TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION 

AMNESTY HEARING

DATE: 9TH FEBRUARY 1998

NAME: HERMANUS BAREND DU PLESSIS

DAY 1

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CHAIRPERSON: Mr Steenkamp, are we ready to begin?

ADV STEENKAMP: Mr Chairman, Honourable members, we are ready to begin.

CHAIRPERSON: Let it be placed on record that this Amnesty Committee comprises of myself as Chairman, Judge Pillay on my left, Advocate Chris de Jager, Senior counsel, on my right and Advocate Leah Gcabashe to left of Judge Pillay.

Will counsel appearing for the applicants place themselves on record?

May it please the Commission, Mr Chairman and gentlemen, J.A. Booyens, I appear on behalf - instructed by Mr Francois van der Merwe, I appear on behalf of the applicants, Mr N.J.J. Janse van Rensburg, Mr H.B. Du Plessis, as well as person - two persons who have received notice that they are implicated in the matter, Mr R.J. Roelofse and Mr G. Niewoudt - instructed by the same attorney.

The notice I refer to are notices in terms of Section 19(4) in terms of the Act.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Visser?

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, may it please you and honourable members of the Committee, Iím instructed by attorneys Wagener, Muller and Du Plessis. My name for the record is Louis Visser. I act for two applicants before you, J.G. Raath and G.N. Erasmus and I also act for three persons who received Section 19: Sub-Section 4 notifications, Brigadier Schoon - I may add that these are on a little note which weíve received Mr Chairman, and you can follow it on there, it is Brigadier Schoon, General Johan Coetzee and J.S. Vermeulen, those are the three implicated persons for whom we also appear.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Moosa?

MR MOOSA: Mr Chairman and the Committee, I appear for Mrs Charity Kondile and the family of the deceased, with the exception of those family members represented by my learned friend, Mr Nyoka.

MR NYOKA: Thank you Mr Chairman, I am appearing for the son of the deceased, Bantu, thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: What is the full name of the son of your client?

MR NYOKA: B-a-n-t-u and the surname is N-t-s-u-k-a.

CHAIRPERSON: Very well. Mr Booyens?

MR BOOYENS: Mr Chairman, can I just ask for another - my clientís ...[intervention]

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, certainly.

MR BOOYENS: My clientís - doesnít work. Mr Chairman and members of the Committee, I call the applicant Mr Hermanus Barend du Plessis, as the first witness in these proceedings. The witness will speak in Afrikaans.

MR NYOKA: Mr Chairman, can I say something?

CHAIRPERSON: Yes.

MR NYOKA: Before Advocate Booyens starts, I would like to beg leave to hand in copies of a list of names of people that crossed from Lesotho to South Africa. Iím referring in particular to Volume 1 at page 65, paragraph 2, where it is stated there that:

"...[indistinct] had Transkei passport and the number - and it was issued at Umtata on the 3rd of November 1980 and it was valid to the 5th of December. And it was issued I the name of Vuyani Nkatha."

The intention to do that, is that - we are trying - we are going to show that that name does not appear in the list that I have. I had to do thorough investigation and ...[indistinct] van Rensgate, Vuyani Nkatha does not appear on the list of names.

The reason why Iím doing this now, is because Iím in possession only of a faxed copy and Iím awaiting the original at my hotel in a day or two, but in the meantime I thought it was in the interest of justice that I hand in the copy of the list of names.

It is 43 names, that of people that crossed from Maseru into South Africa and that name does not appear.

CHAIRPERSON: Which name does not appear?

MR NYOKA: Vuyani Nkatha, the one that the deceased was alleged to have used when he came from Maseru into South Africa, itís not in this list, thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: Now, this list that - the photocopy you say, appears in Volume 1?

MR NYOKA: No, Iím referring to page 65 where the name appears but Iíve a list from van Rensgate ...[intervention]

CHAIRPERSON: Oh, I beg your pardon.

MR NYOKA: The Lesotho side of the border. This name does not appear in this list that I have.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes.

MR NYOKA: The list is dated 28 January 1996, itís fairly recent but Iíve been waiting for the original. Can I hand in the list to all the members?

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, you can please, let us all have it.

MR NYOKA: And for the record Mr Chairman, the person who gave ...[inaudible] Sergeant Tsoene - T-s-o-e-n-e. If thereís a need for him to come and testify, he can come, thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: This document will go in as Exhibit A and weíll wait for the original to come in, when it does come in weíll

mark it accordingly.

MR BOOYENS: As you please Mr Chairman.

ADV DE JAGER: Mr Booyens ...[intervention}

MR BOOYENS: Iím calling Mr Du Plessis, Mr Chairman.

MR HERMANUS BAREND DU PLESSIS: (sworn states)

EXAMINATION BY MR BOOYENS: Iíve seen that the witnessís microphone was not on when he took the oath and as far as possible I confirm that Iíve heard that he had taken the oath.

Mr Du Plessis, you are an applicant in this matter, is that correct? And you apply for amnesty in terms of the act related to the death of the deceased in this matter - Mr Kondile, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, that is correct.

MR BOOYENS: In front of you on page 13 of Volume 1 - if you page to page 13 of Volume 1 of the documentation, do you confirm that the first page is correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct Your Honour.

MR BOOYENS: Then, I request you to place on record your personal background which is not part of this document, itís a document which we have compiled and which we can make available. Itís not very long, I want him to just to read it into the record.

