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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 282
Paragraph Numbers 313
The Killing of Chief Mhlabunzima Maphumulo
On the night of the 25 February 1991 the President of CONTRALESA, Chief Mhlabunzima Maphumulo [KZN/MR/077/PM; ECO/68/96UTA], was shot dead as he drove up the driveway of his central Pietermaritzburg home.
Maphumulo was a chief from the Maqongqo/Table Mountain area, east of Pietermaritzburg. He had survived numerous previous attempts on his life and had fled from Table Mountain with his family in 1990 after their house was burnt down. His killing has still not been solved.
Maphumulo had been president of CONTRALESA since 1989. He had previously been harassed by policemen and askaris and had led a campaign calling for a commission of enquiry into the violence in the Natal Midlands.
The Killing of Winnington Sabelo
IFP Central Committee member and KwaZulu MP for Umlazi, Mr Winnington Sabelo, was shot dead in his Umlazi shop on 7 February 1992. A customer was also mistakenly killed in the shooting [KZN/GM/006/DN].
At the time of his death, Sabelo was a member of the local peace committee and as such was involved in a number of peace initiatives in the community. Sabelo’s wife, Evelyn, was killed in an attack outside their home in August 1986 [KZN/NM/209/DN].
His killing was investigated by SAP member Mr De Beer. The KZP suspected ANC member Sbu Mkhize of involvement in the killing. Mkhize’s mother, Ms Florence Mkhize, told the Commission that the police visited the Mkhize home and searched for weapons. They found a firearm belonging to Mkhize’s father and took his father in for questioning. His father was killed in the police station. Sbu Mkhize himself was killed in July 1992 during a shoot-out with police at Isipingo.
The Killing of Mr S’khumbuzo Ngwenya (Mbatha)
Mr S’khumbuzo Ngwenya Mbatha [KZN/NNN/290/PM; KZN/GW/004/PM] (more commonly known as S’khumbuzo Ngwenya) was the chairperson of the Imbali ANC branch, member of the ANC regional executive committee and a field worker at PACSA.
He was assassinated on 8 February 1992. He was shot dead while leaving a restaurant in central Pietermaritzburg after dining with PACSA colleagues and visiting American academics. Ngwenya was thirty-four years old at the time. He had been deeply involved in spearheading various peace initiatives in the Pietermaritzburg area during the late 1980s, although his efforts were severely hampered by several detentions and a banning order.
Imbali mayor Phikelele Ndlovu, deputy mayor Abdul Awetha and a sixteenyear-old were arrested on 9 June 1992 in connection with Ngwenya’s killing. However, charges were dropped when the state’s key witness refused to testify after allegedly being threatened. As a result, no one has been prosecuted in connection with Ngwenya’s killing.
The Killing of Reggie Hadebe
On 27 October 1992, ANC Natal Midlands Deputy Chairperson Reggie Hadebe [KZN/SELF/135/DN] was shot and killed when the car in which he was travelling with other senior ANC officials was ambushed outside Ixopo. Hadebe was returning from a Local Dispute Resolution Committee meeting together with ANC Midlands Region Executive member Shakes Cele and ANC official John Jeffries. Cele sustained slight wounds while Jeffries escaped without injuries.
According to Daluxolo Luthuli [AM4018/96]:
“On a Saturday afternoon after the assassination of Reggie Hadebe from Pietermaritzburg there was an IFP march to the Durban City Hall. At the march, I met Bongani Sithole who was a Caprivian. He had in the interim joined the KZP and was attached to the BSI in Mpumalanga. He told me that he was implicated in the murder of Reggie Hadebe. He said that he had used a G-3 rifle which was allocated to Mr Vezi who was the IFP chairman of Patheni near Ixopo. Bongani complained that the SAP was collecting G-3 rifles to compare them to spent cartridge cases which had been found at the scene of the murder. They had approached Mr Vezi and wanted to remove the G-3 that had been used in the murder. Mr Vezi refused to hand them the weapon until he received another it its place.”
