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Type AMNESTY HEARINGS
Starting Date 18 May 1999
Names DENNIS FELAMANDLA GUMEDE
Case Number AM2784/96
Matter MURDER OF MR BHEKUMUZI H. ZONDI
MR GUMEDE: Mostly, we were in the times whereby we were very emotional and angry, especially myself, Nhlanhla and Bheki, who were those that I was with on that day. I was out of prison on a Tuesday and then on Thursday people who were under Bheki Chamane.
MR SAMUEL: Mr Gumede could you please go slowly and also as you go along, if you could tell the Commission exactly what happened and when youíre mentioning boys or any other person, if you will mention their names please.
MR GUMEDE: We were going to buy the underwear so that we can go to Ncuthu on Friday, so we were all together, moving in a group and then all of us, we were in a group. Those that Iíve actually counted the names, they were nearby me and there were actually more than that number. When we were nearby Shop 1. We wouldnít actually meet or associate with an ANC person and we met Bhekumuzi when we were just passing shop 1 and then I met with Bhekumuzi, I was nearby the rooster and then I said "here is the meat" because I saw who was there.
MR GUMEDE: He was across at Mr Roosterís side. Then I crossed the road and then when I was actually about to cross, the others, there were some in front of me, then as soon as I uttered the words "hereís the meat" then there were gunshots.
MR GUMEDE: Let me say, this Bhekimuzi, in most cases whereby the houses were burned and where the windows were broken in my area, his name would be mentioned and I would actually see him and most of us knew that he is a person who is actually in the forefront in the struggle, so...
He was always in the forefront heading the people who were actually going to break the windows, his name would always be mentioned. So we are there in town, we were already in a fight and all our belongings were burned and my clothes were burned.
Mr Gumede we are trying to get clarity on what happened on the day in question. If you will please just answer the questions I put to you, we will go over everything you need to say, but please answer the questions only. Right?
MR GUMEDE: It was burned in the same month, although I canít remember the month. The way it was burned, we were still in town so we actually couldnít go back and then I was told that at home my home was burned and I couldnít actually go back home because the soldiers wouldnít allow us in and then in those days we were still actually hurting because our clothes were burned.
MR GUMEDE: As there was this war nobody would actually give us the instruction. Anybody would fight. The UDF and the IFP would fight and nobody would have surely told anyone to do whatever, so if they would meet, they would actually attack you in one way or another.
MR GUMEDE: Nhlanhla Dladla is the one who was next to me. As I was saying, his gun was already out. As soon as I uttered those words Nhlanhla shot at him and then he fell down, and then he continued shooting.
MR GUMEDE: On that particular day I wasnít going to carry any firearm because I was from jail, from prison. I hadnít actually made arrangements to get one because I was immediately from jail. As it was myself who was the person who was leading in the youth, even the cases that would happen at night they would say itís me who was actually involved. I was in prison for murder and I was told that I was the murderer.
MR GUMEDE: That case didnít proceed and I actually didnít know because I was told that that was withdrawn and I was actually out on bail and it happens on several occasions where I will be taken to jail and actually taken out and then I will be told that that has been withdrawn.
MR GUMEDE: Yes, I and the taxi man, we were actually in the same organisation with the taxis so as this incident had occurred we actually went to the taxi rank and boarded the one taxi which was ready for us. We boarded that taxi and it took us straight to Matimatolo.
MR GUMEDE: And then the rest of the group actually went out of the car, the taxi, with the gun and then myself and the others actually went back to town. Thatís when I got arrested and then I was told that I was there when the person was killed.
CHAIRPERSON: Just answer the question please. Donít give long answers please. Just answer the question that you are asked. Understand? When you are asked to explain, then you must explain. Understand?
MR GUMEDE: On arrival I went to the shop, Asmal, it is nearby Mr Rooster, and then I bought the underwear and then took them to the kombi and then I sat there at the rank and then the sergeants came and they told me that the Station Commander wants me. Then I boarded the car because they were in a Golf. I went then to the Station Commander. On my arrival they told me that I must be arrested because it is that I am the one who shot that person.
CHAIRPERSON: Some of us are finding it difficult to keep up with him. I would rather that you give his answers, instead of allowing him to make a lengthy statement, for you to break down his answers so that we can take it down sensibly.
