This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
27 Jul 1992: Botha, Louis
POM As usual there are a number of areas I want to cover with you, Colonel. Perhaps the one I would start with covers the most obvious and that's the Waddington Report, response to the Boipatong massacre and the subsequent investigation and by any measure it was a very, very hard hitting report calling the investigation woefully inadequate, incompetent and he had found the police, just to use his phrases, "... had been bedevilled by failure of leadership at all levels, contingency planning was inadequate, non-commissioned officers were left at the scene of a rapidly unfolding disaster to make fateful decisions as best they could. Command had been notable for its absence for much of the time. The officers have not been properly debriefed and lessons have not been learned and ... community relations have suffered." He said that if what happened at Boipatong, the investigation carried out there, and the structures been placed there were representative of the SAP as a whole, he said the SAP is an unaccountable police force.
LB Right. Let us look at the scene objectively for a start. As far as the police force is concerned, to the best of my knowledge the Commissioner and top management of the force are in the process of pulling that apart. When I say 'pulling apart' I'm not saying rejecting it. They are attending to it almost paragraph by paragraph. The process is continuing. It's obvious that it's not going to be a thing that's going to be solved overnight. Then there are various aspects of that report. There are some negative aspects and there are some positive aspects. I'm going to react on the intelligence side because there was a paragraph that you didn't read out there. On the intelligence side it actually referred, Dr. Waddington referred to lack of information. In his report he actually touches on this and he makes comment and refers to the exposé then by the Weekly Mail and he's quite cutting on his remarks there of the exposé of various covert factions or covert structures of the police up on the Rand which led to lack of information. And his comments were something to the effect that if this be true then the Weekly Mail, who claims then to represent certain sections of the community, actually contributed to their experience or the horrific experience that followed. So that is the only aspect I'm going to pass comment on because the rest of it is in the process of being attended to and it's rather awkward to try and cut across something when the Generals are sitting with it at the moment. I can tell you this much, that tomorrow morning there's a further meeting which I know specifically is going to take place concerning Dr. Waddington's report. The reasons why I've left out that one section is that we're actually discussing it at the office now. It's not connected to your visit, it's just ongoing that we're doing at the whole time.
POM Yes. I suppose what I'm asking in a broad way is that one gets the impression of a Police Force ...
LB Can I just pass?
POM Let me give you the comparison I want to make. The Waddington Report really says incompetence and lack of leadership and lack of proper investigative techniques or to follow procedures. Then one looks at the fact that last year there were 10000 complaints uninvestigated by the SAP. If you put that on one side and take that as one image, it conjures up an image of incompetence, unaccountability, lack of structure. On the other hand if you put up the image of the SAP in the seventies and the eighties which was a ruthlessly efficient organisation that was known the world over for its ability to hunt down subversives, for its capacity to be always on top of things, and they are two completely different images. What would account for one and what would account for the other and where lies the balance between the two?
LB All right, it's a difficult one and again I'm going to say, bear in mind that the Generals and the top management are looking at this whole report. Then I'm going to say to you that it is very easy to come from another country and come and criticise. I can get in a plane now and go across to Bristol where there's riots raging ...
POM Go to Los Angeles.
LB Or Los Angeles and I can pass negative comments on investigative methods. I can pass comments on lack of intelligence, etc., etc. It's very easy to do that. That's what you do if you're an armchair critic. But if you get down to the nitty gritty, and what you said is correct, if you weigh the two up against each other, one must see this, the investigation, almost as taking place in isolation. There is virtually no co-operation of the local people, the people that the police want to interview. Part of the ANC encourage it, so at the end of the day the people that must investigate are not receiving the normal help the normal policeman would receive. It's easy to sit and criticise in those circumstances but if you go and interview, and some of those statements came via lawyers, they refused to be interviewed, one can sit and talk about this all day, the reason for this, and when I spoke to you the first time I referred to 1983 and making the country ungovernable and this is part of the process. We are now reaping what's been going on ahead. And when I say making the country ungovernable, there are areas that are virtually ungovernable, yes, but then it has been taken further. No co-operation of any state structures and it is in light of this that you must see what's happened. I'm talking about the investigation now.
POM So this investigation in terms of the way it would be carried out?
LB It's not normal. It's not a normal situation.
POM Is it still the usual practice of the people in the townships not to co-operate?
LB In many areas that is so and it's an extremely difficult type of case. It's like the doctor trying to inoculate people and the people won't go forward to inoculation, then you criticise the doctor because the epidemic has spread. It's not an easy type of thing to investigate.
POM So would it be your view that this lack of response of local populations and circumstances like this is done under the direct command of the ANC or is it just a fear people have of the police that is also a product perhaps of the seventies and eighties?
LB A product of the seventies and eighties, of the political campaign, and this is where we are now. We are now reaping what has gone on before.
POM But did your officers find, say in cases where there are incidences of what are called political violence, that the local ANC structures would be helpful to them in their investigations?
LB Very rare that they're helpful. It's very rare that the ANC structures are helpful.
POM The purpose being?
LB Partly it is that one must look at it in the broad sense. There's a whole campaign against the police force, getting the whole police force under a multi-party sort of control and this is just part of their ongoing campaign to make people lose respect, make people lose trust in the South African Police.
POM Do you think they are being successful?
LB If one looks at Boipatong one must come to the conclusion that it would appear that they are successful because it's certainly making the investigation very difficult. As I said just now if one draws an analogy, as I was saying, a doctor wanting to give injections for an epidemic but the local people don't want the injections and they fight against it, now how do you combat it? And this is one of the things that is happening here. The local people, for various reasons have been turned against the police and this is the result. That there may be some incompetence on the police's part, the Generals are having a look at that and if that is so then the people concerned will certainly have their toes trodden on, action will certainly be taken against them. But the whole report is viewed in a very serious light, yes, because it's good to have your own shortcomings pointed out to you.
POM One explanation that was offered to me and I would just like to hear you comment on it in a broad way, is that during the seventies and eighties when there was the war against the total onslaught, the SAP relied to a large degree on confessions or on paid informants and that paid informants have now dried up and that confessions are less admissible as evidence.
LB No, I don't think confessions are less admissible. They are still admissible. That hasn't changed, but I'll take the point as far as the informers are concerned. This I was referring to earlier with the section on intelligence which Dr Waddington actually left out and I suggest you read that. Unfortunately, I didn't bring the whole report here.
