ON RESUMPTION ON 11.02.98 - DAY 3 

MR VISSER: Mr Erasmus you are still under oath.

MR ERASMUS: That is correct your Honour.

GERRIT NICHOLIS ERASMUS: (s.u.o.)

EXAMINATION BY MR VISSER: Mr Erasmus yesterday we completed up to the administrative dispensation in the Eastern Cape. Just to follow up from that will you just explain to the Committee when you were in the Eastern Cape 1980/81, what was the position regarding instructions from Head Office? What kind of instructions were those, what type of instructions you were supposed to execute as Divisional Commander of the Eastern Cape?

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman if we refer to Head Office, we refer to Security Head office. Security Head office delegated some policy and instructions to me and certain administrative functions within the security branch. The Divisional Commissioner who was the senior person in the division Eastern Cape, the police administration was done by that person, that refers to sick leave, injuries, promotions, transfers, etc as far as they requested this to be done.

MR VISSER: And regarding the solution of practical problems on the ground, who was responsible for that.

MR ERASMUS: I was responsible for that as divisional commander.

MR VISSER: Against that background the Committee has heard evidence previously but shortly give your perception regarding the joint management system and the role which this management system played regarding your responsibilities as Divisional Commander.

MR ERASMUS: This management system was a body on which all departments and non-departments were represented. Discussions followed regarding the situation, we exchanged information, we gave certain input and also other departments.

MR VISSER: In other words were there any discussions about certain guidelines or standpoints of politicians of the day and how that had to be applied?

MR ERASMUS: That information was handled through that channel.

MR VISSER: Previously you testified according to your knowledge there was never any instruction from the joint management system for anybody to act illegally, but you said there was some pressure from them to act in a certain way.

MR ERASMUS: I can't remember a direct instruction. I know that in all these forums, because of the prevailing situation, the anarchy, the chaos there was pressure exerted on us which on this forum, pressure from head office, from the general public and we ourselves, had to solve this problem in cooperation with the other forces.

MR VISSER: While referring to that, what was pressure from the general public, in which form was that? What was it about?

MR ERASMUS: That was because people sustained damages in properties, it was burned down, they couldn't continue normally with their businesses, they lost money because of strikes, because delivery vans were burned, I can mention various examples.

MR VISSER: Is that what you mean, the general public?

MR ERASMUS: Mostly business men and also the general public, it includes the normal ordinary citizens and they were also influenced by the circumstances.

MR VISSER: We will discuss this later in more detail. Do you want to tell the Committee where Gerrit Erasmus comes from. Give a short description of your background and the impressions and influences on you where you grew up and where you came from.

MR DE JAGER: Did we not get this in his career overview yesterday?

MR VISSER: No we only referred to his police career, we had no personal details up to this stage.

MR DE JAGER: Is that contained in the bundle? This personal background, is it contained in the bundle?

MR VISSER: No Mr Chairman it's evidence.

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman I was born in Fraserburg on the 28th of August 1936. Like the most Afrikaans speaking people I grew up in a conservative Afrikaner home. We were all members of the Dutch Reformed Church and when we grew up we were supporters of the National Party. My parents and if I remember correctly, my mother, she became 70 years old and till late in her life she worked officially for the National Party. Furthermore this apartheid policy we grew up with that in press and to the things I've heard over the radio, apart from the English press there was little criticism on the apartheid policy. The judge prayed for the security forces, political statements praised the security forces for what thy had done and what they are doing to combat this evil. I was also influenced by prominent people I had contact with on a daily basis. Those were for example earlier my teachers at school and if I think back and look around me, today I remember that I think that the policy of the previous government could possibly be justifiable and was correct. Later in my late life...(intervention)

JUDGE PILLAY: If I might interrupt you, are you saying that this history coloured your decision to eliminate Sizwe Kondile, I am trying to understand the context of this history. Are you saying this is what helped that basic fact?

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman this was a contributing factor to my activities in the police. During my later years all I experienced, all aspects of Apartheid policy and there were various views regarding this. Most people I came into contact with believed in the policy and supported it. The people from the South African Police in the execution of their duties as policemen and women had no reason whatsoever to criticise the policy of the government they were obliged to serve; they had to take an oath of loyalty amongst others. I also experienced that very many statements were made overseas in support of the policy of the previous government.

MR BOOYENS: I just want to interrupt you. You refer to policemen and women and how they approached this matter, how they felt about that. How did you as a security policeman later feel and what was your position in the struggle ANC, Communism, PAC, the liberation struggle, the security forces, what was the role according to you of the security forces?

MR ERASMUS: Our task was at all costs to combat this total onslaught, prevent it and to see that they do not overthrow this government. We were the last bastion between total anarchy and take over or overthrow and the state.

MR VISSER: Apart from your background and your education, when you became a policeman, you've already told us yesterday about the experiences you had regarding the political struggle. You referred to the Park Station bomb, the Harris bomb explosion.

MR ERASMUS: There were also other experiences. For example in 1960 I was stationed for example then in Cape Town at Caledon Plain. This is in Buitekant Street. There was a march; the various organisations I did not know about because I was a detective. Later on I heard that it was a PAC march. There were about 30 000 people involved. I can remember distinctly that this march was led by a very young man. I can't remember his name now. They marched up to Caledon Plain. There was one or the other document presented to the Divisional Council Commissioner.

MR VISSER: After they dispersed, shops were plundered, people were injured etc and in 1963/64 according to your experience a new thing started happening or emerged. What happened then?

MR ERASMUS: During 1963/64 there were many sabotage attacks because sub stations were attacked.

MR VISSER: We don't want to spend too much time on this but the point is what you are trying to say to the Committee is that since the 1960's you have been exposed first as a detective and later as a security policeman to violence, intimidation and all accompanying things which were concerned with this political struggle.

MR ERASMUS: That's correct Mr Chairman.

MR VISSER: Yesterday you told us in November 1979 you went to Port Elizabeth. I want you please to explain to the Committee according to your insights what the security situation was in your division in the Eastern Cape.

MR ERASMUS: I came to Port Elizabeth Mr Chairman in December, I can't remember the specific date but it was at the end of 1979. Some of the security policemen there took me around and showed me around and they took me to a small black township to Walmer. What caused this situation I can't say but one of these men, one person was talking to a black man. I was standing a little way from there and then suddenly a big stone was thrown at me and I asked those people what was happening, and they said this is the situation here. In this township no policeman is allowed, they are not allowed to go there because stones are being thrown at them and they never go there. This was my first experience with Port Elizabeth.

MR VISSER: And further experiences, what did they teach you?

MR ERASMUS: It taught me as the struggle progressed and the longer I stayed there, that things were wrong in this area. What I mean by that is you couldn't move about freely as a policeman and you couldn't enter the black townships freely.

MR VISSER: Mr Erasmus was this your first experience to find out what was going on in this struggle between apartheid and the rest, this stone-throwing incident.

MR ERASMUS: That's not what I said.

MR VISSER: You've testified that during the early 1960's you were exposed to the struggle pertaining to the political struggle. That is what you are testifying. Regarding normal policing Mr Erasmus, can you tell us what your experience was in the Eastern Cape and what the results of that were.

MR ERASMUS: Because of this struggle of the black people against the previous government, we could not execute normal policing, we could not do police tasks properly here and there because there were constant attacks on vehicles, houses of policemen and even on the people themselves and this meant that the law could not be enforced properly. That's why there was a tremendous increase in crime and a low success figure because of intimidation.

MR VISSER: In summing up, the endless unrest and the violence in the Eastern Cape. With which class of person was that associated? What class of person did this pertain? Who were the people who were involved?

MR ERASMUS: The people involved were mostly pupils from schools and this resulted from the school boycotts. There were strikes because of labour unrest and then also the movement of Xhosas and they belonged to an organisation associated with the ANC. These people caused this chaos.

MR VISSER: Mr Erasmus I'm going to read this into the record but there's an abstract from Seshaba, April 1987 which you found. I'll just read it to you:

"1980 saw the development of a mass uprising in South Africa, an estimate of ten thousand secondary school pupils took part in a successful campaign for the boycott of classes in Cape Town, Bloemfontein, East London, Port Elizabeth, the Western Cape, Kimberley, Johannesburg and other areas which forced more that one hundred schools to close down and more than that caused 2 000 matriculants students not to write their examinations. Violent clashes took place between the students and the police resulting in deaths on both sides. Violence was the characteristic feature of the uprising as distinct from the 1976 uprising the 1980 events involved greater numbers of the working class acting either independently of in community with the students.

MR VISSER: What is your point of view regarding the accuracy of the summary of the activities in the P E environment.

MR ERASMUS: This abstract according to me is a true reflection of exactly what was going on there in all these places as mentioned here.

MR VISSER: Resistance was part of the activities of the day Mr Erasmus. Just briefly give us an insight into what this embraced in your experience as a commanding officer.

MR ERASMUS: This pertained to boycotts, the burning of beer halls, delivery vehicles, attacks on black councillors and their homes, attacks on policemen and their homes, large scale intimidation, marches, and this had to do with the with the destruction of property and the killing of people.

ADV GCABASHE: Mr Erasmus please just help me with this, as I understand it, and do correct me if I'm wrong, your involvement in this particular matter largely turns on the decision you took with Mr du Plessis and Mr van Rensburg to eliminate Sizwe Kondile. As I understand it, that was a rational decision taken by skilled persons who thought this through and decided rationally this is the only way out. The evidence you have given yesterday and this morning largely and correct me if I'm wrong, turns on the political background, your emotional state, your upbringing; what has that got to do with the rational decision you felt you were forced to take at the end of the day. And if I've misunderstood you, please just correct me.

MR ERASMUS: I've already told the chairman that I am explaining exactly what was happening in that area which was under my control.

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman if I may say so, it is not really a matter for argument. I will certainly argue that you can't effectively decide on an application for amnesty of an applicant appearing before you who does not tell you where he comes from, what his background is, so that you are properly in a position to adjudicate upon his actions in the light of his background Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: I think you are sufficiently experienced Mr Visser ...(indistinct) that we have had ample evidence of this kind of a ...(indistinct) in the past. Other applicants have also covered this kind of evidence and my suggestion to you is that you should try and be as brief as possible to the relevant issues.

MR VISSER: Yes indeed Mr Chairman. That is what we will do; we in fact are going on to that point.

Before we come to the next point in this region Mr Erasmus, there were bomb explosions, bombing attacks while you were stationed there.

MR ERASMUS: That is correct Mr Chairman. Administration Council buildings, a Constantia shopping complex, the new Fort Building and on a railway line near Swartkop, and the close proximity of Lesotho was the source of concern where the ANC machinery was situated, from where infiltration was taking place. Ciskei, Transkei and the Western Cape were also influenced by that proximity.

MR VISSER: Mr Erasmus, if we can continue to the pertinent discussion regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr Kondile. Can you from memory try and tell us how you heard about this matter, what you were told and what you decided.

