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Type AMNESTY HEARINGS
Starting Date 11 February 1998
ADV PRIOR:: Mr Chairman, I have no questions flowing from that but if I may be permitted to ask one question concerning the aspect of infiltration and I tell the Committee why. Itís because ...[intervention]
Mr Tanda, I omitted to ask you yesterday on this aspect. During other hearings, St James and particularly the Heidelberg Tavern attack which occurred in December of Ď93, there was a strong suggestion made by various victims and other witnesses that APLA in planning these attacks, had been infiltrated by the security forces, whether that was the security branch of the police or military intelligence of the army. Were you aware or did you hear anything like that especially in respect of your own operation in Newcastle?
ADV PRIOR:: You indicated to the Committee yesterday that you were responsible for the security of the operation, code names were used, vehicles that couldnít be traced back to you were used and so forth, yet you were arrested the very next day after the operation and it seems that within a few hours the police had recovered the weapons, the ammunition, where you had stayed was pointed out, the people that you had contact with were all arrested within a few hours of the actual operation. Did that cause you to believe that you had been infiltrated and that information had been passed to the police prior to your arrest?
MR TANDA: I would not bind myself to say that police had information before we were arrested or after we had been arrested. But however, what I know is that during the interrogation one of our brothers by the name of Buthalezi went out to point out firearms and other things. I donít want to accuse anybody at the present moment, for example saying so and so is working for the white people. I didnít have time to look for such information.
Mr Shiceka, you were convicted by the Criminal Court in May of last year, of 1994. Mr Shiceka, you were convicted in May of 1994 of murder, attempted murder, unlawful possession of machine guns and unlawful possession of grenades and you were sentenced to an effective term of imprisonment of 25 years, is that correct?
MR ARENDSE: Now Iím referring to page 38 of the Judgement. The Court says that you denied that you were involved in the events at the disco. The Court went on to say that you alone of the accused admitted that you were a member of APLA and that you were in fact in Newcastle about the business of APLA at the time that this incident took place. Do you remember that?
MR SHICEKA: The reason was because two targets were selected, a restaurant and the Crazy Beat Disco, if we failed to attack one we had the option to attack the other one, either the restaurant or the Crazy Beat. The person who selected the Crazy Beat Disco it Tanda because heís the one who did the recognises.
MR SHICEKA: The times I will go to the place in Tandaís company and Iíve seen when going to town that it was frequented by white people. As his deputy I had to know what kind of place we are going to carry out the operation.
MR SHICEKA: The reason why we didnít attack the restaurant was because there were many african people on the streets and we realised that if we start attacking the restaurant some african people might be injured, therefore Tanda decided that since - if we start attacking this place people may get injured and therefore we should avoid it and then we went straight to the Crazy Beat.
MR SHICEKA: I wonít be able to know because we were given an order, an order which was coming from the Transkei which said that we should go and attack white people. I think thatís the main reason why we ended up attacking the Crazy Beat Disco, because itís a place where white people normally frequent.
MR ARENDSE: I ask the question because it would appear from your various amnesty applications that you have applied for amnesty in respect of attacks on for example, police stations, army bases and so on and they would appear to be what you can call: "hard targets" and whatís also been referred to as: "legitimate targets".
Now there seems to be a shift from attacking those: "hard targets" to what is referred to as: "soft or civilian targets" where there are people involved, ordinary civilians presumably innocent civilians. Can you explain whether there was in fact that shift? Were you aware that there was that shift in strategy?
MR SHICEKA: I personally, Iím a soldier, I had to carry some orders from my seniors. As to the question of whether we were shifting from one target to another target, Iím not part of the decision making in such APLA operations. Iím only given instructions to attack. Whether APLA was shifting from defence force and South African Police, I wonít be able to answer that. I think our seniors are the people, the relevant people who can answer that questions. I personally had to carry the orders as it was given.
MR SHICEKA: During my training I was taught that you donít question an order or instruction. If you are a disciplinary member of the army you have to carry out the instruction as itís given. After carrying out the operation you can ask questions. Therefore it means that if I defy an order Iím causing a mutiny within the ranks army and a mutiny in something thatís not wanted in any army situation.
MR SHICEKA: What I know is, for example if you had a small dagga itís not allowed and if youíre seeing doing so youíre out of the principle of the army therefore the commander has to punish you. Those were the petty things that I saw people getting punished for them. For example they will take off your clothes and let you crawl and put you in the mud and water to bring you back to your senses. Those are the petty things that Iíve seen as Iíve said. For example, when youíre drinking a lot or smoking dagga. Those are the things that I saw.
MR SHICEKA: I donít have an understanding to that regard. I think comrade Malevu said they were in Transkei but I donít know how they came to be in Newcastle. I was that ammunition is already available in Newcastle, I donít know how it was carried to Newcastle. I wasnít told that answer with Bongani. They told me that Iíll find arms in Newcastle.
