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Amnesty Hearings

Type AMNESTY COMMITTEE

Starting Date 23 November 1999

Location JOHANNESBURG

Day 1

Names SAMUEL MAFOLANE HLOPHE

Case Number AM5878/97

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CHAIRPERSON: Good morning. Firstly I should apologise for not having started yesterday, but we were prevented by circumstances beyond our control, one of our Committee Members fell ill and we had to get a replacement for that Committee Member. Judge Khampepe fell ill. I am Motata, Chairing these proceedings. On my right I have Judge de Jager and on my left, I've got Mr Malan. We would hear the following applicants Phahlane, Mnyakeni, Hlophe, Tinyane and Chidi. I would request the legal representatives to place their names on record.

MR PADI: Thank you Mr Chair, I am Tabo Padi, from Padi (indistinct) Attorneys. I will be appearing for Mr Hlophe, Mr Phahlane and Mr Mnyakeni.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

MS THABETHE: Thank you Mr Chair, my name is Ms Thabile Thabethe, I am the Evidence Leader, working for the TRC.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Mr Padi, are you ready and who are we hearing?

MR PADI: Yes, we are ready Mr Chair, we will be hearing the application of Mr Hlophe.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Hlophe, yes. Are you Mr Hlophe sir?

MR HLOPHE: Yes.

CHAIRPERSON: What language would you speak?

MR HLOPHE: I speak Zulu.

SAMUEL MAFOLANE HLOPHE: (sworn states)

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, you may be seated. Mr Padi?

EXAMINATION BY MR PADI: Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr Hlophe, can you have a look at the form that I am placing before you, that is the application form, Mr Chair.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Could you just before starting put on record, you are applying for amnesty for the specific offence, could you tell us what are you applying for?

MR PADI: Thank you. Mr Hlophe is applying for amnesty for the incident that occurred on the 23rd of April 1994, in which he attacked the hostels by using two rocket launchers.

MR MALAN: I wonder Mr Padi, if you can speak directly into the microphone, I find it difficult to hear you.

MR PADI: Okay, thank you Honourable Committee Member.

CHAIRPERSON: Attack the hostel with?

MR PADI: With rocket launchers. He used two rockets to attack the hostel.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Which hostel, where?

MR PADI: It was the hostel in, it was Mshyazafe hostel.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Could you kindly repeat?

MR PADI: Mshyazafe hostel.

CHAIRPERSON: Is that the only hostel?

MR PADI: That is the only hostel that he attacked.

CHAIRPERSON: Where is it situated?

MR PADI: It is situated in Tokoza.

CHAIRPERSON: That would be the Alberton district?

MR PADI: Yes.

CHAIRPERSON: Is that the only incident he is applying for, why I am asking you, I am looking at his application on page 2, damage to property, attempted murder and murder?

MR PADI: The reason those incidents are placed on record, is that by the attack, there is a possibility that some other people might have been injured or killed. It does not relate to any other specific incidents, different from the one that is in question here. Thank you. I am told that Buyafuti was also the hostel that was attacked.

CHAIRPERSON: Where would that be situated?

MR PADI: Can I have a short moment?

CHAIRPERSON: Certainly.

MR PADI: Thank you Mr Chair. The Buyafuti hostel was also attacked by a rocket, on the 24th of April 1994.

CHAIRPERSON: How was this hostel attacked?

MR PADI: It was attacked by using a rocket launcher.

CHAIRPERSON: You may proceed.

MR PADI: Thank you Mr Chairman. I am going to refer the applicant to his application form here. Mr Hlophe, do you see the application form in front of you?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, I can see it.

MR PADI: Did you fill in this application form yourself?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct.

MR PADI: Was there any other person helping you in filling in this application form?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct, there was somebody.

MR PADI: Who was that person?

MR HLOPHE: Mr Africa Khumalo, he is the person who assisted me when filling in the form.

CHAIRPERSON: Who is Africa Khumalo?

MR HLOPHE: He was a member of staff of the ANC Intelligence Unit.

MR PADI: Thank you Mr Hlophe. Mr Hlophe, you are applying for amnesty for the incident that took place on the 23rd of April 1994 and the incident that took place on the 24th of April 1994, that is the hostel attacks of Mshyazafe and Buyafuti, is that correct?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct.

MR PADI: At the time of the incident, were you a member of any political party or movement or organisation?

MR HLOPHE: I am a member of the ANC.

MR PADI: Were you the member of the ANC at the time of the incident?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct.

MR PADI: Mr Hlophe, were you holding any particular position in the ANC in the area in which you lived?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, I was a commander.

MR PADI: Can you repeat your answer please?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, I was a commander.

MR PADI: You were a commander of what?

MR HLOPHE: Of the SDU.

MR PADI: Were you a member of the SDU as well?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct.

MR PADI: Mr Hlophe, can you give to the Committee the background that led to the attack at Mshyazafe hostel on the 23rd of April 1994?

MR HLOPHE: Actually on the 21st of April 1994, at that time, I was not residing at home, but I had fled to Vosloorus. There was a fight between hostel residents at Tokoza, the Mshyazafe hostel and the township residents. I had deployed my comrades at Zone 1, Mavimbela and other areas.

On my way to check on the comrades, I found all of them present, but they were complaining about the situation in Tokoza. We then had a discussion with the comrades wanting to enquire if we should go attack the hostel and I declined saying "no", we should follow certain procedures before we launch an attack and they listened to me.

On the 22nd, when I checked upon them again, they still insisted that we try and assist the people of Tokoza, and still I refused. On the 23rd, I agreed that we could go attack, but that we should check and conduct a surveillance of the situation, so we went there and we did, we found that there was a war going on. There were shots that were fired from the direction of the hostel and there were others that were fired from the township, towards the hostel, the Mshyazafe hostel.

I spoke to the ANC Chairperson in Tokoza and identified myself and we discussed that the situation was becoming unbearable because the people of Tokoza were armed with only knopkieries, because the war had been going on since the 21st. I then informed them that I had a certain machine that we could use to assist the people, and it was agreed that we should go to my home, or to my place.

MR PADI: What machine are you referring to?

MR HLOPHE: A Bazooka. A bazooka.

MR PADI: Would that be a rocket launcher?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct. I then went, took that rocket launcher and two rockets and then proceeded to Tokoza. The fighting was still going on. As we approached Tokoza, it became apparent that we could not reach our destination. We then turned back towards the garage.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Before you proceed, could you tell us, you said you discussed it with the Chairperson in Tokoza, the ANC Chairperson, who was he?

MR HLOPHE: I have forgotten his name.

JUDGE DE JAGER: And now you say you are proceeding "we were proceeding", did you proceed in a group or what was the position?

MR HLOPHE: After speaking to the Chairperson there, I spoke to Mr Mqobese, who was a commander, he then gave me a car and he gave us a driver and I and other three comrades went to fetch the weapons, and when we returned we were using the same car and there were four of us.

CHAIRPERSON: You say you spoke to Mqobese who was the commander in Tokoza?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct.

CHAIRPERSON: Which forces were you commanding if there was a commander in Tokoza?

MR HLOPHE: There were many commanders because there were different battalions. Tokoza had its own squad as well as Vosloorus had their own. Mr Mqobese was a commander at Tokoza, but he was not the only person who was in command.

CHAIRPERSON: You may proceed. You may proceed.

MR HLOPHE: He then issued us with a vehicle and we fetched that rocket launcher and two rockets and on our way back, we discovered that the way to the hostel via the hospital, was blocked by soldiers. We then went towards the garage and that is how we proceeded to carry out the attack.

MR PADI: Was there fighting happening, was there still an exchange of shots from the hostel and the location?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, there was still fighting going on.

CHAIRPERSON: Where was this garage, you say on your way back you found soldiers having blocked a way, where was this way blocked because now I know you are from Vosloorus, where are you, where do you find this roadblock?

MR HLOPHE: They were next to the bridge, near the railway tracks.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Hlophe, you speak as if we know the area. When you tell us about the bridge, tell us where this bridge is situated, because I said to you we know you are from Vosloorus. Firstly where was the roadblock, because there must be a location where the roadblock was?

MR HLOPHE: It was not a roadblock, but there was a base where they were stationed, that was near the hospital. So we felt that if we go via there, we would be exposed to them, so we decided to use another road, which was far from their base.

CHAIRPERSON: You are still losing us, Mr Hlophe, because you are from Vosloorus, you tell us of the hospital, there must be locations for all this. I mean we cannot just say there was a hospital, where was this hospital and where was this bridge? We are lost?

MR HLOPHE: It is the Natalspruit hospital. There is a bridge near that hospital and the bridge goes over the railway tracks. That is where the soldiers were stationed or based.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, you may proceed.

MR HLOPHE: After we had launched the attack, many of the comrades were now approaching the hostel directly. The soldiers also then approached, firing at us. At that time, we tried to flee, we then took the launcher and proceeded to get into the car to flee.

MR PADI: Did you take all the people who were in your battalion and ran away or who else was there when you left the area?

MR HLOPHE: I only took two of my own battalion when we fled, because the car was already in motion and two were left behind. At that time the soldiers were firing heavily, and it was clear that we would either be arrested, or be killed.

MR PADI: Mr Hlophe, can you tell the Committee as to who supplied you with your arms?

MR HLOPHE: It was myself, comrade Mbugane who was also a commander at Natalspruit.

MR MALAN: Was the question not who supplied you with the arms? I am speaking to you Mr Padi. Was your question who supplied him with the arms?

MR PADI: Yes, that was my question.

MR MALAN: And I hear him answering "myself and others". Can you ask the question again, where did you get the arms from, Mr Hlophe, the launcher?

MR HLOPHE: They were brought by another comrade from Mozambique.

MR PADI: Who was that comrade?

MR HLOPHE: Vincent, he used to sell them.

