TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
POLITICAL PARTY SUBMISSIONS
CASE: DEMOCRATIC PARTY SUBMISSIONS
CHAIRPERSON: We have up to this point heard what we call victim or survivor hearings, giving forum to people who in the past have not had a voice in order to help in the rehabilitation, restoration of the human and civil dignities of such persons as is required by the Act and we have in the course of those heard as a kind of (indistinct) from very many of those who testified, we want to know, we want to know.
And we have embarked now on this different kind of hearing in which Political Parties make submissions to help us in drawing as full, as complete a picture of human rights' violations which have been the result of the conflict of the past. Again a requirement placed on us by the Act, our founding Act which is the Act for the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act.
And we seek to be provided with the perspectives of different sorts of people, again it is something that is placed on us as incumbent on us to try to be given the context in which things have taken place.
We are very glad I mean, that you saw your way through to coming to give a presentation to the Commission because we believe that all South Africans have in one way or another been involved in the struggle that characterised this country as we have moved from a dispensation of oppression and exploitation to a new dispensation democratic in which we are seeking to establish new values that even when perhaps people might claim that they were not directly involved in the armed struggle, they were certainly as South Africans affected by what was taking place and we value the contribution that you will be making and you may help us by making suggestions with regard to the recommendations which are expected of the Commission which relate to structures and ways and means that must be used to ensure that violations of this sort that we are investigating, do not happen again.
We obviously will not perhaps be able to deal in depth with your submission, there may be questions after you have presented your Party's submissions, questions about points of clarification and then we will pass, as we will have done with the others, your submission to your research department which will then examine it with a tooth and comb and provide us with perhaps points that we may raise and we have the option of recalling you for an indepth discussion at that point.
May I then ask Mr Tony Leon to present us with, sort of in a formal way ... I will just like to introduce my colleagues here. I think I should start on this side, on my extreme left is Hlengiwe Mkhize, she is a Commissioner and Chairperson of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee and is based in our Gauteng office.
Dumisa Ntsebeza is a lawyer, Commissioner, Head of our Investigative Unit and also a member of our Human Rights Violations Committee and he is based in the Cape Town office.
Alex Boraine, deputy Chair of the Commission and a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and he is based in our Headquarters office, here.
Bongani Finca, Commissioner and member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and he is also head of our Regional office in East London.
Dr Fazel Randera, Commissioner and member of the Human Rights Violations Committee, also head of our office in Gauteng and to my extreme right, in position not politically, Chris de Jager, Advocate and a Commissioner and a member of the Amnesty Committee and based in Gauteng. Thank you.
MR LEON: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson, and Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege and honour for the Democratic Party to make the submission to you today.
Before doing so and introducing the submission itself, I would like to introduce my colleagues who are with me today. I know that some of them need no introduction at all, but for the sake and purpose of the record, perhaps I can introduce them in their particular role in the history and events we are going to describe and also in terms of today's presentation, which we've decided to democratise and split up between several of us.
On my extreme left is Mr Colin Eglin, who is currently a Member of Parliament for the Democratic Party but has been a Member of Parliament for the periods 1958 - 1961, and 1974 to the present. At the material times of the period under investigation, he was leader of the Progressive Party and the Progressive Federal Party between 1971 and 1979 and later on, between 1986 and 1988.
On my immediate left is Mrs Helen Suzman who apart from her many other contributions, was a Member of Parliament for an uninterrupted period from 1953 to 1989 and at all stages, represented the Democratic Party or its predecessor parties which came together to form the current party. And Mrs Suzman obviously had a unique insight and involvement in the period under review which she will be sharing with the Commission on behalf of our party today.
Then on my right is Senator James Self, who is the Executive Director of the party and was also instrumental in the assisting in the compilation of the document and report we have handed in to you today.
Absent today for really unavoidable reasons are two other people who are instrumental in the party under the period of review. Firstly Dr Van Zyl Slabbert who we understand, only return from overseas today but without having made contact with him specifically, since he was also in the party's involvement in the events under review, we are quite sure that if necessary, we can arrange for him to speak to you at a later stage. He was leader of the party from 1979 to 1986 and Dr Zac de Beer, who was leader in 1988 ti 1989 of the relevant period under discussion, who is currently the ambassador in the Netherlands.
Also present today, but not on the platform is Miss Dean Smuts who is the Chairperson of the party and is also our spokesperson on human rights, she is in the audience together with Mr Ken Andrew who is a Member of Parliament and also very involved in monitoring activities in the period under review and other colleagues, Senator Moorecroft I see there, Senator Minisi. So we are well represented here if not in Parliament.
Perhaps I could just briefly make a few introductory remarks. The major one I would like to share with you is our reason for being here. Our initial reaction as a party was to say that the Truth Commission and the hearing of political parties in this particular phase of its investigation, was relevant for some parties and not for others.
And our initial view was that we couldn't really contribute something additional to your knowledge, however, last week, when the Parliamentary caucus met and as a result of some very definite views expressed within the party, it was felt that we did have a distinctive perspective to bring to bear that certain of our key members were deeply involved in the witnessing, monitoring and the (indistinct) of human rights abuses and the entire construction of the edifice of apartheid, and that these should be shared with the Commission and with the people of South Africa in order that a total perspective might be achieved before your report is compiled and in that spirit and with that background, we duly compiled our report which is with you today.
Because of the somewhat undue pressure of time in our case, we might not have as complete a report as we would have liked, but it is reasonably comprehensive and we would certainly be willing to cooperate any future stage with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, particularly with your Directorate of Research in order to gain a fuller picture and for you to pick up on any of the events, activities, people and saga's which we describe in order to get further detail and we look forward to that cooperation and we hope in a modest way, that we can make a contribution towards the process which you are engaged in and which we fully support.
I am going to introduce the division of our report now and I will hand over in a moment, but before I do so, in preparing this report, in putting together the entire tapestry of events from our perspective and going through with many of the people who were involved at the relevant time, one comes to one inescapable conclusion about the entire period under review and that is that there was a terrible misconstruction of what the purpose of the State and the government is. That there was a negation of democracy and fundamental rights, that this didn't confine itself to the State apparatus, but spread across the whole of society and indeed was relevant at the time of struggle against the very system which was set up and on both sides, but particularly on the side of the apartheid State, the rallying cry for so many of the pieces of legislation, the administrative Acts, the individual decisions of the State, were always dealt with on the basis of necessity and nothing seem to us more apt and it is a long time ago, than the words of William Pitt the younger, in the House of Commons, in 1783, when he said was not necessity the plea of every legal exertion of power or exercise of oppression. Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom, it is the argument of tyrants, it is the creed of slaves.
That to us is as relevant today in the future perspective which we will conclude with, as it was when it was said in the context in which it was intended.
Mr Chairperson, for the purpose of presentation, we have divided our report up into several sections. The first aspect will be dealt with by Senator Self and that is the overview of the political climate and the milieu in which the party operated at the time which it did in Parliament and I will hand over to Senator Self.
SEN SELF: Chairperson, thank you very much Tony. As Tony has said my task is to describe to you the context of the times in which we operated and which we tried to fulfil the roles which we set for ourselves.
In order to do that, it is necessary for me to move back before 1960 and in fact to the 1948 general election. Chairperson the National Party was elected as the government of South Africa in 1948 on a programme of Afrikaner domination. The party's election platform and subsequent policies were directed to advance and promote white Afrikaner interests, but over the years were broadened to include the protection and promotion of the interests of whites generally.
Central to promoting white interests, was depriving blacks, coloureds and indians of their basic human rights, including political rights, rights of permanent residence, educational rights, family rights, labour rights, rights of citizenship. Initially the National Party government's policy was described generically as "baasskap", which Prime Minister Strydom once defined as mastery, domination and compulsion.
The policy became far more sophisticated as time passed and it was described by a variety of different names, particularly during the premiership of Prime Minister H.F. Verwoerd, who sought to promote apartheid as a philosophy granting freedom and equality within the context of separate development.
This notwithstanding, the elements of mastery, domination and compulsion remained central to its operation and the policies and legislation which gave it substance. The parliamentary opposition for much of this time, the United Party, had policies which differed in style but not in substance from those of the National Party.
Described as white leadership with justice, the policy of the United Party sought to (indistinct) some of the harsher consequences of apartheid, but not to change its basis power relationship.
The dominant political ethos of the white establishment at that time, was that black majority rule was unacceptable. This ethos was also reinforced by whites' perception of isolation and international disapproval. The government skilfully portrayed South Africa as central to the East West conflict and fed the white electorate with stories of the strategic importance of the country in the cold war.
Black resistance to the policy of apartheid was presented not as a struggle for liberation, but as a consequence of Soviet manipulation aimed at undermining the bastion of the defence of the West, the total onslaught syndrome. This had at least two results.