MR SHICEKA: Thatís correct. However, the car was not far from the scene of the restaurant. Even the people in the car could see the situation outside. However, I personally went into the restaurant to see what was happening and I realised there were many people around here and I told them that the situation is bad.
MR SHICEKA: He gave us orders. He said there were white people inside. Tulele and Funani, we ended up being four. I myself and Tanda went to look around at the disco. Tulele and Funani were giving us firing cover. The reason why they had to give us a firing, it was because if ever police come or we are shot from behind, they will be able to cover us while weíre concentrating shooting and the disco. The people who went to shoot at the disco it was my myself and Tanda.
MR SHICEKA: Yes, there was a reason why I havenít used the hand grenade because the front door had burglar proofs and we realised that if we throw a hand grenade through the door it can re-bounce, it can hit the burglar proofs and explode next to our vicinity and we might be injured and we never wanted to be injured. Thatís the reason why we never used it.
CHAIRPERSON: I would not be surprised if you were not able to remember how many shots you fired but it would surprise me if you were to say to us that you donít remember whether you changed the magazines, whether you loaded another magazine. I would expect you to can remember that.
MR SHICEKA: Mr Chairman, I understand what youíre saying. Iím saying at the time of the attack, my magazine carries 35. Each and every person has to load his firearm. I loaded mine to the full, it had 35 rounds. At the time when I was shooting, I donít know how many rounds I shot. After the shooting I then reloaded my magazine. When we were leaving the house before the attack, going to attack we were responsible for loading our own firearms. Mine was fully loaded.
MR ARENDSE: You should be in a position, because youíre the person that fired the shots, you should be in a position to tell us whether you dispensed with the whole magazine or whether you changed it. If you fired one magazine then it gives us a pretty good idea of how many shots were fired, at least we know itís not more that 35. And we also know from the ballistic evidence that was given in the trial court which was not challenged, that quite a number of rounds were fired from - that could be seen from the cartridges that was picked up from the scene. Can you assist us there?
MR SHICEKA: Mr Chairman, I never changed my magazine, I shot, I fired while Tanda was also firing and I never changed my magazine. I didnít see him changing a magazine. He might answer for himself. I only can say I never changed my magazine.
MR ARENDSE: Thank you. So you fired through there and you fired quite a number of shots. It resulted in one person being killed and two people being injured. Now, you only learnt that afterwards obviously, that one person was killed, two people were injured. Did you expect more people to be killed or injured?
MR SHICEKA: I didnít have that opportunity to look inside into the disco because the person who went to see inside was Tanda and when I went towards the disco I didnít look around, I just started firing.
MR ARENDSE: Now you killed Ms Gerbrecht Selomina van Wyk and I understand that at the time she was the mother of four young children. They were been at the time, 14, 10, 13 and 6 at the time. You were obviously not aware of that but now that you know that, how do you feel about what happened that evening and particularly that you killed Ms van Wyk?
MR SHICEKA: Itís very painful because killing a human being is a very painful experience anywhere in the world and Iím sorry for the family, Iím very sorry. As youíve already explained that she was a mother, she had children, it will be painful for the children to lose their beloved mother.
Iím saying it will be painful for the children to lose their beloved mother and I also say as an individual, if I were to be given a chance I would like to meet the family of the victims - the victims family, the partyís leadership. In my presence I would like to go and ask for forgiveness from the victimís family.
I would like to explain to them the reason why I did the act or committed the act. I will say to them: as a soldier I had no option, I had to carry out the instructions given to me by my seniors. I pity them, I am sorry for them and thatís deep from my heart and nowhere else. I would like to think that if it was me in that situation, how was I going to feel. I know that all that I did was because of politics and I would like to ask forgiveness from the family.
MR ARENDSE: Now you and your co-applicants, Walter Tanda and Bongani Malevu, youíve requested of me to ask the Committee -Mr Chairman, to facilitate such a meeting and in fact at the conclusion of the hearing of this matter for the applicants to address Mrs Swart directly, who is a victim and the mother of the late Ms van Wyk. Is that right?
ADV PRIOR:: And if I understand your evidence that youíve given this morning, you didnít particularly enjoy - if I can use that expression, shooting as you did but you were simply carrying out an order that you received from your superiors which was given in the context of the political struggle, is that correct?
"He was awakened in the early hours of the morning by the sound of voices and he joined a number of people in the dinning room of Buthaleziís house where they were drinking beer"
ADV PRIOR:: No, you woke up, you were woken, you said to the Judge or the Court you were sleeping, you got up but now we know thatís not true. When you got back after the operation you started drinking beer. I want to know, was that a form of celebration to celebrate the attack? What was the reason for drinking beer at that time?