MR MALAN: Did you buy it from him?

MR HLOPHE: We promised to pay him, but we did not have enough money to pay him.

MR PADI: But he gave the arms to you anyway, despite you haven't given him the money?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct, he did give us ...

MR MALAN: Did you give him less money than he asked for?

MR HLOPHE: We did not pay him even a cent, we had just promised to raise the money to pay him. We were going to collect it from the community, but he was asking for too high a price. He wanted to take them from us, so we refused because if we had given them to him, he would have sold them to Inkatha, so we decided not to return them to him.

MR MALAN: I thought you said he was a comrade from Mozambique, who came from Mozambique? Isn't that what you said?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct.

MR MALAN: Why would a comrade be selling arms to other comrades?

MR HLOPHE: That was the problem. We were also amazed when he told us that he was selling these arms to us. But there were people who used the word comrade for their own selfish ends.

MR MALAN: And you say he would have, in other words, it was not a comrade, is that what you are telling us? You bought it from a gun dealer, an arms dealer?

MR HLOPHE: I would agree with you there, but we could not dispute to him when he came to us and said that he was a comrade.

MR MALAN: Let's understand each other, you were saying to us that if you did not buy it, he would sell it to Inkatha? That is what you told us now?

MR HLOPHE: He said so.

MR MALAN: If he said so, then surely you knew he was not a comrade? A comrade would not have sold arms to Inkatha?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct. That is when we started suspecting him, because when he told us that he would sell them to the IFP, we suspected that he was not a comrade.

CHAIRPERSON: Was he a Mozambican by origin?

MR HLOPHE: He is from Swaziland, he is a coloured person from Swaziland, but he had gotten the weapons from Mozambique.

MR PADI: Did you know Vincent before?

MR HLOPHE: No, I did not know him before. I only got to know him when he brought the weapons. When he approached us the first time, he did not have the weapons with him, but he was just looking for a buyer, that was the first time I got to know him.

MR PADI: Mr Hlophe, so far you have only told us about the incident that related to the 23rd of April and the attack of Mshyazafe hostel. Can you tell us about the incident that related to Buyafuthi hostel, which happened on the 24th?

CHAIRPERSON: Before you do so Mr Padi, when you launched the rockets at this Mshyazafe hostel, did you see whether property was damaged or anything there, or you just launched and ran away?

MR HLOPHE: We did not get to hear of who was injured, but we did see damage to property because the rocket went straight into the hostel building itself from the side where the shots were coming from, but we didn't get to know what exactly happened after it had been launched.

CHAIRPERSON: Was it the only rocket that went, or both went into the hostel?

MR HLOPHE: The two rockets were used at the hostel.

MR MALAN: Who were the, you say shots were coming from the hostel, who did they shoot at?

MR HLOPHE: They were firing towards the township, they were shooting at the comrades.

MR MALAN: And you were moving in from that side, because you said that is where the rocket went in?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, we approached from the side of the comrades.

MR MALAN: So you were between the township and the hostel, you blocked the shots from the hostel?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct. We were coming from the township and we were fighting people from the hostel.

MR MALAN: So they were shooting at the township, not at you? Why were they not shooting at you?

MR HLOPHE: They were shooting at us, in the township.

MR MALAN: Thank you Mr Padi.

MR PADI: Thank you. To follow up on that, Mr Hlophe, at the time you were preparing your rockets, at the time you prepared it, were you hiding behind something, were you shielding yourself against the bullets that were coming from the hostel, can you clarify that to the Committee? My question was did you shield yourself, how did you protect yourself, because you said that there were bullets, there were shootings that were coming from the hostel, so at the time when you were preparing your rocket, where did you hide yourself or how did you shield yourself from the bullets that were coming from the hostel?

MR HLOPHE: I had covered myself in a blanket and on approaching the hostel, I removed the blanket and prepared the rocket.

CHAIRPERSON: Because you say they were firing at you and the question from your legal representative is how did you protect yourself from the fire that was emanating from the hostel?

MR HLOPHE: I took cover. I was crawling as I was proceeding there, and there were people who covered me, who were taking guard, so that I could get nearer.

MR PADI: Mr Hlophe, can you now tell us about the incident of the 24th?

MR MALAN: Just before you proceed, how were they taking guard, how were they protecting you?

MR HLOPHE: They were carrying firearms, following.

MR MALAN: Were they shooting at the hostel?

MR HLOPHE: They did not shoot at that time because they were on the lookout, that if anybody shoots at us, they are in a position to respond.

MR MALAN: I thought you were saying that shots were coming from the hostel, so were they not shooting at you?

MR HLOPHE: In fact, we did not approach directly in front of them, we approached from another angle. They were shooting towards an area called Penduga, but we approached from the side of the garage and I was being covered by my own soldiers as we went to the hostel.

JUDGE DE JAGER: A few moments ago you told us that you went in between the township where the comrades were shot at, the hostel owners were shooting at the comrades in the township, and you and your people went in between them, wasn't that so?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, the hostel is next to the township, it is very close to the township, they are just separated by Khumalo Street. When we approached from the Penduga side, we realised that we could not get in through that route, so we went around behind the garage, and we approached them from behind, where they were not looking. At that time, they were shooting directly towards Penduga. The comrades that they were fighting with, were straight ahead of them, but we crossed the street and went behind the garage, so that we could approach from another angle.

JUDGE DE JAGER: This was during the day, broad daylight?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, around eleven, half past eleven.

MR MALAN: Just before you proceed, who taught you how to use the Bazooka?

MR HLOPHE: I knew about it, I was trained in that.

MR MALAN: Where were you trained, I asked you who trained you, where did you learn?

MR HLOPHE: I was trained in Mozambique.

MR MALAN: How did that come?

MR HLOPHE: It was in the 1970's or in the 1980's.

MR MALAN: Are you going to tell us, Mr Padi, cannot you lead your client on that?

MR PADI: Let me lead him on that, thank you. Mr Hlophe, you said that you were trained in Mozambique. What led to you going to Mozambique and getting the training that you just told us about?

MR HLOPHE: I was with a comrade Mancani who is now late, and we went to Mozambique. He is the person who taught me there how to use a Bazooka. Thereafter we returned to Katlehong with comrade Mancani.

MR PADI: Why did you go to Mozambique, my question was what led to you eventually going to Mozambique and getting the training?

MR HLOPHE: We were fleeing from the boers who were harassing us in the township.

MR PADI: Were you trained at a military camp?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, that is correct, at Amadola.

MR PADI: Was that military camp related to any of the political associations or movements at the time?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, it was an MK camp.

MR PADI: Does it clarify that?

CHAIRPERSON: Not yet, you say you were with Mancani when you went to Mozambique. Did you find other people in Mozambique, because you said Mancani trained you, was he already trained when you left South Africa together?

MR HLOPHE: He had already been trained, he was a full member of MK. On our return to South Africa, he used to assist me in training other comrades.

CHAIRPERSON: Was he a commander in Mozambique of the MK Forces?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, he was a commander, his name is Gavin. When he returned, he was based at Shongweni and that is how I got to work with him.

CHAIRPERSON: When did you return to South Africa?

MR HLOPHE: He returned around 1989 and we started training comrades around 1992, when the situation was very bad.

CHAIRPERSON: I do not follow. Did Mancani return in 1989 or did you return in 1989?

MR HLOPHE: I came back with him in 1989 and he was based at Shongweni and I was based at Mavimbela.

MR MALAN: Were you a member of MK?

MR HLOPHE: When I went to Mozambique, I was an ANC supporter, on my return I joined the SDU.

JUDGE DE JAGER: The question was, please listen to the question, he asked you whether you were a member of MK, he didn't speak about SDU's?

MR HLOPHE: No.

CHAIRPERSON: Even in exile in Mozambique, you were merely a supporter not a member, of the ANC?

MR HLOPHE: No, I did not join the MK because we did not spend a lot of time in Mozambique, we returned fairly soon.

CHAIRPERSON: I do not follow, you said, you were asked by my colleague when did you leave, you said during, either during the 1970's or the 1980's, do you recall saying that?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, I recall that. We did not go there once, we would go and return, but we last went there in 1989.

CHAIRPERSON: It is completely now muddled up, we do not follow. Just tell us, Mr Hlophe, when did you go to Mozambique for the first time?

MR HLOPHE: Around 1986.

CHAIRPERSON: When did you return?

MR HLOPHE: We would normally go, come back, but the last instance was in 1989.

CHAIRPERSON: How long would you spend on those trips to Mozambique?

MR HLOPHE: About a month, but it would not be more than two months.

CHAIRPERSON: As an ANC supporter, who would you be with at Amatola?

MR HLOPHE: I do not understand your question. As I mentioned before, I was an ANC member.

CHAIRPERSON: No, I thought you said you were a supporter, you were not a fully fledged member of the ANC?

MR HLOPHE: There is a difference in MK, the fully fledged trained soldiers, and there were people who were just trained for the purpose that they had fled from the boers.

CHAIRPERSON: I would appreciate if you were to listen Mr Hlophe, because we are trying to get clarification from you. At one stage I heard you to say that you were not a member of the ANC, you were a supporter, and subsequently when I asked you questions, you said "no, I was a member of the ANC", and now I am confused.

MR HLOPHE: Is there a difference between an ANC member and an ANC supporter?

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, a member would be a card carrying member, a person who has declared himself "I am a member of the ANC and I would go there", a supporter would be somebody probably like me and say "I like the ANC and I am happy for what they are doing, I support them and not participate in their activities", that would be a supporter.

MR HLOPHE: Okay. Now I understand. I was a member with a membership card.

MR MALAN: When did you become a member, when did you get a membership card?

MR HLOPHE: It was a long time ago, I do not recall the year. It expired and was confiscated by the boers. I did not renew my membership after it had expired.

CHAIRPERSON: Where did you join the ANC as a member? We know that you left during 1986?

MR HLOPHE: I joined at Khotso House.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Hlophe, let's just follow. I thought when I asked you, you said the first time you left was 1986, do I, did I get you correctly?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct.

CHAIRPERSON: When you joined the ANC at Khotso House, at which year was that?

MR HLOPHE: If I am not mistaken it was 1985. It has been a very long time, and I never thought that I would be questioned on it at some point.

CHAIRPERSON: Did the ANC have offices at Khotso House, are you referring Khotso House at de Villiers Street in Johannesburg?

MR HLOPHE: There were people who were based at Khotso House who would come to us at the township and take our particulars so that we could obtain cards.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Khotso House was not only used for church, for the Council of Churches?

MR HLOPHE: We would not go to Khotso House personally, but we would give our particulars to these persons who would go there and they would return the cards.

CHAIRPERSON: You don't bear knowledge that the ANC had, personal knowledge that the ANC had offices at Khotso House, do you bear that personal knowledge?

MR HLOPHE: No. I have no certainty in that regard, because we did not go to Khotso House personally, and we would be getting those cards from the people who went to Khotso House and they would guide us as to how we conduct ourselves.

CHAIRPERSON: We would appreciate it if you would speak directly to us because the impression you gave us, is that you joined the ANC at Khotso House, which makes it a difference that people came into the township and said "we are from Khotso House and we want you to join the ANC", there is a big difference there, would you not agree with me?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, I must have made a mistake. I was just trying to explain how we obtained these cards. They would not have allowed me to go there directly, to approach them, because there was a lot of mistrust at that time, but those comrades were known to be members of the ANC, so they were trusted. At that time, this was done covertly.

CHAIRPERSON: You may proceed, Mr Padi.

MR PADI: Thank you Mr Chair. Mr Hlophe, can you now tell us about the incidents, or about the background to the attack of Buyafuthi hostel on the 24th of April 1994?

MR HLOPHE: There were soldiers who were standing, or who used to stand up top a water tank at that hostel, when we approached at that time, we did not see them on that day. We assumed that they had gone inside to the hostel, so we went to Extension 2 in Tokoza and met other comrades there, and discussed a plan of getting to the hostel to attack that hostel. So the comrades agreed that they would cover us if we went to pick there up the weapon to attack, so our intention was to attack the SADF who were inside the hostel.

MR PADI: At any stage, was there a fighting between the people from Buyafuthi hostel and the people from the location?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, there was a lot of fighting between those two groups. Some of the hostel residents would attack Ngadi Section, some would attack Tokoza itself. We felt that we could not approach from the Ngadi Section because there was heavy fighting going on there, so we approached from the Tokoza side.

JUDGE DE JAGER: But on that day, there was no fighting?

MR HLOPHE: There was fighting.

JUDGE DE JAGER: But you approached it, you didn't see the soldiers, they were standing on the tank stand, and on that day there were no soldiers standing there, you didn't tell us that there were gunshots fired on that day?

MR HLOPHE: Well, I had not been questioned on that one. The reason that they were not on that water tank is because there was fighting going on and they had gone to lend their assistance to the hostel residents.

MR PADI: Was it on this particular incident, was it you who launched the rocket at the hostel?

MR HLOPHE: It was one of my soldiers. I was around, taking cover. We had two rockets in that instance. On that instance, it was one of my soldiers who launched the rocket. I had a Macarov pistol and the rocket to take cover, and when he launched the rocket, he fell, he was injured, and therefore we had to take care of him, and could not launch the second rocket, and at that time, after the first rocket had been launched, there were people who were approaching from Section 2, so we had to flee.

CHAIRPERSON: Were you using any transportation on that day?

MR HLOPHE: We did use vehicles. When we approached nearer, we would place the vehicle under cover, so that we approach under foot.

CHAIRPERSON: I would love that you tell us directly what you did. Don't speak as if we know that you would put the vehicle that side, tell us this day, this is what happened. We got the rockets from where, how many were you, how you were armed, that is what we want to know. How you got to attack this hostel because as you speak, it is garbled, we don't follow what you are saying. Tell us from the beginning, how did it begin on this particular day, that is the 24th of April 1994?

MR HLOPHE: We were at Radebe Section, facing the onslaught from the hostel, and we realised that we could not approach nearer, so I took four of my soldiers, went in to a vehicle, a Sprinter, and we went around Phola Park to Extension 2. That is where we met comrades who had been protecting that area, those were SDU members, we met them and they said we should launch the attack from that side, because the other side was heavy.

We went to fetch the rocket launcher and two rockets, and firearms. We would use these firearms to take cover and to guard as we were preparing to launch the rocket. There were many of us, but just four of my own soldiers when we went to launch the attack. We were on Schoeman Road and we launched the attack from around there.

One of my comrades then launched the attack and after launching the first rocket, he fell. I realised that he was injured, I then dragged him from the scene and took him away from the scene for cover, and then we attempted to assemble everything and went into the vehicle to flee. We could not launch the second rocket, because at that time, the people from the hostel had already started firing back towards us. We just got into the vehicle and drove off.