POM I wish you had. I don't have a copy of it.
LB I'll see if I can get a copy of the report and I'll certainly fax it through to you because it's an open document. It's not a secret document and then I will certainly highlight that particular section to you and that has direct bearing on this. But then one must look at Boipatong, you mustn't look at it in isolation you must look at it - Boipatong was on the cards way back, not at Boipatong, that was just a flashpoint, and there's many reasons that led up to that. The failure at CODESA, the Zulu people's frustrations because if one looks at Boipatong it is alleged that this was a revenge attack for the burning or necklacing of a woman at the Kwa Madala Hostel, or in the vicinity of the Kwa Madala Hostel, and also the removal of the weapons by the police from the Zulus on the previous Sunday. The manner in which this was done also contributed to this because a Zulu is a very proud person and if you take his weapons away in the manner in what it was shown on TV you're going to result in a reaction in an anger they've got. (Phone call interruption). To get back to Boipatong, sorry, Mdlalose is Minister of that portfolio, he's directly involved in the peace negotiations on behalf of the IFP. Would he be in Ulundi, that's just the question I'm trying to think? He could be in Durban.
LB Don't just take off for Ulundi without establishing his whereabouts, that's what I'm saying because the Inkatha people and, what do they call themselves, they have offices there in Acutt Lane and it could be a wise thing to establish that otherwise you're going to go up to Ulundi for nothing.
While we're talking about Boipatong, I took the liberty of bringing one or two press cuttings for you. I can talk about Boipatong and make a long story and you're going to say to me, "I know it's your personal opinion." Fair enough. Some of it is my personal opinion but right from the word go the ANC used Boipatong to lambaste the police. A lie was told that the police were directly involved, directly involved in that there was a Koevoet unit involved and they were the ones that did this. So one must look at this.
This was retold and retold and retold and I'm going to give you these two cuttings. The one is from the Sunday Times dated 21st June 1992. It's headed "An Aftermath of Boipatong". The husband of one of the victims gave Sunday Times reporters two different accounts of how his wife, who was eight months pregnant, was killed. Two total contradictions and this is one of the problems which the police face. So I'll give you this, I'm not going to read it. I give it to you. It's in the Sunday Times dated 28th - that's 21st. 28 June also "Boipatong faces a tangle of contradictions". And then people that actually use these circumstances to further inflame the situation. "I didn't call for war says township priest." Now I saw him on TV and he was calling for war. Do you understand? And that's the type of thing that leads to further problems during investigation, etc., etc.
POM Why do you think the ANC chose this particular occasion?
LB Propaganda. They've chosen many occasions, not just this, to make it seem as if that is the truth. It's far removed from the truth. If there were policemen involved there it's imperative that they be taken out and policed. When I say 'taken out' let's get our semantics right, they be removed and charged. But I'm positive that there were no policemen involved. One can criticise the investigation yes.
POM The larger question was you talked about the manner in which the ANC used Boipatong. What do you think were their particular goals on this occasion?
LB It's part of the - now we're going straight into the political field.
POM Yes. I'll relate that to a more general question and the more general question is: what is the security analysis of the collapse of CODESA?
LB Well now you see, well, exactly, because CODESA, this is so wide now. I was actually starting to draw up in quite a fair way, sort of as a background, what contributed to the collapse of CODESA as I see it as well as what contributed to Boipatong and subsequent actions and it makes very interesting reading. If I can just skim over it, one can sit and argue about this all day. If one looks at CODESA 1 that took place in the euphoria of the National Peace Accords that were signed and the various Minutes, the Groote Schuur and the Pretoria, an impression was created that this was all over bar the shouting. We just have to sit at CODESA 1 and work out who's going to do what. And even at CODESA 1 parties went a long way towards finding common ground and then Nelson Mandela closed it off with a vicious attack on the State President and that I think also contributed to the failure later on of CODESA 2.
Also if one sits and analyses very carefully the words and phrases and utterances of the various political parties one can see that we are playing with words, different sentences or different words or different agreements mean different things to different people. You then who reside in America must realise this, when you're dealing with the Communist Party wherever in the world and your experience in Vietnam (I say your experience, I'm taking you as American) will show that you draw up an agreement and they just break it and this happens all over the Communist Party and the Communist Party is involved with the negotiations and reaping the fruit thereof in this sense that what was agreed to at that level cannot be passed down to the ground roots level. Ground roots won't understand it. They don't want to understand it and there you have your problem. These things contributed to the failure in CODESA 2 because again everybody thought CODESA 2, this was the final CODESA where everything is handed over and it was patently clear it wouldn't work from day one. All right the final thing was over the percentages and one or two other little issues, but it was doomed to failure.
POM You say it was perfectly clear from day one that ...?
LB That alliance of the, shall we say "the Alliance", I'm including the whole left, I've got to be careful how I say that. The ANC, the SACP, COSATU, that whole sort of grouping, their demand was virtual surrender, surrendering, that the government must surrender totally and it doesn't work like that. The government has a responsibility. It was an elected government, conceded it was elected only by a portion of the people, but it is an elected government and there are certain constitutional - (Phone call interruption.) Now there are certain constitutional paths you have to follow, you can't just cut it short otherwise you won't have any order. Not that there's much order at the time, but at least there is a semblance of order.
POM So when you make your analysis, a security person makes their analysis, you move from the situation of where you had CODESA 2 deadlocked, but you still had Mandela and de Klerk coming out of it, putting the best face on it, saying the problems weren't insuperable. Then six weeks later you had the ANC having walked out of the talks, you had Boipatong, you had Mandela making very strident remarks about de Klerk's personal involvement in violence, about the campaign of mass mobilisation. So in a period of five to six weeks the entire dynamics of the situation appeared to change. What were the dynamics at work and how they played themselves out to bring about this changed situation?
LB All I can say is thank heavens I'm a policeman not a politician. I just want to pass this comment. If politics, realism in politics, if we're being realistic, it was fantastic that CODESA 1 and 2 actually occurred, that they actually took place. If you look at what happened before that, the years of government and ANC being deadlocked and the conflict and it's actually fantastic that it occurred, that it took place. Politics being politics each one is going to strive to gain the upper hand over the other group. ANC, to maintain its support at grassroots level, it has to appear to be fairly radical otherwise it's going to lose out. [And actually Nelson Mandela]
POM It has to appear to be?
