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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

TEC Report on KZN Hit Squads (1)

Preliminary Report of the TEC Task Group

Preliminary report of the Transitional Executive Council Investigation Task Group into the matter of hit squads in the KwaZulu Police, flowing from the Fourth Interim Report of the Goldstone Commission, dated 6 December 1993.

INTRODUCTION

1. On 14 December 1993 the Transitional Executive Council appointed a Task Group to investigate, on behalf of the TEO, the matter of hit squads, flowing from the fourth interim report of the Goldstone Commission. The Task Group was charged with gathering relevant information and reporting back to the Management Committee of the TEC as a matter of urgency.

2. The Task Group was instructed to co-operate with the Goldstone Commission, and more specifically through Colonel DUTTON of the Goldstone Commission Investigation Unit in Natal. It was also charged with co-operating with the South African Police investigation team and was informed that the abovementioned bodies would themselves offer their cooperation.

3. The composition of the Task Group was in the first instance Professor N HAYSOM, General WYNAND VAN DER MERWE of the South African Police and attorney HOWARD VARNEY of the Legal Resources Centre. On 24 January 1994 Major General van der Merwe was replaced, at the request of the South African Police by Colonel IVOR HUMAN, attached to the Crime Combating and investigating Unit in the East Rand. At the outset it must be said that the Task Group operated under some difficulties including

4. In due course the Task Group was informed that its report would in the first instance be made to the Sub-Council on Law and Order of the TEC.

5. The Task Group now wishes to place before the said Sub-Council a preliminary report, which it feels constrained to do by virtue of the urgency which it believes this matter must be attended to. It is, however, unable to deliver a final report at this stage, because it has been unable to complete its investigations or to collect information from certain material informants. The Task Group will however present a fuller interim report within the next few days.

THE OPERATION OF THE TASK GROUP

6. The Task Group has met since January on a regular basis either in Durban or in Johannesburg to share given information and to allocate tasks. The Task Group did not approach its investigation in the form of a commission of inquiry as it was not established as such, nor did it have the necessary powers, resources or time to establish itself as a commission of inquiry. The Task Group approached its task in the form of an investigation seeking to review relevant evidence, collect information, solicit additional information from informants, and obtain the views of persons qualified to assess past and present investigations.

INDEMNITY

7. At its first meeting the Task Group directed a request to the Planning Committee of the TEC to the effect that a provision be made for the indemnification of witnesses or informants where the information supplied would lead to a reduction in hit squad activities but would expose the informant to a criminal prosecution. In due course various meetings were held with the designated member of the TEC, MR ZAM TITUS with regard to this matter, and a proposed indemnification provision was remitted to the TEC for enactment in terms of Section 6 of the Abolition of Restrictions on Political Activities Act, 1993. Regrettably the TEC has not been able to process this request. This has adversely affected the work of the Task Group. The request had the support of MR JUSTICE GOLDSTONE and the SAP investigating team charged with the investigation of hit squad activity. It has become evident that persons who have been implicated in such activity are willing to provide evidence to the Task Group and/or to the Goldstone Commission and that such information would lead to the prosecution and exposure of persons who co-ordinate these activities in Natal. As the latest Goldstone Commission report indicates, without the evidence of an insider it will not be possible to expose such activities prto' to the elections. We continue to assert that this is a matter of urgency, and request the TEC to treat it as such. It should be stressed that this measure which it is envisaged will be a highly selective indemnification process would strengthen all those mechanisms currently charged with the task of preventing violence and intimidation such as the Goldstone Commission.

THE GOLDSTONE COMMISSION

8. The Task Group enjoyed the fullest co-operation of the Goldstone Commission of Inquiry and its investigation unit. An agreement was reached earlier in the inquiry that the Task Group would not make public information passed onto it by the Goldstone Investigation Unit without the consent of Judge Goldstone, more specifically where such information had been provided to the Commission on the basis of anonymity. The Task Group has liaised and co-operated with Col Frank Dutton and Advocate Carl Koenig of the Natal Investigation Team on a continuous basis. Members of the Task Group have met with Judge Goldstone on two occasions.

THE SAP AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL

9. The Task Group also met on three occasions with Brigadier DU PREEZ, the SAP officer charged with the investigation into hit squads and more specifically to prosecute the suspects in the matter referred to by Judge Goldstone in his fourth interim report. However, there was no substantial information forthcoming from the team for the reason that the Attorney-General of Natal had adopted the view that the relevant files which Brigadier du Preez had in his possession were the subject of the Attorney-General's privilege. In addition, Brigadier du Preez recently informed Col I Human of the Task Group that the investigation had not proceeded beyond the position common in December 1993.

