Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
Further Submissions and Responses by the ANC to questions raised by the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation
Manifesto: Nature of the South African Conflict
The TRC has asked the ANC to make a statement on our “views, motivations and perspectives on the nature of the South African conflict. (…) What were the values that inspired the leaders of your organisation over the years? (…) What inspired the sacrifices which many of your followers made? What drove those who (…) were responsible for the commission of violations (of human rights)?”
In stating its views on the nature of past conflict, the ANC seeks to promote the objectives for which the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation was established. We do so keenly aware that if nursed and not lanced, the boil of past conflict will fester in our body politic, slowly infecting it and finally possibly destroying the nascent democracy.
The liberation of South Africa has come with pain: pain of the victims of colonial policies that decreed the majority of South Africans sub-human; and pain of the victims of an ideology that could not be sustained forever because it was inherently iniquitous – thus forcing its proponents and its beneficiaries, like humans possessed, to resort to brute force in defence of the indefensible.
At the root of South Africa`s conflict was the system of colonial subjugation. Like other colonial countries, South Africa was victim to the rapacious licence of an era that defined might as right; an epoch of an international morality that justified dispossession and turned owner into thief, victim into aggressor, and humble host into ungodly infidel.
And so history was re-recorded in the image of the mighty, seeking to persuade the subjugated that they were fortunate beneficiaries of philanthropy; occasional victims of a well- intentioned experiment gone awry; a hapless people who should be thankful that, because only a few million among them were being killed and because they were experiencing population growth, a crime against humanity was not being committed.
Such was the system of apartheid, a natural continuation of this rapacious licence.
It defined those of our fellow South Africans from Europe, who had chosen to settle in this country, as superior human beings, with the right to lord it over others; and with the holy writ to declare all but 13% of the land the court of the upper caste, in which their fellow human beings should be temporary sojourners, humbly to serve and to obey.
It fashioned a basic law of the land whose mission was to protect the ill-gotten privileges of the chosen few: with the land and the riches in its bowels, and the flora and fauna of its beautiful landscapes, the property of a white minority that had the sole prerogative to make laws and to choose the government of the day.
The cry of desperation of the majority and the hunger pangs of their children were the fodder upon which fed the laughter and comfort of the tormentors.
And the state – the army, the police, the civil service, the judiciary, and other organs – were built and rebuilt to serve the master and protect their privileges.
With each passing phase, new constitutions, new laws, new proclamations, new regulations, new orders were issued to keep the kaffir, the hotnot and the coolie in their place. And force became the stock-in-trade to maintain and defend injustice.
Where new constitutions, new laws, new proclamations, new regulations and new orders failed, the architects of apartheid legality themselves worked to subvert their own writ: to electrocute their captives to death, to throw bodies into rivers, to shoot and blow bodies up, to murder children and their mothers in their sleep, to kill their own in order to discredit the enemy, and to dispose of those among themselves who dared to question even a single deed.
Such was apartheid: a crime against humanity.
Yet it would have been nature gone berserk, had the subjugated accepted their station without protest, without resistance, without struggle and indeed without war.
It is the decree of millennia, that an oppressed people will rise to reclaim what is rightfully theirs, precisely because they are not less than human.
South Africans were no exception.
Their humanity accorded them the natural right to revolt; their sense of justice obliged them to stand up and seek a system where all could be equal before the law, and where all could have the right to determine their destiny.
It is this humanity that infused the oppressed with the conviction that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.” And it is the trust in the humanity of others which fed their humility, for half a century, to write petitions, to march, to gather, to refuse to obey unjust laws, to withdraw their labour, to boycott puppet institutions…but not to lift a finger in retaliation.
But alas, it came to pass that their humanity was met by sub-human deeds in the name of a self-declared superiority.
And thus ranged against one another, in intensifying conflict, were the oppressor and the oppressed, the owners of the wealth of the country and the dispossessed, the rightless and the privileged.
The ANC was a product of this history and this conflict, not their creator. It was born out of the desire of a proud people that sought dignity and justice in the land of their birth.
Its historic mission was and remains to give expression to these desires of the majority of South Africans. It led their peaceful protests, and when the avenues for such protest were closed, it took up arms to achieve the same objectives. To do otherwise would have been to acquiesce and indeed, by omission, to help perpetuate a crime against humanity.
In declaring that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, the ANC and its allies recognised that the anti-thesis to racial subjugation was the liberation of all South Africans; that the system it fought against was racial, but the solution to it was the unity of all irrespective of race, colour or creed. It sought to liberate the oppressed as well as the oppressor.
These politics guided the ANC`s struggle over the years; and when it took up arms, they guided its definition of the enemy as the system and those who propped it up rather than a specific race group.
In its strategy and tactics, the ANC put politics at the fore, and it defined itself and its army, Umkhonto weSizwe, as an instrument of a people in political motion; the barrel of the gun as one of the means – and not the means, least of all, an end in itself. It mobilised the people to revolt in an organised fashion; it mobilised the international community to act decisively against apartheid.
These billions united in the struggle against apartheid, each contributing in their own way to the demise of this iniquitous system.
The legitimacy and legality of this struggle were written in numerous covenants of the international community. They were written on the ballot papers in April 1994.
The legitimacy and legality of the revolt of the oppressed are written in the constitution which defines the kind of society that the ANC and the overwhelming majority of South Africans fought for, and to which they pay allegiance. Above all, they are written in the hearts of millions of South Africans who were in essence their own liberators; and who today are taking active part in the reconstruction and development of the country.
In its conduct of armed struggle, the ANC sought to avoid civilian injury and loss of life. It ensured that its combatants understood the reasons behind the armed struggle as well as the tactics required to win to our side the overwhelming majority of South Africans. In its treatment of captured agents and combatants of the apartheid regime, it emphasised the need for their rehabilitation. It committed itself to international norms in this regard.
And, even at the height of massive repression, the ANC initiated negotiations with the apartheid regime; and it persisted over many years despite being arrogantly spurned, with these efforts culminating in the transition at the turn of this decade.
Yet, as indicated in the main submission and further elaborated in this document, mistakes were made, which we sincerely regret.
We are also mindful that armed conflict meant that combatants on both sides confronted one another in various terrains and under various circumstances. That is in the nature of war; and for such legitimate acts of war, we expect a balanced appreciation of the circumstances that obtained at the time.
Yet this appreciation cannot detract from the need to handle with compassion the victims of the conflict in general, whatever the circumstances which spawned their privations.
In the final analysis, through the new democratic order, we seek to make conflict and war unnecessary.
In our new constitution and its recognition of individual rights and rights of communities; in socio-economic development; in open and transparent government; in new doctrines and through supervision of the security services; in the judiciary and other institutions charged with enhancing democracy; in the media whose independence is guaranteed; and, above all, in an informed, active and organised citizenry, we have the wherewithal to build a society in which violent conflict and the excesses that go with it are forever eliminated.
This is what inspired the members, combatants and supporters of the ANC. This is what inspires us today as we strive to build a better life for all South Africans.
In our first submission we concentrated on providing the TRC with an overview of ANC policies, strategy and tactics within the context of the struggle for national liberation in this country. We paid particular attention to those issues which are central to the mandate of the TRC: the nature, causes and extent of gross violations of human rights, as defined in the Act which brought the TRC into being.
The questions we have received from the TRC in response to our first submission indicate that at present your primary areas of concern include establishing a clearer understanding of ANC policies; of the ANC`s structures and lines of accountability; and of who was responsible for ensuring that ANC policy was adhered to by the general membership of the ANC. Several questions indicate the related concern of the TRC to establish a better understanding of what actions were taken by the leadership of the ANC to deal with instances where there were deviations from policy. Concern has been indicated regarding the need for better understanding of the ANC`s policies with regard to Inkatha, particularly in the context of the violence in Kwa-Zulu Natal since 1984, and the post-1990 explosion of violence in Gauteng.
In addition to several questions reflecting these key areas of concern, the TRC has asked for detailed information on the activities of Umkhonto we Sizwe and the ANC`s former Department of National Intelligence and Security (NAT). More information on the activities of the former apartheid regime has been requested, particularly with regard to the National Co-ordinating Mechanism and other covert activities.
Our response to these major areas of concern is presented as follows:
- a submission concentrating on questions concerning ANC policies, structures of accountability within the ANC, other relevant institutions and procedures, and actions taken by the leadership to halt deviations from policy. Our responses to questions from the TRC relating to the activities of the former apartheid regime are also included in this document.
- two operational reports which aim to provide the TRC with a clearer understanding of the mandates and activities of MK and NAT.
We wish to emphasise that this is a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the main submission presented to the Commission in August 1996. As such, there are many areas regarding ANC policy, our general approach to struggle, the context in which our actions took place, the policies and actions of the apartheid regime, which are not covered in this operational report. The two submissions should be treated as complementary.
In instances where there is insufficient detail, this is either because the information is not available, or because the relevant issues will be covered appropriately and adequately in individual applications for amnesty.
1. ANC STRUCTURES
The TRC has asked for information on the functions and composition of a range of structures, political and military, at national and regional levels. This information, with diagrams, is attached to this submission as Appendix 1.
A full list of all MK camps, a list of rehabilitation centres, and the names of the commanders, is provided in Appendix 2.
The TRC has asked how these various sectors interacted, and which formal and informal channels of communication were in place. These questions, we believe, will be answered in the context of the detailed operational reports.
2. ANC POLICIES
2.1 ANC POLICY REGARDING “JUSTIFIED TARGETS”
The TRC has requested “further clarification of the ANC`s definition of a “justified target”. We have been asked whether there were any recorded instructions defining justified targets besides the pamphlet circulated in 1985 in which the ANC called on the people to “take the struggle to the white areas”, and in which targets were inter alia defined as “the racist army, police, death squads, agents and stooges in our midst.” The TRC wants to know whether this definition of targets could be “used to legitimize the killing of policemen, alleged informers, community councillors, and co-opted parliamentarians”, and what we mean by the term “stooges in our midst.” Elsewhere we were asked “to what extent should ANC leadership take responsibility for acts of violence committed by UDF supporters, (eg. necklacings, petrol bomb attacks)?” The TRC has asked for more information on Bartholomew Hlapane, and whether the ANC takes responsibility for his execution. The TRC has asked what was the ANC`s “military policy” towards Inkatha, and whether the ANC leadership considered members of Inkatha “legitimate military targets.”
Defining targets, 1961 – the early 1980s
In our main submission, we referred to this subject on a number of occasions. The draft document Operation Mayibuye (see p 48) defined targets as “strategic road, railways and other communications; power stations; police stations, camps, and military forces; and irredeemable government stooges.”
In 1978, after the Politico-Military Strategy Commission, a report was produced in which it was stated that the role of armed activity at that time was to “concentrate on armed propaganda actions whose immediate purpose is to support and stimulate political activity and organisation, rather than to hit at the enemy.” The “Green Book“
In November 1980 the ANC declared its adherence to the Geneva Conventions.
In his statement at this time, OR Tambo said “We have always defined the enemy in terms of a system of domination and not of a people or a race…As we have done in the past, so shall we continue, consistently and unreservedly, to support, fight for and abide by the principles of international law.”
In 1983, the document Planning for People`s War noted that there should be “more concentration on destroying enemy personnel”, universally understood within the ANC to mean members of the SAP, SADF, other security structures, and their collaborators.
In the light of these quotations illustrating the ANC`s definition of justified targets, it is clear that action against the machinery of repression – SAP and SADF members and informers – was considered legitimate. These people had chosen to act in the front-line of repression in defence of the apartheid regime.
In most cases those who were attacked by MK were notorious members of the Security Branch, or those involving themselves in a particularly direct manner in acts of violence against communities. There were also many petrol-bomb attacks on the homes of members of the SAP which were carried out by local activists. A survey of ANC statements will show that we consistently called on members of the SAP and SADF to turn their arms on the oppressor, and come over to the side of the liberation struggle.
Informers were essential tools of the security forces; without them, the apartheid regime would have been seriously hampered in their attempts to crush resistance. Many informers and “turned” cadres were directly responsible for the imprisonment, detention and deaths of literally thousands of activists and ANC leaders. An example of a particularly dangerous informer is provided by Bartholomew Hlapane, about whom the TRC requested more details. Hlapane was the most senior office-bearer to betray the struggle – he had been a member of the ANC`s NEC and of the Central Committee of the SACP. Hlapane gave evidence in the trials of Braam Fischer, and compounded this treachery by giving evidence for the state in a number of other trials.
Hlapane crowned these deeds by playing a central role in the March 1982 Denton committee hearings in the USA, which produced “witnesses” supplied by the apartheid regime. This propaganda exercise sought to seriously damage the reputation of the ANC in the international arena, and to set back the liberation struggle, by portraying the Movement as a terrorist group under the control of the Soviet Union, carrying out depraved acts such as infecting South Africa`s water supplies with cholera. He was shot by an MK unit.
Defining targets in the context of People`s War
There have been recent attempts to portray the 1983 constitutional changes – against which the UDF mobilised millions of South Africans – as evidence of progress towards a more equitable society, a process in which the ANC should have participated, rather than intensifying the armed struggle.
We feel it necessary to review this period briefly in order to ensure that our understanding of the context in which the general uprisings of 1984 onwards took place, and in which the ANC called for the intensification of the struggle on all fronts, is conveyed to the Commission.
In the late 1970`s the NP had begun to realise that it needed to extend the base for military conscription; the SADF was in favour of extending the call-up to “coloured” and Indian communities. However, it was generally recognised that it would be difficult to conscript people who did not have the vote.
A perceptive editorial published in the Rand Daily Mail commented on the issue as follows:
“The growing challenge to the South African state must inevitably push matters to the point where further military mobilisation will seriously damage the economy with its endemic shortage of skilled labour. Yet manpower constraint is not the only factor. (…) Equally important is the public relations aspect. For propaganda purposes the state clearly needs growing numbers of non-whites in the Defence Force to project the view that the military build-up is not part of a racial and class struggle, but rather a case of all South Africans preparing to fight shoulder to shoulder against the forces of “communism and chaos.” A third reason for Coloured and Indian conscription concerns the National Party constituency. All along, the Nationalist leadership has made it clear to its followers that the extended rights and privileges the Coloureds and Indians will receive in the new dispensation will carry with them increased responsibilities of “full citizenship”. That means, quite simply, also sharing the burden of defence.”1
The majority of South Africans – those not classified “white”, “coloured” or “Indian” – were explicitly barred from the new racist “tricameral” parliamentary system, which unashamedly sought to further entrench apartheid by drawing allies into the laager to assist in preventing democratic change.
These moves were combined with the three Koornhof Bills, which also aimed to further entrench – not dismantle – existing apartheid institutions: two aimed to bolster the community councils, while the Orderly Movement and Settlement of Black Persons Bill, which became known as the “Genocide Bill”, proposed the tightening of influx control so that those in the impoverished bantustans would be permanently frozen out of the urban areas. The regime made it clear that it wanted these councils to form the basis for whatever “Bantu” political expression it would tolerate outside the “homelands”; in essence, the councils were to be the urban equivalents of the bantustans!
The ANC called on people to mobilize against and destroy the structures created in terms of these laws, as did many community-based organisations within the country which rallied under the banner of the United Democratic Front. There were mass boycotts of elections to these puppet structures. Many councillors were elected on pathetically low polls, and there was intense pressure from communities on councillors and MPs to resign from these structures. In many cases councillors resigned and were welcomed back into their communities.
The quote we used from the ANC`s January 1984 annual statement (p 51 of our first submission) was chosen because it provides a clear example of the ANC`s understanding that military struggle could not occur in a political vacuum, and was one of a number of inter- related forms of struggle against apartheid. “The system” in all its manifestations was the target of mass-based struggle.
These institutions of apartheid are identified as the “organs of central and provincial government, the army and the police, the judiciary, the bantustan administrations, the community councils, the local management and local affairs committees.” The statement continues: “It is these institutions of apartheid that we must attack and demolish…Thus, through our efforts, the so-called Coloured Persons Representative Council ceased to exist; as a result of extensive mobilisation, the puppet South African Indian Council was brought in by an insignificant minority. (…) White South Africa alone should man the apartheid constitutional posts, which it alone has created, to its exclusive benefit. Those who elect to serve in these apartheid institutions must expect to face the wrath of the people.”
The TRC has asked us to define what we meant by “stooges in our midst”. These could be described as those among the oppressed who chose to directly assist in apartheid oppression and repression. Councillors and those who chose to serve in the tricameral parliament and participate in repression, certainly fell into this group of collaborators with apartheid.
A critical point which must be made is that a guarantee for conflict at local level was built into this new legislation: the new community councils had to be self-financing.
As a study by Haysom noted, resistance to these structures at grassroots level intensified “as community councils imposed the predicted rent rises on impoverished townships in a futile bid to balance the books of their “autonomous” local authorities, as they employed their own police to act against squatters, as they evicted people from their homes, as they participated in talks on removals.
“It was in this context, rather than in straightforward political campaigning, that physical attacks on councillors and on their property were launched by angry crowds of residents. Attacks on policemen`s homes became commonplace at a much later stage of the…resistance, after fatal clashes between police and residents had become commonplace and mass arrests and detentions had become the order of the day. Political reservations about community councils and the councillors would not have touched ordinary residents had not the worsening economic situation in South Africa forced residents into direct conflict with the community councils…Allegations of corruption levelled at community councillors have been numerous and widespread. 2
“It is thus not surprising that in September 1984, civil unrest commenced with a protest march against the rent increases imposed by the community council at Sebokeng. As a result, several people, including two community councillors, were killed on that fateful third (day of) September. Unrest spread from the PWV-Free State area to the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. In nearly all these areas, the increasing role of community councillors (and police) in administering these deprived areas, and the material benefits they enjoyed as a consequence, were identified as one of the problems and pressure of various kinds was placed on them to resign.”3
This passage from an eyewitness account of the Sebokeng uprising of September 1984 gives insight into the attitudes of many township residents towards the councillors:
“(The Apostle) Paul has said that not all of us should be leaders, as leaders are more punished than anybody else. So, referring that to our situation, no man should just agree to be a leader if he has no true qualities of leadership, and no-one should feel easy on the throne he has been nominated to occupy, if he has not been freely elected by the public. This I say because, if you keep on ruling defiant hearts, the time they revolt against you not one piece of your belongings together with your life will remain yours. If people are dissatisfied with you, it is better for you to resign before the terrible dark clouds overwhelm you in your wilderness; if you defy their needs, then you ask for a brutal retribution.
“This I say to the remaining councillors: that they should never regard their own opinions as more weighty than those of the people they rule; and that the well-being of the community should not be ignored, or the response will be more horrible than the conflagration that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.”4
A survey of available information shows that the overwhelming majority of attacks on the homes of town councillors (or members of the tricameral legislature) were carried out by local activists, and were often in the context of explosive anger on the ground in response to initiatives by councils or brutalities by the security forces. The number of deaths and injuries which resulted from these attacks were extremely limited when compared with the deaths and injuries inflicted on members of anti-apartheid organisations. Whilst the ANC (and UDF) leadership did not order such attacks, and took no pleasure in any loss of life resulting from such actions, it certainly did not condemn them in principle. Although the ANC leadership did not at all times approve of the methods adopted by people, actions of this nature were in essence the result of state repression, and they were in line with the ANC`s stated policy to mobilise people against institutions designed to yet further entrench apartheid.
A brief review of statistics published by the SAIRR in its annual surveys covering the years 1983 – 1986 will serve to illustrate these points.
In 1983, there was one attack at a community council office in New Brighton, which resulted in one death and five injuries. In 1984, of the 175 people killed in “unrest related incidents” during the year, four were councillors who were “killed by enraged crowds.” 149 of these 175 deaths in 1984 took place after the 3rd of September – the day which signalled the beginning of serious civil unrest, when residents of Sebokeng marched against a rent increase imposed by the council.
By April 1985, according to the Department of Constitutional Development, twelve councillors had died since the beginning of September 1984. The SAIRR annual survey for 1985 lists several petrol-bomb attacks on councillor`s homes across the country, and a few incidents in which grenades were used. There were (according to the SAIRR survey) four cases of attacks on the homes of tricameral MPs; no injuries or deaths are mentioned. All of these attacks were petrol bomb attacks, with hand grenades used as well in two cases.
The SAIRR`s statistics for 1985 show that twenty-six members of the security forces were killed by residents of townships, while one was killed by “guerrillas.” In the same period, 441 township residents had been killed by members of the security forces. These statistics do not include a breakdown of the large numbers of deaths and serious injuries caused by state- sponsored “vigilante” groups which intensified suddenly in the latter half of 1985. MK units were encouraged to support communities in ridding the country of these violent collaborators with apartheid.
According to the SAIRR`s 1986 annual survey, it was difficult to compile accurate statistics for this year because of heavy censorship of the media by the apartheid regime. Adriaan Vlok claimed that 18 members of the SAP were killed and 192 injured in “rioting” during the year. This included attacks on “special constables” who had been introduced to stamp out popular organisations and prop up the councils. There are no statistics for the number of attacks on councillors during this year; there were “spates” of attacks on councillors and others perceived as collaborators in February in Alexandra, in May in Thokoza, and in September in Soweto. Besides these incidents, the SAIRR survey lists seven attacks on councillors in which one councilor was hacked to death and the child of a councilor was similarly killed “by a group of five men”. Nearly all the attacks listed are described as being carried out by “mobs” or as petrol bomb attacks. In a few cases hand grenades were used and in one case a limpet mine exploded at a block of flats in Fordsburg, which was used to house Soweto councillors.
This survey lists one (1) petrol bomb attack on the home of a Labour Party MP. In contrast, according to the SAIRR, at least 1,298 deaths in “political violence” took place during the year, with activists, trade unionists and religious leaders the targets of petrol bomb, hand grenade and hit squad attacks.
According to the SAIRR Annual Survey for 1988 (p. 602), “speaking in Parliament In March 1988, Chris Heunis declined to say how many community councillors and members of black local authorities had died as a result of their holding these offices. Mr Heunis said that although these people had been “attacked and killed or injured in 1986 and 1987, it cannot beyond doubt be attributed to their holding these offices.”
It would be most accurate to say that the ANC did not define councillors as targets – they themselves chose whether or not to define themselves as particular enemies of their communities, and it was usually members of their own communities who acted against them. There is also the possibility that some attacks on targets of this nature were “false flag” operations. In 1988, the home of Allan Hendrickse, leader of the Labour Party, was the target of a hand grenade attack. In 1992, the SAP took legal action against the Afrikaans weekly Vrye Weekblad to prevent it publishing allegations that police were directly involved in this attack. Hernus Kriel then twice avoided answering questions put to him in Parliament by Michael and Peter Hendrickse, as to whether the state had been responsible for this attack. It appears this case remains unsolved.
The ANC`s definition of justified targets – and conflict in general in the 1980s – should also be understood in the context of the parameters defined by the regime`s counter-mobilisation tactics and the harnessing of the National Security Management System (NSMS) to crush resistance.
The growth of popular and effective grassroots organisations, which successfully resisted evictions and rent increases, and took up other bread-and-butter issues in their communities, threatened and marginalised the community councils. It was critically important to the state to support the community council system, at all costs: a revealing statement in this regard was made by Magnus Malan in late 1987. Speaking in Parliament, he identified what he called six factors which affect security: law and order; structures in the black community; housing; employment opportunities; education; and strike activity. By “structures in black communities”, he said, he meant tertiary levels of government, that is, the town councils. “If things go wrong on this level, the top cracks”, he said. This provides some insight into the reasons behind the degree of ferocity with which the apartheid regime sought to prop up these utterly discredited structures.
The National Joint Management Centre of the NSMS co-ordinated a network of Joint Management Committees at local, sub-regional and regional levels; each JMC had various sub-committees, including an intelligence sub-committee. At local level, these commi ttees brought together the security forces, pro-government black figures and township administrators with the aim of securing political and security control in their areas. Many councillors were therefore directly collaborating in the violence of the apartheid state.
Attempts by the state to “counter-mobilise” against popular organisations to prop up the community council and bantustan systems resulted in the emergence of the “vigilantes”, particularly in the latter half of 1985. Along with municipal police, the regime used “vigilantes” in an attempt to destroy popular, legal organisations in the townships; they were also deployed to crush resistance to the “independence” of KwaNdebele. In KwaZulu, the same period saw the emergence of a related phenomenon – the “warlords.” Ebenezer Maqina`s counter-mobilisation group, the AmaAfrika National Front (code-named “Project Henry” by the government`s covert operation, Adult Education Consultants, which was responsible for handling him) provides a key example of the degree to which the state was involved in fuelling violence at grassroots level during this period.
Maqina served on the local Joint Management Centre in Port Elizabeth, and was in the forefront of violence against grassroots organisations in the area, generally portrayed as “UDF/Azapo conflict.” SAP agents such as Patrick Dlongwana were deployed to assist. Another example is provided by the DMI-run programme of support for the mayor of Zwide, Thamsanqa Linda, which was code-named “Project Tommy” – also falling under the control of the local AdEd structure. It is more than probable that all “vigilante” leaders and councillors were directly linked to these covert intelligence and security structures.
This violence was cynically and deliberately portrayed as “black-on-black” violence, and is now dishonestly presented as the result of the ANC`s refusal to participate in the regime`s legislative programme to further bolster apartheid.
Just a few other examples of these “vigilante” groups include the “Phakathis” or “A Team” of Thabong, in which it was alleged several councillors were involved and which used council property; vigilantes in places such as Leandra and Huhudi were responsible for hacking to death and shooting many activists and popular leaders. There were many others, such as the Memesis and Kekanas in the Eastern Cape, also grouped around unpopular councillors, which the regime hoped could become part of their covertly-run “Xhosa Resistance Movement” along with their “AmaAfrika National Front. “
The death of Councillor Kinikini in Uitenhage provides an example of the circumstances under which a number of councillors were killed, and of how the state itself was directly involved in fuelling violence at grassroots level through its attempts to counter-mobilise communities and prop up the administrative pillars of apartheid. All the councillors in Kwanobuhle resigned, except for Benjamin Kinikini. He was hated in his community because he, together with a man named Jimmy Claasen, had surrounded himself with an armed “vigilante” group calling itself “the Peacemakers.”
This gang was mentioned in a number of trials at the time; they “arrested” people, “tried” them, assaulted them, and handed them over to the police. They often held people prisoner in Kinikini`s funeral parlour. In one case a sixteen-year-old girl was abducted, raped, and forced to lie in a coffin all night by this gang of thugs. Counsel for defence in one public violence trial stated that it was well-known the “Peacemakers” were in the pay of the SAP. On Sharpeville Day, March 21st 1985, the Uitenhage massacre took place when police shot dead seventeen civilians. Anger was running very high in Kwanobuhle and other townships. On the morning of March 23rd, Jimmy Claasen and at least one Kinikini kidnapped four youths at gunpoint from their homes, and held them captive in the mortuary section of Kinikini`s funeral parlour; they then took them to the bush and sjambokked them. People gathered at Kinikini`s business to demand the release of the youths, attacked the building, and eventually an enraged crowd hacked Kinikini and five male relatives to death.
An article published in Sechaba (April 1987) on the Sharpeville Six, who had been convicted on the doctrine of common purpose for the killing of a councillor, expressed the ANC`s attitude in this way: “The ANC stands absolutely with the Six, and with all others facing the same fate, and does not discriminate between those who identify themselves consciously with the ANC and those who do not. Because it has won the support of the masses and thus has the responsibility for providing a disciplined structure and leadership for that struggle, the ANC has the duty to defend unhesitatingly those who ally themselves with its objectives. (…) Further, the evidence in the trial showed beyond all doubt that the councillor identified himself with the regime, and was willing to enforce its oppressive laws. In fact, the judges of this regime made this very point, and attached importance to it.”
The phenomenon of “necklacing”
As the mass-based resistance against apartheid took root in the mid-eighties, the ANC leadership strongly disapproved of some of the methods chosen by people to kill informers and other collaborators, particularly the “necklace”, and stated this on more than one occasion. UDF leaders also condemned the use of the “necklace” on several occasions. But the ANC leadership refused, and will always refuse to condemn those who believed they were part of the struggle for liberation led by the ANC and the UDF, and were making their contribution by ridding communities of informers and those amongst them who directly collaborated in apartheid violence (please refer to our first submission, pp 77 – 78).
