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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 125

Paragraph Numbers 326 to 337

Volume 3

Chapter 2

Subsection 28

The battle for the homelands

326 This period was one of military rule for both Ciskei and Transkei. The Transkei had been under constant military rule since Major-General Bantu Holomisa’s second coup on 31 December 1987, the first successful coup in a South African homeland. In Ciskei, Brigadier Oupa Gqozo took over on 4 March 1990, shortly after the national unbannings, riding on a wave of rural resistance to the rule of former Ciskei president, Mr Lennox Sebe. It appears that neither of these coups was initiated by South African security forces, as has been speculated; rather they seem to have emerged from the homeland militaries themselves. By the 1990s, there was an ongoing dispute between the Transkei military government and the South African government: this soon became a dispute over whether or not Transkei was offering the newly unbanned liberation movements weapons, military training and bases from which to launch attacks. A few months after Gqozo took over in Ciskei, the SADF MI set up a front operation in Ciskei deliberately aimed at turning Gqozo against the ANC. The (IR-CIS)33, which Gqozo was unaware was an MI project, operated in Ciskei from mid-1990 until the formal structure was closed down by the SADF following adverse publicity in August 1991.

327 During this period there was constant conflict in the Eastern Cape between the Transkei government and the ANC and PAC on the one hand, and the Ciskei and South African governments on the other. Within these broad alliances, there were other conflicts: the Ciskei and South African governments, for example, clashed frequently. These conflicts resulted, inter alia, in the abortive coup attempt against Major General Holomisa in November 1990 by Colonel Craig Duli, acting together with the South African security forces; the killing of Ciskei rebels Mr Charles Sebe and Mr Onward Guzana, and a plot to kill Mr Chris Hani and Holomisa in Transkei. The African Democratic Movement (ADM), which was set up under Gqozo with SADF MI assistance, was involved in conflict with ANC members in the Border-Ciskei region, particularly after the September 1992 Bisho massacre.

33 International Researchers–Ciskei Intelligence Services, an intelligence organisation which operated out of Ciskei while being a front for the SADF. It was first known as International Researchers and later as Ciskei Intelligence Services.
The Gqozo coup in Ciskei

328 On 4 March 1990, the Ciskei military overthrew Mr Lennox Sebe’s civilian government and installed a military government headed by Brigadier Oupa Gqozo. The take-over was followed by a wave of violence, with widespread burning and looting reported in some areas, especially in Mdantsane. Township councillors and officials of Sebe’s Ciskei National Independence Party (CNIP) were attacked.

329 Mr David and Ms Nomutile Zenzile [EC0932/96CCK], who were accused of being CNIP members (although they denied it), were stoned and their house in the Zwelitsha rural area was burnt down. Mr Zenile told the Commission that “the youth were toyi-toying and collecting CNIP membership cards from the relevant people with the aim probably of burning these”. Mr Steve Nene [EC1032/96CCK] was a councillor in Mdantsane and had been associated with Sebe’s government during the 1983 bus boycott. On the day of the coup, the Nenes’ house and shop in Mdantsane were burnt down. Nene (66) was detained; his family eventually found him a week later in hospital where he had been unconscious for three days. His wife, Ms Nomalanga Rhyline Nene, told the Commission:

He was injured in his head. Even today he is mentally impaired … He said that the police would take his head to the toilet and they would flush the toilet, which rendered him unconscious.

330 The police believed that Nene was in contact with Sebe, who had not returned to Ciskei since the coup.

The Duli coup attempt in Transkei

331 In 1990, Lieutenant Colonel Craig Duli [EC0236/96UTA] attempted a coup against the Transkei military government. Duli was a former member of the Transkei military council who had resigned his position in May 1989 and been detained shortly afterwards; he later fled to South Africa and was discharged from the Transkei Defence Force (TDF) in February 1990.

