ON RESUMPTION ON 10 JUNE 1998
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. If we can arrange now to start, ladies and gentlemen. Mr Chaskalson, I take it that we are doing the cross-examination of Dr Van Rensburg.
MR CHASKALSON: That is how I understand proceedings. I am afraid that Mr Vally is slightly late this morning, but the agreement as I understand it from last night is, we would deal with this issue first and then from there, there may be - we would like ...
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally is here.
MR CHASKALSON: I shall change chairs.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally, I take it that Dr Van Rensburg is on for cross-examination at this stage?
MR VALLY: That is correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Van Rensburg, I only need to remind you that you are still under oath.
SCHALK VAN RENSBURG: (still under oath)
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Van Zyl, are you going to start the ball rolling?
MR VAN ZYL: Mr Chairman, I am ready to continue. Mr Chairman, before I start with the cross-examination, I want to place certain aspects on record.
There is a great number of aspects which my clients, and I refer specifically to Dr Swanepoel which places him in dispute, but after consultation, we are of the view that many of the disputes are related to your work.
I am not going to address all aspects and just refer to certain points. I am just mentioning it so it wouldn't leave the impression that many things are not in dispute. Many aspects are placed in dispute, but they will not be addressed during cross-examination.
Dr Van Rensburg, I don't have clarity regarding exactly what your function was at RRL. Can you give us a description of exactly what your function was and to answer the question, I want to give you two clues from your evidence yesterday.
You said that you were involved in only one project, that was the fertility project and that at a certain stage, you said that what you did during your time at RRL and your words were, to higher the level of science, in other words the level of scientific research was increased. In the light of that evidence, can you tell us what your exact functions were?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman, my job descriptions are available, I can give that to you. My function is Director of Laboratory Services, was primarily to help design, create, equip, staff, laboratories, to introduce, help introduce technology, to appoint, select and appoint staff and to administer the running of these laboratories.
The job changed with time from being Director of Laboratory Services. Later about two thirds way through the life-span of Roodeplaat, my job was changed to Director of the Animal Centre. In other words I had nothing to do with the laboratories.
The last eight months of my work at Roodeplaat, I was demoted to Scientific Advisor and that is - my function there was particularly concerned the final reporting and quality of research work.
Does that answer your question?
MR VAN ZYL: If I understand you correctly Dr Van Rensburg, you were not involved in the research or the scientific work regarding the hard projects, you were not involved in those.
Those were the chemical or biological warfare research being done, you were not involved in that.
DR VAN RENSBURG: I had to provide the facilities, the staff, certain technology, maintain the laboratories. These laboratories were used almost in an identical manner for both commercial research and for hard work, shall we call it that. In that way, most certainly I did indirectly contribute to hard work and that is the basis for my amnesty application.
MR VAN ZYL: Did you apply for amnesty? Do you have it available here?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I have it available, yes.
MR VAN ZYL: The essence of my question regarding what your exact work was, should you receive an instruction that a certain organism had to be evaluated and analysed for the purposes of biological warfare, you would not be involved in the physical work and research but you indirectly rendered assistance, you didn't do the exact work?
It appears to me and you were here yesterday when Dr Mike Odendal testified that he was the scientist involved in the research and doing the work.
The so-called need to know principle was applied strictly?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Especially the lower the level, the stronger it became.
MR VAN ZYL: What do you mean by that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Directors for example, leaked a little bit more information to one another. Those were for two reasons, because you had to have for management purposes, know what was going on. And then secondly, we were a small group.
There were many meetings, almost every day and the Directors and the management got together at some or other stage.
MR VAN ZYL: Certainly the detail of research was not discussed there?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No.
MR VAN ZYL: In other words what exactly was asked to be done by the Defence Force, the detail of that would not be discussed during those meetings, it was only the daily management of the company being discussed there?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is correct.
MR VAN ZYL: Receiving instructions, yesterday you testified that you received no instruction at any stage to do any specific research or for any specific project.
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, that is not correct, I did receive instructions for the infertility project.
MR VAN ZYL: Let's forget about the infertility project.
DR VAN RENSBURG: Further in my presence, usually in small groups, the need for a substance which could stimulate a disease is not traceable easily, but it was not directly given to me, it was discussed in small groups, for example to Dr Odendal.
I just happened to be there, it was not addressed to me specifically.
MR VAN ZYL: This fact that such a request was put to you and it was disturbing to you?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Right in the beginning it was disturbing, but I became used to that and I accepted the situation at that institution.
MR VAN ZYL: And that was the kind of research in which you would not become involve, it would once again be done by Dr Odendal or somebody else?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, I was not directly involved.
MR VAN ZYL: Taking into consideration the strong need to know principle, I find it very strange that if such a substance was required, but your evidence seems strange that this substance which you were looking for, if a need to know principle was applied, it would be within that realm, but I think it was done informally during discussions, that that demand was made.
DR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman, yesterday I outlined the procedure of projects. A verbal instruction would come to the research worker, right. That is the need to know principle.
The research worker comes back with a written proposal, protocol. That would go to Andrè Immelman, who himself would get the project into an acceptable form for him. It would then if it involved animals, serve at the Ethics, the Animal Ethics Committee. Every project using animals, had to be approved by the Animal Ethics Committee, otherwise it could not proceed.
It is there that I would on a need to know principle, see a lot of the hard projects.
MR VAN ZYL: I understand that, Dr Van Rensburg, if research had to be done on organism X and animals were involved, that had to be put to you, but the purpose for which it was demanded, was something different.
I could ask you to do research about X, Y and Z, but the reason for this research does not have to be conveyed to you. This is the problem that I have, you said there was a very strong need to know basis, now a request was made for an agent as you have described. This is mentioned informally during discussion, where you were present and it is also mentioned in your presence, although you did not have to do the research?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I had to provide facilities for that research work to be done, and in that regard, I was involved.
MR VAN ZYL: The problem that I have remains, Dr Van Rensburg, they could tell you research had to be done on X, Y and Z, it was not necessary for them to tell you what the reason for that research was, then still you were able to provide in the requirements of the scientists, but it was not necessary for them to tell you we are looking for an agent who could make somebody who dies, death appear like an accident, it wasn't necessary to do that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman, yes, I agree one hundred percent, it is not necessary that I should know, it is not necessary that I will be told, it wasn't me to control the words out of Dr Basson's mouth, he volunteered it, he told me. I never asked, there is no such thing as daring to ask the purpose of anything like this.
It is entirely information volunteered by Dr Basson and he was quite chatty, too much so from a security point of view.
MR VAN ZYL: When you initially became an employee of RRL, you were certainly told or was any reason given why this need to know principle, had to be adhered to for security reasons? Was that told to you?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The specific reason was not given.
MR VAN ZYL: Was that an internal requirement of the company or was it a requirement from your clients' side or from the Defence Force?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Those were guidelines from the so-called Army or the so-called shareholders.
MR VAN ZYL: You also testified yesterday that you were initially sceptical about this project when you were approached, and that you wanted to think about it and that you had to clear it out with yourself, that a modern Defence Force had to have this kind of information which had to be researched.
Then furthermore you added, if I understood you correctly, and your words were "if you don't know the dirty tricks, you can't avoid them"?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Right.
MR VAN ZYL: Do I understand by that that it was necessary for a Defence Force to protect itself against counter-biological warfare, that research had to be done for those agents and that tests had to be executed on equipment which could be used to protect the Army.
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is largely correct Mr Chairman, I accept that all modern Armies have a covert capability. The capability I am referring to is they have knowledge of the dirty tricks.
You can quite easily procure very think manuals on this thing, emanating from Russia for instance. That will give you ninety percent of all the known dirty tricks in the world.
You must be aware of what the enemy is possibly doing if you have actual outbreaks of probable covert actions against your own troops, as we did have in Angola. You should be knowledgeable enough to go in there, see the symptoms, make a guess, get the forensic examinations of the (indistinct) if there are any, to be able to sample the environment, the food they ate, the water source. You must come back to the laboratory, you must take a guess, there guys were given Thallium or Botulism or whatever, you must have the apparatus ready, you must have reference substance ready to measure, to calibrate your instruments so that you can detect minute amounts in tissues or food or whatever.
If you know what the enemy is doing, it is always a great shock if the enemy knows that you know. If the enemy knows that you don't know, they will only proliferate these tricks.
MR VAN ZYL: Dr Van Rensburg, it is only logical just to know, doesn't help at all, the most important thing is to protect yourself. It is useless to read all the literature, do all the research but the day they attack me, I can't do anything, I have to protect myself.
DR VAN RENSBURG: I accept that retaliation against foreign enemies, in certain circumstances is certainly justified, that I do accept, foreign enemies.
But the question is did we not have enough repressive laws to control our own people, why do you have to kill them?
MR VAN ZYL: I am not referring to any specific person, I am referring to the principle. The principle regarding chemical and biological warfare, as I understand it, and you can differ from me, which sounds logical is an analysis which is done of what that capabilities of the other country is who could use it against you to go and evaluate those, and put defend mechanisms in place, should it happen again.
This is the end result which you want to achieve?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is correct.
MR VAN ZYL: So you agree that the research by itself was not important, but also the necessary evaluation of for example protective clothing against the specific agents to see whether you can protect yourself?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman, over the years I repeatedly confronted Dr Wynand Swanepoel about why do we not do protective work against covert or conventional warfare.
The end, particularly when we were desperate for contracts to put the budget up, I pushed him hard on this point again and he said to me equivocally, that is not Roodeplaat's brief. All defensive work is done elsewhere.
MR VAN ZYL: What you are actually saying is that these tests were not done at RRL, it could have been done somewhere else, you did not know about it, was that possible?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is correct. Later on I heard, we heard yesterday that it was done somewhere else.
MR VAN ZYL: The fact of the matter is according to what was told to you, that it was done, but not at Roodeplaat?
DR VAN RENSBURG: It was never told to me that it had been done or it was being done. It was only early in 1991 that Dr Swanepoel answered me clearly and put it to me that it is not our reference. This is not our work, to do defensive work.
It was round about, early, very early 1991 was the first time I knew that it was not our brief to do defensive work.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Van Zyl, I don't want to - I just want to indicate that somehow your instructions must come out in the sort of cross-examination.
You know that in the procedures that we have adopted in these hearings, that there is always a very limited time for cross-examination as such.
MR VAN ZYL: I accept that Mr Chairman. When I have gone through the aspects that I would like to deal with, I am going to put the version of my client.
MR VAN ZYL: Thank you. I also want to put it to you Dr Van Rensburg, that amongst others the protective clothing which was used during the Gulf War when chemical weapons and when CBW was involved and it came from South Africa and it was found that it was of the best in the world. Do you have any comment on that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I am proud of the achievements of Protechnic, I never knew, it is the first I've heard of that.
MR VAN ZYL: Regarding the fertility programme, did that project ever come off the ground, for example that the end result was achieved or wasn't it taken any further because of problems?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The fertility project progressed very well almost ahead of schedule, if one looks at any normal developmental project.
It of course is a far more complex project than the people who instructed us to do it, realised as is often the case. The products which theoretically should work, were made while I was still there, and shortly before I left, they were given to baboons. What happened after that, I have no knowledge of.
MR VAN ZYL: Are you saying that that project was still going on when you left Roodeplaat?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, it was still going on.
MR VAN ZYL: But the point I want to make is that the end result, that which could be used physically at the end of the day, to achieve birth control, you did not achieve that result?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, that was still far ahead in the future.
MR VAN ZYL: But then it would have been ridiculous for Dr Swanepoel to ask you continuously give me some of this agent because you still haven't received the end result? How would he be able to do that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: He did not have insight in that specific research.
MR VAN ZYL: Did you tell him Dr Swanepoel, it is going to take still years, we still haven't achieved our goal. He knew very well that that was a project which theoretically could work. He knew it had not been tested. We repeatedly told him we can't give this agent to you, it hasn't been tested.
We don't know whether it was safe.
MR VAN ZYL: You weren't able to test it because you haven't had a product?
DR VAN RENSBURG: We did produce an agent which was given to baboons.
MR VAN ZYL: But you didn't know whether it was working?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I didn't know. I left before that result became available. It would take about two, three years to do that type of research.
MR VAN ZYL: You said yesterday that Dr Swanepoel nagged you to make this product available, but you did not have a product to make available.
DR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman, I do not agree that I used the word harassed. That is the word that you used, that is my note, Wynand Swanepoel harassed me to release it. That is the word that you used yesterday.
DR VAN RENSBURG: What happened is he came and he asked me and I told him we can't release it because it has not been tested yet.
He kept back coming and saying release it, don't worry about the safety tests. You can interpret it, I may be incorrect using the word harassed.
May I alter that to firmly requested.
MR VAN ZYL: You also said that you would give him something else, in the sense that the actual product would be diluted, so it would not have the effect that you wanted to achieve, but you couldn't do it because you didn't have the product?
DR VAN RENSBURG: It was very easy to do that. What we do is we take a hormone from the shelf, you can buy it from the shelf, for example human chorionic letrophy, that is a hormone which is produced by the conceptors. That hormone has to be attached to proteins which could achieve humanilogical response.
But it is easy to take that hormone from the shelf.
MR VAN ZYL: What I am putting to you is Dr Van Rensburg, the essence of your evidence as I understood it, tell me whether I am wrong, then I will leave it, that you did have this project and at a certain stage, you certainly realised I am going to give it to you when he keeps on asking for it, but I would dilute it.
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I won't dilute it. The product which we were preparing, would not be made available to use on people.
It was an agreement between the researchers and you are not going to inoculate somebody with an agent who hasn't been tested for safety. Everything, he put everything, even your life in danger, and he firmly demanded that.
I thought that I could perhaps provide them with something, pretending to be the real product. That is unethical, it is also unethical to inject sterile water, but it is also unethical to inject a product which could cause a great deal of damage.
MR VAN ZYL: You have talked about instructions being received from various people, and this morning you told the Commission that you received instruction regarding the infertility project and also this agent, which was not traceable, you were present when that was said?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is correct.
MR VAN ZYL: I understand that it was not necessarily an instruction, but we leave it there. Any other instruction for any other research? Can you tell us who gave you which instructions regarding which projects? Are you able to do that, to answer that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: This is a very vague and a very wide question.
MR VAN ZYL: What I am asking you, let's put it differently. Yesterday you said instructions were received from Wynand Swanepoel, Wouter Basson and Andrè Immelman. What I am asking you is, can you tell us which instructions were given by which of those people, regarding which projects, or isn't it possible?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, it is not possible, I was not present there. Those were only deductions I made from the little bit I heard there, here and there.
MR VAN ZYL: Reports which were compiled after research had been completed, research results, do you know whether Dr Swanepoel received any research reports?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Dr Swanepoel was not on the Project Committee where we handled that officially. Those reports were kept by Dr Immelman. He and Dr Swanepoel co-operated, worked together, but my answer is no, I can't confirm that Dr Swanepoel had access to those reports.
MR VAN ZYL: Did you know any members of the CCB while you were working at Roodeplaat?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I obviously personally didn't know any, I did meet one. At one stage round about 1989 the Managing Director Swanepoel, organised a team building session weekend at a camp, on a farm in Heidelberg.
At this farm, it turned out to be a farm which was used extensively by the Police. They had camping facilities there, they had a shooting range and on this farm they entertained us, we had a big braai in the evening, and in the morning they put out lots of cases of ammunition and rows of weapons and we had great fun, shooting off AK47's, Uzi's, all sorts of things.
At this farm, I personally met Dr Swanepoel with Slang van Zyl and I think Staal Burger was also there.
MR VAN ZYL: Did you see any of those people at RRL?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, never.
MR VAN ZYL: Can you confirm today that members of the CCB were seen at RRL?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, never ever. It never happened that they came there.
MR VAN ZYL: Did you see any members of the Special Forces there at RRL?
DR VAN RENSBURG: When Philip Mijburgh was still in the Special Forces, he came there.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Van Zyl, again I don't want to be unfair to you. I again have to say that cross-examination at this sort of hearings is unfortunately a limited one, and a controlled one. It is for various reasons, I can mention them, because there are other opportunities for people who are implicated or who are affected to their detriment, by evidence that might be led.
When it comes to finding, there would be another opportunity for instance, for further representations to be made. I would suggest, because I believe there are procedures for hearings that have been circulated, I would suggest without telling Counsel how they should put their questions to witnesses, that the aim should be to put a version or to contest a version that was given by a witness.
It is on the table. I am torn you know, on the (indistinct) dilemma here because I don't want to be unfair to Counsel, but at the same time, I want to give proper meaning to limited cross-examination. So, for instance, I have to get an indication from you, how long you are going to be with the witness?
MR VAN ZYL: Mr Chairman, I am halfway through my cross-examination.
CHAIRPERSON: For instance, are you going to be longer than 15 minutes?
MR VAN ZYL: 15 to 20 minutes.
CHAIRPERSON: Let's see how far we will go.
MR VAN ZYL: Okay Mr Chairman. You said you saw Dr Philip Mijburgh there?
DR VAN RENSBURG: During those early years he came here regularly, while he was still a member of Special Forces.
MR VAN ZYL: When was that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The second half of 1984 and the beginning of 1985.
MR VAN ZYL: When did you start working at RRL?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The 1st of August, 1984.
MR VAN ZYL: Are you aware that Dr Mijburgh was involved in the CBW project?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I was not aware of his direct involvement, but at a later stage he became involved with Delta G. I thought he was involved in conventional warfare.
MR VAN ZYL: Dr Swanepoel denies that there were any projects being done for, as you called them, Special Forces, the CCB or the Police?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I regarded Dr Basson as a member of the Special Forces.
MR VAN ZYL: Is it not correct that the client was the Defence Force? It could be that a member of the Special Forces or the Air Force could have been the contact person, but the Defence Force was the client, not Special Forces?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Yes. The exact military structure, I am not very clued up on that, but the actual involvement of the Surgeon General with Special Forces. At a stage I understood that they were part of him. I don't know whether that was his total sector.
MR VAN ZYL: I can put it to you Dr Van Rensburg, that Special Forces and the Surgeon General, didn't have anything to do with one another. The Surgeon General is not the Commanding Officer of the Special Forces.
DR VAN RENSBURG: I stand corrected Mr Chairman.
MR VAN ZYL: Regarding your evidence that Special Forces were the clients and on whose requirements certain things were prepared, that was not correct because you made a mistake in that regard?
DR VAN RENSBURG: It is correct but I want to add that Dr Basson referred to the cowardly Special Forces. They didn't want to undertake operations, because they said that was murder, can you believe it. That is how he talked about Special Forces, but I could be wrong.
MR VAN ZYL: Yesterday they referred you to a document, TRC 52, it is that sales list you have referred to. Somebody mentioned the name, yesterday you testified - when did you for the first time see this document?
DR VAN RENSBURG: In my TRC 52, in my lawyer's office about three weeks ago.
MR VAN ZYL: So before that, you didn't know about the existence of this document?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I said I knew that there were certain sales lists. Sometimes when we ...
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Van Zyl, excuse me, can I just request, people who have brought newspapers into this hearings, if they can either elect to be here and listen to the proceeding because I think that is what they have come to do, or if they want to read newspapers, to go and read them elsewhere.
Our attention is being distracted by the (indistinct) of newspapers, it is just not in keeping with the decorum that must be accorded to this proceedings. Thank you Mr Van Zyl, you will get a further minute in your cross-examination.
DR VAN RENSBURG: I mentioned yesterday that I was aware of these lists because at one particular time I can remember, Andrè had given I think Dr Swanepoel something and he said remember to put it on the list.
The other times he mentioned these lists, I got the impression and it might be a wrong deduction, that he used these lists to motivate for equipment and to justify to his bosses that Roodeplaat was doing its job. That is the deduction I made.
MR VAN ZYL: Let us focus our attention on this document, TRC 52. You have never seen this document before, until recently and you were not aware of its existence.
DR VAN RENSBURG: I want to make a correction, this document was shown to me by the Attorney General long before I saw it for the first time.
MR VAN ZYL: When was that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: And then I also saw it in this building.
MR VAN ZYL: Let's put it differently, the time when you were working at RRL, were you aware of the existence of this document?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I was aware of the existence of this document, but I never saw it.
MR VAN ZYL: This document TRC 52, can you say unequivocally that what was mentioned was this document, I am not talking about other sales lists, I am talking about the document before you, TRC 52. Can you say today under oath that you were aware of this document, you heard discussions regarding this specific document?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman, I can't say it was this specific one, but I knew it was the practise to keep lists of sales of products issued.
MR VAN ZYL: Mr Odendal or Dr Odendal testified yesterday that research being undertaken by him, was provided to Dr Andrè Immelman, his results from the research on these organisms, were provided to Dr Andrè Immelman and he had a small fridge in his office or next to his office and then he traded these organisms or gave it to somebody else or whatever?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I did not know about this little fridge, but I was never in that storage place where he kept those things.
MR VAN ZYL: The way of distributing these agents, you were not involved in the distribution of that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I was not.
MR VAN ZYL: Dr Swanepoel will also testify that Gen Lothar Neethling as far as he can remember, during the time he was there, at RRL, only at one instance, came to RRL. His evidence that he came there regularly with a bulging briefcase is untrue, it is lies?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Lothar Neethling was there while gasses were being tested. He even came through these various gasses or the clouds. He even came there before the building was being erected.
My office was next to Dr Immelmann’s, and I saw Dr Neethling entering that building.
MR VAN ZYL: You mentioned two instances now?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Two I can definitely remember. I can't say whether it was one, or two or four, but as far as I can remember, I saw him there often.
I will agree that I can confirm that he came to visit the institute twice.
MR VAN ZYL: The rest is speculation?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The rest I can't testify about specifically.
MR VAN ZYL: Is it correct that Dr Swanepoel already in 1986 started his work at Roodeplaat?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, I think it was 1986.
MR VAN ZYL: The privatisation idea, the project was executed initially like you have testified, that some of these front companies were privatised and they attempted to make them financially viable, so that they could continue. Do you know when that idea came about, that idea about privatisation?
DR VAN RENSBURG: It was explained in a document by Dr Knobel to a parliamentary committee who investigated this idea.
When these laboratories were established, it was decided that they wouldn't exist for ever. The Defence Force would use them for plus minus five years, until they have achieved their goals, then they would be scaled down, it would be privatised, and it would remain active on a lower level for about 20 years. That idea had been there always.
MR VAN ZYL: In these documents you are referring to, three phases were mentioned, a development phase, implementation phase and then the privatisation phase, but no time was attached to that. No time frames were attached, 1985 was the initial phase. The project was just being started?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The company was established in 1985.
MR VAN ZYL: If we refer to laboratories being built, that was still going on at that stage?
DR VAN RENSBURG: We moved in in the (indistinct) building in 1985.
MR VAN ZYL: If we refer to 1986, that was a year when this project was still in its baby shoes, but no mention was made of privatisation?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Mention was made yes, right from the start.
MR VAN ZYL: It was viewed as a possibility in the future, but the implementation of the privatisation phase, can we accept Dr Van Rensburg, was not mentioned, at that stage?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No specific plans, no.
MR VAN ZYL: You see you made the allegation during your evidence that Drs Mijburgh and Swanepoel were Managing Directors of front companies. You referred to Dr Basson's buddies because the privatisation was imminent, but it was far from that stage?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I don't agree. Mr Chairman, by 1986 it was clear to thinking people, that the life of the Apartheid regime was very limited, that they would have to do something.
MR VAN ZYL: I don't know what you answered now.
DR VAN RENSBURG: I answered that it was clear that the present arrangement would not be able to continue very long in 1986.
We could foresee that we would be getting a democratic government within the next three to ten years. As Dr Randera pointed out under evidence yesterday, from 1986 to 1988 or 1989, a state of emergency was declared twice. The war in Angola was at its worse or at its height.
So where these people who had that idea, got it, just they will know. There are people who knew the history.
