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Type The Caprivi Trainees
Starting Date 04 August 1997
Names Howard Varney
This hearing will focus on human rights violations carried out by state sponsored hit squads operating in the townships of Mpumalanga in the late 1980s and Esikaweni in the early 1990s. This violence caused untold destruction and misery to the residents of these townships. The wider evidence suggests that much of this organised violence had its roots in certain state initiatives taken in the mid 1980s. These activities were the subject of intensive investigations undertaken by the Investigation Task Unit (ITU) between 1994 and 1996. The ITU's primary brief was to investigate hit squad activities carried out under the cover of the KwaZulu Police. I have been asked to give an overview of the picture unearthed by the ITU. This story, I believe, explains how it was possible for hit squads such as the Esikaweni hit squad, to act with impunity for several years.
This particular story relates to acts of violence and brutality committed against supporters of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the African National Congress (ANC) by hit squads of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and KwaZulu Police (KZP), supported by the former National Party (NP) controlled South African Government and its security organs. It does not suggest that the IFP was not the target of similar actions launched by the ANC and UDF. Numerous IFP, KZP members and others involved in governmental structures were the targets of hit squad actions launched by the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe; Self Defence Units and militant comrades. Since the mid 1980s KwaZulu Natal and areas on the Witwatersrand have been involved, in varying degrees, in a low intensity war. This war has claimed the lives of more than 20 000 persons. It is not the aim of this submission to apportion blame onto one side or another for starting the conflict. Members on all sides have been both perpetrators and victims. It is however plain to see that the conflict was not a matter of acts of spontaneous violence carried out aimlessly by foot soldiers. The conflict would never have reached the intensity it did without the direct involvement of leadership elements at the highest level, on all sides. Sadly, with regard to KwaZulu Natal, we are still waiting for political leaders - on all sides of the political spectrum - to display statesmanship by revealing their roles in this war. True reconciliation and peace will not be achieved by face saving disclosure 'behind closed doors' and secret amnesty deals. Only the truth, boldly stated, and for all to see, will permit us to put the past behind us.
At the end of the Commission's term I believe that the central question it must answer, on the set of facts arising out of this inquiry, is whether the Caprivi operatives, such as Luthuli and Mkhize who are to testify in this hearing, acted out a series of unconnected private frolics, or whether they were not part of a wider strategy devised and orchestrated at the highest political levels. I will argue that the documentary and oral evidence, and the probabilities point conclusively to the latter.
In the case of Esikaweni the High Court in the matter of S v Mbambo (NECLD Case No. CC123/94) made a finding that organised hit squads were responsible for much of the violence in the area between 1992 and 1993. In his finding on sentence, the presiding Judge, Mr Justice N Van der Reyden made the following finding:
"The present case is confirmation of speculation that hit squads are one of the factors, which contribute to the violence in this country, and more specifically KwaZulu Natal, as experienced during the last few years.. ....All attempts......to restore peace have been unsuccessful. .....People who exploit the unrest and disorder reigning in our province, be it common criminals or supporters of political causes, however noble the cause might seem to them and their leaders, must be told in no uncertain terms that a civilised society shall not tolerate the assassination of political opponents by members of a police force, who are duty bound to serve and protect the citizens of that society, irrespective of their political persuasions."
"full investigation into the alleged involvement of those persons identified by the accused as the masterminds and puppet masters behind the Esikhaweni Hit Squad........".
Central to the hit squad actions in Esikaweni, Mpumalanga and elsewhere were the Caprivi Trainees. For this reason it is necessary to examine the source of this group in the mid 1980s. It is my submission that those who gave birth to the Caprivi Trainees are ultimately accountable for the actions taken by the group.
The training and deployment of the Caprivi Trainees fell squarely within strategies adopted by the South African state in the mid-1980s. The state perceived itself to be facing an onslaught of 'total revolutionary war' from within and outside South Africa. To combat this threat the state employed counter revolutionary strategies which involved the taking of a wide range of actions. These included political, psychological, economic and security or forceful measures. By the mid-1980s political and violent actions executed by anti-apartheid groups such as the ANC and allied organisations reached unprecedented levels. The state adopted equally drastic measures to counter these threats, which included the use of acts of terrorism and guerrilla warfare. These were carried out by specific security organs and 'middle' or counter guerrilla groups, within and outside South Africa. The IFP's SADF trained offensive element was a case in point of such an operation within South Africa. The operation was codenamed 'Marion' and was executed by Intelligence Operation's Directorate of Special Tasks (DST). DST's support of groups such as Renamo in Mozambique and Unita in Angola are examples of such operations carried outside South Africa. Operation Marion was naturally accompanied by a program of deception and cover-ups. They still continue today.
The originals of all the documents referred to in this submission are held at the State Archives, or are authenticated exhibits in Court trials and Inquests.
The Operation Marion documents point unambiguously to the offensive or attacking nature of the offensive element supplied to Inkatha. While there are two references which can attract debate if considered in isolation, the offensive theme which runs through documents is set out in blunt and obvious terms. Examples include direct references to 'offensive steps' meaning 'hit squads' and the ability to 'take out undesirable members'. The duty sheet of the liaision officer appointed to support the operations on the ground set out the nature of offensive actions:
OFFENSIVE ACTIONS : Must only be carried out by trained cells under strict control. Authority must be granted by DST-2 beforehand. Targets must be approved by REEVA, SAP(S) and SADF. Criminal prosecution of participants must always be taken into account...
It is little wonder that another document referred to the deep concern that because 'offensive actions were part of Marion's tasks' the Chief of Staff Intelligence and other senior officers involved in the 'planning of Operation Marion' may be charged with crimes carrying the death penalty.
I think the Commission will have little difficulty in comprehending the meaning of such passages. The documents speak for themselves. To extract an innocent interpretation requires the taking of an adventure into the absurd. If the Commission declines to engage in such theatrics it must consider whether this conduct was confined to the parties implicated in such documents, that is, the military command structure - or whether there was a connection that lead to higher levels. Put another way, did those in the authorising structures at the highest political levels approve of an entirely laudable project, which the military and Inkatha, behind their backs, subverted into something unlawful and monstrous? There is nothing to support this proposition. This submission will endeavour to show that there was an unbreakable connection between the authorisation by the highest political structures of offensive support to Inkatha and the passages quoted above. The offensive capacity requested by Buthelezi in 1985 and approved of by the South African government is the same offensive capacity referred to in subsequent military documents.
In short, it is my submission that the references to an offensive capacity and offensive actions in such passages refer to an ability to carry out pro-active actions or attacks against enemy targets. This resulted in the committal of an unquantifiable number of extra-judicial killings. It is my further submission that it is not only those who carried out such killings on the ground who should be held responsible, but those who facilitated the launching of the operation in the first place. This submission will highlight the roles of those senior politicians who requested the offensive capacity, and those who authorised its provision. It is plain to see that these politicians anticipated that the supplying of an offensive unit together with arms and ammunition to a civilian organisation, involved in an ongoing violent conflict, would result in attacks being launched against the political opponents of the organisation in question. Although the SADF had withdrawn support for offensive operations by the end of the 1980s - the military feared exposure of its own role following the arrests of trainees involved offensive actions - it was an aim of Operation Marion to provide Inkatha with a capacity of 'self sufficiency' to enable it to act independently of the SADF. This led to the placing of many of the trainees into the KwaZulu Police (KZP) during 1989, through which hit squad activity continued. The Esikaweni hit squad which operated during the early 1990s is a case in point of this capacity of 'self sufficiency' being implemented under the cover of the KwaZulu Police.
