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Type AMNESTY HEARING
Starting Date 04 December 1998
Location PALM RIDGE
Names COLIN LERATO NTEO
Case Number AM 7278/97
ADV SANDI: Sorry, Mr Sibeko, maybe this needs further clarification. Mr Nteo, before 1993, did you not sympathise with the aims and objectives of the ANC, although you're not really a member of that organisation?
MR NTEO: Yes, I used to support their policies, but at the time I was not yet a member. Once in 1990, after there was violence in Katlehong between the two taxi associations, a lot of people and community members used to be - they were injured, a lot of members from the community and school children were injured.
MR NTEO: JND was one other taxi association from Katlehong and Inkatha. As these fights were going on, the community from Tokoza would meet with people from Katlehong because it's not only the Katlehong community that was affected, even Tokoza was also affected. There were discussions, peace discussions, that never succeeded. JND was a taxi association that was based at Kusene Hostel, and the people who were residing there, hostel dwellers from Kusene, they would support the JND taxi association in killing the people. That led to meetings with Tokoza community, and even the people from Kusene Hostel would not understand and they kept on killing the people. It happened that one day at Slovo Section in Tokoza, at a church that was opposite Mapanzela Primary School there was a meeting held by Tokoza people.
ADV GCABASHE: Before you go further, the meeting that was held by the Tokoza community, was this a meeting with the Kusene Hostel residents? When you talk about the community had a meeting to discuss this taxi issue, was it everybody, all the hostel inmates and the community, or just the community on its own?
MR SIBEKO: Now did this barricade occur at the time of the meeting at Mapanzela, or did this take place after the meeting at Mapanzela, what was the resolution at Mapanzela, what happened at Mapanzela?
MR NTEO: The decision that was taken there at the meeting was to barricade the streets, because these people were using their cars, moving in the streets, trying to kill the people, so they had to barricade the streets. While we were still barricading the streets, we were at Everest, just opposite the Gadebe Section. Most unfortunately, the members from the hostels and the members from the community collided. When the hostel dwellers saw a large number of people from the township coming, they ran away. As we were still chasing them, they were on their way to Mazibugu Hostel, if I'm not mistaken, the hostel in Katlehong. As they were running away, the other one tried, one of them tried to take cover behind a pole in the playing ground of Gadibe Section. Unfortunately for that person, he was caught and he was pelted with stones and I was also among the people who were doing that to him. From that group of people, one of the people came, one person came with a petrol bomb... (intervention).
MR NTEO: I beg your pardon, he had a petrol in a container. While this person was still lying there, petrol was poured over his body and he was set alight by the people who were with me there. That person died there on the scene. That's all I wanted to say about this incident.
MR NTEO: This person was not known to me, but because he was wearing a red headband, that used to indicate that he was supporting the Inkatha Freedom Party, that is the reason that that particular person was killed.
MR NTEO: When the Inkatha people are killing, are about to kill people, they move in groups and they have some headbands and red plastics, and it shows that they belong to one party. We just decided that - we just - we thought that this person was coming from that particular group, because he was coming from a group where the Inkatha Freedom Party people were running to, but unfortunately for him, he was left behind and that's why he was caught.
MR NTEO: The other incidents would be barricading the area, especially after Mr Khumalo was harassing the members of the community. I think it was during the year 1992, myself and my schoolmate, Solly, from Extension 2, that is when Solly told me that at Buthle Buzele High School, there is a certain man by the name of Oscar, who was a member of the Khumalo Gang. We were looking for him, hunting him down, but we were not able to get him at the school. We decided to go to Sipho Steven Ngubane at a certain school called Togotabu. That's where we got Sipho, he had an AK47 in his possession.
MR NTEO: We went to Togotabu and told Sipho that there were rumours about a certain Oscar who was collaborating with Mr Khumalo in their activities of harassing the community. From there, we went to our own school, that is Buthle Buzele, where Solly and myself were attending school. As we were still looking for Solly, Sipho went his own way, we were actually looking for Oscar, and Sipho went around the school and we took a different direction.
ADV GCABASHE: Again, can I just get clarity, as you were looking for Solly or as you were looking for Oscar, because the interpreter said Solly, but she could be right, I am not sure, who were you looking for, for both of them, for different ...(indistinct)?
MR NTEO: I did excuse myself because I had made a mistake, we were actually looking for Oscar. After quite some time, we got together with Sipho and he reported that he came across Oscar who had a gun in his possession, but the way he screamed, he actually felt for him and decided not to shoot him. We thereafter decided to go back to our respective places and we were satisfied that he had not been shot, because he was quite a young fellow. That is what we did at Buthle Buzele School.
