ON RESUMPTION ON 12 JUNE 1998 - DAY 5
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally, what is the order of things today?
MR VALLY: Mr Chairman we are firstly waiting for the ruling of the panel on the application made by Mr Cilliers regarding the evidence which we wish to lead from Dr Basson and Dr Mijburgh.
CHAIRPERSON: I see neither Mr Cilliers nor Dr Basson.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman unfortunately we are not sure where Dr Basson is. Perhaps he has a problem with the traffic. Mr Currin says that he is outside.
Regarding Mr Cilliers, he referred to yesterday to the judgment of Botha and Mr Chaskalson informed us this morning that you understand you haven't had a look at that and he's making arrangements that you can look at it as soon as possible and that you can study it should you find it necessary. He is outside, he'll be here any minute.
CHAIRPERSON: I'd asked my brother Adv Potgieter to deal with that aspect. I don't know whether - We have discussed on the question of what turns on the Botha judgment and to the extent that it addresses prejudice. We do not know whether it is going to take the case any further.
Is it possible to get Mr Cilliers inside. We are going to deal with the matter in relation to which ...(intervention)
MR DU PLESSIS: I will try to find him.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Cilliers the panel has been debating, as it should have last night already, and we just want to find out from you whether the Botha case that was being referred to by you insofar as it addresses the question of prejudice.
MR CILLIERS: Mr Chairman Mr Chaskalson told me just before nine o'clock that Mr Potgieter wanted to have a look at the Botha judgment and he could not find it last night. I agree that it is a very necessary judgment. It really addresses all the points we have posed.
I have made arrangements, this is a case of about 30 pages, and it will take a few minutes to fax that. My secretary in Pretoria is photocopying it and will fax it then to a number Mr Chaskalson has supplied me with in your offices. I think it will be here in about 15 minutes time. It could perhaps take a little bit longer because the case is about 30 pages long and the fax will take about 20 minutes. Within the next half an hour the full judgment will be available and be made available to Mr Potgieter.
CHAIRPERSON: What I want to find out is, I think in argument you were asked to run us through the case, what it is about and all that, and our view was that it was being referred to insofar as it is relevant to the whole question of prejudice. Can you confirm that that in a sense ...(intervention)
MR CILLIERS: That is correct. It also addresses that problem. As I have told you yesterday I did not have the opportunity to study it myself, but the few notes I obtained it also addresses the aspect of prejudice and it is my impression, based on these notes, that it is a very necessary case Mr Potgieter has to consult, and therefore we are in the process of making it available to him within the next few minutes.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Cilliers. Mr Vally do you want to say anything relevant to what Mr Cilliers said? Let me indicate the panel is rather reluctant to go ahead and we have tentative views which as you know may drastically be altered by the case that has been relied upon. I take note of course of the fact that Mr Cilliers himself has not read the judgment, he relies on a judgment that he has not himself read, but he has taken notes and I don't want to penalise him for that. Could we - we would find ourselves in a very invidious position were we to go ahead with a tentative view without having taken due regard to a matter and to a case that was referred to us.
We are of the view that maybe let's take evidence until tea by which time obviously the judgment would have come, and we will take a look at the judgment during tea and we can then stand down that evidence which was being led, deal with the question and take it from there. How is that for an arrangement?
MR VALLY: We don't have any objections to that suggestion save as to say that on receipt of the judgment, and I am pleased that the panel has noted that reliance is made on a judgment which Mr Cilliers has stated he hasn't read himself, save as to say that during tea time we can reconsider the situation in that if we can start with the witness we would rather finish that witness, and then judgment can be given thereafter. But if we can reconsider the situation at tea time as the Chairperson has indicated.
CHAIRPERSON: The panel is just rather loathe, given time constraints, to have to wait for a judgment that is being faxed from I don't know where, when we have work to do.
MR VALLY: We are ready to go with the witness which I believe is not refusing to give evidence.
CHAIRPERSON: Can we have the witness who is co-operative to come and give evidence.
MR VALLY: Our next witness is Dr Knobel.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. General welcome generally and I have been noticing your presence for quite some time, but let me formally welcome you. Mr du Plessis I take it you are on record as representing General Knobel?
MR DU PLESSIS: That is correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Adv Potgieter.
ADV POTGIETER: Thank you Chairperson. Morning General.
DANIEL PETER KNOBEL: (s.u.o.)
MR VALLY: General Knobel would you prefer to being referred to as General Knobel or Dr Knobel?
DR KNOBEL: Mr Vally I have no objection to any way you refer to me.
MR VALLY: Thank you. General Knobel can you briefly tell us ...(intervention)
DR KNOBEL: I beg your pardon Mr Vally I would like to request that I want to make a statement before I start answering questions, if the Committee will allow that.
MR VALLY: Certainly General Knobel we have no problems with that. There is one request that I want to put before the panel. The representatives of the Minister of Foreign Affairs have indicated to us that there may be issues raised by General Knobel, General Knobel I believe has got details of certain projects which possibly encompasses a number of projects. We don't know because we don't have sight of that document and the only request is that should General Knobel wish to quote from that particular report that he would indicate to the gentlemen, to the legal representative of Foreign Affairs which sections he's going to report from and they will advise the panel if there is no agreement with General Knobel, otherwise in consultation with General Knobel agree as to how you present those quotes so as to avoid the danger of proliferation. I don't know if General Knobel's legal representative has an approach in that regard and if he's agreeable to the suggestion.
MR DU PLESSIS: We have no problem with that.
CHAIRPERSON: Do I understand Mr Vally that we, including yourselves, the panel, are going to be listening to evidence which we cannot follow as it is being read into the record?
MR VALLY: Well there's two legs to this. One is I am not sure if General Knobel has a written statement. If he has then I would request a copy of it in terms of the procedures for the hearing which were sent to General Knobel with our Section 29 notice.
The second aspect is there is a big document referring to a certain project and that's a document which we don't have, the panel doesn't have, which may lead to proliferation, and that's the document I am referring to which is relevant for the purposes of my earlier explanation.
If General Knobel can make available his statement and we can make copies for the panel that would be appreciated.
DR KNOBEL: Mr Chairman that certainly is possible, we can do that.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes and given the nature of these hearings one wouldn't like to feel like walking into a mine field blindfolded. How long is it going to take? This hearing doesn't seem to want to start today. How long is it going to take to get copies made?
MR VALLY: As long as the ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: Can we stand it down for five minutes.
ADV ARENDSE: Chairperson can we place our position on record?
ADV ARENDSE: We understand from General Knobel and his legal representative that he intends to refer to a report called or styled Operation Cloud which is a report on Dr Wouter Basson and South Africa's CBW programme. This is a top secret report which we object to being dealt with or handed in for that matter in public.
We understand that specifically the General intends to refer to pages 32 to 100 of this report. Now these pages refer to TRC record 21 to 23 of the bundle which you have before you. Now these documents in terms of our agreement with Messrs Vally and Chaskalson are documents which the TRC has agreed not to use at this hearing or to distribute to the press.
Now just for the record initially the Department had objected to the hearing being held in public on essentially three grounds. These are that issues relating to proliferation or that evidence is likely to come out which deals with issues relating to proliferation; issues relating to our country's international relations and matters relating to protocol and especially the issue relating to the demarche.
Thirdly, our obligation under international agreements.
Now our view is that the report on Operation Cloud deals with all three of these issues, and specifically pages 23 to 100 deals with these issues.
Now we accordingly are compelled to object to this report being referred to in public. Obviously at this point, in view of the arrangement could assist us greatly if we could have sight of the General's statement, and as it were if we can then see if there are matters which touch on these three issues, then it's quite possible that we can proceed as we have done up till now.
However, we cannot deny the General the right to refer to the report especially insofar as it concerns him personally or his credibility for that matter.
The alternative would then be that if it is necessary for the General to rely on the report that this be done in camera. From our side we don't think it is necessary for the General to refer to the report in any kind of detail especially relating to these three issues on which we based our initial objection. For example, if the General needs to rely on the fact that he had a meeting with former President de Klerk or with Mandela, which the report does deal with, then clearly we can't have a problem with that. It is the detail, and this detail, if you do have sight of the report, is typewritten in cursive, those details we do object to.
Thank you Chairperson.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman on behalf of my client I want to place something on record. I want to respectfully submit that during this week you have listened to a lot of evidence but you did not get any idea what that project entailed, and now you have the opportunity where a person who headed this project for a long time can give evidence regarding the crux of the project itself, and I can't understand what the Department of Foreign Affairs' problem is to take that evidence away from you.
With the greatest of respect you have listened to a lot of evidence and much of that was just gossip. Now you have the person heading that project who can give you that evidence and I can't understand the basis on which the Department of Foreign Affairs takes that away from you. They support transparency, that's why they require Dr Basson to testify, but when Dr Knobel wants to testify they object to that.
This is a person who is, of all people, able to provide all the evidence you require, and you will be able to listen to all that. The press has conveyed an image of this project which is far-removed from the truth, and they also must hear, for once and for all, what this project was about.
So it's my submission that you should listen to all his evidence. It will not be irrelevant and it won't be proliferation. He is the vice chairman of the Proliferation Council and if there's one person who will take care that he does not proliferate it's this witness himself.
My learned colleague, with respect, can object. Mr Kennedy is with him to lead him in this regard, but to limit this witness' evidence so that he can't render parts of his evidence you will never get the true picture of what happened.
On behalf of my client I want to put the record straight, he's a member of the Proliferation Council. We are referring to two documents.
Firstly, a submission has been made by my client to the TRC in January 1997. The contents of that document must form part of the record and he wants to read that into the record so that that evidence can also be made public.
The second aspect which is relevant here against which my learned friend objected to be handled in public, that is a report of a National Intelligence Agency, it's titled Project Cloud, and it's from that document my client is going to refer from page 32 to 100. It's important for my client and in the interest of justice that he can quote from that document and we have no objection that that specific part will take place in camera.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Arendse.
ADV ARENDSE: Just to reply, especially to my colleague Cilliers. I didn't understand him to represent the General, and then secondly the very things he is saying seems to me to be a good enough reason why Dr Basson should be giving this Committee the information which you seek.
Our understanding is that the fact that there was this programme it seems to be a fact that it did exist, it seems to us that what this Commission wants to establish is whether that programme was used for offensive or defensive purposes and more particularly whether the end result of that programme resulted in human rights, gross human rights violations, and that is why the Department, and the office of the Deputy President supports this process. It is important for all of us to know what the effects or outcome of this programme was. In that regard there is no objection, and that we feel should come out in the open and I was on record late yesterday saying that we have been quite satisfied up to now about the way the process has been handled.
So our objection, however, is in regard to the detail of this programme, which we don't think is necessary for this hearing to know and especially as it affects these three legs of our initial argument. We don't think it is necessary and that is why I respectfully submit agreement was reached with Messrs Vally and Chaskalson in regard to the use of these documents.
The other thing is General Knobel is not here in his capacity as a member of the Committee on non-proliferation. He is here in his personal capacity and his capacity as Surgeon-General and insofar as allegations have been made against him up to now by various witnesses he's got to deal with that, and we don't think for him to deal with that it is necessary to refer to the report in any kind of detail.
Alternatively we have suggested a compromise, which is not a happy one, and that is that if we do deal with the report that we do do so in camera.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: From our brief look at the statement of General Knobel we believe that there would not be matters of serious concern regarding the issue of proliferation. However, should the need arise we can consider an application for the matter to be heard in camera. There is a formal requirement as to how we should proceed with that, but I would suggest that on specific issues that we confer with both Advocate Arendse and Mr du Plessis so as to avoid unnecessary wasting of time rather than automatically going into camera.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Arendse shouldn't we then - I see there were three categories that were mentioned but I think in particular there were two that were important, that was documents which will not be used because it is the Commission's view that using them may lead to proliferation and those were documents no.9, 21 to 25 and 60.
Then there was a second set of documents which I thought might be referred to in relation to which a ruling would be asked in terms of Section 33(2) that those should not be released to the public for publication, and I understood those documents to be documents no.4, 19 - 20, 24, 59, 65, 66, 71, 72, 74, 75 and 81. That was placed on record. There was a ruling in relation thereto and we stand guided by that ruling.
Should we then not play it by ear. You are here. You know what documents are going to be a cause of concern and I am sure Mr Vally will also make sure that he wants to keep within the confines of the agreement. I do not, I am sure no member of this panel wants to sensationalise this hearing to any degree than it appears to have been, and where there are agreements that are in place, and where the interests of the country to the extent that we have all recognised then to be at stake, I think all of us would like to be within the limits that we have placed upon ourselves. And if we have to go the steps that are indicated by Mr du Plessis we would. But for the moment I think we want to play it by hear even if there are others who might suggest that we are sailing close to the wind - which I believe we are not.
Mr Vally - Mr Arendse does that leave you with any, what is it - cold comfort?
ADV ARENDSE: No I think we can proceed on that basis. I was just going to - but my colleague assures me that the statement itself doesn't deal with or refer to the report.
DR ORR: I was just going to suggest or ask you to give us a few minutes to look through the opening statement and take it from there. But otherwise if we can proceed on the basis that you propose, my instructions are that we don't have a problem.
CHAIRPERSON: I see. Now how many minutes is a few minutes?
MR VALLY: Mr Chair just for the record I want to state that at the time we were talking to various arms of government, various officials, the agreement was that our expert, Professor Peter Folb, together with our other expert Commissioner Dr Wendy Orr, met with General Knobel and the documents that were excluded were by express agreement with General Knobel in terms of the various needs, and so General Knobel will be aware of which documents we will not be relying on which have to be excluded. Thank you Mr Chair.
CHAIRPERSON: General Knobel can we - or by the way how many minutes do you say you need?
ADV ARENDSE: Five apparently.
CHAIRPERSON: I see.
ADV ARENDSE: Maybe the fax will be coming through ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: That's what I am thinking. We may never get to hear tonight... General do you want to say something?
DR KNOBEL: Yes if I may Mr Chairman. With regards to what Mr Vally has just said, it is quite true that we went through the process of deciding which documents should be excluded. There are, however, one or two documents that have not been excluded and that I indicated at that session last week if I were going to have to answer questions on those documents, or explain the circumstances around those documents I could only do so if I could place it into perspective with regards to other documents which have now been excluded. And I think that is important for the Committee to know that. Thank you Sir.
MR VALLY: I confirm that General Knobel did in fact bring this to our attention at one of those meetings.
Mr Chair are we standing down for a few minutes?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes let's just stand down for five minutes. We resume at ten to ten. It's just about tea time.
CHAIRPERSON: Can we use the next 30 minutes profitably Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: Thank you Mr Chair.
DANIEL PETER KNOBEL: (s.u.o.)
MR VALLY: I believe General Knobel wants to read his statement into the record.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Arendse I assume that you have looked at the statement and you are not ...(inaudible)
ADV ARENDSE: That's correct Chairperson, it's in order.
CHAIRPERSON: General Knobel.
DR KNOBEL: Thank you Mr Chairman.
"Since the beginning of the TRC investigation into the past activities of the South African Medical Service of the South African Defence Force in general, and Project Coast of the SADF, SANDF in particular, I have tried in every possible way to cooperate fully with all the investigators and commissioners. The result of my co-operation is embodied in briefings, answers to questions, interviews and documents that have been made available to the TRC.
During the same period I have also been utilised as a State witness for the Office of Serious Economic Offences in their separate but parallel investigation of Project Coast and the role of Dr Basson in it with respect to possible financial abuses of funds allocated to the project.
I have also been consulted on a number of occasions by the Office of the Attorney-General with regard to its investigations of certain allegations and charges levelled at Dr Basson.
Again the above investigations have led to correspondence, evidence and affidavits by myself and others related to the CBW programme.
In the third place I have also been very closely associated with the National Intelligence Agency since September '94 in trying to unravel many of the outstanding issues with regard to Dr Basson and the Chemical and Biological Warfare programme, and contributed much to the document known as Project Cloud which was made available to the TRC during October last year.
Finally I have also been acting as an advisor to the Department of Foreign Affairs with regard to the applicable conventions since 1989, as well as to the non-proliferation Council within the Department of Trade and Industry since 1993, with regard to all aspects emanating from the Republic of South Africa's position as a State part to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.
Since 1997 I am an appointed member of the non-proliferation Council with the responsibility to Chair meetings of two advisory committees of the non-proliferation Council, namely the Chemical Weapons Working Committee, and the Biological Weapons Working Committee, which deals with all aspects of the implementation of the two conventions.
In addition to all the above functions I have had to brief and advise, from time to time, all the relevant Ministers as well as President de Klerk and President Mandela, personally, on certain issues, and have also been instructed to brief the Parliamentary Committees on Public Accounts, Defence and Health affairs with respect to the CBW programme.
In the evidence I shall give today I shall be referring to many of the above activities and to documents that have a bearing on the programme, and where such reference to activities and documents will pose a threat to the Republic of South Africa's international relations and/or obligations in terms of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction I will point this out to the best of my ability, but with the understanding that I cannot be held responsible for any information that does lead to proliferation or a threat to the Republic of South Africa's international relations if it becomes available to the media through my testimony.
I would now like also to request that my briefing to the TRC on the 21st of January 1997 be read into the record.
I further request that I may freely make use of and refer to the Project Cloud report of the National Intelligence Agency. And with respect to other documents I would like to underline the following.
Firstly Project Coast documents. All documents at co-ordinating management control level and those generated in the South African National Defence Force or Defence headquarters or South African Medical Service headquarters level that I am familiar with I will deal with as completely as possible putting them into perspective with political and CMC decisions that had been taken at the time.
In this regard I will put supplementary documentation made available to the TRC last Friday on the table, and will refer throughout to briefings given to the CMC, to the Ministers, to the State Presidents and to the TRC as well as to the contents of the Project Cloud report of the National Intelligence Agency.
With regard to other documents that I call the Internal Research and Development documents, these documents in question are, as far as I can determine, internal research and development documents of Delta-G and Roodeplaat Research Laboratories. None of these documents were ever made visible at the level of the Co-ordinating Management Committee or those working groups of which I was a member. I therefore did not see them before 1997.
In assessing the contents of such a document the following must be borne in mind:-
Authority from the Co-ordinating Management Committee for any research or development in the project was given with regards to the broad fields and areas of research. This authority was based on guidelines and approvals that were given at political level. The authorisation was then converted into measurable broad objectives with budgetary allocations of funds which again had to be approved by the Minister for each financial year. The detail of all scientific work within the approved objectives was then planned and co-ordinated by the Technical Work Group under the Chairmanship of Dr Basson personally.
