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Type AMNESTY HEARING
Starting Date 08 June 1998
Names PITSO JOSEPH HLASA
Case Number 2739/96
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MR BRINK: Mr Chairman, this is the resumed hearing of the matter of Hlasa, Mphoreng and Thandakubona. You'll remember it was heard in April this year but was aborted by reason of fact that the microphones and hearing machinery wasn't working properly. I think a little bit of evidence was lead but it was virtually unintelligible and I think you Mr Chairman, decided to virtually start today day novo.
Mr Ameen, we are starting now, only now at a quarter to twelve because you had wanted to consult with your clients by reason of the fact that you got instructions some time last week. Are you now ready to proceed or what is the position.
MR AMEEN: Mr Chairman, I got instructions very late on Thursday and these were confirmed again on Friday. I was not able to consult with my clients over the weekend. I have started consulting with them, I have taken statements from them. I was busy going through the application, a copy of which was provided to me in the middle of the morning today. I have not completed that process yet but I'm happy for the evidence to be led and once
"The political conflict between AZAPO and the UDF, the United Democratic Front, had reached unprecedented levels in 1986. The conflict started in the Eastern Cape"
MR HLASA: Yes, I have mentioned earlier on that there was a problem in the Eastern Cape and that was in 1985, between AZAPO and the UDF. Members of AZAPO were accused in many ways. It was about ideological differences between AZAPO and UDF.
Now the main issue was the exclusion of whites by AZAPO and UDF on the other hand felt that the white people might be of help in the struggle but this then spread because of the Cradock 4 who disappeared. There were now accusations that the, the conflict started just there until the conflict spread to Gauteng in early 1986.
MR TLOUBATLA: Can you briefly outline, you know give us a brief outline of the conflict around Soweto at that time, what was happening and how did you conduct yourselves. Was there any violence, what happened?
MR HLASA: When this started in Soweto there were certain areas that were controlled by UDF and some were controlled by AZAPO. For instance my area which is Orlando East was predominantly controlled by BCMA and even the high schools. I'm now referring to Bona Orlando High, Silelekela and Lufenze Girls School.
Most students were not members but because the school was situation in an area controlled by BCMA, we used to have meetings. I remember at one stage the then Transvaal President of AZAPO. He was a teacher, and his presence there helped a lot and there were other areas then like Diepkloof and Orlando West and these were predominantly ...[indistinct] and there were areas that we shared, like Dlamini 1 and Dlamini 2. They were Black Consciousness Movement and others were UDF.
Now after this tension has reached Soweto it was quite difficult for one to leave his own area to go to another. I would not leave my area and go to Diepkloof. Yes, I would do that under certain circumstances, wearing just private clothes, not any organisation's clothes.
Now there was a problem in Dlamini. There were fights and comrade George Oukop's house was attacked. He was the Secretary General at that time. We found ourselves having formed a group to go and assist because in Orlando, I mentioned earlier on that we were Black Consciousness Movements, there was not threat as such, like in other places.
MR TLOUBATLA: You also mentioned that some of you were permanently displaced by this violence, can you elaborate on that? Were you personally displaced and then when you say displaced, can you just explain what you mean?
MR HLASA: When I refer to permanently being displaced, there were some comrades that I can mention like Thebogong Komezulu. His house was burnt and Lerato, I do not remember Lerato's surname, they were in Zola. Lerato was a member of AZAPO.
It happened that we tried to accommodate them in Orlando because their areas were fighting, for instance Dlamini and Sinawani and Alexandra. We held camps in Orlando for the sake of accommodating them so that they can have shelter over their heads, trying to find food for them so they don't starve. Those people were permanently displaced, they did not have homes.
MR HLASA: The displaced comrades and local comrades would be in these camps. The camps were made for the sole reason of protection and we tried to make the comrades understand what the policy of the organisation was. It was not for us to out and attack the people, we had sit a certain spot and defend ourselves, not to leave.
In some of these houses you'd find that, well some of us stayed at our homes but at night we would be 40 but when we disperse at night about 15 members would be left behind. I can count at least five houses in Orlando East where such camps were conducted. During the day we would be in large numbers.
MR HLASA: The main reason to conduct these camps was to defend ourselves as such from the UDF. Many people were attacked at night, many houses in Dlamini were attacked at night. Houses in Zola were attacked at night. Comrades were arrested if they were found in smaller groups, for instance one or two but if you are in a large group you are in a position to defend yourself.
The other thing that was done in the camps was the political education as I've already eluded earlier on, to carry forward the aspirations of the organisation. That is basically that, yes to take forward the programmes of the organisation and to protect ourselves from the UDF.
