‘IFP men’ undergo illegal training

2008-06-17 00:00

Allegations that top leaders of the Inkatha Freedom Party are fully behind illegal military training being conducted by the SA Unintegrated Forces (Sauf) near Ulundi have been made by the leader of the Unintegrated Forces organisation, but are denied by the IFP.

Hundreds of recruits for the training left Pietermaritzburg on Saturday morning for Mlaba Camp outside Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Travelling in 10 big minibuses from the city’s Freedom Square, and carrying large bags and blankets, they told The Witness that their training will last until the end of July. They claimed to be members of disbanded IFP Self-Protection Units (SPUs).

Talking to The Witness yesterday, Zenzele Sishi, the commander of Sauf, said their training has the support of IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango and MP Velaphi Ndlovu. Mncwango denied the allegations.

“We have all the support from them. They do help with many things, but I cannot reveal those details,” said Sishi.

He said there are enough weapons for all trainees at the Mlaba Camp.

Sauf wants the trainees to be integrated into the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). Previously it was reported that people trained in northern KZN were from Apla, Mkhonto Wesizwe, the SA Defence Force (SADF) and the SPUs. The training started in 2006.

However, Sishi said Sauf has since limited the training to IFP members, since the ANC government does not want the integration to continue.

“After realising that Jacob Zuma and Senzo Mchunu, provincial secretary of the ANC, are not interested in helping us to push for the re-opening of the integration, SPUs who are the majority in Sauf decided to kick anyone who is not an IFP member out of the camps. Others from the MK and Apla decided to join the IFP in order to continue training with us,” said Sishi.

It is believed there is another group, who left the city for training a few months ago, but have returned disgruntled after learning that there are no plans to re-open the integration process.

The Witness learnt on Saturday that the trainees have been promised that after completing the Mlaba Camp training, they will be transferred to another camp in Kimberly for further training and graduation.

“We will receive uniforms and be ready for the integration into the SANDF,” said Siyabonga Mshengu from Swayimane .

Members of the Saturday group paid R280 for transport. It is not clear whether there is food and accommodation for them at the camp.

“We are waiting for anything. Whether we sleep in bushes does not matter, as long as we get trained and integrated into the South African army,” said Mshengu.

Members of the group were recruited from Sweetwaters, Swayimane, Mpumuza and a small part of Imbali.

The Witness has also learnt from a source that most of those recruited have never been members of SPUs or IFP.

“Most of them are too young to have been members of SPU in the early 90s,” said Mncwango. He said the members of the group joined the ANC after the IFP distanced itself from them at end of 2006.

“These people joined the ANC at the end of 2006. They then reached an agreement with Bheki Cele, and as a result they moved out of the [Leeukop] farm [they were occupying]. If anyone should answer about these people it is Bheki Cele,” said Mncwango.

Attempts to talk to Cele were unsuccessful as his phone was off, and could not accept messages.

SANDF spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said although he is aware of the training, he did not know the recruitment was continuing. He called it a crime that should be handled by police.

Senior Superintendent Jay Naicker denied claims that the group has weapons.

“We are monitoring the situation, and there is not much training going on there. Those people are just camping. If they commit any crimes, we will arrest them.”

bhans@witness.co.za

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