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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 303
Paragraph Numbers 381 to 390
Self-protection units (SPUs)
381 From the mid-1980s to the April 1994 general election, Inkatha supporters were trained by their leaders and/or by the KwaZulu Government in weapons handling and paramilitary tactics. Many terms were used to describe these trained fighters, including community guards, tribal policemen and amabutho. Their training venues included the Amatigulu and Mlaba Camps, both owned by the KwaZulu government.
382 The SPU training project was initiated in September 1993 at the Mlaba Camp, near Mkhuze in Northern Natal, overseen by a former security policeman and IFP member Phillip Powell. Powell told a section 29 hearing of the Commission that the training was lawful and was intended to protect members of Inkatha from unlawful attacks by members of the ANC/SACP/COSATU. The deputy camp commander, Mr Thompson Xesibe, was also an IFP member and a ‘Caprivi trainee’. KZP members, former SAP and SADF members, askaris and operatives from Vlakplaas were all involved in giving instruction and training at the camp. These included Vlakplaas Commander Eugene de Kock and Vlakplaas operative Lionel ‘Snor’ Vermeulen (see amnesty application and De Kock’s evidence in mitigation of sentence at his trial). Many of the KZP members who were seconded to Mlaba were former ‘Caprivi trainees’, and were specifically hand-picked for this purpose. The logistical side of the Mlaba Camp fell under Captain Leonard Langeni, who had previously been associated with the Caprivi training and the operations of KZP and IFP hit squads.
383 Training at the Mlaba camp included ambush and counter-ambush techniques, booby traps, camouflage, house penetration, hostage taking, fire and manoeuvre techniques, patrol formations, combat formations, raids and offensive tactics. A musketry course was also included. Training was given in the handling and use of AK-47s, Uzi sub-machine guns, shotguns, G-3 rifles, 9mm pistols, and hand grenades. In addition, the trainees were taught how to manufacture and use petrol bombs. Shooting practice took place in the Mlaba riverbed.
384 Mr Israel Hlongwane [AM4600/97] participated in the training at Mlaba Camp. He said that, at his passing-out parade, the trainees were addressed by the KwaZulu Minister of Justice, the Reverend Celani Mthethwa, who told them that “the purpose of this training was to guard the Chiefs, to eliminate the ANC and to stop the people from going to vote in the April 1994 elections.”64
385 The Commission heard that Mthethwa told the trainees that there were no other duties assigned to them besides killing ANC members. As a leader of his platoon at Mlaba Camp, Hlongwane was appointed leader of Inkatha in his area.
386 Mr Thami Hebron Ngubane, an SPU member from Ixopo, told the Commission:
On the day of passing out, our instructors/commanders gave us instructions that we must endeavour by all means to eliminate the ANC members. We were also told by them (the commanders) that we would later be integrated into the KZP. There were no other duties assigned to us except that of killing the ANC members.
As I was a leader in my platoon at the camp, I was again appointed as a leader of Inkatha protectors in my area. Whenever there was a fight between ANC and Inkatha in my kraal, I used to mobilise my troop-mates and assist Inkatha to destroy the ANC by killing the ANC members … I was arrested for killing ANC members and further taken to court but all cases were withdrawn against me because of the insufficient evidence.
387 In April 1994, 1 000 of those who had graduated from the SPU training were recalled to receive further training as special constables. It was intended that those who received the special constable training would be incorporated into the KZP’s ISU. On 15 March 1994, a secret memorandum was presented at a special KwaZulu Cabinet meeting. It proposed that a “battalion/regimental sized paramilitary unit be set up within the KZP immediately which would enhance the role of the KZP ISU”. The unit was to include 1 000 selected graduates of the KwaZulu government SPU training project appointed as special constables, 100 KZP members who had been trained by the SADF in the Caprivi during 1986 and a small group of professional advisors drawn from former SADF or SAP officers. Powell denied that the memorandum was his.
