TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
SUBMISSIONS - QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
DATE: 21 MAY 1997
NAME: SALMON PIENAAR
HELD AT: ATHLONE, CAPE TOWN
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Salmon Pienaar and Advocate de Jager and Mr du Plessis his legal representatives. I am going to ask Dr Ramashala to administer the oath.
SALMON PIENAAR: (sworn states)
ADV DE JAGER: Mrs Burton, before Mr Pienaar starts with his evidence may I just place on record that a short summary or a submission has been drawn which we have already put at the disposal of the Commission.
Then secondly matters that do not really affect the situation of my client in respect of the facts in general, but I thought I must bring under your attention, having heard the evidence being given and questions asked, is one aspect which I think is of importance is that when we were dealing with the trial in the Supreme Court and also in the - well not finding in the Appellate Division, but there were many tape recordings of the so-called Trojan Horse incident in circulation. Apparently one was made by CNN and the other one was by the BBC. There is one which gives you direct footage and which has become Exhibit 42 in the Appellate Division record and I think it is important that one should get hold of the real original. Because what happened is that the - I am not sure and I am saying this under correction, and you must remember this also happened long ago in my memory and I've dealt with many cases in the meantime, but the one tape recording was definitely edited, but the one handed in by a Mr Everton, and his evidence appears in the Appellate Division record, or Everson rather, Christopher David Knoll Everson, from pages 1694 onwards and then again his cross-examination from 2215, and I know that you have already, I suppose, studied the record but I just wanted to attract your attention to that specific portion. That deals with the issue of the video which I think is important because the video can become confusing if one looks at edited versions of it.
Then as we ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, may I just respond to that point, Mr Everson was one of our witnesses at yesterday's hearing ...(intervention)
ADV DE JAGER: Oh I was not aware.
CHAIRPERSON: And we will certainly check on the - and thank you for the information you've given us about the videos available.
ADV DE JAGER: Then in the next instance, I think as far as the signal concerning General Wandrag's signal dated somewhere in '84, I think it's 5.9.84, I think one should look at that signal in the context of the evidence which he has given from pages 2219 in the Appellate Division record. And I think you have already done so and if I am wasting your time by pointing this out to you, but I think it is important that one must get the context of what happened there.
We may then proceed with my client's evidence if you so wish.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Can I just confirm that the video we have used is the one that was produced by Mr Everson and I think it was CBS not CNN.
ADV DE JAGER: It may be CBS, yes, yes, yes.
CHAIRPERSON: Please go ahead Mr Pienaar.
MR PIENAAR: Madam Chair I've handed you my submission. What I will do is that I will present the submission in my mother tongue, Afrikaans, but when we come to the questioning period I am willing to deal with it in English to make the proceedings flow a bit quicker.
Madam Chair I do the following submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in terms of the provisions of Section 31 of the Act:
"I, Salmon Pienaar, hereby declares under oath as follows:
I was born on the 16th of July 1942 in George. I matriculated in 1959 and obtained the degrees of B.A. Hons at the University of Stellenbosch.
My civil life I was a teacher and I started my career in education in 1964 and in 1996 I left the service of the Department of Education in the Western Cape after having been a school principal for 28 years.
On leaving the service I was a school principal of the Excelsior Primary School in Bellville.
In the past I held several leadership positions in organised education and I still hold some of these leadership positions and I'm currently the Chairperson of the South African Teachers Union in the Cape.
I started my defence career in 1960 at the Defence Force Gymnasium in Pretoria in 1965 and I later became an officer in the civilian force. Throughout the years I continued my civilian force service voluntarily and in 1979 I acquired the rank of commandant, it's now the rank of Lt Colonel".
Chairperson I am still a member of the South African National Defence Force and I am also a member of the transformation working group of the new South African Defence Force. It was debated as recently as Friday regarding the issue of transformation in the Defence Force.
My personal love for people in general and children in particular is from a lifetime of intense involvement in education. In my entire life thus far I haven't taken a single decision or performed a single action of which I am aware of which was aimed at causing harm to children.
And in this hall today there are people who will be able to confirm that, people from the Press and others, thousands of former students and former colleagues could testify to this fact.
My sympathy with the Magmoed, Miranda and Claasen families, the parents of the deceased in this matter is definitely not superficial.
I also lost my own 11 year-old son in an unnatural way. This happened three months after this incident so I know the pain that these parents went through.
So it's against this personal background that I would like to offer you my testimony.
"In 1985 and over a period of more than 30 years it was expected of soldiers to maintain political order within the country. And it's a soldier's duty, in terms of the Defence Act, to protect and maintain the interests of the State irrespective of the persons own political preferences.
