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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 261

Paragraph Numbers 273 to 281

Volume 3

Chapter 3

Subsection 41

273 Edendale resident Edmund Zondi told the Commission that he saw KwaZulu Government trucks offloading Inkatha men who then began attacking people and cattle, burning and looting homes in his neighbourhood. He packed fifteen people into his small Ford Escort, and they fled to relatives in Imbali:

If I can tell you, maybe you will not believe it, because it can only take five people, but the whole family fitted into the car that particular day. I even put some of the children just underneath or next to the pedals, the driving pedals.

274 Since then he has never been able to return to his home.

275 The Midlands Crisis Relief Committee (an organisation set up to deal with the aftermath of the Seven Day War) also received reports that the attackers were transported in vehicles which included about twenty trucks owned by the KwaZulu Department of Public Works, with obscured KwaZulu Government number plates.

276 Democratic Party member Radley Keys and Natal Witness journalist Khaba Mkhize chartered a plane and flew out over the Vulindlela and Edendale valleys on Wednesday 28 March:

By mid-morning we were airborne and flying towards Vulindlela. The sight that confronted us was one of a war zone. Scores of houses were burning and the sky was filled with the smoke of burning thatched roofs. We witnessed large groups of men and boys moving through the area. There were a number of dead, or what seemed to be dead, bodies lying on some on the roads and paths … Over Vulisaka and KwaShange and KwaMnyandu there was devastation and mayhem.
The police helicopter approached our plane and ordered us out of the area. We refused the pilot permission to leave, and instructed him to inform the police to refer to his minister. They attempted to threaten us but we held firm and continued our flight …
As yet, the police were the only force in attendance and that is exactly what I mean, they were attending and not preventing the wholesale destruction and killing.

277 Thursday 29 March 1990 saw little respite in the attacks from up the Valley. Mr Edmund Zondi described the events of this day:

[They] came on a Thursday, that is on the twenty-ninth. They got there and they killed a woman who had just given birth. They also killed the new-born baby. Even the elderly people who could not run away were killed. It was quite a terrible situation. It was like something from a horror movie.

278 Late on Thursday night, Father Tim Smith was disturbed by a knock at his door. Young people from Songozima had come to report attacks at Khokhwane, very close to the mission. Father Smith went to collect police from Boston and they set off to investigate:

When we arrived at Khokhwane we could see four homesteads burning on the hillside. We went slowly into each one with the policemen. In the first three we found no one alive or dead and presumed that they had had enough time to escape. But in the fourth one, which was well known to me, we found people.
In the main building, we discovered the old man, father of the household, together with several of his grandchildren. He took a long time to come out from his hiding place, he was so shocked. When he did, he told me: Baziqeda izingane zami [They have finished off my children].
He took us to a back bedroom of the house and there lying on the floor was one of his daughters, Emmerentia. She had shotgun wounds in her chest and was obviously dead. Lying underneath her was a small child whom at first I took to be dead also. Then I noticed that the child was breathing. I reached down and lifted the child from beneath his mother and he was indeed alive. He turned out to be Sihle, her son of four years. When his mother was shot through the window she must have fallen backwards and trapped the child under her. He must have been like that for more than an hour before we got there.
Then we went into the last hut in the yard which was burning furiously. There beneath the bed was the body of Celestina, another daughter. She had been shot and set alight and there was nothing we could do for her.
I decided that it would be better if all the survivors slept at the mission …
After this, my own future at Elandskop was no longer secure. There were various threats and the following week I was moved.

279 Friday, 30 March, was considerably quieter. On Saturday, 31 March, large groups of Inkatha supporters were again seen, gathering at the homes of Chief Ngcobo and David Ntombela. However, only sporadic incidents occurred during the day.

280 Witnesses, victims and violence monitors have made allegations of active police complicity in the attacks. They claimed police fired on ANC residents without provocation. They alleged that policemen were seen transporting the Inkatha attackers and then standing idly by while they attacked people and burnt houses.

They also alleged that special constables participated in the attacks. These allegations were confirmed by a former Riot Unit member and two former special constables who testified before the Commission of their involvement in the Seven Day War.

281 Former Riot Unit 8 member William Harrington [AM0173/96] told the Commission that he was on duty during the Seven Day War. He said that Riot Unit members fired on ANC people without provocation, and that off-duty special constables joined Inkatha supporters in the violence:

What I do remember about the Seven Day War is that I started working on a certain day and thirty-six hours later I went off duty. I remember that many houses and shops were burnt down. There were many refugees. Many of the special constables didn’t even report for duty at the unit. I noticed some of them in the areas in which I worked. They would have gone to acknowledged Inkatha chiefs’ homes, or larger Inkatha groups, and it was these groups of between 50 and 100, sometimes larger, who were responsible for burning down homes …
At this stage my vehicle crew started firing at groups of ANC people without reason. I authorised it because I was told or commanded that we should do that. It was a radio message which I received. Firing would of course not be permitted against the Inkatha groups because there were special constables in these groups. I myself gave one or two belts [of ammunition] to the special constables who were part of these groups running around.
 
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