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman I knew Kondile was being detained from time to time. Mr du Plessis kept me informed how the investigation of this person was progressing. The normal procedure was that on a regular basis reports had to be made to the security branch regarding the development of the interrogation and I personally was not part of the interrogation, but as from what I heard is that that person was trained or had been trained in Lesotho.

MR VISSER: Trained in what?

MR ERASMUS: Trained as an ANC terrorist and that he was very close to Chris Hani, being the MK commander for that area. If I remember correctly he was a trusted companion of Mr Hani. During this time I heard that the investigative officer Mr du Plessis, that he had travelled with him where he indicated certain places and people and provided information. I know also from documentation which was sent to me to people in the Transkei, that he provided information about two people in Transkei.

MR VISSER: If I can interrupt you here just to assist the Committee, yesterday and the day before we heard evidence that you asked a written report. Did you also receive other documentation which you've studied regarding Mr Kondile and all his activities?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct yes.

MR VISSER: And I received many of these documents regarding Kondile and those are documents found in Volume 2 from page 167 to 176, I don't know whether those are all the pages but are these examples of the documents you are referring to?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct Mr Chairman.

MR VISSER: At a certain stage Mr van Rensburg and Mr du Plessis came to you. Tell us what happened there.

MR ERASMUS: On that day, I can't remember the exact date, those two people came to my office and Mr du Plessis was the spokesman and he told me that during this time he had recruited Kondile as an informer or agent. During this recruitment he had to provide information to Mr Kondile. This information pertained to how information could be gathered from Lesotho. They told me that a principle agent be used who had to be placed in such a way that he could liaise with Kondile. He told me that Kondile was prepared to act as an agent for the security police. That wasn't strange to me because it happened often that we recruited people. One day Mr du Plessis had visited Kondile and he realised or rather he found a note which Mr Kondile supposedly wrote to the ANC. This entailed according to Mr du Plessis that the principal agent and also the whole network, the whole security network from Lesotho, in Lesotho would be destroyed.

MR VISSER: Was this based on the information in fact that du Plessis gave to you, didn't you also come to this conclusion?

MR ERASMUS: It was very clear according to my background as a security man that if this were to become known to the ANC, that Kondile had knowledge of the principal agent and if his identity were to become known the whole intelligence network would be destroyed.

ADV GCABASHE: If, I am sorry Mr Visser, if I might ask Mr Erasmus, in the regular reports you received from Mr du Plessis had he already indicated Sizwe Kondile's willingness to work for the Security Branch?

MR ERASMUS: I cannot recall that now. He possibly said that to me orally.

ADV GCABASHE: The question though is really, at the time you had this particular meeting with Mr du Plessis and Mr van Rensburg did you already know of the circumstances of Sizwe Kondile?

MR ERASMUS: That he was to become an agent, yes.

ADV GCABASHE: Yes. None of that information was new to you?

MR ERASMUS: No.

JUDGE PILLAY: I just want to correct something, you said "it was new to me" that was the note.

MR ERASMUS: Ja.

MR VISSER: According to your insight, and with your background as a security policeman which you tried to sketch here this morning, what would have been the consequences of this potential leakage regarding your Intelligence network?

MR ERASMUS: I think it had further implications, not only to our network but to other networks as well and these would all be destroyed completely.

MR VISSER: Now it can be argued that then it would have been one of those problems which one would just have to accept and rebuild a new network, not so?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct. But I do want to add that a security network under the circumstances prevailing in those years and because Lesotho was actually not in favour of us I believe it would have taken years to build up again.

MR VISSER: What did you think from your experience as a Security policeman what could possibly happen to the principal agent and his informers?

MR ERASMUS: I believe that nothing would be left of him. His life would not be worth anything at all as well as everyone near him, close to him.

MR VISSER: Instead of considering murdering Mr Kondile why did you not say that he just be detained?

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman Section 6 of the Act stipulated clearly that as soon as the information which he could provide had been obtained he was to be released. Further detention would therefore not work.

MR VISSER: To place it in perspective this was before the period of general unrest in emergency conditions which authorised unlimited detention?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR VISSER: Why not just have Mr Kondile charged and found guilty and give him a jail sentence, would this not have solved the problem?

MR ERASMUS: No this would not have solved the problem. As soon as he came into contact with his legal representatives, his family, then this information would have gone out from the cells with the results that I have already sketched to you.

MR VISSER: We know that you finally reached the decision and you gave the instruction that he was to be eliminated, did you not do this because this man had been so seriously assaulted and for such a long time that he actually tried to escape through a window and landed on his head and sustained brain injuries, was that not the reason why you decided to have him killed?

MR ERASMUS: I want to tell you very honestly today that I do not even know about the assault that Mr du Plessis testified to. The fact that he fell on his head and sustained brain injuries I have no knowledge of this either. I do not even know that he was injured at all.

MR VISSER: When did you become aware for the first time of the allegation of this so-called brain injury?

MR ERASMUS: I think it was in the newspapers during the Harms Commission although I was not involved in it a great deal was written about Kondile and these things.

MR VISSER: What can you recall about the discussions that you, van Rensburg and du Plessis had? Was it one discussion or more than one?

MR ERASMUS: I believe that it was more than one. It was reported to me and I think I instructed du Plessis to give me a summary of exactly what was going on regarding Kondile and although that documentation passed my desk I just wanted to ensure that that which I knew was what he was really telling me.

JUDGE PILLAY: Why did you want it in writing?

MR ERASMUS: I just wanted to go through it again, I wanted to - before I made any decision I wanted to ensure that the information had been summarised in one.

JUDGE PILLAY: Why, who told you that?

MR ERASMUS: So that I could make a decision.

JUDGE PILLAY: Let's go further, why did you not go to Mr Kondile and find out yourself about this man, whether it was the true?

MR ERASMUS: I trust my people and I don't think that it was necessary for me to go and question him again to confirm what I already knew.

ADV GCABASHE: What in fact did you then do to verify this information?

MR ERASMUS: I am saying that I trusted my people. I accepted that the information as provided to me, which was also reported to head office that this information was indeed correct.

ADV GCABASHE: I am sorry I don't understand that. You say you did not do anything further?

MR ERASMUS: I did nothing further. I did not go and see Kondile if that's what you mean.

CHAIRPERSON: I understand you to say that when Mr du Plessis gave you a written report that you conveyed that to head office, is that what you are saying?

MR ERASMUS: No, I said that it was for my own information.

CHAIRPERSON: The head office was never informed?

MR ERASMUS: Security head office would already have had all that information.

CHAIRPERSON: How?

MR ERASMUS: As it was reported from the pieces, the documents.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but I mean who notifies Security head office?

MR ERASMUS: It is done through my office by Mr du Plessis who sent in various reports regarding the progress made during the interrogation.

CHAIRPERSON: That's what I am trying to get at, there's a crucial matter here, they come to you because you are their senior, my questioning merely wants to know whether this crucial information is passed on to headquarters and if so, who did it. And you say that Mr du Plessis did it.

MR ERASMUS: I said that this information, of which I requested a summary had already previously been made available to head office. He basically just gave me a summary of the situation.

CHAIRPERSON: Just tell me, who conveyed it to head office?

MR ERASMUS: It was done by my office, not this specific summary but the previous telexes were sent to head office. There was one from Bloemfontein by du Plessis.

ADV DE JAGER: Mr Erasmus the information regarding the note, was that ever sent to head office?

MR ERASMUS: I have no knowledge of that.

MR VISSER: If I may attempt to be of assistance Mr Chairman, what the witness is referring to is what you will find at page 167 of volume 2. You will see that at 167 that was a report which emanated from Bloemfontein and the person who made the report was Prinsloo. But if you go on to the period when Kondile was in the Eastern Cape at page 172 you will see it's Captain du Plessis who now deals with the matter.

CHAIRPERSON: Page 172?

MR VISSER: Yes. I merely want to refer to the fact that it is Captain du Plessis who deals with the matter.

CHAIRPERSON: What is the date of this document?

MR VISSER: This is the 17th of July 1981 Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

MR VISSER: And it is clear that at that stage Mr Kondile must have been in Port Elizabeth. And you will see that this is a report directed to Compol, which is Security headquarters in Pretoria.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

JUDGE PILLAY: We once again get to the same question, was head office informed about this betrayal or this traitor, do you know?

MR ERASMUS: I don't believe so, because if you see in the testimony given by Mr du Plessis this man's - he was not discussed any further with head office.

JUDGE PILLAY: That's exactly the point, so am I correct if I say that the factors which you used to make this decision, together with the other two, these factors, it was never sent to head office?

MR ERASMUS: No you are not correct. I am saying that the factors which I took into consideration when I made the decision were the same factors excluding the note. In other words they had all the information but possibly not the information regarding the note. I personally did not see the note myself.

JUDGE PILLAY: But surely the note is the crux of the whole problem?

MR ERASMUS: Yes it is the crux of the problem but as I would say I made the decision myself and did not communicate with head office regarding this decision.

JUDGE PILLAY: And do you know whether Mr du Plessis informed head office regarding this note?

CHAIRPERSON: I don't know, but I don't believe so.

MR VISSER: Mr Erasmus perhaps we must just refer back to your testimony this morning when you spoke about the relationship and execution of tasks, instructions which you received from head office and how you regarded your own task as divisional commander and you said that you had to deal with the problems on grassroots level.

MR VISSER: That's correct. However it may be regarding one or two three discussions you requested a memo which had to summarise everything for you, which you had in front of you after the consideration thereof and documentation you came to a decision, and what was the decision?

MR ERASMUS: The decision was that Kondile was to be eliminated.

MR VISSER: That was the first case and I am now referring specifically to the other cases of Mthimkulu and Madaka, this was the first time that you became involved in such a decision?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR VISSER: It can perhaps be argued or accepted that every time you went to the Security Branch that you got hold of a trained terrorist that you killed him, is that the position?

MR ERASMUS: No that's not the position at all. We charged a great number of people in the courts and prosecuted them successfully.

MR VISSER: Did you therefore regard this as an extreme case?

MR ERASMUS: Yes. Because as a result of this information which was given by Kondile we couldn't do anything other than make this information known and I felt that this was an extreme case which I had to deal with.

ADV GCABASHE: Mr Erasmus, please help me understand the limits of your powers as the person in charge in that area. Where you had an extreme situation such as this you were essentially authorised to take a decision to eliminate a person without any further recourse to your superiors in Pretoria.

MR ERASMUS: I was appointed and I was the commander. I had to deal with the situation at grassroots level. This operation was done clandestinely and the intention was that this would never be exposed.

MR VISSER: So you knew that this was an illegal offence, it was a crime?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

CHAIRPERSON: When you say that this operation was done clandestinely, that it should never come to light, I understand you to mean that even headquarters were not to know about it, is that it?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct, yes.

MR VISSER: That's the whole point that the Chairman is addressing, that's what it's all about. You had a problem that you could not solve and according to you there was only one way of solving this problem. What would be the use or the sense of having this publicised in the media or telling head office, what would have happened then?

MR ERASMUS: It would have offered no solution.

