Transcript of the testimony of the former Security Police and Stratcom operative, Paul Erasmus, to the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings on the Mandela United Football Club, 29 November 2018
MR PIGOU: Thank you Chair. I just want to refer you back to your statement page 3 paragraph 5 where you refer to President Mandela as being an obvious target but due to his impeccable integrity - the next sentence I just need that to be explained to me a little bit more. "I/we put out the message that he had little control over the radical ANC cadres and SDU's, there was a power struggle within the ANC hierarchy, he was going senile" and this is the point that I perhaps explain to me. "..and had little control over his wife who was running rampant in the townships with her Football Club who were inter alia intimidating the local population". Now the subject of much the discussion for the course of this week has been about his wife who was running rampant or alleged to be running rampant in the townships with the Football Club who were inter alia intimidating the local population. Were you spreading disinformation about the Football Club and Mrs Mandela as to what they were doing in the townships or were you spreading information over the fact that he had little control over his wife who was running rampant in the townships. Do you understand the difference that I've got here, I just need you to explain that to me.
MR ERASMUS: I find it a little bit to distinguish between the two. I would answer yes to it. As I've explained and I think my former colleague and unit commander explained, Stratcom operated on a mixture of or various aspects of intelligence gleaned, some of it intelligence reports, media reports, rumours hearsay or whatever,...(intervention)
MR PIGOU: And factual information...(intervention)
MR ERASMUS: And factual information.
MR PIGOU: So what I'm trying to establish in the course of the Mandela United Football Club activities, was the information that you received about this factual or was this information that you spread as disinformation, that it wasn't actually information that was actually happening at the time or were these factual reports that you were receiving?
MR ERASMUS: Some of the reports were factual.
MR PIGOU: Could you give us a sense Mr Erasmus because you seem to have ben quite close to this process, although I know you became only full time in 1990 from my reading of your statement of those particular things. Sorry I'm mixing you up with Mr McPherson, could you give us sense of how much of the material that you were receiving around the Football Club was factual information and how much was actually stuff that you had to rework so to speak.
MR ERASMUS: I think I must maybe just explain that Mrs Winnie Madikizela Mandela and after the President's release were obviously the most heavily targeted people in the Security Branch in the Stratcom sense in the country. Mrs Mandela all the years, I'm very aware of it and I'm on safe ground if I say was under 24 hour surveillance. The telephone was tapped, the house was bugged, here movements were monitored on a 24 hour basis and I cannot think of any other circumstance or situation in the South African Police Security Branch where more attention was given to anything than Mrs Winnie Madikizela Mandela's situation.
Now with the advent of Stratcom in Johannesburg to get to your question, I began to receive intelligence reports and especially after this international capability that we had, had opened his doors to us, I began to receive reports but not on a regular basis. There was some bureaucratic bungling or whatever but I received reports on an almost daily basis sometimes about the goings on within the Mandela home.
These reports were incredibly accurate. What time the President got up, for example, literally what he had for breakfast, what Mrs Mandela was doing. A lot of it was absolutely innocuous which wasn't of value to me in a Stratcom sense although I was exhorted on a day to day basis and given these reports and said do something with it as if I was a machine that could turn out a dirty trick for every occasion, I wasn't able to do it.
I also received verbal reports about, I had never specialised and had little knowledge of the Mandela United Football Club. I did at times in Stratcom seminars and at meetings and at braais and with regular contact that we had with people at Soweto was given information verbally on the goings on and ...(intervention)
DR BORAINE: Mr Erasmus can you just make your replies a little shorter and little more precise please.
MR ERASMUS: I am sorry but I am just trying to put things in perspective. I did receive information about the Mandela United Football Club as mentioned here for smoking dagga or marijuana, the glue sniffing kids and were uncontrollable, intimidating other residents in Soweto and so on.
MR PIGOU: Could you tell us, I just want to get this clear, according to a press release that I have a copy of here that you made on the 9th of September 1990 it says that -
"One of the major Stratcom operations code named Romulus included in this definition many ad hoc activities aimed at the ANC, SACP Cosatu alliance and from 1990 onwards I headed the application of Operation Romulus in the Johannesburg area on a fulltime basis. ".
You weren't working on Romulus on a fulltime basis during the period which has really been under question here, end of 1988 or shall I say 1987 I think we've been listening to cases today through to mid 1989, we're mainly looking at disinformation, you were talking about disinformation from 1990 onwards, is that correct?
MR ERASMUS: That is correct,
MR PIGOU: And the nature of the allegations that you seem to be talking mostly about are matters which don't fall within the purview of this Commission is that correct?
MR ERASMUS: That is correct.
MR PIGOU: What we are very interested in is the so-called rampant running around in the townships of the Football Club and the reaction to that by the security branch. Now you've indicated that there was heavy surveillance of Mrs Mandela, her residence, physical surveillance and telephone tapping and so forth.
MR ERASMUS: Correct.
MR PIGOU: Would it surprise you then that criminal activities could go on inside the Mandela household or emanate from the Mandela household and nothing would be done about them by the local police, security branch or other policing structures?
MR ERASMUS: That wouldn't really have surprised me.
