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THE ANC PRISON CAMPS:
AN AUDIT OF THREE YEARS, 1990-1993.
Paul Trewhela
To the memory of
Ephraim Nkondo and Mlamli Namba
Vindication of Searchlight South Africa
SEARCHLIGHT SOUTH AFRICA has been vindicated by three recent
reports and one major press investigation into the system of prison camps run
by the African National Congress in exile.
Still more, the participants in the mutiny in the ANC army Umkhonto we
Sizwe (MK) in Angola in 1984 have been vindicated. There is clear recogni
tion in all three reports that a major motive for the mutiny was the demand
for democracy in an army tyrannised by the ANC Security Department. Not
a shred of credibility remains for the slur that the mutiny was 'instigated by
enemy agents'.
At the same time, there has been no investigation worth the name into
abuses in the camps run by the South West African People's Organisation of
Namibia (Swapo) in southern Angola, or in camps run by the Pan Africanist
Congress (PAC) in Tanzania and elsewhere.
The three reports into abuses in the ANC appeared between October
1992 and January 1993. The most reliable and significant of these reports, by
Amnesty International (2 December 1992), drew more than half its material
from information previously published in Searchlight South Africa in issues 5
to 9. This information was subsequently confirmed by Amnesty, conducting
its own independent investigation through a full-time professional re
searcher, Richard Carver, with whom SSA was frequendy in touch.
The ANC was compelled at the highest level to acknowledge its imprison
ment, torture and execution of members in exile as a means of suppressing
critical opinion. It was compelled also to acknowledge the role of Searchlight
South Africa in exposing these abuses. The Weekfy Mail, the leading liberal
newspaper in South Africa, also acknowledged reliance on material publish
ed in SSA more than two years previoasly, as a source for its own exposure of
torture and executions by the ANC.
After long delay, the work of this journal has become front-page reading
in South Africa. It has entered the archives and everyday political knowledge
and debate.
The reality of the ANC's system of prison camps and the nature of its
Security Department, Imbokodo ('the boulder that crushes'), has been es
tablished without question. The ANC is no longer portrayed almost univer
sally by the left and the liberals as a saindy Robin Hood riding to the rescue of
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