QUEENSTOWN July 22 1996 Sapa

TRC HEARS OF QUEENSTOWN MASSACRE AT CHURCH HALL MEETING

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was on Monday asked by survivors and relatives of some of the 14 victims of the Queenstown massacre to expose the security force members responsible for the bloodshed in the Eastern Cape town.

Policemen opened fire on people attending a report-back meeting of the Nonzwakazi Methodist Church in Mlungisi on November 17, 1986, killing 14 and wounding 22.

Pelose Mnyandeki's widow Maria Mnyandeki told the commission her husband had been wounded in the incident. Security force members took him from the car in which he was being rushed to hospital and threw him on their Hippo armoured vehicle, claiming he was a "comrade".

His body was later found at the police mortuary with a bullet wound in his neck. "As a result of his death, I lost a husband who was supporting our three children and myself," Mnyandeki said, adding that her husband's death was not investigated.

Mnyandeki, who is unemployed and suffers from tuberculosis-related illnesses, appealed to the commission to expose the perpetrators.

Fikile Dastile's mother, Notele Dastile of Mlungisi township, told the commission her son was one of those killed at the mass meeting.

She said she had heard gunshots from the direction of the church hall.

Later the same day, a car arrived at her house, carrying a badly injured Fikile. He had been shot in the chest, she said.

The three men who were in the car said they had found her son lying in the church hall yard. The men then took him to hospital.

When she went to the hospital visit her son, Dastile claimed she was referred to the mortuary because the hospital refused to admit people who were seriously injured and dying.

"I identified his body in the presence of the police," she said, adding that funeral goers were harassed by police searching their vehicles.

No action was taken and no charges were brought against anyone in connection with Fikile's death. Dastile appealed to the commission to investigate and bring to book his killers.

A survivor of the massacre, Thamsanqa Guga of Mlungisi township, said he was coming out of the meeting when white soldiers called him from a Hippo.

Fearing a beating, he ran away and was wounded in his right leg, he told the commission.

Five bullet-ridden bodies were found in the area after the incident.

The owner of a Queenstown restaurant asked the commisison to investigate the 1992 bombing of the restaurant which killed one person and injured 21 others.

Andrew van Wyk said he wished to recover the damages suffered and would like to know why his shop was targeted.

He said staffers had been suspicious of two men and a woman who entered the restaurant shortly before the blast tore the premises apart.

The trio, one of them carrying a briefcase, sat at the same table and ordered a hamburger and drinks. The woman later went to the toilets with the briefcase, he said.

Van Wyk's wife Heila said the group left after the woman returned to the table and the bomb exploded where they had been sitting. She helped police compile identikits of two of the three suspects.

Van Wyk said a criminal case was opened but nothing came of it.

A woman who identified herself as Nolitha and said she was the Azanian People's Liberation Army district commander telephoned the Daily Dispatch newspaper shortly after the incident to claim responsibility for the bombing. She said she was speaking from "Azanian soil" and threatened more violence against whites if Apla members were harassed.

A man claiming to be Congo Jibrill, "commander of Apla intelligence operations in the Eastern Cape and Transvaal" also telephoned Sapa in Johannesburg to say six Apla members had been involved in the restuarant attack.


South African Press Association, 1996
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