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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 581

Paragraph Numbers 195 to 198

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 26

Covert Action

195 The early 1980s witnessed the beginning of an era of covert, extra-legal government actions against anti-apartheid activists inside the country. The use of booby-trapped hand grenades to eliminate activists became increasingly common. An early example of this can be found in the murder of three young COSAS activists from the West Rand township of Kagiso on 15 February 1982. Many of the perpetrators named in later incidents also participated in this operation.

196 Mr Zandile Musi [JB01909/03WR] told the Commission that his elder brother, Mr Mbulelo Musi, went into exile in January 1982 with a Mr Ephraim Mfalapitsa. During the same year, Mr Zandile Musi and a fellow COSAS member, Mr Bimbo Madikela [JBO1910/03WR], met Mfalapitsa and told him that they also wanted to go into exile. They were encouraged to remain at home. Musi told the Commission that Mfalapitsa made arrangements for them to receive training before he himself returned to exile. The next time Musi, Madikela and fellow COSAS members Ntshingo Matabane and Fanyana Nhlapo met Mfalapitsa, he was accompanied by Mr Joe Mamasela, whom Musi recognised by a scar on his face. They drove to a mining area.

When we got there, Mfalapitsa was walking ahead, we entered a shaft and he took out a grenade. He said it was an F1 grenade. He showed us how to operate it and told us to be careful as it was deadly. There was a box in the corner, which looked very suspicious. When I looked at the box I just heard an explosion. I thought it was a mistake. The last person with the grenade was Ntshingo. When I heard the explosion, I cried out to Ntshingo because I thought he was the one who had made a mistake.
We were injured. Even the building fell down. The people who died immediately were Bimbo and Ntshingo. Fanyana was next to me. We could not see each other. He could not see or walk, I was bleeding. What is painful to remember is that he had a hole in his body, because my hand went into his body when I tried to communicate with him …
In the morning the police came. I was taken to hospital and then to prison. I was then taken out for investigation and a gun was placed in my mouth.

197 Musi was charged for illegal possession of firearms but was later acquitted. In 1985 he was arrested under the partial state of emergency and sentenced in October 1987 under the Explosives Act. He was sent to Robben Island and released in December 1990.

198 A number of former security policemen applied for amnesty for this incident: Mr Christiaan Siebert Rorich [AM501/97], Mr Jan Carel Coetzee [AM4120/96], Mr Abraham Grobbelaar [AM4143/96] and Mr Ephraim Mfalapitsa [AM3592/96] (see Volume Two).

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR ZANDILE MUSI, MR BIMBO MADIKELA, MR NTSHINGO MATABANE AND MR FANYANA NHLAPO, ALL COSAS MEMBERS, WERE OFFERED INSTRUCTION IN THE USE OF HAND GRENADES BY VLAKPLAAS ASKARIS JOE MAMASELA AND EPHRAIM MFALAPITSA. ON THE 15 FEBRUARY 1982, MADIKELA, MATABANE, AND NHLAPO WERE KILLED AND MUSI WAS INJURED IN AN EXPLOSION.
THE COMMISSION FINDS A NUMBER OF SECURITY BRANCH OPERATIVES RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS OPERATION AND, IN PARTICULAR, BRIGADIER WILLEM SCHOON, THE HEAD OF THE SECURITY BRANCH, WHO AUTHORISED THE OPERATION THAT LED TO THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT MR CHRISTIAAN SIEBERT RORICH, MR ABRAHAM GROBBELAAR, MR JOE MAMASELA AND MR EPHRAIM MFALAPITSA WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR CARRYING OUT THE OPERATION, FOR THE DEATHS OF THE THREE COSAS MEMBERS AND FOR THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THE FORMER STATE, THE MINISTER OF POLICE, THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE AND THE HEAD OF THE SECURITY BRANCH RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, THROUGH THEIR ACTIONS, THE FORMER STATE IS VICARIOUSLY RESPONSIBLE FOR CRIMINAL CONDUCT IN THAT IT SECURED THESE DEATHS THROUGH EXTRA-JUDICIAL METHODS.
 
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