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Type AMNESTY HEARING
Starting Date 26 April 1999
Location CITY HALL, EAST LONDON
Names PILA MARTIN DOLO
Case Number AM3485/96
Matter VARIOUS FARM ATTACKS
The panel hearing the applications is chaired by myself, Denzil Potgieter, I'm assisted by Advocate Francis Bosman and Ntsiki Sandi. We will be hearing the applications today of Mr Lerato Abel Kgotlhe, amnesty reference number AM5619/97. Pila Martin Dolo, amnesty reference AM3485/96 and Lavuyo Kenneth Kuluman, amnesty reference AM1638/96.
MR MBANDAZAYO: Thank you Chairperson, what I want to place on record is what is regarding the incident especially the one at the house of Mrs Cornelia Pienaar. Chairperson, there may be a slight confusion regarding the houses. There were two houses attacked by two groups and according to the information is that the house of Mrs Pienaar was attacked with a - there was a hand grenade which was used and according to our information is that Mr Dolo applied that initially he was charged for this incident regarding the house 143 3rd Street and it seems as if according to information when I consulted with them in fact Mr Dolo was not in that, he was not the one who was in that house, Mr Kgotlhe was in that house 143. So because they don't know the numbers and because Mr Dolo was charged, he thought that it was the house but now it transpires that a hand grenade and yet his group did not have a hand grenade, it was Kgotlhe's group that had a hand grenade.
MR MBANDAZAYO: Yes Chairperson, I would like to start with Mr Dolo the applicant followed by Mr Kgotlhe then Mr Kuluman but I would like to have direction from the Committee whether Mr Dolo's applying for two incidents, whether should I, when I'm leading him, take it all the incidents he's applying for, we'll deal with them and we finish them and thereafter we take Mr Kgotlhe?
MR MBANDAZAYO: Chairperson, he is going to testify in English. Chairperson, for the benefit of the people who don't have the affidavit, I will read the affidavit if that's the case and go through it, thanks.
"I, the undersigned, Pila Martin Dolo, do hereby make an oath and say that I'm the applicant in the undermentioned incidents, the facts to which I depose are true and correct and within my personal knowledge unless the context states otherwise. I was born in Uitenhage in KwaLabushe Township and grew up in the Eastern Cape. I was born 29 years ago and unmarried. I left school in 1989 doing standard nine and left the country to Botswana the same year. I joined PAC through Azania in 1984 and joined Apla in exile in 1989. As Apla operative, my general instructions from the Apla high command was to persecute the armed struggle with all means against the racist minority regime which was undemocratic and oppressive. The said armed struggle was in essence a guerrilla warfare during which we as Apla cadres had to seek and attack the bastions and minions of the then aforesaid regime. The ultimate objective of PAC and Apla was not only to topple the then racist minority regime but to eventually return the land to the majority of the African people. The bastions and minions of the then erstwhile regime were in terms of Apla perspective the members of the South African Defence Force, the members of the South African Police and Reservists in general, the farmers as they belonged to commando structure, over and above the fact that they occupied the farms from which we had to drive them away from so as to widen our territorial operation and base which was aimed at eventually consolidating, liberated and repossessed land. The White homes which were garrisons of apartheid.
My general instruction was to seek, identify and attack the enemy who was seen in the context of the above bastions and minions of the regime and also to train other cadres and command them in whatever operation that is being embarked upon.
Ficksburg House Attack - In consequence and in pursuit of the above stated objective during on or about the 4th December 1992 I commanded a unit of Apla cadres that launched an attack in a certain house..."
Mr Chairperson, as I indicated that it will be heard now, the change because it was not the same house he attacked, was attacked by the unit which was led by Mr Kgotlhe, but they attacked some of the houses which were in that area same night.
"...whom I do not remember how were they armed but they also had rifle grenades, M26 grenades and Molotovs.
