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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 398
Paragraph Numbers 31 to 44
31 In the small towns, statement takers found that white people generally would not even co-operate with requests, for instance, to leave pamphlets and posters at their shops. The attitude of white people was generally negative, and there was a poor turnout of white people at the hearings.
32 Statement takers felt that many more statements could have been taken if more resources had been available for publicity and education about the Commission. The limited media and communication budget was a true constraint.
33 It was also regrettable that the official designated statement taker programme did not get off the ground earlier in the region, especially in the rural areas. In 1996, a total of sixty-two community statement takers were trained in four of the eleven sub-regions in anticipation of the launch of this programme; but funding only became available in April 1997, too late to be of significant use.
34 Once a statement arrived at the regional office, the information contained in it was entered into the information flow process and database.
35 The information manager was charged with the enormously difficult task of making the ‘information flow’ a reality - ensuring that the material was seen by researchers, corroborated by investigators and reviewed by commissioners and committee members so that findings and recommendations for reparations could be made.
36 To a large extent, this process was made more difficult by the regional nature of the Commission’s work. Despite the call for standardised national procedures, interaction between regions was poor, and each region tended to develop its own system. In addition, the work schedules of over-stretched commissioners and committee members made it difficult to ensure their regular attendance at ‘Infocom’ meetings or regional findings meetings. Many of these problems arose from the unique nature of the work of the Commission. There were no established precedents and policy, and success depended entirely on very hard work and a flexible approach.
37 The database evolved, as did the requirements for processing and interpreting information.
38 The Cape Town information manager was also required to cater for national needs, taking responsibility for centralising all documentation from the regions and for the processing of all amnesty applications (stored at the national office) on the Commission’s database.
39 The regional investigation unit was assigned to conduct investigations on behalf of the Human Rights Violations and Amnesty Committees. Because the national Human Rights Violations Committee did not set guidelines on levels of corroboration, the process of investigation devolved on the investigation units themselves. This accounts for regional variations in the investigative process.
40 Each investigator was assigned to the corroboration of cases by collecting and analysing information. Information was obtained by interviewing complainants and witnesses and retrieving a wide range of documents. These included inquest records, medical records, institutional records - for example, those of the South African Police (SAP), the liberation movements and the South African Defence Force (SADF) - commission reports, legal records, newspaper reports and post mortem reports.
41 The South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), the African National Congress (ANC) and other structures each established a central nodal point through which requests could be filtered. In the case of the SAPS, security police and police stations in the region were generally approached directly for records, and the nodal point used only where problems were experienced with document retrieval. This worked, except where documentation had been destroyed - either in terms of specific legislation, such as that governing the National Archives, or sometimes without authorisation. Specific mention must be made of the serious lack of co-operation from the SANDF which, to a significant degree, did not comply in supplying documentation concerning gross human rights violations.
42 Section 29 enquiries proved a valuable mechanism for conducting investigations. Due to logistical, budgetary and resource constraints, they were limited in the regions to cases chosen for in depth investigation such as the ‘Gugulethu Seven’ (3 March 1986), KTC (9/10/11 June 1986) and the ‘Trojan horse’ killings (15 October 1985).
43 The ‘Gugulethu Seven’ enquiry initiated a significant sequence of events which began with statement taking and culminated when two people who had been subpoenaed applied for amnesty. An important result of the investigation was the discovery of involvement by security police operatives based at Vlakplaas in the killing of these seven young black men. In addition, it was revealed that some of the alleged perpetrators still occupied senior positions in the command structure of the SAPS in the Western Cape.
44 Other special investigations undertaken in this region included: the death of Coline Williams and Robert Waterwich (1989); the national gun-running project in the 1990s (which was implicated in the destabilisation of Khayelitsha) and the taxi conflict (a national Investigation Unit project to which all regions contributed); the Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) killing of Peaches Gordon (1991); the killing of Ashley Kriel (1987); the Amasolomzi in the Boland (so-called vigilantes in these areas in the 1980s); the St James Church massacre (1993); the Heidelberg Tavern attack (December 1993) and the killing of Pro Jack (1991).