Nelson Mandela’s bombs: Messina landmine

Afrikaners ask: ‘ Why should we pray for Mandela – who ordered the deaths of so many innocent civilians and never showed any remorse for it? ‘

  • December 15 1985: Killed: Six Afrikaner civilians, including 3 small children (mortuary pictures)

ANCbombMessinaLandmineSixVictimsMichaelVanEck3

The Messina landmine — planted by ANC-terrorists Mthetheleli Z Mncube 28 and Nzondeleli Nondula 25, on December 15 1985 – killed six Afrikaner civilians including 3 small children, and injured six others seriously: all were members of the Van Eck and De Nyschen families. The terrorists later claimed at their trial that they had earlier been shot at by a white farmer, but had been ‘ordered by their commander not to fire on civilians’. The two members of uMkhonteWeSize, the ‘armed wing’ of the ANC which was headed by Nelson Mandela, were were sentenced to death, However their sentence was commuted to life. They were given amnesty by ArchbishopDesmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

 

Above: TRC testimony by among others, landmine-explosion victim Johannes Frederick van Eck, speaking of the deaths of his wife, children and of the De Nysschen family members on December 15 1985.

Known names of the six people who were killed: 
VAN ECK, Jacoba 36;
VAN ECK, Michael Ignatius 3,
VAN ECK, Nelmari 8
DE NYSSCHEN, Grizelle, 7
DE NYSSCHEN, Marie, 36
and one other person
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Known names of the six severely injured people:
VAN ECK, Johannes Frederick 36, VAN ECK, Johannes Frederick Junior,
DE NYSSCHEN, Johannes Jacobus, 37

Human rights violation hearing Rejected application: Nelspruit (3 September 1996)
Application to declare the Messina explosion a Human Rights Violation was denied to victim Johannes Frederik van Eck: even though the terrorists had placed their landmine in a known non-military patrol area where only civilians visited. (testimony below)

The men had crawled through a game-fence to place the landmine on a dirt road known to be frequented only by civilian visitors to a completely fenced-in wildlife farm.

http://www.sabctrc.saha.org.za/tvseries/episode18/section3/hearing.php?id=55310&tab=hearings
http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/six-people-are-killed-anc-landmine-explosion
http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/report/finalreport/Volume5.pdf
http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/amntrans/2000/200703me.htm

‘ Why should we pray for Nelson Mandela? ‘

On July 1 2013, an angry Afrikaner writes: “Mandela’s heritage: the victims of the land-mine exploded by ANC-terrorists in Messina: December 15 1985: Mandela later gave these murderers medals. Three year old Michael van Eck was so badly mutilated that his grandfather and parents were never able to see these police-forensic photos.  And this is the man we have to ‘pray;  for him to heal? May he choke on the blood of his victims, drown in the tears of their relatives whose lives he destroyed forever.”

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MESSINA LANDMINE – details:

15 December, 1985 – Six Afrikaner civilians,  including three children aged between three and nine, were killed and three seriously injured in a landmine explosion on the fenced-in Chatsworth game farm 25 kilometers to the west of Messina Northern Transvaal.  Johannes Frederick van Eck, his wife, son and daughter were spending the December holidays with friends, the De Nysschen family. The adults and small children were viewing wildlife when the landmine was detonated beneath their vehicle along a dirt-road. Mr van Eck later testified that the vehicle caught fire very quickly as he had just filled it before going on their trip on the dirt roads of the the wildlife farm.

The day after this attack, the African National Congress proudly announced from Lusaka that it accepted responsibility. The two Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) members responsible for buried the landmine, Mthetheleli Z. Mncube 28, and Nzondeleli E. Nondula 25, were initially jailed. Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission gave the two murderers amnesty. (*The ANC-history version in 2013 does not mention the names of all the civilian victims, it only glorifies the killers.) http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/six-people-are-killed-anc-landmine-explosion 

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*The ANC propaganda:

At the trial of Mthetheleli Mncube 28 and Mzondeleli Nondula 25, they claimed that they had earlier had been fired upon by a farmer, but ‘were ordered by their commander not to return fire as they did not want to kill or injure civilians…’ -The ANC propagandists wrote: “The trial of Mncube and Nondula must rank as one of the most infamous in a country renowned for fixed trials. Both men were sentenced to death after facing some 40 charges arising out of a series of landmine explosions in the northern Transvaal. In this border area of South Africa  farmers are de facto members of the apartheid security forces. Mncube faced two additional murder charges following his escape while being taken in to Messina.  While blindfolded and handcuffed, he grabbed an AK-47, shot his captors and escaped. He was recaptured nine days later. Mncube readily admitted that he was an ANC soldier, and told how he and four others had entered South Africa. The group was on a reconnaissance mission of SADF bases and patrol patterns in the border areas. Their mission had been aborted after a farmer spotted them and alerted the police and SADF. Mncube told the court that their commander, who, with two other members of the group, later was shot dead in an exchange of fire with the SADF, “ordered them not to return fire when the farmer opened fire on them as they did not want to kill or injure civilians: ‘We could have wiped them out if the commanding officer had ordered us to do so`, but instead the group had retreated, he claimed in evidence. Both were sentenced to death. All peace- and freedom-loving people the world over should ensure these heroic soldiers of Umkhonto we Sizwe are  not executed. ” http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=3737#MNCUBE