MR GUMEDE: They told me that I am being arrested now and well I denied that I actually had any relation with that shooting because I knew very well that Iím not the one who shot. I actually thought it would be a problem if I would say that I was part of the shooting although I did not shoot, so I just denied everything.
MR GUMEDE: Then I was arrested on that day. I slept there and then on Friday morning a certain Zondo came and asked me what happened yesterday because now he heard that the sergeant was saying that what happened, because now it is being said that I am the one who actually shot, and then I told him that look I am not the one who actually did that, I was only there going to buy meat. Thatís what I told him.
MR GUMEDE: Then I told the sergeant Zondo that because I was denying everything, knowing very well that I didnít shoot, I told him that I was passing there going to buy meat at Mr Rooster and that was not the truth because I knew that I would win the case and then I indicated
INTERPRETER: He is actually repeating that he denied everything, that I did not shoot and I wasnít party to the shooting and then I lied that I was going to buy meat at Mr Rooster. We are there. So now he will proceed.
MR GUMEDE: I then realised that I said I didnít see who actually shot there, now I wasnít, I then realised that I just indicated that I wasnít party to the shooting and I didnít even see who actually shot and now when I am being told that Nhlanhla has actually been killed, I find myself then in that dilemma. And I couldnít actually change the story and then thatís the story I maintained, that there were a lot of people who were actually selling there and the Indians. I maintained that I did not shoot and I was going to buy meat at Mr Rooster and then I got bail. I surely stayed there for about a month and then the case was postponed and postponed and then people were actually trying to look for me, they wanted to shoot me. They kept on postponing the case and then that is when the trial was and I was charged then and sentenced in 1993 on a Friday. I stayed in prison Friday, Saturday, Sunday and then on Monday I was out on appeal.
MR SAMUEL: Mr Gumede, we donít want the details as to how you were re-arrested but is it not true that in October 1993, after your case, after you were released on bail in the Bhekumuzi Zondi Case, you were re-arrested for another murder. Am I right?
MR SAMUEL: May we then complete the Zondi matter before we proceed to the Letsonyana matter, before we get confused. Now just one question in regard to the Zondi matter. You told this Commission at the time that you were involved in this incident, you were not in possession of a firearm because you had just come out of jail on that Monday?
MR SAMUEL: Being your Attorney it is my duty also to assist this Commission insofar as the application you made. In the statement of your application at page 6 of the bundle, you say that "I was also in possession of a 9 mm pistol but I did not intend to take part in the killing."
MR GUMEDE: I actually had no problems in possession of guns but in that particular day I didnít have a gun. I used to carry a gun which was authorised. I didnít have the gun on that day because the person who was supposed to authorise a gun for me, wasnít there. There were many guns on that day.
"My intention was to inform these people to kill Bhekumuzi Zondi. I was also in possession of a 9mm pistol but I did not intend to take part in the killing as Bhekumuziís mother was well known to me."
MR GUMEDE: I think the statement actually saying the truth because I was telling the truth when the statement was made. The reason I am saying it's the truth, because when the statement was made, it was immediately after the incident, therefore I think when I wrote this I could remember everything and itís the truth that Bhekumuziís mother is well known to me. I know her from the bank, she assisted me in opening an account there.
MR SAMUEL: So now the evidence that we have before us, am I correct in saying that you are asking for amnesty, not for the killing of Bhekumuzi Zondi, but rather for giving the order to kill Bhekumuzi Zondi, or for bringing about the death of Bhekumuzi Zondi, is that correct?
MR GUMEDE: Yes, thatís correct and Iím the one who actually said : "thereís the meat" and when I saw his mother it became heavy for me to actually shoot him, so in other words, the reason I didnít actually shoot him is because I saw his mother.
MR GUMEDE: Yes, thatís correct, I take full responsibility. Since I was just released from prison, my supporters or people who were the supporters of IFP were respecting me a lot and they would do anything I would tell them to do.
MR GUMEDE: When police came and told me that the Station Commander wanted to see me, as I was walking towards the police car there was a kombi and I took the gun and I just threw it inside the kombi. They couldnít see that.