First it provided justification for ever more punitive, secretive and restrictive security measures and secondly it portrayed opposition to the government as disloyal and even traitorous.
During the 1980's Mr P.W. Botha who had succeeded Vorster as Prime Minister in 1978 embarked on his process of reform away from the rigid apartheid ideology of Verwoerd. His adapt or die speech in Upington in August of 1979 heralded a number of reforms in the socio-economic and political fields.
Amongst the former were the relaxation of job reservation provisions and the scrapping of pass laws. Political reform focused on the tri-cameral constitution of 1983. At a special congress of the National Party in 1986, Mr Botha persuaded the delegates to accept the fact that a constitutional solution have to be found within the framework of a single as opposed to a fragmented South Africa.
Mr Botha realised that demographic changes combined with the socio-economic reforms that were taking place in South Africa, would inevitably have political consequences. However, his obsession with the total onslaught manipulated by Moscow, and his inability to come to terms with the concept of a black political majority, resulted in him becoming locked into a strategy which combined incremental socio-economic reforms with strict National Party government control and the management of the process of black political "liberation".
By bringing coloureds and indians into the Parliamentary process via the tri-cameral constitution, Mr Botha helped to undermine the concept which had persisted since 1910, of white exclusiveness in South Africa's national legislature.
At the same time, be deliberately excluding blacks from the parliamentary process, Mr Botha sowed the seeds of the destruction of his own constitutional model and contributed to a massive increase of both internal and external pressure for a fundamental change away from apartheid.
The more his government tried to control and manage the process of black political "liberation", the more his government was met with black resistance, supported increasingly by the international community.
The more the resistance, the more the repression. The more the repression, the more the resistance. Until on the 12th of June 1986, his government declared a nation wide state of emergency, resulting in a spate of bannings, detentions and restrictions which continued until after Botha had resigned as State President in August 1989.
During the whole period of the existence of the Democratic Party and its predecessors, dating back to the founding of the Progressive Party in November 1959, the politics of the ruling National Party and the apparatus of the State which it controlled, was geared to prevent black citizens of becoming a political majority in South Africa.
No price, whether it was in the field of government, or of human rights, or of the rule of law, or of human dignity, was to be too high a price to pay in order to achieve this negative objective.
MR LEON: Thank you James. The next part of our presentation, Mr Chairperson, on the formation of the Progressive Party and the (indistinct) the face of apartheid, and parliamentary opposition to it, will be presented by Mrs Suzman.
MRS SUZMAN: This is headed Mr Chairman, the formation of the Progressive Party, then known as the PP. It was in the above-mentioned context as James has pointed out, that the Progressive Party which was the DP's predecessor, was formed and in which it operated.
It was formed in November 1959 as the result of a break away from the United Party. It consisted of 12 MP's, 11 of us were then United Party MP's and we were joined by Walter Stanford, who was a native representative and a member of the Liberal Party.
Several MPC's belonging to the United Party, joined us and a number of erstwhile supporters of the UP and of the Liberal Party. The leader of the Progressive Party was Dr Jannie Steytler, MP and Harry Lawrence, who was a former Minister of Justice in the UP government and was its Chairman and of course a front bencher.
The PP was established as a liberal, democratic party. It was from its inception, non-racial and its policy committed it to the promotion of individual freedom to protecting the dignity of the individual, to upholding the rule of law and to advancing equality of all before the law.
Its constitutional policy adopted in 1960, mainly as a result of the Molteno Commission, proposed the calling of a national convention to adopt a constitution for the country which would be both non-racial and democratic on a federal basis.
Originally the policy proposed a non-racial but qualified franchise, based on minimum education and property qualifications for all adult citizens. This was changed in 1978 to universal adult franchise. Because of its commitment to these policies, the Progressive Party opposed apartheid in all its manifestations.
It opposed the repression of individual liberties by the State, it opposed violence in all its forms including violence inherent in State policies. Violence perpetuated by the State to enforce its policies and violence by others in pursuit of political objectives.
However, in respect of violence, the Progressive Party consistently pointed out that the continuant deprivation of political and other rights, would inevitably lead to ever more violence and counter-violence.
Now, I want to say something about the legislative face of the apartheid system and the Progressive Party opposition. The first test of this commitment to human rights and aversion to violence, occurred in 1960 after the Sharpville massacre when the Unlawful Organisations Bill was debated in the House of Assembly.
The Bill which banned the ANC and the PAC, was introduced by the National Party and supported by the United Party. The Progressive Party moved as an amendment that the Bill be read this day six months, which was then the most extreme form of Parliamentary disapproval.
The PP voted against the first, second and third readings which was a very unusual step at that time. Speaking on the Bill, Colin Eglin said: This government has been denying the right of expression to even moderate Africans in South Africa and the inevitable effect of this, not only in South Africa, but in any country in the world, would be to drive people to extremism.
This Bill, though it is a display of "kragdadigheid" on the part of the government, will do nothing to solve our present problems. This remedies nothing, it merely drives the African political organisations underground.
And I added in the debate the lesson this country should learn is that putting down a movement which is devoted no non-violent measures, simply means that organisations which are devoted to violent measures, will arise.
Banning people does not mean that ideas disappear. It simply means that people go underground, that things are more difficult to control and you do not stop the rebellion that goes on in people's hearts against genuine grievances and genuine disabilities.
Neither of these impassioned addresses had any effect on the government. The Bill went through with the support both of the National Party and the United Party.
During the period between 1960 and 1990, the South African Parliament passed a myriad of pieces of apartheid legislation. These fall into two distinct categories, those which sought to implement the policy and those which provided the State with the coercive power with which to govern in the face of popular opposition.
In 1961, Dr Verwoerd called a general election after South Africa became a Republic and left the Commonwealth. Mrs Suzman, that is myself, was the only PP member to retain my seat in Parliament. A situation which remained until the 1974 election, when with the PP now under the leadership of Colin Eglin, an additional six Progressive Party members were elected.
During my 13 years as the lone Progressive, during which time I was faced with looks of unremitting hostility, both to the right, to the left, in front of me and behind me, I opposed the introduction of every law which extended the apartheid system.
I was the sole opposition vote on many occasions, such as 1963 and 1967, when the two very oppressive laws of the 90 day detention law and (indistinct) were introduced. I might say after those laws were passed, the United Party connived with the Whips of the National Party to get voting procedure in Parliament changed so that four members were required to stand up and demand a division.
Now, since I was the only member and I have been demanding divisions, and the United Party was sick and tired of having to cross the floor and sit among the National Party benches, leaving me alone, on all those empty green benches, they wanted the voting changed and with four members required, which I did not have as support, it simply meant that those in opposition had their names recorded and there was no physical crossing of a floor.
It was an important psychological act on the part of both the UP and the Nats.
I used the Parliamentary forum to extract information by way of many questions, sometimes as many as 200 per session. And to expose the brutalities of the system by means of speeches and private members' motions.
I think my efforts were particularly valuable during the repeated declarations of states of emergency, when publication of so-called unrest related incidents was prohibited, yet statements made in Parliament were excluded from such prohibition.
As you can well imagine, the press found this very valuable at that time. If I made statements in Parliament or extracted answers from the government, relating to unrest incidents, they could publish them. I raised numerous unpopular issues in Parliament, such as the repeal of the Immorality Act, the Abolition of the Death Sentence, Amnesty for Political Prisoners, and Liberation of our Abortion Laws.
I repeated the opposed legislation which authorised the government to continue to hold the PAC leader, Robert Sibukwe in prison even after he had served the prison sentence which had been passed on him.
I opposed the banning order which was served on him when he was eventually released from jail. I used my position as an MP to visit prisons, in an effort to improve conditions there and it was there on Robben Island that I first met President Nelson Mandela, Mr Mandela as he then was and his fellow prisoners.
I raised the plight of detainees and banned persons, went to see for myself the resettlement areas to which people had been forcibly removed.
I aired all the information so obtained in Parliament as a result of which my statements were widely publicised here and abroad. What I wish to emphasise here is that in all these efforts I knew that I had the support of my former Parliamentary colleagues in the DP, in the PP. In fact I frequently consulted Mr Eglin, Harry Lawrence, Clive van Ryneveldt and other former Parliamentary colleagues and I always had their support.
And I also had the support of the hundreds of members of the Progressive Party in South Africa. Am I supposed to go on?
MR LEON: No, no, that's fine. Thanks very much Helen. The next part which is the situation from 1974 onwards, and also the - yes from 1974 onwards, participation in Parliament, will be deal with by Mr Eglin.
MR EGLIN: Chairperson, members of the Commission, I want to continue what is the historical narrative after 1974.