LB Radical. It has to make far greater demands. All these cuttings, I actually, as I say I was busy drawing up that thing which is very interesting. Once I finish it I can fax it through to you. It's not a secret it's just an exercise I've done for the Department, just to say it myself, I've done the whole thing.
POM So you think there are a host of factors?
LB There's a host of factors and one finds oneself straight on the political field, which I'm very cautious of because at the end of the day we execute policy, we don't formulate a policy and I'm very cautious of passing too many comments on the political field.
POM At the same time your interpretation of what's causing events to coalesce the way they coalesce is a very important part of the formulation of that policy in the first place. For example, would it be your, the security assessment that the balance of power within the ANC/SACP/COSATU has shifted, the moderates have been, for the moment at least, sidelined and the more militant elements have jumped and seized this opportunity to go back to a campaign of mass mobilisation?
LB The so-called Leipzig option.
POM Yes. So you believe that the Leipzig option is the option?
LB Jeremy Cronin actually warned about the failure of the Leipzig option in the last couple of days. I saw there was an article in which he warned that it wouldn't work and it was almost, the author of the piece, or the reporter who actually said words to the effect that he tried to emphasise the failure of a Leipzig option under these circumstances and I got the impression that he wanted to say it was the fixed goal, grassroots level people. The people didn't want to understand it. They saw it at grassroots as the option that's going to work and they wanted to enforce it and leadership was steamrolled into it, helped on by the radical elements amongst the leaders.
POM So do you think, again assessment, that - I remember being at the first conference that the ANC had, the ANC Conference of December 1990 where the membership took the leadership to task for not consulting with the grass roots and in his closing remarks Mandela was scathing in terms of his rejection of this notion as a total principle that should stand above all other principles. It was like every time I go to the bathroom, should I consult you? Every time I speak to somebody, should I consult you?
LB That is what the grass roots level want.
POM Do you think in fact that after, that he was saying, "I need latitude to be able to do my thing?"
POM And I can only do that without consulting you at every level as this process doesn't work. Do you think that the radical grassroots are saying, "Well, your approach hasn't worked try our approach."
LB That is what I'm saying.
POM And again from a security point of view, what are the implications of that?
LB The implications are continuance of the violence as we see the beginning of the mass actions and it would appear, by the government's statements, that they're going to ride it out because both parties are being "injured". They are being damaged by the continual violence and they are going to have to sit down and talk again and the sooner they sit down and talk the better for all of us. And again one mustn't go and say this is an end-all, be-all, when they sit down now they're going to solve it. They won't. It's still going to take some time. If it was that easy to solve, this type of set up, if one can leave this and just go over to Ireland. If politics was that easy to solve that would have been solved many years ago and there we are involved with a more sophisticated type of person, a person that's far more educated, and if you come back to South Africa you're stuck with a less sophisticated type of person. People's education levels here are lower and it's going to take longer.
POM So do you think there ...?
LB So will it be realistic? This is the bugger, the basic thing I'm saying. We must be realistic in our expectations.
POM But it would appear to me that in that sense the ANC is becoming more unrealistic if they are talking about shorter and shorter time spans for interim governments and for an election for a Constituent Assembly to take place, so that they are compressing the time frame.
LB That bodes ill for the future. That bodes ill because the grassroots level are grasping that and they are being told, not now, over the years, that when the black man takes over everything is going to come right. There will be housing for all, there will be jobs for all, there'll be education for all, and they should believe that portions of the very idealistic Freedom Charter and they see the longer Nelson Mandela and people negotiate the longer it's going to take for them to get all this redistribution of wealth. They want their piece of the cake and the sooner the ANC gets in power then they can now demand their piece or slice and by negotiation you're actually lengthening the process so the leadership is being forced to shorten it.
POM So in this sense do you think that the leadership is ...?
LB The dog is wagging the tail. No, the tail is wagging the dog.
POM They are hostage to their larger constituency.
LB Well the stuff has being fed into the field amongst their constituents over many, many years and they firmly believe it and it's not a thing that you're going to change overnight. You're not going to change overnight that there are people out there that have got no work, people who have got no houses. If you look at the Freedom Charter, and they say the Freedom Charter is still there, we know, I think we discussed the Freedom Charter the first time we spoke together, it's very idealistic: jobs for all, houses for all, very unrealistic. But as I say, who's going to pay for it? And they firmly believe that as soon as the ANC take over this is going to be implemented and anything in the way thereof must be removed.
Negotiations are a problem and their demands are increasing that they should try and shorten the period which by itself, at some stage the leadership of the whole alliance are going to have to put their foot down. And the question is, are they leading or are they following? And this is where the interesting phase is going to be eventually and it's going to be, the way I see it, it's going to be cut between the people that came from outside and the people that were inside. In other words the old mass democratic movement and the ANC and this is where the problems are going to be. We find already that there are problems between certain leaders over interpretation. People getting very arrogant, people getting very impatient. People who have come from outside that came in are very arrogant, "We've got the answers", and the people inside saying, "Uh-uh-uh-uh. We're the ones that had to face the whole system inside. You sat outside in luxury and now we're being given back seats.
POM Does it surprise you that somebody like Jay Naidoo, that labour seems to have been, who does not have a seat at CODESA, is beginning to assert itself? I mean in a sense if you look at the last couple of weeks the only name I see in the paper is Jay Naidoo. Mandela is off at the Olympic Games. Jay Naidoo is saying, "We're going to occupy the buildings. We're going to take the workers out on the streets. We're going to close down the country."
LB Again I think he's being caught up. I don't think he'll ever admit it, but he's been caught up in this, "I've shown a radical face and if I don't keep up with the stream I'm going to be sidelined." Because lots of his statements, if one sits and looks at them very carefully, I haven't got them in front of me here, but if one looks at them very carefully you find they are very political in their demands. And we're talking about a labour movement, a union, a group of unions which shouldn't really have a political agenda. Or if you want to have a political agenda, declare yourself a political party and then join the process. And then the ANC are using this system sitting in the background, they're using the unions.
POM So do you see, again looking at the alliance, this shift of power within the movement, at least for the time being, do you see it not just moving more in the direction of the more militant element, but also more generally of the SACP?
