Commissioners Vasu Gounden, chairman Marumo Moerane (SC) and professor Cheryl Potgieter from the Moerane Commission. FILE PHOTO: ANA

DURBAN - The KwaZulu-Natal Legislature has said that it tabled the highly anticipated Moerane Commission report into political killings before a closed session on Friday because of “serious allegations implicating a number of people”.

The report was tabled before the portfolio committees of the premier and the royal household and community safety and liaison. Chairperson of the community safety and liaison portfolio committee, Bheki Ntuli, chaired the closed meeting.

“Whilst KZN Legislature understands an enormous public interest in the content of the report, the meeting had to be a closed one because there are serious allegations implicating a number of people who may face prosecution but have not yet had an opportunity to respond to these allegations,” said spokesperson for the legislature, Wonder Hlongwa.

“On the basis of legal advice, both committees agreed to have the report tabled in a closed meeting so as to not jeopardise any legal process that may ensue following the report,” said Hlongwa.

He said that once both committees had made their inputs, the report would be sent back to the premier, who would “consider these inputs and thereafter release the report to the public”.

“KZN Legislature adheres to the transparency provision in the Constitution but would not be reckless and fuel an already inflammatory situation by making public contents of the report which could lead to acts of retribution and legal action taken against the institution,” said Hlongwa.

The Moerane Commission was established by provincial Premier Willies Mchunu in late 2016 and tasked with investigating the underlying causes of political violence in the province since 2011, which is believed to have led to the murders of over 100 people to date.

It heard testimony from over 60 witnesses and ran for a year.

The findings were handed to the premier in June amidst speculation that the report would not be made public because of damning allegations against politicians, particularly African National Congress members and their fighting over resources.

Spokesperson for premier Mchunu, Thami Ngidi, told the African News Agency on Tuesday that the premier was “obliged to release the report”.

“Once legislature has processed the report, they will give their view and send it back to the premier. He must also take into consideration their inputs, and then release the report,” said Ngidi.

Asked about concerns expressed by several witnesses who testified before the commission that the report would be “sanitised” if it was made public at all, Ngidi said there was only version of the report and this would be released to the public.

Several of the witnesses who testified before the commission have also been denied access to their own transcripts from their testimonies.

“There is no intention to water down the report. I think the commissioners themselves would not be happy if that happened,” he said.

Commission of inquiry reports in KwaZulu-Natal have a tendency of not being released or not being acted upon.

The commission of inquiry into the provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate after eight deaths occurred at a chaotic training camp in December 2012, has yet to be formally released. The findings of the commission of inquiry into the collapse of the Tongaat Mall in 2013, in which two people died, scores were injured and basic health and safety standards were found to have been ignored, has also not been released. In both instances, no one has been formally charged or prosecuted.

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African News Agency (ANA)