Memorandum from Nelson Mandela to President F W de Klerk: Annexure A
23 June 1992
Memorandum on Attempts to Prevent the Boipatong Massacre
From: Nicholls, Cambanis, Koopasammy & Pillay
- Since the Massacre on the Night Vigil in Sebokeng in January of 1991,
where 38 people were killed, there have been ongoing incidents of violence
in the Vaal Area.
- These incidents are characterized by the fact that they are random
insofar as they are perpetrated against residents of the Vaal Townships
in an indiscriminate manner. For example, numerous attacks by gun-wielding
men have taken place at shebeens and stations where patrons and commuters
are killed and injured indiscriminately.
- During the course of 1991 and 1992 it became apparent that the perpetrators
of these attacks were living in the Kwa-Madala Hostel situated in the ISCOR
Compound in the Vaal Triangle. Pursuant thereto, efforts were made repeatedly
to prevent violence emanating from the Kwa-Madala Hostel.
- The Boipatong Massacre could have been pre-empted if the South African
Police, the ISCOR Management and the Goldstone Commission had acted immediately
and effectively on receipt of the numerous representations to them about
the Kwa-Madala Hostel and the danger it constitutes for the communities
of Boipatong, Sharpeville and Sebokeng.
- The South African Police have been negligent in failing to conduct
effective investigations, after countless reports to them by the Vaal Council
of Churches of ongoing abductions, kidnappings, rape, assaults, intimidation
and murders connected - to the Kwa-Madala Hostel.
- The Vaal Council of Churches, as recipients of complaints from victims
of violence perpetrated by residents of the Kwa-Madala Hostel have consistently
approached the local police to investigate the individual complaints about
violence committed by Kwa- Madala residents. The police's consistent response
to the approaches for assistance and action by the Vaal Council of Churches
was that there was not sufficient evidence for them to respond. It is submitted
that the police are equipped with investigative machinery and it is their
responsibility to gather evidence on receipt of complaints. The Vaal Council
of Churches as a result of their fieldwork, had concluded that a pattern
of random incidents of violence linked to the Kwa-Madala Hostel had emerged
in the Vaal. This was a matter of great concern to them. They believed
that the police would share their concern and would accordingly launch
and conduct a thorough investigation into the activities of the Kwa-Madala
- The Vaal Council of Churches have consistently, since early 1991, attempted
to elicit the assistance of the police. The police have consistently failed
to respond to the complaints and have neither conducted effective investigations
nor ensured that the perpetrators of the violence are arrested and charged.
The police also failed to act timeously to prevent attacks by Kwa-Madala
residents. It is submitted, and it will be shown in this memorandum that
a failure to respond to the multitude of complaints about violence and
intimidation perpetrated from the Kwa-Madala Hostel constituted acts of
extreme negligence on the part of the South African Police.
- In addition numerous representations were made to the ISCOR Management
to ask them to act decisively to ensure that they were not housing perpetrators
of violence in the Kwa-Madala Hostel. Again the Vaal Council of Churches
repeatedly approached the Kwa-Madala residents. While the ISCOR Management
initially appeared to accept the representations that the Kwa-Madala Hostel
constituted a threat to the safety of residents of the Boipatong, Sharpeville
and Sebokeng Communities, they subsequently denied and rejected the submissions
of the Vaal Council of Churches that acts of violence were planned and
executed from the Kwa-Madala Hostel. It is perplexing that the ISCOR Management,
despite reports of numerous incidents of violence perpetrated by residents
of the Kwa-Madala Hostel, adopted this attitude. It is submitted that the
Boipatong Massacre could have been prevented if the ISCOR Management had
shown due concern to the ongoing requests for the Kwa-Madala to be closed,
for the ISCOR workers living there to be integrated into the other ISCOR
Hostel, the Kwa-Masiza, and for the remaining residents of the Kwa-Madala
Hostel, believed to be the perpetrators of the violence, to be arrested
- In the face of the negligence the South African Police and the reluctance
of the ISCOR Management, an approach was made to the Commission for the
Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation (The Goldstone Commission)
to inquire into the violence emanating from the Kwa-Madala Hostel and to
take steps to prevent further violence.
- In submissions made to the Commission, the Vaal Council of Churches
asked that the Commission investigate the closure of the Kwa-Madala Hostel
and oversee the issues arising from this process. After the initial submissions,
the violence in the Vaal escalated and the Commission was asked on two
occasions to act urgently to prevent further deaths.