MR PIGOU: Why not?
MR ERASMUS: I think at the time during the latter years anyway Mrs Mandela, although she was under heavy surveillance and so on was almost feared by the state, any move against her would really have upset the political apple-cart. There was many times that we questioned why Mrs Mandela I think, the security branch questioned why legal actions weren't or prosecutions weren't taken against Mrs Mandela but the general feeling was that she should be left alone as far as possible and that after statements like the necklacing thing she would be digging her own grave anyway and counter-productive to the ANC's ...(intervention)
MR PIGOU: Thank you. Would you say it was also quite useful for the security branch to have the kind of activities that were emanating out of the backyard in Soweto from Mrs Mandela's house, that this was actually very useful propaganda material for you?
MR ERASMUS: Most definitely.
MR PIGOU: So would you be saying then that much of the information or some of the information, I don't want to put a figure on it, or a percentage or whatever, proportion of the information that came out about the activities of the Football Club was indeed factual then, it was actually happening it was happening out of that back yard in Soweto?
MR ERASMUS: A lot of the information yes, was correct. I never specialised, I must just point out, Mrs Mandela even at the height of these activities was one of many people that I dealt with, I didn't have the time or the opportunity or in fact the capacity to make a full study of a given situation. My work load was just too heavy to do it.
MR PIGOU: Thanks. Are you aware of any, well within Operation Romulus, because I am not sure if there were any other operations, perhaps you could tell us were there any other security branch Stratcom operations against Mrs Mandela, were you aware or to your knowledge was Operation Romulus used to intervene in criminal investigations in order to falsify information or evidence to involve Mrs Mandela in criminal activities such as the Stompie Seipei killing and the kidnapping?
MR ERASMUS: Well I think what I said about just the use of dagga is a clear indication of that type of - oh of evidence in ...(intervention)
MR PIGOU: Yes I mean we are talking now about falsifying evidence which could be used for criminal prosecution.
MR ERASMUS: No I am not aware of that.
MR PIGOU: Okay. Returning to your document very quickly, end of page 3 again paragraph 5 you refer to Sergeant Pretorius as the handler of one Jerry Richardson would that be the same Sergeant Stephanus Pretorius who died in Jerry Richardson's house on 9 November 1988?
MR ERASMUS: That is correct.
MR PIGOU: I just want to talk briefly now through some of the reactions that we had during the course of the in camera Section 29 hearing, this is 1989 so you may not have had direct knowledge as you weren't working fulltime on these Stratcom operations but you may well have had insight into these kind of things so we will appreciate whatever information you can give us about this. We have been referring in the last couple of days to a Mandela Crisis Committee document which was sent, according to the Crisis Committee members who sat here, to Lusaka in early 1989. During the course of our in camera hearing Mrs Madikizela-Mandela when asked about this document basically said that it was a Stratcom or she had been informed that it was a Stratcom document, I beg your pardon, do you have any knowledge as to whether this was a Stratcom document?
MR ERASMUS: I have no knowledge whatsoever. At that time my involvement with Stratcom if I can just point out, was very much limited, there wasn't, as I have mentioned in my statement, there wasn't a formal unit on Johannesburg although there were people that were given certain Stratcom or strategic communication tasks.
MR PIGOU: Thank you. Going on to the next page, page 67 if you want it for your reference of the second Section 29 in camera hearing we asked the question, my colleague Mr Vally -
"Are you aware of the statement issued by what was then called the Mass Democratic Movement and reported in the press on the 17th of February 1989?"
and the response was -
"Yes a statement was issued by Murphy Morobe as part and parcel of that Stratcom exercise".
Are you aware wether the MDM statement was a part of a Stratcom exercise?
MR ERASMUS: I have a vague recollection of the statement but I have no knowledge of whether it was a Stratcom exercise or not.
MR PIGOU: We then follow it up in saying, asked Mrs Mandela whether Murphy Morobe is part and parcel of the Stratcom operation, and the response was -
"What we subsequently established was that from the very onset when the so-called Stompie affair broke out the media had amongst its fraternity reporters who were working for the system at that time. You have all seen the media presentations that have been made to you. My subsequent information throughout the years has been that the first reporters who broke the so-called Stompie affair...."
and I am not going to name the names, I am going to withhold those,
"....were in fact part of the informers who were planted in the media and that statement to my information thereafter was that it was part of the exercise that was influenced by Stratcom".
Are you aware at the beginning of 1989 whether the first stories and subsequent stories - but let's confine ourselves for your answer now to the first stories, the initial batch of stories that came out around the Stompie Seipei incident, do you have any information as to whether these were part and parcel of a Stratcom exercise?
MR ERASMUS: The only information that I can give you Chairperson and that was that the media were obviously heavily targeted by the security branch. I personally handled agents who contact and had contact with the media over the whole duration of my career, but I have no specific knowledge of the situation regarding information being given to the media in the Stompie case.
MR PIGOU: So once again that would be a situation would it that the information, factual information would come to you and there would be something that you could utilise at a later stage or was utilised at a later stage.
MR ERASMUS: At a later stage, that is correct.
