WORCESTER June 25 1996 Sapa

TRUTH BODY HEARS HOW VIGILANTES CONDUCTED REIGN OF TERROR

Municipal police joined forces with a group of vigilantes known as the Amasolomzi to conduct a reign of terror in the small Boland town of Ashton in the mid-1980s, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard on Tuesday.

The Amasolomzi, (Eye of the Community), were ostensibly recruited to combat crime in Zolani, a township neighbouring Ashton, with the support of the police and discredited community councillors.

The commission heard how they set up a dusk-to-dawn curfew and beat residents who broke it.

In one of the worst incidents 24 residents were injured, eight seriously, when violence erupted between Amasolomzi and mourners attending the funeral of a "comrade" on May 24, 1986.

Pringle Mrubata told how he lost the use of his legs after he was shot in the back by a member of the Amasolomzi when the vigilante group opened fire on a crowd gathered around a vehicle in the street.

Mrubata, who appeared before the commission in a wheelchair, said doctors had been unable to remove the bullet because it was lodged too close to his spine.

Describing the activities of the Amasolmzi, he said: "Some of them worked at Langeberg (canning factory) during the day. At night they were vigilantes."

The role of the municipal police, known as Inkathas in the township, also came under the spotlight when witness Wessel London testified how he was shot and wounded when a group of mourners were shot at as they returned home.

London, who was 11 years old at the time, said municipal policeman Meshak Jonas shot him without warning.

Jones was also accused of severely beating Joseph Sixishi with a knobkerrie in his home in Zolani.

As a result of his injuries, Sixishi was later taken to Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town where he underwent an operation to remove his eye.


South African Press Association, 1996
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