Honourable Chairperson the civilian unrest in 1985, in my view, and according to the information given to me, was similar to a civil war and in the circumstances, I as a soldier and all soldiers under my command had to try and stabilise the situation and according to the information given to me as commanding officer we had to avert and counter a revolution, and we had to do this subject to and with respect for the laws of the land. That is how I saw my task as commanding officer of the Defence Force troops in that area and how I tried to perform it to the best of my ability.
Due to the fact that civilian unrest arose in the residential areas, the Defence Force, in terms of the Defence Act was tasked by the State to perform an extremely sensitive task in a very sensitive milieu. Speaking for myself I was always of the opinion that it was the task of the soldier to protect and ensure the safety of civilians in the State and not to control civilians, and I would like to emphasise protect.
Furthermore the primary task of law and order was given to the Police and the Defence Force had to act only in support of the Police. That was not always an easy thing for myself for the Defence Force because these two forces had totally different spheres of responsibility and cultures and ways of doing things".
I want to describe that again, the culture of handling things differed between the two groups.
"It was common cause that the first state of emergency in 1985 was announced 11 days before the Trojan Horse incident in the district of Athlone in Manenberg.
Now I also accept as common cause that unrest and incidents of violence were, according to the information reports and my knowledge of what was happening on the ground unrest was rampant in these areas. Full particulars regarding these unrest situations appear from the records of the Supreme Court trial. I emphasise this unrest not as a justification for the death of children but as an illustration of the tremendous pressure which rested on the decision-makers in this area.
I was a part-time civilian force soldier and I was called up for two months in terms of the Defence Act and this incident took place in this two month period. On a daily basis I was subjected, along with my troops, to unsavoury civilian disobedience and violence. My training as a soldier was based on the principals of the officer as master and the soldier as master in the community who acts to protect communities and community life and not to destroy that life.
Under my command in this time I had about 14,000 troops and the two months relevant here not a single soldier under my command shot a single shot and two of my members died in this period".
I would like to add here that the only ammunition which a soldier was allowed to carry at any time was ordinary sharp point ammunition or bullets. It is also true, and I would like to add that to my statement, that not only did two of my men die in this period but that I was also subjected to handgrenade attacks and AK47 gunfire, and not a single shot was fired by my troops.
"My troops consisted of civilian force members, people from ordinary civilian life and also young conscripts from all the communities. If I could use those terms, from all the communities, Black, White and Brown. It followed, necessarily that they represented the full spectrum of political thought in the country at the time and I refer to the statistics to illustrate to you that the Defence Force and in particular the Civilian Force tried to maintain the discipline which formed part of their patterns of conduct and they often tried to do so under great pressure and provocation.
I respectfully submit that undisciplined conduct and violation of human rights, deliberate violation of human rights within the Defence Force context and taking into account the circumstances prevailing at the time were the exception and not the rule.
As will appear from my rank I was a senior officer in the civilian force fraternity, but I was actually a junior in the broader context of the South African Defence Force and its rank structure.
The policy approach of my superior officers in that time was aimed at avoiding conflict and to try by means of community involvement, and in that regard I can refer to many, many examples of community involvement to, in that way, try to persuade a dissatisfied populace to avoid revolutionary development. It is within this context which I performed my duties as a soldier and I can say to this Commission that I am very proud of that.
As a soldier I had more operational experience than the average permanent force officer here or elsewhere. Nevertheless I was fortunate never to have shot a person or have acted in conflict in a way which made my actions the subject of investigation by this Committee. In conclusion I could mention that I received from the group commanding officer of group 40 a special award to commend me for my actions and conduct in the urban unrest situation.
My public involvement with the Trojan Horse incident has caused a great deal of embarrassment and pain and disruption to my family and myself. It cast a shadow over my proud military career and also my civilian career as an educator.
For that reason I would like to thank the Committee today for giving me the opportunity to explain my involvement in this matter and I hope that you and the families sitting in front here, families of the deceased and those injured will understand my role today and also to accept my bona fide condolences and explanation for the incident.
On the morning of the 15th of October 1985, it could have been the afternoon but I recall that it was in the morning. I, as usual, commenced with my daily routine as military commanding officer....."
and I would like to refer you to documents which you handed out this morning in connection with the JOCS system where the duties and responsibilities within the JOCS were set out. I would also like to refer you to documentation which you furnished in respect of the instructions given within the JOCS and what my duties as military commanding officer were in this context.
"On the 15th of October I started with my normal duties, routine duties and I was not under the command of the Police and no policemen ever served under my command. As far as support services were concerned for the Police this separate command function would have been strictly maintained. My troops did not take orders from any policeman and no policeman would have taken any orders from me. That was completely outside of my context.
