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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 306
Paragraph Numbers 587 to 594
Witdoeke in the Western Cape
587 The attacks launched by witdoeke in the western Cape resulted in the deaths of over sixty people and the destruction of the homes of over 60 000 people in May and June 1986. The Commission uncovered a trail of covert official endorsement of the witdoeke (see Volume Three). The subsequent court case, too, points to a sustained and expensive cover-up of these acts.
588 In summary, documented evidence indicates that official approval of the witdoeke began in January 1986. At a JMC management meeting on 10 January 1986, following a serious outbreak of violence over the New Year period during which the ‘fathers’38 attacked the comrades, JMC chairperson Brigadier AK de Jager of WP (Western Province) Command stated that the actions of the ‘old guard’ deserved support, though this should occur in a covert manner.39 The minutes were sent to the Secretariat of the SSC.
589 On 25 March 1986, guidelines for managing unrest were sent out to security forces from General Wandrag’s office. One of these guidelines specified contra-mobilisation. The guidelines were discussed at a sub-JMC meeting in the western Cape the same day and it was noted that “SADF WP Command is already working in this direction to get the ‘fathers’ to resist the comrades”.40
590 During March 1986, several JMCs nationwide were asked by the chairperson of the SSC to draw up plans to deal with their particular ‘trouble spots’. The final plan for the WP JMC included a section stating that the goal was “to remove the influence of the Comrades and other activists on the community”, and the tasks were “to support well disposed moderate blacks”. The actions specified in this regard were the “covert organising of adult law-abiding black men (fathers) to go against the Comrades in their terror campaign against the residents of black areas”.41
591 This JMC plan was presented to the SSC meeting of 14 April 1986. Present in the meeting were General Magnus Malan (Minister of Defence); Adriaan Vlok and Mr Roelf Meyer, all of whom later issued section 66 notices blocking access to evidence during the subsequent court case. The meeting was also attended by NIS director general Niel Barnard and the police commissioner, General PJ Coetzee.
592 Chief witdoek leader Sam Ndima testified to the Commission that he met twice with “men from Pretoria” who, in his understanding, gave permission for the witdoeke to take action. Further, the Commission obtained information that, immediately after the conflict, an official of the Administration Board attended a meeting with members of the security forces – including a Brigadier – at which security force support for the witdoeke was confirmed.
593 On the morning of the attack on KTC squatter camp, the JMC arranged a flight on an SADF aircraft for several leading witdoeke and two Development Board personnel to consult chief witdoek leader Johnson Ngxobongwana, who had been sent to the Ciskei in March 1986. The details of this flight request were sent to the SSC.42
594 During the course of the first day of the attack on KTC (9 June), a signal message was sent from the WP JMC by the secretary of the WP JMC to the SSC in Pretoria requesting a sum of R3 000 for buy cattle for a victory feast by the witdoeke.43
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE ORIGINS OF THE CONFLICT LAY IN HISTORICAL RIVALRIES AND POLITICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DIFFERENT GROUPS AND AN INCREASING TENDENCY TO RESOLVE SUCH DIFFERENCES BY VIOLENT MEANS. HOWEVER, THESE CONFLICTS WOULD NOT HAVE RESULTED IN THE SCALE OF VIOLENCE AND DESTRUCTION WITHOUT THE PERMISSION, FACILITATION AND ENDORSEMENT OF THE SECURITY FORCES.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 1986 TO JUNE 1986, THE STATE – IN THE FORM OF THE SSC AND ITS COMPONENT SECURITY STRUCTURES INCLUDING THE NIS, THE JOINT MANAGEMENT CENTRE, THE WESTERN CAPE REGIONAL COMMAND OF THE SAP, THE WESTERN CAPE COMMAND OF THE SADF AND THE WESTERN CAPE DEVELOPMENT BOARD – COVERTLY CONSPIRED TO ENDORSE AND PROMOTE THE ACTIVITIES OF INDIVIDUALS FROM THE CROSSROADS INFORMAL SETTLEMENT, NAMELY MR JOHNSON NGXOBONGWANA, MR SAM NDIMA AND MR PRINCE GOBINGCA (REFERRED TO HEREINAFTER AS THE WITDOEK LEADERS).
THE WITDOEK LEADERS SOUGHT TO COUNTER THE ACTIVITIES AND INFLUENCE OF THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL GROUPINGS IN THE CROSSROADS/KTC AREA WHICH WERE SUPPORTIVE OF THE UDF; TO ACHIEVE OVERALL LEADERSHIP POSITIONS IN THE CROSSROADS/KTC AREA, AND TO TAKE VIOLENT ACTION AGAINST THOSE PERSONS WHO WERE MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE GROUPINGS REFERRED TO ABOVE IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THEIR OBJECTIVES.
FROM 17 TO 21 MAY AND FROM 9 TO 11 JUNE 1986, PERSONS WHO SUPPORTED THE WITDOEK LEADERS PARTICIPATED IN A PROLONGED AND VIOLENT ATTACK ON RESIDENTS OF THE CROSSROADS SATELLITE AND KTC INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS, DURING THE COURSE OF WHICH OVER SIXTY PERSONS WERE KILLED AND OVER 10 000 HOUSES WERE DESTROYED.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT STRUCTURES OF THE SSC AND THE SECURITY FORCES IDENTIFIED WITH THE AIMS OF THE WITDOEK LEADERS AS SET OUT ABOVE; ENDORSED AND PROMOTED THE WITDOEK LEADERS IN THEIR ATTEMPTS TO ACHIEVE SUCH AIMS, AND FAILED TO TAKE APPROPRIATE STEPS TO ENSURE THAT THE VIOLENT ACTION REFERRED TO ABOVE WAS AVERTED OR PREVENTED.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE DEATHS OF THE OVER SIXTY PEOPLE AND THE SEVERE ILL TREATMENT SUFFERED BY THOSE PERSONS WHOSE HOUSES WERE DESTROYED IN THE PERIOD SPECIFIED ABOVE, WERE GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS FOR WHICH, INTER ALIA, THE FOLLOWING STATE BODIES, STATE INSTITUTIONS OR INFORMAL GROUPINGS ARE HELD ACCOUNTABLE: THE SSC; THE WESTERN PROVINCE JOINT MANAGEMENT CENTRE ; THE SADF’S WESTERN PROVINCE COMMAND COMMANDED BY BRIGADIER AK DE JAGER; THE SAP, IN PARTICULAR THE RIOT UNIT; THE SECURITY BRANCH IN THE WESTERN CAPE, HEADED BY BRIGADIER SJ STRYDOM; THE NIS; THE WESTERN CAPE DEVELOPMENT BOARD, AND WITDOEK LEADERS MR JOHNSON NGXOBONGWANA, MR SAM NDIMA AND MR PRINCE GOBINGCA.38 The terms ‘witdoeke’, ‘fathers’ and ‘old guard’ are used interchangeably. 39 Notule 1/86, File 22/8/4/3/13, State Archives. 40 Memorandum with Minutes of Sub GBS Veikom, 1986–03–25, from SAP file C7/6/7/30. 41 Minutes 5/86, File No. 22/2/5/2, Pretoria State Archives. 42 Top Secret fax from WP Command to 5 Air Command and the SSSC, K53/848/JUN86, 061330B, File 22/8/4/1/1, State Archives. 43 WPGBS/888/9 JUN 86, Ontlonting Wegblyaksies 16 Jun, File 22/8/4/1/1, State Archives.