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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 232

Paragraph Numbers 268 to 277

Volume 2

Chapter 3

Subsection 30

Joe Tsele

268 Mr Joe Tsele, a UDF activist who had earlier served time on Robben Island, was shot dead at his home in Bophuthatswana on 6 May 1987. The Commission received amnesty applications from Brigadier Jack Cronjé [AM2773/96], Captain Jacques Hechter [AM2776/96] and Major Sarel ‘Sakkie’ Crafford [AM5468/97].

269 Crafford says he believed that Tsele was responsible for arranging safe houses for ANC members. Cronjé, Hechter, Mamasela and another askari went to reconnoitre Tsele’s house to establish whether it was indeed being used as a safe house. Hechter added that, if their suspicions were confirmed, they were to eliminate Tsele.

270 While Cronjé and Hechter waited in the car, Mamasela and a fellow askari whom he identifies as Mbatha moved towards the house, armed with AK-47s. Through a window they saw a man watching the television, and identified him, from a photo, as their target. According to Mamasela:

Because there was burglar-proofing across the window and I and Mbata were worried that a bullet could be deflected back against it, we decided to push our AK-47 rifles through the window at the same time and fire at the man on full automatic. We then pushed our weapons through the window and fired at the man. I saw blood splashing and the man’s body jerking. Because the weapons were on automatic firing I cannot say how many shots Mbata and I fired. It was quite a number at any rate. (Commission translation.)

271 Several days later Cronjé sent Mamasela and Mbatha back to Makapanstad to ascertain whether Tsele had been successfully killed.

272 The amnesty applicants claim that Joe Mamasela acted without authorisation in this case. Yet there is no evidence to suggest that he received any kind of rebuke from his superior officers, nor that he was subjected disciplinary procedures. This suggests, at the very least, a post hoc authorisation and legitimation for future actions of this kind.

David Webster

273 Dr David Webster [JB00218/01GTSOW] was shot outside his home in Troyeville, Johannesburg on 1 May 1989. He died some twenty minutes later. The Commission received two amnesty applications about the circumstances surrounding his killing, but none concerning the killing itself. During the life of the Commission, however, a CCB operative, Mr Ferdinand Barnard, was charged and convicted with the murder of Webster.

274 Dr Webster was a well-known human rights activist, a member of the Detainees’ Parents’ Support Committee (DPSC) and vice-chairperson of the Five Freedoms Forum, an affiliate of the UDF. As an anthropologist, Webster went on regular field trips to Kosi Bay in Northern Natal and it was rumoured that he had possibly stumbled on evidence of the ongoing supply of weapons to RENAMO or of ivory smuggling. The Hiemstra Commission, set up to investigate a spy-ring with military links in the Johannesburg City Council, heard evidence that Dr Webster had been under surveillance.

275 There were several eyewitnesses to the shooting. Ferdinand Barnard was later detained under section 29 of the Internal Security Act but, although he gave information leading to the disclosure of the existence of the CCB and the detention of a number of other CCB members, the identity of Webster’s killing was not revealed.

276 In addition to an official inquest, Webster’s killing was examined by the Harms Commission and by an internal military/police investigation into General IJ ‘Krappies’ Engelbrecht. While the CCB and Barnard in particular were frequently raised as possible suspects, no one was charged with the killing at the time.

277 While the Commission was investigating the matter, however, investigators were informed of the Transvaal Attorney-General’s decision to prosecute. In June 1997 the Commission told the Attorney-General’s office that it would not continue investigating the Webster case. Mr Ferdinand Barnard was arrested and subsequently charged and convicted of the killing of Dr Webster.

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