MR PIGOU: Were there any other Stratcom operations related to Winnie Mandela?
MR ERASMUS: Not that I am aware of.
MR PIGOU: Who did you deal with in Soweto, who was your contact person in Soweto in the Stratcom unit there, who were you receiving information from?
MR ERASMUS: It was a Sergeant Badenhorst that gave me information from time to time and I had quite a lot of contact with the unit commander or the most senior person involved with Stratcom that was Colonel Louis de Jager, or Colonel "Tickey" de Jager.
MR PIGOU: Were the intelligence reports that you received complete? In other words were the transcripts of the telephone tampering covering 24 hours every day or were you receiving just snippets as to what Soweto or other units in the Witwatersrand would want to give you?
MR ERASMUS: From time to time I did receive full intelligence reports when and if Sergeant Badenhorst or Colonel de Jager whoever at Soweto thought it might be of use. As I mentioned before a lot of the information was useless, absolutely useless to me, there was nothing that I could do. Sergeant Badenhorst also gave me information telephonically and from time to time just brought me up to date by virtue of an intelligence report that gave me something of an overview of the situation.
MR PIGOU: Thank you. Just a couple more questions very quickly Chair, I will be finished....
DR BORAINE: I was about to ask you.
MR PIGOU: I could see that was coming. You've talked about informers in the Football Club, do you have any concrete information about informers inside the Football Club?
MR ERASMUS: I don't, it was never security branch policy although we always used to within our own ranks play spot the agent type of stuff, it was just curiosity to try and deduce from reports who the agent was and it was something of pride that you could see a colleague and say I know who your agent is or I figured it out or whatever.
MR PIGOU: From your lengthy experience inside the security branch would you be surprised if the security branch in Soweto did not have informers inside and around the Football Club or the youths that frequented the Mandela household?
MR ERASMUS: I would have been amazed if that was the case.
MR PIGOU: Could you just tell us one last question now, what was the reason that you who were based at John Vorster Square carried out Stratcom operations directed towards people living in Soweto?
MR ERASMUS: As I mentioned before it was because of the international capability that I had with agents in Britain and the agent network that was set up in Britain that I was given that type of information.
MR PIGOU: No further questions Chair.
DR BORAINE: Thank you very much. Mr Semenya.
MR SEMENYA: Thank you Chairperson. I have just heard something to this effect that would you be surprised that there were no informers within the Mandela Football Club, as a matter of fact, I don't know whether the TRC ...(intervention)
MR PIGOU: I think Mr Semenya I said would you be surprised if there were no......
MR SEMENYA: (...indistinct)
MR PIGOU: Yes that's what I said.
MR SEMENYA: Ja but on what basis do you put the question?
MR PIGOU: I am putting a theoretical proposition to him that on the basis of his experience when you have someone like that in that situation would it be surprising if there weren't informers being used around.
MR SEMENYA: But Chairperson my difficulty is this. I am surprised that a TRC official does not put the question, would you be surprised that there were informers, every time why state it in the negative. I mean it represents a particular position and I think the responsibility is to be as neutral as possible.
MR PIGOU: I think we have tried to demonstrate that today Mr Semenya.
MR SEMENYA: Mr Erasmus you say in your report, in your statement rather, page 4 paragraph 6,
"This agent has a mass of conservative contacts internationally including politicians".
that's in the middle of the paragraph. And you go on to say-
"Almost senior journalists, media representatives, intelligence contacts and so forth - almost immediately "dirt" on the ANC and including matters relating to Mrs Mandela's activities and other relevant matters began to appear in the international press and of greater importance in the Stratcom sense were forwarded ultimately to inter alia Conservative Party members and the British Prime Minister".
Now we know that Emma Nicholson was a member of the Conservative Party in the UK, do you know if she was one of these Conservative Party members in Britain.
MR ERASMUS: I cannot recall, I have a list of names that I received at that time from the agent, a faxed list which I have given to the TRC and which is I believe in the TRC offices in Cape Town, I cannot state with any certainty if Miss Nicholson's name is on that list or not. I cannot remember all the persons on that.
MR SEMENYA: Chairperson again I am going to have for this list which has been given to the TRC and which may be of assistance to our task and we are not getting it. And maybe I must request that really we be furnished with all documents relating to these hearings. It becomes very difficult to execute my mandate.
DR BORAINE: I note that - what I'd like to say to you doesn't help you very much but you are in very good company, I haven't seen it either. We will make the necessary instructions. Thank you.
MR SEMENYA: Now are you able to help us with the concept of informers, now we know that Jerry Richardson was an informer within the Mandela Football Club ...(intervention)
MR RICHARDS: May I object there, it must be recorded that Mr Richardson denies and disputes that he's an informer and it has not been proved. For my learned colleague to make an assertion of fact is most irregular.
DR BORAINE: Do you want to rephrase that?
MR SEMENYA: I will rephrase it. Now we know according to the information of the national Commissioner of Police ...(intervention)
MR RICHARDS: The national Commissioner of Police has offered no proof whatsoever and again it's an over-statement and a misrepresentation to which I object.
DR BORAINE: Mr Richards would you please conduct your enquiries through me rather than directly to your learned colleague.