MR DU PLESSIS: I, Hermanus Barend Du Plessis, am 53 years of age and born on the 29th of September 1944 at Mossel Bay. I grew up on a farm in the Mossel Bay district and matriculated at the Punt High School as Mossel Bay. My father was a farmer and my mother was a teacher. I grew up in a strict Afrikaner home and our whole family was members of the Dutch Reformed Church.

I joined the South African Police after completion of my schooling and I and my parents supported the Government of the day. During this time, I was of the opinion that apartheid was justifiable and necessary for the safe existence of the Whites at the Southern part of South Africa and a democratic Government.

I was convinced that as part of the white population group and that the only reason for survival and to guarantee their further existence, is to support the Government of the day. That would only be possible if every population group could exist separately while the white population group would fulfil the dominant rule.

During my career in the South African Police I acted at all times in a bona fide manner as a member of the South African Police and as a supporter of the Government of the National Party. I saw my duty to protect the constitutional dispensation of the day and to prevent that the power basis of the National Party should be overthrown.

These personal convictions of mine were supported by my membership of the Dutch Reformed Church and they unequivocally supported the National Partyís policy. I am aware in which way the National Party Government conditioned us as members of the South African Police, to keep us loyal and true to the Government of the day.

During training courses at the South African Police and liaison with other members of the security police and political leaders of the National Party, we were repeatedly told that the revolutionary philosophy with the purpose of overthrowing the present regime posed a great threat for us and that the black liberation movement through these, the liberation movement wished to enforce on us their own regime.

This revolutionary onslaught I saw - regarded, in the same light as communist aggression. I was frightened that the communist philosophy would regard South Africa as a very important target and the struggle was on a psychological level at that stage.

I regarded myself as a member of the South African Police service and the security police. As one of those people would be responsible - through security activities, to enforce law-enforcement, to create peace and stability even if that entailed the irradication of the family and enemy and their structures that would exist while there were revolutionary forces. These revolutionary forces were a threat and we were forced to do everything in our power to prevent that.

MR BOOYENS: Mr Du Plessis, if you turn to page 14 - thatís the second page, and there you explain dates, who and where on - these particulars on which your application is based. Regarding the nature of this you state that the person was arrested at Van Rooyens Hek border post in the Free State, he was not arrested by you?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: He was arrested by some or other security branch who was responsible there, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

MR BOOYENS: When did you meet the deceased for the first time?

MR DU PLESSIS: Shortly after the 10th of July 1981.

MR BOOYENS: At that stage, did you go cold into this situation or were you kept up to breast regarding his activities?

MR DU PLESSIS: I was kept up to date with his interrogation through the Free State, they did that by telephone or crypto messages.

MR BOOYENS: I shortly want to refer you to a document - a security report, on page 167 on Volume 2. This specific security report is concerned with the deceased and came from Prinsloo in which he says that the information was received. Did you see this document at a certain stage?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: To summarise, this document is before the Committee. It summarises a few people with whom the deceased was associated and also the fact that those people came from the Eastern Cape and their activities in the Eastern Cape, is that correct/

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

ADV DE JAGER: Mr Booyens, can you refer to us - I think itís paragraph 5 and six in this document.

MR BOOYENS: That is correct Mr Chairman, it is also paragraph 4 which is relevant, and there are a few names mentioned there coming from the New Brighton area in Port Elizabeth - it goes on till paragraph 8.

ADV DE JAGER: You can also consider 11.

MR BOOYENS: It actually goes on till paragraph till paragraph 11, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

MR BOOYENS: This was a security report. Before you received this report there was communication between you and the people in the Free State although you did not have access to this specific documents. You received telephone calls from them regarding him?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, I received telephone calls and I received encoded messages. This report is a summary of some of the most important encoded messages which came from the Eastern Cape.

MR BOOYENS: And Mr Kondile was known to the security branch in the Eastern Cape - Division Eastern Cape. Later on there might arise confusion, Division Eastern Cape was round about Port Elizabeth, is that correct? (transcriberís own translation)

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: And there was also a division: Border?

MR DU PLESSIS: That was in East London.

MR BOOYENS: Where was Elliot, was it ...(intervention)

MR DU PLESSIS: That was part of the Border Division.

MR BOOYENS: When did you more or less see the deceased for the first time after he was arrested in the Free State?

MR DU PLESSIS: That was after we found them there and to the 10th of July he was sent to the Eastern Cape. I would see him that day or the day afterwards.

MR BOOYENS: Where did you see him for the first time?

MR DU PLESSIS: That was in Humansdorp at the police station.

MR BOOYENS: The deceased was detained in terms of security legislation, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: And then, did you start interrogating the deceased?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: During this interrogation, who was responsible for this mainly?

MR DU PLESSIS: I myself.

MR BOOYENS: And during this interrogation, did the deceased give his co-operation immediately, or did you have to force him to do that?

MR DU PLESSIS: On certain points he co-operated but regarding others he hid some information, he concealed it.

MR BOOYENS: Did you assault this man while interrogating?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, I assaulted him.

MR BOOYENS: How?

MR DU PLESSIS: I can remember that I hit him with my open hand and then also with my fist at certain instances. I did not assault him brutally but I did assault him.

MR BOOYENS: There is a document that was handed in from Mr Dunstan who alleged that you applied electrical shocks, do you know anything about this? Were you involved in this?

