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Coppi Arbeitsgruppe für angewandte Technologie in der 3. Welt e.V.

Killed like a dog

from: Death Squads - Penguin Press 1990

Batandwa Ndondo, one of the 49 assassination victims on the list compiled by the David Webster Trust, was a former student vice-president at the University of Transkei. A cousin of the human rights lawyer, Dumisa Ntsebeza, he was a staunch opponent of the Transkei regime of the Mantazima brothers. In 1985 Ndondo, who had already been dubbed an "enemy of the state" by Transkei's rulers, was working in the outlying district of Cala as the co-ordinator of a rural project.

On 24 September four people, subsequently identified by eyewitnesses as police, arrived at his house. They ordered him to accompany them. He and his four visitors - three men and a woman - got into a white panel van. Its windows were tinted and its back doors locked. According to a Health Care Trust statement, the occupants of the van were known to Cala villagers as the "death squad". Ndondo, conscious of their reputation, asked a friend who was with him to follow the van. The friend, a stranger to Cala, lost track of the van. Villagers, however, witnessed what happened a little while later. Two later described what they saw in sworn statements.

The van braked to a halt near the outskirts of Cala. Ndondo struggled to climb out of the front window, wriggling frantically to freedom. Leaving his shoe behind in the hands of one of his captors, he ran around the nearest house, hoping to escape. Before he could enter the house, he was felled by a bullet.

His captors got out of the van, walked up to Ndondo and, according to the eyewitness accounts, fired several more bullets into him as he lay on the ground. A post mortem showed he had been shot eight times, at least six of the bullets entering his body after he had fallen. Before he died Ndondo managed to identify himself as a member of the Ntsebeza family.

A woman emerged from a house before Ndondo's captors left. "Whose child is this that you have killed him like a dog?" she asked. "He's a terrorist," the captors replied.

Later, Kaiser Mantanzima, then still Transkei's president, justifies the killing in similar terms. In a major speech, he assumed the role of prosecutor and judge: "Recently a young man called Ndondo was killed in Cala. Many people are asking why Mr Ndondo was killed. He is the one who came from Lesotho ... and exploded a bomb in Umtata." Anyone who questioned the killing of Ndondo was a "communist", he implied.

On the day that Ndondo was assassinated, another cousin, Lungisile Ntsebeza, went to the Cala police station. There he heard the station commander, Lieutenant Jilili, talking on the phone about the shooting. The lieutenant mentioned the name of one of the men involved in the shooting, referring to him as Mose, saying that Mose had fired three shots.

Mose was identified by the Ntsebeza brothers as Lieutenant Silumami Gladstone Mose, an ANC defector or Askari. Described as a big and unmistakable man, Mose was born in the Transkei, growing up in Ngcobo. By 1985 his links with the South African police had brought him notoriety. He was feared as well as loathed by radical youth in the area.

After Lieutenant Jilili rang off on that September day, he told Lungisile Ntsebeza that people "who identified themselves as security police reported that the had shot somebody and that they were talking the person to hospital". Transkei's CID chief subsequently admitted that police were involved in the shooting. A murder docket was opened.

Shortly afterwards six of Ndondo's relatives and friends, including his two cousins, Dumisa and Lungisile, were first detained and than banished. A common theme linked their lives: they were all either related to Ndondo or were potential witnesses in the pending murder case. In September 1986, a year after Ndondo's death, two policemen were charged with murdering him. They were Constable L G Dandala, a member of the Transkei police, and Constable M E Shabalala, a member of the SAP (South African Police).

On the first trial date Shabalala failed to turn up. The trial was postponed. He turned up at the deferred hearing. The constables pleaded not guilty on the grounds that Ndondo had been shot while trying to escape from custody. A similar statement had been made earlier to the investigating officer by Mose. His statement was used in court by counsel for the two constables.

Mose himself was never charged, to the intense anger of Dumisa Ntsebeza, who represented the Ntsebeza and Ndondo families. Nor was the policewoman, whose identity was protected by the Transkei authorities. Constable Shabalala again failed to turn up at the third hearing, and, according to Dumisa Ntsebeza, the Transkei authorities simply allowed the trial to peter out. ...

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