[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Zuma in Mbokodo; Malema in Durban

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Feb 22 05:46:25 GMT 2009


David Beresford
Glimmers of horror as Zuma’s missing years come to light
Published:Feb 22, 2009

There were accounts of routine and bizarre acts of torture — beatings 
with barbed wire, bicycle chains and iron bars

The peculiar thing is how the ANC could have ‘executed’ Ben Langa by 
mistake when he was so well known

His prominence in the darkest days of the exiled ANC seems to have been 
overlooked, says David Beresford

The long-running drama over Jacob Zuma and the arms deal has resulted in 
the country overlooking an aspect of the ANC president’s background 
which says even more about his fitness, or otherwise, to govern.

At the end of last year, a biography was published on Zuma which was 
perhaps more interesting for what it did not contain. Written by 
journalist Jeremy Gordin, it fails to mention, for instance, that Zuma 
was a life-long communist.

Zuma seems to have been anxious not to have this detail widely known. 
Nor is membership of the SA Communist Party mentioned in Zuma’s 
government and ANC biographies.

Curiously, however, it is mentioned in his autobiography.

A favourite technique of identifying enemy agents in the ANC was to make 
members endlessly write their life stories.

The theory was that an enemy agent trying to stick to his or her cover 
story would sooner or later make a blunder which would be pounced on by 
their interrogator.

On May 2 1985, Jacob Zuma, alias “Pedro”, sat down to write his story. 
The Zuma autobiography — published by the radical investigative 
magazine, Molotov Cocktail — says he joined the SACP (or ‘the family’ as 
it is euphemistically referred to) at the age of 21, in 1963.

Zuma’s autobiography also mentions his membership of “NAT” — the dreaded 
security department of the ANC in exile. Popularly known as the 
“Mbokodo” — “the stone that crushes” — NAT was a department of the ANC, 
but seems to have taken on a life of its own.

Set up in 1969, NAT was answerable to the Revolutionary Council, which 
in turn fell under Oliver Tambo at the office of the ANC president.

In the ’80s NAT concentrated on disciplinary functions and guard duties 
in places such as Quadro (the ANC’s main detention camp in Angola, 
sometimes known as Quatro), moving away from intelligence activities.

In 1987 Joe Nhlanhla was appointed director of the Mbokodo with Zuma his 

A senior intelligence official testified to one inquiry that the 
“powers” of the Mbokodo were “pervasive”. They did not consider 
themselves accountable “to the ANC generally or answerable to anybody 
specifically, other than its head”.

The nature of Mbokodo can be best conveyed by an account of some of the 
allegations arising from the 1983 Quadro mutiny.

There have been three internal inquiries by the ANC into the camps 
scandal, and the horror stories that emerged are beyond dispute.

There were accounts of routine and bizarre acts of torture — beatings 
with barbed wire, bicycle chains and iron bars — and food and water 

Detainees were made to crawl through colonies of red ants with pig fat 
rubbed into their skin. A prisoner had his lips burned by cigarettes and 
his testicles squeezed with pliers; a detainee was buried up to his neck 
before being suffocated with a plastic bag; a woman had a guard 
masturbate over her because she refused to have sex with security 
officials. A trainee tried to commit suicide after his girlfriend was 
“taken away”. People were locked up in goods containers, in suffocating 
conditions. And people simply disappeared.

According to the Motsuenyane Commission report — the most comprehensive 
of the inquiries — there were also “rumours of rampant embezzlement of 
funds, illicit dealings in precious minerals and theft of motor cars” by 
leaders of NAT.

Thanks to Zuma’s predilection for secrecy, his part — or otherwise — in 
all this is difficult to discover. He is quoted fatuously in Gordin’s 
book as saying details of the “operational events of those days” were 
the “property of the ANC, not his”.

The little that is known about Zuma’s “missing years” is no more than a 
confusion of dates to be found in government biographies and listings of 
commanders submitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Two murders are central to the story of the Mbokodo. The first is that 
of Mzwakhe Ngwenya, better known by his nom de guerre of Thami Zulu, or TZ.

TZ was an extremely popular commander in the ANC whose death in 1989 is 
a cause célèbre.

Commander of the “Natal machinery”, he died a few days after being 
released from ANC detention. He had been held by the Mbokodo for 14 
months without charge, including eight weeks in solitary. Forensic 
evidence indicates he was poisoned.

TZ’s deputy, Cyril Raymond (a.k.a. ‘Edward Lawrence’, a.k.a.‘Ralph’ 
a.k.a. ‘Fear’) was also detained. He died while in the custody of the 
Mbokodo, denying that he was a police spy. He apparently drowned in his 
own vomit.

The death of TZ caused such an uproar within the ANC that the 
organisation was forced to set up a commission of inquiry into it. It 
found no evidence that Thami was a South African agent.

The other murder is that of Benjamin Langa, which is not as well-known 
as TZ’s killing, but could be as explosive.