MR NTEO: No, there is nothing else with regard to the years that is before 1993, and during the year 1993, because of the already volatile situation after the Inkatha members killed members of the community, especially the Phola Park area, they were killing innocent citizens, at times we would find ourselves in a difficult situation whereby we could not move around in the area. That led me to join the SDU, which was in the early stages of its formation. When I joined, my commander was Moosa. When I was a member of the SDU, it so happened that one day, whilst I was in that section, I was called upon, together with other members of the SDU, we were summoned to the office.
MR NTEO: We had certain young boys who were messengers and they would be sent to call members of the SDU whenever the members were needed. I went to the office, I got Moosa as well as others at the office who were members of the SDU. I was told, together with other members, that there had been an urgent message from Mandela Section, that they required our help. That message was received through a two-way radio. Each one of us took a gun, we prepared ourselves and we duly went to the place where we were needed. We all had AK47's. We were plus-minus 21, I think we were actually 21 in our own section. When we got there, there was relative quiet or calm, and Bonga, the commander, showed us some ways in which we could infiltrate the enemy, he also showed us covers or some cover areas where we could hide ourselves. After some time we divided ourselves into the covering group and the group that was going to carry out the mission. I was in the covering group, because what I wanted to do on that particular day was to shoot at the Internal Stability Unit. My fellow comrades went in and I could hear some gunfire. I didn't really mind much, because I had my own duty which I had given to myself, or which I had been designated to do. After the other comrades came out, we saw a van, a police van, a scout van. The scout van was driven by white people, and at the time, as I was in the covering group, I needed to attack this van in order to afford my fellow comrades some protection, and thereafter we went to the Twala Section. I'm not sure as to whether people got injured or they died, but I would not deny the fact that some died or others got injured, because that was our main intention, to injure or kill. I could say that's about all.
MR NTEO: The section that was being attacked at that time was Mandela Section. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind. I went along with their actions and I acted when necessary. I did it because I wanted to protect my community.
MR SIBEKO: Now your evidence is that you fired shots towards this police vehicle. Are you in a position to tell us whether you managed to hit any of the occupants of the scout vehicle that you referred to?
MR NTEO: As the police had come out, my sole intention was to kill them, I really wanted to kill them. I don't know whether I was able to shoot and injure or kill anyone of them, and my intention was no to injure, but to kill.
MR NTEO: That is so. We had been patrolling the area earlier on. We did not have time to celebrate the festive season because of the situation in that area. We went to Sipho Ngubane's place. We wanted to relax after having spent the whole night patrolling the area. Whilst we were there, we heard some gunfire. The extent of the gunfire, or because we were used to the sounds of gunfire, we could differentiate between Inkatha attacking and the SDU attacking and we realised that we were being attacked, or the area was being attacked. Mr Ngubane was the deputy commander of the section. He said we should go to Slovo Section to investigate as to what was happening. We both had AK47's in our possession. I had this deep hatred, I was consumed by this hatred for Inkatha, and I did not doubt going to Slovo Section. We were going towards that direction and all the people were coming from that direction, running away from members of Inkatha who were attacking and had gone beyond the boundary. They were now at Buthelezi Street where there were people residing there. When we got there, we saw members of Inkatha advancing towards our direction in large numbers, just like ants congregating towards a sweet. At that stage I did not wait for a specific command to shoot, I breeched my AK47 and pointed the barrel towards the members of Inkatha. I started shooting, only to find that Mr Ngubane had done the same thing, because these people were approaching and advancing. We opened gunfire, I could see them falling and others were helping each other up, dragging each other, and they realised that they were not the only ones who were attacking, there was a return of fire or a counter-attack. That is where the members of Inkatha collected and dragged each other and retreated. We also retreated. I was very happy that particular day because I was able to kill or shoot or injure, and say with certainty that I had got some of them. That is as far as this incident goes, that is the 1994 incident on New Years Day.
MR NTEO: That is correct. The other incident, because the situation was volatile in the township and there was no time of talking to the commander whenever you wanted arms and ammunition, we kept some of the rifles in our own rooms and it so happened that I went to the Masuto Section, that is going to my aunt's place. I put up there for that night. After having seen a certain man who goes by the name Tabiso and I had told him that I'm going to my aunt's place and we parted on that note. As I was sleeping at my aunt's place, I think it was between 12:00 midnight and 03:00 towards dawn, it was midnight, I heard a knock and I could hear some gunfire, I was in deep slumber when I awoke to the sound of gunfire as well as the knock at the door. I took my AK47, breeched it and asked as to was at the door. A reply came that it was Tabiso. When I opened the door, he told me that at Tindwa Village, the members of the community were being attacked by Inkatha, and he also had an AK47. The AK had lost its cover, the top cover, we call it the top, and he was not able to continue using it in that condition, and that's why he had decided to come and wake me up. We duly went to the Tindwa Section. When we got to Tindwa Section, there was exchange of gunfire from Zwaragano School and the Leratadema School, there was this exchange of gunfire between the Inkatha people and the other members who were in the respective schools. It was Zwaragano Primary School, as well as Leratadema. I did see some members of Inkatha, because there were these bright street lights we call Apollo lights. I did not wait to be directed to attack, because I enjoyed, or particularly enjoyed attacking Inkatha or attacking the members of Inkatha, then I started shooting. We were helping the Leratadema and Zwaragano people or members of the SDU. We were able to chase these Inkatha people out and thereafter the Stability Unit arrived. Because my ammunition was now finished for the AK47, I had to retreat and I went back home. On the following morning, I went to witness that in the first houses of Tindwa Village, there were certain people who had died the previous night, they had been killed by the members of Inkatha because their house was right at the beginning of the section, or the border of the section. These are the only corpses or bodies, I think there were about three. I did not see any members of Inkatha or any bodies belonging to members of Inkatha and I didn't hear at a later stage that there were members of Inkatha who had been injured or killed.
MR SIBEKO: But you don't rule out the possibility that death or injuries might have been caused as a result, or on the part of the IFP, might have been caused by your shooting, together with your comrades?
ADV GCABASHE: Just one final question, you were talking about the Tindwa residents being killed and seeing those corpses, but you saw no IFP corpses. You are not saying that there is a possibility that your bullets shot the Tindwa residents? Are you ruling that out completely?
MR NTEO: I think I can explain that further. I believe that these people had been killed by members of Inkatha, because I did not attack people in houses, we were shooting and attacking towards the direction of Inkatha members who were approaching from an open field, but people in houses were surely attacked by Inkatha members.
MR NTEO: Yes, there is another incident. I was in Slovo Section. I had been called upon to base at Slovo Section. As I had already pointed out that I specially enjoyed launching counter-attacks against Inkatha members, it happened that I broke the commander's rules, that is Sipho or Moosa's commands. I was staying at a certain house where we used to base. In that house it was myself, Sidney and Sibosiso.
MR NTEO: I'm very sorry, I don't remember the surnames. This house we were based in was the very first house along the border, that is our border. Whilst we were sleeping during the night, we used to put the guns outside the house and never kept them inside the house in case the police or the soldiers came, we did not want to be found in possession of firearms. Then at night on this particular day, it rained. We heard some cars or casspirs outside, the casspirs that were used by the Internal Stability Unit. These casspirs came to a halt just opposite the house that we were in and the others parked along Khubelo Street just close to the house we were in. We alerted each other and we peeped through the windows to see what was happening. Because we did not switch the lights off in one of the bedrooms, I think that is why this casspir parked opposite the house or in front of the house that we were in. Members of Inkatha alighted from the casspir. The casspir has got some bright lights on the side, so we were able to identify members of the Inkatha, and these members of Inkatha saw that one of the rooms, the lights were on, I think they were scared to approach or to attack, because they were not sure as to what was happening, because the other rooms were dark and this one room was having its lights on. We could see that they were having doubts, they were actually reluctant to come closer. They went back without having attacked or without having said a word, and they left.
MR NTEO: I had already explained that if members of Inkatha Freedom Party were going to attack, they would adorn themselves with some red bandannas or red plastics on their heads, so that they would not be able to shoot each other or to attack each other. That is how they identified themselves, and I had already said that this casspir had some lights on its side, and when they got off the casspir, we could see that they were adorned in these red T-shirts and red bands on their heads, so we could actually see them, but they were scared to attack, because they did not know what was happening inside the house. I think there were eight of us inside the house, but I remember Sipho, Sidney and Sibosiso.
MR NTEO: Sidney, I'm sorry, I made a mistake, Sidney. We agreed amongst ourselves that as, or if the Internal Stability Unit confiscated the guns, the guns wouldn't be taken to the police station, but the guns would be handed over to members of Inkatha, and we decided amongst ourselves that we should launch a mission or an operation of some sort, with the intention of disarming members of the Inkatha and later killing them. The eight of us, I think there were about six of us who had AK47's in their possession, and amongst those AK47's there isn't anyone who had ammunition or bullets that amounted to more than ten, we all had less than ten bullets each. We agreed, we proceeded to Dube Street. We were walking between Dube and Sabe, that is in between two streets, these are the streets or the places that we referred to as our covers. We went and proceeded, that is after Sidney had gone into one of the toilets in the houses, he wanted to relieve himself, but when he got to the toilet, he had some suspicion that there were people who were living in that house, because the yard and the toilet was clean. We went past and got inside. As we were on the Sabe side of the street, there is a hedge tree or some hedge which was covering the actual fence, so we were not able to see what was happening on the other side because of these hedge trees, but we were able to see a member of Inkatha getting into the toilet and the next one was having an AK47 in his possession, and the AK47 was somehow concealed on his back.
