Human Rights Developments
In 1991, discussions among the main political rivals in South Africa _ the government, the African National Congress (ANC) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) _ resulted in various peace agreements. But escalating political violence remained the most serious obstacle to the transition to a post-apartheid South Africa. The violence reached unprecedented proportions in the country's bloody history, claiming the lives of over two thousand black South Africans in fighting between ANC and IFP supporters. Despite the government's stated commitment to a negotiated settlement, credible evidence continued to emerge of brutality by the state security apparatus and its use of the IFP to undermine movement toward representative, democratic structures in South Africa.
The government continued to implement its reform process, started in February 1990. In June 1991, it abolished the Group Areas Act, which had segregated residential neighborhoods; the Land Act, which had denied blacks the right to purchase land in eighty-seven percent of the country; and the Population Registration Act, which had classified all newborn South Africans by race. President F.W. de Klerk said in Parliament on June 17, "Now everybody is free from the discouragement and denial...and from the moral dilemma caused by this legislation."
However, the prospect of continuing peaceful reform has been dimmed by the violence that has engulfed South Africa's black townships, claiming more than eleven thousand lives in bloody fighting since 1984. The killings, which started in Natal in the early 1980s and spread to the Transvaal in June 1990, assumed various forms during 1991. It initially involved random attacks by IFP members on ANC settlements, and fighting between squatters and hostel dwellers, the most deprived members of communities. A clear pattern of violence immediately before or after peace talks between the ANC, the IFP and the government became a major destabilizing factor in negotiations.
An Inkatha "impi," a group consisting of hundreds of armed IFP sympathizers, killed twenty-four ANC supporters on April 29, the day after an agreement had been reached by the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. The agreement called on the government to take constructive steps to address the internecine violence by May 9 or face suspension of the constitutional talks. News video footage showed hundreds of men wearing red headbands, a trademark of the IFP. Streaming past police vehicles as they left a funeral service for Moses Khumalo, the assassinated mayor of Soweto and an IFP supporter, they sang and brandished weapons before going into houses and attacking residents. The footage shows police vans twice driving past without taking action.
Three days after the May 9 deadline, at least twenty-seven ANC supporters were killed in an IFP attack in Swannieville squatter camp near Krugersdorp. Statements obtained by Lawyers for Human Rights, a leading South African human rights group, reported the involvement of one thousand men in the attack, all wearing red headbands, being escorted by white men and police vehicles. The police said that they only escorted the attacking "impi" back to their hostel, despite eyewitness testimony that some police refused to stop the attackers while other police blocked exit routes from the attack. Only six attackers were arrested, three of whom were later released.
On April 1, the government responded to the threatened suspension of negotiations by disbanding the security police and merging it with the Criminal Investigation Department. Then Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok's assertion that the move "will remove the police from the political playing field" was proven wrong by such incidents as the Swannieville attack the next month.
On April 18, Minister Vlok issued a ban on the carrying of dangerous weapons including pangas, axes and bush knives, which IFP members commonly carry in "potential conflict situations." But following an argument by the IFP that spears are a necessary expression of their cultural identity, spears, ceremonial battle axes and pocket knives were exempted from the ban, thus failing to meet the ANC demand for a wholesale ban.
In 1991, it became increasingly clear that the violence is a legacy of the government's residency restrictions. One element is the hostel system, in which migrant workers, predominantly IFP supporters from Natal, are housed in townships far from their families, in miserable, single-sex dormitories. In the thirty-one townships surrounding Johannesburg, there are 120 such hostels housing 200,000 people. They have increasingly been identified as sources for recruitment, weapons and ammunition. IFP members repeatedly justified their mass mobilization because of fear of losing their "homes." This insecurity, rooted in the government's strict movement and residence control of the migrant work force and past policy of forced removals, assumed an ethnic dimension and was fueled by the ANC's demand that the government abolish the hostel system. The sense of fear and insecurity is a major cause of the conflict between the impoverished residents of hostels and ANC-dominated squatter areas, where similar sentiments of insecurity exist and where "self-defense units" against hostel dwellers have been deployed. Rather than seriously addressing the deeper source of the hostel and squatter problems _ the government's policy of containing migrant workers in limited spaces at the peripheries of white cities _ the government has indicated only its intention to "upgrade" the areas.
