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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 313
Paragraph Numbers 191 to 202
Features of the conflict
191. Spontaneous violence by crowds continued occured during this period, making political control extremely difficult. Many incidents reported to the Commission took place at the hands of large groups of people engaged in collective action. C rowds had a spontaneity and momentum of their own and were unlikely to conform to the discipline of ANC policy or wait for orders or approval .
MR MSIMANGO: … we did not plan as such. We would react to what will be happening at the time. We will not sit down and plan the attack but we will just revenge as it happens. (Hearing at Palm Ridge, 23 November 1998.) MR MOPEDI: Why was it necessary to attack the house in Dube Street ? MR NDLOVU: The attack on that day was prompted by the fact that we lost five of our members the previous Friday and therefore it was necessary for us to avenge their death so that they could learn from this experience that we too can fight back, we are not happy about this. (Hearing at Johannesburg, 24 November 1998.)
192. Suspicion and unsupported rumour thrived in this tense atmosphere. Mr Bongani Nkosi [AM7268/97], one of the chief commanders of the SDUs in Tokoza, described an incident in which he executed an unidentified person on the spot:
MR NKOSI: It was in the morning, I was in my house, I heard a noise outside, I went out. I was wearing nothing on my upper body. I saw people chasing a person. They told me that it was an informer that was there to survey the place, t herefore they were chasing him. I went back to my house. Under the table, I took my AK47 … They brought this person, I gave them the firearm, they misfired four times and Sicelo also misfired with four bullets. I took back my f i rearm, I bridged this fire a rm. He was at a distance of about 20 meters. I shot only once on the head and he fell. …. MR SHANE: Did you know who this person was, the one who died? Did you know his name, did you see him before ? MR NKOSI: I just saw this person for the very first time, I did not search for his identity card or something else. We would just do the work, without looking for further details. (Johannesburg hearing, 9 February 1999.)
193. Many applicants would state that ‘it was common knowledge’ that so-and-so was an IFP member. Any form of association with the IFP could result in a death sentence. A variety of social and physical markers were used to determine the possible affiliation of a suspect, including clothing, language, physical feature s , and being seen in a suspect area or suspect taxi.
194.In this heightened atmosphere of revenge and rage even the remains of suspected IFP members were targets of attack. Bodies of ‘the enemy’ were dug up out of their graves and burnt or dismembered. In several instances, the coffins of deceased persons were seized from hearses and set alight. SDU members described attacking a body in a hearse:
MR MADONDO: It was myself and Jamani who dragged the coffin out of the hearse. I don’t even know where the petrol came from but I saw petrol there and the person was in flames, the dead body was in flames. The only thing that I did was to drag the coffin out of the hearse and it broke. MR MOPEDI: And do you know who was in the coffin? MR MADONDO: No, I did not know. I had Jamani who told me that it was an IFP commander. (Johannesburg hearing, 24 November 1998.)
195. The polarisation of physical space took extreme forms. Not only in residential areas but on public transport, separation became necessary in order to ensure survival.
196. While the main protagonists were IFP and ANC supporters and members, it was mainly ordinary residents who suffered arson attacks, injuries and even death during the protracted conflict. Taxis, trains, funeral vigils, taverns, the places of o rdinary daily life became sites of attack. Residents or visitors who happened to c ross into ‘enemy’ territory were likely to become victims.
197.On the one hand, one of the most significant features of the violence of the 1990s is the total anonymity of the victims from the point of view of the applicants. Civilians were killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the w rong time or because there were suspicions about their allegiance.
198. Furthermore, because clashes between IFP and ANC supporters took the form of skirmishes, with groups opening fire on each other, often at a distance, applicants were frequently unable to state conclusively whether anyone had been injured or killed as a result of their actions, even if they assumed or speculated that deaths and injuries must have occurred. As applicants were usually barely able to recall the year of an incident, let alone the month or day, tracing victims through police and mortuary reports was virtually impossible. Similarly, although the Commission received a number of human rights violation statements relating to these very conflicts, the absence of information about when events took place meant that very few links could be made between victims and amnesty applications.
