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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 231
Paragraph Numbers 194 to 196
Attacks on ‘collaborators’
The Killing of Ben Langa
Student activist Ben Langa was killed by MK members in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg in June 1984, on suspicion of being a police informer. Mr Clarence Lucky Payi [ECO855/96STK] and Mr Mashayini Sipho Xulu were sentenced to death for the killing. They were executed on 7 September 1986.
Payi’s mother told a Commission hearing in Durban in May 1997 that after her son’s execution she received death threats and fled her home.
Escalation of conflict
194 The assassination of Durban attorney, Ms Victoria Mxenge (see below) marked a pivotal point in the further polarisation of Inkatha and the UDF. After the event, conflict quickly spread to other townships around Durban, Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas. The Commission heard that, in the months leading up to Ms Mxenge’s death, the security forces had made a public show of cracking down on UDF-aligned activists in an attempt to create the impression that the UDF was the main force behind the political violence in the province. The security forces were often seen to be standing by and refusing to intervene in clashes between the UDF and Inkatha supporters. In other reports, the police were alleged to be actively supporting Inkatha in the conflict.
195 The conflict spread also to the factory floor. After the strike and killings of COSATU members in Mphophomeni in 1986 (see below), local conflict and violence in and around Pietermaritzburg intensified dramatically. By the early nineties it was being referred to as ‘the Midlands war’ (see below).
The killing of Victoria Mxenge and its aftermath
The assassination of Victoria Mxenge
At the time of her death, Ms Victoria Mxenge was an executive member of the UDF. To date there have been no prosecutions in connection with her killing. The Commission received submissions from two independent sources. Both named a former Security Branch operative, Mr Bongani Malinga, as Mxenge’s assassin.
According to the ANC’s second submission to the Commission, Mr Marvin Sefako (alias Bongani Raymond Malinga) from Hillcrest, Durban, was recruited by the Security Branch. His handler was Brigadier Pieter Swanepoel. Malinga allegedly confessed to the ANC that he had killed at least five people, including Ms Victoria Mxenge, saying: “[NAME DELETED] shot her five times on the chest but she never fell; whereupon I followed her with an axe and chopped her next to her dining room door.”
Malinga also allegedly participated in the attack on the memorial service for Victoria Mxenge (see below). Malinga’s case was heard by the ANC’s People’s Tribunal in Lusaka on 7 May 1990. In addition to the killings, he was found guilty of a number of other ‘offences’ including ‘collaborating with the enemy’ to infiltrate the ANC with the intention of killing MK Chief of Staff Chris Hani and MK Commander Joe Modise.
A former ANC member and later head of the Returned Exiles Committee, Mr Patrick Mncedisi Dlongwane [AM8028/97], told the Commission that, while he was detained at the ANC’s Quatro camp, he had shared a cell with one Bongani Malinga who claimed he had assassinated Victoria Mxenge. According to Dlongwane, Malinga was killed by ANC members in 1991.
The Umlazi Cinema Massacre
A memorial service for Victoria Mxenge was held in the Umlazi Cinema on 8 August 1985. There was a large contingent of police and soldiers outside the cinema. During the service, hundreds of men armed with assegais [spears], knobkierries [clubs] and firearms burst into the cinema and began stabbing and shooting randomly.
Terrified mourners jumped over the cinema balcony to escape the attackers. Witnesses alleged that the attackers included Inkatha vigilantes recruited from the adjacent shack settlements and from Lindelani, north of Durban.
Soldiers and police were allegedly present but took no action to prevent the attack. Seventeen people died in the incident.
David Sponono Gasa [KZN/NNN/229/DN], Chairperson of the Umlazi Residents’ Association, had led the memorial service. He told the Commission at the Durban hearing that Inkatha and KLA members Winnington Sabelo (now deceased) and Thomas Shabalala led the attackers, who stabbed and fired on the mourners.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT UNKNOWN INKATHA SUPPORTERS ATTACKED MOURNERS ATTENDING A MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR SLAIN UDF MEMBER, MS VICTORIA MXENGE, AT THE UMLAZI CINEMA ON 8 AUGUST 1985, RESULTING IN THE DEATHS OF SEVENTEEN PEOPLE AND THE INJURY OF TWENTY OTHERS. THE DEATHS AND INJURIES ARISING FROM THIS ATTACK CONSTITUTE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOR WHICH UNKNOWN SUPPORTERS OF INKATHA ARE HELD RESPONSIBLE. WHILE WITNESSES NAMED AT LEAST TWO PROMINENT INKATHA LEADERS WHOM THEY ALLEGED TO HAVE LED THE ATTACK ON THE UMLAZI CINEMA, THE COMMISSION IS UNABLE TO MAKE A FINDING AGAINST THESE LEADERS. THE ORGANISATION (INKATHA) DID NOT SANCTION OR REBUKE THOSE INVOLVED AND DID NOT DISSOCIATE ITSELF FROM THE VIOLENCE.
The Attack on David Gasa
Victoria Mxenge’s funeral was held in King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape, on 12 August 1985. A few days later, David Gasa’s home was attacked and burnt.
A mass funeral for the people killed in the Umlazi Cinema attack was held on 23 October 1985. That same day a busload of Inkatha supporters attacked Gasa’s home a second time. The attackers were allegedly led by Mr Winnington Sabelo (now deceased). Gasa was out at the time of the attack but his wife and mother-in-law were home. The attack resulted in the death of his mother-in-law one week later. Six months later, his wife developed hypertension and died.
The Killing of Jacob Dlamini
Mr Josiah Dlamini [KZN/ZJ/037/DN] was the owner of the Umlazi Cinema and made it available for the memorial service. His son, Jacob, was subsequently killed by Inkatha members in Lindelani. Josiah Dlamini told the Commission:
“Jacob was at Lindelani Station. He was about to take a taxi home. As he was still at the station, he saw Inkatha Freedom Party. He was asked as to what he was waiting for, and they started assaulting him at that point. He tried to plead with them and he told them that his father was very well known. He mentioned my name. That’s when they decided they should kill him because they said I had organised a night vigil for Mrs Mxenge. He stayed for four days at the hospital, and thereafter he died. He had been assaulted and he had injuries all over his body.”
196 Large-scale violence erupted in Umlazi after Mxenge’s killing. A State Security Council document compiled in March 198938 described the killing of Victoria Mxenge as the turning point in the conflict in Natal and KwaZulu:
The murder of Victoria Mxenge, a radical lawyer from Umlazi, on 1 August 1985 – for which the UDF blamed Inkatha and the SAP – was the biggest contributory factor to the [subsequent] violent conflict between the UDF and Inkatha, especially in the Durban area. Large-scale unrest continued until March 1986 and even the state of emergency (June 1986) could not inhibit the sporadic violent incidents. From January 1987 the situation systematically deteriorated and the focal point of the unrest (especially since September 1987) moved to the Pietermaritzburg area.