More sophisticated attacks increased in the latter part of 1991. With growing frequency, unidentified gunmen shot commuters, mourners at funerals, and groups at political rallies. The most disturbing statistics relate to the alarming rise in hit-squad actions. At least forty-six activists were assassinated by gunmen in 1991. Although the much-criticized 1990 Harms Commission41 of inquiry into hit squads dismissed claims of their existence within the police force, the debate was reignited with the April 1991 judgment in a case involving two newspapers that are critical of the government, the Vrye Weekblad and the Weekly Mail. Lieutenant General Lothar Neetling of the security police had sued both newspapers for defamation as a result of their allegations that he had attempted to poison anti-apartheid activists. The court found that Neetling had attempted to mislead both the court and the Harms Commission, which had relied heavily on his testimony. Despite these irregularities and the hit-squad activities now linked to Neetling and the police force, the government has failed to establish another commission to investigate the hit squads.
During 1991, reliable evidence emerged corroborating earlier documentation by human rights groups and the press of police bias and involvement in the political violence. President De Klerk confirmed that in 1986 the South African Defense Force had trained a unit of 150 Zulu fighters in a camp called "Hippo" in Namibia. According to the government, they were trained for "security work and VIP protection." The fighters claim that they received training in urban and guerilla warfare and were used by Inkatha to attack ANC supporters in Natal.
Perhaps the strongest connection between the state and the IFP was the publication in July 1991 of documents revealing covert police funding to the IFP. Minister Vlok acknowledged payments of $90,000 to Inkatha and $500,000 to its trade union, United Worker Union of South Africa. In a ten-page memorandum to the chief of security police in Pretoria, dated February 13, 1990, Major Louis Botha, a senior security police officer, recommended that "a clandestine grant of R120,000 [$42,000] be made available...to show everyone that he [Gatsha Buthelezi, the IFP leader] has a strong base." The funds were used to organize a rally where Buthelezi spoke against sanctions. Only a few supporters attended, and clashes between ANC and IFP supporters broke out before and after the rally.
Addressing the causes of the violence, Black Sash, a prominent South African human rights group, noted the "overwhelming circumstantial evidence of outbreaks of violence being orchestrated; of existing conflicts being used to exacerbate the violence; of police partiality." The Independent Board of Investigation into Informal Repression, an independent monitoring group, has collected evidence of incidents of intimidation by the IFP, deliberate attacks by IFP members on squatter camps, and numerous sworn affidavits by police officers alleging police involvement with the IFP. A survey by media and monitoring groups covering the Transvaal violence from July 1990 to May 1991 held the IFP responsible for sixty-six percent of the acts of aggression and the ANC for six percent. The Human Rights Commission reported that between January and June 1991, sixty people were killed and 349 injured in police actions. In response to allegations of its involvement, the police offered categorical denials and initiated only a few prosecutions and investigations.
The killings have continued despite various peace initiatives, such as the historical cease-fire agreements between the ANC and IFP leadership on January 29 and February 18, and the subsequent establishment of a Joint Peace Implementation Committee. However, peace talks between the government and the ANC scheduled for June were suspended due to a renewed outbreak of violence. On August 19, a four-person committee was established to monitor the spending of secret government cash. The most serious attempt yet to stem the violence took the form of a peace agreement on September 14 among the ANC, the IFP and the government. The agreement, in which the parties agreed on the establishment of a Commission on Violence, includes a code of political conduct, forbids provocative statements or actions, and is intended to promote political tolerance. As a result of allegations that the police and defense force have used black groups to promote violence, the agreement includes a ban on training or providing funds, weapons or ammunition to nonsecurity-force members to carry out actions which undermine a political party. It calls on leaders to refrain from using inflammatory language and to prevent the carrying of weapons, including "cultural" spears.
Nonetheless, killings continued under circumstances suggesting government involvement. In the week preceding the September agreement, at least 135 black South Africans were killed in bloody fighting that erupted after gunmen ambushed IFP supporters and killed twenty-three people. Violence erupted simultaneously in Natal and the black townships around Cape Town. On the eve of the signing of the agreement, sixteen ANC and IFP members were killed and thirty-two injured in fighting outside Johannesburg. In the two months following the agreement, at least two hundred people died. On October 12, eighteen ANC supporters were killed by unknown assailants in an attack on a crowd marching home from the funeral of ANC member Sam Ntuli, who was assassinated in early September. In the majority of the attacks, witnesses reported seeing plainclothesmen in cars without license plates. The government's response to allegations of its involvement was, again, to issue a denial and to demand evidence to the contrary. However, the Commission on Violence, chaired by Justice Richard Goldstone, has begun to investigate the killings.
