The Human Rights Committee on Tuesday submitted evidence collected by it and its forerunner, the Detainee Parents' Support Committee, over the past 15 years to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Handing A Crime Against Humanity: Understanding Apartheid Repression to commission chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu, HRC head Max Coleman said: "It is our belief that the contents of this book have direct relevance to the investigations and mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and we therefore respectfully submit that the manuscript be written unaltered into the record of the TRC's investigations."

The HRC believed that a knowledge of the "total package of the repression devised and exerted by the apartheid state" was vital in understanding the conflicts of the past and in safeguarding against future repetition.

Asked whether, in light of complaints on the perceived one-sidedness of the commission, the manuscript gave both sides of the story, Coleman said it was a document that studied the activities... of the apartheid state.

However, the interaction between the liberation movements and the apartheid state needed to be looked at.

Tutu said the commission would have to determine how much the political leadership of the time knew, as repression seemed to be a deliberate policy.

"The victims will say it is difficult to categorise (acts of violation) as something that was spontaneous and something that was done by a few bad eggs," he said. It would have to be determined whether certain figures agreed with particular policies.

Paying tribute to the Detainee Parents' Support Committee and what it did in the "bad old days", Tutu said people had to keep pinching themselves to realise where they were.

The TRC would not be able to accommodate its objectives without the aid and support of non-government organisations. Its work would be floundering without their participation.

The statistics contained in the manuscript would assist the commission in collaborating its work. Each statement needed at least a low level of corroboration or the commission would not be able to stand by its findings.

Coleman said the book's subject matter was arranged in four sequential parts:

- the period 1948 to 1989, during which the "total strategy" was conceived, born and nurtured as the classical form of apartheid repression;

- the incipient collapse of apartheid power that became evident from 1988 to 1990, and opened the way to a negotiated transfer of power;

- tracing the destabilisation strategy which emerged as the successor to the total strategy, and which accompanied negotiations during the period 1990 up to the elections in April, 1994; and

- taking stock of the remnants of apartheid repression and destabilisation which persist in the post-election period from May, 1994 to December, 1996.

The manuscript mentions, among its statistics:

- 80,000 detentions without trial for periods of up to three years, including the detention of about 10,000 women and at least 15000 children under the age of 18;

- 73 deaths in detention recorded by the HRC as deaths while in the hands of the security police;

- 37 names of those who died while in custody of the uniformed police under politically-related circumstances;

- 3000 people served banning or restriction orders in terms of security legislation;

- 15000 people charged under security legislation since 1950 in political trials, and the 49 names of those who paid the ultimate price of political execution;

- 7000 political deaths between 1948 and 1989 and 46 massacres in that period, as well as i4000 lives lost and 22000 injuries in the period 1990 to the elections in 1994; and

- abductions (30), disappearances (38) and internal assassinations (150).

Hit squad and vigilante group activities in covert repression are also documented.

South African Press Association, 1997
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