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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 679
Paragraph Numbers 563 to 573
563 Mr Themba Khoza, the IFP Youth Brigade leader of the Transvaal and Security Branch and allegedly an informer39, was arrested with guns and explosives in his car at the scene of the Sebokeng massacre and was subsequently charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. Despite apparently strong evidence against Khoza, charges against him were dropped. Amnesty applications made to the Commission indicate that Vlakplaas operatives supplied Mr Khoza with a car, bail money and at least some of the weapons that were used at the Sebokeng massacre, and that Vaal police tampered with evidence in order to secure Khoza’s release. This cover-up is discussed in more detail elsewhere in this report.
564 In the attack which has become known as the Nangalembe Night Vigil Massacre in Sebokeng on 12 January 1991, forty-five people were killed at a night vigil for ANC Youth League (ANCYL) member, Mr Christopher Nangalembe [JB00317/03VT]. Mr Victor Khetisi Kheswa was allegedly responsible for Nangalembe’s death. According to Kheswa’s mother, the two boys had grown up together. Kheswa, however, had a long history of criminal involvement and, when youth in Sebokeng and Evaton launched an anti-crime campaign, Kheswa inevitably came into conflict with some of his former associates in the ANCYL. One of the allegations against Kheswa was that he had killed a young women by forcing her to drink acid. Christopher Nangalembe sat on the ‘panel’ of a ‘people’s court’ that accused Kheswa of this and other crimes. Kheswa was then shot, allegedly by members of the ‘people’s court’. Kheswa survived the attack.
565 Two days after Kheswa’s shooting, some of his associates, who were to form a gang that was later implicated in many acts of violence in the Vaal, met to discuss how to respond to the ANC’s anti-crime campaign. Among them was Mr Silwane Kubheka whose mother was an IFP official. He allegedly suggested that the group should seek help from the IFP.
566 Christopher Nangalembe’s brother, Mr Mandla Nangalembe, told the Commission that the nature of the violence perpetrated by the Kheswa gang after it formed an alliance with the IFP changed:
They used to steal cars … They only started troubling the community when they had joined the IFP because now they were having guns, they were armed and they could shoot and kill people… When they emerged, it was when they were members of the IFP.
567 On 2 January 1991, the first ‘drive-by shootings’ took place in Sebokeng, reportedly carried out by members of the Kheswa gang. The following day, Kheswa’s mother was arrested in possession of AK47s.
568 On 5 January, Christopher Nangalembe, the ANC activist who had sat on the ‘people’s court’ that had ‘tried’ Kheswa for various crimes, was abducted on the 5 January. His body was found the following day on a rubbish heap near Boipatong. He had been strangled with a piece of wire.
569 Mandla Nangalembe told the Commission that, before his death, their mother received a telephone call threatening to kill the whole family and burn their house down if they “couldn’t get Chris”. Several members of the Kheswa gang intercepted Christopher Nangalembe in the street in a car. (Kheswa himself was in hospital recovering from injuries. Mandla decided to go and seek help from the police:
I went to the Houtkop Police station. When I got there to report that my brother had been abducted and he was at Khetisi’s place, the police told me that they were afraid to go there. They told me that if I was talking about Khetisi, Khetisi was armed to the teeth and they did not want to tamper with him. These were the policemen who were telling me this… The second thing they told me that they didn’t know the number of the house… I must bring the number to them.
570 Shortly thereafter, Mandla Nangalembe received the news that his brother, Christopher, was dead. The family went to collect the body:
We got Chris at the dumping site. He was tied, his throat was tied with a wire and this wire was twisted with a pair of pliers. People saw him in the morning they could only identify him with his ANC card that he used to carry with.
571 The family was afraid to organise a night vigil for fear of being attacked. However, members of the community insisted and offered to protect the vigil goers. Mandla Nangalembe again went to request protection from the police.
572 On the night of the vigil youths patrolled the area and stones were placed across the road. A vehicle was seen and shots were allegedly fired from it. It had no registration plates but was believed to be associated with the Kheswa gang. On arrival at the night vigil, people in the vehicle opened fire and lobbed three hand grenades into the crowd that had gathered.
573 As a result of the attack, Ms Paulina Masimula [JB00836/03VT] spent five months in hospital recovering from gunshot wounds; Ms Elli Ndlebe’s [JB00875/03VT] son, Mr Michael Zwandile, died and her daughter-in-law was injured; Ms Sophie Nomfutse Simelane’s [JB00820/03VT] son, Andrew Maqwane was killed.