Spiritual Repatriations from Komatipoort

01 July 2016

As part of the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Adv. Michael Masutha, officiated the symbolic burial of three late members of Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK), Selby Mavuso, Sizwe Kondile and Johannes Sambo, at Freedom Park, Pretoria on Friday, 01 July 2016.

The symbolic reburial at Freedom Park was preceded by a ceremonial repatriation of the late MK members’ spirits. The ceremonial repatriation was led by their families and facilitated by the Department from the spot where the three MK members were killed on Thursday, 30 June 2016 at Lebombo Border Post, Komatipoort.

Selby Mavuso, Sizwe Kondile and Johannes Sambo were killed by members of the apartheid era Vlakplaas Unit during the late eighties. The Missing Persons Task Team has confirmed that their remains are not recoverable due to the manner in which they were disposed of after being killed.

Selby Vuyani Mavuso (14 May 1954 — 11 October 1981)

Selby Mavuso, originally from Soweto, went into exile after the 1976 student uprising and joined MK. On 30 January 1981, he was one of the three MK members abducted by the SADF during the Matola Raid in Maputo and tkane back to South Africa. He was detained for some months in Pretoria under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act. He refused to co-operate with the Security Police and ultimately a decision was taken to kill him. He was also "released" from detention on 11 October 1981 and then driven by Dik Coetzee and fellow operatives to the Komatipoort area.

Peter Dlamini, a former MK member who was taken to Vlakplaas a year earlier, was also taken with Selby to the site. The two were drugged with 'knock-out drops', shot and thier bodies burnt on a fire beside the Komati River. Their ashes were then pushed into the river.

The Missing Persons' Task Team in the NPA has determined that it is not possible to recover any of their remains.

Sizwe Kondile (6 october 1957 — 11 August 1981)

Sizwe KondileSizwe Kondile, originally from Port Elizabeth, was detained in 1980 while a student at the University of Fort Hare. He left the country soon after, along with his best friend Vusi Pikoli and joined the ANC in exile. While based in Lesotho, he conducted various missions into the country. In july 1981, he was abducted from Maseru by the security police while driving Chris Hani's vhicle.

He was taken in the Eastern Cape, where he endured lengthy interrogation and torture at the hands of the Eastern Cape security police who tried to turn him into a double agent. When the Security Police realised that he was not co-operating, a decision was made to kill him. Sizwe was officially "released" on 10 August 1981.

Thereafter he was driven to the Komatipoort area near the Mozambique border to a site on a private farm from where the SADF had previously launched the Matola Raid. At the site, he was drugged with 'knock-out drops' obtained from police forensic laboratory head General Lothar Neethling. He was then shot and his body burnt on a wood fire by a group made up of former Vlakplaas operative Dirk Coetzee and some of his colleaugues, as well as members of the Eastern Cape Security Police.

The Security Police told the TRC that they braaied and drank alcohol while the body burnt overnight. The Missing Persons' Task Team has determined that Sizwe's remains cannot be recovered.

Johannes Sweet Sambo (15 May 1961 — 4 July 1991)

Johannes, originally from Steenbok village near Komatipoort, was an underground ANC operative who was suspected by police of involvement in the infiltration of weapons into South Africa.

In May 1991, members of the Lebombo Security Police detained Mr Sambo at his home. On 4 July 1991, he died during a violent interrogation including "tubing" and assault at the Squamans Police Base near Komatipoort.

The Security Police members contacted Vlakplaas to request assistance in disposing of Mr Sambo's body. Former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock, tasked three of his unit members to assist.The three Vlakplaas members drove to Middelburg where they received Mr Sambo's body from the Komatipoort police. They took his body to theVerdacht police explosives training base in Limpopo where it was repeatedly blown up with explosives until nothing remained.

The missing Persons Task Team determined that no remains are recoverable.

Images from the two events:

Komatipoork Repatration and Symbolic reburial

View more on Flickr

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