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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 288

Paragraph Numbers 93 to 105

Volume 6

Section 3

Chapter 2

Subsection 11

Unfinished business

93. The hearings pointed to the legacy of bitterness and pain felt by ANC members who had experienced the harsh hand of NAT. These experiences of assault left more than physical scars on the recipients. At the Johannesburg hearing on 17 July 2000, Mr Mashele (see above) testified that, despite remaining with the ANC as a disciplined member, he had never received an apology for being assaulted by Mr ME Noosi [AM6304/97].

MR MASHELE: We met at Luthuli House [ANC Head office]. I met him, I asked him what he did there because I’m fully convinced it was not motivated by any good intentions, that he must apologise to me for that and this was done seriously because I wanted him to take an opportunity then to apologise to me. It was around 1994 or 1995. MS MAKHUBELE: Yes and what was his response ? MR MASHELE: He never apologised, and moved away from me. Turned his back against me. …. I met him on maybe two or three occasions at the general practitioner, which is my practitioner, and you know, this thing is straining our relationship, especially when we meet because he just looks at me and he doesn ’t care. You see, he doesn’t want to extend, you know, even a smile, to show that I recognise you, you see? And recently we met at a funeral, he also you know, exhibited the same – I don’t know whether to call it arrogance or what.

94. At the same hearing, Mr Noosi responded :

MR NOOSI: I saw him at Luthuli House; that was when he said I should apologise to him personally. JUDGE DE JAGER: What did he say why should you apologise, what have you done to him? MR NOOSI: He said because I’ve assaulted him, I assaulted him. JUDGE DE JAGER: And did he tell you what you’ve done to him? MR NOOSI: No, he said I assaulted him and I said to him no, I can’t apologise to you because I was not doing that for my personal interests, I was doing it for the organisation. If you want an apology, the ANC has apologised. That’s what I said to him.

95. The hearings also highlighted the trauma suffered by families whose members went into exile but never returned. In Johannesburg on 22 May 2000, the Mokudubete family told the Amnesty Committee of the difficulties they had encountered in obtaining information from the ANC as to the fate of their family m ember, Thabo:

When the MK cadres returned from exile after the unbanning of the ANC, we received some rumours that he died in exile ... As a result of this we started making enquiries and follow-ups. We went to Shell House at ANC Headquarters but because each time we went there, we were meeting different people, eventually ended up not getting the full story. I know that at the end they typed an unsigned statement to say that he died in exile. On our own, we requested a death certificate from court and [it] was issued to us. At some stage Chris Hani visited my father and confirmed that my brother had died but they were still to make more investigations into his death, most unfortunately he [Hani] was killed before returning to us. Up to this moment, we do not know how my brother met his death. I would appreciate it from the applicant to tell us how my brother died.

96. Cases where ANC members were executed by their own organisation left a particular legacy of trauma. Eighteen-year-old Sicelo Dlomo, a member of the Soweto Students Congress and a volunteer worker for the Detainees’ Parents ’ Support Committee, was shot dead in Soweto on 23 January 1988. He had experienced several periods of detention and had become well-known through his testimony on a video called ‘Children of Apartheid’. Dlomo’s mother, Ms Sylvia Dlomo-Jele, told the Commission:

I want these people who killed my child to be found out and I want them to appear and explain what happened. I think maybe that can really satisfy me and console my spirit. (Johannesburg hearing, 15 February 1999.)

97. It was widely assumed that the security forces had assassinated Dlomo. However, one of the Commission’s investigators obtained information fro m sources within the police that a particular Special Operations operative, Mr John Itumeleng Dube, had killed Dlomo. On being questioned by the investigator, Dube confessed to his role and submitted an amnesty application for the killing, along with two other members of his MK cell. Dube [AM5310/97] testified that Dlomo had been recruited into one of his cells. He said he became suspicious of Dlomo and instructed a member of his unit to execute him in the presence of other cell members. They followed his instruction. Ms Dlomo-Jele experienced tremendous shock when she learnt that her son had been killed by his own friends and comrades, all of whom had remained close to the family after the killing. She died a month after the amnesty hearing. Dube and thre e others were granted amnesty for the killing [AC/2000/019].

98. MK operative Joel George Martins [AM6450/97; AC/2000/157] testified about how he assassinated ANC supporter Benjamin Langa in Pietmaritzburg on 20 May 1984. Langa, a member of a politically active family, was a local activist known to Martins. His brothe r, Mr Mandla Langa, was a writer of note in exile and another broth e r, Mr Pius Langa, was a prominent human rights lawyer involved in defending political activists on trial.

