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Amnesty Hearings

Type AMNESTY HEARING

Starting Date 05 December 1998

Location PALM RIDGE

Day 3

Names VELI NHLAPO

Case Number AM 7259/97

CHAIRPERSON: I assume that we are proceeding to the next applicant. Who is that? Mr Sibeko, can you just put that on record.

MR SIBEKO: The next applicant, Mr Chairman, is Mr Veli Nhlapo.

ADV STEENKAMP: Mr Chairman, sorry to interrupt again. His application appears on page 56, in the document called Lusaka-B, not Lusaka-A this time, Lusaka-B, page 56. His application number is 7259/97, for the record. Thank you, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Nhlapo, could you give us your full names please?

VELI NHLAPO: (sworn states)

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, please sit down. Mr Sibeko?

EXAMINATION BY MR SIBEKO: Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Mr Nhlapo, in the sections that we have in Thokoza, where do you actually stay?

MR NHLAPO: I reside at Lusaka-A.

MR SIBEKO: Do you confirm that you are applying for amnesty for being a member of the SDU during the times of violence?

MR NHLAPO: Yes, I confirm that.

MR SIBEKO: Do you further confirm that at the time of your membership of the Self Defence Units, you were firstly under the command of Mfinos and later on under the command of Mosa Msimango?

MR NHLAPO: Yes, that is correct.

MR SIBEKO: Did you hear the testimony given by the first applicant, Mr Majiki?

MR NHLAPO: Yes, I heard the testimony.

MR SIBEKO: Do you confirm that you were in the same unit as Mr Majiki?

MR NHLAPO: Yes, that is correct.

MR SIBEKO: Do you further confirm everything that was said by Mr Majiki inasfar as it relates to you?

MR NHLAPO: That is correct.

MR SIBEKO: Now you'll correct me if I'm wrong. Mr Majiki testified to the effect that there was an incident where photographs were given over to them and some people were identified as members of the IFP and were also staying in the same section as yourself, do you know anything about that incident?

MR NHLAPO: That is correct.

MR SIBEKO: Do you mind telling us about that incident.

MR NHLAPO: Insofar as the problem that we had at Ngaki, I was called by one of our comrades, Xholile, I cannot quite recall where I was coming from that day but there was one IFP man who had been apprehended at Ngaki. After I received the information I rushed for my firearm.

I went to Ngaki and I walked past where he was standing but there were no people, they had fled. I finally went to Ngaki where I found our comrades fighting this big man. He was too strong, he could have beaten them if they were not using firearms.

I met one of the guys whom I knew. When I looked at the photographs I could identify one person who was standing in the photo with one of the persons who had just been apprehended. This person was very strong. I then asked as to what was happening: "Is this the person who is in the photo"? I asked. And on looking at the photo I confirmed that it was the person, and it then came to my mind that this must be the person who tried to shoot and kill me. He is trying to struggle himself free of us and I ...(intervention)

MR SIBEKO: Before you proceed, Mr Nhlapo, what type of a firearm are you referring to here?

MR NHLAPO: It was an AK47.

MR SIBEKO: Proceed.

ADV GCABASHE: Can I just stop you there. I'm sorry, I lost you somewhere, Mr Nhlapo. You came to Ngaki Street and found your comrades arguing with a big man. You then looked at the photographs and recognised another person or the same person? I'm not sure that I understood you there. You recognised somebody in the photographs, was it the person standing in front of you, the big man, or somebody totally different?

MR NHLAPO: The person who was in the photograph, if I still remember very well, there were three photographs that were shown to me. The one photograph showed me the one photo in which the person we had apprehended was in and on looking at the photo I also realised that there was this other person who tried to shoot at us. At the time I was with another boy called Bafana. And the one who had just been apprehended at Ngaki was with the one who attempted to shoot us at Khumalo.

ADV GCABASHE: Can you stop right there? This other person was not in your company at the time, you simply recognised him but he wasn't physically there?

MR NHLAPO: Yes, he was not physically there, he was just appearing in the photo.

ADV GCABASHE: Thank you, continue.

MR NHLAPO: And after I shot this person the comrades fled and I remained behind alone, that's when the Stability Unit appeared and I ran away. I ran up Ngaki Street and before I came to Chicken Licken, I came across yet another Stability Unit and I shot at them so that they can give way. That's when I disappeared. I don't know whether the man I shot died or whether he was taken by the Stability Unit, I just remember shooting him and fleeing.

MR SIBEKO: When you left him and I am under the impression that immediately after you shot at him you could see whether he was or he had minor injuries or he was in a very serious condition, what would you say?

MR NHLAPO: I would say he was badly injured because I shot him. I remember when I was fighting the Stability Unit, it was fully loaded, my gun was fully loaded and when I was shooting at the Stability Unit I think I must have spent 12 bullets.

MR SIBEKO: At the time of this incident, were you under the command of Mfinos or Mosa Msimango?

MR NHLAPO: My commander was Mfinos at the time.

MR SIBEKO: The AK47 you are referring to, where did you get it?

MR NHLAPO: I got the AK from my commander, Mfinos.

MR SIBEKO: Continue, Mr Nhlapo.

MR NHLAPO: Yes, I got this AK from my commander, Mfinos, even though I don't know where he got it. Yes, he used to command us.

I remember one day on our way to Mazibuko there was this group of people who were standing further up, busy shooting. We went to Mazibuko and on arrival there was seemingly an Inkatha meeting. We wanted to disrupt that meeting because we knew what the agenda was.

We went further up and came across some of our comrades from Slovo. These are the people that helped us so that we went up together. On arriving we managed to disrupt the meeting and gunshots were fired. That's how the fighting began.

We came back hungry and tired. Before we arrived

at our places, gunshots erupted once more. We then rushed back and we learnt and discovered that one of our comrades whose name is Baba, had just been shot. He did not die instantly.

When we got into the area we were so angry that we decided to attack them right in the hostel. That is what happened that day insofar as my being commanded by Mfinos is concerned.

MR SIBEKO: When you arrived at the hostel, did you enter the premises of the hostel and shoot at anybody?

MR NHLAPO: No, we did not get into the hostel. We walked up Ntagani Street or Madondo Street. There was a Stability Unit further up the street and therefore we had to go back. We did not get into the hostel, therefore we went back without having fired a single shot.

MR SIBEKO: Now you confirmed earlier on that you were in the same unit with Mr Majiki and you confirmed everything that he said inasfar as it related to you. My question is, were you always in possession of the said AK47 at the times when you went to attack or defend or whatever, were you always in possession of the firearm and did you use it?

MR NHLAPO: I would say the firearm was like my girlfriend, I would take it to bed with me, I would put it under my pillow. I always had to be ready in case there is a war erupting, it had to be near.

MR SIBEKO: I therefore take it that you used it. If so, are you in a position to say whether there are people you killed or you injured, except for the one that you saw in the photograph?

MR NHLAPO: Yes, the gun has been killing a lot of people, even though I cannot say exactly who it was killing, but yes, it had killed a lot of people. I was using it. There are many Inkatha people I have shot, not knowing their identity. Yes, I've been shooting a lot of them. Yes, the gun has been killing a lot of people.

MR SIBEKO: So I take it that you are certain that you killed those people?

MR NHLAPO: Even though I cannot be sure, but yes, I was shooting with an intention to kill, I was not playing. Whether they were injured or they died I'm not sure. I know I must have killed them.

MR SIBEKO: Is there any other incident except for those you have already mentioned and those that have been mentioned by Mr Majiki, that you were involved in?

MR NHLAPO: Yes, there are some other incidents. There is the one incident that happened at Khumalo Street when a journalist died. That is where we went right into the hostel. I think that was our last fight. I was present, yes, we killed people.

There is also another incident where we were requested by the comrades from Mandela to go and give them a hand because their comrades were not in, they were actually in short supply and they were facing the hostel. They were harassed by the police. The police station at Thokoza was not working. I don't think it was working at the time and therefore they requested us to come and assist them because Inkatha used to come from home, from their rural areas to assist their brothers in the hostel, therefore we could not sit back whilst our people were dying.

MR SIBEKO: ...(inaudible) that you have just referred to, what is the name of that hostel?

MR NHLAPO: I think there is one called Mshayazafe, that is if I'm not mistaken. That is the hostel that is in the middle section. There is also another name. I've just forgotten the name. That is the hostel that is further down, nearer to our section. I am not quite sure, I cannot differentiate between the hostels in terms of names.

MR SIBEKO: Is there any other incident that you would want to tell us about?

MR NHLAPO: As I have just explained, the one incident that I did not hear being testified about is the Mandela incident. Apart from that I don't think there are any other incidents that I still remember because the Mandela incident happened at the time when the situation was explosive. There was also the KwaZulu Police using horses to patrol the area. I didn't personally see them, I just heard that they were patrolling the area on horseback.

MR SIBEKO: Okay, let us leave that one out because you didn't see those horseback police. What I'm interested in is the incident wherein you were involved and fired a shot towards anybody.

MR NHLAPO: Yes, I am involved in the Mandela incident, the Mshayazafe incident, as well as the Mazibuko incident. These are the incidents where I was highly involved in.

MR SIBEKO: ...(inaudible) that you were using?

MR NHLAPO: Honestly speaking, I was so - I ...(indistinct) and disturbed when I heard that the gun has disappeared while I was in prison. Apparently guns were collected whilst I was in prison. I don't know how it disappeared.

MR SIBEKO: Will you agree with me that the said AK47 was not your property, you got it from your commander and if your commander - even if it was handed over for whatever campaign, you didn't have to have any problem about it because it was not your property?

MR NHLAPO: Let me put it this way, I think the gun was mine, that is why I got so angry when it disappeared. I am the one who was using it to kill people. I don't know how it disappeared. I was told it was with the police, they were busy using it to investigate how many people it killed. I meant to hide or conceal the firearm myself.

MR SIBEKO: Thanks, Mr Chairman, no further questions.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR SIBEKO

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr Sibeko. Advocate Steenkamp, any questions?

ADV STEENKAMP: No questions, thank you, Mr Chairman.

NO QUESTIONS BY ADV STEENKAMP

ADV SANDI: Just one thing that is not very clear to me. This was your firearm, Mr Nhlapo, your personal property?

MR NHLAPO: I received or obtained it from Mfinos, and when Mfinos left and when the SDUs came or this other unit came, I was using this firearm and therefore it was mine.

ADV SANDI: Okay, thank you. Thank you, Chair.

ADV GCABASHE: Thank you, Chair.

I just want absolute clarity on one issue really. You are saying that you shot the big man who was fighting with your comrades at Ngaki Street, yes?

MR NHLAPO: That is correct.

ADV GCABASHE: And you also shot one of the members of the ISU. As you were running away you came across them and you shot somebody there who you think was definitely badly injured.

MR NHLAPO: That is correct.

ADV GCABASHE: Then any other incidents of killings would under either Mshayazafe, Mazibuko or the Mandela incidents, there you can't identify who you may or may not have killed.

MR NHLAPO: I cannot point to anybody that I can with certainty say that I injured or killed but yes, we did shoot many people. We did shoot many people whose identities I don't know. I don't know their names but yes, we did shoot people and people died, people got injured. I don't know how many people died and how many got injured but yes, people died.

ADV GCABASHE: The last incident I'm not too clear about. Was the incident you related about the day you were on your way to Mazibuko, when the IFP were having a meeting there, was the meeting inside the hostel at Mazibuko? I was not too clear as to the incident itself, what happened, if people were shot. You did disrupt the meeting. Just go over that briefly for me.

MR NHLAPO: The meeting was not in the hostel, it was held at a street, the name of which I've forgotten. It was the street on the other side from Mazibuko. I think it's the third street. They had met at the gate of a certain household at one of their members.

ADV GCABASHE: Yes, continue. And what then happened? Just go through that incident for me.

MR NHLAPO: As I have explained earlier on, when we arrived some of our comrades were there from Penduka or in Penduka, and they indicated to us where the people were. We therefore had to hide ourselves whilst approaching so that we could not be seen. That is when - as we proceed, that is when I decided that this meeting should be disrupted because I concluded that they were planning on killing us.

ADV GCABASHE: With that particular incident again you don't know if you actually shot anybody, this is if anybody was injured, you can't go into any detail as to you saw two or three people fall? You can't give us any detail on that?

MR NHLAPO: I would say I did shoot people because when I fired shots there were many of them but some of them, or should I say many of them fled. Some person may have tripped and fell. I would not know whether they were shot or they tripped and fell.

I'm not in the position to say whether I missed or what happened but yes, I was shooting towards their direction. I cannot be sure whether people died or got injured.

ADV GCABASHE: I know you haven't mentioned anything at all about the gangs, the Khumalo gang, Bad Boys gang, you were not involved in any incidents relating to those gangs?

MR NHLAPO: Insofar as the Khumalo gang is concerned, I was involved on the patrolling side. I did not got there to fight but Khumalo used to come to our area, shoot us and do whatever because he was always accompanied by the ISU and his house was also under guard, but I never went to attack his homestead.

Yes, I heard about these gangsters and Mugabe is seemingly the one who engineered the whole thing. He was raping people and robbing people of their possessions etc. I am the one who was involved when Mugabe was sought.

ADV GCABASHE: Thank you, Mr Nhlapo. Thank you, Chair.

CHAIRPERSON: This incident concerning the IFP meeting, when about did that take place?

MR NHLAPO: As I have explained I don't know the name of the street, but we were at Mazibuko, a third street up. I think it was quite a distance from us. I don't know the name of the street but it was the third street from where we were.

CHAIRPERSON: The question really is, at about when, when about did this incident take place?

MR NHLAPO: I don't know what time it was, I didn't have a watch. We didn't use watches when we were going out to war, we would not even know what day of the week it was. I would think it was Sunday. Maybe I would be mistaken and it would be on a Wednesday. Therefore really, we were not keeping track of time.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I understand that, the intention is not really to get you to furnish us with the time and the day of the week. Can you give an idea as to the date when it happened, what month, what year possibly? Are you able to assist?

MR NHLAPO: I think if I recall very well, it could have been early 1993 or late 1992.

CHAIRPERSON: And then you referred to the incident where the journalist was killed. That was the day when you went straight into the hostel. Now when did that incident happen?

MR NHLAPO: If I still remember very well it was not long after I was arrested, because I was arrested in 1994, January, and this incident happened in 1993. Even though I cannot remember exactly as to when in 1993.

CHAIRPERSON: And the incident, the Mandela incident, when you went to assist the people in the Mandela section, when did that happen?

MR NHLAPO: This also happened in 1993, because at the time we were being commanded by Mosa. It happened in 1993.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Mr Sibeko, any re-examination?

MR SIBEKO: None, Mr Chairman.

NO RE-EXAMINATION BY MR SIBEKO

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Nhlapo, let me just ask you one final thing. Were you arrested, charged and convicted, sentenced, for any of these incidents that you referred to in your evidence?

MR NHLAPO: No, no, I was not arrested, not prosecuted, not sentenced. No, I did not.

ADV SANDI: You mean that was something which had nothing to do with SDUs?

MR NHLAPO: Yes, that is correct.

ADV SANDI: Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Nhlapo, thank you, you are excused.

WITNESS EXCUSED

 
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