DURBAN – The KwaZulu-Natal premier’s office has denied that a report yet to be finalised by the Moerane Commission will not be released to the public.
The commission, established in October 2016 by Premier Willies Mchunu, has been tasked with investigating political killings that have occurred in the province since 2011.
Responding to questions from African News Agency (ANA), the premier’s spokesperson, Thami Ngidi, said that while a report in Friday’s Mail and Guardian effectively saying the report would not be released was noted, no decision had yet been taken in this regard.
“…no decision has been taken not to release the report of the Moerane Commission,” said Ngidi.
Of the more than 60 people who have testified before commissioners, several have said they feared the commission’s final report would be “buried” or “kept under wraps” because of the potential findings and possible detriment to the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Much of the political violence and numerous murders within the province have been attributed to infighting between ANC members over lucrative positions within the party, particularly at a local councillor level.
The commission was supposed to end its work in October last year, but Mchunu extended the terms to April as more witnesses came forward wanting to testify.
Ngidi said that section eight of the KwaZulu-Natal Commissions Act, 1999, as amended in 2015, “makes the release to the public of a report of a commission, established in terms of the Act, obligatory after certain processes have been followed”.
“The Premier must, not later than 21 days after a report of a commission of inquiry has been presented to him, submit the report of the commission to the Provincial Legislature, through the Speaker, who must table the report and refer it to the relevant portfolio committee for consideration,” said Ngidi.
“The relevant portfolio committee of the Provincial Legislature must make its decision within stipulated time-frames and provide formal comment or input in writing, through the Speaker, to the Premier,” he said.
Within 21 working days of the receipt of the written comment or input of the relevant portfolio committee, the premier had to release the report of the commission to the public, together with an indication by the premier whether, and to what extent, the findings or recommendations of the commission will be implemented, and the reasons therefore, he said.
“In accordance with the rule of law, the premier has every intention of complying with the clear provisions of the Act and is committed to taking into consideration all the legal obligations that apply to the release of the Report of the Moerane Commission after its receipt, including the reported threats to the lives and safety of witnesses who gave evidence before the Commission,” said Ngidi.
The commission sat for its last day of oral evidence on Monday, with some of the province’s most senior police officers giving evidence after their two-day session in February left many unanswered questions.
But KwaZulu-Natal’s top cop, acting provincial commissioner Major General Bheki Langa, was not present, saying in his apology he had to be in Mozambique for work reasons.
Commission head, advocate Marumo Moerane, told the men they should be willing to sit for “as long as it takes” on Monday to get answers.
African News Agency/ANA