MR MARTIN S: I enquired why they had such an instruction and they told me that a certain Ralph who was their commander in Swaziland, had given them that instruction to kill Ben because Ben had basically sold out ‘comrades’. MR VAN DEN BERG: Did you question the instruction? MR MART I N S: No, I did not question the instruction, I could not question it – if you’ll recall, you know, the early 80s, you know, anything that came from the ANC was hardly questioned, especially from operatives in the country in a word, you know, this was an impeccable source where it came from an MK guy who had just come back from the front, so yes, I did not have a basis on which I could question it. … The three of us walked up to Benj’s apartment. We got t here, I knocked, Benj asked who it was. I answered that it was me. He knew who me was. He then said ‘come in’. These two guerrillas walked in and, ja, they shot and killed him and immediately after that we ran to the car and we drove off. (Pinetown hearing, 17 June 2000.)

9 9 . Mandla Langa told the Commission about his sense that this matter had never really been dealt with:

T h e re was at the beginning quite a lot of confusion. I have a memory of the time when this was announced and when this came out that it was because Ben had been labelled an informer and I remember that there was a sense of disbelief among my – I was in Lusaka at the time – among the comrades, my colleagues w e re there, you know, the broader community in exile, all the way since from 1984 through today I have not received any feedback from my comrades which could have made me know or understand or feel that they felt that Ben had been an inform e r. …. I have yet to find somebody who will say to me that they really did believe that Ben had been this or that. (Pinetown hearing, 17 June 2000.)

100. The ANC commander apparently responsible for giving the order, Mr Edward Lawrence, aka Fear or Ralph, later came under suspicion by the ANC and was detained and interrogated. Under questioning, he confessed to being a police spy and subsequently died in ANC custody. According to the ANC, therefore , the killing of Benjamin Langa had taken place on the orders of a government agent, as opposed to a genuine ANC ord e r. According to the ANC Submission to the Commission:

In a few cases, deliberate disinformation resulted in attacks and assassinations in which dedicated cadres lost their lives. In one of the most painful examples of this nature, a state agent with the name of ‘Fear’ ordered two cadres to execute Ben Langa on the grounds that Langa was an agent of the regime ... Once the facts were known to the leadership of the ANC, President Tambo personally met with the family to explain and apologise for this action.

101. However, security police amnesty applicants denied that Lawrence was an informer.142

102. Killings of suspected defectors also took place outside the borders of South Africa. Mr Kevin Mabalengwe Mandlakomo [AM6403/97; AC/2000/230] applied for and was granted amnesty for the assassination of Mr Sipho Ngema in a restaurant in Manzini, Swaziland, on 6 January 1988.

103. Mandlakomo was deployed to Swaziland in 1987 as part of a four-person unit made up of himself, Thabiso, Dumele Xiniya and Shezi. The other three are now deceased. Ngema was believed to have defected in 1986 and was suspected of having played a ‘pointing out’ role in the events leading to the assassination of senior MK official Cassius Make and others in Swaziland on 9 July 1987. Mr Mandlakomo described the killing of Ngema at a Johannesburg hearing on 20 November 2000:

MR MANDLAKOMO: It was in a restaurant, a Mozambique Restaurant in Manzini. …. You know, people were drinking, some were eating and we found him. He was seated in a corner. MR KOOPEDI: And what did you do? Did you say anything to him? What happen e d ? MR MANDLAKOMO: No, I just told him to identify himself to confirm that he was Sipho and he did. MR KOOPEDI: And thereafter ? MR MANDLAKOMO: I shot him. MR KOOPEDI: How many times? MR MANDLAKOMO: Four times. MR KOOPEDI: Whereon his body did you shoot him? MR MANDLAKOMO: At the chest and head.

104. Mandlakomo and Dumele then left the restaurant and climbed into the getaway vehicle. The group then drove to Mbabane. No one was ever charged for the killing.

105. In an interview with the Commission, Vlakplaas Commander Eugene de Kock denied that Ngema was ever a source, but testified that one of the assassins had been. This allegation was not investigated.

142 Evidence of Eugene de Kock , amnesty hearing into the killing of ANC operative Zweli Nyanda, 14 June 1999, Pretoria.
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