CHAIRPERSON: Does that mean that you had the power of life and death over a man? You considered information given to you by your juniors, you have no way of verifying that because you didn't see the note; you don't ask Kondile whether in fact he has written that note, or whether the note was planted there by somebody, in other words you make no effort to go and speak to Kondile to make your own assessment of the man, and you decide to pass the sentence of death on him, is that what you are saying?

MR ERASMUS: I said that I trusted my people. It was not necessary for me to go back on their word or to mistrust them. If I was wrong then I was wrong. I made my decision. I cannot say much more about this.

MR VISSER: When you made this decision and you gave the instruction did you do this in your personal capacity as a person who has life and death in his hands, or what was your position?

MR ERASMUS: I acted as a policeman and I believe today, still ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: You know that doesn't make any difference whether you acted as a policeman or as an ordinary human being, the fact of the matter is that you have the power of life and death and you exercised that power in this case.

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman may I lead him on the provisions of Section 20(2)(b) with your leave.

Did you give this instruction and make this decision as Gerrit Erasmus or as a policeman?

MR ERASMUS: I made this decision as a policeman.

MR VISSER: And how did you argue - how was what you did, how was this in relation to your duties as a policeman?

MR ERASMUS: I regarded this as a protection of lives and property and the disruption and putting a stop to terrorism and bomb attacks because Mr Kondile was not a scholar, he was a trained terrorist who was involved with terrorism, infiltration of terrorists which he pointed out to us, explosives were brought in and I do not have to say this to you, what the chaos that resulted from these bomb attacks in this country.

MR VISSER: And as a security policeman was one of your tasks the protection and maintenance of internal security?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR VISSER: Where did you place yourself as a security policeman in the struggle between the State structures and the liberation movements?

MR ERASMUS: I believed that we were the last bastion in the struggle.

MR VISSER: So in other words what you are saying is that what you did and what you believed was part of your duties, your powers as a security policeman?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

JUDGE PILLAY: Mr Erasmus you were a high-ranking policeman not so?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

JUDGE PILLAY: And surely you know the rules and laws regarding policemen?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

JUDGE PILLAY: Under which Act or law could you kill a person?

MR ERASMUS: There are many ...(intervention)

JUDGE PILLAY: Not many, but let us hear.

MR ERASMUS: I know of them. I've already said we acted illegally we know that.

JUDGE PILLAY: But you say you acted like a policeman.

MR ERASMUS: Under these circumstances, yes.

JUDGE PILLAY: Now which Act gives a policeman the right to kill a person like Mr Kondile was killed?

MR ERASMUS: In this situation which arose here the ANC made use of no Acts or regulations ...(intervention)

JUDGE PILLAY: We are not speaking of the ANC ...(intervention)

MR VISSER: May the witness just reply to the question in which ever way he sees fit Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: (...indistinct) (microphone not on)

JUDGE PILLAY: I am talking about how you acted as a policeman.

MR ERASMUS: There were no rules in this game that we were busy with from the side of the opposition. There weren't normal procedures and acts that were of any use anymore, that's what I am trying to tell you.

CHAIRPERSON: You understand that when the State takes the life of a criminal after he's been sentenced to death it is published and the world comes to know about it, that this is the penalty this man has paid, here you pass sentence of death on a man and you and your colleagues then take precautions to make sure that nobody comes to know about it. That is an awesome power. Did you realise that?

MR ERASMUS: That is so, yes.

MR VISSER: Thank you Mr Chairman. Now ...(intervention)

ADV DE JAGER: Mr Erasmus you have only referred to the fact, and your colleague said that you were not busy with the ANC, was there a war in this country or not?

MR ERASMUS: I believe that there was a war between us and the ANC.

ADV DE JAGER: Were people killed on both sides?

MR ERASMUS: Yes.

ADV DE JAGER: And was it in this situation that this took place?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR VISSER: And is this your understanding of the whole basis of the National Reconciliation Act that you today are able to be granted amnesty for what you are testifying to now, is that what you understand?

MR ERASMUS: That's what I understand and that's why I am here.

MR VISSER: And if this is not what you had understood you would not have been here?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR VISSER: So it has to do with crimes and illegal deeds which were committed, and that is what this act is dealing with.

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR VISSER: Mr Erasmus you made the decision together with your colleagues and you gave an instruction, did you, with the execution of the instruction, did you have anything to do specifically with the execution of this instruction?

MR ERASMUS: No.

MR VISSER: Mr van Rensburg said that what he could remember was that he was requested, by you, to deal with this matter, what is your comment in this regard?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct, yes.

MR VISSER: Did you hear about the fact that Mr Dirk Coetzee was to be approached?

MR ERASMUS: I believe that this was mentioned in one of the discussions that he would be approached.

MR VISSER: Can you recall today on what basis the suggestion was made that Dirk Coetzee be approached?

MR ERASMUS: I cannot recall why but I believe that he was involved in Vlakplaas and whether that was the reason I don't know.

MR VISSER: What I do want to ask you is, his commanding officer, Mr Willem Schoon, did you approach him to inform him that you had this problem with Kondile and that you were going to ask Dirk Coetzee to assist your people in his elimination, or words to that effect?

MR ERASMUS: I cannot remember that I spoke to Willem Schoon about this.

MR VISSER: Would you have done this?

MR ERASMUS: I don't believe so.

MR VISSER: In his testimony before the Harms Commission, Dirk Coetzee, on page 331, this is included in Volume 3, page 61, he referred to you by name, actually it starts on page 62. Page 61 has just been added to give the background, namely that it had to do with the theft of a kombi belonging to members of a trade union which Mr Dirk Coetzee said he and Koos Vermeulen and others stole at a hotel in Johannesburg and then sold this vehicle to a car smuggling syndicate for

R7 000. And then on page 62 to 63, page 62 sorry, he said that he met you in Lady Grey. The second paragraph line 3.

CHAIRPERSON: What page is that? (microphone not on)

MR VISSER: Page 62 of volume 3.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

MR VISSER: Line 3. And to summarise it shortly Coetzee says that he had met you once, that was at Lady Grey where you were together with Mr van Rensburg, I assume this is this Mr van Rensburg and then he gave you that R7 000 he had received for that kombi. He handed that to you.

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman I have met Dirk Coetzee only once and I believe it could have been at Lady Grey. But if I remember correctly the purpose of this visit was that he was busy there to arrange for road blockades and using a few kind of tame terrorists. That's what I can remember. I don't know anything like the R7 000.

MR VISSER: Did you know about the theft of a kombi from trade union members who were on their way to Harare?

MR ERASMUS: No I don't know anything about that.

MR VISSER: Mr Erasmus you know a person by the name of General Johan Coetzee, later he became Commissioner of Police.

MR ERASMUS: I know him, yes.

MR VISSER: It's been alleged on page 49, Mr Chairman volume 1 page 49, it's alleged that this Johan Coetzee, General Johan Coetzee visited Kondile in Jeffrey's Bay. I want to ask you - do you know of such a visit to Kondile by Johan Coetzee?

MR ERASMUS: No.

MR VISSER: Johan Coetzee was he attached or associated with the Eastern Cape?

MR ERASMUS: No, not at all.

MR VISSER: Was he at that stage head of the security branch?

MR ERASMUS: I think so, yes.

MR VISSER: And as the head of the security branch if he would have visited your division would it have been kept a secret for you?

MR ERASMUS: No, not at all.

MR VISSER: On the contrary would you expect that they would contact you?

MR ERASMUS: Yes, they would have certainly contacted me.

MR VISSER: Yes, maybe I should just, while we are on this point, refer you to bundle 3 page 193 to 194 just to draw your attention to the affidavit by Petrus Johannes Coetzee. I will take it no further in the evidence.

ADV DE JAGER: Pages, number.

CHAIRPERSON: 193, 194.

MR VISSER: 193 Mr Chairman to 194, that is General Johan Coetzee.

Now regarding your knowledge Mr Erasmus, Mr du Plessis and van Rensburg left and you accepted that Mr Kondile was to be eliminated.

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR VISSER: You have already said that you had no further knowledge of how this plan would be executed.

MR ERASMUS: Not at all.

MR VISSER: Either the one or the other or both of them, du Plessis or van Rensburg, did either of them report back to you later on?

MR ERASMUS: I can remember that Mr van Rensburg phoned me from somewhere and reported that the task had been completed.

MR VISSER: Under that you understood that it had been completed?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR VISSER: And Mr Erasmus if I ask you today, you as a person and you've told us where you were born, how you grew up, what your experiences were, how do you feel today about that which you became involved in during the struggle or the war of the past between liberation fighters and the State structures, how do you feel today as a person about these things that had happened?

MR ERASMUS: I just want to tell you one thing, one can't describe it in words after everything that had happened, after everything we had gone through is that what we have been trying to do is what is happening today. We as the security forces and especially the security branch was put - came in-between the political organisations, the National Party was the enemy of the greatest part of the population of this country, on the one side, and we were squeezed into the middle. What they have tried to achieve to overthrow the government, to put another government in place, we tried, with all our might, to prevent that because we thought that that was the correct thing to do.

On the other hand the ANC terrorists did exactly the same thing. They came here and they wanted to overthrow this government, the previous government. During this process we were squeezed or forced into the middle. We couldn't get out of this position. We couldn't get out of this. We were caught in-between. It happens everywhere, in Rhodesia, in Ovamboland, everywhere where we acted we killed one-another. This was not a one-sided process. There were two groups of people driven by political motives and they were killing one-another.

From our part the purpose was the create space for the previous government to find a solution to the problem. We could not find a solution. The solution had to be a political solution. It had to be a political solution. But as it's been shown now you can't solve anything by means of weapons. If the politicians couldn't find one-another and find a solution it could not have been solved. That was our position.

If today, if the situation rises I would cooperate with a legal government and become part of a struggle again. I feel very sorry for the people and their families and all the relatives who suffered because of this. But if you become involved in such a struggle people get hurt, people from both sides get hurt.

You can say I had the power; you can say I make the decision, but at that stage I believed that what I was doing was the right thing. It was not the legal thing to do, and this is why today, before this Commission, I am applying for amnesty for what had happened.

Mostly we would have never landed in this situation if it was not for this political dilemma which was not solved and into which we were forced into a certain position. We can't say that the present government won't fall into such a dilemma. It might happen, because there is such a lot of drama and misery entailed in such a dilemma.

MR VISSER: You have said that you feel sorry for yourself and for the relatives and the families, are you referring to the relatives of the victims?

MR ERASMUS: No to all victims, the relatives of all victims. ...(intervention)

ADV GCABASHE: If I might just take you back one step Mr Erasmus, just before the last answer you have given, you spoke about a report from Mr van Rensburg to tell you that the expedition had been successful, the plan had been successful, just before this last bit, yes?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct, yes.

ADV GCABASHE: In your affidavit this is volume 1 page 31 under 9A.4 the third paragraph -

"Later during 1981...."

etc, that's van Rensburg, you've got that bit, volume 1, page 31?