MR DU PLESSIS: I donít know about that and I was not involved in that.

MR BOOYENS: Mr Du Plessis, you yourself and as far as you know, did you or your colleagues - and I think the people talk about a kind of a field telephone with a dynamo powder, did you ever use something like that?

MR DU PLESSIS: No, I did not. I donít know of any people from the security forces who used this dynamo phone, Iím referring to Port Elizabeth. I know that the detectives used this type of method.

MR BOOYENS: And you say you yourself assaulted him, did you see that anybody else assaulted him?

MR DU PLESSIS: I did not see anybody else assaulting him. At certain occasions he mentioned to me that the people from the East London security branch had assaulted him.

CHAIRPERSON: Did you see any injuries on him during the time that you were interrogating him?

MR DU PLESSIS: I did not hurt him, I did not see any injuries myself.

CHAIRPERSON: No, Iím not talking about injuries that may have been inflicted by you, but by anybody else.

MR DU PLESSIS: I did not see that.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

MR BOOYENS: Due to the slaps that you gave him, there could have been bruises and swelling?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís possible.

MR BOOYENS: If one hears of injuries, how do you understand this? What does this mean to you?

MR DU PLESSIS: External injuries, wounds that are bleeding, yes.

MR BOOYENS: As regards the Port Elizabeth branch, did you mainly deal with his interrogation?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Regarding the interrogation of this man, at the initial stage while you were busy trying to get information from him, did any of the P.E. members also interrogate him as far as you can remember?

MR DU PLESSIS: All that I know of was that Sergeant Raath assisted me at that stage. I can just mention that at this stage I cannot say whether he was present at all times but it - he is the only person that I can recall who was present with me during the interrogation.

MR BOOYENS: The infamous Warrant Officer Niewoudt, was he involved in the interrogation of this detainee at all?

MR DU PLESSIS: I think I can say categorically that he was not involved in this interrogation.

MR BOOYENS: And Mr Roelofse?

MR DU PLESSIS: He wasnít involved either.

MR BOOYENS: The East London people to whom reference is made - in order to correlate information from their side, did they send somebody down to interrogate him as well?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Is it also correct that at one stage he was transferred from Humansdorp Police Station to Jeffreyís Bay?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Can you tell the Commission, during your interrogation of Mr Kondile - and try to keep it brief, which information was obtained from him? I want you to refer to information that he gave to you as well as things that he pointed out to you.

MR DU PLESSIS: In brief, he gave us information regarding training in Lesotho, who was active in Lesotho, several infiltrations that he had knowledge of, that he received training in the handling of weapons himself, as well as political training, that he also came in, in order to do recruitment and to find safe places.

He also pointed out several places to us where the freedom fighters - after they had infiltrated the RSA from Lesotho, where they had got out of taxis, where they were being transported to. And he also pointed out where trained terrorists found themselves which we followed up.

CHAIRPERSON: What does that mean: "He pointed out where trained terrorists found themselves", what does that mean?

MR DU PLESSIS: Where at that stage of the day they were working or residing.

ADV DE JAGER: You used the word ...[intervention]

MR DU PLESSIS: If I can just start from the beginning. We went to the Transkei with him at a later stage where he gave information regarding two people - I think itís two people, who worked in a bank in the Transkei. He also told us exactly where they were in that bank, where their desks were.

CHAIRPERSON: I understand that these two people were trained terrorists?

MR DU PLESSIS: According to him, yes.

MR BOOYENS: If you could possibly turn to page 170 of Volume 2, paragraph 7(b). The security report also dealt with an old black man who had control over a place where weapons were hidden and Kondile and - could point out these two people - a weapons cache that Kondile could point out.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Booyens, did I hear you say it was Volume 2, page 170?

MR BOOYENS: I beg your pardon Mr Chairman, itís page 170 of Volume 2 and more specifically paragraph 7(b). I apologise Mr Chairman, if Iím going too fast.

CHAIRPERSON: Just hold it. Thank you. Yes?

MR BOOYENS: Let us deal with the Transkei situation. As a result of this information you went to Umtata?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: And very briefly, what happened there?

MR DU PLESSIS: We had no jurisdiction in the Transkei. We went to the security branch offices in Transkei where we spoke to a certain General or Brigadier - I canít remember the surname, he then got the Intelligence Service in from the Transkei and they went to arrest these two people. However, somebody warned them or they realised what was happening and they escaped or fled with a white Escort Sport.

MR BOOYENS: Was Mr Kondile with you when went to this place?

MR DU PLESSIS: He didnít go with us personally to the security branch offices, he and Sergeant Raath and some other people waited along the road outside Umtata for us.

MR BOOYENS: But he went with you to Umtata but not to the security branch offices?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: And did he point out anything else to you?

MR DU PLESSIS: He pointed out several places which the trained terrorists used, where they got out at King Williamís Town from the taxis - taxi ranks. He also pointed out photos of people in photo albums - the people who were active in the ANC, especially the MK level.

MR BOOYENS: Did he give you particulars regarding or details regarding the places where the ANC supporters found themselves or were to be found in Lesotho?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct. In more detail he pointed them out as well and we couldnít take any action at that stage for various reasons.

MR BOOYENS: Did he have any knowledge regarding the smuggling of weaponry or propaganda material?

MR DU PLESSIS: On occasions he was involved from Lesotho to assist people to getting suitcases with false bottoms through.

