Warlords get police ‘help’, says Cosatu

Startling allegations that police are actively backing Inkatha warlords in the Pietermaritzburg civil war were made at a press conference in Johannesburg yesterday. A dossier detailing 29 incidents in which policemen and lnkatha warlords allegedly cooperated in the detention, interrogation, shooting and harassment of residents from Imbali township was handed to reporters at the conference called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

osatu General Secretary Jay Naidoo said a letter had been sent to Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok calling for a public investigation into the role of the police in the Pietermaritzburg violence, which has claimed more than 1 000 lives in the past two years. Cosatu lawyer Nicholas Haysom said evidence in the dossier of direct collusion or omission on the part of the police suggested

Commissioner of Police Rennie de Witt responded late yesterday by saying police were investigating whether Cosatu had broken restrictions imposed on the organisation under the Emergency regulations by holding the conference. Commissioner of Police Rennie de Witt responded late yesterday by saying police were investigating whether Cosatu had broken restrictions imposed on the organisation under the Emergency regulations by holding the conference. And Oscar Dhlomo, General Secretary of Inkatha, said: "I state categorically that lnkatha does not and will not collaborate with the police in the Pietermaritzburg area."

There were other indications, said Haysom, that fratricidal strife in the Natal Midlands – said to have claimed more lives than the civil war in Beirut – was being encouraged by the behaviour of the police. These included reports that a security policeman recently purchased guns at a sports shop in the city under his name so they could be given to lnkatha members who did not have licenses to carry firearms; and a letter sent by Vlok to a member of parliament stating that lnkatha is a bona fide cultural organisation and people should be encouraged to join it.  

The conference was addressed by Naidoo and attended by Mohammed Valli and Titus Mofolo, executive members of the now-restricted United Democratic Front. It was preceded by briefings with representatives of all foreign embassies and major employer organisations. Naidoo said his organisation was fully committed to the peace accord reached between Cosatu and lnkatha last year and announced that a major initiative was under way to revive it.

The dossier, entitled Cosatu Report on Imbali Stage One, says:  "It appears that the police have a highly suspicious relationship with high­ ranking Inkatha membership. There are repeated   incidents of Inkatha members playing quasi-police roles." Says a press release from the Department of Law and Order: "General de Witt has ordered an investigation into the possibility that the document and the press conference could be a breach of the restrictions placed on Cosatu last year."        

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.

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