JUDGE DE JAGER: On the 24th, did you still stay in Vosloorus?

MR HLOPHE: I was still based in Vosloorus. I only returned to Katlehong after the elections.

CHAIRPERSON: Just answer the question, on the 24th of April, were you still saying in Vosloorus, it is a simple question?

MR HLOPHE: I was just trying to explain that at that time I was still based in Vosloorus, I would only come to check on the soldiers in their bases here in Katlehong.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Where was your area of command?

MR HLOPHE: In Mavimbela.

JUDGE DE JAGER: And this hostel, where is the hostel situated?

MR HLOPHE: It is next to Radebe and Ngadi in Zone 1 in Katlehong.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Was that within your area of command?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct.

JUDGE DE JAGER: And also the other hostel which you attacked the previous day?

MR HLOPHE: No, Mshyazafe is not in my area, that is why I approached the commander of the area to offer my assistance.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Now, on the 24th, did you take the decision on your own to attack?

MR HLOPHE: Please repeat that question.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Who decided that you should attack this Buyafuthi hostel?

MR HLOPHE: I decided from the assessment of the situation, there was heavy fighting. We decided, I decided to launch that rocket.

JUDGE DE JAGER: That was five days before the election, no less than five, three days before the election?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, they were very close.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Wasn't there a call by your leader, Mr Mandela, at that stage, that there should be peace before the elections?

MR HLOPHE: Peace had been negotiated for a very long time, but it took a while for that to take effect.

CHAIRPERSON: But was there no call that there should be peace, was there no call? Forget about negotiations?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, there were such calls, but the attempts that were made, were to no avail, because peace only came about after the elections, because even then, there was no trust between the parties, it took a while for that trust to develop.

MR MALAN: Mr Hlophe, the evidence that we have and it is also included in the report from the Truth Commission, is that the Peace Committee was very, very active on the East Rand, inclusive of Katlehong, Vosloorus monitoring the situation, moving in the streets, talking between the parties taking place, you see, our difficulty is, we have no record that what you are telling us, indeed even happened, we could not trace any reference to that anywhere. You are telling us, you are giving us a story, which to me says "this is all-out war, people are shooting at each other, day in, day out, in the middle of the day, defending yourselves, using rocket launchers and rockets." You know nothing about even a call for peace, let alone the activity of the Peace Committee at that stage. Did you know anything about the Peace Committee? Did you know that there was a peace initiative, Peace Committing, operating on the East Rand?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, I knew that there was a Peace Committee, that was based near the hospital, that was making attempts for peace at the township, but they were just as good as not being there, because people were killed day in and day out in their presence. Yes, there was a Peace Committee.

MR MALAN: Did you ever approach them?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, we used to go there every day.

MR MALAN: What did you do there when you went there? What did you do?

MR HLOPHE: We would tell them that there should be attempts made to stop the war going on. At some instance, some members of the Peace Committee were shot at because there was a lot of mistrust, they seemed to be siding with the ANC. The situation in Katlehong was very bad, because even if you went to try and intervene, you might be killed. There was no trust between these two parties, the IFP and the ANC, even within the Peace Committee.

MR MALAN: Your evidence is you went to the Peace Committee every day, asking them to stop the attacks, to do something?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct, we used to go there every day, even at night.

MR MALAN: Did you go there on the 23rd?

MR HLOPHE: No, we didn't go on the 23rd.

MR MALAN: Did you go there on the 24th?

MR HLOPHE: No.

MR MALAN: On the 21st?

MR HLOPHE: We used to go there regularly, but we did not go from the 21st to the 24th.

MR MALAN: Did you go there on the 25th again?

MR HLOPHE: No.

MR MALAN: On the 26th?

MR HLOPHE: There was after launching those rockets, the fighting or the gunshots died down.

MR MALAN: Where did you get the second group of rockets? How many rockets did you keep at your place?

MR HLOPHE: There were 16 and two Bazooka's.

MR MALAN: Where did you get the 16 rockets, did you get all 16 from that arms dealer from Swaziland?

MR HLOPHE: They were brought by Vincent.

MR MALAN: Sorry, I didn't hear the answer from the Interpreter?

MR HLOPHE: They were brought by Vincent.

MR MALAN: Who is Vincent? Is that the arms dealer?

MR HLOPHE: He is the person who brought the Bazooka's and the rockets.

MR MALAN: Did you ever pay him for that Bazooka's and rockets?

MR HLOPHE: As I mentioned previously, we did not pay him a cent. He was asking for a high price.

MR MALAN: And he never came to look for his money again?

MR HLOPHE: He returned many times.

MR MALAN: You didn't return the rockets that you didn't use, to him, saying "we don't want it, you can have these rockets"?

MR HLOPHE: No, we did not.

MR MALAN: What did you do with the launcher and the rockets subsequent to the attack on the 24th, what happened to those weapons?

