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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 718

Paragraph Numbers 699 to 709

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 95

The Black Cats

699 In Wesselton and Ermelo in the Eastern Transvaal, a gang called the Black Cats was involved in a series of violent attacks on members of the newly unbanned ANC between 1990 and 1992. Over twenty people were killed during the course of this violence, including some members of the Black Cats who died during counter-attacks against the gang. SDU members from Ermelo applied for amnesty for the murder of Black Cat members.70

700 The 1992 Goldstone enquiry into the Black Cat gang confirmed the involvement of Inkatha in its activities. The Commission heard evidence that the Black Cats, supported by certain community councillors, received military training from Inkatha at the Mkhuze camp in 1990. Trained gang members were then sent to Ermelo to assassinate people affiliated to the ANC in the area. One of the perpetrators, Mr Israel Hlongwane, stated that both white and black SAP personnel met with him to assist with resources and ensure that the murder of ANC members was covered up. He also said that the mayor and certain councillors supported him with monthly cash and groceries while he was in Ermelo to eliminate ANC members.

701 The gang launched a series of attacks on the ANC, backed by a handful of Caprivi trainees who routinely visited Wesselton as members of the KZP. They bombed the offices of a local human rights lawyer and participated in an attack on mourners at the funeral of a victim of one of their attacks. Black Cat gang members allegedly received backing from white police officers in Ermelo. The Goldstone Commission found that police officials in Wesselton were involved in the disappearance of a docket into the killing and injuring of ANC members at this funeral in August 1990.

702 The Commission heard evidence that a member of the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly, Mr Amos Mthungwa, had given a statement to Ermelo police shortly after the funeral shooting on 11 August 1990, admitting that Inkatha members had returned fire after shots had been fired at them from the ANC crowd. He added that two KwaZulu police Officers, Constable Zweli Dlamini and Warrant Officer Nhlanhla Khawula, were among those who had shot at the ANC crowd.

703 The Commission also heard evidence that one of the firearms belonging to the KZP men was ballistically tested and linked to the funeral shooting, but was later returned to the KZP. Warrant Officer Geldenhuys, who took over as an investigating officer in 1991, conceded that the manner in which the Ermelo police had handled the case could not have solved it. He admitted that, in the course of constructing a new docket for the investigation, he had concealed the relevant evidence.

704 Ms Busisiwe H Nkosi’s [JB03771/01MPPIT] son, Lucky was killed on 24 July 1990. She told the Commission of the attacks the Black Cats gang had carried out two days earlier and of the attack that led to the death of her son. Lucky managed to get home after he was injured by gunfire. Ms Nkosi told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that they were too afraid to take him to the Ermelo hospital in case he was detained. Eventually they decided to take him to the hospital in Bethal. He died on the way.

705 Ms Mawane Gertrude Mabuza [JB03500/01MPPIT] testified about the death of her daughter, nineteen-year-old Ms Queen Gladys Mabuza, on 9 December 1990. She was allegedly killed by members of the Black Cats gang. Ms Mabuza told the Commission that when she found the body of her daughter, an eye had been gouged out and the rest of the body was severely mutilated.

706 Mr Madoda L Mbokane [JB03759/01MPPIT] gave evidence about an attack by the Black Cats on his home in Wesselton, on 30 July 1991 including the shooting to death of the mother of the man they were apparently looking for. The attackers threw a grenade as they left the house, injuring Mbokane.

707 Mr Philemon J Malinga [JB03768/01MPPIT] testified that his home was attacked by members of the Black Cat gang on 27 July 1991. His mother Ms Belesia Malinga was shot and hacked to death during the attack. According to Malinga, the police first tried to set fire to his house. The attackers then allegedly went to the home of Wesselton mayor, Napoleon Mkonza and returned with reinforcements. On their return, the door of Philemon’s home was broken down and the attackers entered the room, destroying everything in sight and shooting randomly. Philemon hid in a toilet where he could hear his mother being hacked to death:

They passed the toilet where I was hiding and they entered into my mother’s bedroom. They continued shooting, using the guns, the pangas… it was so painful because when I heard my mother screaming and crying, saying … “why are [you] killing me?” They responded by saying, “Keep quiet. Are you still making a noise you bastard?” They were insulting my mother. I felt I should come out and do something but I ended up saying, “You dogs, what are you doing?” I heard someone saying, “there is someone inside the room” and the other one said, “no there is no one, we have finished all of them”. They were talking and saying, “they are already dead they’re just saying their last words. Let’s go”.
I listened to that and someone insisted that there was someone somewhere inside the room and I crept down. I managed to creep under a mattress and I could see them through the hole of the toilet’s door.

708 Philemon Malinga alleged that the police came to fetch the attackers. He heard the sound of a Casspir and a voice asking in Afrikaans “Have you finished?”

709 Because of the alleged link between the police and the Black Cat gang, the police became the target of violent attacks. Scheepers and another constable, Nkondo, were together in the township when their car was surrounded by approximately fifty people. Nkondo fired into the crowd, injuring some people and managed to flee. However, Scheepers was left behind. By the time Nkondo returned with reinforcements, Scheepers was already dead, lying in the road. In the wake of Scheepers death, a number of young ANC supporters were rounded up by the police. Sixteen-year-old Mr Nonhlanhla B Blose [JBP3753/01MPPIT] was among a group of young people taken into custody in June 1992 after a Constable Scheepers had been killed in the township a few days previously. Blose told the Commission that the police assaulted members of his family when they arrived at his home. In the early hours of the morning, Blose was released.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE BLACK CATS WAS A GANG OPERATING IN WESSELTON AND IN ERMELO. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE GANG WAS SUPPORTED BY COMMUNITY COUNCILLORS AND RECEIVED MILITARY TRAINING FROM INKATHA IN A CAMP IN KWAZULU-NATAL. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE GANG, TOGETHER WITH A NUMBER OF CAPRIVI TRAINEES, ATTACKED ANC MEMBERS AND ASSASSINATED THEM. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE BLACK CATS WERE SUPPORTED BY MEMBERS OF THE SAP IN TERMS OF RESOURCES AND IN COVERING UP THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN ANC KILLINGS. MEMBERS OF THE BLACK CATS GANG HAVE APPLIED FOR AMNESTY FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THE BLACK CATS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE KILLING OF MORE THAN TWENTY ANC MEMBERS IN THE WESSELTON AND ERMELO AREAS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE ANC SUPPORTED THE FORMATION OF SDUS IN THE TOWNSHIP AND THAT SDU MEMBERS WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE KILLING OF BLACK CAT MEMBERS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE WESSELTON COMMUNITY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE KILLING OF CONSTABLE SCHEEPERS IN JUNE 1992.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THE BLACK CATS, THE IFP, THE SAP AND THE SDUS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
70 Amnesty hearing pending at the time of reporting.
 
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