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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 207

Paragraph Numbers 177 to 180

Volume 2

Chapter 3

Subsection 19

‘Accidental deaths’

177 In at least three cases which came before the Commission, the police claimed accidental death. Mr Nicodimus Kgoathe [JB00113/03NWRUS] and one of his co-accused, Mr Solomon Modipane, both died in detention under the Terrorism Act in February 1969. The police explanation for Kgoathe’s death was “bronchial pneumonia after slipping in the shower” and for Modipane’s death, “fatal injuries from slipping on a bar of soap”.

178 Mr Joseph Mdluli [KZN/KM/999/DN], one of the accused in the case against Harry Gwala and nine others, died in detention in Durban on 19 March 1976. The official explanation for his death was “injury to neck after falling against a chair”. While Judge Howard rejected allegations of torture made by detainees during the court case, he indicated in his judgement that the injuries sustained by Mdluli could not have been self-inflicted or caused accidentally, and found that most, if not all, of the injuries had been inflicted by the security police. In October 1976, four security police, namely Captain David van Zyl, Andy Taylor, Detective Sergeant H Makhanya and Detective Sergeant Z Mkhize, were charged with culpable homicide. All were later acquitted. In March 1979, the state admitted liability for the death of Mdluli and an out-of-court settlement of R28 616 was paid to his widow.

‘Natural causes’

179 In the following cases police claimed death from natural causes:

a Mr Mzukisi Melvin Nobadula [EC0662/96PLZ] died in detention in Port Elizabeth in December 1977. His brother identified his body in the mortuary and saw that there were scars, burn marks and blood on it. At the post mortem, however, the district surgeon, Dr Laing, said he had died of natural causes.

b Mr Caleb Mayekiso [EC0644/96/PLZ] died in detention in Port Elizabeth in 1969 while being held under the Terrorism Act.

c Mr Elijah Loza [CT00257/FLA] died in Cape Town in 1977, allegedly of a stroke. His family believes he was “tortured to death”.

d Mr Stanza Bopape [JB00500/02NPPTB] was reported at the time of his dis appearance to have escaped while being transported. Amnesty applications received by the Commission indicate that he died in detention, following electric shock, but allegedly from ‘natural causes’ (see below).

e Mr Paris Malatji [JB0409/01GTSOW], an AZAPO activist, was shot at point-blank range when in custody in 1983 at Protea police station. Sergeant January Harm van As was convicted and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for the shooting, the first conviction for the death of a detainee.

f Mr Andries Raditsela, a member of the Chemical Workers’ Industrial Union (CWIU) and executive member of the Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU), was detained and assaulted so severely at Tsakane police station on 4 May 1985 that he died of head injuries two days later May in Baragwanath hospital, after his release.

Deaths in detention under security legislation

180 The Commission is aware of the following deaths of detainees held under specific security laws, excluding those detained under emergency regulations. The attributed cause of death is included:

1964: Mr James Tyitya, Port Elizabeth: ‘suicide by hanging’;

1965: Mr Nengeni Gaga, Transkei: ‘natural causes’; Mr Pongolosha Hoye, Transkei: ‘suicide by hanging’;

1966: Mr James Hamakwayo, Pretoria: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Hangula Shonyeka, Pretoria: ‘suicide’; Mr Leong Yun Pin, Pretoria: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Ah Yan, Silverton: ‘suicide by hanging’;

1967: Mr Alpheus Maliba, South West Africa/Northern Transvaal: ‘suicide by hanging’;

1968: Mr Jundea B Tubakwe, Pretoria: ‘suicide by hanging’;

1969: Mr Michael Shivute, South West Africa: ‘suicide’; Mr Jacob Monakgotla, Pretoria: ‘natural causes’; Imam Abdullah Haron, Cape Town: ‘slipped down stairs’; Mr Mthayeni Cuthsela, Transkei: ‘natural causes’;

1976: Mr William Tshwane, Modderbee: ‘shot while trying to escape’; Mr Dumisani Mbatha, Modderbee: ‘natural causes’; Mr Fenuel Mogatusi, Johannesburg: ‘natural causes’; Mr Jacob Mashabane, Johannesburg: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Edward Mzolo, Johannesburg: ‘undisclosed’; Mr Ernest Mamasile, Transkei: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Thabo Mosala, Transkei: ‘natural causes’; Mr Wellington Tshazibane, Johannesburg: ‘suicide by hanging’;

1977: Mr Nabaoth Ntshuntsha, Leslie: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Lawrence Ndzanga, Johannesburg: ‘natural causes’; Mr Elmon Malele, Johannesburg: ‘natural causes’; Mr Twasifeni Joyi, Transkei: ‘undisclosed’; Mr Mathews Mabelane, Johannesburg: ‘fell out of window’; Mr Samuel Malinga, Pietermartizburg: ‘natural causes’; Mr Aaron Khoza, Pietermaritzburg: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Hoosen Haffajee, Durban: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Bayempini Mbizi, Durban: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Stephen Bantu Biko, Port Elizabeth: ‘head injuries’; Mr Sipho Bonaventura Malaza, Krugersdorp: ‘suicide by hanging’;

1981: Mr Manana Mgqweto, Transkei: ‘unknown’;

1982: Mr Ernest Dipale, Johannesburg: ‘suicide by hanging’;

1983: Mr Simon Mndawe, Nelspruit: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Paris Malatji, Johannesburg: ‘shot in the head’;

1984: Mr Samuel Tshikudo, Venda: ‘natural causes’; Mr Mxolisi Sipele, Transkei: ‘unknown’: Mr Ephraim Mthethwa, Durban: ‘suicide by hanging’;

1985: Mr Andries Raditsela, Johannesburg: ‘head injury’;

1986: Mr Makompe Kutumela, Lebowa: ‘police assault’; Mr Peter Nchabaleng, Lebowa: ‘police assault’;

1987: Mr Benedict Mashoke, Burgersfort: ‘suicide by hanging’; Ms Nobandla Elda Bani, Port Elizabeth: ‘natural causes’;

1988: Mr Sithembele Zokwe, Transkei: ‘shot by police’; Mr Alfred Makaleng, Johannesburg: ‘natural causes’;

1990: Mr Clayton Sizwe Sithole, Johannesburg: ‘suicide by hanging’; Mr Lucas Tlhotlhomisang, Klerksdorp: ‘natural causes’; Mr Donald Thabela Madisha, Potgietersrus: ‘suicide by hanging’.

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