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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 701

Paragraph Numbers 639 to 643

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 88

Drive-by shootings

639 During the 1990s, so-called ‘drive-by’ shootings, where gun-men opened fire from fast moving cars, often shooting indiscriminately at people, became an increasingly endemic. Drive-by shootings had occurred during the 1970s, particularly in the wake of the Soweto uprisings where people reported that they were randomly shot at by police driving around the township. However, it was only during the 1990s, and particularly in the PWV, that drive-by shootings began to form an essential part of the fabric of political violence.

640 According to the HRC, 139 people died as a result of drive-by shootings between January and the end of October 1993, the year when this type of killing peaked.60

641 Drive-by shootings were a strategy, a methodology of violence which could take place in a variety of contexts e.g. attacks on taxis, night vigils, in the street etc. They also sometimes lead to a large number of deaths, which in turn could be classified as massacres.

642 Reports of drive-by shootings include the following:

a On 23 May 1991, two men with AK47s opened fire on some 100 patrons of the Gobzitwana Kooperasie Beer Hall in Sebokeng. Five people died instantly and, within four days, the death toll had risen to thirteen.

b On 7 July 1991, five people were killed and fourteen injured when two masked men opened fire on the Erika Tavern in Zone 7, Sebokeng. It is believed that the same group was involved in the attack on 23 May, as well as the attack on the Nangalembe night vigil. (See Malebohang Sebina Khosi JB00812/03VT)

c Early in April 1993, an attack on a shebeen led to the death of three civic members and the injury of five others. The civic members were apparently celebrating their election as civic leadership. According to eyewitnesses interviewed by the peace-monitoring organisation, Peace Action, about six gunmen burst into the shebeen at approximately 21h30. One attacker went to talk to a taxi owner who had recently been elected onto the civic leadership structure. After emptying everyone’s pockets of their money, the gunmen allegedly opened fire on the people assembled in the shebeen.

d On the eve of Chris Hani’s funeral in April 1993, unknown gunmen drove back and forth through Sebokeng shooting randomly at residents. Nineteen people were killed and ten injured. Alina Mapelo Magoda [JB00811/03VT] testified before the Commission that she heard gun shots. She turned off the house lights. Shortly afterwards, a neighbour knocked at the door of her house. Her husband went outside and found the bodies of her daughter and her friend Molebatsi. Both were victims of the drive-by shootings that took place that night. Ms Maria Maki Moshodi [JB00827/03VT] lost three members of her family in a drive-by shooting on the eve of Chris Hani’s funeral. Edward Maseko (8), Maria Moshodi and Paul Moshodi were all gunned down in front of the Moshodi house in Sebokeng.

e Over one weekend in June 1993, twenty-three people were killed by gunmen in a series of drive-by shootings. As Zone 8 Sebokeng residents settled down to watch a long anticipated boxing match on television, gunmen launched a carefully planned attack. First they shot two people walking in the street and, when residents left their homes to investigate, the men positioned themselves strategically in the crowd and opened fire, killing thirteen others. During the same week, a further ten people were shot dead from moving cars at various points in Sharpville.61

f On 12 July 1993, at least fourteen people were killed and sixteen others injured when gunmen in a white Toyota Cressida, drove through the streets of Evaton and Sebokeng’s Zone 12, randomly shooting at residents. Four women were amongst those injured. It was reported that nine people were killed instantly; others died in hospital. The vehicle used in the killings had been stolen from a Sebokeng woman and was later found abandoned in Sharpville. One of the injured said that the vehicle drove past them, before three gunmen appeared and opened fire. The gunmen reportedly spoke “like Zulus”. The Azanian National Youth Unity claimed that “white racists” were involved in the attacks. The injured were identified as Mr Ezekiel Mabuya, Mr Amos Mathe (16), Mr Petrus Phoswa, Mr William Pule, Mr Izike Maboe (18).62

643 The pattern of attack in the last three incidents was similar in the sense that, first, there appeared to be no financial motive; second, in each instance, gunmen drove through the township shooting indiscriminately; third, the victims appeared to be randomly chosen; fourth, the areas chosen, particularly Sebokeng, were strongly identified with political organisations, such as the ANC or PAC; finally, although the police were called for assistance, they did not respond.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT 139 DEATHS CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THIS WAS A STRATEGY ADOPTED BY A HOST OF DIFFERENT POLITICAL GROUPINGS AND DESIGNED TO SOW TERROR IN THE HEARTS OF THE COMMUNITY. DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS TOOK PLACE IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT CONTEXTS, BUT ALWAYS INVOLVED SEEMINGLY RANDOM ATTACKS ON CROWDS OR GROUPS GATHERED AT NIGHT VIGILS. THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT VICTOR MTHEMBU, A SENIOR OFFICIAL IN THE SEBOKENG IFP YOUTH LEAGUE, WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR A SERIES OF DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS ON ANCALIGNED RESIDENTS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE IFP LEADER AT KWAMADALA HOSTEL, PRINCE GIDEON ZULU AKA VANANA ZULU INITIATED AND INSTRUCTED VICTOR MTHEMBU TO ATTACK ANC RESIDENTS IN A SERIES OF DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT PRINCE GIDEON ZULU SUPPLIED VICTOR MTHEMBU WITH ARMS TO CARRY OUT THE ATTACKS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THE IFP RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS IN WHICH ANCALIGNED RESIDENTS WERE ATTACKED, AND THEREBY FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
60 Drive-by Shootings, Janine Rauch, 1993, CSVR Seminar No 9. 61 Peace Action, Monthly Report, June 1993. 62 HRC database, Sources (HRC Transvaal; ANC PWV Peace Desk; SAPA, Star, 13 July 1993; Citizen, Sowetan, Business Day, 14 July 1993; SAPA, Star, 15 July 1993).
 
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