In 1974 the Progressive Party representation in Parliament had grown to seven. Seeing we mentioning Commissioner Wynand Malan later on, I think it is only fair to mention Commissioner Alex Boraine had joined us by that time as a Member of Parliament.
It had grown to seven, the following year it merged with the Reformed Party led by Mr Harry Schwartz, to become the Progressive Reform Party with 11 MP's and two Senators. Shortly before the 1977 general election, it merged again to become the Progressive Federal Party and emerged from that election as the official opposition in Parliament.
In 1989 the PFP merged with the Independent Party, that is 11 years later, led by Dr Dennis Worral and the National Democratic Movement, led by Mr Wynand Malan to form what is now known as the Democratic Party.
In all its forms, the Party like Mrs Suzman, used the platform which Parliament created, to attempt to hold the government of the day to account for its actions, as well as to use the privilege of free speech in that institution, to wedge in different perspectives from those which we common currently at that time.
Not all of the activities of the Progressive Party and its successors were confined to Parliament. It organised public protest meetings against government laws and marches such as the one organised in 1962 against the house arrest bill.
Several initiatives were launched by the party to monitor the effects of apartheid at grassroots level and public representatives were expected to use the institutional position to see for themselves the apartheid in practise.
The decision by the Progressive Federal Party, then led by Dr Van Zyl Slabbert, to participate in Parliament especially after the tri-cameral Parliament or tri-cameral constitution of 1983, was controversial.
However, it was a constant and deliberate decision based on our belief that it was important to use what mechanism was available to project to the electorate a policy that was totally different from that of the ruling party and to demonstrate that there was a white opposition to apartheid in South Africa.
Ironically this view was shared by Dr Slabbert, he resigned from Parliament in 1986. In a letter sent to the then Chairperson of the Progressive Federal Party in Natal, Slabbert wrote, I tried to make it clear although some confusion still remains, that I saw a continuing role for the PFP in Parliament and that it was important to oppose, expose and to question the government.
Participation however, did have costs and limits chiefly through being coopted into the Parliamentary conventions, the party was obliged in Parliament, to accept the information supplied, was truthful.
On occasions and more frequently as a sense of seas deepened subsequent information proved to be false. Dr Slabbert, later the leader of the Party for instance, was informed during November of 1975 that South African troops were not in Angola, whereas they were at that stage within 125 kilometres from Luanda.
Even during the 1976 no confidence debate, P.W. Botha then the Minister of Defence, asserted that South African troops were only in Angola to protect refugees and installations that Kaloec and Ruwakana.
Over the years, information supplied to the PFP, in particular in connection with preemptive cross-border raids were patently inaccurate, if not deliberately untruthful.
And some of our reactions to or comments on such raids, in which many people died, were influenced by such false information. This is still a source of regret to us. Once we realised the extent to which we were being manipulated, the Party stopped attending briefing sessions and started sending its own representatives to see for themselves, as it did when alleged ANC targets near Lusaka, Harare and Gaberone, were bombed by the South African Military aircraft in 1986.
But in spite of this, the Party repeatedly pointed out that a lasting solution to the security situation could only be achieved by fundamental political change and so writing after the Maseru raid in The Argus, on behalf of the Party, I wrote we can respond to these external factors by tightening our security network, by increasing our military might, by mobilising our young men and by occasionally knocking the hell out of targets in neighbouring states, when the head of our security apparatus believes that these targets are used for terror attacks on South Africa, but if that is our total response to the situation, then we in South Africa are dooming ourselves to a future of increasing violence, increasing stabilisation and what is more, a future of increased division and polarisation and bitterness within South Africa.
If today, there is a significant number of black South Africans mobilising from outside our borders, with the object of bringing about revolutionary change within South Africa, let us not only see external forces as the cause. Let us face up to the facts that factors inside South Africa which have contributed to the situation, having finished pointing the finger of blame outwards, start looking inwards and we will find events such as the shootings at Sharpville in 1961 and in Soweto in 1976 and the death of Steve Biko and the banning and detention and trial of many black leaders, we will find the policies that have the results in the denial of fundamental human rights, political rights, the hurt of apartheid, the deprivations of discrimination, the harassment of the pass laws, the human trauma of evictions and relocations and the anger at the loss of citizenship.
We will find that these things have fuelled the fire of political militants while frustration and at times despair, have helped to steer them towards violence.
Chairperson, I would go on from the quote to put what I say the other side of the coin, because it wasn't merely saying this is what is wrong, we went on to say what should you do to put it right. So if I may just quote a little bit further from this particular text.
Why have young black South Africans left this country in such numbers, why are they now working outside to overthrow the system etc? One of the most chilling findings of the Buthelezi Commission were that 99 percent of blacks believed that unless conditions of blacks in South Africa improved in the next decade, violence will be inevitable.
Equally chilling and perhaps more immediate, was the finding that 50 percent of the blacks believed that more young people will leave South Africa for military training. This was in 1982.
We cannot call back or wipe out the past, but we can do something about the future. We can commit ourselves to get rid of discrimination. We can commit ourselves to the principle of citizenship and citizenship rights for all South Africans.
We can commit ourselves to a South Africa in which every child, women, man, child and woman is treated as a human being with equal dignity or we can continue as we have been doing with apartheid, with discrimination, with the denial of basic human rights, with the exclusion of blacks from our political system.
Yes, we can make a new start involving urgent and fundamental changes or we can carry on as before. If we decide on this latter course, carry on as before, our future will be marked not only with terror attacks within our borders, not only with retaliating raids across or borders, but increasing racial polarisation and the steady sapping of energies and the resources and hopes of our people.
We refuse to believe that his ugly pattern is the inevitable pattern for the years that lie ahead. That was the philosophical approach to this traumatic problem of the conflict that was being generated from within South Africa and which spilled over across our borders.
Tony, I think it is now my colleague ... (intervention)
MR LEON: Yes, thank you very much Colin. Helen will now deal with Parliamentary opposition.
MRS SUZMAN: Yes, I am going to summarise this Mr Chairman, because there is rather a lot to be said on apartheid legislation as you well know.
And the period covering your brief particularly, from 1960 to 1990, is the period when most of this legislation was passed. Though I must say at once, that some of the legislation were provided for racial discrimination, actually predates the Commission's brief and even the election of the National Party government.
We have race discrimination in South Africa under colonial system, under the old British government there was indeed race discrimination, but of course what the National Party government did, was to systematise this racial discrimination, into an ideology which covered all inter action between the races in South Africa.
Thus we had the creation of separate states for each black ethnic group in the Republic, the ultimate so-called solution envisaged by the National Party government under grand apartheid, in other words, we would end up with no black citizens in South Africa. All blacks living in the Republic, would in fact be identified with an ethnic homeland and would loose South African citizenship.
We had the Population Registration Act of 1950, which introduced a rigid system of race classification, based on appearance, acceptance and repute and it provided for the compilation of a register of population and the issuing of identity cards.
This really as the basis of the whole apartheid system, the Population Registration Act, commonly known as Race Classification Act and it in fact determined the opportunities or disabilities that individuals would live with.
Whether they would end up as first, second or third class citizens of South Africa. It determined where they could live, go to school, which Universities they could attend, which jobs they could get, which hospitals were opened to them and even where they would be buried.
Of course it went further, it determined which person they could marry as far as colour was concerned, and race, and indeed even which person they could have sexual relationships with according to race and colour, which was of course the old Immorality Act and the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act.
Then we have the brand apartheid which set aside these four homelands, the so-called TBVC countries, that is Transkei, Bophutatswana, Venda and Ciskei. Four out of the then homelands, opted for independence. The remaining stayed as self-governing States.
Then of course blacks living outside these homelands, were strictly regulated by the Black Urban Areas Consolidation Act, passed before the Commission's mandate in 1945, which required persons to carry passes to produce them on demand, to register with administration offices etc. I asked a question in Parliament as to how many people had been arrested under the Pass Laws, which were by the way abolished in June 1986 under P.W. Botha's premiership, and the answer was 500 000 people.
And I was told by a National Party MP that I asked these questions in order to embarrass South Africa abroad and I replied it wasn't my questions that embarrassed South Africa abroad, it was the government's answers that embarrassed South Africa abroad.
And with practically every instance, exposure of the inequities of the apartheid system, revealed that the system went so far into the lives of citizens, as to make the lives of black citizens almost unbearable in South Africa.
And I might say it was not only black citizens who were affected, the administration of coloured, so-called, and indians were also affected by various disabilities and registrations, including where they could live in terms of the Group Areas Act, where they could go school in terms of the Coloured Persons' Education Act and Indian Education Act. The extension of University Education Act of 1959 which of course restricted people who were not white, from going to the white universities.
