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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 367
Paragraph Numbers 140 to 151
The murder of Majalefa Mpohohle
On 25 December 1984, Mr Majalefa Aaron Mpohohle was stabbed to death in Kroonstad by members of the gang when he went to the rescue of his cousin who was being threatened with rape. Six gang members were charged for the murder, and were convicted in 1988 [CR 25/12/85; KZN/PJM/012/KRS].
140 Affidavits made to the Commission also indicate that the police were involved in creating and supporting the gang and that justice officials, including magistrates and prosecutors, worked to undermine criminal prosecutions against gang members. Testifying before the Amnesty Committee, Mr PM Thulo alleged that a prosecutor in Kroonstad supported the gang and helped them evade prosecution. He said that magistrates deciding cases were guided by the views of prosecutors. Thulo named one magistrate in particular who would be called, together with the prosecutor, specifically to deal with cases involving gang members. Their sympathy with the gang frequently ensured that charges against gang members were dropped.8 This is corroborated by the evidence of JJ de Ru before the Amnesty Committee. De Ru said that, on the recommendation of the prosecutor, gang leader Diwithi Ramasimong was often discharged from custody whilst being held on serious charges.
141 In giving evidence before the Amnesty Committee, MS Taka and FM Taje, the sister of gang leader Diwithi Ramasimong, said that gang members became members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in the 1990s. This was allegedly encouraged by the prosecutor and a member of the SAP, who told gang members that criminal cases against them would be viewed as political if they were IFP members.9
142 According to PM Thulo, who commanded the ANC SDUs in Kroonstad, a municipal office-bearer assisted the Three Million Gang in a variety of ways. His minibuses were used to transport gang members to an attack on the community of Moakeng and also to ferry gang members to and from town for court appearances.10 According to police detective JJ de Ru, the Three Million Gang would collect rent and service monies for the council. De Ru claimed that municipal office-bearers supplied gang members with ammunition and paid for their funerals.11
143 Allegations were made that police members accompanied the Three Million Gang on operations against the UDF/ANC, that they participated in attacks, provided weaponry and obstructed criminal prosecutions against gang members. In his evidence to the Amnesty Committee, Mr Dennis Bloem of the Bloemfontein branch of the ANC, said:
You see on various occasions what would happen would be this, for instance. [There was] one case where the Premier Milling Company, their employees, were on their way to go and arrest the Three Million Gang and take them to the charge office. The police, who were already in Troubou there where the Three Million Gang members lived, intervened. The police were waiting in their Casspirs [armoured personnel carriers] on an open piece of land; they were waiting for the Premier Milling employees.
I was present. I was sitting in a car with a certain Mr Touw to see what the police would do. The police chased away these workers, they shot teargas, whilst the Three Million Gang were present amongst the members of the police in between the Casspirs so these people were overcome by teargas. I clearly saw that the police did not take any action against the Three Million Gang [who had] weapons [while] these Premier Milling employees were unarmed.
144 Mr Bloem told the Commission’s Amnesty Committee that a period of relative calm prevailed from about 1986 to 1990 when Ramasimong was in prison for gang-related activities.12 In 1992, Ramasimong was himself killed and it is claimed that the activities of the gang diminished following his death. An ANC self-defence unit member, Mr Roland Petrus, was convicted in 1992 for Ramasimong’s death.13
145 ‘Anti-comrade’ groups proliferated in towns in the province. Mr Mphithizeli Nelson Ngo told the Amnesty Committee that Security Branch headquarters in Bloemfontein mandated Security Police in Brandfort to recruit an ‘anti-comrade’ group in Brandfort. This was done with the co-operation of a local councillor. It was said that a prison department sergeant recruited convicted criminals from prisons and assumed a leadership position in the group himself. The group’s task was to confront political activists from the UDF or civic organisations where they congregated in shebeens and recreational facilities, pick fights with them and plant knives and firearms on the bodies of people who were killed. This was meant to help in the cover-up of the Security Branch’s own activities.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP DELIBERATELY ASSISTED, AND IN SOME CASES FOUNDED, VIGILANTE ORGANISATIONS AND ITS MEMBERS ACTIVELY DIRECTED SUCH ORGANISATIONS TO COMMIT CRIMINAL ACTS AGAINST THOSE WHOM THE SAP PERCEIVED TO BE ENEMIES OF THE STATE. FURTHER, POLICE ARE FOUND TO HAVE FAILED TO TAKE ACTION TO PREVENT VIGILANTE ATTACKS ON MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC. THE SAP IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACCOMPANYING THE UNLAWFUL ACTS OF SUCH VIGILANTE ORGANISATIONS.7 Evidence of MN Ngo before a hearing of the Amnesty Committee in Bloemfontein. 8 Evidence of ANC (SDU) amnesty applicant HG Thulo before a hearing of the Amnesty Committee in Kroonstad. 9 Evidence of former Three Million Gang member MS Taka and FM Taje, sister of Ramasimong, to the Amnesty Committee in the application of HG Thulo and others. 10 Evidence of ANC (SDU) amnesty applicant HG Thulo before a hearing of the Amnesty Committee in Kroonstad. 11 Amnesty application of SAP member JJ de Ru, 23 March 1996.