While the political leaders of the South African government and Inkatha may not have been aware of the individual actions carried out, they are accountable for the murders and atrocities that flowed from the project.
It will no doubt be argued by representatives of those implicated, that the 'offensive' passages to which I referred to earlier, ought to be excised from consideration, because they are out of place, a misinterpretation of what was actually meant, or alternatively they are fabrications. The authenticity of the documents has not been seriously disputed. Their authors confirm their contents. It is only their interpretation which has been the subject of much debate. It will almost certainly be argued at this forum that the term 'offensive' in the Marion documents should be read as 'protective'. That view was accepted by the Court in the judgment of Mr Justice Jan Hugo in the trial of former Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan and others. It was an astonishing finding. While the offensive actions envisaged were aimed at preventing or stopping the ANC/UDF from carrying out attacks on Inkatha members, they were intended to be in the form of initiative taking pre-emptive strikes. Seen from the perspective of Inkatha and the state, this objective can be described as 'protective'. That however does not make such actions legitimate in terms of the law, no matter how noble the overall cause.
Those urging the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (the 'Commission') to let matters rest with the Hugo Judgment may also wish the Commission to rely on other judicial findings, such as those of the Harms Commission. These findings are not compelling. I would suggest that the Commission devote most of its energies in evaluating the enormous quantity of documentary and oral evidence before it.
Before dealing with Operation Marion in greater detail I intend to set the scene to explain how projects such as Marion and others came into being. It is important to understand that Operation Marion did not take place in a vacuum. It was part and parcel of the state's counter revolutionary program in place at the time. It is necessary then to examine this background in some detail.
During the 1980s the SSC and its superior and subordinate bodies devised several strategies for deployment against the United Democratic Front ("UDF") and the African National Congress ("ANC"). The government adopted the guiding strategies of Counter Revolutionary Warfare ("CRW") principles. CRW involved tactics aimed at destroying the insurgents / revolutionaries while winning the hearts and minds of the population. Key tactics of CRW included the use of terror in certain circumstances and the establishment of 'counter guerrilla' or 'middle groups' to mobilise politically and to act violently against revolutionary forces. This is evident from:
1.1 A SSC meeting held on 18 July 1985 adopted a number of CRW principles under item 8(a). All these principles co-incided with 'lessons' and principles set out by CRW writers such as General C A Fraser and J J McCuen to whom I will refer to shortly.
1.2 During 1986 the State President at the time, P W Botha, authorised the circulation of a document titled 'Rewolusionere Oorlogvoering: Grondbeginsels van Teeninsurgensie' dated 10 September 1986 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Botha document') to all those involved in the counter revolutionary struggle. The document was a para-phrasing of a paper by the SADF's General C A Fraser's titled 'Lessons learnt from past revolutionary wars' (hereinafter referred to as the 'Fraser document'). Both documents referred to the 'careful weighing' up of the use of force before it is used. Fraser's original document specifically related the use of force to acts of terrorism. Terrorism was referred to as a 'particularly appropriate weapon since it aims directly at the inhabitant'. After cautioning against the indiscriminate use of terror he advocated that:
the use of terrorism by government forces must be decided upon at the highest level, and it must be so applied as to avoid it boomeranging.
1.3 The Botha document referred to J J McCuen's 'The Art of Counter Revolutionary Warfare', 1966. McCuen's book had been para-phrased and distributed within military and security structures. Paragraph 98 of the summary of McCuen referred to the creation of 'Counter Guerrillas':
The development of a counter-revolutionary guerrilla force which is employed according to guerrilla tactics to annihilate revolutionary guerrillas and take control over the population.
The Fraser document at paragraph 39(b) also advocated the creation of guerrilla forces as 'an important adjunct to a government's strategic force'. The government adopted this strategy. The political and military support supplied to Inkatha (and other anti-revolutionary groups within and outside South Africa) fell squarely within this strategy.
1.4 The SSC meeting of 12 May 1986 tasked the then Ministers of Defence and Law and Order to create a Third Force to 'effectively wipe out terrorists'. The security forces were further tasked with countering the 'underminers' using 'their own methods'. The SADF in a document compiled by Brig B A Ferreira of the office of the Chief of Army titled 'The creation of a "Third Force" to combat the revolutionary onslaught', dated 28 February 1986 set out where the Third Force to a 'lesser or greater degree' already existed within the security forces. According to paragraph 6 of the document the Third Force was situated within the following organs:
The SADF's Directorate of Special Tasks supplied military and political support to counter revolutionary groups within and outside South Africa, including such support to Renamo, Unita and Inkatha.
DST and the other departments mentioned in the Ferreira document set out to counter the revolutionaries using their own methods as directed by the SSC. In pursuance of this plan leaders, activists and supporters of the ANC, UDF and allied organisations were targeted for elimination. An aspect of Operation Marion involved the elimination / destruction of enemy targets using a 'middle group'. Similar actions included DST's Operation Katzen in the Eastern Cape; and operations conducted by the SADF's Special Forces, the CCB, the SAP's Units C10 (Vlakplaas) and C4 (Trewits).
The UDF was seen by the government as part and parcel of the 'revolutionary onslaught' and 'mass offensive' orchestrated by the ANC. Little distinction was made between the external and internal threat. The UDF and its activists were accordingly targets for counter revolutionary actions. This is evident from:
2.1 A SSC document titled 'Riglyne vir n totale strategie teen die UDF: Tiende monitorverslag 1 April 1985 tot 31 Julie 1985' dated 15 August 1985, the UDF was declared to be an organisation that was 'dangerous to the state which had to be neutralised'. The UDF was further accused of formenting unrest and 'directly and indirectly promoting the aims of the SACP / ANC'.
2.2 According to the SSC the UDF was responsible for the 'systematic wiping out of recognised leaders'. This conclusion was referred to in Item 1(d)iv of the minutes of the SSC meeting of 14 April 1986.
2.3 According to an addendum titled 'Bedreigingsontleding' attached to a strategy document titled 'Riglyne vir n Strategie teen die Rewolsionere Oorlog teen die RSA' dated 24 April 1986 and circulated to all SSC members at the SSC meeting of 28 April 1986 the UDF was singled out as the most important body in the 'internal revolutionary onslaught' and:
...although the UDF publicly distances itself from violence, the violence that flowed from UDF arranged actions was so intertwined with ANC terrorist actions that it was difficult to differentiate between them.
2.4 A strategy document titled 'Aanstelling van Advieskomitee: "United Democratic Front" en ander organisasies' dated 7 May 1986 and circulated at the 12 May 1986 meeting of the SSC stated under paragraph 4d that UDF members were trained in the handling of weapons and explosives and that the UDF had spoken out in favour of violence.
3.1. It was noted in paragraph 31 of a document titled 'Strategie Nr 2/81 teen die ANC: 18de Monitorverslag vir die tydperk 1 April 1986 tot 30 June 1986' circulated to all members of the SSC for the 28 July 1986 meeting, that the ANC had announced that it had taken the 'strategic initiative internally and was now in the final phase of a mass-offensive (peoples' war). According to a document titled 'Riglyne vir n Strategie teen die Rewolsionere Oorlog teen die RSA' dated 24 April 1986 circulated to all SSC members for the SSC meeting on 28 April 1986 radical organisations were:
3.2. According to a SADF General, Marius Oelschig, during the mid 1980s South Africa was in a phase of revolutionary war which was 'going from terrorism towards guerrilla warfare'. The South African state adopted equally war-like methods to counter this threat, including the use of terror and guerrilla warfare.
4.1. The government viewed Inkatha as a bulwark against internal revolution and took steps to build up Inkatha as an anti-revolutionary force. This is evident from a SSC memorandum, dated 27 February 1986 titled 'Die Rewolusionere Bedreiging teen die RSA' and circulated to all members attending the 3 March 1986 SSC meeting. Under paragraph f:
4.2 Under paragraph 19(a)(ii) of the SSC document dated 24 April 1986 'anti-revolutionary' groups such as Inkatha' were seen as part of the:
According to announcements made by Inkatha leaders and secret state documentation Inkatha wished to establish a military type force and that it was willing to employ force to achieve its objectives:
5.1 On or about 28 May 1984 and at Ulundi, M G Buthelezi, President of Inkatha and Chief Minister of KwaZulu (hereinafter referred to as 'Buthelezi') set out in an address to the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly his need for a para-military wing to carry out protective and offensive actions. Buthelezi identified the UDF/ANC as the organisations responsible for the attacks:
...In fact I believe that we must prepare ourselves not only to defend property and life, but to go beyond that and prepare ourselves to hit back with devastating force at those who destroy and kill...
5.2 According to a top secret SSC document dealing with the unrest situation in Natal, produced during March 1989, Inkatha took a decision during 1985 to turn the whole of KwaZulu and Natal into a 'no go area' for the UDF.:
During 1985 the expressed mutual hostility and mistrust between Inkatha and the UDF became a visible reality when Inkatha realised that the UDF represented a threat to its power monopoly in KwaZulu and decided at a Central Committee meeting of Inkatha that the whole of KwaZulu and Natal be turned into a so-called "no go area" for the UDF, regardless of the consequences.
It is evident from state security and military documentation that clandestine operations, internally and externally, were authorised at the highest levels.
6.1 The SSC at its meeting of 12 February 1979 approved of a set of guidelines for the conducting of operations in foreign countries. The memorandum was drawn up by the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Police. The memorandum divided the envisaged actions into different categories: Planned operations; Cross-border raids (hot pursuit); Reconnaissance actions; and Clandestine operations. In respect of reconnaissance and clandestine operations the document said that such actions would be difficult to justify in terms of international law, and in respect of clandestine operations:
'The scope of these type of top secret operations are unlimited and the rules of international law make no provision for them'.
'As a result of the far reaching implications that can flow from these types of operations they can only be authorised at the highest level and the planning and execution must take place on a 'need to know' basis'.
In terms of the chain of command in respect of Cross-border operations, large scale 'oorwoe' offensive operations had to be cleared with the Chairman of the SSC, the State President. Small scale offensive operations had to be cleared with the Minister of Defence, and where necessary in consultation with the Chairperson of the SSC.
6.2 The Operation Marion documents and the SSC meeting of 3rd February 1986 refer to the fact that the offensive para-military support for Inkatha - an internal operation - had to be cleared at the 'highest level'. (See Annexure 'A' of the SSC meeting of 3rd February 1986). It is likely that the same 'highest level' and was involved in the authorisation of clandestine operations externally and internally. Operation Katzen a DST operation run in the former Ciskei and which also involved the elimination of targets, also had to be cleared at the highest level.
6.3 The authorisation of such operations from the highest levels which included offensive actions, involving acts of terror and elimination, is in line with Fraser's recommendation that:
the use of terrorism by government forces must be decided upon at the highest level, and it must be so applied as to avoid it boomeranging
During November 1985 Buthelezi set out his need to the then Director of Military Intelligence, Major-General T Groenewald (hereinafter referred to as Groenewald) for military support, which included an offensive or attacking capacity. This is set out in a memorandum from Chief of Staff Intelligence, Vice Admiral A P Putter to Chief of the SADF, General Geldenhuys General T Groenewald, titled 'Voorligting aan Hoofminister Buthelezi' dated 27 November 1985. Groenewald recorded in the document on Buthelezi's comment that although he was a supporter of a peaceful resolution:
.. the ANC must realise that if it uses violence against KwaZulu, the Zulus are also in a position to take violent steps against the ANC. He himself would like to take the struggle to the ANC in Lusaka, although at present he does not have the capacity.
A handwritten note at the foot of the last page of the document called for the document to be destroyed after reading. It indicated further that a copy of the document had gone via the Minister of Defence to the State President, P W Botha.
The passage is an expression of a desire for an offensive capacity to carry out retaliatory or pre-emptive actions against the ANC.
The SADF accordingly took steps to supply Buthelezi with an offensive military capacity. Groenewald prepared a memorandum titled 'SADF assistance to Chief Buthelezi and Bishop Lekganyane' dated 19 December 1985. Buthelezi's request for an offensive arm was confirmed in paragraph 10c:
...He himself referred to the use of an offensive capacity to act against the ANC. He referred further specifically to the need for a para-military task force.
The anticipation of the unlawfulness of the envisaged actions against members of the UDF and ANC was recognised under paragraph 17. It was noted that:
..it would be practically impossible to indemnify from prosecution such a huge group for steps taken against members of the ANC and UDF.
It was further suggested that a possible solution to this problem was the setting up of some sort of security structure through which offensive actions could be taken against the UDF. Such a structure would obviously not suddenly make such actions 'legal', and indeed there is no such suggestion in the documents that the creation of such a structure could convert illegal steps into legal ones. Such actions are unlawful regardless of what structure they are clothed in. It would however be of practical assistance insofar as such a structure would act as a cover for their offensive operations. Indeed the trainees were issued with fake 'security company' ID cards, and several were also issued with false KwaZulu Police appointment certificates.
The protective and offensive capacities were clearly distinguished as separate entities in this document. These passages reflect an awareness by the military of the pro-active or attacking and unlawful nature of the offensive capacity.
The obvious question is of course if the group was to carry out purely protective and lawful duties - why then did the state simply not increase this capacity in the KZP or establish a properly constituted and open reserve guard system. As will become evident the KZP was to be expanded as part of the wider package, so they had another purpose in mind for this clandestine operation. Even the then Chief of the Army conceded that:
Then why did they train civilians to act offensively. Liebenberg claimed that although it was a 'grey area' he thought they were destined for the KZP or the military. That then begs the question as to why they were not trained normally in one of these institutions. However the documents are clear - they were destined for Inkatha. Two and half years later many were placed into the KZP, but for very different reasons - as we will see.
Buthelezi's requests were placed before an extra-ordinary meeting of the SSC at Tuynhuis on 20th December 1985. Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan (hereinafter referred to as "Malan"), Minister of Law and Order, Louis Le Grange (hereinafter referred to as "Le Grange") and Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning, Chris Heunis (hereinafter referred to as "Heunis") were tasked with establishing a "security force" for Buthelezi.
