Net closes around Chief Buthelezi

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The Independent Online
THE net closed in around Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Inkatha leader and head of the KwaZulu government, after the release of an official report yesterday linking his office to the supply of guns for hit squads.

South Africa's Transitional Executive Council (TEC), working on information obtained by official investigators, called yesterday for 'the immediate cessation of the issue and distribution of all firearms, including semi-automatic weapons, from or through the Department of the Chief Minister of KwaZulu'.

The stage was set last night following the resolution of the TEC, the multi-party body charged with paving the way for free and fair elections next month, for a final battle between those forces in favour of democracy, and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the one black organisation still resolutely opposed to participation in the polls.

The TEC investigators said that hit squads within the KwaZulu police had targeted African National Congress activists. Chief Buthelezi counts Minister of the KwaZulu Police among his many titles.

'The evidence and information in some cases suggests that resources or directives appear to emanate from certain officials in Ulundi (the capital), allegedly located at the IFP head office and at the Department of the Chief Minister,' said the TEC team of two lawyers and a police colonel. 'These resources allegedly included vehicles, arms and ammunition and in certain instances firearms allegedly supplied included AK-47s.'

These fresh allegations follow the publication on Friday of a report by the Goldstone Commission of Inquiry into Political Violence revealing a 'third force' conspiracy involving Inkatha and the South African police to orchestrate thousands of killings in the black townships during the last four years.

Some of the fruits of the conspiracy have been evident in Natal province in the last three days where 52 people have died after attacks by Inkatha supporters on communities loyal to the ANC. ANC officials said yesterday that the chances were receding of holding free and fair elections in Natal.

Roy Ainslie, an ANC spokesman in Natal, said that the province was witnessing a complete breakdown of law and order. 'The Inkatha supporters have threatened openly that no one can stop them. And they are quite right, who can stop them?'

Those who could stop them are the South African police but yesterday, in another dangerous development, high-ranking members were in open revolt against President F W de Klerk. The chief of public relations of the police, General Leon Mellet, issued a statement denouncing Mr de Klerk and Judge Goldstone for implicating three senior officers in the conspiracy.

Accusing Mr de Klerk of having blundered, General Mellet said: 'This was an unfortunate moment to go about and make a fanfare of this delicate issue. This comes only six weeks before the election . . . The government will have to rely heavily on the police . . . Why do this now? Why name these people in public?'

Judge Goldstone's report identified, among others, the deputy commissioner of police, General Basie Smit, in the conspiracy to arm and train Inkatha supporters.

General Smit and two of his colleagues who were suspended from duty on Friday by Mr de Klerk threatened legal action against the President yesterday, claiming he had unfairly damaged their reputations. According to Johannesburg's Radio 702, Mr de Klerk caved in yesterday afternoon and reinstated the generals in their positions.

One of many indications that the Goldstone allegations had strong foundations was provided on Monday afternoon when a police officer who provided the judge with inside information, Captain Kobus Klopper, received a message on his pager saying: 'Our sincere condolences with the passing of both your parents and your girlfriend. We know you have a difficult time ahead.' The message, which was false, was signed 'The Badger Family' - the codename of the police unit identified by Judge Goldstone as heading the township terror campaigns.

The TEC yesterday granted all prisoners the right to vote next month after riots resulted in the deaths of 23 inmates on Monday, AFP reports.

(Photograph omitted)