About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Tebbutt blames AWB for '94 Bop massacre

CAPE TOWN-- The AWB had to bear the major responsibility for the deaths in the Mmabatho-Mafikeng area of then Bophuthatswana just prior to the April 27, 1994, general election, the Tebbutt Commission of Inquiry into the events said yesterday.

In a report tabled in Parliament, it also apportioned blame or negligence in varying degrees to the former South African government; the Transitional Executive Council (TEC); former president Lucas Mangope and his government; General Constand Viljoen and Dr Ferdi Hartzenberg of the erstwhile Afrikaner Volksfront (AV); and the SADF and SAP.

The report, signed by Mr Justice John Tebbutt and commissioner T K Gura, followed hearings held last year into 49 of the 92 violent deaths which had occurred in Bophuthatswana during March, 1994.

The evidence was overwhelming that the AWB entered the area uninvited and were not welcome there.

AWB leader Eugene Terre'Blanche had told the commission he and his movement had come there at Mr Mangope's invitation, but Mr Mangope denied this.

The evidence was also overwhelming that AWB members had entered the area with the avowed intention of killing black people, and that they had carried this out.

"The chilling and horrendous prayer of the AWB 'dominee', that 'it will be expected of us today to shoot dead kaffirs', is testimony to this," the commission said.

Turning to Mr Mangope, the commission found that although collective cabinet accountability existed in Bophuthatswana, it was clear that he was the strongman.

It was further clear that he had at the time lost touch with the realities of the political scene in South Africa and opinions and desires of his people.

His acceptance that the AWB would not join the AV in coming to his territory also revealed a "naive failure to recognise reality".

Mr Mangope had also had ample time to convene his parliament to decide on whether Bophuthatswana should be reincorporated into South Africa and participate in the election but had blamed the South African government and the TEC for not having allowed it.

Also, when he knew, or should have have known, that the situation had so deteriorated that a state of virtual anarchy existed in Bophuthatswana, he stubbornly refused to call on the South African government and the SADF to assist him in restoring stability.

Mr Mangope had caused a major blunder in calling in Gen Viljoen and the AV.

If timeous steps had been taken by the South African government and the TEC, who had been alerted about strikes and other disruptions in Bophuthatswana before the fateful time, "much of the subsequent disastrous situation could have been averted".

"The encouragement by the Afrikaner Volksfront of President Mangope to go it alone, in the light of the reality of what was then happening in South Africa, was not only irresponsible, but provocative."

The commission found that the SADF and the SAP could have taken more effective steps to prevent the mass of armed right-wingers leaving South Africa for Bophuthatswana.

It found that the Bophuthatswana defence and police forces had mainly acted in a disciplined way, except for some renegade elements.

It found that the role of the ANC in encouraging and spurring on the opposition to the Mangope regime was undoubted "but in the view of the commission its importance in respect of what happened in Bophuthatswana in the week of March 7 to 13 must not be over-emphasised".

The report concludes that "if there is a lesson to be learnt from the events in Bophuthatswana, it is that delays in taking remedial steps in situations of strife and unrest should not be allowed to occur".

Source: http://www.dispatch.co.za/1998/07/31/southafrica/MASSACRE.HTM

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.