RE : COMPLAINTS IN RESPECT OF TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION'S (TRC) HANDLING OF FORMER SADF AND ITS MEMBERS
1. Attached please find a motivated composite complaint including specific complaints.
2. This complaint is brought by the undersigned arising from a mandate obtained from a representative group of three hundred and fifty members of the former SA Defence Force during a symposium held on 30 August 1997. This group represented all ranks of the former SA Defence Force.
3. The theme of the symposium
was "the one-sided negative image of the SA Defence Force as placed on
record by the TRC (and activities surrounding it) in contrast to the true
image". At this symposium the following papers and testimony were dealt
6. Your kind co-operation is much appreciated.
GEN J.J. GELDENHUYS, SSA, SD, SOE, SM
GENL A.J. LIEBENBERG, SSA, SD, SOE, MMM
GENL M.A. DE M. MALAN, SSA, OMSG, SD, SM
GEN C.L. VILJOEN, SSA, SD, SOE, SM
1. The TRC and some of its members have displayed continuous prejudice, bias and lack of impartiality towards the former South African Defence Force and its members. This attitude and these actions by the TRC are also considered to be probably in violation of the Constitutionally guaranteed human rights of the SADF members concerned as described in Chapter 2 Sections 9 and 33 of Act 108 of 1996. The disregard which resultantly developed in the minds of members of the former SADF undermines the overall mission of the TRC to promote reconciliation and national unity.
9. Eight : The apparent witch hunt of the TRC on former SADF members is prejudicing the overall statutory aim of the TRC to promote "Reconciliation and National Unity" as prescribed by Act., No 34 of 1995 Section 3(1)(a).
11. Dr Alex Borraine stated in his presentation on "Justice in Cataclysm" at the Brussels meeting of 20-21 July 1996 that:
13. The SA Communist Party in 1970 expressed similar ideas namely:
16. Against strong biblical evidence, according to the protagonists of the liberation theology, the Rev Frank Chikane was able to provide solution to the townships namely:
18. The question arises as to whether Dr Boraine and the TRC can really expect to build a future South African society with this kind of intellectual gymnastics? The danger lies in their conceptual application of an untruth.
19. In the case of South Africa if this supposition of the TRC is accepted, an analysis of the past becomes irrelevant. If society is perceived as an interaction between oppressor and oppressed, as a clear cut distinction between evil and good, the TRC's investigation is not really necessary even before the start of the hearings. The outcome would have been predetermined.
20. The TRC has omitted to recognise, admit to or even investigate another reality which existed at the time. A reality created by the perceptions of people. To quote but a few of these real perceptions which guided the actions of many South Africans namely:
22. On Wednesday 14 August 1997 Dr Boraine said on the English radio service that the TRC was doing everything humanly possible to find the truth regarding the situation in South Africa during the so-called "apartheid era". This appears to be simply not true. Many South Africans believe that the TRC is only searching for evidence to justify and substantiate what "they believe they already know to be the truth". In short the TRC is not finding the truth, they are perceived as searching for evidence to substantiate preconceived ideas. (SADF Symposium : Opening Address, Gen Jannie Geldenhuys (Retired) 30 August 1997 p. 6). [See Appendix B].
23. If Dr Boraine and the TRC were really serious about finding the truth and bringing it to the attention of all South Africans surely they would have established the background against which the conflict was waged in this country. To illustrate this argument : during the July 1997 hearings in Durban the TRC focused upon the "counter revolutionary strategy" of the previous government and how this was implemented in Kwa-Zulu Natal. A counter-revolutionary strategy presupposes that it was aimed against a strategy in this case a revolutionary strategy, yet no attempt was made to establish the reasons for formulating and executing the strategy. The question remains what is the TRC doing to find the whole truth?
24. Questions that beg to be answered by the TRC process are the following: What were the intentions of the Soviet Union with regard to southern and more particularly South Africa at the time they decided to actually assist, train, fund and
arm the SA Communist Party / ANC in their attempt to overthrow the then SA Government by violent revolution? What did the Soviet Union wish to achieve? What was the quid pro quo demanded from the SACP/ANC in exchange for such massive support? Does the TRC know that Castro favoured violence and terrorism over politics in his approach to revolution and that the Cubans have been the principal instigators of armed conflict in Africa since 1960?
25. The TRC has not looked to the intelligence and security services of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany in order to provide the proper perspective. (Op. cit. p.7).
26. The selective prioritizing of Public Hearings by the TRC which is public knowledge displays a lack of acceptance that there were various proponents in the history making of South Africa. The lack of establishing the historical facts first before engaging in determining culpability confirms a bias, which prejudices former SADF members.
27. The TRC is furthermore enjoined by its founding act to set up its own procedures, policies and codes within the framework of that act. Up to the present time they have not published procedures for their hearings in the Government Gazette and are engaging in a "free for all" style. The manner in which Mrs Winnie Mandela was "begged" to repent and acknowledge her "sins" is symptomatic of this laissez-faire methodology. The perception is that this approach allows for such freedom of action which is then applied detrimentally to the former SADF's members. This fact was also demonstrated during the Cape Town Hearings when the various participants were handled differently.
29. Because the TRC does not actively pursue a policy of establishing all the facts, a large segment of our population view the TRC as engaging in a political vendetta, intent upon doing a hatchet job on the opponents of the present regime.
30. Specifically Dr Boraine displays antagonism towards the former SADF as reflected by the editorial of the Citizen of 4 March 1997 namely:
32. It is noteworthy that since March of 1997 the governing party of yesteryear, some SADF generals and the IFP have formally and informally lodged complaints against the TRC and specifically Dr Boraine in this regard. [See Appendix E].
33. The TRC appears also to utilize a specific model for transitioning from the "struggle" to peace namely that "the victor disarms the defeated, he dictates the conditions for peace, he smells out war criminals and writes the history". But what is forgotten is the fact that in the ten years starting 1975 the SADF trained close to one million men. These soldiers were in general well trained, while large numbers received some of the most advanced and specialised training available.
34. These soldiers were part of families and by now have families of their own. It could be argued that these scandalized troops by being deliberately called "apartheid troops" and their closest families count something like five million people. Well educated and well trained, they constitute the core of the government's tax base. When the TRC purposefully and propagandistically refer to them as "apartheid troops" they indirectly also antagonize a very large and significant part of the South African population.
35. We are not so much in a transitionary stage from war to peace as we are in transition from an old political era to a new political dispensation. The real problem to be solved is not so much to make peace between military enemies, as to make peace between quarreling political opponents. More than a tit for tat comparison between good/bad deeds by opposing armed forces, the situation calls for a politically negotiated social contract. This omission leads only to the one conclusion that the TRC is applying the wrong model, and as such to the detriment of former SADF members.
36. In displaying this attitude the TRC is disregarding the role of the SADF in the armed struggle as the ANC themselves publicly told their militants that their claims should not be exorbitant, as the security forces had not been defeated in the field. On the contrary, as President Mandela is quoted by ken Owen in Leadership volume 16/97 no 3, p.52 of frequently having pointed out that " the military and paramilitary forces of apartheid remained undefeated when power passed to the ANC, and the generals who were in charge of the military machine then, are in charge now".
37. The TRC's manipulation of semantics displays deliberate bias and lack of impartiality.
38. The comments in the editorial of the Citizen of 8 March 1997 regarding what Dr Alex Boraine had said about the SANDF's 81 page submission is very relevant. This links up with what Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as chairman of the
TRC was reported as to have said. The Business Day of 27 November 1996 reported under "Truth and Humiliation" that he had "stepped in quickly to prevent the Truth and Reconciliation Commission generating into a public inquisition. Both truth and reconciliation are at risk when witnesses are mocked, vilified and humiliated as happened recently".
39. The Citizen in its editorial of 27 November 1996 stated that : "Archbishop Tutu, Chairman of the TRC has told members of the commission to stop saying things during public hearings which could undermine the commission's effort to appear even handed".
40. The editorial (Citizen)
also mentions the complaints of the Inkatha Freedom Party in this regard
as well as other relevant cases and continues with:
"Obviously referring to the Bisho and Pietermaritzburg events he (Tutu) said : We have been concerned at some statements which have occurred in recent times. I issued an almost presidential decree to commissioners and committee members that they must desist from making statements that seems to indicate they had already made a finding'.