What jobs were available under job reservation, and what amenities they could enjoy, such as cinemas, restaurants, beaches, park benches, etc. under the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953.
In other words, what the NP government did sir, was to codify all these regulations which affected the lives of black, so-called coloured and asian people in South Africa. I have mentioned the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, and there are of course other Acts which are too numerous really, to mention, but which are mentioned in our submission to you.
Then of course there was the important repression of civil liberties during this time, and that too predated 1960 and indeed some measures can be traced back to the earlier colonial times.
But again from the passing of the Unlawful Organisations Act, we had one law after the other, put on the Statute Book, which affected the civil liberties of the citizens of South Africa.
... legislation of the Communist Party was banned and remained so until 1990. Individuals could be banned, listed, prohibited from attending gatherings, excluded or confined to certain areas, prohibited from performing certain acts or communicating with any person, were obliged to report to police stations, prohibited from practising law or from belonging to other organisations.
The sentences of persons could also be arbitrally extended beyond their release date as indeed happened in the case of Robert Sibukwe.
During the 1960's we had the series of measures providing for arbitrary detention at the discretion of the Minister of Justice. The three most notorious of course were the General Laws Amendment Act of 1963 which was predated by the way by General Laws Amendment Act which introduced house arrest for the first time, with Helen Joseph being the first victim and the Progressive Party organised a huge mass meeting in protest against the house arrest of Helen Joseph.
And of course it was also the Sabotage Act of 1962, the same Act which made sabotage subject to the death penalty for the first time in South Africa. Then there was the General Laws Amendment of 1963, the infamous 90 day Detention Law, which of course meant that arbitrally a person could be arrested, was not tried in a court of law, due process was ignored, the rule of law was ignored, and a person could be held at the discretion of a senior police officer or the Minister.
I might add calling it a 90 day law, was a misnomer, because case after case came to my knowledge, when I was the lone (indistinct) of people who were being held for two 90 day periods and some even for three an done person beyond a year.
So the 90 day law was not really the 90 days, it was really indefinite detention and this I might say, was made totally clear by the passing of the Terrorism Act of 1967, which allowed indefinite detention in solitary confinement and I might add, both those laws, the 90 day law and the terrorism act, we opposed only by me in Parliament on behalf of the Progressive Party.
We do not know really how many people were detained in terms of these provisions, it certainly amounted to tens of thousands. We knew that they were subjected to mental and physical torture, solitary confinement in itself is a form of mental torture.
Many people, at least I think it is something like 90 people were killed, many others committed suicide in suspicious circumstances, slipping on a cake of soap, falling out of a window at John Vorster Square, and so on, and they were interrogated by the police, very often in ways that could only be described as total brutality.
And indeed sir, it was the revelations of a member of your Commission, Dr Wendy Orr, which revealed what was happening down in her part of the world, and which led me and other members of the Progressive Party to make personal investigations of what was happening in other jails, as far as detainees were concerned.
One of the worst features of these Bills was that State officials were indemnified by law for anything they did in terms of the 90 day or the terrorism Act, they were indemnified providing that they could say that they did it bona fide, very difficult to prove that they did not do it bona fide.
Then we had new categories of political offences, which were created, vaguely and widely defined. The capital crime of sabotage which was introduced in 1962, included provisions prohibiting the obstruction of the free movement of traffic within the definition of sabotage. And then apart, as I said, from providing for indefinite detention, the Terrorism Act created again a capital offence of terrorism which included committing any act in South Africa with the intent to endanger the maintenance of law and order in the Republic.
Freedom of association was limited by the Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956, which was repeatedly extended by the Gatherings and Demonstrations Act of 1973, again geographic limits were placed on normal activities of citizen protest.
Then sir, we had the Prohibition of Political Interference Act, known originally as the Improper Interference Act and somebody suggested it might be confused with the rape and so its name was changed and it prohibited members of different racial groups from belonging to the same political party. That was passed in 1968 and as a result of this legislation, the Liberal Party dissolved itself. The Progressive Party, after concerned consideration and as a request of members of the party who were not white, continued to exist as a white political party and there is no doubt that this Act contributed in a significant sense, to intergroup suspicion and racial polarisation, it induced racial political mobilisation, rather than mobilisation against common interest, shared philosophies and values. That was what that Act did.
Now political repression and segregation were buttressed by a series of laws preventing public disclosure or the publication of information relating to the State's activities or of the opinion of political opponents.
Newspapers could be banned in terms of the suppression of Communism Act while people who were banned or listed, were not allowed to be published in terms of the Newspaper and Print Act of 1962, newspaper proprietors were required to deposit a substantial amount with the State and that deposit could be forfeited if the newspaper was prohibited.
Then there were the official secret Act, the Defence Act, the Police Act, the Prisons Act. The famous Act which prevented newspapers from publishing information about conditions in prison and you will remember the famous case against the Rand Daily Mail and its outspoken editor, Lorry Gander and his deputy, Benjy Progman.
Well sir, we have attempted to isolate and highlight major legislative instruments of political oppression, but this list is obviously not comprehensive. It doesn't for instance deal with labour legislation, prohibiting the formation of unions and their right to strike until 1979, nor with the oppressive measures applicable in most homelands.
It does however, I think, broadly anyway, describe the legalistic phase of oppression which operated in terms of laws passed by Parliament. I might say that I am particular and the Progressive Party as well, we criticised for participating in Parliament. It was said we gave legitimacy by being in Parliament. Nevertheless, all the information which we managed to obtain by virtue of the mechanism of being in Parliament, through questions and speeches which were reported, I noted that all the people who complained about our being in Parliament, used the information thus obtained, both here and abroad, quite extensively.
Now sir, the government had very wide powers and very little accountability. And of course it was inevitable under these circumstances that the State would abuse its powers. The powers that were then consolidated for the government was a cohersant power within the National Security Management System.
It was established in 1979, it was a parallel and secretive security coordination mechanism into which all government agencies became involved to share total strategy against the total onslaught. It was managed by key security related ministers, senior officials on the State Security Council and the NSMS was also certainly instrumental in allowing repression to become extra legal.
It made regional destabilisation hither to a fairly ad hoc response to terrorist attacks into a coherent policy, it was almost certainly involved in sanctioning the organisation and arming of vigilante groups and we are seeing some of that right now, in this country, and it quite possibly orchestrated the establishment of third force elements operating at arms length.
We can't of course prove any of these allegation conclusively, because the operations of this NSMS were and still are clothed in secrecy, but there is enough circumstantial evidence available to make these charges plausible and we do suggest that the Commission investigates the structure and the actions that flowed from it in detail.
MR LEON: Thank you. Colin.
MR EGLIN: Chairperson, I want to continue with the pattern of the Party's activity over this period and there are six points which we have made. Attacking racial discrimination, opposing apartheid laws, and protesting against violations of human rights and the rule of law. These are being covered fairly extensively in the part of the presentation which Mrs Suzman has delivered.
The latter three, the last three, calling on white South Africans to negotiate with leaders of all sectors of our nation to bring about a new constitution based on non discrimination equal rights, trying to prevent racial polarisation and warning the government that apartheid, which had already done untold damage to the country and its people, was going to prove a disaster for South Africa. I want to deal with that latter section of those six points.
The Parliamentary role, much of the Parliament's role was focused on opposing apartheid legislation. Raising issues relating to its legislation, eliciting information and as was mentioned, using Parliament as a platform not only for obtaining information, but for allowing the Press and the media to report and to repeat the information outside of Parliament.
But there was an equally important extra Parliamentary dimension to the Party's activities, its electioneering activities, public protest meetings, political policy development and its publications, were designed to convert the attitude of whites and in 1989, nearly half a million white voters demonstrated that they were prepared to negotiate a new, non-racial democratic constitution with fellow South Africans of all races.
It took a long time to get to that half million, but nevertheless, by 1989 there was a message. Success of the DP in these elections, the 1989 elections, contributed to the National Party's decision to begin negotiations. Wimpie de Klerk writing about his brother states, nevertheless I got the impression that de Klerk was showing a new sense of stability to the fact that the National Party policy reached a dead end and that the Democratic Party was offering a clear cut policy options with distinct possibilities.
The road he follows step by step since 1986 had gone in this direction. It cannot be denied that the left, through the Democratic Party and its sympathizers, had prepared the way for the National Party. I don't know whether Wimpie de Klerk is one on whom we should hinge our whole argument, but nevertheless, we give that as a ex parte comment from the brother of President F.W. de Klerk.
The second point was monitoring activities. The Party following the example set by Mrs Suzman, sought within its limited means to monitor the effects of apartheid on the Security Establishment on the ground. In the 1970's and 1980's the Party regularly interceded on behalf of squatter communities, faced with eviction and forced removal.
