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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 240

Paragraph Numbers 136

Volume 5

Chapter 6

Subsection 20

Violations committed in the course of the armed struggle

136 The ANC has accepted responsibility for all actions committed by members of MK under its command in the period 1961 to August 1990. In this period there were a number of such actions – in particular the placing of limpet and landmines – which resulted in civilian casualties. Whatever the justification given by the ANC for such acts – misinterpretation of policy, poor surveillance, anger or differing interpretations of what constituted a ‘legitimate military target’ – the people who were killed or injured by such explosions are all victims of gross violations of human rights perpetrated by the ANC. While it is accepted that targeting civilians was not ANC policy, MK operations nonetheless ended up killing fewer security force members than civilians.

WITH REGARD TO ACTIONS COMMITTED DURING THE ARMED STRUGGLE, THE COMMISSION MAKES THE FOLLOWING FINDINGS:
WHILE IT WAS ANC POLICY THAT THE LOSS OF CIVILIAN LIFE SHOULD BE ‘AVOIDED’, THERE WERE INSTANCES WHERE MEMBERS OF MK PERPETRATED GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THAT THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN MILITARY AND CIVILIAN TARGETS WAS BLURRED IN CERTAIN ARMED ACTIONS, SUCH AS THE 1983 CHURCH STREET BOMBING OF THE SAAF HEADQUARTERS, RESULTING IN GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH CIVILIAN INJURY AND LOSS OF LIFE.
IN THE COURSE OF THE ARMED STRUGGLE THERE WERE INSTANCES WHERE MEMBERS OF MK CONDUCTED UNPLANNED MILITARY OPERATIONS USING THEIR OWN DISCRETION, AND, WITHOUT ADEQUATE CONTROL AND SUPERVISION AT AN OPERATIONAL LEVEL, DETERMINED TARGETS FOR ATTACK OUTSIDE OF OFFICIAL POLICY GUIDELINES. WHILE RECOGNISING THAT SUCH OPERATIONS WERE FREQUENTLY UNDERTAKEN IN RETALIATION FOR RAIDS BY THE FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT INTO NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES, SUCH UNPLANNED OPERATIONS NONETHELESS OFTEN RESULTED IN CIVILIAN INJURY AND LOSS OF LIFE, AMOUNTING TO GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS. THE 1985 AMANZIMTOTI SHOPPING CENTRE BOMBING IS REGARDED BY THE COMMISSION IN THIS LIGHT.
IN THE COURSE OF THE ARMED STRUGGLE THE ANC, THROUGH MK, PLANNED AND UNDERTOOK MILITARY OPERATIONS WHICH, THOUGH INTENDED FOR MILITARY OR SECURITY FORCE TARGETS, SOMETIMES WENT AWRY FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS, INCLUDING POOR INTELLIGENCE AND RECONNAISSANCE. THE CONSEQUENCES IN THESE CASES, SUCH AS THE MAGOO’S BAR AND DURBAN ESPLANADE BOMBINGS, WERE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN RESPECT OF THE INJURIES TO AND LOSS OF LIVES OF CIVILIANS.
WHILE THE COMMISSION ACKNOWLEDGES THE ANC’S SUBMISSION THAT THE FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT HAD ITSELF BY THE MID-1980S BLURRED THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN MILITARY AND ‘SOFT’ TARGETS BY DECLARING BORDER AREAS ‘MILITARY ZONES’ WHERE FARMERS WERE TRAINED AND EQUIPPED TO OPERATE AS AN EXTENSION OF MILITARY STRUCTURES, IT FINDS THAT THE ANC’S LANDMINE CAMPAIGN IN THE PERIOD 1985–87 IN THE RURAL AREAS OF THE NORTHERN AND EASTERN TRANSVAAL CANNOT BE CONDONED, IN THAT IT RESULTED IN GROSS VIOLATIONS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF CIVILIANS, INCLUDING FARM LABOURERS AND CHILDREN, WHO WERE KILLED OR INJURED. THE ANC IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR SUCH GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
INDIVIDUALS WHO DEFECTED TO THE STATE AND BECAME INFORMERS AND/OR MEMBERS WHO BECAME STATE WITNESSES IN POLITICAL TRIALS AND/OR BECAME ASKARIS WERE OFTEN LABELLED BY THE ANC AS COLLABORATORS AND REGARDED AS LEGITIMATE TARGETS TO BE KILLED. THE COMMISSION DOES NOT CONDONE THE LEGITIMISATION OF SUCH INDIVIDUALS AS MILITARY TARGETS AND FINDS THAT THE EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS OF SUCH INDIVIDUALS CONSTITUTED GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, IN THE 1980S IN PARTICULAR, A NUMBER OF GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS WERE PERPETRATED NOT BY DIRECT MEMBERS OF THE ANC OR THOSE OPERATING UNDER ITS FORMAL COMMAND, BUT BY CIVILIANS WHO SAW THEMSELVES AS ANC SUPPORTERS. IN THIS REGARD, THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE ANC IS MORALLY AND POLITICALLY ACCOUNTABLE FOR CREATING A CLIMATE IN WHICH SUCH SUPPORTERS BELIEVED THEIR ACTIONS TO BE LEGITIMATE AND CARRIED OUT WITHIN THE BROAD PARAMETERS OF A ‘PEOPLE’S WAR’ AS ENUNCIATED BY THE ANC.
 
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