to in preparing for this hearing, Mr Chairman.
Did you ever find out what Mr Khondile was by
occupation? --- No, I did not. I lately learned from the Japanese film team that he was something in the law. I think they said he was studying something to the effect of law, if I remember correctly.
Any re-examination? Mr Mshe. Sorry.
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
QUESTIONED BY MR MSHE:
Mr Coetzee, your letter on page 125, which you wrote to Mr Jacob Zuma, what - why did you have to write him a letter? Any links with him? --- This was the first man when I left the country on the 5th of November 1989, and went with Jacques Paux to Mauritius. I left on the 8th of November for London, and I was introduced to two gentlemen of the ANC, and the first two was Jacob Zuma and J J Njele, who's our Ambassador at the United Nations at the moment.
Did you have any prior dealings with him before being introduced to him? --- Not at all. I think his involvement at the stage, if I have it correctly, was the intelligence chief of the ANC. I think so.
Now, at the time of - at that time of Khondile what was your rank? --- Captain. I was a captain.
Was there another Coetzee at that time who was a lieutenant-colonel? --- No. Mr Chairman, I think there was - the person that followed me up at Vlakplaas was a Captain Jan Coetzee, who during the Harms Commission was Lieutenant-Colonel Jan Coetzee. And then of course at John Vorster Square there's a Colonel Willem Coetzee, who we called Timol Coetzee as a result of his alleged involvement in the death of Timol, Mr Timol.
Did you know of any Lieutenant-Colonel Coetzee who
was based in Bloemfontein? --- Oh yes, the - I think he was the Regional Security Chief of the Free State at that stage, and shortly thereafter was transferred to, I think, Cape Town, if I can remember correctly.
Did you have anything to do with the car that Khondile drove? --- Not at all. I never touched the wheel. On its way from Jeffreys Bay to Komatipoort Colonel Nick van Rensburg handed the car to Ermelo Security, who did the driving into Swaziland and parked it there, Mr Chairman.
But you saw the car yourself? --- I saw it. I saw it in Jeffreys Bay, that's correct.
Now, can you tell us how long was Khondile in detention before his cremation? --- Official release documents, or letters to the effect that was sent to headquarters, and was handed in at the Harms Commission, I think gives the date as 10th of August that he was released officially. But if one takes the specific date that I stole the Audi A80 was on the 13th of September - if my counsel might just confirm the date, Mr Chairman - and that is how I knew that I saw Mr Khondile on that specific day that the Audi was stolen.
CHAIRMAN: That was on what date? --- I think it was the 13th of September 1981.
MR JANSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman, that relates to the theft of the Audi, which is one of the other incidents, and again to the evidence that came out in the Harms Commission that an Audi was stolen on that day. --- Then that will be the date that I saw him in Jeffreys Bay, Mr Chairman.
MR MSHE: Captain, I want to find out from you as to
whether you saw this letter about Khondile. It's on Book 3 - page 26 towards the end, Mr Chairman and Members of the Committee - towards the end of Book 3. Do you have Book 3 with you? --- No, Book 2, Mr Chairman.
Just have a look at that letter on page 26 in Book 3. (Pause)
CHAIRMAN: What is your question about that, Mr Mshe?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, I just still want him to read - to check the letter and tell me if he recognises the letter. Did you have - sorry. (Pause) --- Yes, I've read it.
Do you have knowledge about this letter? Do you remember it? --- I've never seen it before. I've seen the one after this one, because this one is from the - I may just explain to the Chairman - from the Officer Commanding Security Branch, PE, to the Commanding Officer of X302 - was Security Police Headquarters, where it is suggested that they could not build up a case against him, and they suggest that he should be released on 10 August. Subsequent to this I saw a similar letter that was handed in at the Harms Commission, where he in fact was released, and then typically, as they always say, he agreed to co-operate with the Security Police as an informer, and that they've set a return date. With other words, a date when he would return to the Security Police to report back on any information he had. They usually then set a final return date, which according to them he also did not complied with, and that is the letter that came after this one. I've seen that one, but not this one before.