10. On 8 February 1994, General DURING, Commissioner of the KwaZulu Police appeared before the lEG to answer enquiries concerning allegations of hit squad activity by members of his force. Professor Haysom of the Task Group directed questioning at General During to establish whether the General was taking the necessary steps to deal with this situation. For the reasons set out below the answers supplied by General During are some cause for concern.

11. General During, through a discussion with Col I Human, has offered his full co-operation with the Inquiry. Col. T Reed of the Legal Services of the KZP attempted to secure a response from the Chief Minister's department in response to a request for documentation, referred to below, and has in response to a request from the Task Group, supplied the ID numbers of most of the Caprivi Trainees

12. THE CHIEF MINISTER'S DEPARTMENT

Through the course of our enquiries and flowing from evidence that emerged at a recent part-heard inquest dealing with hit squad type activity it, became necessary to scrutinize certain documents based in the Department of the Chief Minister. Initial attempts to secure the assistance of the KZP were made, and the response was that we should direct our enquiries to the Department of the Chief Minister. Attempts to secure such co-operation from the Chief Minister's office were not forthcoming notwithstanding the visit to Ulundi by Colonel Ivor Human on 3 March 1994 and correspondence entered into with Mr S E ARMSTRONG, Secretary General of the Department of the Chief Minister. Apart from one letter from Mr ARMSTRONG in which he, inter alia, questions the relevance of the request for access to certain records in his department, there has been no response from the Chief Minister's Department. A further request for assistance dated 16 March 1994 has received no response, and the Task Group has now assumed that the Chief Minister's Department will not co-operate with the inquiry.

INFORMATION AND EVIDENCE

13. The Task Group embarked on its inquiry by soliciting information from witnesses in the general public who had evidence that may be relevant to the Task Group's inquiry. The press release to this effect was released on January 1994. In response thereto, and also through the pursuing o~ independent leads, certain witnesses approached the Task Group or members thereof. In addition to such witnesses who wished to supply information on the basis of anonymity, the Task Group contacted and spoke to individuals on their knowledge of the hit squad activity including such persons as relevant attorneys, investigating officers, the Natal police reporting officer, journalists, academics and suspects. In addition, the Task Group reviewed where possible, ballistics evidence, court records and evidence given in a wide range of previous criminal cases. The Task Group reviewed in particular extensive evidence given at a variety of commissions of inquiry into matters that could be relevant to the inquiry and other pertinent matters including

13.1. The Goldstone Commission of Inquiry dealing, inter alia, with the training by the SADF of Inkatha supporters in the Caprivi in 1986 and the report of the Commission dated 1 June 1993.

13.2. The training of Caprivi Trainees and Inkatha recruits as SAP Special Constables on Course No 3/87/88 at Koeberg between 11 January1988 and 27 February 1988.

13.3. Specific case studies

13.4. The Goldstone Commission of Inquiry into six matters pertaining o the KwaZulu Police and the second interim report of the WaIlis SubCommittee dated 5 March 1994.

13.5. The report of the Goldstone Commission of Inquiry dated 6 December 1993 dealing, inter alia, with the existence of a hit squad consisting of members of the KwaZulu Police ("KZP").

13.6. The report of the Goldstone Commission of Inquiry dated 18 March 1994 dealing, inter alia, with criminal political violence by elements within the South African Police ("SAP"), KZP and the Inkatha Freedom Party ("IFP").

13.7. The report of the Auditor-General conducted in September 1991 dealing, inter alia, with the control over arms and ammunition by the KZP.

13.8. Trial and inquest records, judgments and findings.

13.9. Interviews and discussions with members of the Goldstone Commission Investigation team, members of the South African Police, and individual witnesses.

13.10. Published and unpublished reports, articles and papers.

14. Information passed on to us and gleaned from these records respectively above is voluminous. Some of the information has been circumscribed by conditions of anonymity or confidentiality. However, the pattern which emerges from the evidence is obvious and repetitive, it repeatedly refers to certain individuals and similarly reveals a clear pattern with regard to the response by the KwaZulu Police to hit squad activity. The individual commissions of inquiry, the individual criminal cases or the fragmented bits of information treated in isolation are merely suggestive. However, when taken together linkages are formed between many of the cases.

