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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 376

Paragraph Numbers 11 to 21

Volume 1

Chapter 11

Part OtherDepts

Subsection 28

Contracted assignments

11 The work of the Research Department was greatly facilitated by the contributions of a range of scholars and others with specific areas of expertise. In each case this work was carefully assessed and integrated, where appropriate, into other aspects of the Commission’s work.

12 Contracted assignments included the following:

a The conflict between the African National Congress (ANC) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) in KwaZulu-Natal; apartheid as a crime against humanity; apartheid legislation; Bonteheuwel Military Wing; the Caprivi trainees (the Caprivi trainees, who were trained by the South African Defence Force (SADF) and deployed as a covert paramilitary force in KwaZulu-Natal in 1986); commissions of enquiry in South Africa; the medical and social consequences of gross human rights violations; detention in the KwaZulu-Natal region; gender relations; historical overview: 1960-1994; history of conflict in KwaZulu-Natal; homelands policy and development; hostel violence; international human rights law; medical services: 1960-1994; conflict in the Natal Midlands; the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in historical context; political prisoners and detainees in South Africa; the 1960 Pondoland Rebellion (which took place in response to the imposition of the Bantu Authorities Act which prepared the way for the independent homelands); public order policing; the SADF in Namibia and Angola; the 1990 Seven Days War (which resulted from Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)-ANC clashes in the Pietermaritzburg area); State Archives and records management; the Black Consciousness Movement; homelands security forces; legal and judicial system; Moutse/KwaNdebele homeland incorporation conflict; the South African broadcasting corporation and print media; the white right wing; torture in South Africa; torture in the Western Cape; warlords in KwaZulu-Natal; legal structures; the motives and perspectives of perpetrators.


13 Data were received from a number of different sources.

14 Researchers aimed to read each statement taken with a view to providing an initial check on the information captured on the database, inserting the political context within which the particular event occurred and tagging the statement to the relevant chapter in the report. The large numbers of tasks undertaken by the Research Department prevented its staff from reading each of the statements. This meant that the checking of the database was left to others, while the primary data of the Commission (including the hand-written statements) were given priority attention by researchers in the drafting of the report.

15 Another major source of data came from submissions made to the Commission by political parties and liberation movements, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), the South African Medical Services, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), research institutions and a range of individuals within state structures and civil society. The majority of these came from within the country, but some came from organisations and persons outside South Africa.

These submissions were analysed and, in many instances, executive summaries were made. The Commission used this information as the basis for questioning political parties and members of the former liberation movements at hearings and, where appropriate, to question alleged or possible perpetrators in section 29 hearings. The submissions were also used extensively in the report.

16 The Research Department undertook extensive work for ‘special event’ hearings on a number of issues: the health sector, the media, business, the judiciary, gender issues and children and youth, and for hearings on specific incidents. These latter included:

a The 1976 Soweto student uprising.

b The 1986 Alexandra six-day war that followed attacks on councillors.

c The KwaNdebele/Moutse homeland incorporation conflict.

d The killing of farmers in the former Transvaal.

e The 1985 Trojan Horse ambush by the security forces in the Western Cape.

f The 1986 killing of the ‘Gugulethu Seven’, following security force infiltration of ANC structures in the Western Cape.

g The 1990 Seven-Day War, resulting from IFP-ANC clashes in the Pietermaritzburg area.

h The Caprivi Trainees, who were trained by the SADF and deployed in KwaZulu-Natal as a covert paramilitary force in KwaZulu-Natal in 1986.

i The 1960 Pondoland Rebellion, in response to the imposition of the Bantu Authorities Act which prepared the way for the independent homelands.

j The 1992 Bisho Massacre (which took place in response to an ANC national campaign for free political activity in the homelands).

17 Amnesty applications were scrutinised by researchers. This material was employed, amongst other things, in the questioning of political parties and others appearing before the Commission and, specifically, in the special hearings on the armed forces and on state security policy. When it became clear that the Commission would not be able to hear all amnesty applications prior to closure on 14 March 1998, the Research Department became responsible for the co-ordination of ‘Operation Capture’. This involved reading all amnesty applications with a view to categorising these into themes and identifying and accessing relevant material for the final report.

18 The transcripts of in camera Section 29 hearings provided a further source of information.

19 The researchers and others conducted a number of in-depth interviews. These included interviews with perpetrators representing the different political groupings involved in the conflict and with present and former politicians and security force operatives. Information on state security policy and operations obtained through these interviews provided important information for the research initiative. Special attention was given in these interviews to understanding the motives and perspectives of both perpetrators and victims of gross human rights violations.

20 Secondary material provided a further source of research information. Research staff consulted the writings, documentation and databases of specialist researchers, investigative journalists and others who had worked for a long time on issues falling under the mandate of the Commission. Databases on human rights violations recorded by other organisations were reviewed and tested against the criteria used in the corroboration and findings process. A small number of these was considered sufficient to provide a sound basis for making findings. Others were used only as a more general research tool and, in some instances, as a basis for corroborating the Commission’s information.


21 Researchers assisted in the scrutiny of statements by deponents. To this end, they consulted police records, the databases of human rights organisations, newspaper reports, the records of government departments and archival material as well as amnesty applications. Information received from submissions made to the Commission by political organisations and other bodies was also pertinent to this process, as was the archival material identified above. Where necessary and possible, individual witnesses were interviewed, and organisations of the state and civil society consulted.

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