Main blame for massacre pinned on Ciskei troops

THE Goldstone commission of inquiry into political violence condemned the Ciskei Defence Force yesterday for the massacre at Bisho on 7 September, in which 29 unarmed African National Congress demonstrators were shot dead and hundreds were injured.

'One can only conclude,' the report said, 'that the conduct of the Ciskei soldiers was deliberately aimed at causing as many deaths and injuries as possible.' The report, produced at the behest of President F W de Klerk, also criticised African National Congress leaders who, it said, 'knowingly or negligently' exposed their supporters to the dangers of death and injury.

But the report's conclusion made clear that the burden of blame for the massacre fell squarely on the side of the 'homeland' army. 'Whatever criticism may be levelled at the organisation of the demonstration and whatever criticism there may be of the decision to lead the demonstrators through the gap in the fence, they cannot in any way justify or excuse the conduct of the Ciskei soldiers . . . any mitigating factors there may have been are completely overwhelmed by the disregard for human life shown by the soldiers.'

The report called on the Ciskei attorney-general to charge 'any person responsible for death or injury' - an apparent reference to senior homeland officials.

Videos of the shooting provoked 'a feeling of disbelief', the report said. The soldiers' 'indiscriminate and prolonged shooting at innocent demonstrators was morally and legally indefensible.'

The commission, which found there was 'a high probability' that one CDF soldier had been shot dead by his own men, issued recommendations that amounted to:

A call on political leaders not to engage in demonstrations designed to provoke violence.

A recommendation to the ANC to censure those leaders, specifically the Communist Party official Ronnie Kasrils, who led a breakaway group of marchers through a gap in the fence.

A call on Ciskei publicly to acknowledge that CDF members acted reprehensibly and caused unnecessary deaths.

An exhortation to authorities everywhere in South Africa to 'tolerate and allow complete freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly'.

The report underlined this final point on the right to freedom of expression. The appeal was aimed at the governments of Lucas Mangope of Bophuthatswana and of the Inkatha leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in KwaZulu. ANC threats to stage marches in these two homelands have generated great controversy in recent weeks.

The stated objective of the proposed marches is to protest at prohibitions imposed by the governments on free political activity, specifically ANC political activity.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'