DATE: 12-06-1997






MS MKHIZE: I will ask the representative of the Junior Rapportryers to come forward please. Gentlemen, welcome. Well, it has been a long day, we have been told you have left, you are back, you have left, you are back, we are pleased to have you at this late hour.

I will just ask you to call out your name and I would ask Wynand Malan will assist you in taking the oath and in talking to your submission. Welcome.

MR MALAN: Good afternoon gentlemen, according to the submission here and I also saw you earlier in the day, we have Mr Chris van Eeden, he is the current President of the Junior Rapportryers, Jannie du Plessis at his left side and he is the Council responsible for projects and Mr Christo Uys and he is the Council member responsible for certain issues.

This is a submission, but I do think that it is important that you do it under oath.

CHRIS VAN EEDEN: (sworn states)

JANNIE DU PLESSIS: (sworn states)

CHRISTO UYS: (sworn states)

MR MALAN: Thank you so much, and you may be seated. We did get a summary from you, not a complete report. It will be made available to us. Mr Van Eeden you can arrange the order and I think the three of you will participate. If you can keep it short, we will appreciate that and that we will rather have a discussion with you, but we don't want to start with a discussion without a background and you come to us to discuss with us the perspective of the young Afrikaner, most possibly the young Afrikaner man as seen in the whole movement and we are open to listen to that. As with other submissions, we also realise and we accept that it represents a specific perspective and not the whole truth, but your truth as you see it. And against that background can you please discuss it with us.

MR VAN EEDEN: Mr Malan, thank you very much. I want to emphasize that we don't want to say that we talk on behalf of the Afrikaner youth, but we do this submission so that we hope that it can in fact lead to reconciliation and that people will in fact have greater understanding of each other and all South Africans and Afrikaners aren't perhaps as happy with the objectivity of the Truth Commission, but perhaps today is a step to put it in a different light.

Your mandate is to establish reconciliation, but the ideal for that reconciliation does not only depend on the fact that we can put the history in perspective, but also how the Afrikaner youth experience things at present and perhaps part of the submission will fall outside of your mandate, but that you will be patient and listen to it so that you can get the whole picture.

I will ask Christo Uys to continue with the first part of the submission.

MR UYS: Mr Malan, today we listened to how the last 20 years affected the youth of South Africa. Young Afrikaners, and we are Junior Rapportryers, we were also affected by the last 20 years and we are wholeheartedly part of South Africa and part of this past history.

If one listens to how Afrikaners over a broad spectrum, how they are pictured, it is often quite difficult for us to make a contribution at forums such as this because we as Afrikaners are proud of the contribution that we have made.

It would perhaps help if we give you a short background. You know, the Afrikaner is not unknown to a freedom struggle. The Afrikaner was most probably one of the first groups on this continent who came up and stood up against colonialism and us young Afrikaners, grew up in this tradition.

And today we could therefore sit here and we could understand this whole struggle of the SDU's. Our forefathers' struggle was against the colonial way of thinking and it was a struggle for the Afrikaner. As the history shows us, they tried to establish freedom for us as youth and they had different strategies.

The history has changed and the Afrikaner is part of a changing process where this freedom is still very important for us. In the past 20 years in the 1970's and 1980's, could our generation do nothing more to stop the growth of Black nationalism or to try and change the history. We were borne in the struggle. The war on the border was in the process and within South Africa there was a freedom struggle.

Today it is seen as a very just struggle, but the affect thereof wasn't always as just and we took part in this. And this was the struggle that we fought in the police and in the army, we did our service and those of us who weren't in the police or did our national service, we prepared ourselves at school and university to play an active role in the economy of South Africa.

Sometimes it is often overlooked and forgotten that we also played a role against the struggle against communism, today it is seen to be ludicrous but we believed that we did play a positive role there.

And in essence, was our struggle against anarchy. Today we listened how anarchy was prevalent in Black communities, how it affected people's lives. There were references made to kangaroo courts, necklacing. This also affected us.

As a national serviceman in the army, I believed and I was sure that I contributed to keep people's lives safe. We also heard a lot of different atrocities that took place and the moment that an Afrikaner says it, it is not believed, but you know that while I was in the army, I didn't talk to people or received commands or instructions that led to the violation of human rights.