MR GUMEDE: I would like the judge to understand one thing, when they called me, they didnít come out of the car. Thereís grass and thereís a taxi rank and they saw me sitting down, I had a tracksuit on and they called me to come there. I immediately knew that they were about to question me about the incident which just happened earlier and as I was walking towards their car, thatís how I managed to throw the gun inside the kombi. I knew police very well, they used to call me even at home to come to the police station, they would not come and arrest me like they usually arrest others. They will call me, maybe over the phone to come and question me.
MR GUMEDE: Yes I am very sorry, more especially when one takes into consideration the situation, more especially his mother. I had no problem with his mother and even in Court his mother asked me why I did this and we are related somehow with the Zondi family and his mother thinks Iím the one who actually killed her son. I was angry and mad because of what happened. They burned our houses, I didnít even have clothes. The only think I had was the clothes which were on my body and the reason I said to the guys there was the meat is because I was angry at that time.
MR GUMEDE: Yes, because I never had a problem with the Zondi family, in fact I never had a problem with a single person from Mhlongwane area, it was because of the situation I was forced to do what I did and I would like to apologise to anyone who was affected by my actions. It was because of the political situation, it wasnít personal at all because I never had a personal problem with anyone from that area.
MR GUMEDE: With regard to the Zondi matter I think I have said everything except to say that there were people among IFP members who didnít like Zondi at all, people like Nhlanhla and them because initially Nhlanhla and them, they were UDF themselves and they left UDF because they didnít like Zondi. Therefore it was easy for me to influence them against Zondi. It was so unfortunate that he was the first person we met in town, thatís why he was killed, but he wasnít actually the only one from UDF who was going to be killed. Anyone whom we were going to meet on that day belonging to UDF was going to be killed, but then it was so unfortunate that it was him. It wasnít planned, even in Court people asked me, or his brother actually asked me why I didnít talk this matter with him and I told him that I wasnít the one who actually shot his brother and they were all crying when I was sentenced. I never had a chance to apologise to the Zondi family.
MR GUMEDE: Yes, they never got along very well, but I never investigated as to what caused that but they left UDF and they became ZIM and after that they became the IFP. They never liked Bhekumuzi but I never had a personal problem with Bhekumuzi.
MR GUMEDE: I am not saying the reason they left UDF is because they didnít like Zondi. We were staying in one street but Nhlanhla and them used to know Bekhumuzi very well. They were together in UDF and therefore when he became IFP he actually showed them that he didnít like UDF, not specifically that he didnít like Bekhumusi himself, but turned against UDF.
MR GUMEDE: In Greytown IFP wasnít a majority. We left Hammersdale for Greytown. The reason we left is because there were conflicts and violence between IFP and UDF and we became IFP members and most of the IFP members considered me as a leader or a commander.
MR SAMUEL: As far as the evidence went Mr Chairman that gun was not recovered at the scene, all that was recovered was the cartridges, there was no gun recovered at the scene or from the accused in the matter.
MR GUMEDE: It is countless, itís quite a number. What I can say itís quite a number they have been arresting me for in Greytown, for numerous times. Sometimes they will release me on bail, sometimes they will release me without bail and sometimes I will try. The cartridges which was found in Mr Zondiís body were the cartridges from Nhlanhlaís gun, even in Court they did find this.
CHAIRPERSON: I am told that there was no such evidence. Anyway, you say that you have been arrested on countless occasions for murders and that youíve been released on bail, or the case did not proceed against you, is that what youíre saying?
MR GUMEDE: I would like to first apologise and to tell the judge that really I am seeing this attorney of mine for the first time today, maybe thatís why we never discussed this thing before and I donít think heís got full knowledge of my case.
MR GUMEDE: I didnít see him at that time, but when I threw the gun there, I think most people who were there at that taxi rank, they were Inkatha people and they saw me, but then they couldnít tell the police. They saw me as I was walking towards the police car, since we were in one organization, they couldnít sell me out and I knew that I wasnít like throwing the gun away, like to just throw it away, to lose it. I knew that it was going to be safe because those people were IFP as well.
