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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 318

Paragraph Numbers 424 to 438

Volume 3

Chapter 3

Subsection 62

Killing of witnesses

424 Several deponents told the Commission that potential witnesses in politically motivated killings were murdered before they could give evidence in court.

425 Murchison resident Ms Hilda Memela [KZN/NNN/110/PS], whose 21-year-old son Nelson, an ANC supporter, was shot dead, told the Commission at the Port Shepstone hearing that the police warned witnesses that their lives would be endangered if they made statements:

We sat there for quite some time up until the police arrived, and the children said they could actually show us the perpetrators, those marauders, and the police said, “Where will you live after pointing those people, after identifying those people, because it won’t be peaceful?” Then that was scary enough for the children not to identify those [perpetrators]. They were still around, the perpetrators.
After some time the car that carries the corpse from the police station came and took the corpse, and there is nothing that we gave to the police. There was no statement whatsoever that was made to the police up until to this day.
Pre-election violence

426 In July 1993, the TEC announced that South Africa’s first non-racial general elections would take place on 27 April 1994. On hearing the announcement, the IFP expressed its opposition. IFP National Council member Mr Walter Felgate was quoted in the national media as threatening that the IFP would “make it impossible for an election to take place, by embarking on a campaign of mass action, street action and disruption” (Natal Mercury, 10 September 1993). On 19 April 1994, with less than a week to go, the IFP announced that they would be contesting the elections.

427 In the months leading up to the elections, KwaZulu and Natal experienced the worst wave of political violence in the region’s history. The incidence of politically motivated human rights violations rose dramatically following the announcement of the election date.

428 IFP supporters are alleged to have launched attacks on the party’s opponents in KwaMakhutha, Umlazi and KwaMashu. In KwaMashu, Umlazi and Mondlo, opponents allegedly occupied stadiums reserved by the ANC, resulting in heightened political tensions and violent conflict in these areas. Voter education efforts were disrupted, leading to violent deaths (see below).

429 On 25 August 1993, the KLA took a resolution to establish an SPU training project financed by the KwaZulu Government. In October 1993, such training began at the Mlaba camp, near Ulundi (see above). Between October 1993 and April 1994, approximately 5000 people were trained at Mlaba camp and at a second camp known as Emandleni Matleng, in remote areas of the KwaZulu homeland. Training at Emandleni-Matleng began on 14 January 1994, to accommodate an overflow of trainees at Mlaba. Between December 1993 and April 1994, a third training project was run at the Dinizulu camp near Ndumo in Northern Natal.

430 Mlaba camp commander Philip Powell, an IFP member and former security policeman, was placed in overall command of the SPU training project. Under his command, training was carried out in part by members of the KZP, former Vlakplaas Commander Eugene de Kock, former Vlakplaas operative Lionel ‘Snor’ Vermeulen, former political commissar of the ‘Caprivi trainees’, Daluxolo Luthuli, and a number of other ‘Caprivi trainees’.

431 Weapons training was conducted using unlicensed weapons and ammunition which were not KZP issue, including Z88 9mm, Scorpion, AK-47, Makarov, RPG-7, HMC and Uzi firearms; explosives included M-26 hand grenades, rifle grenades and limpet mines. These weapons derived from a consignment of weaponry, ammunition and explosives that Powell had requested from Eugene de Kock in September 1993.

432 On 1 October 1993, De Kock facilitated the transfer of a large quantity of weapons, including AK-47 rifle ammunition, rifle grenades, hand grenades, rocket propelled grenades, mortars, detonators and explosives. These weapons were loaded onto four KwaZulu government trucks and thereafter returned to Ulundi where Powell stored the weapons at his residence. On 20 October 1993, a further large quantity of similar weaponry was loaded onto two KwaZulu government trucks at the premises of Mechem in Johannesburg and transported to Powell’s house in Ulundi. The weaponry was hidden in buildings in the residential complex where Powell lived.

433 In the latter part of 1993, certain KwaZulu/Natal IFP leaders engaged in arms smuggling. Former Security Branch members Izak Daniel Bosch [AM3765/96], Wouter Mentz, Willie Nortje [AM3764/96], Lionel Snyman, Dries Van Heerden and Eugene de Kock [AM0066/96] all applied for amnesty for supplying arms to Inkatha between 1990 and 1993. These arms were allegedly sent to Mr Themba Khoza (the IFP leader in the Transvaal) and to Philip Powell in KwaZulu/Natal.


434 On 18 February 1994, fifteen ANC youths were massacred in the rural Mahehle village near Creighton in the Natal Midlands. Earlier that day they had been involved in putting up posters announcing a voter education workshop. Four prominent IFP leaders, Mr Mbadlaza Paulos Vezi, Mr Dumisani Khuzwayo, Mr Gamuntu Sithole and Mr Thulani Dlamini, were arrested in connection with the massacre. They were later acquitted due to conflicting evidence given by the state witnesses [KZN/ZJ/420/IX; KZN/ZJ/417/IX; KZN/ZJ/418/IX; KZN/MR/468/CT; KZN/MR/465/CT].


435 On 20 March 1994, the ANC booked the Princess Magogo stadium in KwaMashu for an ANC election rally. IFP supporters, mainly from the KwaMashu hostel and the neighbouring settlements of Lindelani and Richmond Farm, began occupying the stadium the day before the planned rally. In an attempt to avoid clashes, the ANC held their rally in the adjoining street. Conflict erupted nevertheless and continued for two weeks, resulting in the deaths of over fifteen people. Up to 3 000 residents were forced to flee their homes.

436 In an attempt to end the violence that had engulfed the township, the local ANC leadership approached their IFP counterparts and scheduled a peace meeting for 29 March 1994. On that day, the ANC delegation went to the house of an IFP leader in the IFP-supporting KwaMashu hostel complex where their meeting was to take place. They were initially locked in the house, then taken by minibus to another section of the hostel complex where five of them were executed. The chairperson of the KwaMashu Hostel IFP branch, Mr Themba Alton Khanyile, was subsequently found guilty on eight charges of kidnapping, five of murder and two of attempted murder and was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment. His three co-accused, Mr Charles Mavundla, Mr Khulumethule Msomi and Mr Themba Zulu, were acquitted after one state witness, who had allegedly been threatened, changed his testimony and was declared a hostile witness.


437 On 12 April 1994, nine employees of a private company were distributing IEC pamphlets in the Ndwedwe area north of Durban when they were confronted, accused of being ANC supporters and severely tortured. Eight were executed; the ninth managed to survive the attack and took three days to crawl to safety. Five IFP supporters were arrested in connection with the massacre. One of these, Mr Qaphela Dladla [AM6599/97], induna and leader of the amabutho at Ndwedwe, was subsequently convicted. The other four were acquitted because of contradictory evidence.


438 On 17 April 1994, ANC canvasser Muzi Mchunu was shot dead in the Ulundi KZP station by a KwaZulu Correctional Services member, Mr Thokozani Alvation Sithole [AM5112/97]. The KZP originally claimed that Mchunu had committed suicide, but post mortem results showed that he was shot in the back at an angle and from a distance that ruled out suicide. Sithole was charged and convicted for the murder. In his plea for mitigation, he claimed that his brother-in-law had been killed during the so-called Shell House shootings the previous month.

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