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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 246
Paragraph Numbers 333 to 345
Ambushes and farm shootings in the Alldays area
333 A joint SAP/SADF ambush, leading to the death of six alleged MK members, took place on the Breslau Road near Alldays on 10 July 1986. The following applied for amnesty for this incident: Mr JH Kruger [AM4147/96], Mr LM Pretorius [AM4366/96], Mr MM Sehlwana [AM3747/96], Mr NS Coetzee [AM4121/96], Mr PA Dreyer [AM 4128/96], Mr JAN Strydom [AM4368/96], Senior Superintendent AJG Erwee [AM4135/96], Mr PTCJ Fourie [AM4137/96], Mr PPF Fuchs [AM4138/96], Mr FCS Swarts [AM4512/96], Mr JP van den Berg [AM4367/96], Mr WJ van der Merwe [AM4380/96] Mr JH van Dyk [AM4370/96] and Mr Josef Venter [AM4381/96].
334 The operation was launched in response to information received about a planned infiltration via Botswana of a group of six heavily armed MK guerrillas. Final planning for the operation was conducted in conjunction with the Fifth Reconnaisance Regiment of the SADF’s Special Forces.
335 The police provided a minibus with its rear window removed, and Constable Sehlwana was appointed to meet the group at the border under the pretext of being a taxi driver. He was instructed to stop the minibus at a designated spot, one side of which was fenced while the other was open. An army Casspir was parked in the road to prevent the occupants of the taxi from escaping; a group of policemen hid in the river bed, about thirty metres from the road; two or three other military personnel waited on the bank to the right of the road to communicate with the occupants of the minibus. A number of other groups were stationed in the vicinity to observe the scene. In addition, an operative hid at the fence to throw a tear gas canister into the vehicle in order to facilitate the arrests and to allow Constable Sehlwana to escape. An aircraft with radio communication monitored the scene, and a helicopter was on stand-by for any emergency.
336 According to the amnesty applicants, Inspector Kobus Fourie reported that the six suspects had crossed the border and had climbed into the designated minibus. Sehlwana stopped the vehicle at the appointed place; the tear gas canister was thrown in and Sehlwana escaped. At this point it is alleged that the occupants of the vehicle began firing and that this led to a shoot-out in which five of the insurgents were killed. The remaining guerrilla, alive though badly wounded, was taken away for interrogation. During interrogation, a military medic gave him an injection to stabilise his condition but he died later, on the way to Alldays.
337 Because of the sensitivity regarding Sehlwana and an informant from whom they had received intelligence, it was agreed that certain information would be omitted from then Colonel (later Senior-Superintendent) Erwee’s statement. The inquest finding was that nobody could be held responsible for the deaths of the unnamed victims.
338 The Alldays incident was clearly a carefully planned and executed operation, involving both the police and the military. SADF standing instructions on conducting an ambush include advice on how to identify ‘a killing ground’: the enemy must be channelled into the killing ground; it must be large enough to accommodate the enemy and must facilitate flat trajectories, providing as little cover for the enemy as possible.
339 Several other incidents involving some of the above role-players occurred in the Alldays area during 1987 and 1988, leading to the deaths of some sixteen people.
340 On 11 September 1987, one person was shot and two escaped in an incident at Renaissance Farm in the Waterpoort District. The two who had escaped were shot by a named farmer on 12 September. The investigating officer was CJH Bressler. The victims were Mr Nicolaas Moio, Mr Stanley Mehlape, and Mr Frans Mgoasheng.
341 On 3 August 1998, five people were shot and buried on Bridge Water Farm, a state-owned farm in the Alldays area. The investigating officer was Warrant Officer Pretorius, an amnesty applicant in this and the Alldays incident.
342 On 23 September 1998, a further three people were killed by a farmer near Pondrift, Alldays. One person was arrested, and later became an askari. The victims were Mr Mzikayise Mgzangxeni, Mr Mkhatshane Johannes Shangaan and Mr Mark Mkoto; the investigating officer was Barend van der Merwe.
343 Mr Stephen Bogacu [KZN/TIS/006/BL] was killed by members of Unrest Unit 17 in the Ficksburg area on 24 May 1988. An inquest into his death [Inquest 8/88] found justifiable homicide, as the police claimed he was about to throw a grenade at them after they had observed him crossing a river. It appears that they had been lying in wait for him, as members of the Unrest Unit state that they had been given a photo and description of Bogacu.
344 The evidence of two other witnesses is conflicting. Mr Mmtali ‘Fatty’ Letlaka [KZN/TIS/006/BL] from Ficksburg stated that he had taken Bogacu into exile in 1985. In 1988, Letlaka was asked to fetch Bogacu from Leribe (Lesotho) so he could catch a taxi from Ficksburg to Zimbabwe. As they came though the border, a minibus stopped them and Letlaka was told to stand aside while Bogacu was shot several times at point-blank range. He fell to the ground and was shot again. Letlaka was then called to the minibus and searched. One of the policemen appeared to recognise him, and he was told to go home. A Detective Sefatsa from Ladybrand and two white policeman later arrived at Letlaka’s house and took Bogacu’s suitcase. Letlaka was forced to sign a blank piece of paper and was given R500 and thanked for giving them the suitcase. Subsequently, they visited him on several occasions.
345 Mr Jan Seboi Sekete [KZNNT/009/FB] said he and a Mr Litabe (now deceased) were returning from the Lesotho border and were joined by Steve Bogacu of the ANC and ‘Fatty’ Letlaka, who had come across the river. He said they were stopped by two uniformed white men near the Caledon Park location in Ficksberg, who shot one of the men. The rest were told to “fokoff”. As Sekete and Litabe left, they saw Letlaka shaking hands with the policemen and realised that it had been a set-up. Neither Letlaka nor Sekete mention a grenade.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT BOGACU WAS KILLED BY MEMBERS OF THE SAP, THAT HIS DEATH WAS THE RESULT OF A DELIBERATE PLAN AND THAT IT WAS A GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, FOR WHICH THE SAP IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE.