STATEMENT ON ATTEMPTED POISONING
OF MS CONNIE BRAAM IN HARARE
IN SEPTEMBER 1987.
[PAGES 1 - 26]
STATEMENT ON ATTEMPTED POISONING OF MS CONNIE BRAAM IN HARARE IN SEPTEMBER 1987. STATEMENT WAS MADE BY MS BRAAM TO DR JOHN DANIEL AND MR KLAAS DE JONGHE IN AMSTERDAM ON NOVEMBER 12, 1996.
MS BRAAM: Well, I think the most important event were that - ja, what happened to me - I must just get started now. This thing happened in September - I'll get you the date, Sir - September 1987, the Children Conference, around the Children Conference in Harare. That is what it was all - in that period, I must explain, I was the chairperson of the Dutch anti-apartheid movement for many years. Of course, by then I must have been quite known to the South African whatever department of police was involved in this, because I had been active since 1970. I have always been part of the group who were strong supporters of the ANC, so we were not like, say, the British and the others, you know, sort of - we were very strong ANC supporters - what makes us a little bit different than the other groups. Also, what must have brought special attention, especially from people like Craig Williamson, to the Netherlands is the fact that Buren Scheitema (?) and Breyten Breytenbach, of course, operated from here. That the whole ... (inaudible) ..., I think, was very much done from here. So they must have had a lot of information about the Netherlands and the who was who, who was who list and another question what - another thing that might have made them a bit more aggressive towards us is the fact that, well, it was said in the press and in a way it was true, a lot of people were also members in the Communist Party and I think that
always upset them more than anything else. So for years we were - we were, especially when it came to economic boycott and that sort of issue, you know, we always went for the tougher issues, not so much for the kind of issue where it was something ... (inaudible) ... with all respect. And I was involved - just to give you the picture of the time, 1987, I was the chairperson, I was the most visible person. I had contacts with Craig Williamson, not - I can tell you later on, I can tell you a bit more about that, not so - not very friendly or not very open or something like that, but he knew who I was and he had an extra sort of aggression towards me, because he couldn't get a grip on me, but he tried a few times is that he would arrive, say, very early in the morning at Schipol Airport, phone me from there at my home, saying, "Listen, hey, I'm at the airport and I've got no money. Please come help me out, you know, with some money and I'll return it to you", and, of course, he could do that because was working in Geneva for the IUF so - but that was, of course, you know, to establish - yes, to establish a relationship, you know, and then - because he couldn't do it by another way, he did it like that. Well, I always sent the secretary of the movement, Fons Felix (?) ... (inaudible).
DR DANIEL (?): So he couldn't get close to you in any way?
MS BRAAM: No, no, no, and I think that's why he developed a sort of a - the first time he tried to finish this thing off is in Cuba, in Havana. That was in 1974 or 1975 - a conference organized by the United Nations against apartheid and he was there and that was - I mean,
for him it must have been a terribly interesting conference, because Thabo was there and Mzo, Jele, you know. I mean, the guys who were at that moment - also people like Vilakabo was sort of like a rising star at that time. He could see, you know, the way they were operating and I was close to them. So who was getting some importance and who wasn't. Anyway, Williamson was there and he tried all the time to invite me for lunch and for breakfast and I don't know what, but I was hold back by - especially by M P Naicker, who was an older ANC man, who said to me, "Don't do it, you know" ... (inaudible). I thought at that time that it was a sort of - almost a sort of jealousy that they didn't want me to go out with another guy. Not that I did with them but, you know, I was part of the ANC group and - but he later on told me. He said, "No, no, no ..." ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Williamson had come out by then? He was IUF at the time you came to Cuba?
MS BRAAM: Yes, yes, yes. Sure, sure, but he was not trusted by everybody. There was a great suspicion. People like M P Naicker. But he talked, you know, very sort of behind his hands.
DR DANIEL: No, I only mentioned that because it must have been slightly later, because he only came out in 1976 or so.
MS BRAAM: Is that so? So then I'm - then that conference must - are you sure?
DR DANIEL: I know, because he was working with me in Swaziland in 1976 and he was still inside.
MS BRAAM: Oh, I see.
DR DANIEL: The money was coming through me.