At present we cannot deny the existence thereof, but the majority of young Afrikaners such as myself and my friends here, tried to fight a just cause and we won this cause, the struggle. Is this something that could be perhaps contested? No.

The fact that we today have the infrastructure in this country that is the best in Africa, the fact that we have the potential to grow economically, that to me is proof that we succeeded in making a great contribution towards a peaceful transition in South Africa.

You know democracy is a wonderful thing, but you cannot eat it and it doesn't keep you warm in winter. If in South Africa, there was a transfer to a new democracy in South Africa very hastily, we could also have awaken today in Bosnia.

Reconciliation is according to our minds, embedded in respect and therefore must we and we respect the struggle that was referred to in front of the TRC today in evidence, but we also ask that our role should be respected. We also have victims, people who died in the struggle and eventual reconciliation can only come about if these people are also honoured together with the comrades who were honoured by means of a play today.

As young Afrikaners, we are proud of our cultural heritage and we are proud of the role that we play in this country. And we believe that our struggle was imbedded in core values that we learnt in our families and our struggle will come to the fore every time these values are endangered. I now ask Jannie du Plessis to continue with the submission.

MR DU PLESSIS: We as young Afrikaners grew up between two conflicting generations. We are part of arguments that we have no part in, but we do experience the affects thereof and we experience at present that the Afrikaner is being attacked on a negative way and it is not in the interest of reconciliation. We live in an era where the cream of the Afrikaners emigrate to other parts of the country.

There the Afrikaner youth is welcomed and they can actually work there, and live there and they are accepted as people who can actually make a contribution because of their knowledge and talent, but in our own country where we as Afrikaners can make the great difference, there the Afrikaner is discriminated against. We don't get work because of affirmative action. We don't deny in any way that people were prejudiced against in the past, we don't have a problem with the essence of affirmative action, but the aim of affirmative action is that if there are two people with the same qualifications, experience and training, for a specific post, to give the post to the Coloured person, but it doesn't always work in this way and now it has become a system where people are appointed, not because of the fact that they are well suited for the post, but because of the colour of their skin.

So it is not a question of merit and this kind of action leads to unhappiness with colleagues and juniors, but it does not lead to productivity and with new people entering the labour market, there must be equality for the youth of South Africa. The youth of South Africa must be given the opportunity to get work based on merit.

They must have the right of opportunities, quality opportunities, equal opportunities and the question that our youth gets opportunities overseas must be addressed. And Afrikaners are now not promoted. After how many years will this now be put right? Five, ten years?

The TRC will sit there to create reconciliation in South Africa and it is this Commission's duty to place the government's attention to this if there are any legislation where people are discriminated against.

The next thing is the fact that Afrikaans is not recognised. The government and its departments discriminate against Afrikaans. There are 11 official languages in South Africa, but the indigenous languages are in fact diminished in favour of English. All the official documents make use of English. Afrikaans, the third biggest language spoken in South Africa, is ignored and the SABC is one of the big culprits in this whole issue and the Free State legislature changed the name of the Free State to just Free State and using FS on the number plates.

If we look at education, certain Ministers are making ludicrous announcements if one looks at universities and Mr Bengu is here also a big culprit.

And Afrikaans schools have to look at their language policies and this Afrikaans is discriminated against. Even the TRC's whole attitude towards Afrikaans, is also something that is not acceptable, even here today here at the TRC and we find this totally unacceptable.

And then also in the Government and semi-State institutions, it is also unacceptable, so the TRC should be more accommodating towards Afrikaans and also the other languages and also point the Government's attention to this.

Certain politicians make speeches on stages with hate speech such as Winnie Mandela and Peter Mokaba and it is just accepted. They are not repudiated in any way. The whole question is just left there and the Afrikaner must just accept that.

The above is not the only examples, but these are just the most prominent ones. The TRC must listen daily to human rights violations and they should then know what should lead to reconciliation and any group who wants this, should show them on this.

Something very important and that is violations and actions against children. The TRC's subjectivity is also in the news and this does not lead to reconciliation. There is a large part of the population that has a problem with the objectivity of this Commission.