15. In our interim report we plan to set out the overall pattern of hit squad activity and the undeniable linkage between such activity, the Caprivi trainees, the KZP, certain individual IFP officials. Certain linkages can also be made with the SAP and the SADF. We do so in order to explain the recommendations, and the immediate steps that we believe are necessary to curb this activity which has now reached crisis proportions. Our intention, however, is not to summarize all the evidence available but to reserve some information for the comprehensive investigative team which we believe should be established. Certain evidence in our possession, if published, would prejudice such an inquiry.

16. During the course of our investigations Mr Justice Goldstone and Advocate Wallis respectively released further reports on matters which were directly relevant to our inquiry. We have perused these reports, and in addition to the fourth interim report, would confirm in general the conclusions and comments made in the reports, relating to hit squad activity in the KwaZulu Police. Reference will be made to the content of the aforesaid reports in the interim report which will be released in the near future.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

Hit squad activity, in Natal and particularly in the area of jurisdiction of the KwaZulu Police is rife.

The number of deaths caused by these hit squads is unquantifiable but would represent a significant proportion of those who have died in political violence in Natal and KwaZulu.

We would confirm the conclusions reached by Judge Goldstone in his fourth interim report regarding prima facie evidence of a hit squad in the KwaZulu Police as referred to in the said report.

In regard to assassinations and attacks on perceived opponents of the IFP which include allegedly dissident members of the IFP and of members of the KZP themselves, several hit squads are operative.

Some but not all of these hit squad activities can be associated with members of the KZP. The KZP have been implicated in hit squad activity in a number of areas throughout the North Coast, in the greater Durban area and in the Midlands. Some members have been convicted for such activities, but to our knowledge not one has been convicted as a result of an exclusive KwaZulu Police investigation. Judge Goldstone's report reveals that one SA policeman operating in the North Coast area has at least 100 dockets relevant to one KZP hit squad investigation.

19. Some of these hit squad activities can be specifically associated with persons who underwent training at the Caprivi Strip in 1986 and who now operate mostly within the KZP.

The Caprivi trainees whose existence was the existence was the subject of a cover up by the KZP received training by the SADF. According to uncontested evidence, the training included inter alia

The use of weapons including the AK 47, the UZZI, G3, handweapons such as Browning Pistols and the Soviet made Tokarevs, RPG7 rocket launchers and mortars: Urban and guerilla warfare: how to attack homes or buildings using hand grenades, how to interrogate and torture captured persons; how to make arms caches and to create booby traps; how to carry out ambushes, kidnap targeted persons and techniques of abduction; how to conceal weapons; the construction of homemade mines and the use of explosives; how to blow up houses and motor cars.

We are satisfied that the secret training received by the Caprivi Trainees had little to do with the stated purpose of VIP protection, but in fact equipped the trainees with a repertoire of deadly skills in offensive military techniques and guerilla warfare. We would underline, as the Commission itself has recently recorded, that "there is the involvement of former Caprivi trainees in an increasing number of cases of criminal conduct in KwaZulu and the apparent failure by the KZP to investigate activities of the Caprivi trainees"

We have little doubt that had the Goldstone Commission had the benefit of evidence that has subsequently come to its attention it would have been less cautious in its conclusions regarding this sinister grouping than it was in early 1993. We make specific recommendations in respect of the Caprivi group below, because, inter alia, of their more political background and from their deliberate deployment for political purposes which we will set out fully in our interim report. In addition certain Caprivi trainees and two officials responsible for their training and placement, have been persistently linked to hit squad activity.

Prior to their incorporation into the KZP many of the Caprivi trainee allegedly on the instructions of senior figures in the KwaZulu Government, KZP and IFP, engaged in political campaigning on behalf of Inkatha. Also prior to their incorporation into the KZP, 134 Caprivi trainees were sent on a SAP special training course at Koeberg in January 1988, and then deployed in the Pietermaritzburg area. This could only have taken place through arrangements made at the highest levels in the SAP and the KwaZulu Government. At all times prior to their incorporation into the KZP the Caprivi trainees continued to receive salaries which they would collect at times from the Mkuze camp, and at other times, allegedly, from the IFP office in Ulundi. The salaries were mostly arranged by an officer in the KZP based at the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly. After their training as KZ Policemen the Caprivi trainees were deployed at different police stations where certain of them engaged in hit squad activity, at times in collusion with other persons, including civilians.