- However, after a preliminary hearing, the Commission decided that it
would not appoint a Committee inquire into the violence emanating from
the Kwa-Madala. It is submitted that the decision to ignore this request
is regrettable. Moreover, it is believed that if the Goldstone Commission
had been in a position to convene a procedure to deal with the suggestion
for the closure of the Kwa-Madala Hostel, the recent massacre could have
been pre-empted. This process could have been speedily implemented and
facilitated. It is submitted that if the legislation framing the Commission
and the mechanisms provided therein could not accommodate such a process,
then recommendations for amendments to the legislation should be made.
- Following hereto are details of the efforts which have been made to
prevent the violence emanating from the Kwa-Madala Hostel. Initials have
been used at the request of the individuals concerned, who desire that
their identities be withheld.
- Field workers for the South African Council of Churches (SACC) (Vaal
Region), Rev. Peter Moerane and the late Saul Tsotsetsi, since early 1991
have repeatedly made attempts to bring to the attention of the South African
Police and the ISCOR management that the Kwa-Madala Hostel has been a base
from which attacks against residents of Boipatong, Bopelong, Sebokeng and
Sharpeville have been perpetrated.
- In the first half of 1991, the Field workers, pursuant to numerous
reports that residents of the Kwa-Mazisa Hostel had been abducted by residents
of the Kwa-Madala Hostel, met with the District Commander of Police and
with Col. Steyn of the Security Branch in order to bring to their attention
that the activities of the residents of the Kwa-Madala Hostel constituted
a threat and danger for the communities surrounding the hostel.
- The Field workers were of the view that they had not been able to convince
the police of the dangers for the community relating to the activities
of the residents of the Kwa- Madala Hostel and they held a joint press
conference with COSATU. They felt that the holding of a press conference
exposing the activities of the residents of the Kwa-Madala Hostel would
exert pressure on the police to investigate and to take action to protect
the workers of the Kwa-Mazisa Hostel, as well as the residents of the surrounding
- After the meeting with the police in June 1991, attacks in the area
continued to take place. The incidents of violence linked to the Kwa-Madala
- During the last week of June and the first week of July 1991, a group
of men went a number of times to the house of Ernest Sotsu, an executive
member of the Boipatong Branch of the African National Congress (ANC).
They informed Mr. Sotsu's family that he should report to them at the Kwa-Madala
Hostel and threatened that should he fail to do so, they would take drastic
- On the 3rd July 1991, an attack was carried out on his house and his
wife, daughter and grandson were killed and two grandchildren were injured.
- On or about the 7th July 1991, an attack took place at the Erica Tavern
in Zone 7, Sebokeng. Two residents of the Kwa-Madala hostel were arrested
for this attack.
- The Field workers of the SACC continued to receive reports from the
residents of Boipatong, Sharpeville and Sebokeng of violence and intimidation
perpetrated by residents of the Kwa-Madala Hostel. In addition to approaching
the police to intervene to protect the residents of the townships, they
decided to approach the Iscor Management.
- On the 15th August 1991, Rev. Moerane accompanied a delegation of women
from the Boipatong township to Mr. Viljoen, a manager of ISCOR. The delegation
handed to him a letter wherein they stated that they believed that the
perpetrators of numerous incidents o in the Vaal were residing in the Kwa-Madala
Hostel. They further stated as follows:
- ISCOR responded in a letter wherein they denied that violence is executed
from the Kwa-Madala Hostel. They stated that "all allegations had
been thoroughly investigated by ISCOR and no evidence could be found to
convince management that the KwaMadala Hostel should be managed differently
to that of ISCOR's other hostel, KwaMazisa" .
- On or about the 24th September 1991 the Field workers met with the
ISCOR Management and attempted to establish a monitoring committee with
them. However, this process subsequently broke down.
