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Amnesty Hearings


Starting Date 18 September 1998


Day 5


Case Number AM 3381/96


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CHAIRPERSON: We call the matter of Sonnyboy Johannes Sibiya, reference number AM3381/96, for the purposes of our decision which is as follows


This is an application for amnesty pursuant to Section 18 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation, Act No 34 of 1995. The applicant, Sonnyboy Johannes Sibiya, was convicted on 25 February 1994 in the Eastern Circuit of the then Supreme Court of the murder of Vusimuzi Ephraim Dludlu on 17 October 1992 at Emzinoni, Bethal in the then Transvaal. He was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. He applies for amnesty in this hearing in respect of this conviction and sentence. The Dludlu family had received notice in terms of Section 19(4) of the Act, and the Committee was informed that the parents of the deceased had no wish to attend the hearing.

The applicant testified and confirmed his affidavit, which forms part of the record, as well as the three application forms which form part of the bundle of the documents before us. Applicant joined the PAC in 1985 whilst still a scholar. In 1991 he joined the PAC Task Force whose duties he described as the protection of PAC members and their homes. Soon after this he was sent to the then Transkei for basic training under the auspices of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, APLA. After a short stay at Efolweni in KwaZulu-Natal, he was deployed in Emzinoni.

The applicant described a situation of ongoing political conflict between members of the PAC and members of the ANC. He related a number of incidents in which people were killed, homes burnt and people forced to leave the township. He says he took steps to report the problems caused by this conflict to APLA's director of operations, but was unable to contact him. He then managed to speak to one Mandla who he says was APLA's regional commander for the Highveld area. He met with Mandla at Mbalenhle, and after explaining the situation to him, received orders to identify the ANC ring leaders and attack them, as this would prevent further attacks on PAC people. Applicant said that he received this order in early 1992 and then set about identifying the culprits. He explained that he was unable to do this on a full time basis as he was engaged in other activities for APLA and the PAC.

By 15 October 1992 the applicant had sufficient information and went out that night on an operation in search of the ANC ring leaders. The operation was unsuccessful. Applicant said that on 17 October 1992 he eventually did locate the deceased and another person at a shop. He said that the deceased and this other person had been identified as some of these ANC culprits. He called the deceased over to him and after trying to negotiate and reason with the deceased about the conflict, he shot him twice with a .38 Special firearm. It is common cause that the deceased was killed as a result of these shots.

Other relevant aspects of the applicant's evidence were:

1. He explained certain differences between the various application forms and his evidence on the basis that the forms had been completed on his behalf by one Vendi, a person who claimed to be more fluent in English than he. He attributed these difference to a breakdown of communication between them.

2. He denied any suggestion that he had been motivated by feelings of revenge against the deceased who had been a suspect in an attack some two and a half years before the murder on his uncle's home which resulted in the death of three members of his family.

3. He said that Mandla had promised to supply him with a weapon, but that this had only arrived at a later stage.

This was the only evidence before us initially.

However, fortuitously a member of the PAC's NEC, Mr Jabulani Khumalo, who had testified in another matter before us, agreed to assist the Committee in relation to this matter. He testified that there had in fact been conflict between the PAC and ANC from 1990 until 1992/93. He said that this conflict affected a number of areas including Emzinoni and that it was finally resolved by negotiation. He was aware that APLA cadres were deployed in those areas where attempts at negotiation had failed to prevent further conflict. He said he had knowledge of these matters, because at the time he had been a PAC leader in the East Rand. No further evidence was led before us.

Although there were a number of concerns raised by the evidence leader in respect of the applicant's testimony, he conceded that no evidence was led in relation to such matters. In the result the Committee is left to decide the matter on the evidence before it.

It is clear that the applicant was a member of the PAC and had received training under APLA's auspices and thus was a member of a publicly known liberation movement. It is also clear that he acted on behalf of, and in support of such movement bona fide in the context of the conflict between it and the ANC. The applicant's conduct is thus held to be an act associated with a political objective as envisaged in Section 20(2), read with Section 20(3) of the Act.

Despite the concerns raised referred to above, we are satisfied that on the evidence before us the applicant has made full disclosure of all material facts. He does not appear to have acted for personal gain, personal malice, ill-will or spite. Accordingly we grant the applicant amnesty for the murder of Vusimuzi Ephraim Dludlu on 17 October 1992 at Emzinoni, Bethal in the then Transvaal. The matter of the death of Vusimuzi Ephraim Dludlu is referred to the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee pursuant to Section 22(1) of the Act. That's the decision in respect of the application of Sibiya.

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