MR RICHARDS: I apologise Mr Chairperson
DR BORAINE: Thank you. Please rephrase it.
MR SEMENYA: The national Commissioner of Police has told the Commission that he has information that Jerry Richardson was paid R10 000 as a police informant, now if that information is correct how would he handle the information he has with his handler?
MR ERASMUS: I think each situation regarding an informer was unique. You had different categories - I must first maybe just point out to you, he had two way of recruiting informers, two basic ways. Firstly a direct approach where I would, for example approach somebody and say I am from the security branch I would like you to work for us. That would be the one type of scenario.
We also made wide use of a tactic which was known as false-flag type of operations where you would pretend to be somebody else and then approach somebody and that person would be the unsuspecting victim of giving information to a person that wasn't what they believed that person to be.
And then on the informer network itself I cannot comment on a sum of R10 000, it sounds a lot of money to my experience. Our top agents during the time that I was involved in Stratcom received expense monies and the highest salary that I am aware of is the one offered to the principal agent in Britain at the time when we brought him to South Africa and that R6 000 a month apart from his expenses. I cannot comment on why somebody would be given R10 000 I really cannot make an assumption.
MR SEMENYA: Yes the assistance I was probably aiming to obtain was if an informer has information that an offence, particularly an offence like murder is going to be committed, how would you expect that informer to handle that information?
MR ERASMUS: He would give that information obviously to his handler and be rewarded accordingly.
MR SEMENYA: So if it turns out that Jerry Richardson knew that Dr Abu-Baker Asvat was going to be killed, it is reasonable to make the inference that he would have given this information to his handler?
MR ERASMUS: I am quite certain with a serious matter I mean information like that would have been conveyed to his handler.
MR SEMENYA: If we ...(intervention)
MR ERASMUS: Although I don't know, I must just add, I don't know anything about that particular murder or the situation.
MR SEMENYA: Yes, I am clearly soliciting what I would later state to the reasonable probabilities. Would it be a reasonable probability that if he had committed the murders like that of Stompie he would have reported those type of things to his handler?
MR ERASMUS: I am quite certain that he would.
MR SEMENYA: And if he committed the type of murders that I am told he is applying for amnesty for he would have reported those types of things to his handler?
MR ERASMUS: I should imagine so.
MR SEMENYA: Now one of the activities of Stratcom was to disseminate a lot of pamphlets is that correct?
MR ERASMUS: Pamphleteering was a major part of Stratcom activities.
MR SEMENYA: And we recall one dissemination of information depicting Mrs Madikizela-Mandela hugging with the Chairperson of the TRC Archbishop Tutu where it was suggested that there was a romantic relationship between Archbishop Tutu and Mrs Madikizela-Mandela, would that have been a typical Stratcom activity?
MR ERASMUS: That type of action would have been a typical Stratcom activity.
MR SEMENYA: I have no further questions Chairperson.
DR BORAINE: Mr Richards.
MR RICHARDS: Yes I apologise for not addressing you. Mr Erasmus as you must have gathered I represent Mr Jerry Richardson. Now in your evidence-in-chief you made the assertion that the Mandela households were under 24 hour a day surveillance, and were one of the most closely observed and analysed pieces of information that you could get, is that not correct?
MR ERASMUS: That is correct.
MR RICHARDS: Now it is also correct to say that you were the person to whom the information was fed?
MR ERASMUS: No that would be not an accurate representation of the facts, I worked outside Soweto Security Branch, I was never stationed at Soweto. The information that I received was for Stratcom purposes. I didn't receive all of the information, I wasn't party to it. There was a time that I did request additional information which if I recollect I never received.
MR RICHARDS: However, if you had so-to-speak a disinformation coup of the magnitude of the Stompie Seipei murder it would have been fed to you to make maximum use of.
MR ERASMUS: I did request information, additional information on the Stompie situation.
MR RICHARDS: And as I gather it you did not receive it?
MR ERASMUS: I did not receive it. One of my colleagues could well have received it. I used to handle, as it were, every morning during the entire time that I was at Stratcom a veritable heap of intelligence reports and information that came in from various quarters, instructions from head office, information from other security branches and so on.
MR RICHARDS: So that means that indeed the use that it could have been put to for your ulterior motives never happened?
MR ERASMUS: I don't believe in many situations that we maximised or obtained the maximum effect out of given situations, simply we were too hard-pressed for time and there was too much pressure to do so.
MR RICHARDS: Now to turn to the second of these three or four points I presume I have time to cover, the information which you assume that Mr Richardson is an informer, I refer you to paragraph 5 of your statement page 3. For the sake of time I am not going to read it out. Would you agree that your information was a matter of speculation?
MR ERASMUS: I would say deduction. I would be very hard-pressed that either Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was giving information to the Security Branch on her own activities or her daughter's so the deduction was obviously that the third person present would have.
MR RICHARDS: But when it comes to the identification of the source on what basis do you make these assertions? You, in your statement say as much that you had no direct information.
MR ERASMUS: I did not have direct information.
MR RICHARDS: And if I ask you questions as to who gave you the information you made your so-called deductions from, you wouldn't be able to give me the names?
