SABC News | Sport | TV | Radio | Education | TV Licenses | Contact Us

TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 106

Paragraph Numbers 260 to 270

Volume 3

Chapter 2

Subsection 23

Vigilantes in Ciskei

260 Over the years, the Ciskei authorities used vigilantes on several occasions. Haysom records the first use of vigilantes in Ciskei as being during 1974, when the vigilantes known as the ‘Green Berets’, who were members of the ruling Ciskei National Independence Party (CNIP), assaulted Mdantsane commuters during a boycott of the local bus company. Vigilantes re-emerged in 1977, this time to target Mdantsane schoolchildren who were boycotting classes in protest over Steve Biko’s death in detention.29 While there was suspicion that these vigilantes were linked to the homeland authorities, and they appeared to act in support of the homeland government, there was no clear evidence of state support for them.

261 However, there was clear Ciskei government support for the vigilantes who operated during the July 1983 boycott of the homeland-owned bus company. Police, army and vigilantes were used to break the boycott by assaulting commuters who used taxis, private cars and trains and taxi drivers seen as being in opposition to the bus company. The vigilantes were given free rein during the bus boycotts and that were able to use the central Sisa Dukashe stadium in Mdantsane as a venue for holding detainees. Haysom reports that there was “overwhelming evidence” that the vigilantes were involved in the assault and torture of detainees here. Any knowledge of this was denied by the then Ciskei Minister of Justice, Mr David Takane, although he did admit that the vigilantes were operating with official endorsement. The Daily Dispatch reported on 4 August:

People assisting in checking intimidators in Mdantsane during the bus boycott were vigilantes working under the direction of the police, the Ciskei Minister of Justice, Mr DM Takane, said yesterday. Mr Takane added that reports of assaults on Mdantsane residents by such people had not been received by his office.

262 The Commission received several statements implicating vigilantes in assaults on commuters during that period.

263 In 1987, Potsdam community leader Mr Zola Nozewu [EC0359/96ELN] fell foul of vigilantes. Potsdam village, near Mdantsane, had been opposing homeland rule for some time. In an extraordinary move, a substantial group of Potsdam residents dismantled their homes and fled across the border to South Africa where they begged for a home. South Africa trucked them back again. Nozewu became a leader in his community. His mother, Ms Noti Lena Kroti, told the Commission that Ciskei police had warned her that Nozewu should stay out of politics or he would die. He was stabbed to death by vigilantes near his home on 24 July 1987, three weeks later. Other community members were injured when the vigilantes, known locally as ‘Inkatha’, went on the rampage. The Potsdam community eventually found a permanent home at Eluxolweni on the South African side of the border.

264 In September 1985, Ciskei police raided the Zwelitsha home of UDF activist Zalisile Matyholo [EC0105/96ELN] and told his mother, Ms Evelyn Matyolo, that they would kill him because he was the cause of unrest in Ciskei: “They had a list which they said was for UDF activists that must be killed”. Mr Matyolo was also accused of helping people to flee the country to join the ANC. Within days he had been killed by a group of vigilantes travelling in vehicles with Ciskei government registration numbers. They searched the area for him with security force assistance and beat and stabbed him to death in front of witnesses.

29 Haysom, 1983, pp 10, 24 & 45.
Necklacings and burnings

265 The use of the ‘necklace’ method and the burning of opponents began in the Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage townships during the mid-1980s, both as part of the UDF conflicts with AZAPO and AmaAfrika and as a method used by UDF supporters to attack police, councillors and those seen as collaborating with the state. The Commission received statements of both ‘necklacings’ and burnings. Due to the lack of information available, it was often difficult to distinguish between the two types of violations in a particular incident.

266 For the period September 1984 to December 1989, SAP national statistics recorded 406 deaths by ‘necklacing’, 28 injuries by ‘necklacing’, 395 deaths by burning and 150 injuries as a result of burning30. The former Border and Eastern Cape regions (which together with the Transkei and Ciskei form the current Eastern Cape Province) accounted for 144 necklacing deaths (35 per cent of the national total), 131 burning deaths (33 per cent of the national total), 42 per cent of the burning injuries and 14 per cent of the necklacing injuries during that period.

267 The Commission received statements listing a large number of violations in connection with killings, attempted killings and severe ill treatment resulting from necklacing and burning – primarily related to incidents during 1985–87. In the first two of the review periods (1960–82 and 1990–94), the majority of reported fire-related attacks were arson attacks on buildings. In the current review period (1983–89), the majority of such violations related to attacks on people. Many of these attacks during the 1983–89 period occurred in the areas around Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage, Grahamstown, Port Alfred and East London. The 1983–89 period also saw an increase in the number of burnings during torture violations (that is, while in custody), but only a very small number of such cases was reported.

268 When houses were petrol-bombed, children who could not escape the flames sometimes became victims. Press reports indicated that, between March and May 1985, at least seven children under the age of ten (from families linked to councillors, AZAPO supporters and UDF supporters) died in such attacks in Port Elizabeth. Likewise, during the August 1983 Ciskei bus boycott, three children died in Mdantsane when their home was petrol-bombed because their father was seen as being against the boycott.

269 KwaNobuhle town councillor Mr Benjamin Kinikini [EC0289/96PLZ] was stoned, stabbed and ‘necklaced’ on 23 March 1985. Four of his sons and nephews were killed with him, either burnt or hacked to death: Luvuyo Stanley Kinikini (12), Mr Qondile Kinikini (18), Mr Silumko Welcome Kinikini (20), and Mr Zamuxolo Eric Kinikini (22) [EC0289/96PLZ]. At the time of the attack, Kinikini was accused of involvement in the abduction of some UDF youths. Kinikini’s widow, Ms Nombuzo Kinikini, told the Commission she had not been present on the Saturday when her husband was killed, but heard about it from others:

I was told that he was stabbed by a spade on his head, then they stabbed him several times. He was made to drink petrol, they put a tyre over him and then they ignited him. During this time my younger son was hiding under the car, some of the petrol got to him and when he was trying to escape somebody saw him. Silumko was hiding in one of the shops at Mboya. He asked one of the businessmen to hide him under the counter. They took him and they ignited him alive in front on the shop. I am telling you as it is. They cut his testicles while he was still alive. Then on Monday at the police station, the doctor told me that he was going to inject me, at that time I had not seen them yet … I will not be able to tell you about the head of my husband.

270 Many youths from Uitenhage were tried and some were sentenced to death for these killings based on the doctrine of ‘common purpose’. Mr Moses Jantjies and Mr Wellington Mielies were convicted of murder and hanged on 1 September 1987 for their part in this.

30 ‘Submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by the Foundation for Equality Before the Law’, compiled by Major-General HD Stadler and other retired officers of the SAP, June 1996.
Broadcasting for Total Citizen Empowerment
SABC © 2019