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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 449
Paragraph Numbers 179 to 194
179 One strategy used by the SAP to protect their members from prosecution relating to illegal killings was that of changing their names. When Transkei’s Attorney-General tried to charge the police in connection with the Ndondo killing of September 1987, he was told by the SAP that SAP member Mbuso Enoch Shabalala was dead; it later emerged that he was very much alive and had officially changed his name. Mr Bongani Wana, implicated first in the Sangoni et al killings of February 1988 and later along with SADF MI in the abortive Duli coup attempt of November 1990, is now known as Charles Wanase; his new identity document was issued in July 1991 and he was serving as a member of the SANDF after the elections. Mr Pumelele Gumengu, a sergeant in the Transkei security police, was arrested on charges of killing MK guerrilla Stembele Zokwe in Butterworth shortly after his arrest on 12 January 1988. Gumengu, who escaped from custody on the same day as his co-accused, Sergeant Aaron Tyani, although they were held in different prisons, was later arrested by the Transkei government in connection with the abortive November 1990 coup attempt led by Colonel Craig Duli and supported by SADF MI. Gumengu was arrested carrying a passport in the name of Zama Dube: his lawyer told the Umtata Supreme Court that this was in fact Gumengu’s real name. Sergeant Tyani, who escaped custody while facing charges in connection with the January 1988 Zokwe murder, is also understood to have changed his name. In a similar strategy, Vulindlela Mbotoli gained South African citizenship (as opposed to Transkei citizenship) in mid-1991 in an attempt to avoid extradition to Transkei on charges relating to the Duli coup attempt. He was ultimately abducted by the TDF MI from Johannesburg, put on trial and jailed. Similarly in KwaZulu, former KZP special constable Vela Mchunu was issued with a KZP appointment certificate in the name of Alfred Masango in March 1991 to help him evade prosecution (see KwaZulu section below).
180 There were some revenge attacks on the police, clearly carried out by MK members. In 1990 Madliwa, the co-ordinator of the askari unit in East London and the man in charge of the February 1988 attack on Sangoni et al, was gunned down outside Mdantsane’s Cecilia Makiwane Hospital. In February 1994, Ms Xolelwa Vusani (31, aka Noxolo or Dudu or Fetsha), was shot dead in Mdantsane; her baby she was holding at the time was injured in the shooting. Vusani had been involved in the September 1985 killing of Ndondo in Cala.
181 Clashes between police and guerrillas, which guerrillas frequently did not survive, continued during 1988, especially in Transkei. Transkei police, sometimes working together with SAP, were involved in these incidents.
182 Two guerrillas who were eventually charged in a court were Mr Ndibulele Ndzamela and Mr Phumzile Mayaphi, who were sentenced to death for bombing the Wild Coast Sun on 18 April 1986 (both were eventually freed after the 1990 unbannings and later implicated in the hit squad killing of an ANC dissident in Transkei). While they were on trial during February 1988, Mayaphi’s brother Zonwabele stopped in at the Umtata Supreme Court to attend the trial. After he left the court buildings with his friends Zolile Sangoni, Thozamile Nkume and MK member Thembisile “Gift” Mgibe, they were followed by a police hit squad, pulled over and gunned down; only Nkume, who seemed to have accidentally hitched a lift with the group, survived. The killers were SAP member Sergeant Mpumelelo Madliwa from East London, TPF member Constable Bongani Wana from Umtata and three askaris; they later told an inquest they had been armed with irregular weapons, used false vehicle registration numbers and had fired because they thought the guerrilla was going to attack them. They justified the killing to the inquest by explaining that Mgibe was a guerrilla; Mayaphi and Sangoni appear to have been targeted because of their connections to the terrorism trial and a prominent firm of human rights lawyers respectively.
183 In January 1988 clashes between police and guerrillas continued in Transkei with few guerrillas surviving. On 25 January, there was a shoot-out near Ugie; the following day two guerrillas (Mr Siphiwo Hamlet Mazwai and one “Bobo”) died in a clash with police while four others were detained. Mazwai's family later claimed that police had not even informed them of Siphiwo's death. Both the SAP and SADF monitored his Grahamstown funeral and the area was declared an operational zone for the duration.
