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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 323
Paragraph Numbers 226 to 237
226. Mr Celinhlanhla Zenith Mzimela [AM0435/96], the son of an ailing IFP-supporting chief, was an ANC supporter. In 1990, one of his brothers, also an ANC supporter, was killed by local IFP members, including a Mr Gumede, councillor to his father. The dead man was the rightful heir and was killed in order to prevent his succession to the chieftainship, to clear the way for an IFP-supporting brother, Mr Booi Mzimela.
227. In February 1992, Gumede and his people struck again, killing another of the b rothers, also an ANC supporter and next in line to the chieftainship.
228. CZ Mzimela then decided to act. He and another brother went to Mr Gumede’s house and shot him dead while he was washing. Mzimela was granted amnesty for the killing [AC/1997/0037].
229. This case raises one of the difficult issues that the Amnesty Committee had to deal with in respect of KwaZulu Natal applications in particular – that of personal revenge. In terms of the amnesty criteria, revenge does not qualify as a political objective, and yet it emerged that many incidents occurred in response to previous acts of violence against a perpetrator or his family members. The Amnesty Committee noted, however, that while personal revenge was a feature of the conflicts in the region, the issue had to be seen against the wider backdrop of political conflict and the cycle of violence that gripped villages and townships during this period. Revenge, personal and political, was part of the fabric and momentum of the conflict and could not be separated out from it.
230. In the urban areas, several incidents were connected with crime, migrancy and labour disputes. Some incidents also intersected with other running disputes, such as access to land, or economic conflicts that acquired a political dimension, such as taxi conflicts. In some cases, however, victims disputed the political dimensions of the incidents, arguing that the conflict was simply a faction fight arising from local disputes such as demarcation problems.
2 3 1 . Many ANC applicants in KwaZulu and Natal acknowledged the gap between the A N C ’s organisational national policies and the imperatives of the violent situation in which they lived at local level. Thus:
MR MSANI: It was not the ANC’s aim that we should kill people. But it was the situation that forced us to fight IFP. Any ANC member, bottom or up, knew that if you are ANC, you shouldn’t attack your political opponent, but because of the situation, we were forced to kill each other, IFP and ANC, because a lot of people w e re killed, it was the situation that forced us to do that. (Durban hearing, 24 November 1998.) MR LUTHULI: It wasn’t my organisation which sent me to kill him, but it was the situation in that area. (Caprivi hearings at Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal, 7 April 1998 to 14 September 1998.) MR NCOKWA N E: I know that the ANC does not kill, but we killed because we w e re forced by the situation, where we were being killed without a place where we could voice this out. (Hearing at Durban, 29 April 1999.) MR MAT J E L E: Since it was twenty days before the elections of 1994, the first elections of this country, the honourable President of the African National Congress, your organisation, President Mandela and other respectable leaders, they were passing information that people should not resort to violence, that was the policy of the ANC, isn’t that so sir? MR SIMA: Yes, that is so. But people at grassroots did not actually take it that that should be the case, they were actually perpetrating violence. (Hearing at P i e t e rmaritzburg, 3 February 1999.)
232. Most ANC perpetrators were themselves victims of the conflict. Several had lost members of their families in the violence. They were often refugees, having been violently evicted from areas, their homes and property destroyed. Some had narrowly escaped death themselves. These applicants repeatedly described the failure of the security forces and the judicial system to take steps against the IFP or other perpetrators. As a consequence of the failure and betrayal by state structures, applicants took up arms in the belief that they were compelled to do so to secure and protect their own lives and proper t y. This ‘right to self defence’ did not require ANC policy approval .
233. Applicants also interpreted many attacks as defensive, even if they involved offensive means, such as launching an attack on the homestead of an IFP m ember. They argued that a particular killing or attack was self-defence, in o rder to halt the source of ongoing attacks on themselves.
234. Several applicants applied for incidents in which they were in fact victims of attacks. The attack on COSATU regional chairperson Muntukayise Bhekuyise Ntuli [AM5201/97] by members of the IFP Esikhawini hit squad on 26 August 1992 is a case in point (see below).
235. Many applicants displayed deep regret and remorse for their involvement in the conflict between the ANC and IFP in the region and explained their actions in terms of the situation that prevailed at the time. They spoke of a yearning for reconciliation .
MR MZIMELA: Mrs Gumede, I respect you very much. I just want to say how deeply hurt and regretful I am because you have lost your husband and a friend. That was not my aim to just kill your husband. It was the situation that forced me to behave in the manner that I did. … I wish to express my sincere apologies to you. I thank this honourable Commission for having granted me the chance to address Mrs Gumede. (Hearing at Pietermaritzburg, 22 May 2000.) MR HLENGWA: I would like to say to the family and the relatives of Mbeko that I am here today to apologise to them for my actions, and I took the law in my hands, and I’m asking them to please forgive me. It was because of the situation at Umgababa. IFP and ANC were in conflict. Even our minds were not working v e ry well. Therefore I would please like them to forgive me. (Hearing at P i e t e rmaritzburg, 1 February 1999.)
236. In particular, conflicts that had divided families showed evidence of healing relationships .
ADV MPSHE: What is the relationship between yourself now and Becker Phos w a ’s family? MR PHOSWA: I do not know very much, because I am still in prison, but my brothers who are outside and my children, they are saying they have a peaceful relationship. They even visit each other and live together. ADV MPSHE: And I can take it that you are also in a position to, if you are released, if you meet them to go back to them and to get engaged in some kind of reconciliation with them? You prepared to do that? MR PHOSWA: Yes, I will have to continue where they are from now. I also wanted to add Indaba Zimboeza Phoswa came twice to me in prison. We shake, we shook hands and he said, he asked for forgiveness that his son has killed my son and that we were also affected by the political situation and this what created this. This was not supposed to have happened and that he is sorry about it. We shook hands and he also gave me money and food. (Hearing at P i e t e rmaritzburg, 30 July 1997.)
237. The father of one of the victims responded to Mr Phoswa:
ADV MPSHE: N o w, how did you, how did the death of your son affect you, if it did affect you? MR MTHEMBU: This hurt me a lot, because he was about to be married, but I blame the political situation, because before this political activity in the area, we w e re living in peace. There was not an IFP or ANC, it was a peaceful situation. T herefore, I blame politics and the organisations which had caused the death of my son. ADV MPSHE: Mr Mthembu, part of the mandate of the Truth Commission is to foster reconciliation particularly between or amongst people who have been torn apart by politics. Do you understand? MR MTHEMBU: That is correct . ADV MPSHE: N o w, what is your view about this re conciliation ? MR MTHEMBU: I knew that we were not enemies. It was only the politics which infiltrated the area and at the moment, I will say, we have reconciled in the are a . People at Patene and Richmond have reconciled and even at Gengeshe and I would like to see peace in this area, because we are not enemies, but the organisations made us to be enemies. Although I lost my son I will still think we should be reconciled. ADV MPSHE: The two applicants, whose evidence you listened to today, they a re before this committee, particularly, for amnesty and they are also asking for forgiveness. What is your attitude towards that? MR MTHEMBU: I do forgive them, because I knew we were not enemies. It was politics that caused the animosity in the whole world and even today when we talk to them, they are so nice to us and they also wish for reconciliation. MR WILLS: I have no questions. I would just like to express my great respect for the witness at this stage. JUDGE WILSON: Mr Mthembu, I would like to express the view of the committee, that we sympathise with you in your very tragic loss and we admire this forgiving approach that you have adopted and respect you for the honesty that you have shown in coming to tell us all what your feelings are today. We would like to thank you very much for all you have done here. (Hearing at Pietermaritzburg, 30 July 1997.)