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*The ANC propaganda:

At the trial of Mthetheleli Mncube 28 and Mzondeleli Nondula 25, they claimed that they had earlier had been fired upon by a farmer, but ‘were ordered by their commander not to return fire as they did not want to kill or injure civilians…‘ they write: “The trial of Mncube and Nondula must rank as one of the most infamous in a country renowned for fixed trials,” wrote the ANC-propagandists. “Both men were sentenced to death after facing some 40 charges arising out of a series of landmine explosions in the northern Transvaal. The ANC claimed: “In this border area of South Africa  farmers are de facto members of the apartheid security forces”. Mncube faced two additional murder charges following his escape while being taken in to Messina.  While blindfolded and handcuffed, he grabbed an AK-47, shot his captors and escaped. He was recaptured nine days later. Mncube readily admitted that he was an ANC soldier, and told how he and four others had entered South Africa. The group was on a reconnaissance mission of SADF bases and patrol patterns in the border areas. Their mission had been aborted after a farmer spotted them and alerted the police and SADF. Mncube told the court that their commander, who, with two other members of the group, was shot dead in an exchange of fire with the SADF, “ordered them not to return fire when the farmer opened fire on them as they did not want to kill or injure civilians: ‘We could have wiped them out if the commanding officer had ordered us to do so`, but instead the group had retreated, he said in evidence. Both were sentenced to death. All peace- and freedom-loving people the world over should ensure these heroic soldiers of Umkhonto we Sizwe are not executed. ” http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=3737#MNCUBE

March 6 2001: Amnesty granted by Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Landmine murder-campaign: 

— Opposing the applications were Johannes Frederick van Eck the next-of-kin of the Van Eck family members killed. Granted victim-status for ‘restitution purposes were Mr Van Eck, Mr Johannes Jacobus De Nysschen, next-of-kin of the De Nysschen family members killed, Mr Willem du Plessis Janse van Rensburg, Marthinus Wessel Pretorius van Tonder, Meloma Jackson Ngobeni, Robert Matebula, Titos Nick Frombie, Johannes Josias Prinsloo, Patrick George Mlangeni, Masungi Willie Mhlari, Musa Chigabe, Mkgalo Abel Malatjie, Meonard Silas Ndarera, Handswell Benedick Chiberi, Hermanus Stephanus Pelcher, Ngaka Philemon Motaung, Daniel Christiaan Fourie, Piet Mapotele, David Con Marchall Lundie, Gert Jacobus de Villiers, Elijah Makgamata, HP Fourie, the next-of-kin of Mr Edward Meluba killed, Mrs R Nel, next-of-kin of Joachim Marthinus Nel killed, the next of kin of Theunis Johannes Gerber killed. It’s not known if any were ever paid any restitution.

  • Amnesty granted, Cape Town March 6 2001: by Judge S Miller, Adv F Bosman and Mr J B Sibanyoni

Nr AC/2001/093 to:

  • 1. Ronald Kasrils, first applicant (application for amnesty was withdrawn by him) (AM5509/97)

2. Mthetheleli Zephania Mncube (AM5889/97) for all offences and delicts directly associated or flowing from:

  • An explosion damaging a vehicle KGD 621T on 26 November 1985 at or near Weipe in the district of Messina which resulted in the death of Mr Edward Meluba and injury of the driver of the vehicle, Mr Elija Makgamata.
  • An explosion damaging a Toyota bakkie KMN 580T belonging to a Mr Gert de Villiers on 26 November 1985 at or near Messina.
  • An explosion damaging a tractor TD 2860 on 27 November near Weipe in the district of Messina resulting in the death of Mr Glabi Philemon Ncube.
  • An explosion involving a military vehicle R23654 on the farm Bergen-on-Zoom at or near Messina on 27 November 1985 injuring two occupants.
  • An explosion involving a Casspir vehicle BDL 706 B on 27 November 1985 on the farm Overvlakte in the district of Messina injuring Constable Philemon Motaung.
  • An explosion on 12 December 1985 involving a military vehicle R9547 on the Bergen-op-Zoom in the district of Messina injuring Mr Fourie and Mr Piet Mapotele.
  • An explosion killing six and injuring five occupants of a Nissan bakkie KRN 675 T, near Messina on 15 December 1985. All the occupants were members of the De Nysschen and/or Van Eck families.
  • An explosion on 12 December 1986 involving a vehicle KDL 571 T on the farm Overvlakte at or near Messina injuring Mr Willem du Plessis Janse van Rensburg.
  • The killing of Theunis Johannes Gerber and Joachim Marthinus Nel at or near Messina on or about 26 December 1986.