The extent to which the NP has consistently tried to use the phenomenon of “necklacing” to damage the ANC and divert attention from their own atrocities has always raised the suspicion that they were involved in some of these incidents. It was certainly their agent, Joe Mamasela, who was centrally involved in creating the conditions under which the first recorded “necklacing” took place, which was conveniently filmed in horrific detail, immediately sent out world-wide, and portrayed as “evidence” of the savagery of the ANC. A number of covertly-funded fronts were prominent in propaganda campaigns focused on “necklacing.” There has also recently been a profoundly dishonest attempt to create the impression that Chris Hani expressed approval of, and claimed ANC responsibility for, the phenomenon of “necklacing” by quoting one sentence from a lengthy response he made to a question on the ANC`s attitude towards “necklacing”. Here is the reply he gave in 1986:
“You know for a long time South Africa, being a colonialist power of a special type, has depended on the continued repression of our people through active collaboration by puppets. We know that even in the classic colonial situation in countries like India, Kenya, the old Tanganyika and elsewhere, the colonialist has always depended on the African askari. Similarly, in our country, we know ourselves that the colonialist, the racist regime if you like, has always depended on the active collaboration of the oppressed on the recruitment of the Black policeman, the Black special branch. Because the Black policeman the Black special branch and the Black agent stay in the same township as we do, they have been the conduit through which information about our activities, about our plans has been passed to the enemy. This has made the process of organisation and mobilisation very difficult.
“So the necklace was a weapon devised by the oppressed themselves to remove this cancer from our society, the cancer of collaboration of the puppets. It is not a weapon of the ANC. It is a weapon of the masses themselves to cleanse the townships from the very disruptive and even lethal activities of the puppets and collaborators. We do understand our people when they use the necklace because it is an attempt to render our townships, to render our areas and country ungovernable, to make the enemy`s access to information very difficult. But we are saying here our people must be careful, in the sense that the enemy would employ provocateurs to use the necklace, even against activists. We have our own revolutionary methods of dealing with collaborators, the methods of the ANC. But I refuse to condemn our people when they mete out their own traditional forms of justice to those who collaborate. I understand their anger. Why should they be cool as icebergs, when they are being killed every day?
“As far as I am concerned, the question of the necklace and how it should be used belongs to all of us, to the ANC, to the democratic movement. We should sit down and discuss amongst ourselves how we should mete out justice. What is revolutionary justice? One fact is that, where agents and collaborators are concerned, we should establish, where it is possible, our own revolutionary courts where justice should be meted out. And in those courts we should involve some of our best cadres so that our forms of justice do not degenerate into kangaroo justice. We would like to maintain revolutionary forms of justice. But South Africa is not a normal society; the situation is very very abnormal. People are angry because we are fighting fascism in that country.
“The ANC will never abandon its leading role. We are saying to our people, whatever method you devise, there should be democratic participation, there should be democratic discussion, and whatever method we use, that method should conform to the norms of the revolutionary movement. As I say we understand why the necklace has been used. We know even the negative and positive aspects of the necklace. There is a lot of discussion now going on the question of the necklace. But it is not this silly co nclusion that it is Black on Black violence. The necklace has been used against those who have been actively collaborating with the enemy. We say the movement should be vigilant to ensure that whatever sentence is passed on anybody, it is a result o f participation by the revolutionary elements of our struggle.” (Sechaba, December 1986.)
In October 1987, the Botha regime refused to grant The Sunday Tribune permission to quote OR Tambo after he had made a speech in which he stated that the ANC was strongly opposed to the practice of “necklacing.” Helen Suzman commented that this was a “shameless use of selective prohibition. (…) A statement where “necklacing”, one of the most outrageous acts attributed to the ANC, is strongly discouraged, yet the government does not allow this to be published.”
In yet another example of dishonest attempts to exploit the issue of “necklacing”, untrue statements by bank robber Lucky Malaza, who somehow was “mistakenly” released by the De Klerk administration as a political prisoner after falsely claiming to have been involved in a necklace murder, have been quoted at some length in the NP`s latest submission to the TRC.
We trust that as the work of the Commission continues, the truth in regard to the lengths to which the stratkom structures of the apartheid regime went to use “necklacing” to discredit the ANC and the UDF, and to promote the perception that covert st ate-sponsored terrorism was “black-on-black” violence, will be brought to light.
Targets in the context of violence in KwaZulu in the 1980s
The TRC has asked what was the ANC`s “military policy” towards Inkatha, and whether the ANC leadership considered members of Inkatha to be “legitimate military targets.” The ANC had no “military policy” with regard to Inkatha. The ANC has never considered Inkatha members or officials as targets simply because they aligned themselves with Inkatha.
The predominant feature of the violence in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1980s was attacks on whole communities. “Warlords” played a pivotal role in this violence, assisted by elements within the SAP who either refused to intervene or actively supported the aggressors. Those communities (or sections of communities) who did not actively support Inkatha were regarded automatically as being ANC- or UDF-aligned, and became the target for violence. In essence this was the same pattern of violence experienced by urban communities in other parts of the country at this time, when the “vigilantes” were armed and deployed in defence of the administrative pillars of the apartheid state.
These activities were not unique to KwaZulu Natal, Inkatha or any other organisation in the overall context of the struggle to end apartheid, and the activities of the former apartheid regime to counter this threat through a range of illegal covert methods based on the theory of counter-mobilisation.
In Natal, and in KwaZulu in particular, the violence against anti-apartheid organisations and individuals intensified in the mid-1980s with the emergence of the “warlords” and “vigilantes” in rural and urban areas. These included gangs such as the AmaSinyora in KwaMashu, the core of which consisted of criminals who had been recruited in prison. Others were the Amakwebi in Chesterville, and the A-Team in townships such as Chesterville and Lamontville. In addition, the NP covertly set up UWUSA (one of several projects running under the umbrella of Project Ancor), which operated in the labour field and concentrated on violent strike-breaking and the destabilisation of COSATU-affiliated unions; in several incidents people were killed. The Caprivi trainees were organised into hit squads and deployed in 1986-1987.
All these sources of violence against the enemies of the apartheid state were deliberately created by the NP government, in line with the counter-mobilisation tactics they had adopted to crush resistance. They were trained, armed, managed and covertly funded via the NP`s security and intelligence agencies, particularly the Department of Military Intelligence, the Security Branch, and the Kwa-Zulu Police. Some of this training was done under the cover of “white right wing support” for Inkatha.
According to a top secret report to the State Security Council prepared by a “work group” consisting of “Kat” Liebenberg, Joep Joubert (in command of the Special Forces at the time) and “Tienie” Groenewald (a stratkom specialist in DMI), the central objectives of Operation Marion were (to quote from the report) “to limit ANC/UDF intimidation amongst the black population by means of Inkatha”, and to “establish Inkatha as a more effective organisation against the ANC/UDF” – in other words, to use Inkatha to “counter-mobilise” against the mass democratic movement, in the same way that other groups were covertly set up or manipulated, as described above.
Given the active involvement of the NP government (via its security forces) in this conflict, communities were left defenceless; it was up to them to try to defend themselves. A key example is provided by the formation of SDUs in Edendale in 1987 in response to wholesale and arbitrary attacks on the community. In some cases particular Inkatha officials or members distinguished themselves through violence against leaders or communities whom they perceived as a political threat, and themselves became targets for attacks, carried out by members of local communities. Many “warlords”, if not all, were directly supported or controlled by handlers in the NP`s intelligence and security establishment. Possibly at times MK cadres based in these areas participated in counter- or pre-emptive attacks. Such attacks were almost invariably motivated by the need for self-defence, or to protect communities under threat.
Allegations to the effect that MK has been engaged in “serial mass murder” of hundreds Inkatha officials are part of a long-running stratkom operation with the objectives of creating confusion with regard to the true perpetrators of violence in KwaZulu Natal, whipping up maximum levels of enmity and fear at grassroots level, and ensuring that reconciliation is as difficult as possible.
The accuracy of this so-called “death list” has been called into doubt on more than one occasion by violence monitors and investigative journalists, who point out that the compilers of this list have tended to claim that anyone killed in certain areas was an “Inkatha leader”, and in some cases those on the list were not members of Inkatha at all.
Attempts by the UDF and other organisations to halt this violence over the years must be mentioned. These attempts have been consistently derailed or spurned by elements within the leadership of Inkatha, presumably on the advice of their handlers. Whilst the late Harry Gwala was in prison, and also immediately after his release, he advocated peace and negotiations with Inkatha. On his release, Chief Buthelezi wrote him a letter congratulating him, which was cordially responded to by Harry Gwala. However, as the violence in the Natal Midlands took off – which was characterised by indiscriminate killings of even elderly people and children – Harry Gwala increasingly urged communities to defend themselves. As he put it, were communities to fold their arms and passively accept attacks? He encouraged people to form SDUs and resist attacks, rather than run away and be forced to live as refugees.
Operation Marion was not terminated when De Klerk took over. The SAP report written in March 1990, and which came to light at the time of the “Inkathagate” scandal in 1991, made it clear that a key objective of the continued covert support afforded to Inkatha at this time was to prevent the Inkatha leadership “throwing in (their) lot with the ANC” as the negotiations phase began. This is the context in which conflict in KwaZulu Natal since the 1980s, and the violence in the post-1990 phase, should be seen.
Information regarding the role of police agent Sifiso Nkabinde in ensuring that violence continued in the Midlands has very recently come to light, and will no doubt yet again underline the pivotal role of the NP in this conflict and bloodshed – the “ANC/Inkatha conflict” in this region was largely yet another version of “black-on-black” violence (ie. the results of counter-mobilisation) elsewhere in the country as described in our earlier submission.
2.2 ARMED OPERATIONS AND CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
The TRC has asked for detailed information on “the scope and scale of legitimate MK operations” as well as attacks not in accordance with ANC policy which had “become a trend in the late 1980s.” In a separate question the TRC asked “to what extent do MK commanders in the Front Line States take responsibility for actions – especially those involving civilian targets – of cadres inside the country?”
The TRC has asked us to assess to what extent “militant rhetoric and ambiguous statements” led to possible cases of misinterpretation of “ANC policy on soft tagets.”
In a separate section on the Ellis Park bomb of 1988, the TRC has quoted Chris Hani and Steve Tshwete at some length, commenting on this blast. The TRC says their comments appeared to imply that “any inner-city location could represent a legitimate target because of the possibility that the police or army may have located an office in an ostensibly innocuous-looking building. Did such statements not confuse the definition of a legitimate target?” They underline this point by asking whether the leadership condoned “such actions of killing and injuring civilians”, and whether there were “different perceptions on the definition of legitimate targets among ANC leaders.”
The TRC has asked what steps were taken by the ANC to avoid civilian casualties in landmine explosions, and how many civilians were killed in these incidents.
The scope and scale of MK operations
Whilst regional ANC structures (RPMCs) had a greater level of autonomy in the post 1983 period, and did not have to clear all operations with Lusaka before going ahead, all ANC members and officials were bound by ANC policy with regard to the armed struggle, and did not develop their own policies.
We feel it is very important to point out that attacks not in accordance with ANC policy did not become a trend in the late 1980s, in the sense that such actions became the dominant form of all MK attacks. This is shown clearly in the lists of armed actions during the period in question. Attacks resulting in primarily civilian casualties represented a very small proportion of all armed actions: the majority of MK actions continued to be in line with ANC policy during this period, which is testimony to the degree of discipline amongst our cadres in the face of extreme provocation.
The attached MK Operations report includes two lists of armed operations. The first of these consists of a list of armed operations, arranged chronologically and according to nature of target, which we believe were carried out by legitimate MK units.
The second list consists of incidents of armed action which fall into a grey area with regard to the nature of the intended target, and also includes incidents for which we suspect MK cadres were not responsible.
With regard to these lists of incidents of armed action, it is important to note that the ANC did not keep records of all operations carried out by our cadres – this in any event would have been a suicidal breach of elementary security procedures – and as we have tried to show, given the nature of guerrilla warfare, cadres had to make decisions for themselves at times; they did not constantly report to their commanders. We must emphasise that we cannot be certain that these lists are entirely accur ate or comprehensive. The information was drawn largely from press reports and similar sources, and given the degree of censorship practiced by the government at the time, it is possible that many incidents were deliberately prevented from reaching the press. Where questions arise on specific incidents, the ANC will make every effort to assist the TRC.
Armed actions and civilian casualties
The ANC, of which MK was an integral part and entirely subordinate to the political leadership, did not approve of attacks on “civilian targets”. Attacks on civilian targets would be morally indefensible, and strategically senseless: they would not only be in contradiction to the ANC`s work to avert racial civil war, but would alienate domestic and international support for the struggle against apartheid.
As indicated in our first submission, a number of attacks did take place, carried out by MK, which were not in line with ANC policy. What were the reasons behind this, and what was the attitude of the ANC towards these incidents?
Some attacks occurred because of anger. The period between late 1984 and 1988 witnessed unprecedented violence directed at black civilians. This behaviour of the regime was a significant factor in provoking certain attacks which were in breach of policy. Anger on the ground was explosive: the atrocities committed by the apartheid regime demanded retaliation. In some cases, cadres responded to state brutality by hitting back in anger, as soon as possible – as in the case of the Amanzimtoti bomb, described in detail in our main submission.
The attitude of the apartheid regime, which refused to take prisoners of war, was another factor. When unexpected difficulties arose, cadres had to decide on their feet: and sometimes they made wrong decisions. At times, the situations they faced were desperate to the extent that it is highly unlikely that there would be a peaceful outcome, even if they had surrendered – the Silverton bank siege and the Goch Street incident are cases in point.
Gathering tactical intelligence was the responsibility of units on the ground; this was exceptionally difficult given the conditions in the country. At times attacks which appear to be aimed at civilian targets were nothing of the sort – the cadre may have had information to the effect that an SADF or SAP group would be present at a particular railway station or hotel or restaurant at a particular time, but due to a range of difficulties – ranging from faulty intelligence to devices which malfunction and go off at the wrong time – an explosion occurs, apparently senselessly, in a civilian area. The Magoos Bar attack falls into this category, as indicated in our first submission to the TRC. It is also possible that some of these incidents occurred through deliberate disinformation, in which infiltrators into MK units set up attacks of this nature.
Technical difficulties accounted for a number of these incidents. At times insufficient training could have resulted in situations in which cadres were not able to ensure that explosions took place at the intended time, and made mistakes in setting timing devices. At times accidents occurred. Defective timing mechanisms accounted for some of these incidents, and resulted in unintended civilian casualties – the Krugersdorp Magistrate`s Court bomb is a case in point, and there were probably others.
At times, an operation would take place in support of campaigns or other struggles taking place within the community – such as strike action, mass retrenchments, a rent or bus boycott. An explosion at an office block, a railway line, factory or supermarket makes sense in this context. Civilians were never the targets in these cases – they would in most cases be our supporters or potential supporters; however, it did happen in some instances that the timing of a blast went wrong for a range of reasons and resulted in unintended civilian casualties.
We feel it is important to also bring to the attention of the Commission certain relevant factors which flow from the essential character of a guerrilla army.
In contrast with a conventional military force, in which virtually all planning takes place at HQ level by experienced officers, in guerrilla warfare most of the initiative is with the unit, and detailed planning takes place at the lowest level. Each cadre has to be trusted to make decisions with regard to choice of target within ANC policy, whilst keeping a close eye on developments and feelings among the people in his/her community – a responsibility which no soldier in a conventional force ever has to face.
There were long and insecure lines of communication, command and control. There was no “hotline” to higher structures to ask for guidance; the vulnerability of clandestine communication could – and at times did – result in the arrests and deaths of cadres. Consequently, a great deal depended on the political maturity, general experience, and immediate situation in which each cadre operated. Many of the established MK units had been allowed a degree of initiative in executing their operations, as long as these remained within policy guidelines; training in MK camps took this reality into account. In fact it was in part to deal with these problems that Operation Vula was launched, to establish senior political and military leadership inside the country.
Maintaining discipline in guerrilla and conventional armed forces is also fundamentally different. In the case of a guerrilla force, discipline flows from a thorough understanding of the political objectives of the armed struggle – not from threats of court-martial or punishment.
MK cadres conducted crash courses for eager volunteers inside the country. Some of these recruits had sketchy political understanding of the nature of the struggle in comparison with those cadres who had gone through the intensive political and military training provided in camps in exile. Some supporters had loose connections with MK units, and drifted in and out of structures; they were never thoroughly under the discipline of the ANC and MK, yet commanders on the ground sometimes found their contributions indispensable.
We have described the conditions under which the Kabwe conference was held in our first submission. The struggle had to be intensified; in the period after the Kabwe Conference, less emphasis was placed on avoiding civilian casualties at all costs in pursuit of attacks on legitimate targets. As ANC President at the time, OR Tambo, put it:
“I will summarise the position taken by the Conference in these terms: that the struggle must be intensified at all costs. Over the past nine to ten months at least – at the very least – there have been many soft targets hit by the enemy. Nearly five hundred people have now died in that period…massacred, shot down killed secretly. All those were very, very soft targets. They belong to the sphere of the intensification of the struggle. What we have seen in places like the Eastern Cape is what escalation means for everybody. The distinction between “hard” and “soft” targets is going to disappear in an intensified conflict, in an escalating conflict. (…)
“I am not saying that our Conference used the word “soft targets”. I am saying that Conference recognised that we are in it. It is happening every day. It happened two days before we started our Conference – a massacre in Gaborone. We did not complain that soft targets were being hit, because they have been hitting them, as I say, all the time. What we did was to re-commit ourselves to intensify the armed struggle (…) until the system which makes massacres and conflicts necessary, is abolished…”
With regard to the quotes from Steve Tshwete and Chris Hani on which the TRC has requested comment, it is clear to us that their statements do not depart from stated ANC policy in the post-1985 era on the issue of legitimate targets. In fact, they are in line with what the President of the ANC emphasised after the Kabwe Conference: that because of the pressing need to intensify the struggle, the growing viciousness and use of terrorism by the regime, the ANC was going to relax the single-minded preoccupation with avoiding civilian casualties in the course of armed actions against legitimate targets.
This is a quote from Chris Hani, at the time MK Commissar, from a speech broadcast on the ANC`s Radio Freedom on March 1st, 1986:
“We are saying comrades (…) that our country is in a state of civil war. It is true that so far the brunt of suffering has been borne by our people. Our people are attending funerals, our people are mourning for their dead, but comrades. Umkhonto we Sizwe, instructed by the leadership of the ANC, is gearing itself to step up activity in white areas so that the entire country should be ungovernable.
I want to elaborate on this question of extending the struggle to the white areas. We don`t want to be misunderstood. Unlike Botha. Le Grange, Malan and Chris Heunis, who go out of their way to butcher children, defenceless and unarmed children, old people, black civilians, Umkhonto we Sizwe is a revolutionary army and is not going to embark on mayhem against white civilians, against children, but we are going to step up our attacks against enemy personnel. We are referring to the members of the police force, to the members of the SADF, to those in the administration terrorising and harassing our people, to those farmers and other civilians who are part of the defence force of this country, the military, paramilitary and reserves. The theatre of these actions is going to be in the white residential areas, and it is inevitable that white civilians will die.” (BBC Monitoring Report)
A factor which should not be underestimated is that the banning by the regime of all ANC literature and jamming of broadcasts from Radio Freedom made it difficult for senior ANC leadership to get through to cadres and activists on the ground t o ensure a proper understanding of policy. Every effort was made to block and distort the ANC`s message, or anything which could be remotely construed as supportive of the message of the liberation movement. An extraordinary range of items were banne d; possession of ANC publications such as a pamphlet or a copy of Mayibuye or Sechaba could result in a lengthy jail sentence.
Whilst the above statement provides a clear articulation of the ANC`s position, as we indicate elsewhere in this document, it is quite possible that ambiguity in some of the formulations on this subject may have given the impression to some cadres that they should totally disregard the possibility of civilian casualties in the course of their operations. To the extent that this occurred, we regret it. However, as again stated elsewhere in this document and the main submission, where such impressions were created resulting in operations out of kilter with the ANC`s policy, statements were issued and senior cadres tasked with clarifying the position to commanders in the Forward Areas, and through them, cadres on the ground.
Increasingly in this period, attacks took place in urban areas, in which civilians were caught in the crossfire. Bona fide cadres and supporters who carried out attacks of this nature believed they were fulfilling the general direction to intensify the struggle and carry it into the white areas in accordance with the political will of the leadership of the ANC.
With regard to the Ellis Park car bomb in 1988, about which the TRC has asked a number of questions, the information required is contained in an amnesty application. With regard to the explosion in Roodepoort outside a branch of Standard Bank in 1988, at this stage the ANC does not know who was responsible for this attack, and none of our cadres have applied for amnesty in this regard. It was reported at the time that an ANC official in Lusaka stated that a nearby SAP station, not civilians, had bee n the target of this explosion; we have no details as to what operational problems arose.
Anti-tank landmines and civilian casualties
With regard to landmines, it must be emphasised that the ANC never used anti-personnel mines, specifically because we were concerned to avoid civilian casualties. The ANC used only anti-tank mines, which require at least 300kg to detonate, because our primary targets were the military patrols on roads immediately next to borders. The mines were laid overnight so that they would be triggered when the SADF patrolled early the next morning. It was reasoned that because farmworkers generally did not have transport and moved around on foot, they were unlikely to be affected.
As we stated in our main submission, cadres were under strict instructions to do careful reconnaissance in order to avoid civilian casualties, but it was often more difficult than anticipated to ensure that civilians were not caught in these explosions; in some cases farm workers travelling in heavy vehicles were killed or injured.
It is a fact – not an allegation or opinion of the ANC – that farmers in Designated Areas (that is, declared military zones) were not considered civilians by the regime itself, and were all active participants in overt military networks. We provided considerable detail on the relevant legislation in our first submission, on pp 59 – 60.
We do not have reliable statistics on how many people were killed in landmine explosions for which the ANC was responsible. A rough estimate based on available press reports shows that approximately thirty explosions took place between November 1985 and July 1987 resulting in about 23 deaths in total, including two cadres who were killed whilst laying a mine. We reiterate our sincere regret that any civilian deaths and injuries occurred.
Response of the leadership
In late 1987, all members of MK HQ were called in by OR Tambo, who expressed his concern at the number of unnecessary civilian casualties which had occurred in certain attacks, particularly those involving the use of anti-tank landmines. He tasked MK HQ with ensuring that all cadres fully understood ANC policy with regard to legitimate targets. In addition, MK HQ ordered that the laying of anti-tank mines should be halted.
MK HQ sent senior commanders to the forward areas to meet with MK structures there, and convey the concerns of the national leadership. When possible these senior commanders also met with units. In cases where meetings could not be held with units, command structures in the forward areas were told to contact all command structures of their units, whether they may have been involved in operations of this nature or not, and ensure that all cadres were entirely clear on ANC policy regarding legitimate targets. Chris Hani, Aboobaker Ismail and Keith Mokoape visited structures in Maputo; Lambert Moloi, Chris Hani and Julius Maliba (“Manchecker”) met with Zimbabwe structures, and Chris Hani, Aboobaker Ismail, and Lambert Moloi visited Botswana structures. Ronnie Kasrils visited structures in Swaziland.
In most cases cadres responsible for these actions had not deliberately set out to flout ANC policy, but had believed they were acting in accordance with the wishes of the leadership, or had acted in anger. Conveying the instructions of the leadership in this unequivocal manner through the most senior officials of MK HQ was sufficient action, as the overwhelming majority of MK cadres were disciplined soldiers and activists.
We remain convinced that some of these attacks were not carried out by our cadres, but were the work of the regime itself. We again urge the TRC to use its powers to obtain information of this nature from those who would have been responsible for any actions of this nature, with the objective of damaging the domestic and international image of the ANC. As previously noted, Stratkom structures at national, regional and departmental levels should be intensively investigated.
Given the conditions in the 1980s, it is remarkable that so few armed attacks took place in which there was a high rate of civilian casualties. MK certainly had the capacity to kill many thousands of civilians. This would have been easy to do; but we never took this route, even under extreme provocation. When compared to the policies on armed actions adopted by other national liberation movements on this and other continents, the degree of restraint exercised by the ANC and MK is extraordinary.
The humanity of the ANC`s approach has never been acknowledged – nor reciprocated – by the apartheid regime, which always defined black civilians in general (and all those who opposed the regime) as “enemy forces”, whether they were armed or not.
The ANC largely concurs with the remark that landmines (particularly anti-personnel mines) are indiscriminate weapons, although efforts were always made by our cadres to avoid the deaths and injuries of civilians. The thousands of anti-personnel landmines planted in Angola and Mozambique by the former apartheid regime and its surrogates continue to take their toll on civilians to this day. The recent banning of the sale and manufacture of all anti- personnel landmines by the new government is testimony to our belief that the use of these weapons is in conflict with a society committed to the building of a human rights culture.
As stated in our main submission, the ANC takes collective responsibility for all bona fide MK actions. We regret the deaths and injuries to civilians arising from MK`s armed actions. We apologise to their families and next-of-kin for the suffering and hurt that these actions caused. Where applicable, MK cadres have their applications for amnesty with regard to these actions.
3. ALLEGATIONS REGARDING EXCESSES AGAINST CADRES AND CAPTURED AGENTS, AND STEPS TAKEN TO HALT THESE PRACTICES
The Commission has asked what, in our opinion, were the weaknesses of the Security Sector of the Department of National Intelligence and Security (NAT) which may have led to violations of human rights. We have also been asked a number of questions regarding specific incidents, and on action taken by the leadership of the ANC to correct these problems.
The TRC has asked us to whom cases of abuse of certain prisoners, and the steadily deteriorating physical conditions of this camp, were reported. The NEC discussed these problems on a number of occasions before 1985, and has asked whether documentation to this effect is available.
The TRC has also asked several questions regarding the functioning of all tribunals, and the cases they considered.
The TRC has asked how many mutineers died in the Pango mutiny; their names; the exact circumstances under which they died; they cite the Stuart Commission, which gives details about the shootings of two people by security personnel on 07/02/84. They refer to Khotso Morena, who was shot and seriously injured when running away after exploding a hand grenade. Were mutineers travelling to Viana ambushed by ANC officials? How many prisoners were taken after the mutiny? How many of them were transferred to Morris Seabelo Rehabilitation Centre?
In our main submission to the Commission, we acknowledged that some excesses had occurred in the treatment of captured agents, and apologised for these incidents. The matter of violations which did take place in Camp 32 (also known as the Morris Seabelo Rehabilitation Centre, or Quatro) and other camps had been a source of serious concern within the ANC, when information reached the leadership and other structures. The reports of four past commissions of inquiry appointed by the ANC leadership to look into allegations of abuse provides concrete evidence of their concern.
The perception that abuses which took place were systematic or widespread is wrong. Those members of the security department of the Department of National Intelligence and Security (NAT) who abused prisoners did so in violation of ANC policy: there was nothing “systematic” about such acts. NAT personnel were given comprehensive and professional training in security and intelligence work in socialist and other countries. The suggestion that any cadre of the ANC was trained specifically in torture is rejected with contempt.
In addressing the questions raised by the TRC, we will use the reports of past commissions of inquiry appointed by the ANC as a primary point of reference, and occasionally augment the findings of these commissions with other available information. (These reports were presented to the TRC with our first submission, and were also released to the public.)
We will concentrate on presenting our understanding of how circumstances arose in which excesses in violation of ANC policy took place, in line with the mandate of the TRC to establish the truth and ensure that conditions under which such violations took place are never allowed to recur.
First, we will briefly sketch the backdrop against which some of these excesses took place. Agents infiltrated into our structures carried out acts such as the attempted mass poisoning of cadres, supplying intelligence which led to the bombardment of one of our camps, sabotage of equipment and deliberate attempts to encourage indiscipline and internal conflict of various kinds. There were a number of cases in which agents supplied their handlers with information which led directly to the assassinations of leaders and the ambushing or arrest, torture, and imprisonment of cadres.
NAT uprooted the regime`s most prized network of infiltrators in 1981. Analysis of the activities of some of these agents in the political context in which they took place indicated that they were not merely involved in various attempts to disrupt or damage the ANC, but were actors in a far broader and more ambitious operation by the regime to eliminate and replace key leaders of the ANC, thereby setting the movement on a new route which would culminate in its destruction. (A copy of the “Shishita report”, which covers this investigation in detail, has been submitted to the TRC.)
This was a severe setback which thoroughly rattled the regime. Their response was a desperate attempt to “jam” our screening procedures by throwing large numbers of infiltrators into the field. Many if not most would-be infiltrators in the post-Shishita period were hopelessly ill-prepared for the missions their handlers had assigned to them. For example, one confessed that he had been told to attempt to assassinate OR Tambo – but had not been supplied with a weapon, or any other form of logistical support such as a plan to retreat after the operation. Others – such as Patrick Dlongwana – had been so thoroughly exposed inside the country, that his handlers must have known he would be picked up immediately. It appears the regime hoped the ANC`s machineries would be overwhelmed by this influx, which would to some extent serve to divert our resources away from prosecuting the armed struggle inside the country, and create conditions under which the more professional infiltrators they deployed might slip through the net.