ADV SANDI: I did not quite follow you. You were giving reasons as to why the deceased had to be killed, do you mind if I can ask you to repeat that? He was a member of the UDF and there was a conflict between the UDF and the ANC and some houses had been burned. Did you say your home had also been attacked?
MR GUMEDE: It is correct. In many occasions his name will be said that he was one of the people who were attacking and burning down IFP houses and IFP tried to kill him before the incident and Sipo, one IFP member, actually attempted to kill him and he was using a homemade gun, but then he failed and he was sentenced to four years. But in the area he was well known as a UDF member and an active one.
MR GUMEDE: Yes, it was not authorised. I was released on Tuesday and one of my group members gave me the gun. There was a chairman, his name is Mr Zondi, IFP Chairman, he will authorise guns for us but on that day he didnít. In that area one couldnít move around without a gun because the violence was corrupt that we had to carry guns.
ADV SANDI: Were you generally known amongst the police, or is it the position that there were specific officers who knew you well, who would contact you by telephone and call you to the police station?
MR GUMEDE: We were few and the violence detectives will call me because the detectives were divided into two, there were criminal detectives and the violence detectives, so the ones who used to call me were the violence detectives, not the criminal ones.
CHAIRPERSON: I think that what you are trying to establish is that there was a special friendship. Anyway. My colleague wants to know whether there was a kind of friendship between you and the police, that is why they didnít arrest you. Is that so?
MR GUMEDE: Yes, they used to have a relationship and friendship. There were other cases which were similar to this one, but I was never arrested, but on this one I was arrested and actually I told myself that I wasn't going to be arrested since I wasnít the one who actually shot Mr Zondi. There were other cases where Iíll be present when someone has been killed and when Iím called to be questioned they will just simply release me.
MR GUMEDE: Yes I experienced that in my area and thatís why people used to hate me because I used to be present in many incidences and sometimes, even if I am no longer present, people would say that I was there because they knew that I used to be present many times.
MR GUMEDE: Yes, in that area the people used to consider me dangerous. Maybe it is more so because I arrived in that area when the violence was ripe and the only things which Iíve done were to be involved in violence. They donít know me for any good thing. They only thing they know about me is the bad things. Thatís why I came here to apologise about this.
MS MTANGA: Chairperson, before I put questions to Mr Gumede, my instructions from the victim, the mother of the deceased, is that she still maintains the evidence in Court, so Iím not sure whether this Committee will allow her to give evidence or you will consider the evidence that she gave in Court as it is.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, we were not going to be considering his guilt or innocence at this stage, we want to know whether this is a political offence or not. Isnít it? He has been found guilty and there was an appeal and his appeal was dismissed.
MR GUMEDE: I donít like to disagree with Mrs Zondi but the truth is that I didnít use my gun because even the police who came, they would have found different cartridges. I did take out my gun, but I didnít use it and I have already admitted that it was because of what Iíve said that led to Bhekumuziís death, but I didnít shoot Bhekumuzi, Nhlanhla did.
MR GUMEDE: Yes. I did take my gun out after Nhlanhla started shooting because the reason I took my gun out, I didnít think that Bhekumuzi will be alone in town, I actually thought some people, his members, will be nearby. The reason I took the gun out, it was because of that thought. If I had a legal gun or an authorised one I would have given that gun to the police, but this one was not authorised and it wasnít legal, thatís why I hid it away before I went to the Police vehicle.
ADV SANDI: Mr Gumede, if we can just make a request which we have made to you already. When you are asked questions, you must just answer the questions and not give longwinded explanations otherwise it becomes too difficult to understand what your answer is to the question. Please. Thank you.
MR SAMUEL: Sorry, that is correct. Therefore I just want to bring to the attention of the Commission that there was some overflow as such in the evidence of the applicant when he referred to him being on bail in another case, when he was arrested in the Letsonyana case, so that ties up I think. May I then proceed with the evidence.
EXAMINATION BY MR SAMUEL: Mr Gumede, without giving longwinded answers, we have the documents before us, we have the trial record before us and the judgment so we donít need longwinded answers, please just be brief and answer the question.
Now we are dealing with the Letsonyana case, this is a matter where Mr Letsonyana was killed at the Durban Station. Do you admit that you were the person that killed Mr Letsonyana on the 28th October 1993?
CHAIRPERSON: No, no, no. Youíre asking him a complex of questions already. What transpired and then why. Letís just confine the question. Narrow your questions down so that the answers are purposeful.
MR GUMEDE: No, I didnít go there to relieve myself. Police came to the station, police used to come to Durban Station to search and on that day I gave somebody my gun and when I went back to fetch the gun, to go and hide it somewhere, thatís when I met this man, just as I was leaving the toilet.
MR GUMEDE: The reason I went to the toilet, I was going to hide the gun to myself, or in my body. I had an appointment with someone at 3 oíclock outside, near Umgeni, or the street opposite Umgeni and when I was hiding the gun in my body, immediately after I finished hiding it, I looked in a mirror, I saw someone who was looking at me and there were too many people in the toilet, people came there to fetch water so that they go and wash the kombis outside, and some people came there to relieve themselves in the toilet, and I noticed that someone was looking at me constantly.
MR GUMEDE: As I was walking towards the door he asked me my name. I didnít want to give my name to this person. I ask him who he was and he said to me he wanted to search me and I told him he wonít see that in this world. Thatís when he pulled his gun and, at that time I was ready because Iíve suspected him, and he hadnít yet cocked his gun, and thatís when I took my gun out and I shot him.
When I heard in Court, is that he had two guns and I also heard that he was a police. What aggravated my fear was that I just met Bhekumuziís brother and I went to him and greeted him and I wondered why he was in Durban.
MR GUMEDE: That is so. I didnít know that he was a police, I thought that he was someone who was being sent to kill me. I only heard that he was a police in Court, but in the toilet I though he was someone who was being sent to kill me.
MR GUMEDE: Before these two incidents I have been in fear. I would be in fear and sometimes I would question if I see someone from Greytown, if I see that person somewhere, I would question why that person was there. Even when I was in Court, there were people who were saying threats, that they were going to kill me. I was shot many times.
MR GUMEDE: Yes, I was scared because I realised that he was there to kill me and since I was scared, I didnít even wash my hands in the toilet, I rushed out and as I was going outside, he stopped me at the door and thatís when I got scared because not very long I just met the brother of the deceased and I was scared that that person was there to kill me.
You were asked a question, letís just get the answer. You met the brother of the deceased about two weeks before. The last time you saw the brother of the deceased was about one or two weeks before this incident, is that right?
MR SAMUEL: Did you meet Mr Zondi, the deceased, did you meet the deceased, Mr Zondiís, brother on the day that this incident took place in the Durban station? Did you meet him on that day? Let me put it another way. Did you meet Bhekumuziís brother on the day in question?
MR GUMEDE: No, I didnít think of that. What I realised there is that the way he looked at me, he knew a lot about me and I didnít know anything. Itís like he was told as to what to ask me and to simply shoot me then and there. He wanted us to finish then and there in the toilet because I wanted to go out because I knew that outside there were other people, or IFP people outside who knew me very well, but he didnít want us to go out of the toilet, he stopped me at the door.
MR GUMEDE: I donít think thereís anyone who will attack someone for no apparent reason. I know that it was difficult for someone to go in that area to simply kill me because in that area, those taxi drivers or taxi owners were IFP, but one thing, he was going to kill me there in the toilet but it was going to be difficult for him to escape outside because most of the people who are there are the people who are always alert and who know that they are being hunted by other oppositions or other political oppositions.
Mr Gumede, what I donít understand is, how did you make the connection of Zondi with this man? Its not clear to me, can you just try and explain it? You saw Mr Zondi about a week or two before the time and now you make a connection of Zondi and the man in the toilet. Can you explain that?
MR GUMEDE: Let me say this, people will track you down and trace you if they have a grudge. Before the Truth Commission, people used to have rivals and they will track you down and it was scary to meet someone you know that he is your rival. You meet that person somewhere, because the last time I saw Zondiís brother was in Court and he was crying and I knew Mr Zondiís brother that heís real good in firearms, he aims and shoots and heís a real good shot. When I saw him in Durban, I went to him and I greeted him and he answered back and I asked him if he was well. He said yes, he was well. He was with someone I didnít know and this person he was with was sitting in the car in the back seat and I realised that in the passenger seat there was someone and later after he left I saw that there was someone on the passenger seat, even though I didnít know those people. And I saw them leaving. What made me make this connection was that he was a policeman and now I am seeing this guy and he wants to attack me and the recent incident was the Zondi incident. At that time people who considered that I was an enemy to them, were the Zondi family. Thatís why I made the connection.
MR SAMUEL: Mr Gumede, at the trial of this matter it seemed that this was an ordinary killing for the purposes of robbery. Did you take any firearms from the deceased on the day in question? Did you rob the deceased after you had shot him?
MR GUMEDE: No, the police, who were outside, who were with him, came after me immediately. The only thing they found in my possession was my gun, the gun that I used in killing him. I didnít take anything from him. The police can be my witness in this because after I shot him and after I left the toilet, I was walking and they were right behind me, following me, until they arrested me in the car.
MR SAMUEL: Mr Gumede, thereís just one more discrepancy that I want to raise with you, just for the purposes of this Commission, to apply their minds to it. On page 35 of the bundle, in your affidavit in this application, you mention that
"I aimed at his hand and on not seeing the firearm falling, I thought that I had missed and I shot him on his head."
Now, Sir, at the trial the postmortem report did not show any head injuries, rather what it showed is a chest injury and an injury to the cheek where the bullet had gone through the throat. Now what do you mean when you say that you shot him on the head? Could you explain to the Commission please?
MR GUMEDE: I aimed at his head but since I was scared, firstly I aimed at his hand and I saw that the gun didnít fall and then I aimed at his head. Even in Court I told them that I aimed at his head, but then they did mention that the bullet went through his throat.
MR GUMEDE: To tell the honest truth, it is very, very difficult to ask for apology to people you donít know. I didnít know the man and I would like to apologise to his family. I only discovered a lot about him after I killed him. I also heard that heís from Umlazi B Section. Up until today I donít know if he wanted to kill me, why he wanted to kill me. I also heard that he was with other people and they were waiting for him outside. Itís probably because I was confused, I thought he was there to kill me. I didnít know why he wanted to kill me because I didnít know the man. I donít know how to apologise to his family.
I still have a problem with this matter because I donít know the actual truth as to what happened, if he really wanted to kill me and if he did, why he wanted to kill me. Today I am doing 28 years in prison because of him. I donít know why it came this far, because itís not like I wanted to kill him, but I thought he wanted to kill me and I still donít know why today he wanted to kill me, if he wanted to kill me. I heard also that he had two guns in his possession. The only gun which I saw was the one he was trying to cock. I also didnít touch that gun.
ADV BOSMAN: Mr Samuel, just clear up something for me. If you could perhaps refer me, or the Committee, to the page, you mentioned that the Court found that this was robbery, could you just refer us to the relevant section please?
MR GUMEDE: I heard about the robbery in Court. Police wrote this statement themselves. It wasnít robbery, they just wrote what they thought, they thought it was robbery but it wasnít robbery at all. I didnít take anything from this man. The witness who came to Court told a lie, because he said he saw me taking a gun and giving it to Nongalaza, something which I didn't do. I didnít give Nongalaza a gun. Fortunately for me, the police, who saw me leaving the toilet, followed me up until the car and thatís here they searched me and the only thing they found in my possession, was my gun which I used in killing this man.
ADV BOSMAN: Mr Samuel, but we have a statement now by the legal representative that it was a finding of the Court, perhaps you should clear that, because I do not recall having read this as a finding and it is rather important. Chairperson, I donít want to waste any time, perhaps we could clear that later on.
ADV SANDI: Yes, but I thought, Mr Samuel, that is in terms of what appears in the contents of the papers that we have in front of us, that the Applicant had made a statement in Court, a plea actually, admitting to having killed the deceased and he said he was doing so in self-defence.
MR SAMUEL: That is correct. In his plea to the possession of firearms, and he pleaded not guilty to murder but to the possession of a firearm and the robbery he submitted a plea. In that plea he stated that he had killed in self-defence.