3. Mzondeleli Euclid Nondula (AM7275/97) for all offences directly associated with or flowing from:

  • An explosion damaging a vehicle KGD 621T on 26 November 1985 at or near Weipe in the district of Messina which resulted in the death of Mr Edward Meluba and injury of the driver of the vehicle, Mr Elija Makgamata.
  • An explosion damaging a Toyota bakkie KMN580T belonging to a Mr Gert de Villiers on 26 November 1985 at or near Messina.
  • An explosion damaging a tractor TD 2860 on 27 November near Weipe in the district of Messina resulting in the death of Mr Glabi Philemon Ncube.
  • An explosion involving a military vehicle R23654 on the farm Bergen-on-Zoom at or near Messina on 27 November 1985 injuring two occupants. (not named)
  • An explosion involving a Casspir vehicle BDL 706 B on 27 November 1985 on the farm Overvlakte in the district of Messina injuring Constable Philemon Motaung.
  • An explosion on 12 December 1985 involving a military vehicle R9547 on the Bergen-op-Zoom in the district of Messina injuring Mr Fourie and Mr Piet Mapotele.
  • An explosion killing six and injuring five occupants of a Nissan bakkie KRN 675 T, near Messina on 15 December 1985. All the occupants were members of the De Nysschen and/or Van Eck families.
  • An explosion on 12 December 1986 involving a vehicle KDL 571 T on the farm Overvlakte at or near Messina injuring Mr Willem du Plessis Janse van Rensburg.

4. Jabulani Sydney Mbuli (AM6046/97) For  all offences and delicts directly associated with or directly flowing from:

  • An explosion damaging a vehicle KGD 621T on 26 November 1985 at or near Weipe in the district of Messina which resulted in the death of Mr Edward Meluba and injury of the driver of the vehicle, Mr Elija Makgamata.
  • An explosion damaging a Toyota bakkie KMN580T belonging to a Mr Gert de Villiers on 26 November 1985 at or near Messina.
  • An explosion damaging a tractor TD 2860 on 27 November near Weipe in the district of Messina resulting in the death of Mr Glabi Philemon Ncube.
  • An explosion involving a military vehicle R23654 on the farm Bergen-on-Zoom at or near Messina on 27 November 1985 injuring two occupants.
  • An explosion involving a Casspir vehicle BDL 706 B on 27 November 1985 on the farm Overvlakte in the district of Messina injuring Constable Philemon Motaung.
  • An explosion on 12 December 1985 involving a military vehicle R9547 on the Bergen-op-Zoom in the district of Messina injuring Mr Fourie and Mr Piet Mapotele.
  • An explosion killing six and injuring five occupants of a Nissan bakkie KRN 675 T, near Messina on 15 December 1985. All the occupants were members of the De Nysschen and/or Van Eck families.
  • An explosion on 12 December 1986 involving a vehicle KDL 571 T on the farm Overvlakte at or near Messina injuring Mr Willem du Plessis Janse van Rensburg.

Summary:

“Initially there were four Applicants in this matter. At the hearing, the legal representative who appeared on behalf of the first Applicant, Ronnie Kasrils, contended that there was no application before the Committee since his client was not in a position to identify particular incidents in respect of which he would qualify for amnesty. The Committee did not accept this argument and his application was struck from the roll. The remaining three Applicants who all testified under oath proceeded with their applications. They apply for amnesty for certain offences and delicts flowing from landmine explosions that occurred on rural roads in the Messina district during the latter part of 1985. The Applicant, Mncube, managed to escape after his initial arrest. During his escape he shot dead two policemen Theunis Johannes Gerber and Joachim Marthinus Nel on 26 December 1996. He is also applying for amnesty for these killings. He was later re-arrested, charged and convicted together with the Applicant, Nondula, on a number of criminal charges relating to the explosions. Applicant Mbuli was never arrested nor charged and he is applying for amnesty for all offences flowing from or associated with the landmine explosions that occurred in the area. According to the evidence, he was in the same group as the Applicant, Mncube.The laying of the landmines, sanctioned by the African National Congress (ANC) leadership (*including Nelson Mandela) and the Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) High Command, targeted members of the security forces and commandos who were patrolling the Messina border area but resulted in the deaths and injury of a substantial number of civilians.

There were altogether eight incidents involving the explosion of landmines.

  • 1. An explosion damaging a vehicle KGD 621T on 26 November 1985 at or near Weipe in the district of Messina which resulted in the death of Mr Edward Meluba and injury of the driver of the vehicle, Mr Elija Makgamata.
  • 2. An explosion damaging a Toyota bakkie KMN 580T belonging to a Mr Gert de Villiers on 26 November 1985 at or near Messina.
  • 3. An explosion damaging a tractor TD 2860 on 27 November near Weipe in the district of Messina resulting in the death of Mr Glabi Philemon Ncube.
  • 4. And explosion involving a military vehicle R23654 on the farm Bergen-on-Zoom at or near Messina on 27 November 1985 on the farm Overvlakte in the district of Messina injuring Constable Philemon Motaung.
  • 5. (information missing from TRC record)
  • 6. An explosion involving a police Casspir vehicle BDL 706 B on 27 November 1985 on the farm Overvlakte in the district of Messina injuring a Mr Fourie and Mr Piet Mapotele.
  • 7. An explosion killing six and injuring five occupants of a Nissan bakkie KRN 675 T, near Messina on 15 December 1985. All the occupants were members of the De Nysschen and/or Van Eck families.
  • 8. An explosion on 12 December 1986 involving a vehicle KDL 571 T on the farm Overvlakte at or near Messina injuring Mr Willem du Plessis Janse van Rensburg.

