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Lwandle Wilson Magadla (Posthumous)

The Order of the Baobab in

Lwandle Wilson Magadla (Posthumous) Awarded for:
His exceptional contribution to and achievement in his work as a dedicated police officer, his outstanding contribution to cracking some of the most complex cases, his role in uncovering the truth for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and his role in working for peace in KwaZulu-Natal by exposing “Third-Force” activities.
Profile of Lwandle Wilson Magadla

Lwandle Wilson Magadla was born in Matatiele in the Eastern Cape on 31 August 1933. He left school before matriculating and worked on the mines, later joining the South African Police (SAP) in 1958.

Despite his lower level of formal education, he proved intelligent, with unremitting love for tuition, despite the lack of opportunity to advance it formally. He was an avid reader and writer, who wrote poetry and literature.

Very discreet and meticulous, Magadla was able to juggle his sensitive police job with underground work for the then banned African National Congress (ANC) as a courier.

He was a very committed police officer who, among his ground-breaking achievements, uncovered the links between the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the apartheid security establishment in KwaZulu-Natal during the volatile 1980s and 1990s. In 1988, 14 mourners, including women and children, were killed while attending a night vigil at Trust Feeds in New Hanover.

Magadla and his partner Frank Dutton’s studious investigations linked the SAP under the command of station commander Brian Mitchell and other police officers to the violence, despite the many obstructions they encountered in their investigative work. Through their diligence, justice was served as these officers received lengthy jail sentences.

This constituted an eye-opening discovery regarding the mystery called black-on-black violence, which was ravaging the province at the time. It laid bare the callous involvement of the ”Third Force” – the apartheid security establishment’s involvement in violence in the black areas to create instability in the country. The repercussions were difficult though, as Magadla and Dutton were ostracised and they faced danger and retribution.

In 1990, they traced a number of murders in the Pietermaritzburg area to a senior minister in the KwaZulu Government, Samuel Jamile, who killed one of his victims because of his opposition to efforts by the KwaZulu Government to incorporate his hometown, Clermont, into that province. Magadla uncovered the gory details that Jamile had a braai with members of the SAP’s riot squad to celebrate the man’s death.

Although, Jamile was found guilty of five murders and a number of attempted murders and sentenced to life imprisonment, he was released through a political deal in 1993.

In addition to these highly sensitive political cases, Magadla cracked a number of other high-profile cases.

In the early 1990s, Magadla used his extensive contacts in the intelligence community to warn senior ANC and United Democratic Front (UDF) cadres that they were about to be targeted, in the process saving the lives of, among others, Jacob Zuma and UDF leader Archie Gumede. When he retired from the SAP in 1991 with the low rank of warrant officer despite long and illustrious service, he was made head of ANC Intelligence in KwaZulu-Natal.

After 1991, he was given the responsibility of uniting the various intelligence outfits operating in the province into the new National Intelligence Agency, of which he became the first provincial head. When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established, he was appointed to head its Special Investigative Unit. The cases he worked on included the 1988 murder of Dulcie September, an ANC leader who was killed in France.

Magadla distinguished himself as a very committed police officer, who also contributed to ebb the tide of violence in black communities by revealing the mysterious cause. He received many commendations for his exceptional work. Magadla’s interests did not only revolve around his police work, he was also a passionate reader and writer. In 1973, one of his poems was published by Atlantic Press in Poetry of the English World. A Canadian publisher has agreed to publish his memoirs, The Colour of the Skunk, and a book of his thoughts and observations called Philosophical Escapades, Dogs on Duty and Other Stories. Magadla died in August 2011.