Today there was listened to the atrocities and violations against children. No right minded person would ever arrest children without a reason. Any paedophile or criminal who does this, must be arrested and pay for his deeds.

I support Graca Machel with the viewpoints that she had against using children in a struggle. Today there was only looked at one side of the whole situation and the Junior Rapportryersbeweging also believes and trust that the other side of the story will also be looked at and that is who were the monsters who used children in this political struggle.

There must be determined which groups of people used children to burn down schools, throw stones and then also to do the necklace murders. And in the interest of reconciliation, the TRC must establish this and they must be independent, objective and should not look at different political perspectives, they should also look at the other side with the same interest and enthusiasm.

There is no discrimination if one looks at present, there is discrimination. Expertise fleeing out of this country and also a process to break down the language identity of Afrikaans and this cannot lead to reconciliation.

All of this happens because the Afrikaner is seen, one sidedly, as the culprit. The Government administers the effect of the past with expertise and the TRC can be a useful instrument in this sense. The TRC must guard against it that they do not become an instrument in the hands of the Government to manage the past.

The TRC must therefore be unbiased otherwise it will be a futile exercise that will not lead to reconciliation. There was most definitely atrocities in the past, but it was on both sides. The Junior Rapportryers condemns all atrocities. Atrocities of the individual cannot be the responsibility of the group.

Point out the individual and then also give them amnesty where possible. The Rapportryersbeweging does not have a problem in essence with the TRC, but ask them to be unbiased and objective.

MR MALAN: Would you just switch on the microphone in front of you please.

MR VAN EEDEN: ... for where it goes about reconciliation in the future, to be reconciled so that we can enter the future together, what it is going to look like, depends on the current young generation. They are the people who will be able to succeed where the older generation cannot find it themselves.

We want to go into this venture as co-partners. We don't want more than what we also want other people to have, but we also don't want less. And we believe that current economic achievers should not be drawn down. We are part of this group and can we be allowed to help these people, these disadvantaged people to come up to a high level and this whole issue of striving for yourself and protecting yourself, this is something that must be done without putting another group's ideals in second place.

Every community should have strong principles, moral principles. Afrikaners want to allow other people to differ politically, but we do want to exercise certain principles and the first is our Christian believe, Afrikaans, the Afrikaner culture, the way of life, to be free of discrimination and oppression, self-respect. These are norms that any community can in fact strive for.

And sometimes it may look as if the Afrikaner might be divided if we even look at the wars, the past wars 1898. but we do not place our culture as something more important that other cultures, but if ethnicity is seen as something negative, this diversity must be seen as a catalyst that can make South Africa one of the most dynamic countries in Africa.

In America people refer to Afro-Americans or Irish-Americans and nobody finds that strange, but in South Africa if we refer to Afrikaners, then people think that we place ourselves above others and we want to deny this.

The less time culture groups are going to spend protecting this, the more time they can spend on reconciliation and building South Africa and this is something that is not getting attention from the Government or the Truth Commission.

We worked hard at becoming free, that was already mentioned that we had two wars, Anglo Boer wars. We fought against Queen Elizabeth and oppression and Afrikaners are people from Africa. We are here and we are here to stay as Africa.

But we allow Afrikaners to differ, people to differ politically and I want to conclude - we would like to extend a hand of friendship to all young South Africans, people who live with us in this country and we believe through mutual respect for each other's needs, values, only then can we enter the future.

No plan regardless from wherever can succeed if people sitting across a table from each other, do not trust each other and that trust can only develop when there is mutual interaction. The submission from us for today is part of this interaction. People must know each other and what they represent now and not just look at the past.

We don't want to stand here with our hands open asking for charity. We want to make a contribution to the future and the youth, all the youth, is the only hope for this country on a brighter future.

And we believe through the help of the Holy Ghost that we can achieve this and the main element is love, hope, patience, trust and also containing oneself. If we live our lives according to this, then there cannot be a problem in South Africa. Let us as South Africans enter the future based on respect for our values, our cultures, as partners and very important that we also look at each other's needs and aspirations, thank you.

