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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION HEARINGS
Names TIMOTHY SMITH
Now, I understand that you're going to give your evidence in English. What we've decided to do is to have the translators here translate your evidence from English into Zulu, and put that over the main speakers, so that the main body of the audience here, who are Zulu-speakers, will be able to hear your evidence in Zulu. So it would help the translators if you spoke fairly slowly so that they are able to follow the English and then translate it into Zulu.
Okay, because we've only just decided to use this method, whereby we are putting the Zulu translation out into the public speakers, the technician has just asked me to give him a few minutes. He has to rig up another connector cable from here to the public speakers. So I'm afraid we're going to have to ask you to be patient for a few minutes.
(Incomplete - through interpreter) ... March/April 1990, and then go on to that period itself. Thank you. --- I don't know whether you can hear me. Yes, I can hear you. I can hear you. I am a priest at the Roman Catholic Church. I was stationed at Elandskop. I was sent at Elandskop from 1983 up to March 1990, between that time.
(Incomplete) ... hopefully will come out in Zulu over the public speakers, and English through the earphones. --- I am just going to start afresh. I was stationed at Elandskop in 1983 at Vulindlela, where I worked as from 1983 up to March 1990. During that time that I was there I witnessed the beginnings of conflict between Inkatha, which started in 1987 up to 1990, and there I was transferred from Elandskop to Johannesburg. I would like to divide this statement into two parts. The first part I am going to speak about the conflict that took place before 1990. That is the rise of David Thandabantu Ntombela. And the second part of my statement I am going to speak about the events that took place that led to the Seven Days War. When I give the background that led to the conflict that is before 1990. When I first arrived at Elandskop in 1983 the area was relatively peaceful. Politically almost everyone belonged to Inkatha, and there was absolutely no opposition. However, during 1986 things began to change. That was after the killing of the members of COSATU at a place called Mpophomeni. There was some polarisation in the valley, especially amongst the youth. The youth was more sympathetic towards the UDF and its ideologies, and they didn't want to align themselves with Inkatha. This change was caused by several factors which others have outlined, that Inkatha was a very old political organisation which was reigning in an omnipotent manner, and that many people, especially the youths, were coming into the urban areas and they were getting westernised, and they felt that they could not identify themselves with the Inkatha group. These changes were felt mainly in the Edendale area, as well as Imbali, but during 1987 these moved swiftly towards the valley at Elandskop. Then in September 1987, that was around the time of the floods, the Inkatha Freedom Party tried to recruit a number of people in the area of Vulindlela. We at the upper area heard of increasing disturbances further down the valley. We were told that the youths were patrolling during the night, trying to collect and mobilise members of the community to be Comrades, and we heard that the schools were being closed, and that amongst older people, or older members of the community there was certain conflict with regard to the behaviour of the youths. But up to the 9th of October 1987 we never heard anything about the violence or skirmishes that took place further down in Mpophomeni. But on the 9th of October 1987 that is when Mrs Angelica Mkhize and her daughter, Petronella Zandile, as well as a young man named Sithembiso Khumalo, were killed in their home. Those who carried out the murders were allegedly the induna from KwaNqane, that is David Ntombela, as well as five other men. At this point I would like to just elaborate and speak about David Ntombela, because since he has been a central figure in the violence in KwaZulu Natal maybe for almost 10 years. That is with regard to the Seven Days War he was a central figure in the violence. Mr Ntombela originally came from Howick. He went to Elandskop. That is between the 1970s. He was the secretary of Inkatha in the area of Emaswazini. When his daughter got married to Chief Nsikayezwa Zondi, who was from Umphumuza, Ntombela was made an induna at the KwaNquane area. Ntombela was one of a number of indunas, but with his forceful and aggressive personality he was a feared person amongst the community in Elandskop. Then he started developing quite a number of subcultures that people should pay certain amounts if they were not members of the Inkatha group. And at that time he was extorting money from the community, and rendering quite a number of reasons for extorting this money, and there were rumours that he was misusing or abusing the funds. In November 1984 he shot and killed his brother in full view of members of the community as well as witnesses, but for reasons that are unclear to us he was never formally charged, nor convicted, and the community members in Umphumuza collected money and tried to report the matter, but to no avail. Then in 1987 it became increasingly clear that Mr Ntombela was vehemently opposed to the UDF and its incursion into Elandskop. Then in March of 1987 there were quite a lot of disturbances at KwaNqane School near his house. He went there with a revolver. He fired shots in the air. Then in May 1987 he had become incensed with the drivers of the KwaZulu Bus Service because he said they were transported the Comrades into the area at night so that they could be scattered and they could divide the Inkatha into two groups. He organised certain youths and he brought them to his home so that they could attack the buses of the KZT. What followed thereafter was that a certain young person died in the incident. Ntombela's name went down and plummeted, especially amongst the parents. The parents were very angry with regard to the incident that took place. But the most significant occurrence was in October 1987, when David Ntombela and his brother, as well as several other men, went to the home of Mandla and Mangethe Mkhize. That was Zondi's Store next to Emaswazini. They asked Mrs Angelica Mkhize where two members of the COSATU were, that is Mandla and Mangethe. At that particular moment they were not at home, but these men searched the house, and David Ntombela was alleged to have taken out a gun and shot Mrs Mkhize, as well as her daughter, Petronella Zandile. This emerged during the inquest which took place the following year. That was in 1988, February. And when they went out they came across Sithembiso Khumalo. They also shot him. This horrified the community, and it's very difficult now to remember that there was absolutely no violence before that time. Ntombela, as well as another five men were arrested. They appeared in court for just a short while and the inquest finding was that David Ntombela, as well as the five other men, were the ones who were answerable and were responsible for the death of Mrs Ntombela. (Sic) But this case never proceeded any further than that. After this incident Ntombela disappeared. It seemed as if the UDF had taken over the whole area of Elandskop. In many cases most of the youth considered themselves Comrades, and even the adults, quite a number of them renounced their Inkatha memberships and they went on to join the UDF. And Inkatha at that time was not popular, especially in the Vulindlela Valley. It retreated. There were rumours that the chiefs, as well as indunas, have fled for their lives. This process would probably have continued but for a new actor in the drama. In November 1987 Brigadier Jack Buchner was appointed as the Divisional Commissioner of the Security Police. Buchner was a top security policeman in the Transvaal. He had a vast experience in fighting the ANC, and especially turning former ANC operators into askaris. Since he arrived in 'Maritzburg things began to change. Brigadier Buchner rallied with Inkatha leadership, especially David Ntombela, Chief Shayabantu Zondi, as well as Chief Nsikayezwa Zondi and others. A plan was formed to roll back the tide of the UDF and restore Inkatha hegemony. As Buchner himself had said, "At the beginning of 1987 Inkatha was in dire straits, but we came in and restored a certain sense of law and order by February." This was known as Operation Doom, and it was scheduled to begin in January 1988. Quite by chance I drove into the middle of the first offensive, which took place on the 1st of January 1988. The previous day, that is on the 31st of December 1987, a large crowd of UDF youths from Songonzima were arrested. They were attending a funeral of one of their Comrades. They were detained, if I am not mistaken, for 120. They were taken by the police and brought to Pietermaritzburg Prison. Then on the next day, that was the 1st of January 1988, Inkatha started launching a full scale attack on Songonzima, which was a Comrade stronghold. That's where they removed quite a number of Comrades from the area. I was involved quite by chance because I was supposed to have come to town to see the Comrades who had been arrested. I went out of my car and I stopped the attackers and asked them that we should call the police. Eventually after about 30 minutes the police arrived. Mr Ntombela also arrived on the scene. Mr Ntombela was very angry and he shouted at the police and told them that they were not supposed to be there. Eventually some of the attackers were permitted to get into the Songonzima area together with the police. That is where they started shooting and they injured a certain youth by the name of Makithiza Ndlovu. The police took this young man and handed him to Inkatha members and the police disappeared out of sight. The following morning the body of Makithiza Ndlovu was found nearby the road. He had been stabbed on the chest repeatedly, and he was only 14 years old. Thereafter there were continued outbreaks of violence almost on a daily basis. People were called by the Inkatha group to attend certain prayer meetings even when it was the state of emergency and they were not supposed to do that. The people were forced to attend those meetings, and whenever you did not attend a meeting your house would be burnt down. The policemen were reported to have been present quite a number of times at these meetings. I personally saw them on the 12th of January 1988 at Mafunze. It was five young white policemen in a van, and they were photographing the event. On the very same day, the 12th of January, David Ntombela was given authority to move into other chief's areas, and he wanted to kill down some Comrades. And after this meeting some of the young Comrades were hunted down and they were actually killed at Mafunze area. Then on the 16th of January a group of men under the leadership of David Ntombela allegedly attacked a KZT bus which was at Gibson's Gate. The driver of that bus was Phineas Ndluli. He turned his bus and went back to the KwaNqane area, and he was chased by two cars. One of the cars overtook the bus and the driver was shot through the window. Thereafter he lost control of the bus and the bus crashed into a ditch. That's when he got killed. It is said that four or five old ladies who were in the bus ran for their lives. Just a few days thereafter another bus driver,