The terrorists were ‘merely foot soldiers who followed orders…’ & they could not deny that the victims were civilians

— The applications were opposed by members of the De Nysschen and Van Eck families on the ground that the Applicants went outside the parameters of the campaign that was authorised by the leadership of the ANC. At the conclusion of the hearing an application was made on behalf of the abovementioned victims that certain individuals from the ANC leadership be subpoenaed to give further evidence to shed further light on this issue.   However in an interim ruling this application was refused. The Committee found that the Applicants were “merely foot soldiers who only obeyed the orders given to them by their commanders.”

All three remaining Applicants were members of MK and were part of a twelve-man unit which was tasked to lay the landmines. They received their briefing before entering the country from their overall commander only known as Mancheck. After entering the country, the unit was split into two groups of six. Applicant Nondula was in the group commanded by one Agrippa and Applicants Mncube and Mbuli were in the group that was commanded by one Chilies. Despite the fact that the unit split into two groups after having entered South Africa they clearly associated themselves with the whole operation as set out at the time of the initial briefing by Mancheck. The Applicants were not involved in the reconnaissance of the area where the mines were to be laid. Their only involvement in the incidents was to attend the briefing prior to infiltrating into the country and, once in the country, laying the mines. They did not select the places where the mines were planted. They planted the mines in execution of orders given to them by their respective commanders. The Applicants were not in a position to identify the individual victims and the exact consequences of the explosions. They could therefore not deny that the victims, identified in the subsequent police investigation, and as set out in the indictment in the criminal trial of the Applicants Mncube and Nondula, correctly reflect their identities.  http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/decisions/2001/ac21093.htm

Testimony Truth and Reconciliation Commission: on behalf of victims Johannes Frederik van Eck and Johannes Jacobus De Nysschen.

( Note that Ronnie Kasrils, who was head of Military Intelligence and Military Intelligence, and provided maps of border areas and the farm- and security network claimed he had not given ‘instructions by him that anyone should come and reconnoiter the area in Messina. ‘He says he gave instructions on how to do reconnaissance, how to plan for this and on the collection of data.’ Kasrils did not at any stage intend to apply for amnesty with regard to this matter.”  Entire transcript Read more on http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/amntrans/2000/200703me.htm

Testimony cross-examination of Mzondelele Euthlid Nondula application for amnesty:  AM7275\97 Re: Landmine explosions and deaths of members of the De Nysschen and Van Eck families

EXAMINATION BY MR KOOPEDI: Mr Nondula, I’m showing to you page 23 of the bundle of documents. There is an application form there. Is this your application form?

MR NONDULA: Yes, it is.

MR KOOPEDI: And I’m also showing you page 28 of the same bundle of documents, there is a signature under which the word “deponent” is written, is that your signature?

MR NONDULA: Yes, it is.

MR KOOPEDI: Now Mr Nondula, were you a member of a political organisation at any stage?

MR NONDULA: Yes, I was.

MR KOOPEDI: Which political organization?

MR NONDULA: The African National Congress.

MR KOOPEDI: When did you join the African National Congress?

MR NONDULA: In 1982.

MR KOOPEDI: Where did you join the African National Congress?

MR NONDULA: In Lesotho.

MR KOOPEDI: Did you belong to the military wing of the African National Congress?

MR NONDULA: Yes, I was a member of uMmkhontoWeSizwe.

MR KOOPEDI: Did you receive any military training and if you did, briefly tell this Honourable Committee what military training did you receive and where did you receive it?

MR NONDULA: The first basic training was in Angola, a six month course and from there was in then East Germany and then the other I did was in Tanzania, Commander’s course.

MR KOOPEDI: Now after you were trained, did you have an opportunity to be infiltrated into the country?

MR NONDULA: yes.

MR KOOPEDI: And when was this? When were you infiltrated into the country and perhaps if you could be very broad about that. Tell this Honourable Committee whether you belonged to any unit then and if so, how many of you were in that unit.

MR NONDULA: That was in 1985 when we were first infiltrated, being a unit of twelve.

MR KOOPEDI: Do you recall the month?

MR NONDULA: November, I think it’s November 1985. What actually transpired is, we were first briefed by our fellow Commander as to the nature of the operation that we were going to undertake, which in this case was landmines. The briefing went thus: politically speaking the Soutpansberg area was regarded, now let me say in military terms, the farming community in this area was regarded as the first echelon of defence in the sense that the population there was actually sponsored or even encouraged by the Government to maintain that area as being the trained personnel, therefore in this sense, legitimate targets in the view of MK and the African National Congress. They were trained as Commandos to safeguard the border area and thus our order was then given to operate in the area.

MR KOOPEDI: Now I need you to get to your infiltration. Did you belong to any unit?

MR NONDULA: Yes, as I’ve said, we were a unit of twelve.

MR KOOPEDI: Now who was the Commander of this unit? Because as you would have it there were people commanding this unit, who was the Commander of this unit?

MR NONDULA: Okay. The frontal Commander was Mancheck, unfortunately I don’t have his real name at this stage.

CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, Mr Nondula, could you spell that?

MR SIBANYONI: Maybe while you are there, you said you were briefed, who briefed you?

MR NONDULA: It was Mancheck himself who briefed us.

MR SIBANYONI: Thank you.

MR NONDULA: And thereafter we were transported to along the borders of Zimbabwe, just across the Limpopo, by the other side of Limpopo river where we stayed and slept overnight. It was then decided that the unit must be divided into two, meaning six/six, each person carrying a landmine and a rifle and other …(indistinct)

The two units now, had to have different Commanders. On the other unit in which I was in, it was …(indistinct), he was the Commander.

CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, what was his name?

MR NONDULA: Agrippa.

CHAIRPERSON: Agrippa?

MR NONDULA: Yes, Mr Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: Was that a code name?

MR NONDULA: Yes and the other unit then was commanded by Chilies.

CHAIRPERSON: Chilies?

MR NONDULA: Yes, Sir.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes.

MR NONDULA: Then we slept over this side of the river for preparing ourselves for now the actual crossing of the border, which we did the following day at night, I would say around 9, past 9 somewhere there. Then we went – we travelled deeper into the South, because the instructions were: “In the area in which you operate, there are patrols, security patrols.” The order then was to lay these mine fields in the roads that are actually used for patrolling the area. The following day we travelled almost the whole night …(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: Sorry. When you say you travelled, was that on foot?

MR NONDULA: Yes, on foot yes, we walked, I’ll say, …(indistinct) We slept because we could not operate during the day so we had to …(indistinct) ourselves somewhere under bushes until it was dusk, then we began walking, moving now towards the border area, the border fence and on instruction, it’s unfortunate at this stage I cannot remember the actual spots were certain landmines were laid, but then on instruction of an order, we would dig and then we placed the mine field and then we carry on. The idea being that they should not be too clustered in case of detection.

CHAIRPERSON: So when you say on instruction you would dig and lay the landmine, in your unit, would you be the person giving the instruction?

MR NONDULA: That was Agrippa.Yes and also him, because he was, together with Chilies, the person who initially undertook reconnaissance in the area and I think I should add here that he was, Agrippa in this sense, he was almost familiar with the area itself because of reconnaissance that he had already undertaken. So we laid these mine fields, all six of them and on the third day, we spent two nights inside, then on the third night we crossed over to Zimbabwe, that must have been on a Wednesday.

CHAIRPERSON: Now when you say you laid the six mines, were these on different roads or all on the same road, but at different places?

MR NONDULA: Not on the same road, different roads that actually lead to the main patrol route along the fence and the last one was actually put there on that patrol route, Mr Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes and these mines that you laid, could you describe them? I know very little about mines, I don’t know if they come in different sizes, if some are stronger than others. If you could just briefly describe the type of mines which you laid.

MR NONDULA: It must have been the weight of more or less 6 kgs, brown of a …(indistinct) casing, with – now the substance I am not very sure now whether it was meant to be …(indistinct) mines, it should have been filled up with TNT, I think so.

CHAIRPERSON: If you could just indicate with your hands about the size of the mine.

MR NONDULA: It must have been this size.

CHAIRPERSON: You’re indicating about 25 cm, I suppose, just less than a foot. Would that be round?

MR NONDULA: Ja, it’s round and brown.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, thank you.

MR KOOPEDI: Thank you Chairperson. You’ve mentioned that your frontal Commander was Mancheck, but now who would have been the Commander, the actual Commander for this unit, the entire unit of twelve people before you were actually split into two?

MR NONDULA: He was the one. ja, because all the briefings we got from him, logistical arrangements and that kind of thing.

MR NONDULA: Chairperson, that is the evidence of the first applicant then.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR KOOPEDI

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CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR WAGENER: Prior to this incident, what training did you receive in military weapons?

MR NONDULA: The kind of training we received is the normal basic training, rifles, artillery, marching drill, we used to call it topography at that stage. Okay then it was intelligence, counter-intelligence.

MR WAGENER: Did you receive any training whatsoever in explosives?

MR NONDULA: Yes, engineering, we actually did it, that’s it …(indistinct)

MR WAGENER: What was the nature of this training?

MR NONDULA: The nature of the training?

MR WAGENER: In explosives.

MR NONDULA: In explosives?

MR WAGENER: Yes.

MR NONDULA: You’re actually taught to use explosives for sabotage purposes, like normal training any other soldier would get, if I got the question correctly.

CHAIRPERSON: Was this training, this engineering, where did you receive that, Angola or East Germany?

MR NONDULA: In Angola and East Germany, it’s an over …(indistinct) training.

MR WAGENER: During the course of this training, did you ever handle landmines as such?

MR NONDULA: Yes, we did.

MR WAGENER: Did you lie to the criminal court when you testified that you had received no prior training in landmines?

MR NONDULA: I must have lied.

MR WAGENER: Are you asking for amnesty for lying to the Court?