MR HLASA: Not to be arrested as such. If we are two and we want to go to Diepkloof and one recognises you, that you are a member of AZAPO, you would land in danger. They would capture you and anything could have happened at the time, they might have killed you, interrogate you, comrades from the UDF and its alliances, SOYKO and SOSCO.
MR HLASA: Yes. I said already that Thebogong Komezulu's house was burnt and Lerato's home was also burnt. Ghots Lingani's home was very lucky because information leaked before they could come and burn the house, then we organised ourselves and we camped at that house.
CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, just a minute. I think you should allow your counsel to lead you. The question which he asked you was: "Give examples of houses which were burnt" and to which you should have said: "Komezulu's house, Lerato's house, Lingani's house" and then wait for him to guide you.
MR HLASA: Yes, there were meetings that I attended. I explained in my application that I remember very well there were many people, Mr Aubrey Mkwena who resided in Orlando East was member of the UDF and there were several meetings with him. I remember Mrs Sesulu, she worked at Doctor Asvat's surgery. There were meetings there as well.
People such as Seti Mzibuko and Amanda Kwadi were discussing this whole issue. The person who spoke on behalf of the Dlamini people was Kenneth Fitla. Now there were meetings held on different times, discussing this issue. I remember our leadership talking to Mr Tutu when this spread from Eastern Cape, so that this can come to an end but it didn't.
"It was the policy of our organisation to avoid retaliation at all costs, however my attitude changed completely after the death of comrade Sipho Komezulu in Zola"
MR HLASA: It was to get rid of the violence that existed. It appeared that there was no relationship between UDF and ourselves with regards to politics. They must have been aware at that time that the local struggle can be fought with whites included and it was not our vision, we saw whites as part of the problem but you must understand then that this violence had left Port Elizabeth and it was now spreading to our area. Now the main issue here was the difference in ideology. ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Was the purpose of this meeting then to try and bring peace between your organisation and its affiliates or associates on the one hand and the UDF and its associates or affiliates on the other hand?
MR HLASA: No, it did not because these meetings took place at the leadership level. I do not believe that the grassroots level of these two organisations understood exactly what was taking place up there but what I believe was discussed up there was not put into practice down here.
MR HLASA: Let me start at the meeting held at DOCC in Orlando East. I remember well Mr Mabaso was there, comrade Jefferson Lingani was there, comrade Sisi Baloi, I think she was the administrative secretary of the organisation, she was present. There was a meeting held at Doctor Asvat's surgery in Dlamini. The late Tiny Motlago was present at that meeting, comrade Sam Siyema was present. I do not remember the others very well because this took place many years ago but I have given you a few names of those who were present at these meetings.
MR HLASA: I remember the late comrade Muntu Miyeza addressed us and he told us not to try and attack the comrades in the UDF, he said we must wait for the leadership to give an instruction so that we can act thereafter but the whole leadership of AZAPO and AZAZIM discouraged us from retaliating.
You will understand that many comrades who died in Soweto were members of the BCM. It was because we didn't retaliate, we always waited for the leadership to hold meetings and come back to report. It has been the policy of the organisation not to act without instructions from the leadership.
"This funeral became our turning point, for me and the others who always advocated for retaliation and attack as the best form of defence"
MR HLASA: Many things were committed by members of the UDF and we just ignored them. Sipho Komezulu was on his way to work and he was kidnapped. He was working for a trade union in Nuhaza. He was kidnapped in the morning and it was only after a few days that he was discovered. He was brutally murdered and his corpse was covered with stones.
I say it's a turning point because it was the first comrade to be brutally killed. While organising for his funeral in Zola, I was out with, it was after the night vigil on the day of the funeral, when we came back comrade Komezulu's coffin was burnt, it was thrown in the street, there were no mourners and the fence was down and this affected me a lot.
I did not understand how it came about that a person be killed and to be killed the second time in the coffin on the day of the funeral. We went to the graveyard Avelon. We left with this partly burnt coffin to bury him. We came back after the ceremony and we walked through Tladi Molesani. The comrades from the UDF attacked us because we were now going back home and there was no convoy anymore, they attacked us.
The car that was severely attacked was one that was transporting the late Martin Mohau. He had been released a few months before the funeral and he was also brutally killed on the same day of the funeral. We lost Martin Mohau. He'd just been released a few months from Robben Island.
Myself, I realised that the position of the organisation not to retaliate would not be of any assistance to me because I've witnessed people dying brutally and we've been waiting for the leadership to tell us what steps to take. On the other hand the UDF was continuing with the series of attacks, now this was my turning point.
MR HLASA: In those days you'd identify a person and his organisation by the type of songs they sang. You'd be in a position to tell that these are UDF or these are AZAPO because songs that are normally sung are those belittling the other organisation.
There were UDF T-shirts, they were RMC, Release Mandela Campaign T-shirts, SOSCO T-shirts, AZASO and SOSCO T-shirts, those were associates of UDF. So we identified by those T-shirts and we identified by the songs. We also identified them by their locality. If I was in Kladi I would know that this is a stronghold of UDF.
MR TLOUBATLA: You were burying one of your comrades, that is Sam Komezulu and then you are coming back from the funeral and then another members is attacked, Martin Mohau is attacked and killed but why did you not, or did anybody approach the police regarding these matters?
MR HLASA: I do not know anything about the police. I don't know whether anyone reported this to the police but there were reporters always because you'd even see incidents in the newspapers. I don't know how the police got hold of the information, whether it was the parents who reported or the organisation, I do not really know.
ADV BOSMAN: Mr Hlasa, you spoke about the meetings that were held between the two leadership, were these meetings held after your comrade - if I can just get his name, was killed or was it soon after that or before that time? Do you remember?
MR TLOUBATLA: Alright. Can you in detail now tell us how you got into the whole incident, where it started, what you did and so on? Just start from the time when you started being involved in this attack.
MR HLASA: Comrade Jefferson Lingani stayed in Orlando West and we got a report that his house was attacked and burnt with petrol bombs. He was in Orlando West, he came down to Orlando East where we had our camps and he got hold of a few comrades and they went back to clean the remains of the burnt house.
MR HLASA: He personally came to Orlando East the following morning to report that his house had been burnt. He came to Orlando East because he knew there were camps and he would be assisted and he told the comrades and they went to clean the remains.
MR HLASA: At about half past two to 3 o'clock if I remember very well, Nkolisi, Speedo and Kabelo came to me. They told me that they had been to Jeff's place and now they were back to come and wash but they caught up with some members, with some culprits and they were at the DOCC.
They told me that those people were kept at the DOCC, so I should rush to see them, then we all left and we found them at Orlando at the DOCC building. We took them and put them into the car. We had two cars, it was a Mazda and my car, a Chevrolet and we drove with them to Orlando West to Jefferson Lingani's house.
MR HLASA: I did not personally go into the house but I know they were being asked questions as to who burnt the house, on whose order, such questions. I did not ask them anything but later on I heard that a decision had been taken that these boys were members of SOSCO and they were present when the house was burnt and we had to take them to Showela where they would be killed because a decision had been taken already that, yes, we are being killed. Now as AZAPO, we will have to kill as well.
MR HLASA: It was to verify that they are members of the UDF and to find out whether they took part in the burning of Jefferson's house. That was the main reason for interrogating them, and to find out on whose order they committed that act.
MR HLASA: I had a lot of confidence in the people who were interrogating them. I did not go in because I knew that I would not tolerate asking questions, that is why I decided to wash a car. I left everything in the hands of those who were asking questions. Jefferson was one of the leadership and I was sure that he would come up with a decision based on who they were and it was verified that they were members of the UDF. The thing that I did not verify was whether they took part, but yes, I verified that they were members of the UDF but about taking part, I did not.
MR HLASA: Late, at about 5, 6 o'clock members of the leadership arrived and they spoke to the people who conducted the interrogation to get the report from them. At about 7 to 8 o'clock they said they must be taken and be killed. They said we should choose our own place. We went to comrade Glen's house who was also part of the leadership in Showela. ...[intervention]
MR HLASA: The leadership got a report but I have explained that the person whose house was burnt was also part of the leadership. He was at the BLAKO, it was a black ...[indistinct] union and he was in the leadership.
MR HLASA: He is not the only one, Kabelo Lingani was his brother and he was in the National Executive of AZAZIM. I think he was the publicity secretary and part of the branch leadership was also in charge.
MR HLASA: I would not exactly say who said that they must be killed but it was the general understanding within the organisation that if we have verified that a person has committed an act, we can deal with him in an appropriate way.
MR MALAN: Could you please explain this to me because you say the policy was not even to retaliate and I think you say in your statement that at that day it became clear to you that the policy was wrong and you decided to retaliate and now you tell us it was a general understanding in the organisation that people should be deal with. Can you explain that to me?
MR HLASA: These things happened in different time spans. There was an understanding within the organisation that if you feel you are under pressure and there are people who have done something wrong you can deal with them. But later as the attacks continued, I remember comrade Montumeza in particular, he said
"We do not mean you should just, you shouldn't do anything. If you are being attacked and you are in a position to defend yourselves, do it. Defend yourselves in a way that will suit you". Now I do not know who took out an order on that day but the understanding was already there, that you should defend yourselves in any way possible.
MR MALAN: I'm not sure that I understand you. You made it clear to us that the policy was, that defence was not to go out attacking but sit - I think you used the word sit in the translation, and defend yourselves, that's why you got together and stayed together not go out.
MR HLASA: It's not true, we did not go out and look for them. Well, I was not present when they were caught but I got a report that the comrades were moving from Orlando West to got to Orlando East to go and wash and when they were at the turnoff at DOCC they realised that they did not buy a newspaper on that day. It was a normal thing to read a morning as well as an afternoon newspaper, so they wanted to go to Orlando Police Station to buy a newspaper.
On their way towards the bottle store buying a paper, they recognised - that was the report, comrade Jefferson recognised these six boys who were part of a group that was singing in his area, that's how they were caught. We did not go out and hunt them, they were caught because they were seen. It is not true that we went out for them. That is how they were caught and they were interrogated and it was part of our defence.
CHAIRPERSON: You don't seem to understand the purpose of this question, I must explain it to you. You see, there are two possibilities. The one possibility is that you acted in killing these people, you did so without getting instructions or authority from your leadership.
The other possibility is that you got such instructions from the leadership, so really, either you got instructions from the leadership on that particular day to kill those people or you didn't. And the question is, if you did get orders or instructions or the go-ahead from your leadership to kill them, who were those people, who were those people in the leadership who told you to kill these people?
MR HLASA: The leadership did not say to us: "Kill", but I have explained that there were negotiations that failed. Now the leadership compromised and said we should defend ourselves in any way possible so that the organisation may go on with its activities.
On the day of this particular incident, I explained already that I was not part of the people who interrogated the victims. The understanding that I got from the comrades who were inside the house was that these people were going to be killed. I had faith in my comrades, I knew that they would not take such a decision without the concern of the leadership. Maybe the people who were inside might be in a position to give a better explanation.
CHAIRPERSON: Isn't it so that right from the beginning when you people went out to go and interrogate these people, the general feeling was simply that: "Well, today we are going to kill these people"?
MR HLASA: No, it wasn't our feeling. We interrogated them to verify as to whether they were present and they took part in the burning of the house and whether they were members of SOSCO and on whose command they committed the act. After the interrogation it was discovered that they were members of UDF and then the decision was taken to revenge as members of AZAPO so that in future no-one attacks us, no-one takes an advantage of us.
CHAIRPERSON: We're not asking you who asked you to start the ignition of the car. Committee Member Bosman's question has nothing to do with the ignition of the car, she simply asked you: "Who told you that these people had to be killed"?
MR MALAN: May I just ask here again, you say that what was verified was that they were members of UDF but do I understand you correctly that it wasn't verified that they were indeed part of the group and it wasn't verified that they burnt the house, simply that they were members of UDF?
MR HLASA: I was talking for myself because I asked a question: "Guys, are you sure these are members of the UDF"?, then it was confirmed but I was not sure as to whether they were part of the group that burnt the house.
MR HLASA: I did not want to know whether they took part in the burning of the house, I wanted to verify that they were members of the UDF so that we can set an example with the members of the UDF. Not that I was acting because they took part in the burning of the house, I was acting because they were members of the UDF and it was the UDF that we were fighting.
MR HLASA: I understand your question. As long as we had a confirmation that they were members of the UDF, that was fine. The conflict between these two groups was not about what you did, it was about belonging to the other organisation. Now it wasn't the main issue. The burning of the house was not the main issue, the main issue was being members of the UDF.
MR HLASA: This was the first to kill a person but it was not the first to defend the comrades in other areas. We went out to places such as Randfontein, Dlamini and Alexandra and there would be a shootout. I don't know whether people died in those incidents but I do not remember handling people in the way we did with these ones.
MR MALAN: And then, just a last question. Did you ever find out who gave them the instructions to burn the house? You said you wanted to find out were they part of the UDF, were they part of the group that burnt the house and on whose instructions. That was the major theme of the interrogation, so did you ever find out who they got their instructions from?
MR MALAN: No, but if I heard you correctly you said you didn't go in with the interrogation because you were, you felt that you wouldn't be able even to tolerate and that's why you stayed outside, because of your anger. You weren't waiting on the outside to just get a report, you were so angry that you clearly wanted to kill them, if I understand your evidence correct, you wanted them to be killed, that's why you didn't ask for any further information, simply that they were members of the UDF, isn't that so?
MR HLASA: That is not so, I did not wait outside because of anger. I was cleaning the car because it was full of oil. It's not anger that made me stay outside. I said I did not even want to get inside to interrogate them because I knew they were involved and I would not stand what was going to be said inside. I cannot say my attitude was similar to that of other comrades.
MR HLASA: That is not what I want to tell you. If I discovered that they were members of the UDF, I didn't get in because I knew that if I discovered that they were members of the UDF something would have happened.
MR MALAN: I heard the translation saying: you didn't go, you were cleaning the oil and you didn't go in because you knew that they were involved, you had no need of the interrogation, you knew they were involved
MR HLASA: I did not go inside because I was washing a car outside, that is the first reason. The second reason, I was avoiding the fact that if I discovered that these were members of the UDF, that was going to make me very furious, that is my reason.
Mr Hlasa, you also told the Committee that much as this was your first killing or an incident where people were killed, nevertheless you were involved in some other incidents where you had to protect your members. Can you - you spoke about Randfontein, Alexandra and I think Dlamini or something. At Dlamini, I mean at Randfontein, who were you defending and what happened there?
MR HLASA: We had our comrades there, comrade Xlomiso was the then President and they used to phone us and tell us that we're being attacked and we would go and assist. Every time when we arrived we would find them in a group and the members of the UDF would come and fight us and we would defend ourselves. That is an incident in Randfontein.
There is yet another incident at comrade Jeff's place in Moletsani. We defended a house that was going to be burnt because members of SOSCO arrived and they found people inside the house, it was ourselves. I do not know whether they were many. We shot and they dispersed.
In Alexandra we went to comrade James Chauke's house. There was fighting and we defended the house. After we had left they came back and burnt the house. I think the comrades were weakening just after we left.
MR TLOUBATLA: In these incidents where you were defending these properties or the lives of these people, what used to happen? Was there just a shootout in the streets? You know, you are just simply saying you went there, you defended, I just want the specifics. How did the defence go about?
MR HLASA: We received a telephone call from Alexandra. Sometimes information would leak that tonight there's going to be an attack, then we went to Alexandra and we stayed at James Chauke's house and they arrived at night and we had firearms. We would not even wait for them to arrive at the house, we would shoot just to repel them. I did not aim because I was not trained in the use of firearms, we would just shoot so that they run away. This also happened Kabelo Lingani's home in Moletsani. If there is anyone who was injured I do not know but we shot. I shot until the magazine was empty and they wall ran away.
MR TLOUBATLA: That is before this particular incident, was the general pattern that you adopted? You waylaid them in a specific house and they would come and then you'd start shooting, was that the general pattern you followed?
MR TLOUBATLA: Let's go back now to this incident at Lingani's house. The interrogation, you say you didn't participate in the interrogation of these boys personally, but do you know how the interrogation was conducted? Did you get information thereafter how the interrogation was conducted?
MR HLASA: We put them in two cars and we drove to Showela at comrade Glen's house who was part of the leadership at that time. From comrade Glen's house they were taken in two groups. The first group, I was in the first group even though I do not remember who the members of the first group were. We left with them and we went to the veld. That's ...[intervention]
MR TLOUBATLA: Fine. When these people were ...[indistinct] I mean, I suppose that you were the owner of one of the cars in which they were travelling or they were transported, you probably must have seen these boys when they were put into your car, is that so?
MR HLASA: We came back and we took the first group of three. I had explained already that I do not know their names. We left with them and we went to the veld outside Showela. We were three and they were three, each one of us shot one of them. I do not remember among the people we shot, who it is exactly because I was told later that two of them survived. We went back to the house and the second group left with the remaining three.
MR HLASA: We loaded them in the boot of the car and we drove to the spot and we parked the car next to the house and we offloaded them. We had guns, each one of us had his own gun and we took one, one from them and then we went up the hill and we made them stand on the edge and we shot them there and they fell. We left them and we drove back and we gave guns to the other comrades and they took the next group. I wouldn't know then what happened with the second group.
MR HLASA: I do not remember very well who the members of the first group were. I remember that I was in the first group and I was driving but I know that the people who shot was myself, Matlana, Kani, Speedo. I do not remember the others. I remember the ones I've mentioned, I don't just remember in which groups we were.
CHAIRPERSON: You know Mr Hlasa, you want amnesty but you must remember that there's a price you pay for getting amnesty if you are to get it. You've got to tell us in particular what your role was in a particular incident.
I notice that you have the tendency of speaking in general, you have a tendency of not telling us what you did. In your evidence you keep on saying this: "We did this, we took the people to Glen's house, we took them out of the car, we took them to the hill, we shot them, we went back, that is not good enough. If you - you know for you to get amnesty, you have to embarrass yourself by publically telling us of the horrible things you did, then so be it. That is the price you must pay if you are to get amnesty.
And if these people have to know about the horrible things you did as an individual then so be it, then people must hear about what you, Hlasa as an individual did. You can't keep on using a general language and say: "We took people into the car, we took them to the hill, we turned back". That is not good enough for the purpose of these proceedings. You must tell us what you did, do you understand?
For one, I don't think that it was just a question of we taking them out of Glen's house, you must have dragged them, pushed them and they said: "No, please don't, it's not us who did this", you said: "No, we are going to kill you anyway" and they tried to resist, we took them out, we opened the boot, one of them did not want to get in, we kicked him in his stomach, we pushed him", why don't you tell us these things? We are here to hear those things.
You can't just come here and say: "We took people out of the house, we put them into the boot of the car, we took them to the hill, we shot, we came back and another group went off. They took them there, they shot them and they came back. I'm beginning to have serious problems with the way you are giving evidence. You must give us details of what you did, make a full disclosure. Didn't they tell you that you must make a full disclosure if you want amnesty? You should please do that, it is the price you pay for getting amnesty. Do you understand?
MR HLASA: I think I am telling the truth because when we took these people there was no resistance, we had guns and it was evident to them that if they resisted we would shoot them. They did not know that they were going to be killed. We pointed the guns at them and told them we are going to such a place and they cooperated because we had guns.
When we left comrade Glen's house to take them to a spot where they would be killed we pointed the guns at them, they did not just freely walk. We pointed the guns at them, we loaded them into the boot and they realised that there was no chance of running away. I don't know what was in their minds. I explained that we left and then we reached the identified spot. I would not lie and say I was with so and so.
I remember the people who took part in the shooting but I would not remember who was with me. I don't want to make a mistake of naming someone who was not with me. I know I shot. Gabie, Speedo and Motlana shot. I do not remember because this happened a long time ago, 1986. I only remember ...[intervention]
MR HLASA: The caucus was about what to do. The decision was already taken that they be killed but we had to find a spot and plan our movement. The first car was supposed to take three of them and they be killed, come back, then firearms be handed over to the next three so that they can also do their part.
MR HLASA: We made them stand on the edge next to each other and then we stood behind them and we shot. I did not shoot an leave. I shot him, he fell, the next one shot, he fell and the third one shot and the third person. All of them were lying down there. We did not go to confirm whether they were dead, we just took it that they were dead and we came back.
MR TLOUBATLA: Alright, I think the question - perhaps just to take it further, coming back you had taken people out and now you are coming back and those people are no longer in your company, that is the victims. What was the reaction of the other victims, the ones that had been left behind? How did they take that?
MR HLASA: I would not know their reaction but I already told you that the comrades were in the kitchen and they were in the dining room and they did not know that the three of us went with the three of them. We were in separate rooms. I would not know what their reactions were.
MR HLASA: When we arrived at Glen's house it was not necessary really to speak to them but it was to inform that: "Even though you do not give us information you are going to shit". That is what I told them.
MR TLOUBATLA: You were carrying about three people in your car when you drove to Glen's house, how did you, in the first place, where were they, were they in the boot as you were travelling to Glen's house and how did you take them into the house itself?
MR HLASA: We went back to Glen's house and we reported that we shot them and the second group took over. I explained already that they were six in number. We took the first three and our fellow comrades took the last three.
MR TLOUBATLA: During the lunch adjournment I was consulting with Thandakubona and then he mentioned that he personally didn't participate in the shooting itself, he was involved but nevertheless the shooting in itself he was not there, what do you say to that?
MR HLASA: I said this took place in 1986 and many things happened thereafter, I would not perfectly remember everybody who was there but according to my recollection I thought he was there. I would not refute that we took part in different ways.
MR HLASA: The firearm that I had with me had been in my possession for quite some time and I think it was bought in East Rand. There is another one that was taken from a security guy that was shot in Orlando. I do not remember where the others came from but we bought most of them.
MR TLOUBATLA: Can you just sit back a little bit, just sit back because you are disturbing the mike, sit back. What I want to know is, alright, they were bought, were they bought by yourself or somebody within the organisation supplied the firearms, that's what I want to know.
MR HLASA: People were assigned and given tasks within the organisation, that you and somebody else will go and find us firearms. If I remember well, two of the comrades that have applied for amnesty were given the task of getting the guns.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Tloubatla, I don't know if there is a misunderstanding between your client and the interpreter. A pertinent question has been asked: "The firearm that you used to shoot, you personally, the firearm that you used that day, where did you get it from"? And then he answered to say that he had been having that firearm for a long time before that, but that doesn't tell us where you got the firearm from. The questions still stands: "Where did you get the firearm from that you used that day"? Where did you get it from?
