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Amnesty Hearings

Type AMNESTY HEARING

Starting Date 23 November 1998

Location PRETORIA

Day 1

Names DUMISANI MBATHA

Case Number AM 7024/97

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ON RESUMPTION

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Sibeko, who is the next applicant?

MR SIBEKO: The next applicant is Mr Dumisani Mbatha. I request the Chairman to swear him in please.

CHAIRPERSON: Are you full names Dumisani Mbatha?

DUMISANI MBATHA: (sworn states)

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, please sit down. Mr Sibeko?

EXAMINATION BY MR SIBEKO: Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Mr Mbatha, you've also applied for amnesty, is that correct?

MR MBATHA: Yes.

MR SIBEKO: Do you know exactly for what you are applying for amnestY

MR MBATHA: Yes.

MR SIBEKO: Are you applying for amnesty because you were a member of the Self Defence Unit or a member of the Committee of Seven before?

MR MBATHA: Because I was a member of the Committee of Seven.

MR SIBEKO: The Committee of Seven that you are referring to, is it the one that the two previous applicants were also members of?

MR MBATHA: Will you please repeat the question.

MR SIBEKO: I want to know whether the Committee of Seven that you are referring to is the same Committee of Seven wherein the two previous applicants were also members? ...(end of tape)

MR MBATHA: ...(no English translation)

INTERPRETER: May we please have the assistance of the technician?

PROBLEMS WITH MICROPHONES

MR SIBEKO: Now my question is, the Committee of Seven that you are referring to, is it the same committee that the two previous applicants were also part of?

MR MBATHA: That is correct.

MR SIBEKO: Do you confirm everything that they have said inasfar as it relates to you?

MR MBATHA: ...(no English translation)

MR SIBEKO: Do you confirm what they have said inasfar as it relates to you?

MR MBATHA: Yes.

MR SIBEKO: Is there anything which you think they've left out, which you would want to bring to the attention of this forum?

MR MBATHA: Yes.

MR SIBEKO: What is it, Mr Mbatha?

MR MBATHA: In the township where we reside, that is Thokoza, it so happened that there was conflict in 1990, conflict between the Polla Park people and the residents. We were not part of that conflict.

What was happening is that on coming back from attacking one another or each other, this would result in the loss of life. In 1993 when the community took it upon themselves seeing that they were affected as well, there is a street called Xlaba Street and Ntuli Street where people were shot, people who were sitting and enjoying themselves as they usually do in the township.

There were people who were found shot in the township, I think there were about five of them, people who we never got to know exactly who shot them. And when the community took it upon themselves seeing that they were no longer able to sleep peacefully at their houses, people were fleeing.

I think it was on Monday if I still remember very well, there was a taxi that was ferrying people from Sikonyela going to our road where the chairperson, Dan Makanja was shot, our chairperson. So that the community decided to come together and come up with means of protecting or defending themselves.

That happened as my colleagues as my colleagues have already indicated. So that money was donated after a committee was appointed. But his committee experienced a lot of problems, the ISU and the SANDF and gangsterism. There was a group of gangsters called "Bad Boys" and the "Khumalo" gang who operated in the area.

Drugs were so plentiful, we don't know how these drugs got into the township and we were told that this committee should work hand-in-hand with the Self Defence Units so that the community can reduce the level of gangsterism in the township. And the ISU which was also operating in the area was also taking part here.

We realised that the police are no longer serving the community, instead they are taking part in the killings because many of our people were killed by the ISU. People such as Ndangi Mthembu was killed by the ISU and therefore there were many others like Lucky Mampoer who was killed by the police.

To be honest, the community had no alternative except defending themselves. The committee tried all means possible with the SDUs involved, to try and rid the community of drugs and gangsterism because people would go out and steal cars and there were gunshots all over the place.

MR SIBEKO: Now before you proceed, Sir, there are a few aspects that we've got to clarify. You referred to Xlaba Street and Ntuli Street where people were found, in fact dead people were found. Where actually are these two streets, Xlaba and Ntuli Street, are these streets in your section?

MR MBATHA: That is correct.

MR SIBEKO: And furthermore, you said when violence started you were not affected and when these people were from wherever they were, be it for purposes of attacks or whatever, you started getting affected, which people are you talking about here, is it part of the community that you referred to or from where were these people coming?

MR MBATHA: These people were coming from the hostel, the Thokoza hostel, these were people with red headbands.

MR SIBEKO: Are you by any chance saying the way you were so affected or the way this violence affected you there was no other way in which your community and yourselves could have defended your property without resorting to arms?

MR MBATHA: No, there was no alternative because the violence affected everybody, young and old. It is like something that creeps so that when it crawls into a group of people it just destroys everybody.

MR SIBEKO: Now you further made mention of two gangster groups, that is the Bad Boys and the Khumalo Boys, are you in a position to say or to tell us about the origins of the two gangsters that you referred to?

MR MBATHA: The Bad Boys were people who were thugs in the township. They would be arrested but they would be seen walking around the township the following day and therefore they were going around harassing people, and the Khumalo gang was inclined towards the IFP.

MR SIBEKO: Is there any other thing that you want to bring to our attention?

MR MBATHA: No.

MR SIBEKO: Thank you, Mr Chairman, I've got no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR SIBEKO

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr Sibeko. Advocate Steenkamp, questions?

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ADV STEENKAMP: Mr Chairman, just one question.

Sir, in your amnesty application on page 5, if you can just look at that - Mr Chairman, I will just refer generally to the information given there. I'm actually referring to say line or the second paragraph starting:

"It would then decide ..."

The question you're raising there is, and I'm quoting here quickly:

"We had a serious crime problem in our area and we experienced some serious infighting amongst ...

I think it's:

"... the SDUs between ..."

I'm not sure. The idea I got from your application is that you are saying as ...(indistinct) the other applicants, that there was a crime problem with the SDUs as well, am I right in saying that?

MR MBATHA: Yes, what I can say here, referring to what my predecessors have testified to, is that there were people that were involved in the defence of the community, people who joined this group with ulterior motives.

These are the people who at a later stage ended up not in good terms with the SDUs because when the SDUs were going on patrol they would remain behind to steal. These are the people that are quoted here as saying they ended up in loggerheads with the people.

ADV STEENKAMP: Then my question is actually this, as a Committee of Seven, can you either indicate to the Chairperson how much control did you have over the SDUs or the soldiers under you or to which you gave some authority or command, as a Committee of Seven?

MR MBATHA: I do not quite follow the question. I don't know whether you're referring to the SDUs or gangsterism.

ADV STEENKAMP: My question is actually this, in your official capacity as a member of the Committee of Seven, did you have any control over normal SDU members?

MR MBATHA: Yes, that is correct.

ADV STEENKAMP: Can you maybe elaborate a little bit, can you explain to us why you're saying that? I'll tell you why I'm saying this because in the official ANC submission to the Commission, on a question to Mr Aboobaker Ismail it was stated that they had difficulties in controlling the SDUs. Now my question is, what type of control did you have over these SDUs? Do you understand the question?

MR MBATHA: First of all the SDUs as explained earlier on, we are saying yes, some people joined the SDUs with an ulterior motive but the community later on gave us authority to the effect that we should try and maintain discipline. This was equally expected of any SDU member.

When this authority became even more and more felt, everybody who was deviant left the SDU one after another and ultimately it became clear who the gangster was and who the SDU was. What gave us even more authority as the ANC, for example when we were given the code of conduct ...(no English translation).

PROBLEMS WITH MICROPHONES - NO SOUND

ADV STEENKAMP: Thank you, Mr Chairman, no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY ADV STEENKAMP

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Sibeko, have you got any re-examination?

MR SIBEKO: None Mr Chairman, thank you.

NO RE-EXAMINATION BY MR SIBEKO

CHAIRPERSON: Is that all that you wanted to present in respect of Mr Mbatha?

MR SIBEKO: That is correct so, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Mbatha, thank you, you are excused.

WITNESS EXCUSED

 
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