Goldstone Commission Report

1 October 1992 - 30 September 1993:

  1. Introduction:

1.1 During its first year of activity the Commission had no efficient means of investigating incidents or events relevant to public violence and intimidation.

1.2 After due deliberation and consultation with the relevant parties it was decided to establish five investigation units to be stationed at Johannesburg, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town respectively. They became operational on 1 October 1992 .

1.3 It is as well to recall that in its third interim report released on 21 December 1992, the Commission stated, inter alia:

1.3.1"It remains clear that a primary trigger of current violence and intimidation remains the rivalry between, and the fight for territory and the control thereof by, the Inkatha Freedom Party and the African National Congress. As previously reported, other contributory causes continue to be socioeconomic factors and the suspicion and negative perceptions of the security forces by large numbers of South Africans, both Black and White; and

1.3.2 little significant advantage is to be gained by multiplying its inquiries into specific incidents of violence. The time has come for broader inquiries such as those in relation to: the unlawful importation, distribution, and use of firearms and explosive devices; [The Commission's report on this matter was released on 5 October 1993 ] the alleged activities of the security forces, private armies and security firms in relation to public violence and intimidation; [Reports dealing with allegations published in Vrye Weekblad dated 30 October 1992 concerning a third force, front companies of the SADF, the training by the SADF of Inkatha supporters in 1986, were released by the Commission on 27 May and 1 June 1993, respectively] the taxi industry; [ Two interim reports were released by the Commission on 23 February and 26 July 1993, respectively ] the continuing train violence; [The final report was released by the Commission on 6 May 1993 ] 1.3.3 many parties, requested it to inquire into the many incidents of violence that have taken place. To accede to all these requests would be practically impossible and would not add significantly to the Commission's understanding of the causes of public violence and intimidation . It is not the Commission's function to investigate incidents of public violence where the cause thereof is known. That is the function of the police."

2. The Functioning Of The Investigation Units:

2.1 At this stage the Commission's five investigation units, consist of:

2.1.113 officers of the South African Police ("SAP"); 2.1.210 practising attorneys; 2.1.35 international observers.

2.2 The mandate of the units is to investigate incidents of public violence and intimidation in South Africa, the nature and causes thereof and the persons involved therein. (The specific procedure they follow will be referred to in par 3).

2.3 The units are currently deployed at: 2.3.1 Durban (7 officers of the SAP, 4 attorneys and 2 international observers) 2.3.2Johannesburg (3 officers of the SAP, 1 attorney and 1 international observer who, also acts as coordinator)

2.3.3Port Elizabeth (1 officer of the SAP and 1 attorney) 2.3.4East London (1 officer of the SAP, 1 attorney and 1 International observer who also serves Port Elizabeth ). 2.3.5Cape Town (1 officer of the SAP, 3 attorneys and 1 international observer).

2.4 The attorneys, all senior members of the profession, have been nominated by the Association of Law Societies of South Africa and are remunerated for time spent by them on Commission work from the Attorneys' Fidelity Fund. The Commission ensured that all officers of the SAP were suitable for the work to be required of them. The international observers are all senior police experts. The international observers and the attorneys serve to add to the expertise, efficiency, credibility and objectivity of the units.

2.5 The investigation units enabled the Commission to gather information more efficiently and quickly than it had previously been able to do. Before their establishment the Commission relied more on the submissions received from various parties. After the establishment of its units the Commission used them to do additional groundwork before deciding whether or not to launch enquiries into specific incidents. 2.6 Steps were taken to ensure that members of the units performed their duties with the utmost impartiality.

2.7 Notwithstanding the Commission' s view that little significant advantage would be gained by multiplying its inquiries into specific incidents of violence, the investigation units were, soon after their establishment, inundated with requests to investigate specific incidents.

2.8 Numerous allegations were made with regard to the existence of a third force. The Commission instructed the units to investigate the allegations and, in particular, to seek to establish by credible evidence whether a third force existed and, if so, its sponsorship. The investigation units followed up every lead given to them. It must however be pointed out that the Commission's mandate relates to events which took place after 17 July 1991, the date of commencement of the statute which established the Commission. Only to the extent that prior events are relevant to post-July 1991 acts, is the Commission entitled to investigate them.

3. Procedure Followed By The Investigation Units .

When the Commission receives a request from any person or party to investigate a specific incident the following procedure is usually followed: 3.1 The appropriate investigation unit will be requested to gather all relevant information regarding the incident. That will require, inter alia, consulting with witnesses and the relevant interested parties affected by the incident. The member(s) of the unit conducting the investigation will normally be accompanied by the international observer attached to that unit.

3.2 When the investigation has been completed a report is forwarded to the Commission with copies thereof to the attorney and international observer attached to the unit. The latter independently assess the investigation and the conclusions reached in the report and furnish the Commission with their comments.