An Interdepartmental Committee of the SSC was appointed to investigate the implementation of the SSC decision. A subcommittee was appointed to draw up a detailed report.
4.1 The subcommittee under the chairmanship of H J R Myburg of the Department of Constitutional Development and Planning met in Ulundi on 14 January 1986 where the matter of special support to Buthelezi was 'discussed and investigated in depth'. The written notes of a member of the Subcommittee, Colonel C J van Niekerk of the SADF's Directorate of Special Tasks ("DST") envisaged that offensive support would be supplied by the SADF's DST and protective support by the SAP and National Intelligence (NI):
4.2 The Subcommittee compiled a report dated 15 January 1986. The report recorded that Buthelezi pointed out himself that:
The report distinguished between the protective and offensive capacities. The report called for the following requirements of Buthelezi to be met::
The report under paragraph 27 proposed that the SAP and NI supply the protective measures and that the SADF create an offensive para-military element and a conventional / ceremonial force for KwaZulu.
The Subcommittee report was considered at a meeting of the Interdepartmental Committee on 16th January 1986, according to a memorandum compiled by Groenewald and sent from Chief of the SADF, General J J Geldenhuys (hereinafter referred to as "Geldenhuys") to Malan, a copy of which is annexed hereto marked "S". The recommendations of the Subcommittee report were largely accepted by the Interdepartmental Committee. However Dr Barnard of National Intelligence and Dr Van Wyk of the Dept of Constitutional Development and Planning objected to the provision of an offensive para-military element as set out in paragraph 27b(ii) of the subcommittee report. However, General Coetzee, Commissioner of the SAP, and the KwaZulu representatives strongly supported the proposal. The Chairman suggested that the SADF prepare a detailed report setting out the advantages of the para-military element against the political risks involved. The SADF representative (Groenewald) objected to this proposal because of the "sensitivity and security". He further pointed out that without the para-military element, the steps as proposed by the Sub-committee would be incomplete and would "not meet the Chief Minister's requirements and would not succeed in dealing with the security situation in KwaZulu".
It was argued that Inkatha was already taking para-military steps which were conducted unprofessionally and consequently carried high risks and that the planned para-military steps made up only a small element of the political, economic and welfare-psychological actions.
The creation of a para-military element must be investigated at the highest political level and clarified with the Chief Minister.
The highly sensitive issue of whether to authorise the creation of an 'offensive para-military element', as set out in para 27(b)ii was then placed squarely before the SSC.
Neil Barnard, former Director General of the National Intelligence Service (NI), has confirmed in a statement which he released to the media shortly before he appeared before a s29 inquiry confirmed that he opposed the creation of an offensive para-military unit for Inkatha because:
...it would lead to a further increase of the military conflict in Natal and the result would be more loss of lives...
While the foresight of the offensive force engaging in life taking actions was obvious, Barnard's statement confirms that this specific concern was the subject of the debate at the IDC meeting and at the SSC meeting of 3rd February 1986.
The Interdepartmental Committee's recommendation was approved of at a SSC meeting on 3rd February 1986. The issue was regarded as even too sensitive for the SSC to give the final authority and the matter was referred to the 'highest level' as recommended by the Interdepartmental Committee. Malan and Heunis were tasked with:
contacting Buthelezi in order to conduct an evaluation of his needs and requirements with regard to a para-military element. The question of the sensitivity had to be cleared at the highest level.
If protective lawful measures were being deliberated there would have been no need to defer this decision to the 'highest level'.
It is evident from a memorandum sent from Chief of Staff Intelligence, Vice Admiral A P Putter (hereinafter referred to as "Putter") to Geldenhuys dated 10 February 1986 that approval had indeed been supplied at the 'highest level'.
The State Security Council was seized with the issue of whether to authorise the creation of an offensive para-military unit for Inkatha. Although the SSC members deferred the decision it is apparent that the body supported the initiative. They anticipated that such support would result in Inkatha's offensive unit carrying out attacks on its political opponents. The minutes do not indicate any opposition or dissent, or an endeavour to stop the operation. Nobody present at that meeting has to date distanced themselves from the decisions made on 3 February 1986. If such details had been disclosed at an early stage, an unquantifiable number of lives could have been saved, particularly in the early 1990s when the full offensive force of the Caprivi Trainees was unleashed.
With overall approval granted for support to be supplied to Inkatha and KwaZulu structures the military set about to work on the detail on what was to be provided, in consultation with Buthelezi, and how implementation was going to be effected.
Following a meeting held between Groenewald and Buthelezi on 11 February 1986 a memorandum, dated 14 February 1986 and sent from Putter to Geldenhuys. According to Groenewald, Buthelezi purportedly described the requested offensive capacity as:
an offensive (or a protective capacity) whereby the UDF/ANC/SACP can be prevented from breaking up Inkatha meetings, destroying property and terrorising, murdering and injuring Inkatha members.
Groenewald testified in the matter of S v Msane & Others that 'offensive' means 'primarily to take the initiative':
..reactive steps are normally taken in reaction to what the enemy does, while pro-active involves the taking of pre-emptive measures before the time. You take the initiative. And you must especially see offensive in the terms of taking the initiative.
Offensive actions, even if aimed at preventing possible later attacks, are unlawful in terms of South African law. As much has been made of this passage by the military in an endeavour to paint the offensive capacity with an innocent tint I intend to revisit this description. Suffice to say at this stage that properly interpreted in its pre-emptive sense, the documents flow and make sense. If interpreted 'innocently' the documents cannot be reconciled with each other, and simply make no sense at all.
During February 1986 Malan instructed Geldenhuys to draw up a report which would include a detailed implementation plan together with an organogram. Geldenhuys appointed a group under Lt General Liebenberg, then Chief of the Army ("Liebenberg") to produce the report ("the Liebenberg Report"). The Liebenberg Report is dated 27 February 1986. It was sent under cover of a letter during March 1986 from Liebenberg to Geldenhuys.
The document set out in detail Buthelezi's requirements which according to the document "had already been confirmed" with him. Paragraph 3a set out the assistance relating to the personal protection of Buthelezi and identified VIPs. Paragraph 3b set out his requirements in relation to the para-military capacity. This included contra-mobilisation, defensive, offensive, the protection of Inkatha leaders, intelligence and the establishment of a military force when expedient to do so.
The offensive element under sub-paragraph iii was described as 'a small full-time offensive element that could covertly be used against the UDF/ANC (about 30)'.
Paragraph 3c related to the extension and development of the KwaZulu Police, including the training of an extra 500 policemen. Paragraph (d) dealt with the security management system. Paragraphs 8 to 12 summed up the decisions of the State Security Council on 3rd February 1986.
The organogram (security structure) under paragraph 20 (p83) clearly demarcated the support to the KwaZulu Police and Government on the left side of the structure, and the support to Inkatha on the right side. The organigram placed the offensive element outside of the para-military unit. This was in accordance with the proposals in the 19th December 1985 document at paragraphs 26, 27, 29, 33a and b (at p24) and 47 (at p26) which also envisaged the offensive group as distinct from the para-military group. Buthelezi was listed in the organigram as the only link person between the clandestine (Inkatha's armed wing) and overt (KwaZulu government) structures. M Z Khumalo was placed as the commander of Inkatha's para-military and offensive groups.