199. In other cases, victims were well known to perpetrators and life-long neighbours became enemies on the basis of suspect allegiances. In one such case, SDU member Sidney Vincent Nkosi abducted his former friend and neighbour Jabulani from a tavern after his allegiances became suspect. Although Jabulani pleaded for his life, he was taken behind a nearby stadium and shot dead. At the Johannesburg hearing on 2 February 1999, Mr Nkosi, himself a Zulu, told the Commission that:
MR NKOSI: He had Zulu friends, and other ‘comrades’ turned against him because they could see that this person had another agenda that was different from ours. That’s when the people started to distance themselves from him. We heard that from other ‘comrades’ that they could no longer trust him because of his movements. I would like to ask for forgiveness more especially his mother, the one I grew up in front of and his sisters, the whole family. I would like to ask for forgiveness.
200. The interweaving of local issues with national political issues emerged regularly in the amnesty hearings. Traditional and magical elements were not confined to the witchcraft hearings described in the previous section. Even ANC SDU members drew on traditional and magical elements to protect their members and advance their cause. Several SDU applicants referred to n teles i or other magical dimensions in their testimony.
201. Mr Victor WM Mabaso, who participated in the killing of Mr Stephen Radebe, whom he knew personally, spoke about the role of n t e l e s i at the Johannesburg hearing on 2 February 1999:
MR MABASO: First of all, he was a member of Inkatha. Secondly, he was an inyanga of Inkatha, and an informer of Inkatha. And he’s one person who used to provide them with ‘ntelesi’ on their attacking sprees or going out to shoot a person. … Something that happened, something that I witnessed, he cut some-b o d y ’s private parts, a person who was alleged to be an Ikosa (sic) who had alighted from a taxi, and he cut his private parts after he was shot. That is one thing that I witnessed him doing. He also used to give them ‘n t e l e z i’ when they went out to attack Phola Park. CHAIRPERSON: What isnt e l e z i? MR MABASO: N t e l e z i is a medicine, a kind of medicine that one would use going out to attack, so that the targets should get drunk and not see what’s happening, and to protect oneself against bullets in a war situation, and one would easily come back safe.
202. Inevitably the violence began to eat into the soul of its perpetrators and victims. Many SDU members spoke of the merciless and hard attitude they developed towards their ‘enemies’. One SDU member in Katlehong described this attitude while describing the abduction and killing of Mr Beki Khanyile at the Johannesburg hearing on 23 November 1998:
MR MABASO: Yes he apologised profusely. I was supposed to be sensitive towards his apology, but because we had been harassed and we had suffered a lot, so that we no longer had mercy, we no longer cared, we no longer care d about everything, we had lost heart. And anybody who was operating within the IFP could not have survived, and there fore I issued this order [for his death] after his plea. He cried pleading with us, but then because of the things that he did, remembering the many people who died on Sam Ntuli’s memorial service , these were old people who were shot simply because they were wearing Mandela T- shirts . CHAIR P E R S O N: One last aspect I want to cover with you. It is perhaps a sensitive issue, but I need to know what your attitude would be. When you killed these two deceased, how did you feel yourself? MR MABASO: As I’ve already explained that the heart, I did not have the heart. I felt nothing. I was not even guilty. Whatever I feel it’s now I’m thinking for B e k i ’s family and Stephen because they have lost, I had lost and I know there ’s always a gap when someone dies but at that time I did not have a problem. If it was possible I would kill even ten people because I did not have a heart at that time. I was hurt because of my parents that were killed. I did not have a heart. I was going to do whatever so as to protect myself. (Hearing at Johannesburg, 02 F e b r u a ry 1999.) MR SIBEKO: A re you by any chance saying the way you were so affected or the way this violence affected you there was no other way in which your community and yourselves could have defended your property without resorting to arm s ? MR MBAT H A: No, there was no alternative because the violence affected every-b o d y, young and old. It is like something that creeps so that when it crawls into a group of people it just destroys everybody.