SA Spesial Forces accused of train violence



Friday, 19 July 1991

In an interview with the New Nation, Felix Ndimene alleged that the Selous Scouts of Pietersburg and Five Reconnaissance Regiment (5RR), part of the SA Special Forces, together with members of RENAMO, had been involved in train violence, particularly the Benrose massacre on 13 September 1990. He also named a Zimbabwean who had allegedly been involved in train attacks. Ndimene alleged that the intelligence division of Spoornet Security was composed of former members of the Special Forces, and that they orchestrated the violence on trains.

The two Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) supporters who applied for amnesty for their part in the train violence, both stated that they saw themselves as participating in a political conflict between the African National Congress (ANC) and IFP. Ndimene, a Mozambican who had served as a sergeant in 5RR, made a victim statement to the Commission in which he claimed he was abducted from Mozambique on 23 August 1982 and was later brought to the SADF's Phalaborwa base where he was tortured and forced to join the SADF.

A special investigation unit of the Goldstone Commission could not substantiate Ndimene's allegations. It ultimately found that the commando named by Ndimene was at a legitimate clandestine internal (to the Eastern Transvaal) operation at the time of the Benrose massacre. It further found that most members who had allegedly been involved in the Jeppe attack were in the Phalaborwa camp at the time of the attack. However, a former senior Goldstone investigator told the Commission that he believed that this did not necessarily disprove Ndimene's allegations as Special Forces often operated in small groups of three to four men. The investigator believed it was possible that a small unit of 5RR could have been deployed covertly to conduct train operations. Further evidence to the Commission indicated that a senior commander in 5RR confirmed that members of the unit were involved in such violence. A former deputy chief of staff intelligence expressed the view that the randomness of the attacks combined with their military precision pointed to people with Special Forces training.



Last updated : 07-Oct-2011

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

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