MR ERASMUS: I received verbal information at the time and I received intelligence reports but on the intelligence reports one never mentioned the name of the agent anyway, the agents had code numbers to protect their identities from possible leaks within the organisation and so on.
MR RICHARDS: Now by the same token in that group of 20 or 30 people living at a particular property it could have been any one of a number of people?
MR ERASMUS: I would agree with that.
MR RICHARDS: So that means the reliability of the information contained in the last portion of page three is extremely low and suspect?
MR ERASMUS: I was asked about that by the members of the Commission and it's for that reason that I've included it in the statement which I made on Wednesday.
MR RICHARDS: I do note that this statement was made on the 27th of November which is contemporaneous and to a large degree it's a reconstruction of various questions that have been put to you, is that not so?
MR ERASMUS: That's correct.
MR RICHARDS: In other words it's only reliable as your memory is as to matters nine years ago?
MR ERASMUS: That's correct.
MR RICHARDS: Which is entirely unreliable.
MR SEMENYA: I don't think the statement can ever be put like that. As a lawyer ...(intervention)
DR BORAINE: I am sorry I must ask you to do exactly what I asked, if you wish to address the Chair I would be grateful if you would.
MR SEMENYA: Chairperson I think my learned colleague is putting the most untenuous proposition that since the information is nine years old it's unreliable. At least I remember my age and I must be many years away from nine years.
DR BORAINE: Mr Richards would you like to comment?
MR RICHARDS: My reply is nine years is a significant period ago and ...(intervention)
MR ERASMUS: Seven years if I may correct you Chairperson.
MR RICHARDS: And for a long and complicated set of facts, I need say no more.
DR BORAINE: Thank you. That concludes your questions?
MR RICHARDS: Oh, it concludes that question.
DR BORAINE: You have got many more though have you?
MR RICHARDS: Is it correct that on the 9th of September 1997 you made a press statement to some organisation, the identity of which I don't know?
MR ERASMUS: At the request of Mrs Madikizela-Mandela's attorneys and at the request of Mrs Madikizela-Mandela herself, that is correct.
MR RICHARDS: And on the last page of that statement, page 3, you make the statement -
"As regards Stompie Seipei I heard at the time in official circles that he was murdered by Jerry Richardson after he, Seipei had found out that Richardson was working for the Security Branch and had threatened to expose him".
Now on what basis do you make that allegation?
MR ERASMUS: That was widely held, I think, within the entire security branch community within the Witwatersrand and in Soweto.
MR RICHARDS: No the ...(intervention)
MR ERASMUS: Sorry to interrupt you, the other ex-security policemen would be able to confirm that.
MR RICHARDS: On what basis would those opinions be formed?
MR ERASMUS: I beg your pardon?
MR RICHARDS: On what basis would those opinions be formed? What factual ...(intervention)
MR ERASMUS: I think, I can't speculate on it, that is the information as I had it.
MR RICHARDS: So it's speculation and hearsay yet again?
MR ERASMUS: I wouldn't be able to prove anything with prima facie evidence, but that is what I was asked about and that is the version of events as I gave them, to the best of my knowledge.
MR RICHARDS: In other words you don't say that prima facie this is even validly asserted?
MR ERASMUS: No.
MR RICHARDS: No more questions.
DR BORAINE: Thank you.
MR JORDI: Mr Erasmus my name is Peter Jordi, I act for the Sono family and the Shabalala family and the Chili family. I see from your affidavit that you worked as a member of Stratcom, I think, as a field intelligence officer in the security branch of the South African Police from January 1977 until May 1993 and you were apparently involved in dissemination of information amongst the leftwing activity and so on. From what period was that?
MR ERASMUS: From the outset, from the time that I ...(intervention)
MR JORDI: From the outset. So you have been involved in the dissemination of Stratcom information since what, 1977 to 1993?
MR ERASMUS: Well a bit later - those years it wasn't known as Stratcom, the word Stratcom I don't believe existed, that was a term that was coined or a term that came into being in 1984 but it was part of our day-to-day work in the intelligence community, most certainly we sewed disinformation it was part and parcel of the intelligence field.
MR JORDI: Right. So you had worked for a long period in the distribution of unreliable information and you must be an expert in strategic communication and communication warfare, is that right?
MR ERASMUS: I would not regard myself as an expert, I have read a lot and I've learnt a lot and at the times I worked very hard on....
MR JORDI: Well you must be very knowledgeable in the field even if you're not an expert.
MR ERASMUS: I regard myself as being reasonably knowledgable, yes.
MR JORDI: Reasonably knowledgeable, although you worked there for something like, how many 12 years or so?
MR ERASMUS: I was in the security branch for 16 years in total.
MR JORDI: 16 years. And that period was spent in activities related to Stratcom even if it wasn't directly Stratcom ...(intervention)
MR ERASMUS: Not entirely, we had various functions on this security branch. I was a field worker, and yes very much of it would have been the handling of agents and the handling of information and gathering of information.
MR JORDI: But you are clearly knowledgeable in the field as far as distribution of this kind of information is concerned?
