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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 528
Paragraph Numbers 77 to 86
CASES OF INDETERMINATE CAUSE
77. There are 149 missing persons who do not fit neatly into any of the above categories. In several cases, classification was not possible because the statement f rom the family gave insufficient details about the disappearance. In other instances, more than one reason may have been given for the disappearance. For example, a family may believe that their missing son left to go into exile, but has received conflicting information about whether or not he reached his destination. Some of these disappearances may well have taken place during periods of generalised political upheaval. However, they have not been included in the above category because the statement did not contain sufficient information indicating that t here was political unrest in the area from which the disappeared person came. In a number of instances, the statement provided no immediate political context.
78. The case of Mr December Ncube provides an example of this. Mr Ncube went missing after being arrested at the home of his wife’s employer in February 1980. Nothing in the statement directly suggests a political context, nor does the statement identify him as having had any political affiliation. As a consequence, this case statement was originally ruled out-of-mandate during the findings process. However, during a review of the disappearance files, a press-cutting was found in a separate file dealing with another disappearance. This listed Mr Ncube as one of eighteen ZAPU members who went missing inside South Africa between 1977 and 1980 (see above).
79. Mr Roy Lovely Gondwe [JB01223/01MPNEL], 26 years old and of unknown political affiliation, was visited by two black men at his place of work in White River, Transvaal, on 5 August 1985. The two men returned later and spoke to Mr Gondwe again. Before leaving his place of work, Mr Gondwe gave a fellow employer an envelope with the request that it be passed on to his family. Later, the white regional manager arrived to lock up, a task normally undertaken by Mr Gondwe. The envelope delivered to Mr Gondwe’s family contained his personal effects, some money and a note implying that he would not see them again. While nothing immediately suggests a political motive, it cannot be conclusively ruled out. The statement suggests , for example, that the two men so obviously connected with Mr Gondwe’s disappearance may have been Security Branch operatives.
80. On 25 September 1985, Mr Ernest Justice Ramokoko [JB00327/01GTSOW] made breakfast for his mother (an unusual occurrence) before leaving the house. He was never seen or heard of again. Earlier that month, Mr Ramokoko had been charged with other students for a politically-related offence, and was out on bail. It is thus highly possible that Mr Ramokoko went into exile and that the breakfast he prepared for his mother was a form of farewell. However, it is also possible that Mr Ramokoko decided to jump bail and that something untoward happened to him at a later stage.
81. The Commission wishes to note that further investigations into a number of such cases may lead to their eventual resolution.
THE COMMISSION’S APPROACH TO DISAPPEARANCE CASES
82. It must be said from the outset that investigating disappearances requires a very focused, multi-faceted approach, a dedicated investigation unit with expertise in investigating human rights violations, good research capacity and specialised forensic skills.
83. The Commission did not have the resources to establish a unit solely dedicated to investigating disappearances. The Commission’s Investigation Unit was overwhelmed by the large number of violations and incidents it had to investigate. ‘Disappearances’ were simply one of the categories that needed investigation. In addition, neither the Investigation Unit nor the Commission recognised the limitations of a number of its policies and procedures with respect to this category of violation until fairly late in the process.
84. In retrospect, the Commission should have recognised that it had limited capacity to deal properly with this category of violation and prioritised its intended outcomes. Instead it tried to investigate all the cases it received.
85. The Commission was greatly assisted by information emerging from amnesty applications. Indeed, many amnesty applicants also assisted in trying to establish the fate and whereabouts of the dead and their graves. However, some amnesty applicants failed to confess to the killing of those whose abduction they admitted. This placed a burden on the Commission to rebut the testimony of amnesty applicants, which it was ill equipped to deal with.
86. The consequence of this is that a number of amnesty applicants were granted amnesty for an abduction they admitted to, while the families of the disappeared still have no finality about whether the disappeared is dead. These cases must be taken further by the prosecuting authorities in the future.