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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 588
Paragraph Numbers 30 to 42
■ SECURITY FORCES
Detention and Torture
30 Evidence before the Commission indicates that detention1 and torture continued to be used by the SAP in the early 1990s.
31 The majority of torture victims were short-term detainees, frequently arrested in connection with public unrest. Analysis of human rights violations statements indicates a far greater incidence of torture in rural areas and small towns than in the major urban centres. A possible explanation is the wide support enjoyed by the right wing in non-urban areas. The overwhelming majority of torture victims in this period continued to be those allied to the ANC and the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM). The Commission received fewer than ten statements from members of the IFP alleging torture at the hands of the South African security forces in the 1990s. Even taking into account the fact that fewer IFP victims came to the Commission, the disparity is marked.
32 The Commission received human rights violations statements from two members of right-wing organisations who were victims of torture. Phillipus Cornelius Kloppers [JB06109/03WR and AM4627/97], member of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) was arrested in January 1994 in connection with the roadblock killings of December 1993 on the Ventersdorp/Randfontein Road (see below), in respect of which he also applied for amnesty. He was blindfolded, bound, ‘tubed’ (suffocated with a tube) and subjected to electric shock treatment. Kloppers claims to have been denied medical treatment for nineteen months and to have lost 75 per cent of the mobility in his neck.
33 Mr Leonard Michael Veenendal [KZN/Mr/146/NC], a member of the Orde Boerevolk and an alleged NIS source, was detained under section 29 in July 1990. He was handcuffed and had his legs bound in chains and a balaclava pulled over his head. He was taken to a farm where he was assaulted with fists on his face and stomach until he vomited. During the night he was taken to an office and further beaten by askaris. On another occasion, he was told to undress and was bound to a chair. Three live wires were attached to his armpit, toes and genitals and he was subjected to electric shocks until he lost consciousness. After being revived with cold water, he was told to stand but was too weak to do so. His torturers then urinated over him. Veenendal was eventually released after a seventy-six day hunger strike.
34 An amnesty application was also received from a security police officer, Roelof Venter [AM2774/96], relating to the detention and ‘intimidation’ of a number of high-profile members of right-wing organisations.
35 The Complaints Investigation Unit of the Peace Accord raided the headquarters of the Internal Stability Unit (ISU) at Vosloorus in 1993 after the ANC had won an order restraining ISU members from assaulting and torturing people. Electric shock equipment and rubber tubing were found. In May 1994, after the first democratic election, Dutch observers discovered a machine for administering electric shock at the Vaal Riot and Crime Investigation Unit. According to the submission of the HRC, at least three people died in custody for security-related offences. They were Mr Clayton Sizwe Sithole, who is alleged to have committed suicide while held at John Vorster Square; Mr Lucas Tlhotlhomisang, who is alleged to have died from meningitis while held in Klerksdorp; and Mr Donald Thabela Madisha, who is said to have hanged himself at the Potgietersrus police station. In addition, there were a number of other cases of death in custody. A special investigation task team was set up in July 1991 to investigate the activities of police at the Welverdiend police station on the West Rand, dubbed the ‘House of Horrors,’ following numerous accounts of torture and assault and the deaths of some seventeen people in custody. Victims included sixteen-year-old Nixon Phiri and fifteen-year-old Eugene Mbulawa (see Volume Three).