ADV GCABASHE: Sorry, can I just get this right? You were in the one yard, Sidney was using the toilet, but you could see into the next door neighbour's house, the back opposite, in a sense, behind you, is this what you were looking at?
MR NTEO: Could I just rectify myself? The toilet, we had gone past that house, because he suspected, due to the cleanliness of the toilet, he suspected that there were probably people living in there, so we went past that house and proceeded to the other houses, and when we got to this particular yard, I went inside the house itself, that house had been abandoned, it was empty, and open, I wanted to peep through and see whether I could not see any Inkatha members, and as I was coming out of the house, after having discovered that I could not see any members of Inkatha, I heard some gunfire at that stage.
MR NTEO: I was still explaining that as we were in this yard, that is opposite to the yard or the house where the Inkatha people went, we did not want to act hastily, the other one was going towards the tap and the other one was getting into the toilet itself. I went inside the house, that is in the yard wherein we were, just to look if there weren't others in the opposite or neighbouring houses. I realised that there were no people. I went back, and as I was coming out of this house, I heard some gunfire. I saw Sidney lying down on the ground. When I tried to have a look at the opposite house, I could see an Inkatha member lying down, I think he had been shot, other members of the SDU had run away at that stage. I think only four of us were left behind at that time. We picked Sidney up and I think the area that we were attacking at that stage was an Inkatha stronghold, because there was this strong and rife gunfire that just went on at that time. When we were trying to pull Sidney, we saw one of the members of Inkatha coming towards us. He came to tell us that, where Sidney suspected or had said he suspected that there were people, there were now of the Inkatha members. When we realised that we were in their midst, I took some bullets from my other friend's AK and instructed him to go and ask for some assistance from other SDU members from the Slovo Section who were with us there. I kept a lookout outside. They took Sidney and put him inside the toilet.
MR NTEO: Yes, he was still alive, he had a gunshot wound on the groin and he wasn't able to walk. Fortunately, the other SDU members who we had sent out from some back-up or assistance, came back timeously and one member of the SDU, who goes by the name of Jackson, his other name was Jamani, and he's the only one who was able to operate a G3 in Slovo Section.
MR NTEO: A G3 is a rifle. I saw him coming, he used to walk in the middle of the street whenever he was fighting, he never used to duck and dive like us. I told my other brothers or comrades that we had got some assistance, or some assistance has arrived. They picked Sidney up and I was busy firing at the Inkatha members at the time in Dube Street, and I was shooting and retreating in order to be able to cover the people who were carrying Sidney away from the scene.
MR NTEO: Yes, some were shooting from the houses, and the others I think were shooting from the pavement, because at times when we fired, they would be coming from the houses and standing in the pavements. We were then able to leave the area safely, but after Sidney had been shot. We went back to our own area.
MR SIBEKO: Now that this house was in your side of the section, that is it was not on the other side where one can say it was the IFP stronghold, will I be correct to say that Bole's family was not IFP members or sympathisers?
ADV GCABASHE: Just clarity again on this same incident, you started off by saying that it happened that you broke the commander's rules and you explained Sipho and Moosa were your commanders. Where does that little bit of testimony fit into this whole story, what rule had you broken, why do you mention it?
MR NTEO: What I was referring to is that each and every section of Tokoza had its own commander who was in charge of that particular section and what I wanted to point out was that I was in Lusaka Section, but because of the situation in Slovo Section, I realised that I could not wait for my commander to say I should go out and assist because that would take a lot of time and many people would have died, so I took my own initiative to take the AK47 and go to the other side of Slovo Section, that is the houses that were the first bases, that is where we based to protect the community.
MR NTEO: Yes, I think I played a minor role. When I arrived, I think the people had already gone to the hostel and some were on the roof of the Mshayazafe Hostel with hammers and all assortment of weapons.
MR NTEO: Yes, I would associate myself there, because whatever happened as a result of SDU members or anything towards the former government or the SDU, or should I say Internal Stability Unit, yes, I associate myself with that.
ADV GCABASHE: A couple of other incidents, there was the one about the man from Ngandla that we've heard about, I don't know if you were involved in that at all, there was also the chap who had a shack, I just forget his name, who had come to collect his things, who was shot as well, any of those incidents, are you involved there at all?
ADV GCABASHE: And then just to clarify for my own understanding, the incident where Bonga asked you to come and assist, that would be the Penduga, what's also called the Penduga incident, am I right? I'm just trying to link the different incidents that have been mentioned by other applicants.