MR VAN ZYL: Yesterday you also said that Dr Swanepoel created fraudulent documents and they stole my cut of R3 million that I should have got.
DR VAN RENSBURG: It would ultimately have been R3 million.
MR VAN ZYL: You also mentioned afterwards that you wanted it. Is that correct?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I said I do not want their dirty money, but I do not want fraudsters to be encouraged.
MR VAN ZYL: What you are saying is that the money that you were actually entitled to, that you knew from the beginning that this was dirty money, and you were not interested in this?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, not at all. I made concerted efforts to recover those funds.
MR VAN ZYL: Amongst others, you initiated a court case?
DR VAN RENSBURG: They precipitated the court case, not I.
MR VAN ZYL: Was it not a matter of the fact that you were a claimant and that you were entitled to a certain amount of money?
DR VAN RENSBURG: These people were entitled to just grab their millions and then to dismiss the staff, and I was angry because of this because I had appointed these people.
More attempts had to be made to establish a permanent industry there. Mr Chairman, when they liquidated the company, I lodged an objection to the liquidation account, pointing out to the Master of the High Court that certain shares were not the property of the people who got the benefit of them.
May I finish the answer, it is important.
MR VAN ZYL: I do not know what question you want to answer, but continue.
DR VAN RENSBURG: You asked about the court case.
MR VAN ZYL: I asked whether you initiated the court case?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I did not.
MR VAN ZYL: And I asked you thereafter were you not a claimant in the liquidation of the company?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I am answering the first question, who started the court case.
MR VAN ZYL: You replied to that.
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I am busy replying to that.
MR VAN ZYL: After that I asked you were you a claimant in the liquidation of the company. That was the next question.
DR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman, may this gentleman give me a chance to finish the question, it is important, it is evidence that he doesn't want revealed.
MR VAN ZYL: Mr Chairman, with respect ...
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, please allow the witness to answer.
DR VAN RENSBURG: I lodged an objection to the Master of the Supreme Court against the liquidation distribution account, pointing out that certain shares were going to people who were not the owners.
There is a certain Mr H.O. Zestro and a Stephan Rossouw of the firm Coopers & Lybrandt who produced forged, falsified and irrelevant cessionary documents, cessionary type documents.
These they presented to the Master. They thoroughly confused him, they made a mockery of the Master of the Supreme Court and so doing, forced the Master to refer the objection to the High Court, which was entirely the initiative, the fraudulent document submitted by the liquidator to the Master had precipitated that court case.
Now, I do not know who compiled those fraudulent documents. I do know that the minutes of the Directors' meeting at Roodeplaat, of the 19th of November 1991 state that they took measures to confiscate my shares.
Also the minutes of the 4th of December, deciding to deprive me of my shares, were fraudulent, falsified, I have a tape recording of that whole meeting to prove it and a transcript if you want it.
MR VAN ZYL: The matter was settled ultimately, is that correct?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The instructions of Swanepoel and his crowd to the Attorney were to play the man, not the game.
MR VAN ZYL: The case was ultimately settled, is that correct?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That was so, it was done in a forced manner because I did not have another R100 000-00 to spend on that, I was nearly bankrupt.
MR VAN ZYL: Am I correct that this was a settlement agreement in which you acknowledged that you were not entitled to the money?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I acknowledged that I would not put in a following claim.
MR VAN ZYL: Dr Swanepoel denies much strongly that at any stage, he compiled any false documents.
DR VAN RENSBURG: I did not say that it was he.
MR VAN ZYL: You said that yesterday. He also denies ...
DR VAN RENSBURG: He signed it.
MR VAN ZYL: He denies that in any way, that he was involved in any illegal action be it in the form of supply of substances to kill people or connections with the CCB or anything of that nature which you testified to. He denies that he was involved in any of these things.
Slang van Zyl, myself and him, we were in a big fancy BMW and it was clear that they were very good friends.
CHAIRPERSON: Two minutes Mr Van Zyl.
MR VAN ZYL: Thank you Mr Chairman, I have no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR VAN ZYL.
CHAIRPERSON: Any further cross-examination? Re-examination?
MR VAN ZYL: Mr Chairman, I know that my learned friend, Mr Du Plessis, indicated that he might have some questions.
CHAIRPERSON: Oh yes.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, thank you for the opportunity. First I want to say that the position with regard to Gen Knobel is the same as that of Mr Van Zyl's clients, I am therefore going to limit my cross-examination to a few aspects of the testimony given by Dr Van Rensburg.
CHAIRPERSON: May I just suggest that in the interest of - maybe you want to put your version to the client and then, well I can't suggest ...
MR DU PLESSIS: Dr Van Rensburg, when did you start working at RRL?
DR VAN RENSBURG: 1st of August 1984.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yesterday you testified that the first time that you met Gen Knobel was when you were on the way out, is that correct?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is the first time that I had a meeting with him in his office.
MR DU PLESSIS: Did you have any other meetings with him at any other places?
DR VAN RENSBURG: He was previously Professor of Anatomy at the University. I had seen the man somewhere. I cannot remember that I communicated with him personally.
MR DU PLESSIS: So we have the position Dr Van Rensburg that you met him once and that was on your way out, that is in work connection?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is correct.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yesterday you testified Dr Van Rensburg that at that meeting, the real work was never discussed?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is correct.
MR DU PLESSIS: As you put it, it was only the financial abuse that was discussed?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is correct.
MR DU PLESSIS: Then I accept that you also never personally knew much about the work or discussed the work that was done at RRL and the problems you had with your conscience?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I did not.
MR DU PLESSIS: Then, you were also, I accept never present when anyone else discussed the problems that might have arisen with Gen Knobel?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I was not.
MR DU PLESSIS: Now, how could you then yesterday have testified as a fact that Gen Knobel was aware of what was going on?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Feedback was given on a monthly basis regarding Gen Knobel's approvals, of his report backs, etc. This was done as a matter of routine.
MR DU PLESSIS: But you do not know what he said?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I do not know what was said to him. I just know that he sent millions of rands to our side.
MR DU PLESSIS: I am asking you whether you were aware of what was said to Gen Knobel?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is correct.
MR DU PLESSIS: So any evidence from you in this regard, is either hearsay or deductions that you are making?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Deductions, yes.
MR DU PLESSIS: Then I am asking you now, why are you trying to mislead the Commission? Why did you not tell them yesterday that this evidence is deductions which you have made, because you do not have first hand knowledge?
CHAIRPERSON: ... almost virtually (indistinct) you know some of these things were rumours, you would hear them in conversations and I think that, I don't know in relation to this part, I don't have the record ...
MR DU PLESSIS: I am referring specifically to this part, because my notes say that he said that Gen Knobel was aware of this and he went further and said that if one spends his millions, then he could not see how one could not be aware of them.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally, what is your recollection of the evidence?
MR VALLY: That particular phrase that my learned friend is quoting, is precisely what the Doctor had said. He made a deduction based on the fact that there was a line of authority and a line of financing of military front companies.
Clearly it was a deduction. Secondly I refer to point 5 for the procedures for hearings, 1.5, that hearsay evidence ...
CHAIRPERSON: I don't think that is what Mr Du Plessis is contesting.
MR VALLY: Yes, right.
CHAIRPERSON: From what I understand his question to be saying is that this witness made a statement of fact, and thereby misleading the Commission or this Panel when in fact, he should have implicated as he gave a specific answer to the specific question that he has alluded to, that it was his own deduction.
Now, what I do not, and I confess to this, I do not know whether in fact it was the evidence that he gave yesterday, because I was saying to Mr Du Plessis my impression of his evidence, was a very cautious one. He was always indicating that you know, some of these were rumours and some of these were things that they had over a table, but I thought that you might be helpful specifically on the point that Mr Du Plessis is ...
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, I can just point out to you that Mr Van Zyl has drawn my attention to his notes, and these were taken separately from mine, and he says that he was aware of the experimentation of what was going on.
Not that I deduced that he was aware of that, he gave it as a fact, that is why I am saying what I am saying.
CHAIRPERSON: But I will allow the question.