In the former Transvaal, Peter Sole visited rural communities threatened with forced removal and settlement. In Cape Town the Party established the Urban Monitoring and Action Committee, now known as UMAC, which attempted to intercede on behalf of squatters and in inter community conflicts.
A similar operation was established in Port Elizabeth, known as the Human Rights Trust and while the Party's monitoring activities in Natal directed by Radley Keys and Lloy Ainsley, we eventually formalised peace in Natal, known as the PIN organisation.
Very often the Party decided to allow these organisations that UMAC, Human Rights and Trust and PIN to operate independently once they were established and operating effectively, in order the enhance their effectiveness within communities within which they operated, they operated and to improve the possibilities for international funding for their operations.
We suggest that the Commission makes use of the information at the disposal of these organisations, which would provide factual accounts of what transpired in the specific areas during the 1980's. Public representatives of the Party were expected to support and augment these activities. Ken Andrew, Jasper Walsh, Jan van Eck, were on call to provide backup for UMAC, while in the Eastern Cape the activities of Molly Blackburn and Di Bishop, both PFP members of the Cape Provincial Council, predated and provided inspiration for the Human Rights Trust.
And it was a natural progression from these activities, to those of the Peace Accord structures in which Rubert Lorimar and many other office bearers of the Party, played a prominent and time consuming role to the Party's own electoral disadvantage in 1994.
In Cape Town, at the initiative of the Party and organisation which was known as MERGE, which provided a practical link across the racial barrier in the Peninsula was formed.
Thirdly central to the Party's Parliamentary and extra-Parliamentary's activities, was our belief that a peaceful and negotiated settlement was in essence preferable to a violent one in which all South Africans would be the losers.
The theme that (indistinct) these arguments, advanced in Parliament and our negotiations with others leaders and other organisations. We saw it as critically important the necessity to persuade the principle groups of antagonists in the fast developing civil war of the advantages of a negotiated settlement.
The concept of a National Convention to negotiate a new non-racial constitution had been central to Progressive Party policy since the Martino Commission was adopted in 1960.
This was confirmed and elaborated upon when the Slabbert Commission was adopted as PFP policy in 1978. In 1987, a pamphlet published for that election year, the PFP told the white electorate the first step in creating a new constitution that will work, is genuine negotiation between the acknowledged leaders of all sections of our people.
We were asked when does it start. Real negotiations will take place when the PFP releases leaders such as Mandela, Nelson Mandela and ban organisations such as the ANC. In due course negotiation will have to take the form of a National Convention, where major issues can be negotiated and the nation's approval obtained for the proposed constitution.
Even in the face of the National Party government's refusal to contemplate such a process during this time, the party sought to take concrete steps to make this concept a reality.
In November of 1973 for example, the Progressive Party with the cooperation of Donald Woods, then the Editor of the Daily Dispatch, convened a conference which examined the opportunities and constraints on peaceful strange and which was attended by many prominent politicians of all races outside Parliament.
At the conclusion of this, the Baluha Conference, a declaration was agreed to reading as follows: This conference of South Africans of all races, affirms the need for urgent changes in South Africa, and declares its belief for the fundamental rights of each citizen irrespective of race, colour or creed, to live a life of full dignity, opportunity and justice under the rule of law.
At the launch of the Progressive Reform Party in 1975, that was two years later, I as the leader then said, if it is possible to have a multi-racial conference to consider the constitutional future of South-West Africa, then it is time for us to consider holding a similar conference.
Late in 1975, PRP organised a conference attended by a number of black, so-called coloured and indian leaders where the issue of negotiation was to be discussed further. At the conclusion of this conference a statement was issued which read in part as follows: We accordingly declare our intention of working towards the holding of a convention as representative possible of all South Africans for the purpose of obtaining a mandate from the people for the constitution and other proposals which will emanate from the initiative we have taken today.
Our purpose in taking this initiative is to bring in South Africa a society that accepts the rights of each person who is a citizen of our country, to live a life of full dignity, equal opportunity and justice under the rule of law. We agreed that apartheid does not offer a solution to South Africa and that any constitutional system must embody a bill of rights, safeguarding the rights of individuals and groups.
We accept in one united South Africa, that territory and not race, must form the basis of government which should not be racially exclusive.
Then Chairperson, in pursuing this concept of negotiation as the alternative to violence and conflict, we had a series of informal discussions with Chief Buthelezi before 1978. And in 1978 this culminated in a meeting between the KwaZulu cabinet of that time and the members of the Progressive Federal Party's federal executive.
Where intr alia the following was agreed to. We share a deep concern for the growing tensions and divisions developing amongst the people of our country, we fear that unless the underlying causes are removed the situation could degenerate into conflict and violence.
We are committed to work for a peaceful solution for South Africa's growing conflict situation, we are not prepared to accept the view that violence is inevitable. We believe that peaceful change through negotiation is still possible. But the fundamental solution to the growing conflict situation must be a recognition of the fact that we are all South Africans and entitled to the rights of citizenship without discrimination on the grounds of race or colour.
During the early part of the 1980's, Dr Slabbert, then the leader of the party, took a number of initiatives to promote the process of negotiation. Even at the height of repression, in 1985, Dr Slabbert attempted to convene a conference of leaders and organisations committed to the calling of a national convention.
In the context of the time, few saw any possibility of a multi-party negotiated forum to be established to draw up a new constitution and the initiative collapsed.
Ironically six years later, the forum was established at Kempton Park and negotiated our present constitution. Informal contracts with party leadership, party's efforts were not confined to formal meetings and conferences such as we have described above.
Since its conception, the party made concerted efforts to maintain contacts with the leaders of disenfranchised sectors of our nation, both to promote the concept of negotiation and if possible, to avoid the racial polarisation of our politics. This programme was difficult to implement because of the restrictions imposed by the national government.
It was carried out by designated party officials and public representatives while public formations around the country, were urged to keep in touch with leaders of the community at regional level. Thus for instance, prior to the founding and for a short while after the founding of the Progressive Party, Ray Swart was deputed to keep Chief Lethuli advised of the thinking behind the Progressive Party policies. Swart comments, his door was always open to me and we spent, he and I spent many hours together in discussion.
Likewise in 1962, that is shortly after the ANC had been banned, Dr Steytler, then leader of the Party and Ray Swart, met and held discussions with Oliver Tambo in New York. Colin Eglin, then leader of the Progressive Federal Party held discussions with Steve Biko some two months before his death in 1977.
Donald Woods and his book on Steve Biko describes his conversation as follows: without revealing the details of their conversation, I can say that the general theme was how each in his own sphere could help to bring all elements of the nation together at a conference table. Both stressed the need to do everything possible to avoid violence.
Steve said when there is violence, that is merciless. Violence brings too many residues of hate into the reconstruction period. Perhaps that is what the TRC is having to deal with right now.
Apart from its obvious horrors, it creates too many post revolutionary problems. If at all possible, we want the revolution to be peaceful and reconciliatory.
In 1985, Dr Slabbert accompanied by Alex Boraine, Peter Gastrow and myself, held discussions in Lusaka with Alfred Nzo, Thomas Nkobi, Gertrud Shobi, Simon Makana, Mac Maharaj and Thabo Mbeki who were representing the Executive of the then banned ANC.
After a two day discussion, the following joint statement was issued by the two delegations: apartheid lies at the heart of the present crisis. Both sides share an urgent need to dismantle apartheid and to establish a united, non-racial democratic South Africa. Both are deeply concerned to conserve the human and natural resources of our country and to remove one of the most potent factors affecting the stability of the whole of the Southern African region.
Areas of difference were discussed in a frank and cordial atmosphere. In particular there were differences on the role of the centrality of the armed struggle in bringing about fundamental change. On the question of the national convention as a basis for devising a constitution for a united, non-racial democratic South Africa, the Progressive Federal Party explained its position, that such a convention could only take place when certain conditions were met.
The ANC stated that it does not consider that there is coming to be in the present moment, a climate under which to begin to consider a negotiated resolution of a crisis. At the same time the ANC does not rule out for all time, either a convention as a mean of devising a constitution or negotiation as a means of resolving the crisis.
Both believe that one of the urgent issues is to secure the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela and all political detainees.
In 1986, the Party's national Chairperson, Peter Gastrow, was charged with establishing an interaction section of the Party with a view to holding discussions with the UDF leadership figures. Regrettably at the time, many of these persons involved, were either in detention or in hiding, and contact proved difficult.
And finally several members of the PFP were amongst the delegation which travelled to Dakar to meet he ANC. While the PFP did not organise this conference, and while the Party was severely criticised by the government for not disciplining such members, Mr Eglin who was the leader of the Party at the time, issued the following statement:
We recognise the process of exploring ways and means of ending violence and of starting negotiations, will not be without risks. It will at time involve talking to other South Africans, with who we may disagree on many issues. Yet, frank and direct talking must take place if there is a prospect of peace.
It is against this background,t hat I am satisfied that the PFP members who took part in the recent conference at Dakar, and who stated the PFP attitude both of violence and constitutional alternatives, made a positive contribution to the wellbeing of this country and of its people.
I see there is another quote from Wimpie de Klerk, if you can endure it Chairperson. Furthermore the Democratic Party has to its credit that it enjoyed access and was already involved in extensive unofficial negotiations with black extra-Parliamentary groups. It was also stated publicly that they without the involvement of the government, were going to set up a negotiating table and that the ANC and Inkatha would participate.
This too, made the government apprehensive that the initiative might slip from its hands. Finally Chairperson, in this section, I want to just touch on the issue of harassment and manipulation.
Over the years there were numerous instances of harassment and intimidation of party members and supporters. This was especially prevalent when party activists were engaged in activities that crossed the racial divide that existed in those days.
However, we want to make it quite clear that this harassment and intimidation cannot be compared with the harsh and often brutal oppression of many of the apartheid's opponents who were active outside the Parliamentary system.
Especially sinister feature of government behaviour, one that undermined even the limited democracy that existed over that period, was the government's attempt to use the apparatus of the State to control and mould the thinking of white citizens both in favour of the ideology of apartheid and favour of support for the ruling National Party.
This was attempted through a broad range of activities which included the control and the manipulation of information which was available to the government. The manipulation of the dissemination of news and view through its control of radio and television broadcasting, restrictions on the press, clamp down on newspapers and the silencing of opponents of apartheid, the undermining of the institutions of civil society and finally the setting up of front organisations that promoted government propaganda behind the facade of independence and neutrality.
MR LEON: Thank you very much Colin for that very comprehensive chapter. We move to the final aspect of our presentation which we have been asked to address Mr Chairperson, and that is the question of how South Africa can prevent similar abuses of human rights, from happening again in the future.
Well, much of what I am going to say can be summarised simply by saying if the political climate is radically changed from the times we've moved, we have just described and if the constitutional system has fundamentally altered, then you have dealt with many of the problems and abuses which we have spoken about.
And to a great extent that is true, it is not the entire truth, but it is a major part of the answer. Because if you look at the picture which has been described so eloquently and exhaustedly by my colleagues, major problem constitutionally or legally facing the victims of violence, from whatever sides it came, was that during the relevant period, the sovereignty of Parliament prevailed, in other words Parliament could do no wrong, Parliament could enact whatever legislation it wished to and there was no constitution and there was no appeal against that except in very, very limited circumstances.
There was therefore not an effective check on the abuse of power by the majority party in Parliament, nor on the abuse of power by the same party which formed the Cabinet and which was ostensibly but not in fact, accountable to Parliament.
Now, we would therefore draw three conclusions from this period in order to prevent the repetition of this in the future and that is for the new constitution to provide for certain fundamentals.
And before I tell you what they are, it might seem trait Mr Chairperson, to mention the constitution, because we live under an interim constitution, the constitutional court is in the process of enacting a final constitution. The relevance of it is of course constitutions can change and they can be changed on a relative majority, two thirds of the members.
Therefore we believe that if your Commission is going to make a pro-active and positive recommendations, then whatever Parliamentary majority might or might not exist from time to time, that this Commission should align itself with certain constitutional principles and suggest that they be carried forward in perpetuity in order to avoid the situation we have just come out of.
The first is the obvious one that the constitution must be the supreme law and all institutions of the State including Parliaments and the Cabinet must be made subject to its authority.
Secondly, there must be a separation of powers between the Cabinet and Parliament, sufficient at least for Parliament to hold the Cabinet accountable for its policies and actions in a transparent manner.
Thirdly within Parliament and while acknowledging and accepting that decisions will have to be taken by majority votes as determined and provided for in the constitution, the right of minority parties to participate in both the process of legislation and in the process of holding the Executive to account in a transparent way, must be entrenched and championed.
We now move to the second aspect of the constitution, which is a Bill of Fundamental Rights and obviously the other problem, the constitutional problem, rather than the social problem, in the period under review, the period of oppression in South Africa, was that our constitution in the past contained no Bill of Rights, it did not adequately secure the independence, the judiciary, nor did it ensure in any manner, the impartiality of the Police, the Security Forces or the relevant Justice officials who have such an important ancillary role in the judicial process.
Therefore we recommend that the new constitution must provide for a Bill of Rights ensuring citizens not only against discrimination, but also against violations of their civil liberties. An independent and judicial system to which citizens can have easy access in seeking the protection of their rights failing which the rights themselves tend to be (indistinct) promises, incapable of enforcement.
Thirdly and this to us is crucial, the Police and Security Forces, the Intelligence Services and the functionaries of the Department of Justice, to carry out their tasks in an impartial and transparent manner and to be subject to continuous monitoring by multi-party Parliamentary committees.
Fourthly, we need independent competent institutions to support democratic accountability and transparency in government and the protection against the violation of rights. We will also include here an independent body to oversee the electoral process.
I repeat Mr Chairperson, that many of these principles and specifics are contained in the final draft constitution, it is critically important that they don't just end there, but that they be maintained in the future constitutional order of South Africa and not simply tampered or amended when they are found to be inconvenient or when the plea of necessity rears its head in the future again.
We also touch on the question which we made much of in our deliberations today, Chairperson, and that is control of information. Inescapable fact as Mr Eglin mentioned, is that the National Party government had awesome powers in both controlling and manipulating the information flow which was made available to the public.
Therefore the new constitution must ensure not only that the system of government is representative, but that the government of the day is accountable and behaves and is made to behave in a transparent manner.
That all ministers must be accountable to Parliament and that ministers in departmental functionaries, must be accountable to multi-party Parliamentary's committee meetings in an open session, not simply to a majority party.
Thirdly that the government of the day honours through word and deed the concept that the public has the right to know.
Fourthly radio and television broadcasting must not be under the direct control of the government and that the freedom of the press and media is guaranteed.
The other elements Chairperson, which is not constitutional and is not legal, is the question of the creation of a vibrant civil society failing which none of these things become possible because we don't have independent watchdogs, we don't have a self confident citizenry and we don't have independent structures, whether they are community organisations, trade unions, chambers of business, universities, the media, to actually be the necessary reinforcing barriers in a society which is to guard itself against the excesses of its own past.
The constitutional step here obviously is to guarantee freedom of association and of expression and the right to freely and independently exercise political choices, but we also need to acknowledge in every day political and executive life, the important role of civil society.
Might I move to the conclusion very briefly, the abuse of rights and the misuse of State powers Mr Chairperson, and Commissions, were the dark and sombre characteristics of the previous government and the defining characteristics of the apartheid State order.
The struggle against this order led equally to the unleashing of incivil forces and the use very often, of undemocratic methods to enforce a general will on the majority of the population. We have not dealt with these in any detail here, we have referred several persons and complainants in this regard to this very Commission and some of them have already given their evidence, but we do indicate that this was the other side of the coin which obviously this Commission will investigate very thoroughly.
but accordingly and appropriately, our new constitution has set its face against the wrongs of the past, that the final certification of this important document will not be the end of the journey towards the new South African order, based on fundamental justice, liberty and equality, it is an important milestone in this never ending road.
The new democratic South African order is a fragile plant, growing on an often stony terrain, it confronts a formidable set of challenges before it can take root, we mention only one of these which we think is of the utmost current.
The rising tide of criminal violence and the culture of endemic lawlessness which confronts South Africa, we strongly believe that the right to be safe and secure is the fundamental right of each South Africa. It is the foundation clause of the social contract between free citizens and the democratic government. The record shows demonstratively and beyond appeal, that the previous government grossly misused this concept and was unconstraint in abusing elements of its power.
However, and subject to the critical qualification that it respects the rule of law, the new democratic order must be seen to be decisive and determined in confronting the criminal lawlessness which threatens to blight our most cherished prospects of a just democracy founded on a culture of fundamental freedoms anchored in the rule of law, thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We are enormously grateful to all of you for the observations that you have made and the contribution.
As I have indicated, we will be passing this submission to our Research Department who will scrutinise it very carefully and will then provide us with perhaps a list of questions that will make us look intelligent and we might then recall you for further explanations.
But I am going to ask my colleagues if they have questions that they want to ask relating to points of clarification. Dr Boraine?
DR BORAINE: Thank you Chairperson. May I just add my own thanks for the submission. I think that the quality of the submission is indicative of the rightness of your decision to come before this Commission, and I personally am very grateful for what you have given to us and the information that is going to assist us as we do our work.
Just a couple of very small comments that I want to make. First, because of the time factor, you did not read every part of the submission and I understand it, and I think we appreciate it because the time is limited. But I think it is a pity in one way that you omitted reading directly from the bottom of pages 11 and 12.
I am certainly not going to read it now, you know it better than I do but just for the record, you have listed the many very hurtful pieces of legislation and draconian which is a much over-used word, certainly applies there, but you have also gone on to say that it can in no way begin to describe the hurt, the indignity, the humiliation and most importantly the deaths of people who were affected and then you give some examples.
Why I mention that is this, that what you have presented in large measures today before the Commission, what we haven't got from anyone else incidentally, so far, is a formal list of legislation which disempowered and much worse.
What we have heard from individuals though, in an informal way, is the effect of that legislation. And this is a graphic illustration what you have summarised on the bottom of page 11 and 12. You cannot measure the hurt, the indignity, the waste, the death and the destruction which a lot of these laws have brought about and I am very grateful to you for that.
The other point I wanted to make equally briefly is the comment that you make on page 15, page 15 and 16 actually, which is the reference to the National Security Management System. I think here too, this is an extremely useful reference and you actually suggest that the Commission investigates the structure and the actions which flowed from it in some detail.
For myself, let me say, I think that is exactly what the Commission ought to do. We have an Investigative arm, we have a Research Department, we have already requested that the minutes of the State Security Council should be made available to the Commission and we have been ensured that this will be done.
This obviously leads automatically into a very careful consideration of the National Security Management System, so I agree with the conclusions that you have reached here.
The other point that you refer to on page 18, is that a number of organisations that were involved with your party in more extra-Parliamentary work, if I could use that term for a moment, like the Human Rights Trust, and so on, what we want to make very clear publicly again today, is that whilst we are hearing evidence from political parties, we have specifically requested that it should not be limited to political parties, but there are a number of organisations that have information which we would like to hear of.
Some of the organisations like UMAC, Human Rights Trust, Lawyers for Human Rights, there are so many of them, we believe that it is critical that the Commission hears from civil society, as distinct from Parliamentary parties as well, and we are grateful for the suggestion that you make there.
Two final points, all of these are very brief, because we would like to digest what you have said, and that is on page 26 I think. Somebody suggested, in fact it was General Viljoen yesterday, and I just ask in case you want to make a comment about it, that because the democracy is so fragile and because the divisions have gone so deep, that despite the fact that there are many Commissions and many structures being set up, there should be one more.
And he suggests an ombudsman for reconciliation and that every - here in Parliament this specific question regarding reconciliation, what it means and the distance we still have to go, I think that is what he was implying. The Chairperson was quite impressed by that and said so publicly. I think all of us were, but he spoke on behalf of all and you may or may not wish to comment on that today or some other time.
Finally, as you know I am particularly grateful for the recommendation you have made regarding the future because I think this is exactly one of the responsibilities of the Commission. Not the Commission alone, we are charged to make these recommendations and we are already working on that, whether it be legislation or new structures or institutions, or whatever, but there is one area that you haven't dealt with and I would be grateful if you would give some through to this as to the possibility of giving us some written word later on, and that is your own view, which some of your members have expressed already in the debate in Parliament when the Act was being looked at, and that is the question of reparation and rehabilitation.
This is a very, very important part of the Commission's work, but the Commission is fairly limited in what it can do. What it has to do is to recommend to the President, and the President to Parliament a policy of reparation and rehabilitation. Now if the hurt which you have described and with which we concur and which we've heard first hand from so many people, is so great, then obviously reparation and rehabilitation must form part of this.
If in the next month or so you could give some thought to this, we would be very glad and grateful to receive that. Again, thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Dumisa Ntsebeza?
ADV NTSEBEZA: Thank you Chairperson. I just want to clarify my own mind about certain of the speculations that were given by the media before you came here.
One of the speculations that were made was that you were going to as a party or I think the suggestion was that you were as a party going to tell the TRC what your position was with regards to cross-border raids and I don't know whether on page 8, that is the full treatment of what you would like to give to that particular aspect, if the speculation was correct. The second paragraph on page 8 and whether you would like to expand on that?
MR LEON: Thank you Mr Chairperson and to Commissioner Ntsebeza. We have dealt with it there, we expressed regret at the stance which we took in the light of the information which we had at the time, which was proven subsequently to be false. I don't know if - there were also just to clarify another point for Mr Eglin, who was in Parliament with Mrs Suzman at the time, he will be able to elaborate on it, the Progressive Federal Party's support for cross-border raids was on a very limited basis. It was not that the party supported every cross-border incursion, which is how it is being represented in the popular press and particularly in certain political quarters, but yes, there was support on a limited basis, for certain of them. And the matter that we deal with on page 8, but Mr Eglin might wish to elaborate on that.
MR EGLIN: Chairperson, we had hoped that our presentation reflected in a sense, a dilemma, because in spite of our probing in Parliament, we did not have the information on which one could always make a correct judgement on a particular, call it, security operation.
In the main I must say that we were not in favour of cross-border raids, in particular to the extent that they involved the violation of the territorial integrity of our neighbours and it was in general increasing instability.
But equally we were confronted with a situation of not having sufficient information. It was for that reason that I in particular drafted and made the statement, an extensive statement which I did, to try to put this in its perspective. That when you started pointing fingers or blaming or not blaming, that was not the issue, the issue in the end was how are you going to resolve the conflict inside South Africa. So it is correct and I suppose parties, most parties and even the ruling party today, will have its doves and hawks, but in the main, we were uncomfortable with cross-border raids.
Some of them where we were better prepared with information, we were more forthright, others where we did not have the information, we were more muted. But time and time we came across and said whatever the merits or demerits of that particular activity, we want to warn that in fact you will not resolve the problem on this basis. So we have said that to the extent that on occasions there were statements made which were based on incorrect information and assessment of the situation, we regret that that stance was taken at that time.
CHAIRPERSON: Tony, you looked like you wanted to add something. No, okay?
MS MKHIZE: Thank you Mr Chairman. Thank you, just one point of clarification for me. Looking at page 16 of the document, and i think it will be fitting to make this request to the DP. On page 16 you've got a couple of points where you say during this period, the party was active within and outside Parliament. It is point 4 where you refer to calling on white South Africans to negotiate with their leaders up to the end and the next point you talk about trying to prevent racial polarisation.
I just want to make a comment about the challenge which is facing the Commission and wondering whether you will be in a position to develop some of the points that you have spoken to, that we keep on getting feedback that there are many people who in this country, who have decided to sit on the fence, so to say.
Who do not think they want to be involved with the Truth Commission and see themselves as people who didn't perpetrate human rights' violations and there is a constant need that witnesses that we get statements from on a daily basis, would not heal if all the people as our Chairperson said earlier on, that it is very difficult to say one didn't get involved during the apartheid years.
We have the business sector, we have different social formations, whom we think for people to begin to heal, they will have to critically examine their role and to possibly look to their possible contribution to promote the witness' feeling, so I don't know whether you would have something to say about that.
MR LEON: Certainly Chairperson, and one of the reasons through you to Commissioner Mkhize, one of the reasons for our presence here today, is to show common cause for the very idea which you have just articulated, and we would encourage any relevant party of individual to also bear witness, because quite frankly in the very few days that we've had since making the decision to being here this afternoon, to prepare ourselves for this afternoon, it has caused us to do a lot of self-examination about event which were in the past, not that we wish to forget about them, but they were not at the forefront of our own memory or our daily activities, you know.
And I think that is very necessary for any organisation particularly one which operates today in the socio-economic or the political fields in South Africa. I suppose the problem, this is just simply from my own perspective, is some people and some organisations might feel that simply by being here, that they are in the dock as it were.
And that is clearly from our happy experience this afternoon so far, it is not yet over, has not been the case and I believe and I have been present on various other occasions, when the Commission met in Athlone and Soweto, that isn't the case, there might be criticism, but they certainly aren't directed towards putting people in the dock.
And I think that if we are going to have a transparent democracy based on openness, that is not dependant on political actors, as Commissioner Mkhize says, it is dependant on this much named but often not sighted civil society and its components, so I would partly agree with you.
CHAIRPERSON: I do want to assure you that one of the things I have stressed in our hearings is that this is not a court. Nobody is certainly in these public hearings as yet, we want to hear, we want to hear people telling a story, we want organisations to be providing us with perspectives and I think I would make a very bad Judge.
Do you want to say something?
DR BORAINE: Chairperson, this will be equally brief. I had a note from our Research Department sent up to me just to elaborate slightly on a request that I made earlier.
If you look at page 15 and the top of page 16 which refers to sentence, it was almost certainly involved in, that is the NSMS, certainly involved in sanctioning the organisation and arming of vigilante groups.
Now it may be that that was just a general statement, it may be that you have specific information and one of the things that we really want to try and get to the bottom of, not only because it is happening right now, but because it certainly did happen then, so if you do have any specific information about that, that certainly would be very welcome and finally on page 25, your last point before you started on point 3, you talked about the setting up of front organisations that promoted government propaganda.
There has been a lot of speculation about this and information in the media, but again, in your own work and in your own research if you have any specific information, about such front organisations, part of our mandate is to tell the whole story as best we can, we are dependant on obviously our own research, our own investigation and information we get from organisation, political parties and from individuals. So again, if I can just make a note of that request and perhaps you can come back to us some time, thank you.
MR LEON: Chairperson, if I could just respond in the case of the National Security Management System, our information about the National Security Management System was mostly gleaned from Parliamentary questions which we put during the period of the early 1980's and as a result of these questions, I became interested in the whole subject and in the end wrote an academic thesis on that.
I have already made that thesis available to the Investigative arm of your Commission and I am more than prepared to assist them in continuing that line of investigation to the best of my ability.
The problem is that at the time that I was trying to get that information, we all know what the regime of secrecy was like at that time, and consequently many of the conclusions which I drew, as a result of that investigation, were very tentative and were based on a balance of probabilities.
I think from the Commission's point of view, it would be very useful not only to get the minutes, and I hope you do get the minutes and I hope that the minutes are in existence and intelligible, but also to get hold of some of the key actors in those structures.
I imagine that some of those actors will in due course be applying for amnesty in which case one would then be able to follow that line of investigation further. For example I do know that some time in the course of 1988 Major Craig Williamson, whom I understand is keen to apply for amnesty, made a presentation on this National Security Management System and made them fairly regularly and doubtless he would be able to shed light on all the ramifications that the organisation was up to.
I think the key point that I would want to try to get across, is that when you have a situation where you control the access to information, you control the parameters in which people can operate and cannot operate, when you give State officials a carte blanche indemnification for all the actions that they take, then it is a very short step from there to getting involved in extra legal repression and in activities which constitute a gross violation of human rights.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, Colin Eglin?
MR EGLIN: Responding to Alex and to thank him for leading questions - questions put to us, on the question of our reference to vigilantes and also on the question of the question of harassment and intimidation, we were faced with a practical dilemma.
Perhaps because of our own fault we had three days in which to prepare this documentation and we thought it would be wrong just to put in isolated concepts without having sufficient evidence or sufficient documentation to put into this particular document, and we will be very happy both through the party records and through the records of individuals, to look into these things and to come up with specific instances.
We could have mentioned interception of Mrs Suzman's mail and the fact that it led to evidence that the State was conducting wide spread surveillance of an intelligence kind of ordinary citizen's activities.
The interception of my mail of an American and Buthelezi, about a visit to Africa, which in the end was leaked to a newspaper by Boss, in order to embarrass and to break up that whole situation.
And then as I think Capetonians will know of the activities of an organisation code named Scorpio which conducted a reign of terror in the Cape Peninsula. A number of people were affected and I was the last one in line, because it ended up with them having pot shots at my house. But I would mention these, there is a significant degree of documentation available on these particular issues and we will also think of and find some more in our records and we will willingly cooperate with your Research Directorate and we would hope quite frankly, where there are still question marks about these, we believe it will be very helpful if your Commission takes it further and eliminates the question marks so we happen to know the truth.
CHAIRPERSON: Tony Leon, you have a face that looks like it wants to say some more, your facial expression made me think you wanted to speak?
MR LEON: I feel Chairperson, we have taken up a lot of the Commission's time and we ...
CHAIRPERSON: Bongani Finca?
MR FINCA: Thank you, one small request. When the Democratic Party gives us more information, I hope that they will deal with the matter on page 8, the false information which influenced them to take certain positions and the matter of the cross-border raids and also the question of the DP's own philosophy when it came to security. There is an impression that has been created in this country that the DP or the PFP at the time, would oppose the government on many other things, but not when it came to the security of the State.
I hope that perhaps that could be addressed.
MR LEON: Certainly Mr Chairperson, and I think it might also be useful to create a full picture, that we give you all the relevant statements at the time which were in favour and opposed and I think the Commission on this particular aspect, must draw its own conclusion and also the context of the times in which it took place.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Dr Randera?
DR RANDERA: One of the areas that we are researching and will hopefully have a hearing on is the question of prisons and the human rights' violations that took place within prisons.
Mrs Suzman of course in her presentation talked about it and we have seen it and heard many statements read out by witnesses at our Human Rights' Violations Committee hearings, the role that she played in supporting people who were - political prisoners particularly in prisons, I hope that we could call upon her to provide us with whatever information she may have, because that era at the time that we are covering is very much the time that you covered.
MRS SUZMAN: Chairperson, they were mainly letters that were sent to me while I was the sole MP, by relatives complaining about conditions under which they were being held, and I did my best to visit as many prisons as possible and particularly as far as political prisoners were concerned. So I made an annual visit to Pretoria Central where most of the prisoners were held, political prisoners, and whenever I was allowed and this wasn't an annual event at all, to Robben Island and to Pollsmoor and other prisons.
And there is no doubt in my mind that while conditions were extremely bad in the early 1960's particularly the middle 1960's, by the latter years they have much improved and there was a new attitude towards the rehabilitation of prisoners, rather than using the prison system itself as further punitive measures over and above the deprivation of liberty.
But I mean I have got stacked away in the archives of the library of Wits, a lot of letters from prisoners and prisoners' families. If you want I can try to fish them out. But I mean it is that sort of evidence, which I don't know if it is much good to you. I think you would have learnt as much from publication of the prisons case for instance the Rand Daily Mail and other prisons. But if you want me to, I will go into the archives and see what I can find among the letters. It might be of use to you.
A lot of them were also anonymous. I might say I made a practise of answering every letter. I even gone into the habit of answering anonymous letters.
ADV DE JAGER: Tony Leon, we are all aware that the constitution could be amended again. It may be a two thirds majority required or even more.
We are also aware that a too rigid constitution could also cause problems, but would you be in favour of something like the 34 principles, not all of them perhaps, being carried forward and enshrined in a future constitution?
MR LEON: Chairperson, in fact in the debates of the adoption of this final constitution which is yet to be certified, we tried to get as many of those 34 principles which you have mentioned, which Commissioner De Jager whom I know best of the whole Commission, because we served in the same place across the road for several years, forgive me, Adv de Jager, but which Commissioner de Jager mentioned, we tried to sort of telescope into several paragraphs and make sure that before the Bill of Rights, which to us is fundamental, to ensuring that there isn't future violations of individual liberties, the deprivation of citizenship rights such as we have described this afternoon, to ensure that those 34 or the most important elements were made, were the conditions which were to be met before the Bill of Rights could be amended.
We were not successful in that effort, although there is to be fair, a general in the beginning of the constitution, there is a founding principle which has to be observed before there can be amendments, so it is not just simple. 75 Percent can amend that one, but that in turn, to us it is not expansive enough. So as it were, one has not succeeded in getting those principles, some of which are essential and should be really beyond repeal and beyond a vote, because they are foundational to any democracy and any system of rights.
But why we mention in some detail these specific examples here, is we believe that a recommendation from this Committee will carry a significant amount of weight and that this Commission will put down, one hopes, a bench mark, against which any deviation or deprivation of rights in the future, will have to be measured against. To us it would not just be a symbolic gesture or an exercise in futility, it will have real meaning and hopefully will be a reference point, should you so decide that there are certain fundamental principles which any constitution in the future in South Africa, must conform to.
CHAIRPERSON: Clearly, we would have been greatly impoverished had you not come forward to make a submission and we are grateful that you have prevented that impoverishment from happening.
May I in thanking you again for coming and making that very substantial presentation, also pay a warm tribute to Helen Suzman for the part that she played in the evolution of democracy in our country.
We adjourn ...
MRS SUZMAN: I just want to say that following on what Mr Leon has said about some of the principles not being properly entrenched, I think on the whole, we have won the battle. I think the Bill of Rights contains many of the basic really important principles, which entrenched the rule of law and individual liberty and protection against discrimination. I know that it is politically incorrect to talk about being a liberal these days, but I want to say that I am proud to be a liberal and everything I did during the years I was in Parliament on behalf of the Progressive Party, was to advance liberal values.
And I want to say sir, that we have won.
CHAIRPERSON: You won't actually have the last word. We adjourn until tomorrow morning at ten o'clock.