MR ERASMUS: Yes.
MR JORDI: It is true to say that given the evidence of Mr McPherson that the best information that could be distributed by Stratcom or, as far as Stratcom related activities could be concerned is factually accurate information, is that right?
MR ERASMUS: That would be the ideal formula, yes.
MR JORDI: And I suppose in cases where the information was not entirely accurate it had to have some basis in truth, is that right?
MR ERASMUS: The ideal, if my memory serves me correct on Stratcom course we were told that the ideal ratio would have been 70:30.
MR JORDI: Yes and you ...(intervention)
MR ERASMUS: 70% truth and 30% fabrication.
MR JORDI: That's right and you quoted to that effect in the Weekly Mail of 21 November 1997.
MR ERASMUS: That's correct.
MR JORDI: Now I note that from your affidavit you say that you found it very hard to distribute this kind of information against President Nelson Mandela and to quote you, "because of him impeccable integrity", is that right?
MR ERASMUS: Yes. What I mean by that was we had nothing on him personally apart - nothing personally, no contentious statements, no statements like his wife had made for example with the liberation of the country ...(intervention)
MR JORDI: Yes his wife was a different category altogether, is that right.
MR ERASMUS: Different, she was easy to target because she was controversial ...(intervention)
MR JORDI: She was easy to target, that's right.
MR ERASMUS: That's correct.
MR JORDI: Because there was a lot of factually accurate information in the hands of the security police available about her, is that right?
MR ERASMUS: Well I wouldn't say in the hands of the security police, I think the media and generally everybody was ...(intervention)
MR JORDI: Everybody knew, is that right?
MR ERASMUS: That's it, that's correct.
MR JORDI: And even if it was not entirely accurate you could still have the 70% reliable information which you could mix with the 30% unreliable information, is that right?
MR ERASMUS: I never consciously actually, and I don't know of anybody that actually stuck to that point but that was the ideal formula, some of the things were total fabrication, some of them were 100%, some were half true.
MR JORDI: So in the case of Winnie Mandela you say there was a lot of information available, I suppose the ratio was much higher than 70:30, say 90:10 or a 100%?
MR ERASMUS: I couldn't speculate on figures but certainly a lot of it was fabrication.
MR JORDI: A lot of it was fabrication?
MR ERASMUS: Total fabrication.
MR JORDI: Well you say here 30:70, a lot of reliable information, you have told me reliable information was available, now you say a lot of it was fabrication.
MR ERASMUS: That is correct. The information, for example, about Mrs Madikizela-Mandela being a nymphomaniac was total fabrication. The dagga smoking was total fabrication.
DR BORAINE: Mr Jordi can I just say that you are taking a very long time to get to this point, could you get to the point please.
MR JORDI: You say that as far as Mrs Mandela was concerned that you could spread information about her that she was running rampant in the townships with her Football Club who were inter aliaintimidating the local population. As far as I know I think you also say something here about her misusing drugs and there were also aspects of information related to marital problems. Was that based on factually accurate information, for example the drug running?
MR ERASMUS: The drug running was a total fabrication on my part.
MR JORDI: On your part. Well I put it to you ...(intervention)
MR ERASMUS: I added, if I may just add on just to what I've said there a total fabrication, was that the information that I received, factual information, was that the Mandela United Football Club were using dagga or marijuana and it was a logical extension to say that Zinzi and Mrs Mandela were ...(intervention)
MR JORDI: Okay. Then I have the question for you, were Stratcom-type activities being carried out in 1995?
MR ERASMUS: 1995?
MR JORDI: Ja.
MR ERASMUS: No, not to my knowledge.
MR JORDI: You are absolutely sure they weren't being carried out in 1995?
MR ERASMUS: Chairperson I left the police, was boarded in 1993 and I've had little contact after that with anybody of my former colleagues, I moved to another area, I was pretty much isolated. I cannot comment on that at all.
MR JORDI: Alright. I have here an investigation diary, it says "Spesiale ondersoek", I can't give you the CR number but it looks like it's from 24 April 1995 and there's a reference here, it's on page 23 I think of the investigation diary, I am just going to read it to you.
DR BORAINE: I am sorry to interrupt you but the witness has just said that he was not there, he left in 1993, I don't see any point in pursuing this.
MR JORDI: It's got to do with the factual basis for the allegations regarding the misuse of drugs because there's a reference in this occurrence book to drug running related to Winnie Mandela.
DR BORAINE: Yes, but the witness knows nothing about that.
MR JORDI: Yes but he has knowledge of Stratcom activities, well the 1980's related to allegations that Winnie Mandela was misusing drugs, or the drug-running was - or the misuse of drugs was taking place in her household in the 1980's.
DR BORAINE: Could you come to the end of your questions please.
MR JORDI: You say that during the 1980's Winnie Mandela was monitored on a 24 hour basis, a kind of unprecedented monitoring of her activities, do you know who were the security policemen responsible for the monitoring of her activities, what are their names?
MR ERASMUS: Colonel de Jager that I mentioned earlier would have been one of the staff members. I mean Soweto was a big security branch staff, I cannot say accurately who - Sergeant Badenhorst was another, but who the other people were I can only speculate, so I don't know how their branch operated and who was assigned to whichever tasks.
