R2K launches petition to have Moerane Commission transcripts released

Request 'would in no way endanger witnesses who appeared before the commission anonymously'

R2K launches petition to have Moerane Commission transcripts released

27 September 2018

The Right to Know (R2K) campaign has again blasted the handling of the Moerane Commission report on political killings, calling on the public to sign a petition for the release of transcripts from the commission.

Although it welcomed the report, R2K insisted that Premier Willies Mchunu publicly release evidence transcripts. The advocacy group has also submitted a Promotion to Access of Information Act (PAIA) request for the transcripts.

"This [PAIA application] is a step which we deem unnecessary. The Premier’s office has requested an extension to October 8 to respond to this request. We call on the public to sign our petition urging the Premier to publicly release the transcripts."

R2K said the requests related "to records of testimony made in public hearings".

"These were often by state institutions, such as the South African Police Service whose conduct before the Commission is of great public interest."

It said the request would in no way endanger witnesses who appeared before the commission anonymously.

"Their names can be redacted from the transcripts, as they are in the Commission report."

R2K criticised the report from the commission that was chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane.

"The Right2Know Campaign is shocked to learn that the Moerane Commission has not made any recommendations around the prosecution of any person implicated in the political killings in KwaZulu-Natal."

It said that – while it welcomed the recommendations for political party education, tolerance, respect of democratic processes and an investigation into the tender processes – it was disappointing "that not a single person will be brought to book".

"The crisis of political violence, not only against political party members, but also against community activists, requires urgent and far-reaching action. The failure to recommend prosecution for anyone gives cover to individuals and institutions accused of heinous crimes."

R2K added that "the shortcomings of the Moerane Commission report are further proof of why the transcripts must be made public".

"These documents would allow an informed, public debate on whether the Commission applied its mind to the evidence that witnesses presented, at great personal risk, and whether the Commission delivered on its mandate and honoured the contribution of the whistleblowers who appeared before it."

The commission report on the killings was released last Thursday in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature by Mchunu for public review.

The finalised report pointed to a number of failures by government, provincial politics and, ultimately, material greed.

While not providing too much detail, Mchunu was adamant that his provincial government would move swiftly to apply recommendations to relevant parties.