May 8, 1996 Sapa


A bloody power struggle between Inkatha and the United Democratic Front in KwaZulu-Natal in the mid-1980s came under the spotlight on Wednesday on the second day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Durban hearings.

Wednesday's proceedings, which included eyewitness accounts of family massacres, were opened with commission chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu welcoming an Inkatha Freedom Party announcement that it would urge its members to approach the commission's amnesty and reparations committees.

"We look forward to very substantial cooperation between the commission and the IFP as well as with other parties," Tutu said. He said it was in the interests of political parties that they told "their side of the story".

The first Inkatha victim of political violence to appear before the commission, Silulani Mdedelwa, on Wednesday said UDF youths had attacked his home and severely assaulted him when he served as an Inkatha councillor at KwaMashu north of Durban in 1989.

"The people who were doing these things were children," Mdedelwa said.

His testimony was interrupted on two occasions by laughter from the audience, which prompted a reprimand from Tutu.

"Please do not interrupt," he said. "Everybody must be given the chance to tell their story."

In earlier testimony, an emotional Annacletta Phungula told the commission Inkatha "amabutha" (warriors) had killed her husband and son at their KwaMashu home in May 1986. They had broken into their house and hacked her husband to death.

"They chopped him in his face with an axe and then opened up his chest with an axe."

They had abducted and murdered her son Sibongosene.

"We found his body on the streets opposite our house. He had been shot. I don't know if they cut off his private parts for muti. I did not have the courage to look."

Another witness, Musawenkosi Mshengu, described how he had hidden under a bed when a mob broke into his family's KwaMashu house and murdered his father, brother and nephew, 14.

The mob had surrounded the house and chopped down the front door.

"I was very confused. I hid myself under my bed as they came inside. They took my sister's boy outside. I did not see any faces but I heard voices. They had already killed my father."

Mshengu's mother Beatrice said she had never reported the murders to the KwaZulu Police nor made an official statement before her appearance at Wednesday's hearing.

She said she believed Inkatha was responsible for the murders of her husband Fanyana, her son Patrick and grandson Thembinkosi.

IFP secretary-general Dr Ziba Jiyane said in a statement on Wednesday the IFP would submit a memorandum to the commission detailing its version of events of the past "to straighten the record of our history for generations to come".

The IFP would not appear before the commission to defend its written version of events, Jiyane said.

Another former UDF supporter, David Nhlapo, said he had witnessed a murder squad known as the A Team assisting security forces in terrorising and killing UDF members in Parys in the Free State during the 1980s.

Nhlapo said the A Team had abducted him in November 1985 and assaulted him with spears, axes and sticks.

"The A Team were people against the UDF. When the police were together with the A Team they put them in front so that the A Team did the killing."

The brother of Pietermaritzburg dentist Hoosen Haffejee, who allegedly hanged himself in his cell in August 1977 after having been arrested under the Terrorism Act, urged the commission to probe the circumstances of his death.

Yusuf Haffejee said his family had rejected the outcome of a 1978 inquest which absolved police of blame for the death.

The mother of teenage activist Stompie Seipei, whose decomposed body was found dumped in a Soweto field in 1989, told of her struggle to bury her son amid persistent rumours that he was not dead but had fled to Botswana.

Seipei's corpse was discovered several days after he was abducted with three other youths from the Methodist manse in Soweto and taken to African National Congress MP Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's house.

Joyce Seipei said neighbours in Tumahole, Parys, in the Free State still refused to believe her son was dead.

The parents and sister of teacher Jacki Quin, who was shot dead with her husband, allegedly by SA Defence Force members during a raid in Lesotho in 1985, on Wednesday pledged their support for the commission.

Commission deputy-chairman Dr Alex Boraine told a media briefing the commission would make an announcement next week on the issuing of subpoenas to alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses.

South African Press Association, 1996
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