Former South African Defence Force Minister, General Magnus Malan and 19 other former senior military officers were charged in the Durban Magistrates' Court with murder and for having established hit squads to destabilise South Africa before the end of apartheid. They were also charged with the 1987 massacre of thirteen people in KwaZulu-Natal's Kwamakutha Township. It was alleged that Malan engaged in a 'dirty tricks' campaign to exacerbate the already hostile relationship between the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress (ANC).
After being released on bail, Malan declared: "What happened here today is the biggest crisis that's ever been in the democracy of South Africa. I am a moderate.... I am a democrat.... I am a Christian and I'm proud of it." The prosecution drew criticism from second Vice-President F.W. de Klerk, who claimed that it violated the spirit of reconciliation, which the government was advocating. Later President Nelson Mandela met with former President P.W. Botha and Freedom Front leader General Constand Viljoen to discuss their concerns over the prosecutions. Botha warned of disaster should Malan and others be wrongly prosecuted. Mandela rejected Botha's request for a moratorium on prosecutions of apartheid era leaders until the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) would begin its work.
After a seven month trial, Malan and his co-accused were cleared of all charges on 11 October 1996.
Fraser, R. (1995). Keesing's Records of World Events: Longman: London, p. 40809. Kalley, J. A. et al (1999). Southern African Political History: A Chronology of Key Political Events from Independence to Mid-1997, Greenwood: London, p. 552.
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