- On or about the 25th September 1991, the SADF attempted to enter the
Kwa-Madala Hostel in response to various complaints about the activities
of the residents. The SADF members were shot at with AK 47 weapons by the
residents of Kwa-Madala. The SADF thereafter shot and killed 5 residents
- The Field workers of the Vaal Council of Churches continued to receive
reports of public violence and intimidation perpetrated by residents of
the Kwa-Madala Hostel,
- The abduction of J.M. and Sipho Mthimkulu on the 17th October 1991
by residents of the Kwa-Madala Hostel. They were taken to the hostel and
held there against their will for two weeks;
- On the 29th November 1991, P H and Sipho Mazibuko were abducted and
taken to the Kwa-Madala Hostel. P H was severely assaulted before he was
released. He identified Sipho's body at the mortuary the following day;
- On or about the 8th December 1991 a number of young girls were abducted
by residents of the Kwa-Madala Hostel. They were held at the Hostel against
their will and raped repeatedly.
- During the period July to December 1991 and in response to the ongoing
reports of violence received, the Field workers met with the Divisional
Commissioner of Police in Vereeniging on at least four occasions.
- On the 8th January 1992, and pursuant to reports of further abductions
of residents of the townships to the Kwa-Madala Hostel, the Field workers
and the General-Secretary of the Vaal Council of Churches met with Capt.
de Klerk and Col. Steyn of the former Security Branch in Vereeniging. They
requested the assistance of the police in securing the release of people
being held against their will at the Kwa-Madala Hostel.
- In the week subsequent to this meeting, the police stated to the Field
workers and to the attorneys acting for the Vaal Council of Churches that
there were legal constraints preventing them from raiding the Kwa-Madala
Hostel. Col. Steyn informed attorneys Nicholls, Cambanis, Koopasammy and
Pillay that the evidence provided by the Vaal Council of Churches was not
concrete enough for them to take action against the KwaMadala Hostel.
- 14. The Field workers continued to receive reports of incidents of
violence during January and February 1992:
- On the 12th February 1992 a young boy reported to the Field workers
that he had forcibly been taken from the Mark Park Shopping Centre in Vereeniging
by residents of the Kwa-Madala Hostel. He, however, escaped.
- On the 21st February 1992 an attack took place at the Ha-hlo-ho-ya-peye
Tavern in Sharpeville. Five people were killed by the gunshots and several
others injured. The survivors informed the Field workers that one of the
perpetrators was recognised as a resident of the Kwa-Madala Hostel.
- On the 15th March 1992, an attack took place at Chief's Place Tavern
in Sharpeville. Two women were killed and several injured. One of the perpetrators
of the attack was injured by one of his colleagues by accident. He has
stated on affidavit as follows:
- to attack comrades who had been responsible for the killing
of an Inkatha member, one Tlhola;
- ii. to attack two taverns, namely, Chief's Place and
the Philadelphia Tavern. We were instructed to kill people there because
it is known that comrades drink there.
- In light of the evidence from Mr. X of a military style operation being
conducted from the Kwa-Madala Hostel, the Field workers became all the
more anxious for action to be taken. Their requests to the police and the
ISCOR Management had been unsuccessful. Thus in March 1992, the Field workers
instructed attorneys Nicholls, Cambanis, Koopasammy and Pillay to approach
the Commission for the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation (The
Goldstone Commission) to request that the Commission inquire into the causes
of violence and intimidation in the Vaal and recommend steps for the prevention
thereof. Affidavits and Documents were submitted to the Commission on their
behalf, which documents included a request to the Commission to take urgent
steps to prevent further violence from the Kwa-Madala
- On the 3rd April 1992, Adv. J J du Toit and a Colonel from the Commission
met with Mr. X, to hear his evidence of the activities at the Kwa-Madala
Hostel. Lawyers acting for the Vaal Council of Churches requested that
the Commission urgently convene a meeting of representatives of ISCOR,
the SAP, the residents of Kwa-Madala Hostel and residents of the townships
to discuss the closure of the Hostel and the reintegration of residents
of the Kwa-Madala Hostel into the Kwa-Masiza Hostel and the surrounding
- On the 17th April 1992, two young men were kidnapped in Zone 7, Sebokeng
by residents of the Kwa-Madala Hostel. Their corpses were identified by
their families at the Vereeniging Mortuary on the 19th April 1992.
- In the early hours of the 19th April 1992, eight members of the Lefeidi
family were killed at their home at Vergenoeg in Sharpeville. In the affidavit
of a survivor of the attack, it is averred that the perpetrators of the
attack indicated that they were from the Kwa-Madala Hostel.
- Attorneys acting for the Vaal Council of Churches forwarded the affidavits
detailing the above events to the Commission with a request for urgent
assistance in resolving and ending the violence surrounding and connected
with the Kwa-Madala Hostel. The request stated that the Field workers believed
that any further delay would lead to an escalation of the violence and
to further deaths.
