JOHANNESBURG November 27 1998 - SAPA

BUTHELEZI LASHES OUT AT FELGATE'S TRC TESTIMONY IN M&G REPORT

Former Inkatha Freedom Party central committee member Walter Felgate lied in his Truth and Reconciliation Commission testimony in which he closely linked IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi to the apartheid government's Bureau of State Security, Buthelezi said on Friday.

Felgate was motivated by revenge in his testimony published in the Mail & Guardian on Friday, Home Affairs Minister Buthelezi said in a statement.

"One would wonder why, if I was the terrible person Felgate wishes to portray me as, he served me for 17 years and turned against me only when I first, and then Dr Frank Mdlalose, then premier of KwaZulu-Natal, did not fulfil his aspirations for a cabinet post."

Accusing the newspaper of gutter journalism and a campaign of vilification, Buthelezi said: "The TRC itself chose to ignore the lies and utter nonsense contained in the M&G report, and it is well-known that the TRC has not shown a great deal of respect or friendship for me."

Felgate also alleged in his testimony to a closed TRC hearing that Buthelezi had been part of a rightwing conspiracy to trigger civil war to prevent the 1994 elections. Buthelezi denied this, saying there was not a shred of evidence to support the claim.

"Any meetings I had with other political leaders before the 1994 elections were witnessed by many of my colleagues and advisors and nothing was ever done secretively.

"The idea that I could have the power or the aspiration to prevent the 1994 election and defy the combined might of the SANDF and MK is surreal."

According to Felgate's testimony, Buthelezi held meetings with Bureau for State Security (BOSS) operatives on a regular monthly basis before 1973.

He was still receiving monthly briefings, including the transfer of top-secret documentation around the deployment, mobilisation and strategies of the African National Congress after the 1994 elections, Felgate had told the TRC.

But Buthelezi said his only contact with state intelligence agents in the 1970s was in his role as chief minister of the KwaZulu-Natal government, and pertained to laws and policing of that government, which did not have a separate intelligence service.

His former cabinet ministers were present at those meetings and could testify that intelligence brieings never diverted from the legitimate purposes of the KwaZulu-Natal government.

"I never took any action to ever support the regime of apartheid or involve myself in any activity aimed at hindering our struggle for liberation, of which I have been one of the main engines."

Felgate also claimed that apartheid intelligence agent Kobus Bosman was instrumental in establishing Inkatha's Caprivi paramilitary training programme under the auspices of the SA Defence Force in the late 1980s.

Bosman was named by former Inkatha institute chief, Lawrence Schlemmer, as his successor when he stood down from the position in the mid-80s - although this appointment never materialised, the M&G report said.

Felgate testified that at the time of the Caprivi training, Buthelezi was meeting with former military intelligence chief General Tienie Groenewald, through the offices of Bosman.

However, Buthelezi said Felgate had no access to information on the training of IFP militia in the Caprivi, adding that an 18-month trial had found nothing in it.

"As per the events surrounding alleged military training which may have taken place at the end of 1993, it must be pointed out that the M&G article itself states that according to Felgate, this plan was never adopted.

"Neither I, nor any of my colleagues, nor any of the governing bodies of the IFP or the erstwhile KwaZulu government ever considered or entertained any discussion in respect of any type of military training.

"We only engaged in limited and legal self-protection activities under the National Peace Accord to prevent violence and criminality at community level," Buthelezi said in the statement.

He said he had met with Groenewald, but not for the reasons indicated by Felgate.

"Felgate's reported statements are a distorted manipulation of innocuous facts which are put together to portray a picture with no connection to truth or reality," Buthelezi said.


South African Press Association, 1998
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