Shell House How It Went Wrong

A trigger-happy ANC guard with a record of ill-discipline started the Shell House shooting in March, reports Paul Stober

THE Shell House shooting _ in which 11 Inkatha Freedom Party supporters died _ was the result of a panic by ANC guards who had been warned by state security officials to expect an attack on the ANC headquarters.

Some sources close to the investigation believe the first shot was fired by an ANC security guard with a history of ill-discipline.

According to an ANC official who was at the front of the building at the time of the shooting, ANC security opened fire after a group of about 15 IFP supporters surged towards the building.

It is believed that most of the 11 dead were among this group.

Sources say the organisation has identified the guard who first opened fire on IFP supporters who were marching past Shell House on March 28, on their way to a gathering called by Zulu king Goodwill Zwelethini in the centre of Johannesburg. The Mail & Guardian has been given the name of guard.

A former Umkhonto weSizwe member, he is described as having a history of poor conduct in military structures.

According to the sources, the ANC received a tip-off that the building would be attacked on the day of the meeting. However, the organisation’s security guards were under strict orders not to use their weapons unless absolutely necessary.

But witnesses in the building are reported as saying that as the marchers passed, the guard in question suddenly broke ranks and started firing _ emptying his weapon into the passing crowd. The armed marchers returned fire and pandemonium broke loose.

Safety and Security Minister Sydney Mufamadi told parliament last week that the initial police investigation had clearly showed that the first shots had come from inside Shell House.

On Tuesday, ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa handed 39 weapons of different calibres _ allegedly linked to the shootings _ to Witerwatersrand regional police commissioner Koos Calitz. The organisation was expected to hand over more weapons later this week.

Ramaphosa and Calitz were scheduled to meet again yesterday to discuss identifying ANC men involved in the shooting.

The meetings between Ramaphosa and Calitz take place amid allegations in parliament that Mufamadi tried to cover up a refusal by the ANC to allow police access to Shell house and the weapons allegedly involved in the shooting.

Mufamadi had said police had not been denied access to the building in the wake of the shooting.

Democratic Party leader Tony Leon had then produced a memorandum by Calitz which said police access to Shell House had been refused by ANC security officials and no weapons had been handed over for ballistic tests.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Mufamadi explained he had changed the parliamentary answer drafted by Calitz after establishing from the regional commissioner that the police themselves had decided not to enter the building after ANC officials agreed to hand over weapons at a later stage.

Mufamadi insisted the police investigation into the shooting would go ahead unhindered.

He pointed out that the ANC and the police were co-operating on the matter and that during his discussions with Calitz, the regional commissioner had indicated the police had evidence from outside Shell House which they were following up.

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