AN independent judicial committee probing the causes of
political violence heard testimony yesterday that appeared to link
the South African Defense Force and the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom
Party to the fomenting of township violence.
A former Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) member told the committee
that black men, given special military training, later carried out
attacks on African National Congress (ANC) members using equipment
provided by the South African Defense Force, or SADF.
The damaging allegations follow a funding scandal last July when
the government was forced by press reports to admit its police
force had secretly funded Inkatha rallies. President Frederik de
Klerk insisted that he was not aware of the Inkatha funding and
vowed that funding of the ANC's rival would end.
But the disclosures appeared to confirm critics' suspicions that
the government had either closed its eyes to security force
involvement or was afraid of confronting renegade SADF elements.
If allegations of SADF involvement in township violence are
found to be true, it could seriously undermine the government's
position at the interracial negotiations forum - Convention for a
Democratic South Africa (CODESA). It may also further weaken the
claim of IFP leader Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi that he should be
accorded status as a national leader on a par with President De
Klerk and ANC President Nelson Mandela.
The investigative committee is chaired by Judge Richard
Goldstone, who heads the Goldstone Commission into Political
Violence and Intimidation. It was set up by Parliament in October
to investigate political violence that has killed about 6,000
people since 1989.
Judge Goldstone, a respected judge who enjoys wide confidence,
on Tuesday appointed a committee to verify reports in the liberal
newspaper, the Weekly Mail, that appear to provide evidence of a
violence-fomenting "third force" with links to the SADF.
Decision to investigate
The SADF has denied responsibility for furthering township
violence but has welcomed the inquiry to clear its name. Defense
Minister Roelf Meyer has conceded that the SADF's reputation has
been damaged by the press reports. The allegations are part of a
joint memorandum submitted to the commission by the Weekly Mail,
the ANC and several allied organizations, the Media Defense Trust,
and Lawyers for Human Rights.
After studying the memorandum at a commission hearing Tuesday,
Goldstone announced he had found no evidence of current or recent
funding by the SADF of front organizations involved in violence. …