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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 415

Paragraph Numbers 25 to 36

Volume 1

Chapter 12

Subsection 13


Statement taking

25 Eight regional statement takers worked throughout the region, often spending days out of the office as they visited rural areas. Preparation included briefings, pamphlet distribution and radio publicity. In many areas, hostility was shown towards the statement takers and, on several occasions, they had to be withdrawn when their safety could not be assured. In some cases, the Public Order Policing Unit of the South African Police (SAP) was asked to accompany statement takers, and arrangements were made with local indunas3 for permission to enter certain areas.

26 The designated statement taker programme was launched in Durban in April 1997. Archbishop Tutu made a special plea for the involvement of the IFP, either directly with the Commission or through the non-governmental community. Once again, the success of the plea was limited.

27 The designated statement taker programme employed two community liaison officers, one in Bloemfontein and the other in Durban. By forging contractual relationships with over forty organisations, they greatly increased the statement taking capacity of the office and its ability to reach out to remote areas in the two provinces.

Information flow

28 The Information Department was responsible for the collection of statements, the control of all documents within the regional office, data capturing, coding and processing, as well as the maintenance of the database. Later, the capturing, coding and processing functions were combined.

29 Information meetings were held weekly to discuss the development and implementation of the information flow policy and to evaluate cases, the quality of statements taken and progress made.

2 The offices and equipment of the Independent Electoral Commission had been damaged, and many property owners were wary of leasing property to the Commission in a tense political climate. 3 Zulu headmen

30 The Investigation Unit was divided into sections dealing with general investigations, corroboration, amnesty applications and special investigations. The Investigation Unit employed four members of the police and four civilians, two of whom were seconded from the Department of Justice.

31 A sub-unit dealing specifically with corroboration was formed in early 1997 and employed a co-ordinator assisted by seven staff members. Separate funding was raised nationally for this purpose. This unit was later enlarged to include twenty staff members. It had the enormous task of corroborating all the late statements, many of which related to arson and were difficult to prove. Victims had been unwilling to report such instances to the police for fear of further retaliation.

32 Three police observers from Denmark and Sweden were assigned to this unit and played an important role in its functioning.

33 The Investigation Unit held weekly meetings to share information, plan work and report on progress.

1996 hearings in the KwaZulu-Natal/Free State Region

34 There were only two commissioners assisted by four committee members in the region and the burden of the public hearing schedule was heavy. Commissioners and most of the committee members attended most hearings. This was particularly demanding during 1996 when there was more than one hearing a month.

35 In the early days, briefings and workshops were held in many areas, and it was difficult to fit all the events into the programme. Yet, despite the regular planned briefings, there were many additional requests for briefings from rural and urban communities who felt that they were insufficiently informed about the process.

36 The IFP criticised commissioners, committee members and some staff members in this region throughout the process. From the time that the first hearing took place, when several deponents gave evidence of IFP involvement in violence, hostile accusations of bias were received by letter and in newspaper articles, many in the form of personal attacks on certain commissioners and committee members. As indicated, the IFP refused to take part in the process and, despite many approaches, the Commission in the region had very little success in changing its attitude. Representation at the hearings was, therefore, inevitably skewed.

a Durban (7-10 May 1996). The first human rights violations hearing in this region took place at the Jewish Club in Durban. The hearing was organised so as to give as wide a view as possible of human rights violations which occurred in the two provinces, and forty-three cases were heard from all over the region. Testimony was heard about the killing of the parents of a one year old child in a cross border raid into Lesotho and a bomb in central Durban which killed the parents of a young boy. The Commission also heard the testimony of the mother of Stompie Seipei, who was killed in Soweto, as well as a submission on difficulties with the justice system.

b Bloemfontein (2-4 July 1996). The second hearing took place in Bloemfontein, where forty cases were heard from all over the Free State with the aim of painting a broad picture of human rights violations in that province.

c Pietermaritzburg (23-25 July 1996). The third hearing took place in the City Hall, Pietermaritzburg. Forty-nine cases were heard, including testimony relating to the murder of prominent trade unionists in Mpophomeni Township. The hearings were very well attended.

d Port Shepstone (12-14 August 1996). At the Port Shepstone hearing, thirty-nine cases were heard from an area torn apart by political violence, especially in the rural areas surrounding the town. Evidence was heard of close co-operation between the police and the IFP in this region. It was difficult to find a suitable venue for these hearings because people feared reprisals, and very few community members attended.

e Durban (28-30 August 1996). The second hearing in Durban took place at the Christian Centre. Witnesses described incidents such as the death of fifteen young people who were amongst the mourners attacked after the killing of activist attorney, Victoria Mxenge. Of the thirty-six cases heard, twenty-four were directly associated with murders. The majority of the victims were members of the African National Congress (ANC), but four were from the IFP, and eleven were of uncertain political affiliation. Most of the cases dealt with were from Umlazi in the Durban region, and there was much evidence to demonstrate a relationship between the police (both the SAP and the KwaZulu Police (KZP)) and the IFP. Many of the deponents were women, but only two spoke of their own experiences. The rest spoke of crimes against their families.

f Northern Natal (10-12 September 1996). The sixth hearing took place at Newcastle. Twenty-nine cases were heard, including that of the brutal slaying of trade unionist and ANC activist, Professor Hlalanathi Sibankulu, whose burnt body was found in his car. Most of the cases involved murder, harassment and detention at the hands of the Security Branch of the SAP or the KZP, sometimes in collaboration with the IFP in the region. There were also cases where the Special Branch worked in the townships without the participation of the KZP. In the case of the Hlobane Mine massacre, where eleven people were killed, witnesses implicated mine management in addition to the Special Branch and the IFP. Another trend that emerged at this hearing related to disappearances. Some children had not been seen by their families since they went into exile, which left unanswered questions as to their whereabouts.

g Welkom (8-10 October 1996). The focus of this Free State hearing was on the roles played by black vigilante gangs in fomenting violence. Allegations were made against the A-team, the Eagles and the 3 Million gang, all of which operated with the collusion of the SAP against the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the area.

h Hearing on assassinations, Durban (24 October 1996). This event focused on specific assassinations. Ms Daphne Mnguni spoke about the death of her brother Mr Msizi Dube, who had been an activist since the 1950s and was shot in 1983 on his way home from a meeting. Four men served prison sentences for his murder, and one received the death penalty. Fatima Meer and Harold Strachan told of attempts on their lives, allegedly by the Security Branch, and several members of the family of leading anti-apartheid intellectual Rick Turner gave testimony about his death. He was shot through a window of his house in the presence of his two young children.

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