This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
Caprivi Training - Death Squads
55. Consequently, from the mid-1960s, the government undertook or authorised a number of defensive and pre-emptive operations outside of South Africa's borders. The first of these was the establishment of an SAP security police camp in the Caprivi Strip in northern South West Africa in March 1965, under the guise of an engineering company. The camp was under the command of former sabotage squad member, Major Theunis 'Rooi Rus' Swanepoel. The role of the camp was to monitor SWAPO activity. Sixteen months later, SAP units were deployed to the area in response to SWAPO's decision to move its trained cadres into South West Africa. On 26 August 1966, SAP forces attacked SWAPO's first military base inside South West Africa at Omgulumbashe, marking the beginning of South Africa's armed intervention in the region.
Special constables in KwaZulu/Natal
88. From 1988, special constables were used to bolster Inkatha in areas around Pietermaritzburg and the Natal Midlands. They were also used to attack UDF supporters. In January 1988, 300 Inkatha supporters were sent for special constable training at Koeberg. 7 The group included 130 of those who had been given military training in the Caprivi through the SADF's Operation Marion and was associated with unlawful acts, perpetrated either alone or in concert with the Riot Unit and Inkatha supporters. Examples are to be found in the Trust Feed killings in 1988 and the Seven Day War in 1990 (see Volume Three).
89. The recruitment and deployment of special constables in the KwaZulu/Natal area provided an overt armed capacity for Inkatha, as opposed to the covert capacity provided by Operation Marion. The Commission obtained evidence that Inkatha membership became a criterion for recruitment. Former police constable William Harrington of the Riot Unit said that all applications by people to work as special constables had to be counter-signed by an Inkatha chief (sic) and by another Inkatha person.
90. Special constables in several areas appear to have been recruited into hit squads. For example, in the post-1990 period, both former and serving special constables were implicated in widespread anonymous 'balaclava' killings and attacks in the western Cape, at the behest of town councillors.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT SPECIAL CONSTABLES CONSTITUTED A PARTICULARLY POORLY TRAINED AND ILL-DISCIPLINED SECTOR OF THE SECURITY FORCES. THEIR DEPLOYMENT WAS SOON FOLLOWED BY KILLINGS, SEVERE ILL TREATMENT AND TORTURE, AS WELL AS CRIMINAL ACTS. THEIR COMMANDING OFFICERS IN THE POLICE TOOK NO VISIBLE STEPS TO CONTROL THEIR ACTIONS IN ANY MEANINGFUL WAY, DESPITE PUBLIC ALLEGATIONS AND COURT INTERDICTS CONCERNING THEIR BEHAVIOUR. THE COMMISSION FURTHER HAS EVIDENCE THAT IN CERTAIN AREAS OF THE COUNTRY THE RIOT UNITS ACTED IN CONCERT WITH SPECIAL CONSTABLES IN THE PERPETRATION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT SPECIAL CONSTABLES AND MUNICIPAL POLICE SERVED TO PROVIDE AN ARMED CAPACITY TO THOSE PRO-GOVERNMENT INDIVIDUALS OR GROUPINGS THAT THE STATE SOUGHT TO DEFEND AND PROMOTE, PARTICULARLY INKATHA.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT SPECIAL CONSTABLES AND MUNICIPAL POLICE WERE A PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE SECTOR OF THE SECURITY FORCES AND WERE THEMSELVES THE TARGETS OF VIOLENCE, RESULTING IN INJURIES, DEATHS AND THE DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY. WHEN THIS OCCURRED, AND THEIR OWN RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED, THEY DID NOT BENEFIT FROM THE SAME DEGREE OF PROTECTION AND INSURANCE AS THE REGULAR MEMBERS OF THE SAP.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SPECIAL CONSTABLES COMMITTED GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ON A WIDE SCALE, INCLUDING KILLING, ATTEMPTED KILLING, TORTURE, ARSON AND SEVERE ILL TREATMENT, AND THAT THESE VIOLATIONS WERE PART OF A SYSTEMATIC PATTERN OF ABUSE FOR WHICH THE FORMER GOVERNMENT AND IN PARTICULAR THE MINISTER OF LAW AND ORDER AND THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, ARE ACCOUNTABLE.
81. In a section 29 hearing of the Commission, former IFP National Council member Walter Felgate said that he had personally advised Chief Buthelezi of the need for a defensive and pre-emptive capacity for Inkatha. He said that what was envisaged was a "strike capacity" for the IFP; not simply a defensive group to look after KwaZulu government VIPs and property.
82. The outcome of these developments was the clandestine training of an offensive paramilitary unit, comprising 200 Inkatha supporters. They were trained by SADF Special Forces personnel in the Caprivi Strip, South West Africa/Namibia, during 1986.
83. The IFP submitted a list of over 400 alleged office-bearers who, according to the IFP, were deliberately targeted and killed by structures of the ANC and its affiliates. The IFP's submission made it clear that it believed that the killings were part of a deliberate pattern of behaviour on the part of the ANC - in the words of the IFP, "serial killing".
84. The Durban office of the Commission conducted an intensive investigation into those incidents that occurred in former Natal and KwaZulu. A significant percentage of the incidents on the list fell outside the Commission's mandate, in that they occurred after the cut-off date of April 1994, and the Commission was thus not able to investigate them. However, it would be safe to assume, from the nature of the information provided by the IFP, that the trends and patterns with regard to these incidents would be similar to those which the Commission was able to investigate. As indicated above, those incidents that occurred in the Transvaal also fell outside the scope of this investigation, owing to limited investigative capacity.
85. The Commission investigated 289 incidents, of which it was unable to corroborate 136. In many cases, despite searches of inquest court records, police dockets and government departments supplying birth and death certificates, no trace whatsoever of the individuals could be found. In each of these cases, further information was sought from the IFP, without any success.
86. With regard to the remaining 153 incidents, the Commission did not verify as to whether the deceased were in fact office-bearers of the IFP, accepting the bona-fides of the IFP in this regard. However, in a small number of incidents, death certificates show that the deceased were children and thus patently not office-bearers.
87. The Commission was able to identify the perpetrators or their political allegiance or both in ninety of the 289 incidents.
74. In KwaZulu, Inkatha became increasingly alienated from the ANC and the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Chief Buthelezi began to turn towards the South African government for more assistance. Covert assistance to Inkatha from the SADF MI's Directorate of Special Tasks (DST) began during this period, through Operation Marion, and involving the training of paramilitary style units in the Caprivi, Namibia, which were subsequently deployed in KwaZulu. Years later, some of these recruits were taken into the KZP. DST, which had also been responsible for Operation Katzen in Transkei and Ciskei, was responsible for support to external covert groupings such as RENAMO in Mozambique, UNITA in Angola and the Lesotho Liberation Army in Lesotho.
76. It was also during this period that the Caprivi trainees from Operation Marion in KwaZulu were recruited as special constables and formally brought into the security structures. In 1988, some 300 Inkatha supporters were recruited as special constables, including 130 of the Caprivi trainees. This influx could account for some of the large increase in spending on policing in KwaZulu during this period (see budgets below).
77. The SAP continued to operate in the self-governing territories. In KwaZulu, the SAP's Riot Unit 8 actively assisted Inkatha members in attacks on non-Inkatha residents.
78. As homeland forces struggled to cope with the rising tide of mass resistance, an ever increasing amount of money was funnelled into homeland policing. The following tables chart the dramatic annual increases that characterised expenditure by homeland police forces.
Police budgets in three of the independent homelands (in rands) 3
Source: South African Institute of Race Relations Annual Surveys
12 257 950
24 103 560
36 680 180
33 152 296
33 433 296
48 794 876
64 897 000
104 917 000
15 172 000
17 941 000
20 024 000
26 385 000
33 394 000
36 711 000
49 917 000
65 430 000
4 025 169
9 310 100
9 000 500
13 482 200
19 241 800
23 859 900
38 205 400
152. At the same time that Katzen was running in the Eastern Cape, the SADF's Operation Marion was running in KwaZulu. The attack on Ciskei was carried out on 19 February; the KwaMakhutha attack carried out in terms of Marion, which killed thirteen people, was carried out just weeks earlier in January.
153. There are several links between Marion and Katzen. Both operations were co-ordinated at Defence Headquarters in Pretoria by Colonel John More, at the time part of the DST. More was mentioned in the Katzen documents as supplying weapons for that operation. Liebenberg and Geldenhuys, two of the accused in the KwaMakhutha trial, were also named in Katzen documentation. Lieutenant Colonel Jan Anton Nieuwoudt, who was involved in the 1986 Caprivi strip training of the men who carried out the KwaMakhutha attack, was subsequently (in the run-up to the 1994 elections) involved in an Eastern Cape operation which seems to have been a successor to Katzen. Liebenberg was involved in 'officially' shutting that operation down after it was blown and Nieuwoudt moved and apparently continued the operation in a different form elsewhere. General Tienie Groenewald was another of the KwaMakhutha accused; during the 1990s he was involved in an organisation that was implicated in running guns to prop up Gqozo's government in its battle against the ANC.
154. As More was part of DST, this indicates that both Marion and Katzen were thus run by DST, a section also responsible for running covert support to pro-Pretoria rebels in Angola (UNITA) and Mozambique (RENAMO). This indicates that the homelands were also part of MI's strategy of supporting (and sometimes setting up) rebel groups that were involved in violent attempts to overthrow governments which were either antagonistic to or could not be controlled by Pretoria, or were involved in violent clashes with UDF-aligned (and later ANC-aligned) groupings. In the homelands, this thus involved covert support for Inkatha in the KwaZulu-Natal region and, in the Eastern Cape, the setting up and funding of first the Ciskei People's Rights Protection Party and Iliso Lomzi and later the setting up and arming of the ADM. This policy does not appear to have ended with the failure of Marion and Katzen in 1987 as several of the key officers involved in those two operations were again implicated in similar activities based in the Ciskei during Gqozo's rule and the run-up to the 1994 elections.
236. One of the first instances of covert military assistance between Inkatha and the South African government was Operation Marion, the SADF Military Intelligence project set up in early 1986 in order to provide assistance to Inkatha and the KwaZulu government. During 1985, Chief Buthelezi was alerted by Military Intelligence to alleged assassination plans against him. This prompted him, in late 1985, to approach Military Intelligence with a request for various capabilities, including an offensive paramilitary capacity, in order to take on the ANC/UDF. His request was made directly to the then Director of Military Intelligence, General PH 'Tienie' Groenewald. According to Groenewald, Chief Buthelezi commented that : although he was a supporter of a peaceful solution, the ANC must realise that if it uses violence against KwaZulu and its people, the Zulu, who has already received fame as a soldier, is also in a position to take violent action against the ANC. He himself would like to take the struggle to the ANC in Lusaka although at present he does not have such a capacity.
237. Flowing out of this was what has become known as the Caprivi training, the clandestine training in offensive action of some 200 Inkatha supporters conducted by the Special Forces arm of the SADF in the Caprivi Strip, South West Africa/ Namibia in 1986. Secret military intelligence documents make it clear that the project was undertaken as much to further the strategic aims of the South African government and Defence Force, as it was in response to a request from Chief Buthelezi. Planning for this project took place in circumstances of utmost secrecy, and involved the highest echelons of the State Security Council and Military Intelligence on the one hand, and Chief Buthelezi and his personal assistant, Mr MZ Khumalo, on the other. The defence force was at pains to ensure that the entire project was covert, and that the funding of the project could not be traced back to its source.
238. Training was given to three distinct groups - the VIP protection group, the contra-mobilisation group and the offensive group. Significantly, all three received offensive training. The training lasted six months and included training in the use of Soviet bloc weapons, heavy-duty weapons such as mortars and rocket-launchers, and the use of explosives, landmines and hand grenades. The trainees were taught how to carry out attacks without leaving a trace and how to avoid arrest, detention and interrogation at the hands of the police. They were also taught how to attack houses with the aim of killing all the occupants.
239. The trainees were controlled and supervised by a political commissar, later to become their commander, Mr Daluxolo Wordsworth Luthuli. Luthuli was a former ANC guerrilla fighter who had recently joined Inkatha after being released from a lengthy term of imprisonment on Robben Island. His appointment was authorised by Chief Buthelezi.
240. Luthuli was unequivocal concerning the purpose of the Caprivi training. He told the Commission that the training was aimed at equipping Inkatha supporters to kill members of the UDF/ANC. According to Luthuli and other Caprivi trainees who spoke to the Commission, this is what they were explicitly told by their SADF instructors. They knew that they were being trained as a hit squad.
241. The Caprivi trainees were centrally involved in the Inkatha-aligned hit squad activities in KwaZulu and Natal until the 1994 elections. The trainees continued to receive support, including a monthly salary, from the SADF until 1989 when most of them were enrolled in the KZP. Here many of them continued their hit squad operations under the guise of being official law-enforcement officers. The trainees received instructions as to targets and weaponry from Luthuli, their political commissar and commander, and from the local Inkatha leadership in the area where they were deployed. The link between Luthuli and Inkatha was maintained through Mr MZ Khumalo.
242. With their deployment in various parts of KwaZulu and the former Natal, the trainees were partly responsible for the dramatic escalation of the political conflict in the region, and fundamentally changed the political landscape in the former KwaZulu homeland, the repercussions of which are currently playing themselves out in this region. Their modus operandi, their mobility, their access to infrastructure and sophisticated weaponry exposed large numbers of people and vast areas of the province to their activities. As a result, they were responsible for facilitating the easy and quick resort to violence as a means of settling political scores and greatly enhanced the development of a culture of impunity and political intolerance that is so well established in the province at the present time.
243. Caprivi trainees were implicated in many of Inkatha's subsequent initiatives involving violent strategies aimed at countering the ANC/UDF. The trainees formed a large proportion of the Inkatha supporters recruited to become special constables (see below). They formed the core of Inkatha/KZP hit squads set up by Inkatha office-bearers in the early 1990s (see below). Several of them were employed as instructors in the Mlaba self-protection unit (SPU) training project in 1993/4. They were also central to a proposed plan for a KwaZulu battalion, although these plans were never realised.
244. Evidence of the activities of the Caprivi trainees in their areas of deployment is documented in the KwaZulu-Natal regional overview, found elsewhere in the Commission's report. On their return from the Caprivi, a small group of the trainees who had received specialised training in VIP protection were deployed in the KZP's VIP unit while the rest of the group were deployed to IFP offices and/or KZP stations around KwaZulu and Natal. The trainees all received a monthly salary paid to them by Military Intelligence, through Mr M Z Khumalo of Inkatha.
245. At its special hearing on the Caprivi training held in Durban in August 1997, the Commission heard that in October 1986, approximately fifteen to twenty Caprivi trainees were instructed by Daluxolo Luthuli to report to the police station in the township of Mpumalanga, mid-way between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
246. Although they never underwent any KZP training, never filled in any KZP application forms, and were never screened or required to undergo any tests, the trainees were issued with KZP appointment certificates with the rank of detective constable. They were also issued with official police firearms, which they were allowed to take home with them.
247. Under the guise of being official law enforcement agents, they engaged in large-scale hit squad activity in the Pietermaritzburg and Mpumalanga areas for the next two years, directing their attacks against perceived UDF/ANC members. These activities are described in the KwaZulu-Natal regional profile (Volume Three).
248. The Commission heard evidence of the involvement of Caprivi trainees in the KwaMakhutha massacre on 21 January 1987 in which thirteen people, mostly women and children, were killed and several others injured in the AK-47 attack on the home of UDF activist Bheki Ntuli. A large number of people including former Minister of Defence General Magnus Malan and MZ Khumalo of the IFP, were tried for murder in 1996 in the Durban Supreme Court. Although the accused were acquitted, the Supreme Court found that Inkatha members trained by the SADF in the Caprivi were responsible for the massacre and that the two state witnesses, being members of the SADF Military Intelligence, were directly involved in planning and execution of the operation. The court was not able to find who had provided backing for the attack.
249. Witnesses who did not testify in the 1996 criminal trial testified before the hearing, and the Commission has made a comprehensive finding on the Caprivi trainee project (see Volume Five). In brief, the Commission found that the South African government provided Inkatha with a hit squad, and provided training, financial and logistical management for the project. Further, the Commission found that accountability for the human rights violations that flowed from the establishment of the hit squad lay with twenty-two people from the State Security Council, Military Intelligence, Inkatha and the KZP.
250. Caprivi trainees were implicated in political violence elsewhere in the province. At least one Caprivi trainee, Mr Vela Mchunu, was involved in the December 1986 attempted killing of one person and the killing of three people in Mpophomeni township, outside Howick, in December 1986 when workers at the British Tyre and Rubber (BTR) Sarmcol factory went on strike in support of demands for the recognition of their union, the Metal and Allied Workers Union (MAWU). The victims were prominent members of the union. Mchunu was one of the nine Inkatha members held responsible for the killings in the formal inquest (Howick Inquest 13/88) in 1988.
251. The Commission heard evidence of the activities of the Caprivi trainees in Clermont, a Durban township identified for incorporation into KwaZulu in the eighties, and of the role of Mr Bhekizizwe Samuel Jamile, the local KwaZulu Legislative Assembly representative and Inkatha member, in directing Caprivi trainees in their attacks against members of the community who were opposed to incorporation. Several notable members of Clermont were attacked during this period, most of whom were associated with the Clermont Advisory Board which was officially opposed to incorporation. Caprivi trainees were involved in the killing of Mr Zazi Khuzwayo on 9 May 1987, the attempted killing of Ms Pearl Shabalala on 15 October 1987, the killing of Mr Emmanuel Norman Khuzwayo on 28 February 1988 and other attacks directed against UDF supporters.
252. In 1991, Jamile appeared in court facing fifteen charges, including five counts of murder, seven counts of attempted murder, and three counts of incitement to murder. In the indictment, Jamile was accused of being involved between 1987 and 1989 in the murder of UDF-associated persons opposed to the incorporation of Clermont into KwaZulu. Two Caprivi trainees, who were implicated during the trial, Zweli Dlamini and Vela Mchunu, were hidden by the KZP until the end of the trial. Owing to the inability of the police to trace these two suspects and other witnesses, Jamile was only convicted on two counts: one of murder and one of attempted murder. Jamile was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released in terms of the First Indemnity Act of 1992.
253. The Commission heard that Caprivi trainees were involved in spearheading offensive strikes at UDF supporters in the township of Imbali towards the end of 1987. Daluxolo Luthuli played a central role in directing a pre-emptive attack on UDF supporters who were allegedly intent on attacking the home of Inkatha councillor, Jerome Mncwabe (now deceased). In one incident, ten people were killed in fighting between the Caprivi trainees, instructed by Luthuli, and UDF supporters.
254. The Commission heard evidence that 130 Caprivi trainees were part of a group of 300 Inkatha supporters who were sent for special constable training in 1988, and later attached to Riot Unit 8 and deployed in the Pietermaritzburg and Mpumalanga areas where the UDF was said to be gaining the upper hand. Many were sent to guard Inkatha officials and traditional leaders and became involved in vigilante and hit squad activities aimed directly at UDF supporters. The Caprivi trainees appointed as special constables continued to receive their salaries of R700 per month from Inkatha, while also receiving their special constable salaries from the SAP. They also took instructions both from the IFP and from their formal employer, the SAP. The Commission heard from a former member of Riot Unit 8 who had worked closely with the special constables that as a result of the Unit's close association with the Inkatha-supporting constables, members of the Unit naturally sided with Inkatha.
255. Elements of the SAP Riot Unit 8, at all levels, and at the level of the special constables attached to the Riot Unit, deliberately acted, by omission and commission, to assist and facilitate attacks by Inkatha supporters upon non-Inkatha residents. The KwaZulu-Natal regional profile documents testimony from former members of the Unit who said that support to Inkatha also involved providing Inkatha supporters on the ground with weapons. The most well-known case of collusion between members of the riot police (including special constables) and Inkatha supporters is the killing of eleven people at Trust Feed on 3 December 1988, an attack performed by special constables and directed by Captain Brian Mitchell of the SAP, after a meeting between some local police officers and local members of the Inkatha leadership. Members of the SAP at higher levels were responsible for obstructing the investigation into the massacre.
1986 - Between April and October, paramilitary (Caprivi) training of 200 Inkatha supporters by SADF Special Forces takes place on the Caprivi Strip, South West Africa/Namibia.
122. In 1988, some 300 Inkatha recruits were trained and deployed as special constables in the Pietermaritzburg area. The Commission has established from sworn testimonies of former special constables that Inkatha membership appeared to be a criterion for selection in Natal. Inkatha officials and indunas (headmen) assisted in recruiting the young men and endorsed their applications. Mr William Basil Harrington [AM0173/96], a member of Riot Unit 8, told the Commission that he worked closely with special constables and that those based in Pietermaritzburg had their applications for employment signed by Inkatha leader, Mr David Ntombela.
123. This drawing of special constables from the ranks of Inkatha supporters confirmed the open collaboration of the state security forces with the activities of Inkatha.
In Natal, the special constables constituted a convenient and effective striking force for the state and for Inkatha against the UDF alliance. Between 1988 and 1989, special constables played a role in bolstering Inkatha in the greater Pietermaritzburg area, particularly in the Edendale Valley, KwaShange and other sections of Vulindlela.
124. In January 1988, the first batch of Natal recruits, numbering approximately 300 Inkatha supporters, was taken for special constable training at the SAP's Koeberg base in the Western Cape. The batch included 130 'Caprivi trainees' who had already received secret offensive training by the SADF's Special Forces in 1986. During their training at Koeberg, they were shown gruesome videos of burning houses and brutally slain people and were told by their instructors, one of whom was Warrant Officer Rolf Warber of the Pietermaritzburg Security Branch, that the scenes were typical of ANC/UDF violence against innocent Inkatha members, their 'brothers and sisters'. Special constables testified that they cried openly at the sessions and were urged to kill UDF people on their return to Natal. After six weeks of training, the special constables were attached to SAP Riot Units and deployed in the Pietermaritzburg and Mpumalanga areas where the UDF was gaining the upper hand. Many special constables were sent to guard Inkatha officials and traditional leaders and became involved in vigilante and hit squad activities.
125. Former 'Caprivi trainee' and special constable Brian Gcina Mkhize [AM4599/97], told the Commission at the Caprivi hearing:
Mr [MZ] Khumalo told us that our task is to infiltrate the Special Constables, to go and get deployed with the Special Constables who work in Pietermaritzburg. While in 'Maritzburg, we will be able to further our aims to hit directly at the ANC.
126. At the same hearing, Mr Daluxolo Luthuli said of the special constables:
As they were police, they knew very well that they have to work under the instructions of the IFP, for example, killing people who were UDF members. They were doing that while they were police and they were not taking instructions from police ... they were taking instructions directly from the IFP.
127. The special constables deployed in the townships around Pietermaritzburg soon became associated with acts of extreme criminal brutality. In the first year of their deployment in the Pietermaritzburg area, 137 special constables had their services terminated. Of these, 102 deserted their posts and the remainder was dismissed as a result of criminal charges that were brought against them.
128. Former Security Branch Divisional Head for Pietermaritzburg, General Jac Buchner, conceded at a section 29 hearing that the special constables, far from assisting the SAP in maintaining law and order, had in fact contributed to the problem of political violence. Senior Riot Unit officer, Daniel Meyer, told the Commission at the 'Seven Day War' hearing that:
I don't think it's a state secret that Special Constables was one of the single biggest mistakes made by the police in KwaZulu-Natal.
129. He conceded that the special constables had not been deployed under proper control and that Riot Unit members operating with special constables engaged in serious criminal acts.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT AN AUXILIARY FORCE OF SPECIAL CONSTABLES WAS TRAINED AND THEN DEPLOYED IN AND AROUND PIETERMARITZBURG IN 1988-89, AND THAT THIS FORCE BECAME INVOLVED IN VIGILANTE ACTIONS AND OTHER CRIMINAL ACTS, INVOLVING KILLINGS AND ACTS OF SEVERE ILL-TREATMENT, TARGETING MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE UDF UNDER THE DIRECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE RIOT SQUAD OF THE SAP. THE SAP IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE VIOLATIONS ARISING FROM THE ACTIVITIES OF THE SPECIAL CONSTABLES.
178. In late 1985, Chief Buthelezi was alerted to alleged MK plans to assassinate him and turned to the government and SADF for assistance. His requests, as detailed in various military intelligence and State Security Council documents, included the training and deployment of a VIP guard unit, an intelligence structure, a KwaZulu army, the authority to issue firearm licenses, and a paramilitary force. In a Section 29 Hearing of the Commission, former IFP National Council member Walter Felgate recalled discussions in which he had specifically advised Chief Minister Buthelezi of the need for a defensive and pre-emptive capacity for Inkatha. What was envisaged, he said, was a 'strike capacity' for the IFP, not purely a defensive group to look after KwaZulu government VIPs and property.
179. One of the outcomes of these deliberations was the clandestine paramilitary training of some 200 Inkatha supporters by the SADF in the Caprivi, Namibia, during 1986, known as Operation Marion. The 'Caprivi trainees' returned to KwaZulu and Natal in September 1986, after six months of special forces training which, they were told, was to equip them to destroy the UDF/ANC. The 'Caprivi trainees' were variously deployed around the province: some to the KLA Protection Unit, some to Inkatha constituency offices and some to KZP stations. The trainees were required to make themselves available to local Inkatha leaders as well as to undertake the training of Inkatha youths in the areas where they were deployed. 36
180. The role of the 'Caprivi trainees' came under the spotlight in the Durban Supreme Court during the so-called 'KwaMakhutha trial' 37 of 1996. The Court found that Inkatha members trained by the SADF in the Caprivi were responsible for the killing in January 1987 of thirteen people, mostly women and children, in an AK-47 attack on the home of UDF leader Mr Bheki Ntuli, in the KwaMakhutha township south of Durban [KZN/MR/031/DN].
181. The Commission decided that a hearing should be held to hear testimony from and permit cross-examination of those witnesses whom the state had failed to call in the KwaMakhutha trial. Witnesses included Caprivi trainees as well as their political commissar, Daluxolo Luthuli, and an SADF expert on counter-revolutionary warfare. Evidence was also presented by a Special Forces amnesty applicant who had trained the recruits in the Caprivi.
182. The Commission has made a comprehensive finding concerning Operation Marion. It is contained in a lengthy document which includes the full reasons for the finding and which can be found in the State Archives. The main features of the finding are as follows:
IN 1986, THE SADF FORCE CONSPIRED WITH INKATHA TO PROVIDE INKATHA WITH A COVERT, OFFENSIVE PARAMILITARY UNIT (HIT SQUAD) TO BE DEPLOYED ILLEGALLY AGAINST PERSON'S AND ORGANISATIONS PERCEIVED TO BE OPPOSED TO OR ENEMIES OF BOTH THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT AND INKATHA. THE SADF PROVIDED TRAINING, FINANCIAL AND LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT AND BEHIND THE SCENES SUPERVISION.
ACCORDING TO GENERAL MAGNUS MALAN, THE STATE SECURITY COUNCIL SANCTIONED ALL STEPS TAKEN UP TO AND INCLUDING THE LIEBENBERG REPORT. THERE IS A CONSIDERABLE VARIANCE BETWEEN THE TRAINING CONTEMPLATED IN PARA 24. C.I, AND II OF THE LIEBENBERG REPORT AND THE ACTUAL TRAINING RECEIVED. IT CANNOT BE ASSUMED THAT IT WAS AT THIS STAGE THAT THE HIT SQUAD ACTIVITIES WERE FORMULATED.
IT IS CLEAR FROM THE MILITARY DOCUMENTS OF 16 APRIL 1986 THAT GENERAL MAGNUS MALAN, CHIEF BUTHELEZI AND ADMIRAL PUTTER HAD TO FINALISE THE NATURE OF THE TRAINING AND THE DEPLOYMENT OF THE TRAINEES BEFORE THE END OF THE BASIC TRAINING. MALAN CONFIRMED A MEETING WITH CHIEF BUTHELEZI ON 17 APRIL. JAN ANTON NIEUWOUDT OF SADF SPECIAL FORCES CONFIRMED THAT HE WAS SENT TO THE CAPRIVI TO UNDERTAKE TRAINING BY GENERAL GROENEWALD WHO FELL UNDER PUTTER. THIS WAS THE TIME OF THE CONSPIRACY AND THE PARTIES REFERRED TO WERE THE CONSPIRATORS.
TRAINING IN THE CAPRIVI STRIP INCLUDED INTER ALIA, THE FOLLOWING FEATURES;
PERSONS INVOLVED IN GIVING THE TRAINING AND PERSONS RECEIVING TRAINING TESTIFIED THAT THEY WERE GIVING AND RECEIVING TRAINING IN ORDER TO ENGAGE IN THE UNLAWFUL KILLING OF PEOPLE.
MALAN CLAIMED TO HAVE REPORTED BACK TO THE STATE PRESIDENT PW BOTHA AFTER THE ABOVE. THE PRESIDENT MUST THUS HAVE OF APPROVED OF THIS DECISION.
MZ KHUMALO OF INKATHA WAS THE LINK BETWEEN THE HIT SQUAD, THE SADF AND CHIEF BUTHELEZI. BRIGADIER MATHE OF THE KZP WAS THE PERSON WHO ISSUED FALSE POLICE APPOINTMENT CERTIFICATES TO CAPRIVI TRAINEES. KHUMALO AND MATHE WERE CHIEF BUTHELEZI'S CO-CONSPIRATORS.
THE SADF MEMBERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CARRYING OUT MALAN AND GROENEWALD'S INSTRUCTIONS AS TO THE NATURE OF THE TRAINING IN THE CAPRIVI MUST HAVE KNOWN THAT THEY WERE CREATING A HIT SQUAD. (COLONEL JJ JACOBS, COLONEL JA NIEUWOUDT, CAPTAIN. JP OPPERMAN, SERGEANT A CLOETE AND COLONEL AM BLAAUW AND OTHERS NOT IDENTIFIED).
THE SADF MEMBERS (MORE, VAN TONDER, VAN NIEKERK, COLONEL MA VAN DEN BERG, THE PERSON KNOWN TO LUTHULI AS MAJOR POLBERRY, CLOETE AND OPPERMAN) WHO OPERATED MARION IN 1987 AND BEYOND, AND CAPTAIN BOTHA AND THE LATE MAJOR DEON TERREBLANCHE OF THE SAP'S ISU MUST HAVE KNOWN OF LUTHULI AND KHUMALO'S ATTACKS AND AIDED AND ABETTED THEM TO AVOID PROSECUTION.
WITH REGARD TO THEIR ATTEMPTS TO ENSURE THAT CAPRIVI TRAINEES WHO HAD BEEN ARRESTED OBTAINED BAIL AND WERE REMOVED, SAP GENERALS SMIT AND VAN DER MERWE MUST HAVE AT LEAST ATTEMPTED TO DEFEAT THE ENDS OF JUSTICE.
THE SADF'S FINAL WITHDRAWAL FROM THE PROJECT WAS NOT AN ACT OF DISASSOCIATION BUT AN ATTEMPT TO AVOID ITS OWN INVOLVEMENT FROM BEING EXPOSED.
WHEN IT WITHDREW, IT FAILED TO PUT A STOP TO MARION'S UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES, PAVING THE WAY FOR FURTHER ACTS OF VIOLENCE TO BE COMMITTED. THE ESIKHAWINI HIT SQUAD AND OTHER ACTIVITIES OF THE TRAINEES SHOULD BE SEEN IN THIS LIGHT.
INSOFAR AS IT WAS STRONGLY ARGUED THAT THE COMMISSION SHOULD ACCEPT HUGO J'S FINDINGS THAT THE TRAINING WAS LAWFUL AND THE EVIDENCE OF THE ACCUSED THE FOLLOWING SHOULD BE NOTED:
CONSEQUENTLY, THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTED IN CONSEQUENCE OF OPERATION MARION WERE PART OF A SYSTEMATIC PATTERN OF ABUSE THAT ENTAILED DELIBERATE PLANNING ON THE PART OF THE FORMER STATE, THE KWAZULU GOVERNMENT AND THE INKATHA POLITICAL ORGANISATION. THE BASIS FOR ACCOUNT-
ABILITY FOR SUCH VIOLATIONS ON THE PART OF THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF SUCH ORGANISATIONS IS SET OUT IN ABOVE AND FALLS WITHIN THE DEFINITION CONTAINED IN SECTION 1(IX) (A) AND /OR (B) OF ACT NO. 34 OF 1995. THE INDIVIDUALS REFERRED THERETO ARE:
183. The Commission heard that, in October 1986, approximately fifteen to twenty 'Caprivi trainees' were told to report to the police station in the township of Mpumalanga, outside Durban. Although they never underwent any KZP training, screening or tests and never filled in any KZP application forms, the trainees were issued with KZP certificates appointing them to the rank of detective constable. They were also issued with official police firearms, which they were allowed to take home with them. Most of them were sent to guard the homes of chiefs [amaKhosi], indunas and councillors in the areas surrounding Pietermaritzburg. Each trainee was expected to identify local Inkatha youth and train them in weapon handling and combat skills.
184. The SAP policed the Mpumalanga township until February 1989, when policing was handed over to the KZP. Under the guise of official law enforcement agents, the 'Caprivi trainee' constables engaged in large-scale hit-squad activities in the Pietermaritzburg/Mpumalanga area for two years, directing their attacks against perceived UDF/ANC members.
185. Mr Zweli David Dlamini [AM3685/96] was part of the group assigned to the Mpumalanga police station. He was issued with a false KZP appointment certificate, a 7.65mm pistol and ammunition. Dlamini spoke of the activities of the trainees in the Mpumalanga area at a special Commission hearing on Caprivi Training:
Dlamini: At night if there was a chance, we will go out to hit or attack the UDF people.
Question: And what prompted you to carry out these attacks, you and these others?
Dlamini: We were trained and we knew that we were trained to kill only. There wasn't anything that we knew. Our enemy, the UDF, was operating in those areas where we were working, therefore if you happened to meet a UDF member you have to shoot.
186. Members of the local KZP station aided the operatives by transporting them to and from the scene of attacks, warning them of possible ANC attacks and providing them with firearms. Certain members of the Pietermaritzburg Security Branch, Riot Unit 8 and Military Intelligence also assisted in the provision of weapons.
187. At the same hearing, former political commissar and commander of the 'Caprivi trainees', Daluxolo Luthuli [AM4075/96], described the role of the 'Caprivi trainees' in Mpumalanga as follows:
During the day the Caprivians worked as police, go out of the police station, do their raids. However, in the evening they have to take off their uniform and get involved in the struggle. When I refer to 'struggle' I mean it's getting themselves to do what they were trained to do in Caprivi.
188. Luthuli applied for amnesty in respect of his involvement in the conflict in Mpumalanga during this period. He told the Commission:
During this period, there were literally hundreds of incidents where attacks were launched against UDF people, property or homes. It is impossible for me to record the extent of these attacks. The comrades responded by attacking us with equal vigour. A state of war existed between us. I often played a command role in directing our attacks. I did the following: arranged for arms and ammunition; distributed arms and ammunition; gathered fighting men; chose people who would lead the attacks and different aspects of the attacks; decided on the strategy of an attack; decided on the target or area to be attacked.
After the attack, I arranged for injured persons to be medically treated by sending them to clinics or hospitals; collected firearms and ammunition and stored them safely; arranged our defensive structures and strategies; reported back to the planning committee through MZ Khumalo.
The Summertime House Attack
Luthuli gave information about an attack on a UDF meeting at a house named 'Summertime' in Unit 1 South Mpumalanga on 18 January 1988. About 300 people were gathered at the house for the meeting. Luthuli did not participate in the attack himself but sent a group led by Mr Phumlani Xolani Mshengu [AM4075/96] and including Mr Sbu Bhengu, members of the Inkatha youth and other 'Caprivi trainees'. According to Luthuli:
"Phumlani Mshengu and Sbu Bhengu were armed with two of our AK-47 rifles. The Inkatha Youth members were also armed with whatever arms we were able to lay our hands on. The group approached the house and commenced firing on the people who were there. From there they went on and attacked other houses. They destroyed approximately eight houses and killed about nine people." [AM 4075/96]
The Commission established that the deceased included Mr Mfanafuthi Gasa, Mr Kinathi Mabhida, Mr Musa Khoza, Mr Thomas Mncwabe, Thomas's brother and a man identified only as 'Rolla'. People in the area told the Commission that an estimated 200 people were injured during this attack.
Former UDF member John Mazwazwa told the Commission that on the day before the meeting at Summertime house, he and other UDF members had expressed concern for the safety of the school children because the new school term was about to begin. Mr Katiza Cebekhulu, who came from the area, was called in because of his claim earlier that he had a police connection who could protect the UDF against an Inkatha attack. At the Summertime house meeting the next day, Cebekhulu allegedly undertook to telephone the police to tell them of the gathering and to ask them to patrol the area. Within two minutes of Cebekhulu's departure, the attack began.
The attack was registered at Hammarsdale police station under CR184/01/ 88. The Commission was unable to locate this docket either at Hammarsdale or Mpumalanga. However, it was established that attacks on other houses and people in the area on the same night were listed under Hammarsdale CR182/01/88 to CR202/01/88. Of these, eight dockets were missing. In none of these cases was there a prosecution.
189. The activities of the 'Caprivi trainees' extended also to the freehold township of Clermont, north-west of Durban. In the early 1980s, Clermont was one of the townships identified for incorporation into the KwaZulu homeland. The campaign for incorporation was led by leading Inkatha member Bekizizwe Samuel Jamile, then KwaZulu Deputy Minister of the Interior and a resident of Clermont.
210. During 1987, as a result of their waning support, Inkatha embarked on a substantial recruitment drive in the Edendale and Vulindlela valleys, bordering on Pietermaritzburg. They were assisted by a number of 'Caprivi trainees' who had been deployed in the area from late 1986. UDF supporters vigorously resisted Inkatha's attempts to make inroads into their areas. The conflict escalated dramatically from 1987 and came to be referred to as the Midlands War.
211. At around this time, some 300 Inkatha recruits were trained and deployed as special constables in the greater Pietermaritzburg area in order to bolster the presence of Inkatha, particularly in the Edendale Valley, KwaShange and other sections of Vulindlela. Conflict initially broke out in the Edendale Valley (which included Imbali, Ashdown, Caluza, Harewood) and then spread into the Vulindlela valley. Strong allegations have emerged of collusion between Inkatha and the SAP in attacks on UDF supporters. UDF members were detained in their hundreds while, at most, a handful of Inkatha supporters were detained.
212. So intense was the fighting in the township of Imbali during the latter half of the 1980s that a foreign journalist likened it to Beirut. Statements made to the Commission indicate that, with perhaps one exception, a few prominent Inkatha supporters were repeatedly implicated in violent crimes in the township.
213. In 1983, the South African government attempted to impose a local town council on Imbali in terms of the new Black Local Authorities Act. 42 This brought tension between Inkatha, which sought to gain control of the new town council, and UDF supporters and community residents who actively resisted the imposition of the government's local authority structure. In October 1983, at council elections in Imbali, only three of the six seats were contested, and 248 votes cast. Patrick Pakkies was elected as mayor and councillors included Jerome Mncwabe and Abdul Awetha (see above).
214. Pietermaritzburg Security Branch member, Warrant Officer Rolf Warber, was frequently named in statements made to the Commission in connection with harassing and intimidating non-Inkatha supporters in Imbali. During the Trust Feed Trial (see above), evidence emerged to the effect that Warber had assisted in the purchase of twenty-four revolvers on behalf of Inkatha members in Imbali in 1988. Three of those for whom he bought firearms were implicated in murder cases. They were Mr Abdul Awetha, Mr 'Skweqe' Mweli and Mr Toti Zulu.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT PIETERMARITZBURG SECURITY BRANCH MEMBER ROLF WARBER DELIBERATELY AND UNLAWFULLY, AND IN BREACH OF STANDING SAP REGULATIONS, INCITED SPECIAL CONSTABLE TRAINEES, ON THEIR DEPLOYMENT IN NATAL, TO ATTACK AND KILL MEMBERS OF THE UDF. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, AS A RESULT OF SUCH TRAINING AND INCITEMENT, THE TRAINEES DID IN FACT ENGAGE IN UNLAWFUL ACTS INCLUDING KILLING. SUCH ACTS CONSTITUTE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, FOR WHICH WARBER IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE.
Esikhawini hit squad
IT IS THE FINDING OF THIS COMMISSION THAT IN 1990, SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE IFP CONSPIRED WITH SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE KZP TO ESTABLISH A HIT SQUAD IN ESIKHAWINI TOWNSHIP, TO BE DEPLOYED ILLEGALLY AGAINST PERSONS PERCEIVED TO BE OPPOSED TO THE IFP. THE HIT SQUAD CONSISTED OF 'CAPRIVI TRAINEES' AND MEMBERS OF THE KZP, AND ITS MEMBERS TOOK INSTRUCTIONS FROM SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE IFP AND OF THE KZP, FOR THE ELIMINATION OF POLITICAL ACTIVISTS AFFILIATED TO THE ANC AND COSATU AS WELL AS MEMBERS OF THE SAP WHO WERE NOT SEEN TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF THE IFP. THE DEPLOYMENT OF THE HIT SQUAD LED TO GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUDING KILLING, ATTEMPTED KILLING, ARSON AND SEVERE ILL TREATMENT. THE PERSONS ACCOUNTABLE FOR SUCH VIOLATIONS INCLUDE: PRINCE GIDEON ZULU, MS LINDIWE MBUYAZI, MR BB BIYELA, CAPTAIN L LANGENI, MR MZ KHUMALO, MR ROBERT MZIMELA, CHIEF MATHABA AND MR ROBERT MKHIZE.
The Mlaba self-protection unit camp
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT DURING THE PERIOD 1993-94, THE INKATHA SELF-PROTECTION UNIT (SPU) PROJECT, BASED PRIMARILY AT MLABA CAMP, PROVIDED TRAINING FOR 5 000 TO 8 000 PEOPLE. ALTHOUGH OFFICIALLY PLACED WITHIN THE AMBIT OF THE PEACE ACCORD AND CONTAINING AN ELEMENT OF SELF-PROTECTION, THE PROJECT WAS ALSO INTENDED TO FURNISH THE IFP WITH THE MILITARY CAPACITY TO PREVENT THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT/INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION BY FORCE FROM HOLDING ELECTIONS WHICH DID NOT ACCOMMODATE THE IFP'S DESIRES FOR SELF-DETERMINATION. SUCH ARMED RESISTANCE WAS TO ENTAIL THE RISK OF UNLAWFUL DEATH AND INJURY TO PERSONS AND THUS CONSTITUTED A CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
CONSEQUENTLY IT IS THE FINDING OF THIS COMMISSION THAT THE SPU PROJECT CONSTITUTED A GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN AS FAR AS IT ENTAILED DELIBERATE PLANNING ON THE PART OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY AND MEMBERS OF THE THEN KWA-ZULU GOVERNMENT AND POLICE FORCE. THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS ARE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE VIOLATIONS ARISING FROM THE SPU CAMP: MR PHILIP POWELL, CHIEF MG BUTHELEZI, GENERAL SM MATHE, CAPTAIN LEONARD LANGENI AND MEMBERS (NOT INDIVIDUALLY IDENTIFIED) OF THE KWAZULU LEGISLATURE AND CABINET WHO KNEW OF THE PROJECT'S UNLAWFUL AIMS AND SUPPORTED IT.
e. the establishment in early 1986 of a covert, offensive paramilitary unit trained, armed and paid by Military Intelligence, and their deployment throughout KwaZulu until September 1990, during which the 'Caprivi trainees' killed large numbers of people and permanently altered the political landscape in the areas in which they were deployed. (role of allies of the state)