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Type AMNESTY HEARING
Starting Date 30 November 1998
Location PALM RIDGE
Names JOHANNES AMOS METHULA
Case Number AM 7045/97
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.