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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 586
Paragraph Numbers 15 to 29
15 Right-wing organisations were also active and vocal during this period, expressing their resistance to the changing political order. The right wing was responsible for several random attacks on black people as well as a more focused campaign of bombings before the elections in April 1994.
16 The term ‘third force’ began to be used increasingly to describe apparently random violence that could not be ascribed to political conflict between identifiable competing groups. Rather it appeared to involve covert forces intent on escalating violence as a means of derailing the negotiations process.
17 At about this time FW de Klerk appointed the Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation headed by Judge Richard Goldstone. Initial reports of the Goldstone Commission found no evidence of a ‘third force’. While there were many criticisms of the manner in which the security forces were dealing with the situation, the Commission pointed to high levels of political intolerance as well as wider-ranging socio-economic conditions as the primary causes of violent conflict. Notwithstanding Goldstone’s findings, non-government organisations, including violence monitoring groups, and a number of national newspapers continued to allege the presence of a ‘third force’ in the violence. Allegations of security force involvement in the violence reached a climax with the Boipatong massacre.
18 In November 1992, during a Goldstone raid on the offices of the Directorate of Covert Collections (DCC), evidence emerged of security force involvement in illegal activities. President de Klerk responded by appointing General Pierre Steyn, assisted by General Conradie of the SAP, to conduct an investigation into the activities of certain military units.
19 General Steyn based his investigation on two investigative initiatives already underway and reported to President de Klerk and senior members of his cabinet on 20 December 1992. The substance of this report was that components of the South African Defence Force (SADF) – DCC, Army Intelligence, Special Forces and the 7th Medical Battalion – were involved in a wide range of illegal and/or unauthorised activity. These included the establishment of arms caches and springboards for attacks; an attempt to overthrow General Bantu Holomisa’s government in the Transkei; the planting of weapons in Swaziland to discredit the ANC; corruption of DCC members in relation to arms deals; the selective leaking of information to right-wing groups; involvement in a chemical attack on FRELIMO, and corruption for personal gain.
20 In addition, he concluded that the security forces (and specifically 5 Reconnaissance Regiment) were probably involved in train violence; that there was probably a Chemical and Biological Warfare programme, as well as a probable attempt to get CCB operative Danie Phaal to distribute poisoned beer to Zulu-speakers in the Transkei. Strong allegations were also made of further unlawful and/or unauthorised actions.
21 General Steyn indicated, however, that the intelligence was not sufficiently refined to stand up in court because of the extensive destruction of documents and other evidence, concern over the safety of sources, the fear that those implicated would resort to murder if they felt threatened, and the fact that many role-players protected each other.
22 De Klerk was given a staff report compiled for General Steyn by the SADF’s Chief Directorate of Counter Intelligence. SADF chief General ‘Kat’ Liebenberg, army chief General Georg Meiring and chief of staff intelligence, General CP van der Westhuizen, were called to Tuynhuys and asked to draw up a list of people against whom action should be taken. Their list included General Thirion whom the Steyn report specifically recommended for exemption from action, and excluded other names – including those of the three generals who drew up the list – against whom the Steyn report had recommended that action should be taken.
23 The following day, De Klerk issued a statement saying that six top-ranking officials had been placed on compulsory early retirement and sixteen on compulsory leave pending further investigation. By the end of December, fifteen of the twenty-three had been cleared of possible links to illegal or criminal actions. It was announced that a board of enquiry would be constituted to examine possible illegal and/or criminal or unauthorised actions involving three SADF and four civilian members.
24 The Steyn documents were handed over to a team of investigators consisting of the Attorneys-General of the Witwatersrand and the Transvaal, the SAP and the Auditor-General, under the direction of Transvaal Attorney-General Jan D’Oliviera. Some of the allegations were referred to the Goldstone Commission for further investigation.
25 Steyn himself took early retirement in October 1993, at the age of fifty-one. His last progress report submitted to the Minister of Defence noted that few, if any, of the suspects had been questioned and that there had been little progress in gathering evidence.
26 In addition to Steyn Commission allegations in respect of taxi and train violence, the Goldstone Commission investigated a number of allegations of the involvement of a ‘third force’ in the conflict. These included the planning or instigation of acts of violence by the SAP in the Vaal area; the presence of RENAMO soldiers in KwaZulu; the existence of a ‘third force’ as alleged by the Vrye Weekblad on 30 October 1992; the existence of SADF front companies; the training by the SADF of Inkatha supporters in 1986 and of the ‘Black Cats’, and the involvement by elements within the SAP, the KwaZulu Police (KZP) and the IFP in criminal political violence.
27 The Goldstone findings initially rejected the notion of a ‘third force’ or ‘hidden hand’. However, in his March 1994 report, “Criminal political violence by elements within the SAP, the KZP and the Inkatha Freedom Party”, Goldstone alleged that the SAP were engaged in arming the IFP and pointed to attempts by senior police officers to subvert the Goldstone enquiry.
28 The Goldstone Commission submitted its final report in October 1994, some six months after the first democratic elections and the end of this Commission’s mandate period. While the overall levels of violence dropped dramatically in the post-election period, allegations of sinister forces continued in relation to ongoing violence in KwaZulu-Natal.
29 The commission of gross violations of human rights by state security forces, homeland structures, the right wing and liberation movements are dealt with below.