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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 305
Paragraph Numbers 163 to 170
Lines of command and operational practices
163. SDUs were by no means a homogeneous category. Rather they reflected the character of local political developments in particular townships and the diversity of the conflicts they engaged in.
164. In most cases, SDUs had some form of contact with ANC structures, albeit in an ad hoc and unstructured way. Some existed in areas where there were no strong ANC branches that could provide political leadership. Some of these were led by MK operatives who had returned from exile and faced strong pressure to initiate and train SDUs. Such MK operatives were unlikely to be high-level ANC personnel.
165. Some – notably the Tokoza SDUs and some of the KwaZulu and Natal SDUs – worked closely with the ANC’s political structures. Regular meetings and liaison took place between the ANC branch and the SDU commanders. In many instances the local political ANC structure might even have initiated the formation of the SDU and was able to play a monitoring and disciplinary role. Yet even in these cases, the political link with the ANC was primarily local rather than regional. It was the local ANC branch that played the supervisory role, and the quality of that supervision depended largely upon the quality of leadership and political maturity of the branch leadership. Moreover, the existence of such political control did not lessen the ferocity of the conflicts or the offensive character of the attacks carried out by the SDUs. Thus, despite political contro l , the Tokoza SDUs engaged in extreme forms of violence.
166. A third version of SDUs may have regarded itself as part of the ANC but, in reality, had little structural or political connection with the organisation. Such S D U s tended to be established by local communities through civic organisations , street committees or mass meetings. These SDUs might borrow the language and sometimes the structure of more formal ANC SDUs, using terms such as ‘ o rders’ and designations such as ‘commander’. Such SDUs were particularly evident in the informal settlements in and around townships. Incidents associated with these SDUs tended to be characterised by spontaneous crowd activity and violent collective action. The weaponry involved was often unsophisticated.
Types of violations
167. The SDU amnesty applications cover a very wide range of offences and attacks on a range of targets. Each region had its own particular features. The offence s applied for fall into the following broad categories.
Arson attacks on homes and communities
168. Arson attacks were employed as a means of forcibly displacing opponents or suspected ‘collaborators’ from their homes or, in the case of informal settlements, from entire areas.
169. Mr JM Mabuza [AM7633/97; AC/1999/0053], applied for and was granted amnesty for several arson attacks on homes in the Katlehong area that were believed to be occupied by IFP members or supporters. Some of the attacks w e re carried out with the assistance of local residents. In his testimony at the Palm Ridge hearing on 8 December 1998, he describes one such incident:
MR MABUZA: Yes, I was at school, just before lunchtime, as we are still busy at school, we were hearing gunshots outside and we were quite uncomfortable and we couldn’t go on. We just decided to go home. On my way home, I was seeing hit squads and the people were being shot at, but fortunately I managed to get home unharmed, but just before I could get home, I saw a house that was on fire. Next to that house, there was a dead body. I went into the house and I put my books there and I took my pistol and I went out. Just in front of my house, there was a group of people that were known to me. I enquired about what was happening in the community. They told me that the fight between the ANC and IFP had started. They said to me I must stop asking questions because things were bad. We went to house number 256 at Hlongwani, that was the same street where I was residing. There were IFP members that were residing there, we used to see them going to the rallies, IFP rallies and meetings
… We wanted to destroy IFP, because it also managed to destroy us in 1990 as we were unarmed as a community. MR SHEIN: But who did you find there ? MR MABUZA: We got women there, there were women and children, but I am not a coward, I don’t kill women … The community was very angry, as I was still talking to these people, they started to stone the house, and I had to get out of the house. When I went out to the group of people, some women followed me and though the community was very angry, they did no harm to women. I know that my community is not composed of cowards, they don’t kill women. …. That is when the house was set alight and the windows were already broken. I can’t remember whether it was Aubrey or someone else who put petrol in one of the bedrooms and the dining room. …. I am the one who set the house alight.
Attacks on hostels
170. Hostels were also attacked. Applicants applied for amnesty for attacks on IFP hostels, which usually involved an exchange of gunfire between SDU members and IFP hostel-dwellers. In one unusual incident, Tokoza SDU members attacked a police patrol and took control of a Casspir1 5 3 Amnesty applicant Mr Radebe [AM0200/96] describes the attack:
We decided that we will shoot the police because of their acts. We shot indiscriminately, we kept shooting, until we got an opportunity to injure some of the policemen. But one policeman I saw in the morning, I realised he was dead. We decided to take the Casspir and use it for counter attacks to the hostel-dwellers, because they had attacked previously during the day. Nyauza was the name of the colleague who drove the Casspir. We proceeded to Katuza hostel, alighted from the Casspir and we knocked at the doors and the windows of the hostel, and we shouted they should wake up and open the doors, we are here to attack. And as they woke up they switched on the lights and we started firing towards them and threw the petrol bombs into their room. It took about some time because we did that to numerous hostel rooms, and we decided it’s time to go back now. We went back to the Casspir and we drove towards the first hostel, and we found them standing there amazed as to what was happening, and I do believe that they thought these were police and we started at shooting at them since they w e re not running away. We shot towards them and we drove towards Phola Park. Just towards Phola Park we decided to stop the Casspir and alight from the Casspir, and walked into the neighbourhood. (Hearing, 8 February 1999.)153 Armoured personnel carrier.