MR DU PLESSIS: As it pleases the Chairman, thank you Mr Chairman. So these were deductions that you made. Why did you then not say to the Commission, Mr Chairman, I do not have personal knowledge of this, these are deductions that I am making?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The reason is that I cannot believe that somebody could have been so incompetent to just move R7 million in a direction that he did not know what it was going to be used for. Many requests were made from senior Generals at Roodeplaat, or many visits from these Generals, why did they then visit this facility which is managed by Gen Knobel without him knowing what it was about, that they do not communicate with one another.
I believe that I am making a realistic and reasonable deduction.
MR DU PLESSIS: The question is not whether you are making a reasonable and realistic deduction, the question is why did you not tell the Commission that this was a deduction, that you did not have any personal knowledge of this?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I believed that I made it clear that it was a deduction. If I did not do this, then I now confirm that it was a deduction.
MR DU PLESSIS: Just to speak about your remarks about Gen Knobel, how many people worked at the RRL?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Approximately 70.
MR DU PLESSIS: Did you know every day what each person did at that laboratory, ever minute of the day?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Of course not.
MR DU PLESSIS: Now do you expect that Gen Knobel who was not even involved, would have known?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, your question is irrelevant.
MR DU PLESSIS: That is not a decision for you to make. Yesterday you testified Dr Van Rensburg, that Gen Knobel made no attempts whatsoever to assist Dr Goosen with his problem, is that correct?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I am not aware of any problems, all I know about his attitude, Roodeplaat was a private company with which he had contracts.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yesterday you testified he didn't do anything to solve my problem or Goosen's problem, is that correct?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, it goes without saying, nothing that I could be aware of.
MR DU PLESSIS: But you did not qualify it as that, that is the problem. You also testified it as being a fact that Gen Knobel did nothing to solve Daan Goosen's problem.
DR VAN RENSBURG: Did he do anything?
MR DU PLESSIS: I am asking you, please answer my question first?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The last information I had was that he was not sympathetic with regard to this matter.
MR DU PLESSIS: Are you aware of the fact that Gen Knobel referred Dr Goosen to the Head Office of finance for his problem?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I am not aware of that.
MR DU PLESSIS: Are you aware of the fact that in conjunction with Gen Knobel and HSF, that Dr Daan Goosen was referred to the State Attorney?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Are you aware of how long Daan Goosen has been in this predicament and nothing positive has yet happened?
MR DU PLESSIS: Dr Van Rensburg, I am asking the questions and you please answer them. Are you aware of the fact that Dr Daan Goosen in conjunction with HSF and Gen Knobel, was referred to the State Attorney for assistance?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No.
MR DU PLESSIS: Are you aware of the fact that in conjunction with Gen Knobel and the State Attorney, Dr Daan Goosen was referred to the Ombudsman with regard to his problem?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No.
MR DU PLESSIS: Why did you testify that as a fact?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I did hear that he went to the Ombudsman.
MR DU PLESSIS: Why did you then testify it as a fact that Gen Knobel was unsympathetic and made no attempts to assist Dr Goosen with his problem? Because then surely that is a blatant lie?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I do not agree with you. The information that I have at my disposal, was that Gen Knobel was unsympathetic, that he did not accept that we were part of his personnel.
We were a private company with which he had contracts.
MR DU PLESSIS: Who said this to you?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I believe that I heard this from Dr Goosen. I do not know whether I heard this from anyone else. I also heard from my own Attorney that this was his attitude towards Prof Koekemoer.
MR DU PLESSIS: But you made no attempts yourself, to really establish what the position was?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I heard the same from two independent sources.
MR DU PLESSIS: Dr Van Rensburg, yesterday you also testified that Gen Knobel was in possession of these product lists of lethal toxins as you put it, is that correct?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I said that I was under the impression that it was being used to motivate to the General for budgetary purposes.
MR DU PLESSIS: No, you said that those lists were given to Gen Knobel. You went further and said that he is a Doctor and that he knows what was going on, do you deny every having said that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: As far as I can remember, I made it clear that it was my impression that the lists were used for motivational purposes for the budget.
MR DU PLESSIS: At one stage you did say that it was your impression that it was used for the budget, but you specifically testified that these product lists were given to Gen Knobel, do you deny having said that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: If I said something like that, I will withdraw it.
MR DU PLESSIS: Good.
DR VAN RENSBURG: I cannot recall having said something like that. That is not so.
MR DU PLESSIS: Yesterday you testified, or let me rather ask you in this way, have you ever had an interview or meeting with Gen Knobel before you were appointed as a scientist at RRL?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, how would I, he was not even involved.
MR DU PLESSIS: Do you know of any other scientist who had an interview with him before being appointed to RRL?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No.
MR DU PLESSIS: Now, I want to know from you, how can you then testify that he was responsible for the appointment of all scientists?
DR VAN RENSBURG: All senior scientists, all senior appointments had to be authorised by the Surgeon General, whoever he was. It was an administrative routine procedure. It formed part of the company's rules and regulations.
MR DU PLESSIS: Where are those rules and regulations?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Dr Swanepoel knows them.
MR DU PLESSIS: Do you have them? Or is that again an assumption that you are making?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I believe that I could perhaps be able to get parts of that. All senior applications, including mine, was handed in and I had to wait for quite a while before my appointment was approved by the Surgeon General.
MR DU PLESSIS: Was this told to you?
DR VAN RENSBURG: This is what I was told.
MR DU PLESSIS: That was Gen Nieuwoudt?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That was the procedure.
MR DU PLESSIS: That was Gen Nieuwoudt? Do you have any knowledge that Gen Knobel had to approve all appointments, or was it also a deduction that you are making?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Not all appointments, I said senior appointments. I can recall specific instances.
If for example we wanted to appoint a Pharmacist, something like that would have been approved by the Surgeon General before appointing such a person.
MR DU PLESSIS: Do you have any knowledge that any of those people's appointments were approved or any documentation about those approvals made by the Surgeon General?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I did see such approvals, let me say that the feedback given by Dr Swanepoel that the appointments of those people, this was normal administration and it was approved.
MR DU PLESSIS: That is not what I am asking you, about the apparatus and normal administration. I am asking you whether you had any proof that Gen Knobel authorised the appointment of any scientist?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I do not know personally, but the regulation say that he must.
MR DU PLESSIS: So that is a deduction that you are making, not so?
DR VAN RENSBURG: It is a very reasonable deduction, not so?
MR DU PLESSIS: I am asking you is it a deduction?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Yes.
MR DU PLESSIS: A last aspect Doctor, do you have any knowledge whatsoever of how this project was dealt with at a high level?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I was totally unaware of the existence of Project Coast, I only learnt about it six months after I left. That was the first time that I had seen Project Coast.
MR DU PLESSIS: Did you hear about the existence of a Co-ordinating Control Committee?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No.
MR DU PLESSIS: Do you know how this Committee functioned?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No.
MR DU PLESSIS: Did you know that there was a Financial Committee?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No.
MR DU PLESSIS: Did you know that there was a Security Committee?
DR VAN RENSBURG: There was a large security organisation, I do not know which committee you are referring to.
MR DU PLESSIS: So actually you have no knowledge of what happened at top level management and how this project was dealt with?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Very little, I agree.
MR DU PLESSIS: So once again Doctor, your testimony that all expenses had to be personally approved by Gen Knobel, was not correct, it was a deduction?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I said large expenses which is not a deduction, these were specifically according to the rules and regulations of the company, that he had to approve the budget, as well as individual items such as vehicles, senior appointments, apparatus of more than R50 000-00, this had to be approved by either him or his office. If he delegated this task, that could be possible that that happened.
MR DU PLESSIS: I have no further questions.
Mr Chairman, if at this stage I could just make a request. I did indicate that I am finished with my cross-examination of my witness. I am finished, however, there is an aspect which I neglected to mention.
He mentioned that he handed in an application for amnesty. My submission is that we are entitled to see the contents of that and in that regard, I would just like to request that the witness make a copy available to us and that if there are any aspects in that regard which will need further re-examination, then I make such a request to you.
CHAIRPERSON: Was his amnesty application referred to or was it relied upon by Mr Vally or by Mr Chaskalson?