LB Yes. I'm going to give it to you now, I purposely brought it with me. There was a document that was handed out by COSATU, I think it's an important document.
POM Is this a recent document?
LB A recent document. Ken Owen actually passes comment on this. No I haven't got it here. He actually passes comment on it saying that the people must decide for themselves whether this document - Ken Owen actually refers to this document issued by the SACP in which the different issues are discussed and the Leipzig option is mentioned and he says you must decide whether this thing is genuine or not. Very interesting. Again, I haven't got it here. I wanted to sit and write all these things and we got caught up with all these happenings and I couldn't get round to doing anything, which is a pity but it'll be finished within the next two or three weeks. Actually I'm going on leave on Friday and that was part of the reason for the leave so that I can sit at home and catch up with my own work.
POM I'm going to be in the country until the end of August, so I can contact you.
LB Oh, all right, good. No, no, please do so. I've got three weeks leave coming up and in that period I want to ...
POM Work on that.
LB No, no, it's not work. I don't consider that work.
POM What happened to the National Peace Accord? A year ago it was launched with great fanfare.
LB Too many great expectations. Years and years and years of politics making the country ungovernable, that type of thing. You have different ideologies clashing. If one just looks at two of the parties, the ANC and Inkatha or the Zulus, it's two totally different ideologies and they're clashing. Again if one just leaves these two here and goes back into Europe, into Yugoslavia or over into Ireland, if you had two ideologies clashing head on like that, and they're both stubborn as hell, the Peace Accord is a piece of paper open to different interpretations. I know the police have been accused of not keeping their portion of the Peace Accord, but the whole system, I don't know, I think too many great expectations there.
POM Can you again create structures from above? In other words does it matter very much whether the elites agree on something, shake hands and sign agreements if the elites don't have the capacity to enforce it on the ground? At the same time the elites can't admit that they don't have the capacity to enforce. For example, Nelson Mandela I think is certainly not in control of what his activists do.
LB Well you look at the holding of these courts where the State President and Mangosuthu Buthelezi are being sentenced to death for crimes, that type of thing, which is a direct violation of the Peace Accord and if Dr Mandela was in real command or control of his people he'd say, "Stop it", but he's not doing that, or he's unable to do it. One must decide for oneself. So that's a direct breach.
POM Where do you place Buthelezi? Is Buthelezi in control of his people?
LB The same applies there. One must be very cautious here. The Chief Minister is an Inkatha man but there are many Zulus involved who aren't Inkatha supporters so we've now split into racial segments and one has to be very cautious here because when I talk in terms of racial I'm talking of Zulu, Xhosa, that type of racial, so one's got to be very cautious. He does not necessarily have control over all his IFP and less of a control over the Zulus because there are many Zulus working up on the Rand in particular who have nothing much to do with Inkatha, who are not Inkatha supporters. But then when they do something he gets blamed for it. The King who wants to become involved in CODESA is being kept out by the ANC for certain different reasons and that has contributed to a further problem there because then the other portion of the Zulu nation is not involved at CODESA.
POM What about de Klerk? I've heard people make the same kind of analogy with regard to him that he is not in total control of the security forces, whether it's rogue elements here or there.
LB All right, let's look at the rogue elements. As recently as this weekend, I think it was Saturday night, I talk under correction, it could have been Saturday night or was it Sunday night? Saturday or Sunday night in the news or on Agenda one saw a march of a group of people and there was a youngster, I don't say he was an ANC supporter, but there was a youngster in that march with a big sign "KILL A COP A DAY". So bearing that in mind and that over 500 policemen have been killed in the last 2 - 5 years of which something like 118/120 have been killed this year, you're naturally going to get a reaction amongst the policemen themselves and it's impossible for the State President to be on top of everything. It's a physical impossibility. By the same token if one wants to say, was the American government involved at My Lai, at the massacre there, can you blame the President of America for My Lai? Was the government involved? The government wasn't involved and the President at that stage had no control over the troopies in the field. This is what I'm trying to say. It's a physical impossibility. Those people there in the field are under fire and under pressure and they're the ones that make a mistake, that is not an official policy. So that there may be elements within the police force, that we can't argue, but where we come across them they get rooted out.
POM Since we talked last, one of the significant events before the collapse of CODESA was the whites only referendum. Two questions again in security analysis. One is, the results of that referendum suggest that the right wing has been severely curtailed or eliminated as a potential destabilising threat to the future of the country.
LB One has to be very cautious of the right wing. One must remember that as all radical groups, left or right, they're very intense and they are in the position to cause a problem because one must assume that many of their members have done military training or are former policemen so they are in a position to create a problem, yes, wherever they are. But if one can just stop there by that referendum, I just want to pass a comment here. When I arrived here I had many phone calls ...
POM That's in Port Elizabeth?
LB Yes, from Durban. Yes I had many phone calls "Hey Louis, what must I vote? Yes or no?" And I'd always extract myself out and say, "No, sorry, no comment. That's something you're going to have to live with whatever you vote." Just for the record I voted "Yes" and I had no difficulty in voting yes. I've got no difficulty in that. But I'm finding amongst the people, I was in church last night, quite a few people have said "We voted yes but if we could go back we'll vote no this time." So you're getting a hardening of attitude amongst the people who actually voted yes. So I want to actually speculate and say if you had the same circumstances now or the same vote now your percentage would be much smaller. People are starting to get intolerant of the demands, the disruption, of the economy slowing down as a result of all these things, investment not coming about because investors - all these things are contributing towards this feeling of resentment almost amongst the whites. As I say, please, if I was you while you're here I'd certainly go out and go and speak to people, just go out on the pavement.
POM When whites were voting yes ...
LB There was a very positive attitude.
POM - what were they voting for?
LB Voting for change under the State President, go for it.
POM It struck me listening to the debates from abroad, and I subscribe to two news clipping services that I get from South Africa between the international media and whatever, this was a process that was always reported in terms of it being one in which whites were prepared to share power with blacks to bring about equality for all South Africans. The words 'power sharing' were germane to the manner in which it was being reported. Were white people voting for the sharing of power with blacks?
LB By the very nature of negotiations, when you vote in that type of thing you're giving the State President, or then the ruling party if it's not the State President, you're giving him a mandate. He can't tell you what he's going to end up with and it's no good making a very strict brief. You've got to give him latitude, but we spoke earlier what you actually mentioned about Nelson Mandela and the latitude, the ANC Conference. You can't. It would be false for the State President to have stood up and said, "We're definitely going to share power. That's going to be the only way." It won't work because then he's painting himself into a corner. You've got to give him latitude and then at the end of the day politicians don't write themselves out of power all that easily. By saying that I'm not saying that he's going to retain power but you have to trust and I'm positive that at the end of the day if this thing works through, but we mustn't have great expectations this is going to happen in September 1992 possibly, not with the way the country is going at the moment. It's not something that's going to happen now. It'll take a number of years for the simple reason, sorry, I'm digressing here, but if you go down to voting, you can't have voting in these circumstances. That's out. So how are you going to run the thing? Do you understand what I'm saying?
LB It's not easy.
POM That was a question I have for you. Is there any way in which you could have free and fair elections in South Africa?
LB No, negative, negative, capital negative! Impossible! Your intimidation is too vast. At the moment there's almost a blackmail at every turn. If you don't do this we're going to do that and this is contributing to the intolerance by the whites and this is where the problem is going to lie. You get places like Craddock where the ANC youth run into the stores and they demand bread intimating that if you don't give the bread they're going to burn the trucks, so the concern gives 300 breads a day or 300 breads a week under a sort of a threat, very subtle, but it's there nevertheless, because other bread vans have been burnt. It's that type of thing that causes an intolerance because that's straight blackmail and it's happening the whole time.
POM Again I'm going back, since I talked to you the last time do you see any change in the pattern of violence?
LB Yes it seems to have got more intense, more people are being killed and specific incidences yes, and more policemen have died. Yes, there seems to have been greater attacks against policemen and this brings me to the third force, it clearly comes under the province of the Institute of Race Relations. It was in the Herald. I'm talking under correction if I saw 23rd July, it could have been 22nd July, give me just one or two days there. It was by Kane-Berman and I would certainly suggest if you can get hold of him, certainly have a chat to him because he's no lackey of the South African government. But just an interesting thing here, Mr Kane-Berman said, "The strategy of rendering black areas ungovernable first announced by the UDF in 1984 as well as the strategy of making homelands ungovernable had got out of control." And this is basically what I told you the very first time I spoke to you and here he's actually repeating it again in 1992. He says "ANC, Nelson Mandela, it's difficult to make young ANC members understand the need for change after they have been told to make the country ungovernable." That's what the whole thing comes down to. So if Mr Kane-Berman is not on your agenda I certainly suggest you get hold of him.
POM I have talked to him. So do you see most of the criticism mounted at the police and it kind of comes in cascades?
LB The propaganda war.
POM Over and over and over again. Do you think the bulk of this is really propaganda unbacked up by any kind of substantial evidence? Do you think that de Klerk's responses to these repeated allegations have been the correct responses?
LB Well it's the only response that you can have. One has to be very cautious with this type of propaganda war because if you repeat the thing often enough then people start believing it. If one looks at Boipatong, it was taken as a fact by the ANC through and through, at one stage the idea was floated that there were whites involved who had to face this point blank. The Koevoet unit was involved, that the police were directly involved, and if not, then the State President was involved, sort of an after thought. They had to blame somebody. They couldn't possibly blame themselves, that they had contributed towards it. So, yes, it's an ongoing thing the propaganda war. In many cases it's been proved that it is completely false and unfounded but there have been cases where it has been justified. I'm thinking quickly in terms of the Trust Feed, I'm thinking in terms of Mooi River, Brandville and the cases up in the Transvaal, I think Schweizer-Reneke was one. There have definitely been cases and the policemen concerned have been charged. But again one must see that and the State President cannot ever hope to control the man in the field and one must bear in mind the man in the field is the one that is under direct threat and direct pressure. He's being attacked. So it's a very awkward situation, but the police force will not tolerate it and by the cases that have gone to court it has clearly shown that it will not tolerate that type of action.
POM When you look at, and when I say 'you' I mean more the SAP, look at the campaign of mass mobilisation and the manner in which it is being conducted and the size of the crowds that are turning out, is it your professional opinion that this would be a successful campaign of mobilisation or that it will fizzle out?
LB If one looks very quickly at some of the numbers that have attended the mass protests, the marches, if one looks at Port Elizabeth this last weekend, very successful, well controlled, there was very little violence around it. If one then goes to Pretoria where they floated 70000 people would attend the march to parliament and in the end barely 500 turned up, then one must put a big question-mark behind it. So it varies from area to area. To say that it's well organised or not well-organised, it's very difficult. But if we are just looking at the figures then it would appear that in Pretoria it fell flat whereas here it was very successful. In Durban they say 2000 people, let's make it 3000 people, let's make it 5000 people, and if you take the total black population around Durban that's not even 1%. Then it shows you that there wasn't much success there. And at the end of the day the police force's reaction to it must be governed by the government's policy. If the government's policy is stop them, then we have to stop them. If the government's policy is let them go ahead, then we must let them go ahead and this is what is being straightened out at the moment. What is the official policy, the policy as such and we follow the line.
POM I want to go back to statements you made both the last time and the first time, which are of the nature that as a professional police officer you are there to execute policy not to make it.
LB Not to formulate it.
POM Not to formulate the policy and I want to put that in the context of a wider question which I've been asking everybody now because it's one of these things that intrigues me for many reasons. Do you think apartheid was wrong and that the white community as a whole owes the black community an apology for the wrong that was done to it during the years of apartheid, in particular for the last 40 years? That, I don't detect from anyone who is a government minister, other than Leon Wessels, any willingness to say, "Yes it was wrong and we will admit it because before we can get on with the future, before you can create the basis of reconciliation there must be an acknowledgement of the wrong done and thus the beginning of a healing process"' Do you know what I'm talking about?
LB Yes, yes.
POM Do you think that as a whole ...?
