Please tell us what happened to Nokuthula - former MK commander

2016-02-26 15:26
Former MK unit commander Zakhele Thwala  (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Former MK unit commander Zakhele Thwala (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

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Pretoria – Nokuthula Simelane’s former Umkhonto we Sizwe commander on Friday called on anyone with information about what happened to her to come forward. 

"Now we know she was kidnapped, tortured and taken to Potchefstroom in the boot of a car while she was badly injured," Zakhele Thwala said outside the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

"We are appealing to people who might know what happened to Nokuthula after she was released from the boot of the car to come forward and clear their conscience, in the interest of the family."

Thwala said he was the last person to speak to Simelane in Swaziland the Friday before she left for South Africa in 1983. She was meant to go to the Carlton Centre in central Johannesburg. What happened to her when she got there remains a mystery.

Four members of the apartheid-era Soweto security branch accused of murdering Simelane appeared in the packed court to apply for bail on Friday. They denied killing her.

Msebenzi Radebe, Willem Coetzee, Anton Pretorius and Frederik Mong were released on R5 000 bail each.

Radebe was facing both murder and abduction charges as he never applied for amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The other three admitted to abducting Simelane and were granted amnesty, and would thus only face a murder charge.

They admitted to kidnapping and torturing her, but denied killing her. They claimed they wanted to turn her into an informant.

She was dropped off in Mpumalanga, near the Swaziland border, so she could return alone, but she was never seen again, they said.

In his affidavit, Coetzee suggested MK could have killed her. Thwala said he would have known about this.

"For me it’s a very emotional day. It’s a journey, a struggle that we have been fighting for a very long time. Nokuthula was supposed to graduate in about two months and her family came to Swaziland to see her. To be told now that Nokuthula was handed over to the ANC is an insult to the family and to our intelligence," he said.

"Those who got amnesty are saying the last time they were in Potchefstroom, she was in the boot of a car, badly beaten. We want to know where she was taken to. I’m sure there is someone out there who knows what they did to her," he said.

Simelane disappeared after security police arrested her. She was allegedly taken to Norwood, in Johannesburg, and later moved to a farm in Vlakplaas, North West, where she was tortured. She was 23 at the time and apparently on an ANC mission to South Africa from Swaziland under the pretext of buying a graduation outfit.

Her remains have never been found. Despite this, the National Prosecuting Authority said it believed it had a reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution. 

The four would be back in court on March 29. 

Read more on:    nokuthula simelane  |  pretoria

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