NOTES FOR MEDIA BRIEFING BY ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, CHAIRPERSON OF THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
1. The Commission's main report
Commissioners have been based in Cape Town since July 1, considering, amending and adopting drafts of sections of the main report of the Commission, which will be handed to President Mandela on October 29. We have now adopted drafts of all but three sections of the final report and material is going through the final editing process before going to the printers.
I leave for Atlanta tonight, but will be available on E-mail, fax and by telephone for consultations around the final adoption and editing process.
I intend returning in October to hand the report to the President. As you know, the Commission is to be suspended on October 31 but will be reconvened when the amnesty process has been completed to consider a further report from the Amnesty Committee, and to decide whether the main report needs to be amended or expanded in any way.
2. Outstanding issues
A number of outstanding issues still face the Commission.
An issue of great concern is the position of victims of gross violations of human rights. As previously reported we have had statements from more than 21,000 people giving us accounts of what they or their families have suffered. By the end of this month, we will have completed findings reports on about 16,000 of these statements. We are still discussing how these findings will be reflected in the main report and when they will be published.
We are also deeply concerned about how to report back to victims on what we have found in our investigations. We have already said that we will not be able to give 21,000 people personal briefings of what we have found. However, there are thousands of people who are expecting a report back from us, and the strength of their feelings is exemplified by the statements of people such as Joe Seremane.
Also of concern is the areas we have been unable to investigate adequately, or at all. To an extent this can be dealt with in the recommendations in our final report. However, there is one specific instance which came to our attention last week and which we reported yesterday to Mr Dullah Omar, the Minister of Justice, for further investigation.
The documentation which is attached is self-explanatory; suffice it to say that the Commission has discovered, during the course of other investigations, documents purporting to be from an institution called the SA Institute of Maritime Research discussing the sabotage of the aircraft in which the UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold, died on the night of September 17/18, 1961.
We want to emphasise that we have been unable to investigate the veracity of these documents and of allegations that South Africa or other Western intelligence agencies were involved in bringing about the air crash. Our mandate to conduct such investigations has run out. However, given our commitment to transparency, we feel that apart from having handed the document to the Minister of Justice for further investigation, we should release the key documents we have found.
As most of you know, Section 30 of our Act supported by a judgement of the Supreme Court of Appeals in Bloemfontein requires that if we find information which is to the detriment of individuals, we are required to inform them and afford them an opportunity to make representations. We have not been able to serve such notices, and hence we are deleting the names of the individuals between whom the correspondence took place.
Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 19 August 1998