they are doing their job well and the country has to know what is actually
going on and they are doing that, they are telling the country what is going on
and they are doing it well. Good luck to all of you.
CHAIRPERSON: When is the election!! (Laughter)
MR VLOK: No I am finished. Thank you.
MR VLOK IS EXCUSED
DR BORAINE: Mr Wessels do you wish to take the oath or the affirmation?
MR WESSELS: The affirmation.
LEON WESSELS: (affirms)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
MR WESSELS: Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman we come from
different backgrounds and we come from different launching pads. I have
listened to the witnesses that have appeared before you since yesterday
morning. The document I had prepared I had made available to your staff
yesterday morning because I knew given the evidence that you were about to
receive I would be tempted to change it. I have not changed my document,
this is how I felt yesterday and I stand by my statement and you will just have
to bear with me, I hope, as I present it to you now.
May I further say that I had, listening to Mr Botha and Mr Vlok
yesterday, I had the privilege of working with both of them for three and a
half years, 18 months with Mr Vlok, which was a privilege, two years with Mr
Botha, which was also a privilege and my colleague right next to me and I
have seen many sunsets and many sunrises in battle, and I am pleased to be
associated with him from this position.
I, however, will say what I have to say off my own bat and I don't hold
any of them accountable for what I am saying. I say that for my own account.
I do remember, Mr Chairman, Abraham Tiro. Many years ago I took a
resolution never to forget his tragic death. In life he introduced me to the
realities of South Africa. In his death his memory never allowed me to forget
the tragedies of South Africa.
I remember Mr Chairman the first time we met. You were kind enough
to make mention of an area that we share, those were the days of isolating
Botha in his laager, making this country ungovernable. We are not afraid to
inherit a wasteland. Those were the days of states of emergency, emergency
regulations and the steps taken under those regulations that we thought were
necessary to save life and property. I remember saying to you then, during
that encounter Mr Chairman, that the political climate was such at the time
that many people would not understand the fact that we were even speaking to
each other. To the government and National Party establishment you were a
sanctions activist and a political trouble-maker.
I proudly remember, Sir, that I was appointed to this position, and I
take it it was because of this position that I am here today, by Mr Botha as
Deputy Minister of Law and Order. I think kindly of him and believe that he
deserves credit for major initiatives. Those were the days of the Homburg
hats, I hated that, but I loved my work. I remember Sir, proud soldiers and
policemen now on their knees in front of the Amnesty Committee, I cannot
condone those violent unlawful acts, but nor can I condemn the persons. I
cannot disown them. We were on the same side and fought for the same cause,
namely law and order as we saw it, and also to ensure that this country would
not be made ungovernable. Power was not be wrested from us in a
revolutionary manner. I cannot disown any of those men and women who were
on our side.
I do not believe that individually or collectively I ever took a decision
that cannot stand the test of daylight here today. Every decision was taken
within the ambit of the law as it was known then. The law may be criticised
today and I will certainly agree and concede that that law will not stand the
test of constitutional scrutiny at this juncture. However, that was the law of
I further do not believe that the political defence of I did not know. I
want to delete the WE and I want to delete the US. I said I speak of my own
bat. I further do not believe that the political defence of I did not know is
available to me, because in many respects I believe I did not want to know. I
am afraid I am deleting and amending that sentence to that effect.
In my own way I had my suspicions of things that had caused
discomfort in official circles, but because I did not have the facts to
substantiate my suspicions or I had lacked the courage to shout from the
rooftops, I have to confess that I only whispered in the corridors. That I
believe is the accusation that people may level at many of us. That US is not
deleted. We simply did not, and I did not confront the reports of injustices
head-on. It may be blunt but I have to say it. Since the days of the Biko
tragedy right up to the days of hostel activities, hostel atrocities in the late,
late eighties, as we went up to the record of understanding the National Party
did not have an inquisitive mindset. The National Party did not have an
enquiring mind about these matters. We have to applaud, and we have to give
credit to Mr F W de Klerk for the actions he had taken to appoint the Harms
Commission and to appoint the Goldstone Commission. I simply believe that
it is a pity that there is not a collective political and moral acceptance of
responsibility forthcoming from the quarters from which I emanate.
It became clear from evidence before the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission that even sharply probing judges had been wilfully misled in
many cases by key security forces personnel. Not surprisingly some
individuals had done the same to gullible politicians not excessively keen to
ask pointed questions. Eugene de Kock's recent claim in his amnesty bid I
submit is correct, namely, that any National Party politician or supporter, I
may add, at the time who believed that we held power because of persuasion
and not through coercion was out of touch of reality to put it mildly.
With the benefit of hindsight I now believe that we had failed the
security forces because we did not offer this country a viable constitutional
vision to end the conflict. And secondly, that the relationship between the
security forces and the National Party politicians, as a collective, in general,
was not an open transparent one, and therefore we did not manage the security
forces Intelligence services properly. If we had managed them properly you
would not have had to listen to evidence on the one hand they, believing that
they acted with authority, us telling you that we did not grant the authority
which they believed that they had had. But that has been the subject of a long
debate and will continue to be debated in front of your Commission.
The observation made by the Commonwealth group of Eminent Persons
in their report on page 65 dated the 7th of June 1986, I repeat
June 1986, I submit is correct. "We are left with the impression
of a divided government, yet even the more enlightened
Ministers whom we met seemed to be out of touch with the
mood in the black townships. The rising tide of anger and
impatience within them and the extent of black mobilisation and
so of course are the great generality of white South Africans,
only some ten percent of whom we were told have ever seen
conditions in a township. Put in the simple way the blacks have
had enough of apartheid. They are no longer prepared to submit
to its oppression, discrimination and exploitation.
They can no longer stomach being treated as aliens in their own
country. They have confidence, not merely in the justice of
their cause but in the inevitability of their victory.
Unlike the earlier periods of unrest and government attempts to
stamp out protests there has been during the last 18 months no
outflow of black refugees from South Africa. The strength of
black convictions is now matched by a readiness to die for those
convictions. They will therefore sustain their struggle whatever
the cost. The campaign against collaborators and the ruthless
elimination of agents of white authority will continue. More
and more black townships will be rendered ungovernable and
the process of creating popular structures of self-government
within them will gather momentum. The number of street and
area committees will increase and their functions will
So far the quote of the Eminent Persons Group. Those were the very
reasons why it was imperative to launch constitutional negotiations and bring
it to finality. To many of us this became a dream of which we never lost
sight. Some of us, on both sides of the political divide, however, still had to
learn and others are still learning the Chris Hani truism once expressed to me
"We concede the fact that we never broke the back of the South
African Defence Force and South African Police, but you must
concede the fact that you never broke the spirit of liberation in
To my mind this was the basis of the political settlement.
When the epilogue of the interim constitution was finally accepted at a
very late stage in the negotiation process which gave South Africa its new
democratic dispensation many of us gave a sigh of relief. The relief we felt
was for the fact that we could have the full truth out in the open without
vengeance. A country has to know its history. We hurt one another and the
time has come for healing.
I believe had it not been for that milestone judgment of Justice
Mahomed in the Azapo case brought against the State President we would not
have had the situation which we have today as Justice Mahomed had said in
that judgment that we were moving away from the shame of the past to the
hope of the future, and that that epilogue had granted him the opportunity to
make the judgment which he did, and that is why we are all here, and that is
why we had felt the relief at that particular moment in December 1993.
With the National Party government the question of amnesty and the
inevitability of a Commission probing the past was never the subject of
penetrating debate where one and all expressed their expectations or anxieties
openly. Everybody had played their cards close to the chest and discussions
in this regard were inconclusive, often resulting in lobby discussions. This
always left me with a feeling of discontent.
I don't feel as if I am in the dock today, and I don't feel as if I am
being charged with anything which I had done, criminally or otherwise. I
don't believe that I am pleading for my innocence here today. I participate in
these proceedings gladly, openly, but that particular paragraph does make me
a little bit angry in the sense that I would have loved to have seen the State
Security Council, as it functioned on which I served as a coopted member
under the Chairpersonship of Mr P W Botha today, deal with the accusations
that we have to answer here.