MR NONDULA: I’m asking for amnesty, yes I would say for lying, if I did lie at that stage and also for the fact that the act itself says: “Let’s reconciliate” and I am now on that road.

MR WAGENER: Can you show me where in your written application do you ask for amnesty for lying to the Court?

MR NONDULA: No, I don’t know that.

MR WAGENER: Sorry?

MR NONDULA: I’m not aware about it.

MR WAGENER: Before you entered the Republic of South Africa on this specific mission, what were your exact instructions? Can you please tell us?

MR NONDULA: The exact instructions were to lay landmines along the patrol routes in this vicinity.

MR WAGENER: Were you not supposed to first enter our country merely for purposes of reconnaissance and draw up maps where the military patrols were and then report back to your military headquarters in Zambia?

MR NONDULA: That part did not include this unit at that stage. The people who were doing reconnaissance, as I said, were Agrippa and Chilies, they were the people who did all that and they reported back.

MR WAGENER: When was that reconnaissance done?

MR NONDULA: In 1985, I’m not sure now the actual months, it must be somewhere September or August, somewhere there, because reconnaissance is something that carries on, it’s a continuous thing.

MR WAGENER: Are you personally aware of what you’re saying now? Are you personally aware of this prior reconnaissance?

MR NONDULA: Am I aware of?

MR WAGENER: This prior reconnaissance of the other terrorists?

MR NONDULA: I am aware …

MR WAGENER: Sorry, sorry, sorry, who was that speaking now? Who was that speaking to you next to you?

MR NONDULA: My comrade.

MR WAGENER: What did he say? What did you friend say?

MR NONDULA: I didn’t hear him, I was answering you.

CHAIRPERSON: Please, when a witness is giving evidence, if he could not be spoken to. Sorry, the question that you asked Mr Wagener, was were you aware of the reconnaissance mentioned by you done by Agrippa and Chilies, at what stage are you talking about? At the time it was done or when?

MR WAGENER: Ja, before the group of twelve left for South Africa.

MR KOOPEDI: And Chairperson, excuse me, if I may just interpose. I believe the reaction that we got here, stems from the fact that my Learned Friend is referring to people as terrorists and from where I come from and from where these applicants come from, that’s an insult Chairperson and if my Learned Friend would refrain from such references, I do not think we will have bursts. Thank you Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I think Mr Wagener, if you can just respect that.

MR WAGENER: Were you present in Zambia or Zimbabwe, or wherever, when these two friends of your reported back about their reconnaissance?

MR NONDULA: The briefing that we were given was from the fact that an information has been gathered as to the military activities within the area and the persons therefore who were going to be our Commanders were in the know, so it was made known to us that they are capable, they know the area, they will be able to lead us to the area, so in that sense, yes.

MR WAGENER: Did they show you any maps perhaps, that they drew up where the roads were supposed – or the roads where the mines were to be laid?

MR NONDULA: Yes.

MR WAGENER: And were those the roads where the mines were in fact laid on your mission?

MR NONDULA: I may not necessarily be accurate on that information, but to the best of my knowledge we did manage to plant them where we were supposed to plant them.

MR WAGENER; Will it surprise you to know that you and your friends planted a landmine that eventually killed the family of my client, that you planted that on a farm where no military vehicle or no military patrol has ever been before this incident?

MR NONDULA: As I’ve said earlier, no knowledge in as far as I am concerned, was actually targeted towards a particular family or particular person, the operation in total was to the best of my knowledge, a military operation in a military area.

MR WAGENER: Well, I put it to you that you planted a mine on a farm on a road where there’s never ever been a military vehicle whatsoever prior to this incident, what do you say about that?

MR NONDULA: All I would say about that is in as far as I was concerned at that stage, people who were in the vicinity, were regarded as military personnel and I can assure you, patrols in the area by military vehicles were there. As to whether at that particular point in time it was not, that does not concern me at this stage, it didn’t concern me even then.

MR WAGENER: I want to come back. Can you deny that this landmine was laid on a farm where there’s never been any military patrols? It was a holiday farm.

MR NONDULA: I know nothing about a holiday farm, all I know is the area in itself is a military area, that’s all I can answer to that question, Sir.

MR WAGENER: Why do you say that?

MR NONDULA: I was in the area myself, I did see patrols at some point. I did see patrols of military vehicles in the area and the debriefing, as I’ve said earlier, was and I believed in that also, was that the first echelon of defence was composed of the Commandos who were along the border areas of South Africa, not necessarily in Messina, but of South Africa and that is the job that they did.

MR WAGENER: This farmer on whose farm you planted the specific mine that killed my client’s family, was he a member of the Commandos?

MR NONDULA: I would believe so.

MR WAGENER: Well, I put it to you he was not.

MR NONDULA: I didn’t know.

MR WAGENER: He was not even resident on that farm.

MR NONDULA: I didn’t know even that.

MR WAGENER: He merely occasionally visited this farm, can you deny that?

MR NONDULA: I don’t know about it.

MR WAGENER: Well, if you can accept what I’ve just said, that this was a person staying in another part of our country and this is merely his holiday farm, he’s not a member of the Commandos, there’s no military patrols whatsoever on his farm, on what basis do you say this farm is part of a military zone?

