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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 7 of Episode 4

26:22There have been a great many politically motivated assassinations and murders in South Africa. The vast majority of these cases are unsolved. The murder we investigate and solve tonight happened 15 years ago. Nobody has been charged with it. Colleague Jacques Pauw reports.Full Transcript and References
26:43Anti-apartheid activist and ANC lawyer Griffiths Mxenge. On the 19th of November 1991, his body was found on this sports field in Umlazi near Durban. He had 45 stab wounds, his throat was slit and his ear severed. The murder of Griffiths Mxenge became one of the most notorious political assassinations ever. His family has always maintained he was killed by the South African Police. // My brother was an intelligent man, who made sure that he does not break the law. He was furthering, you know his political objectives. He was doing a lot of work with the ANC, he was helping the ANC; you know people who wanted to leave the country. I mean that is no crime as far as I am concerned. He didn’t deserve to die for that; they could have prosecuted him. Full Transcript
27:39Police however say it was either a robbery or Mxenge was killed by the ANC in an internal strife. For eight years his murder remained a mystery, until November 1989 when a former commander of the police anti-terrorist unit at Vlakplaas lifted the lid on police death squads. ‘I murdered Mxenge’, confessed Captain Dirk Coetzee. Full Transcript
28:08Who gave you the instruction, to go and kill Mxenge? // Brigadier H. R. van der Hofen who was the then the regional commander of security, Port Natal, Durban. I was called in, or reported every morning at Brigadier Van der Hofen’s office and also in the afternoon for instructions, briefing and debriefing. When he then asked me one morning or afternoon, ‘why don’t we make a plan with Griffith Mxenge?’ // What did it mean to make a plan? // To make a plan in our language means one thing only: take him out, kill him, murder him, assassinate him; get rid of him.Full Transcript
28:48Coetzee said a death squad, consisting of four black Vlakplaas policemen, did the actual killing. One of them, Almond Nofemela, admitted his involvement at the end of 1989. Nofemela was at the time on death row for another murder. David Tshikalanga confessed shortly afterwards. Coetzee and the other two implicated this man, Joe Mamasela, as a leader of the death squad.Full Transcript
29:20I asked for Joe Mamasela to come down to assist in the operation because he was the main operator I would say, with Almond Nofemela of course, but a sober guy. A non-smoker, a non-drinker, had the killer instinct, super fit. Full Transcript
29:42State President F. W. de Klerk appointed the Harms Commission of inquiry. Mr Justice Louis Harms said during the hearings that Coetzee was talking crap. The police said Coetzee was mad, Nofemela was trying to save his own skin and Tshikalanga was nothing more than a gardener at Vlakplaas. The Harms Commission became a farce. // This was the man investigating Coetzee’s allegation, General Krappies Engelbrecht, recently exposed in the Eugene de Kock case as the Vlakplaas sweeper, the cop who had to cover up. The Goldstone Commission implicated him in third force activities. No surprise then that Harms found there was no police death squads. Coetzee has however maintained that he did plan the murder of Griffiths Mxenge.Full Transcript
30:42We were instructed to make it look like a robbery. // Who instructed you? // Brigadier van der Hofen. A hunting knife was brought down from Vlakplaas, I can’t recall whether we bought the other okapi knives in Durban or whether that also came from Vlakplaas. I got a report back from him that they staged a breakdown; it was a rainy night, drizzling. And, they staged a breakdown with their police bakkie on a narrow road leading to Mxenge’s house. When he stopped to hear whether he could assist them, they then held him at point blank with a gun. And the killing took place at the scene where they took him out of the car at the Umlazi stadium. That is where the actual stabbing and killing took place.Full Transcript
31:36Brigadier Jan van der Hofen has denied any complicity in the murder and said at the Harms Commission that he read about the murder in the newspaper. // Evidence was recently led in the Eugene de Kock case that he and his men killed the fourth member of the death squad. Brian Ngqulunga was shot dead in July 1990, because he wanted to confess to the Harms Commission. As more evidence emerged about police death squads, Police Commissioner George Fivaz reopened the Mxenge investigation last year. Three people have already confessed to the killing, but now, the leader of the squad, warrant officer Joe Mamasela has also decided to talk. Three weeks ago Mamasela admitted on this programme that he and his colleagues at Vlakplaas murdered anti-apartheid activists during the eighties.Full Transcript and References
32:38How many people have you killed as a security policeman? // Well, as an individual it is hard to say how many but collectively we killed between 30, 35. // Who was the first man you had killed? // It was Griffith Mxenge // Why did you kill him? // It was instructions from Dirk Coetzee and Brigadier Van der Hofen. Full Transcript
33:03Well, I don’t know whether it was his first killing, but he was in a way forced into it, yes. Because, I mean, once the blacks were involved in the planning of an assassination and they would refuse to participate. It means that it’s a negative element who might spill the beans later, and would end up like Brian Ngqulunga did in the end, in his grave. Full Transcript
33:29Dirk just told me there’s a lawyer by the name of Griffiths Mxenge, an ANC … a former ANC insurgent and he was detained in Robben Island but he said Durban police would give me full briefings the following day. The following morning, half past eight, I went to the security police offices. I found a Brigadier by the name of Van der Hofen. And, the brigadier briefed me in front of Dirk Coetzee about this lawyer, Mxenge, and that Mxenge came from Robben Island and he’s giving them headache. And the ANC has sent him 100 000 to recruit youth for African National Congress, and the man is so intelligent that they cannot do anything about it. Full Transcript
34:20Why did you kill Mxenge so brutally? // The intention was not to kill him brutally. It was to make the whole thing appear … it was to simulate robbery. But unfortunately in the scene of crime certain things develop that you don’t expect. Mxenge’s physical strength was undermined but when he was stabbed he stood up and he fought. It was a life and death struggle. It was not as if people were there and they killed Mxenge, Mxenge just lie there. He was chasing us around with our knives. You know, it was like a pack of hungry wolves, you know, attacking a prey and the prey was fighting back. It was terrible. // That same night, it was fairly late, after nine on the 19th of November 1989 I reported to Brigadier Van der Hofen, who was staying in the official police flats on the C R Swart square police premises, where I reported that the mission has been completed, that Mxenge was killed. Full Transcript
35:37The Mxenge family has made a pledge not to rest until the killers of Griffiths have been prosecuted and jailed and yet they are very suspicious of the latest police investigation. // To say the least, it’s disappointing. Only this afternoon I talked to Major Moodley. I could see that the police are not taking this investigation with all the seriousness it deserves. Because, number one: he’s not been to talk to Joe Mamasela, and he’s still telling me that they’re still busy transcribing tapes you know from court evidence and Nofemela.Full Transcript
36:28Police investigators have not interviewed or questioned Joe Mamasela yet but they have been informed of his confession. Police Assistant Commissioner [inaudible] Brits said this week the investigation has nearly been completed and he is meeting Natal Attorney-General Tim McNally this week to discuss possible prosecutions. High ranking and senior police officers may be charged soon. Full Transcript
36:53Coetzee, Nofemela and Tshikalanga have applied for amnesty. The Mxenge family has lodged an application with the constitutional court to declare the Truth Commission unconstitutional. // Mamasela, Dirk Coetzee, Nofemela, Tshikalanga and those brigadiers who gave them instructions, they’ve committed crimes against humanity. We’ll say that over and over again. That is not pardonable in terms of international law. Even the president of this country can’t grant them that. They’ve got to go to jail and serve their time in full. That’s what we’re yearning? // Can you forgive them? // We can’t forgive them; it’s just out of the question. It’s out of the question if you just listened what I said now, the manner they killed our brother. I think it is only a person with a character of Jesus Christ who can probably try to forgive but not us. We are still as bitter as we were in 1981, when they did this. Full Transcript
38:06This week we played Mamasela’s confession to the brothers. // In a country which has respect for justice you would have long been locked up and probably even hanged. // I think Joe Mamasela is an animal. I don’t think he’s a human being. Because to stab a person 45 times as he did; I don’t think he belongs to the world of the human beings, he belongs to one of the animals. // We will not rest until justice is done. Full Transcript
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