And I believe that it is a pity that, excuse me for saying this about two
great men of this country, namely Mr Botha and Mr de Klerk, that they have
had their squabbles with one another that we are not today standing here in
front of you as a coordinated team of the Security Council.
And that is the next point I make, namely, that the National
Management System has had as its prime function the coordination of State
activities, and yet listening to the evidence of all of us our actions, we are not
here as a coordinated team under the chairmanship of our leaders, the leaders
being Mr Botha who was the Chairperson of that State Security Council and
the leader of the National Party Mr de Klerk at that time. And you will
recall and I remember that Mr de Klerk had said at his appearance where I was
present, that he had done his utmost to consult and to coordinate, but the facts
speak differently. The facts speak that the officials are talking in one
direction, we are talking in another direction and the leaders, the Chairpersons
of this, the Chairperson of the Security Council and Mr de Klerk who
inherited the leadership did not successfully mould all of us into one team as
we are. But I continue to speak of my own bat.
I believe that there is a direct link between the National Management
System, the Harare Declaration, Mr de Klerk's February speech, the agreed
constitutional principles that formed the basis of our constitution and the
signing ceremony of our constitution on the 10th of December 1996 in
The National Management system was a holding operation to ensure
that negotiations are launched and that the constitutional order was changed
through the ballot box and not through the barrel of a gun. That was
paramount in our minds. It was foremost in our minds.
The Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group in its document on page 42
says it all -
"No serious person we met was interested in a fight to the
finish. All favoured negotiations and peaceful solutions".
General Viljoen in evidence before you said that this was a dirty war,
and in many respects it was. People were forced to drink cooking oil; people
were forced to eat raw fish and raw meat; and on the other hand there were
men with balaclavas from nowhere assaulting innocent citizens and those
answers have not yet been found to my satisfaction or to my mind how that all
The Harare Declaration, to continue in this thread, proposed steps to
create a climate for constitutional negotiations. In the words of an ANC
discussion partner, partners, they had to deal with the fact that it was not
viable to storm Pretoria with smoking guns and in this way take over power.
The door for constitutional principles to form the basis for the final
constitution and to facilitate the transitional process was opened in this
document. I regret that typing error. On the 2nd of February speech was a
statesman's response to his constituency's aspirations that the conflict and
political stalemate should be ended.
I want to add that if there ever was a civilian in our ranks that was Mr
F W de Klerk. I know people accuse him of many things but I will be untrue
if I don't publicly state that in our ranks the civilian was F W de Klerk,
always, always warning and saying don't allow yourselves to be militarised.
That was F W de Klerk. The first one to disband the National Management
System was F W de Klerk because he had always felt uneasy with that system.
The signing ceremony of the final Constitution on the 10th of
December 1996 in Sharpeville was symbolic, but it also signalled the fact that
after 48 years, to that day, namely the 10th of December 1948, South Africa
was now in step with the universal declaration of human rights.
I conclude by saying I am both an African and an Afrikaner. I am a
liberated Afrikaner. I am also a proud Afrikaner. Liberated Afrikaners took
the reform bit firmly between their teeth when it was necessary. Both our
hearts and our minds have been changed. We love this country. We have been
liberated from the baggage of an immoral system of government. Afrikaners
can now resume their journey, galloping into the future, constructively
criticise and participate in the affairs of State. Afrikaners can now hold the
government accountable and support it where their actions merit it, campaign
for a Volkstaat if they so wish, argue for the respect and recognition of
Afrikaans without the baggage of the past.
I can think of no reason why Afrikaans-speaking South Africans and
their children, or any other Afrikaner, from the cradle to the grave should bear
the burden of apartheid. With the framework of the Constitution we will
strive for our place and we will fight for Afrikaans. It is right that the book
of the past should be opened and must be interpreted, but then we must also
close them. We dare not forget what has happened here, and I am not saying
we should close the books and forget, but we should stop holding each other
hostage in regard to the past and then bully each other mentally. In this way
we will never build a country.
We have reached the end of a journey on a road marked by pitfalls,
political doubts and obstacles. However, the journey always carried forward,
the road often became one of tight hairpin bends because I was afraid of
negotiating the evils on bareback. I am now more than ever convinced that
apartheid was a terrible mistake that blighted our land. South Africans did not
listen to the laughing and the crying of each other. I am sorry that I have
been so hard of hearing for such a long time.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I think it may be sensible for us to
take a break for lunch and return at quarter to two. Thank you very much both
of you young men. Thank you, thank you, it is very deeply moving and we
want to digest it and those people over there are looking forward to grilling
you. We invite you to come for lunch with us.
CHAIRPERSON: Glen. I don't know which of the twins you want.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson thank you very much. I am going to address
my initial lines of questioning until I indicate otherwise to Mr Meyer, so I
don't know whether Mr Wessels wants to remain seated there in the firing line
as it were, no you are welcome to but - well whichever. Thank you very
Mr Meyer in reading your statement is it correct, do I understand it
correctly that you base your acceptance of political responsibility on the fact
that with hindsight, with the benefit of hindsight you recognise that at the
time perhaps more stringent steps should have been taken to curb the
transgressions which were recurring and that in essence the basis for
responsibility that you accept is that of omissions on your part as you explain
and perhaps persons other than yourself as well, is that correct?
MR MEYER: Chairperson I don't think I have to add anything to what I have
actually stated there in the written paragraph in this regard. Obviously it
deals with the obvious question, what did our guys at the time do about the
situation? And I think one had to ask yourself that question and that is my
response to that.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much.
MR MEYER: ...specifically, I am sorry to the wording that is contained there
in paragraph 4.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. If one has regard to paragraph 3 of your
submission, for a moment I want to leave aside the first bullet point there
because that deals, as you have indicated with where there were specific
instructions in that instance, regarding the other two aspects on which
responsibility and accountability should be apportioned is it correct that there
are really two options here? The one is that unlawful actions which were not
specifically authorised, which were bona fide on the one hand and there were
those that were mala fide in the sense that people abused their opportunities
and so on, is that correct, that's the schema?
MR MEYER: I am trying to make the distinguishing there between bullets
two and three. On the one side I am suggesting that as far as bullet two is
concerned there were transgressions that could have been made on the
impression that the person might have had that he or she was authorised by
implication or that their actions would have carried the blessing of the
government. I think that is the one category.
And then I am also saying that it could have also happened as a result
of over-eagerness on the side of the person that he or she had gone too far as a
result of that over-eagerness and interpreted the mandate beyond what was
actually a reasonable sort of mandate. But the distinction between that and
the third bullet to my mind lies in the fact that the third bullet deals with
some cases that have become known, cases that have already served before the
court, where to my mind it deals with situations where the person acted on his
or her own agenda. There is a clear distinction, to my mind, between the two.
I am not saying the first one, that is the second bullet for that matter,
necessarily presents one with a clear answer, and therefore I refer to it as a
grey area. And also in my discussions with Professor Villa-Vicencio and Ms
Rousseau, I think it was indicated that there is this grey area in regard to
interpreting where was the limits of implied, an implied mandate or not, but I
covered that all under bullet two.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. I take it then that on the basis of that distinction,
that schema as it were, you've set out that you would then accept that there
may well be instances in which the unlawful killing of a political opponent
was as a result of a bona fide action on the part of a security force member, is
MR MEYER: I guess the question of bona fide actions in this regard is
relevant. I've also looked into the submission of General Malan in that
regard, in regard to this subject of bona fides, and in general it seems to me
one can concur with all that.
