Francois Willem Janse van Rensburg
Afrikaner Right winger casualty in Bophuthatswana


Monument to fallen AWB members at Ventersdorp

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Thirty six year old Francois Willem Janse van Rensburg from Swartklip was a member of the Afrikaners Volksfront. In March 1994, he with many other rightwingers went to Mmabatho/Mafikeng area in the black homeland of Bophuthatswana.

Members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging and of the Afrikaner Volksfront entered Mmabatho during the night of Thursday, 10 March 1994 and in the early hours of the morning of 11 March 1994. This instruction were not passed on to the black officers of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force, who would have been in sensed with the presence of armed AWB & Volksfront right wingers. Some of the members of the public were shot by the right wingers. A skirmish occurred between the AWB and the Bophuthatswana Defence Force members. Members of both these organizations met at the Airport. The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging left Mafikeng unescorted at between about noon and 13:00 on 11 March 1994 while a convoy of Afrikaner Volksfront members was escorted by a convoy of the South African Defence Force from the Air Force Base to the Bophuthatswana boundary late on the afternoon of 11 March 1994. The National Security Council on the afternoon of 10 March 1994 decided to ask the Afrikaner Volksfront to assist in guarding key installations in the embattled homeland of President Mangope.


The main body of the Afrikaner Volksfront members left Bophuthatswana in convoy from the Air Force Base at 16:00 without escort. It was during this withdrawal phase that Francois Alwyn Venter was shot by Bophuthatswana Defence Force member (or members).

A smaller force of about 90 Afrikaner Volksfront members were escorted out of Bophuthatswana by a convoy of South African Defence Force vehicles under Major Christiaan Jacobus Serfontein. Francois Willem Janse van Rensburg was part of this smaller group when he was shot.

Major Serfontein with his South African Defence Force unit, on Friday 11 March 1994 at about 16:00, met Colonel Burger of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force and Lennert Veenendal of the Afrikaner Volksfront at the Airforce Base. Other Afrikaner Volksfront leaders such as General Constand Viljoen and Colonel Jan Breytenbach were also present. There were no Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leaders there. Serfontein was going to escort the khaki clad members of the Afrikaner Volksfront, who were armed with R1 and R4 rifles, out of Bophuthatswana. Serfontein ordered four Caspirs to lead the way and three Caspirs at the rear with about 80 bakkies of the Afrikaner Volksfront in between.

This last convoy to leave the Air Force Base traveled without incident to the Mmabatho Sun Hotel and then turned right into Voortrekker Road. Off to the right hand or western side of Voortrekker Road there was at that time a disused Air Force Base with an old runway and an old hangar. These were separated from Voortrekker Road by a low wall, about one metre high. As the convoy moved along Voortrekker Road and past this wall, the convoy came under fire from behind the wall. People in the convoy jumped from their bakkies and sought shelter on the eastern side of the road. The incident lasted about two minutes. It was during this event that three members were wounded, one through the hip, one through his shoulder blades and Van Rensburg was shot through his jaw. Van Rensburg was taken to Klippan were there was a field medical unit. It was decided to fly Van Rensburg by helicopter to to 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. The vibrations of the helicopter increased his bleeding, they thus took him out of the helicopter and a team of six doctors treated him. He died at about 00:30 on 12 March 1994. Van Rensburg left to mourn his wife Adriana Johanna van Rensburg.

On the same day AWB went to the Air Force Base and met with the Volksfront members. The AWB members started leaving the Air Force Base at about noon on 11 March 1994 on their way out of the Mrnabatho/Mafikeng area and then out of Bophuthatswana. Instead of leaving via the route around Mmabatho as they had been instructed and had undertaken to do, the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging members drove through the Mmabatho/Mafikeng area on their way out of town. Their route took them along the Vryburg-Mafikeng road, between the residential villages adjacent to it, past the TTA and over the railway bridge at the entrance to Mafikeng. A convoy of eight to ten civilian vehicles consisting of bakkies, combis and motor cars with their headlights on moving towards them. On the vehicles were Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging members wearing their insignia. Some of the crowd of people started throwing stones at the convoy but they were too far away to do any damage to the vehicles although some of the stones hit the vehicles. The convoy continued moving forward with the intention of crossing the bridge. As they did so the men on the vehicles opened fire on the crowd. While they were leaving three members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, Nicolaas Johannes Fourie (40), Jacob Stephanus Uys (33) and Alwyn Wolfaardt's (43) were shot at close range by Bophuthatswana policeman Constable Ontlametse Bernstein Menyatsoe. This event were seen on TV news services throughout the world.

The top leadership of the AWB at that time were Terre'Blanche, Cruywagen, Jordaan and the AWB Generals referred to by Arthur Kemp in "Vuur en Verraad" viz. Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging Generals W Etsebeth, Nico Prinsloo and Andries Terre'Blanche.

AWB leader Mr Terre'Blanche subsequently said on the SABC program Agenda: "'n skitterende oorwinning en die uitslag van die aanval is presies dit - 11 ongevalle aan die kant van die AWB waarvan 5 dood is en aan die anderkant 50 dood en 285 gewond".

Sources:

http://www.polity.org.za/html/govdocs/commissions/1998/tebbutt/tebbutt2b2.html
http://www.polity.org.za/html/govdocs/commissions/1998/tebbutt/tebbutt7.html
http://www.polity.org.za/html/govdocs/commissions/1998/tebbutt/tebbutt4.html

 

Esther Wolfaardt, whose husbands

Lennert Veenendal of the Afrikaner Volksfront.

http://www.polity.org.za/html/govdocs/commissions/1998/tebbutt/tebbutt4.html

Regarding the three AWB members who were shot
Lieutenant Dikobe, who corroborated Lance-Corporal De Koker on all material aspects, said the "right-wingers" in the convoy had shot at random at the crowd. The Bophuthatswana Defence Force members shot back to protect both themselves and the crowd of civilians there. Lieutenant Dikobe said he saw the bearded man get out of the blue Mercedes and being ordered to lie down by one of his, Lieutenant Dikobe's, soldiers. The man kept on saying that the man lying next to the car was injured and needed help. Colonel Marx who came on the scene then left to try and get an ambulance. It was then that the policemen, one a Sergeant, dressed in Bophuthatswana Police Force uniforms arrived. The one who was armed with a rifle asked the men "What are you doing here, what do AWB want in Mmabatho?" He then first shot the injured man. The Sergeant tried to stop him but he pointed his rifle at the Sergeant before going up to the other two men and shooting them both at close range, the last one being the bearded man. Lieutenant Dikobe said he could not remember what happened after the shooting but he did not see the policemen again. He would not, he said, be able to identify the policemen. He saw them only once and that was three years ago.

The Bophuthatswana Defence and Police Force returned their fire. In the convoy was an old blue Mercedes Benz car. One of the passengers in the front seat was shooting at the people. The car was shot several times and came to a stop at the side of the road near the 4-way stop. The man who had been doing the shooting had been shot and was lying with his head on the dashboard.

It is clear to the Commission that the deceased Uys, Wolfaardt and Fourie were occupants in the blue Mercedes car when it was part of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging convoy departing from Bophuthatswana via the Vryburg-Mafikeng road on 11 March 1994. It is also clear that the convoy was involved in an exchange of fire with members of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force near the railway bridge at the entrance to Mafikeng. From the evidence of the shooting of civilians prior to the convoy's reaching that spot the Commission finds that it is probable that those on the vehicles in the convoy had started the shooting, no doubt provoked by the stones thrown at them, prior to the Bophuthatswana Defence Force personnel's retaliation in defence of themselves and the civilians there present. It also finds that the passenger in the front seat of the car who, because Wolfaardt was the driver and Uys was in the rear seat (as shown on the videos), was Fourie, fired with a firearm from the car during the skirmish, in which the car was repeatedly hit by fire from the Bophuthatswana Defence Force. Colonel du Toit testified that four spent shotgun cartridges were found inside the blue Mercedes car showing that shots had been fired from within the car. It finds further that Fourie was hit by such gunfire and was probably dead by the time the car had come to a stop or shortly thereafter.

 

Terence B van Rensburg retired former Deputy Attorney-General of Kimberley assist in the Tebbut Commission

TEBBUTT COMMISSION SAYS AWB ACCOUNTABLE FOR DEATHS
MABOPANE November 12 1997 Sapa http://www.anc.org.za/anc/newsbrief/1997/news1113

Embattled AWB leader Eugene Terre'Blanche and his lieutenants should be held criminally accountable for the deaths of civilians during the March 1994 unrest in former Botsphuthatswana, the Tebbutt Commission heard on Wednesday.

Commission legal representative Terance van Rensburg submitted that presiding judge Pat Tebbutt report to President Nelson Mandela that criminal action be taken against the Afrikaner
Weerstandsbeweging leadership.

Van Rensburg described the AWB's actions in Mmabatho on March 10 and 11 as "racism in its most extreme form".

He said on arrival in Mmabatho, an AWB member was heard insinuating "ons het gekom om die kaffirs te skiet (we came to shoot the kaffirs)".

Van Rensburg said the statement demonstrated very clearly that Terre'Blanche and his militia did not go to Mmabatho to help quell the unrest as they had claimed.

Following the gunning down of innocent people by AWB members, Terre'Blanche claimed victory saying four to five AWB members may have been killed but his men had killed 50 people.

"The commission has ample evidence of AWB members killing people and destroying property," Van Rensburg said.

He said further investigation should be carried out to probe the actions of the AWB in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act and the then Riotous Assembly Act.

Van Rensburg said Terre'Blanche and the AWB's so-called "Generale Staf" should also be investigated on the concept of common purpose conspiracy and incitement.

"I submit that the commission recommend to the state president that criminal action be taken," he said.

There was evidence, he explained, that the AWB was engaged in the sheer killing of defenceless civilians.

"And we all know those civilians were black people," Van Rensburg said.

He said the Bophuthatswana Defence Force did not do enough to prevent the killings and the AWB had at the time been under the nominal command of the homeland defences chief General Jack Turner.

"They could have taken much better steps to escort the AWB out of Bop'," he said.

Van Rensburg said the Bophuthatswana police force was vitually non-existent except for small pockets which could not be at all effective.

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