Mr Magwaza, was shot while repairing his roof at his place. Then on the 31st of January 1988 David Ntombela, as well as a number of men, were addressing a certain meeting of Inkatha at Sweetwaters. Those who were present at that meeting claimed that Ntombela said anyone who did not want to belong to Inkatha should be killed. He said he was personally prepared to go anywhere and kill all those who were not members of Inkatha. He asked for special permission from the chiefs so that there would be a certain - the meeting would be stopped and he would take a group of people so that they could chase the UDF and the COSATU from Sweetwaters. After the meeting, as we have already heard, they went out of the meeting and they attacked the Ashdown residents, where many people were killed. Ntombela's notoriety spread quite far and wide. They asked him at a number of areas where they wanted Inkatha to reign supreme. His name was also mentioned at Brandville, Richmond, Impendle, Bulwer, Greytown, Mpumalanga, as well as the Troutville area. In all the Natal Midlands the name of David Ntombela was and is known and feared amongst old and young. And during the time we witnessed a strong presence of police in that area. They were setting up a base camp on a farm which was quite close to us, and often we saw them at Ntombela's house or at the kraal. They were always consulting with him, and at times they were relaxing and basking in the sun at Ntombela's place. One day one policeman told me that he was accompanied by Ntombela to go and raid UDF members and kill them. And during all that time the police were denying that they were taking sides int he conflict, but we saw them quite a number of times accompanying Induna Ntombela. I could say that without the help of the police Ntombela would not have been able to be where he is today. Without the help of the police he would not have been able to be in parliament today, because his case was supposed to proceed to court and he was supposed to be convicted. Now, the behaviour of the police came with two immediate consequences. Firstly the Inkatha members sent a message that they were above the law. This was said by people at Elandskop, who said Inkatha was a law unto itself. The second consequence was that the UDF or the Comrades felt that they had no protection nor security. If they wanted to live and save their lives they had to protect themselves, even when it amounted to using violence. This is why I said the partiality of the police caused the violence to rise by day. Thirdly, it caused that the criminal justice system in the province was almost non-existent. At the beginning of 1988 there was another sinister development within the community. Mr Ntombela started recruiting the youths, especially to be trained as special constables. Some of the youths came and they wanted to be trained as special constables. They were sent on a six weeks training course, and thereafter they would be armed and deployed in the community and they would be policemen. We were quite distressed at the recruitment of these youths because we realised that they had been chosen on the basis that they had been Inkatha members in that area, not because they were strong youths who had interests in keeping order. We knew for a fact that some of them were involved in quite criminal activities, and we know that one of them is going to come before this Commission and render some evidence, because he ended up being convicted for murder. Now, it is clear to us that this recruitment which went on in that community ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 1) ... Brigadier Buchner also admits that it was his policy. He says when he arrived in November he found that they needed more men on the ground, and he sent recruits on a six weeks course and thereafter he deployed them within the community. The violence went down at that particular time almost to nil. In that area the incidence of violence went up. That was at the beginning of May 1988. One of the young men who had been released from detention, Bonginkosi Dlamini, was shot in the head near Mbubane, and I buried him. This marked the beginning of the killings by special constables in the area. Some were killed in 1989. On the 7th of June 1989 Leonard Sonny Ngcobo was killed and I was present. On the 12th December 1989 Moses Lehla and Linus Ngcobo were killed. On the 15th December Patrick Ngcobo and Samson Dlamini were killed, and I was also present. All of these youths were killed during the night when they were going back to their homes from work. They were killed because they were walking at night and it was rumoured that Inkatha did not want any members of the community to be roaming around at night. The perpetrators were called the special constables from Umphumuza. At times they would even boast of killing the youths. The whole community was in panic because at night they had to be indoors, and they had to close their doors as well as windows, not knowing where the killers were going to come from. Then in 1990 there were further killings were three people were killed at Mbubane. During all that time there was tension between the upper as well as the lower parts. The upper part, from Taylor's Halt up to Elandskop, was declared an Inkatha area, and from Gezabuso downwards it was a UDF stronghold. Most of the UDF element in the upper part of the valley fled down to the lower part of the valley. This tension between the two parts of the valley increased dramatically in February 1990 when the ANC unbanned and Nelson Mandela was released from prison. On the 20th of February 1990 some buses on their way back were stoned at Eden. That was in the afternoon. I believe that some passengers were killed. Mr Ntombela called a meeting the following day at his house. This was a large meeting, there were a lot of people, and there was much talk of attacking the lower areas. However, Brigadier Buchner, as well as Lieutenant Meyer, arrived and apparently talked them out of the attack. A journalist who was there says he saw Buchner and Ntombela looked as if they were very much in good terms. However, the issues of the buses never went away. It continued and caused a lot of problems. The people from the upper area of the valley knew that when they had gone to town they would be attacked at any time. And the tension grew throughout the KwaZulu Natal province. Political organisations were calling rallies. On the 25th of March 1990 a big rally was called by Inkatha members, and it was going to be held in Durban, and it was said that they had to listen to the chief of the Zulus.
Now I am going to start speaking about the Seven Days War. On Sunday the 25th of March it was a miserable day and it was raining. It was also foggy. But many people went to Durban to attend the Inkatha meeting. We heard as well as saw buses which were proceeding towards Durban. We do not know what actually happened at Edendale or along the way when they were going to Durban or when they were coming back. Some said the Comrades were pelting the buses with stones, some alleged that Inkatha members were alighting off the buses and attacking people and provoking them. After the Sunday the tension in the valley rose dramatically. On the 26th, Monday, as well as 27th, Tuesday, I was attending a meeting in Durban, but I came back on that Tuesday and I heard that the people at Sweetwaters were attacking Xaluza and Ashdown. There were also gatherings of Inkatha members near Taylor's Halt and KwaShange. On the Tuesday of the 27th I passed David Ntombela's house and I was heading to town. I saw quite a number of vehicles which were parked outside his place, and it was pretty obvious to me that it was quite a big gathering. Early Wednesday morning, that was on the 28th, a certain vehicle which had a loud hailer was calling upon people, men as well as women, to the meeting which was taking place at Ntombela's place. They said that they should listen to a speaker who was coming from Ulundi. A person who was present at that particular meeting told me that when he arrived women were told that they should get into a certain room and take of their clothes, and turn them inside-out and put them back on again. When they came out of the house they saw a number of lorries, as well as vehicles from far and wide, with a number of men in them. These were unknown men. The registration plates were covered with a sack cloth so that there could be no identification. When the people asked Mr Ntombela as to where the lorries were coming from he told them that they were Mnyavus from the area of table mountain. Thereafter the warriors were sprinkled with "inthelezi," a medicine to protect them, and then they moved off to attack. I think it was at about 10 or 11 in the morning we heard that people had been attacked down the valley, for instance at Gezabuso, KwaShange and KwaMnyandu. We heard that people had run away from the areas. Presently I know that 35 or 40 people were killed at that time, and about 150 houses had been set alight and people fled down into the valley. Many witnesses saw David Ntombela amongst the attackers, together with Chief Shayabantu Zondi, that is the induna, Gavaza Khanyile, Lololombo, as well as others. Many also alleged that they saw the police assisting the impis. They were also transporting them in their car and giving them live ammunition. When we heard these reports I phoned the archbishop. He arrived on that afternoon to come and see what was going on. In the late afternoon of the 28th we had just begun to see the impis returning. Amongst those who were on foot they had brought quite a number of cattle. Others were carrying furniture, TV sets, as well as clothing. We heard that Mr Ntombela did not quite like it. He said they were supposed to have killed not to have stolen. On the 29th of March people were gathering at Ntombela's place for a meeting, but on that particular day they did not attack anyone. Some of the cattle which were brought on Wednesday were slaughtered and eaten, and the men said, "We eat the Comrades' things." The situation was quite tense. Almost everybody was having a traditional weapon or a gun. At times there would be false alarms, as I remember on Thursday we heard that the Comrades were attacking the Emaswazini area and all the man ran to that area, but it turned out to be false. That very same evening, that is the 29th, at about 9.45 in the evening, we were watching TV when a certain youth came to the mission. He looked very troubled. He said that houses were being burnt and there were shootings at Kokwane, close to the mission. I then called the Boston police and asked them to come and assist us. I went along with the young man to the place where there was an alleged attack. When we got there we saw some houses burning down, but we could not see the cars or the people. We decided to go to the police station to see as to why they weren't arriving. When we got there we discovered that they could not find the keys of their vehicles. I offered to take some of the police in my own car. We drove off to Kokwane. We saw four houses which were burning. We went slowly into each one with the policemen. In the first three houses we could not find anyone, alive or dead, but in the fourth house - know this house quite very well because my employee was staying there, and we got people. In the main building we discovered an old man, together with his grandchildren. They were hiding behind the cupboard. The old man took quite a long time to come out from behind the cupboard. When he came out he said they had finished his children up, and he led us to the other house, the back building. That's where we saw his daughter, Emmarentia. She was full of blood. She obviously looked dead. Lying underneath her was a child, a small child. I thought the child was also dead. Then I noticed that the child was breathing. I reached down and pulled him from beneath the mother and I realised that he was alive, and it was her four-year-old son. When his mother shot she apparently fell on top of the child and trapped the child under her. He must have been trapped for more than an hour or so. We went to the last hut in the yard. The house was also burning and we could see inside the house. We saw a body of a woman who had been shot and burnt, and she was underneath the bed at that time. I decided that it was better for me to take all the survivors to the mission. I took the old man together with his grandchildren, after searching for the place, and we went back to the mission. When I got to the mission, that is at the crossroad, in that darkness I could see a car, and three men were standing next to this car. I stopped my car and went out and I saw these men coming closer to me. It was Ntombela, as well as two white policemen. Ntombela was having his ammunition belt on, as well as two guns. He did not say anything to me. I explained to him as to where we were coming from and what we saw. I went into the mission with them. It only occurred to me afterwards that this had no explanation, it was strange, because when I got there Ntombela and the police were supposed to have gone past the houses that were being burned. Now I knew that we were the very first people to get to the area after the attackers. That is why we asked ourselves as to why he did not go past that area to see what was happening. Thereafter I thought that my future at Elandskop was at stake, and the people or the community members decided that I should leave the place, and the following week I went to Gauteng.
the Deputy Attorney-General and spoke to him, but we failed. After all these attempts it seemed to me that the ordinary people had been failed by the organs of the State, as well as the criminal justice system. Because as from 1987, when Angelica Mkhize was killed, up til today, all these people who were killed during the Seven Days War, I personally have found out that one who was arrested was convicted because of these acts. (Sic)
Lastly I would like to extend an invitation to the Commission that it's not easy for us to explain in detail what happened during that time. I would like to invite you to come to the upper part of the valley to see what the place looks like. You should go past Eden and to the upper valley, KwaMnyandu, KwaShange, Gezabuso. Even today you can see the aftermath of the violence that took place in 1990. The houses, the shops were burnt down. The schools were also burnt down. You will also see the place where a number of people were staying, and they are no longer there at this present moment. Now I am saying these people might probably be here today. I want these people to say what the Commission can do for them.
Father Smith, thank you very much for that very vivid and moving and articulate account of the period known as the Seven Day War, as well as the build-up to that period. If what you say is true then it is a terrible indictment on the South African Police, as well as on Mr David Ntombela and other senior figures in the IFP. I am going to ask briefly if my colleagues would like to ask you any questions, if you'd be happy to answer those.
I greet you, Father. I just want to ask one question. Just at your conclusion you pointed out that you were not able to obtain some justice. You tried the police to no avail. You also tried some attorneys, but they could not help you. You also tried the press. This troubles me insofar as the press as well as the attorneys are concerned. How did these attempts fail? I can see the police matter. I did ... (inaudible) ... but what perturbs me is whether there are attorneys who were not able to co-operate with you, as well as the press. Could you please give us a brief explanation as to how you approached them and what was the outcome, and if you could please tell us the name of the Deputy Attorney-General that you approached it will help us to get the name so that we can investigate the matter further. --- I don't know whether I can get you. Are you asking as to how we failed to get the press to co-operate with us, as well as the attorneys?
(Inaudible) ... who were colluding with the whole system, and we need to know if there were such lawyers they got, or if there was a press which was also colluding with the system. It does help us so that if indictments have to be made these people too have to be indicted. Thank you. --- Perhaps to start with the press. We tried - I tried to write an account of everything that happened, and some of that I sent to the press in order to have it published. The only newspaper that would publish the complete story that I have given you now was the Zulu newspaper, UmAfrica. The Natal Witness refused to publish it. Various other newspapers refused to publish that story, but UmAfrica published that story in Zulu, and a large number of people replied to that article expressing
their opinion, some of them for, some against, but a large number of them who had been there in the Seven Day War, and were able to connect with events that I described. As far as the question of lawyers is concerned, we tried to hire lawyers in order to - oh, sorry.
INTERPRETER: You said The Natal Witness as well as other newspapers refused to publish the story about what happened in those areas, and you said UmAfrica published the story. Now, you can continue from there. --- With regard to the attorneys, we approached some attorneys to assist us with regard to these cases, but I must point out that it was difficult for the attorneys, especially those who were in the 'Maritzburg areas, because this was happening at Elandskop. Secondly it was a time of the state of emergency, and many of the things - or what we can do today we could not do during that time. The attorneys were not supposed to go into these areas and take statements from the victims, and the police had so much authority to act illegally. I do not blame the attorneys, I think they tried their level best, but under the circumstances it was difficult.
I have got two questions. I want you to clarify this issue. Firstly you said David Ntombela was accompanied by a certain number of men. Do you perhaps know these men, these Inkatha members who always accompanied him to these attacks? --- I think you are speaking with regard to the 1987 incident.
We know that there was a time where the perpetrators were not supposed to be holding high positions. We heard about McBride, as well as Dirk Coetzee. According to your own opinion what are you saying about David Ntombela, because he was a perpetrator, he was involved in the violence? How do you feel about him occupying a high position? --- That's why I am saying that the big question according to my own opinion is not a question of bringing together different political organisations and bring out peace and reconciliation. The main question is for us to bring back the rule of law, that he who kills and he who steals, he who rapes, he who commits certain criminal acts should be arrested, be brought before the law and account for their deeds. If that does not happen the people in Natal will not feel safe, they will not feel secure, because they know that the killers are still roaming the streets and they are still holding high positions. According to my opinion it's that the law should take its course. Presently we almost do not have the criminal justice system. More than 14 000 people were killed in the Natal region, but those who had been convicted are less than 300. It means we have absolutely no law in the Natal region. That is why I am saying the law should take its course, the people should come forward and account for their past deeds. If they want to be granted amnesty the Commission has the authority to do so, /but if
Lastly it's with regard to your request that you wish that the Commission could visit the scene to see the aftermath of the violence. We do understand the ... (incomplete) ... further you have mentioned that the Inkatha had a certain camp near a farm. Which farm was this, and who were the leaders of that camp which was formed, and what was happening in that camp? --- It was a police camp. The Riot Squad. The Inkatha camps, according to my opinion, were not at the Elandskop area, but the police were staying at a certain farm which was quite close to us. I don't know where the farm is, but I could find out more about the farm.
What were they doing at this camp? Were they being trained, or was it a base camp? --- I should think it was a base camp because it happened one day that when I was driving through the area I saw a white person who was standing next to the road. He was full of blood. I took him in my car, and as he was talking I could gather than he was a policeman from Johannesburg, and I do not know what happened, but apparently a certain sergeant took off his police clothes and released him to walk. He himself and another youth were in the bus and the Comrades got them in the bus and they assaulted them. That's how I got him in the street, and he asked me to take me to the base. That's when I discovered that there was this base next to the farm.
Mr Ntombela at the crossroads near the mission, where he appeared to be waiting for you, you said there were two white policemen with him. Who were those policemen? Do you know them at all? --- I didn't recognise them. I had never seen them before.
My last question, Father Smith. This is quite a commendable job that you've done. Is there any support or any assistance or aid that you got from other leaders of the churches within that area? --- I don't know whether I can get you well. Do you - are you asking me if I need help?
I say at the time this was taking place, and you were trying to identify yourself with the victims, you mentioned that you went to your archbishop for assistance. What I mean is other leaders of the churches, were they able to assist you at that time or during that period? --- Yes, at the time we were helped by the PACSA organisation as well as other reverends - Ben Simbi, Mr Kirchoff and quite a number of other reverends. They offered a lot of support, but what I realised was that a number of them were quite scared to get directly involved in helping violence victims.
Father Smith, there is only questions that I would like to ask you. The first one, I want to get some clarification on a certain issue if you could have some insight. The Inkatha impis, when they went around announcing that the Comrades were attacking certain areas, /according
Was it a certain strategy that was being implemented in order to achieve a certain goal? And the second one is that you have left us with a challenge that the community of Elandskop can ask some thing from the Commission. I was asking for your opinion as a person who was directly involved. Do you have any suggestions that you would like to put forward to the Commission? --- I do not have any first-hand information as to why there were false alarms, but what I can tell you is that on the 28th and the 29th, when the impi was coming back, there was this state of panic, I think because they were attacking further down the villages, and they thought that probably the Comrades were going to launch a counter attack, especially because people were always armed with traditional weapons, as well as guns. It was quite scary at that time. Secondly, because they were attacking and all the roads in the town were closed people were not able to commute to work or to go and see his or her relatives. With regard to the second question, I think this is a very difficult situation. I do not know how the people at Elandskop can be helped. I think they have been severely traumatised, because a number of them were not members of Inkatha on their free will, but they were forced and coerced to join the Inkatha. Another man said to me, "Reverend, we are all members of Inkatha because of Ntombela's insistence. If Ntombela could go away we would all reject Inkatha." Now you as the Commission, if you can initiate a process whereby you can call upon all the leaders who were forcing members of the community to join certain political groups, and force people to launch attacks on each other, it's when that the people will realise that there is justice. Right now they do not feel safe, they do not feel secured, they do not know who to run to for assistance.
Just one last question, Father. Yesterday we had what would appear to me to be an unbelievable piece of wisdom from a witness who testified, Mr Enoch Zondi, and he said that to his mind of thinking it's wrong to call this event a war. What are your views on that? --- I thought nobody could put that better than he said that. That was beautifully put. It wasn't a war, this was an evasion. It was an invasion from one side to the other. What we have heard from the side of Gezabuso, KwaShange, KwaMnyandu, there was hardly any person able to resist, hardly any resistance of any kind. That's not a war. A war is when two sides fight more or less equally. So I think that was very well put. It's a misnomer to call it a war. It was a cleansing, a political cleansing.
Father Smith, two witnesses yesterday mentioned the role of the South African Defence Force, and they said that had the Defence Force been properly deployed there during the Seven Day War they would easily have been able to prevent most of the conflict which took place - if they had been properly deployed, a sufficient number of vehicles and men. What are your views on that? You haven't mentioned the Defence Force in your testimony this morning. --- I agree with that completely. I am sure even a small force of the army could have prevented that whole attack. But even a small police force properly deployed to suggest - well, to strongly suggest that this was not a legal act, that it was not supported, would have done the trick. We never saw the army until the following
Tuesday. I think about the 2nd or the 3rd of April was the first time we ever saw the army at Elandskop. Far too late. All of the death and the carnage was over. Yes, I agree. I think a small force of army, even a small force of police, could have stopped that if they'd wanted to.
Finally, several other witnesses testifying before this Commission in other towns and cities have mentioned the role of Brigadier Buchner, and you indicated this morning that it was a key turning point when he arrived in November 1987. And you spoke of Buchner rallying the Inkatha leadership, particular Ntombela, Shayabantu Zondi and the other Chief Zondi. Are you just expressing an opinion here, or a view? Is this something that you are personally aware of, things that you've been told about? Can you express any opinion on that? --- I think there is quite a lot of evidence for that. There's evidence, for example, in what actually happened, that there was a resurgence of Inkatha during those months, and especially in January. There's evidence from people who seem to have leaked the information. For example the Natal Witness published in 1990 an account of Operation Doom, so they had information about it. Thirdly, there's information from Brigadier Buchner himself. His own words which have been published in written form express clearly that in that period, November/December/January, he turned the situation around. I think if you put all those things together it's very obvious that there was a rallying of the leadership. What actual plans were made, those we don't know, but we know a certain amount from different
periods before and after that, that there certainly were meetings between senior policemen and members of Inkatha. For example, Captain Brian Mitchell has given evidence that there was a meeting which took place between himself, Major Terblanche and David Ntombela where the Trust Feeds massacre was planned. And that evidence has been given before this Commission. So, in those circumstances does it then come as a surprise that this sort of plan could have taken place? --- I can imagine there were many meetings, many meetings during that period, and I think many things were planned that we don't know about.