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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 383
Paragraph Numbers 253 to 264
Building “People’s Organs for People’s Power”
253 The campaign to build ‘People’s Organs for People’s Power’ was introduced in early 1986. Following the collapse of government-created structures such as Community Councils, residents started forming alternative structures such as street committees, area committees, people’s courts, school committees, residents associations and amabutho. The UDF told the Commission that, although this was not an official UDF official campaign, it was nevertheless encouraged in publications and public speeches.
254 In some cases, these structures enabled local community leaders to assert some control over the youth militia or amabutho in a particular area while, in some areas, the crime rate dropped dramatically as street and area committees were established. However, in other cases, youth militia, and in certain cases criminal elements, took control of such structures. Clashes between old and new structures became inevitable – resulting in some cases in vigilantism, sometimes assisted by the security forces. The violent conflict in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage in 1987-1989 and the witdoeke vigilantes from KTC and Crossroads are examples of this development.
255 Like other campaigns that had “unintended consequences”, the new ‘people’s organs’ were sometimes involved in gross violations of human rights. In some townships, street committees and people’s courts became notorious for flogging and beating alleged ‘offenders’; some were even necklaced.
256 Ms Nosipho Zamela [EC2757/97QTN], a student at the time of her death, was necklaced by unknown street committee members in Mlungisi Township, Queenstown on 8 December 1985. ‘Comrades’ accused Zamela of being involved with the security police and therefore an informer. In another example, Ms Ntombizodwa Skade [EC1120/96ELN], a street committee member, was assaulted all over her body with sticks by fellow street committee members in Duncan Village, East London during October 1991 because she opposed their involving themselves in marital disputes. She sustained a broken jaw and fingers.
257 The UDF conceded that its “affiliates and progressive service organisations” were unable to render adequate political training to these structures and they became problematic. It pointed, however, to some positive effects of ‘people’s organs’ on local communities:
For instance, at some point in time in the Eastern Cape … shebeens were seen to be sources of violence and rapes and sometimes even murders and there was an instruction from Residents’ Associations to close them at nine,… Amabutho monitored that situation and reported to the street committees and area committees …
Campaign against Vigilantes, Kitskonstabels9 and Municipal Police
258 Campaigns against the police in the mid-1980s aimed either at forcing black police to resign or evicting them from the townships. With the rise of vigilantism in the mid-1980s and the deployment of kitskonstabels and municipal police, a campaign to resist the growing brutality of the police began. The campaign was aimed at kitskonstabels, municipal police and SAP members residing in townships.
259 Mr Mtutuzeli Stewart Ndziweni [EC0515/96ALB], a municipal police member, became a victim of the campaign. Ndziweni joined the municipal police in January 1986. On 27 July 1986, he went to Adelaide township with his friends. After several drinks they proceeded to a soccer field where there were youths. They fired at the youths killing at least one. The other youths gave chase and, when they caught Ndziweni, they stabbed and stoned him to death. He was buried in Bedford after threats by community members that they would dig up the grave and damage the body.
260 In another example, Mr Thembekile Eric Mbenenge [EC0494/96ALB] was shot in the stomach while at a soccer match at Newtown, Adelaide on 27 July 1986. He was taken to Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane where he subsequently died. The incident took place at the time when there was confrontation between the police and members of Adelaide community. Another youth was shot dead and two others were injured during the confrontation.
261 During the states of emergency that were in force from 1985 until 1990, the SAP had wide powers that were open to abuse. Black police members were not only expected to perform their normal duties as police, but also to work as “intelligence gatherers”, a role equal to that of an informer. Some of the youthful kitskonstabels were formerly leading members of political organisations in their communities and, after their six weeks training course, were deployed back to patrol in their respective communities.
262 On the evening of 2 February 1987 a kitskonstabel stormed the house of Ms Jane Mantile and Mr Johnson Mantile [EC0516/96ALB] in Grahamstown. He entered the kitchen and shot Jane Mantile in the heart, then to the bedroom where he shot Johnson Mantile in the forehead. Both died instantly. During a court case in the Grahamstown Supreme Court, the perpetrator confessed to being drunk that day. He was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
263 On 7 July 1987, UDF member and prominent community leader Reverend Boy Jantjies [EC1391/96KAR] died instantly after he was shot in the chest, stomach, scrotum and head by a kitskonstabel in Thembalesizwe location, Aberdeen. At about 19h00 that evening, Jantjies heard screams and found seven kitskonstabels assaulting two youths with their guns. The youths’ hands were handcuffed to their legs. Together with police, the kitskonstabels were forcing the youths towards the house of a neighbouring police sergeant. Jantjies arrived at the house and intervened. A police constable ordered another constable to shoot Jantjies. The policeman shot him four times.
264 As a result of strong feeling against them, a number of police were forced to resign or were killed. Some had to abandon their houses in the townships for white suburbs. For example, Ms Nokuzola Carol-Anne Fulani [EC0291/96UIT] told the Commission that her husband, who was employed as a member of the SAP from 1978, was attacked on 28 April 1985 when a group of ‘comrades’ arrived at their house. A shot went off which struck her husband’s right foot. The couple were taken to a house in the Soweto township of Port Elizabeth where her husband was interrogated for his refusal to allow tobacco to be given to an inmate at the KwaZakhele Police Station. On the following day, Fulani was taken to have a look at her husband for the “last time”. He was then burned to death with petrol. According to Ms Fulani, a vote was taken on whether to burn her. Fulani, six months pregnant at the time, was held for a week; transported to and from work and only taken to her house to fetch fresh clothing. She was also ordered not to tell anyone about the incident. She nevertheless reported the matter to the police. Six people were later arrested, convicted and found guilty.9 Direct translation – Instant constables, also known as ”special constables”, were recruited as police constables, hastily trained and sent back to townships as supportive arm of security forces. They carried rifles and wore blue uniforms which gave them the name “blue flies”. Municipal police were called “green flies” because of their green uniforms. In some areas they were called Inkatha.