MS BRAAM: But I can't have. Oh, I see, so he was during the ... (inaudible) ... time, because that was also in that period, you see, that was 1974, 1975, and he gave money to Scheitema, but that must have been afterwards. So it is not the Cuba conference. You see, well, this I haven't checked, you know, to see which one, because I've got these lists of things. Anyway, just to tell you that he had an interest in Holland and he was aware of who was who and ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Of course, at that time in the - at this particular time in the 'eighties, the South African Government was very antagonistic towards Holland because of you.
MS BRAAM: Ja, ja. I'm sure.
DR DANIEL: And the whole sort of involvement of people here about Helene and others, that was Dutch people, etcetera. Relations were bad in South Africa.
MS BRAAM: Yes, ja, ja, ja, but of course at different levels. I mean, that was then, let's say Government and whatever, but with the anti-apartheid movement, but it was a time that - as I said, it was on different levels. There was, let's say, the anti-apartheid movement level, there was the open solidarity movement with people like Klaas and Helene, who were, let's say, operating in Africa. So that was a bit different. We would take up their cause, of course, but they were not so much - but then there was something that made us particularly scared also when these things happened is that my involvement in Operation Vula, because that was something that was not supposed to be known by anybody and I think they didn't come back, but ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: (Inaudible).
MS BRAAM: Not then, no, no, no, later. So, okay, now we come to the time of this Children Conference. Well, we wanted to be - because, let's say, my involvement in Operation Vula was actually my main task, my main work. That is what was most important of everything, so we wanted to use this - "We" is in this case Joe Slovo, Mac Maharaj and Oliver Tambo. They wanted me to come to Africa for consultations and use that sort of conferences, you see, to - so I went. I first went to Lusaka. I stayed in the Ridgeway Hotel in Lusaka, let's say a week before the conference started, or a few days, and in that hotel I had some contacts with people - the Dutch people who were based in - actually, especially, no, one, one, Lucia Bratsoles (?), who was based in Lusaka, and in charge of communications. The communication was set up and - she was involved with the operating inside the country, I think that was it. No, no, that was not yet but she was in Lusaka for the set-up of the whole thing and I was in there and I had seen a few people. I saw, for example, Siphiwe, who came for his second disguise round to be, you know, and I had to take all sort of measurements, etcetera, so on, and he came to my hotel room to do that, you know. He was brought, I think, very late and even very early in the morning. Other people I had contact with was Joe Slovo came to the hotel. Well, for talks, of course, we went out. It was also quite normal. They could do that. I'm making excuses that we were sort of - but I was also the chairperson of the anti-apartheid movement and we were all friends, you see, so they would come to the hotel, we would have a drink and a
meal and be quite noisy, you know, to make sure that they saw that we were still very good friends. Occasionally we went to see them and - but the talks you would do in a car. You know, they would take them in a car - talks in the car. Other people come with you ... (inaudible).
MR (?): Rashid.
MS BRAAM: Ja, Rashid came. That was - and that was actually connected with, you know, bringing in arms into the country. We needed somebody desperately for that. So, I mean, that was - you know, it was not talking about anti-apartheid work or something like that. It was talks about that and it was not the first time that there were already people in operation for that, and that was also done in a car. So it was a heavy traffic situation in the Ridgeway Hotel.
DR DANIEL: You were there about a week?
MS BRAAM: Ja, ja, I think, ja, four, five days, something like that. Now, one morning something strange, really strange, happened. That was - in that night - well, I'm not sure. You see, that is the sort thing - I mean, we were busy there. Chris Hani, I think, he came to the hotel because I had to take a print of his teeth, you know, for a new set of teeth for a disguise, and I think that he'd been to the hotel room and left late, because he was brought in the dark, of course, by two guys who stood outside because they didn't want him to be seen - to be seen humiliated by me taking prints of his teeth. I'll never forget that scene. He left and then so I slept and then the next morning we had - then I had a meeting with Rashid. He picked me up in his car. He sent one of his assistants ... (inaudible) ... name now, and so I went
outside and I went with Rashid for a little drive and we talked and came back in the hotel room and the door was locked. I kept my key with me. I didn't give it to the reception and then I opened the door and the bed wasn't made, nothing was - it was really too early, you know, because the girls who were cleaning the room were sort of a floor below, they were busy or just started or something, but there was one chair. It's next to my bed. There was a bottle. It was a brown glass bottle. You know, typical sort of vitamins, you know - this vitamin C sort of thing, you know, where you take a lot, not a small, but a big bottle, with a label and the label said, "All vitamin pills".