MR HLOPHE: The police were sent to fetch them after about three months. I do not know where they took them to.

MR MALAN: The police were sent to fetch the rockets and the launcher, is that what you said?

MR HLOPHE: That is correct. They came in a master vehicle. I asked them to take them, but they were sent to pick them up.

MR MALAN: Who sent them?

MR HLOPHE: I spoke to Robert McBride at the office, informed him that I had weapons that I wanted removed. He told me I should take them to the police, I asked him how and he informed me that he will send people who will fetch them from me, if I am uncomfortable taking them to the police because I feared that I would be arrested along the way to the police if I took them myself.

MR MALAN: When was this?

MR HLOPHE: In 1994.

MR MALAN: What date in 1994, when more or less?

MR HLOPHE: I do not recall the date, but it was about three months after the elections.

MR MALAN: You spoke to Robert McBride and McBride sent the police, and the police came to you and they asked, they said ...

MR HLOPHE: That was after I had that discussion with him as to what to do with that material and he suggested that I take them to the police. I asked him how, I told him that I could not take them myself to the police and he said he was going to send people to fetch them, and indeed the people arrived. There were two of them.

MR MALAN: And they said that they were policemen?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, they even showed me their badges.

MR MALAN: Were they in uniform?

MR HLOPHE: No, they were in private clothes.

MR MALAN: Did they tell you that McBride sent them? Sorry, I didn't hear that you were continuing and I didn't get an interpretation. What was the last statement that you made, I didn't want to interrupt you, I am sorry Mr Hlophe.

MR HLOPHE: They were in private clothing and I questioned them, "how do I know you are the police" and that is when they produced their cards. Then I realised that indeed they were the police, so I fetched the weapons and I handed them over to them. They could not have been able to enter that Section in their uniform.

MR MALAN: Why not, this was after the election, there was a new government in power, it was three months after the election at least, that was your evidence, why could they not have entered in uniform?

MR HLOPHE: There was still mistrust at the time, it took a while for a relationship to develop between the police and the residents. He would have been disturbed or attacked even when he sat his foot on the township, if he was in uniform.

MR MALAN: Did these policemen tell you that they were sent by Mr Robert McBride?

MR HLOPHE: Yes, they informed me that they had been sent by Mr McBride and I was also expecting them because of the discussion I had held with Mr McBride.

MR MALAN: Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: You may continue Mr Padi, we are sorry that we had to jump in, but we had to clarify certain things which were not clear to us.

MR PADI: No, I am indebted to you Mr Chair. I am afraid I have no further questions, that is my evidence.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR PADI

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Padi. Ms Thabile Thabethe?

MS THABETHE: No questions, Mr Chair.

NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MS THABETHE

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Hlophe, you may stand down.

MR HLOPHE: Thank you.

WITNESS EXCUSED

CHAIRPERSON: Do you have anybody to call, or that is your evidence, Mr Padi?

MR PADI: That is my evidence, Mr Chair.

CHAIRPERSON: Are you in a position to motivate why we should grant the applicant amnesty?

MR PADI: Can I be given five minutes before I do that, Mr Chairman?

CHAIRPERSON: Certainly, until half past ten?

MR PADI: Yes, that will be fine.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, we will adjourn for five minutes.

MR PADI: Thank you.

COMMITTEE ADJOURNS

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Padi, are you ready to argue?

MR PADI: Yes, I am ready, Mr Chair.

CHAIRPERSON: You may proceed.

MR PADI IN ARGUMENT: Thank you Mr Chair. We have heard from the evidence of Mr Hlophe, that he is a card carrying member of the ANC, and that he was a member of the ANC at the time of the incident for which he is applying for amnesty.

JUDGE DE JAGER: He received his card in 1985/1986? Were any cards issued at that stage?

MR PADI: I wouldn't have any knowledge of that, Mr Chair.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Right.

MR PADI: Thank you. From his evidence we also learn that he was a member of the Self Defence Unit, which was set up by the African National Congress and he was even a commander, he was a commander of the SDU. During the time of the incidents in question, that was the time when there was conflict in the areas of the East Rand, mainly between the IFP and the ANC. Mr Hlophe committed the incidents in question acting as a commander of the SDU and in pursuance of the ideals of the African National Congress and of the SDU's which were set up, which had the main function of among others, protecting the people and ensuring that the African National Congress gets as much support as possible, especially since it was the time of approaching the elections.

MR MALAN: Was there any such evidence?

MR PADI: Excuse me, Your Worship?

MR MALAN: Was there any such evidence about supporting and support for the elections?

MR PADI: This would come as a question of general knowledge, Your Worship.

MR MALAN: No, we have a specific application, Mr Padi.

MR PADI: I am indebted to you, Mr Chair. I wish to state that there were some irregularities in the evidence of Mr Hlophe, but I submit that the irregularities which came up, were not, did not relate particularly to the incident, were relating to other issues which were not material to the application of Mr Hlophe. I further submit that Mr Hlophe complied with all the requirements of the Act for the granting of amnesty, in that his acts were associated with a political objective, he was doing his acts as a commander of the SDU. I further submit that Mr Hlophe made a full disclosure relating to the incidents for which he is applying for amnesty.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Didn't he act contrary to the policy of the ANC at that stage?

