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Type AMNESTY HEARINGS
Starting Date 27 May 1999
Names THEMBINKOSI NGUBENI, TREVOR MASILO, EDWIN SIMELANE
Case Number AM3369/96; AM3736/96; AM3938/96
Matter CLEVELAND HI-JACKING
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CHAIRPERSON: For the record, today is Thursday the 27th May 1999. This is a sitting of the Amnesty Committee in Bloemfontein. Panel is myself, Denzil Potgieter, together with Adv Gcabashe and Mr Malan.
We are hearing the matters this morning, amnesty applications of Thembinkosi Ngubeni, amnesty no AM3369/96, Trevor Masilo, amnesty reference AM3736/96, and Edwin Simelane, amnesty reference AM3738/96. Mr Mbandazayo, do you want to put yourself on record?
EXAMINATION BY MR MBANDAZAYO: Thank you, Chairperson. Mr Ngubeni, the affidavit which is in front of you is also before the honourable Committee members. Do you confirm that this affidavit was made by yourself and you abide by its contents?
"I, the undersigned, Thembinkosi Ngubeni, do hereby make an oath and state that I am the applicant in the undermentioned incidents, having submitted my application on the 11th April 1997, whilst being held at Leeukop ...(indistinct) Prison, Johannesburg. The texts to which I depose are true and correct and within my personal knowledge, unless the contents indicate otherwise.
I was born on the 30th September 1964 at Katlehong at 216 Twala Section, Gauteng, and I grew up in Gauteng. We were six children in home and I am the second-born child. My father was a labourer at a factory and he is presently on old age pension and my mother was a housewife. I did my primary education at Tulise Lower Primary up to Std 2 and I moved to Ndogozo Higher Primary where I did Stds 3, 4 and 5. I did Stds 6 to 8 at Imzama Secondary School at Newcastle. I did Std 9 at Fumana High School in 1981. Then it is where I left school due to financial problem.
I joined PAC through Azanla in 1987. I joined the task force of Apla in 1989 under the command of Apla Commander Bongani Moyo. In waging the armed struggle Apla had set up task forces which consisted of internally trained cadres. I was also one of those cadres belonging to a task force.
My general instruction as a task force member was to assist when called upon to execute certain orders, which would be geared towards advancing the armed struggle, directly or indirectly. Further I was to obey the instructions of the commander and co-operate with the commander. It was in this context that I became part of a unit that attacked and repossessed money from the Cash in Transit vehicles near Cleveland, Gauteng.
On Wednesday, two weeks before the incident, I was called by Bongani Moyo and he told me that he wanted me to come to his place the following day in the morning. On arrival on Thursday morning, he told me that he wants us to do reconnaissance of the Cash in Transit that day. He told me that he has already did the reconnaissance on his own. We did the reconnaissance on that Thursday and Friday and again on the following Thursday and Friday.
On Thursday night, the 19th September 1991, the other members of the task force were called by the commander, Bongani Moyo. The other members were Trevor Masilo, Edwin Tosamilo Simelane, Freddie Makwe and Clive Majola. The commander, Bongani Moyo, briefed the members of the unit about the operation to go and attack and on the 20th September 1991 and ...(indistinct).
He told us that the purpose of this was to assist in getting money by whatever means for purposes of securing arms and ammunition and also for purposes of facilitating the mobility and survival of Apla cadres. To utilise portion of whatever money we would have procured by whatever means for our own unit in ...(indistinct) the armed struggle. He further told us we should obey his instruction as a commander and co-operate. He gave each of us a 9 mm pistol with one magazine in each pistol. Bongani had a AK47 rifle.
On the 20th September 1991, we woke up early in the morning and we used a Nissan bakkie which was brought by the commander. I was driving the vehicle. Trevor and Bongani were also in the front and the other three were at the back of the bakkie. We drove to a certain plant in Johannesburg and we followed the Cash in Transit vehicle as it was coming out of the plant up to next to Cleveland.
When the Cash in Transit vehicle stopped at a T-junction Bongani and three other members who were at the back of our bakkie alighted and I was left in the bakkie with Trevor. Bongani approached the bakkie from the passenger's side and he was being followed by the other three members. I do not know what happened when he approached the passenger side as he was out of sight, but I heard a gun shot and I saw the driver coming out of the vehicle, running and stumbling and he was also bleeding.
Comrade Edwin drove the Cash in Transit vehicle and the passenger, who was dead, was inside. And we went to a dump site in Vosloorus where we dumped the Cash in Transit vehicle and the dead passenger.
We took the money and we went to a house in Extension 10 in Vosloorus, where we counted the money and we left the money with Bongani. Bongani told us what happened when he approached the vehicle that the passenger drew a pistol and he shot him and the bullet went through him and hit the driver who also later died.
Whilst being held at Leeukop ...(indistinct) Prison, one of the members of Apla came to see me in prison and we discussed the possibility of escaping to be able to continue with the struggle. This Apla cadre was known to me as Mrapapa. I told him to arrange a firearm for me and in the meantime I will arrange other prisoners to be part of this plan to escape. Mrapapa subsequently brought the firearm and also arranged a transport in case I do not manage to get a vehicle inside the prison.
On the 28th July 1993, I managed to escape and took the prison vehicle and drove away with it. But we met police on the way and there was a shoot-out and I was shot in the process and subsequently arrested and was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for attempted escape, theft and possession of arms and ammunition.
I humbly beseech the Amnesty Committee to grant me amnesty as the offences for which I have been convicted, as fully stated herein above, were politically motivated and committed in pursuance of the objective of PAC. The grounds for which I was convicted were motivated by my political beliefs and were not for self-gain. At the time of the commission of the above stated offences the military wing of PAC, namely Apla, was still engaged in armed struggle against the then regime.
"On Wednesday, two weeks before the incident I was called by Bongani Moyo and he told me he wanted to see me in his place. On arrival on Thursday morning, he told me that he wanted us to do a Cash in Transit vehicle and he told me that he has already made the reconnaissance on his own."
MR NGUBENI: As I have explained that they would take the money, or fetch it from different banks. One of the banks that I can still remember was the Standard Bank. You had different banks from which this money was taken.
ADV GCABASHE: Can you be a little more specific. Was this during an Apla operation, was this during what activity? Were they sitting at home when they were shot? I don't know if you can help us at all.
MR NGUBENI: After we had carried out the operation, we were then wanted and I think after it was discovered we were involved in the operation, Bongani was then shot by the police the same manner as I explained and when they found him they did not arrest him, they just shot him and he died on the spot.
MR NGUBENI: Makwe also suffered or died the same way. He was shot by the police after he had just been arrested. When the police came, they just shot him and he too died on the spot. And the police later explained that he was trying to run away.
MR NGUBENI: I was arrested near Spruitview in Leondale. There is a certain gentleman that I went to visit the day. I spent the night at his place, I was arrested the following day in the morning, around the morning. I don't know how the police came to know that I was there, but the police came and arrested me at his place.
MR MBANDAZAYO: Can I proceed, Chairperson, if there are no questions? Chairperson, if there is nothing, I will proceed to paragraph 10. Mr Ngubeni, in paragraph 10, you are telling the Committee about the incident. How you went there and you followed this bakkie up until you took the money. The people were shot. Can you give the Committee a picture of what happened on that day in question as all of us were not there. Just give us a brief picture how this thing happened.
MR NGUBENI: We were working as a unit ...(indistinct) with other fellow comrades. We received a directive from Bongani our commander to the effect that we had to meet on that day. Indeed, we met at a certain house at Mailula Park. That is where we discussed so that umAfrika Bongani explained to us. At the time I already knew what was happening as a person who was always in his company during the reconnaissance reconnoitring the area. And these others did not know yet as to what was going to happen. They only got to know what was going to happen on that day of our meeting. And they were informed and we all slept in one place that evening.
And the following morning we then left as planned and we went to the place that Bongani and I have been reconnoitring. There were six of us including the deceased, Bongani. We went to the place where this vehicle will drop off the money and we waited for the vehicle and it came out as usual, because it usually went out on Fridays to deliver the money at different places.
We followed the money, or the vehicle as planned and when the vehicle came to a T-junction at robots, that is where these comrades got off the vehicle and I remained with Trevor Masilo in the vehicle. And the other four got off. We were using a bakkie. And the car that we had been following was in front of us. They got out of our vehicle and approached the vehicle in front of us, approaching it from the left-hand side. And Bongani was leading them, having an AK47 in his possession. And when they arrived at the van ultimately, I don't know what happened, I only heard gun shots. And I saw this one white man getting off the vehicle, running away and stumbling and falling as he was running away.
We went to the dumping site where we dropped the vehicle of the people that we had robbed and we took the trunks full of money and put them in the vehicle that we were using. We then went to Extension 10 where we counted the money, after which we handed it over to Comrade Bongani.
MR MBANDAZAYO: The other point I would like to explain to the Committee regarding the incident at this T-junction. Was it part of your plan that these people who were driving this Cash in Transit vehicle were to be shot dead?
MR NGUBENI: It was not our plan. It was not part of our planning, but Bongani made it clear to us that if they resisted or attempted to fight, we would have to fight and we would have to shoot them. But the intention was to grab the money.
MR MALAN: Sorry, I understood that question to be whether the T-junction was the place targeted to execute the robbery. Is that not the question? Mr Mbandazayo, you've asked the T-junction, whether that was part of the plan. Was the question not whether - oh, let me put the question then. Was the T-junction earlier identified as the place where the robbery would be executed?
MR MBANDAZAYO: True, Chairperson, my question was whether in doing so, in going there to take this money from this Cash in Transit, was it part of their plan that they would kill the occupants, the people who were transporting the money. Chairperson, I would like to proceed, if there is nothing else, to the next point, which is the escape from prison. Mr Ngubeni, can you also take the Committee through everybody here, give us picture what happened about the escape as a whole.
MR NGUBENI: After my arrest, my heart was very broken, because I was arrested before I could carry out all the operations of my organisation. It had been my intention to continue with the struggle and after I was arrested, I tried to contact other comrades outside prison, so as to get their opinions as to what should happen now that this has happened.
I contacted Comrade Mrapapa who came to visit me and after we had discussed we exchanged views that should there be an opportunity for me to escape, that would be acceptable, that's not a problem. We discussed and I requested him to try and procure a firearm for me to ease my escape. Indeed, he did organise a firearm for me so that I finally got an opportunity to escape.
MR NGUBENI: Mrapapa brought the firearm along and gave it, or slipped it into the prison during his visit and once the firearm was in my possession I organised other people with whom I had been arrested so that we could assist one another. We got an opportunity, you see, the plan was that we were going to use a prison vehicle, but failing to do this, would mean that another vehicle would have to be secured and this would have to be organised from outside, because there was no certainty as to whether we would be in position to get the prison vehicle. Fortunately, we did get this vehicle from the prison and unfortunately we were arrested before we reached our destination.
ADV STEENKAMP: Did you use any of the money that you got in the armed robbery for yourself? Did you spend any of the money on yourself or on any other perpetrators of this action? Do you know any, do you have any information in this regard?
ADV STEENKAMP: The second vehicle you used, according to your statement, you took from the, it was a prison vehicle. Are you also applying for, at least, for the theft or being in possession of a stolen vehicle for amnesty?
ADV STEENKAMP: Can you give us an indication exactly where did you, according to your statement, you got rid of or dumped this Cash in Transit vehicle and the dead passenger? Where, more or less, or where was this body dumped?
MR NGUBENI: The vehicle was dumped near the township of Vosloorus. There is an open veld where we dumped this vehicle and we were in the company of one of the deceased. One of them fled, one of the occupants of this vehicle fled, but one of them remained behind and he was left at the open veld where this vehicle was dumped.
MR NGUBENI: The organisation knew that we were being sought. But I do not understand what you mean, or in which context you're referring to the organisation, because the one person from whom we used to receive orders was Bongani.
CHAIRPERSON: Now when you learned or you found out that Bongani had disappeared, did you make any other, did you make any attempts to contact Apla in any other way? For further instructions as to what you and the unit should now be doing?
MR NGUBENI: As I have explained, we were not in the position to communicate with Apla. We were operating as a task force so the one person who gave us directives was Bongani. So it is just as I have explained that we received directives only from Bongani as to how we were supposed to operate.
CHAIRPERSON: After the robbery, did Bongani discuss the subsequent actions with you, with the members? Did he say what you are going to do now and what you would do if the police start looking for you?
MR NGUBENI: I would not say that there were plans or such plans in place, but I would say that there were no plans as to how we were going to meet after the mission was carried out, because we had not planned as to where we were going to meet, for example. It would have been difficult to meet at our usual rendezvous.
MR NGUBENI: There is no one that we contacted or with whom we communicated. We heard that Bongani had his brothers who was a member of Apla too. We would contact him and ask him as to Bongani's whereabouts, but we were not able to trace him.
CHAIRPERSON: And, and what about these other comrades that you contacted when you were in prison in order to discuss what should happen next? Mrapapa and the other comrades. Did you, did you not make any contact with any of them?
MR NGUBENI: Let me put it this way. In most instances, cadres do not have a stable place where one would say one would be able contact them. They stayed in different places and I too had left the township where I resided, so that it was difficult for me to contact a particular person and find him always. That made it difficult for me, if not us, to communicate with other comrades.
MR NGUBENI: I am saying I sent my girlfriend to one place where I used to meet Mrapapa and she went there several times to no avail. And it so happened that they met. I am not in the position, though, as to where they met, or whether they met at the same place I had sent her or not. I don't know. But they knew each other.
ADV GCABASHE: Between 1987 and 1991, what activities were you involved in as an Apla member? And this is a broad question. Tell me about your political education, tell me about your military education or military training and then tell me about specific operations that you were involved in.
MR NGUBENI: After I had observed the inequalities in South Africa, it became my intention to join any organisation which I thought would help that we should be free as blacks, because we were oppressed. I had an intention to meet with someone. I went and I met with Mike Makagula whom I knew was active in the PAC in the township. I told him my intentions. He took me to a house in Vosloorus where I met with Bongani for the first time.
MR NGUBENI: It was in 1987. We discussed, and I told them my wishes. See, my wishes were to go outside the country. Comrade Bongani then explained to me that it doesn't mean that if you did not leave the country, you would not have contributed in the struggle and he said that one can contribute to the organisation whilst inside the country. It has always been my intention that we, the oppressed, should be freed and they told me about all of these things. And Bongani told me that he wanted to know more about me because he did not know me, and indicated that he would not trust me on the first day. He did not know what kind of a person I am.
I understood that, accepted it and I joined the organisation in 1987, but I was not involved militarily. I was an ordinary member active in the mass struggle, attending meetings, attending funerals and rallies. Till 1989, where I met with Bongani again and he asked me to whether I was still committed to the discussion that we had and I indicated that I still was committed.
After the discussion he indicated how grateful he was because he was going to need me during those, or around those days. And he made it clear to me as he explained earlier on that my skipping the country would not be of help to me, as there were financial problems. There were many problems so that it would be difficult for some of these comrades when they had to come back, and indicated that it was necessary that I undergo training inside the country and he was going to train me in the usual firearms. Indeed, that was so. He trained me. And I underwent a crash course in the use of an AK47 and pistols and many other firearms. ...(intervention)
ADV GCABASHE: Were you part of a unit at that point? This is 1989 and I know that you were part of a task force. But were there other members who you knew at this point, even though you may have been training alone?
MR NGUBENI: At the time of the training, the unit had not yet been formed. He trained me first, after which I got to know these other Africans whom he introduced to me and that is when he explained to me that we were going to operate as a unit.
MR NGUBENI: Our area of residence was marred by violence. People were dying almost on a daily basis. Fighting was going on. It started off as something that seemed like a taxi violence, but later on it seemed as if it was an Inkatha/ANC fight. And it later on took another dimension that presented itself as a fight between AmaXhosa and AmaZulu.
But the comrade made it clear to me this violence is political, and that we had to work as a unit to try and protect the community. Because these people were coming to houses, shooting people in their sleep, children, old people and take whatever they could take. So what we did as a unit, we used to patrol in the township to protect the community against these people who were attacking the community. That is what we used to do after my training as a member of the task force. That is what we did as an operation most of the time until 1991 when we ...(indistinct) this operation.
ADV GCABASHE: Can I just then ask, in respect of the protection duties you did in the community. Did you join the self-defence units of the ANC or did you operate your own type of protection separately to those of, in fact, either the SDUs, which were the ANC's or the SPUs which was the Inkatha section of the same type of thing. Just explain where you fitted in as Apla?
MR NGUBENI: I got political training after 1987, that is after I had become a member of the PAC. This was discussed or politics was discussed in the meetings that I frequented and this went on up to such time that I became involved militarily, that is in 1989 up to my arrest.
MR NGUBENI: I would not say they were specific political classes per se, but we were discussing politics because there would be documents that we would read, basic documents and we had to know about the policies of the organisation and the needs, etc.
MR NGUBENI: There were other people who were leading us in these discussions, for example, there were chairpersons, secretaries, deputies. These are the people who were present in those meetings at a political level.
ADV GCABASHE: Now, with regard the incident itself. Can I just go one back. You met the Thursday night with the other members of the task force and there Bongani briefed all of you. I know that you had the information already, but he briefed the group about what was going to happen the following day. Yes?
MR NGUBENI: Yes, he allocated roles to each one of us, for example, I knew that my role would have, would be to drive. Wutosi, that is Edwin Simelane, his role would be to drive the vehicle that we would bring back and the others would have to provide security by making sure that they engage in a fight where necessary.
MR NGUBENI: Yes, it was indicated as to how the money was going to be used. The purchase of firearms because we had a shortage thereof and we are not the only ones who had a shortage of these. The cadres who were outside the country, for example, also had this same problem, food, ammunition, etc.
ADV GCABASHE: Now, just, I'm not sure if I've got my dates right, but I know that at some stage, and I would have thought that it was December '92, January '93, Apla decided to cease, to halt the armed struggle. Mr Mbandazayo, you'll tell me if I've got my dates wrong. And word was sent out to all the units that the armed struggle as waged by Apla was to cease.
ADV GCABASHE: Was it '93 to '94. Okay, then my question then doesn't apply. Thank you. I was just not sure what my dates there. No, then that question doesn't apply to your circumstances. But a different question relates to your contact with other Apla members outside of the task force group. You are saying that there was nobody else except uMarapapa who you knew could be contacted about what was going on within your organisation.
MR NGUBENI: My understanding of temporary jobs is that you are employed, or should I say, you are told on being hired that this is a temporary job and in some cases you are just employed without being told that the job is temporary, but later on, only to be retrenched.
MR NGUBENI: Yes, it sometimes happened that he would bring some food along, because sometimes we would work the whole night. And yes, he would sometimes bring some food and we would also get donations from businessmen in the township because we were looking after the community.
MR MALAN: You see, why I'm asking this, is in most of the other applications, we've had evidence from PAC units, task force members that part of what they repossessed was for their survival and living conditions and the keeping going of the unit. But here it seems nothing ever was paid or contributed to the expenses of the members of the unit. Is that your, is that how we are to understand you?
MR NGUBENI: I had decided that I would look for him when the time comes, but I did not leave a specific message to say where Bongani will find me in case he wanted me. I had planned that I would look for him and find him. You see, I was scared so that if the police happened to come home, they would be told where I was and this would lead to my arrest.
MR NGUBENI: A girl, I think it could have been Trevor Masilo's sister, came to my parents' place and told me that the police had come looking for Trevor Masilo and they seemed very angry. And I then got to know that possibly they now know about the operation that we did. Then I fled.
MR MALAN: How did you meet at a meeting point without some communication? I mean, surely you must have messages, either from you to his place, or from him to your place in order for you to meet? My question is, you did not try to make contact with Bongani in order to take instructions when you learnt the police were looking for you.
MR NGUBENI: I have explained that I got to know him in 1987 when I was introduced to him and he, I met him again in 1989 when I underwent training. And we also met at the time of the operation and right up to the time when we lost contact after the operation.
MR NGUBENI: Yes, that is correct. I would say from 1987 right up to 1989 I did not see him. I saw him last when I was introduced to him and he disappeared. I don't know where he went to, right up until he came back in 1989.
MR NGUBENI: I would see him often times, because I have explained that we used to work together as a unit, especially after 1990. That's when we were working together as a unit protecting the community.
MR NGUBENI: We used to patrol in, or at night. But it sometimes happened that the situation would be so tense such that we would be required to patrol during the day. Because the fighting would take place during the day as well. That would depend on the circumstances and we would get the directives from him as to whether we are patrolling in the day or not.
MR MALAN: Did this, these patrols, were they taking place daily? Or then nightly, every day or every night? Or did he simply call on you once a month, once in two months, once in six months? How often did you patrol the streets?
MR NGUBENI: I would say as I have explained, there was violence in our township so this was something that we did frequently. And we also continued doing this, even on the day of our operation, we were still doing this.
MR MALAN: That, that we understand quite clearly. The question is why did you not keep on, if I understand you correctly, you were patrolling the townships nightly, every night up to the time of the incident of the operation. But then you stopped. Why did you not patrol the township the next night, that Friday night, and the Saturday night, and the Sunday night?
MR NGUBENI: I thought you are saying why we did not patrol on Thursday. Bongani, I should say, made it clear that he was going to leave for those days and he was going to see us after a week. We continued as a group to do the patrols after the operation but he was not present.
MR NGUBENI: It was something that had been discussed earlier that after the, this operation he was going to leave and that I, as his deputy, would have to continue with the other comrades to patrol the streets.
MR NGUBENI: After hearing that we were being sought by the police, I tried to contact other comrades to find out from them as to whether they had heard that we are being sought. But unfortunately, I was not able to contact them. I don't know whether they had already received that information because I was not able to contact them.
MR NGUBENI: Yes, we were supposed to continue with the patrol, but now that we were being sought by the police, or should I say, we heard about our being sought by the police before the patrol itself. I think it could have been round nine, ten in the morning.
EXAMINATION BY MR MBANDAZAYO: Thank you, Chairperson. Mr Masilo, the affidavit which is before is also before the honourable Committee. Do you confirm that this affidavit was made by yourself and you abide by its contents?
"I, the undersigned, Trevor Masilo, do hereby make an oath and state that I am the applicant herein, having submitted my application whilst being held at Leeukop ...(indistinct) Prison, Gauteng. The facts to which I depose are true and correct and within my personal knowledge, unless the contents indicate otherwise.
I was born on the 20th November 1970 at Vosloorus. I am the last born of six children. My parents divorced while I was still young and I was brought up by my mother. My mother first worked at ...(indistinct) Hotel and worked at Boksburg Old Age Home until she was pensioned.
I joined PAC though Azanla in 1990. I joined the task force of Apla in 1991 under the command of Apla Commander Bongani Moyo. In waging the armed struggle, Apla had set up task forces which consisted of internally trained cadres. I was also one of those cadres belonging to task force.
My general instruction as a task force member was to assist when called upon to execute certain orders which could be geared towards advancing the armed struggle, directly or indirectly. It was in this context that I became part of the unit that attacked and repossessed the Cash in Transit vehicle near Cleveland.
I am presently serving 28 years for armed robbery, two murders and possession of arms and ammunition. I respectfully submit that my application complies with the requirements of the Act and that I have made full and proper disclosure of my involvement in this operation. Signed by the applicant."
ADV GCABASHE: Yes. Yes, thank you. Again, Mr Masilo, just tell us a bit about your political training, political education, military training and your activities as a member of the task force before September of '91.
MR MASILO: I joined the PAC in 1990, that was after the conflict between the Inkatha and the communities. Because the Inkatha people were attacking members of the community, because I stayed near the hostel then. We were being attacked during the day and night. There were white people working together with the Inkatha people. They were assisting them with the Hippos transporting them into the township.
Because we were under the oppression led by the white people, so I realised that sitting there knowing that African people are being oppressed. Then I decided to go and see Thebu and then we met Bongani Moyo through Thebu. And then Mutsapa said to me on that day he will see me after some days. Thereafter ...(intervention)
MR MASILO: Then he came to me after three days, three to four days, I don't remember where and then he asked me whether I know how to use a gun. I said to him the only gun that I am able use is the small gun, that is the 9 mm, and I know how it works. Then he asked me whether I know how to use AK47. Then I said to him no I have never used AK47. Then he said to me he'll come and fetch me anytime.
Then he said he'll come to me after some days because he want to ask me some questions. He came to me after two days with Thebu. It was around 9 o'clock in the evening. I stayed on the last street and from there it was an open place. They took me to that open place and then when we arrived there, Bongani took out a 9 mm and then he asked me to use it. He wanted to see whether I can use it. Then I took that 9 mm and then I shot with it. He then said to me he could see that I can use 9 mm and then he took out AK47 and he showed me how it was used.
He shot with that AK47 and then he gave it to me, and asked me to operate it the way he showed me. Because I had already seen how it is operated, I managed to use it that day. And then he said to me I am brave if I am able to use a gun like that one.
And then he said to me he'll to me and explain to me the reasons why the Africans were fighting and why the Inkatha people are coming to the township to attack people. So they took me home and they left.
MR MASILO: It was not just an ordinary meeting. That day he arrived at home and I was not there and then he told my mother that when I come I shouldn't leave because he will come back at seven to see me. So when I arrived at home at around 5 o'clock I got that message. Then I remained at home until he came around seven to eight and then we left to the place of for Chipape. And then they explained to me that they want me to meet some comrades that I have to work with in patrolling in the township.
MR MASILO: I met with other comrades that day. They introduced me to Chipape in Section 10 in Vosloorus. There was another house again in Natalspruit belonging to Chipape and then while we were there another comrade arrived and he took us to Natalspruit and then I met Simelane, Thembi Ngubeni and Clive Majola at that house.
MR MASILO: He told us that we should go and patrol because they've got information that the Inkatha people were intending to come and attack people in Tokoza. And then he said we should be near the hostel so that when he, when they move from the hostel into the township, we should be able to block them. We went there that day, but nothing happened. We patrolled until the early hours of the morning. In the morning before we went to our places, he told us that we should meet again that evening at the same house of Chipape, because that was our meeting place.
MR MASILO: He explained to me, he told me that my task will be to escort Thembi, because he was driving the car that we were travelling in. I will be the escort so that when people like police come, I should be able to lead the way through.
MR MASILO: I was unable to see because that was a two way round. That Fidelity Guard vehicle was on the left hand side, we were on the right hand side. We just parked behind them. They came out to our car. Matsapa was in the front and the others were following behind, that is, Simelane, because he was supposed to drive this car used by the Fidelity Guards after the operation. Then I heard the gun shots and then I saw the driver coming out bleeding. He fell on the ground and then he ran passing our car and Simelane came and then I escorted them till we arrived at the dumping place in Natalspruit.
MR MASILO: We discussed about the issue regarding us being hunted by the police and the question of me not staying at home and then we discussed the issue of me leaving the country because I was hunted by the police. He said to me while he's still trying to organise for me a base where I can stay, I should remain where I am. Then he'll try to contact another person in Vosloorus, that is Bapeti, and then Bapeti will contact my sister, and then my sister knew where I was.
MR MASILO: He asked me about them. Then I said to him since we have been hunted by the police the last time I saw them was when we went out to patrol that ...(indistinct). Because when I arrived at home that morning I was told that I'd been hunted by the police. At home, I asked my sister to go to Mr Ngubeni and tell Mr Ngubeni that the people, the police were looking for me for murder and robbery and Mr Ngubeni should try to contact other comrades.
MR MASILO: Like I have already explained he said to me he would try to organise for me to leave the country and then he'll contact Bapiki and then Bapiki will contact my sister and my sister was the only person who knew where I was.
MR MASILO: Well, I'm not sure whether he was accountable to Bongani, because the reason that led to me meeting Bapiki was through Bongani. I met him through Bongani. How they met each other, I don't know.
MR MASILO: I never had previous convictions. It was well known in those days that there were people known as mpimpis, informers. It might happen that somebody saw me when this took place. That is what I think.
MR MASILO: I never gave them the names. When I was arrested and taken by the Brixton police, when they arrested me in Heidelberg, they had their names and they asked me where they are. And they wanted to know from me whether I know them. They told me that I was with them at that operation and they wanted the money and guns.
MR MASILO: The day I met Bongani, I told him that the police are after me concerning that operation. I told him that they arrived at home and they found my mother and sister and they told them that we have killed white people and they said they are going to kill me. So I asked him to help me to leave the country. He said to me I should try to stay at that base where I am and then he will try to contact Bapiki and then he will send Bapiki to my sister who knew where I was.
MR MASILO: He was charged, but he gave them wrong names and wrong addresses, because most of this white people were concentrating on me. Because when they arrived at home, they took my ID and after taking my fingerprints they found out that I'm being looked for that operation. And then Bapiki told them that I'm the person who knew where the guns going to be collected and I'm the person who went to fetch him at his home, and then he was given bail. And I don't understand why he was given that bail. So, while I was still attending the court, when they went that address they could not trace him and that case was dismissed against him.
CHAIRPERSON: After you were arrested at the roadblock, which police were dealing with the matter? Was it the Security Police, or which police was it? Before they found out that you were being looked for, they were looking for you in connection with this robbery?
MR MASILO: I was arrested in Heidelberg and I was charged in Heidelberg by the Murder and Robbery in that area. And then they came the following day to book me out and I was sent to Brixton in Johannesburg.
MR MASILO: Like I have explained, that from Johannesburg I was with Bapiki to Transkei but when we arrived in Transkei, when we arrived in Idutywa, we met the person we were supposed to meet and then he told us there are other fellow comrades who were supposed to come to Johannesburg. So we travelled with them back. So they were also arrested, but after their arrest they gave out wrong addresses. But I managed to take them out of this case, because they didn't know anything about this arms and ammunitions.
EXAMINATION BY MR MBANDAZAYO: Thank you, Chairperson. Mr Simelane, do you, the affidavit which is in front of you is before the committee. Do you confirm that this affidavit was made by yourself and that you abide by its contents?
MR SIMELANE: The role that I played was that of driver. I was driving the security vehicle as Bongani had indicated that my role would be to drive the security van and Comrade Thembi Ngubeni would drive the vehicle that we had been using. We indeed left on that morning of September 1991. We had spent the night together. We woke up and we went to the place where this vehicle would be coming from and we stopped this vehicle, or should I say, we met this vehicle and followed it right up to the T-junction. Myself and Comrade Clive and Freddie were sitting at the back. Comrade Bongani and Comrade Trevor Masilo were sitting in front. Indeed, we went to the place, we saw this Fidelity Guard van coming out and it came to a halt at the robots, at the red robots. This Fidelity Guard van was in front of us on the left hand side. You see we were travelling on a two-way traffic street approaching a T-junction and this vehicle was supposed to make a left-hand turn and we were travelling on the right hand side. And we got off, I think there could have been three to four vehicles that were dividing us, the vehicle with money and ours. What I was supposed to do there was that I was supposed to drive that vehicle. I must indicate that it was not our intention to go and kill. Our intention was to get some money that would help the organisation.
And I don't know what happened when we got there, I don't know what happened to the security guards because I just heard a gun shot and when I came closer to the vehicle the driver was leaving the vehicle, running away, crossing the street. That is when I took the driver's seat, closed the door and the comrades got inside the van and we drove away.
We went to a place between Spruitview and Vosloorus where there is a dumping site and when we got to the dumping site, we removed the containers with money and we put these in the vehicle that was being driven by Thembi Ngubeni. And we removed these trunks, transferred to another van. And Comrade Freddie removed these trunks, transferred them to our van and the van was wiped and we left to a place where we offloaded these trunks, counted the money and we counted it to R150 000 and we handed this to Comrade Bongani. That's the role that I played.
MR SIMELANE: I don't know how I was arrested, but yes, I was arrested. I cannot even say how they knew where I was hiding. The operation was in September, but I was arrested in January 1992. I was arrested in Newcastle at my sister's place.
ADV GCABASHE: Yes, thank you, Chair. Mr Simelane, there's one thing I missed. You said after the driver of the Fidelity Guard van came out of the car, he was bleeding. You then took over the driving and the comrades got into the van. Which van?
MR SIMELANE: No, I would not say exactly that he was dead, because I had not seen that he had been shot. I thought he had been kept hostage or he is still under shock. I only said to my comrades that they should sit in such a way that he too can be able to sit well. And that's when he fell over.
MR SIMELANE: No, he did not. No, he did not. He did not tell us what amount of money he was expecting from the operation. We only made out how much we had when we counted the money to R150 000. And when we went there we did not even know how much to expect.
MR SIMELANE: I would not say it is adjacent to Vosloorus. It is actually between Spruitview and Vosloorus. So I would not say whether it is adjacent to Spruitview, but it was between these two places.
MR SIMELANE: We were not, I was not necessarily involved in Apla operations, but task force operations such as defending the community as a task force. They were not necessarily Apla operations. Our commander, yes, was a member of Apla, that is the late Comrade Bongani. We don't know as to from what level of Apla, echelons received his instructions, but we were basically defending the community. For example, I as a taxi driver at the time, you see, we were often under attack from the hostel people and the taxis, these were shocking things.
MR SIMELANE: Anything was possible, yes. There was such an intention but then I was committed to following any instruction in the organisation, whether I was being sent overseas or Tanzania, yes I would do that, because I had committed myself to the organisation.
MR MALAN: Yes, let me, let me try and explain. I understand that you all took your position on the seat which seems to me if you talk front seat, the only seat in the security vehicle, or did it have more seats?
MR MALAN: You failed to ask your fellow applicants because I was under the impression all along that it was all along the Fidelity Guards company. And may also have been the impression we had at the TRC and why we did not manage to make contact with this specific firm and the victims. Can you, is it possible to consult with them and see if you can come up with the specific name in order to assist us in tracing the victims at least?
MR MBANDAZAYO: Chairperson, I'll do my best, but when I was consulting, that's why you put Cash in Transit. I couldn't get the name, that was the problem. I would have put the name. The problem was that they couldn't remember the name. So we just write it was a cash, it was a security company, just Cash in Transit, that's why we put that in affidavit.
MR MALAN: And your evidence was that you think you stopped at the T-junction about four or five cars behind the security vehicle. Did I understand you correctly, that there were three or four cars between yourself and the security vehicle?
MR SIMELANE: Yes, Chairperson, I would try to explain and my co-applicants did indicate as well. This security guard van was in front and there was no other vehicle in front of it. We were behind it being separated by several vehicles, about three, four or five, or should I say, two or three. We were behind on the right lane and this security vehicle was on the left and it was stationary at the robots.
MR SIMELANE: I would not say exactly what the reason was. What was important was that we had to tail this vehicle. I think the person who was supposed to answer that question was the person who was driving this 1400 bakkie. I was sitting at the back.
MR MALAN: Was there any reaction from the drivers of any of the other vehicles or passengers? In those four or five cars or more, because it may be a double row now as I understand it? Did any of them respond or follow the vehicle when you drove away?
MR SIMELANE: I don't know what they did really. We were not necessarily concerned about them. We were concentrating on this van. Yes, we had other comrades who were charged with the responsibility of monitoring the situation so we were concentrating on this van.
MR SIMELANE: I would not say, Chairperson, because there were many vehicles that were driving behind us, so I cannot say whether they were following us, or whether they were taking their own direction or just moving, because if they were following us, they would have followed us to the dumping site. I think they were just moving to wherever.
MR MBANDAZAYO: Chairperson, I think that will ...(indistinct). I was intending to call a witness, but unfortunately the witness was supposed to be here at eleven and during teatime I phoned, he was, he missed a flight from Joburg. He is a member of the ANC or PAC. He was going to come and testify. Now the next flight is at half-past one, Chairperson.
MR MBANDAZAYO: Yes, Chairperson, he is at the airport, but I said maybe I'll indicate whether I will still need him. He was going in fact to testify especially on the Bongani Moyo and Mrapapa. I don't know what's the feeling of the Committee?
MR MBANDAZAYO: Chairperson, we can get it, let's just see the affidavit, Chairperson, to confirm it, just to confirm the Bongani Moyo and Mrapapa. Chairperson, if you still remember, if the Committee, if I may just, he is the same Mr Khumalo who testified in Kibler Park last year when we heard the hearing. The same name crop up Mrapapa, this other Apla commander and he came and testify about it. He knew him, he was the one who was sent to Military Hospital in Zimbabwe after he was shot.
MR MBANDAZAYO: So he was going to the same evidence, he was going to lead the same evidence that he know him. He was a member of Apla and also especial Ngubeni because they are almost from the same area, Mr Ngubeni the first applicant. He knew him very well. That he was a member of the party and that he was a member of the task force.
MR MBANDAZAYO: Yes, Chairperson. He was going to confirm the person of Bongani, because he also attended his funeral. It is only Mrapapa who he did not manage, if you still remember. He said that he was buried when the coffin of Sabelo Pama was arriving in South Africa. So they have to attend to the coffin of Sabelo. Some went to the funeral of these, this guy.
MR MBANDAZAYO: I can obtain affidavit looking at the time, Chairperson, definitely that's the only problem, that we can wait. Because he will arrive at half-past two if he's going to get a flight at half-past one.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Let me just hear from Mr Steenkamp, if it's not in dispute then, it might be unnecessary trouble. Mr Steenkamp, what is the position? You've heard what the, what Mr Mbandazayo has indicated what this witness apparently would be testifying about, in fact, I could perhaps indicate that I presided at the Kibler Park hearings, where, which Mr Mbandazayo has been referring to, where this intended witness also appeared. But, in any case, what is the position?
ADV STEENKAMP: Mr Chairman, I understand the Committee's problem. As I understand it, the information that will be brought forward will, as far as I can see, will be repetitive. As far as I remember there was also a previous affidavit by this witness which was handed to the Amnesty Committee in a previous similar hearing.
I think also there was further documents relating to Apla operations, which I cleared out with my learned colleague before we started. Because he indicated to me it might be irrelevant if those documents will be handed in at this hearing. And he indicated to me those documents are already before the Amnesty Committee, maybe not this specific Committee, but it's already before the Committee. So as far as I can understand, Mr Chairman, it will probably be repetitive, because it will definitely not deal directly with the facts as it is now before the Committee.
I can only just add, for the record purposes, Mr Chairman, I've checked the communication between the TRC and the office, I see there was further request to the different Supreme Courts and even to the Appellate Division for further documentation. I doubt whether this case was ever before the Appellate Division, but no documentation came forward. I see it was also requested about the inquest records, nothing could be done about that as well.
As I understand, these documentations were subsequently destroyed because the government instructions after five years, documents or police dockets are destroyed. Unfortunate, I understand the difficulty, unfortunate that circumstance, Mr Chairman, I'm not in a position to forward any or supplement any factual information that may be, can give some more light on this, on this specific case. I'm not aware at this moment whether or not any documentation relating to this specific incident are in the present files of this, of these applicants. If there will be a decision, it's entirely in your hands, Mr Chairman, but if there will be a decision by the Committee that my learned colleague will have an opportunity maybe to supplement, on a later stage, whenever, this specific application of sworn statements, I would, if, if in the circumstances ask for an opportunity maybe just to check out, the Correctional Service people are here, to see whether or not there are any factual information contained in the prison files.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, we obviously would like to dispose of the, at least of the, all the evidence, and you know, be in a position where we are left with having to decide the matter, once we arise from here. I assume you, you're not going to lead any evidence?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, yes. Yes, and Mr Mbandazayo, well it's, you know, you have to take the decision, it's your, it's your matter. We have heard the evidence which you are referring to at a previous occasion. We would like to reach a point where, you know, we can hear your addresses and where we can go away and decide the matter. That's really what we, what we intend. Yes, Mr Mbandazayo, just to repeat, much of what, what, as you have indicated to us, much of what this witness is likely to testify about has already been placed before the Committee in other circumstances, in other applications. So, we would certainly, you know, be happy if, if you do wish to put something before us from this witness, if it is in the form of an affidavit, we don't believe that physically bringing him to this venue here would add very much more value than an affidavit would add. But you have to decide, you know, whether you want him here, personally, or whether, you know, you would submit an affidavit or what you want to do.
MR MBANDAZAYO: Thank you, Chairperson. Chairperson, in just to be able to reach a conclusion of this matter, I think it is not necessary for me that he should be here physically. Chairperson, as I indicated that the gist of his evidence which mostly, Chairperson, is not in dispute, but we want it just to put into perspective that these people who are talking about Bongani Moyo and Mrapapa are indeed people who did exist and they were members and they were known within the PAC and Apla, Chairperson. But, Chairperson, if I may, just for the sake of conclusion, Chairperson, if I may address the Committee, maybe if the Committee won't be in a position to reach a decision now, I can do the affidavit and send it to the Committee, in addition to that, just to avoid us delaying the matter and wrap up other issues. Just to confirm this.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, well, let me tell you, if he is not going to be called, then we would certainly prefer to get the affidavit because at the very least, my intention is drawn to the fact that, for example, he would be referring to the position of Mr Ngubeni vis a vis the organisation, which, in a sense, might be something that he hasn't drawn to our attention previously. So it would assist in that regard. But, seeing that he is not going to be called personally to testify, we are going to, and Mr Steenkamp has indicated he's not going to lead any further evidence, we are going to listen to your addresses and we will call upon you to submit the affidavit of this witness to us before we then prepare our decision in the matter.
