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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 696
Paragraph Numbers 619 to 626
619 On 8 September 1991, a three-month period of relative calm was shattered days before the signing of the National Peace Accord. Approximately 300 members of the Hostel-Dwellers Association on their way to a peace meeting at the Thokoza stadium on the East Rand were sprayed with gunfire by three AK-47 wielding gunmen, killing at least twenty-three people.54 By the following night, forty-two people were dead and at least fifty injured in retaliatory attacks that swept Katlehong, Tembisa and Johannesburg. Both the ANC and Inkatha later stated that they believed the killing was provoked with the aim of derailing the peace process. Members of the Political Violent Crime Unit based on a farm in Katlehong called Vlakplaas arrested and allegedly tortured a number of SDU members in response to the attack. All were subsequently released.
620 The Goldstone Commission found in 1992 that this attack had been planned and carried out by a police informer, Mr Mncugi Ceba, who posed as the head of an ANC SDU in Phola Park. One of the participants in this attack, ANC member, Mr Michael Phama [AM3155/96], who is currently serving a life sentence for his involvement in the incident, applied to the Commission for amnesty for the killings. He stated in his amnesty application that he was ordered by his SDU commander to shoot “because IFP members might attack our people as they always attack when they have a rally”.55
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, ON 8 SEPTEMBER 1991, TWENTY-THREE PEOPLE WERE KILLED AT THE THOKOZA STADIUM ON THE EVE OF THE SIGNING OF THE NATIONAL PEACE ACCORD ON THE EAST RAND.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT FORTY-TWO PEOPLE DIED AND AT LEAST FIFTY PEOPLE WERE SEVERELY INJURED IN VIOLENCE THAT BROKE OUT BETWEEN SUPPORTERS OF THE ANC AND THE IFP IN THE TWO DAYS THAT FOLLOWED.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE INITIAL ATTACK WAS INITIATED BY ONE MICHAEL PHAMA, A MEMBER OF AN ANC SDU, ACTING ON THE INSTRUCTIONS OF HIS COMMANDER, MR MNCUZI CEBA. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT CEBA WAS A POLICE INFORMER IN THE PAY OF THE SAP.
621 On 10 September, two days after the attack, the police declared four East Rand townships unrest areas as the death toll rose to sixty-nine with 101 people injured. On the same day, at least eleven people were killed and thirty-six injured when a car was ambushed, a commuter bus riddled with bullets and blasted with a hand grenade and a crowded railway station shot up by gunmen.
622 In May 1993, an ANC march past a Thokoza hostel catapulted the East Rand into turmoil. In the wake of the march, eighty-one people were killed and ninety-nine injured in seventy-one general incidents of political violence.56 In the months that followed, violence continued. Between July and September 1993 alone, 544 bodies were found. Over a thousand women and children fled their homes to seek shelter and safety at hospitals and community halls. More than a hundred homes were gutted during the conflict.
623 On 22 May, at least nine people were killed and sixty-nine injured in clashes between ANC supporters, Inkatha hostel-dwellers and police.57 It was reported that a march planned by the ANC was to start at Thokoza stadium, proceed through Thokoza to Alberton police station and there present a memorandum of demands.
624 During the march, reports were received of armed IFP supporters dancing outside the Thokoza hostel. Police also negotiated with the hostel-dwellers and march organisers in an attempt to defuse the situation. When the marchers reached the Thokoza hostel compounds, however, random shooting from the hostel and nearby houses began and the marchers returned fire. The ANC alleged that police shot at marchers as they tried to escape. The hostel-dwellers claimed that police fired tear gas at them.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE ANC THOKOZA BRANCH FAILED TO TAKE PROPER PRECAUTIONS IN THE PLANNING AND ORGANISING OF THE MARCH AND WAS RECKLESS AND NEGLIGENT IN ARRANGING THE ROUTE THAT TOOK THE MARCHERS PAST THE IFP-DOMINATED THOKOZA HOSTEL. THE COMMISSION ALSO FINDS THAT THE ANC FAILED TO EXERCISE CONTROL OVER THE MARCHERS, SOME OF WHOM WERE ARMED. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT SHOOTING BEGAN FROM THE HOSTEL AND THAT THE MARCHERS RETURNED FIRE. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP, HAVING BEEN FOREWARNED OF THE MARCH, FAILED TO PROVIDE PROPER PROTECTION TO THE MARCHERS IN TERMS OF ITS LEGAL OBLIGATION TO DO SO.
625 On 28 March 1994, approximately fifty people were killed and more than 300 injured during violence associated with a march through Johannesburg in support of the Zulu king.58 The violence occurred after Transvaal indunas (traditional leaders) called on Zulus in the PWV region to stay away from work and gather at the Library Gardens in Central Johannesburg to demonstrate their support for the Zulu sovereign, King Goodwill Zwelethini. After the events of 28 March, the IFP leadership was at pains to emphasise that the march was an independent initiative of the ‘Zulu people’, rather than a political gathering organised by the IFP. However, senior IFP leadership was present at the gathering and involved in its organisation.
626 From the start, information about the proposed gathering was confused. Many people believed that the marchers intended gathering at the offices of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in order to demonstrate their opposition to the elections. However, such a march did not take place. It subsequently emerged that senior IFP leadership had received permission from the Johannesburg magistrate to hold a gathering at the Library Gardens, but had not sought permission for a march of any kind. No organised march did in fact happen. Instead, armed groups of men launched a series of ‘offensives’ against ANC offices in the city centre. The first three such offensives focused on the ANC regional offices. When the marchers moved on the ANC headquarters at Shell House, ANC security guards responded with automatic gunfire, killing eight people. Several of the ANC security guards who opened fire at Shell House applied to the Commission for amnesty. These hearings were ongoing at the time of reporting.5954 See JB03068/01ERKAT – Mthiyeni Joseph Mthethwa was shot during this attack. 55 Phama’s amnesty hearing had not taken place at the time of writing. 56 Human Rights Commission, Monthly Repression Report, May 1993. 57 The Commission has taken one statement regarding this attack. See JB02171/01ERKAT. 58 See JB03415/01ERKWA, JB04497/01GTSOW, JB03731/01GTSOW and KZN/NM/116/NC. 59 Please note that the killing of eight marchers by ANC security guards, which has come to be known as the Shell House massacre, is dealt with in more detail elsewhere in the report.. See also AM5275/97, AM4688/97, AM5542/97, AM5543/97, AM5544/97, AM5545/97, AM5546/97, AM5547/97, AM5548/97, A5550/97, AM5551/97, AM5552/97, AM5553/97 and AM5554/97.