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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 654

Paragraph Numbers 48 to 52

Volume 6

Section 5

Chapter 3

Subsection 6


48. While MK operations undoubtedly contributed significantly to resistance activities, particularly in the pre-1990s period, civilian activity inside the country took place on a larger scale. The submission made to the Commission by the Foundation for Equality before the Law cited 80 507 unrest-related incidents in the period 1984 to 1992. It also referred to 979 cases of burning and ‘necklacing’.

49. In its five-volume Final Report, the Commission described the United Democratic Front (UDF) as a loose federation that brought together a large number of social, civic and political organisations of differing backgrounds, racial constituencies and political orientations. The purpose of the UDF was to act as an umbrella body for opponents of the state who sought to achieve a non-racial, democratic and unitary state. Whilst its founding document stated that it was not a front for the banned liberation movement, it became increasingly supportive of the ANC.

50. The UDF became the rallying point for a wide range of affiliates comprising youth and civic organisations, scholar and student organisations, church and welfare organisations, trade unions, sporting and cultural organisations, and political and quasi-political organisations. It was able to mobilise very large groups of people for rallies and meetings, which were characterised by powerful oratory and wide-ranging demands for political change.

51. The Commission stated that, from 1985, the UDF sought to dismantle government and security force control and administration. It sought to promote and enact the concept of ‘people’s power’, which envisaged administrative, welfare and judicial functions in the townships being assumed by community-based and sectoral organisations. This included the establishment of forums to administer civil and criminal justice through people’s courts.

52. The Commission made the following findings against the UDF:64

The Commission acknowledges that it was not the policy of the UDF to attack and kill political opponents, but finds that members and supporters of UDF affiliate organisations often committed gross violations of human rights in the context of widespread State-sponsored or –directed violence and a climate of political intolerance .
The UDF facilitated such gross violations of human rights in that its leaders, office bearers and members, through their campaigns, public statements and speeches, acted in a manner which helped create a climate in which members of affiliated organisations believed that they were morally justified in taking unlawful action against State structures, individual members of State organisations and persons perceived as supporters of the State and its structures. Further, in its endorsement and promotion of the ‘toyi-toyi’, slogans and songs that encouraged and/or eulogised violent actions, the UDF created a climate in which such actions were considered legitimate. Inasmuch as the State is held accountable for the use of language in speeches and slogans, so must the mass democratic movement and liberation movements be held accountable.
The Commission finds that factors re f erred to in the paragraph above led to w i d e spread excesses, abuses and gross violations of human rights by supporters and members of organisations affiliated to the UDF. These actions include:
    The killing (often by means of ‘necklacing’, attempted killing and severe ill-treatment of political opponents, members of state structures such as black local authorities and the SAP, and the burning and destruction of homes and properties;
    The violent enforcement of work stay aways and boycotts of, among others, private and public transport and private retail shops, leading to killing, attempted killing and severe ill-treatment;
    Political intolerance resulting in violent inter-organisational conflict with Azapo and the IFP, among others.
The UDF and its leadership:
    Failed to exert the political and moral authority available to it to stop the practices outlined above, despite the fact that such practices were frequently associated with official UDF campaigns such as consumer boycotts or campaigns against black local authorities. In particular, the UDF and its leadership failed to use the full extent of its authority to bring an end to the practice of necklacing, committed in many instances by its members and supporters.
    Failed to take appropriately strong or robust steps or measures to prevent, discourage, restrain and inhibit its affiliates and supporters from becoming involved in action leading to gross violations of human rights, as referred to above.
    Failed to exert sanctions or disciplinary action on member organisations whose members were involved in the gross violations of human rights described above, or failed to urge such member organisations to take appropriate actions against their members.
    The Commission notes that the political leadership of the UDF has accepted political and moral responsibility for the actions of its members. Accordingly the UDF is accountable for the gross violations of human rights committed in its name and as a consequence of its failure to take the steps referred to above.
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