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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 693

Paragraph Numbers 608 to 613

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 84

608 The Commission received statements from victims of what came to be known as the Alexandra Night Vigil Massacre50, which took place early on the morning of 26 March 1991. At about 04h00, gunmen attacked an all-night vigil for political violence victim, Ms Jane Ramakgola (41), killing fifteen people and injuring sixteen others, including a seven-month-old baby. The attack took place within 800 metres of the police station. Six members of the IFP were later arrested for this attack and appeared in the Rand Supreme Court. All were acquitted.51

609 Ms Kate Martha Maphanga-Mkhwanazi [JB01884/01GTTEM], sister of the woman for whom the night vigil was being held, told the Commission that the attackers were clad in police uniform and were also wearing balaclavas.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, WHILST ALEXANDRA WAS RELATIVELY PEACEFUL COMPARED TO OTHER AREAS ON THE REEF, A NUMBER OF EVENTS SUCH AS THE UNBANNING OF THE ANC, THE DECISION BY THE IFP TO BECOME A NATIONAL PARTY AND THE ONGOING CONFLICT BETWEEN THE IFP AND THE ANC IN KWAZULU-NATAL CREATED A CLIMATE OF POLITICAL INTOLERANCE WHICH GAVE RISE TO THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. DURING THIS PERIOD, FIFTEEN PEOPLE WERE KILLED AND SIXTEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED WHEN GUNMEN OPENED FIRE ON MOURNERS AT A NIGHT VIGIL ON 26 MARCH 1991.
THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT THE SAP WAS INFORMED ABOUT THE NIGHT VIGIL AS WELL AS THE FEARS OF THE COMMUNITY OF AN IMPENDING ATTACK BY IFP SUPPORTERS. THE SAP WAS ASKED TO PROVIDE SOME PROTECTION TO MOURNERS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, NOT ONLY DID THE SAP FAIL TO PROVIDE ANY ASSISTANCE OR PROTECTION, BUT ARRIVED SEVERAL HOURS AFTER THE ATTACK HAD TAKEN PLACE. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE SAP RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THAT THE SAP FAILED TO PROTECT CITIZENS WHEN THEY WERE UNDER A LEGAL DUTY AND OBLIGATION TO DO SO.

610 On 12 May 1991, a pre-dawn attack by approximately 1000 Inkatha-supporting hostel residents from Kagiso on Swanieville, a neighbouring informal settlement, left at least twenty-seven people dead and scores injured. (See Ms Caroline Pinkie Nyembe [JB02379/03WR], Ms Noleni Fourie Kwinana [JB02350/03WR], Ms Doreen Manyobe [JB02345/03WR], Mr Simon Zolile Nkani [JB02366/03WR] and Mr Zamile Jackson Cetyewayo [JB01584/03WR]).

611 Several of the victims of this attack testified at the Commission’s public hearings. Swanieville resident, Ms Thelma April, told the Commission that IFP members killed her boyfriend, Mr Joseph Makhubela [JB01703/03WR], on the night of the squatter camp attack. Mr Buka Pinzi [JB01707/03WR] lost an eye in the attack. He said he had: heard on a radio broadcast that Swanieville men should not patrol the squatter camp that night and they should be asleep by 8pm. The radio announcer said the police would patrol the area.

612 Following the attack, an internal police inquiry found that there was no evidence of police involvement. However, the investigation questioned how a group of 1 000strong, heavily armed men could have assembled and travelled approximately ten kilometres on foot to Swanieville without being seen, and why the local riot unit continued with its usual shift change without responding to the attack. Statements in the possession of the Commission state that police vehicles were on the scene before the attack or they were seen shortly after the first shots were fired.

613 Several Inkatha members were arrested and brought to trial for the attack on Swanieville. Judge CJ Botha acquitted the men but criticised the police for failing to take action more promptly to identify the killers. The court found that:

a The police had first encountered the group of hostel residents at 07h00 and had escorted the men back to the hostel. The SAP commanding officer and the video unit were only informed of the incident at 09h30.

b The police could not be criticised for escorting the group back to the hostel as this had probably prevented further conflict. However, he said he could not understand why the police had not made sure that they could identify the men at a later stage.

c It was surprising that vital police evidence, such as logbooks and files, had disappeared mysteriously when they were needed during the investigation. (Earlier during the trial, the judge found that the statements made by the accused to the police were inadmissible. The accused had claimed that police had assaulted them to force them to make incriminating statements)

d He could not exclude the possibility that police officers had participated in the massacre.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE ANC AND THE IFP WERE TENSE AND THAT ON 12 MAY 1991, IFP SUPPORTERS MARCHED ON SWANIEVILLE, AN INFORMAL SETTLEMENT ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF KAGISO, CARRYING BOTH TRADITIONAL AND MODERN WEAPONS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP COLLUDED WITH THE MARCHERS AND FAILED TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST THEM EITHER BEFORE OR AFTER THE ATTACK. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT TWENTY-SEVEN PEOPLE WERE KILLED DURING THE ATTACK ON THE SETTLEMENT AND MANY WERE SERIOUSLY INJURED. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLICE WERE CALLED UPON TO TAKE ACTION BEFORE THE MARCH, BUT FAILED TO DISARM MARCHERS OR TO PREVENT THE MARCH AND/OR PREVENT THE ATTACK ON THE COMMUNITY WHEN THEY WERE UNDER A LEGAL DUTY TO DO SO.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP WAS DERELICT IN ITS DUTIES AND, BY OMISSION, ALLOWED THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE SAP RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT AN IFP SPOKESPERSON, SUZANNE VOS, CONFIRMED THAT IFP SUPPORTERS FROM THE NEARBY HOSTEL HAD CARRIED OUT THE ATTACK. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE IFP RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTACK ON SWANIEVILLE AND THE KILLING OF TWENTYSEVEN PEOPLE AND THE INJURY OF MANY OTHERS AND THEREBY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
50 See also JB01782/01GTTEM, JB01784/01GTTEM, JB0177/01GTTEM, JB02337/01GTTEM and JB02488/01GTTEM. 51 Everett, D., ‘Funeral Vigil Massacres: Mourning the Mourners’, CASE, March 1992 in Review of Political Violence, Graeme Simpson, Janine Rauch, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, 1992.
 
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