Hundreds of people were killed in continuing political violence in KwaZulu Natal, some of whom appeared to have been extrajudicially executed. Torture and ill-treatment continued to be reported. Investigations into past human rights violations produced further evidence implicating the security forces in po-litical killings. The death penalty was abolished. The process of democratizing South Africa's political structures continued, with local government elections held in most parts of the country in November. The African National Congress (ANC), the majority party in the Government of National Unity, won a significant majority. In November the Constitutional Assembly made available the draft new Constitution, due to be finally adopted in 1996, for public comment, but political parties had not reached consensus on all aspects by the end of the year. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) boycotted the constitution-writing process, demanding that the government agree to international mediation over certain issues. The Constitutional Court, which began hearings in February, issued several rulings affecting human rights. In April the Court overturned a provision in the Criminal Procedure Act placing the onus on the accused to prove that a confession had been extracted under duress. The Court's ruling required the prosecution to prove that a confession was voluntary before admitting it as evidence. In June it abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes (see below). Also in June the Court declared whipping to be unconstitutional as a sentence for juvenile offenders. Thousands of juveniles had been sentenced to this punishment in the past. New human rights institutions were established. The Act establishing the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation became law in July. In November President Nelson Mandela, in consultation with the Cabinet, appointed 17 commissioners from a list of candidates interviewed in open hearings by an independent panel. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was named as chairperson. The Commission is to investigate "gross human rights abuses" committed between 1960 and 1993; to grant amnesties to perpetrators under certain conditions, including "full disclosure" of their crimes; and to recommend compensation for victims. The members of the statutory Human Rights Commission (see Amnesty International Report 1995) were selected in April and formally appointed in September. In October a Public Protector, or Ombudsman, was appointed. In October the new Police Service Act came into effect. It included provision for an Independent Complaints Directorate, with the power to investigate alleged misconduct by the police. The judicial commission of inquiry into illegal arms dealing submitted its first report in June. The report recommended that new criteria be developed to exclude sales to governments which repress human rights. In August the Cabinet appointed a ministerial committee with authority over the arms trade and issued new guidelines which included taking into account the human rights situation of the recipient country. Political violence remained high in the province of KwaZulu Natal, with over 800 deaths documented by the non-governmental Human Rights Committee. Other sources put the number of deaths at more than 1,000. The killings included massacres of entire families by gunmen. There were also frequent reports of people being forced to undergo paramilitary training. The high death rate, together with the inability or unwillingness of the provincial police to protect vulnerable communities, led the national government to send 1,000 soldiers and police reinforcements to the province in August. The number of deaths subsequently declined, but rose again in December, when there were at least three massacres in the lower South Coast area. The victims included supporters of both the IFP and the ANC. In the worst of these December incidents, hundreds of heavily armed alleged IFP supporters attacked homes of ANC supporters in the Shoba Shobane area near Port Shepstone on 25 December. At least 20 people were killed and scores of homes burned and looted within sight of the local Izingolweni police station. The day before, these homes had been raided by police from Port Shepstone looking for weapons. Although several days earlier human rights monitors had appealed to the police to organize patrols to protect the community, survivors told journalists that the police did not intervene until about four hours after the attack began. The national Commissioner of Police announced an investigation into allegations that the police had deliberately failed to prevent the massacre. In March an IFP official in Malukazi, James Msomi, was allegedly assaulted by soldiers searching for weapons in his home and, following his arrest, in a military vehicle and at a Defence Force base. He was reportedly released uncharged. In September Protas Nash Ngubane, an IFP chairperson in Impendle, was taken from his home by police and later found dead. An independent post-mortem revealed that he had been shot in the head in what appeared to be an execution-style killing. Some families in the province appeared to have been systematically targeted by gunmen acting with the acquiescence of local police. In January the home in KwaMsane of an ANC official, Bheki Ntuli, was attacked by gunmen who killed his mother and a family friend and seriously injured his brother, "JJ" Davidson Ntuli, chairperson of the local ANC branch. In May police from the Mtubatuba-based Internal Stability Unit allegedly assaulted "JJ" Ntuli outside the Ntulis' home while alleged IFP supporters looted it. On the same day, after police had taken "JJ" Ntuli and other occupants of the house into custody at the local police station, unidentified people burned the Ntulis' home to the ground. In December another brother was killed by gunmen near KwaMsane. In trials relating to the political violence, an IFP induna (traditional leader), Qaphela Dladla, was sentenced to eight terms of life imprisonment for the murder of eight people who were distributing Independent Electoral Commission pamphlets in Ndwedwe near Durban in April 1994 (see Amnesty International Report 1995). Four co-defendants were acquitted on grounds of insufficient evidence. Torture of political detainees continued to be reported, primarily in KwaZulu Natal. Three witnesses who had testified to police investigating a politically motivated killing near Mandini were allegedly assaulted and tortured in October by other police officers. In another case, Samuel Magano, a trade unionist, died in police custody several hours after he had been arrested by police in Mmabatho, North West province, in July. The police said that he was arrested in connection with a robbery and had "dropped dead as he got out of the [police] vehicle". The post-mortem indicated that he died from asphyxiation. The provincial Minister for Safety and Security ordered the suspension from duty of 17 police officers, who appeared in court in September. The case was postponed. Elsewhere in the country, there were frequent reports of torture and ill-treatment of criminal suspects. Lawyers and non-governmental human rights organizations continued to document cases of electric shock, suffocation and