Ben Langa was the brother of Chief Justice Pius Langa, and of writer 
Mandla Langa.

Ben was shot dead in May 1984. The killing was carried out by two gunmen 
— Sipho Xulu and Lucky Payi — both of whom were hanged for the killing.

They were helped in the murder of Ben by Joel George Martins, a friend 
of Ben’s. Martins took the two killers to the flat where Ben was staying 
and called out to him, whereupon Ben opened the door to his murderers.

Martins subsequently applied to the TRC for amnesty for the killing and 
explained he had been told by Xulu that they had orders from a senior 
commander in Swaziland to kill Ben for having “sold out comrades”.

The man who gave this order was code-named “Ralph”, according to 
Martins. It was the same Ralph, or Fear, mentioned above — who drowned 
in his own vomit while being detained by the Mbokodo.

But in another twist to this extraordinary tale, the two killers 
testified in their Pietermaritzburg trial that the man who gave them 
orders to carry out the murder was not Fear, but one “Leonard”.

Jacob Zuma was also due to have testified at the hearing, but failed to 
turn up. A TRC amnesty panel was told arrangements had been made for him 
to appear, but he had gone to Geneva. George Bizos SC, who appeared for 
the Langa family at the hearing, said he had been unable to get a 
statement from Zuma.

Fear’s alleged “culpability” has won wide credence, thanks to the ANC 
leadership. Thabo Mbeki, for example, submitted a statement to the TRC 
which found its way into its final report. It said: “In a few cases, 
deliberate misinformation resulted in attacks and assassination in which 
dedicated cadres lost their lives. In one of the most painful examples 
of this nature, a state agent with an MK name of Fear ordered two cadres 
to execute Ben Langa on the grounds that Langa was an agent of the 
regime. These cadres, Clement Payi and Lucky Xulu, carried out their 
orders. This action resulted in serious disruption of underground and 
mass democratic structures in the area and intense distress to the Langa 
family, which was the obvious intention of Fear’s handlers.

“Once the facts were known to the leadership of the ANC, President Tambo 
personally met with the family to explain and apologise for this action. 
Xulu and Payi were arrested and executed. A triple murder had been 
achieved by the apartheid regime without firing a single shot.”

The basis on which Mbeki was able to identify Fear as a police agent and 
a murderer is not known.

The peculiar thing for the Langa family is how the ANC could have 
“executed” Ben by mistake when he was so well known in KwaZulu-Natal and 
further afield. Ben’s brother Mandla recalls that one of the 
trigger-men, Xulu, was a personal friend. Mandla had in a sense 
“adopted” the youngster when they were based at the ANC’s Malange camp 
in Angola.

In fact, the friendship with Ben was even closer. Xulu testified that 
Ben had actually recruited him into the ANC and had helped him get out 
of South Africa. In exile Xulu had risen to the rank of battalion 
commander before being sent back to kill his sponsor and friend.

Asked by counsel when and where he was given instructions to kill Ben , 
Xulu said it was on the way from Mbabane in a car driven “by the 
regional chief of security, Umkhonto weSizwe”.

“While we were in the motor car he then said to me. .. there is a person 
who has done us a lot of harm. I asked him: ‘Who is that person?’ He 
said the person was Ben Langa. I said: ‘It cannot be Ben Langa.’” He 
said he went on to explain his relationship with Ben.

An exhibit in the Pietermaritzburg trial was a decrypted code book. One 
entry read: “Ben Langa eliminated on May 20. Reason: Leonard informed us 
on the day we left that Ben is the guy who handed two comrades to the 

There was only one ANC cadre named Leonard in the region at the time. He 
flatly denies having been a “regional chief of security”, or having had 
the conversation recounted by Xulu. His only connection with Ben was 
that he (Ben) had been seen with a former policeman in Wentworth and he 
(Leonard) had sent a report to this effect — to Jacob Zuma.

Beresford is a staff correspondent of The Observer. This article is 
based on research for a book he is preparing on commission from Jonathan 
Ball publishers, with the support of the Taco Kuiper Fund for 
Investigative Journalism


Sunday Times
‘We want Zuma, corrupt or not ’
Paddy Harper Published:Feb 22, 2009

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema outdid himself at a rally in 
Durban’s Cato Manor yesterday, branding DA leader Helen Zille “racist”, 
“colonialist” and “imperialist”.

Her deputy, Joe Seremane’s “ role . .. is to smile at the madam every 
time,” he said.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was “Mickey Mouse” and COPE consisted of 
“angryists” who “don’ t smile”.

He came to ANC president Jacob Zuma’s defence: “If Zuma is corrupt, then 
we want him with all his corruption. We want him with all his 
weaknesses. If he is uneducated, then we want him as our uneducated 
president. ”

Zuma, he said, understood SA economics, which amounted to: “Put a bread 
on the table. We don’t want sophistication.”

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