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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 623

Paragraph Numbers 345 to 350

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 50

345 At approximately 18h00 that evening General Erasmus arrived at John Vorster Square to tell the waiting policemen what plans had been made. He had discussed the matter with the commissioner of police, who had suggested that a fake escape be arranged. Brigadier Visser of the Eastern Transvaal Security Branch would assist with the disposal of the body.

346 As night fell, Bopape’s body was secreted out of the police station and taken away by the Johannesburg Security Branch members. Near Bronkhorstspruit they met up with members of the Eastern Transvaal Security Branch and drove together to a dirt road, where Bopape’s body was moved from the boot of Lieutenant Zeelie’s car to the boot of a car driven by Captain van Loggerenberg of the Eastern Transvaal Security Branch.

347 Van Loggerenberg drove to the Komati River, near a picnic spot frequented by police officers. He arrived at about 02h00 and immediately went to a crocodile-infested pool, where he deposited the body:

I rolled the body into the river and the body, the corpse sunk away into the water. I cannot tell you that it immediately disappeared, but I did not stay to look.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SPECIAL BRANCH OF THE SAP WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DETENTION AND TORTURE OF MANY YOUNG PEOPLE, INCLUDING MR SPANKIE LESOTHO, MR THABANG REGINALD MOPELOA, MR BHEKI NKOSI AND MR STANZA BOPAPE DURING THE PERIOD 1983–89.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR LESOTHO WAS ARRESTED IN THE CARLETONVILLE AREA AND DETAINED FOR LONG PERIODS DURING WHICH HE WAS SEVERELY BEATEN AND SUBJECTED TO REPEATED ELECTRIC SHOCK TORTURE. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR MOPELOA WAS ARRESTED IN JUNE 1987 BY THE SAP AND SUBJECTED TO SEVERE BEATINGS AND TORTURE. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR NKOSI WAS DETAINED AND TORTURED WITH ELECTRIC SHOCKS BY THE SAME SPECIAL BRANCH MEMBERS WHO DETAINED AND TORTURED MR BOPAPE. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE TORTURE CONSTITUTES A GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION FOR WHICH THE THEN HEAD OF THE SPECIAL BRANCH, THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE AND THE MINISTER OF LAW AND ORDER MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY .
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR BOPAPE, A WELL-KNOWN ACTIVIST AND GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE MAMELODI CIVIC ASSOCIATION, DIED WHILST BEING TORTURED BY MEMBERS OF THE 30 SECURITY BRANCHAT JOHN VORSTER SQUARE ON 12 JUNE 1988. THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT A NUMBER OF POLICEMEN WERE INVOLVED IN A COVER-UP OF BOPAPE’S DEATH AND DISPOSING OF HIS BODY, INCLUDING THE FORMER COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, GENERAL JOHAN VAN DER MERWE, GENERAL ERASMUS, BRIGADIER VISSER OF THE EASTERN TRANSVAAL SECURITY BRANCH, AND CAPTAIN VAN LOGGERENBERG. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE DISAPPEARANCE, TORTURE AND DEATH OF BOPAPE TO CONSTITUTE A GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FINDS THE POLICEMEN AND THE MINISTER OF LAW AT THE TIME RESPONSIBLE FOR GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS. THE POLICEMEN HAVE APPLIED FOR AMNESTY.
30 Amnesty hearings in connection with Bopape’s death were in progress at the time of reporting. See amnesty applications of Mr Petrus Lodewikus du Toit [AM4131/96], Mr Gerrit Nicholas Erasmus [AM4134/96], Mr Hendrik Albertus Buekes Mostert [AM4403/96], Mr Leon van Loggerenberg [AM5010/97], Mr Schalk Jan Visser [AM5000/97], Mr Charles Alfred Zeelie [AM3751/96], Mr Johan Ludwig du Preez [AM4404/96], Mr Jacobus Hermanus Engelbrecht [AM4402/96], Mr Adriaan Pieter van Niekerk [AM4353/96] and Mr Johannes Velde van der Merwe [AM4157/96].
Disappearances

348 Mr Ramatua Nicholas Thlapi [JB01185/03NW], from Ikageng at Potchefstroom, was arrested in Jouberton on 20 March 1986 along with several other young activists. Mr Thlapi subsequently disappeared in police custody. At the time of his disappearance, the SAP claimed that they had released him the day of his arrest. Mr George Morwaabusi Mangwejane [JB01452/03NW], one of the activists detained with Thlapi, said he last saw him lying on the floor in the Stilfontein police station, bleeding from the mouth. He claimed that he saw Constable April Tshwaedi jump on Thlapi’s chest.

349 In 1993, former policeman Mr George Mbathu, who had detained Thlapi and the other activists, gave Lawyers for Human Rights a sworn statement alleging that Warrant Officer Viljoen, Sergeant Makiti and Constables Tseladimitlwa, Tshwaedi, Majaja and Mano had been involved in the arrest. He also alleged that Thlapi was dead and that his body had been dumped down a mine shaft. Later he pointed out an old disused mine shaft just outside Stilfontein.

350 On 29 December 1993, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Independent Board of Inquiry (IBI) and members of the SAP accompanied the Thlapi family to the mine, where a camera was lowered down the shaft and the family watched the camera’s progress on a monitor. A number of shadows appeared on the screen, but there was no conclusive proof that Thlapi’s body had been dumped there. In the light of what he had seen, Mr Abbey Dlavane of Lawyers for Human Rights felt that further investigation of the site was warranted. The police investigation into Thlapi’s disappearance continues. Two of the policemen mentioned by Mbathu have been charged with serious assault against other detainees at the Welverdiend police station in Carletonville.

 
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