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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 177
Paragraph Numbers 78 to 79
State and allied groupings
Torture in custody
78 Several ANC and PAC members told the Commission that they were severely tortured in detention during this period. Several of these were involved in the 1976 treason trial in which Harry Gwala and nine others stood accused on charges relating to recruiting military trainees and getting them out of the country, and communicating with exiled ANC members in Swaziland. During the course of the trial, six of the accused filed summonses against the Minister of Police for failing to respond to their damages claims in respect of the torture they suffered.
The Cases of Joseph Nduli and Cleopas Ndlovu
Former security police member Colonel ARC Taylor [AM4077/96] applied for amnesty for the abduction and torture of Mr Joseph Nduli and Mr Cleopas Ndlovu, both accused in the 1976 Gwala treason trial. With the assistance of Amnesty International, the Commission obtained statements taken from Nduli and Ndlovu13 in exile by the United Nations, in which they alleged that they were abducted from Swaziland on 25 March 1976 by Durban Security Branch members and taken to Island Rock, Sodwana Bay, for questioning. They were both allegedly tortured.
Nduli alleged that he was immersed in the sea, subjected to electric shocks while being suspended from the neck, and beaten. Ndlovu alleged that he was blindfolded for thirteen days while his neck and wrists were tied with rope. He was made to stand for long hours and subjected to electric shocks.
Taylor stated that Ndlovu and Nduli were abducted by members of the Security Branch and Riot Unit at the Swaziland border and taken to a base at Island Rock. Taylor stated that Ndlovu and Nduli were assaulted with open hands and fists and one of them was kicked. They were also deprived of sleep.13 Both Ndlovu and Nduli have since died.
The Case of Zephaniah Lekoane Mothopeng
The Commission heard that PAC member Zephaniah Lekoane Mothopeng [JB04279/01GTS0W] suffered torture at the hands of unknown security policemen while in the Pietermaritzburg prison for his involvement in the 1976 Soweto uprising. During his torture, a policeman placed a sharp knife on his head and gently beat the knife down with the palm of his hand. He was also forced to lie on ice, and was placed in a sack and spun around in the air. With his hands and feet shackled to a stick, Mothopeng was suspended from the ceiling and spun around. This became known as the ‘helicopter technique’.
79 In reviewing evidence of gross human rights violations perpetrated by the state in Natal during this period (1976–82):
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP MADE WIDESPREAD AND ROUTINE USE OF ASSAULT AND SEVERE TORTURE AS PART OF A SYSTEMATIC CAMPAIGN TO SILENCE AND SUPPRESS OPPONENTS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT. THE TORTURE AND SEVERE ILL TREATMENT OF AN UNKNOWN NUMBER OF SUCH PERSONS CONSTITUTE GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS FOR WHICH THE SAP IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE.