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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 632
Paragraph Numbers 219 to 231
219 Between 1991 and August 1993 (when Mbambo was arrested by members of the SAP), the hit squad killed and attempted to kill a large number of people in Esikhawini and surrounds, including people in the Mandini and Eshowe areas. Prominent Inkatha-aligned officials supplied ongoing direction and logistic (weapons, ammunition, vehicles, accommodation, finance and so on support) to the operatives. A number of hit lists were compiled at meetings with the IFP leaders. The hit squad’s targets were all ANC leaders, members or sympathisers. The hit squad was inter alia responsible for the killings of Mr Naphtal Nxumalo, Mr Nathi Gumede, Mr April Taliwe Mkhwanazi, Sergeant Dlamini, Sergeant Khumalo, Mr John Mabika and four young MK members killed at a shebeen. In addition to targeting particular individuals for assassination, the hit squad also carried out dozens of random attacks on shebeens, bus stops, buses and streets where it was known that ANC supporters gathered.
220 Ms Zanele Cecilia Taliwe [KZN/NG/006/EM] told the Commission that her husband, April Taliwe Mkhwanazi, a shop steward for a COSATU-affiliated trade union and employed at the Mondi paper mill in Richards Bay, was killed on 19 April 1992. Mkhwanazi was also an active member of the ANC. He had received a number of threats. On the morning of his death, he told his wife that if he died she should know that Gcina Mkhize would be one of the suspects. Mkhize, Mbambo and Dlamini all implicated themselves in the killing. According to Mkhize, the instruction for the murder came from Major Langeni and Mayor BB Biyela provided his vehicle for their use. The murder was planned at the home of Ms Mbuyazi. Mbambo told the Commission that he reported back to Luthuli, Langeni and MZ Khumalo. He said they congratulated him and expressed their pleasure about the killing.
221 Members of Gcina Mkhize’s hit squad killed Sergeant Khumalo, a KZP member stationed at Esikhawini, on 8 May 1992. Khumalo had been identified for assassination by the local IFP leadership because it was suspected that he was an ANC member and was leaking details of dockets to the local ANC leadership. He was killed with the approval of Captain Langeni. (Amnesty applications of Gcina Mkhize [AM4599/97] and Romeo Mbambo [AM 4598/97]; [KZN/NNN/507/EM].)
222 Sergeant Dlamini, also a KZP member stationed at Esikhawini, was shot dead by Israel Hlongwane on the 19 June 1993. Romeo Mbambo, Mthethwa and Gcina Mkhize accompanied Hlongwane. Mkhize, Mbambo and Hlongwane were all found guilty of murdering Dlamini in the Durban Supreme Court in 1995. According to the amnesty applications of the three convicted men, Sergeant Dlamini was identified for assassination by the local IFP leadership because he was supplying the Goldstone Commission with information regarding hit squad activities in Esikhawini. He was also thought to be an ANC supporter as he was allegedly selling ANC T-shirts.
223 Both Mbambo and Mkhize alleged that Mzimela, assisted in covering up their involvement in Dlamini’s murder by tampering with the murder weapon. In passing judgement on the matter, Mr Justice van der Reyden said that the court had heard evidence about the initial investigation of Dlamini’s death that could only be described as “disturbing”. Van der Reyden said that it would be improper for the court to make specific findings concerning the initial investigation without giving the other parties an opportunity to reply. He therefore chose to refer the allegations made concerning the alleged cover-up by Brigadier Mzimela and others to the Minister of Safety and Security for investigation. Flowing from this, the Ministry appointed the Investigation Task Board (ITB), which was tasked with overseeing the investigation into hit squad activities in the province by the Investigation Task Unit (ITU).
224 Members of the Esikhawini-based hit squad led by Gcina Mkhize alleged that KwaZulu Cabinet member, Prince Gideon Zulu, summoned them to a meeting at his home sometime in 1993. Those present were Zulu himself, Gcina Mkhize, Romeo Mbambo, Daluxolo Luthuli, Robert Mzimela, Chief Khawula, Langeni, Chief Biyela and Mr Nyawuza (Prince Zulu’s driver). Zulu told them that he wanted the hit squad members to kill Eshowe ANC leader Mr Sam Nxumalo.