We came from Lesotho side and we travelled by foot to Ficksburg. The firearms were in the back and were carried by myself. When we arrived at Ficksburg we divided ourselves into two units. One unit was headed by myself and the other unit by Mtate."
"My unit was to attack the abovementioned house and the other headed by Kgotlhe was to attack another one. During the said attack on the house we fired shots and threw Molotovs or hand grenades and we retreated. As we were retreating shots were fired at us and we fired back. As we fired shots, retreating, reinforcements of what we believed to be police arrived and we then ran towards the Ficksburg by-pass road. At the by-pass our unit saw a vehicle around the by-pass and we believe that it was part of the reinforcement of the police and we fired at it and threw grenades at the vehicle. When I was on the Lesotho side I fired the rifle grenade so that we can successfully retreat and escape and we retreated and escaped successfully. I do not know whether anybody was injured."
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Mbandazayo, what we want to suggest is you go through the affidavit, you indicate all of the changes as you client has done now and you have done before. Once you're done you must get your client - you've got to lead him on the exchanges and get him to confirm under oath what you have been advising us from the bar informally.
Dunside Farm Attack - During about the 19th December 1992 I was commander of Apla unit that launched an attack on a homestead on a Dunside Farm. We were a unit of three. It was myself as a commander armed with R4, Roger armed with pistol and Jabu armed with revolver and we also had a stick grenade. We took taxi to this area and it was after there was a report that there's a patrol in that no other attacks would take place, we arrived during the day and we made reconnaissance and we waited until it was at night. We went there on foot and we jumped the fence of the farm and advanced to the house. Myself and Roger were to launch the attack and Jabu was to act as our security. When we arrived there was light in another room and the other one was dark. I deployed Roger on the dark room for him to throw grenade. Myself I went to the room which had light on, the grenade was thrown and I started shooting and others followed suit. We retreated whilst shooting and we withdrew to our RV area which was the Lesotho mountains where we waited before the attack. I subsequently learned that a person died in this attack. I am presently awaiting trial in regard to charges that are sequel to the above stated evidence. The charges are murder on the 19th December 1992 at Dunside Farm of Leon Pretorius, attempted murder on the 10th December 1992 at Ficksburg by-pass upon Otto Coetzer firing an automatic machine gun on a motor vehicle wherein he was seated. 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 the abovementioned operations."
MR MBANDAZAYO: Now Mr Dolo before we finish, can you help with the affidavit? I've read your affidavit, can you in your own words as you indicated, how did you come to the decision that you must go to Ficksburg at paragraph 9 and attack those houses?
MR DOLO: Firstly, the area of Lesotho was under Mtate command. Myself I was stationed at Sterkspruit, I was the commander of Sterkspruit. Within a two weeks period prior the attack we have a liaison with Mr Mtate and then he asked me to go to Lesotho to help him there. Then I went to Lesotho. Whilst I was there at Lesotho I was stationed at - I forget the name of the place, but closer to - not far away from Ficksburg on the side of Lesotho. I was there for one week and a couple of days prior the attack. Mtate brought the guns and ammunition and the grenades and then we planned the attack and we decided that we were going to divide ourselves in two units, one unit headed by myself and the other unit headed by him. Then we went to the side of South Africa. After we crossed the river we then divided ourselves into those respective units. My unit was leading the other unit. We went closer to the mentioned house. I went to a third house from that house and then I waited for his unit to reach that house. We were also having information that all those houses around South African border closer to Lesotho were security personnel houses, they were after all acting as the first line of defence so as Apla and as our politics of the PAC that the police and the army were the pillars of apartheid and then that they wanted to be targeted. So the question of hitting that house was not specifically planned that we have to hit directly that one. We were there to attack anyone with the information we had was that all those houses were there were of security personnel's houses.
So the unit of Mtate attacked the house mentioned and mine attacked the third house from that one from the left hand side. With my unit, I was myself and Roger, I was armed with an R4 and a rifle grenade. Roger, I'm not sure what he was armed with but I think it was pistol, if not it was an Uzi which was a sub-machine gun. He was also having the grenade with him, an M26. He didn't use it in that house. After all, the main attack was going to be launched by the unit of Mtate. I was to see what was happening and then we attack any house whilst they were attacking if there was nothing else of any kind of counter-attack.
So we retreated. Whilst we were retreating, there was a counter attack and then we went to the road, the main road. At the main road there was a bridge. We rushed ourselves to the other side of the bridge. At the other side of the bridge that was then that I launched the rifle grenade and thereafter there was a car or then the cars that keep on passing the road but there was one car which we suspected to be of reinforcement. That was the one whereby I instructed Roger to throw the grenade to it but he missed the car with the grenade and there were also some shots which we fired to the car and thereafter we retreated to the Lesotho side.
MR MBANDAZAYO: Now Mr Dolo, did - what exactly that Mr Kgotlhe told you when he called you from Sterkspruit where you were in charge? What exactly did he tell you about these attacks, what was the purpose, what did he tell you the purpose of the attack?
MR DOLO: It was part and parcel of our operations first to target and attack the police, the South African Police and the security forces and the Defence Force members at that time so with the information he was having was that those houses there were acting as the first line of defence, of which people who were deployed there will be security personnel so such people and their houses were part and parcel of our targets as they were acting as the garrisons of the then apartheid State so such places then had to be targeted so we didn't have any problem with that.
MR DOLO: As Apla cadre and as a PAC, under Apla we stated out openly that what forms of the targets had to be targeted. We mentioned the question of the Defence Force, South African Defence Force, we mentioned the question of the SAP and the Reservist and general, we also mentioned the question of farmers, specifically White farmers, they were belonging to the Commando structures. So and also on the question of those farmers who were closer to the Lesotho side, it was part of our plan, our strategy that to drive them out of those areas as to widen up our area of operation and also by driving them out of those areas we would have a lot of land to operate to and by that after all we'll be having our land back that was the first start of how we come about to attack first that place and secondly, during that time the police, I think it was a day before the attack or two days before the attack, the police, I think it was Minister of Justice at that time, who uttered a statement to the media that there will be no more, any other attacks against farmers during that area, that area of Lesotho, Ficksburg area. So we also carry out this attack to undermine them, to show them that we can do whatever.
Mr Dolo can you briefly just tell us, when Mr Kgotlhe called you to say that he needed assistance can you tell us when you went over to Lesotho who all was present there and what the chain of command was amongst the group there?
MR DOLO: Okay, as I stated after all that Kgotlhe was the commander of the Lesotho side and myself I was in charge of the Sterkspruit so we did have liaison, you can see from the map the area themselves that they are so close to each other, so we did liaise the two of us and then after two weeks prior the attack I did go to Lesotho.
MS PATEL: So are you saying that you and Mr Kgotlhe, whilst you were in Lesotho, would you and he have been at the same level of command in terms of your structures, would you have been at the same level.
MR DOLO: Well, there's no problem with that of course yes, but it depended on the area, I was in his area so he is the one that knows the area better than me. He had information of which I did not know of the target and other things so the whole of the responsibility lay with him, lay with him after all.
MR DOLO: Nobody else from my knowledge, I don't know from his side who was helping him or not but I mentioned those people, I was the ...(indistinct) operation. Even the time I was there during that two weeks I was with those people so there was no one else.
MR DOLO: The plan was there already, they needed an empower and during that time a lot of our people was at Sterkspruit, I was merely also dealing with the question of the training so there were no people to take care of that time and also there were no other operations to carry on because the area was readily classified by that I mean the area was so - the police would patrol the areas closer to Ficksburg, the areas of Zastron and the area - what is the other side of Sterkspruit? It is Zastron, I think it's Lady Grey, so there was no need for other operations during those areas so I decided then to go and assist.
MS PATEL: Okay and you said the reason you went over there was a planning place already and they needed manpower, yet you didn't take any members from your armed unit from Sterkspruit across to Lesotho, whoever assisted you in the operations were people who were there already?
MR DOLO: Well, as a military personnel myself from my general understanding would be that the houses that will be manned to the border area, those houses would act as a first line of defence so such houses will be occupied by security personnel as it was the case after all in South Africa. I think it was generally that all parts of South Africa which bordered with other countries, such houses will be occupied by security personnel, that was my general belief, as a security personnel.
MR DOLO: As I see it, it's the first line of defence, it means if there will be any launch, attack against South Africa, such people have to go through such places, so such people have to have a knowledge of a security, it would have to be knowledge of measures to take in such incidents so such people become security personnel.
MS PATEL: And this is an assumption that you are making, this wasn't based on any reconnoitring that you would have done of the area, it's not based on any other independent information that you would - I 'm just trying to establish what your source was?
MR DOLO: Well it doesn't need to be based on anything, it means that if I was a general, or I was a person to plan for South African Defence that's what I will do, that was what was happening in South Africa after all.
MRS PIENAAR: What I would just like to say is that I don't understand that two houses were attacked because on that specific evening only one house was attacked and that was ours and I would also like to say that next to the fence there are no police houses or security houses and they were all in town area and my house was a private house it was not a police house, it was our own property so all the police houses are further inland, in the town area.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Dolo, I would just want to put what Mrs Pienaar had informed us now to you for your comment. Mrs Pienaar indicates there was only one house that was attacked at that time in Ficksburg. Have you got any comment on that?
MR DOLO: I said after all from my application that we attacked more than one house, that is meaning to say two houses and the house mentioned in this paper was the one which was attacked by unit of Mtate and we also as I mentioned that the time we were retreating from the other side of the bridge I did launch a grenade launch and then it did explode. We don't know whether from the house or whether it hit anything but it did explode when it touched the ground and after it was very dark at that time.
CHAIRPERSON: And then the second aspect that Mrs Pienaar has referred to is that there were no police houses as she had put it in that first group of houses but that the police houses only started further down, further into the block. Have you got any comment on that?
MR DOLO: Now I will have it. Firstly from my assumptions of that first, the houses closer to the border area generally would be security personnel and then secondly the information I had was that those houses we went to attack were occupied by security personnel.
FURTHER CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MS PATEL: Thank you, just a few aspects I'd like clarity on, Honourable Chairperson. I'm sorry Mr Dolo, I didn't catch your earlier evidence. Did you say that - sorry, how many other houses in that street do you say you attacked besides which you don't know might have been effected by the grenade that was launched once you reached the bridge?
MR DOLO: As I mentioned, the purpose of my unit there was partly also to act as a security and also to be engage the enemy, meaning to attack any house whilst the other unit was attacking and due to the fact that it was very dark and the incident happened a very long time ago and that the person have been in quarantine for quite a period of time in prison so I did, I couldn't say from a human factor that well, exactly what happened to that house but what I knew is that we didn't have the Malatov, by Malatov I mean petrol bombs and then secondly we didn't throw any grenades. What we just did there was to just to fire with the guns which we were wielding.
MR DOLO: During the day, myself I was stationed with two other guys and then the other will come and go so I'm not aware of whether I was there in the reconnaissance during that time but from the information I had was that reconnaissance was done days before the attack so exactly that day he was there in the reconnaissance, I'm not aware.
MR DOLO: As I mentioned that we will go - okay there was a specific route we had to use, to infiltrate the enemy and the road to ex-filtrate from the enemy, then that was part of the briefing also or part of the reconnaissance that they did. I was informed of it.
MR DOLO: He told me that those houses around that side of South Africa were houses occupied by security personnel meaning that maybe there are SAP people there or SADF members there and also other security people.
