DR ORR: Thank you Piet, I must say I'm always encouragedwhen Truth Commission Hearings or submissions end with the wayforward, because too often we hear stories of horror pain andsuffering and we leave the room without really thinking aboutwhat to do with that pain.
I just want to raise a few issues here which I hope will stimulatefurther discussion and we're not going to spend too much timeon it because I know we're all if not physically, certainly emotionallyvery tired.
I think without a doubt the South African Medical Services offerthe best physically rehabilitative programmes on the continentof Africa and I don't think anyone would argue with that. Myconcern is the psychological rehabilitation. We have had so manypeople come to us to say, who have PTSD saying, I thought I wasalone I thought I was the only person who had these symptoms. When that person said that it was the first time I heard thatsomeone else shared the same symptoms. I didn't know that anythingcould be done. I have a quote here from an army doctor sayingI was told on making the diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorderthat no such condition existed and that punishment for malingeringwas appropriate.
It's very easy to recognise physical disability it's overt, whereaspsychological disability is hidden and it's kind of unacceptable,you know real men don't cry, so PTSD is an issue which needs tobe brought to the forefront, which Ian has made some suggestionsabout how to make people aware of it.
How do we do that, how do we make PTSD something which is okayto have? How do we set up treatment centers which will returnpeople to society who have been struggling for so long with symptomswhich have removed them from functioning in society? That isa challenge which, as I said before, is not only for the Truthand Reconciliation Commission it's certainly one which we willconsider in our final report, but it's a challenge for civil societyand it's particularly a challenge for the SADF. It's a challengeas well for those who served in the SADF in MK, in APLA in PLANas to, not what can we do for you but what can we facilitate thatyou do for yourselves.
One other issue that I want to emphasise is that while in TruthCommission Hearings we've been hearing from victims within SouthAfrica. A lot of the testimonies that we've heard to-day hasrevealed that their are victims in other Southern African countries,and what are we going to do for those victims who are after allthe victims of violence which our state sanctioned? Another challenge,another question and I hope it's something that we can all putour minds to. I now open the discussion to the floor.
MRS M GRAY: Hello, my name is Maggie Gray. I've beenliving outside this country for about twenty five years most ofthis time in Sweden where I have had the privilege, amongst otherthings, of becoming a friend of Marius van Niekerk and in factworking with him on the editing of a book that he's written calledBehind the lines of the Mind. He's also made a very interestingfilm. Now he's had extreme difficulty in getting the book publishedin South Africa, everyone who has read it says fascinating butnot really our thing. There is some money available in Swedento help with the publication and I think it's very important infact that this book is published and that it should be publishednow. It's ready to be published it can be given for final editingto-day or to-morrow.
The other thing is I really do believe that, I appeal to theSouth African television authorities that you take a look at Marius'sfilm and try showing it. It's mainly Marius's experience as interpretedby another South African who is an actor. It's what they calldrama documentation which is difficult to show because it's neitherdrama nor documentary, but I think that this is actually a formof film which allows people to get a much more real experience,people who can't be in on a session like this were we are a verysmall audience to-day, who have had the privilege of sharing oftenvery, very painful recollections with very brave men, but a filmlike this does allow a wider audience to get some of the experiencewe've had to-day. So I would really recommend that this filmis broadcast here and the book is published.
DR ORR: Thank you, Reverend du Plooy? Sorry, can youjust use the microphone because this is being taped.
REV DU PLOOY: Just one short remark. Apart from thathas been physically done and that we've heard now, we've heardanother side of the story to-day and that's since Professor Seegersthis morning and what I said is there's a whole community outthere, there's a lot of churches out there all the churches outthere who sanctioned this whole situation which eventually endedup with the products we have now. So in some way or other wewill have to get that community and the churches involved againto also return their possibilities to help with this repair programme.
DR ORR: I certainly think the church is an incrediblyimportant sector to have involved and I think Ian did raise that,but you're right, they sanctioned participation in the violenceand now it is their duty along with the rest of the society toheal that. That which was injured and wounded.