It must be further borne in mind whereas initial research and development within the front companies was confined to the achievement of project goals research and development conducted in the period after my appointment as Surgeon-General included projects which were not necessarily CBW related, but rather commercial ventures which could generate income for the company and in particular prepare the company for the process of privatisation and commercialisation.
Furthermore scientists were also allowed to carry out scientific research in areas in which they had a special interest and which would enable them to remain visible in the scientific world both nationally and internationally.
In the assessment of these documents I shall try to distinguish between these different categories of documents and indicate to the best of my ability where, in my opinion, the subject matter falls.
Where necessary I will refer to the initial assessment made by Colonel Ben Steyn and myself of all the documents found in the trunks at the request of National Intelligence Agency as contained in the Project Cloud report of October '97, as well as to my assessment of the same documents at the request of the court in its proceedings following the Times Media application to have access to all documents in July '97.
Thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: Thank you Mr Chair. Do you wish to add anything else before I start questioning you General Knobel?
DR KNOBEL: Well I have made two requests Mr Chairman. The first was to read in the TRC briefing of '97, to have that placed on record and to read it into the record.
MR VALLY: Do we have a copy of that?
DR KNOBEL: Yes ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: I assume it's a briefing to us so we should have a copy of that.
DR KNOBEL: Yes of course Mr Chairman.
MR VALLY: Well let me just check with my colleague. And what is the second request while we are at it?
DR KNOBEL: Then the request was that I refer freely to the Project Cloud document. And I have said already it would probably be confined to pages 32 to 100.
MR VALLY: We would need to show that briefing to Mr Arendse as well, but let me get a copy of that briefing first.
CHAIRPERSON: I think Mr Vally you are the dominus litis. You have a programme, you have a way - I have noted the requested, it doesn't have to be now. I think you go ahead and conduct this hearing in the manner in which you had intended to do. For instance I am not going to allow any of this matter to stand down on the basis only that we shall have to go and get a copy of this. I have noted the request for that to be read into the record. I can't make a ruling now. I haven't seen the report. I don't recall it, but there is work that can be done and I think we must go ahead with it.
Mr Vally are you listening? Go ahead and lead evidence.
MR VALLY: Thank you Mr Chair. General Knobel I need to determine from you for which period were you Surgeon General?
DR KNOBEL: Mr Vally or Mr Chairman may I just ask the following question. This is exactly the reason that I want that document read into the record because I give a full explanation in that document about my position and how I became involved in this project. I would certainly, in answering some of the questions, would be referring to the contents of that document. I want to know from you whether that is now in order or whether it should be read into the record first. I will be quite happy to answer any question Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Knobel we have a problem about process, and what really distresses me is that with the subpoenas there was a page at least which outlines the procedures to be followed here. Where documents are sought to be referred to those documents should have made available ahead of time. You have been here, your lawyer has been here for a week. You knew that you wanted to refer to certain documents. Those documents should have been ready for redistribution before we take the evidence. Now we are placed in a position where you want to read into the record something we haven't had sight of.
DR KNOBEL: Mr Chairman, with respect, the TRC also wanted to make this document available to the press and they wrote to the Minister of Defence to ask his ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: That is not my point. You are now wanting to put it in as evidence and I am saying if that is what you had wanted to do you should have made sure that those documents are available for us. I am not in a position to rule that something must be read into the record in the nature of these sort of proceedings when neither the ministry's officials nor I, nor any of the members of the panel have had sight of the document. I am not saying there is anything wrong with the document, but I know that if you are answering questions that have been put we hear the questions and we can see if they are going to be comprising any of the documents in relation to which there is an agreement.
I can understand your point in saying, unfortunately I am now having to give a verbal reply to things that I have in my report. That's unfortunately what has to happen in the circumstances.
DR KNOBEL: Mr Chairman, with respect, this document was in the possession of the TRC since January 1997.
CHAIRPERSON: It is not before us General Knobel.
DR KNOBEL: I understand that Mr Chairman, but in the discussions with the TRC in preparation for this hearing I made it clear to them that I was going to use this document.
CHAIRPERSON: You don't understand what I am trying to say to you, or you refuse to understand.
You may have said a hundred and one things but the fact of the matter is that now at quarter past ten on Friday morning to want to read into the record something that is not before me, and I am saying there is a process in terms of which Mr Vally can begin to use the 15 minutes that are available before tea time profitably, and he is beginning to do so. I now rule that you should answer the questions put to you.
DR KNOBEL: I will do my best to do it as fully as possible Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: Thank you Mr Chair.
General Knobel my question was for which period were you Surgeon-General?
DR KNOBEL: I was appointed as Surgeon-General of the South African Defence Force on the 1st of March 1988, and I remained in that position until the 30th of November 1997.
MR VALLY: Prior to you being appointed to Surgeon-General can you tell us what your position was in the Defence Force and for how long?
DR KNOBEL: I was originally appointed in the Defence Force within the citizen force in 1971. I served in the citizen force until the end of 1980. During that period I served in various capacities but in the final years as a consultant to the Surgeon-General, at that time Lt Gen Nieuwoudt, in the same way as Dr Daan Goosen described yesterday.
I then joined ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Just on that issue, I am so sorry, which period were you consultant to General Nieuwoudt?
DR KNOBEL: I must just add to what I have just said, also to General Cockroft who was the predecessor of General Nieuwoudt. In the period from the middle of the 1970's approximately Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: So from the 1970's to March 1988 you were consultant to the Surgeon-General ...(intervention)
DR KNOBEL: No that is not what I said Mr Vally ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: I am sorry.
DR KNOBEL: I said as a citizen force officer I was a consultant to those two Surgeon-Generals until the end of 1980.
MR VALLY: Okay.
DR KNOBEL: In 1981 I joined the permanent force and I was then instructed to do the necessary training for two years to achieve the necessary military qualifications. So in 1981 I did the staff course of the South African Army. In 1982 I did the joint staff course of the Defence College.
From the beginning of 1983 I was appointed as Chief of Medical Staff Operations, which meant that I had to deploy all capabilities within the South African Medical Service in support of the Defence Force, other security forces and the Department of Health and other State departments on behalf of the Surgeon-General.
At that time I was informed about this project and became involved in planning around the project. However, I had no direct responsibility for what was taking place within the project. That was the responsibility of the project manager, General Nieuwoudt.
When I was appointed as Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, of the Defence headquarters on the 1st of January 1987 I was transferred away from the South African Medical Service to the Defence headquarters. I worked in a totally different capacity which I can discuss if you want to hear about it. But the point I am trying to make is during that time, 1987, I was not really directly involved in the project although I was from time-to-time asked to attend various meetings.
At the end of 1987 I was transferred back to the South African Medical Service from the beginning of 1988, 1st of January 1988, and I was appointed Surgeon-General on the 1st of March 1988.
From that time onwards I had to take over the position of project manager from General Nieuwoudt.
MR VALLY: Thank you. Now regarding the position of Surgeon- General of the South African Defence Force, what were the professional and if I could even say, personal, requirements for being appointed to that position?
DR KNOBEL: I think it is traditionally accepted in all defence forces all over the world that the position of the Surgeon-General should be that of a medical doctor. It should certainly be a person who has the necessary military background to understand military command and control; the military disciplinary procedures and the requirements of the combat forces.
I want to say something else. What is extremely important is that such a person should be able to maintain the balance between what is known as military discipline and military command and control as against professional control over all the professions that resort under that of the office of the Surgeon-General.
In fact that was the reason that I accepted the appointment into the permanent force, because in 1978 the South African Medical Service became an independent arm of service of the South African Defence Force. Before that it was a core medical service of respectively the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. This had great implications. It meant that the medical personnel were actually under command of combat service personnel, a situation which both General Nieuwoudt and myself as his consultant, was not acceptable. We therefore motivated that the Medical Service should be made a separate arm of service with its own command and control; its own uniform; its own identity; its own code of conduct and its own budget so that, that delicate situation of command by Army or Air Force or Navy officers over medical personnel could be dealt with in such a way that the Surgeon-General had direct command over professionals under his control. And that if any of such professionals were deployed in support of either the Army or the Air Force and the Navy the Surgeon-General would determine what command affiliation would then exist. And the command affiliations that we had to work out together which was difficult to understand, with all frankness by my colleagues in the Army and the Air Force and the Navy, had to be established. That is the reason I joined the permanent force to help the Surgeon-General with establishing this new arm of service, so that we could protect and guide our professions.
And just to emphasise the point, the Medical Service of the South African National Defence Force at that time had no less than 9000 full-time members of which 60% were in uniform and which included 27 statutory professions, meaning professions registered with a statutory body. Statutory professions that had definite guidelines as to the scope of practice and what those professions could or could not do. At the same time they had to operate within a military environment with military command and control and with military discipline being applied to them. They had to go through a rank structure and had to be seen within the hierarchy of the Defence Force according to the rank on their shoulder and not necessarily the intellectual or the professional capabilities that they had.
That was the purpose of the Surgeon-General to look after that very important delicate issue.
MR VALLY: Just briefly when was SAMS established, the South African Medical Services?
DR KNOBEL: To the best of my recollection the final decision was taken in 1978, I think the 13th of - I beg your pardon Mr Chairman it may have been 1979, but it was during '78, '79 in July of one of those two years.
MR VALLY: So within the ...(intervention)
DR KNOBEL: If I may Chairman, in the document that we are referring to the date is the 31st of October 1979, backdated to the 1st of July by Minister P W Botha.
