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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 336

Paragraph Numbers 29 to 38

Volume 3

Chapter 4

Subsection 4

■ 1960–1975

Historical overview

29 The wave of political repression that followed the April 1960 banning of the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) ushered in a period of demoralisation in the political life of the Orange Free State that persisted throughout the sixties. Members and supporters of the resistance movements found themselves the victims of security force brutality that ranged from harassment to extreme torture and even death in police custody. Statements from victims of severe ill treatment expose the variety and severity of torture methods used by the police.

30 During this period, key apartheid legislation was enacted to crush resistance to the National Party (NP) government’s policy of dividing and subjugating the people of South Africa. ANC and PAC supporters were detained and sometimes convicted for furthering the aims and objectives of these banned organisations, as well as for mere membership.

31 One of the principal arenas of conflict in the Orange Free State was a growing popular rebellion against the imposition, over the years, of various local government bodies. Although no violations in this regard were reported for the 1960s, it is noted that most township residents responded with increasing resentment to the creation, in 1961, of Urban Bantu Councils (UBCs) which were to take over the administration of townships from white local authorities. The UBCs, situated at Bethlehem, Bloemfontein, Kroonstad, Odendaalsrus, Parys, Virginia and Welkom, failed to offer black citizens meaningful political representation at local levels. When these bodies failed to meet their mandate to provide and sustain adequate services in townships, and later imposed hikes in rentals and service charges in order to meet their budget deficits, the protests erupted into conflict and violence, resulting in loss of life and the destruction of property.

32 It is important to note concurrent political developments in the Kingdom of Lesotho, which shares a substantial border with the province. South African activists and political refugees crossed at various points along this border to join the liberation movements in exile, and insurgents returned to conduct operations in the country. Equally, and increasingly, members of the South African security forces crossed the border to conduct raids on refugee camps and what they believed to be operational cells of the ANC military wing Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) based in Lesotho.

33 In 1970, during the first general elections held in Lesotho since its independence in 1966, Prime Minister Chief Leabua Jonathan intervened to declare the electoral proceedings invalid, simultaneously suspending the constitution and declaring a state of emergency in Lesotho. He did so at a time when the opposition Basotholand Congress Party (BCP) appeared to be leading in the polls. Jonathan claimed that there had been voting irregularities, intimidation of voters and violence at the polls and promised that free elections would be held under a new constitution.

34 In the same year, South African Prime Minister BJ Vorster declared that the Republic would not interfere in the internal affairs of Lesotho. However, hostilities arose when it became clear that the South African security forces were rendering military and other support to the now banned BCP and its military wing, the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA). The fact that the Jonathan administration was favourably disposed towards the South African refugee community in Lesotho exacerbated the hostility, and both ANC and PAC refugees became increasingly vulnerable to abduction and attack by the security forces. The Commission received several reports of exiles and cadres of the liberation movements being abducted from Lesotho to be tortured at police stations in the Orange Free State.

Overview of violations

35 During this period, several activists were charged with attempting to leave the country to join the ANC and MK in Lesotho.

36 The Commission received relatively few reports of violations from the Orange Free State during this period. Most cases concerned police brutality.

State and allied groupings
Torture in custody

37 The few reports of detention and torture of detainees in the Orange Free State received by the Commission for this period present a particularly severe picture of police brutality. Assault and torture of detainees by means of electric shocks was commonplace.

The case of Leepo Lawrance Moleke
Mr Leepo Lawrance Moleke told a hearing of the Human Rights Violations Committee that, in 1972, he was detained and severely tortured in Bloemfontein for his membership of the ANC. In custody, he was accused of conspiring to overthrow the government, was blindfolded, had his hands and feet cuffed together and was repeatedly electrocuted by means of an electric cord connected to the running engine of a car.
He was held in custody for a further two weeks and told the Commission that, as a result of his torture, he suffered permanent paralysis in the right leg as well as significantly impaired hearing and sight [KZN/TDM/006/KRS].
IN REVIEWING EVIDENCE OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS PERPETRATED BY THE STATE IN THE ORANGE FREE STATE DURING THIS PERIOD, THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP PERPETRATED ACTS OF ASSAULT AND TORTURE ON DETAINEES AND OPPONENTS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT, ESTABLISHING A PATTERN OF ABUSE THAT INCREASED IN INTENSITY THROUGH SUBSEQUENT PERIODS.
Resistance and revolutionary and groupings

38 Most of the security trials, restrictions and detentions in this period occurred in response to political activism in organisations, such as unions and community organisations, rather than from sabotage and related acts. People were prosecuted for membership of banned organisations, for possession of banned literature, for recruiting for banned organisations and for undergoing military training.

 
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