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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 140

Paragraph Numbers 386 to 399

Volume 3

Chapter 2

Subsection 33

386 Mr Tembinkosi Ntengento [EC0823/96CCK] described the situation in the following manner:

Some gunshots came from the soldiers who were on top of the parliamentary buildings, some were coming from the soldiers who were approaching from Balasi direction, and some were coming from the helicopter that took off in front of us.

387 One deponent, Mr Phakamile William Duda [EC1158/96KWT], said in his testimony:

On the way to King William’s Town, on the sides of the road there were police and soldiers of the Republic of South Africa. I realised that they were guarding the white men’s houses. When we were going towards Bisho I looked at my right side, next to the Parliament and I saw Ciskeian soldiers with arms. We walked on, and as I looked at the gravel road that was leading to the stadium, I heard a noise that sounded like fireworks. We were being shot at.

388 Some were shot going into or inside the stadium, including Mr Lulama C Nyamfu [EC0416/96ELN, Mr Lindani Kama [EC0602/96CCK] and Mr Zolile Jonas [EC0874/96PLZ]. The latter told the Commission:

I was already inside the yard of the stadium when I heard some gunshots and I started to run for cover. I do not know what happened, as I only gained consciousness in Grey Hospital where I was admitted. I discovered that I was shot in my left thigh and the bullet is still in my thigh.

389 Mr Vuyani Tom [EC1443/97CCK], Mr Boyce Nqono [EC0873/96CCK], Mr Alfred Dayile [EC0833/96ELN], Mr Lulamile Madala Marcus [EC0779/96CCK], Mr Mabotshelelo Paul Goniwe [EC22219/97ELN] and Mr Thembela Mtyingwana [EC0872/96CCK] all told the Commission that they had sustained gunshot injuries in the shooting. Some were injured in other ways while trying to escape the bullets. Mr Nofaneleko Mdlangu [EC0809/96QTN] told the Commission that he was hit by a green military truck.

390 Transporting the dead and injured from the scene was a difficult process, complicated by concerns that the soldiers would start shooting again and by the fact that people had been shot over such a big area. The injured were taken to several different hospitals. Mr Tatise William Ncapayi [EC0812/96QTN] from the Queenstown area, had this to say about the aftermath of the shootings:

We were even scared to go to the Queenstown hospitals because white men were looking for people who had bullet wounds and then they would identify that person as a person who had been in the march.

391 The South African security forces airlifted some of the more seriously injured victims to hospitals. Mr Sipho Makhwenkwe Ngweventsha [EC1264/96SBR] told the Commission:

I was transported in a helicopter because of the seriousness of the injury … Later, in December 1992, I managed to remove the bullet on my own as it was moving inside my body.

392 In the chaos, it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between the living and the dead. Mr Wandile Mbathu [EC0787/96CCK] was unconscious, and it seems some people thought he was dead. He told the Commission:

Someone told me that I was transported with corpses to Grey Hospital. I only regained consciousness after two weeks and I was not even able to speak.

393 Mr Lungisile Robert Cotani [EC0811/96QTN] had a similar experience:

Then the comrades took me into a van that was collecting injured people all day. Whilst in that van, which was taking in more people, even dead people, I was still feeling very dizzy but I could hear that there were some who had died. I wanted to indicate that I was still alive, so I decided to come out of the dead bodies that were on top of me.

394 In addition, there were those who simply did not return home. Among these were Mr Thibane Gola [EC0222/96ELN] and Mr Jongile Mene [EC0792/96CCK], both of whom died at Bisho. Gola’s mother, Ms Nokuzola Letitia Mene, told the Commission:

Three bullets hit him, but he probably died from the one fired at his shoulder, penetrating through the heart...

395 Mene’s mother, Ms Ntombikayise Oscarine Gola, said of her son :

He had a hole on top of his head which indicated to us that the bullet which hit him was apparently coming from above.

396 Mr Norman Fulani’s son Vuyani [EC0646/96ELN] and Ms Remonica Mnyamezeli Myeha’s husband [EC0794/96CCK] died at the scene. Ms Alice Nombeko Mfenqe [EC0647/96ELN] heard the news through the media:

I was at home, listening to the radio on the procession of the march. I heard that the people were shot at Bisho. On the following morning, one of my daughters, Thandiswa, bought a newspaper, Daily Dispatch, and it is only then that we discovered that Monde was shot to death in the march … My other son Nonelelo, avers that on the day in question he was manning a roadblock near Bisho Hospital, as he was then member of the Ciskei Police Force, searching for weapons on people who were entering Bisho.

397 By late 1996, the current government had paid out on various civil claims lodged in connection with deaths and injuries sustained. Attempts were made by the Ciskei Attorney-General to investigate and prosecute the matter; these got as far as the issuing of a draft indictment against a group of Ciskei police and soldiers and against the ANC’s Mr Kasrils for his part in leading a breakaway group that allegedly sparked the shootings. The Ciskei government then passed a decree indemnifying everyone from prosecution. This was later overturned, but for various reasons (partly because it was too close to the elections and the matter was expected to be handed to the Commission) the prosecution did not go ahead.

398 On the third anniversary of the massacre, September 1995, the prosecution was reopened and handed over to the East London police. In October 1996, the police investigation was handed over to the Attorney-General in Bisho for a decision on prosecution. The Attorney-General has indicated that he would wait to see whether those he was considering charging applied for amnesty through the Commission before going ahead with any prosecution. Two amnesty applications were received in connection with this matter, from Mr Vakele Archibald Mkosana [AM4458/96] and from Mr Mzamile Thomas Gonya [AM7882/97].

399 In reviewing the evidence on the events leading to the Bisho massacre on 7 September 1992, the Commission has made findings in respect of then Ciskei military ruler, Brigadier Oupa Gqozo, the CDF and the ANC.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, ON 2 SEPTEMBER 1992 THE ANC ORGANISED A MARCH OF SUPPORTERS FROM KING WILLIAM’S TOWN ACROSS THE HOMELAND BORDER TO BISHO IN CISKEI, IN SUPPORT OF DEMANDS FOR FREE POLITICAL ACTIVITY IN THE CISKEI AND FOR THE REMOVAL OF THE THEN CISKEI MILITARY RULER, BRIGADIER OUPA GQOZO. AT THE CULMINATION OF THE MARCH, AS MARCHERS WERE NEARING THE AFORESAID STADIUM, A GROUP OF THEM INCLUDING MEMBERS OF THE MARCH LEADERSHIP (THE BREAKAWAY GROUP) ATTEMPTED TO PASS THROUGH A GAP IN A FENCE IN THE VICINITY OF THE STADIUM, IN ORDER TO GAIN ACCESS TO THE TOWN OF BISHO. THIS ACTION WAS TAKEN PURSUANT TO A DECISION BY THE ALLIANCE LEADERSHIP WHICH LED THE MARCH, BUT WAS IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE COURT ORDER. THEY RAN TOWARDS THE GAP IN THE FENCE, AND DID NOT MOVE IN AN ORDERLY, CONTROLLED MANNER. THE MARCHERS WERE FIRED ON BY CDF SOLDIERS, RESULTING IN THE DEATHS OF THIRTY PEOPLE AND INJURIES TO AN UNSPECIFIED NUMBER OF PEOPLE, SUCH DEATHS AND INJURIES BEING GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE DECISION OF THE ALLIANCE LEADERSHIP EXHIBITED A LACK OF PRUDENCE IN DECIDING TO PROCEED THROUGH THE GAP IN THE FENCE IN THAT:
  • THEIR DECISION AND THE MANNER IN WHICH IT WAS ACTED UPON, AS SET OUT ABOVE, CONTRIBUTED TO THE VOLATILE AND UNPREDICTABLE SITUATION PREVAILING AT THE TIME;
  • THEIR ACTIONS AS AFORESAID ELICITED THE ILLEGAL RESPONSE OF THE CDF, ALTHOUGH SUCH RESPONSE WAS OUT OF ALL PROPORTION TO THE SITUATION AND WAS NOT REASONABLY EXPECTED BY THE ALLIANCE LEADERSHIP.
ACCORDINGLY, THE ALLIANCE LEADERSHIP WHO TOOK THE DECISION IS HELD PARTIALLY ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ARISING FROM THE UNLAWFUL ACTIONS OF THE CDF.
THE FORMER MILITARY RULER OF CISKEI, BRIGADIER OUPA GQOZO, IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE AFORESAID VIOLATIONS IN THAT:
  • HE INSTRUCTED THE CISKEI SECURITY FORCES IN THE DAYS PRIOR TO THE MARCH, AND UP UNTIL 11:00 ON THE DAY OF THE MARCH, THAT THE MARCHERS WOULD NOT BE PERMITTED ACROSS THE CISKEI BORDER, THEREBY SERVING TO HEIGHTEN THE PREVAILING VOLATILE POLITICAL SITUATION;
  • HIS INSTRUCTIONS AS AFORESAID WERE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE NATIONAL PEACE ACCORD, AND UNTIL 11:00 ON THE DAY OF THE MARCH IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE LAW;
  • HE EXHIBITED EXTREME INTOLERANCE OF LEGITIMATE POLITICAL PROTEST WHICH RESULTED IN A SITUATION IN WHICH THE SECURITY FORCES WERE RELIED ON TO RESOLVE A SITUATION WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN RESOLVED BY POLITICAL MEANS;
  • AS HEAD OF THE CISKEI GOVERNMENT AND OF ITS DEFENCE FORCE, HE IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF SUCH FORCE, WHICH WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROSSLY IRREGULAR USE OF DEADLY FORCE IN THE SHOOTING DEAD OF THIRTY MARCHERS;
  • AFTER THE SHOOTING ON 7 SEPTEMBER 1992, HE DELIBERATELY AND ILLEGALLY INTERFERED WITH THE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION INTO THE SHOOTINGS RESULTING IN A DELAY IN THIS PROCESS AND FACILITATING A PUBLIC PERCEPTION THAT THE SECURITY FORCES WERE ABOVE THE LAW.
THE CDF IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR SUCH VIOLATIONS IN THAT:
  • UNTIL 11:00 ON THE MORNING OF 7 SEPTEMBER, IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE MAGISTRATE’S RULING THAT THE MARCHERS COULD USE THE STADIUM IT ADOPTED THE VIEW THAT NO MARCHERS WOULD BE PERMITTED TO ENTER THE CISKEI TERRITORY. THIS SERVED TO HEIGHTEN THE PREVAILING VOLATILE POLITICAL SITUATION;
  • IT DID NOT PLAN FOR ANY SCENARIO OTHER THAN PREVENTING THE MARCHERS FROM ENTERING BISHO, THEREBY LIMITING ITS ABILITY TO DEAL WITH OTHER EVENTUALITIES WHICH COULD HAVE ARISEN;
  • THR CDF TROOPS WERE ISSUED WITH WEAPONS AND AMMUNITION WHICH WERE NOT IN ANY MANNER SUITED TO CROWD CONTROL BUT WERE OF SUCH A CALIBRE AS TO BE CALCULATED TO KILL PERSONS AT WHOM THEY WERE FIRED;
  • THE CDF TROOPS FIRED UPON MARCHERS IN CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN IT WAS NOT NECESSARY TO DO SO, AND WITH WEAPONS AND AMMUNITION WHOLLY DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE THREAT POSED BY THE MARCHERS;
  • THE CDF TROOPS FIRED ON THE MARCHERS WITHOUT ISSUING A WARNING, AND WITHOUT CONSIDERING MINIMUM USE OF FORCE SUCH AS THE USE OF SHARPSHOOTERS;
THE CDF IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS (KILLINGS, ATTEMPTED KILLINGS AND SEVERE ILL-TREATMENT) ARISING FROM THE INCIDENTS ON 7 SEPTEMBER 1992. THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF THE CDF HELD ACCOUNTABLE ARE GENERAL MARIUS OELSCHIG, MAJOR MVELELI MLEVI MBINA, COLONEL VAKELE ARCHIEBALD MKOSANA AND GENERAL DIRK VAN DER BANK.
 
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