3.3 After consideration of all the reports, the Commission will decide whether or not the incident should be investigated further by it or by a committee of the Commission. It must, however, be pointed out that it is not the members of the unit but the Commission which decides the issue. If there is a dispute of fact, the matter will usually be referred to a Committee of the Commission for investigation. To cite an example: The Greater Soweto Peace Committee requested the Commission to investigate the alleged role played by the South African Police in an attack by residents of Nancefield Hostel on residents of the Power Park Squatter Camp in Soweto on 27 July 1993. The Commission requested its Transvaal investigation unit to gather all relevant information regarding the incident. Its reports clearly indicated a dispute of fact. As a result thereof the Commission has appointed a one-person committee to formally investigate the matter.

4. Brief Overview Of The Categories Of Investigations Conducted By The Investigation Units

4.1 The investigation units conducted 254 investigations during the period 1 October 1992 - 30 September 1993 .

4.2 Most of the time and effort spent by the units (and especially in the Transvaal and Natal ) related to the investigation of allegations of security force involvement in violence. The Natal investigation team also assisted the Wallis Committee, established by the Commission, to investigate whether there were any causes of violence in the Natal/KwaZulu area other than political rivalry between the African National Congress ("ANC") and Inkatha Freedom Party ("IFP"). This, to a great extent, related to allegations concerning the security forces.

4.3 The units also played a major role in curbing or preventing further public violence and intimidation (see par 6).

4.4 Initially there seemed to be a perception that the investigation units were to some extent a "second police force". Some members of the public were disappointed when, despite giving information to the units, people were not prosecuted or arrested by members of the units. As a result of the mistrust which exists between certain communities, and the SAP or KwaZulu Police ("KZP"), the task of the units was made even more difficult. Several witnesses came forward and provided the units with information regarding specific incidents of violence. They informed the members of the units, especially in Natal, that they did not wish to speak to the SAP or KZP because they believed that they were involved in the violence or that they did not trust them to investigate the matters. The Commission decided to deal with these p rob lems in the following way:

4.4.1The witnesses were informed that the Commission was not in a position to arrest and prosecute people; that it would prefer them to speak to the investigating officer. (In some cases the witnesses agreed to do so after assurances that a member of the unit would be present as an observer when their statements were taken.)

4.4.2In some instances the witnesses adamantly refused to speak to the police. After further consultation, they usually agreed that the statement taken by a member of the unit could be referred to the relevant Attorney-General. In consultation with him and the SAP a new investigating officer usually, from outside the area of the incident, was appointed. This procedure worked well. In a number of cases the units also played a major role in the arrest or prosecution of the perpetrators of political violence.

4.5 In some instances witnesses came forward to the Commission with valuable information regarding inter alia arms smuggling. With the assistance of members of the SAP, the culprits were arrested and arms were confiscated.

4.6 At the request of or with the agreement of the SAP the units also monitored several police investigations.

4.7 The units are to a great extent the eyes and ears of the Commission. Several investigations were conducted on their own initiative, or as a result of a directive from a member of the staff of the Commission, or from the Commission itself. The Commission no longer has to rely solely on the information or evidence provided by third parties.

4.8 The units also assisted the Commission and committees of the Commission to gather information and evidence regarding specific inquiries being conducted by them. They also assisted in investigating the possible role of Military Intelligence in recent or current public violence. That investigation is still in progress.

4.9 In two instances international observers attached to the Natal investigation unit were requested by the SAP to monitor police investigations .

4.10 In some instances information was also provided to the Police Reporting Officer.

5. Security Force Involvement.

5.l The Transvaal and Orange Free State investigation unit performed 21 investigations under this heading. Col Eagar, who heads that unit, reports as follows:

"The Majority of matters attended to by the Unit resulted from a breakdown in Police/Community relations, a lack of communication between the police and the community and the resultant lack of trust in the police. In two instances the matters were referred to the Police Reporting Officer to deal with.

In one instance the chairperson of the Local Peace Committee was requested to monitor the usual legal processes, which follow the occurrences which led to the complaints. With the exception of one investigation which is still pending, there has been no evidence of direct police involvement in political violence. In two of the instances where it was alleged that the police were politically involved there was evidence that the accusers were coerced into making false allegations.

No evidence was found that the SADF was involved in political violence. Allegations were either based on unsubstantiated suspicions for which no cor rob oration could be found or were clearly false"

(With regard to the one incident referred to by Col Eagar which is still pending, the Commission has since decided to appoint a committee to formally investigate the matter and to report to the Commission see par 3.3).

5.2 Lt Col Dutton, who heads the Natal investigation team, has forwarded a detailed and lengthy report to the Commission. The Commission is currently evaluating the report.

6. Incidents Where The Involvement Of The Investigation Units Led To The Prevention Of Further Violence:

6.1 MajHaynes, who heads the East London investigation unit, reports as follows:

6.1.1 Public Violence/Alleged Misconduct By Sap: Venterstad:

Nineteen incidents of public violence occurred between April 1993 and July 1993 in the Venterstad area. The Black community complained of five incidents of SAP misconduct. The five incidents were investigated by the East London Goldstone Commission investigation unit. The Police Reporting Officer was notified of the allegations. His team investigated the five allegations of the alleged SAP misconduct. As a result of effective investigations and liaison between the East London Goldstone investigation unit and the Police Reporting Officer the Venterstad area has been peaceful since August 1993.

