COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO CRICKET MATCH FIXING AND RELATED MATTERS
HELD ON: 21-06-2000
AT THE CENTRE OF THE BOOK
ON RESUMPTION ON 21 JUNE 2000 AT 10H12
COMMISSIONER: Good morning. I am sure it's never to early for a bottle of Energade, and I'm not being paid for this advertisement, but I'll leave it till a little later.
Water makes me ill.
If we could start this morning's proceedings on a happy note. Amongst the people here this morning, and I am pleased and privileged to welcome him, is Mr Malcolm Gray from Sydney. He is presently the Vice-President of the International Cricket Council. He is the President-elect. He has done us the courtesy of a detour on his way to the United Kingdom where the International Cricket Council will shortly be holding its annual meeting. Mr Gray on behalf of all of us, welcome to you.
Now on a slightly less felicitous note. There was an article in a local newspaper last Friday which stated in terms that I had held a private meeting with Dr Lewis, the psychiatrist who has been assisting Mr Hansie Cronje. It quoted a source as having said that. It is totally untrue. If it's not the content of this little item in itself which concerns me, it's the innuendo behind it, and I would like to make it perfectly clear that I do not consult with or see in private anybody at all who has anything to do with this Commission. When something arises which necessitates consultation, as it does from time-to-time and has indeed done this morning, I call in the legal representatives of all the persons and bodies that are represented and the matter is discussed in that way. I just would like to make that clear and I hope that the media will carry that. It's important to me and I believe important to the proper conduct of this Commission that it be clearly understood that I do not have personal and private conversations with anybody concerning the business of the Commission.
In terms of the ruling of the High Court the applicant, who is the company which runs the Live Africa Network has been afforded it broadcasting and recording facilities. The order itself does not apply in the nature of things to any organisation which is not a party to the proceedings. But the television networks, both the SATV and e-tv are represented by counsel and as you will have appreciated I am agreeable to allowing the television provided the television companies are prepared to bind themselves to an observance of the court's order in the same way as it applies to Live Africa Network.
Mr Katz, may I find out from you first, who do you represent?
MR KATZ: Thank you Mr Commissioner. Yes my name is Anton Katz and I am a member of the Cape Bar and I represent, on instructions of Mr Murphy of Murphy Wallace & Slabbert Live Africa Network who were the applicants in the High Court application, as well as the South African Broadcasting Corporation, who have launched an application against yourself which is now pending before the High Court.
COMMISSIONER: Ms Ploughman.
MS PLOUGHMAN: I am also a member of the Cape Bar and I today represent e.tv, also known as Midi Television as well as the Institute of Democracy in South Africa.
COMMISSIONER: Do you also subscribe to the terms of your client do you?
MS PLOUGHMAN: Both parties subscribe to the terms of the order of the High Court.
COMMISSIONER: What is of immediate relevance is, as far as the order is concerned is this, that -
I am directed to allow the applicant to operate, that's Live Africa Network and it will also now apply to the television operators, to operate during the sittings of the Commission in such manner as is determined by myself, provided that upon good cause shown in relation to a particular person giving evidence before the Commission, I may direct that such equipment be excluded. And I in determining whether to do that I must have regard to whether there is sufficient evidence to justify that.
Now pursuant to the order, and more particularly to the wider inclusion of the television networks I have consulted with the legal representatives of all the parties who are legally represented and they have unanimously taken the view that the proceedings should continue with the presence of the television and the radio network and that is what I propose to do, bearing always in mind that I do have this residual discretion which I hope it will not be necessary for me to exercise.
MR WALLACE: Thank you Mr Commissioner. Instead of hovering like a ghost in the background of the Commission I am now physically present to represent Mr Cronje together with my learned friend Mr Dickerson.
Mr Commissioner at the outset may I place on record, on behalf of Dr Lewis, that he confirms what you said earlier, that he has not had any private meeting with you and that the report to that effect in the press was incorrect.
As conveyed to you yesterday, and with the consent of the other legal representatives we propose to interpose Dr Lewis at this stage of the proceedings of the Commission, and unless there is any other matter of logistics that needs to be attended to, may I call Dr Lewis?
COMMISSIONER: You may Mr Wallace.
Dr Lewis, you will confirm that you and I have never previously clapped eyes on each other, do you?