MR HLASA: The firearms that we used were the property of the organisation. It was not mine per se, it belonged to the organisation. I know of the firearms that were disarmed from the security personnel. Some were bought in East Rand. I have explained already that when we arrived on the morning of Khomezulu's burial we were out to buy firearms, that cannot be an individual's property.
MR TLOUBATLA: Perhaps just to clarify it a little bit, you say the firearms were bought, did you have money, did you take out money from your pocket to go and buy those firearms or did somebody give the money so that these firearms could be purchased?
MR MALAN: May I just ask, can you remember who you gave the gun to when the other three went out? You say you handed them the firearms, the second group, and then they went out to kill the other three. My question is -it seems you're not getting the drift of it, if I heard you correctly you said that after the killing of the three, when you returned you reported and you gave the firearms to the other three and they went and they killed the next three people.
MR HLASA: I think I did not hand my gun, it was with me. When we arrived I think comrade Kabelo and comrade Mxolisi Thandakubona went to Dlamini to look for other firearms and when we arrived, they had returned already.
MR TLOUBATLA: Mr Hlasa, just to take you slightly back, besides the leadership of the two organisations, that is UDF and AZAPO, were any other efforts to try and quell this conflict that was existing between the two organisations? Were there other efforts from the community?
"Priest in Bid to end Conflict: Clerics on the Westrand yesterday said they were trying to end a bloody conflict between members of, affiliates of the United Democratic Front and the Black Consciousness Movement".
"Four members of the student council in Soweto who are affiliated to the UDF were yesterday by a interdict of the Witwatersrand Supreme Court prohibited to attack the Secretary General of AZAPO, Mr George Oukop, or to damage his property" ...[transcriber's own translation]
MR TLOUBATLA: Well, it simply says that Mr Oukop obtained an interdict in the Witwatersrand local division of the Supreme Court to interdict some people from either assaulting him or destroying his property, that is people affiliated to the UDF.
MR TLOUBATLA: I also would like to refer you to The Star of 9 June 1986 and then the interview was given by, in fact it's Bishop Desmond Tutu who was quoted at the funeral of Mr Delisa Matjoba and he was also condemning the violence between the two organisations, that is AZAPO and the UDF affiliated organisations. That is The Star of June 1986.
MR TLOUBATLA: And then Mr Chairman, I would refer to two more publications, they others I'll use during my address to the Committee. This was a Sowetan publication of Tuesday, May the 27th of 1986 and apparently The Sowetan undertook a survey
"In a snap survey the man in the street yesterday appealed for peace between the warring political groups in the black community. The appeal comes in the wake of an alarming increase in violence between the UDF and the Azanian People's Organisation and Inkatha"
"Mhieza says AZAPO has its own code of conduct which all our members subscribe to and deviances are viewed in a serious light, however where and when the need arises for our members to defend themselves, their family and property, they should do so with means commensurate with the danger they apprehend"
"AZAPO has its own code of conduct which all our members subscribe to and deviances are viewed in a serious light, however where and when the need arises for our members to defend themselves, their family and property, they should do so with means commensurate with the danger they apprehend"
MR HLASA: Yes, that is correct, he once mentioned that. I mentioned earlier on that the organisation's positions was not to retaliate but if we were under pressure we were supposed to defend ourselves according to the situation.
MR TLOUBATLA: According to the publication, that publication came, I mean that statement was in December 1986 and the incident that we are talking about now occurred in August 1986. Can you perhaps explain when that type of order was given?
MR HLASA: I do not remember but within the organisation we knew already that if we were being attacked we were supposed to defend ourselves, but I wouldn't specifically know when the order was issued out. The newspapers say it was December.
MR TLOUBATLA: Let's say the general order now that I'm talking about where you are called upon to defend yourself and property, how was it communicated to you? Let's say to you personally, were you called aside in one private room and told that this is what the organisation wants or expects of you? How were such orders communicated to you?
MR TLOUBATLA: Mr Hlasa, the act of killing those young boys, for whatever reason it was, that they had destroyed your comrade's property or threatened his life, do you think under the circumstances that the act itself, was it warranted, was it commensurate with what they had done?
MR TLOUBATLA: Do you know Mr Hlasa that for you to be granted amnesty that your act must be politically motivated, in other words there must be a political motivation. What political motivation was in this act that you conducted? What did you hope to achieve in terms of, politically, that is your organisation and your members?
MR HLASA: I was hoping to send forth the message to the members of the UDF that we can also defend ourselves, that was point number one. Point number two, if we were able to protect our members then our organisation was going grow. If we have members and we don't defend them they became disillusioned and resign. We were protecting our organisation to grow like any other organisation. We wanted to exist freely, we wanted to practice our political right freely. We were sending the message.
