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Amnesty Hearings

Type AMNESTY HEARINGS

Starting Date 29 July 1997

Location PIETERMARITZBURG

Day 2

Names JOHANNES MCOQUES SITHOLE

Case Number 3904/96

MR WILLS: Thank you Mr Chairperson, committee members. I now call on the third applicant, Johannes Sithole.

MS KHAMPEPE: Mr Sithole, may you please stand up so you may take an oath.

INTERPRETER: The speaker's microphone, the microphone, the microphone.

MS KHAMPEPE: Please furnish this committee with your full names.

MR SITHOLE: My name is Johannes Mcoques Sithole.

JOHANNES MCOQUES SITHOLE: (Duly sworn in, states).

MS KHAMPEPE: You may be seated, you are sworn in.

EXAMINATION BY MR WILLS

MR WILLS: Thank you. Mr Sithole, you have been charged together with three other persons, the other three applicants in respect of the murder of Mr Lombo in October 1990 and you are making this amnesty application in respect of that charge. Is that correct?

MR SITHOLE: That is correct.

MR WILLS: You have made an affidavit in respect of your application. Do you confirm the contents of that affidavit?

MR SITHOLE: That is correct, it is true.

MR WILLS: Mr Sithole, in the late 1980's there were basically two parties operating in the upper Edendale area. It was the UDF and the IFP. You have indicated in your affidavit that you became a member of the UDF. Why did you do so?

MR SITHOLE: I decided to become a UDF member, because the UDF was fighting for the, for human rights. It was not against human rights and Inkatha was harassing the people, killing them, taking their clothes and properties, doing all the things that were not acceptable within the community. Therefore, I decided to join the UDF.

MR WILLS: You were also a member of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, NUMSA. Is that correct?

MR SITHOLE: Yes, that is correct.

MR WILLS: And this union is closely affiliated to the UDF?

MR SITHOLE: That is correct.

MR WILLS: You indicated in your affidavit that there was a certain Mafoeto Ngobo who was a senior member of the UDF who actually discussed the UDF's policies with you. Is that correct?

MR SITHOLE: That is correct.

MR WILLS: Now, you have also indicated in the affidavit that you knew the deceased prior to his death, that is Mr Lolo Lombo. Can you explain to the committee how you knew the deceased?

MR SITHOLE: Lolo Lombo, I arrived in 1974 when he started working at Scottish. He was working there, he did not last. He had a quarrel with the employers and he had to leave the place. After I knew that it was him, it continued during the political organisations involvement and he also continued killing people. On one day I was alighting on one of the stop at Mzongwane and they were going to one of their places where they normally have meetings and when he saw me he called my by name and tell me that he was going to kill me and I am going to die like those whom have just recently died. He mentioned Balang Dangobo. That was one of the most respected Induna in that area and he had been killed. He also mentioned his younger son by the name Umfanisenie and he told me I am going to be killed just like them. Those people who killed the whole family, the children and the mother. That made me to realise that I should take part in his elimination.

MR WILLS: You have heard what the other two applicants have said in respect of your involvement in this matter. Do you confirm what they have said in respect of your activities?

MR SITHOLE: Yes, I do.

MR WILLS: Basically, they have said that you were employed or you were given the task of driving the first two applicants to the scene where the mission was conducted. Is that correct?

MR SITHOLE: That is the truth, because what happened is that early in the morning I was sitting at home. I was with Philemon Dlamini, Mpendle. We were so hurt concerning this issue. He came to me and told me that I have to drive the car to a place called Henley Dan. We were going to meet some men whom I was supposed to drive to Joshua Doore. It happened, we left the area. When we arrived and Henley Dan we found a car which I did not knew, it was my first time to see it. It looked like a Golf and it was red in colour. It looked like there were people inside that car. We stopped from a distance and one of us got out and went to that car and he spoke to them and come back after some few minutes and he came with two men who I did not know. I was seeing them for the first time. I did not even know their names.

We then drove to Joshua Doore. I went there to park there. After they told me to park the car at Berger Street, if I remember well. The two men left and went straight to Joshua Doore. I did not know what they were going to do. It did not take much time. After they left I heard a gunshot and then I saw this man running towards me, coming back and then later there were some gunshots again. These men jumped into the combi and they said you should leave this place as soon as possible and we left in so fast from, we left the place quickly. While we were in Alexandria Road we came into contact with police cars and they stop us and arrested us.

MR WILLS: Yes, just going back in your evidence, when you arrived at Henley Dan prior to the time when the one person got out and went to red VW Golf, who was in your car at that stage? Who were the persons in your car?

MR SITHOLE: It was myself, the driver, Philemon Dlamini and Mafoeto Ngobo. We were three.