The only semi-exception was necessitated by the civilian milieu in which I had to operate as a soldier. My patrols, or whatever operation I was involved in there always had to be a member of the South African Police present to accompany us to see to it that these law and order functions were being fulfilled, such as arrests and detentions etc.
Every morning during that period I was compelled to attend these JOC meetings. It was a duty of mine, also in terms of the documentation which we have referred to. JOC is the abbreviation for a Joint Operational Centre which was established, and it was, as far as I recall, done by virtue of a decision, Government decision, and it was the ground level coordinating point of the then central security management system. At that particular JOCS, which was held daily at the police station at Manenberg, we normally dealt with the following subjects.
1. The areas of responsibility for the deployment of the Police and the Defence Force. We never operated in the same area.
2. A mutual review of flash-points and problem areas within those areas of responsibility.
3. Mutual notification of the planned daily tasks.
4. And any requests for support functions from the Police to the Defence Force and vice versa.
5. Any logistic or communication matters of mutual interest".
and there may also have been other routine matters which in the drafting of this document I couldn't specifically recall.
"The military commanding officer, the SAP commander and the Railway Police commanding officer, as well as any other departmental bodies from civilian life who were involved from time-to-time were present at these meetings, normally.
On the morning of the 15th of October 1985 I attended this JOCS meeting as usual. Myself, Colonel Janse van Rensburg, who was the commanding officer of the Police and Colonel Loedolff from the Railway Police were present. Junior members of the abovementioned three forces might have been present but I can't confirm that under oath.
During this meeting routine matters were raised as usual. And I assume that it's general knowledge and that your Commission is also aware of the fact that the civilian unrest was at its height at that stage and was particularly prevalent and serious in Thornton Road and Belgravia Road in Athlone.
Mention was made of flash-points earlier and my information in this regard came from Police records. I did not deploy any Defence Force troops in this area. I had not first-hand knowledge of that area because I didn't work there. I based my knowledge on the incident reports and the information which I got from the South African Police which daily came to my notice.
Vehicles, and especially civilian vehicles on a daily basis were stoned and set alight and roads were blockaded using burning obstacles and blockades. The standard procedure, namely patrols, were simply insufficient to counter this problem because as soon as the Police or Defence Force vehicle approached the specific flash-point the people simply fled and concealed themselves at various points.
At this meeting somebody, and I can't remember who it was, indicated that a vehicle which should appear to be a civilian vehicle and which would conceal Police members would be sent into the area in an attempt to identify and arrest the ringleaders. Nobody gave any indication during this meeting that any unlawful action or attack was envisaged, and I still believe that nobody had that in mind. I in fact agreed with the plan and it was an acceptable conduct for me.
Here I must explain that I had no powers of amendment as far as Police actions were concerned. I could not veto it, I could not say you can't continue with that. I simply took note of it. That was a Police task and after the meeting I immediately continued with my I own tasks as Commanding Officer of the Defence Force.
I had no knowledge of the instructions given to Colonel Loedolff, to Lt Vermeulen, those things were totally unknown to me. What I do know I learnt from court cases and this hearing.
That evening I heard for the first time that there had been an attack on the vehicle and that three civilians had died as a result. I didn't know that these were children. I afterwards, and long afterwards found out that children had been involved".
Honourable Chairperson that is my total involvement in this matter of the Trojan Horse and it will be confirmed by member of the South African Police.
"You, as a Commission are asked to judge the moral blameworthiness of the decisions taken in the conflict as far as I am concerned.
I don't shrink away from my decision in respect of the objective of the operation and I don't hesitate to accept moral responsibility for that, and I would like to actually look at the parents today when I say this. I would like to use this opportunity, the Magmoed family, the Miranda family and the Claasen family, I see that they are sitting in the front here, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to them especially as far as the families of the deceased are concerned and the fact that there were children involved. And I would like to tender my apologies for any pain which arose from my conduct or actions.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Pienaar, Mr Ntsebeza will lead the questions.
MR NTSEBEZA: Thank you Chairperson. Now Colonel Pienaar, I don't know whether you are Colonel or commandant.
MR PIENAAR: Call me Mr, it's better Sir.
MR NTSEBEZA: Oh ja, Mr Pienaar. Now I would like to get an understanding of what you were in terms of your career, were you an educationist and were only a member of the Defence Force because you are a member of the citizen force?
MR PIENAAR: That's correct. I was a member of the part-time forces, but due to the fact that I was a member of the part-time forces I could be called up for service anywhere that the Defence Force needs me in terms of the Defence Act.
MR NTSEBEZA: I see. So when you served in command and in control of the SADF personnel in the Cape Flats during October of 1985 it was as a consequence of a call-up, is that correct?
