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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

E. The Evidence

In some respects, this enquiry became academic. High-ranking officials the ANC have openly admitted that abuses occurred in the camps. In a report which appeared in The Star on 16 April 1990, He President of the ANC admitted that torture had been perpetrated. He was reported to have stated further that the ANC was against torture and had dismissed leaders responsible for these acts after an investigation. The President's comments were made after seven former members of Umkhonto we Sizwe had claimed to have been tortured by ANC commanders. The seven had apparently been detained after the mutiny in 1984. The seven claimed to have been tied to trees and flogged with whips, locked into metal transport containers that were left out in the sun and beaten and kicked by ANC commanders and their jailers. Shortly thereafter, Professor Albie Sachs made a similar admission at a seminar in Pretoria. More recently, however, the former ANC Chief of Staff, Mr Chris Hani, gave an extensive interview to the periodical Work in Progress in which he frankly admitted that abuses had been perpetrated by the security department (Work in Progress, June 1992). In his evidence before the Commission, Mr Hani reiterated his views. Mr Nhlanhla, Mr Zurna and Mr Stuart in their evidence before the Commission all agreed that there had been abuses in the camps. This admission should not be understood as meaning that these persons were personally involved in such abuses.

The issue, therefore, is not whether abuses were perpetrated. That is now openly acknowledged by some of the most senior ANC officials.. That such abuses did indeed take place is beyond doubt. What remains for investigation is essentially the identities of the victims and the nature of the abuse. A further vital factor, not covered by the Commission's terms of reference but addressed in our recommendations, is the question of dealing with those responsible for the abuse.

The Commission heard the evidence of 17 former detainees, including Dr Pallo Jordan. The method of testimony invited witnesses to produce statements on oath and then to appear before the (commission to answer questions, also under oath. Certain witnesses appeared without making affidavits in advance. In addition, the Commission had access to the report of the Commission of Enquiry convened to investigate the circumstances leading to the death of Thami Zulu ("the Thami Zulu commission") as well as the report of the Commission chaired by Mr James Stuart following the mutiny in 1984 ("the Stuart Commission") . The Commission also received a written report from a former detainee who wished to remain anonymous. Certain former detainees made statements to Adv Revelas but were unable to sign them or appear personally before the Commission As indicated above we considered the focus of this enquiry to be the group of 32 former detainees who returned to South Africa in August 1991. Eleven of the group of 32 testified before the Commission, of whom 7 belonged to the group still loyal to the ideals of the ANC and 4 belonged to the group that wished to have nothing more to do with the ANC. However, Adv Revelas obtained unsigned statements from 3 other members of the group of 32 and spoke directly to 6 others. Appointments with a further 5 members of the group of 32 were cancelled, apparently as a result of pressure from the REC. Certain other members of the group of 32 are either in South African prisons for offences committed since their return to South Africa or are awaiting trial and thus inaccessible to the Commission. Finally, the Commission heard the evidence of 5 former detainees, not forming part of the group of 32, but some of whom where imprisoned for their alleged role in the 1984 mutiny. Evidence was heard at a neutral venue over a period of 8 days.

The commission also considered it desirable to hear the view of certam senior ANC officials, particularly those who bore responsibility for security. Although the Commission was not required to allocate responsibility for the abuses of detainees, it was explained to the ANC officials concerned that the Commission may well make recommendations in that regard but that they were nonetheless not obliged to testify. However, Mr Mzwai Piliso, Mr Joe Nhlanbla, Mr Jacob Zuma, Mr Chris Hani, Mr Zola Skweyiya and Mr James Stuart all opted to testify before the Commission The latter three had no connection with the security department.

Since this report will become a public document, the Commission has decided that it would be inappropriate to give the names of persons who testified before the Commission without their consent and also inappropriate to publish the names of other persons against whom allegations have been made except in isolated instances. With regard to the latter, it is important to note that there was in existence a system by which ANC soldiers were known only by code names. There ought to be no difficulty, however, in the ANC identifying the people concerned. Obviously, the names of witnesses and those implicated by their testimony will be made available to the President of the ANC for him to take appropriate action in accordance with our recommendations.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.