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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 463
Paragraph Numbers 233 to 243
The latter 1980s: Collusion with the South African security forces
233 By 1985, Inkatha supporters found themselves increasingly under attack by virtue of the positions they held within local government and homeland structures. Threats of assassination against Chief Buthelezi in 1985 prompted the Inkatha leader to turn to the South African government, in particular to the SADF, for assistance to take on the ANC/UDF. Contact with the central government had of necessity to be secret given Chief Buthelezi’s public stance towards the South African government. During the latter half of the 1980s, Inkatha began to draw increasingly upon the support of the South African government, and to rely more heavily on the South African and KwaZulu government’s infrastructure and resources. In the process, its aggression turned away from the apartheid state and became directed at those who were advocating alternative structures and thus threatening its power-base.
234 The South African government not only welcomed but also actively promoted this covert alliance with Inkatha, as it fell squarely into its response to what it saw as the total revolutionary onslaught against it. Covert logistical and military support to UNITA in Angola, RENAMO in Mozambique and to the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) was a critical part of the South African government’s counterrevolutionary strategy. Although these operations were external, the State Security Council resolved in 1985 to establish such groups internally, in addition to those it was already supporting. Inkatha was seen as being able to play the same counter-mobilisation role inside the country as their external surrogates (such as UNITA) had played, and had become a “middle force” between the South African government and its political enemies. A common feature of the external and the internal operations, was that in both cases training and weapons supply were undertaken by the SADF’s DST, and by Special Forces personnel.
235 Furthermore, the media images projected of white policemen assaulting and shooting at black demonstrators were clearly unacceptable internationally, and there was a feeling that repression should as far as possible not be carried out by state security forces, but by black surrogate groups. Part of the government’s strategy was to characterise the political conflict in the country as “black-onblack” violence.
236 One of the first instances of covert military assistance between Inkatha and the South African government was Operation Marion, the SADF Military Intelligence project set up in early 1986 in order to provide assistance to Inkatha and the KwaZulu government. During 1985, Chief Buthelezi was alerted by Military Intelligence to alleged assassination plans against him. This prompted him, in late 1985, to approach Military Intelligence with a request for various capabilities, including an offensive paramilitary capacity, in order to take on the ANC/UDF. His request was made directly to the then Director of Military Intelligence, General PH ‘Tienie’ Groenewald. According to Groenewald, Chief Buthelezi commented that :
although he was a supporter of a peaceful solution, the ANC must realise that if it uses violence against KwaZulu and its people, the Zulu, who has already received fame as a soldier, is also in a position to take violent action against the ANC. He himself would like to take the struggle to the ANC in Lusaka although at present he does not have such a capacity.
237 Flowing out of this was what has become known as the Caprivi training, the clandestine training in offensive action of some 200 Inkatha supporters conducted by the Special Forces arm of the SADF in the Caprivi Strip, South West Africa/ Namibia in 1986. Secret military intelligence documents make it clear that the project was undertaken as much to further the strategic aims of the South African government and Defence Force, as it was in response to a request from Chief Buthelezi. Planning for this project took place in circumstances of utmost secrecy, and involved the highest echelons of the State Security Council and Military Intelligence on the one hand, and Chief Buthelezi and his personal assistant, Mr MZ Khumalo, on the other. The defence force was at pains to ensure that the entire project was covert, and that the funding of the project could not be traced back to its source.
238 Training was given to three distinct groups - the VIP protection group, the contra-mobilisation group and the offensive group. Significantly, all three received offensive training. The training lasted six months and included training in the use of Soviet bloc weapons, heavy-duty weapons such as mortars and rocket-launchers, and the use of explosives, landmines and hand grenades. The trainees were taught how to carry out attacks without leaving a trace and how to avoid arrest, detention and interrogation at the hands of the police. They were also taught how to attack houses with the aim of killing all the occupants.
239 The trainees were controlled and supervised by a political commissar, later to become their commander, Mr Daluxolo Wordsworth Luthuli. Luthuli was a former ANC guerrilla fighter who had recently joined Inkatha after being released from a lengthy term of imprisonment on Robben Island. His appointment was authorised by Chief Buthelezi.
240 Luthuli was unequivocal concerning the purpose of the Caprivi training. He told the Commission that the training was aimed at equipping Inkatha supporters to kill members of the UDF/ANC. According to Luthuli and other Caprivi trainees who spoke to the Commission, this is what they were explicitly told by their SADF instructors. They knew that they were being trained as a hit squad.
241 The Caprivi trainees were centrally involved in the Inkatha-aligned hit squad activities in KwaZulu and Natal until the 1994 elections. The trainees continued to receive support, including a monthly salary, from the SADF until 1989 when most of them were enrolled in the KZP. Here many of them continued their hit squad operations under the guise of being official law-enforcement officers. The trainees received instructions as to targets and weaponry from Luthuli, their political commissar and commander, and from the local Inkatha leadership in the area where they were deployed. The link between Luthuli and Inkatha was maintained through Mr MZ Khumalo.
242 With their deployment in various parts of KwaZulu and the former Natal, the trainees were partly responsible for the dramatic escalation of the political conflict in the region, and fundamentally changed the political landscape in the former KwaZulu homeland, the repercussions of which are currently playing themselves out in this region. Their modus operandi, their mobility, their access to infrastructure and sophisticated weaponry exposed large numbers of people and vast areas of the province to their activities. As a result, they were responsible for facilitating the easy and quick resort to violence as a means of settling political scores and greatly enhanced the development of a culture of impunity and political intolerance that is so well established in the province at the present time.
243 Caprivi trainees were implicated in many of Inkatha's subsequent initiatives involving violent strategies aimed at countering the ANC/UDF. The trainees formed a large proportion of the Inkatha supporters recruited to become special constables (see below). They formed the core of Inkatha/KZP hit squads set up by Inkatha office-bearers in the early 1990s (see below). Several of them were employed as instructors in the Mlaba self-protection unit (SPU) training project in 1993/4. They were also central to a proposed plan for a KwaZulu battalion, although these plans were never realised.