MR NONDULA: On the basis that this is Soutpansberg Military area and according to my briefing which I believed completely, that personnel in this area were actually military personnel and it is only on that basis that I acted with a clear conscience, if I may say so.

MR WAGENER: Mr Nondula, have you see the statistics of this terror campaign of yours? Have you see the results, the end results?

MR NONDULA: As you may know, I was physically, I was illusionally involved when the trial went on, I saw everything that was – I was supposed to have seen as evidence and photographical evidence and as verbal evidence given in a Court.

MR WAGENER: Can you deny that 25 people were killed in this landmine campaign, although you were not involved in all the incidents, 25 people were killed, of whom 24 were civilians?

MR NONDULA: I cannot deny.

MR WAGENER: So you killed only one our of 25 military personnel.

MR NONDULA: That must have been the case then. I cannot deny those statistics.

MR WAGENER: And the 24 people killed, were they legitimate targets, according to your organisation, the ANC?

MR NONDULA: What was regarded as a legitimate target at that stage, was the personnel in this area that I believed to be military personnel, that was legitimate.

MR WAGENER: Yes. And then you went on and you laid a mine on a farm where there’s never been any military personnel and is that how you and your unit thought, how you were going to attack the military opponents?

MR NONDULA: Sir, it’s quite regrettable that in a situation of intensity of conflict, that blood had to be shed, tears had to flow and in many, many cases, this is not only the only case, that some people do become victims, the innocent ones.

MR SIBANYONI: I’m sorry Mr Wagener, can I try to get some clarity here? It doesn’t appear very clear whether you were targeting specific roads to lay these landmines, or were you targeting a certain area, a zone, within which you were going to – you had instructions to lay the landmines, what was the debriefing?

MR NONDULA: The briefing Sir was the area in which we were going to operate is actually peopled with military personnel and thus to make our presence felt, we had to target the roads along the border where the military personnel travelled.

MR SIBANYONI: Was this area indicated in terms of the distance? How long from the border itself, or what was the description?

MR NONDULA: The discretion at some point rested also with the Commander because we were briefed clearly that we should at least not be more than 10 kilometres from the border at least and in that case 10 kilometres from the border, it meant we had to be in the country and come back as soon as possible, before we could be vulnerable ourselves.

MR SIBANYONI: Thank you Mr Wagener.

CHAIRPERSON: Sorry Mr Wagener, if I could just ask, while we’re on this point. It’s a long border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. Could you give us a closer description of where you actually crossed? Do you know this area at all, Mr Nondula, now as you sit here? Do you know, in relation to let’s say Messina, where was it? Was it towards the Kruger Park side, or was it towards the Botswana side, or how far from Messina more or less, that your unit, Agrippa’s unit operated?

MR NONDULA: Yes. Mr Chairperson, I am sorry, at this stage I will not be able to furnish you with the cases of the matter because I’m not very familiar with the terrain itself. It was my first time to be inside South Africa, through this area, travelling at night, but from the map that we were given, the area was divided into two and I would simply say that from our point of view we were on the western side of the area, then the other unit was on the eastern side of the area, so I cannot really say to you if you move this direction then you’ll see this place, in this kind of situation.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes.

ADV BOSMAN: Mr Wagener, may I just clarify something here? Mr Nondula you described these roads as patrol roads.

MR NONDULA: Yes, Ma’am.

ADV BOSMAN: Can you sort of perhaps just clarify in relation to other roads, were they sort of like farm roads? Were they secondary roads? Were they primary roads, or isn’t it possible for you to indicate?

MR NONDULA: Yes, I can, Ma’am. The one identical road is the one that stretches along the border fence itself. Now you also have the adjoining ones. That means now as they patrol, they have to go around the area itself, so those are the roads I am talking about.

ADV BOSMAN: So it would most probably be sort of a tertiary road? You’d have your main road, which is probably a tarred road and this is a – is it a dirt road along the border?

MR NONDULA: It’s all dirt roads, Ma’am.

ADV BOSMAN: And you didn’t plant anything on that road, but you planted it on the tertiary roads coming out of that road?

MR NONDULA: We planted one on that main road, before we crossed.

ADV BOSMAN: Okay.

MR NONDULA: That was the last one that we planted, but we went inside and moving along these secondary roads leading towards the main road, that’s where we planted our landmines.

ADV BOSMAN: Alright. Thank you. Thank you Mr Wagener.

MR WAGENER: Mr Nondula, to that very last response of yours, I put it to you that you are lying. The mine that killed my client’s family, was not on a road as you have just explained and he will lead evidence to that effect and I will hand up photographs showing this road, so I put it to you, you are lying.

MR NONDULA: You may say so, but …(end of tape) transpired what happened.

MR WAGENER: Yes.

MR NONDULA: Ja.

MR WAGENER: You followed the gist of my submission that I put to you just now.

MR NONDULA: I followed it properly.

MR WAGENER: You understand what I’m saying?

MR NONDULA: I do understand you.

MR WAGENER: That we will present evidence showing that you’re lying on this aspect.