332 His abortive coup attempt on 22 November 1990 was carried out with the active support of the South African security forces. They started with an attack at the Ncise military base outside Umtata, early in the morning. Four TDF members and several of Duli’s men were killed here. The TDF members were an instructor, Mr Mlungisi Atwell Kahla [EC0549/96UTA], Mr Sipho Peter [EC0795/97QTN] and two new recruits, Mr Xolile Milton Zweni [EC2122/97ETK] and Mr Telford Qungqutho [EC2123/97STK].

333 Duli and three others moved into the city centre and managed to gain access to Holomisa’s office on the top floor of the Transkei government buildings by taking a key from the officer who arrived to unlock the doors early in the morning. After a lengthy shoot-out with the Transkei security forces, Duli was arrested together with Mr Sabelo Wana, who gave a witness statement to the Commission. Duli was killed after his capture. His bodyguard, Mr Boetie Davies [EC0533/96ALB], and a fourth man died before they could be arrested. The day after the coup attempt, bodies of the dead attackers and their weaponry were put on public display at the Ncise military base.

334 In all, seven TDF members were killed and thirty-three more wounded by the attackers, and Duli and ten of his followers died. In the months following the coup attempt, a large group of dissidents was detained in Transkei and later charged. Three years later, seventeen men were convicted in the main trial and given sentences ranging from an effective five to twenty years’ imprisonment.

335 The Commission received submissions from families of the attackers and from families of the deceased TDF members, as well as amnesty applications in connection with this matter. Mr Albert Jacques Plaatjies [EC0530/96ALB], an SADF volunteer corporal from Grahamstown, died in the coup attempt. Plaatjies’ sister, Ms Boniwe Maureen Ntshoko, told the Commission that she watched the news coverage of the failed coup on television and a few days later the Transkei authorities informed her of her brother’s death. It took the family more than three weeks to get the Transkei authorities to release the body for burial. The family also questioned the public display of the bodies.

336 Ms Nontobeko Duli, widow of the coup leader, said she believed Duli had been shot dead by soldiers at the military base after he had been captured. She said she had been told by General Wildon Mbulawa of the Transkei Police (who was himself killed by unknown gunmen in December 1994) that he had seen Duli fatally shot in the back by security forces at the base; he did not identify the killers. Duli’s fellow conspirator, Mr Sabelo Wana, was arrested with Duli at the government buildings in Umtata. Wana told the Umtata Supreme Court during his subsequent trial that he had been transported in the boot of a car after his removal from the building. Wana said that, at that time of his arrest, Duli had an eye injury and a gunshot wound in his leg. He was able to walk out of the building, although he was limping. The post mortem report states that Duli’s death was “consistent with gunfire and explosive injuries to chest and abdomen”. It also indicates that Duli suffered severe injuries including a fractured skull, fractured ribs, fractured vertebrae, injuries to the spinal cord and extensive internal injuries. Press reports at the time indicate that Duli was carried out of the building, rather than walking as suggested by Wana, and that he was seriously injured. Despite the injuries, it appears that he was taken to the military base rather than to the hospital. Shortly after the attack, Lawyers for Human Rights wrote in a report34:

On the day of the coup, it was alleged that Colonel Duli had in fact been murdered. His wife is alleged to have said that a number of soldiers taking Colonel Duli to hospital had first beaten and then killed him. We doubt that Colonel Duli would have survived his wounds received during the attempted coup. However, Ms Duli’s claims should not be taken lightly. This was not the only claim of secret execution. A soldier we spoke to claimed that a number of the rebels were captured alive and then later executed. We have so far not been able to confirm this. Another troubling aspect of the army’s actions was the treatment of the bodies of the rebels. The open and public display of them cannot be justified under any circumstances’.

337 At least four men were arrested years later and appeared in court in 1997–98 in connection with Duli’s death. They were Major Kolekile Mangcotywa, Lieutenant Tobias Ngxola, Major Advocate Sobhuwa and Major Lungisa Fikeni. Their case continues.

34 Lawyers for Human Rights, ‘Regional News: Transkei’ in Rights, February 1991, Johannesburg.
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