EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 53/33/91
4 October 1991
UA 326/91 Extrajudicial Execution/Fear of Extrajudicial Execution
SOUTH AFRICA: Sam NTULI, general secretary, Civic Associations of the Southern Transvaal
(CAST), member of National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA)
Louis SIBEKO, general secretary Thokoza Civic Association
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of a community activist, Louis Sibeko, general
secretary of the Thokoza Civic Association, as well as for other civic association leaders,
following the murder of Sam Ntuli in Thokoza township on 29 September 1991. Thokoza is about
30 kilometres east of Johannesburg.
Sam Ntuli, a prominent local community leader, was ambushed in his car and shot dead
by a group of heavily armed men, four of whom had arrived at his house in two cars shortly
before the killing. Soon after this incident Louis Sibeko, a close colleague of Sam Ntuli's,
was warned to stay away from his home because it was apparently under surveillance. Neighbours
had seen strangers in a car driving in and out of his driveway. The same car has been seen
waiting outside the homes of other Thokoza Civic Association leaders during the past few days.
The car is reputedly used by members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), who are known to
have carried out attacks, with active police assistance, against residents in the township
and the neighbouring squatter camp in late 1990.
Prior to his murder, Sam Ntuli was prominently involved in the activities of CAST, which
represents a range of civic organizations in the southern Transvaal, including the greater
Johannesburg area. The civic organizations have campaigned on predominantly local issues
such as the lack of adequate housing and services in the black townships. Many of the civic
associations' leaders, including Sam Ntuli, were detained without charge or trial under the
terms of the State of Emergency regulations during the 1980s. More recently they have been
involved in discussions with government departments and city councils over the restructuring
and desegregation of local government. In this respect, the civic organizations, such as
CAST, have come into conflict with the township councils established under the terms of the
1982 Black Local Authorities Act. During 1991 the councils, particularly in the southern
Transvaal area, have come increasingly under the control of the IFP. Although this conflict
has at times and in certain areas become violent, in the Thokoza area Sam Ntuli and Louis
Sibeko were, at the time of Sam Ntuli's murder, involved in arranging peace talks with the
IFP and other parties.
Despite major incidents of political violence in Thokoza township during 1990 and early
1991, the township had been relatively peaceful this year. However, on 8 September 1991 23
IFP supporters were killed when gunmen opened fire on some 300 people marching to an IFP rally.
The massacre led to further killings in Thokoza and precipitated a wave of apparent "reprisal"
attacks in Soweto and other townships around Johannesburg, as well apparently random attacks
on commuters in trains and taxis. The highly professional nature of the gunmen's attack on
8 September and the wave of violence it unleashed, just prior to the signing of the multilateral,
national Peace Accord on 14 September, suggests that
the attack was carried out by forces determined to undermine efforts at political reconciliation
in South Africa. Human rights monitors fear that the murder of Sam Ntuli on 29 September
is the first of a wave of planned assassinations of community leaders in Thokoza. They have
also expressed concern that the police have not provided protection for eyewitnesses to Sam
Ntuli's murder or taken other vigorous steps to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to
Amnesty International is urging the South African government to take prompt and
appropriate measures to guarantee the safety of Louis Sibeko and other Thokoza Civic Association