MR PADI: No Your Worship.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Was it the policy of the ANC to launch attacks three or four days before the election?

MR PADI: No, that was not the policy of the ANC, but in establishing the SDU's, it was the policy of the ANC that people should defend themselves. So at the time of the committing of the incidents, these were done in protecting the people which was well in accordance with the policy of the ANC at the time.

I further submit that these acts were committed in the time period which is stipulated by the Act. I therefore request the Honourable Committee to grant amnesty to Mr Hlophe for the incident of launching rockets at Mshyazafe hostel on the 23rd of April 1994 and for the incident of commanding that a rocket be launched at Buyafuthi hostel on the 24th of April 1994. That is all, thank you.

JUDGE DE JAGER: He didn't give any evidence that he indeed had the intention of killing people?

MR PADI: That did not come out clear in his evidence, Your Worship, but what was clear was that whatever it is that was done at the time, was done in the view of seeing to it that the people are protected and that - sorry, the shooting between the hostel and the resident people, is brought to a stop.

JUDGE DE JAGER: Yes, but he is applying for amnesty for attempted murder, I am just thinking about it. He didn't give any evidence that he indeed attempted to kill somebody, by the nature of the attack, shouldn't one foresee that people could have been injured and should we grant amnesty, that is really the question, should we grant amnesty for attempted murder or the planning of a murder or murders, conspiracy to murder?

MR PADI: Yes, (indistinct)

CHAIRPERSON: Your microphone is not on, Mr Padi.

MR PADI: It is true that one could have foreseen that in launching a rocket at a place where there are people, people may die as a result of that, and people may be injured as a result of that. Now the application for amnesty arises from that incident of launching rockets and all other crimes which may emanate from the launching of the rocket, so I request the Honourable Committee to grant him amnesty for any other crime which may come as a result of him launching the rockets at the hostels.

JUDGE DE JAGER: We know of at least one injury and that was the person firing the rocket, he was injured in the process?

MR PADI: Yes, that is correct. What creates the problem is that the victims here, are not known, so it is difficult for one to say that we are applying for the murder of so and so, or for the injury or attempted murder of so and so, but however, we say that should it happen because it has been foreseen that people could have been injured or killed in the process, should at any stage, they come up, we find that we will have cured that by applying for amnesty for that, at this stage.

CHAIRPERSON: But if I listen to the evidence, it is that Mr Hlophe wanted just abatement of the attacks that emanated from the hostel, not that he had foreseen that people could be injured in the process of the rocket launchers?

MR PADI: That was his evidence Honourable Chair. Emanating from his evidence, when one launches a rocket at a place where there are people, it goes without saying that people will be injured or will be hurt, it is not unforeseeable that things like those may happen. Hence in the submission, I request the Honourable Committee to take into account things like those and grant him amnesty for other crimes which may have emanated from his conduct.

CHAIRPERSON: With the evidence before us, I can see that we might, if we do, grant amnesty for any delictual action that may flow from that, but we've got a slight problem in that we don't have evidence before us because we cannot assume that he would have foreseen without evidence, that people might have been injured in the process, because we've got to have evidence before us for that.

MR PADI: That is correct Mr Chair, but from the evidence which is before the Committee, the evidence which is before the Committee is that Mr Hlophe launched rockets at the hostel, he knew very well that there were people living there and he knew for a fact at the time of the incident, that there were people there. In doing that, it is not unforeseeable that people might get injured or killed in the process, hence we include the amnesty application to extend to crimes which may have happened as a result of him launching the rockets at the hostel.

CHAIRPERSON: Are you rather not saying that because there was fighting between two groups of people and a rocket was launched in the direction of the other group, that is probably foreseen? Are you not probably saying that because it would appeal to me probably if you would put it that way?

MR PADI: That is, I would rather put it in that way and I am indebted to you Chairperson. Those are my submissions.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Padi. Ms Thabethe?

MS THABETHE: Mr Chair, I have no submissions, except maybe to say that the Committee has evidence before it, not opposing in any way and I would have no objections if amnesty were to be granted to the applicant.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Ms Thabethe. Mr Padi, we shall reserve our decision and it shall be known as soon as possible, and it shall be communicated to you and Mr Hlophe in due course.

MR PADI: Thank you Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Hlophe, you may now stand down. I suppose Mr Padi, you are still in the driving seat, who are we hearing now?

MR PADI: Mr Chair, I was requested to give Mr Mposho an opportunity to lead his evidence, because one of the witnesses has to go somewhere.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay.

MR PADI: I am sure Ms Thabethe can clarify that.

CHAIRPERSON: That would be Mr Moloto?

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Moloto, I take it it is now your client, Chidi?

MR MOLOTO: That is correct Mr Chairperson.

 
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