MR GOOSEN: So you would accept that in this schema of responsibility and
accountability that it would have been possibly reasonable for a member of the
security forces to have unlawfully killed a political opponent of government,
MR MEYER: I tend to think immediately of the most recent example that has
come to knowledge in terms of testimony last week regarding the Ribeiro case,
and I think that is the kind of case in point. But what I am suggesting here in
an overall picture is that there are three dimensions, and I don't want to, don't
have to go over it again, but this grey area remains grey and one will have to
probably go into the facts regarding each and every case separately because in
some cases it might be quite easy to determine whether there was an implied
mandate. In other cases there might have been no link but that the person who
acted still acted on that belief.
MR GOOSEN: But in principle you would accept that there may be
circumstances, and yes we will have to go into each particular set of facts in
say an amnesty hearing, but in principle on this schema you would accept that
it may be reasonable for a member of the security forces to have unlawfully
killed a political opponent or a person perceived as a revolutionary or a
supporter of a revolutionary cause at that time, is that correct?
MR MEYER: I think the implication of what I am saying here from that one
can make that deduction, but as to the implications that you are suggesting I
am not quite sure whether one has worked through all the consequences as far
as that is concerned.
MR GOOSEN: Does that not then also imply that the level of political
responsibility that it is necessary to accept political responsibility for the
creation of a climate in which it may have been reasonable for members of the
security forces to have unlawfully killed political opponents of the
MR MEYER: My suggestion would be that the climate was there in any
event. I don't think it was necessarily created by the political or military or
police chiefs at the point. I think the climate was there and it's for that reason
important that one keeps in mind the nature of the conflict to my mind, and
that is why I also referred to that in paragraph 5 in a broader sense. There
was on the one side daily activities - I can remember during the time I was
responsible in the position that I am dealing here with, mainly '87, that there
were reports on a daily basis of different acts of terrorism, or the killing of
people from necklacing, or the planting of bombs and so forth, and of course
that created one side of the picture. We had an on-going situation of action
leading to reaction, and reaction leading to further action.
So I am suggesting that the climate was there and it might not
necessarily have been related even to a specific occasion where one could
deduct a specific implied mandate. But the general circumstances might have
MR GOOSEN: I accept that a climate may be there but would you not accept
that political leadership, I mean we are dealing here now with State Security
policy and for that reason not concentrating on organs of the State and the
people that were involved in that, but that politicians, senior leadership of the
security forces sustained a particular climate, a climate which rendered it
reasonable for members of the security forces to act unlawfully, including the
killing of political opponents of the State in certain circumstances.
MR MEYER: I would be hesitant to make any specific deduction in that
regard. I want to again emphasise what I have stated there in paragraph 2 that
I am not aware of any specific such situation and that it definitely didn't
happen in these organs of State. What happened of course amongst
individuals and what happened in line function departments I can't witness
MR GOOSEN: But we are talking about the creation of a framework, a policy
framework, an approach to the resolution of the problem and that that included
statements and policies which when interpreted by the people who were
required to implement those policies and reasonably interpreted that they
could establish their authorisation for unlawful actions. In those
circumstances do you not accept that political responsibility would have to
MR MEYER: I am trying to put forward a framework here within which, well
for which I am trying to be helpful in trying to find a way forward because
truly these questions come up on an on-going basis. I mean just this morning
one heard them but I can imagine that the Commission itself is on an on-going
basis confronted with these questions and I am trying to put forward a
framework that hopefully can be helpful in analysing the situation, but I don't
have the detailed information available to make conclusions of that and
therefore I think one has to, if this kind of framework is being adopted one
will have to go to the details and ascertain. And it's also for that reason under
bullet 2 that I suggest it remains a grey area and I don't think it's possible to
make a single conclusion on that.
MR GOOSEN: I too am trying to deal at the level of the framework because I
think that that's where we are. What I am trying to establish is whether in the
framework that you are putting forward you accept that the policies, the full
ambit of counter-revolutionary policies and approaches adopted by the State
Security Council, the Cabinet, whether that framework reasonably interpreted
by an operative on the ground could be interpreted to mean that that person
has authorisation to commit unlawful acts on behalf of the security forces?
MR MEYER: Well I guess that is where the concept of an implied mandate
can come in, and it's for that reason that I am suggesting that there is a moral
responsibility. But to the extent of which there is such a possibility I can't
judge because that is not within the framework of my knowledge.
MR GOOSEN: Perhaps just to put the question in this way maybe we can
deal with it then conceptually. In your view how could a person, or is it
possible that a person could have reasonably interpreted and acted bona fide
in that interpretation, in killing a political opponent?
And is it possible for you to give an example in which you would
regard such action as a reasonable interpretation of events or a bona fide
action on the part of the member of the security forces?
MR MEYER: I can't think of a good example, it's not one that I would have
reached that conclusion on before but in relation to what has been testified,
and this is not necessarily in a political context, but in a relationship between
the official concerned and his minor, is what became clear through the Ribeiro
case. But I don't have other examples that I can think of immediately.
MR GOOSEN: On that basis then, I mean we can, I don't particularly want to
do it, but we can run through a number of instances that we now know were -
involved the killing of political opponents of the former government and we
can list many of those and we can ask whether in each one of those instances
you would regard that as possibly a reasonable interpretation of State policy
in that regard, but we can leave that aside for the moment. The question
then is if, if it is possible in the schema that there could have been a
reasonable interpretation which permitted the commission of an unlawful act,
is it not then necessary that political responsibility should be accepted not
only on the basis of omission but on the basis of commission, the creation of
circumstances in which operatives on the ground could reasonably interpret
policy to authorise the unlawful killing of a political opponent?
MR MEYER: I won't necessarily come to that conclusion because I believe
there is testimony before the Commission from at least some of those that
were politically responsible that would definitely indicate that they have not
given such instructions or that if it was implied that they have given such
instructions on the basis of a commission, then it's not a correct version, it's
not the truth.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Meyer I am not talking here about commission in respect
of a specific instance, I am talking about commission on the part of members
of participants in organs of State such as the State Security Council and
Cabinet, commission, collective commission of the creation of a climate in
which it was reasonable for a security force member to kill a political
MR MEYER: I don't think one can say that it would have gone beyond the
possibility of what I have been stating there in bullet two, I don't think so.
MR GOOSEN: So do I understand that you say you would not agree that
political responsibility should be assumed then on the basis that a set of
circumstances were created by the State Security Council in which operatives
could act unlawfully?
MR MEYER: As far as the State Security Council is concerned, as far as my
knowledge is concerned, definitely not.
MR GOOSEN: Would the same apply in respect of statements made,
positions adopted by politicians serving in the State Security Council or in the
Cabinet in respect of what needs to be done in order to combat the
MR MEYER: Again I don't have knowledge of that kind whatsoever.
MR GOOSEN: I think you would agree that you served in a senior position
on the State Security Council from 1986, as a member of the State Security
Council, you certainly were party to discussions which occurred at that level.
You also were as a serving politician in the country at the time must surely be
aware of a significant number of statements in which politicians made it very
clear, very clear that a revolutionary onslaught and revolutionaries in
particular had to be combated with all means at the disposal of the State, and
that every possible effort should be made to crush the revolutionary onslaught,
MR MEYER: Well I think it's like Pik Botha was saying yesterday, I've read
through his testimony and I guess it's like he has indicated in that, that there
were probably statements of a general political nature that might have created
different impressions but it all depends on how people who have received
those messages have interpreted it within the scope of their authority.
MR GOOSEN: That's precisely the point. I mean the fact of the matter is we
know from a whole spate of amnesty applications that they were in fact
interpreted to authorise killings. What I am asking you is if you can comment
as to whether you regard that as reasonable interpretation? If you do regard it
as a reasonable interpretation should you not accept political responsibility
MR MEYER: It all depends again on what - one will have to go into each
case and determine what consequences the person who pronounced might have
foreseen or not. Even looking at some of the documentation that you have
made available to me there are obviously different interpretations that one can
reduce from every single such pronouncement, if I am right.
MR GOOSEN: But if the interpretation is that we have a general
authorisation for acceptance of, I mean you indicated, you say that individuals
under the impression that they were authorised by implication, now you accept
that that could happen. What I am asking you is whether in the circumstances
in which there was an impression that they were authorised by implication
whether that would have been reasonable or not? If it is reasonable does it
not follow that at a political level responsibility should attach?
