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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 431

Paragraph Numbers 117 to 125

Volume 2

Chapter 5

Subsection 19


117 This period saw the rise of organised vigilantes supported by the homeland authorities in Ciskei; the beginnings of SADF MI manipulation of the homelands to foster inter-homeland conflict through Operation Katzen in what may have been part of a national homelands military strategy; the implementation of a South African security force policy of killing rather than capturing guerrillas; an increase in the use of torture in homelands, and the first internally-initiated homeland military coups, which led to ongoing and increasingly vicious battles between the homeland and Pretoria security forces.

Ciskei government policy: use of vigilantes

118 During 1985, there was a national wave of vigilante groups starting to operate. These were generally groups which targeted UDF members and their allies.

119 Over the years, vigilantes were used on several occasions by the Ciskei authorities. Haysom records the first use of vigilantes in Ciskei as being during 1974, when vigilantes known as the “Green Berets”, who were members of the ruling Ciskei National Independence Party (CNIP), assaulted Mdantsane commuters during a boycott of the local bus company. In 1977 vigilantes again emerged, this time to target Mdantsane schoolchildren who were boycotting classes in protests over Mr Steve Biko’s death in detention.12 While there was suspicion that these vigilantes were linked to the homeland authorities and they appeared to act in support of the homeland government, there was no clear evidence of state support for them.

120 However, there was clear Ciskei government support for the vigilantes that operated during the July 1983 boycott of Ciskei Transport Corporation (CTC) buses in Mdantsane. The boycott started on 19 July; on 2 August, vigilantes operating under the supervision of police were brought in to run roadblocks; they were involved in assaulting commuters13. Police, army and vigilantes were used to break the boycott by assaulting commuters who used taxis, trains and private cars, and taxi drivers. The vigilantes were also given the use of the central Sisa Dukashe stadium in Mdantsane as a venue for holding detainees. Haysom reports that there was “overwhelming evidence” that the vigilantes were involved in the assault and torture of detainees at the stadium. Ciskei Minister of Justice, David Takane, denied knowledge of this, but did acknowledge that the vigilantes were operating with official endorsement. On 26 August 1983, the Ciskei Supreme Court granted two urgent applications restraining the security forces and vigilantes from harassing Mdantsane residents. The Ciskei authorities did not oppose the order.

121 At least some of these vigilantes are believed to have been recruited from government supporters in the rural regions: here the involvement of chiefs was crucial. This was another element in the increasing conflict between chiefs and their communities. By 1983, Haysom records that the tension between chiefs, headmen and the communities in Ciskei was so great that Lennox Sebe had authorised them to carry guns.14

122 Along with the national emergence of vigilantes in 1985, vigilantes with links to the Ciskei authorities re-emerged. This time the group operated in Zwelitsha and targeted those linked to progressive structures. In September, vigilantes in Zwelitsha hunted down South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) activist Zandisile Matyolo [EC0105/96ELN] with the assistance of Ciskei security forces. Days earlier Ciskei police had threatened Mr Matyolo’s mother that he would be killed. He was chased and killed in front of witnesses. This was an extreme case and the vigilantes were subsequently prosecuted. One of those convicted was Mr Willie Kolisile Matsheketwa [AM6437/97] who applied for amnesty for this killing. He had been sentenced to eight years imprisonment, reduced on appeal to eleven months. Matsheketwa, at the time a Ciskei MP, joined the Green Beret vigilante group in 1976.

While a member of the Green Berets, I used to accommodate other members who had no homes locally as some were pulled in from neighbouring localities. Some incidents of violence occurred and I was implicated as I was housing the Green Berets. This was mostly in 1976.

123 He said that by 1985 he was a CNIP MP and was not involved in Green Beret activities; however, he re-joined after Ciskei president Lennox Sebe ordered men to join the group to oppose youths who wanted to burn down schools. “Those who defied this order were harassed,” said Matsheketwa. He said on one occasion he had been sent by another MP to tell a police colonel that a contingent of guards was on their way to come and assist the police to guard schools. Further incidents of violence recurred between the guards and youths who wanted to burn down schools. These guards were subsequently called Inkatha.

124 In July 1987, vigilantes killed activist Zola Nozewu [EC0359/96ELN] who had been involved in resistance to Ciskei rule by the Potsdam community. It is not clear how closely these vigilantes were linked to the state; however, like Matyolo, Mr Nozewu was killed after police warned his family he would die if he did not leave politics alone.

125 When military ruler Brigadier Oupa Gqozo deposed Sebe’s government, the use of state-sponsored vigilantes continued. When the clashes between Gqozo’s government and ANC supporters became increasingly bloody during 1992-94, Gqozo hired a private security company – Peace Force – to guard government installations and to recruit and train members of the government’s African Democratic Movement (ADM), which acted as a vigilante force. As with the 1983 vigilantes, rural chiefs and headmen were crucial in recruiting these trainees. This group was given training by Peace Force at the CDF military base on the coast, next door to Gqozo’s private farm, and was armed with shotguns. Later Gqozo’s security forces also armed headmen with G3 rifles.

12 Haysom (1983), p10; p24; p45. 13 Haysom (1983) p28. 14 Haysom (1983).
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