MR ERASMUS: Yes.

ADV GCABASHE: "He reported in October 1991..."

could you just explain this to me. Did you receive a report in October or did you receive one immediately after the operation had been successful?

MR ERASMUS: I can't remember about October, probably it's an oversight but I can't remember this date in October.

ADV GCABASHE: You see the reason I ask is because this then would fit in with the September scenario that Dirk Coetzee paints, you know just having read the affidavits that are available to us. This is why I thought it important just to try and clarify this.

MR ERASMUS: I can't mention a specific date except I only have the documentation relating to the release of Kondile on the 10th of August, that is all I have. Why I have said October I don't know. I know after they returned they came and they told me what had happened.

ADV GCABASHE: Hold on, they telephoned you from the Eastern Transvaal.

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

ADV GCABASHE: They returned and verbally gave you a report as well, is that what you are saying now?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct, yes.

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman I have no further evidence-in-chief, thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: I am sorry Mr Booyens I should have asked you first.

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR BOOYENS: Mr Erasmus just a few aspects. If a detainee tried to escape, for example jumps through a window, falls on his head, do you think such an attempt would be reported to you?

MR ERASMUS: It would, yes.

MR BOOYENS: Was something like that reported to you?

MR ERASMUS: Not at all.

MR BOOYENS: I want to come back and refer to the broader situation and the background against which this decision was made. While I am doing this I want to refer you to your later career in the police force.

At a later stage you were attached to the Intelligence division at headquarters, is that correct?

MR ERASMUS: Yes.

MR BOOYENS: Later you were a major general in Johannesburg in the Witwatersrand.

MR ERASMUS: Ja.

MR BOOYENS: Now while you were a senior officer, this whole question of power which by implication was in your hand as a divisional commander, while you were a senior officer did you know about the Simonstown agreement where the security forces among themselves established who would be responsible for what?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: This agreement was made during a meeting which, as far as I know it was special forces from national intelligence, the army and the police?

MR ERASMUS: Yes, that is correct.

MR BOOYENS: This happened during 1979 and 1980, is that correct?

MR ERASMUS: Yes I can remember that.

MR BOOYENS: At the Simon's Town agreement I think all the top hierarchy of these three organisations were involved.

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR BOOYENS: And to prevent that the certain branches of the security forces infringed on one another certain duties were delegated?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: At that stage already was there a kind of attitude of that the enemy had to be combated and that the infrastructure had to be demolished by whatever means, by for example shooting them, attacking them, it could have been done legally and unlawfully.

MR ERASMUS: I can't remember the content of that whole agreement but that was basically what that coordination entailed.

MR BOOYENS: Later on you became a general at head office, is that correct?

MR ERASMUS: No I was not a general at head office.

MR BOOYENS: You were a brigadier?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR BOOYENS: At the Intelligence section?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR BOOYENS: While you were there in that Intelligence section had head office at that stage it was certainly well-known that many people had disappeared, that just disappeared, that political opponents of the government were shot, were murdered, we can think of many, lists are available. We have handed in lists like that. While you were at head office were they worried about all the enemies of the State who disappeared or who were killed, or was all this done in execution of a duty?

MR ERASMUS: I don't think they were overly worried about this. The normal investigations were carried out as far as I know, but I don't think they were very, very concerned about this.

MR BOOYENS: Was it ever indicated that some of these people, and if you look at the people who were killed, and I am specifically referring to the opposition, then people who were not directly involved like the politicians say, and even civilians, would you say that the inference is justifiable for an intelligent person that our security forces are responsible for the deaths on the side of the enemy?

MR ERASMUS: I believe so.

MR BOOYENS: And in spite of the fact that you think that that inference is justifiable during your whole career in the security police was it ever pertinently told to anybody that we believe that the security forces are responsible for the elimination of the ANC cadres?

MR ERASMUS: No it was never told to me.

MR BOOYENS: Well it's the type of thing that should have been mentioned and should be set out loudly, spoken out loudly.

MR BOOYENS: Do you have any knowledge that later on even a special unit was established pertinently responsible for people regarded as enemies of the State?

MR ERASMUS: I know of that unit, yes.

MR BOOYENS: Tell us more about that? ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Booyens what is the purpose of the establishment of this unit?

MR ERASMUS: I beg your pardon Mr Chairman?

CHAIRPERSON: What was the purpose of the establishment of this special unit?

MR BOOYENS: Yes that's what I was getting to Mr Chairman. Oh sorry you didn't hear what I was saying - my apologies Mr Chairman. This special unit was responsible to identify and prioritise the so-called enemies of the State?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: Can you remember who was in charge of this unit who was in charge?

MR ERASMUS: It was a very small unit. I think there were two or three people in that unit.

MR BOOYENS: But it was a head office unit?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct?

MR BOOYENS: And those were senior officials?

MR ERASMUS: Yes they were senior.

MR BOOYENS: To look at the whole picture Mr Erasmus, right from the time you were a relatively junior officer till you became a general was there an attitude of war, a war psychosis where the enemy had to be attacked, an enemy who became stronger and stronger?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: And to use the military example of a military

attack, would it be wrong then to say that the broad strategic decision that a certain target or a certain enemy had to be attacked was taken at the highest level?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: The eventual attack on a specific enemy target then is a decision which is taken by the commanding officer on grassroots level, he would decide about the how, the when and the where?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR BOOYENS: And I've used a military example, was that how you functioned? You were the commanding officer on the ground who had to execute the broad policy regarding the attack on the enemy.

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

MR BOOYENS: I am indebted to the Commission Mr Chairman.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR BOOYENS

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Mr Moosa.

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR MOOSA: Mr Erasmus would I be right in saying that your application that you made for amnesty was carefully thought out, carefully considered and the form properly filled in?

MR ERASMUS: As far as I know, yes.

MR MOOSA: The form which appears in volume 1 from page 30, as far as we can see on page 34, was signed on the 11th of December 1996.

MR ERASMUS: That is correct Mr Chairman.

MR MOOSA: And in this form you associate yourself with the statement made the next day, that is the 12th of December by Mr du Plessis is that right?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR MOOSA: It was carefully thought out. I take it that the date October 1981 was also something carefully inserted if we look at Mr du Plessis' statement there is another date.

MR ERASMUS: As I have already told you I can't comment on the 31st October or October 1981, I can't give an explanation about this.

MR MOOSA: I didn't get you quite clearly about the Lady Grey meeting with Mr Coetzee. Are you telling us that as regards the theft of the vehicles Mr Coetzee talks about that didn't happen?

MR ERASMUS: I am saying I don't have any knowledge of the theft of this vehicle.

MR MOOSA: And I take it, it goes further you don't have any knowledge, in fact you deny the receipt of the money from Mr Coetzee.

MR ERASMUS: That's what I've said, yes.

MR MOOSA: Agree with me, however, that the theft of the vehicle is something associated with a very specific date, namely the 13th of September 1981?

MR ERASMUS: No I don't have any knowledge of that. ...(intervention)

MR VISSER: My learned friend is confused between two thefts Mr Chairman. I think the one that has been mentioned in these proceedings is the Audi A80 which was allegedly stolen here in Port Elizabeth or surrounds. The one that Mr Coetzee refers to in regard to this particular witness concerned a kombi that was driven by a group of alleged trade unionists up to Harare and they slept over in Johannesburg and Mr Dirk Coetzee says that he stole the vehicle there and he sold it over the Swaziland border for R7 000, and that is the money he gave to this witness. So it's a different vehicle.

MR MOOSA: Thank you for the correction. I apologise. Now as regards the theft of the Audi do you have any knowledge of it?

MR ERASMUS: Nothing whatsoever.

MR MOOSA: I am asking because you as divisional commander have already told us that you would receive fairly regular reports from officers under your command.

MR ERASMUS: That is so but I would not receive a report regarding the theft of a motor vehicle.

ADV DE JAGER: Excuse me, but if it was a theft by the Security branch in the form of I don't know, of a certain operation against the trade union, a security operation, would that not be reported to you?

MR ERASMUS: Possibly yes, but this incident I have no knowledge of.

MR MOOSA: I wonder if you could look at volume 2, page 177. Have you got the page?

MR ERASMUS: Yes I have.

MR MOOSA: Would you agree with me that reading that page one reaches the conclusion that Mr Kondile was still available, was still alive at that time in October 1981?

MR ERASMUS: I can't read this but if this is what you are saying I accept that.

CHAIRPERSON: I think that should be put beyond any doubt. Is there any difficulty in being able to read it?

MR NYOKA: No difficulty Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: So what is your answer to that question?

MR ERASMUS: Can I just read through this or try to read through this?

CHAIRPERSON: Yes please, read through it.

MR MOOSA: To assist you, I'm really referring to paragraph 2.1.

MR ERASMUS: I can see what is written here.

MR MOOSA: Your comment please?

MR ERASMUS: All I can tell you is that I am convinced that the date when this man was released according to our records, is the 10th of August 1981, that was the date he was released and the 11th was the date he was eliminated.

MR MOOSA: Are you saying this after having consulted the record and discussed it with Mr du Plessis as well as Mr van Rensburg and Mr Raath?

MR ERASMUS: I'm saying it because I saw this document which was sent to head office and which stated that he was released on the 10th of August 1981.

MR MOOSA: Amongst the documents we see in Volume 2 which you've told us were conveyed to head office, you will agree with me that there is no mention of a note at all that was found on Mr Kondile.

MR ERASMUS: That's what I've already said, yes.

JUDGE PILLAY: Mr Erasmus, please tell me who wrote this report on page 177.

MR ERASMUS: It seems it was handed in by Lesamela and it came from Ladybrand. All explanation I can give is that Ladybrand would not have been informer per say by us and if you look at Kondile's release you would see that that telex did not go to Ladybrand. In other words this gentleman at Ladybrand would still have been under the impression that Kondile was still being detained. This is the only explanation I can provide.

CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, but could you tell me the name of the person that is the author of this document.

MR ERASMUS: If you look just under the heading it's Detective Sergeant Lesamela.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

ADV DE JAGER: And it originates from Ladybrand, this is in the right hand top corner?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct, and the date was 21.10.1981.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes Mr Moosa?

MR MOOSA: Thank you Mr Chairman.

I was saying earlier that if we look at these documents there is no mention of a note and you agreed to that, is there any mention in amongst these documents that Mr Kondile agreed to work for the security branch as an informer?

MR ERASMUS: I believe there is, yes.

MR MOOSA: Could you assist me by pointing it out?

MR VISSER: Page 176 Mr Chairman.

MR ERASMUS: Here is a report, I take it it's an encoded message sent by Mr du Plessis and the person who signed this was Mr van Rensburg:

"The abovementioned was released on 81.08.10 after he was recruited as an informer. Arrangements were made to meet him again on 24.08.81 but this did not occur. With his release a date was given namely 2.10.81 and this was not met either. No information can be obtained as to where he is at the moment.

