SKWEYIYA COMMISSION REPORT
REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY INTO COMPLAINTS BY
FORMER AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
In February 1991 the African National Congress (ANC) adopted a resolution to release all persons whom it had
apprehended as "secret agents, spies, agents provocateurs and hired assassins" in the employ of the South
African Government's security services. In August 1991, 32 men labelled by the ANC as the "most notorious"
suspected agents and infiltrators and who had been detained in various ANC detention camps returned to South Africa.
Upon their return, the group of 32 met with high-ranking ANC officials. Some of the group were anxious to expose the
alleged maltreatment to which they had been subjected while in detention. An agreement was reached between the
group of 32 and the ANC: officials concerned and a moratorium on "accusative statements" was agreed upon. Within
days, however, several of the group of 32 gave detailed accounts to the media of their alleged treatment in ANC camps.
The allegiances of the group or 32 were divided. Approximately 20 wished to have nothing further to do with the ANC,
while the remaining 12 proclaimed themselves still loyal to the ideals for which the ANC stood. The members of the
former group subsequently organised themselves into an association styled the Returned Exiles Committee (REC).
Allegations made by some of the group of 32 were of the gravest nature. It was alleged that detainees were beaten with
iron bars, bicycle chains and barbed wire, while they were in captivity:. They stated that they were forced into making
false confessions and then crammed into cells (The Star, 22 August 1991). Two former detainees alleged that having
been branded as Spies by the ANC, they voluntarily left South Africa to clarify their position to the ANC. They were
allegedly held in detention for the next six years and were subjected to torture (Sowetan, 23 August 1991 ) (Since the
persons who made these allegations to the press did not testify before the Commission their veracity could not be
tested) . Other allegations made at that time and subsequently were that summary executions had taken place in the
camps and that certain detainees had simply disappeared without trace.
The ANC, through its President, Mr Nelson Mandela undertook to fully investigate all implants about the treatment of
detainees in ANC camps. In March 1992 the appointment of an Internal Commission of Enquiry was announced.
B. THE TERMS OF REFERENCE
In letters to each of the members of the Commission, the President of the ANC indicated his attitude to the task of the
Commission. The letter stated, among other things, the following:
"Complaints have been made to the ANC by a number of persons who were previously held as prisoners
by it in camps outside of South Africa concerning the conditions in which they were held, the manner in
which they were treated and the manner in which their property was dealt with after their detention.
These complaints are serious and call for a full and thorough investigation by the ANC to establish
whether or not they are correct, and if they are, what action it should take in consequence thereof."
The terms of reference of the Commission were designed to achieve these objectives. They record that the
commission was established "following the receipt of complaints by individuals who were previously held as
detainees by the ANC" and require the Commission to investigate complaints relating to "the conditions of their
detention", "the allegations of their maltreatment", and "the complaints about the loss or destruction of their
property". The Commission was required to make recommendations consequent upon its findings.
The ANC undertook "to ensure its cooperation to facilitate a full and thorough investigation into all aspects of
the matter specified in the terms of reference". To this end, the ANC undertook to appoint "an independent lawyer
to conduct investigations, interview witnesses, visit detention camps and lead the evidence before the
Commission and to do all things reasonably incidental to the afore going". Advocate E. Revelas of the
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