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Type AMNESTY HEARING
Starting Date 30 November 1998
Location PALM RIDGE
Names THULANI MAHLANGU
Case Number AM 7646/97
CHAIRPERSON: For the record, it's Monday the 30th of November 1998. It is a continuation of the Self Defence Unit applications from Thokoza. The panel is constituted as previously indicated on the record. The appearances seems to the same as last week. The Leader of Evidence is Advocate Steenkamp, and for the applicants this morning is Mr Mopedi.
Just for the record, Mr Chairman, with your permission we will probably be starting today, just to indicate how the roll will develop. We will probably be starting with Lusaka-B today and not being finished with Lusaka-A because a lot of these applicants are in custody. Arrangements have been made by myself and other Members to make sure that they will be here probably on Tuesday and Wednesday. As far as I know there is about six people which are in this position. That's just to indicate that.
I was also contacted this morning by Advocate Swanepoel from the Pretoria Bar, who indicated that he is under the instruction of Mr Koos van der Merwe of the Inkatha Freedom Party, to appear on behalf of a Mr Msizi and also that he has instructions to appear on behalf of certain victims. He also indicated that he will attend this hearing from 9 o'clock onwards. I'm not sure where he is but just for the sake of the record. Apparently there is somebody on record now. Thank you, Sir.
MR MAHLANGU: The first one is the one that refers to the Mkwaie incident. I'm not quite sure of the date. There were five men that we went to see in that area. They were wearing red headbands, obviously members of Inkatha.
MR MAHLANGU: The second incident is the Mazibuko incident. I was sitting with some of the SDU members and there came a message for Bonga Nkosi, a message to the effect that they were being attacked in their section and he requested help. We then received a command from our commander, Mosa Msimango and we therefore went to the place to assist.
MR MAHLANGU: Yes, I was armed. I also fired shots towards the people we were fighting. That is what I did. There was fighting going on and I was part of it. I'm quite sure it is known that in a war situation there is fighting going on.
MR MAHLANGU: Honestly speaking, when a person is in a war situation it is very difficult to say whether you have killed a person or not because all shots were directed at the people that we were fighting.
MR MAHLANGU: I would say that yes, some people may have got injured or died and some possibly may not have died or got injured. It was not possible, I didn't have time to go around and verify that people were injured or had died.
MR MAHLANGU: It was known that only IFP members lived in that area. It was also indicated in the map that was brought here last week, so that if a person was not a member of the IFP, one would not go there and therefore we had that knowledge. They came to attack us in our area.
MR MOPEDI: Okay, let's got back to Mkwaie section where you have told this hearing that a person was killed there was ...(indistinct) Levesa. I want to know specifically your role, the role that you in particular have played there.
MR MAHLANGU: Thank you. The role that I played insofar as Levesa's death is that I chased him. We used stones. He was running away as we were chasing him. There were five of them and we only managed to apprehend Levesa and we only managed to apprehend Levesa, the rest fled.
MR MAHLANGU: The role that I played is that I chased him and we finally apprehended him and he was killed. That's the role that I played. I also pelted him with stones after he was apprehended. That is the role that I played.
MR MAHLANGU: We were sitting, or should I say we were patrolling with other SDU members. We heard gunshots, shots that were being directed at us in our area. It should be known that when shots are fired towards our area, that was an indication that the war was on and therefore we received a command and we went to Mshayazafe to assist. Yes, when we arrived there the fighting was going on, it was a war.
MR MAHLANGU: As I have explained earlier on, members of the IFP resided in the hostel, that's where they were, that's where the fighting was going on. They were in the hostel. We came in to assist our fellow brothers and we started attacking them.
MR MAHLANGU: First of all I didn't know them. In a war situation, fighting your enemy, you just know these are IFP members, your enemies. You know where they stay etc., therefore one did not have time to ascertain as to who was shot etc. It was a war, we were just shooting.
MR MAHLANGU: One other incident that I would like to bring forward is the gangster incident. In our area we had gangsters. We used to patrol often and on coming across unregistered firearm we would confiscate it and hand it over to our commanders.
There was also this so-called Khumalo gang that used to come to our area. These were the IFP members. They would come and start shooting people and so we decided to patrol that area and make sure that we do not lose lives.
MR MAHLANGU: Yes, there is another one. I was from my patrolling duties, I'm not quite sure of the date, and I walked past a certain street. I met my friend along the way and he asked me where I came from and he wanted to know how can I go to war without an firearm. He was carrying a baby. I had pistol in my possession which was on fire and as I was taking it out to show it to him, as I was handing it over to him and he gave back to me and in the process a shot went off and he died instantly.
After the baby was shot, the community came together and discussed this mistake because the baby was shot accidentally and the community decided that because this was a mistake, necessary arrangement were taken or made by my family for the funeral. Therefore my family took responsibility in terms of funeral arrangements. Discussions were entered into between my family and that of the baby.
I had known this person for a very long time. I would not have shot the child, or the baby deliberately. I was forgiven for that incident. That is one other thing that has prompted me to seek amnesty insofar as the roles that I played.
MR MAHLANGU: I told him that I am seeking amnesty for this incident and he indicated that this is bygone, he doesn't have a problem, it is up to me how I proceed. This is bothering me quite a lot and that is why I have decided to bring it up here. He indicated that he doesn't have any problem, I can seek amnesty, it's up to me. Now that I have the opportunity I am here to seek amnesty.
ADV SANDI: Just to ensure that I follow the facts accurately, pertaining to this incident. You say you were handing over a pistol to your friend and a shot accidentally went off and a baby was - can you repeat this again? A baby was hit and subsequently died?
MR MAHLANGU: He was carrying his baby. We were close to each other and talking, and he was carrying the baby, carrying him in his breast. He took the firearm, looked at hit and he gave it back to me but the barrel was pointing towards the baby. I was not aware that it was on fire and I just took the firearm and in that process a shot went off and the baby died.
I just want to ask about the gangs. You've talked about the Bag Boys gang and the Khumalo gang. We've heard evidence from the other SDU members about these gangs, evidence similar to what you have said to us today.
Can you just explain one thing to me though, I'm not sure if you are talking of a number of incidents in 1993/1994, where you would be patrolling and be meeting these gangs or if you are talking of one or two specific incidents. That's the only thing I need clarity on.
MR MAHLANGU: Insofar as the gangs are concerned, is that at the time of this violence the gangs would use the opportunity to benefit themselves, they would steal cars etc., and they would do all of these things under our noses.
For example, it so happened in one year on a New Year's Eve, people got shot as firecrackers were being fired and we suggested to the community that children should not be allowed to use firecrackers, and at the same time these people were using their firearms.
ADV GCABASHE: But just for a little more clarity. You are saying this happened a lot of times, essentially. Through 1993/1994 you'd have patrols, you'd meet gangs. So you could say 10 times, 20 times you did this, confiscated firearms from gangs, would that be correct?
MR MAHLANGU: What I am saying here is that after this incident where we woke up to dead people, we decided that we should maintain the patrol, and on our patrolling we would come across people having firearms in their possession and we would confiscate these and take the firearms to the community. Therefore the patrolling duties were something continuous. Sometimes we'd patrol for six months and come back home with nothing.