Means to deal with this influx of agents had to be devised. As the NAT Operations report shows, nearly 40% of confessed agents were never imprisoned. But others were dangerous, or had committed such serious crimes that they had to be isolated. It is in this context that Camp 32 was established, and cases in which excesses on which the TRC has requested more information occurred.
3.1 LINES OF COMMAND AND ACCOUNTABILITY
As the organigrams accompanying this document show, the National Executive Committee (NEC) has always been the ANC`s highest policy- and decision- making body. The National Security Council and the Revolutionary Council fell under the Office of the President, with the various military, political and security structures, committees or departments reporting to the Revolutionary Council. NAT – as the Department of Intelligence and Security was generally known – was no exception.
In the 1970s and the early 1980s there was significant overlap between MK and NAT structures, particularly in Angola. Mzwai Piliso was the most senior leader in charge of all camps in Angola, and was also appointed head of NAT, of which the Security department was one sub-sector, in 1981.
NAT slowly developed towards more clear-cut lines of command, specialisation of work, and separation of functions; more details in this regard are supplied in the operational report. In the early 1980s, confusion set in as the role of the Security Department (and NAT in general in Angola) veered away from what should have been its central function – gathering intelligence and screening recruits to protect MK and the ANC as a whole – towards taking on largely disciplinary roles and, at Camp 32, guard duties.
In dealing with the question of the weaknesses that emerged over time, it is therefore necessary to also look at the situation in Angola in general.
3.2. ANGOLA, 1977 – 1984; DISCIPLINE IN MK
Discipline is the cornerstone of any army. MK was guided by the ANC`s Code of Conduct, a copy of which was attached to our first submission. Breaches of discipline common to most armies were usually handled at camp level by the camp command structure; these were cases such as fighting between cadres, abuse of authority, disregard of camp rules, going AWOL, petty theft, exchanging camp property for liquor, drug abuse (mostly dagga) and illicit liquor brewing. Punishments for offences of this nature were laid out in the Code of Conduct (see p. 89 of our first submission.) Sometimes the punishments meted out for contraventions of the MK Code of Conduct were entirely out of proportion to the deed.
This is a regrettable feature of many armies. While we would never wish to compare MK – a guerrilla army composed entirely of volunteers – with the SADF, which relied on forced conscription, we feel it should be pointed out that a number of SADF conscripts are known to have died after brutal beatings; other forms of punishment and ill-treatment (such as excessive “paal PT” ) resulted in deaths. There were a number of minor mutinies; in 1979, there was a mass walkout of over 60 SADF soldiers from their base in Upington in protest at the treatment they were receiving.
In six cases between 1979 and 1981, MK cadres died as a result of being beaten. (A list of these names has been submitted to the TRC.) Reports on these incidents would be sent to the Camp Commander, and senior officials would meet with the Camp Administration to hold an inquiry into the incident to prevent recurrence of such excessive actions. Measures such as demotion or redeployment would be taken against perpetrators of excessive punishments.
The case of Joel Mahlatini provides a good example of the manner in which the ANC leadership handled cases of this nature. Mahlatini was severely beaten on the orders of his Camp Commander, Kenneth Mahamba; he was dead on arrival at Camp 32. The leadership took this incident so seriously that an inquiry was instituted, which facilitated the uncovering of the spy network some years later, of which Mahamba was a leading member. After exhaustive investigations of their cases, trial by Tribunal, and a final decision by the NEC, Justice Tshabalala, Jabu Zikalala, Vusi Mayekiso and Kenneth Mahamba were executed. Other members of this network – Dick Khumalo, Escom Maluleka, John Maleke, and Drake Chiloane were executed later after the same process had been followed. There were other cases over the years of executions of agents after investigations into their cases, the sitting of a tribunal, and a final decision by the political leadership. A list of these names has been submitted to the TRC.
Serious breaches in discipline by MK cadres at times resulted in capital punishment. It must be emphasised that there were no cases of summary or unauthorised execution.
Before a tribunal was held, Military HQ in Lusaka would be informed of the case by the Regional Command structures. The NEC would appoint at least one senior official to sit on the tribunal with officials from MHQ and the Regional Command. In some cases local authorities were also involved in this process. The tribunal would report its findings to HQ, where a final decision would be made.
Between 1981 and 1989, four cadres were executed for murder and rape of Angolan women, four for murder, and in 1989, one was executed for rape. (A list of these names has been submitted to the TRC.) Those who were executed for rape and murder were imprisoned for around two months whilst the leadership consulted with the Angolan authorities on the manner in which these crimes should be handled. They were publicly executed with fellow- villagers of the murdered women and local government officials present.
The only other occasion on which capital punishment was carried out on MK cadres was at the time of the Pango mutiny in 1984. Before dealing with the questions posed by the TRC in this regard, we will deal with the background to this incident by describing the situation as it developed in Angola.
Growing tensions in the camps
Many of the problems which arose in military camps in Angola at this time were the result of the tensions between the ANC`s policy on armed struggle, and the intense frustration felt by recruits who had flocked to MK in the wake of the 1976 uprising when they were not immediately deployed inside the country after initial military training. Since 1979 the ANC had elaborated its policy perspectives in this regard, and believed that military struggle was secondary to building the base for mass political struggle within the country.
To quote from the “Green Book”:
10a) (…) the armed struggle must be based on, and grow out of, mass political support…All military activities must, at every stage, be guided and determined by the need to generate political mobilisation, organisation and resistance…”
b) The forms of political and military activities, and the way these activities relate to one another go through different phases as the situation changes. It is therefore vital to have under continuous survey the changing tactical relationships between these two inter-dependent factors in our struggle…The concrete political realities must determine whether, at any given stage and in any given region, the main emphasis should be on political or on military action.”
Many recruits wanted desperately to just go home and fight, underestimated the difficulty of the logistics involved in infiltrating them safely into the country, and did not appreciate the rationale behind the leadership`s approach.
In late 1977, a group of fourteen cadres who had just completed their initial six-month military training at Novo Katengue camp demanded to be sent to the front immediately. They refused all orders, and also refused to go on an advanced training course. They were sent to Quibaxe, where they were excused from classes but had to contribute to normal camp duties. Again, they refused to obey orders.
A Tribunal was convened, and seven of them were sentenced to one month`s imprisonment, the others to two months. In addition, they had to carry out tasks such as digging trenches. After they had completed their sentences they were accepted unconditi onally back into MK structures. Sworn affidavits (made in 1993) from all of these cadres have been submitted to the TRC. These expose allegations that a serious mutiny was put down by troops trained in the GDR, and that cadres were subsequently ill- treated by Ronnie Kasrils, as deliberate disinformation typical of the propaganda in the report of the Douglas “commission”, a stratkom exercise covertly funded with taxpayers` money.
A similar incident took place in 1979 at Fazenda, when about fifteen cadres demanded to go to the front, refused to be disarmed, and fired shots at night. They wanted to go to Luanda to meet the ANC leadership to demand immediate deployment. This “mutiny” was solved politically by Mzwai Piliso and Moses Mabhida, who talked to the cadres. There was no violence and these cadres were allowed to remain in MK structures. For some cadres, a deep sense of depression set in after spending too many years in camps in Angola. In the words of the Stuart Commission report:
“The Commission believes that the conditions in the camps, the total isolation from the outside world, the desperation and frustration of not being deployed, make it practically impossible for cadres to survive (politically, morally, and psychologically) in the camps for several years.”
This problem was exacerbated by steadily decreasing attention to the camps in the early 1980s – both political and in terms of providing basic resources – by the seriously overstretched national leadership in Lusaka. In the words of the report of the Commission, “over the years, visits to the camps by the leadership has decreased significantly. This has affected not only the national leadership but surprisingly also the regional leadership. The latter tend increasingly to spend more time in Luanda than in the camps.”
Apart from these problems, general conditions in the camps were at times difficult. Food supplies were at times inadequate, and bandits specifically targeted supply lines from Angolan ports, exacerbating the situation. Medical supplies and other essential items were not always readily available. Tropical diseases, particularly malaria, were rife, and there were too few doctors in Angola to adequately service all the those in the camps – cadres and prisoners alike. Access to clean water supplies was almost always a serious problem.
Angola was a war zone. The constant threat to ANC camps and cadres from UNITA bandits was yet another source of tension and difficulty. Many cadres were killed in operations against UNITA, and these deaths and injuries were a factor which had direct bearing on the 1984 mutiny. Certain agents also deliberately played on these incidents to create demoralisation and mistrust of the ANC leadership.
The delays in committing the majority of cadres to battle affected not only recruits but commanders as well, particularly after the destruction of Nova Katengue, which had been in many respects a model of the kind of camp the ANC wanted to maintain.
In addition to these factors, by the end of 1983, according to the report of the Stuart Commission, a range of practices had set in which had seriously corroded the ANC`s vision of its army, and which had direct bearing on the mutinies. Some members of camp administrations had begun to abuse their powers; cadres felt they were no longer being consulted sufficiently, and that their concerns were not being properly conveyed to the leadership in Lusaka; an intolerance of valid criticism had developed. In addition, there was insufficient provision for cultural activities and regular briefing on current events inside the country. There was poor management of human resources, and a belief that unfair decisions regarding deployment were being made; this resulted in much frustration.
One of the key factors which contributed to a drop in standards in general in Angola in the early 1980s was the deployment of many senior and experienced cadres out of Angola into machineries in the Forward Areas or inside the country to develop the armed struggle. This meant that much younger cadres with less experience had to take over their positions.
As a result of all of these factors problems arose in the camps, and disciplinary measures also fell short of the ideals the Movement had always aspired to.
The Pango mutiny, 1984
The lead-up to the Pango mutiny, particularly the mutiny at Viana transit camp in February 1984, has been described in considerable detail in the report of the Motsuenyane Commission (pp. 37 – 40.) The question asked by the TRC regarding the exact circumstances in which the mutineers died, making reference to the cases of Diliza Dumakude, Zihlangu Zanempi (referred to as Salier Janemzi), and Khotso Morena indicates that some confusion has arisen. The Pango mutiny could be described as having two phases.
In the first phase, cadres who had been refusing to accept military discipline and firing in the air were sent to Viana transit camp after senior officials spoke to them. The allegation made in the report of the Douglas “commission” to the effect that some cadres were “ambushed by ANC officials” is untrue. Some of those who arrived in Viana remained mutinous and refused to be disarmed. When a second, larger group of cadres arrived, they too refused to be disarmed. Subsequent events are described in some detail in the report of the Stuart Commission on p 22. Vuyisile Maseko and Khotso Morena were captured but the security personnel were unaware that Maseko had a grenade; he set it off in the car, but all the occupants were able to escape. Morena ran straight for a tent in which arms and explosives were kept; both Chris Hani and Joe Modise were very close by, addressing cadres, and it was clear that their lives could be in danger. Morena refused to stop when he was ordered to give himself up and was shot.
After intervention by Angolan security forces order at Viana camp was restored. The mutineers were disarmed and agreed to be relocated to Pango. There a group of them secretly planned to seize the camp arsenal and mutiny again.
The Pango mutiny occurred in mid-May 1984. The mutineers systematically killed most members of the camp administration, using heavy calibre weapons. In all, eight MK cadres were killed by the mutineers, in some cases in cold blood the morning after the mutiny had begun, when they hunted down those who had been wounded and were hiding in the bush.
The camp was recaptured by loyal cadres; in the shoot-out seven mutineers were killed. Others fled the camp; one was found dead some days later when cadres were fetching firewood; he had committed suicide with a pistol, which was found next to his body. One captured mutineer died of malaria before the military tribunal was convened; he refused to accept treatment for his illness. Two cadres escaped from the camp when it was recaptured, and have not been heard of since.
A military tribunal was appointed and convened on 22/05/84. Available documentation on the deliberations of the tribunal have been submitted to the TRC.
Sixty-six people testified before the tribunal. Of these, the tribunal recommended that sixteen mutineers should receive the death penalty, while the others were either recommended for demobilisation or were acquitted and referred to the camp disciplinary committee to face lesser charges.
Seven mutineers were executed by firing squad. The others were spared after the leadership reconsidered the decision to execute them, and were instead imprisoned at Camp 32. In all, twenty-three mutineers were imprisoned until 1989, while four were imprisoned for a short time and released in 1984. A list of the names of all those who died during the mutiny and those who were executed has been submitted to the TRC.
Response of the leadership: the Stuart Commission of Inquiry
As a result of these events, the Stuart Commission was appointed to inquire into the causes of the mutinies, consisting of Hermanus Loots (“James Stuart”), Aziz Pahad, Sizakele Sigxashe and Mtu Jwili. (The latter two later became heads of Directorates in the restructured NAT.) The Commission presented its report to all members of the NEC in March 1984 (before the more serious mutiny erupted at Pango.)
By this time, the preliminary briefings of the Commission had already convinced the leadership about the need for a National Conference of the ANC to discuss matters pertaining to the intensification of struggle generally, as well as the problems in the camps.
The Commission found that while some of those most directly involved in the mutinies had long histories of disruptive and destructive behavior, and also had “illusions of power and leadership”, the mutinous behaviour which had occurred by February 1984 could not be described as “an organized act of conspiracy on the part of the enemy”.
In its painfully incisive assessment of conditions in Angola, the Stuart Commission report noted that since 1979 nearly all petty offences had been dealt with in a destructive manner “as distinct from the earlier revolutionary constructive punishment” which sought essentially to rehabilitate offenders rather than crush them. The report of the Commission notes that the “tragic fact is that it was at its worst in the training camps.”
Grievances against the Security department also came to the fore in this report. In the words of the report, “interviews carried out by the Commission in all our camps reflect one unanimous response: that the security department carried out tasks which are not supposed to be theirs – the task of disciplining offenders.” Instead of concentrating on its role as an intelligence service, dedicated to exposing agents and protecting the ANC in general, it had become a “military police” force within the camps. At times such actions took place “without consultation or approval by other (members of the) camp administration.”
It is also clear from this report that a lack of clear policy guidelines, and clear lines of command, contributed directly to the ANC`s failure to halt abuse. It recommended that the NEC should “clearly define the tasks and powers” of the Security Department, draw up a Code of Conduct to govern the behaviour of these cadres and ensure it was enforced, and “formally and categorically prohibit(s) the use of violence and torture by the Security Department (as well as other officers in camps)”, re deploy “notorious security men”, and “adopt a coherent policy with regard to captured enemy agents.”
Excesses in relation to captured and imprisoned agents and mutineers
Both the Skweyiya and Motsuenyane Commissions were told that prisoners at Camp 32 had been subjected to serious abuse. It is necessary to point out that while some of the allegations made to the Skweyiya Commission were true, others were deliberate attempts to mislead the Commission, and members of the Department accused of abuses were not given the opportunity to reply to these allegations; hence the establishment of the Motsuenyane Commission.