MR HLASA: The community would not know it was AZAPO but we know that the UDF was going to know that AZAPO killed them. I can give an example with Fana Umshlongo who was kidnapped and killed. We did not scratch our heads, we knew that he was kidnapped by the UDF, he was killed by the UDF but it was hard luck for the community to know but those were lucky enough would have known.
ADV BOSMAN: Mr Hlasa, I don't understand, you said that you also intended to let your membership grow, now certainly your membership would come from members of the community? Did you know think that the community should know about this in order to impress them to become AZAPO members?
MR HLASA: We used to go out to the communities and lay before them the political objectives of AZAPO. When we recruited people we did not tell them about UDF, we told them about the aims and objectives of AZAPO. If people had joined us already it was difficult to fully identify themselves with us because of this violence that even appeared in the newspapers, the conflict between AZAPO and UDF. So it was important for us to protect our organisation and its growth.
MR HLASA: After appearing at the Protea Magistrate's Court we were sent to the Johannesburg Central Prison for about a week and the South African Council of Churches helped us with bail, we were bailed out and we skipped the country. It was myself - it was after three weeks when this happened, it was myself Motlana, Jeff and Thandakubona, we skipped the country for exile.
MR HLASA: Let's put it that way, AZAPO assisted us to go into exile. The reason for that was that when we were arrested at Protea the case was regarded as a criminal case and the organisation felt that it was difficult for them to rescue its members and we had to go. It was a choice of an individual whether you wanted to go or not and we expressed our feeling of leaving and then we left this country.
MR HLASA: We arrived at different times in Botswana. I think I arrived much later than the two comrades who have applied and I went to Dukwe in the camps and many comrades were there and I participated in the activities or the organisation. I remember before I was trained I was the Secretary of Welfare. I was actually looking at the welfare of the comrades and later on I went to Zimbabwe ...[intervention]
MR BRINK: And am I correct in understanding your evidence that he gave the instruction to - I amy to wrong so correct me if I am, he gave the instruction that these youths should be taken out and killed?
MR BRINK: Did you not know that before this hearing today? I mean you have had ample opportunity to make these enquiries and you do it in the lunch adjournment, approximately an hour and a half after the hearings had started today. I find that very strange Mr Hlasa.
MR MALAN: May I just follow up on that. If I understood your evidence correctly you didn't know of any instruction, you only knew that if the interrogation would show that these people were UDF people, if that could be confirmed they would be killed, that was the evidence you gave us.
MR HLASA: Not to be killed but to deal with them. If there was a proof that they were members of the UDF we were to deal with them, not that if we proved that they were members of the UDF we were going to kill them, it's not like that.
MR MALAN: Sorry, let me assist you in this because really I get confused now. I think you told us you were working on the car, you were cleaning it because there was oil, you didn't take part in the interrogation, when they came out you were told to put on the ignition, to turn the ignition because these people were to be killed, that was your evidence. ...[indistinct] and you say Nani told you that. And you went to the other house, you had the caucus in the kitchen, you arranged and you went out and you did the shootings in the two sessions.
MR MALAN: Sorry, this is the point I want to get to, you never had an order to kill, this is what you are saying, you were ready to kill. They were ready to be dealt with, you were told to put on the ignition, it was just communicated to you that you must drive, "we're going to kill these people"?
MR HLASA: No, that is not true, an instruction was taken out that these people were going to be killed, we should start the car and go. Truly, we would not kill them in Orlando West because the area was predominantly UDF.
When Kani went out of the house he said: "Let's go, we're going to kill these people", "whereto"? and the answer was: "We're going to comrade Glen's house. We arrived at comrade Glen's house, they were put in the diningroom and we caucused in the kitchen. The instruction was already issued out to be killed. The caucus was about how and where, those were the two issues for the caucus in the kitchen.
MR MALAN: But again if I understand you correctly, you never had any knowledge of any specific instruction, you were simply told by Nani: "Put on, we're driving away to this other house, these people are going to be killed"?
MR HLASA: That's what he said. He said an instruction had been issued out, an order was taken out that they be killed. He even gave me a reason, he said they had been tortured already and we can't just leave them.
MR HLASA: He told me that they were tortured during the interrogation and they told the truth and it was confirmed they were members of the UDF, that's how torture is involved in this, he was explaining to me now.
CHAIRPERSON: You may stand down Mr Hlasa, we will proceed to call one of your colleagues with the understanding that we are not through with you yet, you must still come back so that Mr Ameen can put some questions to you.