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Amnesty Hearings


Starting Date 30 November 1998


Day 5


Case Number AM 7045/97

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Sibeko, what is the position now?

MR SIBEKO: Mr Chairman, may I hand over to Mr Mopedi.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Mopedi, it's over to you.

MR MOPEDI: Thank you, Mr Chairman. The next applicant is Johannes Amos Methula for Lusaka-B, and the application is on page 8. Thank you, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Methula, can you hear?

MR METHULA: Yes, I can hear.

CHAIRPERSON: Won't you please stand and give us your full names?


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

EXAMINATION BY MR MOPEDI: Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Mr Methula, you are the applicant and you are applying for amnesty in this matter, is that correct?

MR METHULA: That is correct.

MR MOPEDI: And you are also a former member of the SDU for Lusaka-B?

MR METHULA: That is so.

MR MOPEDI: Who was your commander?

MR METHULA: My commander was Makazonke Mhlope who is since deceased.

MR MOPEDI: As a member of the Self Defence Unit for Lusaka-B, what were your duties?

MR METHULA: My main job functions were not really clear but we noticed that we were followers, or I was one of the followers. I did not have any main job functions within the group.

MR MOPEDI: Why were you a member of the Self Defence Unit for Lusaka-B?

MR METHULA: I became a member of the SDU because of the situation that prevailed in the area. The area was no longer safe.

MR MOPEDI: How as the situation, could you explain?

MR METHULA: We had to live under great fear, adults as well as children, because there were attacks that were launched on residents.

MR MOPEDI: So why were you running away? That is what I want to know.

MR METHULA: Whilst we were staying there we had to flee because of one simple reason, that there was a group calling themselves SPUs, they were members of the IFP and they would come and launch attacks in the residential area and we had to flee the area for our own safety.

MR MOPEDI: If I understood you correctly you were running away from SPU?

MR METHULA: Yes, that is correct because we did not wait for them to attack us. We ended up not staying in our own places because of anticipated attacks and the burning down of houses.

MR MOPEDI: So if I may ask you, why are you applying for amnesty?

MR METHULA: I'm asking for amnesty because there is a certain incident that took place in Lusaka-B. If my memory serves me well I think it was during the year 1993. On that particular day it was a funeral of a certain comrade by the name of Stampu. I could say the majority of the SDUs were attending that particular funeral.

Just before they left their commander, Makasonke issued out an instruction that I should not go to the graveside because the situation was quite volatile and there were no guarantees that I was going to be safe, then he ordered me to remain and look after the place until they come back from the funeral.

MR MOPEDI: Proceed.

MR METHULA: After they had left, the majority of the people in our section, that is Lusaka-B, had gone to that funeral. The situation was quite calm that day but I heard screams from the people, as well as some gunfire but because I had been left to look after the place and ensure the safety of the other residents, I went out to enquire as to what was going on and they said that the SPU was launching an attack.

As I was asking that question I was in Mbele Street where I resided, I crossed over to Givani Street. When you are in Givani Street you are able to see or have a clear overview of the area as well as the oncoming enemy.

When I got to Givani Street and looked over Tshabalala Street, I could see the members of the IFP as well as the SPU. They were dressed in red, some had red handkerchiefs, red bandannas as well as red T-shirts and the people now were fleeing for their safety and the IFP members were coming up Tshabalala Street. That is the street where you can see clearly because it's a straight street and flat whereby you can see the enemy approaching, and down Tshabalala Street was an IFP stronghold. As they were approaching they were shooting indiscriminately. We could hear some gunfire and the guns were pointed towards us.

What shocked me even more was that they went around burning houses and leaving debris behind them. As I had been given instructions to ensure the safety of the residents I also had an AK47 in my possession and when I realised that this was happening I had actually hidden my gun in the field and I decided to run and get the gun in order to be able to protect myself should I be attacked.

I went to Mkatizwe Primary School to seek refuge because this was next to Givani Street and in Givani Street you could also have a clear view of the oncoming enemy. I got a place that I could call a cover. I was able to hide myself but also keep a lookout on the enemy.

When I arrived there the gunfire went on and I could see some houses burning. That was the aftermath of the SPUs. I had absolutely no alternative and I just had to try and protect myself as well as the other members of the community who were not armed. I fired my AK47, pointing towards the oncoming crowd. Even though the crowd was quite some distance away from me, I was able to shoot.

Immediately thereafter I saw the Internal Stability Unit who were actually escorting the group as the group went on conducting this reign of terror and the Internal Stability Unit approached. I ran and ducked for cover because even the gun that I had fired made a loud bang that scared me and I fled the area.

Just before I fired my AK47, I realised that amongst those who had gone to the funeral who were in the family car, had already come back from the graveside and Stambu was inside that family car. Stambu came to me at Mkatizwe Primary School. He told me that the situation is bad out there and we fled the area.

MR MOPEDI: You said the direction in which these IFP people were coming, something was burning, could you be specific, what was actually burning?

MR METHULA: We saw some smoke or I saw the smoke and they were burning houses. I could actually see the houses that were being burnt down but I could not see some of the things that were burning or where the smoke emanated from.

MR MOPEDI: And by SPU, are you referring to the Self Protection Unit of IFP?

MR METHULA: ...(no English translation)

MR MOPEDI: How many shots had you fired on that day?

MR METHULA: Because it was the first time that I had an AK47 in my possession, I had never used a gun before, and as a result I had no knowledge as to how many shots I fired but what I do remember is that that AK47 was in auto and within a short space of time it was able to fire a number of bullets.

MR MOPEDI: If I understand you correctly, you fired a number of shots?

MR METHULA: When I pulled the trigger I only pulled it once. As to how many bullets came out of the gun, I'm not sure, but immediately when I pulled the trigger there was a loud bang and a lot of noise that actually shocked me. I actually ran away, so I can't tell how many bullets I fired.

MR MOPEDI: Now the AK47 was aimed or directed or pointed towards these IFP people?

MR METHULA: Yes, that is correct. I was firing towards their direction because I did not want them to advance towards me and charge.

MR MOPEDI: But when you fired towards their direction, did you realise that you'd kill people or injure people?

MR METHULA: I wouldn't be able to say whether there is anybody who got injured or anybody who died because the group that I was firing at actually scattered, they dispersed as soon as I had fired the shots or the shot.

MR MOPEDI: But with your act you foresaw that you could kill or injure?

MR METHULA: Yes, that is true, I cannot deny that. In such a situation anything can happen because I could say that there was no time to say you're scaring a person off, you had to shoot to kill or prevent the enemy from advancing.

MR MOPEDI: So did you kill or injure anyone?

MR METHULA: As I've already explained, immediately after pulling the trigger the crown dispersed, the Internal Stability Unit approached and I was shocked. I also ran away. I wasn't able to wait and see whether there were any injured or people who died. I ran for my life thereafter.

MR MOPEDI: You don't exclude the possibility that you injured or even killed someone with your act?

MR METHULA: I would not exclude that possibility because it's a well-known fact that a gun kills. Even though my intention was not really to kill but to actually prevent an eminent attack. But if there was a threat upon my body and limb I was prepared to kill for that. I was prepared to kill in order to protect myself as well as members of the community.

MR MOPEDI: Are there any further incidents in which you were involved with your firearm?

MR METHULA: Yes, there are other incidents that I was involved in, minor incidents. For instance patrolling and looking for people who were in possession of illegal firearms as well as the SPUs.

MR MOPEDI: So if you found those people with illegal firearms or weapons ...(indistinct) the weapons, what did you do with the illegal weapons?

MR METHULA: Since I started patrolling the firearms or the arms that we used to get, assegais, tomahawks, axes, we would confiscate them and give them to the commander and he would pass them over to higher authority.

MR MOPEDI: So the AK47 that you used to scare away IFP members, that you used to fire at IFP members on the day of the funeral, what happened to it actually?

MR METHULA: With regard to this particular incident, I spoke about one AK47 that was in my possession. It would happen sometimes that in a particular section there would be only one or two guns. This firearm that was in my possession during the year 1993, I think it was nine days before the elections. It happened that Stambu - there was a fight that had broken out at the hostel and Stambu went there and apparently the gun was confiscated by the soldiers because the soldiers came looking for the gun. The explanation that we got was that this gun was confiscated by the soldiers and Stambu ran away.

MR MOPEDI: Were you personally there or was it explained to you?

MR METHULA: Could you repeat your question please?

MR MOPEDI: My question is, when the firearm was taken away from Stambu, as you have testified, were you there personally or is that what you heard?

MR METHULA: When the Gun was taken from Stambu I never went there, I wasn't there to fight because the guns were few, but when he came back he no longer had the gun. As to whether the gun was really taken I cannot say with certainty.

MR MOPEDI: So are you asking for amnesty?

MR METHULA: Yes, that is correct.

MR MOPEDI: And are you asking for amnesty for being in unlawful possession of an AK47, firing the shot at members of the IFP?

MR METHULA: Yes, that is true. I'm asking for amnesty for possession of the AK47, illegal possession as well as firing at the enemies or the then enemies. It's because of the situation that prevailed at that time.

MR MOPEDI: Is there anything that you would like to add which you might have left out?

MR METHULA: There is no other incident that I was involved in. These are the incidents that I've already referred to and testified to.

MR MOPEDI: Thank you, Mr Chairman.


CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Questions?

ADV STEENKAMP: No questions, thank you, Sir.


CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I assume there is no re-examination, Mr Mopedi?

MR MOPEDI: None Mr Chairman.


CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.

Mr Methula, you are excused, thank you.


CHAIRPERSON: We will adjourn at this stage until tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock or as soon thereafter as we can start the proceedings. We're adjourned.


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