COSAS 4: Apartheid Cop Back In The Dock

A former apartheid security policeman Thlomedi Mfalapitsa will again appear before the high court in Johannesburg on Monday to answer to three murders of the “Cosas 4”.

Last week the man accused of the 1982 murders of Eustice “Bimbo” Madikela, Ntshingo Mataboge (Matubane) and Fanyana Nhlapo was in the dock, but because the judge was ill the matter was postponed to Monday.

Mfalapitsa is also accused of the attempted murder of Zandisile Musi, who survived the explosion inside a pump house at Krugersdorp on 15 February 1982.

All four were supporters of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) in the early 1980s – hence the name “Cosas 4”.

Those days Cosas was a popular national student movement active at secondary schools and associated with the ANC.

The accused was an askari (informant) and worked for the Security Force Branch, against his former comrades in the African National Congress (ANC), while Musi was a member of Cosas.

Before the accused defected to the Security Branch, he had a close relationship with Musi’s elder brothers that served with him in uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK), a military wing of the ANC.

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 SA 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 a pump house rigged with bombs at a mine near Krugersdorp.

The Cosas 4 were to be lured to the deadly trap under the guise of giving them military training.

The plan was that the bombs would go off and kill them.

A false impression would then be created that the Cosas 4 blew themselves up while undergoing military training.

The state contends that the order to kill the students in this callous 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.

Mamasela, who pretended to be a taxi driver, was hired by the accused to drive the students to the pump house.

The arrangement was such that, once the students were inside the pumphouse, the accused would leave the pump house.

He was to leave under the pretext of fetching more training equipment or hand grenades from the taxi.

The explosives would then be detonated once the accused was at a reasonably safe distance away from the pump house.

This matter was first publicly ventilated in May 1999, when Mfalapitsa unsuccessfully applied for amnesty at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Back then he described himself as a “victim”.

The case will be heard on Monday.