One devastating, cumulative effect of more than fifteen years of township violence is the demise of the country's black school system. Protests, vandalism of school property, and student and teacher strikes have culminated in the highest failure rate of black high-school examinations in South African history. In April, IFP supporters attacked two schools in Alexandra township, injuring numerous pupils and teachers. The IFP sees schools as "soft targets" because ANC self-defense units do not operate there. Many schools have closed down in the past few years and others have become overcrowded. The result at the end of 1990 was a thirty-six percent passing rate for blacks, as opposed to ninety-seven percent for whites.
The government continues to exert control through legislative and administrative mechanisms such as the Internal Security Act and the Public Safety Act, which have been used in the past to silence political opposition, although they were amended somewhat in 1991 by repealing or limiting the power to order house arrest, banish people to remote areas, and restrict association and movement. While no state of emergency now exists, at least seven black townships are still declared unrest areas under the Public Safety Act, giving security agents broad powers of arrest. The Internal Security Act also still provides for detention without trial for up to ten days without access to lawyers, family and the courts. The Human Rights Commission documented 176 cases of detention without trial between January and August 1991. In an agreement between the government and the ANC in August 1990, elaborate guidelines were adopted to effectuate the release of all political prisoners by April 30, 1991. According to the agreement, an offense is political depending on the facts and the circumstances of the particular case, taking into account the motive, nature and purpose of the offense. Over six months after the deadline, more than nine hundred political offenders, including six in the homeland of Bophuthatswana, continue to be detained.
The violence has also severely affected two of South Africa's four so-called independent homelands. Despite official efforts to describe the violence as "local infighting," the pattern of violence shows it to be a result of the growing tensions between supporters of the homeland authorities and opposition to the homeland system itself. The homelands system has the effect of channeling black political discontent over repressive conditions in South Africa toward the homeland political structure, and homeland authorities have seldom hesitated to suppress such dissent. From January to August 1991, security forces in Bophuthatswana killed at least five, injured nineteen, arrested 244 and detained without trial thirty-eight. In Ciskei, they killed two, injured fourteen, arrested twenty-one and detained without trial thirty-three. In both Ciskei and Bophuthatswana, a strong military presence has been maintained to suppress opposition. Although the state of emergency in Bophuthatswana was lifted in March, repression by local authorities, backed by vigilante groups, continued. Violence reached a peak in the Braklaagte area of Bophuthatswana in January with the launching of a local ANC branch, as fighting erupted between opponents and supporters of the homeland regime. Over six thousand residents were forced to flee and were not permitted to return until June. A large police camp continues to occupy the Braklaagte village. Despite its stated intention to eradicate the last vestiges of apartheid, the South African government proceeded in early November to transfer about 2.5 million acres of land, encompassing twenty-five farms, to Bophuthatswana.
Both Bophuthatswana and Ciskei have bills of rights protecting fundamental freedoms. Yet, the freedoms of expression and association are severely curtailed by both homelands' National Security Acts, modeled on South Africa's repressive Internal Security Act before it was amended in June. The Acts provide for indefinite detention without trial, declare meetings of more than twenty people unlawful unless authorized, and provide the police with indemnity against prosecution.
On October 31, Brigadier Oupa Gqozo, the military leader of Ciskei, declared a state of emergency, only a few weeks after signing the September National Peace Accord in which he committed himself to the promotion of political tolerance. Brigadier Gqozo gained power after a military coup in 1990, overthrowing the regime of Lennox Sebe. The state of emergency is the most serious in an array of measures designed to stifle opposition to Gqozo's regime. Under the emergency powers, organizations may be banned or restricted, individuals may be restricted, and businesses may be closed. The commissioner of the police may restrict media presence and prohibit distribution of printed material. The emergency also gives the police license to use violence. On October 28, 1991, Gqozo stated publicly on Radio Ciskei: "I say to the police they should hit silly people on the head because the courts take a long time while they [his opponents] continue to burn people."
Since June 26, when Gqozo launched a cultural organization, the African Democratic Movement (ADM), the government has made a concerted attempt to eliminate any form of opposition. At the launching of the ADM, Gqozo publicly stated his intention to "clean up Ciskei." One of the aims of the ADM, of which Gqozo is president, is to recruit traditional community leaders with the aim of moving local government under the direct control of the military regime. Subsequently, two ministers sympathetic to the ANC have been dismissed "for purposes of unity in the government." Radio Ciskei employees have also been dismissed, detained and harassed for providing government opponents an opportunity to air their views. Through the use of internal boards of inquiry into misdemeanors that were committed years ago, Gqozo also has attempted to remove officers in the police force who might oppose him.
The state of emergency was declared in the wake of growing friction between ANC supporters and the homeland authorities. One of the main causes of conflict is the imposition of unrepresentative, appointed "chiefs" over elected regional representatives. As resulting tension within communities escalated into violence between opposing factions and widespread destruction of homes, the state of emergency was announced, clearly as a devise to silence dissent. Community leaders were detained without any attempt to negotiate an end to the violence. Only after national and international pressure did the government lift the state of emergency on November 17.
Numerous reports of the Independent Board of Investigation into Informal Repression (IBIIR) indicate collaboration of South African security forces with homeland authorities and allied vigilante groups. The IBIIR has documented activities of a Ciskei intelligence group, International Researchers (IR), which was headed by former members of the South African Defense Force (SADF) and has been involved in hit-squad activities. IR has had close relations with Brigadier Gqozo. Although IR was officially disbanded on August 30, there are numerous reports of a continuing SADF presence in the region.
On September 4, the South African government proposed the abolition of the homelands. In a document which will be presented to an eventual constitutional convention, the government envisions a federal South Africa consisting of nine regions or states _ none a homeland. However, despite this proposal, no attempt has been made to abolish the existing legislation providing for the homelands as separate independent states. Furthermore, the government has repeatedly denied responsibility for violence in the homelands while it continues to support the homeland authorities with military and economic assistance. The government also declared that it would not intervene to revoke the state of emergency in Ciskei.
The Right To Monitor
Since the lifting of the nationwide state of emergency in June 1990, monitoring groups have been in a position, for the first time since 1985 when the emergency was originally imposed, to monitor human rights abuses. Despite this important step, the Internal Security Act, even after the June 1991 amendments, still provides for the banning of an organization if the minister of law and order has "reason to believe" that it uses, threatens to use, or encourages violence or disturbance to overthrow or challenge state authority or to bring about change.
In Bophuthatswana, human rights groups such as Black Sash, its affiliate the Transvaal Rural Action, and the Bafokeng Women's League are banned. Beginning on October 17, the Mafikeng Anti Repression Forum, the only organization allowed to monitor abusive practices by the government in Bophuthatswana, has been banned for several weeks from visiting prisons and hospitals there.
Another important impediment to human rights monitoring, as well as an indication of the South African government's ambivalent response to the violence, is a series of laws that in certain circumstances make it a crime to report on the violence and to document the government's involvement. The Protection of Information Act prohibits the possession or publication of any document obtained from a "prohibited place" and carries penalties of up to ten years' imprisonment and a fine of up to three thousand dollars. The police have been investigating whether a document obtained by the Weekly Mail and the Guardian of London, which discloses the government's funding of the IFP, was stolen. Freedom of the press is further inhibited by the Police Act, which imposes a sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $3,000 on a journalist who publishes false information about the police without having "reasonable grounds" for believing it to be true. Particularly because the burden of proving "reasonable grounds" is on the journalist, reporting on police activity is severely impeded. The Criminal Procedure Act requires journalists to identify their sources of information, contrary to their professional code of conduct. Throughout the year, numerous local and foreign journalists were imprisoned for refusing to disclose this information.
Nineteen ninety-one marked the end of five years of U.S. economic sanctions against South Africa. Half a decade ago, a nearly united Congress took control of U.S. policy toward South Africa, imposing sanctions over the veto of President Ronald Reagan. On July 10, 1991, President Bush announced the lifting of sanctions, despite remaining obstacles to a peaceful post-apartheid South Africa, including unprecedented violence, the continuing existence of the homelands and the ongoing detention of prisoners whose release had been agreed to. There was little congressional opposition to the president's decision, largely because most members were persuaded that the reforms introduced by President de Klerk met the specific standards of the Comprehensive Anti Apartheid Act (CAAA). In announcing the end of the U.S. embargo, President Bush stated:
This is a moment in history which many believed would never be attained. But we've done so through the efforts of many people in South Africa and around the world. And in that sense this is a time for reflection. And it is also a time when all who care about the future of South Africa, as I do, should rededicate themselves to stay the course in the interest of peace and democracy. There has been a dramatic change. But all is not totally well there, and we will continue to be actively involved _ as actively involved as we can.
Sanctions that remain in place include the mandatory U.N. embargo on arms exports and imports, the prohibition of exports to the South African military and police, restrictions on U.S. support for International Monetary Fund loans to South Africa, and the Fair Labor Standards Program, which applies to U.S. firms employing more than twenty-five persons in South Africa.
In making its case for the lifting of sanctions, the Bush Administration argued that all the conditions under the 1985 CAAA had been met: the release of political prisoners, the repeal of the state of emergency, the unbanning of opposition political parties, the repeal of apartheid legislation, and the entering of the government without preconditions into good faith negotiations with representative members of the black majority.
The condition that caused the most controversy was the Administration's claim that South Africa had released all political prisoners. The framework under which political prisoners were released had been negotiated by the ANC and the government in an August 1990 agreement known as the Pretoria Minute, and subsequent agreements. While the government released thousands of prisoners under the agreement and more after remitting their sentences, more than seven hundred politically motivated offenders continue to be detained. The Bush Administration concluded that all political offenders had been released based on its definition of political prisoners as "people who have been imprisoned for their political beliefs [which] does not include people who have been convicted under due process for crimes of violence." While this definition is similar to those used by international human rights organizations, it is narrower than the one used in the Pretoria Minute, which includes some acts of violence.
Of particular controversy were 166 political prisoners who were held at the time in jails in Bophuthatswana homeland. Under the Pretoria Minute, these prisoners are regarded as political because they were convicted of treason after an abortive coup attempt against the Mangope regime in 1988. The Administration's exclusion of the Bophuthatswana prisoners is troublesome because it rested on the fiction that the homeland governments were independent of the South African government. It has long been U.S. policy not to recognize the independence of the homelands, which only South Africa regards as independent states. Notwithstanding the explicit provision in the CAAA holding that the homelands are part of South Africa, the Administration argued that the CAAA never envisioned the incorporation of the homelands into South Africa as a condition for the lifting of sanctions and thus does not address political prisoners held by homeland authorities. The result was that the Administration, in its rush to end sanctions, effectively endorsed the independence of Bophuthatswana and squandered an opportunity to press for the release of the remaining political prisoners in that homeland.
Apparently in an effort to mitigate the effect of this decision, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen, in a July 31 statement before the House Subcommittees on Africa and on International Economic Policy and Trade, said: "I wish to emphasize that we have consistently urged the South African government to bring its full influence to bear in resolving this issue, specifically in Bophuthatswana." Such toothless "urg[ing]" was not enough. Although some of these prisoners were released for "behavioral and attitudinal" reasons and a handful for "humanitarian" reasons after suffering from health problems following a hunger strike, at least one prisoner died and eighty-seven remained in prison until mid-December, when all but six were released.
Although the CAAA does not explicitly require that political violence be taken into consideration, the devastating dimension of the problem _ more than six thousand lives lost in the past eighteen months _ should have prompted the Administration to discuss the South African government's role in the violence in the context of deciding whether to lift sanctions. To the contrary, the Administration refused even to acknowledge the role of the security forces in the killings. On March 28, after numerous killings in March _ especially in Alexandra, outside Johannesburg, where seventy people were killed _ State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated:
The police have announced that they are investigating the incident. At this point, as far as who is responsible there is only speculation that involves the possibility that there were Inkatha sympathizers or elements of some rightist third force
On July 10, a week before the press published documents exposing covert government funding of the IFP and minutes after President Bush announced the lifting of sanctions, Secretary Cohen said in response to allegations of the South African government's involvement in the violence:
We have looked at all of the accusations. We have deployed our own resources to try and find out. We have seen no evidence that the South African government entities are supporting black-on-black violence. This does not exclude the activities of private citizens, which we're not aware of. But we have seen no evidence that the government entities are doing anything in that line.42
Even after the South African government acknowledged support of the IFP, Secretary Cohen, clearly evading the question of government involvement in the IFP's violence, said:
We are following these developments closely and will take appropriate action. However, it does not lessen our conviction that an irreversible process of change is occurring in South Africa.
