EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 53/14/93
UA 122/93 Fear of extrajudicial execution 21 April 1993
SOUTH AFRICA: Chris KHOZA, African National Congress (ANC) branch
chairperson, Mpophomeni township, near Howick, Natal
and other ANC members in the Mpophomeni community
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Chris Khoza, ANC branch
chairperson in Mpophomeni, following recent killings of other ANC members or
supporters in the township by attackers alleged to have acted with the support or
acquiescence of the local police. At least 11 members of the community were killed
in Mpophomeni between 8 and 14 April 1993 in attacks on their homes or in the street,
including seven killed on the night of 14 April. Most were prominent in the community,
and involved in peace efforts or religious activities.
One of those killed, Bheki Maseko, a neighbour of Chris Khoza, who was a carpenter
and a former acting ANC chairperson, was shot dead by armed men on the evening of
14 April. The same group of six armed men had been seen waiting near the gate of
Chris Khoza's house for some 30 minutes before they went to Bheki Maseko's house.
The gunmen shot Bheki Maseko inside his house at close range, killing him with a
deliberate final shot as he lay severely wounded. They also shot dead a young boy
and seriously wounded another man, both of whom were in the house with Bheki Maseko.
Bheki Maseko was attacked only a few minutes after returning from giving information
about previous murders to the police. After Bheki Maseko's murder two people, one
of whom was a police officer reportedly told Chris Khoza's wife that her husband's
life was in danger.
The local police have consistently shown a reluctance to protect Mpophomeni residents
from attack or to investigate properly attacks and killings after they have occurred.
The police took no action against men identified by eye-witnesses as the killers
of five Mpophomeni residents on 24 December 1992. The same men appear to have been
involved in the killings that occurred between 8 and 14 April 1993. It was only after
considerable pressure on the authorities by local members of parliament and others
that on 15 April the South African Police operating with the South African Defence
Force arrested 14 people in connection with the killings this April. The police did
not issue details on the individuals arrested or on possible charges against them.
On 17 April, the day of a mass funeral for 10 of the 11 victims, the police released
eight of the arrested suspects without laying charges against them. It is unclear
at present whether those arrested were in fact the men whom local residents believe
were involved in the killings. It is also unclear if the suspects who remain in custody
will face charges. However the releases on 17 April caused renewed fear and tension
in the community. Township residents heard more shooting on the night of 18 April.
Chris Khoza, aged about 40 and married with five children, is a long-standing ANC