30 June 2002

SOUTH AFRICA: Buthelezi fights damning TRC report

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi is to apply for an interdict in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) from finalising its report which names him as a major perpetrator of violence and human rights abuses during the apartheid era, a Sunday newspaper reported.

Commission chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu is due to hand the report to President Thabo Mbeki in August. The Department of Justice, which has assumed the mantle of responsibility for litigation against the TRC which has been dismantled, says it will fight against Buthelezi.

As Buthelezi did not participate in the amnesty process he is open to prosecution and could also be found liable for compensation to victims.

The TRC report states that the IFP under Buthelezi's leadership "was the primary non-state perpetrator... responsible for approximately 33% of all the violations reported to the commission". Among the report's more damning findings on the IFP are that it colluded with the former government's security forces to carry out mass attacks and kill ANC leaders. The report also states that the IFP set up hit-squads to kill or injure ANC leaders and IFP leadership "created a climate of impunity by expressly or implicitly condoning gross human rights violations and other unlawful acts by members and supporters of the organisation".

Buthelezi managed to get access to all TRC documents after an appeal to the Constitutional Court last year. His adviser Mario Amrosini said the IFP legal team had been unable to find documented evidence linking Buthelezi to the crimes the TRC says he committed. On Tuesday, the Cape Town High Court granted the IFP an order compelling the TRC to provide it with the evidence the commissioners used to draw these conclusions on Buthelezi. But former TRC CE Martin Coetzee said that the TRC report would be finalised in a few weeks and the commissioners would not amend its current conclusions. (Mail & Guardian online)

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