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman, the witness in his testimony referred to the contents of his amnesty application. I cannot remember what the specific phrase said, but he said- "as I have said in my amnesty application".
I feel that we are entitled to know what is going on in it and that we can cross-examine him in that regard, regarding aspects which are related to this matter.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally, what is your reaction to that?
MR VALLY: Mr Chairman, we expressly did not rely on the amnesty application of the Doctor. Secondly the Doctor said that he had made an application, he mentioned an item therein, however, our Act is clear and I refer to Section 19(8)(a) and (b), subjects of the provisions of Section 33, the applications, documentation in connection herewith, further information, evidence obtained before, during an investigation by the Commission, and it goes on, shall be confidential.
The confidentiality referred to in paragraph (a) shall lapse when the Commission decides to release such information or when the hearing commences. The hearing being referred to there, is the amnesty application.
I refer to the ruling of Judge Nugent in the inquest into the Khotso House killings, where he stated that there was no obligation on persons number one, to even disclose whether they made an application for amnesty, but number two, not to disclose the applications as such. This is a ruling in that matter.
He went much further to speculate whether we were ourselves, entitled to even release this applications. The ruling of Judge Nugent in the Khotso House inquest is very clear and at the very least, at the very least, Mr Van Rensburg has that option.
If the Commission had decided to release it, if we used it, then my learned friend would be entitled to it. If we relied on the allegations therein, against his client, then he may be entitled to use it, but in the present circumstances, the option is with Dr Van Rensburg. Thank you Mr Chair.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Polsen?
MR POLSEN: I agree with what Mr Vally has just said Mr Chairman, I will have to discuss this matter. I haven't seen the amnesty application, I don't know what the contents are and how it may be relevant, but I will have to take instructions.
As things stand at the moment, my advice to my client would be not to make disclosures about the contents of this.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Van Zyl?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I accept that advice.
MR DU PLESSIS: Thank you Mr Chairman. I agree with Mr Vally that the choice lies with Dr Van Rensburg. He can exempt this if he so wishes.
If the advice is that he didn't want to give it to us, then I would just like to ask him one or two questions in that regard. Not about the contents, but about the reasons more specifically.
I do not know whether Mr Polsen wants to discuss it with his client first, he has indicated what his advice is going to be, I do not know whether they want to discuss it.
CHAIRPERSON: Anyway, I was not going to make a ruling on this matter at this present moment, and if I have to make a ruling, it would be later on. I wouldn't like to hold this proceedings just on this basis. I think we could stand down the witness and go on to something else.
MR VALLY: Mr Chairman, maybe if, and with Mr Polsen's consent and maybe he needs to consult, in order not to keep the witness here unnecessarily, we have already kept him overnight, if the questions could be indicated, if you agree on the time aspect of course.
CHAIRPERSON: I am not so sure that the Panel will be inclined in that direction, I may just indicate that from just the members on this floor, I mean on this level, there is a disinclination to allow the amnesty, but I am not making a ruling.
Can we stand the witness down and is there anything between now and tea, because after tea, if it has to be, if we have to make a ruling, we will make a ruling after tea on this specific aspect, but at this point, I would like the witness to be stood down for the purposes of us taking further evidence until half past ten.
We are pressed for time and we are going to have an early day today.
MR VALLY: Shall I call my next witness Mr Chair?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Mr Van Rensburg, you are stood down for the moment. Don't go away, you may have to, depending on how your negotiations with Mr - your lawyer (indistinct) Mr Van Zyl, go, and our ruling in the matter. If you could just hang on until eleven o'clock.
DR VAN RENSBURG: Certainly.
CHAIRPERSON: Immediately after eleven o'clock, we will be coming back from tea.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: Thank you Mr Chairperson. I call Dr Philip Mijburgh.
MR VAN ZYL: Mr Chairman, earlier this morning I spoke to Mr Chaskalson's assistant. Unfortunately as you know, he was a bit late this morning, and there was no opportunity to speak to him.
The tentative arrangement was made between Mr Chaskalson and I, that Mr Vally and I would first have certain discussions regarding Dr Mijburgh. Unfortunately he was not aware of the fact, due to the fact that he only arrived after the proceedings had started. I do want to recommend.
I see that they are discussing it, I think perhaps this is a suitable time to just take an adjournment for five minutes.
CHAIRPERSON: What is intended to be done?
MR VAN ZYL: There is a possibility which is still being investigated as a result of certain information which was obtained this morning, from the offices of the Attorney General, which was conveyed to Mr Chaskalson that an application will be brought on behalf of Dr Mijburgh, but there is no finality yet, and we want to discuss with Mr Vally firstly in order to clear up certain aspects before a final decision is made.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: Mr Chairman, maybe we should ...
CHAIRPERSON: Where is the witness, where is the witness? I would like the witness to be where he has been called to. Are you saying sir, that he does not even have to be here to hear what you are talking about?
MR VAN ZYL: The initial arrangement was that Dr Mijburgh would only be here tomorrow, but he is available here in Cape Town, we can get him.
He is available, I mean he is apparently inside the building or just outside the building, we can get him here very quickly. He is not refusing to be present. All that I am saying is that the proceedings can be cut short due to the possibility of an application, if we just allow that we have a five minute conversation, Mr Vally and I.
CHAIRPERSON: Is he not here?
MR VAN ZYL: He is not in this hall at the moment, he is available.
CHAIRPERSON: Is he not here? Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: Mr Chairperson, I do agree, we did have an agreement with Mr ...
CHAIRPERSON: Do you need the five minutes that he is talking about?
MR VALLY: No, I would suggest that we take an early tea, but on your first issue regarding ...
CHAIRPERSON: We can't talk tea now, tea is at half past ten. Call your next witness Mr Vally, we can't afford to waste time.
Maybe you must stand down to call Mr Mijburgh and get another witness.
MR VALLY: Yes, we could do that, but before that I do agree, and we had an agreement with Mr Van Zyl yesterday that Mr Mijburgh would be called today, so there is no reason for him not to be present. I would suggest that before any further discussion, if we can stand down for five minutes but I think in that five minutes, Dr Mijburgh must be produced.
CHAIRPERSON: We stand down for five minutes for Dr Mijburgh to be produced. Ten o'clock.
CHAIRPERSON: Can we just get ourselves organised so that we should start in a while, we are two minutes to eleven o'clock.
MR VAN ZYL: Mr Chairman, before we go on with Mr Swanepoel's evidence, I have indicated the circumstances regarding Mr Basson.
I have discussed it with Mr Polsen and the indication is that he advised his client not to reveal it to us and that is also going to be provided as a reason. I am not going to continue with that point any further.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr Van Zyl. Is Dr Van Rensburg anywhere around, Mr Polsen?
MR VAN ZYL: I see he is sitting at the back there, Mr Chairman.
MR POLSEN: I confirm the correctness of that statement Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Van Rensburg, I would like to call you to the stand in view of - Dr Van Rensburg. Dr Swanepoel, if you could just bear with us.
Mr Vally, did you want to put certain things before we ...
MR VALLY: Thank you Mr Chair. Mr Chair, maybe the - is this in connection with which witness?
CHAIRPERSON: Well, let me do what I was proposing to do with the witness.
You Dr Van Rensburg, you are sitting where Dr Swanepoel should be sitting, but just sit there, just sit there.
You yesterday, I think it was you who testified about things you had heard and one of the things that you had heard was how it was mooted that some of the toxins that were produced, might be used to affect the health of Dr Mandela.
Was it you, I just want to establish whether it was you?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, Mr Chairman, I made a brief reference to it. My knowledge was very limited. (Indistinct) overheard.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, yes, I know. What exactly did you overhear?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I had a conversation with Dr Andrè Immelman, Dr Mandela had just been released and he was making certain statements which weren't clear and we speculated on this, and he somehow made a comment that I needn't worry, his brain function will deteriorate with time.
CHAIRPERSON: In other words you got the impression that there were people, somewhere, who were aware that an attempt would have been made, or would be made on his life in a manner that was covert and secret?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I do not believe that the intention was to make an attempt on his life. We had already, there had already been talk that such a thing should not happen because whoever succeeded him, might be a worse option.
