The Harms Commission terms of reference are laid out



Friday, 2 February 1990

The terms of reference of the Harms Commission, which was to inquire into alleged murders and unlawful acts of the security forces, were laid out in a Government Gazette. The commission's terms of reference restricted serious investigation into certain areas as it was not allowed to go beyond the borders of the country. This applied for instance to the investigation into the murder of anti-apartheid activist David Webster, which could therefore not be linked to the murder of Anton Lubowski, murdered in Namibia. Though the findings of the commission accused the criminal justice system, it was perceived as a classic example of a controlled cover-up, particularly by powerless victims who had bad experience at the hands of the security forces. Even the SA government realised that the commission was a failure and President F.W. de Klerk appointed the Goldstone Commission, with more extensive powers, in 1991.



• South African Institute of Race Relations. (1990). Race Relations Survey 1989/ 90, Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations, p. 200.
• South African History Online Frederik Willem de Klerk Available at: [Accessed on 7 February 2013]  

Last updated : 02-Feb-2015

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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.