ADV DE JAGER: Just let us clear as to whether it was a false letter because it says that he was released on the 10th of August, technically this was true but he was not released, he was abducted, no arrangements were made. Mr van Rensburg who wrote this letter or Captain du Plessis were both aware of this, that this man was killed on that day or on the next day.

MR ERASMUS: I believe that the rest of the meetings which were stipulated here are definitely false but he was recruited as an informer, that is true.

MR MOOSA: Mr de Jager has asked the question I was going to put to you next. You would agree with me Mr Erasmus, that it's a remarkable coincidence that the date reflected in your application - October, tallies with the story given by Dirk Coetzee more or less from the beginning.

MR ERASMUS: I believe that the date in my application is wrong, how the Attorney General or the attorney and I understood each other, I don't know how that happened. I didn't read through it later again either but that's not the real date, that's wrong.

MR MOOSA: You asked for a written report from Mr du Plessis after having received a verbal report from both him and Mr van Rensburg, did you not also ask for a detailed written report immediately after the expedition to Komatiepoort?

MR ERASMUS: I did not find this necessary, the man had been eliminated and it was over.

MR MOOSA: So are you saying that as far as head office was concerned there would have been no further reports after the expedition or what exactly is the position?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct, there was no further report made to head office except for the fact that it was mentioned that he did not come to his meetings in October.

MR MOOSA: You will agree with me Mr Erasmus, that is Mr Coetzee's version is correct, that is that he heard that the person had suffered a brain haemorrhage after trying to escape from a window, then what we are here dealing with is an attempt to cover up what happened, not so? - by eliminating Mr Kondile.

MR ERASMUS: I don't agree with that, the version that we are giving is the correct version.

JUDGE PILLAY: Mr Erasmus, according to your testimony and that of your colleagues, Mr Kondile must have been dead by the 12th of August 1981, is that correct?

MR ERASMUS: Yes.

JUDGE PILLAY: And this information which was sent to the head office at Ladybrand, according to this it seems as though he was still alive in October '81. Look at page 175 please, Volume 2. There is a letter according to the copy that I have, sent by Captain du Plessis to Bloemfontein as well as to Pretoria and the date there is September '81.

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

JUDGE PILLAY: What is written in that letter is how Mr Kondile admitted that he had been trained.

MR ERASMUS: That's correct.

JUDGE PILLAY: I would have expected that at that stage a report would have been made to head office that he had agreed to becoming an informer or am I wrong?

MR ERASMUS: I cannot remember at what date he arrived exactly and I won't be able to tell you at what date he agreed to be a source or an agent.

JUDGE PILLAY: According to the testimony by this time he should have agreed already because he was dead?

MR ERASMUS: Yes, because this is September, I see that this is September.

JUDGE PILLAY: And this seems as though this is just an ordinary letter to keep head office informed as to the investigation. The file should have been closed, due to the fact that he had been released and he was an informer already according to the false information which you conveyed or which was conveyed?

MR ERASMUS: I cannot give you an explanation for this, du Plessis wrote this. I see that I signed the telex to send it but I cannot give you an explanation regarding this matter as to why it was done or why not.

JUDGE PILLAY: Unless it's the truth as it stands here?

MR ERASMUS: I don't believe that that is the truth.

JUDGE PILLAY: Is it possible or not?

MR ERASMUS: I cannot say.

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, I purposely waited till the witness has finished his reply because I didn't want to influence him but may I also refer you on the same line to page 74 ...[intervention]

CHAIRPERSON: ...[inaudible] first please. What was the purposes of sending this report at page 175?

MR ERASMUS: As I've already said I cannot recall why this was sent, I don't know.

CHAIRPERSON: Are you surprised that it contains misinformation?

MR ERASMUS: No, I won't be surprised.

CHAIRPERSON: What would be the point in misinforming headquarters?

MR ERASMUS: I don't think there's a point in it.

CHAIRPERSON: Unless there's something more sinister?

MR ERASMUS: I can say that I don't believe that there was anything sinister about it. The whole operation was done in a clandestine manner and it was completed, so I don't believe that there was anything sinister about it.

ADV DE JAGER: Can it be that it was part of the cover-up?

MR ERASMUS: That is possible but then I'll have to guess.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Visser, you were trying to draw our attention to another page?

MR VISSER: Yes, Mr Chairman, I think Justice Pillay's questioning also brings into consideration page 74 of Volume 1. I didn't want to interfere because I wanted the witness to answer for himself but that is the question I think which relates to - this page also relates to that question, paragraphs 2 and 3 I think.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Mr Moosa, do carry on.

MR MOOSA: Thank you.

I believe that the contents of the letter on page 175 which you were focusing on is significant as well. On reading that - and you can take time to read it, would you agree with me that what is being said is:

"We are not dealing here with a trained terrorist, we are dealing merely with a bodyguard of Mr Hani"

MR ERASMUS: I don't want to agree with you, as far as my information goes he was trained.

MR MOOSA: And would you agree that page 175 basically is in line with the contention I put to you?

MR ERASMUS: Repeat that please?

MR MOOSA: Mr Kondile was not a highly trained terrorist as you have told us but in fact was merely a bodyguard.

MR ERASMUS: As far as I can remember I never used the term: "highly trained", I said he was a trained terrorist. As soon as you are trained in firearms then you are trained.

MR MOOSA: Yes, is that your only comment?

MR ERASMUS: No further comment.

MR MOOSA: Did you not think it important Mr Erasmus, that once the police officers whom you instructed to complete the task of eliminating Mr Kondile, came back that they brought with them the note that Mr Kondile was alleged to have written for you to make a complete report?

MR ERASMUS: I made no further reports to anyone so it was not important.

MR MOOSA: But you are Divisional Commissioner in the Eastern Cape, would I be right in saying that the general populist - the general public must have faith in you to execute your policing duties in a way that protects them?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR MOOSA: And that they would not expect you to be committing deeds of terrorism?

MR ERASMUS: That's correct, yes.

MR MOOSA: We have heard testimony from the previous witnesses about how their applications came to be compiled and they have told us about meetings, were you part of any or all of these meetings?

MR ERASMUS: I don't believe that we were ever all together at the same place. I think that the meetings they are referring to are where we decided in Pretoria or put it to the members that the time applications for amnesty is running out and we tried to say this is a sword which cuts both sides and you must decide for yourselves whether you want to apply or not. That is the one meeting I can recall.

At a later stage there was a great deal of doubt and I believe unwillingness among a few to apply and another meeting was held somewhere in the Free State where we discussed these matters again. And every group that was involved had to decide for themselves as to whether they wanted to apply or not.

MR MOOSA: I put it to you that in fact it was agreed that as far as those who didn't apply were concerned, those who did apply would cover up by not implicating them at all.

MR ERASMUS: I cannot agree with that, I am saying that it was every man and every member and every person who was involved or could possibly have been involved in the deed, it was his own good right to make that decision for himself.

MR MOOSA: In the statement of Mr du Plessis that you align yourself with in your statement, it is said that what was decided by consensus between the three of you was to act pro-actively, do you agree?

MR ERASMUS: In what sense?

MR MOOSA: It is in the statement you associate yourself with. I was actually going to find the sense out from you. Let me point it out to you. It would be on page 115 - sorry, page 15 of the first volume. Sorry, I don't seem able to pick up the word. What was said in these statements is that the decision was that the three of you would act pro-actively in order to protect the networks and the security situation in the area.

MR ERASMUS: Yes, that's correct.

MR MOOSA: And enlighten us what you mean by pro-actively.

MR VISSER: If I may assist Mr Chairman, it's page 6 that my learned friend is looking for, it's the middle of the page.

MR MOOSA: Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: ...[inaudible]

MR VISSER: It is the application of Mr van Rensburg.

MR MOOSA: Well, let me leave that question out. If it's the application of Mr van Rensburg, it's not something you say you align yourself with in your statement. But you have already agreed with it, you say that you would agree that you wanted to act pro-actively, what did you mean by that?

CHAIRPERSON: ...[inaudible] background has been covered Mr Moosa.

MR MOOSA: I tend to agree Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, just carry on to something ...[intervention]

MR MOOSA: Let me move on.

On this point generally, the Committee itself has questioned you at length about your power of life and death, do you agree with that?

MR ERASMUS: Yes.

MR MOOSA: I'm not going to traverse that ground also. What I am going to say though, on behalf of the family of Mr Kondile that I represent, is that in all probability what we have to deal with here - and it's going to be our contention, is a cover-up for the very serious injuries which were inflicted on Mr Kondile and it's a cover-up that you authorised.

MR ERASMUS: I don't agree with that. What we have told the Commission is the real thing and I'm sorry to hear about the cover-up.

MR MOOSA: In other words our contention is that you are not making full disclosure to this Committee first of all.

MR ERASMUS: I believe that as far as it was possible for me, as far as I know, I have told you everything I know.

MR MOOSA: And also that you attempted to besmirch Mr Kondile as an informer, is something that you owe the family an apology for.

MR ERASMUS: I donít think I need to do that, I think those are facts.

MR MOOSA: We have heard a great deal of ...[intervention]

ADV DE JAGER: Mr Moosa, I think in fairness to the family it must be pointed out that at the end he didnít agree to be an informer and I think that should also be stated that that was perhaps the reason why he was killed.

MR MOOSA: Absolutely Mr Chairman, that does come out. Iím referring to the familyís contention that even the idea that he agreed to be an informer - according to them, is something that he owes an apology for. That is ...[intervention]

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but the family shouldnít feel too aggrieved if they realise that the man in fact was merely misleading his captors and that he was not an informer. The family ought not to feel aggrieved by that.

MR MOOSA: Mr Chairman, I do believe that this ground was covered in the Human Rights violations hearing and that is on the record.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes.

MR MOOSA: And I donít intend to take it much further.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Can I ask you a question? I recall your putting it to one of the witnesses at one stage that it was going to be contended that Mr Kondile was in fact kidnapped in Lesotho and brought into the country, do you remember?

MR MOOSA: I do.

CHAIRPERSON: Now, we havenít heard anything further about that and is there going to be any evidence that he was in fact kidnapped?

MR MOOSA: Mr Chairman, the evidence around that - as far as the family is concerned, again appears in the Human Rights Violations hearing. It concerns a very last phone call that Mr Kondile made and the general probabilities of the vehicle moving from Lesotho to South Africa.

CHAIRPERSON: In other words, there was no evidence about it?

MR MOOSA: No, we donít have any other evidence. If it does come to light we will certainly bring it to the attention of the Committee but I donít know if Iím going to be that hopeful.

Further contention Mr Erasmus, would be that the crime that weíre dealing with here is not political at all, itís got no political content.

MR ERASMUS: I do not agree with you.

MR MOOSA: And that it would exceed the bounds even if it had any political content, to which you could have gone?

MR ERASMUS: I told you what it had to do with, I agreed that it was a crime, that we were aware of it and that is why Iím here.

MR MOOSA: Your counsel has chosen to lead you at some length on your background. Again Iím not going to traverse that area except to say that it is the familyís perception that the real terrorists were people like yourself.

CHAIRPERSON: Thatís a political comment.

MR MOOSA: Mr Chairman, the thing that was led and the annexure referred to are also political speeches.

CHAIRPERSON: Well, ...[intervention]

MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, with respect, I must place this on record that no political statement was made this witness in his evidence in chief.

CHAIRPERSON: Carry on, letís get down to the relevant facts ...[intervention]

MR MOOSA: Mr Chairman, Iím actually on my last contention - in fact I thought it was the last, but just this one thing.

Youíve heard evidence at length about what influenced you, am I right?

MR ERASMUS: Thatís correct.

MR MOOSA: And one of the things that slipped out of your mouth is that you now reflect on the situation and you feel that you were right in your actions all the time, would I be right in

that?

MR ERASMUS: I believed I was right, yes.

R MOOSA: And it is in that context that the family believes that the real terrorists have always been people like yourself.

MR ERASMUS: I dealt with a great deal of terrorists my whole life long until I left the security branch. So, if Iím a terrorist - as Iíve already told you, we killed one another as a result of politics.

MR MOOSA: Thatís the last question.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MOOSA

CHAIRPERSON: Thanks.

Any questions by you?

MR NYOKA: ...[inaudible]

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, du Plessis.

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR NYOKA: Mr Erasmus, you were reporting to security branch head office, you were working hand in hand with the JSMC : Joint Security Management Forum and indirectly accountable also to the National Commissioner not so?

MR ERASMUS: Indirectly, yes.

MR NYOKA: My query is, why did you not report the problem once it was given to you about the Kondile matter, that he was an informer and he turned against us? Why did you not report the problem to all these command structures before taking the decision to kill?

MR ERASMUS: This was a clandestine operation and we made the decision seen from my position on grassroots level.

JUDGE PILLAY: But the question was that after the decision - as from the time that the decision was made, the question is directed at finding out why you didnít ask head office before you took the decision to kill him?

MR ERASMUS: I thought that we had sufficient knowledge and facts to make the decision ourselves.

MR NYOKA: I do not understand how that is clandestine but Iíll move on. Are you saying to me that you trusted your juniors more than your seniors or your immediate senior like the Regional Commission to whom you regularly reported - than your juniors?

MR ERASMUS: Are you referring to security head office if you speak of Regional Commissioner?

MR NYOKA: I will use the phrase that was - the phrase that was used in Mthimkhulu and Madaka. People who were informed on a need to know basis, not so? - those that werenít involved, is that correct? Need to know basis, that was the phrase that you used then.

MR ERASMUS: Thatís correct.

MR NYOKA: What Iím saying therefore is that the need basis applied to juniors rather than to your immediate seniors to whom you regularly reported and trusted, like the regional commissioner. You trusted more your juniors, some of whom were not even involved, you never met, like Dirk Coetzee and Jan Raath - about this matter. Is that what you are telling us?

MR ERASMUS: I trusted my people and that is the only comment I have.

MR NYOKA: Why did you require that summary, why did you want a summary if you trusted them because Mr du Plessis had already verbally told you what happened. Why did you want a summary?

MR ERASMUS: This was only to get the whole picture because you know how things go at the divisional head office of a security branch, hundreds of reports passed through my desk some things you forgot about. So, I just wanted to look from the beginning at how this picture developed and how it ended up, thatís the only reason why I asked for it.

MR NYOKA: We have been given a bundle of security reports here, Iím amazed that neither that summary nor the note is not amongst them because that summary was very important, a decision was taken on the basis of it.

MR ERASMUS: Thatís correct, the operation was executed and this summary was destroyed later.

MR NYOKA: When did you destroy it?

MR ERASMUS: After the completion of the elimination.

MR NYOKA: And you said that there was a war situation but there was no state of emergency at the time, no suspension of the illegal process, how can you could have come to that conclusion that it was a war situation then?

MR ERASMUS: There was insurgents or infiltration of terrorists, they were shooting at one another backwards and forwards, not only here. This was taking place in Rhodesia, Ovambuland, in our own country as well and everywhere. If you do not regard that as a war situation, then I donít know.

MR NYOKA: The only inescapable conclusion that we can come to is that some, if not all of the people high up in command must have known or been informed of the decision to kill Mr Kondile and that there is a great scheme collusion or conspiracy to suppress the truth, any comment?

MR ERASMUS: I would not say that from inferences and possible discussion later on that people, even in the political arena knew about this operation.

MR NYOKA: Finally, that 1960 incident affected you traumatically because someone unarmed and defenceless was attacked and I would have expected you to be the last person to authorise such a mission because Mr Kondile was in captivity, unarmed and defenceless, ...[inaudible] you should have been the last person to authorise that, not so? - and say: "No guys, we canít kill, I have suffered for 30 years a bout an incident like this". Any comment?

MR ERASMUS: I want to comment on that, yes. He became involved in the liberation movement, he himself according to his story smuggled bombs into the country. Those same incidents or the incidents which occurred at the Johannesburg station which happened there, I had to prevent those.

MR NYOKA: At the time he was not found - he was not in armed conflict or found with arms, he was a captive and according to the rules of international law, you could not have done what you did.

MR ERASMUS: Weíve already conceded to that, thatís why we are here today.

MR NYOKA: And you reign as the commander in the Eastern Cape was relatively short, 1980 beginning up to 1983 but during those three years you authorised two killings, Ď81, Mr Kondile, Ď82, Mthimkhulu and then you got transferred. Iím wondering why did you get transferred.

CHAIRPERSON: No, no, I donít know whether thatís relevant for this case.

MR NYOKA: It was just in closing Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, thank you.

MR NYOKA: Thank you Mr Chairman, no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR NYOKA

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

We will take the short adjournment at this stage.

COMMITTEE ADJOURNS

ON RESUMPTION

ADV DE JAGER: You are still under oath.

G.N. ERASMUS: (s.u.o.)

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Jansen, any questions you wish to put to this witness?

CROSS EXAMINATION BY MR JANSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman, thank you.

Mr Erasmus, you were a Colonel when this incident happened.

MR ERASMUS: That is correct, yes.

MR JANSEN: And Mr du Plessis was a Lieutenant Colonel.

MR ERASMUS: I think he was a Captain at that stage.

MR JANSEN: Iím sorry, Iím referring to Mr van Rensburg.

MR ERASMUS: Yes, he was, he was a Lieutenant Colonel.

MR JANSEN: When they mentioned the name Coetzee to you, did it ring a bell, did you know who this person was?

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman, Iíve already said Iíve met him once before and that was in that Lady Grey matter, thatís the only time Iíve had any contact with him.

MR JANSEN: How do you know when that Lady Grey incident happened?

MR ERASMUS: I think this was before this, I think it was before this incident, yes.

MR JANSEN: You are reasonably sure about that?

MR ERASMUS: Yes, I donít know.

MR JANSEN: Yes, I accept that. Did you ask no questions whether this Coetzee person could be trusted with such a kind of operation?

MR ERASMUS: I canít remember exactly but they would have told me that he could be trusted otherwise Mr van Rensburg would not have told me that he could be approached to assist them.

MR JANSEN: At all times you were worried that something could go wrong with such a clandestine operation?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct, yes.

MR JANSEN: And youíve also posed questions where this operation would happen, what the broad planning would be etc?

MR ERASMUS: That was conveyed to me, yes.

MR JANSEN: So, one of the things they had told you was what they planned to do with Mr Kondileís body?

MR ERASMUS: I think they told me that.

MR JANSEN: Can you remember what the contents was?

MR ERASMUS: I think, according to the original planning, they wanted to leave the body somewhere in Mozambique near the border.

MR JANSEN: You can remember that, that that was said?

MR ERASMUS: Yes.

MR JANSEN: You also knew that it was planned that it was to happen in a place which was under the control of Mr Flemmington, he was the commander there?

MR ERASMUS: That I canít remember.

MR JANSEN: Did you not find out in which command region it was?

MR ERASMUS: I did not ask that. Because Iíve appointed a senior officer to be in charge of this operation, I did not ask those type of questions.

MR JANSEN: Did you contact Brigadier Schoon?

MR ERASMUS: No, I did not.

MR JANSEN: Why not?

MR ERASMUS: I canít explain why not, surely at that stage I did not deem it necessary.

MR JANSEN: But there was evidence that there was a problem of people moving into one antherís areas and that it was causing problems and it would have been the correct thing to follow protocol.

MR ERASMUS: I think the operations are of various natures. Those were different kinds of operations, this was just a once off move into and move out of an area.

MR JANSEN: And part of this type of criminal clandestine operations, should something go wrong, it could be said with certainty that the investigation would lead nowhere. In other words this kind of cover-up and there had to be sweepers afterwards, is that right?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct, yes.

MR JANSEN: Later on it also entailed co-operation with uniformed policemen or other security policemen?

MR ERASMUS: I was not involved where that was necessary.

MR JANSEN: Was it not a habit to sometime appoint security policemen as in investigative officers in matter such as these?

MR ERASMUS: No, it was not like that, members from the detective branches were appointed to do this.

MR JANSEN: Was anything told to van Rensburg and du Plessis who should know about this operation or who should not know?

MR ERASMUS: I left this operation in Mr van Rensburg and du Plessisí hands.

MR JANSEN: And it did not bother you that a junior officer in Schoonís office was used without Schoon knowing about it?

MR ERASMUS: No, it did not bother me because I was brought under the impression that Mr van Rensburg trusted Mr Coetzee or trusted him to such a degree that he could co-operate in this operation.

ADV DE JAGER: Mr Jansen, was Mr Coetzee - was he not especially appointed to establish Vlakplaas and did he not establish Vlakplaas from the start?

MR JANSEN: No, with respect Mr Chairman, itís not as simple as that. He was certainly the commander of Vlakplaas but in this respect that apart from the fact that he was situated at head office, he also functioned at the farm but the legal operations had to be executed in co-operation with the senior commanders at the head office and also the area commanders, that as his brief.

ADV DE JAGER: And the unlawful operations?

MR JANSEN: Well, that is according to Mr Coetzee, that it is general knowledge that Vlakplaas to a certain extent, was a smoke screen under which unlawful activities also took place in such a way that the senior officers knew about those.

CHAIRPERSON: Could I ask Mr Jansen, how does it really matter, how does it affect the situation overall when the time comes to make a decision on the merits of this application as to whether Mr Schoon was consulted or not and if so, why not. How does it affect the outcome of this application?

MR JANSEN: Well, there is a difference Mr Chairman, I donít want at this stage want to argue to what extent it is material or not but there is that difference that Mr Coetzeeís version is that he received the - although there were discussions with van Rensburg generally about them being able to dispose of bodies in this way, the actual Kondile incident - after Mr Coetzee had seen Kondile on the 13th of September, he ...[intervention]

CHAIRPERSON: After Mr Coetzee had?

MR JANSEN: Yes.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes.