LB You've posed quite a few questions in that one. If you can just bear them in mind I'll try and come back and you just refresh me as I go. First of all several government ministers, Leon Wessels, Pik Botha and the State President on occasions, he hasn't apologised directly but do we really have to apologise for something that went wrong? Is the world not losing their perspective here? Do we really have to apologise? I'm sorry that it occurred. I wasn't responsible but I was responsible in this sense that I was part of the machinery within the government so in that sense I was responsible, yes. But the American government, did they ever apologise to the Red Indians for putting them in reservations? If one goes round apologising, have the British ever apologised to the Irish? Have the French ever apologised to whoever? Do you understand what I'm saying? I take the point about the healing process must start but isn't too great an emphasis placed on that that there must be a formal apology. I think that really is going a bit far. That you must apologise for your past sins so that you can go ahead, I think that's taking it a bit far. And it's not a personal attack on you it's just on the principle of it. Otherwise, did the British apologise to the Indians over all their whole period of 'colonisation' of India and the fights that they had with the various Indian groups. That type of thing. I don't think that that is very helpful. I think we must look forward and change it. It was a system that was wrong, it was bound to be wrong and we must change it. 100%. I would have liked to have changed earlier. I make no secret of it. That is a fact. But I'm not a politician, we just have to execute ...
POM When I mean it went wrong, I don't mean wrong in that it didn't work out or there was this or there was that. Do you think it was wrong in a moral sense that this was not the way for one group of human beings to treat another group of human beings?
LB You see that's a straight political question which I'm going to sort of half avoid. No, I'm not going to pass too much of a comment on that save to say again, correct me if I'm wrong, and I'm going to go straight back into the American government, did they ever apologise to the Red Indians for putting them in reservations? Did they? Well you see, now the same thing is being asked of this government. The people as a whole, no, it's a terrible tragedy that it occurred like that but that was a vision of the people of the day and they thought this is the best way to govern themselves out of a problem and it didn't work and this is where the political strength of the State President comes in. He saw it didn't work and I'm very glad that he changed his direction.
POM But do you think as the country fashions a future for itself that it must be based on some kind of consensus on what needs to be done and some of what needs to be done will be to redress some of these wrongs that happened?
LB Redress wrongs such as?
POM Like huge imbalances in expenditure in education.
LB Well at the present stage, just stop just there for a second. If one goes, and again I haven't got the figures with me, they must be able to be obtained somewhere, that the World Bank actually warned the South African government that they were spending too much on education. I know that there is a criteria they use and a cut off point, things like 16% of your gross national product and in the South Africans case it's something like 23%, it's far more. You're spending it on a, you're virtually throwing money away because at the end of the day it serves no purpose to educate people if you haven't got jobs for them. You are creating a problem for the next day, if you know what I mean. Not literally the next day but in the foreseeable future because when the man now comes out, I've got my certificate, he won't have a job. That's your next problem. Birth control, because your numbers are increasing so vastly. So there's many issues involved here. It's not just one single thing. Sorry, I cut you short just on that, you were saying? Just prior to that?
POM The inequality in, say, the distribution of income.
LB Stop just there again. The minute you talk of redistribution of income, I've only got six hairs as you can see but they all stand up like porcupine quills. One can sit and argue over this until the cows come home. But redistribution of wealth is not going to work. As we sit here now, the Americans certainly haven't done it. Why must we do it here for heaven's sake? The numbers involved here are something like 5 million to about roughly 30 million and if you just look at those numbers, redistribution, you can redistribute once and that's the end of it and then what happens the next day? Mugabe in Zimbabwe is trying to redistribute and look how his economy is running backwards? That is what the practical problems are, but people don't want to look at that. They just see, ah, I'm going to get money in my pocket for today, for tomorrow. They're not worried about the next day. That's very short-sighted. I have no problem with people doing upliftment amongst groups, but certainly not redistribution, no. That's out. I'm a capitalist and a capitalist doesn't just give his money away.
If that be the case then the American government who are fairly wealthy should be giving, because there are many Americans who are very poor, why aren't they redistributing wealth there? I've got no problem. I know that the Americans have got many schemes going to help the poorer person. Maybe they should do it more in their own country. And Britain, France, everywhere. But there we are sitting with the greater majority of people who have got money, here you've got a small minority who've got the money and if you disturb that small minority that's the end of it. That cake is going to be one time and that's the end of it. And then who's going to come and help the next day? Certainly not the World Bank. Because then, I for one, if I'm expected to give half my income, I stop earning. I leave the country. Then you're putting me in an invidious position where I have to take my hat and go because I'm prepared to help but I'm certainly not prepared to spread like that and I'm positive the rest of the world feels exactly the same about their own income. Otherwise there wouldn't be poor people in the other countries. That is a realistic position.
POM This is something else I've been doing and I hope you will do it to, but the people I'm interviewing, I do it more and more, I like to learn something about their lives, about where they were born, went to school. What were the major influences on your life as you grew up? How you developed your convictions and how you arrived at where you are today? We can go into it shortly today and then wait for more space.
LB Yes, no problem. I was born in a small place called Matatiele, just on the other side of Transkei. It's part of Natal now, it used to be called East Griqualand. It's about 80/100 kms from Kokstad - Kokstad, Harding, Port Shepstone. I grew up in Natal. I went to school in Ixopo and went to school, finished, matriculated there and from there joined the police force and have served in Natal virtually my whole life. There's no one particular thing that influenced my politics. I grew up with the Zulu. I love the Zulu. I make no secret thereof.
POM When you say you grew up the Zulu, you mean?
LB I grew up on the farm, a portion of my life was on a farm and I worked with the Zulu policemen and I had a lot to do. My first few years in the police force I was in uniform and I dealt with the blacks mainly. No I've never had a problem with the Zulu. I have many Zulu friends. In fact I've got more Zulu friends, or I used to have more Zulu friends, having moved out of Natal it's different, than I had white friends. I had an open house all my life. I had blacks in and out of my house. No I've never had a problem with that. Some of the hurts the black man suffered, I couldn't do anything about them, and many reports which I actually drew up lifted out some of these things and caused a bit of problem at the office. So it meant many reports which I drew up over certain issues were put in by me. One particular group of reports was in 1987 pointing out the inadequacies in the schooling system because the police force was under attack but it was the result of other departments' inabilities to do their work properly. We ended up in the forefront. We were being attacked because young children weren't at school and they boycotted schools. Now why did they boycott schools? There weren't enough class rooms, there weren't enough schools. There weren't books. That type of situation. I'm just using that as an example and that type of thing, people come and departments don't like being criticised. That led to a few problems. But there wasn't any specific thing that influenced me.
