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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 234
Paragraph Numbers 251 to 266
Northern Cape Security Branch
251. The Northern Cape Security Branch was based in Kimberley and included a branch at Vr y burg .
252 . The branch commander of Vryburg applied for and was granted amnesty for an attack on a church conducted in co-operation with C1/Vlakplaas.
Northern Transvaal Security Branch: A case study
253. The Northern Transvaal Security Branch was based in Pretoria and was responsible for Pretoria and its environs, including the black townships of Mamelodi and Atteridgeville. The Branch had sub-branches in Brits and B ronkhorstspruit, from where it monitored Kwandebele. Brigadier Jan Hattingh ‘Jack’ Cronje was the divisional commander during the key period for which most applications were received. During this period, Brigadier Cronje also served in an official capacity on the JMC.80
254. Thirty members of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch applied for amnesty for sixty incidents committed between 1981 and 1990. Several operatives, including the Divisional Commander, also sought amnesty for a number of attacks on the homes of activists in the mid-1980s. In addition, two applications were received from members of the Western Transvaal Security Branch, six from the SADF Special Forces and five from members of other SAP units for a number of joint operations or incidents in which they had participated. An application was also received from the commanding officer of the Security Branch and from the Chairperson of a security sub-committee of the Northern Transvaal JMC for incidents that they had authorised.
255. Approximately twelve of the incidents involved torture or serious assault. There w e re twenty-two abductions; forty-five killings, three of which took place outside South Africa’s borders; sixteen bombing/arson attacks on homes, and an undisclosed number of attacks on the homes of activists, either with petro l bombs or with more lethal explosive devices.8 1
256. Amnesty was granted in 120 instances, refused in nine, conditionally granted or granted / refused in five. No decision was taken in two instances where the applicant was deceased and in one where the application was withdrawn.
257 . Most of the violations for which amnesty was sought emanated from a covert group under the command of Lieutenant Jacques Hechter.
258 . Attacks on the homes of activists took place primarily in Mamelodi, Atteridgeville, Brits and Tembisa. Targets of abductions and killings tended to be MK operatives or those suspected of being linked to MK members. Ta rgets for intimidation tended to be those involved in mass campaigns. In several instances, these attacks led to deaths.
259. A pentolite bomb was thrown at the home of the Ledwaba family shortly after midnight on 18 September 1986. There were nine people in the house at the time of the attack, including a 62-year-old woman and children under the age of fifteen. The target of the attack, Ms May Ledwaba, was unharmed but Mr Walter Ledwaba, a relative, was killed and Mr Julian Selepe lost a hand and suffered severe damage to his leg [AM4158/96; AM2776/96; AM3759/96; AM2773/96].
260. In February 1987, the home of Mr Scheepers Morodu, chairperson of the Mamelodi Students’ Congress, was petrol-bombed. Mr Morodu was uninjured , but his eleven-year-old niece, Sanna Puleng Letsie, was killed. Lieutenant Willem Johannes Momberg, Sergeant Eric Goosen, Captain Jacques Hechter, Brigadier Jan Hattingh Cronje and Brigadier Gilles van de Wall, who chaired the security sub-committee of the Northern Transvaal Joint Management Centre, applied for and were granted amnesty for this incident [AC/2001/061].
261. Approximately three months later, Scheepers Morodu was detained by the Northern Transvaal Security Branch. During interrogation, Lieutenant Hechter and Sergeant van Vuuren subjected him to various forms of torture, including electric shock, suffocation and assault. Eventually he agreed to become an informer. At the amnesty hearing into his torture, Mr Morodu testified that:
This act ruined my life and I could not walk safe in the township and each and every person suspected me … I wouldn’t have collaborated with them and they knew that for a fact when they interrogated me and that is why they brought in Mr Mamasela to come and talk to me – whereby I even refused. And when one of them left the office, Joe Mamasela told me in no uncertain terms that I am going to die if I don’t work with them. (Pretoria hearing, 21 March 1999.)
262. M o rodu also testified that he has had to continue to receive medical treatment as a consequence of his torture:
My last operation was last October 31st ... According to that doctor they said my nose was the bone which separates the two nostrils was went to the other side. I think it is as a result of them kicking me in my face.
263. The covert operational unit was also involved in a number of abductions and killings. Lieutenant Hechter testified at the Masuku hearing on 26 March 2000 that:
It started with petrol bombs and then, as we began to target the more serious activists, it went over to bomb attacks and then there were specific activists who were removed and eliminated from society.