MR JORDI: Thank you. I've just got one isolated issue to deal with you. You say in your affidavit at paragraph 9 -
"I was however only given information on an irregular basis although I did recall that I requested but never received detail of, for example, the death of Stompie Seipei".
Now it must have been an obvious issue in respect of which to get information. So you didn't get any detailed information and we've established that you had a thorough knowledge of misinformation. Then there's the press release from, which is dated the 9th of September 1997 and it deals with Jerry Richardson's involvement in the killing of Stompie and there's this version here that Jerry Richardson, after he had found out that Richardson was working for the security - well Stompie Seipei was killed by Jerry Richardson after Richardson found out that Stompie was working for the security branch, it seems to me that this link of between the death of Stompie and the supposed information that was received by Jerry Richardson has no basis in fact. We haven't heard anything about it in the evidence so far and I put it to you that this is an example of disinformation. What do you have to say about that?
MR ERASMUS: Are you saying that this is an example of disinformation from me?
MR JORDI: Your press release, yes.
MR ERASMUS: I can only state Chairperson that I can tell the truth only as I know it Sir and I am not involved in disinformation I am totally objective as I sit here today and I have tried to be objective right through this process.
MR JORDI: I put it to you further that in the Weekly Mail article of the 21st of November 1997 it said that you have become friendly with Winnie Mandela and that during Winnie Mandela's divorce action you were in fact called as a witness for her but that the Judge declined to hear your evidence after the President said, who we know is a man of great integrity, that he would, to quote, "reveal facts which might damage her image and bring a great deal of pain to my children and grandchildren", what do you have to say about that? No further question.
MR ERASMUS: I have met Mrs Madikizela-Mandela on, I believe about five or six occasions. I am aware that earlier this week an allegation or somebody alleged that I have had some sort of relationship with her which is absolute rubbish and which is in itself a Stratcom attempt, I believe, to discredit me. Mrs Madikizela-Mandela has been in contact with me and my family on at least two of the five or six occasions and at other times I have been in contact with her in the presence of her lawyers and bodyguards and other people. I can't think of a time when I have been alone with Mrs Madikizela-Mandela.
DR BORAINE: Thank you. No, wait a minute, no, no, no ...(intervention)
MR JORDI: I never suggested you were involved in a relationship with her. Thank you very much.
DR BORAINE: Thank you. It's very late and people are very tired. I have suggested to members of the panel that they restrict their questions, that they be as precise as possible. I would invite the witness to be as short and as precise as well because you two have been under questions now, so the remaining questions will be posed by the panel, but we will try and be as brief as we can. Dr Randera.
DR RANDERA: Mr Erasmus I just want to come back to your statement and particularly paragraph 3. You state there that in October 1990 -
"I attended a formal Stratcom training course in Johannesburg and part of that was again the entire issue of destabilising the ANC, the SACP alliance, PAC, rightwing organisations".
now it's related to the question that the Archbishop asked earlier on to your colleague. We are talking about October 1990, Mr Mandela has been released already, am I to understand that this was done with the full understanding of the structures in operation including government, because I think earlier both you and your colleague made the point that there was an annual audit to Cabinet, or is this part of what we have come to understand of third force activity? Were you acting outside at that particular time, the ambit of established government structures or was this part of third force activities?
MR ERASMUS: It will be hard to distinguish. What I can say is that Stratcom training, as I was aware of it, increased after the release of the President. We were informed on Stratcom course and in various forums that we had four years, the accent was laid on this statement, we have four years to reduce the ANC to just another political party. A lot of our training was that we had literally laissez faire to carry on activities and nothing should be turned aside which would hinder us in achieving these aims. The last Stratcom operation that I know of that was implemented was as late as I believe about April 1991 which was an operation aimed at SADTU which used terms like sabotage of the organisation and which in documents which I have given to the TRC which are in Cape Town, bore the authorisation of the then Minister of Law and Order.
DR BORAINE: Mrs Mkhize.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you Chairperson. In one of your responses you indicated that information about the death of Stompie will be very useful for your propaganda. My concern is if your informant understood what you stood for there is very little positive propaganda that they will give it to you because they will feed to what they think you are looking for, so I just put it to you to test that, because I doubt whether you will ever get any positive information. People will give you what they thought you were looking for.
MR ERASMUS: I basically my knowledge of the Stompie issue at the time was based on press reports and on verbal information received from other security branch members in various formal forums or informal forums.
DR BORAINE: Mr Ntsebeza.
MR NTSEBEZA: Thank you Chair. Mr Erasmus I sat through the Media Hearings and now I listen to you and I get the blurring picture of shifting eras the more I listen to people who did the sort of work that you did. Now there is just one question that I want you to assist us with in order for us to be able to make a fair assessment of your evidence. When Mr Semenya asked you whether the alleged rumour of a romantic link between the Archbishop and Mrs Madikizela-Mandela was a typical Stratcom operation you said yes, that was it. Now in your own admission you confess to the knowledge of a rumour that links you romantically with Mrs Madikizela-Mandela and you say that is also a typical Stratcom operation. Now the question I want to know from you is would there be any reason why there should be that sort of Stratcom operation? Why would those who you left be keen to perpetuate disinformation about you because you say that is total rubbish, absolutely unfounded?