MR PIENAAR: Could you just repeat that - as a consequence of the call-up, yes.
MR NTSEBEZA: When had you been called up?
MR PIENAAR: I can't remember, normally there is a period prescribed before time, I can't tell you, maybe my personal file will identify that.
MR NTSEBEZA: Would it have been earlier on in the year or would it have been only shortly before the incident?
MR PIENAAR: Normally a call-up instruction I presume must reach a member of the part-time forces about 90 days beforehand, but it could have been shorter. Because in those days, because of the shortage of personnel, call-up instructions were directed at people at shorter periods.
MR NTSEBEZA: When you are not on call-up what is the position, are you conversant with things that happen in the Defence Force, or are you totally ignorant of what is going on there?
MR PIENAAR: Normally ...(intervention)
MR NTSEBEZA: In other words when you are functioning as a civilian.
MR PIENAAR: Can I just explain to you this way. As a member of the citizen force you are also part of a structure somewhere. You might be, as I was regimental commander, not at this point, I stood off that post in 1983, but then I was attached to Western Province Command. The link that I had with Western Province Command that I received on a regular basis what we called Intelligence Reports of what was going on, but I had no direct contact, I wasn't in uniform. I was continuing with my civilian job.
MR NTSEBEZA: Would you say you were part of the then National Security management systems?
MR PIENAAR: Chair, would you just repeat? Yes I think inherently I was. If you are a member of the South African Defence Force you are part of the system, if you want or don't want to be you are part of it.
MR NTSEBEZA: I am talking about a phenomenon that occurred in the eighties where whole communities were organised around certain security management systems, joint management systems.
MR PIENAAR: That's correct.
MR NTSEBEZA: Were you part of that in the Western Cape?
MR PIENAAR: I wasn't part of organising communities. If you were part, say for instance of a commando unit, and I say again a commando unit, they had regional responsibilities. In other words if you take a commando that has got a responsibility in the Athlone area you were part of the community security at all times, yes, but I wasn't part of that.
MR NTSEBEZA: I see. Now when you became part of the Joint Operational Centre were you authorised to be part of that?
MR PIENAAR: I was authorised because the moment I was called up and I accepted the call-up instructions and I landed here I was briefed on the situation in the area. I was fully briefed by the Intelligence Officer.
I was also briefed by the permanent force staff in Western Province Command and I was given a specific task. I have written it down, I haven't mentioned it in my submission. My task was to support the South African Police in the maintaining of law and order and to bring the community life back to a normal level within what the normal Defence Force doctrines prescribed and what the laws of the country prescribed and, within what was at that time accepted as urban operations and the way it's being conducted. In other words that was my task.
MR NTSEBEZA: Right. So this briefing which you get was it from Military Intelligence?
MR PIENAAR: Military Intelligence, yes.
MR NTSEBEZA: And was it a briefing that they gave only to the SADF component of...(intervention)
MR PIENAAR: Yes correct.
MR NTSEBEZA: ...of that JOC.
MR PIENAAR: Only the South African Defence Force. We never mixed that up except on a higher level in the security system, in the Nationale Veiligsheid Bestuurstelsel, they had joint committees but I wasn't involved with that.
MR NTSEBEZA: And were you part, did you provide advice on planning of operations in that JOC in Manenberg in your capacity as head of the......
MR PIENAAR: No, no Sir. The planning of operations was basically an identification of what type of operation. Let me explain to you. My troops worked in say the Guguletu area. When I do arrive at the JOC in the morning I explain to the other commanders that this is my border, I won't go outside this; I will conduct patrols; I will conduct community activities like for instance taking garbage away if it's necessary; I would conduct road blocks if necessary, only under these conditions if the South African Police would supply me with the necessary personnel to do an operation like that. Of course I couldn't do a patrol, I couldn't do a road block without the South African Police going with me, because they were basically responsible for law and order, I couldn't adjust over that. If there were any arrests to be made we could take the man in but hand him to the South African Police immediately.
MR NTSEBEZA: I see ...(intervention)
MR PIENAAR: Sorry my advocate just shows me he said you asked me about planning.
MR NTSEBEZA: Yes.
MR PIENAAR: No I wasn't part of planning processes. If you see the Trojan Horse the idea of sending in such a vehicle, yes, that was explained to me and I accepted that.
MR NTSEBEZA: Okay, now we'll go into that in some detail. Now earlier on, and I hope you were able to follow that, when we had Brigadier Loedolff a suggestion was made to him that there had been a meeting on the 14th of October 1985 at some building, Thomas Boydell, do you know anything about that meeting?
MR PIENAAR: I don't know anything about it.
MR NTSEBEZA: Are you saying that you did not attend a meeting of that nature?
MR PIENAAR: I followed this morning that they mentioned about Mr Vlok having a meeting, but I never knew about it and I never attended it.
MR NTSEBEZA: You are saying you never received an invitation ...(intervention)
MR PIENAAR: No.
MR NTSEBEZA: To a meeting which was going to be held at that building?
MR PIENAAR: Could I explain to you, if such an invitation was sent to the South African Defence Force it would have been sent to the Commander, Western Province Command and if he decided that I should go he would inform me to go but I wasn't invited and I never received an order from him to attend.
MR NTSEBEZA: Now there was a suggestion in the letter of invitation that was shown to the Brigadier that this meeting of the 14th was at the instance of the State Security Council. Now the question is in your career, and especially whilst you were here in the Western Cape, did you ever attend or get a briefing from a person who had attended meetings of the State Security Council?
MR PIENAAR: If I ever got a briefing from people who attended ...(intervention)
MR NTSEBEZA: Firstly let me ask did you yourself ever attend a meeting of the State Security Council?
MR PIENAAR: No, no, no I haven't been ...(intervention)
MR NTSEBEZA: It was so high that you wouldn't ...(intervention)
MR PIENAAR: Ja it was too high for me thank you.
MR NTSEBEZA: But you were aware that there were meetings of that ...(intervention)
MR PIENAAR: I was aware of the meetings.
MR NTSEBEZA: Did you ever get any briefings from people who had attended meetings of the State Security Council?
MR PIENAAR: The only briefings that we really got was when, I think you handed out one this morning, that gave an extended briefing on the planning of, say for instance, the GBS, that must have been a decision up high, or on Intelligence Reports that cover the whole country, yes that was given to us.
MR NTSEBEZA: Oh I see. For instance one of these documents which appears to have been a briefing is a document called Nationale Bestuurstelsel?
MR PIENAAR: That's right.
MR NTSEBEZA: And I don't know if you have a copy of that particular document.
MR PIENAAR: I have a copy, is it no. ...(intervention)
ADV DE JAGER: Ja AM32 is that it Mr Ntsebeza, it was marked for us by Mr Khoisan?
MR NTSEBEZA: Well this one - I don't know it doesn't seem to have a ....
ADV DE JAGER: Can we perhaps approach you and compare because it would be nice if we can follow what you are talking about?
MR NTSEBEZA: It is Annexure 41.
ADV DE JAGER: Sir we are ad idem, we know which document you are referring to if you can show us the page which you would like to, we will page to it.
MR NTSEBEZA: Thanks Advocate de Jager. I am on page 4 actually.
ADV DE JAGER: We haven't got a page 4 but can you give us a moment. Ours starts on page 7.
MR NTSEBEZA: Oh no, well I don't know. It's where it talks about statistic ...(intervention)
ADV DE JAGER: Ja, we've got it.
MR NTSEBEZA: Now ...(intervention)
ADV DE JAGER: We are with you Sir.
MR NTSEBEZA: When was - was this thing ever discussed at the JOC meetings, the contents of this particular page in terms of what we identified as the aims of the enemy, (...indistinct), the enemy targets and the "omvang", the total onslaught, were these ever discussed as part of your JOC meetings?
MR PIENAAR: This was never discussed at the JOC meetings but I was fully briefed on this by South African Defence Force Staff.
MR NTSEBEZA: And was it, I am just trying to find out the sense of what the thinking was at the time, was it to your knowledge the thinking of people in the South African Defence Force that the enemy, or the enemy targets from the perspective of those who drew this document where the population, especially the Black and Brown people and communities were the targets, now was that the perspective of also the SADF?
MR PIENAAR: Maybe I will describe and Mr de Jager will follow-up on what I am saying. Whenever you receive a briefing you get it in writing, you deduct your own perspectives on that. I would say to you in terms of my understanding, yes, let's agree to it, that the philosophy behind what was going in South Africa is, is that you must organise the masses and truly or not truly but my perception was that the basis of the masses was within the Coloured and Black communities, because of political structures etc, etc. But there were also many Whites who were seen, as within this philosophy of who is the enemy and who is not the enemy.
Can I say it to you this way, my perspective is you couldn't identify the enemy within a racist bracket, but I do say to you, yes my perspective was also that most of it was going on in the Black and the Coloured areas, yes because they were the people who suffered under the regime of apartheid. I must agree to that.
MR NTSEBEZA: Thank you.
ADV DE JAGER: Excuse me. Mr Ntsebeza just to avoid a misunderstanding I don't know whether I understood you correctly but there may be a misunderstanding as to the contents of 32. The first time I read it it sounded as though the Vyandelike teiken in Afrikaans, refers to a target of the Defence Force, but reading it in context it appears to me that what it says is that the target of the enemy in Afrikaans, "die vyandelike teiken", and so it explains that is the enemy of the State is the bevolking vir al die Bruin en die Swart woongebiede, is that the way you understand it?
