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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 411

Paragraph Numbers 42 to 49

Volume 2

Chapter 5

Subsection 7

Homeland police forces

42 As noted above, in the period after 1976, responsibility for policing was transferred, to a greater or lesser degree, to all of the homelands. At independence, the Transkei government appointed its own chief of police, and by 1977 the Transkei Police Force (TPF) operated fifty-two police stations and five border control posts staffed by 1 038 police officers. A Transkei Prisons Service was established to operate penal institutions in the homeland. Finally, a Transkei Intelligence Service was established in 1976 which, under the control of the Transkei Prime Minister, assumed responsibility for intelligence and security activities previously undertaken by the South African Bureau for State Security (BOSS).

43 As other homelands accepted independence, responsibility for policing was similarly devolved. For example, the Bophuthatswana Police Force (BPF), established in 1978, created its own Special Branch, which was disbanded in 1982 and reconstituted as the Internal Intelligence Services. In Ciskei and Venda, an attempt was made to achieve economies of scale by combining policing, defence, intelligence and correctional functions into single joint forces. By the mid-1980s, both homelands had abandoned these plans in order to split their forces along traditional functional lines.

44 Transfers followed rather more slowly in the self-governing homelands. Gazankulu acquired its own police force in 1980, with Lebowa following suit the next year. A KZP force was established in 1980, although its jurisdiction was largely limited to rural areas. The SAP retained responsibility for policing the urban townships near Durban. Under the direction of South African security forces, the KZP was eventually restructured in the 1980s and its capabilities, including the capacity for offensive operations, were dramatically increased (see below).

45 While the various homeland forces created their own structures and approaches in order to meet local political and security needs, a number of characteristics can be observed across the homelands. These emerging characteristics remained fairly constant until the dissolution of the homelands in the wake of the 1994 election.

46 First, homeland police and intelligence forces were established to be supportive of homeland regimes. At one time or another, most of the homeland forces were used not only to protect incumbent regimes, but also to further the political or electoral fortunes of specific leaders or political parties. At the same time, outside restraints on the homeland police and governments, such as the judiciary, were systematically undermined and weakened. In this manner, police duty lay less in upholding the law than in serving the narrow interest of ruling elites.

47 Second, as a result of their politicisation, homeland police forces were generally more concerned with counter-insurgency than with combating crime. Given their close alignment with the political fortunes of individual regimes, homeland police forces placed a high priority on curbing any and all political opposition. Operations were thus conducted not only against opponents of the South African state but also against those perceived as threatening the relevant homeland government. As homeland police forces became more politicised, they also tended to become more militarised. Normal crime-combating procedures were often subordinated to the perceived requirements of ‘national security’.

48 Third, homeland police forces were generally alienated from, and hostile to, the communities they served. Homeland policing was largely authoritarian, with a track record of violence and brutality even in routine criminal cases. In the minds of many homeland residents, the police were living symbols of a repressive and unjust system. Because of routine heavy-handedness, most community members – and not just political activists – lived in fear of the police.

49 Finally, as revealed in the evidence before the Commission, homeland police – like their counterparts in South Africa – were generally above the law. While homeland police buttressed weak and often authoritarian elites, so too did homeland politicians manipulate institutions, particularly the judiciary, in order to protect the police. As a result, homeland police forces were not held accountable to the law they purportedly upheld or to the citizens whom they were created to serve.

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