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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 413
Paragraph Numbers 11 to 24
■ METHOD OF WORK
Commissioners allocated to region
11 Two of the national commissioners were allocated to this region: the Revd Dr Khoza Mgojo and Mr Richard Lyster. Both had a record of extensive work in KwaZulu-Natal.
12 The Commission appointed four committee members to support its work in the region: Mr Mdu Dlamini, Ms Virginia Gcabashe and Mr Ilan Lax1 for the Human Rights Violations Committee and Dr S’Mangele Magwaza for the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee. In addition, Judge Hassen Mall and Judge Andrew Wilson of the Amnesty Committee were both based in the Durban office, although they travelled widely throughout the country for amnesty hearings. Ilan Lax also served on the national legal working group and acted as the regional legal aid committee representative.
13 Several hundred applicants submitted curriculum vitae for consideration for employment. A personnel agency initially assisted with short-listing applicants, but the region soon took full responsibility for the staff selection process to ensure that appointments responded to political sensitivities and followed affirmative action criteria.
14 Of the first thirty people appointed, twenty had been unemployed and, of these, many had never worked previously. They were employed for their potential to do good work. This policy was maintained, with preference given to unemployed people where possible. The racial mix at all levels strongly reflected that of society. In addition, a gender balance of 50 per cent men and 50 per cent women was maintained. A staff member with a disability was also employed.
15 The Durban office came to employ a permanent staff of eighty. The satellite office in the Free State employed a staff of seven, including a manager.
16 A regional manager and an information manager were appointed in March 1996. The region appointed a head of the Investigation Unit who was functionally responsible to the national office, but administratively responsible to the region. A support services manager was appointed in April 1996 and was responsible for the administrative functioning of the office. A regional bookkeeper was appointed together with three logistics officers. Other staff included an information manager and an assistant to the Human Rights Violations Committee. The Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee was supported by a regional co-ordinator and briefers, and the Amnesty Committee was supported by two secretaries. Three logistics officers were responsible for organising hearings and venues for statement taking, workshops, briefings and amnesty and section 29 hearings.1 Later redeployed to the Amnesty Committee.
Accommodation, resources and equipment
17 The regional office was based in Durban and, despite some initial difficulty in finding suitable premises due to the tense political climate2, a lease was finally signed for two floors of a new building. A corporate interior designer assisted with the design of the offices and acquisition of furniture and fittings.
18 The necessity for a satellite office in Bloemfontein quickly became evident. Staff from the main regional office tried to visit the satellite office regularly and to keep in touch, but staff in Bloemfontein often felt unsupported, under-resourced and out of touch with regional work. Despite these drawbacks, work done in the Bloemfontein office was extremely effective.
Methodology and assessment of work
19 The regional manager oversaw work in the region, made sure that national decisions were implemented regionally, ensured the control of finances, and regularly reported on regional work to the chief executive officer.
20 The core of planning took place at weekly management meetings. Other meetings supplemented these. The Reparation and Rehabilitation and the Human Rights Violations committees held regular meetings and, about every six months, there were regional strategic planning meetings to prepare for briefings and hearings, and devise an overall vision for the region.
21 An attempt was made to evaluate the work of the region regularly, using procedures where staff, colleagues and managers evaluated themselves. However, time constraints made this process rather difficult to implement.
22 The Commission was, in many respects, a very hurried process. To investigate and produce a satisfactory product in only two years was very difficult both in terms of time and resources. Even at a very late stage of operations, attempts to interpret the Act revealed that practical implementation of some aspects was impossible, despite several changes to the Act and to the regulations. Furthermore, owing to delays in appointments of staff and in the full operation of the database, the office only began working at full capacity in June 1996. Then, in July 1997, hearings and proactive statement taking had to stop, as the Commission began to release staff in the gradual process of closing down. This meant that, although the legislation provided for a two-year life span, the Commission was only fully operational for just over a year.
23 As in other regions, groups of staff left at the end of July 1997, at the end of September 1997 and in mid-December 1997. This roll out plan was managed as sensitively as possible, with assistance given to staff to find jobs where feasible, to improve their interviewing skills and to prepare curriculum vitae. A four-week course by a counselling psychologist also helped staff to cope. There was also an attempt to fill longer-standing posts where staff resigned. The roll out plan left the region very short staffed in some departments.
24 The regional office was granted two extensions, however, initially until March 1998 and then to the end of June 1998. Most of the remaining staff stayed on until the end of May, and a small staff component remained until the end of June in order to provide support for the commissioners, the Amnesty Committee and investigators.