MR BOOYENS: This information which was given to you by the deceased, was this correlated with any other information that you had at your disposal?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: How reliable was this?

MR DU PLESSIS: I would say 100% reliable.

MR BOOYENS: In other words ...[intervention]

MR DU PLESSIS: It was confirmed by them.

MR BOOYENS: Thereafter, did you at one stage speak to the deceased regarding the possibility of working for you?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Can you just tell us what happened there?

MR DU PLESSIS: We dealt with several informers on the other side - thatís in Lesotho. However, as any information agency we had certain voids and these were especially that we could with all reasonable safety say that if people infiltrated the Eastern Cape or to surrounding areas, that we knew that they would commit terrorist deeds but we did not know when and where they were on their way to.

The position in which Kondile was, was perfect in the sense that firstly he was a confidant of Mr Chris Hani, he lived with him, he was intelligent and I was of the opinion that he could fill that void for us because with the correct briefing he could join in and we could possibly have known when people were infiltrating, where they were infiltrating and with what purpose they were infiltrating.

MR BOOYENS: Possibly something which you can just deal with now, what was the nature - if any, of Mr Kondileís training as it appeared from his interrogation?

MR DU PLESSIS: He mentioned to us himself that he had received training in Lesotho, which we call basic training in the handling of firearms, intelligence and politics.

ADV DE JAGER: This document which you refer to: page 170 which starts on 167 - itís a security report, who compiled this report?

MR BOOYENS: It was compiled by Detective Warrant Officer H. Prinsloo of Bloemfontein.

ADV DE JAGER: The last paragraph of that reads:

"Kondile has not yet been interrogated in detail regarding attacks in the Cape Province as tentative arrangements were made with the security branch, Port Elizabeth, to do this with their co-operation"

So this document was compiled before his transfer to Port Elizabeth or not?

MR DU PLESSIS: No, I would say that this document - the contents of this document, was already in Port Elizabeth or arrived in Port Elizabeth as a result of crypto messages - this was a summary of their interrogation.

ADV DE JAGER: And is it correct that it was dated the 8th of July 1981?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, it seems like that.

ADV DE JAGER: So this was before they came to Port Elizabeth?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: You have already told us what the importance of Mr Kondile was as an informer, what kind of reception did you get from his side when you wanted to convince him to work for you?

MR DU PLESSIS: The normal fears, that we could give the necessary assurance that he would not be identified as an informer.

MR BOOYENS: I think you are one question ahead of me, what was his attitude, was he prepared to co-operate or not? What was the situation?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, he was prepared to co-operate.

MR BOOYENS: And did you then start discussing the matter with one another?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

CHAIRPERSON: At what stage was it that he was prepared to co-operate with you and when was that?

MR DU PLESSIS: Itís very difficult for me to tell you now exactly when, it was during his interrogation - I donít know exactly when it was.

MR BOOYENS: Let me put it to you that if you could possible help His Honour - you canít be exact, thatís you said. Approximately how long - you said that you met him on the 10th of July, approximately how long after you started interrogating him did you start questioning him about the possibility about becoming an informer?

MR DU PLESSIS: I would say approximately two weeks after that.

MR BOOYENS: And you said that Mr Kondile indicated that he was prepared to co-operate with you?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: And as far as you were concerned, you already said that he was a well placed person and would have been a valuable source?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: At that stage, was a network established in Lesotho? If I refer to a network, Iím talking about an information-gathering network of the South African security branch.

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: How did you want to use Mr Kondile in Lesotho?

MR DU PLESSIS: The only way in which we would be able to use him and to get the information from him again, was to make use of a principle agent who at that stage already had several informers in Lesotho and the Transkei and he would have to communicate with him. This person had access to Lesotho, as well as ANC circles.

MR BOOYENS: We werenít all in the espionage business, I think you must perhaps just explain to us, what kind of thing is a principle agent and whatís the difference between that and an informer? If you could perhaps just explain how these things work.

MR DU PLESSIS: The principle agent acts between you and the informer. He often deals with informers or recruits them on his own, which - you have knowledge of it but you have not personally met these people.

MR BOOYENS: It seems as though heís a manager of a team of informers, to put it in ordinary language?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct, yes.

MR BOOYENS: The principle agents, were they policemen or policemen who worked underground? What was their position?

MR DU PLESSIS: Many of them were policemen. This one, one can say that he was a policeman but not trained as a policeman.

MR BOOYENS: Was this person based in Lesotho?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, there - let me make it more general, in the Transkei and Ciskei as well.

MR BOOYENS: And did he have his various informers which he recruited himself and which infiltrated the ANC machinery in Lesotho?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: And did the informers report back to him and he gave the information through to you again?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Did the informers have to be aware of how to make contact with the agent and who he was?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct, yes.

MR BOOYENS: And this information, was it conveyed to Mr Kondile?

MR DU PLESSIS: At that stage I did not have a choice, I had to.

MR BOOYENS: If you say you did not have a choice?

MR DU PLESSIS: The information that I tried to obtain was information that we needed very urgently and therefore it was essential for me to have him transferred as soon as possible, so that I could gain - obtain the information from him, thatís why I had to inform him as to how it was going to work and who would make contact with him.

CHAIRPERSON: In other words, youíre saying that you told Mr Kondile who your principle agent was with whom he would be working?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct, yes.

MR BOOYENS: Just to give an idea, this part of the network that the principle agent in Lesotho dealt with, that you have told us about - I think youíve already testified as to this in another matter but I donít think it was before the same Commission, exiles from South Africa who went to Lesotho went to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

MR BOOYENS: The police had a photo album of exiles, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct, yes.

MR BOOYENS: ...[inaudible] that you had a very well established network which was established in Lesotho for example?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

from South Africa who went to Lesotho went to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, is that correct? 

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

ADV BOOYENS: The police had a photo album of exiles is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct, yes.

ADV BOOYENS: I mentioned the agent, the United Nations High Commissioner and the photo album, can you tell us how these things all fitted together?

MR DU PLESSIS: We had informers inside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees' offices. This agent dealt with those informers. In this way he obtained photos of people who applied for refugee status. He also dealt with informers at the airport so that we knew who was flying and to where they were going. I can also mention that the people he dealt with in the ANC on occasions we obtained the so-called biography of the exiles from Lesotho.

ADV BOOYENS: So in reality there was a well established network in Lesotho?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct, yes.

ADV BOOYENS: And this agent of yours and his network, how would you describe or state his importance regarding the information-gathering machinery regarding the Lesotho activities?

MR DU PLESSIS: Our intelligence network mainly went through him. There were reports that we obtained in other ways. It was very difficult and the method of using him, this worked and that's why we used him.

ADV BOOYENS: We are now referring specifically to Lesotho, what was the Lesotho association with the Eastern Cape?

MR DU PLESSIS: Lesotho was the machinery for the Eastern Cape, Border, Transkei and Western Cape.

ADV BOOYENS: So in other words this was the foreign head office for these areas?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct, yes.

ADV BOOYENS: And the intention was that Mr Kondile would also form part of this network, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct, yes.

ADV BOOYENS: Mr Chairman I see it's nearly quarter past 11 I apologise, I didn't realise I had gone over the time already. May this be an appropriate time to take the short adjournment?

CHAIRPERSON: We'll take the short adjournment and resume in 15 minutes.

HEARING ADJOURNS

 

 

 

 

ON RESUMPTION

HERMANUS DU PLESSIS: (s.u.o.)

EXAMINATION BY MR DU PLESSIS: (cont)

Before the adjournment you told us how the network functioned in Lesotho and why that network was important for the Western Province Security Branch. Very shortly, Mr du Plessis, what was the situation in the Eastern Cape round about July, August 1981?

MR DU PLESSIS: Your Honour in the first place internally they were politicised and the ANC infiltrated more and more. There were various onslaughts on the border and in the Eastern Cape there were bomb attacks in the Eastern Cape, especially on policeman and I think it had gone a far way at that stage.

ADV BOOYENS: And without an informer network an intelligence-gathering institution like the Security Police, could it function without that?

MR DU PLESSIS: Not at all.

ADV BOOYENS: The establishment of the Lesotho network you have already explained, was that something that happened overnight? Is it quick to establish such a network?

MR DU PLESSIS: This is time-consuming and I want to say this, it took a few years to establish this network.

ADV BOOYENS: You held discussions with the deceased and provided information to him how he had to communicate. According to you then he would have become a source of intelligence to be used in Lesotho, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

ADV BOOYENS: The deceased was at that stage still detained at Jeffreys Bay, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes that is correct.

ADV BOOYENS: And at a certain stage you visited him again, after he had said that he was willing to cooperate?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

ADV BOOYENS: Where was he detained at that stage, where in Jeffreys Bay?

MR DU PLESSIS: In the cells at the Jeffreys Bay police station.

ADV BOOYENS: Tell the Commission what happened then.

CHAIRPERSON: .... some idea as to when that was, what month that was?

MR DU PLESSIS: I can only speculate. It was round about the end of July, the beginning of August, but it's only speculation.

CHAIRPERSON: Carry on.

MR DU PLESSIS: I went to his cell. At that stage he was showering in the cell complex. I sat down on his bed to wait for him till he had finished showering. When I sat down on the bed I heard some paper. I took out those papers thinking that those were reports he was compiling for me. I started reading through those notes and received a note apparently directed to the ANC.

ADV BOOYENS: Was this note in Mr Kondile's handwriting?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes it was his own handwriting.

ADV BOOYENS: What was the contents of this note?

MR DU PLESSIS: Shortly, if I can remember correctly, it was to inform the ANC, it was directed to a person to inform the ANC that firstly, they had been arrested, and secondly that he pretended to be an informer. That at this stage he had provided no information which would harm any ANC member. That was what it was all about, shortly.

ADV BOOYENS: When you saw this note what was your conclusion? At this stage you thought that he had become an informer, what was your impression what was going on?

MR DU PLESSIS: I realised I had made a mistake, that he was not loyal and that he had misled me.

ADV BOOYENS: This man was in security detention and now you found that note, what was the importance apart from indicating that he was not loyal? Would it be possible from him to smuggle this documentation from jail?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes definitely it had happened at various instances, at every police station this happened. Ordinary people were detained in the same complex, ordinary criminals, and it was quite easy and it did happen in that way that prisoners on their way to court were asked to carry this information. It could have been that he had recruited one of the policemen to do the necessary for him.

ADV BOOYENS: Mr du Plessis when you realised that this so-called informer was not reliable, what was your reaction?

MR DU PLESSIS: I think the normal reaction of a security policeman where, for example in the first place, because I trusted him I was shocked, I was terribly disappointed. I realised that this whole network was in danger because of this.

ADV BOOYENS: Right.

MR DU PLESSIS: Because of the fact that he knew who the agent was.

ADV BOOYENS: And then when he came out of the shower did you mention anything?

MR DU PLESSIS: No I didn't say anything, I did not take those notes.

ADV BOOYENS: Why not?

MR DU PLESSIS: At that stage I honestly want to tell you I did not know what to do. I didn't know what the next step had to be, and I wanted to seek assistance.

ADV BOOYENS: In the first place what did you do then regarding the deceased himself, regarding his accommodation?

MR DU PLESSIS: I arranged that he would get a barracks room at the Jeffreys Bay police station and that he should be guarded by Raath with the specific instructions that provision should be made that he absolutely had to make provision or see to it that nobody visits him and nothing could get out of that barracks room.

ADV BOOYENS: Did you give the deceased an explanation why you were doing this?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes I told him that because he was cooperating so well I want him to be treated better. I don't want to keep him in the cells anymore but that he should get a room to live in.

ADV BOOYENS: You emphasise that you told Sergeant Raath that he was not allowed to communicate with anybody, what was the purpose of that?

MR DU PLESSIS: In the first place I did not confiscate those papers. If I had done that you would have realised that I had taken possession of that, and at that stage I did not want him to know that I was aware of the situation.

ADV BOOYENS: Why did you want to keep him in communicado?

MR DU PLESSIS: Because he could not make contact with the ANC.

ADV BOOYENS: Afterwards where did you go to?

MR DU PLESSIS: I approached General Nick van Rensburg to assist me in this regard. I told him in detail, if I remember correctly, van Rensburg was aware of the fact that I regarded this as a breakthrough to recruit Kondile. I am honest today to say that I was proud of that. This whole thing exploded in my face and he was the only person at this stage who could give assistance to me. He had more experience than I had.

ADV BOOYENS: Then in essence you told Colonel van Rensburg what had happened and that this informer was not such a good informer, and did you also tell him that the network had been exposed?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

ADV BOOYENS: What happened then?

MR DU PLESSIS: Van Rensburg then proposed that we go to Colonel Erasmus, now General Erasmus, he was Divisional Commander of the Eastern Cape Security Branch. There I sketched this whole dilemma for him and we considered various alternatives. There were not many.

Firstly, because we couldn't detain him for a longer period. If we should do that we had to release him at one or other stage or charge him. And then this information and the identification, in other words of the information network would become known. By eliminating this - the agent it would lead to making known of other sources and this was also sketched to Erasmus.

ADV BOOYENS: Did you consider other alternatives to prevent this information from leaking?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct. Erasmus asked at that stage that all the problem areas regarding Kondile had to be put in writing, I did just that. I gave it to him and he wanted to consider all the various options.

ADV BOOYENS: After all the facts had been discussed and the matter was investigated did you decide that Mr Kondile had to be killed?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

ADV BOOYENS: Can you perhaps tell us how that happened?

MR DU PLESSIS: At that stage we decided that there was no other alternative and we contemplated and asked where, how. Firstly we did not have the experience in this regard. We did not have the place to do it and if I can remember correctly Colonel van Rensburg told or suggested to Erasmus that he was in contact with Dirk Coetzee from Vlakplaas and that Dirk had the necessary infrastructure or had already indicated that he had the necessary infrastructure to solve or address these problems.

ADV BOOYENS: This happened in your presence, this whole conversation, what was Erasmus' reaction to this?

MR DU PLESSIS: He agreed to this and said we had to make the necessary contact and that we had to get a team together to do this. At that stage it was decided that Mr Kondile had to be killed and that Dirk Coetzee's and Vlakplaas' assistance should be obtained.

ADV BOOYENS: A little while later did you get feedback from van Rensburg in this regard?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes, I can't remember how often but shortly he said Dirk was able or in a position to assist and at a later stage he said when it would be done.

ADV BOOYENS: To come back to the "when" there is quite a dispute regarding this matter. Page, in volume 2, to page 187. In this document, this is an abstract from the Incident Book, is that correct, the date is the 10th of August 1981, Entry 630, I think, it follows:

"Released S/N Konisiwe Kondile 14/11 - RELEASED"

I am afraid this handwriting isn't very clear. Is this correct? Can you assist us what did this person want to write - 14/11?

MR DU PLESSIS: I think it's the cell register number. I don't know what is written here, it seems to me it says "Released".

ADV BOOYENS: And I refer again to documents which are not in the new bundle, they are in the old bundle. Did you also send a telex dated - a telex from you in which you recommend he should be released?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

ADV BOOYENS: And the date of that telex?

MR DU PLESSIS: The 10th of the eighth month, 1981. This was addressed to the Security Branch headquarters.

ADV BOOYENS: And here you are still saying that he was willing to cooperate although it was not true at that stage?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

ADV BOOYENS: And on page 45 of the same bundle it says that this person is released on this date.

Mr Chairman I will make copies of this available. It was part of the original bundle but for some or other reason it wasn't included in the new volume 1. I will just make these two telexes available to you. Mr Chairman if you want to see it at the moment we can lend you a copy.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes Mr Booyens.

ADV BOOYENS: Thank you Mr Chairman. What happened on the dates of those various entries?