The report of the Skweyiya Commission notes that Mzwai Piliso, head of Personnel and Training as well as of the Security Department at the time, “candidly” admitted that he had personally participated in beating a suspect in 1981 on the basis that a plot to kill members of the leadership had been discovered and he wanted information “at any cost.”
It is clear that setting an example of this nature would have affected the behaviour of other members of the security department. These factors are also relevant:
- some of these cadres had themselves been subjected to very brutal treatment by the apartheid security police before leaving the country for training;
- the need to obtain information quickly was at times a factor which led to the beating of unco-operative captives, such as Keith McKenzie, who had placed a car bomb somewhere in Botswana: in this case the urgency to obtain information was fuelled by the desire to prevent deaths by locating the bomb in time;7
- there was anger against some of these prisoners, who have tended to be all uncritically portrayed as innocent victims: several had committed vicious, cold-blooded acts of murder, usually in the service of the apartheid regime, against anti-apartheid activists inside and outside the country.
It is unreasonable to expect people to deal with situations for which they have no training, particularly when they are young and inexperienced. Most members of staff at various rehabilitation centres were very young cadres who had left the country to join MK. They were not trained as Military Police or prison warders. The training they received was the same as that of all MK cadres, while some underwent more specialised training in intelligence work from the late 1970s onwards. But none were trained specifically for the roles they had to take on – very unwillingly at times.
It was necessary but undesirable work; as a former member of staff at Camp 32 put it, most cadres in these postings had “joined the ANC and the army with the sole purpose of training and getting back home to engage the enemy for the liberation of the country, but because of the tasks they were called upon to perform in this camp, had to lose all those possibilities of ever going to the front, going for further training, and enjoying other privileges enjoyed by others”.
Structures in Angola had to rely on other structures in the forward areas and inside the country to provide information necessary to carry out proper investigations. Because of the weakness of some of these structures, and the long lines of communication, several persons classified as suspects took a long time to be cleared.
To summarise, the report of the 1984 Stuart Commission makes it clear that in some respects Angola, “generally regarded as a reliable rear base of our struggle…(had) been used as a dumping ground for enemy agents, suspects, malcontents and undisciplined elements”. The report also shows that in some respects the ANC leadership did not take adequate steps to ensure effective management of its military camps, which included ensuring that cadres deployed in these camps had policy guidelines to work by, understood their “line functions”, and were under clear lines of command and control.
Whether this kind of management was possible given the conditions under which the ANC was working at the time – particularly in Angola, which was a war zone – is questionable. Nevertheless, stronger action to halt the excesses described in the report of the Stuart Commission could have been taken, and in this regard, the ANC again expresses regret at this state of affairs and its consequences.
3.3. MEASURES TO HALT EXCESSES AND CONTINUING PROBLEM AREAS, 1985 – 1990
As we noted in our first submission, the ANC took a range of steps to halt abuses. Within a few weeks of the tabling of the report of the Stuart Commission, nearly all its recommendations had been adopted and were in the first stages of implementation.
Most critical in this regard, and as the first major policy action, the 1985 National Consultative Conference in Kabwe took a range of decisions on all these matters. (It is worth noting that 40% of the delegates at the Conference were from the camps, and they submitted presentations on problems in Angola.) The ANC elaborated the existing Code of Conduct , and established the Office of Justice, reinforced the existing Review Board, and established the National People`s Tribunal.
Mzwai Piliso was removed from his post as head of NAT to concentrate on other duties. Andrew Masondo was censured by the leadership, and the post of National Commissar was abolished; in addition, he lost his post on the NEC. Both performed well and with loyalty to the ANC in their new postings.
Procedures of the new structures for justice
Previously tribunals had been constituted as needed. They had been convened to try suspected agents, to decide on punishments for cadres who had committed offences as defined in the MK Code of Conduct, and to deal with the mutineers. In all cases, senior political office-bearers would be appointed to tribunals by the NEC, who served along with high-ranking MK officers such as regional Commanders and Commissars. The report of the Stuart Commission recommended that a formally constituted, independent and specialised structure was necessary. As a result, the National People`s Tribunal was established.
The TRC has asked several specific questions on the functions of the new structures for justice. The first National People`s Tribunal was appointed soon after the Kabwe Conference. Hermanus Loots was the chair, with Shadrack Pekane, and Z.N. Jobodwana as the other members. The latter two were lawyers. This structure was tasked with overseeing and making judgements on the basis of investigations carried out by NAT. It was fully independent: there was no formal link between the Tribunal and any other ANC structures, including the Office of the President.
The Tribunal followed procedures laid down by lawyers in the ANC`s Legal and Constitutional Affairs department, which were in essence the same procedures followed in South African courts. Persons accused of offences would be summoned to the Tribunal. There were prosecuting lawyers, and every accused would be represented by one or two lawyers, who had access to the charge sheet in order to prepare their defence. At the end of the proceedings both sides would summarise the evidence presented and the Tribunal would adjourn. This process often took two to three days to complete.
The Tribunal could recommend one or a combination of the following lines of action:
- that the accused be released; in these cases, the person concerned would be handed over to the Office of Justice, which would ensure that s/he was taken to the place of her/his choice; for example, some would prefer to leave Angola and be re-established in Zambia or Tanzania in the ANC civilian community. In some cases those who decided they wanted to leave the ANC would be handed over to the Chief Representative in the relevant country, who would assist the person concerned to apply for asylum in a host country.
- that the suspect be expelled from the Movement; in these cases, the suspect would be handed over to the host government by the Office of the Chief Representative, and the host government would hand the person on to the UNHCR.
- in cases where the accused was found guilty s/he could be sentenced to a period of imprisonment at the Rehabilitation Centre
- in cases where the accused was found guilty of a capital offence, the death sentence could be recommended.
The sentence recommended by the Tribunal was referred to the President, who would usually refer the case to the Review Board, which was tasked with acting as a court of appeal with the powers to confirm or change the decision of the Tribunal as the members of the Board saw fit. Only after the Review Board had considered the case would sentence be confirmed (or set aside) by the President.
The Review Board was also tasked with regularly reviewing cases and making recommendations to the NEC as to whether prisoners should be released or not. Their work was considerably facilitated by the adoption of the elaborated Code of Conduct .
The chair of the Review Board was Dan Tloome; Ruth Mompati and John Motshabi made up the rest of the Board. The Board would from time to time set up groups of senior ANC figures to conduct inspections and report back to the leadership. We regret that we have not been able to locate the documentation relevant to the work of the Review Board; if specific questions regarding the work of the Review Board arise, the ANC will assist the TRC in this regard.
In addition to these structures for justice, there was a Presidential Council to which those whose cases had been considered by the Tribunal and Review Board could appeal if they were unhappy about the decisions of these structures. This council, which consisted of the President, John Nkadimeng, Dan Tloome and later, Joe Slovo, could set aside sentences and grant pardons.
Steps were also taken to ensure that clearer lines of command were in place over NAT personnel working in Angola. At a meeting held in Lusaka in 1986 between NAT and MK delegations, chaired by OR Tambo, it was agreed that NAT cadres fell only under the authority of the NAT Directorate, and that MK structures in the region should not make any unilateral decisions affecting NAT line functions. Whilst MK structures did not usually issue any orders directly affecting the welfare of prisoners and suspects, tensions had arisen due to confusion in the lines of command.
The NAT Directorate itself also took steps to improve the conditions under which prisoners were held in response to the directives of the leadership. A report written by the head of the Recording Department in November 1987 which highlights the difficulties of extending Camp 32 facilities given the physical terrain, and argues that the camp should instead be closed altogether and transferred to a more convenient place, has been submitted to the TRC. A report on a visit to Camp 32 in December 1987 by a member of the NAT Directorate has also been submitted to the TRC. Three deaths took place in Camp 32 during the first half of 1987, and a Commission was appointed to investigate the circumstances in which these deaths took place; the report of this Commission has been handed to the TRC.
The report of the Skweyiya Commission notes that it took some time before the measures provided for in the Code of Conduct were implemented properly. Zola Skweyiya was appointed Officer of Justice in 1986, and also had the responsibility of established in the ANC`s Legal and Constitutional Affairs department. He reported directly to the President.
He experienced considerable difficulties in fulfilling all these roles for a range of reasons, including a shortage of staff, and a degree of unco-operativeness from the head of NAT. Whilst Mzwai Piliso fully accepted the decisions taken at the Kabwe Conference, given the degree of pressure he was under on various fronts, he was distinctly unenthusiastic about dealing with the complex and time-consuming logistics involved in flying staff of the Office of Justice into Angola to interview all prisoners and review their cases. However, when Zola Skweyiya approached the President to facilitate this visit, the President took immediate action to “unblock” bureaucratic channels, and Joe Nhlanhla in his capacity as Secretary of the Politco-Military Committee (PMC) played a central role in ensuring that the Office of Justice received all necessary support.
The 1988 Tribunal in Luanda
In May 1988 (not 1987, as stated in the report of the Motsuenyane Commission) the Office of Justice arranged a sitting of the National People`s Tribunal in Luanda (not at Camp 32, as stated in the report of the Motsuenyane Commission.) This Tribunal reviewed the cases of twenty-five prisoners held by the ANC at this time, including some of those who had confessed to being enemy agents. Hermanus Loots chaired the Tribunal. Penuell Maduna acted as defence lawyer for the prisoners, and pleaded on their behalf. Mr Loots has pointed out that members of NAT who worked with this Tribunal had a “very positive attitude” towards the committee and gave their full co- operation.
In seven of the cases heard, the Tribunal concluded that the “possible sentence” would be imprisonment; in the view of members of the Tribunal, the evidence against them left no doubt that they were guilty of the crimes for which they had been imprisoned. In two cases the “possible sentence” recommended by the Tribunal was capital punishment; in seven cases judgement was reserved; and they recommended that two cases be re- investigated.
In seven cases, the Tribunal recommended release as it was felt that there was insufficient concrete evidence against these accused. Six had been imprisoned in 1987, whilst the seventh recommended for release had been imprisoned since 1982. With regard to the group of six, members of the Tribunal privately felt it was very probable that these prisoners were indeed guilty; the NAT investigators were entirely convinced of this, and were very unhappy at this recommendation for release.
However, the Tribunal stuck rigidly to its mandate and argued before the NEC that they should be released, since the evidence against the six had not been led properly. The group was released. This case is a good illustration of the tensions between the ANC`s desire to act in accordance with accepted legal procedures and the abnormal circumstances in which we were attempting to put such high standards into practice. (A report-back by NAT structures on the procedures of this Tribunal has been submitted to the TRC. This document also answers the TRC`s questions regarding the background of those released.)
Post 1987: a new NAT
By the time of the appointment of a commission of inquiry into the death of Thami Zulu in late 1989, the new NAT leadership had been in place for some time.
In the words of the report, “there has been a process of major reorganisation of the security department, with notable improvements in the conditions of detainees.” Violence was expressly forbidden, and a member of the department who had assaulted a detainee had been recently sentenced to a five-year term of imprisonment by the Tribunal, which sat in Lusaka. The commissioners inspected the rehabilitation centre and noted that “the general conditions for detainees, poor as they were, had improved immeasurably compared with their truly parlous situation before Comrade Nhlanhla had taken over.”
The report also notes that according to a friend of Thami Zulu`s, although he was indignant about the investigation, “he made no mention of physical abuse (…) We have no reason to believe he was subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.” In fact, Zulu told his colleagues in the military that he had not been tortured, and his parents and family visited him on more than one occasion during the period that he was confined.
The commissioners also questioned “at length and with some rigour” members of the department who had been responsible at various times for interrogating Zulu, and generally undertook a thorough review of the investigation and the methods used. They concluded that they were “satisfied that the investigation panels worked in a systematic and objective manner, probing all the pros and cons of every question. They were not clumsy cops, but skilled interrogators who prepared carefully, basing themselves on logic, probabilities and attention to detail. What impressed us particularly was their willingness to take into account factors which could prove favourable to TZ`s position.” The commissioners also noted cases in which the department had “carefully cross-checked” allegations by taking action such as arranging an identification parade. (Documents relevant to the investigations carried out by NAT in this case have been submitted to the TRC.)
Two months after Zulu had been confined, the panel reported that although it had found no conclusive proof that he had been collaborating with the enemy, there were “some matters in relation to which he had been unable to give convincing answers” but these could only be cleared up by obtaining information from the Swaziland special branch – probably an impossible task at the time. It recommended that Zulu be disciplined for criminal neglect in the case of the June 1988 deaths of nine cadres under his command, who had been ambushed and shot dead by police soon after crossing the Swaziland border near Piet Retief.
The report notes that despite many improvements, some of the critically important measures introduced after the Kabwe Conference were not functioning as well as it had been hoped: “while considerable progress has been made, the Code has not been fully implemented and the situation of legality inside the ANC falls short of what the Conference called for.” In addition, there was no regulations to govern periods of investigation; as the report puts it, “witnesses from Security themselves asked for a clear set of norms governing detention, since they feel torn between the conflicting objectives of not giving up their investigations until irrefutable proofs or disproofs existed and not prolonging their inquires in an undue manner.”
Among the findings and conclusions of the Motsuenyane Commission, appointed in 1993, and which examined the period from the late 1970s to 1985, were the following:
- ” Concerns (of MK cadres in Angola) were voiced but not properly addressed by the leadership, which resulted in mutinies.”
- “Quatro was conceived without proper deliberation. It was located in Angola, a country at war, and was staffed by inadequately trained youths of insufficient experience. The first camp commander was only 19 years old. The failure to train adequately and supervise the staff, the lack of clear authority between Mbokodo and MK, and the breakdown in communications between the prison and the Officer of Justice resulted in many abuses of human rights.”
- The leadership did implement mechanisms to address these problems, mainly the Code of Conduct and the Office of Justice; this “system of justice represented by the structures in the Code of Conduct was unique among liberation movements in Southern Africa”, comments the report elsewhere, and “represented a large step forward in respect of human rights protection within the ANC”; however, “the leadership did not follow these measures through sufficiently.” “The absence of clear lines of demarcation between the powers and responsibilities of Umkhonto we Sizwe and Mbokodo resulted in a lack of accountability for the excesses that occurred at Quatro (…) The failure to incorporate Mbokodo properly into the structures of the ANC created a degree of independence and unaccountability for the Security apparatus which was detrimental to the overall interests of the Organisation.”