MR MBANDAZAYO IN ARGUMENT: Thank you, Chairperson and honourable members of the Committee. Chairperson, I wouldn't like to detain the Committee, but I would like just to take a few points. Specially I would like first to take the question of task force and Apla.
Chairperson, according to Apla and the submission they have made regarding task forces, I would say they were similar to the SDUs of the ANC and SPUs of the IFP. They were internally trained cadres and their task was not the same as Apla. They were only involved in security matters, protecting the members of the community, also using VIP protection of the leadership of PAC. But they were a pool from which Apla was drawing its members from. And they were used in certain instances too, in operations. But all the operations they are involved with, always led by Apla. There must be a member of Apla, because they were not actually trained members of Apla.
So, they did not have a specific programme as Apla that they are going to this and that operation. They are just called upon at certain times and called upon and performed that particular operation. And so, that is why they don't have any programme as such for them except to protect the community as I indicated and VIP protection, some of them were using VIP protection.
And as such, it's not like when people are, in actual fact, members of Apla where they can say that, "I was involved in this operation and that operation, and my main purpose was to be involved in operation." So, there is a slight difference in as much as they were trained together. But they did not have those duties and they cannot take initiative on their own, and also identify targets, because that was not their purpose. They were just roped in, within Apla structure, but their structure within Apla, which was trained to protect the community and also for VIP protection.
Now, Chairperson, moving forward to the two applicants, three applicants, Chairperson, I just want to sum their evidence as a whole. Chairperson, I would like thus, to take into account that the time difference from the date of the incident and that until today, the date of the application. There are might, there may be some instances where they don't remember actually, but it is my submission that, Chairperson, they, they attempted, they have made their best to recall as to what actually took place. And in fact, they did not even once, Chairperson, if I put it, if one person would say, they would have come here and say, look we were members of Apla and after this incident we were in constant contact with Bongani Moyo, but they never did that, though the Committee does not know that. They never hide it that we difficulties, we run for our lives and we have problems. They didn't hide that.
And, therefore, Chairperson, it is my submission that these two, these three applicants have complied with the requirements of Section 20 and sub-section 1 and sub-section 2 of the Act, that when they indeed undertook this specific operation, they were indeed acting on behalf of Apla. Which, of course, is known and is a recognised political liberation. And if that what they did was not for political gain.
Chairperson, we know, for personal gain, Chairperson. We know, Chairperson, there have been submissions about Apla regarding that they had units which, as they called it, repossession units, specifically which were dealing with this repossession of money, which was robbery, which is, in fact, a name for robbery. They were robbing these moneys for the survival of the organisation.
But, of course, before they formed it, it is to formalise it as a structure, it was done by other people, the members itself who were involved in other operations. And until it was formalised that there must be difference between an offensive and defensive, they were calling it defensive structures, because they were only dealing with that particular operation.
And as such, Chairperson, it is therefore my submission that the three applicants have, have made up their case. That what they did was politically motivated and that, and when they acted, they bona fide believed that what they were doing, was for the interests of the organisation. Because the man who was commanding them, who was at the top of them, was indeed an Apla Commander and he, I'll quote my information, was that he was also a member of the high command of Apla. And as such, Chairperson, they bona fide believed that they were acting on behalf of the organisation, and what they were doing was for the benefit of the organisation. And it was to help moving the struggle forward as far as they're concerned.
And as such, Chairperson, it is therefore my humble submission that they should be granted amnesty in respect of this incident. And also, Chairperson, I move with regard to Ngubeni's escape from prison, Chairperson. Chairperson, if I may use Mr Wynand Malan once was involved in that hearing, with that hearing in Bloemfontein, and I still remember my learned friend was, Mr Steenkamp was ...(indistinct) and some of the applicants attacked police who were trying arrest them. And they were moving weapons from one area in, where Judge Wilson said "are you trying to say that somebody, a member of the liberation movement, who was trying to avoid being arrested, would you say that he was not ...(indistinct) (gap on tapes).
Chairperson, I would like to advance the same argument with regard to his escape that his escape was politically motivated because he believed that his presence in jail would not take the struggle forward. If he had means to get out of jail he must, and he tried his best, but unfortunately, he couldn't.
And as such, Chairperson, it is my argument that also his attempt to escape from prison was politically motivated, and that he did that in the bona fide belief that if he managed to get out of jail, he will be able to pursue the struggle forward.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes. We will have to take time to consider this matter in order to come to a decision. As we have indicated, Mr Mbandazayo, we would require the affidavit of, is it, just give me the full names of the ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, we would require the affidavit of Mr Jabulani Khumalo. We would like to put a time limit on this, as you would appreciate, you know, all of us are in, into an impossible schedule of work, and the longer we are kept away from analysing matters and writing decisions, the worse it gets for us. So, can you give us an idea as to what, you know, how soon you could, could arrange this for us?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, yes, we appreciate that, Mr Mbandazayo. So we will reserve the decision in this matter. The applicants' legal representative will furnish the Panel with the affidavit of Mr Jabulani Khumalo on or before the 11th, Friday the 11th of June 1999, in order to enable us to finalise the matter.
ADV STEENKAMP: Mr Chairman, that will conclude the matters here as well as the roll for the week. If I may also take the opportunity on behalf of the victims who brought 800 kms to attend this hearing, they, on behalf of them, they would like to thank you and honourable Committee members for the way and the manner their specific matters were dealt with. Thank you, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, thank you very much, Mr Steenkamp. Yes, that concludes the hearing in Bloemfontein. From the part of the Panel we would also just like to express our thanks to everybody who has assisted us in having this hearing. There are normally a great number of people who exert themselves in order to make this kind of process possible. We would thank all of them. And the members of the public and the media, who have shown an interest in this process and, of course, to the legal representatives, Mr Mbandazayo and Adv Steenkamp, for your assistance. And from my side, for my two colleagues with me, Adv Gcabashe and Mr Malan, for their assistance in this matter. We will adjourn.