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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 218

Paragraph Numbers 170 to 181

Volume 3

Chapter 3

Subsection 25

170 When David Ntombela of Mncane in Vulindlela became the induna of KwaMncane, the money he collected from people for a ‘co-operative store’ allegedly went into building his own store. Ntombela became known for spearheading attacks against UDF supporters who had begun to infiltrate the Elandskop area towards the end of 1987.

The Case of the Mkhize Family
The Commission heard that, on the night of 9 October 1987, Ntombela, his brother and six other men went to the home of Mr Mandla Mkhize at Zondi’s store, an area in his region. They were looking for Mkhize’s sons, COSATU members Mangethe and Muntu. They were out but their mother, Ms Maqhikila Angelica Mkhize, was at home with three children. According to one of the children, Ntombela then shot and killed the mother with a small handgun and the men killed one of the daughters, Petronella.
The inquest magistrate found in 1989 that it was possible that David Ntombela and five others “were in some way responsible for the deaths”. To this day, the case has not gone to trial.

171 On 31 January 1988, David Ntombela was among a number of people who addressed a large Inkatha rally at Mpumuza in Sweetwaters. Witnesses allege that he said: “Anyone who does not want to belong to Inkatha should be killed”. He said he would go to each of the Chiefs’ areas and kill those who were not Inkatha. He reportedly asked permission of the Chiefs to stop the meeting so that he could lead the people out and drive the UDF and COSATU from the area. After this meeting, an attack was launched on the township of Ashdown, assisted by the police.33

172 The Commission heard that Ntombela enjoyed a good relationship with senior members of the police and that units of the riot police were often seen at his home. Evidence given at the Commission’s hearings in Pietermaritzburg in 1996 and at a 1997 amnesty hearing in Edendale indicates that Ntombela was in regular contact with the police and worked with them in the recruitment, administration and payment of special constables. In April 1997, it was revealed that Ntombela, along with ANC leader Sifiso Nkabinde, had been a long-time police informer and agent.

173 Mr Abdul Awetha of Imbali was described as representative of the urban town councillor-type of warlord. Awetha gained prominence through his opposition to the rise of youth resistance in the 1980s. As the pressure on the black township councils increased, he began to gather a number of unemployed strongmen around him. He also built up a lucrative patronage system through the granting of housing sites and trading licenses. He is said to have used false promises of access to houses to get people to join Inkatha. Awetha played a prominent role in much of the conflict in and around Imbali during this period. He is alleged to have been involved in procuring weapons with the help of security police.

174 In 1985, vigilante groups clustered around Imbali town councillors were reported to be going from house to house demanding that all UDF, AZAPO and Imbali Civic Association members be handed over to them. A number of attacks, assaults and acts of intimidation took place. Awetha was one of three people arrested on 9 June 1992 in connection with the death of Mr S’khumbuzo Ngwenya, who chaired the Imbali ANC branch (see below). However, charges were dropped when the state’s key witness refused to testify after allegedly being threatened. Awetha has not been prosecuted for the violence in which he is alleged to have been involved or for his corrupt behaviour as a town councillor.


175 Recent police investigations and court proceedings have unearthed much evidence of the involvement of the highest levels of the state’s security apparatus in the paramilitary training of Inkatha-supporting recruits for deployment against the UDF/ANC in townships and other areas around the province.

176 In the face of rising militancy in the UDF, the chief minister and minister of police in the KwaZulu government, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, expressed the embattled position of Inkatha supporters on the ground as follows:

I hardly need to emphasise that we need to be placed in a far better position to defend our property and the lives of our people from those kinds of attacks. We do not intend to be sitting ducks … In fact, I believe that we must prepare ourselves not only to defend property and life but to go beyond that and prepare ourselves to hit back with devastating force at those who destroy our property and kill us.
It will be a sad day when brother has to defend himself against brother. This is exactly what we will be forced to do if these kinds of incidents escalate.34

177 According to a secret State Security Council document35, the Inkatha Central Committee decided during 1985 “that the whole of KwaZulu and Natal must be turned into a so-called ‘no-go area’ for the UDF, regardless of the consequences”.

178 In late 1985, Chief Buthelezi was alerted to alleged MK plans to assassinate him and turned to the government and SADF for assistance. His requests, as detailed in various military intelligence and State Security Council documents, included the training and deployment of a VIP guard unit, an intelligence structure, a KwaZulu army, the authority to issue firearm licenses, and a paramilitary force. In a Section 29 Hearing of the Commission, former IFP National Council member Walter Felgate recalled discussions in which he had specifically advised Chief Minister Buthelezi of the need for a defensive and pre-emptive capacity for Inkatha. What was envisaged, he said, was a ‘strike capacity’ for the IFP, not purely a defensive group to look after KwaZulu government VIPs and property.

179 One of the outcomes of these deliberations was the clandestine paramilitary training of some 200 Inkatha supporters by the SADF in the Caprivi, Namibia, during 1986, known as Operation Marion. The ‘Caprivi trainees’ returned to KwaZulu and Natal in September 1986, after six months of special forces training which, they were told, was to equip them to destroy the UDF/ANC. The ‘Caprivi trainees’ were variously deployed around the province: some to the KLA Protection Unit, some to Inkatha constituency offices and some to KZP stations. The trainees were required to make themselves available to local Inkatha leaders as well as to undertake the training of Inkatha youths in the areas where they were deployed.36

180 The role of the ‘Caprivi trainees’ came under the spotlight in the Durban Supreme Court during the so-called ‘KwaMakhutha trial’37 of 1996. The Court found that Inkatha members trained by the SADF in the Caprivi were responsible for the killing in January 1987 of thirteen people, mostly women and children, in an AK-47 attack on the home of UDF leader Mr Bheki Ntuli, in the KwaMakhutha township south of Durban [KZN/MR/031/DN].

181 The Commission decided that a hearing should be held to hear testimony from and permit cross-examination of those witnesses whom the state had failed to call in the KwaMakhutha trial. Witnesses included Caprivi trainees as well as their political commissar, Daluxolo Luthuli, and an SADF expert on counter-revolutionary warfare. Evidence was also presented by a Special Forces amnesty applicant who had trained the recruits in the Caprivi.

33 Natal Witness, 2 February 1988. 34 Hansard: KwaZulu Legislative Assembly, 28 May 1984, p. 916 35 Document headed ‘Probleemontleding van die onrussituasie in Natal’ [Problem analysis of the unrest situation in Natal], Appendix A to SSVR/535/7/DD, March 1989. 36 The finding of the Commission on the Caprivi Training is dealt with elsewhere in this Commission’s report. In brief, the Commission found that Chief Mangosuthu G Buthelezi conspired with then President P W Botha, then Minister of Defence, General Magnus Malan and other senior members of the military establishment to create an unlawful and offensive paramilitary force to be deployed against the ANC, UDF and their supporters. It is a finding of the Commission that the ‘Caprivi trainees’ were responsible for an unknown number of gross violations, including killings and attempted killings, in KwaMakhutha, Clermont, Mpumalanga, Sinating and Esikhawini. For these violations, the ‘Caprivi trainees’ and unknown other Inkatha supporters are held accountable. 37 The State v Peter Msane and 19 others.
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