“The first meeting of the secret working group took place in May, 1988, at a posh officers’ club within the precincts of Pollsmoor.  While I knew both Coetsee and Willemse, I had never before met van der Merwe and Dr Barnard.  Van der Merwe was a quiet even-handed man who spoke only when he had something important to say.  Dr Barnard was in his mid-thirties and was exceedingly bright,  a man of controlled intelligence and self-discipline.

The initial meeting was quite stiff, but in subsequent sessions we were able to talk more freely and directly.  I met them almost every week  for a few months, and then the meetings occurred at irregular intervals, sometimes not for a month, and then, suddenly, every week. The meetings were usually scheduled by the government but sometimes I would request a session.

During my early meetings I discovered that my new colleagues, with the exception of Dr Barnard, knew little about the ANC.  They were all sophisticated Afrikaners, and far more open-minded than nearly all of their brethren.  But they were the victims of so much propaganda that it was necessary to straighten them out about certain facts.  Even Dr Barnard, who had made a study of the ANC, had received most of his information from police and intelligence files, which were in the main inaccurate and sullied by the prejudices of the men who had gathered them….

The first issue to arise was in many ways the most crucial, and that was the armed struggle.  We spent a number of months discussing it.  They insisted that the ANC must renounce violence and give up the armed struggle before the government would agree to negotiations – and before I could meet President Botha.”

“The Long Walk to Freedom”, Nelson Mandela, pp 525 – 526.