- The police were also approached and the affidavits were forwarded to
- On the 24th April 1992, attorneys acting for the Vaal Council of Churches
were approached telephonically by an Advocate from the Commission with
a proposal that the Commission combine an inquiry in respect of the Vaal,
Alexander and Soweto. The attorneys agreed with the proposal but referred
the Commission to the discussion on the 3rd April 1992 with the Advocate
where it had been stated that steps to prevent violence in the Vaal could
be taken almost immediately. It was further communicated that the Vaal
Council of Churches was concerned that the implementation of steps to prevent
further violence in the Vaal be done as soon as possible.
- On the 5th May 1992, a preliminary inquiry into violence in the Vaal,
Alexander and Soweto was convened by the Commission.
- The Vaal Council of Churches submitted an overview of the Violence
in the Vaal to the Commission. The following submissions were made in respect
of the Kwa-Madala Hostel.
- On the 13th May 1992, the Commission issued a press release wherein
they stated that a Commission of Inquiry would be established with the
following terms of reference:
- To establish the circumstances in which people may have been forced
by violence or intimidation to vacate homes or hostels in Alexandra Township,
the Greater Soweto Area and the Vaal Triangle;
- To establish the names and present whereabouts of such persons;
- To establish whether persons have acquired occupation of homes or places
in hostels in those areas in consequence of violence or intimidation and,
if so, the circumstances in which they have come to do so;
- To consider practical and effective ways and means of placing the persons
referred to in (a) and (b) back into possession of their homes or places
- To consider whether the persons referred to in (a) and (b) are legally
or morally entitled to compensation for damages suffered by them by reason
of the foregoing circumstances and, if so:
- the amounts thereof; and
- appropriate sources of funding such compensation;
- To consider steps which should be taken to ensure the safety of persons
in the position of these referred to in (a) and (b) and of their property.
The meeting was requested by the Field workers, in order to explain
to the police that consequent to their fieldwork, they had perceived that
people residing at Kwa-Madala Hostel had been responsible for numerous
acts of public violence and intimidation in the Vaal Triangle in the preceding
At the meeting they outlined the incidents of violence and requested
that the police undertake an immediate investigation into the unlawful
activities of the residents of Kwa-Madala Hostel and take action to prevent
"We want to know why are you insensitive to the use of the Kwa-Madala
as a base for dangerous weapons and attacks on human life?"
They requested that ISCOR stop housing "enemies of peace and life".
They, however, proposed a meeting to "exchange further information
and clarify our respective positions".
They repeatedly raised their concerns that public violence and intimidation
against residents of Boipatong, Sharpeville and Sebokeng emanate from the
Kwa-Madala Hostel. The Field workers reported that the response of the
police at these meetings was that there was insufficient evidence for them
to take action.
The request was made repeatedly between the 9th January and the 15th
January 1992 to the police to investigate the allegations of abductions.
On the 16th January 1992 Saul Tsotsetsi was informed by the police that
they had raided the Kwa-Madala Hostel, but had not discovered anyone being
held against their will at the Kwa-Madala Hostel.
I am able to live at the Kwa-Madala Hostel without charge.
I am unemployed, as are several of the other residents of the hostel. We
are supported by those residents who are employed. In addition, we receive
food parcels from the International Red Cross every two weeks. We also
robbed people in town. We, as a group, approached individuals and threatened
them so that they gave us money."
Although the Kwa-Madala Hostel is owned by Iscor, only
some of the residents work at Iscor. Some work at other factories and,
as mentioned above, the rest are unemployed. All the residents of the Kwa-Madala
Hostel are members of the Inkatha Freedom Party. Amongst the residents
there are individuals whom are leaders of the Inkatha Freedom Party. Amongst
them is one, Buthelezi.
A system exists at the Kwa-Madala Hostel whereby each
resident becomes part of a 'unit'. I was placed in a unit consisting of
I was trained in the use of weapons by Buthelezi.
Every resident is trained in the use of weapons.
I am aware that other members of other units were also
trained in the use of weapons.
I have seen many arms and ammunition stored at the Kwa-Madala
Hostel. Meetings were held every Tuesday and Thursday. At these meetings,
we were informed when new weapons had arrived.