MR DU PLESSIS: On that day Sergeant Raath and I, as we have indicated in the Incident Book, he was released, Kondile was released. We went via Port Elizabeth where we met van Rensburg and we went to Bloemfontein.

ADV BOOYENS: I am sorry to interrupt you. We are referring to Sergeant Raath, how is it that he become involved?

MR DU PLESSIS: Sergeant Raath was involved in this investigation, I trusted him and that is why after van Rensburg and I, in cooperation with Erasmus made our decision I informed him regarding the problem we have and asked him whether he would be willing to assist us. I also gave him a choice in this decision and he came back and he said he had no other choice, he was prepared to cooperate.

ADV BOOYENS: Sergeant Raath, this is the third applicant?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

CHAIRPERSON: ...(indistinct) all about?

MR DU PLESSIS: In the execution of the elimination of the detained Mr Kondile.

CHAIRPERSON: This is the story which would happen in cooperation with the Vlakplaas people?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes.

ADV BOOYENS: Thank you Mr Chairman. Well you've said you went to Bloemfontein then, why do you mention Bloemfontein specifically, was there anything noteworthy about Bloemfontein?

MR DU PLESSIS: Kondile's vehicle, when he was arrested and detained in Bloemfontein, was left behind there in Bloemfontein, not at a police station, as far as I can remember, but at a safe place. And I made contact with the Security Branch in Bloemfontein and asked that this vehicle should be handed over to us again. I can't remember today with whom I had made contact in Bloemfontein. I can't remember whether we met him at the Security Branch or at the police station or where, but what I can remember is that we did find the vehicle there and Sergeant Raath was the driver of the vehicle and he followed us in this vehicle to Komatipoort.

ADV BOOYENS: And when you arrived at Komatipoort did you meet Dirk Coetzee there?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct. I can't remember precisely but I remember there was an arrangement that we would meet him at a certain stop street or at a certain bridge but it was in the vicinity of Komatipoort.

ADV BOOYENS: And tell the Commission in your own words what happened then.

ADV DE JAGER: What had happened to the vehicle then, was it still with you when you came there?

MR DU PLESSIS: No the vehicle and the Commission must please excuse me, I don't know that environment but I think it's in the direction of Barberton near the Swaziland border. We left the vehicle there. We left it by the side of the road and left it there with the keys in it. Kondile went with us in our vehicle. Sergeant Raath also got into our vehicle and together we drove in the direction of Komatipoort.

ADV DE JAGER: Your Advocate perhaps wanted to ask you the question.

ADV BOOYENS: Let's repeat this, who was in Kondile's vehicle?

MR DU PLESSIS: Raath. Kondile was with me and van Rensburg in my vehicle.

ADV BOOYENS: Was Mr Kondile at any stage in his vehicle ..(intervention)

MR DU PLESSIS: ...because Mr Kondile and Raath got into our vehicle.

ADV BOOYENS: What do you mean?

MR DU PLESSIS: What I am saying is that Raath drove with us to Komatipoort.

ADV BOOYENS: It was in fact what Mr de Jager wanted to clear up because I had the same problem.

CHAIRPERSON: Let's make the position quite clear, that Raath at some stage drove Kondile's vehicle, stopped it near the border of Swaziland, got out of it and then accompanied the applicant?

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

ADV BOOYENS: So there were four of you in your vehicle on the way to Komatipoort. You met Dirk Coetzee in Komatipoort as you have arranged, is that correct? Tell us what happened afterwards.

MR DU PLESSIS: From there we went to a deserted place which was full of bushes because it's the bushveld there. I don't know how long it took us to get there. I don't know how far it was. I would guess or speculate it took us about half an hour to that specific place. It could have been longer. I can't indicate where the place is today.

ADV BOOYENS: Half an hour from where?

MR DU PLESSIS: Half an hour from where we had met Dirk Coetzee.

ADV BOOYENS: Was he all by himself?

MR DU PLESSIS: No there was another person with him who at a later stage, when we arrived there, was introduced to me as Mr Royote.

ADV BOOYENS: Right, you've been driving for half an hour, what happened then?

MR DU PLESSIS: We came to this place which I accept was the place where the elimination had to be done and which was done there.

ADV BOOYENS: What happened there?

MR DU PLESSIS: Kondile had to sit down against the trunk of a tree. His hands were fastened, they were in shackles, and shortly after we had arrived there were cool drinks and perhaps some beer, I can't remember, I can't say who had some beer. I myself am not a drinker. We also gave Kondile some food and he also had some cool drinks. Later on I saw that Kondile, as he was sitting down slowly fell to one side and was lying on this side. Somebody said at that stage that the elimination had to be carried out. Perhaps they didn't use that word, I can't remember precisely which word they used. As far as I can remember Sergeant Roy Otto took out his firearm and I think it was his service pistol and shot Kondile. Afterwards he was put on some wood which was already there and we also gathered some more wood and he was burnt to death.

ADV BOOYENS: Did you remain there until he had been burned out completely?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes we remained there. Early the next morning I, General van Rensburg and Raath left that place. Coetzee and Roy Otto were left behind.

ADV BOOYENS: Apart from the deceased I count five people were there, three people from Port Elizabeth, Dirk Coetzee and Otto, were there any other people present?

MR DU PLESSIS: Not that I know of. Not any person I saw.

ADV BOOYENS: As far as you know there were five people present there. And did you go directly back to Port Elizabeth?

