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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 654
Paragraph Numbers 470 to 477
470 On 7 May 1986, State President PW Botha announced that KwaNdebele would take independence on 11 December 1986. When the press reports reached the homeland, residents approached the Ndzundza royal kraal and requested the king to call a public gathering with the KwaNdebele cabinet. The meeting was held on 12 May and was attended by an estimated 20 000 residents, the area’s chiefs and two representatives of the homeland cabinet (who were advised to travel to the meeting in a Casspir armoured personnel carrier). At the meeting, three demands were presented to the government representatives: (1) the disbanding of Imbokodo; (2) the cancellation of independence; and (3) the resignation of members of the KwaNdebele cabinet and legislative assembly for acting without a popular mandate. The cabinet promised to prepare a response for a report-back meeting scheduled for 14 May, and the crowd dispersed peacefully.
471 A few days later, local magistrate JN Theron prohibited the report-back meeting at the royal kraal. An estimated 25 000 people assembled the following day, unaware of the magistrate’s prohibitions. Commuters were stopped by youths at barricades on the Pretoria road and redirected to the royal kraal. The Putco bus company later reported that ‘comrades’ had commandeered its entire KwaNdebele fleet of some 300 buses. While the assembled crowds were still waiting for the KwaNdebele cabinet to arrive, security forces dispersed the meeting with tear gas and rubber bullets fired from a hovering helicopter and from several patrolling Casspirs. Participants have testified that no warnings or instructions were given to the crowd prior to the actions of the security forces. Chaos ensued. The bodies of two men were later found at the royal kraal.
472 In the midst of the confusion, a number of youths were abducted by Imbokodo members and taken to a makeshift detention camp in the Vaalbank area. Fifty-four youths were held there without food or water and were subjected to periodic assaults by their Imbokodo guards. The youths alleged that their guards trampled on their stomachs, squeezed their genitals in vice-grips and burnt their feet with hot coals. One of the youths, Mr Johannes Ramahlale, managed to escape on 19 May and report the matter to the police, who raided the camp the next day and released the ‘comrades’.
473 In the days following the dispersed meeting at the royal kraal, a virtual civil war spread across KwaNdebele as ‘comrades’, Imbokodo and security forces engaged in running skirmishes. In addition to direct conflict, students, teachers and civil servants held successful stay aways in the following weeks in protest against the cabinet’s policies and the detention of various resistance leaders. Statements collected by the Commission confirm the escalation of violations, and especially of killings, in the three months following the meeting at the royal kraal.
474 On 11 June, ‘comrades’ carried out a planned attack on a Vlaklaagte business complex owned by KwaNdebele cabinet minister and vigilante leader Mr Piet Ntuli. At least one security guard was killed during the attack. Imbokodo retaliated the following day by raiding Tweefontein, a large collection of villages in the Vlaklaagte area. Eyewitnesses have reported that the Imbokodo drove through the area in convoy, firing indiscriminately at youths running through the streets. At least four young men were fatally wounded. A number of residents were assaulted with sjamboks and knobkierries. Others were abducted and loaded onto a lorry accompanying the convoy.
475 Although the ‘burning’ of KwaNdebele reached its peak in May and June 1986, violence and unrest continued. The KwaNdebele cabinet remained committed to the goals of incorporation and independence while the Ndzundza royal family and the Moutse chiefs successfully marshalled popular resistance to such plans. The embattled Imbokodo retained sufficient strength to intimidate and attack the government’s opponents, while the youth grew increasingly assertive, more effectively organised and much more violent in their approach. The homeland remained a no-go area until independence was called off in August.
476 On 29 July 1986 cabinet minister and vigilante leader Mr Piet Ntuli [JB02515/01MPMOU] was assassinated by South African security forces by means of a car bomb attached to his government vehicle.
477 A number of security force operatives have applied for amnesty for participation in or knowledge of the operation. These include: Brigadier Jack Cronjé (former divisional commander of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch); his subordinates Captain Jacques Hechter and Captain Jacob van Jaarsveld; Captain Chris Kendall (Security Branch commander at Bronkhorstspruit); General Joep Joubert (Commander General of SADF Special Forces); Sergeant Deon Gouws and Warrant Officer Stephanus A Oosthuizen (both of the SAP uniform branch).
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT IMBOKODO ABDUCTED 360 MOUTSE RESIDENTS AND HUMILIATED AND TORTURED THEM AT A COMMUNITY HALL IN SIYASBUSWA. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE TORTURE AND ASSAULT OF THE MOUTSE RESIDENTS CONSTITUTE A GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOR WHICH IMBOKODO, KWANDEBELE CHIEF MINISTER SS SKOSANA AND VIGILANTE LEADER PIET NTULI (DECEASED) ARE HELD RESPONSIBLE.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT ON 28 APRIL 1986, IMBOKODO ABDUCTED YOUTH FROM THEIR HOMES IN VLAKLAAGTE NO. 1 AND ASSAULTED THEM AT EMAGAZINI IN KWAGGAFONTEIN. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE ASSAULTS ON THE YOUTHS CONSTITUTE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, FOR WHICH IMBOKODO, CHIEF MINISTER SS SKOSANA AND MR PIET NTULI ARE HELD RESPONSIBLE.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR JACOB SKOSANA WAS ABDUCTED BY IMBOKODO, TORTURED AND ASSAULTED, AND THAT HIS BODY WAS MUTILATED BY MEMBERS OF IMBOKODO. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE ABDUCTION, TORTURE AND ASSAULT CONSTITUTE GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS FOR WHICH IMBOKODO, SS SKOSANA AND PIET NTULI MUST ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SOUTH AFRICAN SECURITY FORCES ASSASSINATED MR PIET NTULI, THE LEADER OF IMBOKODO, ON 29 JULY 1986. THE COMMISSION FINDS BRIGADIER JACK CRONJÉ, CAPTAIN JACQUES HECHTER, CAPTAIN JACOB VAN JAARSVELD, CAPTAIN CHRIS KENDALL, GENERAL JOEP JOUBERT, SERGEANT DEON GOUS AND WARRANT OFFICER STEPHANUS OOSTHUIZEN, THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, THE MINISTERS OF DEFENCE AND OF LAW AND ORDER, THE HEAD OF THE SADF AND THE FORMER STATE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF MR NTULI, AND THUS FOR THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.