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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 396

Paragraph Numbers 31 to 43

Volume 3

Chapter 5

Subsection 6

Public order policing: the anti-pass campaign

31 The anti-pass campaign of 1960 saw the first gross violations of human rights in the western Cape in the Commission’s mandate period. The PAC had called on all African men to leave their passes at home on 21 March and give themselves up for arrest at their nearest police station. The ANC had planned their anti-pass campaign for ten days later. People responded in both urban and rural areas of the western Cape. At Nyanga, PAC supporters congregated on a rugby field and then marched to the Philippi police station to give themselves up for arrest.

The Langa shootings

32 In Sharpville, Johannesburg, more than sixty unarmed men, women and children died and hundreds more were wounded in the anti-pass campaign on 21 March 1960. When that news reached Cape Town, a crowd of 5–10 000 people assembled at the Langa Flats bus terminus around 17h00 in defiance of a country-wide ban on public meetings and gatherings of more than ten persons. Police told the crowd to disperse “within three minutes”. When this did not happen, they charged with batons and fired tear gas as well as bullets. At least three persons, Mr Cornwell Tshuma, Mr Leonard Mncube and Mr C Makiwane, were killed and many others injured. Cape Times employee Richard Lombard was killed by the crowd in the chaos that followed the shootings.

33 The Commission received several statements regarding shooting injuries in Langa on 21 March 1960 or alleging police beatings and assaults related to this period.

34 Twelve-year-old Mongezi Hallington Msizi [CT00943] had been selling cakes in the area when the Langa shootings started. Bullets from a passing police van struck him in the lower abdomen and in the forehead, hospitalising him for several months.

35 Mr Luyanda Gladman Jack [CT01344] was one of many people, including some journalists, who had climbed onto a block of flats for a better view of the PAC rally. When the shooting began, he jumped to the ground for cover:

E> I do not remember when I reached the ground, but what I do remember is that I was shot with pellet bullets in my left leg just above the ankle. I think I fell and became unconscious. E>

36 He was unconscious when admitted to hospital and needed several years’ hospital treatment for his injuries.

37 There were persistent rumours that many more people had been killed during this period than was actually disclosed by the authorities. A witness at the Commission’s Cape Town hearing in June 1996 spoke of “mass graves” on a farm in Bonteheuwel, bordering Langa. Some of the rumours were that some of the missing persons had been shot by policemen and soldiers driving in Saracen armoured vehicles as they fled into the bushes near Vanguard Drive. Their bodies were allegedly buried in shallow graves and later exhumed and reburied at Ndabeni. A reporter who covered the Langa shootings claimed that he had seen “at least twelve people who appeared to be dead”.

38 Mr Clarence Makwetu, former PAC President, was interviewed by the Commission and described the allegations as rumours that gained popular acceptance. Research also indicates that many people fled to the Transkei in the wake of these events, giving an impression of large-scale losses.

WITH REGARD TO THE LANGA SHOOTINGS OF 21 MARCH 1960, THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE INTENTIONS AND ACTIONS OF THE MARCHERS WERE NON-VIOLENT AND DID NOT MERIT THE HARSH ACTIONS OF THE SECURITY FORCES. THE KILLINGS AND INJURIES SERVED AS THE TRIGGER FOR THE KILLING OF MR RICHARD LOMBARD. THE SUBSEQUENT SIEGE OF THE AFRICAN TOWNSHIPS AND ASSOCIATED ASSAULTS BY POLICE PRODUCED THE CLIMATE FOR ATTACKS ON OTHER INDIVIDUALS SEEN AS ‘COLLABORATORS’, SUCH AS CONSTABLE SIMON MOFOKOLO.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE ALLEGATIONS OF MASS KILLINGS ARE NOT SUBSTANTIATED. THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE SHOT DEAD BY POLICE ON 21 MARCH PROBABLY DID NOT EXCEED THREE PERSONS, BUT AT LEAST FORTY-SIX PEOPLE WERE HOSPITALISED FOR INJURIES.

39 On 1 April 1960, eighteen-month-old Boyi Manjathi [CT00728] was shot and killed in Nyanga by a naval guard. Mr Stanley Nkomazibuyi stated that they were taking their nephew Boyi to hospital when they were stopped at a roadblock by a group of soldiers who would not let them pass due to the curfew. As they made a U-turn, they suddenly heard a loud sound and saw smoke in the car. The car had been shot at. The bullet grazed the passenger’s head and hit the sick baby on her lap. When he asked the guards for a reason, Mr Nkomazibuyi was arrested and thrown into an armoured vehicle.

40 The events of 21 March were followed by a mass strike in the Peninsula for the abolition of passes and a higher minimum wage for African workers. The black townships were under siege for two weeks, with an estimated 95 per cent of the African population as well as a substantial proportion of the coloured community in Cape Town joining the stay away. There were widespread allegations of police brutality during this siege. In April, an African detective constable, Mr Simon Mofokolo, was battered to death at Nyanga by PAC supporters.

41 Newspaper reports described the impact on the Western Cape:

E> Hundreds of heavily armed troops threw tight cordons around the Langa, Nyanga East and Nyanga West [now Gugulethu] Native townships under cover of dark last night, acting under the Emergency Regulations proclaimed yesterday. The troops carried rifles with fixed bayonets, Sten guns and Bren guns and were supported by armoured cars and Saracens. It is gathered that reinforcements were brought to Cape Town yesterday.1 E>

42 The funeral of those who had been killed on 21 March was held a week later in Langa and attended by about 50 000 people. Speakers appealed to the crowd not to resort to violence in any form. They did not want hooliganism to mar the campaign and called for acts of violence to be reported to the campaign organisers. On 30 March, a mass march of about 30 000 people streamed into the city centre and converged on the Caledon Square police station to mark their opposition to the pass laws and detention of local leaders. The march was dispersed after the promise of a meeting which never transpired. Instead Mr Philip Kgosana, who had led the march, was detained.

43 The impact of the anti-pass campaign was felt even in rural towns, and the Commission received statements regarding these events from as far afield as Hermanus. An anti-pass demonstration in Paarl is recorded to have been disrupted by the police. Similar demonstrations in Stellenbosch and Somerset West were baton-charged by the police, and a march in Worcester was dispersed by tear gas.

E>1 Cape Argus, 31 March 1960 E>
 
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