DR LEWIS: Yes, Mr Commissioner, that is true.
IAN STORM LEWIS: (sworn states)
EXAMINATION BY MR WALLACE: Dr Lewis, just by way of background, you are a qualified Medical Practitioner, qualified in 1987 and a specialist in psychiatry, you completed your four years' specialisation in 1996?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: And you practice as a part time consultant at Victoria Hospital in Wynberg and in addition, as a private practitioner in Cape Town?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: Now, you first consulted with Mr Cronje on the 13th of June 2000?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: In your professional capacity?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: Would you tell the Commission the background to that reference, at whose instance were you asked to consult with Mr Cronje?
DR LEWIS: Mr Cronje's legal team asked that I assess him, they were concerned about his psychological well-being particularly given the stress that he was under.
MR WALLACE: And did you then have an assessment consultation with Mr Cronje on the 13th of June?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: Might I just interpose Mr Commissioner, as being unfamiliar to these proceedings, if I inadvertently leave my microphone on while Dr Lewis is answering, does that cause a problem with the recording?
COMMISSIONER: Well, it is a criminal offence hindering the Commission of course, but whether it interferes with the recording, is something that is beyond my ken - no.
MR WALLACE: Well, being an elderly Senior Counsel, I, if I hinder the Commission, it is totally unintentional, so it is not criminal.
Dr Lewis, were you furnished at that conference with a report written by your colleague, Dr Jordaan, who had seen Mr Cronje in Bloemfontein, on the 14th of May this year?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: Did you nonetheless make an independent assessment of his medical condition?
DR LEWIS: I first assessed Mr Cronje and subsequently read the report from Dr Jordaan.
MR WALLACE: So your assessment took place without any preconceptions or any input, prior input from Dr Jordaan?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: Perhaps it would help us if you were first of all to tell us what diagnosis you arrived at at the end of your assessment?
DR LEWIS: I believed that Mr Cronje was suffering from a major depressive disorder, in other words clinical depression.
MR WALLACE: Were you able to identify the nature and source of that depression?
DR LEWIS: It is difficult to work out exactly what the source of the depression was, rather my assessment was whether he had depression or not, and in addition, whether he had any evidence of having responded to anti-depressant medication that had been started a month previously by Dr Jordaan.
MR WALLACE: Just, if you could help us with the background, what is the approach to determining whether a patient is suffering from depression and what are the criteria against which you make your clinical judgement in that regard?
DR LEWIS: What we do is to look at clinical symptoms and often these are as reported by the patient. We look at nine clusters of symptoms and and in general, if somebody has five or more of these symptoms, and if these symptoms have been present for more than a two week period, we then make the diagnosis of depression.
MR WALLACE: Are those nine clusters of symptoms universally accepted in the field of psychiatry as being the benchmarks against which you consider whether to make a diagnosis of depression?
DR LEWIS: That is correct. The criteria appear in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, which is a publication by the American Psychiatric Institute.
MR WALLACE: Now, would you tell us in your clinical judgement, which of those symptoms were manifested by Mr Cronje?
DR LEWIS: I think that Mr Cronje had either seven or eight of the nine criteria, in other words he fulfilled the criteria for a major depressive disorder, and the symptoms that he experienced and described to me were firstly depressed mood, particularly with irritability; next he had loss of concentration and difficulty with thinking clearly; he had a loss of pleasure and of interest in things and this was present for most days, more days that not; he also experienced low energy and fatigue; he had a sense of worthlessness which went with low self-esteem; he in addition had thoughts of death and of dying, although I should point out at the stage that I saw him, he had received a number of death threats, so that would put that in the forefront of his mind; he also had loss of appetite, and had described a weight loss of about four kilograms during the two months leading up to my consultation with him and he had in the past, and according to Dr Jordaan's report, had insomnia and this was the characteristic insomnia of depression, which is that one goes to sleep all right, but wakes in the early hours of the morning. But at the time that I saw Mr Cronje, I should point out that he was on sleeping tablets, and so no longer had a problem with insomnia.
Just for completeness sake, the ninth symptom is described as psycho-motor retardation or agitation, this means really a feeling of restlessness or alternatively a slowing down and although Dr Jordaan had noticed that Mr Cronje had these symptoms, at the time that I had seen him, which again was on medication, he no longer had these symptoms.
