PORT ELIZABETH February 24 1998 - SAPA


The killing of the activists known as the Cradock Four in 1985 was planned and carried out by a former Koevoet policeman who was tranferred to the Eastern Cape shortly before the operation, the Truth Commission's amnesty committee heard in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.

Johan van Zyl, who along with six other policemen is applying for amnesty for the murder of the Cradock Four, told the hearing he was transferred to the police security branch in Port Elizabeth from the Koevoet unit in Ovamboland in early 1985.

Van Zyl has admitted planning and carrying the police operation in which Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli were shot and stabbed to death in June 1985.

It was also revealed during the hearing that another Koevoet officer, Major Eric Winter, was transferred to Cradock at the same time.

George Bizos, acting for the families of the Cradock Four, put it to Van Zyl that Koevoet members, who had a reputation for being ruthless, were sent to the Eastern Cape to deal with the unrest in the area.

Van Zyl disputed this and said he had asked to be transferred. He added that Winter played no part in the operation in which Goniwe was killed.

Van Zyl was later asked if he had ever told Colonel Eugene de Kock, who was in Koevoet at the time, about the Goniwe killings.

Van Zyl replied that he could not remember discussing it with De Kock, but denied ever saying that he personally shot Goniwe.

De Kock, new serving a life sentence for murder, is also applying for amnesty for his part in covering up the Goniwe killings. In a statement he made to the committee he said Van Zyl had discusssed the incident in some detail with him.

De Kock, who is at the amnesty committee hearing in the Centenary Hall in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, is due to testify later in the two-week hearing.

South African Press Association, 1998
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