Imprisoned IFP member Richard Sibusiso ‘Sosha’ Mbhele [AM4018/96] claimed that Hadebe’s assassination was ordered by the late Chief Xhawulengweni Mkhize and discussed at a small meeting at Mkhize’s home. The meeting included a former KZP member and a local SPU commander, two unnamed KZP members and a “white man with a neat red moustache” who “drove a cream car and spoke Zulu very well”. It was decided that Hadebe would be ambushed on one of the corners in the Umkomaas valley area. Mbhele claimed that a KZP member and two other men left to carry out the operation. The KZP member returned home alone in the afternoon some time after 14h00. He appeared to be very happy and reported that he had “finished with Hadebe”. Later Mbhele heard a radio report of Hadebe’s killing.
The Killing of Professor Hlalanathi Sibankulu
Professor Hlalanathi Sibankulu [KZN/MR/166/NC; KZN/MDU/999/NC], a member of the ANC Midlands Executive Committee and long-standing trade union and civic leader from Madadeni, was killed in November 1992 in Madadeni township, outside Newcastle. His body was dismembered and burnt in his car.
Sibankulu was a highly energetic trade union, political and civic activist, and one of the most prominent residents of this large township. He had been detained several times in the late 1980s by the Newcastle Security Branch. He successfully brought two interdicts against the police after being tortured in detention. In 1988, Sibankulu was charged with treason, along with fellow union activist Mandla Cele, but was acquitted after a fourteen-month trial.
Despite a thorough investigation, there were no arrests. The evidence collected by the Commission’s investigating officer points to KZP involvement in the killing. The Commission could not make a conclusive finding on the available evidence.
The Killing of Claire Stewart
The Commission conducted an intensive investigation into the death of Ms Claire Stewart [KZN/NG/028/DN], a British citizen and trained agriculturist who ran a community project in KwaNgwanase in the Manguzi area of KwaZulu Natal.
Stewart’s active membership of the ANC led to an IFP boycott of the project after a speech made by senior IFP official, Prince Gideon Zulu.
On 10 November 1993, she was abducted by unknown persons while driving to a meeting. Her body was found on 24 November 1993 in the Ingwavuma area, with bullet wounds to the head.
The Killing of Michael Mcetywa
On 22 November 1993, Mr Michael Mcetywa [KZN/HD/313/EM], the Pongola ANC Chairperson, was assassinated by a local IFP member Emmanuel Mavuso [AM7921/92]. Mavuso was subsequently convicted and sentenced to twenty-five years for the murder. However, he evaded custody after being given bail pending an appeal.
A co-conspirator to the assassination, Mr Mdu Msibi, in custody for a related murder, claimed that Mcetywa’s murder had been planned by the IFP leadership in Piet Retief and members of the Piet Retief Security Branch [Pongola CR 120–11–93].
Mdu Msibi alleged that two leading IFP members (from Pongola and Piet Retief) and a member of the Piet Retief Security Branch decided to eliminate Emmanuel Mavuso while he was in custody and standing trial. Mavuso was allegedly dissatisfied because he had been promised protection from prosecution and Msibi was asked to poison him. Mavuso heard of the plot and stopped eating food given to him. It was then decided to wrest him from police custody when he appeared at the trial. Msibi attempted to do this but was recognised at the court and arrested for a Piet Retief killing. (Msibi was subsequently convicted and imprisoned for murder cases in Piet Retief.)
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT A LARGE NUMBER OF COMMUNITY AND POLITICAL LEADERS, INCLUDING NON-ALIGNED ACADEMICS, PROFESSIONALS AND MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY, WERE TARGETED FOR ATTACK IN PLANNED HIT-SQUAD OPERATIONS IN THE PROVINCE FROM 1990–94. THE DEATHS ARISING FROM THESE ATTACKS CONSTITUTE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS.