Inquiry condemns De Klerk failure to halt killings

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The Independent Online
THE Goldstone Commission of Inquiry, appointed last year by President F W de Klerk to investigate political violence, harshly criticised the government and the South African security forces yesterday for their failure to act to stop the killings.

A statement delivered in Pretoria by Justice Richard Goldstone, the head of the commission, also highlighted the distrust and suspicion many South Africans felt for the security forces. A particularly 'urgent and daunting task' facing the commission was to forge a bond of trust between citizens, security forces and government, who in turn had to demonstrate they had the security forces under full control.

Justice Goldstone's earlier pronouncements have tended to focus on the lethal rivalry between the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party. Yesterday the judge, on the evidence so far, exonerated Mr de Klerk himself, his government and senior army and police officers from any direct involvement in political violence.

Nelson Mandela, the ANC leader, has denounced the government's failure to step up security measures around the Inkatha- dominated single men's hostels, which are constantly at the centre of the township wars, and to ban the carrying of dangerous weapons in public.

Justice Goldstone criticised the government for having ignored earlier recommendations by his commission for hostels to be fenced, disarmed and watched by 'a strong and effective police presence'. The commission's recommendations on weapons had been inadequately implemented.

A simple recommendation for the removal of 'Battalion 32' from purported 'peace-keeping operations' in the townships affected by violence had been completely ignored.

The commission found two months ago that soldiers of the battalion, a notoriously brutal and battle-hardened special forces unit made up of black Angolans and led by white South African officers, had carried out killings and other atrocities in a pro-ANC squatter camp.

The judge said that a police investigation into a prima facie case of involvement by police in an unsuccessful conspiracy to murder a local ANC leader had taken an unacceptably long time.

It had been referred to the Transvaal attorney-general in December last year.