CHAIRPERSON: What was the intention, as you understood?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The intention as I understood it, was to reduce his level of intellectuality and effectiveness by inducing actual brain damage.
CHAIRPERSON: I see.
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is how I understood it, I can't say...
CHAIRPERSON: There is a document which has just been put before you. It is headed Secretariat of the State Security Council, dated March 1986.
Now, towards the end, I think that is where I - in fact on the very last page - there is on 29 and it appears these were recommendations which were made to the State Security Council by the Secretariat of the State Security Council, can you read recommendations (b) and (c) of 29.
DR VAN RENSBURG: (b) and (c)?
CHAIRPERSON: The very, very last page.
DR VAN RENSBURG: Right, (b) Mandela has to be released outside the Southern African region, and (c) Mandela should be in a poor physical capability, so that he could not act as the leader any more.
CHAIRPERSON: I am not asking you at the moment to authenticate this document, but what do you understand (c) to be? What does it say?
DR VAN RENSBURG: (c) would be to cause him some health damage which would be consonant with what I overheard the intention was. In addition to what I overheard, I will draw your attention to the extract I read from the Star, a news story, I did give the exact date which alleged that Doctors were aware of a plan to expose him to small doses of Thallium.
That could cause central nervous system damage resembling meningitis, according to information supplied to me by Dr Basson years before.
CHAIRPERSON: Now, who was the person on this document on the first page who was responsible for any enquiries made in connection with this document?
DR VAN RENSBURG: It says the Gen Major J.F.J. Van Rensburg.
CHAIRPERSON: Any relative of yours?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No relative, I don't know who this possibly could be.
CHAIRPERSON: You never knew who this person was yourself?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I have never known him, I don't know of his existence.
CHAIRPERSON: And you have never seen this document before?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I have never seen it Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: And to the extent that there was mention in your environment of any weakening of the health of Dr Mandela, it was not - your evidence was not related to your knowledge of existence of this document purporting to come from the State Security Council?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Not at all Mr Chairman, I merely related what I had heard from Dr Immelman and the extract I had read in the newspaper. There was never any other talk of any operation at the institute against Mr Mandela, neither was there any positive action that I know of.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Dr Van Rensburg. Are there any questions from members of the Panel?
Are there any questions from any representatives?
MR CILLIERS: Only a few questions from my side. Dr Van Rensburg, on the face value of this document, it appears this document has nothing to do with the Project Coast, Roodeplaat Laboratories, Delta G at all, do you agree?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I didn't read the document Mr Chairman, but I can't say that it has anything to do, it doesn't appear to have anything to do with those.
MR CILLIERS: Secondly, you interpret (c) according to you, that it should be seen to that President Mandela be in a poor physical condition before he is released, in the sense that something had to be done actively to see that he is in a poor physical condition, for example giving him some or other substance, is that your interpretation?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman, there is one interpretation. There are many possibilities of reducing a man's health to a status where he cannot act as a leader.
MR CILLIERS: But that is your interpretation?
DR VAN RENSBURG: I, in the milieu that I was functioning and that Dr Immelman talked to me, I thought it logical that they would use a chemical substance, which was toxic to achieve this aim, yes.
MR CILLIERS: Do you agree with me, you have already said that, only a confirmation, that is not the only interpretation of (c) of paragraph 29?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, you could hit him on the head and cause brain damage that way too, theoretically, physically.
MR CILLIERS: Or you could just have detained him until such a stage that because of his age, he would be in a poorer physical condition, isn't that a possibility?
DR VAN RENSBURG: Certainly, if you did not intend to release him, you could wait until he was senile.
MR CILLIERS: All I am putting to you is, there isn't necessary a sinister deduction to be made from paragraph (c), it is a possibility but not a necessity?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I don't agree. This is a very clear guideline that something had to be done positively regarding the intention to release him.
MR CILLIERS: Where do you see the very clear, positive action referred to?
DR VAN RENSBURG: (b) says he has to be released outside the Southern African region.
MR CILLIERS: What does it have to do with a sinister motive?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That means you can't detain him.
MR CILLIERS: All this means is that when you release him, do not release him in South Africa, release him, but release him for example in Europe.
DR VAN RENSBURG: How can you ensure his poor physical health if you don't do something sinister?
MR CILLIERS: Doctor, if he would become so old we know that he was already aged at that stage, if he became so old and he is released in a region outside South Africa, (b) and (c) would be fulfilled. Is that a possibility?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, it was not a possibility?
MR CILLIERS: Why are you saying that?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The political situation of the day dictated that he had to be released shortly. There was no question that he could be detained for another ten years.
MR CILLIERS: But after that, he was detained for another seven years. Your, within a short time, became seven years?
DR VAN RENSBURG: This document was dated 1984, you don't become senile in four years.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, it was only four years from the date of this document.
DR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, four years, not seven years.
CHAIRPERSON: I know the Bible refers to seven years. If you look at paragraph 19, you see of the same document, 19(c) how does that read?
DR VAN RENSBURG: 19(c), do you want me to read it Mr Chairman?
DR VAN RENSBURG: The possibility that his condition of health would decrease to such an extent that by later release, he would only be able to act as leader of the revolutionary onslaught for a limited period of time, is not excluded.
This reads that it is possible that his health situation might deteriorate in the interim if one delays he release, which would mean that he could only possibly act as leader for a short time.
MR CILLIERS: If I could just ask something Dr Van Rensburg, in that context of the paragraph as a whole which the Honourable Chairman has read to you, it is clear that the deterioration of his health was not linked to active action by anybody, it was merely linked to the continued detention with the later release?
DR VAN RENSBURG: It is certainly that his health would deteriorate as he got older, if he was detained later, yes.
MR CILLIERS: The purpose as explained here is clear, if you see this in context, that it was the longer detention and not active conduct by giving him substances or hitting him over the head with a walking stick as you said.
DR VAN RENSBURG: As stated in 19 (c) it does look like that, yes.
MR CILLIERS: So your whole conclusion at 29 is once again an illustration of the deductions that you make without any factual basis?
CHAIRPERSON: Except that he is basing it on a conversation which he says, was made.
MR CILLIERS: With all respect, he concedes that that discussion that he had with Dr Immelman from the document itself, it is clear that these documents had nothing to do with Roodeplaat where Immelman worked.
CHAIRPERSON: Except that you see the sort of inference that can be drawn. Here is a person who is relating something about the health of Mandela having to be, it says no well, he is not going to live long, because you know something has been done to his health.
MR CILLIERS: As a result of his age.
CHAIRPERSON: No, no, no, the conversation that he held, the conversation between him and Immelman, what was the nature of the conversation?
MR CILLIERS: It had nothing to do with his life expectancy, it had something to do with his intellectual abilities and was not linked at all to his life expectancy. That is how I understood the witness.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, now when you take that remark that has been made in that sort of context, you believe it or you don't believe it, but then there is also at this level recommendations and in the nature of those sort of recommendations, recommendations that are made in language that is ambiguous, which says for instance that recommendation on 29(c), he must be you know, in such a relative weak physical condition so that he should not live long.
I understand and I take the point where you say it did not necessarily mean he should, something active must be done to promote that relative weak condition, but does it not say - does it say it also could not have meant that something active must be done?
MR CILLIERS: If one reads this in isolation, it could have meant that. We do not have the document, we did not have it before this, but if one looks at the contents, specifically at the paragraph that you referred to yourself, paragraph 19, then it excludes the possibility of active action because paragraph 19 says that one of the options are detain him longer, this will result in the fact that his health deteriorates as a result of age.
By the recommendation one must see that recommendation as the choice of option five, the continued detention to release him at a later age. So as Dr Van Rensburg said, it then seems as if it refers to age and not active behaviour or conduct, and that is the only point that I am making.
I must however concede that to some extent with his evidence, that this document has nothing to do with the whole project which he was involved, or the greater Coast project, that this is actually outside the context of the relevant investigation. But it was my feeling that the situation had to be rectified, that one could not just make such light-hearted recommendations without having studied the document.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
MR CILLIERS: I have no further questions.
