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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 90

Paragraph Numbers 193 to 204

Volume 3

Chapter 2

Subsection 18

Aliwal North shootings: August 1985

193 The Commission’s public hearings in Aliwal North focused on human rights violations in Aliwal North and in surrounding districts such as Barkly East, Lady Grey, Sterkspruit, Jamestown and Burgersdorp.

194 The mid-1980s was the most violent period for Aliwal North and surrounding areas. Political protest centred around students at Malcomess High School in the Dukathole township, and the UDF-affiliated Aliwal North Youth Congress was formed.

195 The first clashes between police and students took place on 22 August 1985; student activist and leader Mr Mzingisi Biliso was the first victim. The following day, about twenty-four people were shot dead by the security forces. The Commission received over twenty statements in connection with the shootings in Dukathole: nearly half of these dealt with killings.

196 According to stories told to the Commission, police standing on top of a building fired on protesting youths. Chaos followed in the township with arson attacks and further clashes between youth and police. The shootings were followed by detentions, and in May 1986, twenty-three people were charged with public violence related to the August 1985 events. Inquests subsequently found nobody criminally liable for the deaths. The Commission was unable to find police records relating to these incidents as records from that period were reported to have been destroyed.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLICE RESORTED TO THE UNJUSTIFIED USE OF DEADLY FORCE IN DEALING WITH THE AUGUST 1985 PUBLIC UNREST, AND ARE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS WHICH RESULTED FROM THEIR ACTIONS, INCLUDING KILLING, ATTEMPTED KILLING AND SEVERE ILL TREATMENT.
Queenstown massacre: November 1985

197 There had been no major political conflicts in Queenstown and the surrounding areas from the 1960s until the mid-1970s except for the forced removals and the incorporation of areas into the neighbouring Ciskei and Transkei homelands. In the 1980s, dissatisfaction revolved around the rejection of BLAs and land issues. In surrounding black areas that formed part of the former Ciskei homeland, political conflict was between homeland security police forces and chiefs, communities or individual activists opposed to the homeland system and who were also suspected to be part of the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM).

198 In Queenstown, conflict escalated with the imposition of a consumer boycott by UDF-aligned organisations in August 1985. Tension between the coloured and African communities followed the enforcement of the consumer boycott and at least one coloured man was ‘necklaced’. This led to the formation of a coloured vigilante group supported by the local SAP and SADF. Black schools were also out on boycott since the assassination of the ‘Cradock Four’ in June. In September, the brother of a suspected informer was ‘necklaced’ in Queenstown’s Mlungisi township.

199 On 17 November, a report-back meeting on negotiations with the Department of Education and Training, the Queenstown municipality, the East Cape Development Board and the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce was called by the residents’ association of the local Mlungisi township. The meeting, held at Nonzwakazi Methodist Church and attended by over 2 000 people, was disrupted by police.

200 It is estimated that at least eleven people were shot dead and many were severely injured in the ensuing conflict. The Commission received submissions dealing with the deaths of Mr Lizo Ngcana [EC1241/96QTN], Mr James Mnyandeki [EC1111/96QTN], Mr Fikile Dastile [EC1109/96QTN], Mr Thamsanqa Kamati [EC0326/96QTN] and Mr Zandisile Ndabambi [EC0325/96QTN]. All had been part of the meeting. Eighteen-month-old Cebisa Tyobeka and her grandmother, Ms Maggie Tyobeka [EC0158/96QTN], who was holding her at the time, were both wounded inside their home, apparently by stray bullets.

201 Again, the Commission was unable to obtain inquest records or police records from the incident, and deaths were confirmed by consulting mortuary records. In addition, the Commission found details of another six people who died in this incident whose cases were not brought to this Commission. All eleven dead were male, ranging in age from fifteen to sixty-one. A press report from the time indicates that a twelfth person may also have died26 .

202 On 13 December, eleven people were buried at a mass funeral in Mlungisi township, attended by thousands. In response to questions in Parliament over a year later, the then Minister of Justice, Mr Kobie Coetzee, said that an inquest into nine deaths from that incident had found that nobody was criminally liable.

26 A contemporary newspaper report on the funeral states that eleven were buried together, while funeral organisers said a twelfth person had been buried previously.
IN REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE OF THE GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS REPORTED TO THE COMMISSION IN THIS PERIOD, THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE STATE AND THE HOMELAND AUTHORITIES IN THE EASTERN CAPE DISPLAYED TOTAL DISREGARD FOR THE LIVES OF THOSE ENGAGED IN PROTEST ACTION AGAINST THEIR POLICIES. WHERE LESSER MEASURES WOULD HAVE SUFFICED FOR THE RESTORATION OF PUBLIC ORDER, DEADLY FORCE WAS USED, RESULTING IN:
  • THE KILLING OF AT LEAST SIX PEOPLE AT RAILWAY STATIONS IN MDANTSANE ON 4 AUGUST 1983 BY THE CISKEI POLICE AND THE CDF DURING THE MDANTSANE BUS BOYCOTT;
  • THE KILLING OF AT LEAST TWENTY PEOPLE AT LANGA TOWNSHIP IN UITENHAGE ON 21 MARCH 1985 BY THE SAP AND THE SADF;
  • THE KILLING OF AT LEAST NINETEEN PEOPLE AT DUNCAN VILLAGE OVER SEVERAL DAYS IN MID-AUGUST 1985 BY THE SAP AND THE SADF;
  • THE KILLING OF AT LEAST ELEVEN PEOPLE AT MLUNGISI TOWNSHIP IN QUEENSTOWN ON 17 NOVEMBER 1985 BY THE SAP AND THE SADF, AND THE
  • KILLING OF ABOUT TWENTY-FOUR PEOPLE AT ALIWAL NORTH ON 23 AUGUST 1985 BY THE SAP AND THE SADF.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE ACTIONS OF THE SAP, SADF, CP AND CDF AMOUNT TO CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE FOR THE LIVES OF HUMAN BEINGS, AND HOLDS THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE KILLING OF AN ESTIMATED NUMBER OF EIGHTY PEOPLE DURING THE FIVE NAMED MASSACRES.
Hankey shootings: May 1986

203 Hankey is a small farming town on the Gamtoos river, about 100 km west of Port Elizabeth. In Hankey, as in many other small Eastern Cape towns, 1984–86 saw the emergence of youth and community organisations aligned to the UDF and opposed to the BLAs. A town council was set up in the local Centreton township but, by May 1986, most of the councillors had resigned under pressure. In April, activist Sandile Joseph Mjacu [EC0089/96TSI] was shot, allegedly by a councillor, and died in hospital on 3 May. One of the councillors who had not resigned, Mr AM Mabukane, was killed by militant youth. Three days later the state-owned beer hall and the homes of two black police officers and a councillor were firebombed.

204 In late May, five more youths were shot dead by security forces — including farmers who appear to have been part of the local SADF commando at the time. A witness later told an inquest they were shot while attempting to attack a councillor’s house. A councillor told the Commission he had fired shots when a group tried to petrol-bomb his home; he later heard a youth had died. Those killed were Mr Vuyo Gladman Kato Ndleleni [EC0085/96TSI], Mr Sipho Edward Boy Siziba [EC0086/96TSI], Mr Msondezi Eric Sibengile [EC0087/96TSI], Mr Vusumzi Patrick Khotso Landu [EC0090/96TSI] and Mr Nimrod Monde Mjijwa [EC0088/96TSI]. Another youth, Mr Buyisile Eric Swartbooi [EC0084/96TSI], was shot in the leg in the same incident. He was subsequently convicted of public violence and given a suspended sentence.

 
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