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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 249
Paragraph Numbers 346 to 349
SM Nyoka and others
346 In 1988, two ambushes occurred within days of each other near Piet Retief. All the targets were killed without any arrests being made. Amnesty applications in respect of the first ambush were received from Colonel De Kock [AM0066/97], Mr Gerrie Johan Barnard [AM5004/97], Mr Jury Bernardus Hayes [AM5003/97], Mr Flip Koenraad Theron [AM5012/97], Sergeant Leon William John Flores [AM4361/96] Captain Marthinus David Ras jnr [AM5183/97], DG Willemse [AM372/96] JH Tait [AM3922/96], HC du Plessis [AM4129/96], Brigadier WF Schoon [AM4396/96] Major CP Deetleefs [AM5001/97], then Warrant Officer FHS ‘Lappies’ Labuschagne [AM5005/97], NJ ‘Snor’ Vermeulen, Warrant Officer FJ Pienaar [AM5014/97] and Dawid Brits.
347 According to amnesty applicants, a group of recently trained ANC guerrillas under a senior MK official, Mr Charles Ndaba, were set to infiltrate into Natal from Swaziland. According to De Kock, the group had been penetrated by a double agent run by Piet Retief Security Branch member Warrant Officer ‘Freek’ Pienaar. He had arranged that the first party of infiltrators be driven across the border on 12 June 1988 in a minibus driven by a member of C section, Lieutenant Mose. Mose stopped the vehicle at a pre-arranged spot and jumped out of the van while his four passengers, Mr Surendra Makhosi Nyoka, Ms Lindiwe Mthembu, Mr Lenny Naidoo and Ms June-Rose Cothoza were shot dead. Police officers Marthinus Grobler and James Stevens later fled South Africa fearing for their lives. They had overheard Security Branch operatives saying that the group who had been killed were unarmed and that it had been necessary to plant a Makarov in the minibus as part of the cover-up. The operation was kept out of the press in order to ensure that the second infiltration went ahead.
Jabulani Sibisi, Joseph Boxer Mthembu, Sifiso Nxumalo and Nkosi Thenjekwayo
348 Four days later, a second ambush took place during which Mr Jabulani Sibisi, Mr Joseph Boxer Mthembu, Mr Sifiso Nxumalo and Mr Nkosi Thenjekwayo were shot dead. Minister Vlok stated that the MK operatives had crossed the border in a minibus packed with Russian arms and ammunition and had died attempting to evade a roadblock. The parents of the deceased were refused access to their children’s clothing as well as to the scene of the crime. There was no blood on the minibus used by the activists, although the bodies had been riddled with bullets. Those who applied for amnesty for this ambush were inter alia De Kock [AM0066/96], Mr Flip Koenraad Theron [AM5012/97], Warrant Officer Willem Albertus, ‘Willie’ Nortjé [AM3764/96], Mr Gerrie Johan Barnard [AM5004/97], Mr CJ Botha [AM5015/97], Major Christo Petro Deetlefs [AM5001/97], Mr JB Hayes [AM5003/97], Captain Marthinus David Ras jnr. [AM5183/97], Sergeant CS Rorich [AM5011/97], Captain PJ van Dyk [AM5013/97] and JEW van Zweel [AM5017/97].
349 At this time, De Kock also sent a team into Swaziland in an attempt to kill Mr Charles Ndaba. They failed in this objective but killed another person. In their amnesty applications, Paul van Dyk and Cornelius Johannes Botha said they were involved in an ambush inside Swaziland on 12 June 1988 in which one person was killed and one escaped. No names are cited but it is likely to have been this attempt on Ndaba. The ANC list of members killed in operations names Mr Israel Pharasi and Mr Sifiso Howard Nxumalo as fatalities in Swaziland at this time and the victim may have been one of these. Charles Ndaba was subsequently killed by the Security Branch while engaged in Operation Vula.
THE NUMBER OF AMBUSHES THAT ENDED IN THE DEATH OF THE INSURGENTS LEADS THE COMMISSION TO CONCLUDE THAT, IN MANY INSTANCES, LITTLE ATTEMPT WAS MADE TO EFFECT THE ARREST OF THOSE CAUGHT IN SUCH AMBUSHES.