MR WALLACE: Dr Lewis, please assist us as lay people, all of these symptoms you have described, perhaps not so much recurrent thoughts of death, but the other symptoms are symptoms which ordinary people encounter in their ordinary day-to-day life, from time-to-time, when they are under stress or pressure, how from a clinical point of view, do you determine that they are of such magnitude that it is proper to make a diagnosis of depression as opposed to somebody who is just living with the vicissitudes of life?
DR LEWIS: I think that is a very important question. What we need to do is to see that these symptoms have led to an impairment in functioning, either social functioning, academic functioning or functioning in one's career, and in addition to that, these symptoms should have been present for at least two weeks and of enough severity to cause discomfort to the patient.
MR WALLACE: And, taking that criteria of a two week period, let us say, let's say one of the factors, loss of interest and pleasure, how intense does that have to be during the two week period for you to be concerned, clinically concerned about the condition?
DR LEWIS: Well, the symptoms of loss of pleasure and the symptoms of depression, one or both of those need to be present and most importantly they need to be present most of the day, for more days than not.
MR WALLACE: Is there a scale against which we can measure the level of depression and against which you can describe the level of depression being suffered by Mr Cronje, in your view?
DR LEWIS: Well, in my view, giving that he had either seven or eight of the diagnostic criteria and that they were leading to significant impairment in his functioning, I would say that he had a severe depression.
MR WALLACE: And after you had made your diagnosis and you referred to the report by your colleague, Dr Jordaan, was his diagnosis similar to yours?
DR LEWIS: Yes, it was.
MR WALLACE: Mr Commissioner, I am aware that you have a copy of Dr Jordaan's report anyway, but perhaps formally I should make that available to the Commission and to the other legal representatives.
Dr Jordaan had seen Mr Cronje almost precisely a month before you?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: And he had prescribed medication for the condition?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: Were you able to make any assessment as to how effective that medication had been in the period of a month which elapsed between the two consultations?
DR LEWIS: Well, typically we only begin to see an improvement after about two to four weeks, when somebody has commenced on an anti-depressant, and it was difficult not having seen him on the first occasion, to establish really what the change had been, however Mr Cronje's own report was that he felt that he had been a bit better on the medication.
MR WALLACE: Can we turn to the affairs of this Commission. In your view, does Mr Cronje's illness preclude him from giving evidence before the Commission?
DR LEWIS: No, I feel that he is capable of giving evidence.
MR WALLACE: Do you believe that his evidence and particularly his evidence under cross-examination in the usual form, with questioning and so on, may be affected by his condition in any way?
DR LEWIS: I think it is important to realise that he has as symptoms of his depression, difficulty with concentration, and difficulty with thinking and in addition to that, the depression interferes with memory. So I think it is likely that he might find for example complex questions difficult to follow at times, that he might show some degree of lapse in concentration at times. And also, what has been apparent both when I interviewed him and subsequently when he has given evidence here on Thursday, was that he tends to show a degree of fatigue as the proceedings progress.
MR WALLACE: When you are talking about fatigue, that is presumably more than the usual fatigue which any participant will experience in the course of the Commission?
DR LEWIS: That is correct, the fatigue is a symptom of the depression, but what I think I am talking about more is a kind of a mental fatigue as things go on.
MR WALLACE: And your concern as far as his ability to respond to questions is concerned, would be what?
DR LEWIS: Well, I am concerned that at time, again particularly with complex questions, he might not fully understand the question or he might address only part of the question. My concern is that that might appear to be in some way, evasive, when in fact that is not what he is doing.
MR WALLACE: Now, you saw Mr Cronje on the 13th, that is last Tuesday? Correct?
DR LEWIS: I will take your word for it, I am not sure.
MR WALLACE: At that time, he had hoped that he would be able to give evidence on the Monday or on the Tuesday itself, and had not been able to do so and subsequently the endeavours to get him to give his evidence and the cross-examination, have been interrupted by various occurrences. Have those delays had any impact on his condition, do they have an impact and if so, what is it?
DR LEWIS: Well, understandably on each occasion, I think he has had to really put out his resources to face up to the questioning, and then when it is being put off, then he has been disappointed, and kind of become a bit deflated if you like, and then again had to pull himself up for the next hearing and so on, and so I think over time, that is in itself fatiguing and I think that we, there is a general understanding that people do well under appropriate degrees of pressure, which is for a short amount of time.
