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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 103
Paragraph Numbers 249 to 259
Covert Military Intelligence operations: Somerset East and Cookhouse
249 Conflict in Somerset East began in late 1984. Residents held meetings to discuss problems with rents and with the beer hall. The focus of their grievances was Mr Joel Memese, Chairman of the KwaNojoli Community Council. On 11 February 1985, Memese fired a shotgun at a crowd stoning his house, wounding three youths. Somerset East schools came out on boycott after this incident. As in other small towns, violence escalated, with attacks on police officers and councillors, acts of arson, and police shooting and killing a number of youths. The schools in Cookhouse, Pearston, Jansenville and Fort Beaufort joined the boycott on 10 April. Two days later, meetings of twenty-nine organisations, including COSAS, were banned.
250 The councillors together with municipal police officers began to adopt increasingly ‘hard-line’ actions against residents. The vigilante movements in Somerset East and Cookhouse, linked in the case of Somerset East to Councillor Memese, are mentioned in the documentation on Project Vallex and Operation Katzen as being covert projects of Military Intelligence aimed at creating conflict in black communities. One of the aims of such operations was “to remove the UDF, through the use of force, from the communities on the principles of colour against colour”.
251 Mr Bantu Holomisa’s May 1996 submission to the Commission in Port Elizabeth gave details of some of these strategies. Project Vallex was intended to create a counter-revolutionary force in the Eastern Cape, specifically in the towns around Cradock. Cradock was perceived to be the “epicentre’ of the “revolutionary onslaught”. The organisational efforts of Mr Matthew Goniwe and the UDF were described as follows:
It is well known that the enemy started its activities during 1983 in Cradock mainly through organisations like the residents associations, youth organisations and women’s organisations. It expanded its control more or less as follows: Somerset East, Cookhouse, Bedford, Adelaide, Hofmeyr, Middelburg, Graaff-Reinet and Pearston. On a map it represents a circle around Cradock. It would therefore be wise not to tackle Cradock directly but rather to concentrate on the surrounding towns, thereby isolating Cradock. This will only be possible in co-operation with the right black leaders.
On a trial basis, activities were introduced in Somerset East with a strong conservative element and positive results have been achieved ... Elections have been held and a black council is now functioning in Somerset East. The main figure in this effort is Joel Memese. Two members of the council, previously regarded as radical, have attended a course and are now openly supporting Memese. In our efforts to find suitable black leaders, Joel Memese should receive our full support. He is totally opposed to the UDF, ANC and Communists. He openly supports the RSA government and commands wide influence. The municipal police also support him fully.
252 A local medical doctor in Somerset East was appointed as co-ordinator of this programme. Three courses were conducted for groups between twenty-four and forty-five in Somerset East, and one for the Kakana family in Cookhouse. The success of this programme in security forces’ eyes was described as follows:
Restricted, isolated hard actions have been launched by Memese and his followers on comrades resulting in no actions from Cradock [and] Somerset East over the past month. Memese is outspoken against the ANC and UDF and is responsible for evictions of those who do not pay rent. Intimidation by the UDF is now less effective in Somerset East.
253 It seems that these reports were dated around the middle of 1986, by which time the projects were already in operation; it is not clear exactly when they started.
254 The small township of Bongweni, outside Cookhouse and some eighty kilometres south of Cradock, was torn apart by violence in 1986, when fighting broke out between UDF supporters and those aligned to the Kakana family. It was alleged that the Kakana family refused to join the UDF-affiliated Cookhouse Youth Organisation unless there was proof that the UDF’s activities were legal; they were accused of being ‘Le Grange dogs’. UDF Eastern Cape president Edgar Ngoyi claimed that the violence began when residents boycotted a shop belonging to a member of the Kakana family. Submissions to the Commission indicated that, whether or not there was a link between the Kakana family and the security forces, there was certainly a belief among UDF supporters that the Kakanas were linked to the police, which probably contributed to the conflict. At least one of the Kakanas was either a police officer at the time of the conflict or joined the police soon afterwards. In some submissions to the Commission, former UDF supporters indicated they believed the Kakanas to be AZAPO supporters.