MR NTSEBEZA: And who would be the enemy?
ADV DE JAGER: Pardon?
MR NTSEBEZA: And then who would be the enemy?
ADV DE JAGER: Well the enemy would be those who attacked the State and their target would be the Black people and the Brown people to organise them in revolution, that sounds to me that ...(intervention)
MR NTSEBEZA: Yes, ja ...(intervention)
ADV DE JAGER: Do we agree on that.
MR NTSEBEZA: In fact I think there is something to be said about that interpretation when one basically ...(intervention)
MR PIENAAR: Can I just add that we can quote from previous things being said that where does our strength lie, that is in the masses. It's been said, you know about it and I know about it, as far as the Defence Force perspective was that those people who wanted to revolutionise the State that was their target to mass them up against - that's how I understood it. I do understand it even today like that.
MR NTSEBEZA: Yes it may well be that that is an interpretation. Now in other words are you saying that the aim of this document was to say the population is targeted by the enemies of the State?
MR PIENAAR: Let's not do shadow-boxing. We know who the enemy of the State at that time was and we know who the State was. Those people identified by the State as the enemy, they had a target between them and the State and those people were the masses and unfortunately it was connected to Black and Coloured people. Yes it is so.
MR NTSEBEZA: Is it then your evidence, if I understand you well that in October on the 15th when you came to an ordinary meeting with JOC yours was to see in what way your troops or the people who were under your command were in the ordinary course going to supply a supportive role to the daily operations of the bullies and the members of the South African Railway police?
MR PIENAAR That's correct.
MR NTSEBEZA: Is it your evidence, if I must understand it well therefore that there wasn't ever a situation where the planning of any operation would be by your unit and the unit from the Railway Police and the Police?
MR PIENAAR Let me explain to you this way. I, in my time remember of one such an operation that was done in the area where we're sitting at the moment. The South African Police identified at that stage that there were people who were precisely doing what we suggested as vyandelike teiken earlier, in other words, organise the masses against the State, and there was decided on an operation, it is called in military terms, a cordon and search operation. In other words you cordoned the area off and you send in search teams to see if you can find the guilty people. That is a joint operation, but that was normally not planned within the JOC, that was planned in the higher hierarchy and I was given my command from high commanders, how I should partake in it, the police received them from theirs, there is a commander but I'm not responsible to them. I will liaise with them if I find any problems but I am under command of a higher commander. If I was in charge, I was supposed to report on the part that I fulfil, but in the JOC we never had an operation in my time with the same characteristics as the one I've just explained to you.
MR NTSEBEZA: But did you ever meet as heads of these operational units to discuss matters of joint operations on a daily basis because it seems to me that in, this is the impression that you created certainly in some of the statements that you gave earlier in connection with this matter?
MR PIENAAR Yes there was joint operations. For instance, if you had to put down a road block at say, at Thornton, and there was planning to be done between the Army, the Air Force and the Police, the planning broadly affecting all the people was given there, but then I go back to my own people and I give them their orders.
And the South African Defence Force, I told you, it's two different cultures, I do it in writing, I give my orders to my commanders, I brief them fully, I decide who shall receive the orders, if it's a bigger structure junior ranks will go down and give the same detail orderS below. Yes some cooperated operations have been dealt with in the JOC.
MR NTSEBEZA: Is that in that way then that we must understand your statement which changes the statement which you made shortly after this event - 15th of May 1987 where you say,
"We three commanding officers met and had talks on a daily basis at the JOCS in which we planned the activities and took decisions in connection with matters which required our attention".
MR PIENAAR: You must read that in context altogether or separate. The Trojan Horse wasn't a group-planned operation, that was just mentioned to me and it was said to me that Lt Vermeulen will take command of it and I thought well it's good enough because the aim of it was to arrest people and I was satisfied with it. And I don't know who went back to Command, you will find that I never reported from my HQ to higher HQ and to Chief of the Army any information about this Trojan Horse incident because there were no troops part of it. It wasn't an army operation.
MR NTSEBEZA: In fact that's the question I was going to ask next.
Is it your evidence that what happened there was that as part of your daily routine the other commanders of the other structures told you of this plan that they were intending to move into Athlone amongst other things?
MR PIENAAR Correct, correct.
MR NTSEBEZA: Is it your evidence that you were not required to supply any support of whatever nature?
MR PIENAAR: Nothing whatsoever, but I can assure you, if they had asked I would have said no, because that's not part of Army operations.
MR NTSEBEZA: In other words you supplied neither human resources nor military resources in the form of weapons for the Trojan Horse operation?
MR PIENAAR: Nothing. I want to confirm to you again. A soldier never carries a sjambok, never carries a haelgeweer, the only thing he takes with him is his weapon, that's and R4 or R1 or AK47, whatever it may be. No other weapons.
MR NTSEBEZA: And you were not asked to supply any assistance whatsoever as part of this project?
MR PIENAAR: Nothing. Can I just put it to you this way?. In that way me and my two colleagues, who had a very good relationship, knew the cultures of each organisation and they never asked me because they knew what Defence Force actions would have been.
MR NTSEBEZA: Would your input have mattered in any way to them?
I'm thinking about a person who has got a manual on joint operations centres, for instance on crowd control, on those sort of things, was your opinion solicited at all?
MR PIENAAR: I think so, but when you come to the operation itself you will find that - let's take something that was discussed here today, crowd control. There is a vast difference between the operational method of a soldier, the South African Defence Force, and the operational method of the Police. I don't say theirs are wrong, what I say to you, we've got different ways of dealing with something like this.
MR NTSEBEZA: So - but what I'm asking is, was your opinion sought as to whether the method that they intended using in effecting these arrests, would not for instance result, as it did, in the loss of life? In other words was your opinion ever canvassed whatsoever?
MR PIENAAR: Yes I think I understand your question. My honourable answer is I never doubted in the aim that was explained to me. I never doubted it. It was explained to me, they wanted to make arrests, they had difficulty in their - say their normal and traditional methods, they wanted to extend to this vehicle, and I saw it, I saw the vehicle, it stood there, I saw the crates. They told me they'll put people in the crates and they'll try to arrest. You know examples of that is available all over South Africa. Normally they put on tackies to run the people in, you see? But to me it was acceptable. I never thought that the situation that eventually it resulted in would have happened, because I never knew about the contents of the orders that were given to Lt Vermeulen.
MR NTSEBEZA: Now what do you understand by the term, daadkragitge onrus beheer?
MR PIENAAR Who stated that?
MR NTSEBEZA: No no I'm not saying, but what do you understand by that?
MR PIENAAR: Ja I understand it.
MR NTSEBEZA: What do you understand by that as a military man?
MR PIENAAR: I can explain to you this way. Sometimes I must reprimand my child, sometimes I must take him over my lap. If I take him over my lap that's daadkragtig. In other words your methods must be strict. But I say again, and I told you right in the beginning, as far as I understand it, everything that happens in South Africa maintaining law and order must be within the parameters of the law itself. So if I say daadkragtig, I would understand it as, what can the police do to contain the situation and I haven't got knowledge about that.
MR NTSEBEZA: Now you said, and you have emphasised this, that at the time you, the defence force had to act within the parameters of the legal provisions at the time. Now you also testified that at the time of this particular incident a state of emergency had been declared. Now I don't know whether your understanding is the same as mine as far as that goes, that in a state of emergency the Police have got wider powers of arrest than the ordinary ...(intervention)
MR PIENAAR: That's correct, I understand it that way.
MR NTSEBEZA: In some instances they do arrest people on suspicion of having committed a crime.
MR PIENAAR: That's correct.
MR NTSEBEZA: That would be over and above the detention powers that the security police had in terms the Internal Security Act.
MR PIENAAR: That's correct.
MR NTSEBEZA: And in some instances they would have been able to arrest people without necessarily having been able to establish whether they had or had committed a crime. If they had reason to believe that they are connected or are suspected of committing certain crimes.
MR PIENAAR: I agree to that. You remember the 90 days of Mr Vorster?
MR NTSEBEZA: Yes.
MR PIENAAR: That was an Act to give people the opportunity to determine are these people really whatever they may be. Before the state of emergency we all know that that Act was changed and I think you had to release a person within 14 days.
MR NTSEBEZA: No it was even worse. In 1985, I can tell you, from personal experience it was worse. You could be detained for an indefinite period ...(intervention)
MR PIENAAR: No I won't disagree with you because I wasn't in the same position.
MR NTSEBEZA: Yes, but what I'm trying to get at is, I'm trying to get your own sense of whether you are able to agree with Brigadier Loedolff when he says, equipped as they were with powers under the state of emergency, ordinary methods of arrest would not avail them. How is that possible with the sort of wide powers that the police had in a state of emergency?
MR PIENAAR: If I give you an answer on this it's basically a personal opinion off the cuff.
MR NTSEBEZA: Of course.