21. Additionally some officials and/or office bearers of the IFP and employees of a certain KwaZulu government department are implicated in this hit squad activity. Informants have alleged that certain very senior officials in the KwaZulu Government have been involved in directing and supporting hit squad activity. One KwaZulu cabinet minister has been convicted of murder. The evidence and information in some cases suggests that resources 0' directives appear to emanate from certain officials in Ulundi, allegedly located at the IFP head office and at the Department of the Chief Minister. These resources allegedly included vehicles, arms and ammunition, and in certain instances, firearms allegedly supplied included AK 47s. Certain IFP members, linked to hit squad activity have allegedly been conferred with the authority to carry firearms by being issued with KZP police reservist ID documents. There are other cases which suggest, according to ballistic tests that the firearms used have been drawn from the local KwaZulu Police armory.

22. The KwaZulu Police Force is incapable of investigating cases against suspects of its own force allegedly implicated in such hit squad activity, nor are they capable of investigating such activities where the persons implicated in the hit squad activity are not members of the KZP. There is an atmosphere of fear within the KZP and more specifically in relation to being seen in the company of Goldstone Investigators or of talking about such activities to outsiders.

23. Apart from known UDF/ANC political activists and leaders, identified targets for assassination would include KwaZulu Policemen who are perceived to have been disloyal to the IFP; and those who have appeared to be enthusiastic in their investigations against other KwaZulu Policemen and IFP members. It would appear that in at least one case a KwaZulu Policemen was assassinated because he co-operated with the Goldstone Commission. and in another an attempt was to be mace on the lives of TWO Others whose loyalty to the IFP was under suspicion.

24. The evidence and information suggests the involvement of the highest echelons of the KZP in frustrating investigations into such activity by the South African Police and even by certain diligent investigators in the KZP; and more specifically in preventing the apprehension of suspects who are being sought by police investigators in regard to hit squad activities; and have actively supported suspected KZP assassins by supplying them with their salaries while officially denying any knowledge of their whereabouts. As the Nqutu case reveals, investigators have been removed from cases inappropriately, and at least one KZP officer has allegedly assisted KZP hit men to secure their release from detention.

25. We do not rule out the possibility that in certain instances certain SAP officers have frustrated investigations into hit squad activity in KwaZulu.

RECOMMENDATIONS

26. Many members of the KZP appear to have a highly politicised concept of their function and we question whether they can be relied upon to perform their policing duties in an impartial manner, at least under its existing command. We share the concern expressed by the Wallis Sub-Committee inquiry into the KZP of The 'the pr oven Incompetence within the KZP short, the KZP cannot be relied upon to conduct any inquiry or investigation into hit squad related activities whether by members of its own force or by other persons. All dockets currently open which are in the hands of the KZP should be immediately transferred to an appropriate investigating team as referred to below. Such dockets should include all those currently under the control of Colonel Reynolds who is the officer in charge of Internal Investigations. As regards the balance of the dockets relating to public violence we concur with the recommendation made by Advocate Wallis that they be overseen by a senior SAP detective officer and international observer to be placed at each KZP station.

27. It is our view that certain KZP officers have played roles which have facilitated hit squad activity described above, or at the least failed to prevent it. These officers should be placed on immediate compulsory leave. The task group will supply their names, together with motivations for their removal in its interim report to be released shortly.

28. The task group has further information about particular KwaZulu policemen and individuals, implicated in hit squad activity. These individuals require to be questioned about their alleged roles in hit squad activity.

29. The Task Group is satisfied that there are linkages and connections between different elements engaged in gun-running and hit squad activity inside and outside the security forces, both in the Transvaal and Natal. For that reason, we recommend that a single unified investigative team needs to be established, whose terms of reference would include the activities enquired into by Judge Goldstone in his report into political violence acts committed by elements of the SAP, KZP and the IFP, into the Nqutu massacre, the matters referred to in the Commission of Inquiry into the KwaZulu Police and all the matters referred to in paragraph 26 above. Such an investigative team should be comprised of the most credible hand picked investigators and lawyers as well as assisted by recognized international police investigators. Given the Goldstone Commission's experience in working with international investigators, we believe that Judge Goldstone should be consulted in this regard. The team should be headed by a respected individual who can provide bold and dynamic leadership. We recommend that, given their experience in these particular cases that Colonel DUTTON and Captains SCHOLTZ and VAN ASWAGEN be allocated to such a team. We further recommend that the investigation team be authorised to have full access to dockets and exhibits in possession of the police and the Attorney-General and to all relevant police documentation and personnel in police stations.