MR VALLY: So professionals within the South African Medical Services would be bound, for example, by principles of the Hippocratic Oath or I believe it's the Geneva Protocol, Declaration, I beg your pardon?
DR KNOBEL: Absolutely. The Hippocratic Oath as you say under peace time conditions, and certainly the Geneva Convention requirements in a declared war situation.
MR VALLY: Yes no I am talking about the Geneva Protocol ...(intervention)
DR KNOBEL: Geneva Protocol is quite right, I beg your pardon Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: Alright. If necessary we will go to those two documents.
So such ethical principles which govern the conduct of the activities of these statutory professions, as you refer to them and we will try and stick to the professions involved in the hearing, would they be required, I am talking about doctors, I am talking about scientists, I am talking about veterinarians, would they be required to conduct themselves professionally in the same manner in uniform as they would if they were civilians?
DR KNOBEL: Absolutely. In fact any digression from this type of practice would be dealt with in two ways. It would be dealt with within the military environment by a military inquiry or investigation, and if necessary even a court martial. But at the same time the conduct under question would be referred to the professional body to which that professional or with which that professional is registered.
MR VALLY: Let's go on to the Chemical and Biological Warfare programme. When did you first have knowledge of the programme? You mentioned that when you were a consultant to the previous Surgeon-General that you were involved in the project in terms of the broad framework of the project. Can you tell us what was your knowledge of the Chemical and Biological Warfare programme before you became Surgeon-General and thereafter after you became Surgeon-General?
DR KNOBEL: Certainly Mr Vally. Mr Chairman in the period of the middle of the seventies towards the approval of the fourth arm, the Medical Service, it was discussed with me by the Surgeon-General at the time that one of the things that we would have to pay a lot of attention to was to develop this newly established fourth arm to be able to provide a comprehensive medical or health support to all aspects that were found within a defence force. This addressed the whole question of training in great detail; the question of medical logistics in great detail; the question of base-orientated medical service throughout the country which could be utilised by all security services and by all other State departments for that matter and it also had to address operational support to combat services within the country and outside the country.
MR VALLY: No maybe I should rephrase the question or repeat the question. I am referring specifically to the Chemical ...(intervention)
DR KNOBEL: I am coming to that Mr Vally ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: ...Biological Warfare programme.
DR KNOBEL: I am coming to that. One of the issues that was recognised in '78, '79 was the fact that within the Defence Force we also had special forces, we also had parachute forces and we also had a commitment which was based on an agreement that existed between the Defence Force and the Police Service, that any member, and it's written into the Defence Act, by the way, that any member of the Defence Force could be deployed in support of the Police Services, or for that matter in support of any department in the country with the approval of the departmental heads.
Now for Special Forces and Parabat Forces and the Police Services it was very clear that there would be a need of a specially trained medical component which would have the same capabilities, in other words would be able to also be dropped by air, or to take part in small team operations or deployments and which would be able to give the professional medical support that was required.
So at that time I realised that we were going to have to look at a special force element which at that time was really just a vision, but that that would have to be developed at a later stage. General Nieuwoudt was particularly keen that the Medical Service should learn the skills of abseiling; of parachuting; of being dropped into the ocean and being deployed with divers and being deployed with all elements of Special Forces. I say it was only a vision.
One of the things that then emerged that there would also have to be a very specialised knowledge about aviation medicine; about diving medicine; about chemical, biological and radiation defence, because at that time there was also a nuclear capability that had to be dealt with. General Neethling spoke about the ABC yesterday, it was really NBC, nuclear, biological and chemical.
So '78, '79 there was a clear indication that if this was going to be a fourth arm with a comprehensive support system it would have to have that kind of capability. That's the first part of your question.
The second part is, in 1983, when I was appointed as Chief of Medical Staff Force application and began to accept the responsibility of the deployment of all the new elements within the Medical Service one of my responsibilities was to allocate elements of the Medical Service to those forces that I have mentioned.
At the same time I was invited by General Nieuwoudt to attend a briefing that he and Dr Basson was going to give to the Minister of Defence here in Cape Town during the Parliamentary session on the Defence budget. The exact date I can't remember. I think it was in May 1983. At that briefing and on the way to the briefing I was informed by General Nieuwoudt that this project was in existence. I was given a broad background of how it had originated; of the authority given by the Minister of Defence that this project could be run, and that we were now going to brief the Minister on the state of where this project stood.
I was then informed of the mandate of the project and I was informed of the planning with regard to the establishment of covert companies.
MR VALLY: So whilst you were aware of a broad, initially of a broad need for a defence capability regarding what you call NBC, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons you got told of front companies and when you say the project are you referring to a specific project?
DR KNOBEL: Yes this was Project Cloud.
MR VALLY: Project Cloud ...(intervention)
DR KNOBEL: I beg your pardon, Project Coast, I beg your pardon Mr Chairman.
MR VALLY: Project Coast.
DR KNOBEL: Yes.
MR VALLY: On the way to a briefing in 1983?
DR KNOBEL: That's correct.
MR VALLY: Prior to that you didn't know anything about Project Coast?
DR KNOBEL: Nothing.
MR VALLY: Now I asked you earlier about the professional statutory obligations of certain of the professions who were within the Defence Force, as Surgeon-General and as a member of the Defence Force for some time were members of the Defence Force subjected to the normal laws governing, for example, medicines and related substances? I am referring to Act 101 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act. I am referring to the Abuse of Habit-forming Substances Act. Were members of the Defence Force governed by those Acts as well?
DR KNOBEL: I know of nobody who is not governed by those Acts Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: Whether or not a superior officer gave you instructions or not, if you were in contravention of those Acts it would be a crime. And if you, as Surgeon-General, were aware of it you would internally discipline the person, secondly reported them to their professional bodies?
DR KNOBEL: That's correct. May I say something else about that?
MR VALLY: Sure.
DR KNOBEL: I was informed by the Surgeon-General that he had clarified this with the Ministry of Defence, that he had discussions with the Ministry of Law and Order and that he in fact had discussions with members of the Medical Council about this. I was satisfied that we were acting within the agreements that had been reached.
You had a long discussion yesterday with General Neethling about that very point, you heard what he had indicated in that regard.
MR VALLY: Right. We will come back to that because as you perceive it's a problem for us.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally shouldn't - I believe you are getting to a new point. I would suggest that this should be a convenient stage to take the tea adjournment. It's a disjointed day but it's been forced upon us. We will take time to consider also the Botha case which we have now received. We will reconvene at eleven.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen we have now resumed. We are now ready to hand down a ruling in the application that was brought on behalf of Dr Basson and Dr Mijburgh and the present witness then formally stands down for the duration of that ruling. The ruling will be made by Advocate Potgieter.
R U L I N G
An application has been made on behalf of Dr Wouter Basson and Dr Mijburgh essentially to stay the taking of their evidence pending an application to a higher court either for a review or for a decision or ruling that they must be called to the stand or for declaring or challenging the constitutionality of the provisions of the Act in terms of which they are being called. Argument has been addressed to us very briefly and we invited both counsel to indicate to us whether there would be any prospects of a success of an application such as is envisaged.
We have come to the unanimous view that there are no reasonable prospects of success in any application of the nature envisaged and therefore our ruling is that the two doctors should be available during the course of today for them to testify and that they should remain in attendance throughout the course of the day.
It is our view, however, that having begun with the evidence of General Knobel we should proceed taking that evidence until such time as you are able to get to the evidence of Dr Basson and or Dr Mijburgh. But that our ruling is that they must be available to testify as and when we come to them.
MR CILLIERS: Mr Chairman just regarding a procedural arrangement. Have you made any decision till what time you want to continue today. We have serious problems with flight arrangements. At this stage there is an indication that we would only be available until four 'o clock this afternoon, that is me and my colleague. Do you intend to like the previous four evenings to continue till late, seven 'o clock or eight 'o clock or what is your attitude at this stage?
CHAIRPERSON: I really don't know. The normal sitting times are at least up till five 'o clock. I take into account it is a Friday. It has been a long week. But I also wanted to sit until five 'o clock on Wednesday and we did not sit until five 'o clock. I obviously would be in the hands of all participants in these proceedings. I don't think it is this panel's wish to impose a heavy regime on any person but I. Let me put it this way. It is our desire that we should break off earlier than the previous days. I have a sense that I might even be abandoned by my panel if I insist to sit later than half past four. So (...intervention)
MR CILLIERS: They might receive help from this side.
CHAIRPERSON: So you may be having some supporters as far as that goes. But this might be a matter that we might want to look at during lunch. I don't want to appear to be unpatriotic but there is a football match that Joburg people want to attend in the luxuries of their homes and that might be a further inducement for us to sit early. We certainly do not intend to sit late.
MR CILLIERS: As it pleases you.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally? You may not have wanted to call Dr Knobel but the directive from the Chair is that, that is how we want to listen to the evidence. Are you (...indistinct)
MR VALLY: I accept that Mr Chair and I will continue with Dr Knobel in a short while, save as to state that at some point there will be an application in view of the loss of a large portion of the hearing time allocated for this matter by virtue of the application brought by my learned friend and also the application brought by the counsel for the President and the Deputy President that at some point a ruling is made to extend this hearing to a mutually suitable date in the event of us not being able to finish today.
CHAIRPERSON: That should come as a matter of course as far as I am concerned until the (...indistinct) can be expected but I
note what your concerns are. Can we take evidence then?
MR VALLY: I have nothing further to add. I can carry on with Dr Knobel if you want to?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes.CHAIRPERSON: Doctor Knobel, may I remind you that you are still under oath.
DR KNOBEL: Yes, Sir, thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: I see that there are documents that have been placed before us, one of which seems to be the briefing to the TRC on the South African Medical Services and the Defensive Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme. Has that document been brought to your attention Mr Arendse and have your principals seen it and what is their attitude thereto?
MR ARENDSE: Chairperson, this document relates to a briefing which General Knobel had with the Commission, the Commission was represented by Miss Sooka. Miss Sooka signed a certificate in the form of an undertaking inter alia an undertaking that the Commission will not allow any part of the submission or the information to be published in any way without prior consultations with the President of the Republic of South Africa, and further acknowledging that the information made available will have a direct effect on State Security as well as international relations of the Republic.
Now, I understand that a number of requests had been made to the President's office and that Mr Chaskalson had also spoken recently to the President's Legal Advisor on this and no definite response has been forthcoming from that quarter. I have now tried to contact Fink Haysom. He said he would be back here just before lunch time. Because there are really two things, the one is the undertaking that it wouldn't be released without prior consultation which I can't speak to at this point.
CHAIRPERSON: Hasn't a lot of water gone under the bridge since that date, since the 21st of January 1997 in the sense of, do you have any instruction as to whether for instance the consultation with the President has not taken place or has taken place?
MR ARENDSE: No, I don't have anything.
CHAIRPERSON: Before, before
MR ARENDSE: I don't have any instructions. I think if the President's office agrees that the document may be referred to at least, then my instructions are that it can be dealt with on the same basis as you proposed regarding the other reports on proliferation and other issues, so that is not a problem but firstly I need to first get some instructions on the consultation part.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, I would like to add something. That submission was given by my client in January 1997 and my client at that stage insisted on it that the undertaking had to be done and signed by Miss Sooka. My client is the author of that document and he wants to use it. He doesn't need the approval of the President to make the contents known.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: Mr Chairperson, the undertaking is made not to consult with General Knobel but to consult the President. Whoever drafted it is irrelevant, the undertaking is very specific. That is the first thing. However having said that, we have in fact consulted. We have consulted in the first place on the 23rd of April 1998 and - I don't know if Mr Arendse has got instruction from the office of the President or only from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but I understand that there are further consultations taking place now. My understanding of prior consultation is it has to happen, it's not that we need consent.
MR VALLY: So I confirm that consultation has taken place and one of the first consultations took place on the 23rd of April and there have been ongoing consultations even regarding this specific document. But I am willing to hear Mr Arendse's response as I believe there are still ongoing consultations by him with the office of the President.
CHAIRPERSON: Shouldn't we, without ruling then, establish from you whether you are not able to carry on as you were carrying on until at least the lunch break without having to refer to this document or are you saying it is going to ...?
MR VALLY: I am not going to refer to this document.
MR VALLY: It's General Knobel who wants to refer to this document.
ADV POTGIETER: And that seems to be our difficulty, that is the point that Mr du Plessis makes. Mr du Plessis says that it is not us, we are not disclosing the document, his client wants to do that. His client is the author of the document and it's his. I don't know whether we have got any power to stop his client, that is what I don't understand.
CHAIRPERSON: We may not have the authority to stop his client but Mr Arendse may want to say, on behalf of his client he a right to intervene.
MR ARENDSE: Well the undertaking is very specific and with respect, your Committee is established under the Act and under the Commission. The Commission gave an undertaking here that it wouldn't. But I don't see why this is an issue at this point quite frankly. Your suggestion is a practical one. I'll try and clear it up as soon as possible before or during lunchtime and we can deal with it on that basis.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally and Doctor Knobel, let's see if we cannot host until the lunch break without having to refer to this specific document and by which time I'm sure Advocate Arendse will have taken the necessary instructions.
DR KNOBEL: Thank you Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: General Knobel, can you give us a short account of what would you see as having been the main achievements of the Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme during the period you were Surgeon General?
DR KNOBEL: Mr Vally, I quite frankly don't understand the question, could you define it a bit better please?
MR VALLY: Well, very simply this, a whole programme is instituted, a Chemical Biological Warfare Programme and we have heard that at least a hundred million rands was spent on it. We want to know what do you see as having been the positive achievements of the Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme, as short account in the period that you were Surgeon-General.
Mr Chair, it's General Knobel who is testifying and he is under oath and Mr du Plessis is there to assist him but not to answer on his behalf. Now this is not the first time that he is talking to General Knobel and giving him answers before General Knobel answers.
MR DU PLESSIS: I want to put it on record that at no stage did I supply answers to him.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay, let's not fight about this. I don't want to testify from the bench and I didn't hear what you were saying but you were saying something in his ear. You may have been giving him legal advice. Let's play it this way, give the witness an opportunity. I know you may have been - I don't want to dampen the enthusiasm of legal advisors from making sure that their clients' interests are safeguarded but give him is first opportunity. If you feel that the question that is put is unfair, then you must immediately say: "No, I believe that question is unfair".
MR DU PLESSIS: I will do that.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes. We have been fighting all day long, we now want to get peace.
MR DU PLESSIS: Is there some ecstasy in it Mr Chairman?
CHAIRPERSON: Maybe we need ecstasy or may, what's it, dagga.
Mr Vally - oh, General?
DR KNOBEL: I'm eager to answer the question Mr Chairman.
Mr Vally, in order to assess what has been achieved one would have to go back to what the original aims and objectives of the programme was. I will now in respect for the Chair, try and deal with that without referring to the document.
MR VALLY: Thank you General Knobel, but I would like to just help you streamline your answer in view of the fact that we have still got potentially Doctor Mijburgh and Doctor Basson to deal with.
Maybe if you'd start off by telling us what the elements of the Chemical and Biological Warfare Programmes was but I accept the one element was to make protective clothing, gas masks etc., we know that was one element. Other than that element, can you tell me what the other elements of the Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme were?
DR KNOBEL: Mr Chairman, I will certainly come back to those elements which Mr Vally thinks are not, or indicates are not important, it's extremely important but I will say this: In the first place intelligence was obtained about Chemical and Biological Warfare that is now on record and which is considered to be a national asset, which gives information about the Chemical and Biological Warfare capabilities of very many signatory states as well as non-signatory states in the world. That is of vital importance in my opinion to our country.
Secondly, the primary reason for the project, which was to develop a defensive capability, was in my opinion totally achieved but then you must allow me to analyse what I mean by a defensive capability, and the situation changed after '93.
Before 1993 and before South Africa was a signatory to the New Chemical Weapons Convention and was still a State's party to the 1925 protocol, a defensive capability meant that not only did it have all the necessary equipment to protect, to decontaminate, to support it's own troops in the field that might have been exposed to either Chemical and Biological weapons but it also meant that in terms of the way in which South African signed that protocol, it had the right to retaliate, it had the capability to hit back if necessary. The conditions under which that would have been done is well described in the 1925 protocol.
It must be understood that a defensive capability does not exclude the possibility of going over into the offensive when you have to ensure that enemy troops may be using chemical weapons against you and therefore forcing you into your defensive equipment and therefore giving you a major disadvantage on the battlefield, must also in turn be forced to go into a similar situation where they are also in their defensive equipment and therefore then again equalising the battlefields.
I'll summarise it in that fashion, that I'm saying that that capability was fully developed. But I want to say something else about defensive. Defensive is possibly better ...[intervention]
MR VALLY: I'm sorry General Knobel, I just wanted, on that point when you say that capability was fully developed, can you tell me this capability to retaliate, to strike back, can you tell me what you are talking about there?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, I can. The choice of retaliation depends on the signatory state that have exceeded to the convention. In the development of this capability the philosophy was spelt out very clearly, that in this project we would not embark in creating an offensive capability with classical lethal chemical weapons and therefore I can declare quite emphatically to you that at no time were classical chemical, or for that matter, biological weapons developed, weaponised with delivery systems and there was no intent ever to use any of those weapons on the battlefield.
The philosophy allowed us to consider a second category namely incapacitating agents and a third category namely irritating agents. As the project developed, the capability of producing a highly effective irritating agent which could be used in a dual use situation, either as an anti-riot control agent or as a conventional agent on the battlefield, arose and the choice was then made that that would be the ideal chemical substance to weaponise to put into delivery systems with the intent of using it in retaliation in terms of the signatory requirements of the 1925 protocol.
MR VALLY: Can you tell us firstly, which capacity was developed?
DR KNOBEL: The capacity I'm referring to is the ...[intervention]
MR VALLY: I'm talking specifically, was it some biological capacity, was it a chemical capacity?
DR KNOBEL: No, no. Let me clarify the point immediately and very emphatically. At no time was it ever considered to develop a biological warfare offensive capability, at no time. I just emphasis that. And therefore all the organisms and toxins that were studied were never considered either for weaponisation or for delivery systems and there was no intent ever to use them.
South Africa is also a signatory of the Biological Weapons Convention which has been in existence since 1975, so there is no way that South Africa could embark on any such an action. Therefore I repeat and I say it emphatically, only an irritating agent which is dual use agent for anti-riot purposes but also could be used in a conventional offensive capability, was developed, it was produced in large quantities, was weaponised and was put into delivery systems with the clear intent to use it under the conditions which prevailed in terms of the 1925 protocol.
MR VALLY: Are we are talking about CS gas and CR gas?
DR KNOBEL: Well CS gas existed long before that, CR is what I'm talking of Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: And that is all?
DR KNOBEL: That is all.
MR VALLY: Can I refer you to ...[intervention]
DR KNOBEL: Can I - sorry Mr Vally, you asked me to give the total capability.
MR VALLY: Sure.
DR KNOBEL: I want to point out that the minute South African signed the New Chemical Weapons Convention in '93, in January 93, and ratified it later on - the date escapes me for the moment, and ratification in itself then led to the implementation and the entry into force of that convention which took place on the 28th of April '97, that precluded South Africa from using CR in a conventional offensive situation.
So, the offensive capability that we had developed and the weaponisation that had been carried out and the delivery systems that were in existence, that had to be dismantled with regards to the application of CR in the battlefield. And likewise in terms of that convention, the possession of CR had to be declared and South African has done exactly that, in terms of the New Convention.
MR VALLY: So, on the one hand the defensive capabilities, gas hoods, masks, procedures to deal with chemical attacks, on the other hand you say the capacity to retaliate, and I note the capacity to retaliation and you're referring to the weaponisation of CR gas there. I want to refer you to TRC 111, and TRC 111 - I'll allow you to get it but I'll just read the heading of TRC 111 out to you in the meantime:
"Memo to the Steyn Commission regarding alleged risky activities of SADF components"
DR KNOBEL: I'm sorry, I'm not getting it straight away.
MR VALLY: That's alright. It was a document that was given to you I believe.
DR KNOBEL: No, no, I have it but I have some difficulty in getting it in front of me.
MR VALLY: It will be the second last document.
DR KNOBEL: Right, I have it in front of me, thank you Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: I refer you to page A2.
DR KNOBEL: Yes, thank you.
MR VALLY: Paragraph (d) IV, under the heading:
"Seventh Medical Battalion"
DR KNOBEL: I've got it.
MR VALLY: It says:
"Involvement in Chemical Attack on Frelimo"
You are aware that in January 1992 there was an alleged chemical attack on a unit of Frelimo close to the South African border. You are probably also aware, in terms of evidence we have received, that one of the front companies, Delta G, was working on BZ. You probably are also aware that a British expert from Porterdown who did a report on the attack on the Frelimo soldiers, claimed that there appeared to have been a chemical attack by BZ, a variant thereof or an analogue thereof. Now I need to ask you an emphatic question, are you aware of a chemical attack on Frelimo troops close to the South African border in January 1992, carried out by elements of the South African Defence Force?
DR KNOBEL: Mr Vally, I will give you just as an emphatic answer as your question is, the answer is no, but I would respectfully say that you should also read the reports of other investigations that were carried out in terms of this allegation and they are included in your bundle and we can deal with one and each and every one of them and we can read the conclusions of each of those investigations and then the truth might emerge far more clearly than the report of Porterdown that you are referring to.
MR VALLY: Are you aware of any other chemical attack whatsoever carried out by South African Forces?
DR KNOBEL: No, Sir, I'm not.
MR VALLY: Let's get back, and I'm trying to move a bit faster so if I go too fast please ask me to slow down. If I understand it, you had what was called a Special Operations Group which were the medical personnel attached to the Special Forces. It was then decided to have a separate medical unit attached to Special Forces, which went by the name of the 7th Medical Battalion which is part of the entire South African Medical Services. Am I correct in referring to the 7th Battalion as being the Special Operations Group that was attached to Special Forces?
DR KNOBEL: Mr Vally, I'm now very much tempted to refer to the TRC briefing that I've given you because the development of that battalion group is described in great detail, including what their role and functions were and how they were developed and so on. I'm at a loss now how to deal with this. I would very much like to deal with it in detail.
MR VALLY: Fine. Well maybe if I can avoid that, pending the lunch break, was ...[intervention]
MR ARENDSE: Chairperson, my instructions are that we won't object to the General referring to that part of the briefing.
MR VALLY: Yes, but I don't want too much detail, thank you Advocate Arendse.
MR ARENDSE: Obviously if it's not relevant or necessary for Mr Vally's inquiry then ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Mr Arendse.
MR VALLY: Was there a battalion, 7th Medical Battalion I believe it is called?
DR KNOBEL: It is called 7th Medical Battalion Group Mr Vally. Yes, there was.
MR VALLY: And who was the Officer Commanding of the 7th Medical Battalion Group?
DR KNOBEL: The first Officer Commanding was Lieutenant Colonel Basson.
MR VALLY: That's Doctor Wouter Basson?
DR KNOBEL: Correct.
MR VALLY: And later Brigadier Basson?
DR KNOBEL: That's also correct.
MR VALLY: And it was the 7th Medical Battalion which was ultimately responsible for the front companies, more specifically Delta G and RRL?
DR KNOBEL: No, Sir, not at all.
MR VALLY: Fine. Can you tell us who was responsible for that? To whom were the front companies, specifically RRL and Delta G, accountable?
DR KNOBEL: You asked the question whether it was the 7th Medical Battalion to whom those companies were responsible, the answer to that is no. The two companies had been established through the auspices of the project that was being run at the time and the Co-ordinating Management Committee of the project did the initial planning with the help of the Project Officer who was Colonel Basson at that time and it was approved by the Minister, that the companies could be erected. The budgets of the companies were dealt with in an objective budget fashion and the Minister approved that and the personnel and the research that was conducted in the companies with planned by a Technical Work Committee which consisted of the Project Officer and those person that had been identified to be the Managing Directors of those companies.
Each and every time the broad guidelines for the research were given, first by the Minister, then refined by the Co-ordinating Management Committee and then worked out in detail so that it could be translated into budgetary terms and then the companies operated.
MR VALLY: Well I need to know exactly who was responsible for what. We seem to have got evidence which you are aware of that Doctor Wouter Basson was ultimately the responsible party for these two companies, now you are telling me that the directions first came from the Minister, then the Co-ordinating Committee. Can you tell us who was on the Co-ordinating Committee?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, the Co-ordinating Committee consisted of the Chief of the South African Defence Force ...[intervention]
MR VALLY: At the time?
DR KNOBEL: As the Chairman, and obviously those position changed as the individual changed. Secondly the Surgeon-General, my predecessor initially and later on myself. Thirdly, the Chief of Staff Finance. Fourthly, the Chief of Staff Intelligence and then other members that were initially coopted, depending on where the project stood at the time, those members later on became full members of the Co-ordinating Committee.
I'm referring to the Chief of the Army, I'm referring to the Commanding Officer of Special Forces, the Commanding General of Special Forces, I'm referring to the Chief of Staff of the Defence Command Council and I believe at a stage later on the Chief of the Airforce was also on one of these meetings or twice, I'm not sure, and lastly members of ARMSCOR also took part in meetings. In fact there was also a member from Auditor-General at certain stages.
MR VALLY: So are you saying that after the Ministerial level, the Co-ordinating Committee, which included yourself and Brigadier Basson?
DR KNOBEL: He was the Project Officer and acted as a Secretary to the Co-ordinating Management Committee.
MR VALLY: Who was responsible for all these front all these front companies and the project they were running?
DR KNOBEL: No, Sir, he was responsible for all the documentation that was dealt with by the Co-ordinating Management Committee and he was the direct link with companies, if that is what you mean by responsible.
MR VALLY: Fine.
DR KNOBEL: That's correct.
MR VALLY: So he was the direct link?
DR KNOBEL: That's correct.
MR VALLY: I see. Tell me, what is your understanding of hard projects as compared to soft projects?
DR KNOBEL: Mr Vally, the hard and soft projects were not known to me until I saw the documents that had emerged from the trunks and when I saw this terminology being used.
MR VALLY: So you say you are not aware of such a distinction?
DR KNOBEL: No, you didn't listen to my answer.
MR VALLY: I'm sorry, you are talking a bit softly, I don't know if I can get the sound person to turn the sound up a bit if it is possible, I beg your pardon.
DR KNOBEL: It would also help is you don't talk to somebody while I'm answering your question Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: No, I appreciate that I'm still trying to prepare some other issues.
DR KNOBEL: I'll repeat the answer Mr Vally.
MR VALLY: Thank you.
DR KNOBEL: I said that the term hard and soft projects were never used within the Co-ordinating Management Committee. I personally became aware of that distinction when I had the opportunity to look at the documents that had come out of the trunks, and I saw that there were documents referring to so-called hard projects and documents referring to so-called soft projects.
MR VALLY: Was this the first time that you became aware of such terminology being used?
DR KNOBEL: Correct. Mr Vally, I'm a little bit unhappy with the answer on your questions, I would just like to clarify that a little bit further if I may.
The Co-ordinating Management Committee which was the overall broad directive, the committee that gave direction to the entire project, was subdivided into working groups. I've already mentioned the one called the Technical Work Group which was the Project Officer, the Managing Directors of the Companies involved and the scientists within those companies. They did the scientific research planning per company, each company being dealt with separately.
In fact in the beginning the companies were not supposed to know about each other's existence and so on. The only person who had knowledge of those two companies was the Project Officer. I'm talking specifically about Delta G and about Roodeplaat Research Laboratories.
But here were also other Committees. There was a General Administration and Financial Committee which was under control of the Project Manager which was the Surgeon-General assisted by the Chief of Staff Finance and the Project Officer was obviously also a member of that committee. That is where the broad budgetary planning was done on behalf of the total Co-ordinating Management Committee.
After 1990 the Chief of Staff of the Defence Command Council became a member of that committee, in fact he became the Chairman of that committee and the financial planning and the budgetary planning was done in that committee. But at the same time there was also another committee called the Security Committee. The security aspects of this project was of vital importance. That was the Chief of Staff Intelligence with the Surgeon-General and the Project Officer who had to look after the security aspects of the project.
So I'm just trying to say to you that it would be unfair to leave the Commission with the impression that there was only one committee that dealt with the companies. The Security Committee had freedom of movement to do it's own security analyses about the project.
MR VALLY: Right, let's just talk about, at this stage, about two of the Committees. Firstly the Co-ordinating Committee and the Security Committee. The Co-ordinating Committee, would they get report-backs on what projects were being run, the success of those projects, progress to date, money being spent?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, they did but I have to qualify that. The detail made available at the Co-ordinating Management Committee was in terms of the achievement of objectives that had been formulated and approved by the Co-ordinating Management Committee and it would be very broad guidelines. The members of that committee did not have either the scientific knowledge or background to be able to deal with the absolute detail of projects at grassroots level, if you will accept that term, but in broad terms the type of reporting that would be done is: we have now completed our investigations into all irritating agents or into all the classical chemical weapons or into this particular category of the classical chemical weapon.
There was never an opportunity to really discuss in detail what particular experiments were carried out about the very vast numbers of chemicals that had to be studied or ...[intervention]
MR VALLY: Let me get an understanding of the degree of detail General Knobel. Were you for example told that we have cultivated various toxins? Broad, nothing specific?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, I think that would be incorrect to say that is what happened. I think what would have happened was: "We have now embarked on studying the classical biological weapon groups, all the organisms as well as all the toxins that are normally considered to be classical biological weapons".
MR VALLY: And what's considered to be classical biological weapons is determined by literature in this regard, so people would know what you're talking about?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, I don't think that quite frankly the members of the Defence Command Council would have those facts at their fingertips ...[intervention]
MR VALLY: But you would?
DR KNOBEL: No, not necessarily but I'll tell you what does apply. In conventions there are schedules published with regard to the conventions which indicates exactly what the classical schedule one and schedule two ...[intervention]
MR VALLY: But that's what I'm referring to.
DR KNOBEL: Yes.
MR VALLY: You would know if they gave you a report of that sort, which particular ...[intervention]
DR KNOBEL: Yes. And if I didn't I would check it on the list of the applicable convention.
MR VALLY: So you would be told for example only that: "We've developed certain toxins as set out in the schedules" or would you be told for example: "We have managed to create cultures of Anthrax"?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, Mr Vally, you know you're putting the question as if, whether I would be informed whether we have developed cultures of Anthrax of something like that.
MR VALLY: Yes.
DR KNOBEL: It wouldn't be in that form, it would be: "We are now embarking on the study of Anthrax" and that would a very complete study, it would be the literature study about how it is utilised in a biological weapon system, it's dissemination techniques, it's dispersal characteristics, it's pyrotechnic characteristics, it's contagiousness, it's toxicity, it's treatment regimes if you want to control it, it's a very, very complete study.
MR VALLY: Fine. Let me just determine what you were specifically aware of in terms of what you've set out. Were you aware of such a study into cholera?
DR KNOBEL: Oh yes, oh yes, we have also declared that in terms of the requirements of the Convention ...[intervention]
MR VALLY: Salmonella?
DR KNOBEL: So it's pretty - yes, Sir.
MR VALLY: Paraoxons?
DR KNOBEL: No Sir, Paraoxons are Organo Phosphates that are not declared in terms of the Biological Weapons Convention ...[intervention]
MR VALLY: Were you aware ...[intervention]
DR KNOBEL: No, let me just answer the question please. But it would be included in the broad study of all Organo Phosphates which are classical chemical weapons, schedule one.
MR VALLY: So you didn't know specifically about Paraoxon? You knew about cholera, you knew about Anthrax, you knew about Brutella ...[intervention]
DR KNOBEL: Brucella.
MR VALLY: Brucella I believe?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, I believe so.
MR VALLY: Do you know about Monensen?
DR KNOBEL: No Sir. That detail was not discussed at the Co-ordinating Management Committee level or for that matter at the Administrative and Financial Committee.
MR VALLY: Was the intention into the study of these toxins I've referred to, just for defensive purposes to understand it's effects, if so, why was it necessary to produce them on a large scale if there was literature already available on it, for example Anthrax, Anthrax has been written about since 1942 or even before that.
DR KNOBEL: Mr Vally, most of those organisms produced diseases that are well-known all over the world. The technology of converting them into weapon systems is the subject of research, so that you know exactly how they can be altered, how they can be utilised within the weapon programme and how you have to defend yourself against them.
So the type of study that had to be performed was to go into that type of detail so that your defensive system and your preventative protection of your troops in the field would be totally covered.
MR VALLY: So would you be given those reports? Would you be told ...[intervention]
DR KNOBEL: I've already answered that question.
MR VALLY: No, no, I'm talking about that kind of detail, you personally.
DR KNOBEL: No, indeed not.
MR VALLY: I will come back to this because if the purpose is purely to study the facts of those substances, but I'll come back to this. A lot of the documentation that you are aware of, that we are aware of in terms of this bundle of documents we have, talks about trying to make some of these toxins colourless and odourless, was that also part of your programme?
DR KNOBEL: Mr Vally, given the nature of the conflict which existed at the time and the necessity to be equipped to deal with the perceived threat at the time, such research in my opinion could be justified. However, if you look at those documents that you are referring to at the moment and you read each and every one of them carefully and you see what the comments are within those documents with regards to application and application techniques etc., lethal dosages and so on, then I will admit to you that looks highly suspicious of either abuse or the intention to abuse those substances.
MR VALLY: Were you aware of the quantities being produced?
DR KNOBEL: Of course not. I have already said to you and I said so this morning in my statement, that the research and development documents that were found in the trunks that I indicated to you, was in my opinion the research and development documents of the two companies involved had such documents that I'd never seen before 1997.
MR VALLY: And were you aware of toxins such as Monensen, which for us lay people causes muscle weakness and degeneration, breathing difficulties and death, specifically toxic to the human heart and difficult to detect?
DR KNOBEL: Mr Vally, no, I was not aware of such substances. When I was asked to look at the documents that have been found in the trunks, both Colonel Steyn and I analysed all those documents. The analysis is contained in the report which is known as Project Cloud.
MR VALLY: Are you saying that the development of such toxins were kept from you?
DR KNOBEL: Of course.
MR VALLY: By who?
DR KNOBEL: Well I think by Doctor Basson but I must say at the same time I did not expect to have that kind of detail. I was satisfied that the parameters in which the research was being carried out was against the background of the mandate of the project.
MR VALLY: I understand that ...[intervention]
MS SOOKA: Sorry, sorry Chair. I'm sorry, you're giving us an answer which could have one of two meanings.
DR KNOBEL: Yes.
MS SOOKA: Now, either it was on a need to know basis and you claimed that you were then not informed because of that, or as the Surgeon-General you were part of the committee that should have had control and the person who should have kept you informed was Doctor Basson. Now I would certainly like for myself, a clearer answer from you.
DR KNOBEL: Yes, certainly. Certainly you are correct, that Doctor Basson should have informed me if any research was conducted that was outside the mandate of the project as it was given, namely to develop a comprehensive defensive capability.
CHAIRPERSON: Are you saying, and I think just to round up that question, are you then saying that to the extent that you were surprised only in 1997 by the documents which were taken out of the trunks which purport - I don't want to put it higher than that at this stage, which purport to be evidence of the development of toxins and substances which were outside your mandate, to that extent Doctor Basson kept you in the dark about that process?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, Mr Chairman, but you must allow me to qualify that. I said just now that given the nature of the conflict and the perceived threat, it would be justified ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: No, no, I'm not asking that question. I'm asking a question of fact. If, as we now have a situation that in 1997 you get confronted with documents which in your informed opinion as a scientist contains evidence of the development of toxins and substances, the nature of which in your view went beyond the mandate of what you were supposed to be doing, and you say you were not aware of those researches, is it therefore your evidence that you were kept uninformed to that extent?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, that is correct.
CHAIRPERSON: And the person who should have informed you and did not inform you was Doctor Wouter Basson?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, that's correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: Let's go to the: "Verkope List", and I'm sure you know it well, TRC 52.
DR KNOBEL: Yes, you may proceed, I will get it.
MR VALLY: Sure. We've canvassed this at great length with many witnesses and I need to know if you knew any of these items. We're talking about enough Cholera here to, as we've heard, start a small epidemic, we're talking about Typhoid in deodorant, we're talking about Anthrax in chocolates, we're talking about Aldicarb in chocolates, we're talking Cathridene in chocolates, we're talking about cyanide in chocolates, now would these items, in terms of the mixtures, would they be seen as delivery systems in terms of the language you were using in the military?
DR KNOBEL: No Sir, I don't understand that question. I can answer this: Many of the substances here would be included under the headings of what I consider classical chemical weapons or classical biological weapons, so ...[intervention]
MR VALLY: Okay, could you just quickly run ...[intervention]
DR KNOBEL: No, let me just answer this question.
MR VALLY: I'm so sorry but on that point, could just quickly run through the list and tell us which substances are classical biological weapons?
DR KNOBEL: Well certainly the, if you look Phencyclodene.
MR VALLY: Right.
DR KNOBEL: As far as my knowledge is concerned that could easily be developed as a incapacitating agent.
MR VALLY: That is Phencyclodene Thallium Acetate?
