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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 594

Paragraph Numbers 52 to 64

Volume 2

Chapter 7

Subsection 5

Internal killings

52 The HRC recorded large numbers of political assassinations during the early 1990s, the victims of which were largely office-bearers of the newly unbanned ANC, MK members or members of allied organisations. The security forces were allegedly responsible for several of these – including the deaths of Mr Scelo Msomi, Dr Henry Vika Luthuli, Mr Michael Mcetywa and the attempted killing of Mr Bheki Mlangeni.

53 According to the MK integration list, Mr Scelo Msomi [KZN/NN/340/DN] was killed by askaris in South Africa in 1990. Msomi had been in Tanzania in exile since 1986 and returned for an operation in June 1990.

54 Dr Henry Luthuli [KZN/SS/013/DN] was gunned down in his surgery in Esikhawini on 2 August 1990. The investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Derrick Ntuli, arrested a Vlakplaas member, Constable Thembinkosi Dube, for the killing. Ntuli was later taken off the case and subsequently died in mysterious circumstances. (Details of the case appear in Volume Three).

55 ANC chairperson in Pongola, Michael Mcetywa [KZN/HG/313/EM], was killed by local IFP member Emmanuel Mavuso [AM7921/92] on 22 November 1993. Mavuso was subsequently convicted of the murder, but evaded custody while out on bail. A co-conspirator, Mr Mdu Msibi, alleged that Mcetywa’s killing had been planned by both IFP leadership and the Piet Retief Security Branch (see Volume Three).

56 On 16 February 1991, Johannesburg lawyer Bheki Mlangeni [JB00195/016GTSOW], was killed when he activated a Walkman music cassette player at his home in Johannesburg. The intended victim was former Vlakplaas commander Captain Dirk Coetzee. Colonel Eugene de Kock [AM0066/96] applied for amnesty for this killing, along with fellow Vlakplaas members WA ‘Willie’ Nortjé [AM3764/96], ID ‘Steve’ Bosch [AM3765/96] and W Riaan Bellingan [AM5283/97] Kobus Kopper [AM3762/96] J F ‘Japie’ Kok [AM3812/96], J. ‘Kobus’Kok [AM3811/96], and then head of the security police’s technical division, Wahl du Toit [AM5184/97]. In his book A Long Night’s Damage, De Kock states that he was instructed to “make a plan” in respect of Coetzee by then C section commander, Brigadier Nick Janse van Rensburg, who also gave him Coetzee’s postal address. Coetzee had by this time joined the ANC and was in the process of debriefing the organisation on his knowledge of security police activities. He was also due to testify in a pending civil suit against the head of the SAP forensic laboratory, General Lothar Neethling.

57 De Kock said that a senior officer suggested he list Mlangeni’s name as the sender on the postal package, as he was a lawyer with whom Coetzee had been in regular touch and Coetzee would not find it irregular. The bomb was prepared by the technical division and sent to Coetzee. Coetzee was suspicious of the package and refused to accept it from the Lusaka Post Office and, after some months, it was returned to its apparent sender Bheki Mlangeni, who was killed instantly when the device in the Walkman was detonated.

58 Several killings followed the abduction and interrogation of victims. Again, the security forces are implicated in such cases, including that of Mr Johannes Sweet Sambo, Mr Mbuso Shabalala and Mr Charles Zakhele Ndaba.

59 According to information supplied by Colonel Eugene de Kock [AM0066/96], Mr Johannes Sweet Sambo died in July 1991 while being interrogated by the Komatipoort security police. De Kock was requested by the head of the Komatipoort security police to help dispose of the body and assigned four members of his unit to the task. They blew the body up with explosives at a police farm in the area called Verdracht. De Kock, JJ de Swardt [AM3750/96], Kobus Kopper [AM3762/96] applied for amnesty for this killing. In his trial, De Kock received a six-year sentence for defeating the ends of justice by arranging for the disposal of the body. Later, three members of the Komatipoort police were charged with the killing.

60 Mr Mbuso Shabalala [KZN/NNN/138/PS], an Operation Vula operative, and Mr Charles Zakhele Ndaba [KZN/NN/076/DN] disappeared in KwaMashu in July 1990. Shabalala’s car was later found in Camperdown cut into pieces. According to amnesty applicants General ‘Bertus’ Steyn [AM4513/97] and HJP ‘Hentie’ Botha [AM4117/97], Shabalala and Ndaba were detained for about seven days before being killed at the Tugela River mouth on 14 July 1990. Their bodies were thrown into the Tugela River. The applications implicate two high-ranking police officers. Other officers who have applied for amnesty in this case are SJG du Preez [AM4130/96], LG Wasserman [AM4508/96] and CA ‘Cassie’ van der Westhuizen [AM4388/96].

61 On 26 March 1992, Mr Khona Khabela, Mr Tiisetso (Tiso) Leballo [JB00241/ 01GTSOW], Mr Masilo Mama, Mr Mxolisi Ntshaota and Mr Lawrence Nyalende were killed near Nelspruit when the car in which they were travelling was ambushed. According to Colonel Eugene de Kock, he had been persuaded that a group led by Leballo was planning to rob a bank to build up the ANC’s election funds. Leballo was known to the police as Winnie Mandela’s former driver and a trained ANC member. Leballo was not in the vehicle but was reportedly picked up by Vlakplaas members soon afterwards and killed. De Kock was convicted for his role in these killings. During the trial, evidence was led that the motive for the ambush was not political but financial. De Kock [AM0066/96] applied for amnesty, along with Rolf Dieter Gevers [AM3752/96], Deon Gouws [AM3759/96], JJ de Swardt [AM3750/96], Ben Burger van Zyl [AM7722/97], JHP Hanekom [AM3886/96].

62 Members of the security forces were also responsible for deaths in custody or arising out of the process of effecting an arrest.

63 Mr Samuel Mzuga Baloi [KZN/ZJ/111/WE] was unarmed when he was killed in Gugulethu on 22 February 1990 by askaris acting under the command and with the approval of their commanders in the SAP. Officially, Baloi was found to be carrying “a grenade of foreign origin” and attempted to flee when confronted by the police.

64 Constable Alfred Benjamin Bambatha, a disaffected SAP member who had earlier been in charge of a group of askaris in the Eastern Cape, told the Commission that he was equipped by his senior commander with an attaché case containing grenades and pistols with the instructions to plant these on any MK persons who were killed, in order to justify the death.

I recall an incident in Cape Town during late 1989 or early 1990 in Gugulethu Township, when a male person was pointed out by the askaris. After stopping the vehicle, I approached him and informed him that I was a police official whereupon he ran away. As a result of this, the askaris jumped from the vehicle and chased the man whilst firing at him. Myself and Constable Koopman … tried to stop them but they succeeded in fatally shooting the man. I then approached the body, discovering that he was dead as well as unarmed.
I had the attaché case with me and sent the askaris back to the Kombi so that they could not see what I was doing. I then placed a F1 hand grenade in the dead man’s pocket under the guise of trying to help him as members of the community were watching. This fact made it impossible to place the Makharov pistol next to him … In the process of pointing out a terrorist, it was the preference of the askaris that the person be killed as they feared that, should the court set him free or he speak to other terrorists about their involvement, they themselves would be killed … I later also made a statement that I had discovered the F1 hand grenade on his person. After the incident, the Captain complimented me on my actions and pertinently stated that it was better that the terrorists be killed to prevent their possible release.
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