Resistance and revolutionary groupings
146 Several sabotage attacks occurred in the province during this period, including
a the detonation of an explosive device on a railway line near Bloemfontein on 11 March 1983, injuring three passengers;b the detonation of a 'thunderflash' in Charles Street, Bloemfontein, on 13 March 1983; c the explosion of a parcel bomb at a Bloemfontein café on 14 March 1983; d the detonation of an explosive device under a vehicle, causing damage to buildings in Peet Avenue in Bloemfontein on 23 May 1983; e an explosion on a railway line near Bloemfontein prison on 27 January 1984; f a fatal car bomb explosion in Bloemfontein on 30 June 1984; g explosions at the Transkei Embassy at Botshabelo on 6 April 1984; h an explosion at the Nationalist Party offices in Kroonstad on 4 March 1984; i an explosion in Welkom on 25 August 1985, damaging the Toyota garage; j an explosion on Number 5 shaft of Western Holdings gold mine on 26 August 1985; k an explosion on a street pavement in Odendaalsrus on 26 August 1985; l an explosion on 15 November 1985 near a hotel accommodating the rebel Australian cricket team; m an explosion at Phehello Secondary School Khutloanong, on 17 November 1986; n a limpet mine explosion in Tumahole on 25 October 1988, damaging two houses.
147 Orange Free State resident Martin Jacobus Coetzer [KZN/SMB/001/BL] was injured in a landmine explosion at Boshoek, Volksrust on 10 June 1986.
148 On 16 October 1984, Mr Andreas Sejeng of Rocklands, Bloemfontein, appeared in Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on charges of murder and attempted murder arising out of five explosions in and around Bloemfontein in 1983. Sejeng was also charged with receiving arms training in Lesotho. In April 1985, the Attorney-General instructed the state attorney to stop prosecution against Sejeng on evidence of his severe torture by the Security Branch. Charges were withdrawn and Sejeng was released after almost a year in custody.
149 Several alleged ANC and MK operatives were charged during this period for undergoing military, explosives and weapons training and for sabotage-related offences. ANC member Petros Matosa appeared in the Welkom Regional Court, charged with the explosion at Western Holdings in August 1985 and the 15 November 1985 attack directed at the rebel cricket team. On 11 July 1986, Matosa was sentenced to fourteen years’ imprisonment for his role in these explosions.
150 Mr Aboobaker Ismael and Mr Mohammed Shaik have applied for amnesty in connection with several sabotage attacks, some of which occurred in the Orange Free State. In 1984, they caused an explosion on a pylon in Villiers, damaging the pylon and interrupting the power supply to the area. They also set a limpet mine in Kroonstad in the same year, causing damage to property [AM151/97].
151 Several arms caches were uncovered by the police. On 9 May 1985, police uncovered an arms cache between Vredefort and Kroonstad – “the biggest ever found” – including thirty-one limpet mines, AK-47 assault rifles, pistols, grenades and ammunition. In January 1986, Brandfort police uncovered two explosive devices buried in a garden. In the same month, explosive devices were discovered in a metal box at the Maseru Bridge border post. On 15 December 1987, a suspected ANC member was killed by his own grenade at a roadblock near Bloemfontein.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT ANC MEMBERS CARRIED OUT A NUMBER OF SABOTAGE ACTIONS AGAINST STATE INSTALLATIONS, SOME OF WHICH RESULTED IN GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS FOR WHICH THE ANC IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE. THEY FURTHER DETONATED EXPLOSIVE DEVICES AT SO-CALLED SOFT TARGETS, DELIBERATELY CAUSING LOSS OF LIFE, WHICH CONSTITUTED GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOR WHICH THE ANC IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE.12 Evidence of Dennis Bloem at a hearing of the Amnesty Committee in Kroonstad in respect of the application of ANC SDU member, HG Thulo. 13 Roland Petrus submitted an application to the Amnesty Committee in respect of this killing.