The arms are brought by members of the Inkatha Freedom
Party, who arrive at the hostel from Natal. I have seen them arrive with
AK 47s and spears with poisoned tips.
Some of those who arrive come to the area to work. However,
others come to carry out missions and attacks in the local township. Others
come to bring arms and then leave.
During the four months that I have lived at the Kwa-Madala
Hostel, I have seen units being sent out on missions. However, l have not
known exactly where they have been sent to or what missions they have carried
On the 15th March 1992, my unit was instructed by Buthelezi
to go to Sharpeville Township for the following purpose:
We were also informed that a secondary purpose to our
mission was to assist in the attack of comrades for the purpose of Inkatha
regaining entry to the townships.
We were given arms by Buthelezi. We were given two rifles
amongst the four of us. I was not myself carrying a rifle.
I moved with N. He was carrying a rifle.
Between 8 and 9p.m and at or near Phomolong Section in
Sharpeville, we saw a group of comrades. Amongst them was one comrade known
to me as Ntopia. My partner opened fire and Ntopia was struck.
We formed two groups. Two stayed on the ground and myself
and my partner went forward to shoot. Thereafter, we moved to Chief's Tavern.
K was shooting at people in the tavern and the gun jerked and that was
when I was hit. I was carrying a rifle at Chief's Tavern. N gave me the
As far as I am aware our second mission at the Philadelphia
Tavern was not carried out after I was struck and injured.
"We are of the view that the Kwa-Madala Hostel is central to the
reign of violence in the Vaal area. We request that the Commission inquire
into the assertion made by Mr. X that the Hostel is organised and run as
a military style camp from where violent "missions" are launched.
Myself and my colleagues at the SACC. believe that the steps to be taken
to prevent further violence is the closure of the Kwa-Madala Hostel. We
request that the Commission inquire into the process and mechanism for
such a closure. We understand that the process will require extensive discussions
with the respective parties.
We also request the Commission to assist in ensuring that the perpetrators
of the violence be charged and brought to trial. This is particularly urgent
in relation to perpetrators who have been identified as having been involved
repeatedly in attacks.
We also request the Commission to inquire into whether the police are
empowered to conduct raids of the hostel on receipt of information regarding
unlawful activities of residents of the hostel and to advise the police
in relation thereto. Should the Commission find that in terms of current
Legislation the police are not so empowered, we request that the Commission
recommend to the State President that Legislation be passed empowering
the police to conduct such raids of the hostels".
I believe that residents of Sharpeville, Sebokeng and Boipatong have
been looking to the Commission for a remedy for the end of the violence,
since our initial request to the Commission in March 1992. I am fearful
that any further delay will result in the loss of more lives".
- On perusal of the terms of reference, the Vaal Council of Churches
were concerned that the terms of Reference of the Commission which had
been established would not necessarily include an inquiry into the danger
for the Community emanating from the Kwa-Madala Hostel.
They therefore submitted to the Commission that in their view, the problem
of displacement is a secondary issue in the Vaal and that the central issue
is the violence carried out from the Kwa-Madala Hostel. They urged the
Commission to take account of the safety of persons who are victims of
violence, but are not displaced persons.
- At a further meeting of the Commission on the 27th May 1992, the Vaal
Council of Churches again placed on record that they were concerned that
the terms of inquiry would not include the question of the safety of victims
of violence perpetrated by residents of the Kwa-Madala Hostel.
- The Vaal Council of Churches are of the assistance of the police, ISCOR
Management and the Goldstone Commission. They, on numerous occasions, expressed
the need for an urgent response to their ongoing representations to the
abovementioned parties. They believe an urgent response would have prevented
the massacre which occurred in Boipatong on the 17th and 18th June 1992.
- The Vaal Council of Churches noted that the interim Report of the Goldstone
Commission recommended that all hostels should immediately be adequately
and securely fenced and that a strong and efficient police presence should
ensure that no arms are taken in or out of the hostels. The Vaal Council
of Churches are aware that this recommendation was submitted to the State
President a considerable time ago. Once again, if there had been an urgent
response to this recommendation, the massacre at Boipatong would have been
The closure of the Hostel however remains a priority.
The State President should act immediately and effectively in taking
steps to achieve this.
The arrest and charging of the perpetrators of the massacre and of the
other incidents of violence is also a priority and the State President
must ensure that all efforts are concentrated thereon.
Dated at Johannesburg on this the 23rd day of June 1992.