MR JANSEN: When he was in the Eastern Cape. He was thereafter called in by Mr Schoon to contact Mr van Rensburg and to meet up with Flemmington and people in the Eastern Cape so itís a difference which I think ...[intervention]

CHAIRPERSON: I didnít catch that, so just put that. I didnít know that is what you were coming up to, I was just under the impression that we were just doing some shadow boxing about whether Coetzee was - Schoon was consulted or not.

MR JANSEN: Yes, no, no.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, do carry on.

MR JANSEN: You are saying that none of the facts that were presented to you were verified because you trusted the officers?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct.

MR JANSEN: Donít you think this was only a blind trust or a blind belief in their abilities?

MR ERASMUS: No, it is a trust in them.

MR JANSEN: Mr Erasmus, here is an officer whoís just made a very big mistake and he disclosed a secret to a 23 year old student, were you not worried then about the competence of this trusted officer to act as a security officer?

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman, I donít think we understand each other regarding the recruitment of agents etc. Not for one moment I can think which great mistake Mr du Plessis had made.

MR JANSEN: The name of a principle agent was provided to a person who misleading him during the interrogation process.

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman, there was no indication of misleading at that stage when that information was presented to him and itís absolutely logical that certain information should be provided to this person, otherwise how would you obtain information from him.

JUDGE PILLAY: Mr Erasmus, the point is, just before you decided to kill this person it appeared that Mr Kondile had misled Mr du Plessis, is that not so? - and this is what the advocate is referring to.

MR ERASMUS: Iíve already testified that this person was turned.

JUDGE PILLAY: Can we continue from there then?

MR JANSEN: What absolutely surprises me is ...[indistinct] concerning your own operation, you are so strict on the need to know rule but concerning an informer youíre trying to recruit, a person whoís recently been one of the enemy, there it seems to me you donít work according to the need to know principle or are the requirements not so strict?

MR ERASMUS: Mr Chairman, this is something he needed to know otherwise how could he act.

MR JANSEN: I will concede that du Plessis judgement was wrong, itís been proven wrong.

MR ERASMUS: When he recruited him Mr Chairman, this man agreed to act as an informer agent and in order for him to execute his task successfully certain information had to be conveyed to him. There was no other option, no other way of achieving this purpose.

MR JANSEN: Mr Erasmus, you would concede that at all times it was a material danger, then when you tried to recruit somebody as an informer it poses a danger because he could be a double agent.

MR ERASMUS: That is possible, yes.

MR JANSEN: There are other things regarding Kondileís recruitment which on logical grounds appear strange. For example there was the further danger, did the ANC know how long he had been in detention they would perhaps think he had been recruited as an informer.

MR ERASMUS: That is a possibility, yes.

MR JANSEN: And now thereís this story about the informer Mr du Plessis told you that he wants to send back to Lesotho without knowing whether the ANC would put him in a position to provide information to him.

If I remember correctly, Mr du Plessis testified that the plan would be developed how he would infiltrate back into Lesotho.

MR ERASMUS: I donít know anything about those facts.

MR JANSEN: Is your evidence that there was nothing wrong with du Plessis judgement?

MR ERASMUS: With the recruitment and the other things? - No.

MR JANSEN: We refer to the Kombi situation, you deny this who situation.

MR ERASMUS: I donít have any knowledge of the Kombi, nobody contacted me regarding the theft of a Kombi.

MR JANSEN: It cannot be that you might have forgotten something like that, that is the type of incident you would remember. In all fairness I have to refer you to Volume 3, page 202, itís Brigadierís Schoonís version put on record during Mr Coetzeeís amnesty application - in Mr Coetzeeís amnesty application. Paragraph 14 refers to this, do you want to comment on this? That Mr Schoon apparently brings an amount of money which had to be given to - Schoon brings it in connection with this Kombi.

MR ERASMUS: I canít comment on this, I didnít attend that trial either.

MR JANSEN: You would agree or would you accept that it was proven during the Harmse Commission that the Kombi belonging to a trade union from the Eastern Cape was stolen on the 4th of August 1981 in Johannesburg.

ADV DE JAGER: ...[inaudible] should be handed over to van Rensburg, not to Erasmus.

MR JANSEN: No, I accept that Mr Chairman, I only - the only difference is the versions go as follows - thatís Schoonís version, Coetzeeís version is - it was in fact handed to Erasmus.

ADV DE JAGER: To Erasmus.

MR JANSEN: Yes.

ADV DE JAGER: Yes.

MR JANSEN: As commanding officer in Port Elizabeth, you were very worried about the bomb attacks?

MR ERASMUS: Definitely yes.

MR JANSEN: And you were also aware of the fact that it was suspected that Kondile was part of the sabotage attempts.

MR ERASMUS: I donít think that there was information available that he was part of that but as I heard he assisted the persons who had to infiltrate to commit sabotage.

MR JANSEN: This suspicion would require your pertinent attention?

MR ERASMUS: That is correct, yes.

MR JANSEN: I want to put it to you that I find it extremely strange that on the ...[indistinct] of August there was a bomb explosion in a shopping centre and Kondile suspected to have information about that especially where individuals were involved, that he was taken to Komatiepoort two days later to be killed.

MR ERASMUS: You find it strange Sir, but if you have listened to the evidence given here by Mr du Plessis, he said that information regarding who was responsible - and he mentioned a name: "Walk Tall", was responsible for these bomb explosions together with somebody else.

He had already conveyed the information regarding possible saboteurs he had given to us. He was in detention for a long time and he couldnít provide anymore information.

MR JANSEN: When you decided Mr Kondile had to be killed, did you think of informing the area like the border - he was also interrogated there, to inform them that you were going to murder him?

MR ERASMUS: We did not do that.

MR JANSEN: In conclusion, itís not clear to me how you as the Eastern Cape, why you had an intelligence network in Lesotho, was it your own intelligence network or was it a network shared with Bloemfontein for example?

MR ERASMUS: We had an intelligence network and I think Border also had a partial intelligence network. All areas tried to obtain information from the neighbouring states pertaining to their areas.

MR JANSEN: But this intelligence network in Lesotho itself, the principle agent and the agents there, would they be handled via Bloemfontein?

MR ERASMUS: Bloemfontein had their own informers in Lesotho, we had our own informers in Lesotho, we worked through a principle agent. I did not work on grassroots level, that was how I was informed.

MR JANSEN: Mr Chairman, I have no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN

RE-EXAMINATION BY MR VISSER: Mr Chairman, thereís one matter which isnít strictly re-examination, itís something which I should have mentioned in evidence in chief. If itís something which is going to give rise to a problem, please stop me.

Mr Erasmus, during your evidence in chief you experience pressure from the top, perhaps Iíve forgotten to ask you one thing, what role did the politicians play regarding this pressure exerted on you?

MR ERASMUS: The politiciansí role was political statements made by them, for example ...[intervention]

MR VISSER: What?

MR ERASMUS: For example that the terrorists had to be hunted and eliminated and it was ...[intervention]

MR VISSER: It was generally publicised in the newspapers and over the radio.

MR ERASMUS: Thatís correct.

MR VISSER: Thank you Mr Chairman.

JUDGE PILLAY: Mr Erasmus, you testified that you were influenced to follow a certain policy, amongst others, by the church, your Afrikaner background etc., but as a policeman, is it not so that there was a lot of criticism against such policy. Every time there was criticism against this policy, the security police reacted against those people, for example against

terrorists, is that correct?

MR ERASMUS: Yes.

JUDGE PILLAY: Would you agree that you assisted to form such an attitude, such a feeling?

MR ERASMUS: I was part of that system.

JUDGE PILLAY: And you also assisted to promote these circumstances so that so many people could believe in that.

MR ERASMUS: I donít understand what you are saying.

JUDGE PILLAY: According to you more and more people, for example, protecting the public so that they would subscribe to such a policy, you helped to convey this idea, you helped to promote the apartheidís policy.

MR ERASMUS: I contributed to that.

JUDGE PILLAY: By for example, to handle the media, to interfere in the media and to prevent that they could criticise the policy.

MR ERASMUS: No, I donít think we could interfere with the media to prevent them from criticising the policy.

JUDGE PILLAY: Well, ironically enough I have to concede that the apartheid system did not come into operation if those people criticised it because black and white suffered because of the activities of the police whenever they criticised that policy.

MR ERASMUS: Thatís correct, yes but those people were then in the opposition.

JUDGE PILLAY: Itís my duty ...[intervention]

CHAIRPERSON: Carry on.

JUDGE PILLAY: It is my duty - and I must take into consideration when I assess this application, to understand how these circumstances which youíve also assisted in establishing, how could that act in your favour. You certainly helped to create these circumstances, how could that assist you if youíve tried in establishing it?

MR ERASMUS: I think the circumstances were created by the politicians, we act on behalf of the state not the government.

JUDGE PILLAY: Is that all?

MR ERASMUS: It is so, yes, I acted on behalf of the state.

JUDGE PILLAY: Thank you.

MR ERASMUS: Thank you.

ADV DE JAGER: ...[inaudible] refer to Volume 4, I think itís page 18 - page 17 and 18. Reference is made that two policemen were killed during this period of time at Butterworth.

MR ERASMUS: Is it the report of the Daily Despatch?

ADV DE JAGER: Yes.

MR ERASMUS: 17 or 18?

ADV DE JAGER: On page 18, the 5th paragraph:

"since last Friday when the two men escaped from a police roadblock on the Transkei border. The gang had murdered two Transkei policemen in Butterworth"

And on the previous page reference is also made to three other policemen, Sergeant Grebe - I cannot see their names now, who were also wounded fatally or seriously.

MR ERASMUS: I see that.

ADV DE JAGER: So, during this period at the end of August, there were skirmishes between the police and the freedom fighters?

MR ERASMUS: Thatís correct, in the border area, yes.

ADV GCABASHE: Mr Erasmus, one short question, did you have personal knowledge of the existence of the principle agent in Lesotho and of the network that surrounded him or did you simply rely on your junior officers knowing about it and having established it?

MR ERASMUS: I did not work at grassroots level, so I would not have personal knowledge of this agent nor would I have known his name because I was not doing field work at grassroots level.

ADV GCABASHE: So it really boils down to once again relying on what your junior officers knew of the matter and on the basis of that you then came to your decision with the other ...[indistinct] to eliminate Sizwe Kondile?

MR ERASMUS: Unfortunately that is true.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.

WITNESS EXCUSED

MR VISSER: I call Mr Raath ...[intervention]

MR BOOYENS: Mr Chairman, with my learned friendís permission, certain questions were asked about certain documentation of this witness and the author of that documentation in fact was Mr du Plessis - Iím referring to the documents that I handed in yesterday, page 74 and 75 and so on as well as certain telexes, and it seems to me now in light of that question that I would have expected would have been asked of Mr du Plessis but they werenít, that there is some unclarity about this witness.

I would like at this stage before Mr Raath testifies - in order to expedite things, to perhaps ask leave to recall Mr du Plessis purely on the issue of the documents appearing at page 74, 75, 177 and 175. And there was one other one that was referred to - oh yes, that was that document - the fax dated the 6th of October: "The recruitment of informers".