However if the pressure is overwhelming, and particularly if it is recurrent as it has been with Mr Cronje, I think that that will, particularly given his background of depression, will make it very difficult for him.
MR WALLACE: What is the importance from the point of view of treating his condition, of his getting the giving of evidence, behind him?
DR LEWIS: Well, I think that clearly giving the evidence is in itself a stress, and it is exacerbating his depression, so in fact until these hearings and hearings of this nature are completed, it is very difficult to fully treat his depression.
MR WALLACE: One sometimes hears in lay parlance, Dr Lewis, of getting something behind one, as being a cathartic event. Would you like to comment on that view insofar as Mr Cronje's condition is concerned?
DR LEWIS: Well, I think it is important that we use the idea of catharsis correctly, in fact in Mr Cronje's case, it might not be appropriate. Catharsis really refers to the expression of a small amount of an emotion, where emotions have previously been overwhelmed, so for example, if somebody is exposed to an intense stress, they can then subsequently and in controlled environment, and usually in an intensely private environment, are usually then able to deal with some degree of that stress, not the stress in its full force.
One should also point out that this is not really a method of treatment, but rather part of a treatment. In other words, it is a bit more like taking a broken watch apart, it is quite easy to take it apart, as we see for example on television when somebody catharsis in front of a huge audience, but in fact the difficult part is rather painstakingly repairing it, and putting it back together again.
I think in fact a kind of public catharsis is often more damaging than it is helpful.
MR WALLACE: You talked a moment ago about an appropriate degree of stress in situations, could you just expand on that? What exactly do you mean by an appropriate degree of stress?
DR LEWIS: Well, I imagine, I am talking really about the general level of stress that we all might face from day to day and particularly where one requires a particular performance, so as in a performer of any type or business people doing a presentation, or sportsmen, but there is a degree of stress which actually helps one to concentrate and to focus. However, when that stress becomes overwhelming, it often has the opposite effect, and that is seen more I suppose with sportsmen who choke for example, where it is overwhelming.
My concern is that, for Mr Cronje, this is as we all know, an extra-ordinary amount of stress. I think the stress is heightened by media and so on.
MR WALLACE: Does that affect the way he perceives and reacts to questions put to him and so on?
DR LEWIS: I think that is important to realise, is that whenever we are significantly stressed, we tend to undergo a regression, even in a mild form. What that is, is we go into a rather more primitive way of thinking and dealing with things, where things are felt to be threatening, even when they are not necessarily threatening.
The relevance here would be for example a question which was not meant to be an attacking question, might be perceived by somebody under extreme stress, as being attacking.
MR WALLACE: And is the person concerned, conscious that they are doing that or is that just something that flows from their psyche?
DR LEWIS: The person would usually be unconscious of that, and in fact would just be battling to survive.
MR WALLACE: Lastly Doctor, would there be any benefit in your view, by holding off or postponing the finalisation of Mr Cronje's evidence in the sense of bringing about an improvement in his condition which would make it easier for him to deal with matters than it will be today or do you think that would be detrimental?
DR LEWIS: It is my opinion that it would be better for him to have these hearings over with and for him to present evidence, and then for us to begin to more fully treat his depression.
MR WALLACE: Thank you Dr Lewis, thank you Mr Commissioner.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR WALLACE
COMMISSIONER: Thank you Mr Wallace. Is there any agreement amongst the practitioners as to the order of cross-examination, shall we start with you Mr Woods seeing that you are the - or Mr Blumberg?
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR BLUMBERG: I will start Mr Commissioner, just a few questions. The original diagnosis by Dr Jordaan suggested a period from 16 May for about six weeks, before he felt that Mr Cronje would be able to testify, could I read into that that there has been an improvement in his condition, that he is able to testify after a shorter period of time?
DR LEWIS: Well, I think it is difficult for any Psychiatrist to decide at what point somebody will be in a better position to testify and I would assume that that six weeks was an estimation, and in fact, here we are four weeks later, and I would say that that is accurate enough.
MR BLUMBERG: Is there an improvement in his condition with the treatment that he has been receiving?
DR LEWIS: There is an improvement in his condition, but particularly in his sleep, and what that might be is simply that he is on sleeping tablets, so rather than a significant improvement in his depression, at least one of the symptoms is improved.
But Mr Cronje himself feels that he is a bit better and again, this is - roundabout three or four weeks is when we begin, for the first time, to see a response to anti-depressants, when they are given in adequate doses as Mr Cronje is receiving.
MR BLUMBERG: Would the condition that he is suffering from, affect in any way his ability to tell the truth or untruth?
DR LEWIS: I don't think it would affect his ability to tell the truth, I think though it will hinder him in that we know that depression is associated with difficulties in memory, so that there might be occasions when he has difficulty remembering things, but I certainly don't think it will interfere with his ability to tell the truth.
MR BLUMBERG: You mentioned that he might have difficulty in coping with complex questions, how would he be able to cope with say a question that possibly puts him in a difficult situation with regard to his credibility?
DR LEWIS: Well, I think it would be difficult for me to know what that would do, but clearly any question which is perceived as being a threat, will be more difficult for him to answer.
MR BLUMBERG: Did you have insight to a statement that Mr Cronje made on the 11th of April this year, the so-called confession? Did you have insight to that statement?
DR LEWIS: Could you just explain what you mean by insight?
MR BLUMBERG: Did you see it? Did you read it?
DR LEWIS: I don't recall if I read it.
MR BLUMBERG: You were talking about the perception of possible death or his fear of possible death. Did you - you considered it one of those issues, correct?
DR LEWIS: That - the death threats came out of an interview that I had with Mr Cronje, I don't remember having read it in the papers.
MR BLUMBERG: Could I just read what he said in this particular statement? It is the second paragraph of the statement, and I quote -
"In the Bible it says you must choose between life and death and that is the reason for this letter, tonight I am choosing life."
What do you read into that statement?
DR LEWIS: I think read out of context, I don't know, I think you may possibly have to address that to Mr Cronje.
MR BLUMBERG: Thank you Mr Commissioner.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR BLUMBERG
COMMISSIONER: Mr Fitzgerald?
MR FITZGERALD: We have no questions, Mr Commissioner.
NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR FITZGERALD
COMMISSIONER: Mr Manca?
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR MANCA: Thank you Mr Commissioner. Dr Lewis, in your opinion, is - let me first put it in the past tense, in your opinion was Mr Cronje capable of giving proper and coherent instructions to his legal representatives?
DR LEWIS: I am not sure, maybe you could just rephrase that?
MR MANCA: I will rephrase it. Mr Cronje signed a statement on the 15th of June, a lengthy statement and I assume that he had drafted that statement in consultation with his legal representatives. Would you, are you able to express an opinion at all, as to whether or not he was capable of giving coherent and proper instructions in order for that statement to be drafted?
DR LEWIS: My impression is that he was able to give coherent instructions. I should actually just say that that is my impression.
MR MANCA: I am only asking you for your impression and or your opinion. No further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MANCA
COMMISSIONER: Thank you. Ms Batohi?
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MS BATOHI: Thank you Mr Commissioner. Dr Lewis, I find myself in a somewhat difficult position here, because on the one hand, the Commission wants to get to the bottom of this issue and on the other hand we have a problem where it appears from what you are saying there may well be instances where Mr Cronje will not be able to answer questions that you refer to as complex.
What sort of questions would you think, having consulted with Mr Cronje, what sort of questions do you think he would perceive as questions that are a threat?
DR LEWIS: Well, I think that you are asking two separate questions, firstly what is a complex question. There I am referring really to a question of multiple parts, or with a number of dates, so I think that it would be helpful if questions were broken down into short questions.
Questions that are regarded as being threatening, I imagine any questions that is felt to be aggressive or mildly aggressive, might then be perceived, possibly perceived as being very aggressive.
COMMISSIONER: Is that aggressive in manner or aggressive in content?
DR LEWIS: I would say aggressive in one or the other.
MS BATOHI: What in your view would be questions that would be aggressive in content?
DR LEWIS: It is difficult for me to say, I don't know what is on your mind, but certainly questions in which, they would be for example accusatory or in some way subtly undermining, those kinds of questions.
MS BATOHI: Well, Doctor, I have a problem, because I think a number of questions are going to be accusatory, and not necessarily undermining, but certainly would question what he did. The fact that he would find these sorts of questions to be, as you call it, perceived as a threat, is that going to affect the functioning of this Commission at the end of the day, because I think I can tell you now, that he is going to have to face a number of those sorts of questions and I would like your comment on how you think he would be able to deal with them, or not at this stage, if you can?
DR LEWIS: I think he certainly would be able to answer them, I suppose what I am asking for is that here is a man who is under considerable stress, and who once this Commission has given its ruling and moved on, will remain somebody who might experience this as being intensely traumatic, my feeling is that he already has been through a number of traumas and what I am appealing for I suppose, is just that we treat him as a human being with dignity, as I know that you would, and that questions for example, we need to keep in mind that they might be perceived by him as being aggressive and so that might in him, produce a kind of defensiveness which might be misinterpreted then as being evasive.
Rather what I am saying is if your feeling is that he is being evasive, then I would plead with you to rather slow down, to maybe rephrase questions, to break questions up into smaller parts and to present questions in such a way that while they may be accusatory, are not so in gesture.
MS BATOHI: Dr Lewis, I don't want you to get the impression that I am not sympathetic to the condition that Mr Cronje finds himself in, and that I don't understand that he is probably suffering from depression, but we have a task at hand and this complicates matters considerably.
You have stated that you consulted with him on the 13th of June for the first time, and that he suffers from major depressive disorder, you have stated that you have looked at clinical symptoms and your evidence has been that these are reported by the patient, is that correct?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MS BATOHI: So what I am putting to you then is that your assessment of the client, with regard to whether he suffers from depression or not, is based solely on what he tells you, is that correct?
DR LEWIS: No, that is not correct, it is based on what he tells me, together with the clinical evidence for what I see, and in addition, I should say that it is not as straight forward for example as just somebody describing that they have a disorder of sleep and therefore that would make one think of depression.
It is the characteristic disorder of sleep that is more likely to occur in depression, this is as an example, so that for example people with anxiety might have difficulty falling asleep, and the characteristic symptom of depression is that in the early hours of the morning, having slept quite well through the night, people find they wake up and can't return to sleep.
So for example, if somebody was trying to artificially create evidence that they had a depression, they would be unlikely to know that.
MS BATOHI: Yes, I understand that Dr Lewis, but what I am saying to you, what I am putting to you is that your assessment of the patient at the end of the day, largely depends on what he tells you, for example he is having difficulty sleeping, etc, is that correct or not?
DR LEWIS: Certainly one needs to take into consideration the symptoms together with the way in which the patient might make you feel, that is why for example a computer diagnosis of depression is not going to be that helpful and that I think that part of the skill and part of the training in becoming a psychiatrist or psychologist, is learning to experience how one feels in relation to somebody.
My experience with Mr Cronje was that I had a sense without having, even necessarily to have gone through the symptoms, that in fact he was suffering from a depression.
MS BATOHI: Would a person in Mr Cronje's condition, as you have described it, be in a position to play cricket for example or soccer?
DR LEWIS: I think it is remarkable how many people with depression continue their daily lives, and for example we know stories often of people who seem to be perfectly well, right up to the day that they kill themselves, and it was clear in retrospect that those sorts of people would have been suffering from depression. Mr Cronje certainly would have been able to play cricket.
MS BATOHI: Or even perhaps golf at Fancourt during this period?
DR LEWIS: Certainly. If I can just add that in fact the symptoms of depression are not always present all of the time, but are present more days than not, and for most of the day. So for example it is not uncommon to see somebody who is depressed still tell a joke and laugh for example.
MS BATOHI: Would a person in that condition, be able to study for exams perhaps?
DR LEWIS: I think they would be able to study for exams and I think a number of people do, but I think that they are severely disadvantaged in that their concentration is affected, their thinking is affected and their memory is affected, and in addition to that, they tend to have fatigue and a sense of whether this is all worth it or not.
MS BATOHI: Would they in fact be able to go through with writing an examination, bearing in mind that it requires your memory functions to be at its peak, I would think?
DR LEWIS: Certainly, I think that a number of people can pass examinations even when they are not at their peak, in other words, I think that it is unlikely that somebody would perform as well as they could do in an examination situation, but at the same time, they would perform adequately.
I suppose that is the situation in which Mr Cronje is, is that certainly he would perform adequately here, but I don't think he would perform as he might otherwise were he not to have depression.
MS BATOHI: Do you think that the fact that Mr Cronje has been granted conditional indemnity from prosecution, might have in fact relieved his stress because that threat of prosecution is not there, provided that he tells the truth?
DR LEWIS: Well, I certainly think at one level, it would have relieved some stress. I think though at another level is, he is still required to perform and finds himself in a frustrating situation where at times he genuinely cannot remember things, even though they are not so important.
MS BATOHI: Doctor, just on that point, how do you know that he genuinely can't remember things? How do you come to that conclusion, that is my concern really, the bottom line, how do you know that he genuinely can't remember things, that is is just something that he is making up to suit him?
DR LEWIS: Well, the irony is that in my experience, rather than making up things, he tends to do the opposite, he tends to acknowledge that he cannot remember, things which are quite simple.
So for example, what clothes he might be wearing on a particular day, he is unable to remember that, whereas he feels some pressure to provide answers, so if he weren't so honest, I think, would make statements like "I was wearing a tracksuit pants".
MS BATOHI: Do you think perhaps Mr Cronje could manipulate and use his condition as an excuse when it comes to answering difficult questions?
DR LEWIS: Well, I think that is a possibility, I think that anybody could manipulate any medical condition, but I think that that doesn't detract from the fact that he genuinely has a medical condition and that it genuinely interferes with his ability to give evidence.
MS BATOHI: Thank you, I have no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MS BATOHI
COMMISSIONER: Mr Wallace, perhaps I should put a few questions first before you reply, if that is convenient?
Dr Lewis, what is the prognosis with particular reference to duration, how do you see it?
DR LEWIS: Well, depressions particularly begin to show a degree of improvement after three to four weeks, and then within three to four months are usually fully treated.
We do know that there is a risk of recurrence of depression, but an important factor is whether an existing stress remains or has been removed. For example, if one were in difficult circumstances, that might prolong the depression.
COMMISSIONER: Mr Cronje presumably has been under stress and depression ever since this whole business began to unfold, which would have been early-ish in April, so we are now two and a half months, a little bit more, down the line, so to speak. In that context and having regard to the fact that he is taking medication in the form of anti-depressants, can you venture an assessment as to how much longer his condition is likely to maintain?
DR LEWIS: I should have made it clear that when I was talking about recovery from depression, that is recovery on adequate treatment, the correct anti-depressant, the correct dose, and so he has been on an adequate anti-depressant for the last month. I would predict that from now the symptoms should begin to improve, but again I think that until the Commission and other hearings of this sort are over, I don't think that he will fully recover from his depression.
COMMISSIONER: I have a wider responsibility as it concerns Mr Cronje, in the sense that I am not only required to make factual findings by reason of this Commission's function, I also have to assess whether he has told the whole truth as a sort of pre-condition to the grant, not by me but by the Prosecuting Authority, of an immunity from prosecution or an indemnity as it is sometimes called.
It is in that context that I want to ask you a few questions. Your starting point was that his condition does not preclude him from giving evidence, but then on further analysis it seems to have been a little watered down, if I may put it that way, you mentioned that he suffers lapses of memory, and I am not questioning the genuineness of that, I am merely trying to ascertain whether at the end of the proverbial day, having regard to his condition, with particular significance of his being a witness before this Commission, I am going to be in a position to make an assessment. We have memory lapses and lapses of - involving ability to recall, that is so, is it?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
COMMISSIONER: Then we have the problem which is perhaps not an insuperable one, that he might not fully understand the questions that are being put to him, that can presumably be corrected by as you have suggested, splitting the questions up into component parts, but that is a problem, nevertheless, is that not?
DR LEWIS: Well, I think that, I don't see that as being a problem, I think that one, it is more a sense that questions could be posed to him, but if the person posing the question feels that he is not answering it fully, then maybe they just need to be more specific about what it is that they are asking.
COMMISSIONER: Then we come to the question of what you described as aggressive questions, as far as aggressive in manner is concerned, I don't for one moment suppose and I would certainly not allow it that any of the legal people here, who will be cross-examining Mr Cronje, would do so in an aggressive manner, but cross-examination as Ms Batohi has indicated to you, is by its very nature, hostile and in that sense, aggressive.
Now, you have described the effect that that could have on Mr Cronje, isn't that a further impediment to my being able to make a proper assessment of his credibility?