ADV POTGIETER: Dr Van Rensburg, you indicated that at about this time, there was a ground swell, there was considerable pressure for the release of President Mandela?
DR VAN RENSBURG: That is right.
ADV POTGIETER: Now, my recollection is not very clear on this one, but wasn't it so that prior to his release, not too long prior to the release, he had allegedly contracted some or other disease, I think it was diagnosed at tuberculosis or something like that, do you have any recollection along those lines?
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I do not have specific recollections at all, Advocate.
ADV POTGIETER: All right, we might want to pursue that, but I thought you might have some recollection.
DR VAN RENSBURG: No, I do not.
ADV POTGIETER: Well, thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Well Dr Van Rensburg, at last - oh, Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: Just one thing before the witness is excused, not a question to the witness Mr Chairperson, but to record that the allegations relating to President Mandela and his treatment or assaults upon his person in which ever form, is from a State Security Council minute, dated March 1986, for the record, that it is from the State Security Council minutes.
MR VALLY: Thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: I thought that I had made that fairly clear. Thank you Mr Vally.
Mr Van Rensburg, you are excused.
DR VAN RENSBURG: Thank you.
MR POLSEN: Mr Chairman, sorry, just before you excuse the witness, I would like to let the record show that the witness was given a document that he had not had the opportunity of reading the document, and that there was then a debate which followed on his interpretation of this document, without his having had sufficient time to really study the full import of the entire section.
Just for his protection, before you excuse him, thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, that is well accepted Mr Polsen. If we could then now finally release you Dr Van Rensburg.
CHAIRPERSON: I believe you are calling Dr Wynand Swanepoel.
MR VALLY: That is correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Before anything happens maybe we need to swear Dr Mijburgh in. Advocate Potgieter.
ADV POTGIETER: Dr Mijburgh will you stand please. Please switch on the microphone. Your full names please?
PHILIP MIJBURGH: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Dr Mijburgh. May I formally welcome you to these proceedings.
May I just again state some ground rules for those who were not here.
One of them is the newspaper. People who are wanting to read newspapers are entitled to do so but outside this room.
The cellphones please, starting with the Commissioners if you can switch your cellphones unless you have got a noiseless cellphone but the idea is that you should not have cellphones switched on. Mr Vally what is the position?
MR VALLY: Mr Chairperson the position is as follows; I have indicated to my learned friend we were waiting because there was a case that I referred my learned friend to. I have mentioned this in the past to him and I just gave him a copy of it; FERRIERA v LEVINE.
The position is this that as regards Dr Mijburgh, we telephoned Advocate Torry Pretorius from the Attorney General's office to determine whether he is going to be charged. We had a rather vague response in that we were told at some future date he may be charged. But strictly for the purposes of facilitating these matters and strictly for the purposes of speeding up this hearing I have suggested to my learned friend that he argue the issue of whether Dr Mijburgh and Dr Wouter Basson should be compelled to give evidence before this hearing jointly. Thereafter if there is agreement by the Chairperson we will take another witness so that I can research the points raised by my learned colleague and after that witness has given his evidence give our response thereto. That is my suggestion to the panel.
CHAIRPERSON: If you could bear with us? Mr Cilliers what is your attitude to the proposal by Mr Vally?
MR CILLIERS: My suggestion Mr Chairman is that we either do it in a global sense otherwise you will have a disjointed argument in the end. It will partly an argument from my side and then Mr Vally can come back after he has done the research and then I am going to advise you regarding the legal position after his argument. This is going to make it very difficult for you as a panel. I have suggested to Mr Vally that the next witness, I do not know whether there was a big problem for the presentation to distinguish between Dr Swanepoel and Mijburgh and my suggestion is that Dr Swanepoel should be called. He is going to give evidence as he has been subpoenaed for. And I am prepared to provide my argument and even my notes to Mr Vally on which my argument is based. So that he knows what he can expect, what my argument will be. I do not want to take him unawares. Last week I informed him regarding this type of application. I have also referred the authority I am basing this on. I have already given that to Mr Vally. The evidence of this Dr Swanepoel should be handled in that way and then Mr Vally will be in a position to argue in the correct order and one after the other. So that you will be in the right position to evaluate.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally may I just get a sense from you how long do you think you are going to need to research what you need to research? He says he is going to give you everything ready in written form that he is going to be relying upon for bringing the application. I was just thinking that I do not know how long you are going to take. Whether you could not be excused whilst you go and do the research and Mr Chaskalson continues to do what can be done in the meantime. I would also like the situation, my preference would be the applicant makes his application you answer and then there is a reply and then we are given an opportunity to reflect on the application and we give a ruling.
MR VALLY: If that is the preference of the panel and especially if my learned friend gives me his written heads for want of another phrase then that would be fine. It should not take me longer than the time it will take to lead the next witness or question the next witness.
CHAIRPERSON: Are you therefore saying we should stand this witness down, call the next evidence?
MR VALLY: Sure if I am assured that there is not anything new that is going to be raised when I come back which will necessitate another postponement. If my learned friend is giving me the heads right now which covers all the aspects he wishes to raise I have no problems then.
CHAIRPERSON: Was that your proposal Mr Cilliers?
MR CILLIERS: Yes I do not have written heads. The situation just occurred this morning. I have made certain notes regarding the main points of my argument giving reference to various authorities I am going to base my argument on. I am willing to give it to Mr Vally. I do not intend Mr Chairman to argue anything which will catch him unawares because the result will be is that this matter stand over for half hour so we can research that. Because I do not want to place him in an awkward position. I will give him everything before hand.
CHAIRPERSON: If I understand you well you are not necessarily indicating to Mr Vally the basis on which your application is going to be brought. You will indicate to him the authorities you are going to rely on.
MR CILLIERS: The total bases together with the authority.
ADV POTGIETER: Mr Cilliers what are you going to ask us? What do you want us - which application are you bringing in regarding this witness?
MR CILLIERS: The basis?
ADV POTGIETER: No I do not want to know what the basis is. What are you asking for?
MR CILLIERS: The application is that the proceedings should be suspended until the criminal proceedings have been taken into consideration. The legal position is there is a distinction between the South African law and the Canadian law. And the Canadian and European law where total procedures could be suspended and the choice which a person then has to testify is not a proper choice. Because of the prejudice during a criminal court case. The South African law follows a stricter approach because the choice to give evidence even if it is a difficult choice is still a choice. Here is now a case of statutory force and the proceeding regarding the interrogation of the witness taking into consideration his right to keep silent would not be impeded.
ADV POTGIETER: This is what you are going to submit to us? What you are saying is the decision regarding this witness and Dr Basson is the same. You are going to address us in the same respect.
MR CILLIERS: There is a difference. Mr Vally has agreed in a certain respect and the application seemed to be the same. The legal assistance I am going to ask for will be the same. The basis for the argument will be different. But what I am going to ask you will be different.
ADV POTGIETER: And you are ready to argue?
MR CILLIERS: I have received a decision from Mr Vally the library has provided various documents to me. I would like 10 minutes to peruse those. This will be a sensible. The proposal from the Chairman that we continue with Dr Swanepoel's evidence then I will be in a better position to present my case.
ADV POTGIETER: I am convinced thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Now is it possible when you bring the application also on behalf this Dr Basson for him to be present? I believe he is in Cape Town.
MR CILLIERS: Unfortunately it would not be possible to have him here within the very short time. He is in Cape Town and we can have him here but it might take an hour or so to have him in fact here.
CHAIRPERSON: No what I was thinking is that if you are inclined to follow your process as suggested by both you and Mr Vally we have tea for instance now and we should be coming back at eleven. And at eleven we would then take Dr Swanepoel and that should provide sufficient time getting through the evidence of Dr Swanepoel for all those arrangements to be made for Dr Basson to be here. Will that be?
MR CILLIERS: I think all the arrangements will be made within that time then available yes.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally how does that strike you?
MR VALLY: That seems to an eminently suitable arrangement Mr Chair.
CHAIRPERSON: Shall we then adjourn for tea until eleven and at eleven we will take the evidence of Mr Swanepoel.