I can just pass this comment that I was at a certain place, I won't identify the people because I'll only be accused of name dropping or whatever, I was at a certain place where there were visiting dignitaries having lunch and the one man turned to the other one, they were blacks, and he said "Oh Dr so-and-so, let us hear your story of the liquor at university", alcohol at university. Now in this country up to a certain stage black men or blacks weren't allowed to be in possession of strong liquor, in other words hard tack, cane, brandy that type of thing. And this specific person said "Ja, what a terrible thing happened", he said, he was I think in his fourth year, "We had just written the one exam and a friend and I went out and we illegally drank white man's liquor and they were laughing but you could hear the undertone". And he said "We went back to the res and I was fairly sober but my friend was almost motherless and the Warden came up and said, "You're suspended", and this was agreed to later by the university and the man was thrown out of university." And the argument was that he had white man's liquor in his stomach when he wasn't supposed to be in possession and this was told as fact and I can see that it must have been so. Now that is stupid. Those laws, do you understand?
And throughout my contact with the black man this is the type of thing I was experiencing the whole time and I didn't agree with it. But what did I say to you earlier? We execute the policy, we don't formulate the policy. So in executing the policy it places you in a very difficult position and you try and temper justice with 'mercy' because you can't turn a blind eye. There are certain things that you have to carry out.
POM Do you go to church? You're a member of ...?
LB Yes. Congregational Church.
POM Is that a large church in South Africa?
LB Well the Congregational Church, I think in 1969, prior to 1969 there were three. There was the white section, there was a coloured section, there was a black section which was by far the greatest number of churches and then they amalgamated. And a couple of years ago they split again into three.
POM They did?
LB Because, again politics played a big role and though there's complete communion or communication between the three churches they have sort of each gone their own way.
POM That seems extraordinary that they would have been one of the first to have come together.
LB They came together in 1969 but there were internal problems and domination. The membership was largely black. The black section was by far the greater section and anyhow it didn't work out and I'm sure that if you go and speak to the Moderator of the group, the one group of the Congregational Church or the black group then you'll get the inside story, the positive politics, church politics played a role. Now I wasn't a party, I don't quite know what occurred but we landed up with this situation.
POM And during the years when the church operated as one, would have been during the seventies when the whole of Soweto was ... into the eighties. Did the issue of politics ever permeate the church?
LB Well one must look at it in the sense, there was an article, in fact the Minister alluded to it last night in church and it was ironic that he brought it out last night and I had read it in the last week while I was gathering material. The role of the church in the violence. Because the church played a role in the violence through the various agencies, the World Council of Churches, the South African Council of Churches and then in particular with the liberation theology where the church condoned violence and they can't get away from it. They condoned violence and justified violence so they were also a contributory cause to the violence as we see it today. So it's not just police and it's not just apartheid as a lot of people try and indicate. The Minister last night actually didn't ask for forgiveness but he mentioned this where the churches, in the one prayer he prayed for peace in the country and then questioned the role of certain clergymen in the theology they espoused, passed around, which justified violence and one day they will be called to account for this. And here I read about this again in the material I was gathering and it was actually lifting out certain things which were very interesting. So, yes, the church did play a role and one must see - I assume then, because like I say I wasn't an insider to what occurred within the church, maybe this played a role. I don't know. I know that at one stage a lot of churches, when this liberation theology - there's a little booklet that came out, A Place of Christ Cut in Two, one black and one side white. A very interesting booklet if you can get hold of it.
POM Where did that come out?
LB It came out here in South Africa. Bureau for Information should have a copy or South African Communication Services. I may have a copy somewhere, but you know with the move I destroyed most of my documents so I've got virtually nothing like that left. I may have a copy somewhere. I must have a look because it's in there they try and justify violence in the present set up. President, former President Canaan Banana is reputed to have said, "We now see a freedom fighter with an AK in his hand, I see Christ."
POM Is that his name and he is former head of the Congregational Church?
LB No, no, former President of Zimbabwe. Rev. Canaan Banana. He was reputed to have said, "When I see a freedom fighter with an AK in his hand, I see Christ fighting for liberation." This is part of the whole theory behind the thing to justify the violence. Whether that contributed to the problems within the Congregational Church I don't know.
POM Would you think the churches in general have, like the broad spectrum of all the Christian churches, have played a role in if not condoning at least implicitly going along with township violence?
LB I don't say churches condone the violence.
POM Not condoning it, but by their silence, lack of overt condemnation of it.
LB I think most of the churches have condemned the violence in the township. But one has to be very cautious because you can then immediately be sucked into politics and many people, I for one, know of many people that have stayed out of church because of the political stance some the churches, and one must be very cautious how you approach that subject. It's a thorny issue.
POM You have how many children?
LB Me, myself? I've got two.
POM Boys both?
LB No a boy and a girl.
POM And they're now up in Durban?
LB No my son is working. He went to Technikon and did an electronics diploma. He's got a T4 and he's busy with his T5 now. My daughter studied in America. She obtained her degree and she's just been offered a post as a lecturer and she's doing her doctorate an another university.
POM In the States?
LB In the States, yes. When she finished her matric at the United Nations High School of which de Cuijllar was the patron and knew who she was - quite a story.
POM Where is she?
LB No she's in America, suffice to say. I've sent her quite a bit of material and one of her professors actually commended her, she got very high marks, extremely high marks, and commended her on her thesis or her different papers she handed in over the years for her objectivity. He said, this one professor said, "I don't necessarily agree with what you said but you put it out very clearly", and actually recommended her for this particular teaching or lecturing post to enable her then to finish her doctorate.
LB It was a black Professor I must add and he was a Ugandan as well to boot, so he wasn't a friend of South Africa. She showed very well. Her marks were way up in the 90s.
POM That's terrific. What university?
LB Can I tell you? I'm very cautious, I've told you more than I should have told you.
POM OK. The final question. What steps do you think must be taken to bring the violence under control?
LB Go back to CODESA and make CODESA 3 but be realistic. You see, again, sorry I cut you short. It's imperative that the government, the ANC and Inkatha sit down and talk and then force it down to ground root level and stop playing with words because we're all playing with words. Different interpretations to different clauses. Is the armed struggle suspended? Yes the armed struggle is suspended but we still maintain this or we still maintain that. We can still send people abroad for military training. You know that type of thing. The government with all the complaints that are being directed against the police, they are taking active steps. Dr Waddington, the training programmes, the appointment of Judge Goldstone, all those type of things. The government is taking steps but it's time that the leadership sat down, spoke it out realistically without threatening, because if you want to get a person's back up threaten him and then you will get a negative reaction.
