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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 392
Paragraph Numbers 1 to 6
Volume ONE Chapter TWELVE
Regional Office Reports
CAPE TOWN OFFICE
1 The Cape Town regional office was located in the same building as the Commission’s national office, and served the Commission’s activities in the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces. It was also given responsibility for many national events, such as political party submissions, health sector hearings and section 29 hearings. The regional information unit took responsibility for overseeing the data processing requirements of the Amnesty Committee and for the distribution of applications for urgent interim relief. Such relief was made available in terms of reparation and rehabilitation policy. These additional responsibilities created huge pressures on regional staff but, due to the high level of commitment, both regional and national demands were met.
2 The office did extensive work on the widespread repression that had occurred in towns in the Boland, Southern Cape, Karoo and Northern Cape. However, many rural communities (particularly farm workers) expressed disappointment that the Commission’s mandate did not extend, except in exceptional circumstances, to human rights violations relating to land and labour. This was of particular concern in Namaqualand and other areas of the Northern Cape.
3 An issue of particular sensitivity in the region was the perception that the Western Cape was representing the Northern Cape where no staff members were employed for financial reasons. This factor also had a bearing on travel to the Northern Cape, which was largely determined by the statement taking and planning required for the Kimberley and Upington hearings.
4 The regional office also experienced some difficulties in attempting to document repression on the Cape Flats. A number of activists were reluctant to come forward to talk about their experiences or to refer others to the Commission. Many expressed discomfort with the fact that the legislation did not allow for formal court proceedings.
■ IDENTITY AND EXTENT OF REGION
5 A number of features distinguish the political and social terrain of the Northern and Western Cape provinces from the rest of the country. The demographic profile is unique: the majority of the population is coloured and only a minority is African. This was partly a reflection of the declaration of the Western Cape as a ‘coloured labour preference area’ with very restricted opportunities for African people. The region also experienced extreme social and spatial engineering through the Group Areas Act, with significant cleavages developing between coloured and African communities, as well as between rural migrants and urban residents. As a result, the Western Cape developed historically distinct political groupings and ideological approaches, which often differed from developments in the rest of the country.
6 The Western Cape province can be divided into six distinct sub-regions: the Cape Metropolitan Area; the West Coast; the Boland and Breede River area, including the Cape winelands; the Southern Cape, including the Little Karoo; the Overberg, and the Central Karoo. The Northern Cape includes the Kimberley commercial area, Upington and the greater Namaqualand region.