MR WILLS: And who was the person who got out of the car and went to the red VW and came back with the two unknown persons?

MR SITHOLE: It was Mafoeto Ngobo.

MR WILLS: And the two people he came back with you, with although you do not remember them or you did not know them at the time, you now know that they are the first two applicants, Mr Motaung and Mr Sibisi. Is that correct?

MR SITHOLE: Yes, I knew later that, after we were arrested, that they were Motaung and Sibisi.

MR WILLS: Now, you said in your affidavit that you were told that you were going to assist in the operation to kill Mr Lombo prior to the operation. Is that correct?

MR SITHOLE: That is correct.

MR WILLS: So, when you left for Joshua Doore that morning you realised that you were on a mission whereby Mr Lombo was going to be attacked. Is that correct?

MR SITHOLE: That is correct.

MR WILLS: But you did not personally know the details of exactly how that was going to be done?

MR SITHOLE: Yes, I did not know what was going to happen.

MR WILLS: Now, can you tell the committee, in your experience, what the relationship was, in your view, between the police and UDF members?

MR SITHOLE: Please may you repeat your question.

MR WILLS: Can you tell the committee, in your view, what the relationship was like between the police and UDF members in your area.

MR SITHOLE: I can briefly explain that in this way. The relationship between the Inkatha and the police, one day it was, if I remember well, it was during the Seven Day fight or War, I do not remember the exact date. This Lombo and his fellow sympathisers were coming with the police. The police were dressed in uniform. There were White police and Black policemen. When people were burning houses, killing people the police were there, they did not offer any help. That created an impression where I could not trust the police, because I thought they were part of the Inkatha people who were killing the people in our community. Therefore, it was difficult for us to go to the police to ask for help, because we thought they were on the side of Inkatha and we decided to take the Law into our own hands.

MR WILLS: Now, you have referred to, on the morning of the incident you said you were at your home with a person by the name of Philemon Dlamini. This is the fourth applicant who, actually, is not here today. Is that correct?

MR SITHOLE: That is correct.

MR WILLS: And who told you, on that day, what was going to happen before you met the people at Henley Dan?

MR SITHOLE: It was Ngobo.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR WILLS

ADV MPSHE: I do not have questions Mr Chairman and members of the committee. Thank you.

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR MIRANDA

MR MIRANDA: Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr Sithole, after you dropped off the first and second applicant in this application, why did you not drive away or go?

MR SITHOLE: It was because I was involved and I was with the view that Lombo should be eliminated. If I had the powers and a chance to do so, I was going to do it myself.

MR MIRANDA: And, Mr Sithole, would you have applied for amnesty if you were not recharged for the murder of Mr Lombo?

MR SITHOLE: Yes, I would have asked for amnesty if there was a need to do so. As I have already asked in one of the incidents, what happened before.

MR MIRANDA: No further questions Mr Chairman.

NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR MIRANDA

CHAIRPERSON: Was Mr Dlamini with you the whole time, from the time that Mafoeto and Ngobo came to your house?

MR SITHOLE: May you please repeat the question.

CHAIRPERSON: Was Mr Dlamini with you that morning from the time that Mr Mafoeto Ngobo came to your house?

MR SITHOLE: Yes, we were with him.

CHAIRPERSON: And did he also know what was going to happen?

MR SITHOLE: Yes, he knew what was supposed to happen.

CHAIRPERSON: And did he go with you to assist these others?

MR SITHOLE: That is correct, he accompanied us.

CHAIRPERSON: And did you stay after you had dropped them in Berger Street, did you stay there so you could help them?

MR SITHOLE: Yes, we waited in the car.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Are you re-examining?

MR WILLS: No re-examination. That is the case for the applicants, Mr Chairperson, committee members.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Mpshe, do you propose to lead any evidence?

ADV MPSHE: Mr Chairman, I do not propose to lead any evidence, but my colleague, Mr Miranda, is going to lead evidence.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, well, we are coming to him next.

ADV MPSHE: Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Miranda.

MR MIRANDA: Thank you Mr Chairman. My apologies to my learned friend having not advise him. We will not lead any evidence.

CHAIRPERSON: (Microphone not on).

MR WILLS ADDRESSES COMMITTEE ON MERITS OF CASE

MR WILLS: Yes, thank you Mr Chairperson, committee members. I submit, with respect, that the application on behalf of all three applicants should succeed on the basis, one, that a political motive has clearly been established and, in addition to that, there has been full disclosure in relation to the incident in question. As regards the political motive, the conflict in the area, the fact that the two applicants, the first two

applicants were MK members and they received orders to perform the actual hit in question and, in addition to that, I submit, with respect, that it can be, it is clearly established that the deceased in this matter was a member of an opposing party and, based on evidence in bundle, specifically I refer to the letter from the Attorney-General, on page 54 of the bundle, he was a prominent IFP member and, specifically, the third paragraph there, the person writing on behalf of the Attorney-General indicates and I quote,

"The deceased was a member of the Inkatha, possibly a hit man and he was an accused in two murder cases then awaiting enrolment in the High Court.".

Further, what is important, is the Attorney-General's letter indicates that, I quote,

"There appears to have been, this appears to have been a politically motivated crime.".

I also think that it is common cause in the statements by some of the relatives of the accused in the bundle, that the deceased was a prominent IFP person. I refer to page 92 of the bundle, the statement of Wilson Lombo and, in addition, the statement of Abner Lombo on page 91 of the bundle where the brother of the deceased, who made this statement, states that he was the branch Chairman of Mavundlanie Ward of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

In respect of the escapes, I submit the, the application on behalf of the first two applicants is also, it is also clear that there was a political motive and that in that regard I submit that cognisance can be taken of the assistance given by the ANC to facilitate the escape, both prior to the escape, during the escape and in order to transport and hide persons until they were safely evacuated from the country.

I submit that there disclosure in respect of the, this incident, in addition, has been full. Not that the next point I am going to raise is an essential factor for applications of this nature. I submit, however, that the fact that this incident was discriminate in the sense that a particular person was identified, he was the only person injured. No attempts were made to injure anybody else.

The second applicant or, sorry, the first applicant made it clear that they were concerned about the safety of people surrounding, the fact that the incident only involved one shot at close range reduced the risk to anybody else in the vicinity and, in addition, the same applies to the escapes. There appears to have been minimal force used in respect of the escape. In fact, the only force mentioned was that of the first applicant when he indicated that he pushed over his guard, but, and then managed to escape from custody, but no persons or innocent persons were killed in the incidents, both the incident at Joshua Doore and the escape incidents.

Also, I would like the committee to take notice of the fact that the deceased in this matter was mentioned prominently in the hearing before committee members, Mr Richard Lister and others when the enquiry was held on the Seven Day War and I submit that this substantiates the evidence of the applicants, that the deceased was a person who was very active and involved warlord operating on behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party and whilst the first two applicants did not have personal knowledge of this individual's activities, I think the evidence before the commission, both at, in this committee and the other committee on the Seven Days War, substantiates that whilst this was hearsay for them it was, in fact, it is, in fact, evidence that is based in reality. I submit in the circumstances that all the applicants should succeed.

CHAIRPERSON: Before the rest go on and while you are talking, there is one point that has struck me which I do not know if I am being over cautious. That is we have adjourned the hearing of the fourth applicant and during the discussion it was mentioned that any results in the first three might be applied to him as well. We have, of course, his affidavit before us, but do you think it is necessary to have evidence, from the last applicant to give evidence, that he was also a member of the UDF or is that common cause?

MR WILLS: It appears from my colleagues that it is, in fact, common cause.

CHAIRPERSON: Then there is no need to burden the record further.

MR WILLS: Thank you.

ADV MPSHE: Mr Chairman, I have nothing to say.

MR MIRANDA ADDRESSES COMMITTEE ON MERITS OF CASE

MR MIRANDA: Thank you Mr Chairman, committee. The deceased's family has expressed to me that they leave the decision of the application for the amnesty by the applicants in the hands of the committee. They also are thankful that they could be here and that they could be represented in this application for amnesty. The deceased's wife, the widow, said that she is not in a position to forgive or forget what happened. She is not in a position to forgive, because God Almighty is the only person that can forgive somebody for their sins and that is who, if one may use a term loosely, that is who they should be applying to to get, have their sins forgiven.

She will never forget, because Mr Lombo was her first love, Mr Lombo was a loving husband and was a loving father to their children. Subsequent to this killing of Mr Lombo, she has suffered tremendous hardships in having to emotionally and financially care for her family. Her brother-in-law assisted her in this regard and she is thankful for that. Nothing further. Thank you.

ADV POTGIETER: Mr Miranda, how many children are there?

MR MIRANDA: There were two children.

ADV POTGIETER: Are you able to give us, perhaps, both the sex and their ages?

MR MIRANDA: I am not in a position. I just know that the eldest was a daughter and that she was 17 years old at that time.

ADV POTGIETER: Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: (Microphone not on). Mr Mpshe, I understand that all three of the applicants and the fourth applicant were out on bail, but there is a trail pending against them.

ADV MPSHE: That is correct, Mr Chairman. That is correct.

CHAIRPERSON: Which has been adjourned from time to time and it was, it would be desirable to make the position as clear as we can to the Attorney-General.