255 On 26 February 1986, UDF activist Gugwana Menzi was injured and his wife, Ms Nokhaya Mina Menzi, was killed in an attack on their shop in Bongweni [EC0468/96NWC]. An inquest implicated members of the Kakana family in the killing. In the following days, violent conflict between the Kakana family and UDF supporters ensued. Nine houses were gutted and there were running battles in the streets of Bongweni.
256 Ms Nosence Engelina Zanyiwe Kakana [EC1289/96KAR] and Ms Nokuzola Lena Nonhi [EC1290/96KAR] gave testimony on the deaths of four Kakana family members. Mr Mabhuti Kakana (17) was stabbed to death in Ekuphumleni location, Cookhouse, during 1985. Noticeboards were posted in the community saying, “Do not attend the Kakana funeral; they are sell-outs.” Subsequent attacks resulted in the deaths of Mr Mpendulo Kakana, Mr Zolani Meko, Mr Batayi Kakana and Mr Wheyiwheyi Kakana, a kitskonstabel. Nosence Kakana questioned allegations of security force support to the Kakanas and said she was not aware of any payments made by the state to her family to oppose the UDF.
257 Mr Wele Samuel Kakana [EC1401/96ALB] testified that his house in Bedford was burnt down and his livestock destroyed because he was accused of being a police informer. Mr Buti John Kakana [EC1753/97ALB] and his family fled to Pretoria after their home and shop were burnt down; he later moved to Adelaide and joined the police. The Kakanas were eventually able to return to Cookhouse.
258 The home of Ms Angelina Zanyiwe Feni [EC0465/96NWC] was attacked and set alight because her sons were UDF activists; she was badly burnt. UDF member Mzukisi Johannes Fesi [EC2319/97KAR] was injured when he was attacked on two occasions and stabbed.
259 Many other people were injured and homes were torched. Two hundred members and supporters of the Kakana family fled and took shelter at the Cookhouse police station.
IN REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE EMANATING FROM THE AZAPO–UDF CONFLICT IN PORT ELIZABETH AND THE AMAAFRIKA–UDF CONFLICT IN UITENHAGE AND OTHER AREAS OF THE EASTERN CAPE, THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE STATE EMPLOYED A POLICY OF CONTRA-MOBILISATION TO MANIPULATE LEGITIMATE POLITICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN POLITICAL ORGANISATIONS WITH THE INTENTION OF MOBILISING ONE GROUP AGAINST ANOTHER AND FOMENTING VIOLENCE, STRIFE AND DIVISION.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE REVEREND MZWANDILE EBENEZER MAQINA WAS A LEADER OF SUCH A GROUP IN PORT ELIZABETH. DURING THE PERIOD 1985—90, AND IN AND AROUND PORT ELIZABETH, MAQINA WAS INVOLVED IN THE FORMATION AND SUPPORT OF POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ORGANISATIONS AND VIGILANTE GROUPS WHICH HAD AS THEIR AIM, INTER ALIA, THE PERPETRATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE UDF.
IT FINDS THAT HE INCITED MEMBERS OF THE AFORESAID ORGANISATIONS AND GROUPS TO ACT VIOLENTLY AGAINST MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE UDF AND COLLUDED WITH MEMBERS OF THE SAP AND SADF IN ORDER TO FURTHER THE AIMS REFERRED TO ABOVE. BECAUSE OF MAQINA’S ACTIONS, SUBSTANTIAL VIOLENT POLITICAL CONFLICT OCCURRED IN THE PORT ELIZABETH REGION BETWEEN 1985 AND 1990, AS A RESULT OF WHICH AN UNKNOWN NUMBER OF PEOPLE WERE INJURED AND DIED.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MAQINA IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS WHICH RESULTED FROM HIS ACTIVITIES (KILLING, ATTEMPTED KILLING, TORTURE, ARSON AND SEVERE ILL TREATMENT).
ON THE EVIDENCE BEFORE THE COMMISSION, VARIOUS ACTS OF KILLING, ABDUCTION AND DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY TOOK PLACE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE CONFLICT AS A RESULT OF THE ACTIVITIES OF THESE GROUPS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLICY OF CONTRAMOBILISATION CAUSED VARIOUS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS TO BE COMMITTED FOR WHICH THE STATE IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE.