TO: All Media
ATT: News Editors, Human Rights Reporters
For immediate release
Friday, 21 January 2022
Press Release by the Foundation for Human Rights
Tribute to Frank Kennan Dutton
The Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) learnt yesterday of the sudden passing away of Frank Dutton – our friend and a brave fighter for justice. For years Frank was commissioned by the FHR and worked on our Unfinished Business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Programme investigating people involved in the most heinous international crimes committed under apartheid.
The Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) commissioned Frank to investigate approximately 300 cases which the TRC recommended to Government should be investigated and alleged perpetrators be prosecuted. These cases primarily involved serious crimes by functionaries of the apartheid State. Frank sifted through the TRC 300 cases and selected 22 cases, which the FHR handed over to the NPA as ready for investigation and prosecution. The emblematic cases of Ahmed Timol, Nokuthula Simelane or Cradock 4 would not have seen the light of the day if not for the sterling work of Frank Dutton. His investigative reports greatly assisted with information in the re-opening of the Ahmed Timol inquest and the arrest of policemen involved in the kidnapping and murder of anti-apartheid activist Nokuthula Simelane.
When Frank assumed the role of the leading investigator with the Zondo Commission, he became less involved in the work of the FHR but continued supporting the fight for accountability through the provision of strategic advice, testifying in court or mentoring younger investigators.
His death comes some few weeks after the country bid farewell to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). It was the exposure of the activities of the apartheid era South African Police hit squads, the so called “Third Force” by Frank Dutton as the lead investigator at the Goldstone Commission which paved the way for the establishment of the TRC to investigate gross human rights violations.
Frank demonstrated and untiring commitment to leave no stone unturned in the investigation of cases even if it meant exposing activities of apartheid era policeman as in the Trust Feed massacre which took place in in 1988. As a result of the investigation by Frank and his colleague Lwandle Wilson Magadla, a prominent policeman was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in 1992 for his role in Trust Feed massacre. Frank believed that everyone was equal before the law and he had no qualms in arresting Magnus Malan and 10 former military officials in connection with the 1987 KwaMakutha massacre. Such was his dedication and commitment to upholding the rule of law that Judge Richard Goldstone had no hesitation in supporting Frank’s application for the post of investigator in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former-Yugoslavia at The Hague in the Netherlands. In 1995 he was promoted to head of the court’s investigating mission in Sarajevo and in 1999 he was promoted again to Commander of Field Operations in Kosovo.
In 2000, before his retirement he was hand-picked to set up the Scorpions, the Directorate of Special Operations. The Scorpions lived up to the motto chosen by Frank: “Loved by the people, feared by criminals, respected by peers”. The Scorpions was shut down allegedly to stop its investigation of politically connected individuals implicated in corruption.
On Freedom Day 2012, Dutton was awarded the Order of the Baobab in Gold, with the citation: “for his exceptional contribution to and achievement in his investigative work as a dedicated and loyal policeman, for exposing the apartheid government’s “Third Force”, for his role in working for peace in KwaZulu-Natal, ….
Frank Dutton went on to assist the Zondo Commission and was appointed the Chief Investigator. At the Zondo Commission, he was quite keen that Judge Zondo should hear the application from Lukhanyo Calata and the victims of apartheid-era families on the role played by the Executive in suppression of the investigations and prosecutions of the TRC cases as another form of state capture. He was devastated to hear about Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s death and was also deeply concerned that the recommendations of the Zondo Commission should not suffer the same fate as the TRC cases, namely, the political interference which meant that most cases have not seen the light of day.
Frank Dutton was an ethical humble unassuming man, exceptionally skilled and diligent with an eye for detail. He was the consummate police investigator, with absolute honesty and integrity. He was also a fun person to be with, a raconteur of note, relaying hair-raising stories about his work in KwaZulu-Natal during the internecine violence of the apartheid years as well as his missions abroad. In the telling of the story, he demonstrated his absolute commitment to accountability and justice for victims. He was never motivated by retribution or personal fame. Frank will be sorely missed by all those who came to rely on his exceptional skills and devotion to upholding the rule of law in the pursuit of justice for all.
The FHR would also like to pay tribute to Vanessa, Frank’s wife and his family for the sacrifices made in allowing us the time with Frank – we will miss him dearly.
For media enquiries contact:
Lindiwe Sibiya, Media and Communication Officer, FHR at firstname.lastname@example.org and 082 634 7154
Foundation for Human Rights
The Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) is a non-profit human rights organisation that works to protect and promote human rights in South Africa. The FHR was established in 1996 to address the historical legacy of apartheid, and to promote and advance transformation and human rights based on the new Constitution. The FHR implements four programs: Constitutional Awareness and Education Program, Gender-Based Violence Program, The Unfinished Business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Program and the Community-based Advice Offices Program. Over the last two decades FHR has played a major role in promoting the rights of victims of apartheid crimes through supporting the recommendations of the TRC, including justice and accountability for past crimes, reparations, and access to the TRC archives. For more information, visit https://www.fhr.org.za