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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 715

Paragraph Numbers 689 to 698

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 94

The Khumalo gang

689 The Khumalo Gang, based in Thokoza, was another major participant in the East Rand conflict. By 1993, Reverend Mbhekisini Khumalo, leader of the gang, had been personally linked to at least nine murders and five attempted murders. The gang quickly became associated with the political conflict in Thokoza, including the murder of political leaders in the township. The assassinations of Mr Sam Ntuli, General Secretary of the Civic Association of the Southern Transvaal in September 1991, and Mr Vusi Tshabalala, the deputy secretary of the Thokoza Civic Association in October 1992, were both linked to the Khumalo Gang.

690 Statements made to the Commission indicate that the Khumalo gang began to carry out acts of violence from 1991. For example, Ms Nkosi claims that her son, Mr Dickson Nkosi [JB05120/03VT], was abducted on 5 September 1991 and, according to his sister, Nomosonto, he was taken to a van, beaten and later shot. The group of people allegedly responsible was associated with Reverend Khumalo. Khumalo himself said that violence between himself and township residents first emerged after his home was attacked by a group of ANC comrades calling themselves ‘the Bad Boys’.

691 In January 1993, gang related activity in Thokoza reached an unprecedented level. Eleven people died and, in one shooting spree on 15 January, nine people were shot. Members of the Khumalo gang were implicated in all of these deaths. One of those killed during the month was Ms Sabeth Khumalo, Khumalo’s wife who had allegedly fled to Tembisa to escape her husband. Khumalo was twice arrested and charged with a range of offences including murder, attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms. However, on both occasions he was released on bail. As levels of violence escalated, several eyewitnesses decided to come forward with information that could implicate the Khumalo gang in a number of deaths. The homes of two people who gave statements to the police were subsequently attacked and burnt. In one incident three people in the house at the time were shot.

692 From evidence before the Commission, the gang appeared to have been fundamentally integrated into the organisational hierarchy of the IFP. It was the IFP leadership who initiated political projects and directed their execution. Junior members of the Khumalo gang relied on the patronage of senior members and were rewarded in an ad hoc manner. Both applicants reported that they were not paid, but were promised “many things” and were generally “looked after”.

693 On 29 September 1991, the Civic Association of Southern Transvaal general secretary, Mr Sam Ntuli [JB00389/01ERKWA] (31), was shot dead in Thokoza as he drove along Khumalo Street in Thokoza at approximately 11h00, according to the Human Rights Committee, bringing to sixty the number of activists killed by alleged ‘hit squads’ in the previous fifteen months.

694 Ntuli’s father was one of the last people to see him alive. Just before Ntuli left home three men came into the house:

At that time, Sam walked out from the bedroom and immediately walked to his car. The last chap followed him. He did not even say goodbye. He just stood up and walked. Sam would not have taken notice of this extra man sitting there and he did not say goodbye. He just went straight to his car which was a Toyota Corolla parked outside next to the house in the yard. He reversed out and the last man who walked out (I was watching now through the window), that chap started pointing. He was pointing in a surreptitious manner because he was pointing down and he was not raising his hand. He was indicating to a man across the street. I could see that Sam had not noticed them but I was already worried. So Sam reversed and drove off in Mazibuko Street into Khumalo Street. I did not see where those chaps disappeared to and I saw nothing else. Later of course, I heard what happened. I was very suspicious about this and worried.

695 According to the police, the killers were driving a blue Toyota Cressida. A witness said that the killers’ car followed Ntuli and tried to force it off the road. When Ntuli stopped, they fired twelve shots at him as they overtook his car.

696 Two men, Mr Thami Zimu and Mr Thulani Mlaba,69 who are serving twenty years and life respectively at Diepkloof prison for murder and attempted murder, were allegedly involved in the killing of Khumalo’s wife and in the murder of civic leader, Mr Sam Ntuli (see below). Both applied for amnesty.

697 According to Mlaba’s allegations (untested at the time of reporting), the order to kill Ntuli came from the IFP leadership in Thokoza, including Ms Gertrude Mzizi, Mr Albert (Mafulela) Mlaba, Mr Obed Radebe and Mr Msomi (an induna at Mshayazafe hostel). Mafulela (Albert Mlaba) and Obed Radebe were tasked with the killing. Thulani was ordered to steal the cars, which would be used in the assassination. When he failed to deliver the cars on time, he was threatened with death. Mr Abraham Mzizi, Mr Lucky Khoza, Mr Sabelo, Mr Zweli Nicholas Chamane, Reverend Mbhekiseni and Mr Mzwakhe Khumalo were also identified as participants in the planning meetings. Firearms, including three AK-47s and three 9mm pistols, were provided by Obed Radebe and Msomi who distributed them amongst the group of assassins. Two stolen vehicles, a white Toyota Corolla and a white Toyota Hi-Lux van, provided by Thulani, were used, as well as Obed Radebe’s personal vehicle, a Honda Ballade. After the killing, Obed Radebe returned alone and reported that Sam Ntuli was dead.

69 In his section 29 hearing, Mr Mbekhisini Khumalo denied knowing Mr Thulani Mlaba at all and stated that he knew Mr Thami Zimu by sight, but did not have a close association with him.

698 Mr Sam Ntuli’s burial precipitated further violence. On 7 October, twenty people were killed and twenty-six injured before and after the funeral. However, the main violence appears to have occurred afterwards when about 12 000 people left the funeral. The carnage was apparently sparked by unidentified gunmen who opened fire on mourners.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE KHUMALO GANG, BASED IN THOKOZA, PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE VIOLENCE ON THE EAST RAND. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE GANG WAS INTEGRATED IN THE ORGANISATIONAL HIERARCHY OF THE IFP AND EXECUTED PROJECTS UNDER ITS LEADERSHIP AND DIRECTION. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE REVEREND MBHEKISINI KHUMALO, THE LEADER OF THE GANG, WAS LINKED TO NINE KILLINGS AND FIVE ATTEMPTED KILLINGS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, BY JANUARY 1993, ELEVEN PEOPLE HAD DIED IN CONFLICT WITH THE GANG AND, ON 15 JANUARY 1993, A FURTHER NINE PEOPLE WERE KILLED. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE KHUMALO GANG WAS LINKED TO ALL OF THESE KILLINGS. AMNESTY APPLICANTS ALLEGE THAT THE KHUMALO GANG WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE KILLING OF SAM NTULI, THE GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE CIVIC ASSOCIATION OF THE SOUTHERN TRANSVAAL, AND OF VUSI TSHABALALA, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF THE THOKOZA CIVIC ASSOCIATION. THE COMMISSION NOTES THAT AMNESTY APPLICANTS HAVE IMPLICATED GERTRUDE MZIZI, ALBERT MLABA AKA MAFULELA, OBED RADEBE AND INDUNA MSOMI IN THE PLANNING AND CO-ORDINATION OF SAM NTULI’S DEATH. THE COMMISSION WAS NOT ABLE TO MAKE A FINDING AS THE AMNESTY APPLICATIONS IN THIS REGARD HAD NOT BEEN HEARD AT THE TIME OF REPORTING.
 
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