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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 583

Paragraph Numbers 199 to 206

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 27


199 Most gross human rights violations in the homelands during this period arose out of conflicts between the homeland security forces and the SADF, and insurgents attempting to return to the country after having received military training overseas. Many of these were students who had fled the country in the wake of the 1976 protest. Those who tried to assist the guerrillas were detained and tortured by homeland police, sometimes in collaboration with the SAP.

200 During the 1970s, the former state’s bid to establish independent homelands reached its peak when Ciskei, Bophuthatswana, Lebowa, Gazankulu, Venda, KaNgwane, KwaZulu and KwaNdebele were granted self-governing status. Reports of gross violations of human rights rose sharply in the homelands.

201 After Venda was granted independence in 1979, Lieutenant Colonel Mulaudzi, Commander of the Venda National Force and a former South African police officer, announced that Venda would not hesitate to call for the assistance of the SADF if their sovereignty was threatened by insurgents. Before independence, a fiftykilometre wide strip on the Zimbabwean border was placed under the jurisdiction of the SADF. An anti-insurgency unit was added to the Venda National Force, which was already engaged in anti-guerrilla warfare and border duties in 1980.

202 In response to perceived security threats to Bophuthatswana, Chief Minister Lucas Mangope requested that the South African government provide military training before independence in December 1977. The SADF accordingly began instruction of a National Guard and, by independence, 221 men had completed basic training. A year later, the Bophuthatswana Police Force (BPF) was formed as a counterinsurgency unit and National Guard members were also dispatched for specialised SADF training in counter-insurgency. The Bophuthatswana Internal Intelligence Service was established in 1982 to gather, assess and disseminate information on internal security in the territory.

203 In 1981, the Bophuthatswana army and police co-operated with their South African counterparts in arresting several men alleged to be planning to attack South Africa and Lesotho. Chief Minister Mangope stressed that he would not allow Bophuthatswana to be used as a springboard for attacks on South Africa or other countries.

204 In 1982, a former member of MK reportedly testified before a senate committee in Washington DC that the ANC had decided to make the area west of Beit Bridge, as far as Mafikeng, an operational zone. The initial goal was to set up secret bases and first on the list of intended targets was the home of Chief Minister Mangope at Montshiwa near Mmabatho. Once the bases had been completed, a campaign was to be launched, involving the laying of landmines and attacks on small police stations.

205 The Commission received a number of statements from residents of Venda who were detained and tortured after helping insurgents to re-enter the country in 1980 and 1983. Local residents, particularly black subsistence farmers who owned orchards, played a crucial role in facilitating the work of insurgents by allowing them to hide arms caches on their land and providing essential resources such as food. By these means, political activists would also pass on essential intelligence information to insurgents, such as details affecting their movement into the country – for example, details about the movements of Venda and South African security forces and the levels of the Limpopo River.

206 Residents who assisted insurgents often suffered severe consequences and frequently became victims of gross human rights violations.

The case of Mbengeni Jonah Ravele
Mr Mbengeni Jonah Ravele [JB/01377/02NPVEN] was arrested by the Venda security forces in December 1980 for providing MK soldiers with food and shelter and showing them Venda topography. The Venda police ransacked his home and dug up his yard, searching for weapons. Guns were found, and he was charged for possession of illegal firearms. Police officers Ramushwana and Ramaligela interrogated, beat and tortured Mr Ravele. They reportedly took him to a mountain, tied him up, lit a fire under a tree and burnt his private parts. He was incarcerated for five years at Sibasa police station.
The case of Nkhetheni Reginald Tshibavhalemba
Mr Nkhetheni Reginald Tshibavhalemba [JB/01974/02NPVEN] helped MK cadres to find Mr Mbengeni Ravele’s home. Ravele gave Mr Tshibavhalemba an MK booklet which Venda security forces found when they came to search for weapons in Tshibavhalemba’s home. He was also interrogated, badly assaulted and tortured. His head was covered with a piece of cloth and he was given electric shocks for three days. He was then placed in solitary confinement for three months and was released in May the following year. This experience left Tshibavhalemba mentally disturbed.
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