388 However, the training of these would-be special constables was brought to a halt with a joint SAP/TEC raid on the Mlaba premises on 26 April 1994, the day before the national election. The police raid was planned after information came to light in early 1994 that illegal weaponry was being kept at Mlaba and being used in the training of the SPUs. When the trainees observed an officially marked police helicopter over the camp, they acted aggressively and attempted to stone it. There was therefore a delay before General Van der Merwe of the SAP ISU could arrive at the camp. In their search of the camp, police found a large quantity of weapons and medical supplies in the rondavels, including twenty-six M-26 hand grenades, five rifle grenades, seventy-six G-3 rifles, forty-nine shotguns, eleven cases of 7.62mm rounds of ammunition, twelve cases of shotgun rounds and one big box of 9mm ammunition. These were seized by the SAP, together with a number of documents. A search of Phillip Powell’s vehicle revealed boxes of ammunition, a Ruger semi-automatic firearm and a 9mm pistol. A home-made shotgun was found concealed under the front seat, which was not volunteered by Powell. Natal Attorney-General Tim McNally declined to prosecute Powell on any charges arising from these incidents.
389 In its report, the TEC Task Group found that the discovery of hand grenades and spent AK-47 cartridges pointed to unlawful military training having taken place at the camp. It called for an investigation into the training, the stockpiling of weapons and the conduct of the security forces in failing to prevent the departure of trainees without processing by the police.64 Statement to the ITU, July 1995.
The Case of Thulani Myeza
SPU member Thulani Myeza [AM6198/97] of Mpumaze Reserve, Eshowe, applied for amnesty in respect of three killings and an attempted murder which he committed between November 1993 and April 1994 in Gezinsila and Umlalazi.
Myeza underwent SPU training at the Mlaba camp during 1993. On completing his training, he said that he was given a certificate signed by Phillip Powell, commander of the SPUs. Myeza said that Powell gave orders to the graduated SPU members to kill ANC leaders. Myeza said that, as an SPU member, he received a bi-monthly salary of R2 800 and that Nyawose supplied him with food and clothing.
Myeza told the Commission that Mr Dlulani Nyawose,65 the driver of the then KwaZulu Minister of Pensions, Prince Gideon Zulu, had convened a secret meeting of SPU members in Ulundi during 1993. At this meeting Nyawose told the SPU members that they were to kill all the ANC leaders in Eshowe, Esikhawini, Mtubatuba and elsewhere. Myeza said the motivation for killing these ANC leaders was to ensure that the ANC did not win the elections in April 1994.
He said KZP members had provided the SPUs with weapons and vital intelligence needed to carry out attacks on the local ANC people. On one occasion, the KZP had transported the SPU members to the scene of an attack in a KZP Hippo (armoured vehicle). He claimed that all three killings for which he had applied for amnesty were committed under orders from senior IFP leaders and in furtherance of his organisation’s objectives.
390 On 1 December 1993, nine ANC supporters were killed in the Bhambayi informal settlement, Inanda. Mr Sosha Mbhele [AM4018/96], the area commander of the Lindelani/KwaMashu SPU, claimed responsibility for the massacre. Initially Mr Patrick Dlongwane [AM8028/97], chairman of the Returned Exiles Committee, had claimed that the armed wing of his group was responsible for the killings.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, DURING THE PERIOD 1993-1994, THE SELF-PROTECTION UNIT PROJECT (SPU), ALTHOUGH OFFICIALLY PLACED WITHIN THE AMBIT OF THE PEACE ACCORD AND CONTAINING AN ELEMENT OF SELF PROTECTION, WAS ALSO INTENDED TO FURNISH THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY WITH THE MILITARY CAPACITY TO, BY FORCE, PREVENT THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT AND THE TRANSITIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL FROM HOLDING ELECTIONS WHICH DID NOT ACCOMMODATE THE IFP’S DESIRES FOR SELF-DETERMINATION.
IT WAS ADMITTED AT THE TIME BY THE PERSONS NAMED BELOW THAT SUCH ARMED RESISTANCE WOULD ENTAIL THE RISK OF UNLAWFUL DEATH AND INJURY TO PERSONS.
CONSEQUENTLY, IT IS THE CONTEMPLATED FINDING OF THE COMMISSION THAT THE SPU PROJECT CONSTITUTES A GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WHICH ENTAILED DELIBERATE PLANNING ON THE PART OF THE IFP AND MEMBERS OF THE THEN KWAZULU GOVERNMENT AND POLICE FORCE.65 Nyawose, also referred to as Nyawuza, was also allegedly linked to hit-squad activities in Eshowe.
THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS ARE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE VIOLATION IN THE MANNER DESCRIBED IN SECTION 1(IX)(B) OF THE ACT: