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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 641

Paragraph Numbers 417 to 423

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 58

417 Two years later, in February 1988, disaffected elements of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force (BDF) staged an attempted coup. They were led by Mr Rocky Malebane-Metsing, leader of the opposition Progressive People’s Party (PPP), and Warrant Officer Mothuloe Timmy Phiri of the Bophuthatswana National Guard Unit. The coup lasted only fifteen hours before members of the SADF intervened and restored Mr Lucas Mangope to power. Five people died and one person was injured in the course of the coup and counter-coup. While the actions of the SADF, which had been sanctioned at State Security Council level, severely undermined the homeland’s claim to independence, the coup also had far-reaching implications for the citizens of Bophuthatswana who were subjected to even more stringent repressive measures than had been in force before the coup.

418 Some of the reasons for the coup included disaffection in the BDF, allegations of corruption, misappropriation of government funds and manipulation of the October 1987 elections in Bophuthatswana as well as dissatisfaction with low salaries in the civil service and defence ministry. The dominance of whites in the BDF was another source of discontent.

419 A number of organisations such as Transvaal Rural Action Committee (TRAC), the Bafokeng Women’s Club, the Black Sash and the PPP were banned in the wake of the 1988 coup. A ninety-day detention law was introduced. Batswana in the Bafokeng region, as well as members of youth clubs and women’s cultural groups, were harassed and detained by members of the BDF and SADF.

420 By 23 February 1986, 423 people were being held in connection with the coup. Of these, 182 were members of the National Guard Unit and fifty-seven were members of the BDF. Two were policemen. In the wake of the coup, hundreds of opponents of the Bophuthatswana administration went into hiding as the Bophuthatswana security forces conducted what was termed a clean-up operation.

421 The increase in repression after the 1988 coup is reflected in the Commission’s data, with the number of violations in Bophuthatswana almost trebling from one year to the next (thirty in 1987 to eighty-three in 1988). Several members of the PPP were detained and severely tortured in the wake of the coup.

422 PPP member Samuel Galeboe Thwane [JB00361/03NW] was one of those detained by security police after the attempted coup and was interrogated by two white policemen whose identities were not revealed. He testified to the Commission:

After seven days at (Rooigrond Central Prison) … I was told to remove my clothes and was tortured with electric shocks to my genitals. This lasted from 7 in the morning until 5 in the evening. I was then taken to my cell. Several days passed until I was eventually released on the 24th of February without any charges pressed against me … On the 26th of February I was re-detained on the orders of Commissioner Seleke. I was driven back to Rooigrond Central Prison. On the 28th Captains Molale and Mojanaga and nine other security policemen tortured and assaulted me. I was subjected to electric shocks to my genitals and repeatedly slapped and kicked. I was threatened with death and kept in solitary confinement and deprived of visits from my family. I was eventually released in May 1988 without any charges being pressed …

423 Ms Caroline Masethebe Rampe [JB06400/03NWRUS] told the Commission that her son, Mr Falvios Bathusi Molelekeng (24), an active PPP member, was arrested on 11 February 1988 and died shortly after his release from detention. She said Molelekeng was tortured so badly, he could neither sit down nor walk upright. Before his death, she said, “he was telling me that ‘Mother, those people have killed me’ ”.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT FIVE PEOPLE WERE KILLED AND ONE PERSON WAS INJURED DURING THE COUP ON 10 FEBRUARY 1988 BY MR ROCKY MALEBANE-METSING AND THE COUNTER-COUP FIFTEEN HOURS LATER BY PRESIDENT MANGOPE WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT. THE COMMISSION FINDS MR ROCKY MALEBANE-METSING, PRESIDENT MANGOPE AND THEIR RESPECTIVE SUPPORTERS, AS WELL AS THE SECURITY FORCES OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT, RESPONSIBLE FOR GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT 423 PEOPLE WERE DETAINED AND TORTURED BY THE SECURITY FORCES OF THE MANGOPE GOVERNMENT IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE COUP. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE TORTURE CONSTITUTES A GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, FOR WHICH THE BOPHUTHATSWANA GOVERNMENT AND PRESIDENT LUCAS MANGOPE MUST ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY.
 
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