MR SAMUEL: What I was referring to, most probably in a very round about way, where I said that the Judge made a finding, I wish to refer Madam Chair to page 56 of the document, of the bundle, where the Judge in his Judgment says, "We know that the deceasedís firearms was removed. The witness, Ndlamini, who seems to be a completely independent witness, explained what happened to him. It makes sense as we know that often people who wish to obtain firearms kill the police or persons who have firearms and take their firearms. I think in that context I referred to it as being a murder for the purpose of robbery. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: So what is the present position as far as his actual terms of imprisonment are concerned? He was sentenced to 14 years on the first murder of Mr Zondi and now he is serving a further 25 years?
CHAIRPERSON: Thatís right. You are reminded that you are still under oath. You have already told me that in respect of the second application, you had never seen or known the man before the day that you shot him?
CHAIRPERSON: We are not talking about the family now, just think about yourself before you shot him. I am talking at that time. Do you understand? Just talk about what transpired. My question was, before the actual shooting, there was no argument between him and you, apart from the fact that he asked you for your name and you did not want to give him your name.
MR GUMEDE: When I entered the toilet, I was in a hurry however. I just was bumping on people but it wasnít a big deal. Itís just that in Court I put it in another way. But it wasnít him, he actually found me already in the toilet.
MR GUMEDE: Actually, this case was problematic to me, the way it had happened, so I actually thought that I should lie and then say that, I actually lied in Court and stated that the person that I bumped into at the door as I was rushing, it was him. That was a lie.
MR GUMEDE: In actual fact, I canít quite remember this. I lied a lot although I was actually trying to make everything to relate, to actually indicate that I was protecting myself, and I was actually trying to defend myself there, while I was speaking in Court. I was actually saying everything so that it can relate or correlate with what I was saying.
In Court I put it like that, they were supposed to see that it was self-defence. However, they had a question that if I had any quarrel with him. I didnít have a reason to give, however, indicated that I realise that he was actually approaching to kill me and then I realised that I actually had to take out the gun and cock it because I realised that, I was aware that I could be killed at any minute.
MR SAMUEL IN ARGUMENT: Mr Chairman, in the Application for Amnesty of Dennis Gumede, for the death or murder of Bhekumuzi Zondi, it is my submission, Mr Chairman, that all the provisions, all the elements for the granting of amnesty to this applicant have been proved.
It is abundantly clear that the motive for the killing of Bhekumuzi Zondi was a political objective. In this regard, I wish to refer the Honourable Commission to page 18 of the bundle of documents, to the Judgment of your learned brother, Judge Thirion. At the 27th line the Judge says :"It is obvious that the deceased was killed as part of the ongoing struggle between the ANC and INKATHA". The Judge further goes on to say: "the accused is a prominent member and office bearer of INKATHA".
MR SAMUEL: It is obvious that the applicant had no personal grievance against the deceased and the only reason why he gave the order was because it was known to him that the deceased was a member of the UDF and he was also a leader on most occasions when houses were being burned. Although the Court had found that the accused had killed the deceased, it is still my submission, Mr Chairman, that the applicant had made full disclosure. In this regard, the ballistic report on page 18 of the bundle of documents, corroborates and substantiates the applicantís version, that the gun that was used to kill the deceased was a gun that was found near, or on the dead body of Nhlanhla Dladla.
MR SAMUEL: On the Letsonyana case. Mr Chairman, in the application for amnesty in regard to the Letsonyana case, it is my submission that the accused should be considered for amnesty. Mr Letsonyana ...(intervention)
MR SAMUEL: My apologies, Mr Chairman. Whilst there is no direct evidence that he acted under a political order, at the time of shooting the deceased, Mr Letsonyana, it is my submission that nevertheless, it has never been proved otherwise, that there was no political motive involved. It is quite clear ...(intervention)
Thank you. Mr Chairman, what could have been the motive on the day in question? The only conclusion that one could come to, the accused had no prior knowledge of the person Letsonyana on the day in question. He did not have any argument with Mr Letsonyana on the day in question. All we are left with is a factual situation where a man pulls out a gun in a toilet, in an enclosed space, after asking only one question, asking the applicant what is his name. The applicant, as he has given evidence before the Commission, was under a constant fear or threat of being killed, and he lived with this fear and any unknown person that inquired after his name, especially with a gun in his hand or in his possession, immediately the accused would jump to the conclusion, rightly so, that that person is inquiring after him only for the purpose of getting rid of him in the sense of killing him. It is obvious that he had been involved with, and was convicted for a murder quite recently prior to this incident. He was out on bail on appeal, Your Worship, and it is obvious that family members of the deceased, Bhekumuzi Zondi, would have placed a price on the applicantís head.
MR SAMUEL: As much as that is the case Your Worship, that he was feared by the people whilst he was in the area, now that he was not in the area it would be far more easier to get rid of him because he would not have pulled the trigger, neither would he have had accomplices or all people to defend him if an attempt on his life had been made.
MR SAMUEL: It is far fetched Your Worship because we cannot find the necklace between the death of Bhekumuzi Zondi and the death of Mr Letsonyana, but be that as it may, I would still urge this Honourable Commission to consider the motive. It is quite clear that the applicant in this matter had not robbed the deceased on the day in question. The evidence that was led at the trial showed that the deceased was in possession of two firearms. If robbery was the motive it would have been easy for him to have removed those firearms.
He had no opportunity to verify the name of the person that he was going to kill, or to injure, he had no way of knowing what political party the person had belonged to and Bhekumuzi Zondiís brother being a police person, the applicant would have been justified in believing that this person who was sent into the toilet, or who had come into the toilet with him, was sent by the family of Bhekumuzi Zondi.
CHAIRPERSON: And suspected him of some offence or the other. It had nothing to do with who is your name, or what is your name, whether he knew the name of the man or not, the other person. Now this other person may have had all kinds of reasons to ask these questions. He may have mistaken him for somebody else. We are in the field of great conjecture here as to why this resulted. There is not the faintest tinge that any political consideration arose in the mind of the applicant at the time.
CHAIRPERSON: You see, subsequently he may have sat down in jail and started thinking of all the possible reasons why this may have happened, but at the time that he killed, he was not being driven by a political motive or a political objective. The rest is rationalization.
It is my submission on behalf of the Zondi family that the applicant has not given full disclosure regarding the death of Bhekumuzi Zondi in that he has failed to give evidence regarding his involvement in this matter. According to Mrs Zondi, the applicant did actually shoot the victim and he had denied that evidence before this panel. It is on these grounds that the family feels the Committee should refuse his application.
My submission regarding the death of Mr Letsonyana. I submit that the applicant had no political motive in killing Mr Letsonyana. His efforts of linking the death of Bhekumuzi Zondi and his fears of the Zondi family are far fetched, Chairperson in that the incident of Zondi took place on the 18th of July 1991, the applicant was arrested a day later. He was on bail soon after and the incident of Mr Letsonyana took place in 1993 and he had been on bail all this time. He has given evidence that he had appeared, he had made several appearances in Court, where his matter would be remanded each time and the family had ample time to do anything, if they did do anything, to Mr Gumede.
ADV BOSMAN: Ms Mtanga, what is your submission on the probability that Mr Zondiís mother may have made a mistake when she gave evidence. This was a very traumatic incident, she saw the gun in the applicantís hands, what are the probabilities of her having made a mistake when she gave evidence that both he and Mr Dlandla shot?
MS MTANGA: Madam Chairperson, if one looks at the Judgment, there was consistent evidence from Mrs Zondi, even at the time of the incident, when the police found her next to the body of her son. She had indicated that the applicant had committed the murder.
ADV BOSMAN: That doesnít really answer my question. Even if she was consistent, what are the chances that she had made a mistake, the probability that she had made a mistake? Because sheíd seen the gun in his hands, sheís heard the shots ring out, how sure could she have been that he had actually shot? That is my question.
MR SAMUEL: There is no explanation given by any side, either the Court or anybody as to how the gun that was used in the murder eventually found its way to Mr Nhlanhla Dladla, because that gun was eventually found on his body and the applicant at that stage did not know that Nhlanhla Dladla was in fact killed.
CHAIRPERSON: I donít think that is too far fetched because these chaps left immediately after the shooting, got into the same taxi and they all went away together. And it could easily be that during that time, he was coming back into town, he left his gun with Nhlanhla.