other forms of torture by members of police investigation units. In one case, Mxonsi "Advice" Dlamini was arrested by police at his home in Gauteng province in October. Four police officers took him to a building next to the Katlehong police station, where they allegedly kicked, punched and assaulted him with a knife, and repeatedly pulled a piece of rubber tubing tightly across his mouth and nose. In September a police officer who attempted to stop an assault on a suspect was himself assaulted. Warrant Officer Oliver, of the Cape Town Internal Investigation Unit, heard screams coming from a toilet in Nyanga police station where two members of the Internal Stability Unit were interrogating a suspect. When he intervened, Warrant Officer Oliver was himself threatened and head-butted in the face by one of the interrogators. He later charged the policeman involved with assault. Following months of appeals from human rights organizations and the Johannesburg-based Police Reporting Officer, the Commissioner of Police for Gauteng province announced, in September, the suspension of four members of the police Vanderbijlpark Murder and Robbery unit. The suspended policemen were under investigation in 36 separate cases involving torture, assault or murder. However, 20 other police officers under investigation or facing charges for similar acts remained on duty. Investigations had been ordered in 1994 by the national Minister for Safety and Security, and by October 1995 the Attorney-General had agreed to prosecute in 21 cases, in addition to prosecuting for murder the police officer who shot dead Don Molebatsi, a witness and complainant in this investigation. (See Amnesty International Report 1995.) According to police statistics, 195 people died in police custody during the first nine months of the year, the majority of them in Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Free State provinces. According to these statistics, more than 80 per cent of the victims died at the time of arrest or on the way to hospital as a result of injuries inflicted by police. Evidence emerged during the year of the involvement of senior political and security force officials in political killings. In December the former Minister of Defence, General Magnus Malan, and 19 others were charged in the Durban Supreme Court with 13 counts of murder, four of attempted murder and one of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder, in connection with the 1987 massacre of 13 people in KwaMakhutha township, south of Durban. The accused included former top-ranking military intelligence officers, a former member of the police Security Branch, the Deputy Secretary-General of the IFP, and four officers of the former KwaZulu "homeland" Police. All the accused were released on bail. The indictment of General Malan and the other former military officers threatened to cause a rift within the Goverment of National Unity, with the right wing calling for the defendants to be given amnesties. The case against the 20 accused resulted from investigations by a special unit, the Investigation Task Unit, appointed by the national Minister of Safety and Security in 1994 (see Amnesty International Report 1995). Two suspended KwaZulu Police officers and an IFP member convicted of the murder of a police sergeant and four youths were sentenced to prison terms of up to 75 years (see Amnesty International Report 1995). Passing sentence in the Durban Supreme Court in August, the trial judge stated that the three had clearly been part of a "hit squad" and he called for an investigation into the defendants' unchallenged allegations that they had acted under orders from people in authority, who included members of the current provincial government. The trial of Colonel Eugene de Kock, former head of the security police counter-insurgency unit in Vlakplaas, began in the Pretoria Supreme Court in February (see Amnesty International Report 1995). He faced 121 charges, including eight of murder. The Court heard evidence that Colonel de Kock's unit had transferred arms to high-ranking IFP officials; had been involved in ambushing a minibus and shooting dead the four occupants; had assaulted a person who later "disappeared"; had killed a member of their unit because he had wanted to make public police involvement in the murder of human rights lawyer Griffiths Mxenge; and had planned the murder of former Vlakplaas commander, Captain Dirk Coetzee, who had made public in 1989 the unit's involvement in assassinations (see Amnesty International Report 1990). The Constitutional Court held a hearing in February on the constitutionality of the death penalty. In June it ruled that the death penalty violates the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, the right to life, the right to dignity and the right to equality. The Court rejected arguments that the death penalty acts as a deterrent, or that public opinion should be decisive on issues of constitutional rights. The Court forbade the state to execute any prisoner already sentenced to death and ordered the death sentences to be commuted. The Cabinet later approved referral of cases of 459 prisoners on death row to the trial courts for imposition of fresh sentences. Before the Constitutional Court ruling, 15 people had been sentenced to death in 1995 but there had been no executions. A number of political parties called for a referendum on the death penalty, but a National Party motion in the national parliament in June was defeated. The November draft of the final Constitution presented three options on the clause protecting the right to life, including two permitting judicial executions. In January Amnesty International submitted a memorandum to the Parliamentary Committee on Justice commenting on the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Bill. Amnesty International urged the Committee to ensure that the many positive features of the Bill were not undermined by provisions for amnesty and secrecy, and that all provisions were consistent with the country's obligations under international law. In July Amnesty International publicly supported the call made by South African human rights groups for an accountable appointment process which would ensure the selection of credible and impartial candidates for the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In February an Amnesty International delegate attended the Constitutional Court hearings on the death penalty, and in June Amnesty International welcomed the Court's ruling. Amnesty International delegates visited South Africa in June to investigate the continuing political killings in KwaZulu Natal, the provision of forensic services for the effective investigation of suspicious deaths, and progress in the investigations ordered into police torture of arrested suspects. In November Amnesty International's Secretary General led another delegation which met, among others, government ministers and police officials, members of human rights organizations, victims of the political violence in KwaZulu Natal, and local Amnesty International members. In official meetings, the delegates expressed concern about the continuing problem of torture and of impunity for the perpetrators of political killings in KwaZulu Natal.

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