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Monday, October 26, 1998 Published at 13:49 GMT

World: Africa

Truth commission implicates ANC in torture

Witnesses told the commission of abuses by government and opposition

Jane Standley: "Many of the alledged abuses were against the ANC's own members"
As South Africa prepares for this week's publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report, indications are that the governing African National Congress as well as agents of the former apartheid government will stand accused of abusing human rights.

A leaked document from the commission accuses the ANC of torture and other human rights violations, and of carrying out badly-planned bomb attacks causing unnecessary loss of life.

[ image:  ]
At the same time, former President FW de Klerk is threatening legal action to stop the commission from publishing information said to implicate him in state-sponsored bombings. Truth commission officials expect further such action from agents of the old government before the report is published on Thursday.

'Legitimate struggle'

However, the report also acknowledges that the ANC was waging a legitimate struggle against apartheid, and is expected to place overwhelming blame for the era's abuses on successive white governments and their security services. Other political movements, including the Inkatha Freedom Party, are also expected to come under criticism.

[ image:  ]
The commission, a non-party political body chaired by Bishop Desmond Tutu, has spent more than two years hearing testimony concerning abuses of human rights in South Africa during the apartheid years.

The accusations against the ANC are made in a working document entitled "Findings on the role of the ANC", which has been obtained by the South African Broadcasting Corporation in advance of the publication of the full report.

ANC spokesman Thabo Masebe said the information obtained by the SABC seemed to come from a letter which the Truth Commission sent to the ANC, "informing us of its intention to implicate the ANC in gross human rights violations."

The ANC is now the main party of government in South Africa. During the period referred to by the report, the organisation was a banned opposition movement, operating in exile, and covertly within South Africa.

The accusations are principally concerned with the activities of the ANC's armed wing, uMkhontho weSizwe, which was set up after the ANC was banned in South Africa in 1960.

MK, as it was usually known, maintained training camps in other southern African countries, and made occasional guerrilla attacks on military and civilian targets inside South Africa.

Surprise at accusations

[ image: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: 'Mentioned by name']
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: 'Mentioned by name'
Although abuses in the MK camps have often been spoken of in South Africa, there has been a shortage of independently verified evidence - especially since MK was frequently smeared as a terrorist organisation by the previous government.

A BBC correspondent in South Africa says the leak has come as a surprise, since it was thought that the commission did not have a mandate to investigate abuses committed outside of South Africa.

The leaked document is also reported to hold the ANC responsible for the activities of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of President Nelson Mandela, whose bodyguards have been accused of carrying out abductions and killings in the last years of apartheid.

Although the bodyguards - known as the "Mandela Football Team" - were not formally part of the ANC, the document reportedly says the ANC should have kept Ms Madikizela-Mandela and her entourage in check.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela is said to be the only person mentioned by name in the document leaked to the SABC.

Mr Masebe was reluctant to comment on the leak, saying: "I wouldn't want to engage in an exercise where we start speculating about what would be contained in the final report of the TRC."

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