MR (?): Well, I haven't seen them. I have your ... (intervention)
MS BRAAM: Translated. Anyway, "All vitamin pills", it said.
DR DANIEL: About this size bottle?
MS BRAAM: It was, say, like this, and where it starts to go like this, you know, and then like that.
DR DANIEL: A large bottle.
MS BRAAM: Quite a large bottle. That is what I was surprised about. Brown glass and it had a top that you could, you know, screw.
DR DANIEL: Screw top.
MS BRAAM: Yes, screw top, what was light-coloured and it had a price label on top. You know, such a sticker, and I don't know what the price was. I didn't look at that. But the label - you know, so there was a bit over ... (intervention)
MR DE JONGHE (?): The gastric - oh, no, that was - did
you have pills besides - that was now something else?
MS BRAAM: Yes.
MR DE JONGHE: "All vitamin pills". The label described the contents as, "All vitamin pills" and on the label was a Zambian price.
MS BRAAM: Ja, ja. Ja, ja, not rand or something, you know, as stupid as you'd find in a funny film - special branch had been operating stupidly. So, but over the label there was a little that you could look in it, you see. Now, one thing, I mean I was alert but I was not - you know, I was actually - looking back, I can't understand, you know. I see what a sort of a half nervous wreck I am now, how cool and calm I was in those days, you know. Actually nothing could really upset me, but, seeing the bottle, I knew immediately that it was something - here was something wrong or, you know, strange, because, I mean, you know if you bring in a thing like that yourself or not. The door is locked. You've got the key with yourself. So I didn't touch it and I looked for that lady who cleaned the room and I asked her - I said, "Have you been in my room?" ... (inaudible) ... "No, no, no", and I could see that she was honest, you know, because she was sort of making an excuse, as if I was complaining. So then I went back and I looked at the bottle and there was liquid in it. There were no pills in it. There was liquid in it, because - and I thought, well, anyway, somebody put it there, so I can just, you know - it won't go off, you know, when you touch it and I wanted to know. But it was a thick, thick liquid - what can you - sort of oily - oily, thick liquid it looked like, so - and I just shook it like this and anyway, so it - and I put it back.
Then, then, some sort of - then I had another ... (inaudible) ... my plane was going to leave that same day, I mean, as I say, a few hours later I was going to Harare. That's why I know it was the day of my going from Lusaka to Harare, and Siphiwe came - Ngabuza - came by just for a last thing - what I don't know, but anyway he came by and he came into my room and I said, "Look at that" and he said, "Jesus, don't touch it, get it out of here", you know. And I said, "Can't we get, you know, your people to come in?" He said, "We don't have that sort of people", you know, because this was Vula, you see, and Vula was a very small group then. They didn't have - they couldn't. It was a difficulty because, as Vula, they couldn't go to their own, you know, people with experts to say, because then they had to reveal why, you know. So we were now stuck, and he said ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Was he angry or was it like a panic?
MS BRAAM: A panic, panic. Jeez, because he - you know, and I was also - I wanted to play it down, because I said, "Oh, my God, I've got a stigma now", you now, being somebody they're throwing bones at and ignored that fear so - and I think that influenced my behaviour from then and he - so he said, "You do something", you know, and he said, "Get it out. The best thing is to get it out. It has been brought in. Get it out", and he was in a hurry and he got in - anyway, he was very nervous about it. Then I was expecting somebody else to come - Ivan, Ivan, Ivan Pillay, but he didn't show up. I think he actually drove me to the plane, so I had to do something before - now, what I did is terrible. I took that thing, put it in the waste bin in the bathroom and also the dirty, you
know, tissues and whatever I could produce myself for making it really stink and ugly, you know, so that - because my fear was that when the woman who would come to clean, you know, would just see it, you know, All Vitamins. Jeez, everybody in Lusaka can do with All Vitamins. So I wanted to - but I didn't want to open it. I knew the trick was, you know, that when you open it, it might have gone off or something like that. So I packed it in this ... (inaudible) ... you know. So then I left and I felt real bad and lousy because I couldn't wait till she arrived and I didn't want to throw it myself. I thought she must just see that it stinks, you know. I actually put shit and everything on it, you know. I thought she'll put it in disgust and then it's - and it can't get, because the top was screwed, you know, and I felt very, very, very guilty about that and, to finish this, and I'd been asking people who came from Lusaka, "Has there been, you know, any explosion?", and then they told me that is - I'm sure it's possible to check, because I even read it in the paper. Somebody came with the Zambian news or whatever the paper was, and there had been an explosion close to the railway station. So not in the railway station, close to the railway station and what I didn't - I asked that person, "Has there been a sort of - you know, where you collect the rubbish - the rubbish dump?" I asked that person, but the person didn't know and I didn't want to ask too much, you see, so ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: How soon after?
MS BRAAM: This is all during the Children Conference so this is all in, say, two, three days after.
DR DANIEL: The rubbish bin then could have been taken there ... (inaudible) ... later.
MS BRAAM: It could have been, but I'm not sure if there is a rubbish bin, but there was an explosion close to the central station in Lusaka, and that is for sure, absolutely. So, now that was then ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: (Inaudible).
MS BRAAM: Yes.
DR DANIEL: It was likely it wasn't poison, it was some kind of nitro-glycerine type explosive.
MS BRAAM: Ja.
DR DANIEL: And when you expose it to the air it goes off.
MS BRAAM: That is what I expected it to be and that it was not kosher I'm absolutely sure because it said, "All Vitamin pills" with no pills in it and it was not mine and it was brought in, you know, not by - I mean, it was not a mistake. If there would have been pills in I would have still, you know, because these were the days that I didn't want to think - I wanted to think that I was the strongest. My plan worked, you know. There was not the slightest paranoia. That came on, you know, much later. Then I, you know - so when there would have been pills sent I would have definitely thought, you know, somebody opened the door maybe with his keys in his hand, I don't know what, you know, and put the pills there and left them and thought, "Oh, God, I'm in the wrong room" or something like that and then left. But the fact that there were no pills in told me that this was ... (inaudible). Shall I get some coffee and then I'll ... (intervention)
MR DE JONGHE: (Inaudible).
MS BRAAM: Oh, ja ... (inaudible). So then I travelled from Lusaka to Harare on a flight. There were also the people - because the Children Conference was really used, you know, for people to meet each other and to put inside and outside so there was high activity. They must have been so active on the other side, you know, because they knew, here was this delegation coming, you know, not only children, but they were accompanied by - I don't need to tell you how these sort of things were used.
DR DANIEL: It was a fantastic conference.
MS BRAAM: It was. I still have the tape. I mean, it's not that far back and look at it, but I'm sure that in five, six years, you know, we have - ja, I've got good, great memories of it.
DR DANIEL: Some of those very powerful statements of kids who are now dead.
MS BRAAM: Ja, no, it's true, and for me it was good because sometimes, you know, you were so much in this work that, you now - and so little exposed, you know, to this sort of direct - that was very helpful for that. But, anyway, there was a hell of a lot of work, scheming, going on, you know, in all - in the hotel rooms and everything. It was all set well and it had all several purposes. Everybody was doing three, four things at the same time and Slovo was very important at that moment that he was exposed to the young people, that they saw that he wasn't, you know, ... (inaudible) ... all sorts of things like that and so forth. And there were also - I think was right before Mac and Ngabuza went in. That is how it is. (Inaudible) ... September, Klaas?
MR DE JONGHE: Ja.
MS BRAAM: September. So I think it was October - the dates are all in the book - Siphiwe and Mac went in and that was, of course - and they were having sort of last preparation talks also there. Now, I'm just telling you this all, the side of the - there must have been an enormous lot of interest and this was confirmed now recently. So the conference took place. I saw a lot of, you know, people on different level. I had a - there was a Dutch delegation also - very innocent Dutch people, that thing, you know, ... (inaudible) ... real thing like having a commissioner of police, you know, so the Dutch delegation was really - we had a top star. So, you know, to make it into a sort of spectacular thing - actually to take away the attention from me very much, so that I could operate, because that was hard work, and so conference is over. The work is done.
DR DANIEL: Where was the conference?
MS BRAAM: In Harare, in this big golden hotel outside, you know. It looks like a cigarette box. I've got all the ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Sheraton?
MS BRAAM: It is the Sheraton, the Sheraton.
DR DANIEL: You stayed there?
MS BRAAM: I stayed in the Sheraton.
DR DANIEL: So the conference in the hotel ... (inaudible).
MS BRAAM: Ja, everything was arranged. My delegation stayed in the Bronte Hotel. Now, the Bronte Hotel is very important, because that is a place ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: But you didn't stay there?
MS BRAAM: Not them, but I'll go there. I stayed there
before several times at the Bronte Hotel and that was - that was sort of thing. You can there was still sort of stupidity as well. I mean, it was always difficult with me, you now, how far should I operate, you know, as a chairperson of the Dutch anti-apartheid movement and what were the consequences of bringing me, you know, into safe houses and things like that, you now - what would bring other attention to me. So I always chose to play the innocent chairperson and go into hotels like the Bronte Hotel as people like I would do, you see, to be very open, but ... (inaudible). Anyway, so this Dutch delegation was at the Bronte. I was in the Sheraton. The conference is over. People are leaving. I went - I checked into the Bronte Hotel. Now, I made the reservations for all these people and for myself from Holland by phone, sort of two weeks before, you see, and, of course, there was this - I came later so that. Now, let's say it's on a Sunday evening and the conference ended Sunday afternoon last thing, the conference. Sunday evening I changed hotels. So I packed my things in the Sheraton. I took a taxi and I went to the Bronte Hotel. There I arrived ... (inaudible) ... I don't know, 8, 9 o'clock. There was somebody behind the desk I didn't know, but it would change, you know. It happened a few times that there was somebody - a guy I knew, that would say, "Ja, hallo, Mrs Braam", you know. I mean, they knew me by then, but this one I didn't know, and then they gave me a room and it was, well, I don't know the room number. It will be possible to find it now. It was not that sort of important. I came into the room and I wanted to pack my things and to put my things away and then I opened the
closet, you know ... (inaudible) ... this, not open, but -and there were two jackets hanging in the closet. Now, I've got - I'm sure that they - I was sort of trained by then, you know. I wouldn't make contact, of course, with strangers, people who would come and talk to me. I was very careful. It was absolutely impossible actually to come to me, you know, to come close to me and for that I was very ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: And presumably you were also on extra alert after this bottle incident?
MS BRAAM: Yes, but then the conference had been in between, you see, and that ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: So you, sort of - you weren't thinking about that too much?
MS BRAAM: Not at all and I was very - extremely tired, because that was a few days of hard, hard, hard work and also, you know, I mean, there was some drinking, you know, also. You know, you could be socialising with people from inside, you know, and then there was a ... (inaudible) ... or something like that and tired I was, very tired. And what worried me later on is that they must have figured out, you know, that they couldn't send somebody to befriend me, even a woman. I know they've tried that before and they've tried a woman, you know, with a sort of double face who presented herself as a nice friend, and so on. That was in, say, half a year before in this - what is this hotel - in the Lusaka hotel - Ridgeway Hotel.
DR DANIEL: Ridgeway.
MS BRAAM: Yes, half a year ago ... (inaudible) ... and I was sitting with Joe Slovo. She came to the table and said, "Oh, I can't believe it", you know, that sort of
thing. "You must be Joe Slovo, you're Connie Braam. Oh, I am so honoured to meet you", you know, and Joe just leaned back and he said, "Come and sit with us, have a glass", you know, very clever. So it was nice and laughing and talking and so on and ... (inaudible) ... she was stinking, you know, of something wrong. So he left. He just looked at me, so like, "I'm going to leave you with her. You can deal with her", and he left and she stayed with me and she was very nice, sort of thing, and then explained how she came to know us and so on and then - but I was slowly making a move out. I knew by then what hotel room she was and so on and I thought, "God, you know, ... (inaudible) ... I'm not going to sleep this night, I'm just going to be careful". Out next morning, but then she must have thought - because then we walked together, you know, she walked with me in the corridor and then she said - she also put her arm around and said, "Do you want to spend the night with me?" I told Slovo next morning. That was the thing that really - I was so taken away by that. I was prepared for anything, but not for this woman, who wanted to sleep with me. (Inaudible) ... because she didn't let me go, you see. She travelled with me as well.
DR DANIEL: So even when you said no, she didn't let you off?
MS BRAAM: No, she - you know with whom I found refuge, with Norman Lazey. You know Norman?
DR DANIEL: Oh, yes.
MS BRAAM: I asked him, you know, because I went to his hotel room and he was just like, "Hey, God", and I told him this story. I stayed with him, you know. We talked,
because I didn't want to go back. Next morning, when I left for Harare that woman was also on the plane and, I mean, it's not of interest. This is more story telling, you know.
DR DANIEL: So then, as far as the police were concerned, you were unapproachable?
MS BRAAM: I was unapproachable. That's the thing, ja, even for the ... (inaudible).
DR DANIEL: And then you were always on the alert then?
MS BRAAM: Very much. Then - but they must have noticed or they must have worked out what ... (inaudible). One thing that I've done over the years is changed myself, my appearance from, sort of, the activist, you know, from jeans and, you know, into a lady. As a lady, because I thought that's very safe and as long as they think I've got a relationship with Slovo it's better than that they think I work with him, you see. So I was always having this nice sort of suits and high heels and in public I would be sort of girlish, having a girlish behaviour, you see, so - but, and nice clothes and I think that that is what - so these jackets were there - very, very beautiful and very much out of my - I mean money-wise and I've got a good feel and a good - for nice material. One was a real woollen jacket - black woollen jacket, beautiful, and the other one was cotton, but with a print and a design - oh, God, I mean it must have been a fortune they must have cost, and what was most amazing, absolutely my size. I put them on and it fitted like, you know, they were made on my body. So beautiful and it was - they had no labels. That's, of course, what I saw a bit later when I had them already - I had them on. No labels, no sign what they
/could - and
could - and ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Were they in a plastic folder when they were hanging?
MS BRAAM: No, no, no, they were open on a jacket - as if somebody had left them.
DR DANIEL: Had left them behind.
MS BRAAM: Ja, left them behind, yes. And there was a certain smell, but I thought it was sort of old perfume, you know how, and it was a sort of ... (inaudible) ... perfume - quite strong. That sort of thing, that had been, you know, that's not pleasant when there's been perfume on clothing and it has been hanging for a few days, something like that. I mean that is how the expectation. It's actually the reason why I put them off, because then, you know, it made you realise it had been from somebody else and - so, but I had the black - now, anyway, I came there. It was evening and I was quite cold. It was very hot during the day and I had this sort of, you know, one of my dresses, so to say, my conference dresses. It was not, you know - just a little thing, so -with lots of skin and I was cold - I was really cold and terribly tired, but I had to make my report, my final report for the movement, because the Dutch delegation was still there and they were going to leave, something, the next morning and they had to take this report. Next to me in the next room was a Dutch television crew. That means the reporter, Van der Graaff and the cameraman. They shared a room next to me. I didn't know that then, because I - although I knew these people there, but I came in late. So I was tired on the jacket, that dark - the black jacket and I sat on that little table and I wrote my
report. I don't know how long I worked on it. Maybe an hour.
DR DANIEL: You had it on for an hour?
MS BRAAM: For an hour - something like - I doubt if it has been more.
DR DANIEL: You didn't think about it?
MS BRAAM: Not at all. I was - I'm telling you, it was like, you know. I was so poor in those days - I'm still very poor, but it was then - and nothing was ever rewarded. That's another psychological thing, you see, and I worked so hard, and it's fantastic to work for a good cause, you know, but it's not every minute of the day that you can remember that, you know. So just to get a little present is, you know, it works and it reminded me, you know ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: So your reaction was, "What a stroke of luck, it's cold, I'll wear it and it's beautiful, it makes me feel good"?
MS BRAAM: Yes, and it was beautiful and there was a mirror and I'd been looking at myself and I thought, "Gee", you know, and because it was not a little cheap dress, something, but a jacket that I ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Did you try them both?
MS BRAAM: Oh, yes, both.
DR DANIEL: Both on and you kept one on?
MS BRAAM: I kept one on because that was the woollen one, it was warm wool.
DR DANIEL: So you wore it for an hour. You finished your report.
MS BRAAM: I finished my report and I went to bed.
DR DANIEL: So you took it off then?
MS BRAAM: I took it off. I didn't take a shower or anything. I just - in bed.
DR DANIEL: Straight to bed.
MS BRAAM: Straight to bed.
DR DANIEL: And that was about eleven?
MS BRAAM: Ja, something like that and I think I woke up maybe three or four and then I - that I never checked, what time it was. Anyway, I woke up because of my own screaming and knocks on the door. So I must have been sleeping very deeply, but the pain must have started already, so I first had screamed in my sleep and the knocks on the door was from the television people - the Dutch television people next door, who heard me scream and I was sort - or maybe, it was as if I had been - as if I had fainted. Now, what happened in my body was - I had a child already by then so I knew what was giving birth so I can compare the pain and it wasn't an easy birth. So it was like, you know, contractions. Gee, incredible pain. The whole inside. It would come and it would build up, you know, to a high point where it was ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Unbearable.
MS BRAAM: And this is where I sort of - you know, fainted and I would grab in the air for - that's why I rolled off the bed a few times, you know, and then they'd hold me there because I would try to get - that's what I remember from how heavy the pain was.
DR DANIEL: So you fainted from the pain?
MS BRAAM: From the pain, yes. I think so, yes, because I lose - and I didn't know - I only felt a terrible fear. What was good is that I saw these faces of Jan de Graaff and the cameraman, whom I knew. I knew what ...
DR DANIEL: They broke into the room?
MS BRAAM: No, I crawled on the floor and opened the door and - no, no, they couldn't - and they helped me on the bed. Now, they thought that I'd been eating something wrong, you know, that my stomach was upset. (Inaudible) So what they said, "You must get rid of what's in you, in your stomach". So now, they hang me over the toilet, put fingers in my, you know, and make me vomit. So that was out. Then, anyway, nothing happened, but they were desperate because they thought - anyway, Jan had gone to the reception to alarm that somebody was very, very, very ill. Now - wait a bit ... (inaudible). I know exactly, it's just that I - so ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: I mean, were you able to think that it also might be food poisoning?
MS BRAAM: I thought nothing, I just ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: You were completely out of it?
MS BRAAM: Completely out of it. I knew that I was dying. That is ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Then a doctor arrived then there.
MS BRAAM: Ja, no, but that's a bit later, because what they did also, they gave me something, you know, for diarrhoea, you know, to stimulate ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Who?
MS BRAAM: Jan and the cameraman, because Jan was really panicking, you know, because this was - it looked so terrible and he has been travelling a lot all over the world so he knows malaria, things like that and he thought that this was something else and I ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: Jan de Graaff?
MS BRAAM: Jan de Graaff, ja. And so, anyway, then a doctor came. I mean, this is now very vague for me, because here it's - I go and I'm there and all of a sudden there's a man hanging over me. I was most upset about it that he was a stranger and it was a man with a heavy South African accent and I found that so - afterwards I thought, "It can't be. They can't have been so stupid to send somebody with a heavy South African accent", but I don't know and the guy had a heavy South African accent and he had my - because I slept in this long T-shirt, you see. This T-shirt was up, so I was laying naked there and he was pressing me - my - here, with his fingers and he said, "She's got an ulcer".
DR DANIEL: This is the doctor they had called?
MS BRAAM: The doctor, yes. And he'd pulled up my T-shirt and they - anyway, Jan and the cameraman were a bit, you know, look - but I felt a strong fear, strong fear, and I just didn't do anything because, I mean, I couldn't do anything and I just thought, "This man must go. This man must go".
DR DANIEL: Were you still having the contractions?
MS BRAAM: Yes, yes, yes, and he said - he pressed a few times and he said, "Ulcers", and he immediately produced a pot - a bottle, a brown bottle next to the bed. These were the pills that had to be given to me and it would go, no problem.
DR DANIEL: They were pills?
MS BRAAM: Ja, ja, ja. You know what happened is that - what's - sometimes I just - because it's here.
DR DANIEL: Could I ask one question?
MS BRAAM: Yes.
DR DANIEL: Who selected the doctor? The receptionist phoned ... (intervention)
MS BRAAM: Oh, yes, ja.
DR DANIEL: The doctor that they knew was the hotel doctor?
MS BRAAM: Yes, ja, well, I mean, that was the guy who came to finish the job. I mean, that must have been - he's been waiting, because they are quickly.
DR DANIEL: Was he?
MS BRAAM: Yes, I mean, nothing - we didn't ask any more, but the receptionist. I'll tell you later what I found out now, a month ago, that this guy, you know, this receptionist, worked for them. You know, he was a double. He worked for the CIO (?) and for the South Africans.
DR DANIEL: The doctor was there within like a few minutes?
MS BRAAM: Yes, it must have been very quickly.
DR DANIEL: At that time of the night it is unlikely.