I'm positive the government wants to and I would like to see it come to some type of agreement and the sooner the better. But as Dr Buthelezi says, there's no ways that this can be decided by 30th September, not when you're negotiating. If you negotiate like that, under pressure, you're going to make mistakes and you're going to place different interpretations because to obtain consensus you're going to be vague about the wording so at least we all agree to it. Then as soon as you walk out you're going to interpret it one way, I'm going to interpret it another way, the third party's going to interpret a different way and then we have a problem. And then the violence is going to continue.
So the bottom line is, have a CODESA 3 but be realistic. Be realistic. Forget about these threats because in threatening like that, as I say, you're going to get more and more people - Go out there and go and talk to the people and you're going to find that there is quite a groundswell, change of opinion against where before they voted for, you find they'd vote against.
POM Do you still, is it your professional view that the armed struggle is still on?
LB Yes. If one looks at the deeds that are going on, the amount of robberies that are taking place, that kind of thing where ANC members are directly involved. The ANC, oh we mustn't mention these things. For what purpose then this massive arms dump in Angola that they wanted to move via Zambia or Zimbabwe to South Africa? That type of thing, it places a question mark over the whole issue. ANC says by mouth of Niehaus, "Oh there's no arms cache". Joe Modise pops up and says "Yes there is". And then Nelson Mandela says, "Yes, but it's just government propaganda and they're misusing the thing for their own ends." So we are playing with words and we must get down to the nitty gritty and call a spade a spade. But, be realistic because if politics was that easy to solve Czechoslovakia wouldn't have happened. Yugoslavia, all those little countries there, you understand, the whole Balkans question wouldn't have - Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia. They would have solved Ireland a long time ago. But politics are not that easy.
POM Not rational.
LB Exactly. They're not rational and then if you've been propagating to a fairly unsophisticated group of people ungovernability with all it's attendant bits it's not easy to stop that violence once it goes because then you have the revenge factor and you have the factor of 'once we come to power you'll have all that'', so you have a big problem there. And if you're not going to deliver I don't want you, I want somebody else. But that's the hard thing of politics.
POM OK. Thank you once again.
LB No, a pleasure. As soon as I've done the other thing I'll come back to you on it.
POM Yes, that'd be wonderful.
LB Because I've got lots of detail. I must just sit down and write.
POM What I don't have, at least I don't think I do, maybe I do, is your address. You were just commenting?
LB Just commenting again on background and influences and I just want to pass a comment on the influx control, the old Pass laws. That was to put it bluntly a real sort of bum system, but then once you lifted influx control you had a terrific flood of people to the cities which contributed to the squatter problem, which contributed to the violence, which contributed to all the problems. So in that sense that was a fairly good thing for control of people, but then in a true democracy you don't want that. You don't need that. You're supposed to be free to go everywhere. One must look at a place like Germany, up to fairly recently as I understood it, I'm talking under correction, I may be wrong, when you arrive in a town you've got to sort of almost register yourself. I'm talking of living now, not visiting. In America, America applies influx control, into America as well. You've got to have certain standards, certain norms, certain money, so that's also influx control. Canada the same thing.
POM It's a case of let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
LB Fair enough, fair enough, but you see what I'm saying overall here is, let's not use objectivity because it's South Africa and this is what everybody is in danger of doing. Like the one man who came here some years ago, 1988 to be exact, a leading party member, I'm not going to identify the man, of the Conservative Party in Britain, a very senior man. He was given to me, or I was given to him for a week and I took him around in Natal and he was horrified by the squatters and the conditions. I was also horrified, make no error. I'm still horrified at some of the ways these people are living and the conditions they are living under. But nevertheless I'm talking of this man and objectivity. Now when we got back to the hotel we had a discussion over what we saw during the day and he had made notes and he then tackled me on the squatters and he suggested that this be done and that be done. Not that I could do anything but he was just giving me his personal views, and that money must be channelled and upliftment and a big sort of thing what must be done and when he finished talking I said to him, "Sir, let us leave South Africa for a minute and let us just talk about politics. Explain to me the Conservative Party's policy." And he said capitalist this, this, this and this, beautiful. And I said to him "Labour Party's policy?". And he explained it and he also expressed a total, not a hate ...
LB Complete. The Afrikaans word I would use is 'minagting', sort of contempt he had for this Labour Party and its policies and socialism, etc. When he had finished speaking I said to him, "But what you're wanting us to do here, isn't that socialism? You, a leading member of the Conservative Party." And hit the brakes and said, "By jove Louis, you're right." He said, "I never gave it a bloody thought." Just like that, very English. And what I'm saying is, don't let's lose objectivity. It's all very well to want to get involved but earlier you used the words about the stones, let him who cast the first stone, let us do that. I personally find it very offensive that so many people in the world come streaming in here and they want to fix everything.
POM Moral judgements.
LB Moral judgements. As I say, I made some reference to the Indians in America, I know for a fact that some of the areas in America you must drop your own head, you must lower your own head. I saw it in Germany, every time I go to Germany I see how those Turks and the Arabs and some of the Italians live. The Germans haven't got much to talk about. You go all over the world. Politics, irrational, and each one wants to be ruled by his own and I find it very difficult. This is where I personally have great difficulty with politics as it is being run today. If one looks at the world politics one sees every region wanting to be governed or ruled by his or her own. In England you have the Welsh wanting to pull out, the Scots wanting to pull out, wanting to be run by his own. Never mind Serbia which is the most recent example, Croatia, for historic reasons because that goes back hundreds of years, that animosity that's now bubbling. And this country, where there are many, many, many different racial groups. I'm not referring to just black and white, I'm referring amongst the blacks and amongst the whites as well. This is going to be one hopscotch where everything is going to be democracy and where everything is going to be hunky dory, where by heavens everything is going to work perfectly. And the whole world believes that. And then they're being unrealistic and that's where the problem lies because when it doesn't work everybody pulls their hair out and says, "Those bloody Dutchmen". That is the bottom line.
POM You're right. I couldn't agree more. That's what makes South Africa such a fascinating place to study.
LB I personally am greatly offended by it the whole time, I make no secret of it. I have no problem with a person like you to come and write or do your research but I have great problems in a person like Dr Waddington.