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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 371
Paragraph Numbers 119 to 128
119. The assertions by the Caprivi trainee amnesty applicants that they were acting as part of a well-resourced and orchestrated strategy coincided with the Commission ’s finding that in 1986 the SADF conspired with Inkatha to provide the latter with a covert, offensive paramilitary unit (hit squad) to be deployed illegally against persons and organisations perceived to be opposed to or enemies of both the South African government and Inkatha. The SADF provided training, financial and logistical management and behind-the-scenes supervision of the trainees who were trained by the special forces unit of the SADF in the Caprivi strip.195
120. The purpose and nature of the training (which has been documented in Volume Two, Chapter Five and Volume Three, Chapter Three) was succinctly summed up by one of the military trainers, Colonel Jan Anton Nieuwoudt [AM3813/96; AC/2001/264], in his amnesty application, as being ‘to identify and eliminate ANC, SACP and PAC targets’. Nieuwoudt also explained to the Commission how the trainees were taught the art of ‘nie terug spoorbaarheid’ or how to cover up their crimes. It was hardly surprising that the military planners of the Caprivi project requested ‘indemnity from prosecution for offences carrying the death penalty’.1 9 6 Indeed the Operation Marion documents are littered with acknowledgements and references to the unlawful nature of the actions involved. The Commission found that probabilities that the Caprivi pro j e c t amounted to a conspiracy to murder were overwhelming.
121. With regard to the KwaZulu Police, the Commission found that from the period 1986 to 1994, the KZP acted in a biased manner and overwhelmingly in furtherance of the interests of Inkatha, and later the IFP. This was a view that was also expressed by several amnesty applicants. Although there were exceptions to the following general statement, in that some members of the KZP did carry out their duties in an unbiased and lawful manner, the KZP generally was characterised by incompetence, brutality and political bias in favour of the IFP, all of which contributed to the widespread commission of gross human rights abuses197 .
122. With re gard to the Esikhawini hit squad led by Gcina Mkhize, who applied for Amnesty along with others, the Commission found that in 1990, certain senior members of the IFP conspired with senior members of the KZP to establish a hit squad in Esikhawini township, to be deployed illegally against people perceive d to be opposed to the IFP198. Contrary to the claims of the IFP leadership that it was never the policy of the organisation to engage in violence in furtherance of its political objectives, the Amnesty Committee accepted the evidence of amnesty applicants that they took instructions from certain senior members of the organisation, and that these activities resulted in the commission of gros s human rights violations.
123. With re g a rd to the self-protection unit members, the Commission found that during the period 1993–1994, the self-protection unit (SPU) project, although
officially placed within the ambit of the Peace Accord and containing an element of self-p rotection, was also intended to furnish the Inkatha Freedom Party with the military capacity to, by force, prevent the central government and the Transitional Executive Council from holding elections that did not accommodate the IFP’s desires for self-determination. Evidence from former members of self-protect i o n units placed before the Amnesty Committee reinforced the finding of the Commission that such armed resistance would entail the risk of violence and injury to persons.
124. The Commission gave due attention to the response of the IFP to these and other findings of the Human Rights Violations Committee. However, the Commission is of the view that the evidence which has emerged through the amnesty process has done nothing to cause the Commission to change or moderate these findings in any way. On the contrary, on the completion of the work of the Amnesty Committee, the Commission is satisfied that the core findings made in its 1998 report are justified.195 See Volume Th r e e, Chapter Th r e e, p. 2 2 1 f f. and Volume Fi v e, Chapter Six, p. 2 3 4 . 196 UITERS GEHEIM ST- 2 / 3 / 3 1 0 / 4 / MARIO N / 2 / 3 . 197 Volume 3. 198 Volume 5, p. 2 3 5 .
125. During several amnesty hearings, the Amnesty Committee or the applicants’ legal representatives facilitated meetings between applicants and the relatives of victims or the victims themselves. This occurred, for example, at the hearings of Mr Daluxolo Luthuli and others where the community of Esikhawini express e d forgiveness. A key precipitating factor for this reconciliation appeared to be the extent to which the applicant was regarded as having made full disclosure and his openness about his motives and lines of command.
126. For example, in Luthuli’s amnesty hearing, his legal representative, Advocate A Stewart, said:
The position taken by Mr Luthuli has been one where he accepts moral responsibility for all the activities that the Caprivi trainees were involved in, even where he didn’t know what those activities were, or may not have given orders in relation to them. (Hearing at Pinetown, 8 March 1999.)
127. On the other hand, implicated persons who continued to deny their role in events made reconciliation impossible.
128. At the amnesty hearing of Mr ‘Sosha’ Mbhele, there were bitter words between the applicant and his former commander, Mr Bheki Mkhize:
MR MKHIZE: Sosha, what I would like to tell the community is that you were a killer, you were even responsible for killing IFP. I don’t know you to have been killing ANC members. MR LAX: Do you want him to answer that? Are you putting that to him as a question, do you want him to respond to your comment? What is your re s p o n s e to that, Mr Mbhele? You see, you mustn’t put too much to him, then it’s too difficult for him tores pond . MR MBHELE: When I came here, I knew exactly what he is going to say, because when you are in such a situation as I am, you are regarded, or you are put to appear as a criminal. I know a lot of other people who are in prison and have been labelled criminals because of what the situation is now. When I was not in prison, when I was working for them, I was regarded as a comrade, but now that I am in prison and I have a sentence of life imprisonment, I am no longer useful to them. You came here and when you ... (indistinct) stood up, I knew what you w e re going to say, I knew what’s your reason for coming in front was. When we a re convicted, nobody admits that they know us, nobody admits that they know us, even in the organisation. I know all of this. When a person is in trouble, t h e y ’ re actually regarded as criminals. Even the people you are with now, if they get into trouble, you will deny any knowledge of them, but if you were to go to the IFP office now and inquire about me, they will tell you about me, I am a card c a r rying member of the IFP. You are a criminal. You have even acquired a shop, because you have forced people to donate money for ammunition allegedly. I have all the information about you. My family is in trouble because of what happened to me, because I am in prison, but you are free, because of you, whatever you have come for here is not true, because you want to appear to be God in front of the community’s eyes. (Pietermaritzburg hearing, 18 December 1998.)