MS BRAAM: Yes, and then to leave a bottle, and then I became very - then the doctor left and the fact that he, you know, pressed and, "Ulcers". Then he said - he explained to the guys that, "Well, she's got the age for it, isn't it?" And I remember this also, because I felt so insulted. I was so ... (inaudible) ... always a woman. I thought later on, you know, "God, you know, going for clothes", you know, and then being, you know, amazing, the guy who lifted my shirt and that he made, you know, this remark about my age. I'd say, "Idiot, idiot, idiot" ... (inaudible). And so - so anyway, so then he left. Now, the camera guy ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: And he never suggested you go to hospital?
MS BRAAM: No.
DR DANIEL: He said the pills would take care of it?
MS BRAAM: Yes, and he played it down like an ulcer. It's normal at her age. This is what he said to the guys, like he was sort of, you know. Now, he had the wrong guys, because the cameraman had an ulcer himself. He looked at the pills - these were pills, you know. He looked at the pills and he said, "This is rubbish. I've never seen this sort of shit for an ulcer", and he threw them away through the toilet and then - now I remember - and then they made me vomit. This is now how the thing is and then they gave me the pills to ... (inaudible) ... it. They thought, you know, it is in my system, it must go out and they were right, because it must have been in my blood.
DR DANIEL: (Inaudible) ... pills?
MS BRAAM: No, no, no, he threw all the pills away through the toilet, because he got very angry this sort of - you know, this camera guy. He was Dutch, you know. Don't say, you know, one line a week - no talker - and he must have been irritated by the behaviour of the doctor, you see, in not treating me with respect, and he looked at the pills and he had an ulcer - I think he had an operation even for it, so he looked at it and he said, "I've never seen this sort of rubbish for an ulcer", and also, you know, I mean, ulcers don't come like that. So, you know, he's not - so they didn't believe it. So the pills were gone and Jan stayed with me. They took by turns and they didn't leave me and I just - and I slept.
DR DANIEL: So the pain was subsiding?
MS BRAAM: Yes, yes. Let's say it would come back - over
/a day it
a day it would get less and less and less, and - I think, personally think that I didn't have that jacket on for a long time, so it - now, so that then after, I think, three or four days I found myself recovered enough and I wanted to go as soon as possible.
DR DANIEL: You didn't think of going to a hospital or to see another doctor?
MS BRAAM: No, no, no, by then I was just - I want to go back to Holland and I'm going to my own doctor and ask him if I've got an ulcer. When he can't find anything is an ulcer then I'll - what I should have done - I didn't know what sort of a poison it was, I didn't know that it was poison. Of course, I should have checked my blood then I would have - I mean - French Shikane (?) - but only when we got to the port of French Shikane from the United States I knew this is the symptoms, you know, what is same.
DR DANIEL: What year - what time was the Shikane incident - same time - same period of time?
MS BRAAM: No, that is a year later.
MR DE JONGHE: A bit later. It was in 1988, I think, or 1989 even.
DR DANIEL: So the pills were supposed to kill her off?
MS BRAAM: Yes, I think I was. I think I actually ... (intervention)
DR DANIEL: The Dutch cameramen, how long did they stay?
MS BRAAM: They left, I think a bit - or the day before me or the day after me.
DR DANIEL: So they remained close to you through this period?
MS BRAAM: Ja, ja, ja. Ja, ja, nobody could - I made
sure nobody could come to me any more and I didn't leave the room and there was no - and I knew, of course, the reception, no - I knew that for years already never ever to trust anybody at the reception of a hotel where you come frequently.
[Break in recording]
DR DANIEL: So you did not leave the room.
MR DE JONGHE: He knows about chemical warfare, Dieter Gerhardt?
MS BRAAM: He knows about - he knows Neethling very well. He knows what he was doing in his - so ... (intervention)
MR DE JONGHE: So it would have gone back to Dieter?
MS BRAAM: Dieter.
DR DANIEL: But also wasn't there in - you know, I need to check the cuttings, but wasn't there this - I think he was a coloured guy who worked with Neethling, who was in Zimbabwe.
MS BRAAM: Les Lesier (?), ja.
[Break in recording]
MS BRAAM: I'll get a ... (intervention)
MR DE JONGHE: Yes, I think I have to see Gerhardt. See him or go - better than phone.
DR DANIEL: Oh, yes.
MR DE JONGHE: But then I need ... (inaudible).
MS BRAAM: Dieter you should see absolutely.
MR DE JONGHE: Dieter must ... [end of recording].