Tembisa residents on Wednesday told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission how the notorious "Toasters" gang killed, necklaced and terrified residents of the East Rand township.

Unemployed Tembisa resident Dumisani Dlamini described how an alliance between Inkatha and the gang developed when comrades decided to stand up against the gang. This move forced the gangsters to take refuge at the Vusimuzi hostel in the care of an Inkatha Freedom Party member of 400 Mthambeka section.

Dlamini said: "With the resulting alliance between the IFP and the 'Toasters', the township was terrorised."

The witness' mother, Lephina Dlamini, was shot dead in the family home by members of the alliance on April 1, 1992. Another person in the house, Thami Mbuthuma, was shot in the left arm in the same incident.

Dlamini named people called Yster, Sdumo, Ngozi and Smanga, as his mother's killers.

"I know the perpetrators very well because we grew up together. I still see them on a daily basis."

Dumisani said members of the "Toasters" were comrades turned gangsters.

Shop assistant Kellina Manana, 48, told the commission that her husband, a community activist, was shot dead by members of the "Toasters", who then attacked mourners at his funeral.

"Abel had gone to an accident at a neighbour's pre-cast wall, when members of the gang came and killed him. He apparently tried to run away from them but as there were too many of them," Manana said.

"My husband was first shot in the forehead and was later finished with many other bullets fired from all quarters.

"As we were paying our last respects, I saw people falling with bullet wounds. The attackers were firing shots from trees around the graveyard.

"The shooting was so terrible that we even left the grave uncovered and even on our way home, the shooting continued. Police in caspirs did nothing to stop the shootings."

She said the gang also attempted to kill her son, Sipho, but failed.

Another witness, 40-year-old Nomusa Ngwandi, told the commission her husband was shot dead on July 31, 1993.

She said on the night of the attack, 38 other people died in the Mthambeka section. She said police colluded with the gang.

"The policemen were working hand-in-hand with the people who were attacking township residents."

Sobbing, Ngwandi said she was attacked as she attempted to find her husband's body.

The mother of a member of the "Toasters" gang, 40-year-old Thoko Zulu, said she did not have a problem with the killing of her son Peter in 1993, but couldn't understand why her elderly mother was also killed.

"I understood why they killed him (Peter), because he killed their relatives and friends. But why my mother?"

She told the commission that on May 9, 1992, African National Congress comrades came to her home, looking for Peter. When they did not find him, they (comrades) shot at her elderly mother.

"They then petrol-bombed the house - completely destroying it - chopped my mother's legs off and burnt her lower body," Zulu said.

She testified that in 1993, the same ANC comrades caught up with her son, and shot and necklaced him.

"It broke my heart that my mother was killed because of her grandson's involvement in gangsterism," she said.

South African Press Association, 1996
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