EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 53/37/94
UA 415/94 Death Threats / Fear for safety 25 November 1994
SOUTH AFRICAMrs M Mtimkulu (f), Head Teacher, Hemfane Lower Primary School,
Mvutshini (North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal)
and her sons, Kulekani and Nkululeko Mtimkulu
There are serious concerns for the safety of members of the Mtimkulu family
who have been subjected to a series of death threats and attacks, in which
they have been targeted by armed men acting with the acquiesence of the police.
On 17 July 1994 Kulekani Mtimkulu was shot at while driving in a car. Although
the vehicle was damaged by the multiple gunfire, he escaped injury and went
to the Gingindlovu police station to report the incident. He was shot at again
when he returned from the police station. Subsequently Bongani Ngidi, the
son of the local Induna (traditional Headman), was charged in connection with
the shooting. At the time of the shooting he was out on bail on charges of
attempted murder of another person. After a period in custody in connection
with the attempted shooting of Kulekani Mtimkulu, Bongani Ngidi was apparently
released on bail.
In late September, Kulekani and Mrs Mtimkulu were threatened with death by
men associated with Induna Ngidi, whose home is reportedly guarded by members
of the former KwaZulu "homeland" police force. At about 7pm on 25 September
about 20 people arrived at the gate of their home and fired a shot. The next
day at about 6.30pm a group of four men, allegedly including Bongani Ngidi
and at least one member of the KwaZulu Police, were seen in the vicinity of
the Mtimkulu home.
On the weekend of 29 October Mrs Mtimkulu sent her son Nkululeko to collect
Kulekani. Their car was stopped by men associated with Induna Ngidi. They
demanded the car key and attempted to burn the vehicle. These actions occurred
in the presence of a member of the KwaZulu Police. Mrs Mtimkulu later sought
assistance at the Gingindlovu police station (which is under South African
Police Service (SAPS) control). She then went to the home of the Induna,
accompanied by an officer from the police station. Despite the presence of
the police officer the Induna did not hand over the car key. On 31 October
men associated with the Induna appeared outside the Mtimkulu home, shouted
threats and fired a gun.
Out of fear for their lives, Mrs Mtimkulu and her sons went into hiding.
On 16 November members of the Gingindlovu police station and the South African
National Defence Force (SANDF) searched the family's home for weapons. They
found none. On 19 November, at a meeting of Mvutshini residents called by Induna
Ngidi, the Induna reportedly issued veiled threats against Mrs Mtimkulu. After
this meeting, white police officers reportedly apprehended Mrs Mtimkulu's
husband, who was standing at a bus-stop, and searched him to see if he was
carrying a gun. He was not.
To Amnesty International's knowledge the security forces have taken no steps
to investigate the threats made against members of the Mtimkulu family since
the initial arrest of Bongani Ngidi in July. The organization is concerned
that the police are failing to investigate and bring to justice those responsible