MR MEYER: I guess the question is actually what one could have adduced
from the person who made the pronouncement, what he could have foreseen in
terms of consequences, of the consequences or not. And again I think one has
to go back to every single case. I don't think - well let me put it emphatically,
I am saying to you that from my knowledge that could not have been the
conclusion reached in terms of the activities of the organs of State that I was
MR GOOSEN: We are not talking here about specific authorisation, we are
talking about the adoption of a set of policy guidelines which you
acknowledge would be interpreted by the people who acted. So the question
is, you acknowledge that they were interpreted, the question is in those
circumstances would it be reasonable, in principle is it reasonable for a person
to have interpreted those policies to authorise the unlawful killing of a
political opponent? And we get back to that point.
If it is not reasonable, under no circumstances could it be reasonable,
yes, then political responsibility would only have to attach on an individual
who made a particular pronouncement, but if in principle, if in principle it is
possible for the interpretation to be reasonable, State policy, then at that level
political responsibility must attach, surely?
MR MEYER: In the way that you have described it my answer would be no.
MR GOOSEN: Now in circumstances where to the Minister of Defence would
make a statement to the effect that every effort should be made, terrorists
should be wiped out, those who come across the border carrying their limpet
mines and so on that they must be tracked down, whether they are inside the
country or outside of the country they must be annihilated, them and their
supporters or their "meelopers", now in those circumstances would you not
agree that that generates a climate in which susceptible to reasonable
interpretation, that unlawful actions are authorised? I am not asking that you
should condemn the Minster of Defence, he made such a statement, we can get
the full quote for you - that's a summary of it. I am not asking you to
condemn a former Minister of Defence, I am asking you in principle, in terms
of the climate created.
MR MEYER: But I guess you are now back with the individual again. You
are back with the individual now, or the individual case or the line functionary
now again. The previous question was about a general atmosphere as far as
what was created by the State as such. I mean you are now referring to an
individual Minister and my answer in that regard would be to go to the facts
of each and every single case because that is what I am suggesting in bullet
two. I don't think it would be correct to assume that - No let me frame it
differently. I am not trying to address the individual cases in my submission
here, because to my mind that will have to be analysed on the merit of each
MR GOOSEN: So there is in your schema no scope for collective
responsibility other than on the basis of omissions, is that correct?
MR MEYER: My reference there is I think quite clear, namely that under
bullet two I am saying that there has to be an acceptability, to my mind, on the
side of the previous government of a responsibility, a moral responsibility
which led to the circumstances.
MR GOOSEN: But Mr Meyer that's precisely the point, what is the basis of
that moral and political responsibility is it founded upon an acceptance that
State policies were susceptible to a reasonable interpretation that unlawful
actions were authorised or not?
MR MEYER: Is the question not really what moral responsibility means?
MR GOOSEN: Let's look at - let's leave moral responsibility, let's look at
political responsibility because you refer to political responsibility, what is
the basis of that political responsibility?
MR MEYER: I am not sure whether I have all the information available on
that or all the knowledge available on that, but it seems to me in the context
what it's being used here for is to say well if this would have happened to a
person in the political position whilst he or she is still in office that could
have resulted in the resignation or the sacking of that particular person as a
political act, and I think that is the kind of meaning that could be attached to
MR GOOSEN: And would that be confined then purely to line functional
departments rather than any sense of collective responsibility?
MR MEYER: I think what is being suggested here and it is something that I
understand it also came up otherwise before the Commission is the question of
a consideration of a collective moral responsibility because none of those
members are still in Cabinet at this stage, so politically they could not be
sacked in any event or resign, but it's accepting a moral responsibility in
terms of what the Cabinet then as it were had to take responsibility for.
MR GOOSEN: So the question as to whether State policy directives were
susceptible to reasonable misinterpretation that they authorised unlawful
actions that would not feature at all in the scheme of political responsibility
which we'll have to attach in respect of those individual matters? You've
indicated that, when I asked you what the basis for the acceptance of political
responsibility was you'd say well if the line function or the department, the
person who made the statement, if that person could, on the basis of those
statements be dismissed, politically dismissed for being in breach of the
policy in regard to that matter, then and only then would political
responsibility attach. That is as I understand your answer to the question. Is
that correct or not?
MR MEYER: I think there must be some differentiation between political and
other forms of responsibility. I am trying to define what political
responsibility in this regard would mean. Obviously it is different from
criminal responsibility or accountability. But I am trying to put forward again
a framework in that regard. I can't give judgement on specific cases.
CHAIRPERSON: Ilan I thought you....
MR LAX: Chairperson I want to just deal with the practicality for example
and this relates to a point in time before your time Mr Meyer on the SSC. We
know that the SSC authorised at times raids into neighbouring states for
example and that people were killed in those raids. Not only were those
people foreign citizens but there were South Africans and innocent foreign
citizens killed in some of those raids. We can take one instance the Maseru
raid in December 1985 for example. That raid was authorised almost
implicitly if you like by the SSC so we are led to understand, now does that
make them collectively responsible say in line with your first bullet? And if
not does that make them responsible in line with your second bullet?
It doesn't include you personally because you weren't there at that
time, but at the same time you are in a position to have been there at a
different time and pass judgement and give us your view of the matter.
MR MEYER: I guess it's quite difficult. One will have to go into what
exactly that decision I guess, that resolution if there was one, amounts to, if
one looks at the wording what it amounts to and so forth, one might be able to
come to a conclusion. I find myself a little bit in difficulty there because I
can't speak of first-hand information or knowledge.
MR LAX: You can take it from me that there was a resolution on December
the 20th, 1985, that those sorts of raids, that particular raid should be
conducted and it was so conducted. We heard last week of other raids and Pik
yesterday spoke about a raid that he didn't even know about that interfered
with his own working. This is a specific instance where we know that the
decision was authorised. You can take it from me, I am not misleading you,
it's gospel. (Laughter) In a vernacular sort of sense.
MR MEYER: But I guess there would be an argument and I am testing now
because I am not quite sure, but there might be an argument about cross-
border raids and authorising that. If I remember correctly General Malan also
addressed that in his submission to you, and there is a different position in
regard to cross-border raids than to what happened internally. I am sort of
MR LAX: Well you see we haven't focused much on cross-border raids
because individuals that have come before us last week for example were all
in one way or another involved in some of the cross-border raids, and because
of the whole extradition issue not being resolved they didn't deal with it and
so we didn't talk a great deal about it at that point but you are not involved
and therefore there's an ample opportunity to deal with it.
MR MEYER: It would be unfair to make me either the advocate or the judge
in a case like this.
CHAIRPERSON: Wynand Malan wants to say something.
MR MALAN: I want to, I am thinking back of the time, '85 when it was
quoted, one of the concepts that was often discussed is the concept of
collective responsibility, Cabinet responsibility. On that basis I want to
rephrase the question in a frame that I think will be sitting more comfortable
in your mind because it's a frame that has been addressed, within which it has
been addressed before.
If at the level of Cabinet or then for that matter State Security Council,
whatever body, a decision is taken and implementation of that decision
follows don't you accept total responsibility for that decision and its
consequences? Isn't that really the question? Whether it is political or moral
or criminal that's something else, the test is on the outside, it's not your test
and frankly this is a bit of a problem that I experience with the line of
questioning because I find that a construction is asked from the witness which
is more one of a legal, technical or philosophical one whereas what I think is
important is whether responsibility is accepted.
Now if that responsibility so is accepted in the plain proposition that I
put would it not also be true that if, whether that is by negligence or omission
or whatever reason, that whatever you did or was done in such a meeting or
body, that those who were part of it is by definition saddled with the
responsibility? Again whatever kind of responsibility that is, political, moral,
criminal, whatever, but the test is not for you to decide, the test is on the
My question to you is, are you trying to duck some of the things that
you did or are you saying whatever I did I accept responsibility, the
construction that follows is something that is on the outside of me? Would
you be prepared to go with such a proposition?
MR MEYER: I think that is what I tried to put here in a framework, exactly
that, but I have the impression that some of the questions indicate that I must
interpret what individuals might have had in mind in terms of consequences
and so forth and that I can't make a deduction on. So I would go along with
an interpretation that you have constructed because I think that is essentially
what I am trying to say in bullet two.
MR MALAN: And if - sorry Chairperson just for the - and if any
construction would be put to whatever was done which would be construed as
criminal liability and prosecutions following in a court of law then you will be
quite comfortable with accepting the process as the process again?
MR MEYER: Indeed.
MR WESSELS: Mr Chairman may I just establish something?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, you have a right to speak. (Laughter)
MR WESSELS: Thank you. I'd just like to establish, if we play rugby the
reserve bench cannot come into play unless he is authorised. If this is a
wrestling contest I mean you come in regardless of what the referee says and
then he calls you to order. Now Mr Goosen indicated that I am on the reserve
bench right now ...(intervention)
MR GOOSEN: We are playing rugby....
MR WESSELS: Right, then I remain silent.
CHAIRPERSON: It seems to me that you are likely to ask much the same sort
of questions, this particular question, and if you feel I mean that there is a
contribution you can make why not make it now. The only thing is that you
see I mean you keep giving him a chance to work out, if you are going to ask
him the same questions so he's working out no, they don't like this answer
maybe I am going to try that answer. Alright, do you think you should......
MR GOOSEN: I think Mr Chairperson the idea is simply to - I've been
operating on the basis of the framework presented in the submission and I am
simply interrogating that and I think obviously Mr Wessels' submission, whilst
it may overlap with in some respects it's formulated in a different way and I
want to deal with him separately.
Mr Meyer I am not asking you to comment on individual interpretations
and I will take issue with Commissioner Malan about the external construction
of this, it's not a philosophical debate. You put forward a schema which is the
basis upon which accountability and responsibility should be adjudged.
Central to that second bullet point is a recognition on your part that
individuals may have been under the impression that they were authorised by
implication. Now yes, accept that when you deal with a specific instance we
are going to have to determine whether in that particular instance it was,
whether that person in fact was under that impression, was not acting on some
other motive. We are not talking about the motive of the person here.
We are talking about whether it is possible, as a matter of principle,
whether it was possible for security police operatives or security force
operatives to reasonably interpret State Security Council and Cabinet National
Party policy statements and so on, to authorise unlawful activity, whether it
was reasonable? Whether you accept, as a matter of principle that it was
reasonable? If you say no, well then the consequence attaches to that in terms
of the schema that you've raised. But if you say yes, another consequence
attaches. I want to know whether you accept that in principle it was
reasonable that such misinterpretations could occur or not?
MR MALAN: Chairperson may I just - look really I am not sure that I
understand the question. If the question is could have then that's something,
but was is a different question then we need to look at the facts.
MR GOOSEN: The question was could have.
MR MEYER: I was just going to say as one of the possibilities for
consideration surely, and that certainly then depends on the specific
circumstances, if you say could have.
MR GOOSEN: Then in those instances where it is established that it was a
misinterpretation, okay, do you accept that collective political responsibility
MR MEYER: Of a moral and political nature, yes.
MR GOOSEN: Okay. Thank you. We are going to move on to another
element of your presentation. I want to deal with paragraph 5. Let me just
Perhaps the panel want to pick up on any questions whilst I am doing
the - if the panel wants to pick up on a question to save time.
CHAIRPERSON: He has been very disciplined and was waiting to be guided
MR GOOSEN: That makes a change Mr Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Are you ready.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Mr Meyer, can I refer you to the
document which was also provided to you, thatís the Concept National
Strategy, the Revolutionary War, Strategy No. 44.
You indicate that part of the total counter Revolutionary Strategy was that a
tremendous amount of effort was put into utilising the force of the state in a
counter mobilisation plan. In the document, reference is made to at Page 4 of
the document. The existence of the anti-revolutionary group loss such as
Inkatha or ZZC or the...(intervention)
MR MEYER: Can you just help me with the exact reference, I am on Page 4
and I donít see this.
MR GOOSEN: I beg your pardon it is Page 4, itís 8B. Paragraph 8B on Page
4 of the document. The paragraph there reads anti-resistance of anti-
revolutionary groups such as Inkatha, ZZC as well as the Ethnic Factor in the
South African Society, makes the preparation for a coherent revolutionary
onslaught difficult and states that it is one of the factors to take into account.
And then under Objectives, 6 at the top, there is reference to Groups and
individuals to mobilise them and to protect themselves and to assist the
Do I take it that that doelstelling is a reference to the fact that
grouping such as Inkatha and or the ZCC and perhaps other anti-revolutionary
groups could be mobilised to resist revolutionary activities and to protect
themselves against those revolutionary activities.
MR MEYER: Thank you, it is kind of fun to go through all these old
documents and to refresh oneís mind. Thank you for making this available.
If one looks at the first paragraph that you quoted on Page 4, 8B, I
think it refers to what they call Analysis of Capacity under Paragraph 7 you
have Analysis of the, what one can say the Revolutionary elements, analysis
of the capacities of radical organisations and under Paragraph 8 you there see
an analysis of, let us call it the strong points inside of the South African
government society and then 8B, is then mentioned as a strong point because
there were allegedly certain anti-revolutionary groups that could have been
helpful and could have assisted in combating revolution and if you follow that
up and look the schedule, I think you will find the answer there in the quest
for looking at what the specific actions were that arose from those and if you
look at this document it is a schedule, it is unfortunately not numbered.
The schedule says objectives and overall conduct and actions against the
revolutionary war and if you go to paragraph 6 thereof, I think the last two
pages of that, you there find more or less an indication of the kind of actions
proposed and contemplated, in order to strengthen and secure society and to
help society to resist the revolutionary onslaught. I think thatís the context in
which it must be seen.
MR GOOSEN: If we go to paragraph 8 on that Annexure where the
Delstelling and the Oorhof se optrede are then set out in columns and what
corresponds with the objective to mobilise groups and groupings to encourage
them to resist which then go through onto the following page. No. 2 there,
Counter Revolutionary Organisations must be developed along ethnic lines in
order to prevent the political vacuum being exploited by the radical elements
and one of the actions under 4, black parents must be organised and supported
in order to prepare parental authority and to counter the manipulation of the
youth by the radical elements.
You were present when I raised some questions in regard to these
matters to Mr Vlok, would you say that it was on the basis of these, this
policyís framework, this approach to contra-mobilisation that it was policy of
the government and the Security forces then, because it falls under Safety, to
manipulate differences that occurred within communities, exploit tensions that
existed within the communities, to specifically organise and prompt the
establishment of organisations based on an ethnic basis and to utilise through
that support, those organisations, to engage in active resistance against efforts
by revolutionary organisations as defined at the time within communities in
which those organisations were organising.
MR MEYER: No, that is never how I understood it, in terms of this
particular context. I think what one can deduct from what is stated here under
for instance 8.2 Paragraph 8.2 is that it was very much in the frame of
thinking of the constitutional solution at that stage that we needed a
democratic solution based on Group Rights and that was all in that framework.
If you look at the original statement, Objectives as defined in the introduction
to the document. I canít find it exactly now, but I can recall reading through
it, it was stated there that the purpose is to develop - oh, here it is, can I read
it Mr Chairperson, it is Paragraph 9 of the main document Page 5.
To neutralise the revolutionary war against the republics of the
democratic dispensation can be developed here in which all the groupings of
the population can take part in the government of the country without
threatening each otherís rights, because it was quite clearly the overall
intention with the stated goal. That was part of the Constitutional thinking at
the time that a democratic solution should be arrived on a basis of group or
ethnic rights and I think that one should see that therefore also in Paragraph
8.2 later on in a context of what was intended there, but I canít recall any
experience where this was a specific intention to play of one group against
another on the basis of putting them to a fight.
MR GOOSEN: Then can I refer you to the other document which was
provided to you which was tabled at the GVS Werkgroup on the 24th January
1987 Strategic considerations in respect of the initiation of the counter
mobilisation in South Africa and I refer you to Page 11 of that document
where it says at the top the Following measures may be considered,
encouraged, distrust ethic and tribal defences and all other divisive factors
amongst the enemy, discredit them and their helpers internally and outside the
country and as individuals under these organisations. How does that maatreel
fit in with the notion that you have just explained in regard to the . . .
MR MEYER: I also noted that and can I make a general observation whilst
the first document that you have referred to is clearly something that reached
the level of the State Security Council, sort of neatly packaged and made
sense in terms of what the Councillor have approved by then and what let us
say these apparatus were busy with.
The second document which to my mind and I have read through it, I
came to no other conclusion that it was drafted by an individual and probably
didnít go beyond the first level of discussions if it did, because there are so
many contradictions in that document itself, that one can only come to the
conclusion as the person himself said in the very last part of the paragraph of
that document, Paragraph 20. "Many more loose ideas may be proposed" and I
think that describes the whole document. It is a document of loose ideas and I
canít imagine that that was every approved, I canít recall this document quite
frankly and I canít remember that I have ever seen it and I canít recall that it
was every discussed in my presence. I tried to find out what might have been
the status of that document but it seems nobody know. It was apparently
referred to a Working Group for discussion in January 1987. The point that I
am concluding on is to say that for instance in Paragraph D that you have just
read out, does not fall, what is intended there is, what is put forward there as
a loose thought, definitely did not fall in the ambit of what we were busy with
in the Joint Management Centre at that stage. I canít recall any specific
occasion where something like that was executed or planned by the
MR GOOSEN: So I take it from that that you would say in respect of the
first document that the Over arching conduct and actions and objectives would
not be susceptible of an interpretation that ethnic conflict divisions in a
community should be manipulated and utilised in order to organise active
resistance against enemy organisations I include in enemy organisations the
UDF. It is not susceptible of that interpretation.
MR MEYER: It might have been but I am saying that it was not part of what
I was involved in or know about as far as the official operations of the Joint
Management Centre is concerned.
CHAIRPERSON: Now, I accepted that you are saying on the basis of the
document that that was not authorised, I accept that but you are saying, is it
conceivable that in the implementation of this the contra-mobilisation efforts
as set out here in this document, the first document referred to, could have
been interpreted to mean something closer to the Paragraph D that I refer to in
the second document?
MR MEYER: I would say that, Paragraph 8 in the original, the first
document, I would say definitely had not as far as the official operations is
concerned, if that is the right word, have been considered or applied. Let me
take you to one specific example which relates to the point thereunder 8.4
which you have also referred to of the first document. There it is stated under
Remarks "Contaminated youth or youthful military elements must be removed
from society and must be rehabilitated according to acceptable practices" in
that regard by the then Department of Education and Training, they
established some training institutions for that purpose where rehabilitation
could take place, I think whether they were successful or not, that is not the
point but that was how it was done and operated, but I canít recall any
successful or even an attempt of operation under 8.2.
MR GOOSEN: So it was never policy for example, that members of the
Security Forces would provide with overt or covert support to anti-
revolutionary groupings as were defined, anti-revolutionary groupings inside
the country in accordance with this policy. That was never policy.
MR MEYER: I canít say that there were no covert activities of that kind, I
canít say that because I wonít know and I canít say that it was impossible as
far as that is.
CHAIRPERSON: Where such coverts support was in fact rendered it was
outside of the ambit of approved policy guidelines from that the level of the
State Security Council, not so?
MR MEYER: No, all that I can say is that it could be interpreted in such a
way by a specific line function department. I wonít know, but that is not
CHAIRPERSON: I accept that you wouldnít know, but it would be a
misinterpretation by that line function department to render that sort of
support because that is not what was envisaged.
MR MEYER: I donít think that was envisaged, no.
CHAIRPERSON: It is not a question of whether you donít think it was
envisaged, from what you have indicated that was not envisaged so therefore
if a line function department engaged in such kind of action it would be a
MR MEYER: Yes.
CHAIRPERSON: Would you say that it would be a reasonable
misinterpretation or not?
MR MEYER: I said to you what I understand of A2 was and how it was
interpreted to my mind by the both the State Security Council and all its
subsidiaries and I think one can say within the overall policy framework at
that stage it would have been an unreasonable interpretation.
MR GOOSEN: So in respect of say the support for the Witdoeke in KTC June
of 1986 in Cape Town, support rendered by members of the Security forces,
attempts by the Joint Management Centre in the Western Cape to secure even
financial support from the Secretariat of the State Security Council in order to
support certain activities of the Witdoeke that that would all be, fall into the
realm of an unreasonable misinterpretation of what was envisaged in respect
of counter mobilisation of contra mobilisation policies as approved by the
State Security Council. Is that correct?
MR MEYER: I think so, yes.
CHAIRPERSON: And presumably on that basis you would say that then no
political responsibility could ever attach in respect of the actions by the
Security force members and all the participants in the meetings of the Joint
Management Centre in respect of that covert support to the Witdoeke?
MR MEYER: . . . but think so, we must just remember that this strategy 44
came into being on the 1st December 1986 according to the document whilst
those alleged activities if I remember correctly what you said this morning
took place at an earlier stage so one would not necessarily bring it in line with
what is stated here in this strategy because the one came after the other.
CHAIRPERSON: But presumably if it wasnít authorised at the point
November 1986 when this comprehensive plan is put in place, there was no
policy prior to that to provide that support from the, level of the State
MR MEYER: I wonít know from my own knowledge, one would have to go
through the documentation and maybe you and I will be proved incorrect, but
as far as my own knowledge is concerned, I wonít know.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Meyer, thank you very much, I have no further questions.
CHAIRPERSON: Are there any questions from the panel? Yasmin.
MS SOOKA: Mr Meyer at Page 2, I think paragraph 4 of your own submission,
you say the fact the term regarding deficiencies in the system in use at the
time, the fact that so many transgressions took place over a lengthy period is
an indication in itself that more vigilant actions was called for and with
hindsight and looking at the embarrassing facts now emerging one can argue
that more stringent steps should have been taken to curb the possibilities of
transgressions taking place and of you go on to take responsibility, but I think
the question does face us here is, given the policy of the counter revolutionary
strategy the fact that the security establishment was so powerful, how was it,
given what so many politicians have come forward to us to say that they didnít
actually know or else they would have taken steps to curb that. How was it
possible for the kind of things that did happen to take place and where do we
actually say "Where is this gap" I think that is my question, I have heard from
the politicians and I am sorry to be asking so many questions in one. But the
real difficulty that faces us is where would one say the blame actually lies,
you have got the politicians on the top, you have got the State Security
Council, you have got the Generals, but somewhere in-between, something
went wrong, and I think we would like your view on what it is that did go
wrong, because we actually go, you fall short here of taking criminal
responsibility or and I think one could actually question that, the whole
concept of criteria, the liability of putting in to place things like Vlakplaas,
the CCB where you must have a sense that things can go horribly wrong.
Now, I think that is what we would like to get an answer on.
MR MEYER: I guess nobody had the answer, maybe, and let me try to put
forward this, from oneís own view in that regard. Maybe it is just a question
that things have developed over a period of time in such a way that in the end
we were all part of a frame of mind, politicians, officials, people in minor
positions even that believed that there was an enemy that had to be wiped out,
the belief that there was not a just cause on the side of the majority of South
Africans and the belief that for protection of the minority that was the right
thing and the only thing to do. Maybe it was, it was in the end fear that
dictated, that is why I refer to my submission to the fact that one had to look
at the total spectrum both dimensions of the conflict because that in itself
tells something about the demands and the fears that had developed at the time
and in that context, it is probably not possible to even put at a specific point
or a specific place the blame, it was just overall, that is the feeling that one
had today if you look back at it. So during this period, let us say the mid-Ď80ís
in general, we probably have reached a stage when in any event the climate
was of such a nature that it was not sort of the in thing to raise questions. I
listened to the questions this morning and I was surprised in that regard, but it
was, it was not the in thing to ask questions, if you hear on a daily basis,
especially within government circles that people are being killed as a result of
an act of terrorism or necklacing is taking place on a daily basis, that bombs
are going off and things like that, you fall into a frame of mind that you stop
asking questions because it is not the right sort of thing to do at that moment
and I think that is the context that one has to put yourself back into for the
sake of creating an understanding.
Looking back now, it is easy to make judgement and say "How the hell
could this happen" but then it was different and I am not trying to excuse
ourselves, I am trying to find out myself why, why could we let this happen,
some amongst us were bold and did take the necessary action, some were as
bold as to break out of the mould at that stage because they were driven to do
so. All that we can say is fortunately we all, we all arrived at a point
fortunately, we gained better insight.
MS SOOKA: And I think we maybe, one needs to say that we are not sitting
in judgement but we want to understand and for the same . . .(indistinct) the
CHAIRPERSON: The remarkable answer, I just wondered whether I could take
it just a little further, I mean take your construction further, in a way it is a
breathtaking response to say publicly and this is one of the incredible things
about this country, you know, and sometimes we become blasé and take it for
granted, but I donít know that anywhere else in the world would you get
someone who has been in government come before a Commission of this kind
and say what you have said just now, you know both of you are saying, yes,
well we got to a point where we were as we where and that gives the
opportunity for all of us to say, now we are actually are human and we have
got weaknesses, but your weakness paradoxically is a strength because it is
ultimately really a strong person, a big person, who can say, you know, I am
sorry but this is where I was and it almost seems like being, you know, like
nit-picking but I wonder whether you would be willing to say that given all
the things you say that happened in those years, I mean all the bombardment
about the kind of facts and that you didnít want to ask questions and I agree
with Yasmin that, well we have a kind of small judicial thing judging facts
and so on, but in that setting it clearly seems possible and I think that is what
happened, that people said in order to achieve this goal, I mean that we will
resist this total onslaught, anything goes, I mean that no holes barred, and that
is where we are now and we are trying now to say what happened how do you
overcome it. I donít know. Well I, you see you are nodding and it is not
coming into the dingus, I see you shaking your head, maybe you have to say
something. I mean it is almost superfluous because I think that that is the
consequence of what you said, that I mean we were in that kind of a situation
and no holes barred.
MR MEYER: I think youíve said it, I think essentially, unfortunately that is to
what a great extent happened. Maybe it was because it was not necessarily
Security ...(inaudible - recording deteriorates) all of it, it was across the
spectrum. And of course the misreading of the situation now is so clear, the
whole idea of looking for an answer through counter-mobilisation or counter-
strategy in itself was wrong, it missed the point. I can recall we ourselves at
that stage, including myself, said yes the answer is political, we were almost
taught to say the answer is 80% political and 20% security. But that in itself
was a complete misreading of the situation, because the political answers that
we sought were not the real answers and that in itself created even more
misunderstanding, I think, because the frustration that misreading of the real
answer must have caused on the other side, so to speak, on the side of those
that wanted to achieve liberation must have caused more and more frustration
because it was as if they could not break through with their messages.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
MR GOOSEN: I have no questions for Mr Meyer, for Mr Wessels, yes a few.
CHAIRPERSON: I am not sure, I mean, Roelf you donít have to go because
the Chairperson sometimes says some things at the end.
MR MEYER: I will wait for my partner.
CHAIRPERSON: Alright, thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. Mr Wessels, one of
the disadvantages of being a reserve in a rugby match is that you possibly
only come on right at the very end.
MR WESSELS: That doesnít matter, as long as you know how long the game
is going to last, are we continuing tomorrow. (Laughter)
MR GOOSEN: No, we wonít be long, I assure you.
MR WESSELS: No, I am not difficult, are we staying until 4.00pm or 3.30, I
just want to know how to place myself in answering the questions.
CHAIRPERSON: I had hoped for about 3.30 but what do you think?
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson, I think we will be finished by 3.30. I donít
have a great deal to ask Mr Wessels. Thank you.
I think Mr Wessels perhaps it picks up on the point that Mr Meyer has
just made, the issue that we have just been speaking about. In reference to the
portion in your statement on Page 2 where you state
"That I further do not believe the political defence I did not know is
available to me, because in many respects I believe I did not want to
and I really just want to ask if you can elaborate on that and if you can
explain and what it is you wish to convey, in perhaps more detail.
MR WESSELS: Well, I appreciate the remarks made by the Chair and by
Roelf and I endorse those sentiments, each and every one of them. I cannot
shy away from the fact that I am a National Party, that I was a National Party
politician, I was elected on the National Party political ticket, I had endorsed
each and every of those policies. The policy simply was since the days of Mr
John Vorster that . . . (indistinct) the highest law of the land would be the
security of the land, that had to do with the first detentions of people 90 days,
80 days. 16 years later, I was in Parliament, I was debating the Rabie
Commission and the framework, the launching pad was still the highest law of
the land, is the security of the land. Now amongst that framework, amongst
that frame of mind we had put legislation on the statute book. Numbers of
them. Security legislation, the Terrorism Act, within them were embodied,
sections, clauses which allowed policemen to question, to hold indefinitely
people in detention. Subsequent to that we had in terms of Public Safety act
we called for states of emergency, we on the basis of that you need to
centralise authority in the hands of the executive, did exactly that, now
because we did that, I simply cannot see how I can ...(inaudible) back and say
sorry I did not know, it was foreseen that under those circumstances people
would be detained, people would be tortured, everybody in this country knew
people were tortured, they were tortured, you read it in the alternative Press,
anybody who had access to the Townships, my sources of information was the
Chairman of ...(recording deteriorates and disappears)
MR WESSELS: Chairman of this Commission sitting next to him Wynand
Malan, Alex Boraine, we did battle on many occasions in Parliament in the
face of attacks by Helen Suzman, Boraine and others simply saying the
Security forces were a law unto themselves and we argued, vehemently
opposed that, we said you are misreading the situation, it is not true and yet it
all happened right there under our noses, so I donít believe I can stand up and
say, sorry, I didnít know.
MR GOOSEN: Does it flow from that then that you would accept that it is
not directed at you personally, but at in those circumstances, the context that
you sketch that senior government officials subject to exactly the same
context that you were subject to in effect chose not to know and accordingly
chose to create a climate of impunity for Security force members to act.
MR WESSELS: I take it I am also permitted to ask a question for you to
further particulars, are we saying when you refer to officials, government
officials, could you just explain to me what are you talking of, are you talking
of politicians or officials of state, non-elected officials?
MR GOOSEN: Letís stop at the politicians for the moment.
MR WESSELS: I have no question in my mind, I have no doubt in my mind
but whatsoever, that that was the policy that you had to know what you had to
know. In other words what you did not have to know did not concern you. Let
me give you a simple example, for the better, for the better, I was interviewed
recently by a gentleman called Jonathan Malanski, he is busy with his
doctorate at the London School of Economics, he is busy with research in this
country at this particular juncture. He questioned me about a resolution taken
at the State Security Council dealing with the release of Mr Nelson Mandela. I
believe it was taken in June 1988 and it is minuted as follows that a document
was circulated and the document was then drawn in or drawn back and was
then destroyed and he asked me what had happened there, because directly or
indirectly my name appears in and around that document.
The fact of the matter is the following: That the ..(inaudible)
Werkgroup the executive of the working group was charged to work a strategy,
to establish a strategy to try and facilitate the release of President Nelson
Mandela. Now in that discussion it was clear that everybody was not pulling,
pushing all the information that they had, it was clear in my mind that Mr
Kobie Coetzee, Dr Neil Barnard, Mr Fanie van der Merwe were engaged in
their own strategy over and above what we were busy with, that was none of
Dr Neil Barnard was not obliged to report to me neither was Mr Fanie
van der Merwe, neither was Mr Kobie Coetzee. It was none of my business, I
did not want to know they were reporting to Mr P W Botha on that issue and
that was how it functioned. My job was to manage the state of emergency and
all the information I had to have to manage the state of emergency I was
entitled to and over and above that I was not entitled to that. I operated as a
Deputy Minister and function under regulated or (help my met die - Engels
man) regulations, delegated powers and regulations, over and above that it was
not my line function. I was not in the authority to detain people or to release
people, and in that sense I didnít know and I did not want to know, because I
was charged to do something else, to manage the state of emergency and the
national management system and I did that. And therefore I am saying in
conclusion there was such a policy, Mr Pik Botha mentioned it yesterday as
well, that was a statement of fact.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Wessels, you have also had the benefit of being present
for the last two days, you werenít present at the previous hearings, but in
essence some of the testimony that we have heard has been to the effect that
there were certain policy guidelines formulated and there was obviously never
any intention that that should mean, that unlawful action should flow from it.
Unlawful actions did flow from those policy frameworks were in consequence
of misinterpretations and we have had discussion about how to interpret the
word elimineer and so on and so forth. I donít want to get into a semantic
debate about it.
The Security forces fought a war in the country and in certain respects
they fought a dirty war and that is evident from a number of the amnesty
applications, the benefit of having fought that war including the dirty aspects
was that the revolution as envisaged did not occur, the revolutionaries did not
wrest power from the National Party government as it was. Is it not too much
to expect that the Commission should accept that this benefit, that benefit was
merely the happy result of a set of mistaken interpretations, a coincidence?
MR WESSELS: I must tell you I will not try to duck the answer, to duck the
question but I have difficulty in fully comprehend that and I wonít blame you
for the way you formulated it, I will, maybe I am not on top of the question,
but the following occurred.
It was a dirty war on all sides. I sat in discussions where I was
defending, so to speak, people who were allies of the government, I am
referring to councillors, and no, I am not arguing the legitimacy, the non-
legitimacy of the fact, they were councillors and what had been done to them
and I had listened to arguments where they had told me in the presence of
others what they thought of our policies. None of them were supporters of
apartheid, and yet they were subjected to but fierce intimidation. Serious
intimidation. And I sat alongside South African policemen being accused by
them for not protecting them. So that was the predicament, that was the
cleftstick, John Citizen found himself in.
I have somebody who has just been decorated for reporting on the work
of this Commission and somebody I hold in high esteem who had first
educated me about this predicament, John Citizen being called upon to not
disclose the whereabouts of an infiltrator, a revolutionary, being forced to
remain silent by those people who wanted him to play a specific role, and yet
on the same side also being the subject of attacks by the security forces for
not disclosing that particular event, that was the difficulty.
But let me not run away from the issue, the issue is the following, the
Chappies Klopper whom I happen to know, Chappies Klopper told me who he,
why and how he and others had attacked the house of Ivor Jenkins, and I said,
why did you do that, and I speak very good Afrikaans, just like Markgraaf, I
have a very good repertoire of Afrikaans words to explain my anger, I was
really the hell in, and I asked him, why did you do that? And he said well we
did it because we thought they were giving you a hard time, not me
personally, the government. How and why did he believe that? Because we
had been making those speeches, the speeches Mr Pik Botha had referred to
yesterday, National Party rallies. If you wanted to have an applause from the
gathering, then you must see how we try and mobilise people and how we stir
them up at meetings, we will really speak to them and get them to react, we
will climb every mountain in this country.....used by us and the Chappies
Kloppersí of the world interpreted what we were saying, he thought it was
just, it was legitimate to instil the fear of hell into Ivor Jenkins and others by
attacking his house and shooting his house and never ever did I or anybody
give such, never did I, let me speak for myself, did I give such an instruction,
never ever, and that is what I said, can I condone that, but I cannot shy away
from the fact, that those men and woman and I were on the same side and that
was the difficulty weíre in.
That is why I am not sure, I mean we run glibly over this, I am not sure
whether the people of South Africa and I say this with respect, the
Commissioners and others appreciate that silent feeling of relief when the
epilogue was agreed to. There are people who are picking it up, but that
epilogue was not agreed to at the World Trade Centre in November of 1993,
but it, we had to go the extra mile, we had to go to the Cape of Good Hope
Centre in December of 1993 to Cape Town, that is how difficult it was to get
that in, that is why I said I will be continuing tomorrow, I have a lot to say Mr
Chairman - now I am not biased against this Commission, I think my conduct,
my interaction with you displays that, but I implore you, donít squander the
opportunity that we negotiated for you, in the epilogue, to ensure that this
County will be at peace with itself after you have done your job.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson, I have no further questions, thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, both of you, we have had an
extraordinary two days. We were very deeply frustrated that especially the
military had not come forward for us to be able to know more about what had
happened, why it had happened, and I mean, we had thought that this hearing
was going to provide us with some of the answers that we were looking for
about accountability and so on. I think we have gone beyond that. We are still
going to have to try and establish, I mean we have got researchers and these
people who are going to be trying to establish facts and we are still going to
have our meeting with Mr P W Botha. You indicated earlier that you believed
that it was important that your leaders should have been here to help you to
become a team.
But I think that anyone listening to yourselves is not going to go away
with, well, they were fussing over this, they were fussing over that, it is that
you have come out and stood, well almost naked, figuratively, and it is a very
humbling thing, it is a very humbling thing for us in the Commission, it is
very humbling, because some of the things that have happened in the two
years that we have been together, have been quite extraordinary, and we
regard what has happened in these two days in different ways, but especially
the remarkable candour that you have displayed is something that I think
doesnít happen, itís not happened anywhere else. I said when we sit here
sometimes we forget, I mean, that you were the government, you were running
the show and now you are coming to give account to us who many of us were
regarded in that dispensation as really nothing or worse, I mean, enemies to be
neutralised. And I just want to give thanks, I want to give thanks for our
country, for our people, I want to give thanks that you two young men should
have, I mean, the honesty that you have demonstrated is, it doesnít come
easily to anyone of us, I think and it must be at some cost to yourselves, but
we want to give thanks and believe, I mean we believe fervently that the
contribution that you have made in the past, but the contribution that you have
made today is going to be one that has a remarkable impact.
It is going to help give a momentum to this process of seeking to heal
our country, because we have been committed to the fact that we want to
finish this thing quickly. The country canít keep sitting and sort of scratching
open the wounds, thatís had to be done, but it is a phase that must pass so that
we can actually get down to the business of holding hands and saying I want
to make this country a great country.
The pain sometimes is that this could have happened so much earlier,
you know, but then, there is a wonderful little piece in the Bible which says,
"In the fullness of time, something happens in the fullness of time" we might
be impatient and say "why didnít it happen at that time? But the circumstances
were not ripe for it to happen. And I just hope you are aware that you have
helped, I think, to pour balm on the wounds of very many by what you two and
to some extent the other two people have done, and I want to say thank you.
I want to thank my colleagues and our team over there and yourselves
over there and all of you that, now I understand a little bit actually why the
world looks on and marvels that you can sit there and that I can laugh with
you when you can laugh with me, as they say, but it canít be, and it is, it is
happening and the miracle that they spoke of in 1994, I think God wants it to
persist in part for the sake of the world, because if we can do it here with
Godís help and Godís blessing and the prayers of so many around the world
and there is hope for Rwanda, Sierra Leone and all of those places. I want to
God you are good and you do some extraordinary things in this Land.
We thank you for the privilege of being fellow-workers with you. We thank
you for those who have come forward yesterday and today and for the things
that have happened and we pray that these and others similar to this will
contribute to the healing of this traumatised of this wounded people, thank
you God. Amen.
MR MEYER/MR WESSELS
SECURITY HEARING TRC/GAUTENG