Thank you. All right. In your manuscript in Book 1, page 74. --- Book 1?
It's referred to as Evidence Book 1, but it is your
manuscript. --- Okay, I've got that.
Page 74 thereof. --- On page 74?
Page 74. --- Yes, Sir.
Paragraph 188.8.131.52.3. That's when you gave the description of Khondile when you saw him at the white single quarters. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
Now, the last sentence states,
"Nick wanted to know if everything was in order and we left again."
Now, my question is, was he already injured at that time when you saw him in the single quarters? --- Was he already - excuse me?
Injured. --- According to them, yes, but he had no physical signs of injury. As I said, according to Colonel Nick van Rensburg his normal behaviour, a person who knows him well, who's worked with him for a long time, could see there was - he was peculiar in his behaviour, something wasn't always there, that there was a change in his behaviour.
Good. At the very next paragraph, the third sentence from the bottom, which reads,
"His behaviour became peculiar afterwards, and they got in a friend who was a medical doctor to examine the prisoner."
Who is this doctor if you know again? --- I have got no idea at all. They didn't mention the name at any time.
Then the very next paragraph, the third sentence from the top, it says,
"Here we discussed that Nick would bring the prisoner to Komatipoort, where we
"would dispose of him."
Who is this "we"? Are you included in the "we"? --- I am included in the "we," that's correct, Mr Chairman.
Now, at which stage did you discuss the disposal of the prisoner? --- It was on our way going home, I believe, after leaving the Audi 80 and after Colonel Nick van Rensburg popped into the single quarters just to find out whether everything was okay.
What reasons were advanced for him to be disposed of? --- Because of the injuries he sustained, and if he was released and would get the necessary proper medical attention they would pick up that he was seriously assaulted, or at a stage during his interrogation or in police custody had been seriously assaulted.
Mr Coetzee, would you agree with me - I am going back to that letter on page 26 to which I referred you, the letter by Major van Rensburg. --- I have it, Mr Chairman.
On page 26, all right. Now, you say because of the war that you had with the enemies of the country, meaning I want to believe ANC, was it ever determined as to whether Khondile was an active ANC member? --- I didn't know at all. It was in the hands of the people who worked with that specific case. I did not carry any files, I didn't know the name. As in the case of Mr Mxenge and Vusi, no knowledge of Mr Sizwe Khondile at all.
Would you agree with me that paragraph 1 and 2 of that letter on page 26 - I will read,
"Die ondervraging van die onderwerp is voltooi. Hierdie kantoor beskik egter oor geen getuienis om 'n
Prima facie saak teen onderwerp uit te maak nie. Hy beloof egter sy heelhartige samewerking en kan tot groot nut aangwend word.
Would you agree that this, if read, one may here come to the conclusion that they couldn't get any prima facie evidence against him as an ANC activist? --- If you read it as this stands as a layman, yes, but this is a typical misleading letter coming from a shrewd planner, and an old jackal in the Security Police, to Headquarters to get the fowls ready for the disappearance of the problem that he created by allowing Sizwe Khondile to dive out the window. I can just mention, for instance, in the Peter and Vusi case, Mr Chairman, that I made Vusi, for instance, sign three receipts of money as an informant, with different pens, and he was eliminated that same month, but the impression on file was given that he was still alive for three months afterwards. And then in 1983 or '82, when the lawyers became too inquisitive and hard-pressing on Security Headquarters, I had to file a misleading statement that, "He worked for us for three months, there's the proof, and then suddenly after three months he did not rock up at all, he just disappeared." So yes, in strict factual terms it looks like it, but I can 100% assure you this is a misleading letter filed specifically for the purpose of preparing his disappearance.
Thank you, Mr Chairman, no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MSHE
WILSON J: So am I correct in understand what you have just told us, that what was happening here was
/Mr van Rensburg
Mr van Rensburg was preparing false entries in the files at headquarters to cover up the mistake he had made by allowing Khondile to dive out of the window? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And that Khondile was killed to prevent anybody discovering he had been seriously injured, to cover up the mistake that van Rensburg had made? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And that was the only reason? --- And that was the only reason.