Boucher, the State Department spokesman, was somewhat more direct on July 22, but again refrained from condemning the South African government for its covert activities. He said:
We would call upon the government of South Africa to take action to terminate all activities which undermine the political system created by reforms initiated since February 1990, and to take appropriate action against all persons found responsible for illegal acts. I believe that the integrity of the negotiating process requires nothing less.
To its credit, the Bush Administration has encouraged the government, the ANC and the IFP to negotiate. But an emphasis on negotiations without comparable public concern over the government's role in political violence can have dire consequences, because since the beginning of 1991, the bloodiest violence has occurred during negotiations. This outbreak of violence has been a predictable consequence of the security forces's policy of using the IFP to instigate violence and disrupt the peace process. For example, on September 8, a week before the first major peace agreement was to be signed, violence clearly aimed at derailing the negotiations erupted in what the South African press described as "Bloody Sunday." The next day, spokesman Boucher responded: "The weekend events were tragic and they illustrated once again the need for an agreement among the principal parties on a peace accord that will govern public political activity."
The Administration's stubborn refusal to see an official hand behind the killings was particularly evident in the South Africa chapter of the Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1990, issued by the State Department in February 1991. The Department accurately identifies the violence as the most serious obstacle to a peaceful future in South Africa, but fails to comment on the role of the security forces. Instead, as in the past, it treats the violence as a domestic problem of political and ethnic rivalries. Although the State Department notes the belief of others that a "third force" of "right-wing extremist elements of the security forces" is behind the fighting between ANC and IFP supporters, the report concludes that "evidence of this was lacking."
On June 18, President Bush extended a warm welcome, of the sort usually reserved for major foreign leaders, to Gatsha Buthelezi, leader of the IFP. At the time, the IFP, together with South African security forces, had been implicated in most of the violence. Numerous witnesses had described IFP intimidation and harassment, and a former military-intelligence agent had testified that the IFP received arms from the government. Though initially denying it, Buthelezi admitted receiving funds from the government a month later. Yet, there was no public discussion at any time during his U.S. visit of the IFP's role in the violence. Instead, President Bush announced publicly in Buthelezi's presence, in a manner designed to convey a reward to him, the Administration's intention to lift sanctions soon. In August, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced a grant of $2.5 million to the IFP, part of a ten million dollar "Transition to Democracy" project for South Africa which was initiated in 1990 by President Bush, with all funds to be used on behalf of victims of apartheid.
Although an irreversible process of change is undoubtedly underway in South Africa, as stated by the Bush Administration on numerous occasions, a peaceful negotiated settlement will not be attained until there is an end to the violence and those implicated in the killings have been brought to justice. The Administration's role in encouraging reforms would have been more effective had it been willing to recognize the role of government forces in the killings and call for a halt to their deadly practices.
The Work of Africa Watch
In January, Africa Watch released a report, The Killings in South Africa _ The Role of the Security Forces and the Response of the State. The report contains dozens of eyewitness accounts describing security forces promoting the violence and failing to respond to the needs of the victims.
Several detailed letters were sent to the South African government in 1991 protesting covert government funding to the IFP, the lack of effective steps to end the violence, and continuing restrictions on press reporting of the violence. Africa Watch also supplied congressional aides with updated information on political prisoners, including those in the homelands. This information contributed to the adoption of legislation by Congress to urge the release of all political prisoners.
An April report, Academic Freedom and Human Rights Abuses in Africa, included a substantial chapter on South Africa.
Throughout 1991, Africa Watch documented human rights abuses in the homelands and contacted the South African authorities to protest their failure to alleviate appalling conditions there.
In September, Africa Watch released a newsletter, "Out of Sight: The Misery in Bophuthatswana," which gave an account of repression in one of South Africa's four homelands. In December, "Ciskei: Ten Years on Human Rights and the Fiction of 'Independence'," a newsletter detailing the conditions in Ciskei, was released.
The Harms Commission was flawed in both design and practice. The inquiry was limited to acts committed within the border of South Africa, although many anti-apartheid activists have been assassinated outside the country. Throughout the inquest, valuable evidence disappeared, and government witnesses testified in wigs and other disguises, and were not required to produce pertinent documents. The commission's report, which failed to name any special units or individuals of the army or police as participants in the death squads, was denounced by human rights groups as a "whitewash."
New Yorker, August 19, 1991.