41. The editorial concluded with the following remarks :
43. The deputy-chairman (TRC) also used verbiage trickery when he said : "The submission flies in the face of facts". His statement presupposes that he actually knew the true facts and that the SADF's version did not confirm his own. In so many words he was saying that the SADF was lying. It must be borne in mind that he made his comments immediately after the presentation and before the commission had met to discuss and consider it and they had no prior knowledge of the contents. Thouless describes it as "Predigested thoughts as premises in argument" Plainly put it implies preconceived judgement and lack of impartiality.
44. Persons in and around the TRC call former SADF members "apartheid troops". Even in the formulation of questions to the SANDF by the TRC this type of language has been used. For example they have asked if the SADF had also acted against other "anti-apartheid movements". They specifically pretend that it was the SADF's sole intention to sustain apartheid.
45. This is an improper but commonly used trick. They say for what the SADF fought according to their propagandistic, oversimplified and highly debatable interpretation. But they intentionally neglect to state against whom the SADF fought. They omit to bring to light the fact that the real battle that the SADF fought was against the Soviet Union and its allies' communist imperialism in Africa.
47. The TRC appears to be selectively searching for the "truth" to the detriment of the SADF.
48. The TRC displays a mindset which causes it to investigate the truth selectively. Impartial findings and reporting will therefore be impossible. An example illustrating this is the superficial investigation into the activities of the ANC, PAC and revolutionary forces and an over enthusiastic effort to reveal the
violations of human rights by the security forces. The Durban hearings on operation Marion after earlier concluded court proceedings over one year regarding the same subject is another example.
49. It needs to be remarked
that several members of the TRC structure are known to have been opposed
to the former SADF in that they either were supporters of the End Conscription
Campaign or were associated with war resistors. It is viewed as being improbable
that their mindset as such has
changed to meet any standards of neutrality and impartiality in issues regarding the former SADF. Their prejudice and bias are perceived as being manisfested in their general attitude towards SADF matters.
50. The TRC's disparate handling of the old SADF vis-à-vis other armed participants in the former struggle discloses blatant bias and lack of impartiality.
51. The friendly and comradely way the TRC handled the submissions by the ANC/MK and PAC/APLA is indicative of its bias and lack of impartiality. This is in sharp contrast to the experience of a substantial section of the South African population, black and white, during the years of the struggle and terrorist deeds.
52. The facts that speak for themselves are given in subsequent paragraphs so as to prove the culpability on the side of other armed forces to make the struggle "bloody". These facts have not been brought to light by the TRC.
53. During the ANC National Conference in Kabwe Zambia in 1985 the following decision was taken:
55. As part of the "people war" (Communist terminology) all the elements of the government were to be attacked. As quoted in "Spotlight No 1" of March 1990 SAIRR : "Thus for example in 1985 the ANC urged the people to identify collaborators and enemy agents who deal with them......, policeman, special branch police....., living and working among our people must be eliminated.... police who are manning the streets..... must be turned into targets..... police must be killed even when they are at their homes irrespective of whether they are in uniform or not". It is noteworthy that this scheme to make South Africa
ungovernable could still be entrenched in the mind of those wantonly killing current SAPS members and members of the general public especially if they are white.
56. The country was to enter the phase of necklacing and mobkillings, because it was "the right thing to do" and according to Winnie Mandela" together hand in hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country.... We have no guns we have only stones, boxes of matches and petrol"
57. The then ANC Secretary General Alfred Nzo and now minister of Foreign Affairs in an interview with the London Times of 14 September 1986 said:
59. The ANC's purpose to gain the political power in South Africa resulted in their strategy to make the country ungovernable and then take over militarily. This strategy resulted in mayhem. Violence and murder went to the streets and living areas of all ordinary people. To-day murder , hijacking and rape still prowl the streets and the countryside.
60. It was brutal and dehumanizing. The actions which followed led to the disruption of local government and all community services such as schools, water and electricity supply, transportation and telephone services. The disrespect for order, property and life which was inculcated in the masses led to the most inhumane treatment of anyone who dared oppose any consumer boycotts. The will of the minority was imposed on the majority. The high level of crime in South Africa at present can in part be attributed to this attitude of violence inculcated as a result of this policy. See Appendix C for the result of SACP/ANC propaganda waged against the people of South Africa.
61. The impartiality and credibility of the TRC have become questionable. Although Archbishop Tutu stepped in during November 1996 to prevent the TRC "degenerating into a public inquisition" (Business Day 27 November 1998) he was not successful.
62. On 11 March 1997 the SA Institute for Race Relations' spokesperson wrote in Rapport : "the one side is pardoned of all blame, the other side is demonised".
63. Even worse: the TRC acted
as a platform for distortion of perceptions and lost the respect of many
by allowing buffoonery during its session when the ANC was taken to task
to explain Peter Mokaba's chant to "kill the Boer". Most disconcerting
was the participation of one of the commissioners, Wynand Malan.
As reported in the Citizen of 17 May 1997 : "Thabo Mbeki was singing. Some of ANC top brass were laughing. What a grand time they were having. The joke? The killing of farmers. Mbeki was trying to show the Truth Commission that Peter Mokaba's "Kill the Boer chant did not mean what is said". And to really discredit the TRC one of its Commissioners Wynand Malan according to the Citizen: "Chimed by the reciting from Siembamba and Rock-a-bye Baby. He would have loved to have sung them but, he said later, his voice was not so good as the deputy president's. Ho, ho, what fun". Everyone laughed and the Chairman did nothing to prevent the perception being established that the TRC was performing in a large tent. The only light in the tunnel was when one sane commissioner had the presence of mind ".... to point out that four amnesty applications had been received from murderers citing Mr Mokaba's slogan as their political motivation for killing Boers" (Citizen 17 May 1997).
64. The TRC displayed blatant bias during the Forces hearings in Cape Town held in October 1997.
65. An APLA official testified that it was APLA policy to steal and rob as these actions were legitimised as being mere repossession. These occurrences were not listed and investigated and the incidents of murder, maiming and injury not recorded. This could have lead to the solving of many crimes being investigated. There was no thorough questioning as was done in the case of the SADF which amounts to blatant bias against the SADF.
66. One Commissioner who is
also the Head of the Investigative Unit addressed APLA members as "comrades".
This even a blind person can see as bias. In fact this same Commissioner
formerly defended APLA criminals in court so more grounds exists for the
firm perception of him lacking impartiality.
The Chairman did not take him to task.
67. Similarly the admission on the same day by an APLA witness that all whites were their enemies also was not further examined or questioned. In the case of the former SADF there were prolonged analyses of their statements and terminology just as if the TRC was looking for confirmation of preconceived views or conclusions.
68. In the case of General Geldenhuys he was interrogated for close on one and a half hours to get him to admit to individual accountability for certain actions whereas the theme of the hearings was supposed to gain perspectives and motives for decisions taken. No questions in this regard were put to him as a former Chief of the SADF.
69. The MK and APLA witnesses were allowed to broad brush without analyses as such by the TRC of what they had stated. The MK were allowed to answer as a group, questions put by the TRC. Any member of their delegation who wished to (and could) answer the question put was allowed to do so. No following-up questioning of MK member's replies was done whereas General Geldenhuys was repeatedly cross-examined.
70. From the submissions by
MK and APLA it appeared quite clearly that their standpoint was that all
that they did was justified by the fact that they "fought (a) just war".
Extreme emphasis was placed on the fact that apartheid was viewed by most
of the international society as a "crime against humanity". The perception
was created that just because of this all their acts were justified and
pardoned. The fact that members of these organisations committed brutal
murders, that hundreds of innocent people were subjected to necklacing, and that a thousand people were physically set alight, was never brought to light by the TRC. No effort was made to obtain information about these brutal and barbaric acts.
71. Furthermore MK especially
was allowed to give long emotional answers and accounts which were attentively
listened to whilst the submission prepared by the SADF and delivered by
General Viljoen was continuously interrupted with cautions from the TRC
to conclude it so that individual members who were subpoenaed could be
questioned. The submission by General Viljoen contained extremely important
information regarding motives and perspectives; the purpose of the hearings
as agreed upon between the legal teams, Dr Boraine and the TRC.
His (Viljoen) testimony was restricted to 66 pages. It appeared clearly that the TRC had greater interest in the individual culpability than to listen to the very meaningful submissions of the SADF. On the other hand the MK and APLA statements were accepted at the face value. The reality of events of the period concerned contradicts this. Reference : Verbatim transcriptions of proceedings.
72. Another fact which is surely an indication of the TRC's management of its hearings being manifestly biased against the former SADF and its members is the following: An analysis of the proceedings at the Cape Town hearings clearly indicates several aspects of concern. The MK group were allowed to ramble on (128 pages of testimony) and from the glib answers and explanations it creates a suspicion of prior knowledge of questions. SADF members were cross examined on their amnesty applications whereas MK/APLA members were not. Impression is created that they were handled with kid gloves.
73. An apparent witch hunt of the TRC on former SADF members are prejudicing the overall aim of the TRC to promote "Reconciliation and National Unity".
74. The TRC is tenaciously trying to "prove" specific members of the security forces guilty of crimes. The Citizen of 4 March 1997 wrote : "what is happening in the SANDF is a sad reflection both on the policy of the government and of the pernicious effect of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's pressure on former and serving soldiers to confess their involvement in human rights
violations". And also "The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's deputy chairman, Dr Alex Boraine, is also gunning for the old SADF" (Op. Cit) So also that "The one side is pardoned of all blame, the other side is demonised" (Rapport 4 March 1997). This all notwithstanding the Vice-Chairman of the TRC stating in his letter of 3 September 1997 to the Chief of SANDF that : ....We are not engaged in a witch hunt...." (See complaint seven). [See Appendix D].
75. Similarly the TRC has handled the Inkatha Freedom Party in such a fashion that they have already submitted a complaint to the Public Protector.
76. On the other hand the TRC have done little to investigate the 591 murders by necklacing and the hundreds of persons who died when their persons or homes were doused with fuel and set alight. Neither have they had a public hearing on the more than 7000 private homes of those black people who were opposed to the revolutionary movements that were destroyed or severely damaged as well as more than 1700 schools.
77. The effect of these atrocities on the unwilling support for the liberation movements has also not been investigated. The question needs be asked whether the violations of the human rights of these people are not important.
78. Very little if any determination
or desire in the TRC was observed with regard to atrocities by the ANC
against their own comrades, despite the following investigations, reports
and books :
80. According to intelligence reports during the course of the struggle, it was reported that the ANC had compiled a hit list of political and security force leaders and that they actually had a specific organisation with the necessary equipment and capability to assassinate. The TRC has not investigated this probability. This could also be an indication of its bias?
81. The initial murders of key Inkatha Officials in Kwa-Zulu Natal and elsewhere lead to them requesting protection from the State. This has not been investigated by the TRC; only the issue of the so-called "Caprivi Trainees" was investigated at the Durban hearings after the case against former SADF and Inkatha members had been concluded in court and the accused discharged.
82. The possible linking of
the attitude of the APLA/MK members as evidenced in applications for amnesty
and the spate of robbers, rape and murder on members of the farming Community
needs investigation. Many of those murdered and assaulted have been and
still are members of the Part-time Forces (Commando) components of the
former SADF and current SANDF. The deliberate and vicious action of the
murderers indicate a state of mind that is not
motivated by greed or hunger but by a much deeper ingrained "hate" similar to the "Kill a farmer, Kill a Boer" slogan. Surely it falls within the gambit of the TRC's mission especially if it is to chart the road to a reconciled future and National Unity. A lack of such investigation reinforces the perception that the TRC is witch hunting the former SADF and is not concerned with finding the whole truth, and national reconciliation.
83. All these commissions and omissions by the TRC has lead to the perceptions among members of the former SADF that the TRC is on a witch hunt against the SADF and its members. The anger which this perception is generating prejudices the overall aim of "Reconciliation and Nation Unity".
84. Taken individually or collectively these various acts, attitudes displayed and omissions by the TRC and some of its members as alleged in the complaints have created in our minds and in many South Africans' minds a firm conviction that the TRC is indeed biased in the handling of its mandate, prejudiced against especially the leadership of the former SADF and lack impartiality in dealing with the history of the past conflict and the role of the various armed forces during the conflict.
85. It is therefore an imperative that the Public Protector investigates these complaints and brings out a public finding in this regard. The possible concurrent violation of the human rights of SADF members concerned should as a matter of justice also be investigated.
LIST OF APPENDICES
A:"Justice in Cataclysm : Criminal Tribunals in the wake of mass violence"
Dr Alex Boraine.
B: SADF Symposium : Opening Address, Genl Jannie Geldenhuys (Retired) 30 August 1997.
C: Monitoring of Radio Freedom and others.
D: TRC Vice Chairman's letter of 3 September 1997 to Chief of SANDF
E : Steps taken in respect of TRC Vice Chairman's bias and prejudice.
ANNEXURES are not attached but are available in writing on request.]