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Wednesday, October 28, 1998 Published at 10:29 GMT

World: Africa

De Klerk accusations cut from report

FW de Klerk attempted to stop the publication of the report

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa has removed criticism of former President FW de Klerk from its final report.

Greg Barrow in Johannesburg: "Once wrangling is over the commission may be able to publish its findings"
This follows a court challenge by Mr de Klerk to block the publication of the report, which is due to be released on Thursday.

The report is believed to link Mr de Klerk, the last president before the end of apartheid, to the bombing of anti-apartheid offices in the 1980s.

Commission chairman Bishop Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying the commission needs time to prepare to fight the legal challenge, and would "excise" De Klerk's name from the report to avoid delaying its release.

[ image: Desmond Tutu:
Desmond Tutu: "We have been scrupulously fair to Mr de Klerk"
"It upsets me deeply," Bishop Tutu said. "We have been scrupulously fair to Mr de Klerk and we reject the contention that we have been engaged in a vendetta against him."

Mr de Klerk, a cabinet minister at the time of the bombings, is not accused of authorising them.

But according to the South African Sunday Times newspaper, the TRC report maintains that Mr de Klerk knew of the involvement of the then Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok and the then Police Commissioner Johan van der Merwe in the bombings, but failed to report them.

Mr Vlok subsequently applied to the TRC for amnesty.

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

The TRC report may include recommendations of further legal action against people believed to have played a central role in abuses.

Mr de Klerk, who was a member of President PW Botha's cabinet at the time of the bombings, has repeatedly denied that he was party to the killing of apartheid's enemies.

Parties 'could reject report'

Meanwhile the ruling ANC has issued a rebuttal of TRC accusations that it was responsible for torture and needless killings.

And commentators in South Africa say at least three parties are expected to reject the TRC report altogether:

  • The National Party, which formed South Africa's apartheid government

  • The Inkatha Freedom Party, the Zulu nationalist organisation which was linked to covert police activities in the early 1990s

  • The Freedom Front, a white right-wing organisation formed in the dying days of apartheid by former armed forces chief Constand Viljoen.

'Leading figures warned'

The Sunday Times reported that around 200 high-profile figures had been warned by the TRC to expect damaging allegations against them. People said to have received warnings include:

  • Mr de Klerk
  • Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of the president, whose bodyguards have been linked to abduction and killings
  • Magnus Malan, formerly head of South Africa's armed forces and later defence minister in PW Botha's cabinet
  • Ronnie Kasrils, former officer in the ANC's armed wing uMkhontho weSizwe and now deputy defence minister

[ image:  ]
A similar warning was made to the ANC as an organisation. It was the leak of this letter to the South African Broadcasting Corporation which led to the revelation earlier this week that the ANC, as well as members of the previous government, is to face sharp criticism from the TRC.

The leaked document reportedly accuses the ANC of torture and other human rights violations while in exile, and of carrying out badly-planned bomb attacks causing unnecessary loss of life.

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.

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