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Type AMNESTY HEARING
Starting Date 10 December 1998
Names P ZONDI
Case Number (?)
MR ZONDI: We were on our way to the office at about eight in the morning. We were travelling to the Empangeni office. As we were driving along the way we saw a group of about 10 to 15 people. These people were carrying sticks, removing ANC election campaign placards. When we saw them, Senzo said we must go and actually stop them from doing this. Mr Mkunu was the Secretary General in Northern Natal.
When the car stopped in front of them, they fled. We got out of the car, those of us who were carrying firearms. It was myself, Thulani and Makoba. Makoba did not use his firearm though. When we got out of the car and they fled, we fired shots in the air and I realised that they were actually speeding off. Because we had to stop them, I realised we had to stop them, I started shooting, pointing my firearm directly to the deceased.
MR ZONDI: ANC posters had been removed quite a number of times before, therefore we realised we should stop them from the practice because it was not the first time that the posters had been put up, thereafter removed and this undermined the ANC as an organisation.
MR LAX: No, the question is, why did you want to stop them from getting away, not so much stop them from pulling down the posters, everyone understands that. In other words, why did you have to shoot at them if they were running away? That is the question.
MR ZONDI: From the way that things happened I am not myself sure what happened, I just found myself pointing the firearm. Moreover, once you have pointed a firearm at someone and you are a trained soldier, there is no way that they are not going to die if you actually fire the firearm.
MR ZONDI: At that time it was just before the elections, it was March, and the IFP had actually issued an order that its members should not participate in the election. I then felt that the removal of ANC posters was in furtherance of that campaign. The situation was quite tense at the time because they were also many attacks carried out by the IFP against the ANC at the time.
CHAIRPERSON: It was almost a war situation the Judge said who heard your case, the country was virtually in a state of - this part of the country was virtually in a state of civil war. That was the position wasn't it, things were very tense in that part of the country?
MR MAPOMA: Mr Chairman, I've no evidence from the side of the victims or from anywhere else, except Sir, to point out that the mother of the victim is GRACE MPANZA and her sister is ZIKLE MPANZA. They are all members of the family. They are here.
Sorry, Mr Mapoma, you say you have nothing to say beyond that. Is it correct that it would appear that the version given by the applicant, which was the same as that advanced by him at his trial, appears to agree entirely with the statements taken from the deceased's companion, except the one statement which denied that they were doing anything but the others all admit that they were taking posters down when this happened. There appears to be no conflict of fact whatsoever?
MR MAPOMA: Yes, Chairperson, there is no dispute on that. In fact unfortunately the victims say they cannot dispute it because they were not there but they can confirm that the deceased and his group were members of the IFP.
CHAIRPERSON: And we do have statements taken from all the members of his group I think and as I say, apart from the one gentleman, the others all agree that they were there and decided to take off the ANC election posters.
I submit that whilst the immediate act of the applicant in shooting the deceased, was possibly more impulsive than politically motivated, I submit that in the broader context of the political struggle at the time, that it must with respect, be seen that this act was committed in a political context and was politically motivated.
I think as is indicated in the affidavit of the applicant, the fact that the election campaign was in progress, the fact that he was an ANC Security Aide and the level of the political violence and the intensity of that at that stage, and had the deceased not been pulling down a poster at the time, is indicative of the fact that this incident was committed against a political opponent in a political context and to that extent he satisfies the requirements of Section 20.
You Worship, the - sorry, Mr Chairperson, I don't think there can be any dispute as regards the aspect of disclosure, certainly nothing has been put to him, and clearly, as the Chairperson correctly pointed out, it appears that the facts as deposed to in an affidavit or identical to what was found in the criminal trial. I submit that in the circumstances that he has satisfied the requirements of the Act and amnesty should be granted.
CHAIRPERSON: The question that still arises, because I think we all agree about that one, was the question of proportionality. And here one has to accept, in judging this, the conditions that existed at the time, that this was not the first instance and one can well imagine, I don't think it would be contested, that there must have been enormous pressures on the person working for the ANC in Empangeni.
MR WILLS: Certainly, Mr Chairperson. I'm sure that you will have heard a lot of evidence in your other hearings in these matters, people were killed on a frequent basis who were associated with the ANC. I recall - just the one incident that comes to mind immediately was the Saturday prior to the election where
... Zondi seeks amnesty for the murder of Sikle Makapeni Mpanza, on the 22nd of March 1994, and according to what is set out in his affidavit, in respect of illegally crossing the borders of South Africa when he went to and from military training.