MR ERASMUS: I can't speculate why people would make allegations like that against me apart from the fact that I find it shocking.
MR NTSEBEZA: In the way it was shocking for you to talk about Mrs Mandela being a nymphomaniac, Zinzi being a nymphomaniac and all those sort of things ...(intervention)
MR ERASMUS: I have come to realise the horror of what I have participated in.
MR NTSEBEZA: You see what I am trying to get at Mr Erasmus you had a reason to spread all those rumours and I just don't know, first it is 70:30 in terms of ratio then it is 100%, I mean it's shifting, it's shifting sand, now but whatever it is you had the reason, you were serving the Nationalist Party, you were serving the government of that day.
MR ERASMUS: That's correct.
MR NTSEBEZA: Now you want us to accept and believe that a rumour that links you romantically with Mrs Madikizela-Mandela is a typical Stratcom operation, two things, are you saying Stratcom still exists and that is what it is doing?
MR ERASMUS: No most definitely not. I merely mention that it's - I cannot but help see the irony in a situation where I spent many years of my life trying to destroy people like Mrs Madikizela-Mandela, the Archbishop and many, many other people that were perceived enemies of the State and now having to (...indistinct) in front of a truth commission, in a forum like the Truth Commission being accused of something like that I find very ironical. I am not saying at all that Stratcom still exists.
MR NTSEBEZA: And you say it's an attempt to discredit you?
MR ERASMUS: I believe that it's an attempt to discredit me or throw some bad light on the relationship which I have enjoyed with Mrs Mandela which has been on a friendly, reconciliatory basis of forgiveness and decency.
MR NTSEBEZA: Have you ever gone to her and apologised for all the harm that you had done to her?
MR ERASMUS: I have apologised to her and many other former adversaries of mine in the time of the struggle.
DR BORAINE: Archbishop Tutu?
CHAIRPERSON: I just have one small question and I think you have already maybe answered it in the course of your answering Dumisa Ntsebeza's question which is, how did you feel when you were telling the kind of stories that you were telling, when say you say Zinzi or whatever, I mean the kind of stories that you told, when you got back home what did you say to your wife? I mean I suppose you have a wife - your family, I mean what did you say, I have had this or that kind of day in the office sweetheart? I have told the world that Winnie Mandela is a nymphomaniac and the world has believed me, how did you feel just as a human being?
MR ERASMUS: Chairperson at the time I saw it, the actions that we carried out and the things that I did as part of a psychological war. I saw it as justified. My personal conviction was that I was fighting satanic, godless communism, that people like Mrs Madikizela-Mandela and yourself and many other people were instruments of this totalitarian system which was approaching in South Africa. I believed also that we were doing it for many years, and I've since seen the light, that we were doing it, fighting a religious war, almost a Jihad on behalf of Christianity to oppose people like yourself and the liberation movements. It was only in fact after the release of President Mandela where the myths that we had grown up with and everything that we had learnt and that that the bubble started to burst and I, and many of my colleagues started to see the other side of the coin.
DR BORAINE: Ms Sooka.
MS SOOKA: Mr Erasmus I would just like you to confirm that you've worked for the following people in Soweto at the so-called security branch in Soweto. Colonel - General E Coetzee?
MR ERASMUS: I know him, I can't recall that I have ever had direct dealings with him on a personal basis.
MS SOOKA: Brigadier Nienaber?
MR ERASMUS: I know his name but once again I have no personal dealings with him.
MS SOOKA: Major Jan Potgieter?
MR ERASMUS: I know his name but no personal - I've met him.
MS SOOKA: (...indistinct) du Toit?
MR ERASMUS: It doesn't ring a bell.
MS SOOKA: Thank you.
DR BORAINE: Mr Erasmus ...(intervention)
MR SEMENYA: Chairperson may I just before conclusion make one single request.
DR BORAINE: You may but I was just about to ask him a question and as soon as I have I will recognise you. Thank you. I know it's unusual but I am actually acting chair. Mr Erasmus page 2 of your statement, paragraph 4 you state that it was after your course in October 1990 and President Mandela was already out of prison so it took you a while to come to see the light because you actually describe him as one of the things you were doing was describing him as being senile and that he had no control over the radical ANC cadres and so on, but that's beside the point. You state on paragraph 4,
"Radical elements within the ANC had to be identified as targets"
and you give the names, then you say,
"....and others had to be neutralised at all costs and obviously by any means possible".
Now those are very strong words, loaded words, target, neutralised at all costs, obviously by any means, now do you mean that?
MR ERASMUS: Most definitely within the context of propaganda yes, anything went. There was times that I was involved not even in the discreditation of people in the liberation movements, of a serving member of Parliament for example, for which I was congratulated from above. So it was a matter of striking out at random and using whatever information was available or whatever means possible to discredit people and I was involved in a lot of activities which I can recount involving these people including others as I have mentioned.
Source: Official TRC transcript.