ADV MPSHE: That is correct, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Right. It is not the normal practice of this committee to give extemporary judgements and it is not our intention to do that today. The method of granting amnesty is as prescribed in the Act, that is publication in the Government Gazette and due notification. We feel, however, that in the light of what has happened here today, it would be of assistance if we were to place on record our views. The three applicants have applied for amnesty. Two of them, all three in respect of the killing of the late Mr Lombo and the first and second in respect of escaping from custody consequent upon their arrest in respect of that killing. The late Mr Lombo's family was represented here today by Mr Miranda, who expressed the views of the widow, and I would like to repeat some of what he said that the family leave the decision in the hands of the committee, they have not sought in any way to influence that decision, but that the widow has placed on record the fact that she cannot, herself, forgive what has been done, that that is only something, something that only God can do and that is something that the applicants and others should bear in mind at all times. That forgiveness is something they must earn and can only do so if they are truly contrite. She has also explained, understandably, that she cannot forget the loss of her husband and with this we sympathise with her deeply.

Returning to the facts of the case, of the evidence that was led it is another example of the tragic bloodshed caused in this province by the constant fighting between various political parties, in particular, the Inkatha Freedom Party and the UDF, as it then was, and the ANC, as it now is. This has been particularly evident in the Edendale and Richmond areas and is, as we all know I think, a different aspect of it sprung up again last week. It seems clear, and it was not challenged, that the first two applicants as well as being members of the UDF were also members of the organisation known as Umkhonto we Sizwe and had received certain training of a military nature.

It is clear from the evidence they gave and from the evidence of the third applicant that they believed that the deceased was, what has come to be known, as a warlord. This was their belief, there is no evidence, as such, but what is clear from the evidence and the letters written by his own brothers, is that he was a well known, respected member of Inkatha. He was a leader and it is for this reason that the opposing organisation decided that he should be eliminated and orders were given to the applicants, the first and second applicants, to carry out the elimination. They were assisted in this by the third and fourth applicants. It is clear that it was a deliberate assassination and we accept the evidence that it was so planned that there was no danger of injuries to innocent passers by. This distinguishes it, in some ways, from other cases that we have heard where there has been reckless shooting which has killed not only the potential targets, but others who played no part in the struggle. The evidence of the applicants was that they were ordered to do this, that they were obliged to carry out orders and that, accordingly, this was an act committed on behalf of the party they belonged to which was one of the more prominent of the liberation movements. We also accept that the escaping was also part of the political struggle, that they were assisted in this by the organisation they belonged to and it is clear that almost immediately after the escape, they were smuggled out of the country and given further training.

For these reasons it appears to us this is a case where amnesty should be granted and it is our intention to take the necessary steps to ensure that that is done. We do not, however, propose to nor do we consider it necessary, unless requested to do so by any of the parties, to give further reasons for our decision. I think that what I have said here today explains why we have come to this decision and that one of the reasons why we have done this is we think it is in the interests of the victims and of other interested parties who have taken the trouble to come and listen to our hearings, that they should be aware of the result of them and not merely read them in the Government Gazette three weeks later.

I would also like to ...

INTERPRETER: The speaker's mike is not on.

CHAIRPERSON: Was that all recorded. I would also like to advise that the R & R Committee will henceforth handle the widow's application as we are of the opinion that the widow of the deceased and her children are victims as defined in the Act.

ADV MPSHE: Mr Chairman, may I enquire as to whether the decision of the Committee includes the applicant who was here, not present, Dlamini.

CHAIRPERSON: That is what I am now going to deal with.

ADV MPSHE: Sorry.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Mpshe has now raised the question of the applicant who is not present, that is Mr Dlamini. It seems to us that it would be an unnecessary waste of time to cause further emotional stress to have another hearing where he, on the information before us, clearly falls into the same category as the other applicants. He, in fact, played the, a minor role. He was there to assist in the getaway vehicle, but took no part in the killing itself. In those circumstances we are of the view that his application should also succeed and we propose to make a similar recommendation in that regard.

ADV MPSHE: Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman, then, and members of the committee, then that takes care of today's work.

CHAIRPERSON: What time tomorrow, nine o' clock?

ADV MPSHE: Tomorrow, Mr Chairman, I would propose that we start tomorrow at ten o' clock.

CHAIRPERSON: Ten.

ADV MPSHE: At ten o' clock Mr Chairman.

MR WILLS: Yes, thank you Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: That finishes the hearing for today. We will now adjourn. I would like to know, was what I said about the widow and her problems translated to her or, if not, could you explain it to her.

MR MIRANDA: Yes, Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

COMMITTEE ADJOURNS

 
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