MR SHICEKA: I was trying to avoid a situation in this way. Itís because I have to convince the Judge that I didnít go there to conduct operations but just to train PAC members. Thatís the difference in Newcastle since there were some faction fights within political organisations at that time in the township. Therefore I was trying to run away from the allegation that I was involved in the case.
"Power told me at Umtata that we must meet at a certain house and told me to prepare for a trip to Newcastle"
ADV PRIOR:: Now over the past four years whilst youíve been in prison, have you made any enquiries from the political leaders of the PAC or the military leaders of APLA regarding that position, as to whether that in fact was the true position at the time?
"Comrade Umzala who issued the order to take the war to the white areas and to destroy the state machinery"
MR SHICEKA: This is Umzala from Transkei, the man who gave us the instruction to go and attack in Newcastle. When or while I was in prison, people who came to visit me to help me with the amnesty application was a member of the parliament, comrade Sizani. The second one who came to visit me in Worcester is Leklapa Pathlele.
Therefore I think comrade Sizani, the MP in Cape Town is the one who put through my application. I thought the one which was before the Commission is the one that was put through Leklapa Pathlele because he also did an application on my behalf. This is the one Iím referring to where below where itís written Commissioner of Oaths, as it was written by R K Sizani, Member of Parliament.
Heís the first person who came to me while I was Pollsmoor prison in 1994. Thereafter comrade Leklapa Pathlele, director of operations came later. Therefore I thought the application before the Commission was signed by Leklapa Pathlele. However it was the one by comrade Sizane in 1994.
ADV PRIOR:: Yes sorry, you seem to have missed the question. The question is simply, did you ever make enquiries from any of the leadership who you now confirm came to see you in prison, whether that in fact was the policy at the time, to take the struggle into the white areas and to attack white target?
ADV PRIOR:: While you were in prison because up until that stage you had no contact, on your evidence, that you had contact with either leadership of the PAC or of the high command of APLA. You were simply acting on what Umzala or Power had told you in Umtata?
ADV PRIOR:: Yes, I understand that but your counsel also put to you that there seemed to be a change on the nature of the targets that APLA were now concentrating on. You as a soldier, were you not able to even formulate that in your mind that: in the we were attacking military targets, policemen, police stations, military headquarters, army headquarters, army bases, now suddenly we are told to attack civilian targets? Did that not indicate to you that there was a change in the policy of APLA?
CHAIRPERSON: That is not the question. You are a soldier but even soldiers can think surely, whether asking you is - is it not so that in the past your targets were police and other security forces? Now did you not, when you were asked to carry out this operation, did you not realise that: O, now we are shifting from attacking security forces, we are now attacking civilians? The question is not whether you - the question is not why you didnít ask that, the question is, did you not yourself, as somebody who has passed standard 10, did you not realise that: O, we are now shifting from attacking strictly only security forces, weíre now attacking civilians? Did you not notice that? That is the question.
MR SHICEKA: Mr Chairman, the attack on white civilians is not a new thing, when you look back at the history of PAC, the formation of Polko on the 11th of September 1961, if you remember the attacks at Mbashe, Paarl and Komane, those comrades of those days were members of the PAC which was converted into APLA. They were attacking white civilians during those days, even history confirms that. Therefore I find it difficult for me when one of the panel members says weíre shifting as to our targets. Instead of attacking security forces, we were attacking white civilians which I refer to as: "soft targets". Farmers were also attired before the attacks on Gold Gloves and St James and other attacks. Thatís the reason why I say I am confused when they say we have shifted in constitution targets because this started long ago.
ADV PRIOR:: Mr Shiceka, what Iím essentially driving at is that despite your evidence that you were a soldier simply carrying out instructions, it would seem on the very eveing of the Newcastle attack, you excersied a discretion, a discretion not to attack the reastaurant which had been selected as a target. You decided against that because you said african people in the vicinty may have been injured. You assessed that risk and you decided nevertheless not to attack the restaurant and you went elsewhere. Isnít that so, isnít that true?
"Occasionally Tanda went out to check possible targets in town. One day he came back saying we can attack a restaurant. After he had selected a target he left with two other africans whose names are not known to me, to find a car for the operation"
"We arrived in town and went to the restaurant but there was too much movement outside the restaurant"
MR SHICEKA: In front of the disco - two flats away from the disco there is a bar which is for black people and thatís where people normally go to drink and it was at night and there were many people on the streets and we realised that if we carry out the operations and people started retaliating, many black people would be injured and that will not be in line with our aim, thatís what I said.
ADV PRIOR:: Yes, I understand that. The question is directed at what stands in your statement, what appears in your statement. Are you able to explain why what youíve just told us, does not appear in your statement?