DR KNOBEL: Listen Mr Vally, I want you to understand something. The Chairman just said now: "As a scientist", now exactly what does he mean by that? I'm not a chemist and I'm certainly not, I haven't got the chemical background to be able to analyse each and every one of these and then say: "This falls into that category and this falls into that category". I'm saying, if you look at this list in the broadest possible way and you examine it against the list of scheduled chemicals and you have a chemical expert that can analyse it for you and tell you, then you will find that many of these substances fall within the classical list of chemical weapons.
MR VALLY: Fine.
DR KNOBEL: I'm talking about chemical weapons or chemical lists and these schedules of 66 different substances. I would require somebody like Professor Folb to help me to decide whether that would be a substance included under a particular heading. In the briefing I gave you in January last year you will see that I gave you the broad categories. And I would need a chemical assistant to advise me which of these substances fall within those broad lists and I would be satisfied if that is given to me, that if they are in those lists then they would be justifiable to examine fully.
MR VALLY: What I want ...[intervention]
DR RANDERA: Sorry, can I just ...
General, can I just come back to your Co-ordinating Committee?
DR KNOBEL: Yes.
DR RANDERA: In the same light of what you have just been arguing. I think you are a Doctor of Medicine before you became ...[intervention]
DR KNOBEL: Medical doctor yes.
DR RANDERA: Of anatomy and I accept like myself that we don't have all the knowledge of it.
DR KNOBEL: Correct.
DR RANDERA: But yet when it came to your Co-ordinating Committee and the Technical Committee which was part of that, the person that was put in charge as the Project Officer was also a doctor, Doctor Basson.
DR KNOBEL: And had a Masters Degree in Chemistry.
DR RANDERA: And had a Master Degree in Chemistry but again, in terms of your own structures, was that not a weakness that you were putting all the power almost in one person who was then reporting to you?
DR KNOBEL: I'll answer the question by saying the following: The selection of the Project Officer at the beginning of the project which I had no part in, was done by my predecessor. Clearly the person you wanted to be the ideal Project Officer would have to be a person with detailed knowledge of chemistry and certainly would have to be also partly a person with a higher degree in medicine. These qualities is what Doctor Basson had and I take it that that was exactly why he was chosen.
Now what I'm saying further is, the Co-ordinating Management Committee would approve a study of all the classical chemical agents which are known as schedule one chemicals, that would be the broad guideline given. And the Project Officer would then say: "We are now embarking on the classical lethal chemical weapons. We're going to study 500 different chemicals" which are not only the sort of, the group, as a group, but all the various derivatives that you could find within that group. For example, the Organo Phosphates, there are many, many Organo Phosphates that could be studied, although in a classical chemical arsenal you normally would find two or three or four of those Organo Phosphates.
And the Co-ordinating Management Committee would then say: "Right, what sort of requirements do you have to be able to fulfil that objective, namely to look at all the classical lethal chemical weapons and the Technical Work Group would then go and do an estimate of what experimentation would be required, what kind of staff would be required to do that work, what kind of laboratory you would have etc., etc., etc., and they would translate it into budgetary terms and they would come back to the Co-ordinating Management Committee and say: "If we want to do this and we want to deal with the classical ones during this year, we are going to require ...[intervention]
DR RANDERA: Thank you General, just one other question before I hand over to Mr Vally again. I understood you to say that you were brought into a discussion earlier on, into the Chemical and Biological Warfare potential that needed to be developed within the South African Medical Services.
DR KNOBEL: Yes.
DR RANDERA: And then you went on to do your officers training programme etc., you then become part of the structure again as I assume it, in 1987 when you take over as a Surgeon-General?
DR KNOBEL: 1988.
DR RANDERA: Now in-between, in the sort of early period when the ideas were taking root, when the research was being done into what needed to be provided for the South African Army, were you still part of any technical committee, any structure, in that interim period?
DR KNOBEL: No, Sir.
DR RANDERA: So your roles only comes in 1987?
DR KNOBEL: No, that's not quite true. Let me correct you please. I was away during 1987, I came back in 1988 and I was appointed Surgeon-General in 1988.
DR RANDERA: Right.
DR KNOBEL: From '83 onwards the Surgeon-General informed me about the programme and allowed or invited me to attend the Co-ordinating Management Committee Meetings from time to time.
DR RANDERA: So you were part of the structure in those early years.
DR KNOBEL: Yes, yes.
DR RANDERA: And you knew - I would imagine that as you were working up to building up a programme you would decide what the areas of research would be and you would have been party to those discussions?
DR KNOBEL: No Sir, you misunderstood what I said. We would certainly decide and approve, the Co-ordinating Management Committee would approve the broad guidelines as to dealing with developing a comprehensive defensive system. For example, if you start of with a programme like this your first requirement would be to send somebody out into the world to find out what exists in the world, what are the programmes of other governments in the world and that is exactly what the Project Officer did.
He went on a world tour, he penetrated many different countries' programmes and came back with that information and he came back with the information that this country concentrates on that particular group of chemical weapons and this one on that and we very soon realised that the old approach of developing lethal agents was gradually falling away and that all countries, particularly the super powers that had vast capabilities were concentrating on incapacitating agents for example.
But at the same time you must realise that we had to teach our scientists or allow our scientists to develop the skills to deal with these substances under security as well as safety conditions. We had to allow them to read up on all the documentation and all the intelligence that we had gathered about what other countries were doing.
So a very large portion of the initial research went into establishing a data base about what is available in the world, what is being concentrated on, what do we have to protect ourselves against. Realising that we are looking at a potential threat from forces deployed in Southern Africa, and I'm talking about the surrogate forces of the USSR, namely the Cubans that were here. That is where we considered our main threat to be coming from.
And therefore it was important to find out what the philosophy was in the USSR, what substances they were studying and developing and weaponising and creating delivery systems for and what information could we obtain from them. And I want to say this, it is not so easy to get that type of information, it is not available in the everyday press or in the scientific journals, you have to penetrate those organisations and actually find out what they are working on.
Now that process took quite some time. The feedback that was then given to the Co-ordinating Management Committee via the Project Officer who had done this research and who had consulted with some of the scientists in their particular fields, whether it is toxicology or whether it is synthesis or analysis or whatever the case may be.
They would come back to us and say: "We believe we should now concentrate on the Organo Phosphates, that is today what is being studied all over the world". And that kind of guideline clearance would be given, it would be changed into budgetary terms and money would be allocated for it.
DR RANDERA: Thank you General.
DR KNOBEL: Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Can I have another question from Miss Sooka for clarifying?
MS SOOKA: General, I'm not a military person and so when you use the word: "penetrate" I would like an explanation of what exactly that means.
DR KNOBEL: Well, Miss Sooka, if you want to protect an individual against an agent that he or she could be exposed to, then it is important to know what the penetrating capacity or capability is. ...[intervention]
MS SOOKA: I'm sorry, I think I'm asking a very direct question, what does penetrate mean? Does it mean entering someone else's programme without their consent ...[intervention]
DR KNOBEL: Oh, I beg your pardon.
MS SOOKA: Would that in effect mean spying?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, I understand what you mean. I'm sorry, I misunderstood your question. Penetration also means for an agent to go through the skin or to enter the respiratory system or to get into the bloodstream or whatever, that's what I thought you meant. But penetrating other systems means spying on them and entering their capabilities under false pretences so that you can obtain information, that's correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Can I just extend that question by asking, did you have for that purpose, an own intelligence capacity or did you rely on the National Intelligence Services?
DR KNOBEL: No, we relied on Military Intelligence but Obviously the Intelligence Services in our country at that time had components in the military environment, in the National Intelligence environment and also within Foreign Affairs and also within the Special Branch of the police. And any information that was gathered by them that was available within the intelligence community, could be analysed and then could be dealt with by our scientists and by Doctor Basson.
CHAIRPERSON: So the National Intelligence Service was also the source for your intelligence?
DR KNOBEL: Yes, they may not have been aware of it but they were certainly a source.
CHAIRPERSON: Oh I see.
MS SOOKA: Sorry Chair, may I? When you say they may not have been aware of it, can you clarify that for me please?
DR KNOBEL: Yes. Miss Sooka, the programme that had been approved by the Minister and then by the decision of the Minister allocated to the Surgeon-General, was with a very strict guideline that no official co-operation was to take place with any other country or with any other organisation. It was to be done in a clandestine covert fashion. Do you understand what I'm saying?
CHAIRPERSON: No, I don't think, I certainly do not understand. I think the question is simple here. You said, in order for some of the programmes to be done with efficacy - I'm not quoting your direct words, it was necessary to penetrate enemy lines, enemy programmes, in other words meaning spying on them and all that. Now I said, for that to happen, did you rely on the intelligence gathered by for instance, National Intelligence Service, in other words South African National Intelligence Service? And then you said: "Military Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, etc., etc., and then you said: "They may not have been aware of it". And I think Miss Sooka wanted to get a clarification on that.
DR KNOBEL: Yes. There was no official representation to National Intelligence to help us gather information with regard to chemical weapons, that is what I'm saying, but there was certainly co-operation at grassroots level to obtain information that had been gathered by National Intelligence, that is certainly true.
CHAIRPERSON: In other words you are saying, it happened except that it was not official? When a person from NIS came to you and said: "Listen, this is what we gathered", you wouldn't say: "Hey, hey, I don't want to hear this because I'm not supposed to hear it", you would say: "Ja, thank you"?
DR KNOBEL: Of course.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, okay. And on that intelligent note can we take the lunch break and come back at two.