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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 638
Paragraph Numbers 239 to 251
July 1993 to May 1994: resistance and insurrection
239 In the run-up to the 1994 elections, Inkatha came into conflict with the central government and the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) concerning the issue of independence and sovereignty for KwaZulu. Inkatha adopted a publicly declared militant stance towards the rejection of its demands, culminating in a decision not to participate in the April 1994 elections. It was only on 19 April 1994, just six days before the elections, that Inkatha did an about-turn and announced that it would contest the elections. In the interim period, KwaZulu and Natal experienced the worst wave of political violence in the region’s history. Approximately 3 000 gross violations of human rights were perpetrated by Inkatha in KwaZulu and Natal from July 1993 to May 1994. This constituted more than 55 per cent of all violations reported to the Commission’s Durban office for this period.
240 In July 1993, when the date was set for the first ever non-racial, democratic elections, Mr Walter Felgate, then IFP National Council member, was quoted in the national media threatening that the IFP would “make it impossible for an election to take place, by embarking on a campaign of mass action, street action and disruption”. On 14 February 1994, Buthelezi publicly called on all Inkatha members to “defend and fight back and resist the ANC and its communist surrogates”.
241 Inkatha employed many strategies to undermine support for the ANC and/or the elections: IFP supporters occupied stadiums booked by the ANC for the holding of election rallies; busloads of IFP supporters were brought into ANC strongholds; voter education campaigns were disrupted, and whole households of ANC supporters were massacred.
242 It was at this time that at least three Inkatha paramilitary training camps were set up, including Inkatha’s biggest ever paramilitary training project (at the Mlaba Camp) and a training programme in civil disobedience at another camp (Dinizulu). During this period, Inkatha sought assistance from right-wing organisations and disaffected members of the military and police. This assistance included the supply of arms and ammunition (see above), instructors for paramilitary training and the planning of joint Inkatha/right wing attacks on non-Inkatha supporters.
243 From the early 1980s right up to the April 1994 general election, Inkatha embarked on a number of paramilitary training projects in which supporters were trained by their leaders and/or by the KwaZulu government in weapons handling and paramilitary tactics. Many terms were used to describe these trained fighters, including community guards, tribal police officers, amabutho and so on. Training occurred at, amongst other places, the Amatigulu, Emandleni-Matleng and Mlaba Camps, all owned by the KwaZulu government.
244 Former KZP Commissioner, General RP During was opposed to this “indiscriminate training of large numbers of rural unselected untested” men. He said in a statement that: sending them into rural areas without supervision ... would inevitably precipitate further violence and unrest … the deployment of such details into already politicised communities would result in further bloodshed and chaos ... Another unacceptable aspect was that these inadequately trained men with lethal weapons and of necessity be deployed in both defensive and offensive operations – this being completely contrary to existing instruction.
245 In September 1993, the IFP and KwaZulu Legislative Assembly together embarked on the self-protection unit (SPU) training project run at the Mlaba Camp in northern KwaZulu between September 1993 and 26 April 1994. The programme saw between 5 000 and 8 000 Inkatha supporters receiving paramilitary training under the command of IFP leader Mr Phillip Powell. Instruction was also given by Caprivi trainees, Vlakplaas operatives, members of right-wing organisations and hand-picked KZP members. The logistical side of the Mlaba Camp fell under Captain Leonard Langeni, who was also involved in the operations of the Esikhawini IFP hit squads (see above).
246 The Mlaba course included training in ambush and counter-ambush techniques, booby-traps, camouflage, house-penetration, hostage-taking, fire and manoeuvre techniques, patrol formations, combat formations and raids. A musketry course was also included. Weapons training was given in the handling and use of AK47s, Uzi machine guns, shotguns, G-3 rifles, 9 mm pistols, and hand grenades. In addition, the trainees were taught how to manufacture and use petrol bombs. Shooting practice took place in the Mlaba river bed. A (then) Vlakplaas operative N J ‘Snor’ Vermeulen, who was for a period involved in the training at Mlaba, said that Powell had requested that he provide training in the use of heavy calibre weapons but that he had refused.
247 Mr Israel Hlongwane [AM4600/97] participated in the training at Mlaba Camp. He said that the trainees at his passing-out parade were addressed by KwaZulu Minister of Justice, Reverend Celani Mthethwa, who told them that “the purpose of this training was to guard the chiefs, to eliminate the ANC and to stop the people from going to vote in the April 1994 elections”.
248 Mr Thami Hebron Ngubane, an SPU member from Ixopo, said of his training:
On the day of passing out, our instructors/commanders gave us instructions that we must endeavour by all means to eliminate the ANC members … There were no other duties assigned to us except of killing the ANC members.
249 In April 1994, a thousand SPU graduates were recalled to receive further training as special constables. It was intended that those who received this training would be incorporated into the KZP’s Internal Stability Unit (ISU). However, the training was brought to an abrupt halt with a joint SAP/TEC raid on the Mlaba premises on 26 April 1994, only hours before the national election on 27 April 1994.
250 The raid was carried out after it became known in early 1994 that illegal weaponry was being used in the training of the SPUs. When an officially marked police helicopter attempted to land at the Mlaba camp to carry out the raid, trainees threw stones at it, making a landing impossible.
251 Later, when police gained access to the camp, they seized a large quantity of weapons and medical supplies, including twenty-six M26 hand grenades, five rifle grenades, seventy-six G3 rifles, forty-nine shotguns, eleven cases of 7.62mm rounds of ammunition, twelve cases of shotgun rounds and a large box of 9mm ammunition. A search of Phillip Powell’s vehicle revealed a box of .222 rounds, a box of shotgun rounds in the boot, a Ruger semi-automatic firearm and a 9mm pistol. A home-made shotgun was also found, concealed under the front seat.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, ALTHOUGH THE SPU PROJECT WAS OFFICIALLY PLACED WITHIN THE AMBIT OF THE PEACE ACCORD AND THAT SELF-PROTECTION FORMED AN ELEMENT THEREOF, INHERENT IN THE PROJECT WAS ALSO AN INTENTION TO FURNISH INKATHA WITH THE MILITARY CAPACITY TO PREVENT BY FORCE THE HOLDING OF ELECTIONS WHICH DID NOT ACCOMMODATE INKATHA’S DESIRES FOR SELF-DETERMINATION. SUCH ARMED RESISTANCE WOULD ENTAIL THE RISK OF UNLAWFUL DEATH AND INJURY TO PERSONS AND, AS SUCH, CONSTITUTES A CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT MURDER.