A striking feature of the evidence presented to the Commission was its consistency. The experience of the former
detainees was depressingly similar, Varying only in degree of severity. The witnesses who testified included persons still
loyal to the ANC and those who are hostile to the ANC. It included persons convicted of crimes and those never
The periods of detention and the alleged reasons therefor varied markedly. Yet, the same practices and names cropped
up over and over again. We rule out the possibility of collusion or fabrication.
It is not proposed in this report to detail the treatment of each detainee individually. The individual statements of the
detainees together with the typed record of the enquiry will be made available separately to the President of the ANC. A
general overview of the abuses will be given. The most persistent abuses were perpetrated in Quatro which was not
inappropriately described by one witness as a concentration camp. There were abuses, sometimes of the most chilling
kind, perpetrated elsewhere. These will be dealt with separately.
Quatro was essentially a camp for suspected enemy agents and dissidents. The attitude of the camp guards,
commanders and medical assistants seemed to be universally hostile to the inmates. The inmates, whether convicted of
any offence or not, were denigrated, humiliated and abused, often with staggering brutality. The violence inflicted on the
prisoners usually had nothing whatsoever to do with any disciplinary transgression. It was violence for the sake of
violence. One witness articulated what emerged as the common experience of the detainees. He said that after a while,
he no longer knew how to behave. Any excuse was seized upon by the guards to inflict punishment. We set out below
the main forms of abuse. We emphasise that not every detainee was subjected to the practices descried hereunder.
1. Discipline and Denigration
All detainees were given names which sometimes bore derogatory or humiliating connotations. Names of some of the
group of 32 included "donkey", "goat", "monkey", "pig" and "fool".
The general disciplinary regime was harsh and arbitrary. Talking during work was forbidden Requests of almost any sort
were frowned upon and often met with assault. Detainees were forbidden to reveal their real names to each over.
2. Hard Labour
Various forms of hard labour were required from some of the detainees. In the main, hard labour consisted of felling
trees, chopping wood, breaking stones, digging trenches and hauling a water cart. It was the latter forth of hard labour
that elicited the greatest bitterness. The camp had no running water. Accordingly, water had to be collected in a tank
from a spruit near the camp.A large tank, transported on a cart, was used for the purpose. A group of detainees was
required each day to fetch water and run with the cart uphill. The task was, by all accounts, back-breaking. Indeed, it
was a practice which shocked Mr Chris Hani, when he witnessed it. He told us that he attempted to alleviate this
practice by acquiring a tractor. His efforts were short-lived, however, since the tractor broke down.
3. Assault and Punishment
A variety of assaults and punishments were regularly meted out to detainees. One form of abuse, known as "pompa"
was described by one witness as a "tradition" at Castro. The victim was required to puff out his cheeks while being
repeatedly slapped in the face. The effect was to create unbearable pressure on the eardrums and excruciating pain.
Nearly every witness who appeared before the Commission was a victim of this abuse. Some complained of burst
eardnuns and bleeding from the ears. The evidence revealed that this form of abuse was routine.
Another practice frequently carried out was known as "gasmask". A pawpaw shell, from which the pulp had been
removed, was pushed into the face of the detainee until he could no longer breath. This practice was widespread.
Certain witnesses told of the practice known as "slaughter". A detainee was thrown into a narrow pit approximately four
metres deep. Two metres above the base of the pit there was a trench which was the only exit from the pit. A prisoner
would then be ordered to jump and try to get out of the pit through the trench, while at the same time the warders would
throw heaps of soil on the prisoner struggling to get out. One witness related how a prisoner was thrown into a pit with
the pawpaw skin over his face, while stones were thrown at him by the guards. The same witness told a particularly
gruesome tale concerning a prisoner who had to wear the "gasmask" while his forehead was repeatedly bashed
against the trunk of a tree. The victim was apparently previously burnt with boiling water on his head. The wound had
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