WHILE THEY FALL OUTSIDE ITS MANDATE PERIOD, THE COMMISSION NOTES WITH CONCERN THE ONGOING REPORTS OF TORTURE AND DEATHS IN CUSTODY, WHICH HAVE REACHED ALARMING LEVELS. AS NOTED IN THE PREVIOUS SECTION, TORTURE OF SUSPECTS IN CRIMINAL CASES PRECEDED THE USE OF TORTURE OF POLITICAL DETAINEES. IT HAS BEEN SUGGESTED THAT SUCH METHODS WERE AND ARE ROUTINE METHODS IN POLICE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS AND TO A LARGE DEGREE REPLACE ROUTINE INVESTIGATIVE WORK. THE COMMISSION RECOMMENDS THAT THE POLICE SERVICES UNDERTAKE URGENT MEASURES TO HALT THESE PRACTICES.1 In June 1991, the Internal Security Act of was amended by the Internal Security and Intimidation Act. In terms of the new legislation, incommunicado detention under section 29 was limited to only 10 days, unless ordered by a Supreme Court judge. However, it was only on 25 April 1994, just days before the first democratic election, that section 29 was finally removed from the statute book.
Violations associated with public order policing
36 There was little change in the policing of demonstrations after 1990. Unrest and deaths continued to occur as a result of the use of deadly force. The following graphs indicate violations recorded by the Commission. While not reaching the same level as the 1984–87 period, killings by the SAP increased significantly between 1989 (the year of the Defiance Campaign) and 1990 and remained at relatively high and constant levels until the end of 1993. The breakdown reveals that over 600 of the SAP killings were the result of shooting. As the number of assassinations by known/identified security force personnel during this period was relatively small, most of these shootings would have arisen in public order policing situations.
37 In one incident which took place on 26 March 1990, police opened fire on a crowd of 50 000 people marching to Vereeniging to present a list of grievances. At least thirteen people died and more than 400 were injured. Many victims had been shot in the back. Police claimed to have fired in self-defence after the crowd threw stones and bottles. However, reporters present testified that they had seen no evidence of this. Participants alleged that the police had opened fire without warning. Judge Goldstone, appointed after calls for a judicial commission of enquiry, recommended that police be prosecuted. No action was taken.
38 On 19 April 1990, five youths were killed during a march at Viljoenskroon in the Orange Free State. The police gave orders to disperse, but it is alleged that, before the time had elapsed. a police officer shot into the air, causing panic among the crowd. The police then opened fire.
39 On 14 March 1991, police opened fire on a crowd of approximately 200 Daveyton residents, killing thirteen people and injuring twenty-nine. The police version was that they opened fire after they were attacked by a group which then hacked a police officer to death. A special police investigation into this incident was headed by Lieutenant General Jaap Joubert. The ANC rejected the results of Joubert’s investigation. Several months later, a judicial enquiry under Supreme Court judge, Justice B Donovan, found that the police had used excessive force in their handling of the incident. In Judge Donovan’s words:
The one feature in my mind which is of decisive importance is the enormous number of rounds of ammunition (250) fired by the police ... It appears to me that the policemen involved in the incident were guilty of an excessive use of firearms in their defence and exceeded the limits of self-defence.
40 The finding was referred to the Attorney-General who declined to prosecute.
41 On 8 April 1992, two women were shot dead and more than 100 injured in Phola Park following an attack on a 32 Battalion (SADF) patrol by unknown gunmen. Several women were also allegedly raped or sexually harassed during the twelve-hour raid. On 19 June 1992, an interim report of the Goldstone Commission found that more than 200 rounds had been fired and that the soldiers had acted in a manner “completely inconsistent with the function of a peacekeeping force and, in fact, became perpetrators of violence”. The Commission recommended that the Battalion should not be used in any further peace-keeping duties. General Meiring, then chief of the army, responded that, while the army would act against any abuses, it would not withdraw Battalion 32 from the townships.
42 The Commission made a comprehensive finding regarding public order policing in the pre-1990 period.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, IN THE POST-1990 PERIOD, THE APPROACH OF THE SAP TO CROWD CONTROL AND PUBLIC ORDER POLICING REMAINED LARGELY UNCHANGED AND EVIDENCE AVAILABLE TO THE COMMISSION INDICATES THAT LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE DIED AS A RESULT OF THE UNJUSTIFIED USE OF DEADLY FORCE. SUCH DEATHS ARE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOR WHICH THE SAP IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE.