15 April 2015

SAHA releases the list of Section 29 hearings obtained under PAIA

The first threeTRC Section 29 in-camera hearing transcripts released to SAHA are now available on the SAHA website:

AL2878_B01. Section 29 hearing transcript for Walter Felgate

This hearing details the career of Felgate in the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) as an advisor to Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi.

This hearing details an investigation into the operation of the Durban Security Branch, as well as an incident where a Pan African Congress (PAC) individual was killed in his home in Inanda.

AL2878_B01. Section 29 hearing transcript for Frank Sandy Bennetts

The hearing details a further investigation into the career of Bennetts, including torture and disinformation methods used by the security branch.

What are the Section 29 hearings?

The Section 29 hearings were closed hearings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), held under Section 29 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act (1995), known as the TRC Act.  The closed hearings consisted of investigative enquiries, whereby those subpoenaed were under oath to divulge the full extent of their knowledge of gross human rights violations committed under the apartheid regime. This list details the Section 29 hearing records released by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services to SAHA, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (2000) (PAIA).  The records were delivered to SAHA in late December 2014.

SAHA staff have subsequently been working through the hearing transcripts to prepare them for public release. This process has been hampered by records that are problematic – either because they are incomplete transcriptions; contain redaction (names, places or other information removed); or have un-redacted personal information, such as South African ID numbers. The volume of text, which runs to over 13 000 pages, has also influenced the speed at which SAHA is able to process and digitise the material.

Next steps?

SAHA will be making these transcripts available online as soon as each transcript is archived and digitised – these will initially be accessible on the SAHA website as part of SAHA Collection AL2878: The Freedom of Information Programme and on the SAHA’s Freedom of Information Programme website (as released records attached to the related PAIA request in response to which they were released to SAHA.)

As soon as each transcript is processed, SAHA also aims to have the hard-copy documentation available in our on-site reading room at Constitution Hill – details on how to make an appointment can be found here 

Once the archiving and digitisation process is complete, the text of each transcript will also be incorporated into the SAHA/SABC Truth Commission Special Report website.

Follow SAHA on Twitter @SAHAnews or sign up for our newsletter to receive updates regarding the status of these records.

If you were involved in the Section 29 hearings as a TRC staff member, interpreter or witness, and would like to get in touch with SAHA, we would be very glad to hear from you. Equally, if you would like more information on the Section 29 transcripts, please contact us: rtt@saha.org.za or +27(0)11 718 2560.