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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 430

Paragraph Numbers 36

Volume 1

Chapter 12

Subsection 18

36 Following is a list of the human rights violations hearings organised in the Eastern Cape and a short description of important trends or cases dealt with:

a East London (15 - 18 April 1996). This was the national launch of Human Rights Violations Committee hearings, the first of its kind. It received overwhelming media coverage and community support. For the first time, the South African community across the racial divide was exposed to the gruesome human rights violations that happened in the past. This was the hearing that was disturbed by a bomb threat.

b Port Elizabeth (21 - 23 May 1996). The second hearing was equally enthusiastically received by the community, with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) giving counselling and support. The Commission’s legality was also tested by a court application, lodged by the attorney of an alleged perpetrator of human rights violations, which consequently prevented the Mthimkulu case from being heard.

c Umtata (18 - 20 June 1996). These hearings were a departure from the first two in that they concentrated on abuses that occurred in rural areas under the homeland system. The homelands security forces proved to have been more brutal than those of the South African state.

d Port Elizabeth (26 - 27 June 1996). This was a special hearing for the Mthimkulu case, which could not be heard in May because of a court application. In another case, Mzwandile Maquina, an alleged perpetrator, was afforded the opportunity to tell his story and respond to allegations against him.

e Queenstown (22 - 24 July 1996). Forty cases, which included the massacre of eleven people in a church hall, were heard.

f Uitenhage (26 - 28 August 1996). This was an event hearing and looked at the 1985 ‘Langa massacre’ in which forty-three people were killed. The conflict between the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Ama-Afrika featured prominently.

g Bisho (9 - 22 September 1996). This hearing focused on the ‘Bisho massacre’. It was the first time that testimonies of victims and those of the alleged perpetrators were heard in the same hearing. Also, the way in which submissions of the alleged perpetrators were scrutinised and interrogated was a clear demonstration of the Commission’s determination to present as full a picture as possible.

h Duncan Village, East London (23 - 24 September 1996). This event hearing focused on the killing of twenty-one people who were returning from a funeral service of the political activist, Victoria Mxenge.

i Aliwal North (21 - 23 October 1996). The regional office tried to reach out to small, rural towns, where kitskonstabels operated. Sixty-one deponents from Aliwal North, Barkly East, Burgersdorp and Sterkspruit gave testimony. The Human Rights Violations Committee observed that human rights violations in small towns did not receive much publicity, and people consequently suffered in silence, without adequate legal representation, at the hands of the state apparatus.

j Bisho (18 - 19 November 1996). This was a follow-up to the ‘Bisho massacre’ hearing and Brigadier Oupa Gqozo testified. After the hearing, there were allegations that the Commission’s panel was biased against the perpetrators.

k Cradock (10 - 11 February 1997). Testimony included that of two young people aged fifteen years who were caught in the crossfire when they were very young. They were, according to the records, the youngest people ever to testify before the Commission.

l Lusikisiki (24 - 26 March 1997). The hearing took place in a deep rural area and was hampered by logistic problems, such as the lack of electricity. However, it was successful in giving insights into lesser-known South African history, like the 1960 Pondoland revolt.

m Grahamstown (7 - 9 April 1997). A number of shooting incidents by the security forces and ‘necklacings’ were reported at this hearing. This was the first hearing where a number of alleged perpetrators had legal representatives.

n King William’s Town (12 - 14 May 1997). Sixty-six witnesses testified about struggles with headmen, especially when Oupa Gqozo’s party in the Ciskei homeland sought to oppose progressive movements.

o Mdantsane (9 - 13 June 1997). This hearing focused on killings that occurred during the 1983 bus boycott. Wreaths were laid at Egerton and Highgate, where Ciskei and Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (APLA) armed forces had attacked people. Human rights violations relating to women were also given a full day at this hearing.

p Youth hearing, East London (18 June 1997). Youth structures and surrounding schools made submissions.

q Faith communities hearing (17 - 19 November 1997). The faith communities hearing was a national hearing, hosted by the region. Prominent faith community leaders spoke about their role during the apartheid era.

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