MR NONDULA: As far as I am concerned at this stage, Sir, that is exactly what happened.

MR WAGENER: Did you have to climb through fences to get to the area where you laid this mine?

MR NONDULA: We did.

MR WAGENER: Yes.

MR NONDULA: Yes, we did.

MR WAGENER: Game fence?

MR NONDULA: Yes, that was during the day and what happened is at some point we were the first group in fact that went in. They were able to move out earlier and early in that morning, we heard an explosion and it was a normal response that we may be in trouble, so we had to shift our position during the course of the day, we had to climb some fences and that happened on our way back, that is where we put the mines on the road moving back to the border.

MR WAGENER: I put it to you Mr Nondula, that the mine that killed my client’s family was put on a small game road, if I may call it that, on a farm totally enclosed by game fence with no access by the public, no access by the military. It was a private farm enclosed by game fence, what do you say about that?

MR NONDULA: Sir, as I’ve said earlier, I rather should put it clearly, in my knowledge then I didn’t have a Mr De Nysschen that I knew, that I wanted to kill. All that happened is I undertook instructions, I took instructions as they were given to me and executed them to the fullest.

MR WAGENER: In a question put to you by the Chairman, you said or you mentioned something about a map given to you. Can you please tell us what this map was all about?

MR NONDULA: The map was actually the lay-out of how the roads from the border fence leading inside, how they looked like, just like a sketch.

MR WAGENER: Right.

MR NONDULA: That’s all.

MR WAGENER: Did it show all the roads where the mines were to be laid?

MR NONDULA: Let me …(indistinct) all the roads, it showed the area and the roads that you would expect to see when you come into the area and then where we could put them.

MR WAGENER; Was it your instructions, in other words, that the mines should be laid on the roads as specified on this map?

MR NONDULA: Exactly Sir.

MR WAGENER: Those were your instructions?

MR NONDULA: Yes, Sir.

MR WAGENER: Did you follow those instructions?

MR NONDULA: I did.

MR WAGENER: Was it, in other words on this map, shown that you should plant the mines on Mr De Nysschen’s farm, which was totally enclosed by game fence, is that what you’re saying?

MR NONDULA: No, not at all.

CHAIRPERSON: I think what Mr Wagener’s wanting to know, Mr Nondula, this map, did it have the points marked on the map with a cross or something else, where the mines should be placed? Here you are with six mines. Here’s the map of the area that you must go, there are six points marked on the map. You must go to those points and lay the mines.

MR NONDULA: Not necessarily and the maps, they showed only the lay-out of the area and the possible roads that the mines could be laid in.

CHAIRPERSON: So it didn’t have the points where the mines …

MR NONDULA: Not necessarily the points on the map, so the discretion at that stage had to be that of the Commander, the …(indistinct) Commander at that stage.

MR WAGENER: You’ve mentioned it earlier that the policy or the general instructions of your movement, was that the mines should be laid on roads patrolled by the military, right?

MR NONDULA: Exactly.

MR WAGENER: So, when laying these mines, you ignored these instructions.

MR NONDULA: How?

MR WAGENER: Well, I’ve said that a number of times now. You laid a mine on a road where there’s never been a military vehicle before. How did that come about?

MR NONDULA: I cannot at this stage testify to the fact that there was no military vehicle that ever passed that area or not, I cannot at this stage, because I did not do the reconnaissance myself and specifically the instructions that were given to us, those are the instructions that we followed.

MR WAGENER: Your group of six, your two friends sitting next to you, were they part of that group?

MR NONDULA: Not at all.

MR WAGENER: Were they part of the other group?

MR NONDULA: Yes.

MR WAGENER: Now this Agrippa that you referred to, what is he real name?

MR NONDULA: I don’t know his real name.

MR WAGENER: I put it to you that you’re lying, you know his real name. What is his real name? Tell us.

MR NONDULA: I do not know his real name, Sir.

MR WAGENER: What happened to him?

MR NONDULA: He passed away. He was shot.

MR WAGENER: When?

MR NONDULA: 1987, 86.

MR WAGENER: May I ask your friend to stop helping you give evidence, or else I’m going to request that he sit in another chair.

CHAIRPERSON: Please, when the witness is giving evidence, he mustn’t be assisted in any way.

MR WAGENER: Mr Nondula, are you proud about what you did here?

MR NONDULA: I am.

MR WAGENER: As a soldier?

MR NONDULA: As a soldier, yes I am.

MR WAGENER: For killing innocent women and children, you’re proud of that?

MR NONDULA: I am.

MR WAGENER: Is that how you were trained by your organisation, to do acts like this, commit acts like this?

MR NONDULA: No.

MR WAGENER: So why are you proud?

MR NONDULA: I’ve said earlier, in a situation of conflict, it is quite regrettable that innocent lives should be lost. That one is regrettable. I do regret that, but I cannot run away from the fact that I was acting out of a pure political conscience as a soldier, that one I cannot run away from.

MR WAGENER: But you were acting outside your instructions.

MR NONDULA: I was not.

MR WAGENER: Well I will bring evidence showing that.

Read more on http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/amntrans/2000/200703me.htm

 

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

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