The ANC concurs with these findings, which largely confirm the findings of earlier inquiries appointed by the ANC itself.
It is perhaps necessary to remind the Commission of the conditions under which the ANC was operating. The ANC was a banned organisation, and every effort was made to destroy it. The Movement did not have the resources of a state; it had limited material means, and was operating in impoverished and developing countries where apparently elementary necessities were very difficult to organise. Communications were unreliable and intensively monitored; transport was always a problem. Angola was in the grip of a devastating civil war in which UNITA bandits were receiving the support of South Africa and certain Western countries. To travel in Angola in certain areas was a life-threatening exercise. All these factors contributed significantly to the lack of effective management of structures in general, particularly in Angola.
With regard to various questions asked by the TRC on interventions by individual leadership figures, all officials, whether specifically tasked to or not, were obliged to halt any activities which were in conflict with ANC policy on the treatment of prisoners. We have tried to describe to the Commission how the ANC`s policies evolved to ensure that justice was done and the human rights of prisoners were protected; in this regard the ANC acted collectively, not as a result of individual interventions.
Various phases in the ANC`s attempts to deal with the problems which arose must be distinguished. It was between 1981 – 1985 that most of the excesses took place: this is the period covered by both the Skweyiya and Motsuenyane Commissions. As noted in the findings of the Motsuenyane Commission, the adoption of the Code of Conduct at the Kabwe Conference “showed that the leadership of the ANC was gravely concerned with the need to correct the indentified wrongs once these had been properly investigated.” Steps were taken but there was weakness in implementing these decisions. Between 1985 – 1987, codes of conduct and policy guidelines had been adopted and mechanisms were set up to ensure implementation of these decisions. While the ANC had limited resources, we submit that we used what we had well, and that there was steady improvement in the structures established to ensure justice was done.
The period from 1987 – 1990, when a new leadership was in place – provisionally under the Secretary-General, and later on a permanent basis under Joe Nhlanhla – was characterised by ever-greater vigour in ensuring the protection (at great expense) of the human rights of hard-core agents who had been involved in atrocities within and outside the country.
With regard to the ANC`s decision to appoint the Mostsuenyane Commission in 1993 – which cost us R3 million – the Commissioners commented in their conclusions “It would be wrong to ignore the historic significance of the investigation the ANC, through this Commission, has undertaken, a first in the annals of human rights enforcement. By its commitment to this inquiry, the ANC seeks to breathe life into the lofty principles proclaimed in the Freedom Charter – to render fundamental human rights the Golden Rule, to be applied in good times and bad, peace and war” (p. 171.)
The ANC acknowledges that more could have been done in all the periods under review. And, to the extent that we violated the human rights of prisoners and suspects, the ANC again expresses regret and apologises to those who were subjected to ill-treatment, to their families, and to the nation. Above all the ANC apologises to all who were wrongfully accused of working with the apartheid regime and other hostile agencies.
3.5. ADDITIONAL NOTES RELEVANTTO SPECIFIC QUESTIONS RAISED BY THE TRC
3.5.1 The Commission has asked how the ANC justifies the fact that Mzwai Piliso and Andrew Masondo retained senior posts in the post-1994 administration.
Both Mzwai Piliso and Andrew Masondo were seriously censured by the leadership of the ANC, as described above. These officials both performed well and with loyalty to the ANC in their new postings.
In addition, an ailing Mzwai Piliso had to testify to both the Skweyiya and Motsuenayne Commissions in 1993, where he publicly admitted that he had to take responsibility for allowing certain abuses to continue. To continue punishing these officials endlessly would be contrary to humane practice, and to the ANC`s belief that after rehabilitation those members who had erred should be reintegrated fully into structures. In addition, these officials had not acted with personal vindictiveness; they had acted within the broader context of weaknesses and problems afflicting the ANC as a whole, as outlined in this section of our submission.
As the architect of the policy of reconciliation and nation-building, it is the view of the ANC that all those who have made mistakes in the past are capable of mending their ways and contributing to the building of a new society.
We wish to bring it to the attention of the Commission that there are a number of former agents and champions of the apartheid regime who now occupy senior positions in public and private institutions. To hound loyal anti-apartheid fighters who made mistakes in the course of struggle would be to perpetrate a gross injustice.
3.5.2. The TRC has asked a number of questions concerning action taken against members of the Security Department of NAT who were or who have been accused of being guilty of ill-treating pris- oners and suspects.
The names of those members of the Department who were imprisoned for offences by host governments have also been requested. The TRC has also asked for the list of NAT personnel which was submitted to the President by the Skweyiya Commissioners. The full names of all NAT officials mentioned in the Motsuenyane Commission have been requested by the TRC “for research and investigative purposes.”
Our answer to these questions is informed by the approach above. Those who have already been severely punished not only by the ANC or the authorities of host countries should not continue to be punished endlessly.
The list of names produced by the Skweyiya Commission was based on a fundamentally flawed process. Some members of NAT were falsely accused of abuses by people who testified to the Skweyiya Commission. This Commission did not even give those accused the right of reply, let alone properly examine the allegations made by witnesses. This is precisely why the Motsuenyane Commission was appointed.. The Motsuenyane Commission followed a far more rigorous process of inquiry, and drew conclusions regarding the behaviour of certain members of the Security sector of NAT.
Certain members of the former Security department will be approaching the TRC with amnesty applications. If in the course of the investigations of the TRC, more information is needed regarding any specific incident, the ANC will provide appropria te assistance to the TRC.
3.5.3. The TRC has requested the “full evidence” on the basis of which the Stuart, Skweyiya, Motsuen- yane and Thami Zulu inquiries came to their conclusions, as well as all evidence presented to any other commission of inquiry set up by the ANC.
The ANC has already supplied the TRC with transcripts of the Motsuenyane Commission hearings, but does not have access to all the other items of evidence requested. We regret that we have not been able to locate all the evidence placed before the 1984 Stuart Commission. All available information connected with the Thami Zulu inquiry has been submitted to the TRC.
The only other commission of inquiry into incidents of relevance to the mandate of the TRC was a commission appointed to investigate the circumstances under which three prisoners had died in Camp 32 in 1987/8, and to generally review conditions. It was found that two had died of natural causes but one had been beaten so badly that he died of his injuries. A copy of this report has been submitted to the TRC.
3.5.4. The TRC has asked several ques- tions regarding the procedures of all tribunals, military or other- wise, held in the past. All rele- vant documentation has been requested.
We trust that most of the questions asked by the TRC in this regard have been answered adequately in this section. We regret that we have not been able to locate all the documentation requested by the TRC. If further questions arise regarding the procedures of specific tribunals, the ANC will make every effort to assist the TRC by ensuring (as far as this is possible) that those who served on tribunals will give oral evidence to the TRC.
3.5.5. More information has been requested to support our “allega- tion” that the Douglas “Com- mission of Inquiry” and the Returned Exiles Coordinating Committee (Recoc) were state- sponsored campaigns to discred- it the ANC.
We believe we have already given the TRC all the information necessary to allow a thorough investigation of the activities of Recoc, the front called the International Freedom Foundation, and the Douglas “commission” by going directly to those responsible for running these stratkom operations.
These include the Strategic Communications committee of the SSC; Adriaan Vlok, Johan van der Merwe, Lt-Col. Alf Oosthuizen of the former SAP (who appears to have been the main co- ordinator of this stratkom operation among others), and whoever else was tasked with stratkom operations within the former SAP; Paul Erasmus (who has, as we pointed out, given official documentation on the Recoc operation to the press); the former head of Military Intelligence, “Joffel” van der Westhuizen, and the former head of DMI`s Communications Operations (renamed Command Communications), Brig. Ferdi van Wyk; Russel Crystal, who has been involved in stratkom operations since the 1980s and who fronted for the IFF; evidence gathered by the Skweyiya Commission into corruption in the former Bophutatswana, which found that Advocate Douglas had been paid with taxpayers` money secretly routed through the Bophutatswana “national security council.”
There is also the agent who fronted for the SAP`s Recoc, Patrick Dlongwana (who later called himself Hlongwane.) Dlongwana has yet to explain why he publicly claimed that the “armed wing” of his organisation (the “South African Republican Army”) was responsible for the murder of ANC Midlands leader Reggie Hadebe, and a massacre in Daveyton in which nine civilians were killed.
In this regard, it is clear that the Recoc stratkom went well beyond merely discrediting the ANC, and was used as a smokescreen for certain so-called “third force” violence.
Advocate Douglas himself, who is currently representing illegal gambling houses in KwaZulu Natal, could also possibly assist.
3.5.6. The TRC has asked for the names of those who we described as having been “wrongfully arrest- ed” in the wake of the discovery of the spy network in 1981, and in what form apologies were ten- dered to them.
With regard to the TRC`s questions concerning those who were “wrongfully arrested” in the wake of the discovery of the spy network in 1981, we would like to make the following points: firstly, the term “wrongfully arrested”, as used in our main submission, means that people were arrested because there were grounds for suspicion that they may have been involved in the network, and were released when it was found that insufficient evidence existed to confirm this suspicion. They were not arrested for malicious reasons.
Secondly, we feel that listing the names of these people would be a serious invasion of their privacy, which could result in unjustified suspicions arising against them in their communities. Apologies were tendered to these people in different ways; there was no standard form of redress. Some received personal, verbal apologies from senior leadership figures such as Joe Modise and/or Joe Nhlanhla. In some cases people were provided with bursaries to further their studies. In other cases, they wer e assisted with reintegration into various ANC structures.
3.5.7. The TRC has asked why the ANC did not establish a Commission to investigate all the deaths of exiles (including “killings, extra- legal executions, and disappear- ances”)?
We reiterate that no “extra-legal executions” were carried out in areas where the ANC leadership had control over its structures and membership. We have shown earlier that the ANC leadership acted in accordance with our Code of Conduct and procedures which were refined over time. Executions were only carried out after the cases had been considered by a tribunal or other structure composed of senior leadership.
In fact the ANC did set up a structure to gather information on all deaths in exile: the Bereaved Parents Committee, which is continuing its work; and the list submitted to the TRC with our first submission is the product of their labours.
3.5.8. TheTRC`s requested more infor mation on attempts to exchange prisoners
The apartheid regime was not interested in attempting to free its agents, presumably because they felt this would mean acknowledging that our imprisoned cadres were prisoners of war. They cared very little for those who had served them.
4 VIOLENCE BETWEEN 1990 – 1994
The TRC has asked these questions with regard to what they call “ongoing conflict” in the post-1990 phase: “It is clearly stated (in the ANC`s submission) that the violence was largely due to Third Force activity. While this may be true, indications are that ANC members and cadres were involved in the ongoing conflict. What level of responsibility should the ANC leadership take for these actions?”
They have also asked whether there is “any record of MK`s role in SDU`s and instances where their actions may have resulted in gross human rights violations – even where actions were understood to be in self-defence? Can the ANC supply detail about the training, instruction and report-back structures of the SDU`s?” In a closely related question they ask “what role did MK play in the SDUs in KwaZulu Natal, specifically in operations against the IFP and KZP members after February 1990? Is there a record of such MK actions?” The TRC wants a “more detailed account of MK activities in the Transkei in the early 1990s”. They want our response to “claims that MK – especially operating from the Transkei – was responsible for the killing or assassination of IFP office bearers, especially in the early 1990s.”
The nature of violence, post-1990
The TRC has commented that our first submission “showed limited focus on the 1990 – 1994 conflict. It is clearly stated that violence was largely due to Third Force activity. While this may be true, indications are that ANC members and cadres were involved in the ongoing conflict. What level of responsibility should the ANC leadership take for these actions?”
We feel that certain misconceptions which may have arisen should be addressed. Firstly, our first submission did not show “limited focus” on the period in question. A careful reading of our document will show that considerable care was taken to highli ght the “anatomy” of state repression in the 1980s, in describing the concept of counter-mobilisation which underpinned the thinking of the security establishment, in identifying critically important covert projects (Ancor, Marion, etc.), and in as precisely as possible, indicating the key structures tasked with work of this nature, rather than producing endless examples of the tactical expression of these strategies.
The section on the post-1990 violence should be read as a continuation of the earlier section on the 1980s. We concentrated on identifying key features of this period, such as the continued existence of the National Security Management System, renamed the National Co- ordinating Mechanism (NCM), the continued existence of covert fronts and projects carried over from the 1980s in some cases, and what we know of the activities of key units such as the Directorate: Covert Collection, rather than giving many examples of the thousands of acts of brutality which characterised this bloodiest period of South Africa`s history, in which around 12000 civilians were killed. We stated unambiguously that we believe the violence was in essence a continuation of the violence of the 1980s, and exhibited many of the features of the violence during that earlier period as described above in this submission, although it was now projected as “political intolerance” – or the work of a mysterious “third force” which was supposedly against both the state and the ANC, intent on derailing negotiations.
According to a recent report, official documents show that the State Security Council first mooted the idea of a “third force” on 04/11/85. Cabinet minutes of a meeting held in May 1986, which was chaired by PW Botha, and at which FW de Klerk was present, show that the creation of this “third force” was discussed again. It would be complementary to the existing security forces, it was decided, “so that they will not be unnecessarily compromised”. It is difficult not to conclude that illegal, covertly-managed violence was being contemplated, for which a specialised unit would possibly be required. In other words, those engaged in developing plans for this covert force were fully aware that they were going to break their own laws, and were attempting to make provision for the principle of “plausible denial” on the part of both the political leadership and the upper echelons of the security establishment.
According to SSC and Cabinet minutes, final approval was given for the setting up of an operations centre from which the “third force” would be commanded on 22/09/86. But the model for this “third force” – which had been developed by Niel Barnard, Adriaan Vlok, General Johan Coetzee, and General Jannie Geldenhuys – was not implemented. According to these minutes, the Cabinet was informed that structures were already in place to carry out the tasks envisaged for the “third force”. These included the CCB, Unit C10 of the SB, and the Directorate: Covert Collection of the Department of Military Intelligence.
In addition to these structures, we urge the TRC to investigate the role of the Internal Stability Division (the re-named Riot Unit) since the 1980s, and the Reconnaissance Regiments, particularly 5 Recce, which has been involved in providing support to Renamo for many years and which was, according to former member Felix Ndimene, involved in some of the train massacres in the post-1990 phase.
We again urge the TRC to thoroughly investigate the activities of key NCM committees including the Cabinet Committee for Security Affairs, the Security Secretariat (with its various sub-committees, particularly the one tasked with Strategic Communications), the Security Committee (which replaced the National Joint Management Centre), and the Joint Security Staff. (More detail in this regard appears in our first submission on pp. 43-45.)