225 The hit squad members were given a car from the chief minister’s department. On the given day Mkhize, Mbambo, Dlamini and Hlongwane drove to the Eshowe Hospital. It appears that Nxumalo had somehow been warned of the planned assassination and, when he saw the operatives arrive at the hospital, he phoned the SAP who arrived within minutes. The operatives then left and decided to return later. That night they returned to the hospital but it was full of police so they again postponed the hit.
226 In his evidence to the Commission, Israel Hlongwane admitted he was involved in several murders and attempted murders in the Sundumbili area during 1992 and 1993. He alleges that local IFP leaders Bongani Hadebe and Shakes Mhlongo, as well as Chief Mathaba, a Mr Mpanza and Mr Jerry Mdanda provided him with a list of the names of about fifteen people they wanted him to kill. Hlongwane’s victims include Siduduzo Cedric Khumalo (an ANC scholar he shot dead on 31 October 1992), Sipho Thulani Xaba (also known as ‘Gindinga’, ANC leader at Odumo High School), Themba Mkhukhu and Mr Mncedisi Kalude (two scholars from the Tugela High School shot dead on 7 August 1993), Mr Daludumo Majenga (shot dead on 29 March 1993), and Mr Canaan Shandu (a COSATU official).
227 Bheki K Mzimela, an induna located in Chief Mathaba’s area of Nyoni, was alleged to be sympathetic towards the ANC because he supported the ANC’s call for a ban on the carrying of traditional weapons. Mathaba enlisted the help of the Esikhawini-based hit squad led by Gcina Mkhize to kill Mzimela. Three members of the hit squad, namely Mkhize, Zweli Dlamini and Israel Hlongwane, together with Jerry Mdanda and a man identified only as Dumisani, went to Induna Mzimela’s home on the night of 23 March 1992 and shot him dead. (Amnesty application of Mkhize [AM 4599/97] and Hlongwane [AM4600/97]).
228 The SAP arrested Gcina Mkhize, Romeo Mbambo and Zweli Dlamini in 1993. Advocate Neville Melville, police reporting officer, and the Goldstone Commission insisted that the SAP rather than the KZP make the arrests. In respect of Mkhize and Mbambo, an attempt was made by Brigadier Mzimela, Captain Langeni and others to prevent them from being arrested.
229 In 1994, the three were convicted for a number of crimes carried out by the hit squad. In mitigation of sentence, they argued that the hit squad had been set up by senior IFP, KwaZulu government and KZP members based in Ulundi and Esikhawini. Accepting their evidence in mitigation, the presiding judge, the Honourable Mr Justice Van der Reyden, said that when the trial commenced he had been taken aback by the appalling standard of investigation by the KZP. However, he later realised that what he had taken for incompetence was in fact a deliberate design to cover up. He said that the three accused could not have acted alone and called for “a full investigation into the alleged involvement of those persons identified by the accused as the masterminds and puppet masters behind the Esikhawini Hit Squad”.
230 In 1994, the ITU was mandated to investigate the allegations of the three accused in the Mbambo matter. In June 1996, the ITU presented a comprehensive report to Natal Attorney-General, Mr Tim McNally, in which they recommended the prosecution of eight IFP/KZP/KwaZulu government officials: Prince Gideon Zulu, Mr M R Mzimela, Major M L Langeni, Mr Robert Mkhize, Ms Lindiwe Mbuyazi, Chief Mathaba, Mr BB Biyela and Brigadier CP Mzimela. In the report the ITU argued that:
These persons utilised their position in the government and police, the very institutions which were meant to uphold law and order, to facilitate a murderous hit squad network … It is imperative that those who manipulated and used young operatives, who believed that they were acting with impunity, be prosecuted as vigorously as the operatives have been.
231 McNally declined to prosecute any of the suspects on the grounds that there were discrepancies between statements made to the ITU by the key witnesses and statements they had previously made to the Goldstone Commission and the SAP. To date, none of the Esikhawini hit squad’s hierarchy nor any of the other operatives have been prosecuted.
THE COMMISSION MADE A COMPREHENSIVE FINDING IN RESPECT OF THE ESIKHAWINI HIT SQUAD IN THE FINDINGS CHAPTER. ACCOUNTABILITY FOR GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IS APPORTIONED TO THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE: PRINCE GIDEON ZULU, MR M R MZIMELA, MAJOR M L LANGENI, MR ROBERT MKHIZE, MS LINDIWE MBUYAZI, CHIEF K MATHABA, MR BB BIYELA AND BRIGADIER C P MZIMELA.