DR LEWIS: I think it would just be helpful to keep in mind that even a question that is not thought to be aggressive, might be perceived to be aggressive, and that that might in turn, induce a kind of defensiveness, which might look like an evasiveness, but then again maybe a question like that could just be rephrased or people could make it clear what they are looking for.
So really what I am saying is it is not that he won't be able to answer those questions or that he won't do his best to answer the question, but that one should just understand from his perspective, that it might be, at least psychologically be seen as being threatening to him, and he might then become defensive, but I don't think that that should interfere with the process, rather that one should have it in mind and one should tread cautiously I suppose.
COMMISSIONER: Yes, I suppose at the end of the day, I have to make the assessment, if I am able to, with the tools that I have to do it with.
DR LEWIS: Can I just return to a previous question, because it felt like it was a two-part question, where you asked about his lapses in memory and how does one distinguish whether he has a genuine lapse in his memory from whether he is trying to hide something.
I think what I am drawing attention to is that on a number of issues which at the time, were felt to be unimportant, he might not recall those and that those again, would in no way make him guilty or responsible or whatever, but rather that simple questions, which really has no overall relevance, he might genuinely not remember those, and rather than making up a story, he would acknowledge to not recalling that.
It is interesting for example that because of his profession and his particular interest, he can remember details about how many runs he might have scored in a particular game or what the condition of the pitch was like, but things which are relatively unimportant like what he might have been wearing and so on, that those are the sorts of things that he might forget, so in my impression, things which have significance to him, in general, he will remember, and he shouldn't have lapses in memory, but some of the finer detail he might forget.
I suppose the sense that we might all have from time to time, of being under stress, for example going into a room full of people, and certainly not being able to remember anybody's name, it is of that nature, that the stress will interfere with one's memory and then half an hour later, once you have settled down, you are able to remember things more clearly.
I think what he has is a rather extreme version of that, where this is extremely stressful and that one is then unable to recall the finer details often.
COMMISSIONER: Would you expect him to remember all the occasions upon which, and I am not suggesting that there are any others, other than those that have already been admitted to, would you expect his condition with regard to lapse of memory, to interfere with his ability to recall incidents where he has behaved dishonourably?
DR LEWIS: No, I don't think that that would be the case, I think that certainly he would remember incidents, they would have been significant and important to him, but possibly again the finer details, he might not know.
COMMISSIONER: Yes, Mr Wallace? Thank you Dr Lewis.
RE-EXAMINATION BY MR WALLACE: Thank you Mr Commissioner. Just a couple of matters, Dr Lewis. You do not suggest, as I understand your evidence, that Mr Cronje's illness prevents him from giving truthful evidence to the best of his ability, is that so?
DR LEWIS: That is correct.
MR WALLACE: In other words you are not suggesting that because of his illness, he may be led into telling untruths about events?
DR LEWIS: Again, that is correct.
MR WALLACE: Now, in regard to his reaction to questions, and treating them as being hostile, just to make that clear, would that extend even possibly to questions I might ask him as his legal representative?
DR LEWIS: I think that is important, I think that it would extend to the questions that you ask him as well.
MR WALLACE: Notwithstanding his knowledge that I am here, representing him and trying to help him and look after his own interests?
DR LEWIS: That is correct, I think maybe an image that makes that a bit clearer is the image of trying to rescue a cat from a tree, when the cat feels that you are a threat to it, it will scratch you, despite knowing you. So in other words, people even who are friendly and who are genuinely trying to help, in the position in which people are under acute stress, they might see those people as being threatening.
MR WALLACE: Then in regard to a question which my learned friend, Ms Batohi, asked you about the reliance in making a diagnosis upon information furnished by the patient, is there anything unusual or peculiar to psychiatry about relying upon what the patient tells you as part of the information on which you base your diagnosis? Or is that in fact commonplace in all fields of medicine?
DR LEWIS: It certainly comes in in all fields of medicine, all medical fields follow a protocol of history which is gathered from the patient and from others, examination and then special investigations. The difficulty in fact with depression is that there is nothing that will show up on examination, other than one's clinical impression, and on special investigations, we have no blood tests or no brain scans that will determine whether somebody is depressed or not, so we are forced really to rely as are many of the other specialties, on history gained from the patient.
MR WALLACE: Thank you Dr Lewis.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR WALLACE
COMMISSIONER: Thank you Dr Lewis.