About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

A. Introduction

In February 1991 the African National Congress (ANC) adopted a resolution to release all persons whom it had apprehended as "secret agents, spies, agents provocateurs and hired assassins" in the employ of the South African Government's security services. In August 1991, 32 men labelled by the ANC as the "most notorious" suspected agents and infiltrators and who had been detained in various ANC detention camps returned to South Africa. Upon their return, the group of 32 met with high-ranking ANC officials. Some of the group were anxious to expose the alleged maltreatment to which they had been subjected while in detention. An agreement was reached between the group of 32 and the ANC: officials concerned and a moratorium on "accusative statements" was agreed upon. Within days, however, several of the group of 32 gave detailed accounts to the media of their alleged treatment in ANC camps. The allegiances of the group or 32 were divided. Approximately 20 wished to have nothing further to do with the ANC, while the remaining 12 proclaimed themselves still loyal to the ideals for which the ANC stood. The members of the former group subsequently organised themselves into an association styled the Returned Exiles Committee (REC).

Allegations made by some of the group of 32 were of the gravest nature. It was alleged that detainees were beaten with iron bars, bicycle chains and barbed wire, while they were in captivity:. They stated that they were forced into making false confessions and then crammed into cells (The Star, 22 August 1991). Two former detainees alleged that having been branded as Spies by the ANC, they voluntarily left South Africa to clarify their position to the ANC. They were allegedly held in detention for the next six years and were subjected to torture (Sowetan, 23 August 1991 ) (Since the persons who made these allegations to the press did not testify before the Commission their veracity could not be tested) . Other allegations made at that time and subsequently were that summary executions had taken place in the camps and that certain detainees had simply disappeared without trace.

The ANC, through its President, Mr Nelson Mandela undertook to fully investigate all implants about the treatment of detainees in ANC camps. In March 1992 the appointment of an Internal Commission of Enquiry was announced.

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