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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
Some of the witnesses whom we saw have been brutalised and broken. Not only have they had to endure physical and psychological trauma, but their lives have been shattered by poverty, interrupted education and disability. Yet, despite the ordeals that they have endured, most are without rancour. They seek, in the main, simple justice: a recognition that they have been wronged and assistance to rebuild their lives. Some of the witnesses whom we saw remain loyal members of the ANC and are proud of the many goods things that they consider their organisation has done.
Some of the recommendations we make go beyond the immediate victims of brutality. There are serious allegations that certain prisoners simply disappeared or were murdered. For the families of the missing and the deceased, the suffering will continue until the truth emerges. But it is not only the families and friends of victims who are entitled to be told the truth. The violation of human rights is a matter of both national and international concern. The proper investigation and exposure of human. rights violations is therefore an obligation which, in our view, cannot be evaded. This obligation applies to all, including the State. At a time when there are serious allegations of abuse perpetuated by high-ranking State officials, we believe that the ANC could set an example by initiating its own investigation into the allegations of disappearance and death. This could, in our view, signify a new direction for the protection of human rights in South Africa.
In making the recommendations that follow, we have been guided by three principles: redress, accountability and prevention. In accordance with these principles, we make the following recommendations:
i . Those witnesses who were detained without trial should have the allegations against them unequivocally and unconditionally withdrawn. For some of the witnesses who appeared before us they sought nothing more than having their name cleared so that they may once again be reintegrated to their communities. These witnesses deserve, in our view, a clear and unequivocal apology for the wrongs that they have suffered.
ii . All witnesses who suffered maltreatment while being detained in ANC camps should receive monetary compensation for their ordeal. We make no distinction whatsoever between those who either confessed or who were proved to he South African agents and those who were not. We cannot countenance any distinction of this sort when it comes to the humane treatment of detainees.
iii . Some of the witnesses who appeared before us were, in our view, in need of medical and psychological assistance. Such should be offered and provided by the ANC.
iv . Some of the witnesses expressed the desire to continue with their education which had bee interrupted by long periods of detention. We recommend that the ANC provide assistance in this regard.
v . Detainees who lost property should be compensated for such loss.
vi . It is apparent to the Commission that many people suffered in the ANC camps. Only a small proportion of those testified before the Commission. Since it is officially acknowledged at the highest level that abuses were perpetrated in the camps, we see little advantage in this Commission of Enquiry continuing to hear such evidence. The procedures of this Commission have been costly and time consuming and, for the reasons given above, have attracted criticism. The ANC has taken an important decision to investigate wrong doing within its own ranks. That is a process, which, in our view, should continue. Unless the ANC is prepared to see this process through to its conclusion, there will inevitably be discontent, accusations and recriminations. We suggest, therefore, that consideration be given to the creation of an independent structure which is perceived to be impartial and which is capable of documenting cases of abuse and giving effect to the type of recommendations made in this report. A formal Commission of Enquiry such as the present is unnecessary for this purpose.
vii . We are aware that allegations have been made concerning the disappearance and murder of prisoners. It has been beyond our terms of reference to investigate these allegations. There is some evidence to suggest that the allegations, at least in respect of certain persons, are untrue. Nevertheless, the allegations are of the most serious nature and demand investigation We therefore suggest that the impartial and independent structure referred to in paragraph (vi) above, or some other appropriate body be charged with the responsibility of investigating all allegations of disappearances and murder.
viii . We strongly recommend that urgent and immediate attention be given to identifying and dealing with those responsible for the maltreatment of detainees. It is for the ANC itself to ensure that it cleanses its own ranks of those responsible for the acts of brutality described in this report. It is clear that several persons against whom serious allegations of brutality have been levelled are currently employed by the ANC in the security department. A list of such persons will be supplied to the President of the ANC. It would be wrong, in our view, to limit responsibility to such persons. There are clearly persons in the senior ranks of the security department who were responsible for the situation in the camps and who should not escape the net of accountability. We consider this recommendation to be of the greatest importance, particularly in the light of the role that the ANC is likely to play in a future Government. No person who is guilty of committing atrocities should ever again be allowed to assume a position of power. Unless the ANC is prepared to take decisive action, the risk of repetition will forever be present. The best formula for prevention is to ensure that the perpetrators of brutality are brought to account and are seen to be brought to account.
ix . In the course of the proceedings before the Commission, we received two reports of Commissions of Enquiry conducted by the ANC. These were the Commission of Enquiry into the death of Thami Zulu and the Stuart Commission of Enquiry arising out of the 1984 mutiny. If it is correct that the report of the Stuart Commission was not tabled before the NEC in 1984 that should now be done. We would strongly recommend that the Thami Zulu Commission report be released to the public and once the NEC has received the Stuart Commission report it too should be considered for public release. These reports concern matters of vital interest and should be subjected to public scrutiny. There are obviously many other documents which have hitherto not been made public. We can only make recommendations in regard to those that we have seen, but we suggest that the process could well be extended in the future.
x . Finally, the terms of reference of this commission contain an undertaking that this report will be released to the public. We strongly recommend that this be done as soon as possible.
Adv T.L Skweyiya S.C.Ms B. MabandlaAdv GJ. Marcus