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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 277
Paragraph Numbers 51 to 59
51. ANC targets remained fairly constant and, with certain exceptions, MK operatives remained within these boundaries:
a economic, communications and energy installations and infrastructure (electricity substations, oil refineries, telecommunications structures, etc.);
b government buildings and infrastructure and other apartheid symbols (courts, post offices, government offices);
c security force targets (personnel and physical structures of the police and military); and
d individuals identified as ‘collaborators’ (councillors, state witnesses, suspected informers and defectors).
e In addition, some targets related to specific campaigns being supported by MK, such as labour actions and anti-election campaigns.
52. The stated objective of MK was never to engage in operations that deliberately targeted civilians or indeed white people. Ta rgets were not selected on the basis of race, and most attacks were aimed at the state, its organs and ‘collaborators’. Attacks on ‘collaborators’ form a significant proportion of MK armed actions. According to Mr Aboobaker Ismail, who gave evidence at the hearing on the Church Street bombing in Pretoria on 4 May 1998:
This was never a target, an attack against whites. We never fought a racist war. We fought to undo racism … We never set out deliberately to attack civilian targets. We followed the political objectives of the African National Congress in the course of a just struggle. However, in the course of a war, life is lost, and the injury to and the loss of life of innocent civilians sometimes becomes inevitable. The challenge before us was to avoid indiscriminate killing and to focus on enemy security forces … Whilst Umkhonto we Sizwe had the means to attack civilians, it would have been very easy to come to various houses and shoot people, Umkhonto never did that sort of a thing. It did not take the easy route. Instead it concentrated on military targets, on state infrastructure, often at the cost of the lives of its own cadres.
53. Despite these noble intentions, the majority of casualties of MK operations were civilians. These civilians included those that members of the ANC apparently regarded as legitimate targets: ‘collaborators’ in the form of councillors, state witnesses at the trials of ANC members, suspected informers and the like. In other words, they were ‘deliberately targeted civilians’. For example, in the period 1976 to 1984, of some seventy-one deaths as a result of MK actions, nineteen were members of the security forces and fifty-two were civilians.
54. The ANC Kabwe Conference held in Zambia in June 1985 showed a hardening in the ANC’s attitude towards civilian casualties. Two days before the C o n f e rence, South African security forces launched across - border raid on residences in Gaborone in Botswana, killing twelve people.1 2 4 A c c o rding to the ANC, none of the casualties were MK operatives. This attack on what the ANC described as ‘very, very soft targets’ formed the background to the Confere n c e . The ANC submission to the Commission states that the Conference:
reaffirmed ANC policy with regard to targets considered legitimate: SADF and SAP personnel and installations, selected economic installations and administrative infrastructure. But the risk of civilians being caught in the crossfire when such operations took place could no longer be allowed to prevent the urgently needed, all-round intensification of the armed struggle. The focus of arm e d operations had to shift towards striking directly at enemy personnel, and the struggle had to move out of the townships to the white areas.
Security force targets
55. A large number of amnesty applications related to attacks on police, military personnel and buildings.125 The bomb outside the Johannesburg Magistrate’s court was planned and authorised by Siphiwe Nyanda, then head of the Transvaal military machinery and chairperson of the Swaziland Regional Politico-Military Council (RPMC). Nyanda decided to plant a mini-limpet mine in order to lure members of the South African Police (SAP) to the chosen area. A larger bomb placed in a car nearby would then be detonated by means of a remote control device. Four police officers were killed in the explosion and several others were injure d , including a few civilians.126
56. Mr Heinrich Johannes Grosskopf [AM5917/97], a young white man from an Afrikaans background, left South Africa in early 1986 to join the ANC in exile. While in Lusaka, he was recruited to Special Operations. About six months were spent planning his infiltration, target and means of attack. Ultimately, the S A D F ’s Witwatersrand Command was selected as the target. Mr Grosskopf gave his evidence at a hearing in Johannesburg on 20 November 2000:
A great amount of thought and planning went into considering the political content and consequences of an attack on this military headquarters in central Johannesburg. … The object of the operation was to attack military personnel inside Wits Command by blast damage to the building. The intention was there-fore not to attack sentries or military personnel or civilians for that matter outside the command, the intention was to bring the car bomb into actual contact with the Wits Command building so that the effect of the explosion would be maximised.
57. They decided to plant a bomb in a car with an automatic gearbox that would be able to move itself up to Wits Command without a driver before the bomb exploded .
58. No one was killed in the blast, but about sixty-eight people were injured. Grosskopf subsequently travelled to MK military headquarters in Lusaka where he reported back to his superiors and was debriefed by MK personnel. Grosskopf, Aboobaker Ismail and Johannes Mnisi were granted amnesty for the attack [AC/2000/248; AC/2001/003].
59.A number of applications related to skirmishes in which security force personnel and MK members were injured or killed127 or sabotage attacks on security force buildings and personnel.124 See Volume Two, Chapter Two, page 146. 125 See, for example AM5303/97, AM7164/97, AM5293/97. 126 AM7500/97, AM5303/97, AM5313/97.