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TRC Final Report

Paragraph Numbers 37 to 44

Volume 1

Chapter 12

Subsection 14

i Hearing on women, Durban (25 October 1996). Following the testimony on assassinations, a second day was set aside to hear testimony from women. It had become apparent that, although many women gave evidence at the hearings, very few spoke about their own experiences. The hearing was open only to women; even the technicians on site were women. Ten women spoke very eloquently about their own suffering and brutal treatment at the hands of men. In two of the three rape cases heard, the women had never spoken about their experiences before. In one of these instances, a woman was gang-raped by some ANC youths over a period of a month and conceived a child. She reported that one of the men who raped her began visiting her home regularly and claimed parenthood of the child, which she was finding very difficult. Some of the women targeted were not themselves activists, but were family members of activists. Nosizwe Madlala-Routledge, Phyllis Naidoo and Marie Odendaal-Magwaza read special submissions on their experiences as women activists. A large number of deponents asked for psychological counselling to assist them in dealing with their trauma.

j Empangeni (4-6 November 1996). Testimony was heard from twenty-five people in the highly volatile Empangeni area. Of the eighty deponents whose cases could potentially be used, only twenty-eight were prepared to appear in public, which was an indication of the political intolerance and intimidation in this region. In addition, one-third of the selected witnesses failed to arrive at the hearings because of intimidation. Testimony was heard about three massacres that resulted in twenty-three deaths. One of the cases concerned the death of Dr Henry Vika Luthuli, who was gunned down in his surgery. In that instance, the investigating officer was killed, and other detectives were afraid to pursue their investigations. Ms Mary de Haas of the University of Natal gave a background submission on the political history of the area, and the failure of the SAP and KZP to investigate properly and deal with the situation.

k Hearing on the ‘Seven Day War’, Pietermaritzburg (November 1996). The eleventh and final hearing of 1996 took place in Pietermaritzburg. This was an event hearing that heard evidence on the ‘Seven Day War’, which took place in March 1990. Evidence pointed to very close co-operation between Inkatha members and the riot unit of the SAP, leading to the deaths of hundreds of people. Tensions at this hearing ran high when a local IFP leader, David Ntombela arrived, accompanied by his lawyer and several IFP members. Ntombela’s lawyer read a statement as to why his client would not testify.

l Vryheid (16-17 April 1997). The Vryheid hearing attempted to reflect a cross section of human rights violations. Evidence pointed to collaboration between the KZP and the IFP in collective action against the ANC and the UDF in over 85 per cent of the cases.

m Parys hearing (28-30 April 1997). Many witnesses alleged that there was state complicity in violence in the form of police involvement with black vigilante gangs working to destabilise communities.

n Children’s hearing (14 May 1997). A special hearing for children was held. During the two days before the hearings, children who had been affected by violence were given the opportunity to express themselves through art and drama workshops. Their stories were presented at the hearing by caregivers, and some recordings of the children’s voices were played.

o Bruntville (27-29 May 1997). The Bruntville hearing dealt with political violence in the area and also with the ‘Bruntville massacres’ where Inkatha hostel residents attacked local township residents, killing many women and children. Because of the unwillingness of the IFP to appear at these hearings, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) researcher Dr Anthony Minnaar was asked to give an overall impression of what happened in this part of the Midlands.

p Hearing on the ‘Caprivi trainees’ (4-15 September 1997). A special hearing was scheduled to deal with the role of the Caprivi trainees. Owing to the volume of advance research and preparation needed, this hearing – vital to an understanding of violence in this region - was twice delayed. Witnesses alleged that the South African Defence Force had trained members of Inkatha for the purposes of forming a covert offensive para-military unit to be deployed against the political enemies of the state. Evidence also indicated that this group was responsible for killings and attacks in many communities and showed, too, that very few convictions for these attacks had succeeded.

q Second children’s hearing (June 1997). A further special hearing was held for children in the Free State.

r Ladybrand (24-26 June 1997). The final hearing of the Durban regional office took place at Ladybrand, which dealt with evidence regarding cross-border raids.

37 In addition to these hearings on human rights violations, section 29 hearings (in camera investigative enquiries) were held at the regional office. Several amnesty hearings were also held in various centres in the two provinces.

38 As was the case for national events, media coverage of the hearings was excellent. The media liaison officer had very good relationships with the print media and television, and there was thorough press coverage of hearings and other work over the entire period, often on the front pages of several publications.

Reparation and rehabilitation

39 The region’s four briefers were supervised by co-ordinators in the Durban and Free State offices. Briefers provided support and counselling services to victims and witnesses who had made statements, especially to those who appeared at hearings. They also set up structures to continue to provide support for victims after the life of the Commission.

40 It was noted in the second Durban hearing and the Northern Natal hearing that the material expectations of those testifying were low. Most expressed a wish for an investigation into deaths that had occurred to establish who had committed the violations and why. Many requested assistance with schooling and expenses for families of victims, assistance with tombstones and pensions for the elderly. At the women’s hearing, counselling was requested. Very few people asked for direct financial compensation.


41 Workshops were held with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations, relevant government departments and churches to ensure a close relationship with organisations in the region. Areas of co-operation included planning, policy formulation for reparation and rehabilitation, and trauma counselling and support for victims.

42 The regional office established a close association with the Programme for Survivors of Violence, the Diakonia Council of Churches, the Natal Church Leaders’ Group, and other NGOs and community based organisations involved in providing psychological and legal support and advocacy. Many members of staff had come from and had close ties with these organisations, and existing relationships were strengthened in this way.

43 The Natal Church Leaders’ Group was involved in getting a Reconciliation Committee working in the region, as it was felt that the churches should be part of the process and would, indeed, carry on the work after the end of the official life of the Commission.

44 A very close relationship developed with the Mennonite Central Committee, represented by Dr Karl and Ms Evelyn Bartsch, which trained Commission staff and associates from the NGO communities in trauma counselling. Their book on healing for victims of trauma was also widely distributed to support groups in KwaZulu-Natal and in the Free State.

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