MR C SEBE: Hello, my name is Chimano Sebe. I've beenlistening to all these stories and it's not the first time butit's my first time coming to a place like this, the TRC. I normallylisten on the radio but I've been here to-day. I've been reallystricken by some of the stories which were told and what peoplehave been experiencing, and which, I as a citizen who has actuallybeen fought against without knowing about it and how they didit, but the people themselves who have been doing those thingsare revealing their stories to-day, and I'm an actor myself andI believe that a drama is also one of the very good ways of healingpeople. I know it from myself because I also like to learn theskills of drama to know who I am first before I could really understandthe tool I'm going to use in order to face the public. And Ifound for instance that the guy who was sitting there John, Iwas actually happy that someone like him came and stood here andsaid what he said and what he did which is very painful and whichis not very easy to say. What I actually want to say is becauseof the solutions you are trying to find is that we have to actuallytry to rehabilitate our society. Our society is a society whichhas been affected in many ways and some of the ways are not actuallyphysical or some of the ways were not maybe directly made by theguns or the police or whatever, some of them were just politicalthings which people, they ate them and they were breast fed themand they stayed with them in the blood and this is actually whatwe see to-day in South Africa, that the society of South Africais a very violent society. I would say that we are very mentallydisturbed people.
I myself may be speaking as if I'm a normal person but I findmyself not normal when it comes to other things because I alsoleft the country and I was not a member of any organisation althoughI supported any organisation that fought for the liberation ofany people. Not particularly South Africa but it could be inthe whole world and this I felt and decided to leave the country. I left the country because I wanted to further my acting careerbecause in the country it wasn't possible. In the country beingBlack I could only be a Black actor in Soweto and work with Blackactors in the township which was just too limited for me I foundit incomplete because the world is not Black, and of course inour plays that we did we were sometimes like political plays whichwere actually violent. They call them protest plays. I wouldn'tsay they were protest plays, I would say they were plays wereactually talking about our lives.
Aand I think in the country to-day we need to use as much aspossible things that can educate the people freely, not that theyhave to pay for it, they don't have to pay for it. Actually thisSouth Africa should be a place whereby we should know these thingsthat have been happening all the time and people should be educatedlike the man that said the church was used in order to sanctionwhat the State was actually perpetrating. The churches shouldalso be used to again not maybe necessarily to make people goto heaven because we are living on earth I mean our lifestyleon earth and not in heaven. We should concentrate on these thingsthat are wrong here on earth first and help people to get outof these problems.
For instance as an actor to-day I have a feeling that the dramasystem, the acting system in South Africa is going down the drainand I find it very sad that it really goes down the drain whenit is so necessary, that it should be picked up again and be usedthe same way as it was used in order to protest, in order to informpeople about the struggle of South Africa. When it goes downI get sad and I don't understand why the Government can't supportit so that it can again speak up in order to help people. I believetheatre is like a church for me. I believe the theatre is veryeffective in order to make people change themselves. I don'tknow whether they would change themselves but I think it's thebest way to inform people like it did in order to inform peopleof foreign countries European countries, plays like Egoli, playslike Sarafina, plays like Survivor, plays like Wosa Aved(?) andso on and so on and people got informed outside and I think it'stime again that those things should be supported by the Government. I speak like this because I feel that the Government is neglectingdrama.
DR ORR: I want to say thank you for coming here to listento the stories of people who I'm sure you have viewed in the pastas your enemies, and I hope that perhaps your perspective on thoseenemies has changed a little bit through what you have heard.
I also believe that drama and creative ways of addressing issuedhave a tremendous role to play and unfortunately the TRC has nomandate with the Department of Arts and Culture but perhaps thereare ways in which together we can come up with ideas in whichdrama is used to help people learn about PTSD in the same wayas it has been used successfully and less successfully by theDepartment of Health in informing people about various illnesses.
REV DU PLOOY: I would just like to support Chimano inthat as well because what we are doing now is using drama forthings like affirmative action and for change management andit's working very well. But Chimano it's not something that werely on the Government for, it's a more specific thing and it'susually funded by the specific instance where it's needed andthat is something that is now proving successful. We've beenat it for about two years and it is beginning to become somethingvery worth looking at and perhaps in this issue it can also beused like that.
DR ORR: We have time for two more comments from the floor,one from the gentleman who's already nominated himself and thentwo more, one at the back and one at the front and then we'llclose.
MR J CASTELLO: My name is James Castello I have two thingsto say. First of all I also left the country to pursue strangeenough an acting career, and I realised upon frequent visits toso-called developed countries that something in me needed to comeback, kept needing to come back and eventually gravitating towardsCape Town I have now basically come to the point of saying thatperhaps it's time if this makes it onto TV that people shouldstop leaving and should actually start coming back because thereis so much to do here, whether it's through drama or whether it'sthrough support, whether it's through caring for people or justactually being part of the whole process.
This leads me to the second thing I have to say was up untilthis point I thought the Commission was a wonderful waste of moneyand a fabulous waste of time until I walked in here this morningI had absolutely no idea of actually what went on. I've had friendsfrom overseas who have been studying the TRC ,specifically fromHolland and from the States and I knew there was a programme onevery Sunday but I haven't watched it you know that peculiar SouthAfrican, yes well it's happening but lets not pay too much attentionbecause then we might get caught up, but I think if anybody iswatching us or listening to it, get people to watch it to experiencewhat's going on.
And also I want to say that my heart goes out to all of you forwhat you must be going through repeatedly every single day. Itmust be incredibly emotionally draining and very spiritually downliftingbut also a period of growth and I'd just like to say that I willbe praying for you and I think you're doing a really wonderfuljob.
DR ORR: Thank you very much. I am sure the Minister ofFinance will be pleased to hear that he's not wasting his money. Ian and then Tim at the back.
MR LIEBENBERG: Thanks Wendy, it's a last quote that Iforgot to give and I think it links onto something I feel quiteseriously about I said at the end of it but then I was into thepracticalities of how do we look at civil military relations.
"I dedicate this submission to brave people who in ordernot to relive past pain and experiences and to live life to it'sfullest and most meaningful of which I know at least one and thatone excludes me obviously. I've chosen not submit evidence beforethe Commission maybe their choice to cope with life after painand to take part in reconstructing a humane society is a realllyheroic one."
It makes me think about something that Rocky Williams mentionedfrom the Defence Secretariat when we were discussing the issuesof society trying to transform itself from authoritarianism tohuman democracy and that is,
"We should not forget those people that in a way haven'tbeen immediately or directly touched by the process but in a secondaryway have been touched by the history and in a way have alreadymade peace with that and try to live a meaningful life."
What I'm saying here is maybe one should not forget that there'sa lot of walking wounded out there and they're not necessarilythe veterans, and they're not necessarily people who have livedthrough the immediate and direct side of killing, but those peopleare also part of the broader nation and the nation of citizensand in a way if the TRC can take those people along and not necessarilyimmediately in this process but in how we deal with the reportand afterwards how those reports go to the people in the streetthen we have achieved a lot. That apart from the practical thingsthat I think a report like ours like the South African TRC isin a much better position to supply practical suggestions on dealingwith not only being able to recall the memory but also preventinga similar experience. I think we're in a stronger position thanArgentina or Chile in terms of our experience in what we can offerthe South Africans in the future.
DR ORR: Thanks, Tim?
MR LEDGERWOOD: Hi, somebody's been through all of this. I think the thing that gives me the most hope this afternoonis hearing that the SANDF and another civilian group want to startgetting veterans together. My own healing started long beforeI came to the TRC when I climbed onto the Internet and found somebodywho is a Vietnam veteran counsellor and one of the things I learntthrough him is that it is critically important to get veteranstalking to each other, and it's because of this feeling of alienationand dissonance this feeling - I mean people often say to me whatdo you feel about it and for me it's, no I didn't feel it somebodyelse felt it, and I understand that this is very common and whenyou can talk to other people who have been through those feelingsyour healing can start. And I think that in purely practicalterms that the healing of veterans is up to the veterans themselves. It is up to people like the SANDF who now include people fromAPLA, Plan, MK. We can start talking to each other and I thinkthat these two final presentations here to-day have given me themost hope of all. There are other people out there who feel likeI do and we can talk to them.
DR ORR: Thank you. Keith has indicated that Mrs MaryBurton would like to make a comment and as she is a fellow CommissionerI will allow her that indulgence.
MRS BURTON: Thank you. I'm sorry to trade on my positionto get an extra privilege. It's been a very rich and remarkableday full of all sorts of insights and we've learnt an enormousamount. I'd like say how grateful I think the whole Commissionshould be for those who put so much time and energy into organisingto-day. But I do think there's a voice which is missing, andI know it's not for want of trying on the part of those who haveorganised to-day and that it the voice of the, according to ProfessorSeegers' figures must be something like maybe half a million ofpeople who actually served as conscripts in the old SADF and manyof those people have not come to a position such as the view thatwe have heard to-day from most people. We heard from people whowere apposed to conscription from the beginning or who throughtheir experiences were brought face to face with things that changedtheir minds, but there are many, many citizens of South Africawho did their military service and who still view themselves ashaving fought a good fight, as having upheld the safety of theState, as having opposed communism in a broad sense and who arestill part of our country and who have to be taken into accountas we move into a process of reconciliation and unity. Theirviews also need to be part of the whole stream of coming together. And when we talk about where we go forward we have to be knowledgeableof that view as well.
So perhaps as part of the broad reconciliation challenge thatlies ahead of this country over many, many years is the bringingtogether of all the veterans and that is a very big task, notone that this Commission can handle by itself, but one which hasto be faced in building national unity.
DR ORR: Thank you Mary that contribution was certainlyworth allowing you the indulgence for, it's one which I thinkperhaps we tend to forget. There are very, very, very many menwho have been taught how to be violent and how to kill who viewthat as a normal part of life and they need to be part of thishealing process as well.
Before I hand over to Piet who is going to close to-day's sessionI think I just want to say that I view to-day very much as thefirst step in a very long journey and a process, but I think whatwe have achieved to-day is bringing together a number of peoplewho really care about the issues, who really care about thoseveterans, who are suffering both physically and from PTSD, whocare about the people who have become disillusioned and I challengeall of you who have been here to-day to maintain contact witheach other and to pursue the ideas which Ian is presenting inthe form of the South African Veterans Association however itplays itself out and inasmuch as the Truth and ReconciliationCommission can assist in facilitating, advising and training,we will do so, but don't please don't look to us to be the finalsolution because we cannot be, but certainly our expertise interms of training and facilitation and just bouncing ideas aroundis available to you.
PROF MEIRING: About half the commands in the SADF weregiven in English and about fifty percent of the commands weregiven in Afrikaans. I think it's fitting that the concludingremarks should be in Afrikaans. I won't use half the time.
I think it's important that we should just draw together a coupleof points and it also gives the interpreters a chance to showthat they are still awake and gives you the chance to put yourearphones on and you can listen to the interpretation. I thinkit's important that we just pull these various thoughts togetherthat we were busy with to-day.
Yesterday in the media concern was expressed about to-day's hearingthat it would be a one-sided hearing, that the old defence forcesname would be muddied in the process in the putting forward ofonly one view. That was not the idea of to-day's hearing. Thediscussion about the defence force and the defence force as awhole and all those things, that is a discussion which can stillbe held but to-day the focus was on people in the defence force.
We started listening at the stories of Professor Seegers and Mr Gagiano who told us how various people were affected by thedefence force and it is so that many people to-day spoke of thepain and suffering that the defence force caused them, but asMary Burton also said, the fact is that there were many peoplethat were entirely happy with the defence force and it's conductand that the defence force ideals were also theirs. But the focusto-day fell on those people who were not happy with the DefenceForce and experienced grave problems with the defence force andwhat it stood for and it depicted the dilemmas of those peoplewho felt that they didn't fit into that structure, there was apossibility of passive resistance which Professor Johan Hattinghtold us about, there was the possibility of Tim Ledgerwood whosimply disappeared. I don't know what AWOL is in Afrikaans buthe simply disappeared, and there was the possibility of exilewhich Doctor Nathan sketched for us.
But then there was also the problem that many young men had tograpple with and which many Afrikaans and English families hadto grapple with and that was the issue of conscientious objection,of saying I'm not going to play along with this. It was a veryimportant and interesting distinction made between those two streamsof conscientious objectors.
Firstly, there was the religious perspective which was put, peoplefrom religious motivation objected and said I can't carry a gunand later on it had a more political connotation people who saidthat I cannot serve in this defence force and I cannot protectand defend this political dispensation. What really moved mepersonally as at many of these Truth and Reconciliation Hearingsis the fact that we once again sat with photo albums on our lapsto-day and we simply paged through and saw photographs and picturesof different people, different situations and what incrediblephotographs we saw in those albums, photographs about the lifeof a conscript as Craig Botha told us about; and Ian Liebenbergand Johan Hattingh; the terrifying picture which John Deegan toldus about Koevoet and Oshakati the pictures which he pasted intoour album. There was my classmate, Neels du Plooy, who showedus the photograph of a military chaplain, and of many chaplainswho struggled and grappled with many issues.
We also saw photographs of what conscription and refusal to doconscription did to people. We talked a lot about post traumaticstress disorder and the last word has not yet been spoken aboutthat. I hope that you will find it hopeful that the R and R Committeewill consider many of these proposals about dealing with thissyndrome and disorder.
So we had one after the other revelations and stories and I thinkwhat moved me the most was John Deegan's story; and there wasalso the story of Ivan Toms and Richard Steele. I think the picturethat I will take home with me is the one of Ivan Toms in his tracksuitbecause he refused to wear a uniform and the young chaplain, JohanMarais who arrived in his defence force uniform and a simple mealof bread and water changed into Holy Communion which they sharedin a cell.
It seems to me as if to-day was also a healing experience ina certain sense for those who attended here. That has been ourexperience at the Truth Commission Hearings that even though themajor political forces can say what they like about the TruthCommission for those people who really matter, for the victimsit is largely a healing experience and it was nice to hear thatfrom Tim and it was nice to hear that from John. He verbalisedsomething to that effect that he came and revealed the truth andshared the shocking truth of the past with the people here.
I think Wendy also gave us a very important little glimpse anda little memory of something that up to now the Truth Commissionhas only heard stories of victims within South Africa, but there'sa large number of victims in Namibia and Angola and other partsof the world and their stories must also be considered and takenseriously. Their suffering has not yet stopped. If one thinksof landmines still under the earth and it often hurts the peoplewho deserve it the least children, women, old people etc.
We concluded by saying to each other that we have many lessonsto learn. It was interesting that this morning we spoke in asort of academic vein about lessons to be learnt, about people'scritical perceptions which had to be fostered, that we shouldalso be very critical of Government etc., but fortunately we finallygot to the point, as practically illustrated by our last two speakers,that there are many practical things which can be done. Thankyou very much for your input.
I would like to support your call that people in the servicemust make use of the services available, and perhaps I shouldconclude by saying that the ultimate responsibility is rests onall of us.
The Truth Commission moves from one phase to another in the lastcouple of months. Most of the work of the Truth Commission wasin revealing the truth which is often a very painful truth andfor the next couple of months the emphasis will have to fall onreconciliation and all the programmes in that context, how tofoster reconciliation amongst all the people in this country andfor that reason we need the commitment of all the people in SouthAfrica.
May I say this, as a White South African, something which reallyworries me is the absence of so many White people at the TruthCommission's Hearings. To-day it was different, to-day we hadmany White faces present here because what we were doing hereto-day was talking about the experiences of White families, Afrikaansand English-speaking White families, but at most of these TRChearings we often saw the very sad absence of White faces andthat is really, really a very sorry state of affairs. We oweit to the country and to the future to be courageous enough toturn the pages of our photograph albums and looking of the photographsof the past so that we can build a better country in the future.
Tim moved us all with his last quote and I'll read it again. My children are very fond of Shinad O'Conner and I think manypeople in this country listen to her music and let us rememberwhat she said:
"If there ever is going to be healing there has to be remembranceand then grieving, so that there can be forgiving there has tobe knowledge and understanding."
I think to-day made some contribution in this direction, thankyou very much for your presence.
CHAIRPERSON: Our memory is part of our identity and Ithink that when our memory brings into our consciousness the horribleaspects of our past then we struggle with that identity. I thinkone of the challenges is how to get people to be reconciled withtheir identity to stop the spiral of denial that's going on.
It remains for me now to thank everyone for coming to this specialsubmission. We thank especially people who were presenters whoreally made this work.
Thank you John Deegers in the corner there Deegan sorry, I'mthinking about Annette Seegers, thank you John very much for beingpresent. You were going to be presented as anonymous and youwere going to be summarised, so thank you very much, we reallyare privileged that you could come.
Thank you Tim Ledgerwood at the back there we really appreciateyour contribution, and Johan Hattingh and Annette Seegers we reallyappreciate, Ian Liebenberg I like the way you pronounce LiebenbergI can't really perfect it, but I try. Thank you very much againbecause there was another surprise appearance from Roger Fieldwho wasn't going to appear but he was here. Thank you very much Roger. Richard we've spoken on the phone and come to know youthrough reading about you in the past and I'm glad to put a faceto the name and welcome to your family as well, thank you.
Neels du Plooy thank you very much again and to the gentlemanin front here Lieutenant Botha and Ian Bruce, are you relatedto David Bruce?
MR BRUCE: No ... (indistinct)
CHAIRPERSON: David was a conscientious objector, hisname was mentioned earlier and he has in fact made a submissionto the Truth ommission.
Just a few people who are part of the Commission and whom I didnot mention at the start of our proceedings. The security peopleare always in the background and we often forget about them, CaptainLourens, Gary Burke and the fellow police officers who are assistingthem.
Also among our ushers we had our own Regional Manager, Ruth Lewinwho assisted in receiving some of our important guests this morning,thank you very much. Molly Martin assisted Ruth Lewin and OdelePearce who always helps with receiving the media.
There's a number of people who assisted with the Admin work mostimportantly I'll mention someone who's really played the roleof consulting researcher in the Commission Sheila Roquiette. Sheila has been very generous with her time in allowing us tojust make all sorts of requests from her, and she's assisted usimmensely in getting some of the statements that we have now.
Linda van Deemen who assisted as secretarial help and other peoplewho assisted with Admin work. Pumla Yeki, Aluia Allie, LilianMafujane, Cynthia van Eck who does interpretations or translationsfor some of the difficult Afrikaans texts that we receive.
The people who were responsible for catering Kaya Kango, PaulineDaumen and Georgina van Sensie we really appreciate your helpout there. Lilian Matsipe, Stanley Stoffels, Derek Roberts, Gailvan Breda, Delmarie Jonas also helped with the photocopying ofmany of the documents that we received.
Ngosa Gobodo, Ismail Abrahams who was part of the supportingstaff in the driving section.
We really appreciate everyone coming. The most important peopleto mention are the media department within our own Commissionwe have Christelle Terblanche who runs around tirelessly in organisingthe media coverage of our work. We really take our hats off to the media for producing reels and reels of data that have comeout from the Commission. We are really very appreciative thatit has helped our country understand more clearly what happenedin the past.
Wendy has just mentioned the researchers, they were mentionedat the opening of the events and to save time I won't mentionthem again.
Thank you Mary, Mrs Burton, Mary Burton who's sitting at theback there for really being here with us although you're not onthe panel we really appreciate that you've been present with us. And thank you Mr Ntsebeza, Dumisa Ntsebeza who in his busy schedulehas found time to sit in here at the back and be supportive. And a really big thank you to all of you who have responded toour invitation to come to these meetings and make them a realityand sharing the experience of the telling of our history, we reallyappreciate your giving the time that you've given to these projects,and I hope that we will continue even after the Commission's lifehas ended. Thank you very much.
Thank you finally to Wendy for her support, quiet support inencouraging us to continue with these projects. The then quitea number of work that has been put in this, a lot of debates anddiscussions and Wendy has been a wonderful supporting voice andthank you very much Wendy.
And Piet you always respond so positively to our requests youjust come and help, thank you very much Piet for being here andthank you.