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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Gqozo Was Told Of Coup Attempt On Day Of Bisho Massacre: TRC Told

BISHO September 10 1996 - Sapa

Former Ciskei military ruler Oupa Gqozo received a security report on the day of the 1992 Bisho massacre informing him that the ANC's military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, planned to overthrow his government, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard on Tuesday.

Testifying at a special commission hearing on the massacre, Gqozo's former deputy, Col Silence Pita, said the source of the information had not been made clear in the report.

Gqozo and his Cabinet were informed that MK was planning a coup, and "would take us where we didn't want to be", Pita told the commission on the second day of its hearings in Bisho in the Eastern Cape.

He said security arrangements for an African National Congress march on September 7, 1992 were left to the Ciskei Defence Force.

"The soldiers told us where they were going to be deployed. They told us they were going to prevent people from going to Bisho and that there would be (soldiers) standing at the fence where there was a gap."

Outgoing ANC secretary-general Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday told the commission he believed the CDF had laid an ambush with soldiers hidden behind shrubs and mounds of earth.

When ANC leader Ronnie Kasrils led a breakaway group of marchers througed fire, triggering the massacre.

The final toll included 28 marchers and one soldier. Two hundred others were injured.

Pita testified that prior to the massacre, Gqozo set up a political party called the African Democratic Movement.

He said the establishment of the ADM led to violent clashes with the ANC and sparked a wave of killings.

"People were killing each other. They were dying. The ADM and ANC were fighting each other. It was a very difficult time.

"The ANC wanted things done a particular way and the ADM wanted things to be done another way altogether."

Earlier on Tuesday, former Ciskei foreign affairs minister Mickey Webb testified that the Ciskei government had b een manouevred into a confrontation with the ANC by South Africa's intelligence services.

He claimed that South African Military Intelligence and Ciskei's own intelligence agency fed the Ciskei government with misinformation "which could only have ended up in confrontation between the authorities and the ANC".

"The cross-fertilisation of mystery and intrigue would have done justice to a best-selling suspense novel. At the time it was serious business conveyed with urgency in clandestine calls and covert messages."

In preparing for the ANC's September 7 march, the Ciskei government wanted to prevent a possible invasion, destruction of property and general insurrection, he said.

In the days before the march the government received representations from clergy members and South African government ministers who sought to persuade the Ciskei authorities to allow the march to take place.

They promised "proper controls and behaviour", Webb said. "Tragically, history has proved that the Ciskei authorities' understanding of the purpose of the march was indeed correct and that promise of a peaceful, controlled march could not be sustained."

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.