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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 219

Paragraph Numbers 167 to 179

Volume 6

Section 3

Chapter 1

Subsection 17

167. In August 1980, Captain Dirk Coetzee was appointed commander of Vlakplaas. Under his command, C1/Vlakplaas members were drawn into other operational tasks, both within and outside South Africa. Coetzee and two black Vlakplaas operatives applied for amnesty for a number of operations.

168. Captain Jan Carel Coetzee assumed command of the unit after Dirk Coetzee was transferred to the uniform branch of the SAP at the end of 1981. Lieutenant Colonel Jan Hatting ‘Jack’ Cronje became commander of Vlakplaas in early 1983, with Jan Coetzee serving as second in command. Cronje, who had been a part of the SAP contingent in Rhodesia in 1974 and 1975 and afterwards did ‘ border duty’ at Katimo Mulilo in SWA/Namibia, brought to the unit a far wider experience in the use of unconventional methods of counter- insurgency warfare .

169 . Brigadier Cronje applied for amnesty for numerous offences committed during his subsequent appointment as divisional commander of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch, but for only two operations conducted as commander of C1/Vlakplaas. Both these operations confirm the continued use of C1/Vlakplaas as an operational unit. The first was the 22 November 1983 cross - border attack on Mr Zwelibanzi Nyanda, a member of MK’s Natal urban machinery in which both Mr Nyanda and fellow-MK operative Keith McFadden were killed. The second was Operation Zero Zero, an entrapment operation which led to the deaths of eight and severe injuries to seven COSAS youths.

170. In 1983, during Cronje’s term of office, another veteran of the Rhodesian and S WA/Namibian wars, Captain Eugene de Kock, was transferred to C1.71 H e remained as commander of C1 until 1993, when he left the SAP as a colonel with a payout of over R1 million.

171. In May 1994, Colonel de Kock was arrested and subsequently convicted. He applied for amnesty [AM0066/96] for incidents associated with7 2:

• over seventy killings, of which twenty-six were committed outside South Africa, including five of askaris or ex-askaris;

* nine abductions, three of which were committed outside South Africa;

* sabotage of five buildings;

* supply of weapons for attempted coup in the Transkei, and

* supply of weapons to the IFP.

172. During his amnesty hearings, De Kock repeatedly said that he took overall responsibility for the operatives under his command.

173. Fifteen of the killings for which De Kock sought amnesty were committed in the post-1990 period and fell into three broad categories. The first category reflected a continuation of C1’s earlier cross border operations and involved the killing of six people in Botswana in April 1990 (the Chand incident). The second category related to the killing of own forces where it was feared they would disclose the nature of previous covert operations or, in the case of the attempted killing of Captain Dirk Coetzee, where they had already done so. The third category consisted of two incidents in which nine people were killed and which arose fro m operations related to the new focus for combating crime. In the first incident, Vlakplaas operatives applied for amnesty for covering up the killing of four alleged arm smugglers on 21 April 1991 in an abortive entrapment operation near Komatipoort. In the second incident, De Kock and his operatives ambushed a vehicle near Nelspruit on 26 March 1992, killing all four unarmed occupants, allegedly to foil a planned armed robbery. The leader of the group , Mr Tiisetso Leballo, a former driver of Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was later apprehended, interrogated and then shot dead. The applicants, who were denied amnesty, claimed that they believed the planned armed robbery to have been aimed at securing funds for the ANC.

174. In addition to killings, applicant De Kock and some of his team applied for a range of offences relating to the supply of weapons to the IFP in Johannesburg and Natal and to SADF operatives and agents involved in the attempted overthrow of Chief Minister Bantu Holomisa in the Transkei .

175. The Amnesty Committee also received applications for the killing of seven askaris from Dirk Coetzee and Eugene de Kock of C1/Vlakplaas and several of their operatives, and from Port Natal Security Branch operatives: Nkosinathi Peter Dlamini and Ace Moema were killed while Coetzee was commander of Vlakplaas, and Pat Mafuna was killed on an unknown date between 1982 and 1986. Moses Nthelang was killed in a drunken frenzy after he reported having lost his firearm . The remaining three (Brian Ngqulunga, Neville Goodwill Sikhakane and escaped askari Johannes Temba Mabotha) were killed in the post-1990 period. Following the disclosures of Butana Nofomela and Dirk Coetzee in 1989, there was increasing fear that askaris would reveal the workings of C1/Vlakplaas.

176. The story of Mr Tlhomedi Ephraim Mfalapitsa, aka Francis Tladi [AM3592/96] provides insight into the experience of askaris . Mr Mfalapitsa left South Africa in 1976 and joined the ANC in exile. He underwent military training, was deployed on missions into South Africa and finally ended up at military headquarters in Zambia.

177. After the bombing of Nova Catengue camp in 1979, the ANC became extremely edgy about security. It was at this stage that Mr Mfalapitsa found himself party to the torture of suspects during interrogation and witnessed the killing of an operative by other members of his unit. He testified to the Amnesty Committee that he became increasingly disillusioned with the ANC and, in November 1981, returned to South Africa and handed himself over to the SAP:

I told the South African Police that I am not interested in joining either side of the conflict. I wanted them to debrief me and set me free because there was nowhere else to go and this is my country. And it was my experience and my arrest in Botswana, I saw many people who were stateless, who had no place to go. … And then, they refused me. They said they could not let me, after having been in military structure in which Joe Modise is the Chief of the armed forces of the MK. So I helped and I was forced to join the South African Police. (Johannesburg hearing, May 1999.)

178. In January 1982, Mr Mfalapitsa was enrolled as an askari at C1/Vlakplaas. Shortly afterwards, he was approached by a neighbour’s son, Mr Zandisile Musi, who asked him for help in leaving South Africa. Musi, whose two brothers had left South Africa with Mfalapitsa, had no idea that he had changed sides. Unsure whether this was a trap, Mr Mfalapitsa reported the request and was instructed to continue posing as an MK operative.

179. C1 commander Jan Coetzee asked for and received authorisation for an entrapment operation. On instructions from Coetzee, Mfalapitsa offered to train Zandisile Musi and his friends. On the appointed day, he took the four youths to an outbuilding on a disused mine near Krugersdorp where explosives hadal ready been laid. Mfalapitsa left the building and the explosives were detonated, killing three and severely injuring Musi.

71 Constable Eugene Alexander de Ko ck joined the SAP in January 1968 and spent nine months at Police College before being sent to Rhodesia to do ‘border duty.’ In 1978, he was deployed to the Security Branch office at Oshakati and on 1 January 1979 was transferred to the newly established Ko evoet unit, attached to Security B ranch Headquarters. De Ko ck himself engaged in numerous ‘contacts’ in the four years he spent as the head of a highly successful Ko evoet unit. While still at Ko evoe t , De Ko ck had been identified as one of the operatives to take part in the bombing of the ANC offices in London, for which he was awarded the highest decoration, the SAP Star for Outstanding Service. 72 AC / 1 9 9 9 / 0 2 4 2 ; AC / 1 9 9 9 / 0 3 4 5 ; AC / 1 9 9 9 / 0 3 4 9 ; AC / 1 9 9 9 / 0 3 5 0 ; AC / 2 0 0 0 / 0 4 0 ; AC / 2 0 0 0 / 0 5 7 ; AC / 2 0 0 0 / 0 8 4 ; AC / 2 0 0 0 / 0 8 5 ; AC / 2 0 0 0 / 0 8 6 ; AC / 2 0 0 0 / 0 8 9 ; AC / 2 0 0 0 / 0 8 7 ; AC / 2 0 0 0 / 0 9 0 ; AC 2 0 0 0 / 1 5 2 ; AC / 2 0 0 0 / 2 1 5 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 0 2 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 0 4 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 0 6 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 4 7 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 4 9 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 5 8 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 6 3 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 8 1 - M K ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 9 4 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 0 9 5 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 1 0 8 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 1 4 1 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 1 4 6 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 1 4 8 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 1 6 7 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 1 7 1 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 1 7 9 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 2 2 5 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 2 2 7 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 2 2 8 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 2 3 1 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 2 4 1 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 2 5 2 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 2 7 2 ; AC / 2 0 0 1 / 2 7 3 .
 
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