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, you may call him.

MR BOOYENS: Thank you Mr Chairman.

ADV DE JAGER: Your full names?

HERMANUS BAREND DU PLESSIS: (sworn states)

MR BOOYENS: Mr du Plessis, please get Volume 1 and 2 before you and go to page 74 of Volume 1.

Volume 1 Mr Chairman, Iím sorry.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes.

MR BOOYENS: Before you, you have a document dated the 10th of August Ď81, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

MR BOOYENS: And reference is made to Captain du Plessis, is that you?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: What is this document?

MR DU PLESSIS: This is the document I referred to when I testified where I said that on this day I applied for Kondile to be released, I applied to head office for this.

MR BOOYENS: The security policemen used the Afrikaans which is not often understandable to us. Paragraph 2 reads:

"He promises his whole-hearted co-operation and can be used very well"

MR DU PLESSIS: That is that he was recruited as an informer.

MR BOOYENS: And then 3:

"For tactical reasons it is recommended that he be released on so and so"

What do you mean by tactical reasons?

MR DU PLESSIS: Normally if we ask head office or write to them for tactical reasons then they give the authorisation without any further questions because they know and they believe that we have very good reasons for the release. If it would be to use him as an informer then there would have been another reason.

MR BOOYENS: With regards to paragraph, itís not the truth is it because at that reason - at that stage you realised that he had already been an informer, it could have been two weeks ago but not at this stage?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Why the false flag?

MR DU PLESSIS: The lady who had to send the telex from us, we did not want to tell her everything and in the second place this reached a general office at head office and nor did we want clandestine operations to be exposed there.

MR BOOYENS: Then on page 75 thereís a document, is this a document coming from head office from Brigadier du Preez?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: His name appears - I think Iím making a mistake here, where did this document come from?

MR DU PLESSIS: From Warrant Officer Strydom in P.E. and refers to the letter of Brigadier du Preez.

MR BOOYENS: So the 7.8.10 - 18.10 Brigadier du Preez, then it says that the detainee is released from the provisions of the legislation.

MR DU PLESSIS: You will also see that itís addressed to W.P. with a copy to security head office and it deals with the security of - the inspector of detainees who has to be informed.

MR BOOYENS: The third letter, is that - the third line, does that refer to security head office?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

MR BOOYENS: Now lets go to page - I do not think the sequence of the document is correct ...[intervention]

MR DU PLESSIS: It was mainly - if I look at the contents of the letter, it was mainly ...[intervention]

CHAIRPERSON: Interpreter, I canít hear you, youíre too soft. Just say that again.

INTERPRETER: This letter was mainly or the telex was main directed at the division Western Province to the inspector of detainees - who as far as I can remember was situated here, to inform him that the detainee had been released and that he was not to visit him any longer.

With Box 302, Pretoria, it was for their information that this had been done.

MR BOOYENS: Can you now go to page 175 in Volume 2 please? This is also a letter which came from you because you are the reference person at the top - Captain du Plessis, and the letter was date 18 September Ď81, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: At the bottom it says: Activities African National Congress and then it says O.F.S., 9/126, what does that mean?

MR DU PLESSIS: In the first place the 9/126 is the file number or the reference number of the ANC activities in Lesotho or terrorist activities in Lesotho, O.F.S. stand for Orange Free State, thatís their reference number. Ours you will see right at the top, itís O.P. 9/126.

MR BOOYENS: Was this in reaction to an enquiry from Major Sit?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: The document which was the enquiry, we donít see that here but if you have to make a deduction - you refer here to Sizwe Kondile present time, what do you want to say? What happened here?

MR DU PLESSIS: All that happened here is that the Free State had a problem regarding information or questions that they to hear from head office or other organisations and they asked us whether Kondile could confirm the information they had and thatís all that Iím saying in here in this letter.

MR BOOYENS: At that stage youíd already informed head office that the man had been released?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct, but not - I did not let the Free State know.

MR BOOYENS: We will get to that now shortly. Just to get back quickly to the document on page 78, you said that you did not let the Free State know ...[intervention]

ADV GCABASHE: Just before you do that, can I just clarify one point, am I right then in understanding that Free State was having to account to head office for whatever they had to do with Sizwe Kondile?

MR DU PLESSIS: No, I can still remember this although I do not have the facts any longer. They had information that if we amongst others, look at - this person received the training for the soul purpose of acting as a bodyguard to Hani and other ANC leaders so they had an enquiry these people, they received certain information regarding certain persons and they merely asked us to confirm this: "Did he have such information, if not ask him what the position was"

MR BOOYENS: You reacted to this and this is the information you sent through to the Free State?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct, and I received this from the documentation that I had at that stage.

MR BOOYENS: Thatís the information you got from Mr Kondile previously?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Letís just - just one thing, on page 74 - thatís the request that he be released, from who to whom?

MR DU PLESSIS: From security branch Port Elizabeth to the commanding officer X302 Pretoria and thatís security head office and only to them.

MR BOOYENS: The next document about which questions are being asked is on page 177, the Ladybrand document and more specifically the allegation that what appears in this, that Mr Kondile is detained - paragraph 2.1, heís being detained in Port Elizabeth after he was arrested entering the RSA with a motor vehicle. This document comes from the security branch Ladybrand, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

MR BOOYENS: And it is a security report which was supposed to be sent where?

MR DU PLESSIS: This report was sent to ...[intervention]

MR BOOYENS: Unfortunately it doesnít seem as though weíll get that information from this report.

MR DU PLESSIS: I believe that this report was sent to the Free State.

MR BOOYENS: When you asked that Mr Kondile be released, were all branches informed? Would Ladybrand have known or not?

MR DU PLESSIS: No, they would not, weíve already referred to the application for his release. We only inform head office or someone who was dealing with this matter, such as the Western Province if they had to do - if they had a function to fulfil. Ladybrand had no knowledge at that stage that he had been released.

MR BOOYENS: So their last knowledge or information - as they possibly arrested him, was that he was still with you?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: If you can go back to 176. The date stamp which is on May - 176 at the top, itís not clear whose date stamp it is, is it the stamp of security head office or is it yours?

MR DU PLESSIS: Itís the stamp of security head office.

MR BOOYENS: And itís dated 6 October Ď81, is that correct?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes.

MR BOOYENS: This was also a false flag report?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Last time when - the last time you made contact with head office regarding Kondile you said you wanted to recruit him as an informer.

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: That was that he could be used very well?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Now we know that the 6th of October 1981, was that Mr Kondile - by then he had been killed?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Does it appear from this when you sent the report?

MR DU PLESSIS: I see the date of 6 October Ď81.

MR BOOYENS: But what is your date, I cannot see it here or donít you know?

MR DU PLESSIS: I see the time but I donít see a date.

MR BOOYENS: But it was sent before the 6th of October Ď81?

MR DU PLESSIS: Yes. I accept that it would have been after the 2nd of the 10th.

MR BOOYENS: So between the 2nd of the 10th and the 6th of the 10th?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: Is this just a smoke screen which is being given to explain why Kondile was not to be found anywhere?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

MR BOOYENS: On page 76, - thatís in Volume 1, is the authorisation of the Commissioner of Police, Mike Geldenhuys for the release of Kondile on 10 August Ď81.

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct.

JUDGE PILLAY: When would the enquiry have been that you sent the report back to them after the 2nd of October?

MR BOOYENS: Are you now referring to document 175? ...[inaudible]

INTERPRETER: The speakerís microphone is not on.

JUDGE PILLAY: This was in answer to an enquiry or am I wrong?

MR DU PLESSIS: No, the previous was, 175 was the answer or the reply to an enquiry and their letter was dated it seems 81/08 or 09 or 08/11 in brackets Major Smith.

JUDGE PILLAY: Why is the report on 176, why was this then sent?

MR DU PLESSIS: If I can just place it in perspective. We reported that this man was dealt with as an informer and then the next things happened. That documentation was sent to a section at security head office which opened a recruitment file or an informer file.

They would ask me questions regarding several pieces of documentation which I had to follow up which I donít think is necessary to debate at this stage and all that I did is I let them know that he was no longer an informer, he did not appear.

JUDGE PILLAY: Thank you.

MR BOOYENS: Iím indebted to you Mr Chairman.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR BOOYENS

ADV GCABASHE: Mr du Plessis, while weíre talking documents, Volume 1 page 71, itís again one of these "releases", could you explain that to me?

MR DU PLESSIS: Which page?

ADV GCABASHE: Page 71 of Volume 1, unless my Afrikaans isnít that brilliant.

MR DU PLESSIS: What would you like explained?

ADV GCABASHE: Can you just explain to me, you know there are all these releases - weíve been talking about them, the one of the 10th of August really is the one weíve been dealing with largely, but here is one that relates to the 10th of July from Bloemfontein. Now I know that you had said that you requested that Sizwe Kondile be transferred to you but this is a "release", just explain these letters to me.

MR DU PLESSIS: Iím going to try and explain what happens in practice if I can remember correctly. The moment we requested the transfer of Kondile - because at that stage you must remember he was detained in terms of Section 22, they reported to head office that he had been transferred to Port Elizabeth and that he had to be discharged in the Free State. That is to say that their documentation had to be or they had to - they had a warrant, there had to be a counter-warrant and thatís all that this says.

JUDGE PILLAY: In other words heís released in Bloemfontein or detention had to be cancelled so that he could go to Port Elizabeth?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís correct. On page 72 it says that from that date he was transferred to Humansdorp. On page 73, section 6 where he was transferred from Humansdorp to Jeffreyís Bay.

ADV GCABASHE: So to the lay person really these letters are a bit confusing because they mean two things, they mean that you are being released or they mean that you are being transferred but not released?

MR DU PLESSIS: I donít want to say that, I do not believe all the documentation. The first thing that comes is a warrant for transfer and I had to then get this from the Free State to sent him to Jeffreyís Bay or Humansdorp, then they replace this with the real warrant and this takes a bit of time to get hold of these things. So the fact is just that everything is not here.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Moosa, I donít think anything here has directly affected your case in this matter, has it?

MR MOOSA: No, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes. And Mr Jansen, you have no interest in what has been said in the last few minutes?

MR JANSEN: Well Mr Chairman, I just have one question.

CHAIRPERSON: You may put your one question.

FURTHER CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR JANSEN: Just bear with me Mr Chairman.

Mr du Plessis, on page 175, would you agree that the language use is misleading in the sense that itís being used in the present tense, it creates the impression that Kondile had alleged that at that stage?

MR DU PLESSIS: Thatís possible, yes one could read it in this way.

MR JANSEN: No further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR JANSEN

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

Did you have any questions to put to this witness Mr Visser?

MR VISSER: I donít have any questions thank you Mr Chairman.

MR BOOYENS: Iím indebted to the Commission Mr Chairman, I think it just clarified a few uncertainties that we had.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

MR BOOYENS: Thank you.

MR VISSER: May I know call Mr Raath Mr Chairman?