184 On 8 March 1988 MK member Qondo Hoho and his uncle Acacia Hoho were killed and six policemen injured in a shootout after the SAP surrounded a house in Mlungisi near Queenstown. The house was afterwards bulldozed by police, a technique often used by police when dealing with guerrillas.
185 On 2 July 88 a clash between police and guerrillas in Mzamba, Transkei, resulted in one guerrilla being captured and another two escaping. About a week later, in an incident probably linked to this, another clash followed; guerrilla Leo Mkuseli Xatula was killed. Information to the Commission by a witness who saw Xatula’s body was that Xatula was detained, held for some days and then executed.
186 On 28 September 1988 MK member Lungisa Christian Qokweni died after a shoot-out with Ciskei police at a house in NU5 in Mdantsane. Ciskei denied that the SAP had also been involved in the shoot-out.
187 In October 1988, Transkei and South African police working together arrested guerrilla Aga Khan Tiya, in Umtata. An arms cache was reportedly found at the same time. Two weeks after the arrest Tiya appeared in the intensive care ward of the Umtata hospital, his throat having been cut while in custody. He was released and subsequently died under unexplained circumstances, presumably having been assassinated.
188 On 25 December 1988 in Mdantsane, Ciskei, an unknown gunman attacked civil rights lawyer Hintsa Siwisa, unionists Jeff Wabena and Billy Shiyani and their friends Noluthando Ntongana, Norie Joli and Virginia Panziso, leaving Joli and Panziso dead. Later rumours were that this was part of an internal ANC clash between opposing youth movements and that embezzlement of union funds may have been involved; however there is a strong possibility that this may also have been the work of the covert police unit. Wabena was eventually gunned down in a later incident.
189 Sometime during 1988 MK member Don Ntshebe disappeared from Mdantsane. A year later MK member Bongani Jonas told the Cape Town trial of Tony Yengeni et al that when he was in detention the police had told him about an askari unit that had killed Ntshebe.
Things fall apart: the homeland armies rebel
190 By the end of the 1980s, the homeland armies were starting to rebel. While the coup attempt by Charles Sebe was probably at least supported by the SADF and the 1987 attack on Lennox Sebe was part of the SADF’s Operation Katzen, there were a few rumblings which appear to have been independent actions.
191 In January 1987, Bantu Holomisa was in detention in a Transkei jail, apparently partly for opposing Transkei involvement in Operation Katzen and partly for refusing to send in the TDF against an MK guerrilla involved in a shootout at Willowvale. A few months later he was out of detention, the former Selous Scouts were on the road out of Transkei and Holomisa was head of the TDF. At this point, the SADF appears to have lost control over the TDF. In September, Holomisa took over the Transkei government; shortly afterwards he handed over to the civilian government of Stella Sigcau. On 31 December 1987 Holomisa deposed Sigcau’s government, citing corruption, and took over to run Transkei until the 1994 elections.
192 In February 1988, a few months after Holomisa’s second successful coup, on the other side of the country the Bophuthatswana military similarly rebelled and tried to take over that homeland’s government. However, the SADF moved in and rapidly put an end to that attempt.
193 Both the Holomisa coups and the failed Bophuthatswana coup attempt appear to have been independent of the SADF. Holomisa probably survived his coups without immediate South African interference because he was a better strategist than the Bophuthatswana would-be rulers: in neither of his coups did Holomisa either arrest the prime minister or president, or force them to resign at gunpoint (although ministers were forced to resign); whereas in Bophuthatswana the military went as far as to arrest the then ruler, Mr Lucas Mangope. During his first coup, Holomisa waited until Prime Minister George Matanzima was “out of the country” in Port Elizabeth; President Tutor Ndamase was allowed to continue undisturbed and later appeared on publicity posters alongside military council members. A legal challenge to Holomisa’s government brought later by former president Kaiser Matanzima was subsequently overturned when the Transkei Supreme Court ruled that Holomisa’s government was the de facto Transkei government.
194 The Holomisa coups had a crucial effect on the security forces’ policy on the Eastern Cape: when the South African security forces finally realised that Holomisa would tolerate opposition and, after the 1990 unbannings, allow the liberation movements to organise freely, they changed tactics from prioritising attacking those regarded as members of liberation movements to attacking the Transkei government instead. Thus by the 1990s a spate of coup attempts were launched by the South African security forces to try to unseat Holomisa.