5 Children Murdered in SADF Umtata Raid on Alleged APLA Arms Storage Facility

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Friday, 8 October 1993

On 8 October 1993, five youth, including two twelve year olds, were murdered as they lay sleeping in their Umtata home. Believed to be the arms storage facility for the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army (APLA), police intelligence also believed that there were eighteen APLA operatives staying at the house. According to General George Meiring, Chief of the Defence Force at the time, " There were actually only five people in the house and all were killed because they reacted hostiley (sic)"

According to the police docket, seventy-eight cartridges and twenty-six projectiles were found in the house, with four of the children found with gunshot wounds to the head. According to the police, some weapons were allegedly found together with some documentation. No weapons cache was discovered and when lawyers for the family arranged for an international US forensic specialist to examine the seized weapons, the SADF failed to produce such weapons for examination.

Two years after the cold blooded killings, the Minister of Justice, Dullar Omar on behalf of the Government of National Unity released the following statement: " The raid on the house in Umtata was authorized on the strength of intelligence provided by the security forces, that it was being used as an armed cache for attacks against civilians in other parts of South Africa. That information was inaccurate at the time of the operation and the killing of the youthful occupants was unjustified and inexcusable".

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that the killings were a gross violation of human rights for which the former State Security Council (SSC) and the SADF were responsible. They found further that the failure by the SADF to produce the weapons allegedly seized in the house for independent forensic examination cast serious doubt on the existence of such weapons.

 

References:
• Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (1998). Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, Cape Town: Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Vol. 2, pp. 577-710.

Last updated : 07-Oct-2015

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011