R2K questions transparency of Moerane Commission

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The Moerane Commission of Inquiry into political killings in KwaZulu-Natal continues.

DURBAN – Advocacy group Right2Know (R2K) on Monday, demanded transparency from the Moerane Commission of Inquiry after learning it had refused to release transcripts of public hearings to the media and public.

“R2K is disturbed to learn that the Moerane Commission of Inquiry has refused to release its transcripts to the public and to the media. We demand transparency in all issues pertaining to the Moerane Commission of Inquiry especially in accessing transcripts and ultimately the report of the Commission,” the group said in a statement.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Willies Mchunu, established the commission on 31 October 2016 to investigate the underlying causes of political killings in the province since 2011. 

Public hearings ended in March after an extension was granted to accommodate more testimonies, but the commission’s report is still awaited. An extension has also been granted for the report to be finalised. 

Journalists being denied access to the transcripts was “an aberration to the founding values of South Africa’s constitutional democracy which is founded on accountability, transparency and responsiveness,” according to the statement.

R2K said it was further concerned that the Premier’s office had made contradictory statements about whether or not the commission’s report would be released to the public when it was finalised. 

“As citizens, we cannot hold government, corporations and individuals accountable if we are not able to access crucial information,” the statement said. 

“A spokesperson for the Moerane Commission has claimed that the transcripts are being withheld to protect witnesses. We reject this claim since the transcripts are of testimonies made in a public forum,” according to the statement.

“It is the right of the citizens of this country to be privy to such records and that right should be upheld by all institutions and structures of this country. We also remind the Moerane Commission that the hearings were funded by the public, pertaining to issues of great importance to the public. The Right2Know Campaign, therefore, demands that the transcripts be made public.”