Paragraph 26(c) set out the proposed activities of the para-military unit. These involved a full-time Leadership Corps, an Offensive Element, Contra-mobilisation and Bodyguard groups. The leadership group was also referred to as the "defensive group (militia)". Their training included inter alia military procedures and the breaking up of meetings.
The purpose was to provide a small group of well trained troops for Inkatha which could be used offensively against the ANC, UDF and related groups. Further the group could also be used as personal bodyguards for Buthelezi in his capacity as President of Inkatha
Malan instructed Putter to put the secret part of the organogram to Buthelezi, as suggested in paragraph 20 of the Liebenberg Report. According to a document sent by Putter to Geldenhuys dated 16 April 1986 Buthelezi purportedly emphasized that the support to Inkatha, including the para-military support must not be mixed up with the support supplied to KwaZulu Governmental structures. He further reportedly emphasized that the offensive element must not be a separate unit, but must form part of the larger para-military unit. It is evident from this document that the offensive group was to be armed. It was proposed to set aside a substantial amount of money for weapons and ammunition which would be secretly channeled through Armscor.
Two hundred Inkatha men were recruited by M Z Khumalo. The 200 were taken to the Caprivi Strip in Namibia where they received training at Hippo Camp by the Special Operations component of Military Intelligence and Special Forces. The recruits were divided into operational groups, one of which was an offensive group of some 30 men. The trainees were instructed that their targets would be located within the UDF/ANC. The other groups trained included Contra-mobilisation, Defence and VIP Protection. The Defensive group was an intelligence group whose members were trained in collecting information, surveillance, target development and compiling target dossiers. Those in the Contra-mobilisation group were trained in the propagation and promotion of Inkatha politics. The training lasted for approximately 6 months.
According to Captain Gerhardus "Jakes" Jacobs, a former instructor based in the Caprivi, all trainees first received basic training (phase 1) and were then divided into groups to receive specialised training (phase 2). This training included instruction on how to carry out offensive actions. He said that the chief focus of the training given in respect of offensive actions was to create an attacking capability ("aanvalsvermoe").
The eventual goal of the training, according to Jacobs, was to enable the resistance movements to operate independently of the SADF ( Msane p4083 - 4098). Indeed the Marion documents make numerous reference to a capacity of 'self-sufficiency'. All training provided by the Directorate of Special Tasks (DST) at all of their schools included training in the handling and use of the AK-47.
No documents were supplied for the months June to December 1986 (except for one October document) which co-incided with the training in Caprivi.
It is instructive here to pause and to examine the Operation Katzen documents, put up in the Goniwe Inquest, for these months, with regard to training and deployment. Katzen like Marion was run by DST and many of the same officers were involved, including Colonel John More, Vice Admiral A P Putter and General J J Geldenhuys. In many respects it was a 'sister operation' of Marion. It was aimed at placing more compliant persons in the Ciskei Government, through a violent removal of its incumbent leaders. The Katzen documents are equally incriminating. It is submitted that there are striking parallels to be drawn between Marion and Katzen, both of which were executed by DST. See for example the following extracts from the Katzen file:
At this time John More was also involved in overseeing Operation Marion as its Senior Staff Officer.
A handwritten document in the Katzen file recorded a discussion that took place on 10 November 1986 between senior military, SAP Security Branch, and others:
Under para (f)(ii) of the same Katzen document, dealing with Namba Sebe (codename 'Auditor') who was being sought by the SAP:
Compare with the references in the Marion documents to the 'temporary disappearing' of Caprivi Trainees involved in offensive actions who were being sought by the police. This concern also emerged in the operations of the CCB, and I will refer to this a little later.
See the list in the Katzen file of the military, civilian and terrorist weapons required for 'squad under training' dated 13 November 1986 (p117 of file). Next to items 1 to 5:
Note that state witnesses in the KwaMakhutha trial alleged that John More informed them that AK 47s could be obtained at the secret military base Ferntree in the Drakensberg.
Memorandum 311/1 dated 17 November 1986 referred to the categorisation of the groups trained. See para (c):
It was decided that this group would not be used for intelligence gathering and recruitment, as if they were arrested they could compromise the whole group. They will only be used for "in, out" operations to the Ciskei.
Compare with the separation of roles with the groups trained under Operation Marion. Offensive, Defensive (included intelligence gathering) and Contra-mobilisation (included recruiting).
It is evident from the Katzen file that Putter and Geldenhuys were kept informed of developments as part of their line functions, as they were in Operation Marion.
Returning to Operation Marion, according to military documentation, during May 1986 Mr Kobus du Toit Bosman, a Special Forces operative and Buthelezi's representative in his dealings with Afrikaans speakers, had a falling out with Military Intelligence. It appeared from the documentation that he was taken out of the project in a way so as not "to make an enemy" out of him. It was further recommended that:
"..the subject's problem be referred to the Dept of Finance in such a way that there can be no positive connection between the Department of Defence and Bosman which can thus be made with Chief Minister Buthelezi".
According to a military document dated 20 October 1986 Buthelezi met with DST officers Brigadier Cor Van Niekerk ("Van Niekerk") and Brigadier John More ("More") on 16 October 1986. (This is the only document produced between June 1986 and January 1988 that was supplied). According to the document Buthelezi equated offensive actions with 'unlawful actions' and the 'taking of the law into their own hands'. Here he was referring to Inkatha members who had taken 'offensive actions' against 'radical elements'. Some of these individuals had been arrested and charged. He further purportedly said that although Inkatha had been approached for assistance with legal costs, if money was paid out of party funds this would come down, or be seen as a condonation of unlawful actions, a perception which he as President of Inkatha could not permit.
Those representing the military and perhaps Inkatha will argue that the portion of the paragraph dealing with the question of legal costs should be interpreted simply that Buthelezi would never have approved of any unlawful actions. Such an interpretation requires the magical expunging of every other reference to offensive and its unlawfulness in the documents. It quite obviously cannot be done. There was never any suggestion that the offensive capacity requested in 1985, granted and implemented through to 1989 changed in its essential form. Further the claim that offensive actions means one thing in this document, but another thing in another document rings hollow.
As this sentence (together with the paragraph in the 14 February 1986) document is relied upon to paint a virtuous picture of Buthelezi's intentions and view of offensive actions, I will revisit this sentence later.
There are no documents available for this year, which being the first year of deployment of the Marion members would have been one of the most active. Apart from the carrying out of the KwaMakhutha massacre in January 1987, another example of this activity was the case of the "Eight Directors":
14.1 The '8 directors' were referred to independently by Van Niekerk and Captain J P Opperman (An instructor at Caprivi and Liaison Officer for Operation Marion). On the 6th March 1987 Van Niekerk noted in his diary:
Reeva was the codename for M Z Khumalo. When asked to explain what this meant in the Msane matter at line 10, p3990, vol. 50, he replied that he could not remember. According to Opperman (paragraph 31 "Eight Directors", C3), M Z Khumalo was hiding from the police 8 persons who had murdered somebody. Some of the 8 were Caprivi trainees. Opperman contacted More and they and Van Niekerk met with Khumalo. Opperman took food and money to the eight. They were codenamed the "eight directors". The group was eventually filtered back into society. M Z Khumalo claimed through his Counsel in the Msane matter that he had a problem in finding accommodation for 8 of the trainees. Khumalo was not being truthful.
14.2 M Z Khumalo played a central role in the launching of offensive actions, including the identification of targets for elimination. Other incidents during and after 1987 in which he was allegedly involved included:
14.2.1 Instructing Luthuli to eliminate, Zazi Khuzwayo, a prominent Clermont businessman and opponent of incorporation of Clermont into KwaZulu. This murder was carried out on 9 May 1987. You were involved in concealing the murder weapons.
14.2.2 The hiding of Inkatha fighters who were fugitives from justice. These included Luthuli himself, Vela Mchunu, Israel Hlongwane and David Zweli Dlamini. Mchunu and Hlongwane were concealed at the secret para-military base at Mkhuze. Dlamini was taken to Venda, and other places.
It is unlikely that the absence of documents for the year 1987, the training months in 1986 and specific documents (such as Putters proposals to Geldenhuys ST/UG/310/4MARION dated 7 March 1986) was co-incidental, contrary to claims made by Van Niekerk. According to Van Niekerk, he colluded with Colonel Mike van den Berg in removing the documents from the Operation Marion file. Van Niekerk testified in the Msane matter (p3865) that he and Van den Berg were 'deeply concerned' about how vulnerable Project Marion officers were to criminal prosecution. According to evidence led in the Msane matter the Marion file was still present in March 1992 (p2179). The balance of the Marion documents were not recorded as destroyed in the official register. It is likely then that the balance of the Marion documents were specifically removed from the file at some point. It is not out of the question that this could have taken place in the 3 days between the investigators arriving at Military Intelligence HQ and the handing of the bundle over to investigators.
The documents were apparently removed as an 'insurance policy'. It was claimed in the Malan matter that this 'policy' was taken out in order to show how innocent the project was. That is a fabrication. If that was the case the documents could quite easily have been kept for that purpose in MI headquarters - and further they would have been disclosed to nip the controversy in the bud when Goldstone Investigators first approached the military. It is quite obvious that the documents were taken in order to show that the project was properly authorised from the highest levels. Of course proper authority and lawfulness are not necessarily the same thing, as in this and other cases.
The SAP's Security Branch (SB) supplied key support to Operation Marion. SB's most important function was to ensure that investigations of crimes committed by offensive element members never saw the light of day. Assistance was provided in concealing fugitives from justice and investigations were interfered with. An example was the investigation into the KwaMakhutha massacre carried out by Inkatha's offensive element members in January 1987.
The first Investigation Officer, a Warrant Officer Sipho Mbele, complained that the investigation was not conducted properly insofar as normal procedures and practices on the murder scene were roundly ignored, and his own investigation was interfered with by individuals in the Security Branch. He was instructed by his superiors to release possible suspects (one Ephriam Buthelezi, and Sipho Shange), who had also been found in possession of an unlicensed firearm. The suspect Ephriam Buthelezi was in fact the contact person in the township for the defensive group members involved in the surveillance of the Ntuli house. Mbele was instructed by his Station Commander in the presence of a senior Inkatha official to take the suspects to the Umbumbulu Court to have the charges withdrawn. He and members of his investigation team were further intimidated by Security Branch members. Two detective sergeants on his team, Fulumane and Kheswa, were detained without being charged under the emergency regulations following the arrest of Ephriam Buthelezi in KwaMakhutha.
On 21 January 1988 Putter and Chief Director Intelligence Operations, Major General Neels Van Tonder ("Van Tonder") met with Buthelezi. Van Niekerk (DST 2), Colonel Mike Van den Berg, Senior Staff Officer for Operation Marion and M Z Khumalo were also present. Putter sent a memorandum to Geldenhuys dated 28 January 1988. According to this document Buthelezi asked for further clandestine training. M Z Khumalo sketched 'his problems in respect of discipline, command and control'. Khumalo was of the view that the solution to the problem was a base from where Marion members could 'plan and take action'. Such action could only have been of a pre-emptive or retributive nature.
A base for the offensive group (at Port Durnford) and a separate base for the rest of the group (at Mkhuze) were eventually set up. A number of Inkatha fighters who were fugitives from justice were concealed at the Mkhuze base.
Buthelezi purportedly expressed unhappiness with his working relationship with the Natal Command Joint Management Centre. It was recommended under paragraph 16c that covert operations continue to be handled from Pretoria, with decentralisation according to needs.
According to a military document drawn up in February 1988 Buthelezi reportedly called for more Inkatha members to be trained in order to swing the conflict in the townships in his favour.
On 21 March 1988 Buthelezi and Khumalo met with Malan in Durban. Malan stressed the urgency of the situation and reportedly said that the maximum number must be trained and 'we must climb in'.
According to a top secret military signal dated 31 August 1988 sent from Malan's office to Putter and Geldenhuys, Buthelezi instructed Khumalo to meet with Malan on 30th August 1988. Khumalo brought numerous matters to the attention of Malan, including the lack of progress with the base for the offensive group. A further complaint was set out in the signal as:
Experiencing serious problems in respect of persons who must temporarily be withdrawn from communities, but liaison officers provide no assistance in this regard, and expect Khumalo on his own to formulate solutions in this regard. Dr Buthelezi is extremely sensitive to the political embarrassment that may occur in the pre 26 October 1988 phase as a result of a person not temporarily disappearing.
This concern related to the arrests of Caprivi Trainees following the taking of offensive actions and the danger of such persons providing details of their operations if the cases against them proceeded. This has been confirmed by the evidence of General Van Tonder. The first nation wide municipal elections were held on 26 October 1988. A number of Caprivi Trainees have confirmed that they were concealed from police detection following the taking of offensive actions. Why if the project was lawful and protective would there be a need to cover up the crimes of its operatives? The military however was clearly worried:
Ideally it is still an aim of MARION to be self sufficient and independent and to build in cut off points in the interests of security,
This confirms that it was always an objective that Inkatha would run its operations independently of the military.
Malan requested that a report dealing with the security problems arising from offensive actions and other problems be presented to him by the end of September 1988.
Buthelezi met with Putter on 14 September 1988. No documents were made available in respect of this meeting. It is likely that the security problems arising from the taking of offensive actions were discussed at this meeting. It is further likely that the idea of smaller offensive groups or cells carrying out offensive actions was raised at this meeting.
The report requested by Malan was produced in October 1988 in the form of a memorandum from Putter to Malan. In the report it was confirmed that the man who had to disappear had indeed disappeared.
The carrying out of offensive actions in 'small offensive groups' was raised as a possible solution to the security problems. A further step was to give Inkatha the capacity to act on its own without SADF assistance:
Indemnity against Criminal Proceedings. Offensive action is part of Marion's tasks. An attempt is being made to build in cut off points to protect those involved and to train groups so that eventually they can act on their own without SADF assistance.
The document also raised the concern that because 'offensive actions were part of Marion's tasks', Putter and other senior officers involved in the planning of Operation Marion may be implicated in offenses carrying the death penalty.
The document is further evidence of the acute awareness of the unlawful nature of offensive actions, and the connection between murders carried out by the offensive element and those who provided the capacity in the first place.
It is no coincidence that Opperman's October 88 duty sheet on offensive actions referred to 'trained cells', the strict clearing of targets, and significantly:
Contrary to claims that the duty sheet is out of place it fits like a glove into the unfolding story.
According to the official duty sheet drawn up for Marion liaison officer, Captain J P Opperman, targets for hits had to be approved by the military, Security Branch and M Z Khumalo (codenamed "Reeva"):
OFFENSIVE ACTIONS : Must only be carried out by trained cells under strict control. Authority must be granted by DST-2 beforehand. Targets must be approved by REEVA, SAP(S) and SADF. Criminal prosecution of participants must always be taken into account. Highly professional actions are the key to success".
The targets related to the elimination or killing of specific targets and was no different to similar references in other military documents. An example is a CCB document dated 28 April 1987 (Exhibit G33, Goniwe Inquest) drawn up after concerns relating to SADF members' liability for extra-judicial killings were raised with Geldenhuys. Note the parallel to Marion and Katzen. The document was authenticated by Joubert (also a member of the Liebenberg Task Group). It referred to the 'elimination of specific targets'. Geldenhuys was reported as saying that
he did not see the steps taken by the CCB as 'murder', but rather an attack on an individual enemy target with non standard issue weapons in an unconventional manner, ensuring that innocents are not hit.
These concerns led directly to a top level meeting with the SAP. It is evident that by November 1988 the military regarded continued SADF support for the taking of offensive actions as an unacceptably high security risk. Attempts to secure greater police intervention in the cover-up of crimes committed by Caprivi Trainees were not successful. The Commissioner of Police Johan van der Merwe and his deputy Basie Smit were not willing to assist beyond arranging bail and then assisting in the concealing of the members from detection. Since the SAP could not provide absolute guarantees in this regard as set out in point 3:
it was decided that the whole group should be demobilised into the KZP (pt 9). Steps were then taken to 'demobilise' the para-military unit and most Marion members were eventually placed into the KwaZulu Police during June 1989. Buthelezi and Khumalo however reportedly opposed the withdrawal of military support for offensive steps. This was the reason why - after some 2 and half years - the group was placed into the KZP.
Note the covering letter to the Nov 88 meetings which referred to a movement away from offensive actions to mobilisation steps.
Why, if offensive steps only involved lawful and protective measures, did the military want to move away from support for offensive steps? .Particularly in the light of the deteriorating situation for Inkatha (which is evident from the documents) these so-called protective actions should have been stepped up, not phased out. It appears to make little sense, unless of course offensive steps were in fact offensive steps.
In a meeting held on 28 November 1988 between Security Branch commanders and DST officers, Brigadier Jac Buchner of the SB was reported saying that
Also at the 28 November 1988 meeting with the Security Branch Para 17: It was stated that the Marion members should only talk to security branch members.
If they were engaged in bona fide protective actions why should they not have dealt with normal uniform and detective branch members?
On 31st October 1989, Van Niekerk and Colonel Van den Berg met with Buthelezi. A report of this meeting dated 6 November 1989, was sent from Van Tonder to Putter. At paragraph 2c:
The Chief Minister expressed his concern over the situation in Mpumalanga and the fact that he was losing the "armed struggle". He referred to the "cell" - idea for offensive action which did not get off the ground.
At the same meeting, according to a document dated 2 May 1990, Buthelezi reportedly expressed concern that he was:
..losing the armed struggle and in that regard emphasized that "offensive steps" were still a necessity; meaning the deployment of "hit squads".
Attached to the memorandum was a document titled "Subjects for discussion". One of the subjects was:
"Offensive capability (cells) for Inkatha: In Oct 89 CM Buthelezi asked that Int Div reconsider the training of offensive cells for Inkatha seeing that an urgent requirement for these exists.
Buthelezi's request was taken to Malan who maintained that the 'violent option was a difficult matter'. The security risks were too high. Too bring this home to Buthelezi it was decided to take SAP detective branch commander, General Basie Smit to talk to him. Malan's explanation was put to Buthelezi by Van Tonder at a meeting with him held on 9 May 1990. These passages speak for themselves. The essential nature of offensive actions are set out in crisp terms. Needless to say the documents reflect no crisis or surprise following the reported remarks of Buthelezi.
It is hardly surprising that the military have no way of explaining away such crisp references. It says volumes about the attempts to portray the taking of offensive steps as protective in nature. Under the circumstances the description of the offensive capacity in the 14 February 1986 document could only have been referring to its pre-emptive nature. The documents then are not contradictory. The same goes for the 16 October 1986 document dealing with Buthelezi's concerns around the paying of legal costs for those committing offensive actions. If that document is to be reconciled with the rest it can only be read as Buthelezi not wanting to be seen to be paying the legal fees of those committing unlawful actions.
Of course the very nature of a tiny offensive group ranging from a total 30 which was then reduced to 10 men is consistent with a group that takes planned initiatives - it is consistent with the activities of a hit squad.
At the 9th May 1990 meeting Buthelezi was advised by Van Tonder not to admit or deny anything relating to Inkatha / SADF hit squad allegations made in the Vrye Weekblad. Buthelezi reportedly expressed concern that his nephew who had gone over to the ANC / UDF provides great propaganda value to the enemy. He requested to see 'Spyker' (spike/ nail) in secret.
Khumalo was informed by Van den Berg and Van Niekerk on 4 December 1990 that the SADF intended terminating Operation Marion. Van den Berg's final meeting with Khumalo was on 23 January 1991. Van Tonder continued meetings with Buthelezi, the final meeting taking place on 16 July 1991.
It was an aim of Operation Marion to supply Inkatha with a capacity of 'self sufficiency'. Inkatha's offensive actions continued, often under the cover of the KwaZulu Police. The actions of the Esikaweni hit squad in the early 1990s is a case in point.
1. Offensive actions of the Caprivi Trainees continued under the cover of the KwaZulu Police force in the early 1990s. In at least one police district, at Esikaweni, a hit squad cell was formed around individual trainees. They were controlled by a local committee comprising IFP leaders and senior KwaZulu Police officers. The Esikaweni hit squad carried out a large number of attacks on ANC and COSATU individuals resulting in many deaths. The KwaZulu Police commander, Brigadier C P Mzimela ensured that their activities were covered up. It permitted the hit squad to act with absolute impunity. It conducted an unhindered and systematic reign of terror over a period of more than 2 years. The few KwaZulu Policemen who attempted to investigate were either murdered or intimidated from acting. Key figures in Inkatha and the KwaZulu Government at Ulundi, including a Cabinet Minister, Prince Gideon Zulu and the Secretary of the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly, M R Mzimela provided logistical support and direction to the hit squad. This was a finding made by the Supreme Court in the Mbambo matter for purposes of sentence. It is likely that the state of affairs in Esikaweni in the early 1990s was replicated in other areas.
Key role players in Operation Marion continued to perform central functions with regard to the Esikhaweni hit squad.
2.1 M Z Khumalo, who was in overall charge of the para-military capacity under Operation Marion, features in the Esikaweni hit squad. Luthuli reported to Khumalo once the squad had been established and continued to report to him on progress on other occasions.
2.2 Langeni was the commander of the Mkhuze camp was placed in overall command of the Esikhaweni Hit Squad. He was involved in the authorisation of specific hits. Mkhize reported to Langeni after operations.
2.3 Luthuli, the political commissar of the Caprivi Trainees played a key role in the setting up of the Esikhaweni Hit Squad. He selected Gcina Mkhize to head up the squad and also recruited Israel Hlongwane and Zweli Dlamini.
2.4 Caprivi Trainees were the backbone of the operations. Offensive unit member, Constable Gcina Mkhize, headed up the squad. Zweli Dlamini was a member of the squad and was involved in numerous hits. Constable Paulos Ndlovu was involved in the attack on Mthimkhulu. Thomas Buthelezi supplied the squad with arms and ammunition from his home in Port Durnford.
Prince Gideon Zulu (then KwaZulu Minister of Welfare and Pensions), B B Biyela (then Mayor of Esikaweni), Mrs Lindiwe Mbuyazi (prominent IFP member in Esikaweni), R Mkhize (then an employee of the IFP office in Empangeni), Chief Khayelihle Mathaba (then a KwaZulu Legislative Assembly member), M R Mzimela (then Secretary of the KLA), Khumalo, Luthuli and Langeni all played a role in establishing the Esikaweni Hit Squad and in supporting its activities. Support actions included general direction; the identification of some of the targets; the provision of arms and ammunition; vehicles; and the cover-up of crimes committed by the hit squad. Members of the hit squad included Constable Gcina Mkhize (as head), Constable Romeo Mbambo, Israel Hlongwane, Zweli Dlamini, Nhlakanipho Mathenjwa, Lucky Mbuyazi and Ben Mlambo. Hits carried out included:
3.3 the attempted murders of ANC official, Welcome Mthimkhulu, and Thabile Shezi, Gladness Mbuyazi, Sibongile Sithole and Muntuza Sithole on 24 July 1992;
3.4 the murders of D/Sgt M A Khumalo and John Mabika on 27 November 1992. Khumalo was investigating murders carried out by the hit squad.
3.7 the counts of murder and attempted murder that hit squad members Mkhize, Mbambo and Hlongane were convicted for in the matter of S v Mbambo:
3.7.3 the murders of Velenkosini, Sipho Mzimela, Bafana Jele, Sibusiso Mdluli and Muzikwakhe Ngocobo at Esikaweni on 19th/20th June 1993;
3.7.4 the murder of Segeant Dumisani Solomon Dlamini on the night of 19th/20th June 1993 at Esikaweni.
Lt-Gen Roy During ("During"), who was Commissioner of the KwaZulu Police between October 1992 and July 1994, had the following to say about Brigadier C P Mzimela ("Mzimela"):
... information which came to my attention gave rise to strong suspicions that Brig Mzimela was involved in the activities of hit squads suspected to be responsible for several acts of violence in the Esikhawini district. His inability or failure to address the problems in his area coupled with his conduct in certain instances amounted to my mind to a serious dereliction of his duties and the undermining of my authority as Commissioner.
During attempted to transfer Mzimela out of Esikaweni. According to During, senior KZP detectives at the scene of an attack in Esikhawini in December 1992 in which six people were shot dead, suspected the involvement of members of the KZP in the attack, but were reluctant to talk, stating openly that they feared for their own safety. During then summoned Brigadier Mzimela to his office on 3 February 1993 and expressed his concern that officers were implicated in attacks in Mzimela's area and that G3s firearms were used in the attacks. Mzimela, according to During, failed to respond to his request to investigate the matter further. During again summoned Mzimela to his office and announced that he intended to transfer him given his " misgivings concerning his ability or willingness to address the situation". During records that Mzimela then approached Buthelezi to protest the impending transfer. As a result, During himself was summoned to Buthelezi's office where he was told, in the presence of Mzimela, to explain his actions. During adds
During the meeting Brigadier Mzimela's position as tribal Induna came to the fore and his strong tribal support and IFP ties, coupled with a strong anti-ANC stance were quite evident. It was clearly stated that to transfer Brigadier Mzimela from the district of Esikhawini would be, politically speaking, a severe setback for the IFP and would be regarded as a victory for the ANC, who had for some time been demanding his removal from the area. The Chief Minister then indicated to me that he would not wish to interfere with my administration of the KZP but asked me to reconsider my decision in light of the political implications involved.
I believe that the Commission should have no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the Luthulis and Mkhizes, the men on the ground and on the front line, were not conducting a series of unconnected private frolics; but in fact acted at the behest of the most powerful individuals within the apartheid state and its surrogate homeland structures.
It is evident that the actions that flowed out of Operation Marion did not only include criminal offenses such as murder. By necessity the cover up of crimes was the order of the day. As has been pointed out this involved senior politicians and the highest police and military officers, including the Commissioner of Police himself. This deception continues through to today. Most role players have chosen to rely on the unlikelihood of an inadequate and over stretched prosecutorial service ever getting its act together to bring thorough and effective prosecutions in such cases. They rely further on what can be referred to as 'plausible deniability' or the 'blind eye' syndrome. This involves placing some distance between the acts on the ground and the decisions taken at the highest levels. The refrain has often be heard that the highest leaders and officers could not have been expected to know what was going on the ground - and if atrocities did take place this was the work of a few 'rotten apples'.
I believe however that this submission has set out a story, which reveals an unbreakable and consistent connection between the decisions and strategies decided upon at the level of the SSC and higher levels, with the explicit references in the documents of Operations like Marion, Katzen and the CCB, and with the actions on the ground. If one is to refer to rot, then it was part of the system itself, which was infected from top to bottom.
I may add that I am somewhat perplexed as to why these role players continue with their charade. Apart from the fact that few are persuaded by their denials, all sides adopted strategies which were designed to win the war. During this war the 'struggle' was seen by all participants as a life and death struggle. Tactics used by all sides included violence and terror, which resulted in loss of life. I think few would dispute that the overall aim of all sides to the conflict, aside from their respective political objectives, was to protect their supporters from attack and oppression.
The deception presumably continues in an endeavour to preserve the image of key political leaders. It is a futile exercise. Credibility and statesmanship, in these circumstances, emerges from being open and honest with the entire nation. The endeavour to confine culpability to the foot soldiers involved does a great disservice to these men. They are passed off as thugs and criminals. They are prevented from coming to terms with their actions. The spinning of webs of deceit and half truths also does a great disservice to the nation itself, as it retards the process of South Africa reconciling itself with its past. It will however not stop this process.
While the acts carried out by members of hit squads can only be described as horrific, when seen in context, they are understandable. The actions carried out by hit squads to further a political purpose ought to be seen in context.
The bulk of the activities I have described took place within state structures and its security and policing organs. This culture of impunity and lawlessness still impacts on society today. Those in public office and in the service of the state should, above all others, comply with the laws of the land. They should be subject to the greatest scrutiny. Never again should they be permitted to get away with transgressions of the law.
There were many during these dark years who in their different situations did what they could to bring about peace and justice. Apart from those in civil society, you will find such people even in institutions like the SA Police, the KwaZulu Police and the military. They played such roles at great risk and sacrifice to themselves. The Commission should find a way of acknowledging these individuals. The record would be incomplete without their stories.