Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission today gave instructions to its lawyers to defend vigorously the court action initiated by Mr F W de Klerk. However, Senior Counsel has advised us that if they are to present our defence adequately to the Court, they need time to prepare properly for the case, bearing in mind that the documents filed exceed 2,500 pages. We have therefore instructed our lawyers to approach the Court later this afternoon to ask for a postponement of the matter for some weeks, if possible by agreement with Mr de Klerk's lawyers.
The Commission was due to make a decision on its finding in relation to Mr de Klerk at a meeting yesterday. However, his application for an interdict prevented us from doing this - it would have been wrong in law for us to press ahead when the contemplated finding was before the Court. Our contemplated finding on Mr de Klerk had been included in our final draft to our printers - as were all our contemplated findings. This was done in part because of the enormous pressure from the public and the media to have the Report available for release tomorrow. As a consequence of our inability to make a finding, we have instructed our printers to excise the contemplated finding on Mr de Klerk from the copy of the Report that will be handed to the President tomorrow.
It is with very great reluctance indeed that I have agreed to request a postponement and to the resultant decision not to finalise our finding in relation to Mr de Klerk at this stage. It upsets me deeply. We have been scrupulously fair to Mr de Klerk and we reject the contention that we have been engaged in a vendetta against him. But we must and will respect the courts and his rights under the Constitution. We fought hard for those rights, and we can be proud in South Africa that Mr de Klerk now shares in them.