Jurists say South African Government fails to tackle violence

Violence is the most serious challenge facing South Africa and the government has failed to tackle the problem, the ICJ says in a report issued today.

The report, “Agenda for Peace”, places much of the responsibility for the strife on Chief Buthelezi and his Inkatha Freedom Party. It also points out that the security forces have sided with Inkatha and have indulged in random killings, The increase in violence on the African National Congress (ANC) side is seen an inevitable due to the absence of any effective enforcement of the law, the report adds.

In the present climate, it would not be possible to hold free and fair elections in Natal and Transvaal, but the report says that elections must be held soon.

“While apartheid and the ideology of separate development are the root causes of the trouble, violent political rivalry, exacerbated by random killings, has now become the dominant factor in people’s lives,” the report explains.

“The ordinary black population has been absolutely hammered by the violence,” the report says. “They long for peace. It is our judgement that the police have the capacity, given the right leadership,” to curb the problem within three to six months.

President Frederik W. de Klerk “should take personal charge of law and order and insist that the necessary action is taken to bring the violence under control.”

Virtually every segment of civic society is “totally committed to stopping the violence and to a democratic South Africa,” the report says. “President De Klerk must surely realize there will be no winners if the violence is not brought under control.”

Thus the report recommends sending one team of international observers to monitor the law enforcement agencies and another team to monitor the elections. Political leaders, particularly the ANC and Inkatha, should promote local peace accords. Commuter trains and hostels should be searched for weapons.

The report, based on a mission by four eminent jurists to Natal and Transvaal in March, is being issued today in Geneva, London and Johannesburg.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), headquartered in Geneva, is a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the OAU. Founded 40 years ago, its task is to defend the Rule of Law throughout the world and to work towards the full observance of the provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is composed of 31 distinguished jurists from around the globe and has 75 national sections and affiliated organizations.

NewsPress releases