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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 492

Paragraph Numbers 336 to 341

Volume 2

Chapter 5

Subsection 40

336 The day after the attack on Ntuli's shop, Imbokodo members raided Tweefontein, a large collection of villages in the Vlaklaagte area. Eyewitnesses have reported that the Imbokodo drove in convoy through the area, firing indiscriminately at youths running through the streets. At least four young men were fatally wounded. A number of residents were assaulted with sjamboks and knobkieries. Others were abducted and loaded onto a lorry accompanying the convoy.

337 Although “the burning” of KwaNdebele reached its peak in May and June 1986, violence and unrest continued. The KwaNdebele cabinet remained committed to the goals of incorporation and independence while the Ndzundza royal family and the Moutse chiefs had successfully marshalled popular resistance to such plans. Although embattled, the Imbokodo retained sufficient strength to intimidate and attack the government's opponents. The youth, for their part, had grown increasingly assertive, more effectively organised and much more violent in their approach. However, despite the control that comrades asserted in their immediate communities, they could not in fact overthrow the homeland government or “militarily” defeat the Imbokodo. The result was a bloody stalemate. At the end of July, South African security forces intervened in the conflict to alter the course of events dramatically with a single operation.

338 On 19 July 1986, members of the South African security forces assassinated Minister Piet Ntuli when a car bomb attached to his government vehicle was detonated on a Siyabuswa road. As Minister of Internal Affairs, Ntuli was known to personally issue business and taxi licenses, as well as citizenship cards. By selectively granting essential documents, Ntuli had carefully cultivated a constituency of businessmen and politicians personally indebted to him and dependent on his continued favour. Combined with his reputation as the “strongman” of the Imbokodo vigilantes, Ntuli was widely perceived as the real power within SS Skosana's cabinet and the driving force within the KwaNdebele government. Ntuli was a staunch supporter of both Moutse's incorporation into KwaNdebele and the drive for homeland independence. He also sponsored the casino proposal favoured by the KwaNdebele legislative assembly and was further tipped to succeed Skosana, already gravely ill with diabetes, as the first president of an independent KwaNdebele.

339 A number of security force operatives applied for amnesty for participation in or knowledge of the operation. These include: Brigadier Jack Cronjé (former divisional commander of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch); his subordinates Captain Jacques Hechter and Captain Jacob van Jaarsveld; Captain Chris Kendall

336 The day after the attack on Ntuli's shop, Imbokodo members raided Tweefontein, a large collection of villages in the Vlaklaagte area. Eyewitnesses have reported that the Imbokodo drove in convoy through the area, firing indiscriminately at youths running through the streets. At least four young men were fatally wounded. A number of residents were assaulted with sjamboks and knobkieries. Others were abducted and loaded onto a lorry accompanying the convoy.

337 Although “the burning” of KwaNdebele reached its peak in May and June 1986, violence and unrest continued. The KwaNdebele cabinet remained committed to the goals of incorporation and independence while the Ndzundza royal family and the Moutse chiefs had successfully marshalled popular resistance to such plans. Although embattled, the Imbokodo retained sufficient strength to intimidate and attack the government's opponents. The youth, for their part, had grown increasingly assertive, more effectively organised and much more violent in their approach. However, despite the control that comrades asserted in their immediate communities, they could not in fact overthrow the homeland government or “militarily” defeat the Imbokodo. The result was a bloody stalemate. At the end of July, South African security forces intervened in the conflict to alter the course of events dramatically with a single operation.

338 On 19 July 1986, members of the South African security forces assassinated Minister Piet Ntuli when a car bomb attached to his government vehicle was detonated on a Siyabuswa road. As Minister of Internal Affairs, Ntuli was known to personally issue business and taxi licenses, as well as citizenship cards. By selectively granting essential documents, Ntuli had carefully cultivated a constituency of businessmen and politicians personally indebted to him and dependent on his continued favour. Combined with his reputation as the “strongman” of the Imbokodo vigilantes, Ntuli was widely perceived as the real power within SS Skosana's cabinet and the driving force within the KwaNdebele government. Ntuli was a staunch supporter of both Moutse's incorporation into KwaNdebele and the drive for homeland independence. He also sponsored the casino proposal favoured by the KwaNdebele legislative assembly and was further tipped to succeed Skosana, already gravely ill with diabetes, as the first president of an independent KwaNdebele.

339 A number of security force operatives applied for amnesty for participation in or knowledge of the operation. These include: Brigadier Jack Cronjé (former divisional commander of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch); his subordinates Captain Jacques Hechter and Captain Jacob van Jaarsveld; Captain Chris Kendall (Security Branch commander at Bronkhorstspruit); General Joep Joubert (commander general of SADF Special Forces); and Sergeant Deon Gouws and Warrant Officer Stephanus A Oosthuizen (both of the SAP uniform branch). In light of the fact that amnesty proceedings were ongoing at the time of reporting, it is not possible to discuss the actual operation in any great detail.

340 From the second half of 1986, the KwaNdebele Police (KNP) made extensive use of emergency regulations to detain a large number of KwaNdebele and Moutse residents. The Legal Resources Centre, which represented a number of detainees and closely monitored developments on the ground, has estimated that KwaNdebele at one stage had the highest detention per capita figure in the Republic. Even high-ranking officers in the SAP security branch objected to the detention practices of the KNP. For example, a security branch major who operated in KwaNdebele told the Parsons Commission that more than 2 000 residents had been detained in the homeland in the period August 1986 to 1989. Although he felt that unrest had almost completely dissipated after Ntuli’s death, he noted with alarm the KNP’s increasing use of emergency detentions. For example, the major reported that in mid-January 1988, the KNP had 191 emergency detainees still in custody, a figure exceeded only by two other police divisions in South Africa. Whether or not these specific assertions are accurate, it is certainly clear that emergency regulations were widely used by the KNP. It is equally apparent that detention provisions were frequently abused for political gain.

341 In KwaNdebele, two families have made statements regarding relatives who disappeared in strikingly similar circumstances. On February 11, 1987, Mr Jim Msebenzi Mahlangu, a 51-year-old headman, was detained by police at his home in Tweefontein. On 6 February 1987, Mr George Shabangu was arrested in Matchiding, allegedly in relation to an armed robbery, a claim that was not substantiated by any evidence placed before the Commission. Both individuals were subsequently reported to have escaped from custody (during this period, the police frequently used this explanation as a tactic to evade legal responsibility and accountability for deceased detainees). Over a decade later, neither has been seen or heard from again. Even their families have given up hope that they are still alive. No one applied for amnesty for either incident. Nevertheless, Commission investigations made some progress in unravelling the mysteries surrounding their disappearances and a report on one of the cases was sent to the Attorney-General for consideration. Both disappearances implicate the KwaNdebele Police in the probable death of detained activists.

 
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