MR PIENAAR: I would say yes they had wide powers in which they could act. Unfortunately, and I won't say that's correct, I didn't understand the powers of the police because I think there was extended powers on the South African Defence Force as well by a situation like this. It's difficult for me to judge this at the moment, if, and you know it's easy to sit in an armchair today and look back hindsight and say, okay you could have done this and you could have done that. At that specific time, I can tell you, that there was a great necessity that I read from what the State in public papers said, that to get the situation back to normal, in other words I think we can expect from people like the police, who were basically responsible for law and order, to apply methods, but I as a soldier would always say, within the limitations of the law. It doesn't matter what situation is declared by a State.
MR NTSEBEZA: Yes if fact, because we are sitting at this sort of Commission and not being a court of law and so many years thereafter, that I think it is important for us to understand what your feeling is.
Now that you can look back on things, do you in your own opinion, because your opinion will count, having been a member of the armed forces or special citizen forces, and I'm not criticising necessarily the police in this regard, do you think now that you look back on things, that the emergency regulations would, with a little bit more patience on the part of the police, would have provided them with the capacity to effect arrests rather than resorting to the methods that they did resort to, in this specific instance?
MR PIENAAR: I can give you a dual answer. If I say what is my position now, I would say yes it wasn't necessary, but in those days I personally thought that an emergency situation could clear up the problem.
But you know there you were near to the situation, now you're far away, it's easier to have a broad vision at this stage.
MR NTSEBEZA: Now let me ask you about the 15th of October 1985. When you agreed to this scheme to take place, in other words when you blessed it with your approval, knowing that even as a soldier, you in terms of the emergency regulations, had powers of arrest and detention, didn't you think that it would have been less risky if, for instance, you suggested to those people that rather than set up your own members in the first - because there is bound to be conflict, when once they get attacked they are going to have to retaliate to preserve their own lives, don't you think now that perhaps if you had indicated at that time that, why don't we just go to this place, cordon it and just effect arrests of those people who we suspect as being instigators? A the law would have allowed you. I certainly would have protested as a lawyer in that time and I would have tried to take you to court, but you had the law at your disposal to do those sort of things. You had the Army, you could have cordoned the entire Athlone. In fact I think this is what happened after this incident, the place was cordoned off in order for a proper investigation to take place, for people to be arrested and all that.
Now couldn't you have suggested that that is what should have been done in the first place, namely let's just go in the area, let's cordon it off, let's get in there in our numbers, let's make one fell swoop? We can take those people into detention because the laws allow us and then let's do an investigation having removed virtually everyone who is suspected to be an agitator.
MR PIENAAR: I must be quite honest with you and you must accept it in the way I say it. I thought that this was a good method to arrest people. I've got no doubts in my mind, why do I say so - what was mentioned to me is, what we'll do is, we'll go into the area. Whenever we attract stones or whatever it may be, we'll get down from the vehicle and catch these okes, and according to me that's a peaceful way of dealing with it. I've got no doubt in my mind and if I say to you now, no I think we should have done another operation, I must lie to you. I thought it was a good way of dealing with it ...(intervention)
MR NTSEBEZA: In other words you are saying, at the time no possibility was raised in your mind that death could result from this sort of method?
MR PIENAAR: No Sir, if that was in my mind, I'm telling you I would have sent along my channels a report back to my HQ's saying that my colleagues are executing an operation and I find that that this will result in deaths, and I can tell you that was not part of my task and I would have argued against it all the time.
MR NTSEBEZA: And in fact in that regard, were you aware that these people were intending to arm themselves with AAA and No 1 ammunition type?
MR PIENAAR: No I wasn't aware of that, I never saw and I never took notice of any orders that were given to South African Police or South African Railway Police. The moment I left that JOC I continued with my task and that was normally having orders with my company commanders, telling them what their task for the day is.
MR NTSEBEZA: No more questions, thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: May I just ask whether there are any other questions. No? Mr Pienaar thank you very much. I hope Advocate de Jager, you will make your flight back, we thank you.
ADV DE JAGER: Well perhaps we shouldn't make it, we like Cape Town. And then may I at this stage thank you for the hospitality that we received today and also I wish to make this short submission to you.
You had the opportunity to listen to my client, you had the opportunity to question him and to see him as a person. He was a citizen force member and I wish to submit on his part that we feel that, and it is our submission on his behalf, that the importance of the work that you are doing and of the report that you're bringing out is also of importance, not only to the families of the deceased children, with whom we have our sympathies, but it is also important to him as an honourable citizen to have a comment in respect of your view of him, and we submit that the way he explained his role to you, the way he has given account of himself, should after all these years of court cases, etc, warrant a positive finding from your part on behalf of my client, and I thank you for listening to us.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr de Jager.
ADV DE JAGER: May we be excused?
CHAIRPERSON: You may be excused, I hope you will get through the traffic.