MR DOLO: I take it he knew the area better than me and he would be of help to answer that but from my side I said he did have information up to such a length of knowing that really there were security personnel around that area.
MR DOLO: I think so, I think it was very close from the houses which we were attacking and after I launched a grenade launch there was nothing after that, there was no return fire and that was then we decided to cross the river.
MS PATEL: Okay. Alright, just to move off that incident to the Dunside Farm attack. Can you tell us, was there any reason specifically why that specific farm was chosen or was it just that it was a farm and it was armed by a White person?
MR DOLO: Well we don't need any specific reasons to attack White farmers as they were part and parcel of these Commando structures and who also occupied our land. Our mission politically was to drive them out of those farms then militarily it means we have to execute them in such attacks, by attacking them so there was no specific reason but from the military point of view, when you did an operation, you go for reconnaissance then you have to hit the enemy where he relaxes, you have to take the enemy by surprise. So as I mentioned that prior the day of the attack there was a media statement from the Minister of Defence or the Minister of Police during that time who uttered such a statement that there will be no more other attacks against farmers, specifically in that area so we carry out the operation to show the enemy that we can do, we can continue with the armed struggle, nothing will stop us and secondly, if we were to carry out such operations in such a situation, we then have to go and look for targets, of which we will see them as will be very effective for such an operation and then it will be easy for us to carry out such attacks so that was then we come across such a farm.
MR DOLO: Well Mtate at that time was not around, I think he was at Sterkspruit and I think he was arrested there at Sterkspruit so I was the one who had to take over because I acted as his second in command.
ADV BOSMAN: Just one question to clarify, Mr Dolo. The house which is mentioned in the first incident, the 143 3rd Street which you say Mr Mtate attacked. Do you know why that particular house was singled out for the attack?
MR DOLO: I will say maybe because it was part of the route we took, that it was the first house maybe we come across because whilst I was leading the advance I was disturbed by dogs in that area then I have to keep on dodging from dogs because they were advancing on me so we added up, have to pass to that house and when they were coming back they decided to maybe attack that one. Further information get it from him why specifically he attacked that one.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Dolo, to just get perhaps a clearer picture, of your authority as a commander of an Apla unit, do I understand the position correctly, at that time did your organisation have a specific general policy or approach towards security forces, White farmers, these categories of people that you've referred to in the sense that they were regarded as legitimate targets for attack?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, we can become specific in a minute I just wanted the sort of general situation. Was it - perhaps I must ask you so I can just understand, was the position that within that broad approach, broad policy of the organisation it is left to the commander to identify a specific target falling within the categories that we've referred to?
MR DOLO: The initiative is that of the commander, it is absolutely from the commander's point of view to target where the specific targets or for that specific area to attack any house, the initiative is left to the commander as we were waiting ...(indistinct), because we were not waiting ...(indistinct) whereby something has to be - the orders have to come from the higher echelons specifically, that is to go and attack this specific target.
CHAIRPERSON: And from your understanding of the basis for these attacks were they attacks of this nature where either Mtate or yourself took the initiative to attack specific targets falling within the general category?
MR DOLO: Yes in our case as also commanders of those areas we did have authority to carry out and further to that we will liaise with our headquarters in Transkei, brief them of what happened, depending whether you do it prior to the attack or after the attack.
...(indistinct) that it did inform them prior the attack because he was the person who travelled to Transkei and even after all as I was saying that in the time he was arrested at Transkei so I don't know whether he was there to report the incident or what but in my case of this one, of the farm, I did report after because at that time that I was not there and I was left alone to take the initiative and I had to do something and if you can see even from the dates this one is from the 19th and the other one was on the 10th of the same month.
Can you tell the Committee what position were you holding in terms of the command structure? We know that there were commanders on the ...(indistinct) unit, commanders - regional commanders up to the last person to the director of operations where some of the instructions were coming from and where you were reporting. Which position were you holding?