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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 282
Paragraph Numbers 70 to 78
Bombs outside security force offices
70. Car bombs were detonated outside buildings housing security force offices. The o ffices were located in the busy central areas of towns, in buildings shared by other civilian offices. Thus, although the intended targets were members of the security forces, the casualties were predominantly civilian passers-by. According to Mr Aboobaker Ismail, testifying at the hearing on the Church Street bombing (Pretoria, 4 May 1998):
If we were to accept that nobody would be killed at any stage, then we wouldn’t have executed the armed struggle. You often found that the security forces themselves had based themselves in civilian areas and the choice then is always ‘do you attack them or not’?
71. The car bomb that exploded outside the headquarters of the South African AirForce in Pretoria became known as the ‘Church Street bomb’. The explosion claimed more casualties than any other single MK attack, killing nineteen people, including the two MK operatives themselves, and injuring more than 200 people. Three persons applied for and were granted amnesty for aspects of this operation: Mr Aboobaker Ismail, Mr Johannes Mnisi (MK Victor Molefe) and Ms Hélène Passtoors [AC/2001/003 and AC/2001/023].
72. Landmine operations began in late 1985 under the overall command of MHQ and were approved by ANC President Oliver Tambo. In terms of ANC policy, only anti-tank landmines were approved for use; anti-personnel mines were specifically excluded. The targets were military personnel, both regular and combat units made up of farmers in the militarised border zones near Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The landmines were placed mainly in the borde r a reas by operatives sent in via these countries.132 The explosive, w h i chwas detonated outside the stadium on 2 July 1988 using a remote control device, kill e d two spectators as they were leaving a rugby match . Thirty - s even others sustained minor and major injuries. Four operatives from MK’s Special Operations unit, including its commander, were granted amnesty [AC / 2 0 0 1 / 1 6 1 ] . 133 Two people were killed and several others injured in the explosion on 18 April 1986. Three MK operatives were granted amnesty [AC/99/0181 and AC/2000/240].
73. The campaign was halted by the ANC in late 1987 due to the high number of civilian casualties. According to police records, at least twenty-one landmines were detonated, causing twenty deaths. Only one of those killed was a member of the security forces. The others were civilians, divided more or less equally between black and white. Nineteen security force members were injured during the campaign as against forty civilians, of whom twenty-nine were black and eleven were white. Three landmines were placed in the Western Transvaal, thirteen in the Eastern Transvaal and twenty-five in the Northern Transvaal. A further twenty landmines were discovered and defused.
74. Two batches of amnesty applications were received and granted in respect of the landmine campaign. The first was from two members of the command structure based in Swaziland, Mr Siphiwe Nyanda [AM6231/97] and Mr Solly Shoke [AM5303/97] and one of their operatives, Mr Dick Mkhonto [AM5304/97], who planted landmines in the Eastern Transvaal and applied for amnesty for at least seven incidents. The second batch was from three operatives who laid landmines in the Messina area in the Northern Transvaal in November 1985, resulting in eight explosions: Mr Mzondeleli Nondula [AM7275/97], Mr Mthetheleli Mncube [AM5829/97] and Mr Jabulani Mbuli [AM6046/97]. All were granted amnesty [AC/2000/111; AC/1999/0054, and AC/2001/093]. No applications were received with regard to the three incidents in the Western Transvaal or the handful of landmines placed in the Northern Transvaal in 1986 and 1987.
75. Mr Dick Mkhonto, one of the operatives involved in placing the landmines, spoke of careful reconnaissance at the White River hearing on 2 May 1999:
After the reconnaissance we found that that place was only used by the military and the police and there were no inhabitants around that area. The only people who were using that road, it was used for logistical supply for the people who w e re in the border, who are working around the fence of Swaziland and South Africa. Then it was taken into consideration that there were no civilians who are using those roads. We have stayed there for three days reconnoitring that place.
76. Despite this reconnaissance, the landmine was detonated by a vehicle driven by black civilians on 28 March 1987. Four of them were killed and the fifth was injured.
77. In a landmine incident134 on 15 December 1985, the Van Eck and De Nysschen families were on holiday on their game farm in the Messina area when their vehicle detonated a landmine. Four children, aged between three and nine years, and two women were killed in the blast. Mr Johannes Frederick van Eck and his eighteen-month-old baby boy, Mr de Nysschen and his daughter survived this ordeal, although they were seriously wounded.
78. The former head of the ANC’s military intelligence, Mr Ronnie Kasrils, initially applied135 for amnesty for the provision of:
maps of border areas and the farm and security network. Instructions were given on reconnaissance methods and planning and on the collecting of data. When farm labourers and civilians were killed and injured in some of these explosions, MK Commanders, myself included, visited these areas with instructions to our operatives to exercise greater caution and be stricter with their reconnaissance. In the end these operations were called off. During this period I was working mainly with Paul Dikaledi (deceased) and Julius Maliba (deceased). (Hearing, 24 July 2000.)