The former NIS, headed by Niel Barnard until early 1992, was a critically important role-player at the highest strategic level, and we urge the TRC to call on Mr Barnard to provide more information in this regard.
If we understand the term “third force” in this sense, the ANC would agree with the TRC`s interpretation of our submission to the effect that most of the post-1990 violence was “third force” violence. As the official manual of the National Co-ordinating Mechanism puts it, “the application of the full powers of the state in order to resist the revolutionary onslaught is still valid.” The post-1990 violence was the work of the state, was organised at the highest level, and was aimed at strengthening the hand of the government at the negotiations table by forcing a progressively weakened ANC into a reactive position in which it would be held hostage to the violence, and forced to make constitutional concessions.
In this regard, the cynical use of Inkatha in particular remained critically important. Operation Marion was not terminated when De Klerk came to power. According to a document dated 12/03/1990, written by General Jannie Geldenhuys, it is stated that the State President had been briefed on “a range of sensitive projects” and had given “approval in principle for the running of Stratkom projects.” According to this memo, “covert Stratkom projects are controlled and managed by the secretary of the State Security Council. This includes the allocation of areas of work to departments. The secretary of the State Security Council receives directives and assignments in this regard from the State President and conveys this to the relevant department. The Stratkom projects in the attached appendices are managed in consultation with, and on the request of, the secretary of the SSC.” Operation Marion is listed among the “covert Stratkom projects” in the appendix attached to this memo.
The key question which must at all times be kept in mind is this: who stood to benefit from the violence?
The ANC was not engaging in “ongoing conflict”, nor were the majority of people on the ground embroiled in “ongoing conflict”: they were being attacked by covert units operating in accordance with the wishes of the apartheid regime, and by organised, armed “vigilantes” which had, with the assistance of the NP`s intelligence and security forces, established informal military bases in several hostels from which to launch attacks on civilians in their homes, on trains, or at bars and vigils. This was fully in line with the original objectives of Project Marion, and the determination of the De Klerk administration to maintain control over the pace and content of the negotiations process.
Further information with regard to the use of Low-Intensity Warfare tactics of this nature – which has not by any means been unique to South Africa – is provided in an article, from the publication Challenge accompanying our submission (appendix 8.)
We again urge the TRC to investigate those covert operations and key structures we identified in our first submission, which we are confident will expose the true nature of the post-1990 violence, and assist in eradicating clandestine structures still in place to this day. As far as possible, covert units or fronts were self-financing; some raised funds through illegal activities such as vehicle theft, the smuggling of ivory and rhino horn, and drug dealing.
SDUs in the context of post-1990 state-sponsored violence
With regard to SDUs, we dealt with this question in considerable detail in our first submission (please refer to pp. 63 – 66.) SDUs were formed in response to state-sponsored violence which was devastating many communities, with certain SAP units directly involved in these attacks by omission or commission.
As the violence which exploded on the Reef in July 1990 intensified, there were repeated calls by communities under attack for MK units to be deployed to defend them. The ANC (and MK Military HQ) felt that the negotiations could be jeopardised should MK become formally involved in attempts to defend people from these attacks, but approved the involvement of MK members based in communities under threat. in SDU structures.
The ANC also set up a Peace Desk, which included representatives from COSATU, the SACP, Sanco, and other community organisations. The Peace Desk gathered information on the violence and participated in structures set up in terms of the National Peace Accord. The ANC also took the issue of violence to the negotiations table, and called on the De Klerk regime to take action to halt the carnage. We took the issue to the United Nations. Despite these efforts, the violence continued to intensify.
SDUs were established in communities under attack as a joint project between the ANC and the community concerned. It should also be noted that the legitimacy of SDU structures was recognised in terms of the National Peace Accord.
As we stated in our first submission, some members of MK Military HQ were tasked to attend to issues relating to the SDUs, their organisation, training and the provision of weaponry. The draft document “For the Sake of Our Lives” clearly states that allowing units of this nature to operate with party-political bias would be highly dangerous and should be avoided at all times. A full copy of this document, as requested by the TRC, accompanies this submission (appendix 9). The units should have been controlled by the communities in which they operated, but many communities were entirely destabilised by LIW violence, and organised structures at grassroots levels were almost non-existent.
It was made clear that the overall control of SDUs was to remain with community structures, and MK cadres were to participate as members of the community: MK Command would not play a leading role. Various clandestine units for the training and organisation of the various SDUs were set up, and some cadres were tasked to provide weaponry where possible. We do not have records of MK`s role in SDUs since they were not HQ-controlled structures.
Members of SDUs were drawn primarily from the communities in which they were established. Often they were youths, and in some cases SDUs included members of MK who lived in those communities.
A dilemma arose with regard to the arming of SDUs. MK members came under increasing pressure from communities to obtain arms. The ANC called on communities to make contributions towards to purchase of arms; this was largely unsuccessful, and the regi me refused to issue weapons licences to members of SDUs. In addition, people could legally only buy hand guns, which were futile given the nature of the violence.
The perpetrators of violence were organised and equipped with automatic rifles and machine guns, including AK 47s. Official spokespersons of the De Klerk regime pointed to the use of AK`s and blamed the ANC; however, the Cameron Commission discovered t hat the SADF had approximately 38 000 AK 47s at its disposal. Eugene de Kock has testified that in late 1993 he and former undercover SB agent Philip Powell of Inkatha collected truckloads of weaponry from an Armscor subsidiary, Mechem, including hand grenades, light machine guns, land mines ammunition and assault rifles (including AK 47s.) Powell narrowly missed obtaining a further thousand assault rifles from Eskom (at a cost of R2.1m) this deal had been authorised by the Commissioner of Police, Johan vander Merwe.
Senior ANC leaders decided that selected SDUs should be assisted in those areas of the Reef which were hardest hit by destabilisation. Selected members of MK, including senior officials from the Command structures, were drawn into an ad hoc structure to assist with the arming of units and to train and co-ordinate efforts in self-defence in these communities; this was done on a need-to-know basis. At MK`s conference in Venda in August 1991, the President called on MK to fulfill its responsibility in defending communities under attack.
Selected units of the Ordnance structure of MK provided weaponry to certain SDUs through dead drops or by providing sketches to senior personnel, which were then passed on. These Ordnance units did not know to whom the materiel was passed on.
SDUs that had been trained patrolled townships at night, setting up roadblocks and checking on unusual movements. In some instances, the units carried out attacks on known warlords in their townships.
Tensions arose between HQ and Natal ANC structures, where some leaders called for an offensive approach to deal with Inkatha warlords and others who had been perpetrating violence with impunity for years. The ANC had to take a very firm stand to preven t offensive action and to maintain a self-defensive posture.
In a few areas, such as the Vaal, problems arose between “rival” SDUs. Because of the principle of need-to-know being applied, in areas where a number of SDUs had been established some SDUs became suspicious of others. The ANC had to occasionally intervene in an attempt to defuse these tensions.
In addition, as we pointed out in our first submission, the state made every effort to subvert SDUs in order to prevent any form of sustained resistance to the state-sponsored violence inflicted on their communities, and to discredit the ANC. Some SDUs became little more than gangs of criminals, at times led by police agents, and inflicted great damage on popular, ANC-aligned community structures: this was well illustrated in the case of the notorious Phola Park SDU, which was led by an agent of th e SAP, and which we referred to in some detail in our first submission. Another instance of this nature is provided by the activities of police agent Sifiso Nkabinde in the Midlands.
We saw the familiar pattern of the state countering the ANC`s initiatives by turning them against us, and against the people in general.
With regard to questions the TRC has asked about MK cadres in the Transkei: ANC and MK cadres returning from exile and prison, or emerging from the underground, went to settle in or near the areas where they originally came from, including the Transkei. Because of the relatively stable security situation in that territory in comparison to other parts of the country immediately after the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, some cadres who were in danger of being killed by apartheid agents, or arrested in the uncertain period of 1990 – 1991, may also have settled in this area.
As was the case in other parts of the country, MK cadres were tasked with ensuring the security of the leadership and their own security, and where applicable, to assist the people in their own self-defence.
With regard to the TRC`s request for information on the case of Sipho Phungulwa, this is contained in an amnesty application.
5. RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS RECEIVED FROM THE TRC WITH REGARD TO ACTIVITIES OF THE FORMER APARTHEID REGIME
5.1. THE NCM (FORMERLY THE NSMS)
The TRC has asked us to “provide evidence illustrating the restructuring of the NSMS and its subsequent activities.”
An original copy of the official handbook on the National Co-ordinating Mechanism (the renamed National Security Management System) is available in the set of appendices released with this submission (appendix 10). We also attach official documents issued in 1992 setting out changes to certain key structures in the NCM hierarchy (appendix 11).
It is not possible to provide information on the activities of the restructured NSMS, since this was a not a specific unit or department, but a co-ordinating mechanism at strategic level designed to ensure that a range of activities by a various government departments (including the SADF, SAP and NIS) were carried out in the desired manner. However, a study of the NCM Handbook will show that various structures at the upper level of the NCM had distinct mission statements.
We urge the TRC use its powers to obtain information on the activities of these structures, which is crucial to an understanding of the nature of the post-1990 violence, from those who were actually responsible for running them. The activities of the Secretariat of the SSC, which included a Stratkom branch, and of the Joint Security Staff are of particular importance; in this regard we refer you to p. 45 of our main submission in which we explicitly identified the most important structures which, we believe, should be the focus of inquiries by the TRC.
5.2. ADULT EDUCATION CONSULTANT SAND OPERATION KATZEN
The TRC has requested more information on the activities of Adult Education Consultants, and the proposed Xhosa Resistance Movement.
A translation of the document in which what was called the “main plan” for Operation Katzen accompanies this submission (appendix 12)
With regard to Adult Education Consultants (AEC), a memorandum from the Chief-of- Staff: Intelligence to the Chief of the SADF, titled “Extension of Counter-Mobilisation Strategy” accompanies this submission (appendix 13). This memo lists over twenty projects running at this time under the NP`s Project Ancor and sub-project Kampong. Adult Education Consultants was established in order to implement Project Ancor.
With regard to the activities of AEC affiliates, considerable information on the activities of this group of front companies is readily available from a range of print media sources. Again, we would urge the TRC to request information directly from those at SSC Secretariat level who were responsible for conceptualising these and all other fronts, and those who were tasked with running such fronts – or to subpoena people if necessary. We specifically identified key people responsible for these particular operations in our main submission: see pp 35 and 38. These individuals include Louis Pasques (who was and possibly still is a member of the Broederbond), Dr. Johan L. van der Westhuizen (who went on to found the ACDP), Tertius Delport, “Joffel” van der Westhuizen, “Kat” Liebenberg, Magnus Malan, Louis Pienaar, Ben Conradie, and the chief of the Army in 1986. After April 1991, responsibility for Project Ancor was passed to the Chief of the Army, Georg Meiring. It is highly improbable that Niel Barnard, as head of the NIS, was not involved in these projects as well.
There were many other fronts, a number of which we mentioned in our main submission; we trust the TRC intends to ensure that this information comes to light by actively obtaining information from key officials.
5.3. STEVE BIKO
The TRC has asked what information did Carl Edwards and Craig Williams have which makes the ANC believe they were involved in his death. We trust the TRC will question these agents in this regard as they have all relevant information.
5.4. COVERT OPERATIVES INFILTRATED INTO ANC/MK STRUCTURES, SDUs, AND COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANISATIONS
With regard to the TRC`s question as to whether the ANC can supply any evidence substantiating the involvement of South African security forces in the deaths and disappearances of MK cadres and ANC members, we feel that the TRC itself has the investigative and research resources available to pursue this matter, and that this is in fact part of the mandate of the TRC. Investigations by the TRC have already led to some cases of this nature coming to light, and we urge the TRC to continue this work.
6. REPARATION AND REHABILITATION
“The Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act…also requires that we make recommendations on the reparation and rehabilitation of victims. The views of your party on this matter will be appreciated. The nation has limited resources, there are a range of initiatives included in the Reconstruction and Development Programme – and yet, there are individuals and communities who suffered in a specific way as a result of gross human rights violations. What is the obligation of the nation towards these people? What forms of memory, rehabilitation and reparation are reasonably possible?”
The mandate of the TRC with regard to reparations is to make recommendations to the President about the type of reparations required, and to determine the number of people entitled to reparations.
The ANC firmly believes that meaningful reparations to the victims of the system of apartheid are necessary, and in particular to the victims of gross violations of human rights. Unless there are meaningful reparations, the process of ensuring justice and reconciliation will be flawed.
The finalisation of the forms, quantum, and implementation of such reparations must be the responsibility of the State. The State is our only instrument to ensure that decisions in this regard are related to available resources, both now and in the foreseeable future.
Further, the State has access to various capacities and instruments within several line function departments and Ministries which will have to be mobilised to ensure effective and systematic implementation of sustainable reparations. For example, special pensions, educational grants, skills training, medical aid, welfare, the issuing of special medals, the erection of memorials, and the possibility of a museum in remembrance of those who suffered these injustices. It is along these lines that we believe the TRC should look for the forms that reparations and rehabilitation should take.
The ANC has ensured that government has set up a Ministerial body to look at the forms reparations could take, and the capacity of government to implement reparations. This committee has been mandated by the government to hold discussions with the TR C`s committee on reparations. We would at the same time urge the TRC not to lose sight of the crucial necessity to identify those who qualify for reparation and rehabilitation.
We take into account the fact that available resources can never match what would be required to ensure reasonable reparation and rehabilitation for the gross violations of human rights which arose under apartheid and in order to bring apartheid to an end. Nonetheless, there is widespread recognition that there are individuals and strata both within our society and abroad who have directly benefited from the system which was sustained by apartheid repression. It would be useful if the Commissioners could apply their minds to considering the necessity and viability of ensuring that the doctrine of Odious Debt is given recognition in mobilising some of the resources that would help make the reparations more feasible.
1 The Rand Daily Mail, 03/12/83; quoted by W.J. Pomeroy in Apartheid, Imperialism, and African Freedom; International Publishers, New York, 1986. (Banned for possession in South Africa in December 19988)
2 Mabangalala: The Rise of Right-Wing Vigilantes in South Africa; Nicholas Haysom; Occasional Paper No 10, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand; 1985; page 5
3 Ibid; page 16
4 The Third Day of September; an eye witness account of the Sebokeng Rebellion of 1984; page 5. Johannes Rantete. Ravan Press, 1984