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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 458
Paragraph Numbers 218 to 229
218 The Lamontville township, south of Durban, was one of the townships identified for incorporation into KwaZulu. A residents' association opposing both rent increases and incorporation and known as the Lamontville Rent Action Committee was formed. On 25 April 1983, Mr Harrison Msizi Dube, chairperson of the Lamontville Rent Action Committee, was shot dead. Five people were convicted of murdering Dube, including the IFP mayor of Lamontville, Mr Moonlight Gasa. The court found that Gasa had conspired to killed Dube, and that he had hired two men from the Transkei to carry out the murder. Inkatha did not publicly sanction or rebuke Gasa and his accomplices or condemn their actions in killing Dube.
219 On 31 August 1983, the South African government announced that Hambanathi, a Port Natal Administration Board township north of Durban, was to be incorporated into KwaZulu. In August 1984, clashes occurred between those supporting incorporation (led by Inkatha) and those opposed to incorporation (led by the Hambanathi Residents’ Association, which was affiliated to the Joint Rent Action Committee (JORAC)). Inkatha supporters killed at least three UDF supporters and attacked and set alight at least thirteen Hambanathi homes, including the homes of two JORAC members. Because of the violence, more than twenty-five families had to flee the township. Consequently, the Hambanathi Residents' Association laid thirty-four charges of assault against predominantly Inkatha members. A number of Inkatha supporters were subsequently convicted on charges of arson relating to the burning of houses belonging to non-Inkatha supporters.
220 The anti-incorporation violence spread to other townships, such as the Chesterville township, where an Inkatha-aligned vigilante group, known as the Chesterville A-Team, emerged to counter the UDF in the township (see below).
221 On 29 October 1983, five people, including four students and an Inkatha supporter, were killed and many others injured in a clash between students and a group of approximately 500 Inkatha youth brigade members at the University of Zululand (‘Ngoye’), south of Empangeni. The clash was triggered by an attempt by the Inkatha leader to hold a commemoration ceremony for the death of Zulu king, Cetshwayo, on the campus, to which the students were opposed. In the clash, the large group of Inkatha supporters attacked the students' residences, breaking down doors and pulling students out from where they were hiding. The students were dragged out, assaulted and stabbed with traditional weapons.
222 Following the Ngoye violence, the Joint Staff Association of the University of Natal called on Chief Buthelezi to resign either from his position as president of Inkatha or as Chancellor of the University of Zululand. The City Press newspaper said in its editorial on 6 November 1983:
As president of Inkatha, [Chief Buthelezi] must either accept responsibility for the actions of the bloodthirsty militants that ran wild at Ngoye and weed them out immediately, or he must admit that Inkatha militants are out of his control.
223 In a memorandum written following the campus violence, Chief Buthelezi denied that the Inkatha Youth Brigade members had initiated the attack and, instead, claimed that they were merely defending themselves after they were pelted with stones from students. Chief Buthelezi said:
We all deeply regret the violence which occurred on Saturday. Our youth were faced with violence and would have been maimed and perhaps even killed, if they could not fend for themselves. We hope that is now abundantly clear that they can in fact do so… Inkatha youth need no protection, as the events on Saturday clearly showed. I must warn South Africa that if this kind of provocation continues which we experienced on Saturday, Inkatha youth will demonstrate their strength and prowess.
224 Former Inkatha National Council member, Mr Walter Felgate, told the Commission regarding Inkatha's stance on the events at Ngoye on 29 October 1983:
The idiom of the comment was, 'Now people can see that we're not a sitting duck, and we're not a lame duck and they must be careful of us’.
The A-Team, Chesterville
225 An Inkatha-supporting and state-sponsored vigilante group known as the A-Team was set up with the help of the SAP Riot Unit, in 1983/4 in the Chesterville township, Durban. Statements made to the Commission allege that the A-Team was responsible for the perpetration of human rights abuses in the township between 1985 and 1989. These included at least ten killings, several cases of attempted killing and many incidents of arson and severe ill treatment.
226 The picture painted by witnesses who gave evidence at public hearings of the Commission in Durban was that this group established a reign of terror in Chesterville over a number of years. They took over Road 13, illegally occupying houses in that road and burning surrounding houses in order to make a safe area for themselves. They also allegedly brought in Inkatha youths from other townships to bolster their power-base. Their sole aim was to target members of youth and other UDF-linked organisations. This they did with the active complicity of the SAP, including the Riot Unit and the Security Branch.
227 In his application for amnesty, former member of the Durban Riot Unit, Mr Frank Bennetts, gave evidence of the extent of the Security Branch's involvement in and collusion with members of the A-Team. He described the A-Team as:
a group of Inkatha supporters who were acting in their capacity, or so I believed, in assisting the police in the curbing of the growth and support of groups and organisations opposed to the government and the order of the day.
228 According to Bennetts, the A-Team assisted the Riot Unit by identifying alleged perpetrators and UDF activists to be detained. They also served as informants, passing on information to the security forces. In return, the Riot Unit offered them protection by putting extra patrols into the street where they lived, and giving them escorts in and out of the township if and when they required it.
229 Bennetts told the Commission that the A-Team members were never detained under the emergency regulations, although there was good cause to detain them. He said that had the police arrested the A-Team members, the incidents of violence in Chesterville would have been reduced “by 99.99%”. In his words, '[The A-Team] wrecked half the township“. Nevertheless, the Riot Unit openly and blatantly sided with the A-Team, perceiving the gang as a legitimate ally in their struggle against the UDF.