MR DU PLESSIS: I think we returned to Port Elizabeth directly. I can't remember that we slept over somewhere, but I can't want to exclude this as a possibility. We were tired, we didn't sleep a lot and there was the possibility that we could have slept over.

ADV BOOYENS: It seems from other testimony, which will also be led, that one of the drinks that Mr Kondile was given had a sleeping pill in it, do you have any knowledge of that?

MR DU PLESSIS: No I did not have any knowledge of that.

ADV BOOYENS: Was it the first time that you had any experience of this that a person was shot to death in such circumstances?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: What was the result of this on you?

MR DU PLESSIS: I think that I still have the scars of that today. It was very difficult for me to think rationally during that time and one tried to see as little as possible and to get it over and done with as soon as possible but I can tell you that it seems like an eternity.

ADV BOOYENS: You have testified more completely than in your application but do you confirm what is in page 14, 15, 16 and 17 of your application?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: On page 17 you mention that you and van Rensburg had the idea that Kondile's body had to be left on the Mozambique side of the border, was that the initial plan?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: And how did it happen that the body was burnt?

MR DU PLESSIS: This was a suggestion which came from Mr Coetzee.

ADV BOOYENS: Were you next to the river?

MR DU PLESSIS: No, not as far as I know.

ADV BOOYENS: Let me put it so, could you see the river from where you were?

MR DU PLESSIS: No I could not see a river.

ADV BOOYENS: So you did not know how far you were?

MR DU PLESSIS: No.

ADV BOOYENS: Mr du Plessis on pages 18, 19 and 20 you deal with the political objectives as well as your own political motivations, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

ADV BOOYENS: Do you confirm that?

MR DU PLESSIS: I do.

ADV BOOYENS: Let us try to summarise what you are trying to tell the Commission in this. By 1981 what was the political situation in this country regarding the struggle between the ANC on the one hand and the South African Government on the other hand?

MR DU PLESSIS: It was a tremendous struggle which escalated on a daily basis.

ADV BOOYENS: And as Security policemen what was your function?

MR DU PLESSIS: We were a buffer between the government on the one hand and the ANC on the other. This was not only on one occasion but on several occasions we were told by senior officers, by politicians that we were the last vestige and that it had to be our task ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: I think that the term "vestige" may have been an interpretation which might not have been intended. Mr Booyens the word "vestige" has been used, "we were the last "vestige", there may be some other interpretation.

ADV BOOYENS: I think the word used by the witness was "vesting" which would be interpreted as the "last bastion" basically.

INTERPRETER: The last bastion.

CHAIRPERSON: ...(indistinct) of what?

MR DU PLESSIS: We were the only ones who could prevent the ANC from overthrowing the National Party.

ADV BOOYENS: And were you told this continually?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

ADV BOOYENS: Let us just generalise a bit more. One often gets the impression that people do not realise exactly how this cooperation was, did you have any knowledge, for example, of cooperation, I am now speaking about high level cooperation between the South African Defence Force and the South African Police as regards the fight against terrorism?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: To just place this in context you were later transferred to Head Office is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

ADV BOOYENS: That's Security head office?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: And did you hear about a Simon's Town conference?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes I did.

ADV BOOYENS: In a nutshell what was this about, this is now the knowledge that you gained afterwards, you were not present there?

MR DU PLESSIS: Briefly it boils down to the fact that certain areas, in certain areas the Defence Force would act and in other areas the police force would act. Swaziland was kept aside for the Security Police because there was very good cooperation.

ADV BOOYENS: And if you speak about taking action what action are you referring to? Is this action against the enemies of the government at that stage?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: Many of those incidents are public record today, did you have any knowledge of operations which were launched by Security forces abroad where some of these people were eliminated, killed?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: Was their cooperation, did you have instructions to work together with their Defence Force?

MR DU PLESSIS: If we did not have the instructions we would not have cooperated with the Defence Force. So it boils down to the fact that we did have instructions to work with certain members of the Defence Force and so doing to allow them when we were present to interrogate the trained ANC cadres.

ADV BOOYENS: Did you assist the Defence Force in target development?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes that's where it started, so that they could do target analysis.

ADV BOOYENS: Were you aware of the fact that on a high level there was cooperation in order to fight the enemy?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: When you were at head office later did you also have knowledge of the fact that at that level as well planning had been done regarding the struggle against the people?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV DE JAGER: Could you just tell us, when did you go to Head Office, when were you transferred?

MR DU PLESSIS: End '89.

ADV DE JAGER: Do you have an idea when this Simon's Town summit was?

MR DU PLESSIS: No I cannot remember.

ADV BOOYENS: As regards the question of Mr de Jager at middle '89 there was already the cooperation between yourself and the Defence Force.

MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.

ADV BOOYENS: So the Simon's Town summit or conference should have been before then?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes I agree to that.

ADV BOOYENS: And what you learnt at a later stage were there also priority lists of people who were a threat to the state compiled by certain elements at head office?

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: Once again you were not present there but you heard about this list of names that had been discussed regarding people who were enemies of the State.

MR DU PLESSIS: That's correct.

ADV BOOYENS: And was this on a high level?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

ADV BOOYENS: When you decided to eliminate Mr Kondile did you think that you were acting in contravention of State policy or not?

MR DU PLESSIS: I thought that we were in agreement with the State policy, yes.

ADV BOOYENS: I know that the politicians are saying today that they did not know or that they did nothing or had nothing to