TRC: 20 years later

2016-04-15 12:00

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Pietermaritzburg - March 15, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The basic remit of the commission, which was chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was to compile as complete a picture as possible of human rights violations committed between 1960 and 1994.

In the Pietermaritzburg region, the top floor of Jabu Ndlovu Street police station, headquarters of the Security Branch (SB) and the control room from which the city’s conflict was managed and manipulated, will never be forgotten by Pietermaritzburg activists.

The street is named in honour of struggle stalwart and Numsa shop steward, Jabu Ndlovu.
Ndlovu was killed in 1989 when her family was attacked and Imbali home burned.

The commission’s report fingered Jerome Mncwabe, Thulani Ngcobo, Michael Ngcobo and Sichizo Zuma, who were all said to have been well-known Inkatha supporters in the township.

The report said the four were seen knocking at the Ndlovu’s door that day.

“Jabu’s husband, Jabulani Ndlovu, who opened the door, was shot 15 times,” the report said.

“The attackers then set the house alight. One of the Ndlovu’s two daughters, Khumbu, tried to escape, but was shot and forced back into the burning house.

“Jabulani died at the scene. Jabu and her daughter both died later as a result of their burns.”

Though five people were arrested in connection with the killings, there were no convictions.

In August 1989, Thulani Ngcobo, Petros Ngcobo and Fredrick Mhlaluka, all of Imbali, were charged with the killings of Jabu, Jabulani and Khumbu Ndlovu.

In a separate hearing, Jerome Mncwabe was also charged with the three murders.

Michael Ngcobo was killed in January 1990 and Mncwabe was killed in May the same year.

Ngcobo’s killing led to the acquittal of his brother, Petros, who told the court in August 1990 that Michael had often borrowed his gun, which had been ballistically linked to the killings of the Ndlovus.

The killings of the Ndlovus meant the Midlands war, which had started in 1986 with the killings of Cosatu members, had reached boiling point.

At that time there was a purge of UDF supporters.

In the published report, Hansford Shangase — a UDF supporter — told the commission that an attack by a group of Inkatha supporters at the

Imbali sports ground during an interschool sports meeting in 1986, had left him paralysed and confined to a wheelchair.

Shangase told a Pietermaritzburg hearing of the commission that shortly after his discharge from hospital, he was attacked again, this timewhile defenceless in his wheelchair.

The vice-president of the Imbali Youth Organisation during the 1980s, Vusumuzi Khambule, told the commission that he was repeatedly intimidated and harassed by both the special branch and Inkatha members in Imbali during the 1980s.

In 1984, Khambule was detained, tortured and interrogated by members of the Security Branch.

On his release, the police attempted to recruit him as an informer.

In 1986, both his house and car were petrol-bombed and destroyed by Inkatha members Dika Awetha, Mandla Madlala (now deceased) and one other.

Also in 1986, he alleged, Inkatha supporter Thu Ngcobo (now deceased) attempted to poison him at his workplace.

He further alleged that Awetha tried to run him over.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  trc

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