< Back

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

INTRODUCTION


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
    residents.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
    and charged.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

HISTORY


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
    months.

    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
    further violence.

  4. 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
    townships.
  5. 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
    Hostel included:

    1. 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
      action.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.

  6. 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.
  7. 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:
  8. "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".

  9. 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" .
  10. They, however, proposed a meeting to "exchange further information
    and clarify our respective positions".

  11. 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.
  12. 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
    of Kwa-Madala.
  13. 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,

    1. 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;
    2. 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;
    3. 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.

  14. 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.
  15. 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.

  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.

  19. 14. The Field workers continued to receive reports of incidents of
    violence during January and February 1992:
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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:
  23. 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
    four members.

    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
    out".

    On the 15th March 1992, my unit was instructed by Buthelezi
    to go to Sharpeville Township for the following purpose:

  24. to attack comrades who had been responsible for the killing
    of an Inkatha member, one Tlhola;
  25. 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.

  26. 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
    rifle.

    As far as I am aware our second mission at the Philadelphia
    Tavern was not carried out after I was struck and injured.


  27. 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
  28. 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
    townships.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. The police were also approached and the affidavits were forwarded to
    them.
  33. 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.
  34. On the 5th May 1992, a preliminary inquiry into violence in the Vaal,
    Alexander and Soweto was convened by the Commission.
  35. 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.
  36. "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".

  37. 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:

    1. 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;
    2. To establish the names and present whereabouts of such persons;
    3. 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;
    4. 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
      in hostels;
    5. 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:

      1. the amounts thereof; and
      2. appropriate sources of funding such compensation;

    6. 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.



  1. 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.
  2. 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.



  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
    prevented.


    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.