The applicant was born on the 24th June 1973. He was 20 years old at the time of the commission of the offence. He had already joined the ANC and its military arm, Umkhonto weSizwe, and at the age of 17 had been sent for military training in Uganda. He returned in late 1992, some two years later, and both occasions crossed the border illegally.
The incident took place shortly before the first open general election held in this country in 1994, and at that time he was working in the ANC offices in Empangeni, at Empangeni Rail. Although Empangeni itself may have been an ANC area, it was situated in the midst of strong IFP areas and there must have been extreme tension between the members of the various parties at that time.
It will be recollected, as was testified to by the applicant, that the IFP had up till that time chosen not to participate in an election. It will be remembered they very shortly thereafter elected to take part.
When he was going to the offices of the ANC, he noticed a group of young men who were in the process of removing ANC election posters which had been put up in the street in the vicinity of the ANC offices.
He and the others with him were ordered by Mr Mkunu to stop these people. He jumped out of the car as did the others, and drew his pistol. I am satisfied that the pistol he was using was a licensed weapon and that he was not charged with possession of an unlawful weapon and he and the other person were both carrying similar pistols, 9mm Mauzers and it appears probable that they would have been given them as part of their employment. It was not something that was held against him at his trial.
The people who were taking down the posters, about 10 or 15 of them, scattered and ran. He shot as did his companion, into the air but realised this was doing nothing to stop the people, using the word: "stop" in the sense not of preventing them from carrying on what they were doing but in the sense of stopping them from getting away, so that steps could be taken to ensure they did not do it again.
We are quite satisfied that the action taken by the applicant was completely unjustified, if assessed in a cold calm atmosphere but it is quite clear that in the atmosphere that prevailed at the time, the applicant did not judge it as coldly and calmly as he should have, he was carried away emotionally and shot to prevent these people getting away so they couldn't do it again.
In answer to questions by me, it is quite clear he made no attempt to conceal his identity, he must have had he stopped for a moment, been aware of the fact that people there would recognise him, would be able to identify him and that he would be held liable for what he was doing.
We are satisfied on the evidence and having regard in particular to the finding of the trial Judge who had the benefit of seeing and hearing the witnesses and hearing evidence of conditions, that what the applicant did was something done with a political objective, that is the objective of preventing interference with the election process and that although as I said, judged in a calm calculating manner, it could be classified as excessive, in the circumstances existing at the time, it would be wrong of us to come to such a conclusion. The trial Judge in his judgment on sentence said:
"I agree however with Mr Langa, that when the accused committed this offence, these were not normal times, there was great political tension and this part of the country was virtually in a state of civil war. The opposing political parties were perceived as enemies of each other. The ANC were not allowed to campaign freely in this area and there was tension all around."
The trial Judge accepted that the applicant had been politicised at an early stage and also accepted, as I have done, that he was given the firearm when he was made into a security guard of the party.
He did not appear to have the requisite training in the responsibility of the use of a firearm, but that is not something that one can blame a young man for, there may be others in the party who should have foreseen this.
In the light of this and of the evidence we have heard, and I omitted to say that in the documents put before us there were statements from the other person who were with the deceased, which confirms that they were in the process of taking down the posters, and on the basis of all this, we are satisfied that the unlawful act committed by the applicant in connection with the shooting was an act committed with a political objective and was covered by the provisions of the Amnesty Act.
We accordingly GRANT him amnesty in respect of the KILLING OF THE DECEASED. It also appears to us that his going to military training was clearly an act with a political objective and we grand him amnesty in respect of his ILLEGAL CROSSING OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN BORDERS when he went for and returned from military training.
We would also like to place on record that we are satisfied from what we have heard, that the mother of the deceased GRACE MPANZA suffered as a result of this unlawful political act and is entitled to reparation in respect thereof. We accordingly refer her to the Reparation Committee which now forms part of the Amnesty Committee. If she would give her details we could attend to that. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: I'd like to thank you both for your assistance in this matter and thank the victims for their patience, they've spent a long journey to come here and we hope they have now realised that this is yet another one of those tragedies of the past, which we hope that we can now put behind us while we all work towards a new South Africa.