264. The covert unit was also involved in the following operations:
a On 6 May 1987, Mr Joe Tsele, a UDF activist, was shot dead in his home in Bophuthatswana by Joe Mamasela.82
b On the night of 15 July 1986, nine youths were shot dead and their bodies set alight in a house in Kwandebele. This operation happened just three weeks after ten youths had been killed near Nietverdiend (see above).
c In the same month, Messrs Jackson Maake, Andrew Maponye Makope and Harold Sello Sefolo were abducted and taken to an abandoned Portland Cement Company property near Pretoria. Here they were interrogated and shocked with high voltage electricity until they were dead, one by one. Mr Sefolo, the last to die, witnessed the deaths of Mr Maake and Mr Makope. The bodies of the three were taken and placed on a landmine on an abandoned road in Bophuthatswana. The landmine was then detonated.83
d Shortly after the above operation, an unknown person was abducted and taken to a deserted area in Bophuthatswana. Applicant Constable Sampina Bokaba testified that Hechter questioned Sefolo and, dissatisfied with his responses, tied a wire around his neck and strangled him, with the assistance of Warrant Officer van Vuuren. Sefolo’s body was then dumped in the veld with a tyre placed around his neck. Petrol was poured over him and he was set alight.84
e In 1987, an unnamed man believed by the Security Branch to be a member of MK was picked up for questioning. He was driven into Mamelodi by between six and eight operatives, including Brigadier Cronje, the Divisional Commander of Northern Transvaal Security Branch, and asked to identify houses where MK members were hiding. When he was unable to identify a single house, he was assaulted by the operatives. Captain Prinsloo testified that he throttled the captive until his body became limp and sank to the ground. Lieutenant Momberg and Sergeant Goosen picked the victim up and placed him on a landmine, which was then detonated. Lieutenant Momberg, who lit the fuse, testified that he heard the explosion as he ‘walked away from this scene towards the bus and climbed in’. The group then went back to Pretoria (Pretoria hearing, 1999.
f Amnesty applicants confirmed that Sergeant David Mothasi and Mrs Busisiwe Irene Mothasi were killed by members of the covert unit at their home in Temba, Bophuthatswana on 30 November 1987, allegedly on the instructions of the Divisional Commissioner of Police, Brigadier Stemmet.85They further testified that there had been no instruction to kill Mrs Mothasi, and that her killing by Constable Joe Mamasela was unauthorised. In his section 29 appearance before the Commission, Mamasela claimed that his instructions were that both Sergeant and Mrs Mothasi and their five-yearold son were to be killed, but that he had spared the life of the child. Constable Mamasela did not apply for amnesty.
265. Lieutenant Jacques Hechter of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch (see above) also acted as the link with an SADF Special Forces covert operational unit that was involved in conducting joint operations with the Northern Transvaal Security Branch. Brigadier Cronje testified that Brigadier Schoon, head of Section C (terrorist investigations) at Security Branch Headquarters, instructed him to work with the SADF’s Special Forces. This confirmed Brigadier Cronje’s opinion that the Security Branch was now engaged in all-out war. At the Security Forces hearing that took place from 2–10 October 2000, he testified that:
[Special Forces] was the special combat unit working with covert actions. If Brigadier Schoon gave me instruction to work with Military Intelligence I would not have considered than an instruction [for] war, but the instruction to work with Special Forces was a direct instruction to get involved in direct military warfare. I accepted Brigadier Schoon’s instruction and respected it as an instruction to get directly involved with military action in a military way. It was therefore no longer normal policing actions or tasks which I had to carry out. My responsibilities were therefore far wider.
266. The covert unit undertook at least three joint operations with SADF Special Forces (see below).80 Joint Management Committee. 81 These are not mutually exclusive categories : many incidents involve multiple violations, where a person may be abducted , tortured and then killed. Similarly killings include those killed during an attack on a home. 82 Volume Two, Chapter Three, p p. 232–3 . 83 See Volume Two, Chapter Three, pp. 238–9 . 84 Hearing 27 March to 7 April 2000. See Volume Tw o, Chapter Th r e e, p. 2 3 8 ; AC / 1 9 9 9 / 0 3 2 ,A M 2 7 7 7 / 9 6 , AC / 1 9 9 9 / 0 3 0 ,A M 2 7 7 6 / 9 6 , AC / 2 0 0 0 / 1 0 7 ,A M 5 4 6 0 / 9 7 . 85 See Volume Tw o, Chapter Tw o, p. 2 7 1 .