And finally, for me, you had got poison previously from General Neethling, you said. --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And on this occasion you got poison, more poison - of the same poison, was it? --- Knock-out drops, that's correct, Mr Chairman.
So I take it you administered more this time than you had on the previous occasions when they hadn't worked? --- I wasn't the person who put it into, but I suppose it was anything between four and six drops.
Who administered it? --- One of the junior officers present. I can't recall specific which person.
Did you give it to them to administer? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
And you knew it was potentially lethal? --- That's correct, Mr Chairman.
A matter of two drops could have killed. --- Actually not killed him. It actually has the effect that the person falls over, but never really falls asleep. He's staring with his eyes wide open in the air, and would not wink if you moved your hand in front of his eyes, and /would be
would be very restless during the whole night, scratching in the ground. So the effect that General Lothar Neethling said the stuff would have was in fact - well, I couldn't see it in that way, apart from the person losing his balance, falling over, and didn't know what was going on around him when administered to him.
That's not what you said in your book. There you said,
"In essence General Neethling told me the drops had the effect of chloroform."
--- That's correct.
"Too much, approximately eight drops on a medium built man, would kill him."
--- That's correct, that's what he said, but - and I kept record, Mr Chairman, in that same document. If one goes on I describe it at the stage how this person falls over, lies with his eyes wide open, staring into the night sky, without winking if you would move your hand in front of him, and then scratching in the ground and rolling restlessly.
CHAIRMAN: But he would be unconscious, would he? WILSON J: That's with four drops. --- Not unconscious, but not knowing what's going on around him. Mr Chairman, there's a specific guy still alive, Godfrey Ndawana, who Gene de Kock tested this same drops on at Vlakplaas, and it was administered to four of them. Petrus Kgaodi, Godfrey Ndawana, and the person who they call Small Mshezi, Ernest Ramaka's youngest brother, and it made them very aggressive in the end. And then he explains to you how it feels that there's no feeling in his body any more, and that the person in front of him
changes into some funny creature, and how they then called out the one ambulance at a stage, and they wanted to break the ambulance down, and they had to call in the Erasmia Police Station's police van to take them to hospital. So at all not the effect that General Lothar Neethling said it would have. It did not have that effect. But he said that was in fact what should happen.
Yes, this was all much later you heard about this. When you got this poison you were told by General Neethling, the scientific expert, and the man who made it, that eight drops would kill. --- Would - ja, let him fall into a sleep. That's correct, Mr Chairman.
MR DE JAGER: But would it kill, or let him fall asleep? --- Fall into such a deep sleep that his nerve system would collapse and he would stop breathing then, and that will have the effect then that he dies of a shortage of oxygen.
Because there's a difference about falling to sleep and being killed. --- I beg your pardon, Mr Chairman?
There's a difference between falling in a deep sleep, in a coma, and being killed. --- No, if you die as a result of that drops, Mr Chairman, because too many drops were administered, and it had in fact the effect that General Lothar described, you would then get killed.
CHAIRMAN: Then you don't get up in a hurry. --- You don't get up in a hurry, Mr Chairman. But it all proves that General Lothar was not a big poisoner that he - or expert on poison that he posed to be.
Mr Jansen, any re-examination?
MR JANSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman.
FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN:
Mr Coetzee, with which section of the ANC did you mainly have contact when you left the country and went to Lusaka and London? --- Only with the intelligence section, the security section, and mainly with Comrade Jacob Zuma, and a few of his men in the beginning. Later on I just lived in exile on my own, collecting my monthly allowance once a month, and my mail from one Tuwan Ekanhuizen, who was on the financial side of the ANC. But I wasn't actively involved in any intelligence work.
What was your initial impression of these intelligence officers of the ANC? Did they immediately accept that what you were doing was genuine? Were they sceptical, or what would you describe it as? --- The first - with the first short debriefing in London they were just listening. They never asked any questions, they just listened to my story, and initially Andre Simon would have stayed with me for 10 days whilst they were assessing my evidence - or what I told them, my information. But after two days Mr Zuma told Andre Simon that he could leave because it was then already apparently clear to them, out of the information that they already had in their possession, that I was completely open with them. And then in December, the first week in December 1989, I was debriefed in Bulawayo in full, with all the experts in the different areas, where Mr Matthew Khoza was present, Mr Zuma was present, Mr Daniel Olifant was present. All experts of the intelligence, I suppose - I accepted, of the areas that I was talking about, who could cross-check on my information, whether I was trying to mislead them, and whether it was open and proving or supporting the
information they already had.
Prior to testifying before the Harms Commission had you ever seen any of the documentation relating to Mr Khondile that was issued by the South African Security Police? --- Nothing at all, Mr Chairman. The only information I had was in my memory, and that was what this book was written on.
Mr Chairman, if you could just indulge me. I have various documents in my possession that was handed up in the Harms Commission. Now, initially I thought - I obviously wasn't certain to what extent the details of the facts would be relevant, and I thought it would be unnecessary to burden the Committee with the entire Harms proceedings, and I thought it more appropriate to rather see as things go along what might be relevant or may not be relevant. But I think it would be important to hand up a couple of documents, of which I don't have copies for you at this very stage, relating to Mr Khondile. And I think those documents will appear quite - on the face of them they would appear - they tell the story that - one can gather the content of the documents from themselves. They don't - I don't think you need any extraneous evidence. They were in fact also handed in to the Commission by the South African Police. But just in that context, Mr Coetzee, if a document issued by the South African Security Police on the 11th of September 1981 had stated that there were rumours that Mr Hani had killed Mr Sizwe Khondile, what would your comment be on a document like that, emanating from the South African Security Police on the 11th of September '81? --- Typical with what they said after the Mxenge murder to the /public
public to implicate the ANC, and always blaming it, make it look as if it is the ANC that killed their own members. That was, for instance, also what - the impression that they tried to create with the askaris when they shot Brian Ngulungwa. His own colleagues came out as facts in the Gene de Kock trial, with an AK47 to give the impression that he was killed by the ANC.
Yes. Thank you, Mr Chairman, I have no further re-examination other than these documents that I wish to hand up. I am sure that we could have those documents ready within the next 10 minutes or so, if we could possible then just adjourn for a short while.
CHAIRMAN: Can you hand these documents in to Mshe, to pass them on to the Committee?
MR JANSEN: Yes. Yes, Mr Chairman, and I will also make - ensure that the representative for Mr Khondile has them as well. Thank you.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe - you are excused for the time being, Mr Coetzee. --- Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, I am told by my colleague, legal representative for the Khondile family, that he is not calling anybody to testify.
MR MSHE: Then therefore, Mr Chairman, I have in my possession a letter that was received by myself today by fax. It comes from one of the implicated persons upon whom we have served a notice. Mr Chairman, that is Lothar Neethling, and he has written his statement, and urges that his letter be read into the record, and that there
should be proof that it has been read into his record. If the Chairman allows me I am going to read it. It is not a long letter.
CHAIRMAN: This is a letter addressed to the Commissioner, TRC, from Mr Lothar Neethling?
MR MSHE: Yes, Mr Chairman, but it is a response to our Form 2 that was sent to him.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Please read it into the record.
MR MSHE: It says,
"The Commissioner, TRC.
Sir, I am writing to you in connection with the notification received by me on the 1st of November 1996 at 19:10 in terms of the provisions of section 19 (4) of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995. I am presently indisposed, having recently undergone major surgery, and I am due to be hospitalised again this week. I will obviously in these circumstances be unable to attend your hearing. I have taken note of the contents of your notification and wish to comment as follows. I deny most emphatically the allegations of Dirk Coetzee, and I deny further that I was in any way whatsoever involved in the alleged murder of a Gonisiwe Khondile. I have become aware over the past years of various unfounded and untrue allegations made by Dirk Coetzee, in particular against
myself. The said allegations were considered by the Full Bench of the Appellate Division, including the Honourable the Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa. I respectfully refer you to the reported decision of Neethling v du Preez and Others. I concur fully with the findings of the Appellate Division, and I respectfully refer you in particular to the finding regarding Coetzee's evidence on page 801, where CJ CORBETT said his capacity for deception, mendacity and the fabrication of false evidence, and his ingenuity in this regard. I require the above submissions to be read into the record, and to be taken into consideration by the Commission. Kindly confirm in writing to the above address that my submissions have been read into the record. I further reserve all my rights in the above regard, including my constitutional rights in terms of the provisions of the Constitution Act 200 of 1993. If there are further aspects relating to the above matter do not hesitate to contact me at the above address, or telephone me at the address given below. Yours faithfully, L P Neethling."
That is all, Mr Chairman, thank you.
CHAIRMAN: This letter bears the date 14th of November 1996, and will be entered into the record as Exhibit E.
LETTER HANDED IN AS EXHIBIT E
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: The 4th of November.
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I now ... (intervention)
CHAIRMAN: Mr Jansen, have you see this letter?
MR JANSEN: We have just received a copy, Mr Chairman, thank you.
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I do have those documents now, which I wish to hand up.
CHAIRMAN: What is your reaction to this letter, Exhibit E?
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I have no objection to it going in as an exhibit. I think the probative value thereof is of no real concern. It's obviously for General Neethling to decide whether he can, health permitting, assist the Commission in whatever way at a later stage.
CHAIRMAN: (Inaudible) ... the documents you wish to hand in.
MR JANSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman. I think conveniently it should go in as a bundle, being F, I would imagine.
CHAIRMAN: How many documents are there?
MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I haven't counted them. (Pause) There are 13 pages, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: 13 different documents?
MR MSHE: No. No, 13 pages. There are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven - there are eight documents, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Yes. Collectively should they be referred as Exhibit F?
MR JANSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman. And if I could also just refer you to the brief content of the - it's the fourth page of that bundle.
WILSON J: (Inaudible) ... page 29.
MR JANSEN: Yes, it's page 29, and it's dated the 11th of September 1981, and it's a report of an informant of some sort, and it is here where the different allegations relating to Mr Khondile's disappearance is set out. And then the other documents also relate to Mr Khondile, and on the face of it it seems there are allegations made, or information is placed on record as to the information that he gave or that emanated from him. I think it would ... (intervention)
CHAIRMAN: Where does that appear?
MR JANSEN: Well, on the third page, Mr Chairman, it says,
"Sizwe Khondile beweer dat uitgewekenes wel - that people did get training in Maseru for using firearms. This training was done after March, this training in theory."
Just after that, page 29 (1), in other words the fifth page, he says in a sort of a telegram style - it also sets out various different facts relating to Mr Khondile. Again I would submit that the value and the context hereof should be left for argument at a later stage. Thank you, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr Mshe, does this bring the proceedings to an end for the time being?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, that concludes the Khondile matter, and at the same time concludes the hearing for this week in Durban.
CHAIRMAN: The date and venue of the subsequent hearing, are we in a position to finalise that at this stage?
MR MSHE: Mr Chairman, not yet, but the dates are still certain. The only problem is with the venue, Mr Chairman, which will be made known to the Committee Members as early as Monday.
MR MSHE: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Jansen, you're aware that the resumed hearing will take place at some other venue and not here.
MR JANSEN: Yes, I am fully aware of that, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Mshe, what is the date to which it is being adjourned?
MR MSHE: The dates will be the 25th to the 29th of November, Mr Chairman. 25th to 29th of this month.
CHAIRMAN: Very well. I adjourn this hearing, which is to be resumed on the 25th of November, and will proceed until the 29th of November, at a venue to be determined as soon as it is reasonably convenient to do so. That brings to an end today's hearing.
PROCEEDINGS ADJOURNED TO 1996/11/25