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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 691
Paragraph Numbers 603 to 607
Self-defence units in the Vaal
603 The formation of armed militias in the Vaal was internally sanctioned by the ANC in November 1990 in response to the conflict with between the ANC and IFP in the area. However, the formation of SDUs precipitated a power struggle in Sebokeng between approximately 200 MK members who had returned from exile and local ANC and civic structures. The MK group was led by former MK operative, Mr Ernest Sotsu who was also a local ANC leader and trade unionist. Mr Jerry Ndamase representing the National Union of Metal Workers (NUMSA) set up a rival SDU structure. Sotsu believed that the rival group had been “bribed by a ‘third force’ of Iscor management and the security forces to sow seed of conflict in the Vaal”.47 In turn, the group led by Ndamase charged Sotsu with using for personal gain levies he had imposed on hostel residents to raise money for arms and of refusing to accept the political leadership of legitimate hostel structures.
604 Tensions between the two factions escalated steadily during 1992, and in May, Mr Colbert King, a NUMSA shop steward was murdered and four more people were killed during the ensuing months. A commission of enquiry was established and an uneasy peace enforced; however, the peace did not last long and, in July, two NUMSA members were shot dead execution style.48
605 A protracted and complex conflict between SDUs in the Sharpville area began in February 1993 and continued until late 1994.
606 Tensions initially emerged in February 1993 when MK members approached the then ANC chairperson, Mr Siza Rani, to account for organisational finances of which he was sole signatory. MK members also demanded that ANCYL members, supposedly under Rani’s command, be disarmed threatening that, if their wishes were not complied with by 19 February, they would themselves take action against the youth and confiscate weapons. On 19 February, unknown persons attacked ANCYL members and Mr Oupa Manete was killed.49
607 In the wake of Manete’s death, some sixty youths from his neighbourhood organised themselves into a gang they called the ‘Germans’. The Germans immediately became involved in a host of common crimes and it was alleged that they were co-operating with the security forces to identify ANC supporters in other parts of Sharpville. Further, in July 1993, Oupa Manete’s younger brother, Mr Lucky Manete, decided to avenge the death of his brother. An MK member, Mr Benny Scott, was shot and killed. As a result, MK cadres based in the Joe Slovo section of Sharpville forcibly disarmed the Germans, who were from the Matthew Goniwe section, and handed Lucky Manete over to the police. Whilst out on bail, he was gunned down in Sharpville’s Rivonia Tavern. This turn of events, aggravated by subsequent violence at Manete’s funeral, transformed the conflict into one between clearly defined, geographically bounded camps.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT RIVAL SDU FORMATIONS UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF FORMER MK OPERATIVE ERNEST SOTSU AND NUMSA MEMBER JERRY NDAMASE ENGAGED IN A POWER STRUGGLE IN SEBOKENG WHICH LED TO THE DEATHS OF A NUMBER OF PEOPLE, INCLUDING A SHOP STEWARD, MR COLBERT KING.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE CONFLICT BETWEEN RIVAL SDU GROUPS IN THE SHARPVILLE AREA ESCALATED DURING THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 1993 TO 1994. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT SDU MEMBERS WERE ENGAGED IN GUN RUNNING AND PROTECTION RACKETS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, DURING THE CONFLICT, OUPA MANETE WAS KILLED AND THAT SIXTY YOUTHS FROM HIS AREA FORMED A VIGILANTE GROUP CALLED THE GERMANS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT OUPA MANETE’S BROTHER, LUCKY MANETE, LAUNCHED A RETALIATORY ATTACK, RESULTING IN THE DEATH OF AN MK MEMBER BENNY SCOTT. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT SDU MEMBERS SEARCHED FOR LUCKY MANETE AND HANDED HIM OVER TO THE POLICE AND THAT HE WAS GUNNED DOWN IN A TAVERN WHILE OUT ON BAIL.47 Weekly Mail, 5 June 1992 48 Weekly Mail, 31 July 1992 49 The ANCYL members later captured three IFP supporting residents who confessed to the crime, but before their statements could be fully investigated two of the captives were burnt to death when commemorations of the Boipatong massacre the previous year became violent. The third escaped.