MR MALAN: Thank you very much gentlemen. I did not interrupt you because as some stage I wanted you to be more brief. In the TRC we come from different parts of the country. In a certain sense I have come through the route that you have come through. I am also in your shoes, one of your predecessors, 23 years earlier, I was also President of this movement, so I listened with empathy with what you had to say.

And my first reaction was to actually to interrupt, but then I decided to stand back. But there are a few questions that I would like to ask. And I don't want to go into defence firstly where you criticize, we have to handle the criticism and not debate this with you, that is not my plan. What I do see is the perspective given by Mr Uys regarding the positive role that the youth played and I think Christo as some stage also said that we now see things that we didn't know then, when you refer to the help to protect lives and now there is evidence of things that you didn't know of.

Is it possible perhaps to elaborate on that? The extent of evidence concerning murders, torturing people, how do you experience it, what is the reaction of the Afrikaner young men in your Organisation?

MR VAN EEDEN: In our Organisation there are a couple of thousand of young men and more than 50 percent of them were National servicemen, the rest were too young and with my work in the JRB, I see most of these people during the year and we talk to each other.

I don't want to blame the TRC, the media is inclined to look at these atrocities, but we always use the same names, the same police and Defence Units, but there is no mention made of the majority of people who were in the police and the Defence Force, that they weren't involved in this.

That they provided a service for the country, because they loved the country as is the case at present and they might do it again.

MR MALAN: Could I just interrupt you here, because I think we've got the message. I refer to the other part, you hear the same names and things but those are things that you didn't hear when you were in the army, that is my question.

MR VAN EEDEN: I can honestly say to you that these kinds of acts, no one can approve of it. You fought with contempt, it makes you furious and angry because that is not what myself and thousands of young Afrikaner men, why we got involved in the struggle.

MR MALAN: Can I take the question a bit further and the answer I know is very difficult for people who look at this whole history from a different perspective to understand that because things happened around us in communities, you heard testimony today, how is it possible that we didn't know anything of it or did anything about it?

Do you have a perspective on that?

MR VAN EEDEN: War as such is a crime against humanity, there are no victors. I had personal knowledge because I saw it, of certain of these actions that took place, I saw the result of bodies being burnt, I had knowledge of that.

I didn't have knowledge of orchestrated efforts of forces that I served to incite such incidents. You could perhaps all three of us in front of you here, we were National servicemen and perhaps they could also share their experience with you.

MR MALAN: You say that you saw bodies that was burnt, what did you think was the reason for that, who burnt it?

MR VAN EEDEN: I didn't have to think of what the reason was, it was quite clear. I did my service in Vaal Triangle and at that stage it was in the midst of the whole issue, in the 1990's and it was Black on Black violence.

That it could have been incited from another force, well we have evidence for that now. But I have personal knowledge of well let's refer to it as violence between ethnic groups, Black ethnic groups in the Vaal Triangle, I saw that.

MR MALAN: You never saw some kind of an orchestrated effort from Government?

MR VAN EEDEN: No, I never experienced it as such and I think the evidence came as a shock.

MR MALAN: I don't want to labour on this point because it moves you from the point of your submission, but I think it is perhaps necessary to just press on this, when you refer to reconciliation that it is based on respect. You said that everybody must be honoured, not just the one side.

With regard to this whole contribution to reform and also people who experienced human rights violations and I think Dr Coleman also referred to a role of honour that he said that all the names should be on that role regardless of who suffered.

I think you might have also been present with that. Would you agree to that, would it make a contribution to this recognition and would you support such a principle?


MR MALAN: Mr Du Plessis gave us a background - it is something that I would describe as problems with the current Government policy, Government policy, the actions of the TRC but one statement was made and I would just like some more perspective on this.

Mr Du Plessis said that no person in his right mind would arrest children without reason. I think I am quoting you correctly, but he also referred to the monsters who used children and used them in the conflict, and pushed them ahead in this conflict.

What I am trying to say to you is that I am only hearing one perspective, in other words us, the old order, the system, who arrested children, detained them without trial and then arrested and charged, but there is an acceptance, I am not saying it is wrong, that it was bona fide.