6.1.2 Alleged Misconduct By The Sap: Aliwal North:

During June 1993 I was invited by the Police Reporting Officer to attend a meeting at Aliwal North regarding complaints by the Black community of alleged misconduct by the SAP.

At the meeting members of the Black community accepted that the Police Reporting Officer would investigate the eight complaints. They also accepted that the East London Goldstone Commission investigation unit would monitor the investigations. The Police Reporting Officer's team liaised on a regular basis with the East London Goldstone Commission investigation unit, which resulted in the positive investigations. As a result of these investigation the Aliwal North area has been peaceful since July 1993. On the day of the meeting at Aliwal North it was established that the Black community's main complaint was the presence and actions of the SAP 's Internal Stability Unit. After the Police Reporting Officer had liaised with the SAP, the SAP approved the withdrawal of the Internal Stability Unit. The Internal Stability Unit withdrew from the Aliwal North area that same day. The Cooperation of the SAP ensured the prevention of further friction.

6.1.3 Public Violence: Fort Beaufort Area Grahamstown (Sap) District:

Between 19 February 1993 and 27 April 1993 seventy-eight incidents of public violence occurred at Fort Beaufort . The East London Goldstone investigation unit sought to establish the reasons for the public violence. It was established that members of the PAC and ANC were causing the public violence. With the assistance of the EC and UN observers (who were attached to the Border/Ciskei Regional Peace Committee) meetings were held between the SAP, PAC and ANC. As a result of these investigation and meetings the PAC and ANC came to an agreement that they would maintain peace. It was established by the East London Goldstone investigation unit that the SAP held fifty-one meetings during this period in the Grahamstown district to try to improve relationships since 27 April 1993 the Fort Beaufort area has been peaceful.

6.1.4 Public Violence: Burgersdorp: 19 May 1993:

As a result of an investigation I recommended that four incidents where policemen were involved be investigated by the Police Reporting Officer. The latter was provided with a copy of my report.

The Reporting Officer investigated the four incidents and the dockets have been handed to the Attorney-General.

Since that investigation the Police Reporting Officer reported that the Burgersdorp area had been peaceful. "

6.2 A report by Mr. David Geard, an attorney attached to the Port Elizabeth unit of the Commission, reflects, inter alia, the following:

6.2.1 In several instances the unit had been either directly or indirectly responsible for the peace in the applicable area. Three youths were shot by the police at Kwanobuhle, Uitenhage, during April 1993. After an investigation the unit reported the matter to the Police Reporting Officer, who took immediate steps which resulted in the suspension of certain policemen and murder charges been laid against them. As a direct result tension in the township dropped immediately and peace was restored. In the investigation of the unrest and violence at Colesberg during June 1993 the unit was most complimentary of the police activities.

7. The Units Also Assisted Members Of The Public:

There have been numerous cases where the units have been approached for assistance by members of the public. In many of these cases the units have been able to render assistance. As an example reference is made to the case where in February 1993 a person from Wembezi Township complained that the police had not investigated the killing of his daughter and the attack on him after he had identified the suspects. The unit investigated the matter and found his allegations to be unfounded. The matter had been investigated and three men were arrested by the police.

8. The Rivalry Between ANC And IFP:

Despite the fact that the Commission is of the view, as stated in the third interim report, that it would not become involved in incidents where the causes are known, the units assisted parties inter alia in the following manner:

8.1 Recently there were numerous killings at Bhambayi Squatter Settlement near Durban . The IFP launched its branch and its supporters were allegedly attacked by ANC supporters. Mr. Ed Tillet of the IFP Information Centre made a press statement stating that outsiders were brought into the area and members of the Transkei Defence Force and ANC' s military wing MK were responsible for mounting the attack and that the disruption was planned in advance. The IFP believed that the identification and place of residence of those who died in the ensuing clash would assist the Commission in its inquiries.

The Natal unit visited the mortuaries and established the identities of the dead and also found that some of the bodies had not been identified. The information was followed up but the unit could not find evidence to support Mr. Tillet's allegations. The previously unidentified were later identified by means of fingerprints and their homes were also visited only to find that all the deceased originated from the Bhambayi area.

8.2 On 9 February 1993 Mr. John Jefferies of the firm of attorneys Cheadle, Thompson and Hayson, in Pietermaritsburg handed two statements to the Natal unit alleging that a certain Chief was implicated in killings in the Ixopo area. Members of the unit interviewed all the people mentioned by the witnesses but no support was found for the allegations made.

9. Appreciation:

9.1 The Commission wishes to express its appreciation to:

9.1.1 all the members of the investigation units for their dedicated work under difficult circumstances;

9.1.2 the Association of Law Societies for the services and remuneration of the attorneys;

9.1.3 the British, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Danish and German Embassies and their Governments for their assistance and in particular for the secondment to the Commission of the international police experts;

9.1.4 the Commissioner of the South African Police who seconded 13 officers to work full time as members of the investigation units.

R J Goldstone Chairman Of The Commission

J J Du Toit Co-Ordinator Of The Units

26 November 1993

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.