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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 427

Paragraph Numbers 102 to 108

Volume 2

Chapter 5

Subsection 17

102 The use of chiefs was an essential part of control in the homelands. Chiefs were granted additional powers, including the key authority over land allocation; communities without chiefs (such as Group Four in Thornhill, Ciskei) were refused access to services. Chiefs were also sometimes used in recruiting vigilantes in rural areas. Conflict between chiefs and communities sometimes became so great that chiefs and headmen were armed (such as in Ciskei during 1983 and later under military government in the 1990s).

103 The cult of personalities seems to have been far stronger in the homelands than in South Africa proper. In Ciskei in the early 1980s, Major General Charles Sebe was the overall security force commander and operated as a dictator: the powers of the Ciskei National Security Act of 1982 were exercised on Sebe’s discretion5 . Under the initial governments, family connections were powerful (Ciskei ruler Lennox Sebe first appointed his two brothers to key positions and then arrested them, while Transkei rulers Kaiser and George Matanzima had ongoing spats) and splits were later exploited by both homeland and South African security forces. In both Ciskei and Transkei, bribery reflected the importance of gaining the favour of the ruler of the day. Under the military dictatorships, this trend was even more obvious as they ruled by decrees, some of which appear to have been issued on whims.

104 South African security forces co-operated with homeland security forces in handing over political detainees. In some cases, this appears to have been done in order to prevent the families or lawyers of the detainees from ascertaining their whereabouts. Some of these handovers were clearly illegal.

105 The border issue was used by South African authorities to prevent criminal prosecutions of security force members implicated in criminal actions against political activists in homelands. One example is the failed prosecution of the killers of student leader Bathandwa Ndondo in Transkei. Another is the killing of MK guerrilla Stembele Zokwe in Butterworth. One of the police suspects in this case escaped from jail and fled across the border to be offered employment in a covert SADF military operation based in Bisho.

106 While the police tended to operate in overt and brutal ways (detentions, torture, and assassinations), by the mid-1980s, the South African military was learning how to manipulate the separate Ciskei and Transkei security forces and ultimately the politicians in the region. Such military activities became even more sophisticated in the 1990s when the need for a clandestine method of destabilising the now-legal ANC arose. The independent homelands provided a perfect loophole for this.

107 While homeland police clearly often copied the methods practised by their big brothers in South Africa, the homelands also appear to have been used as a training or experimental arena for the SAP (for example, methods of torture such as hanging suspects from trees, used in Pondoland, were repeated a decade later in Pietermaritzburg; poisoning of detainees was used in Pondoland in the 1960s and may have been a forerunner to poisonings in South African detention such as that of Mr Siphiwe Mthimkulu in Port Elizabeth in 1981).

108 In addition to using the homelands for one-step-removed repression, during the apartheid years the South African military also experimented with ways of using the independent homeland security forces to break the arms embargo.

4 Nicholas Haysom, Ruling with the whip: Report on the violation of human rights in the Ciskei, CALS, October 1983. 5 Haysom (1983).
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