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ANC to support families of the Cosas 3 as former askari and Vlakplaas cop appears in court

The African National Congress (ANC) has said that it will show support to the families of the Cosas (Congress of South African Students) three when the alleged apartheid askari – ANC defector – and former security branch officer Tlhomedi Ephraim Mfalapitsa appears in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg for the 1982 murder of three Cosas students.

The ANC’s head of organising and mass mobilisation Nomvula Mokonyane along with the governing party’s members in Gauteng, its Women’s League and Cosas will attend the court proceedings on Monday.

The national prosecuting authority (NPA) said the matter was postponed on Friday to Monday because the presiding judge was off due to ill health.

The ANC said Mfalapitsa is a former member of the party’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), “who allegedly defected to the enemy camp and became an askari”.

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The spokesperson of the NPA in Gauteng Phindi Mjonondwane said the case stems from the killing of three Cosas supporters, namely, Eustice ‘Bimbo’ Madikela, Ntshingo Mataboge (Matubane) and Fanyana Nhlapo, and the attempted killing of Zandisile Musi who survived the explosion in a pumphouse at Krugersdorp on 15 February 1982.

Mjonondwane added that Musi was a member of Cosas and that before the accused defected to the apartheid security branch, he had a close relationship with Musi’s elder brothers that served with him in the MK.

“Musi and the three deceased wanted to leave the country to join the ANC in exile with a group of other comrades. After the accused joined the SAP [South African Police], he established contact with Musi. The latter explored the possibilities of leaving the country with the accused, whom he erroneously still regarded as a member of MK, unaware that the accused turned to become an askari.

“The accused was stationed at Vlakplaas, a secret security police base at the time. He was allegedly ordered by Jan Carel Coetzee, a commander at Vlakplaas to lure Musi and the deceased to an explosive infested pumphouse at a mine near Krugersdorp, under the guise of giving them military training. They then would be killed in an explosion under circumstances which would create the false impression that they blew themselves up while undergoing military training. The order to kill the students in this manner emanated from senior officers within the security branch and was conveyed to Coetzee by his superior, Willem Frederick Schoon.

“The state alleges that, on that fateful day, the accused got the students to be transported to the pumphouse by another askari, Joe Mamasela who pretended to be a taxi driver, hired by the accused to drive the students to the pumphouse. The arrangement was such that, once the students were inside the pumphouse, the accused would leave the pumphouse under the pretext of fetching more training equipment or hand grenades from the taxi they boarded to the pumphouse. The explosives would then be detonated once he was at a reasonable distance away from the pump house,” Mjonondwane said.

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