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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 687

Paragraph Numbers 591 to 598

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 81

591 Mr Victor Mthembu, leader of the youth section of the IFP in KwaMadala hostel, was one of the participants in the attack. In his amnesty application, he gave his own version of how it was carried out. On the night of 17 June all men in the hostel were called to a meeting:

I attended the meeting where Mkhize, one of the indunas said that we are very tired of the people being killed in Boipatong which resulted in the IFP people having to live in the KwaMadala hostel because their houses were being burnt and they were being killed in Boipatong. Gqonqo said that night we were going to Boipatong to kill the people and said nobody was allowed to stay behind, only the women had to stay in the hostel…
They told us to take our traditional weapons and we had to put red headbands around our heads so that we would be recognised and would not kill one another by mistake…The people of Umsinga were carrying fire arms. I saw about ten who had guns. We were about 300 people who were going to Boipatong… We went into the township and started killing people and looting their houses.

592 Mr Victor Mthandeni Mthembu [AM1707/96] claimed that regional IFP leader, Mr Themba Khoza, came to the hostel the day after the massacre and allegedly told hostel residents to burn any evidence including blood-stained clothes and looted goods.

593 In the wake of the massacre, numerous Boipatong residents alleged that white men with blackened faces had taken part in the attack, that the security forces were present during the massacre and had either stood by and watched while the attack took place or actively participated by transporting the attackers to or from Boipatong. As the Goldstone Commission began its deliberations, tapes of transactions in the Control Room of the Internal Stability Unit (ISU) were erased.

594 Despite these allegations of police complicity in the Boipatong massacre, Justice JMC Smit, delivering judgement on sixteen KwaMadala hostel residents convicted of involvement in the massacre, unequivocally stated that, in the light of the testimony he had heard, there was no evidence to support the allegation that the police in any way participated or were involved in the Boipatong massacre. He concluded that the erasure of the tapes was the result of incompetence rather than a deliberate attempt to hide evidence of police complicity in the attack and came to a similar conclusion as regards the bullet shells which had been destroyed. Justice Goldstone also stated that he had not received any evidence that led him to conclude that the police were involved in the attack. In addition, Dr PA Waddington, who headed the enquiry into the police investigation of the massacre, concluded that the omissions in the police investigation were the result of inefficiency and incompetence rather than part of a deliberate cover-up.

595 When the accused in the KwaMadala trial appeared in court, they alleged that the police had assaulted them. On 10 July 1993, one of the accused, Mr Khetisi Kheswa (28) died in police custody. Three police officers were suspended pending an internal inquiry into Kheswa’s death. Kheswa had previously been accused of killing thirty-five people in other incidents of unrest. Kheswa, popularly known as the ‘Vaal monster’, had become infamous since an attack on the Nangalembe night vigil which lead to the death of forty-five people. Some of the incidents to which he was linked included the death of six members of the Lefhiedi family, whose son had recently returned from exile, and the murder of ANC activist Ernest Sotsu’s wife, daughter and grandson.

596 A post mortem conducted by the state pathologist found that Kheswa had died of natural causes (heart failure caused by a virus). The conclusions reached at a later, private post mortem commissioned by the IFP and the Kheswa family were that he had died of “conditions including acute suffocation, electrocution, hypothermia and occult toxic substances.” The Attorney-General declined to hold an inquest based on the first post mortem. Kheswa was in the custody of Detective Sergeant Peens at the time of his death.

597 In August 1993, a second accused, Mr Themba Mabote, died while allegedly trying to escape from a moving police vehicle. Mabote allegedly jumped from the window of a police van and was then run over by a second police van. There were two police officers in the vehicle from which he escaped. Mabote was not wearing handcuffs. Detective Sergeant Peens was in the second vehicle. Whether he was the driver or the passenger is contested. At a section 29 hearing, Peens’ superior, Brigadier Mostert, stated that Peens was a passenger, not the driver of the second police vehicle. Detective Sergeant Peens was himself subpoenaed to appear before the Commission. In the early 1990s, Peens was implicated in several cases of torture and deaths in police custody. He was initially linked to the death of Mr Tsepo Lengwati, an MK member, who had informed his attorneys of his fear that Peens intended to kill him. Despite this, Lengwati was removed from the Leeuhof Prison by Peens for purposes of `investigation’. He was later shot dead during an alleged escape attempt.

598 On June 20 1992, President De Klerk arrived in Boipatong to express his sympathy to the bereaved families. The depth of anger in the township, however, had been seriously underestimated. As police Casspirs started to leave two hours after the president’s departure, youths threw a branch in front of the last Casspir, and when policemen got out to move it the crowd shouted insults at them. Other police went to the scene and created a line facing the crowd, leading to a tense stand-off. Finally the crowd began to leave, and the Casspirs followed them back to the township. One man was shot, however, and when the crowd tried to retrieve his body they were ordered to move back by the police. The crowd shouted at the police. In response, a police officer apparently fired his gun to try to frighten the crowd. This shot was followed by a twenty-second spate of gunfire from the police onto the crowd. Journalists who witnessed the event stated that no order to fire had been given. At least two people were killed and eighteen injured. The police maintained that no casualties had resulted from this incident and that television pictures showing casualties lying on the ground were fabricated by members of the crowd faking death or injury.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT FORTY-FIVE PEOPLE WERE KILLED AND TWENTY-TWO SEVERELY INJURED IN BOIPATONG ON 17 JUNE 1972 IN AN ATTACK PERPETRATED BY RESIDENTS OF THE KWAMADALA HOSTEL, WHO WERE PRIMARILY SUPPORTERS OF THE IFP. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT KWAMADALA HOSTEL RESIDENTS, TOGETHER WITH THE POLICE, PLANNED AND CARRIED OUT AN ATTACK ON THE COMMUNITY OF BOIPATONG AND THE SURROUNDING INFORMAL SQUATTER SETTLEMENT, SLOVO PARK, ON 17 JUNE 1972. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLICE COLLUDED WITH THE ATTACKERS AND DROPPED THEM OFF AT SLOVO PARK.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT WHITE MEN WITH BLACKENED FACES PARTICIPATED IN THE ATTACK. THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT, DESPITE THE PRESENCE OF ARMOURED VEHICLES IN THE TOWNSHIP, THE POLICE FAILED TO INTERVENE AND STOP THE ATTACKERS, DESPITE CALLS BY THE RESIDENTS OF BOIPATONG AND SLOVO PARK TO DO SO.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLICE WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR DESTROYING CRUCIAL EVIDENCE IN THAT THEY ERASED THE TAPES OF TRANSACTIONS IN THE CONTROL ROOM OF THE ISU.
THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT THE KWAMADALA RESIDENTS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE POLICE WERE BEATEN AND ASSAULTED BY THEM. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT KHESISI KHESWA, ONE OF THE ACCUSED, DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF THEMBA MABOTE, ANOTHER ACCUSED IN THE BOIPATONG MATTER. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP COLLUDED WITH THE KWAMADALA RESIDENTS IN PLANNING THE ATTACKS. THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT THEY OBSTRUCTED THE ENDS OF JUSTICE BY TAMPERING WITH THE EVIDENCE RELATING TO THE MATTER. THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT TWO OF THE SUSPECTS DIED WHILST IN THE CUSTODY OF THE POLICE.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THE KWAMADALA RESIDENTS TOGETHER WITH THE SAP RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MASSACRE, WHICH RESULTED IN THE DEATHS OF FORTY-FIVE PEOPLE AND THE INJURY OF TWENTY-TWO OTHERS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, THE MINISTER OF LAW AND ORDER AND THE IFP RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
 
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