<<previous  | index  |  next>>



In order to pursue a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in Natal and the Transvaal townships, the government of South Africa must first accept its own responsibility in perpetuating the violence. In the list below, Africa Watch recommends a number of specific steps to be taken by the security forces and the national government to put an end to the bloodshed. We believe that these measures would go a long way towards translating the government's professed commitment to address the violence into an effective program of action. If the government is serious about creating a geniune post-apartheid society, it must encourage respect for the rule of law. Prosecuting violations is a necessary component of that process.

In order for a lasting peace to be achieved, apartheid and all the laws and regulations associated with it must be dismantled, and authorities at all levels of government must be willing and able to implement and enforce the reforms. Even with new laws and new attitudes in command, however, only immeasurable amounts of trust and hope by the thousands who have lost family members, friends, homes and possessions in the fighting of the last four years will begin to undo the damage that has been done.


  • Issue clear and unequivocal instructions to all members of the security forces that bias against any group will not be tolerated and that abuses of human rights by members of the forces will be punished.

  • Issue written orders that establish public guidelines about the procedures that security force personnel should follow in dealing with the political violence.

  • Investigate all allegations of abuses by the South African Police, the KwaZulu Police and the South African Defence Forces. Bring those suspected of committing abuses to a speedy and public trial and punish them accordingly.

  • Retrain security forces with an emphasis on peacekeeping and protection, rather than on enforcement of outmoded apartheid laws.

  • Consolidate the forces into one force in order to oversee actions and ensure neutrality.

  • Be more thorough in preparing cases to ensure that courts have evidence to convict perpetrators of violence.

  • Afford witnesses adequate protection by investigating the possibility of legal reforms that would enhance the prospect of witnesses cooperating with the prosecutions.

  • Afford adequate police protection to all groups and individuals.


  • Establish independent and thorough judicial commissions of inquiry into the role of the police and defense forces, and act on the evidence collected. The government should investigate on its own initiative serious human rights cases that come to its attention, regardless of whether a formal complaint has been filed.

  • The results of these investigations, including information about any disciplinary action the government has taken or any prosecution it has initiated, should be made public.

  • Lift emergency restrictions on "unrest areas," which have been used as an excuse by security forces to perpetuate abuses.

  • Begin immediately to dismantle the homeland administrative structures and bring them all under the direct control of the South African government.

  • Hold joint forums with police and political groups to hear grievances and raise awareness of rights.

  • Invite genuinely independent domestic and international monitoring groups to help implement changes.

  • Establish administrative and judicial procedures that provide for the prompt and effective discipline or prosecution of those who have abused the new guidelines.

  • Take steps to speed up the judicial process that will allow it to deal more effectively with violence-related crimes.

  • Ensure that courts are adequately equipped to try violence-related cases without delay.


  • Call on the South African government publicly to investigate the role of the security forces in the township violence.

  • Maintain the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act until the government has met all the conditions that would end human rights abuses.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>

January 1991