We note the recommendation by Judge Goldstone that an inquiry be launched into how the hit squad investigation under Brig du Preez came to a halt. We suggest that this should take place without delay.

30. If the Attorney-General of Natal has decided not to prosecute the suspects in the Nqutu massacre case he should be called upon to clarify his decision in this regard, and indeed what supervisory control he exercises in respect of investigations into political violence.

31. Of particular concern is the current collusion between elements of the KwaZulu Police and certain suspects sought in connection with hit squad activity, more specifically those suspects who had secret training in Caprivi.

We recommend that all Caprivi trainees be relieved from active policing duties during the period leading up to the elections and be transferred to a single venue, as far as possible free from political violence, where they should be given administrative duties.

We believe that the firearms in the possession of all Caprivi trainees should be sent for ballistic testing, and that in any case the entire arsenals at specific KwaZulu police stations be referred for ballistics testing. The names of the police stations which should be the subject of such an exercise will be released to the investigating team.

We recommend that an immediate audit of all KZP weapons take place.

We recommend further the immediate cessation of the issue and distribution of all firearms, including semi-automatic weapons, from or through the Department of the Chief Minister of KwaZulu.

We feel obliged to notify you that we have received information that this very weekend arms and ammunition were allegedly being distributed by KZP members to the offices of tribal chiefs. Taken together with the matters referred to in paragraph 35, and recent developments in Durban, we believe there is a need for prompt action.

We feel further obliged to inform the TEC that disturbing information has been passed on to the Task Group alleging a wider hit squad network comprising of elements within the SAP and private security firms. This network has engaged in the large scale training of individuals and the alleged deployment of them in hit squad activity, including the murder of many prominent activists in the province. The network is allegedly preparing for further widespread destabilisation. Without the indemnification provision referred to earlier in this report, there is no prospect of properly investigating these allegations in the short term.

33. We recommend that General During be required to set out the exact measures he intends to implement to prevent the perpetration of hit squad activities during the lead up to the election In the light of the apparent inadequate measures taken so far, further steps should be considered in regard to the command and control of the KZP. Such measures could include the possible revocation of the authority to the KwaZulu Government to establish its own police force, while simultaneously anticipating those provisions of the Constitution providing for the rationalization of the KZP and the South African Police into the South African Police service.

34. Any inquiry into hit squads in Natal must also include an inquiry into

34.1. the role of the SAP Criminal Intelligence Services (the former Security branch) in the province, including the KZPs B.S.l. In the light of the latest Goldstone report we believe the role of such services needs careful scrutiny;

34.2. the role of staff members in the Chief Minister's office.

Since attempts to secure the co-operation of this particular department in the investigation has failed, steps should be taken to facilitate the immediate examination of certain documentation in the department which may be of assistance to the inquiry.

35. The Task Group is particularly concerned about the pars-military training taking place in certain camps including Port Dunford and Hlongwane camp in which training has apparently been given in the use of automatic weapons and explosives. We are advised that former Caprivi trainees are involved in the training. We believe the TEC should act swiftly to prohibit political parties across the political spectrum from conducting para-military training.

We believe such training at the present moment could be a prelude t violence and devastation in Natal of an unprecedented order. in the first instance such camps need to be immediately subject to a search for and the seizure of all illegal weapons apparently stored there.

36. We appeal to KwaZulu Policemen with information on hit squad activity to come forward to expose what is happening in order to eradicate this most significant cause of violence and unrest. In this regard we again appeal to the TEC to facilitate the proposed indemnity provision as a matter of extreme urgency.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion we are mindful of the fact that our mandate only extended to the investigation of hit squads in the KwaZulu Police. Undoubtedly conflict between the 1FP and the ANC has been the cause of much violence, and in respect of which elements in both parties bear responsibility. However in regard to the use of policing agencies and resources, and the participation of persons in public authority to murder and maim political opponents this is a practice which if allowed to continue will tear apart the whole fabric of society. The Wallis Sub-Committee chose to include the following quote in its finding, we believe it is worth repeating here

"if servants of the state ignore the law and are permitted to do so without any sanction being attached to their conduct, the law is brought into disrespect and the result is lawlessness and chaos within society"

Arthur Chaskalson S C

We are however aware of the existence, and the allegations of the existence, of other quarters, and we would appeal to any person or institution with h information to hand it over to the SAP or the Goldstone Commission without delay, in order that South Africa may work towards ridding itself of these evil forces. This becomes all the more critical as the first national general election roaches.

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.