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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 712

Paragraph Numbers 678 to 688

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 93

Criminalisation of political conflict

678 During 1990, criminal gangs became increasingly drawn into the political conflict in the PWV, becoming extremely effective participants in the contest for political power and territorial control. For criminal gangs, association with political organisations also provided valuable protection for and legitimated their criminal activities. Many gangs had become alienated from communities, and ‘anti-crime campaigns’, often initiated by ANC-aligned youth, sometimes led to violent retribution against gang members.

679 Criminalisation of political conflict was further facilitated by the police who frequently failed to intervene in the violence perpetrated by gangs, either by allowing them to carry out acts of violence unhindered or by failing to investigate incidents of violence perpetrated by gangs. Certain police units, such as Vlakplaas, were also more directly involved in supplying weapons to the IFP. Gangs that linked up with the IFP were one of the recipients of these weapons. The most significant example of direct security force involvement in gang violence is the Black Cats, who were given training by the KwaZulu Police. These trained gang members were then sent back to the Transvaal to attack ANC leaders in Wesselton and Ermelo. Here they received further assistance from local police who deliberately concealed and tampered with evidence that implicated KwaZulu police and gang members in acts of violence.

The Toaster gang

680 The Toaster gang, which was allegedly responsible for considerable violence in the township of Tembisa, consisted largely of former ‘comrades’ who had been pushed out of the political circle of the ANC. The gang specialised in car hijackings. As the township community began to mobilise against the activities of the gang, it was forced to find a new home. The Vusimuzi hostel offered the ideal refuge, both physically secure and providing the possibility of a new political identity. The gangs’ facility for violence was effectively utilised by the Inkatha Freedom Party.

681 Ms Kellina Manana [JB01691/01ERTEM] testified about the events relating to the killing of her husband, local ANC activist Mr Abel Butana, allegedly by members of the Toaster Gang on 25 February 1992. Mr Dumisani Henry Dlamini and his family were allegedly attacked by members of the Toaster Gang and IFP members in Umtjambeka Section on the evening of 1 April 1992. The attackers shot his friend in the left hand and fatally wounded his mother, Ms Lephina Dlamini [JB01597/01ERTEM]. He alleges that the family was attacked because they were ANC supporters.

682 On 12 April 1992, seven men were shot dead and six people seriously injured after gunmen armed with AK-47 rifles and shotguns travelling in a minibus and three cars, opened fire on residents preparing to patrol the township streets. The incident took place in Umthambeka section between 06h30 and 07h00. Witnesses reported that the attackers drove back to Vusimuzi hostel. Residents and police alleged that the Toaster Gang was responsible for an attack that appeared to be an attempt to deter residents from trying to defend themselves against attacks by the gang. Four of the casualties were identified as Mr Duma Fakude (35) [JB02319/01ERTEM], Mr Anton Chauke (52), Mr Absolom Mayo (35) and a person identified as ‘Oupa’ (37). The injured included Mr Eave Cefane (38), Ms Moffat Makaza, Mrs Friedah Monama (29), Ms Josephine Ntuli (22) and Ms Johanna Ledwaba.67

683 In February 1993, charges against sixteen members of the Toaster Gang allegedly involved in this attack were withdrawn due to lack of evidence. Charges against another five members of the gang (twelve of murder, two of attempted murder, sixteen of robbery, one of rape and illegal possession of firearms) were also dropped due to lack of evidence.68

684 On 1 May 1993, the leader of the Toaster Gang, Mr Yster Clement Jones, was shot dead by a Vusimuzi hostel resident. A senior IFP official, Mr Humphrey Ndlovu, later claimed on SABC television that Jones had been a member of the IFP. On 9 May, mourners returning from Jones’ funeral were allegedly fired on and retaliated by shooting an ANC member, injuring three other people and damaging approximately thirty houses in Giyani and Ethafeni section. Witnesses to the attack by the mourners alleged security force collusion, saying that the attack happened in the presence of the security forces that made no attempt to arrest or stop the assailants.

685 The following day, Jones’ body was exhumed from Emifihlweni cemetery by a group of people and taken five kilometres away to the Ndayeni Section taxi rank where it was set alight. Two weeks later, it was reburied by the IFP. A pact between ANC PWV and Inkatha leaders from Vusimuzi hostel was signed, with both parties pledging to keep the peace during Jones’ second funeral.

686 This did not, however, prevent a massacre which took place on 31 July when thirty people were killed and twenty injured after members of the Toaster Gang and hostel residents from Vusimuzi hostel attacked homes in Umthambeka section and Ndayeni, Tafeni, Ntsonalanza sections of Tembisa township. The attack was apparently precipitated by the burning of a Toasters gang member by a group of residents from Umthambeka section. Homes were petrol-bombed and vehicles set alight during the attack. The attackers were repulsed by residents and retreated to the hostel, before launching another attack on homes in the township. Twelve of the victims were killed when armed men stopped a taxi and opened fire on the passengers. Nine of the injuries were women.

687 At a roadblock manned by hostel residents, twelve minibus taxi passengers were killed. Mtzulisi Mashobane, a five-year-old who survived because his mother threw him out of the window, told the press how he watched his parents burn to death when their taxi was stopped at the entrance to Tembisa by a group of armed men who shot all twelve passengers before setting the taxi alight. Mashobane and the driver were the only survivors. Other hostel residents were deployed in Umthambeka section where they killed and maimed widely. On Sunday morning, hostel residents raided Thafeni section. Three men were arrested by police in connection with this incident.

688 Ms Nomusa Ngwandi’s home was attacked and her husband, Mr Lucky Brian Ngwandi [JB01596/01ERTEM] killed during the massacre on 31 July. Her husband had been on the streets patrolling with a self-defence unit when the Toaster Gang attacked. He tried to conceal himself by pretending to be a member of the Gang, but was discovered. Ms Ngwandi alleges that the police were involved in the attack:

Then I tried to open a window to see what is happening outside, then I saw some men who were carrying guns. They were in a Casspir. They were shooting relentlessly.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE TOASTER GANG WAS FORMED BY FORMER ‘COMRADES’ EXPELLED FROM THE ANC IN TEMBISA. INITIALLY THE GANG SPECIALISED IN CAR HIJACKINGS. THE TOASTER GANG ALIGNED ITSELF WITH RESIDENTS IN THE IFP-CONTROLLED VUSIMUZI HOSTEL WHEN THE COMMUNITY IN THE TOWNSHIP BEGAN TO MOBILISE AGAINST THEM. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, ON 12 APRIL 1992, THE TOASTER GANG LAUNCHED AN ATTACK FROM A MINIBUS AND THREE OTHER VEHICLES ON RESIDENTS PREPARING TO PATROL THE TOWNSHIP. THE ATTACK RESULTED IN THE DEATHS OF SEVEN MEN AND INJURY TO SIX OTHERS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE LEADER OF THE TOASTER GANG WAS KILLED BY A RESIDENT FROM VUSIMUZI. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MOURNERS RETURNING FROM THE FUNERAL OF THE TOASTER GANG’S LEADER WERE ATTACKED AND RETALIATED BY SHOOTING AN ANC SUPPORTER. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT A PEACE PACT WAS SIGNED BETWEEN ALL THE WARRING PARTIES TO ALLOW FOR THE REBURIAL OF THE LEADER OF THE TOASTER GANG.
THE PEACE PACT WAS NOT ADHERED TO AND, ON 31 JULY 1992, MEMBERS OF THE TOASTER GANG AND VUSIMUZI RESIDENTS ATTACKED HOMES IN TEMBISA. VEHICLES WERE ALSO SET ALIGHT. IN THE ENSURING CONFLICT BETWEEN TOWNSHIP DWELLERS AND HOSTEL RESIDENTS, A MINIBUS WAS STOPPED AT A ROAD BLOCK WHERE TWELVE PASSENGERS, NINE OF WHOM WERE WOMEN, WERE SHOT AND THE MINIBUS SET ALIGHT. IN ALL, THIRTY PEOPLE WERE KILLED AND TWENTY OTHERS INJURED .
THE COMMISSION FINDS THE TOASTER GANG AND THE VUSIMUZI RESIDENTS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTACKS ON RESIDENTS IN TEMBISA. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SECURITY FORCES ASSISTED THE GANG AND HOSTEL RESIDENTS BY ARMING THEM. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SECURITY FORCES FAILED TO INTERVENE IN THE CONFLICT AND PROTECT RESIDENTS, DESPITE BEING UNDER A DUTY TO DO SO.
67 HRC database, 12 April 1992. Sources: Star 13 April 1992; Business Day, Citizen, 14 April 1992; ANC PWV Region, Tembisa Peace Corps. 68 New Nation, 26 February 1993.
 
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