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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 433
Paragraph Numbers 126 to 137
Ciskei policy: targeting entire communities to subdue dissent
126 On several occasions during the 1980s, Ciskei targeted entire communities opposed to homeland rule – often communities that had been subjected to forced removals or incorporation into the homeland.15
127 In the mid-1980s, the Kuni community was evicted from Ciskei en masse and dumped at the roadside in South Africa, where they later found a home at Needs Camp outside East London.
128 In 1987, a large group of residents fled at least twice from Potsdam outside Mdantsane following assaults by police and vigilantes. South African security forces forcibly loaded the group onto trucks and drove them back to Potsdam. In April 1989, they were granted permanent residence at Eluxolweni in South Africa. This group had some years earlier been forcibly removed across the border into Ciskei.
129 In August 1988, the Ciskei borders were redrawn to incorporate the Nkqonqkweni village at Peelton near King William’s Town. In drawing the Ciskei boundaries in 1981, the village had inadvertently been split in two. The redrawing of the border was to enable the South African government to banish UDF activist Steve Tshwete to his home village of Nqonqkweni in Ciskei rather than Nqonqkweni in South Africa. In the following year, Nqonqkweni residents complained of repeated assaults by Ciskei forces. This eventually resulted in a mass exodus of residents to King William’s Town. Ciskei declared a state of emergency in the Peelton area and violence and bulldozing of rebels’ houses followed. In a court case arising out of the conflict, the Ciskei Supreme Court found against Mr James Fikile Phindani, a resident of Peelton village, who had been evicted from his home and dumped across the South African border by the Ciskei security police in 1989, and approved the passing of a retrospective law which allowed the Ciskei authorities to do this. Eventually the incorporation issue was quietly dropped and residents returned home.
130 The Peelton conflict was the beginning of widespread rural rebellion against Ciskei president Chief Lennox Sebe’s rule, which resulted in initial popular support for Brigadier Oupa Gqozo, who overthrew Sebe’s government in March 1990.
131 A press report from 1989 commenting on the battles by various communities to escape Ciskei rule said:
It's not hard to find the reasons why the communities are so desperate to leave. On the one hand, there is widespread objection to the whole notion of an ‘independent’ Ciskei. On the other, there are massive practical problems associated with the homelands … [T]he territory's social benefits and facilities are generally inferior to those of South Africa. For example, old age pensions are substantially lower than in South Africa.
Ciskei also demands several different types of taxes - ranging from ‘development tax’ to membership of the ruling Ciskei National Independence Party (CNIP). Those without the notorious ‘CNIP card’ may often find themselves barred from benefits and even housing. Far worse are the extremely common allegations of assaults and routine harassment – particularly of resisting communities – by Ciskei authorities. Often the Ciskei police and army are accused of acting together with vigilante groupings. CNIP membership also seems to be used by Ciskei as a measure of loyalty to the territory. There are repeated stories of communities brutalised by Ciskei authorities for refusing to pay taxes and CNIP membership. Again and again, the same allegations against Ciskei are repeated. Frequently people talk about being in fear of their lives, and however bad conditions may be in South Africa, life across the border is always seen as a better option. Pensioners complain of their pensions being docked. Refugees from the Potsdam grouping, who three times fled Ciskei, claimed they were refused treatment at clinics, their children turned away from school. Community leaders were murdered.1615 See, for example, Africa Watch Ciskei: Ten years on - Human Rights and the fiction of ‘independence’, Vol III, Issue no. 16, 20 December 1991.
Military policy: destabilisation through Operation Katzen
132 In January 1983, Brigadier Christoffel Pierre ‘Joffel’ van der Westhuizen moved to Port Elizabeth to take over as officer commanding of the SADF’s Eastern Province Command. In attendance at his taking-over ceremony were Ciskei security chief General Charles Sebe and Major General Ron Reid-Daly of the TDF. Over the next few years, these three men were to work together on Van der Westhuizen’s ambitious Operation Katzen plan, drafted in an attempt to retain SADF control over both the Transkei and Ciskei and to use the homelands as a bulwark against the rising tide of popular resistance.
133 Charles Sebe had a meteoric rise to power in Ciskei. He joined the SAP in 1957 at the age of twenty-three and was transferred six years later to the security police. He was based in Port Elizabeth for some time. In 1974, he joined the Bureau for State Security (BOSS) and worked in King William’s Town where he was involved in investigating the Black Consciousness Movement. In October 1978, he was transferred to the new Ciskei administration where he founded the Ciskei Central Intelligence Service with only three men. By 1979, he was a colonel and the Ciskei police were under his control. By the end of 1981, he was a major-general and in September 1982 (following Ciskei independence and the passing of the National Security Act of 1982) he was promoted to lieutenant general and then to a new position of Commander General in control of all the armed forces in Ciskei, a total of about 4 500 men. As Commander General, he was paid about R3 500 per month.
134 As an SAP member, Sebe said he “carried my promotions in my pocket” (as he told journalist Joseph Lelyveld). Two years after the ANC was banned, Sebe, then an SAP member, joined the ANC and later helped arrest both ANC leader Govan Mbeki and members of the fledgling Poqo17. Sebe also appears to have been close to South African commissioner of police, General Johan Coetzee: according to Lelyveld, while Sebe was in charge in Ciskei, he apparently reported directly to Coetzee and was also subject to overrule by officers seconded from South Africa. Court papers in Sebe’s 1983-84 trial indicated that he had telephoned Coetzee, apparently in search of advice, the night before his arrest.
135 In July 1983, Sebe made one of his last public appearances as Van der Westhuizen’s guest (this time at the SADF’s seventy-first birthday celebrations). By the middle of July, Sebe had lost his total control of the security forces due to a re-shuffle in those forces on the president’s orders, and his deputy was in detention. Within days, Sebe himself was detained and in June 1984 was convicted of incitement to violence, after an attempt to get his deputy released from custody. He was jailed for twelve years and leave to appeal was refused. Lennox Sebe subsequently turned down three separate appeals by South African Foreign Affairs Minister Pik Botha to show clemency towards Charles Sebe.
136 In January 1985, the SADF was evicted from Ciskei following the deaths of recruits at a Ciskei base, and South Africa lost its foothold in that homeland.
137 By 1986, Van der Westhuizen had drafted the Katzen plans for an operation that involved a successful jailbreak, abductions and an abortive attempt to abduct or kill Lennox Sebe, in which at least two TDF members died.16 East London News Agency, 16 May 1989. 17 Joseph Lelyveld, Move your shadow, 1987, p162.