Investigation of the Khotso House bombing

Letter to the editor from Judge Richard Goldstone.

Sir, —
I have been referred to the article in your latest quarterly edition of Focus which has the title “A Deal to Protect the Mighty” (November 1998, Refocus page 22). I will refrain from comment on those aspects of the article which do not relate to me.

At the outset I would state categorically that there is no foundation for the suggestion made to the Amnesty Committee of the TRC by the former Commissioner of Police, General Johan van der Merwe, to the effect that former President de Klerk or President Mandela requested me to cease investigating the Khotso House bombing. No such suggestion, let alone request, was ever made to me by anyone.

The allegation was made by General van der Merwe during a time in July 1998 when I was abroad. Before I returned the allegation was publicly withdrawn by General van der Merwe. The need to deal with the allegation thus fell away. However, in order that the record should be complete I informed the Amnesty Committee in writing that:
l during my term of office as chairperson of the Goldstone Commission I was at no time approached by any person to cease or suspend any investigations which were being conducted by the Commission. In particular no such request was made by President Mandela;
l investigations which fell within the mandate of the Goldstone Commission proceeded until the Commission’s term of office expired. The relevant evidence which was in the possession of the Commission was handed to the special unit which had been established under the Attorney-General of the Transvaal, Dr J. d’Oliviera. It is not correct that the investigation into the bombing of Khotso House came to “an abrupt end”. All evidence relevant to the mandate of the Goldstone Commission, including that relating to Khotso House, continued to be investigated until its term of office came to an end which effectively was at the end of April 1994. Formally the Commission’s term ended in October 1994 after the expiry of the three-year period for which it had been appointed when a final report was submitted to the President.

Had you approached me for comment before the article was published I would have been happy to have given you this information.

Yours sincerely
Justice of the Constitutional Court
November 10, 1998