I don't want to challenge you, but I want to contrast it with the other statement that the children would have been incited on the other side, so the old order, there were only right minded people, but those who stood up against the old order, those were the monsters, that is the contrast that came through in what you said, would you like to comment on that?

MR DU PLESSIS: I feel very strongly about that, that a child's place is not in the midst of a war. He is not there to carry weapons. Any action where children are abused in this process, must be condemned.

If we look at the past, then we see that there were children that were arrested and there were children who were thrown in jails, we cannot justify that, but you cannot also justify that children are abused in a struggle, can you justify that those children were placed in jails?

Both sides of this perspective must be investigated in the same detail.

MR MALAN: Another question, Mr Van Eeden referred to the Afrikaner South African concept, the Afro-Americans was used as an example. If you look at the American situation, looking at the Afro-American or Spanish-Americans, whatever the case might be, doesn't that imply people who came late?

The Americans don't refer to White or indigenous.

MR MALAN: If you look at specific groups yes, but they are all people who came late, later. Doesn't that bother you?

MR VAN EEDEN: Then White Americans are also the latecomers, because they came there after the Indians. It is a problem that people - one have to recognise the diversity. I don't want to be a danger for South Africa, but I want to have the space to exercise my culture, my language without someone looking over my shoulder and saying that you are not allowed to do that, and that is the point that I am trying to make.

The same goes for Zulu's or Tswana's, ethnicity mustn't be a problem.

MR MALAN: Could I just perhaps be a devil's advocate here, my last question. Today you attended the proceedings and I thank you for that.

Do you have criticism perhaps for the fact that Afrikaans was not used? If you look at the way that the Commissioners went about the testimony, the questions they asked, do you feel that there are questions that should have been asked, that they didn't ask? Did you experience bias, prejudice, was it a problem for you experiencing the day?

MR VAN EEDEN: No, the day itself wasn't a problem, it wasn't difficult. I think prejudice and bias perhaps, yes, because the one side of the struggle is seen as more justified than the other side and we try to give our perspective on that in our experience.

On the outside there are people who really don't believe in this process that we are busy with. There must be looked, or what the Afrikaners did are looked at with more passion than other people who also transgressed.

It appears that if you plant a bomb against apartheid, it is not as bad as planting a bomb for apartheid. For our young people coming from matric, crime is a crime. Young Afrikaner coming from matric, if he applies for a bursary or goes for a job, and people say but sorry you have got the wrong skin colour, those are people who have to work in the future, he doesn't really understand the past, because he wasn't there, but he is now paying for it.

And this is what we ask of you today, don't discriminate against people who weren't part of the struggle. This is a person who must build with others a new South Africa and we had a pendulum which started and now perhaps we are on a point of equilibrium, so we cannot now allow a situation that in 20 years you have Afrikaners, a whole generation who feel that they have been discriminated against. We must stop it now and the TRC is the instrument that can do it, and you must really do this out of your own conviction.

And this is what we tried to do with our perspective. MR MALAN: We take note of what you say. I want to thank you for being here, but I would also like to thank you, your Organisation, the cooperation that you have had in getting information in front of us, such as Organisations of Equality before the Rights, and you are one of the few Organisations from the old order who actively cooperated to present us with a perspective that we would not have had and we would like to thank you for that.

MS MKHIZE: To you Mr Van Eeden, Du Plessis and Mr Uys, we just want to thank you very much for coming forward to make a presentation before the Commission.

We've got a summary here before us and you had said you will give us a full document. We will be ready to receive it and as we cut down on these big public hearings, we will be interacting with people who have made submissions which we haven't seen on a small scale in our offices and having intense discussions, thank you.

Are you prepared to give us that document now?


MR MALAN: There is someone with a question next to you.

MS MKHIZE: Thank you very much for coming forward, thank you.

MR VAN EEDEN: Just before we leave, we just want to put this to you. Today we have listened to what Mr Malan said, the JRB is one of the Organisations that assisted you and what we submit to you today is something that we would like you to take up earnestly and look at it because this is something that can have a very negative effect on reconciliation, because if we get to something in a big hall such as this and you can hear all the languages except your own, and this is something we view as very important and we would like to leave this idea with you, thank you.