RESEARCH AND INFORMATION DISSEMINATION
Abstracts from some research conducted at HURISA (ISPV).
Toward Truth and Reconciliation: The role of South Africa’s Goldstone Commission, 1991-1994 (2006)
by James O Gump, Professor of History, University of San Diego (2006)
In an era in which domestic spying, indefinite detention, and legally-sanctioned torture are employed in the interests of “national security”, a brief review of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy might serve as an important reminder of the dangers of an unfettered state security apparatus. One of the key episodes in the South African transition was the establishment of the Standing Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation—also known as the Goldstone Commission—in October 1991. Led by Justice Richard Goldstone, who has also served as the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Goldstone Commission made the first major breakthrough on third force activities of South Africa’s security forces carried out in the 1980s and early 1990s. Specifically, the Goldstone Commission unveiled the operations of Vlakplaas, a unit of the South African Security Police that utilized surrogates to commit political murders during apartheid as well as during the transition to democracy. These revelations pierced the seemingly impregnable edifice of South Africa’s state security establishment and facilitated the transition to democracy in April 1994. The Goldstone Commission’s focus on shedding light on gross human rights violations also set the stage for the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which met between 1995 and 1998.
This paper, based in part on an examination of the original reports of the Goldstone Commission housed in the Human Rights Institute of South Africa, will explore the background to the third force operations of the South African military and police, investigate their special relationship with Inkatha, and assess the brief history and significance of the Goldstone Commission…
[Paper presented at the 99th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, 5 August 2006.]