Inkatha turns a blind eye to amnesty

KwaZulu-Natal’s 14-year civil war is set to remain the single largest gaping hole in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) “big picture” of apartheid-era atrocities.

The conflict has spawned many of South Africa’s worst, and certainly its most numerous, human rights abuses. The size of the gap became evident as last Saturday’s amnesty deadline passed without significant applications from senior Inkatha Freedom Party leaders or their erstwhile white military allies.

A number of IFP supporters applied, but they are low-ranking and many are prisoners.
Apart from these, the only windows the TRC has gained into the party’s paramilitary activities are those opened by the long- expected applications of the IFP’s former Caprivi political commissar-turned-state- witness Daluxolo Luthuli and self-confessed Esikhawini hit-squad members Romeo Mbambo, Gcina Mkhize and Israel Hlongwane.

The TRC is also understood to have received an application from IFP Port Shepstone leader James Zulu and four Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging members for the 1993 Natal Liberation Army attack on a Flagstaff police station for which they were convicted in April.

TRC representatives this week blamed the lack of successful prosecutions—and last year’s acquittal of former defence minister Magnus Malan and 19 others in the KwaMakhutha massacre trial—for reducing the motivation for perpetrators of violence to apply for amnesty.

This is despite a virtual flood of allegations—many of which are included in documentary evidence, court testimony or investigation reports—linking many senior provincial politicians and their security force allies to hit- squads.

Among the most notable people who have not sought amnesty are:

  • IFP MP Philip Powell, a former security policeman who oversaw the 1994 training of 8 000 IFP self-protection unit (SPU)members. Powell escaped prosecution for possession of a Vlakplaas-made shotgun, but has been linked to the supply of illegal weapons to his party.

  • Other alleged gun-runners in the same operation include IFP Gauteng leaders Themba Khoza and Humphrey Ndlovu, as well as KwaZulu-Natal Public Works MEC Celani Mtetwa. Khoza and Ndlovu were also, in a March 1994 Transitional Executive Committee report, alleged to have been involved in the 1993 Nqutu massacre of 11 people. The report linked Mtetwa to illegal SPU training. He was also KwaZulu’s homeland justice minister during the 1986 Operation Marion paramilitary training of 200 IFP supporters in the Caprivi Strip, and allegedly supplied 25 AK-47s to the IFP Empangeni office. In addition, a Goldstone commission report named him as a former police agent.

  • Unchallenged court testimony has named IFP KwaZulu-Natal Social Welfare MEC Prince Gideon Zulu, provincial legislative secretary Robert Mzimela, VIP unit head Leonard Langeni, National MP Lindiwe Mbuyazi, Richards Bay mayor BB Biyela and other IFP leaders and KwaZulu police station commanders as the alleged masterminds behind the Esikhawini hit- squad.

  • Perhaps the most significant person to have avoided the amnesty process is former KwaZulu police general Jac Buchner. He was alleged in the Malan trial to have attended at least one secret meeting involving target selection and to have participated in a conspiracy to murder Luthuli.

Buchner features in accounts of “third force” involvement in so-called “black-on- black” violence in the province, having commanded the notorious Pietermaritzburg security branch before taking over the KwaZulu Police. Earlier this year former Vlakplaas operatives allegedly linked Buchner to the supply of truckloads of weapons to the IFP during his tenure. Malan and his co-accused may now face civil action or related charges. Others who have not applied for amnesty are open to possible criminal and/or civil action, though they may benefit from a “special amnesty” proposal under negotiation in KwaZulu-Natal’s underground peace talks.

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