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Starting Date 09 December 1998


Case Number AC/98/0108

Matter AM 3146/96,AM 5022/97

Decision REFUSED

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The applicants, Borowsky Phumelele Masilela (hereinafter referred to as the first applicant) and George Sapele (hereinafter referred to as the second applicant) applied for amnesty in respect of armed robbery and escaping from lawful custody. In the case of the first applicant, 2 incidents of robbery were involved but he withdrew his application for amnesty at the commencement of the hearing. The first applicant chose, however, to testify on behalf of the second applicant. None of the victims attended the hearing or opposed the application of the second applicant.

The incident from which the application of the second applicant flows, took place at the Krugersdorp prison on the 25th of March 1992, when the two applicants together with a number of other inmates, members of the so-called "Royal Air Force" gang escaped from prison, during which escape a prison warder died and others were injured. An amount in excess of R1000.00 was taken from the safe in the reception area of the prison which amount was later recovered from the second applicant. He was subsequently convicted of escaping from lawful custody and robbery with aggravating circumstances. The second applicant has a long criminal record and is at present serving a sentence of 15 years imprisonment relating to the offences forming the subject matter of this application.

The second applicant testified that he was recruited by the firs applicant as an APLA cadre in 1990 when both of them were serving sentences in Krugersdorp. He further testified that he had acted upon the orders of the first applicant and that the main reason for the escape was to gain freedom to go to Zimbabwe to train as an APLA soldier. He testified that he was instructed by the first applicant to take the money to facilitate their travel to Zimbabwe. The second applicant claimed that he was already a supporter of the Pan Africanist Congress at the time of the incident but he did not at the time know what APLA stood for. He testified that the first applicant was still going to brief him and that the briefing would have taken place after the escape had they not been apprehended again.

The first applicant in his testimony contradicted the second applicant in that he said that the second applicant was briefed before the escape. He further contended that the other inmates who participated in the escape were not as enthusiastic as "George", the second applicant, to join APLA.

The Committee is of the opinion that the second applicant was truthful in telling the Committee that he had not been fully briefed at the time of the escape and that the first applicant's evidence was merely designed to strengthen the case of his former co-applicant.

The application submitted by the second applicant complies with the formal requirements of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act No. 34 of 1995 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) but in order to gain amnesty the applicant must satisfy the Committee that the offences were committed with a political objective and that he had made a full disclosure of all relevant facts (Section 20(1)(b) and (c) of the Act).

Although the Committee accepts that the first applicant was an APLA cadre who probably wanted to escape to continue the political struggle outside of the prison, it does not follow automatically that the second applicant shared the same objective. The second applicant spent his life in prison, virtually uninterruptedly, since 1977 and could hardly have been involved in any political activism and he himself admitted that he did not really know what APLA was all about. The money he had taken and which was found on him could hardly be said to have been taken to further the interests of APLA but rather to aid the second (as well as the first) applicant to successfully execute their escape. The committee finds that the offences committed by the second applicant were not offences committed with a political objective as provided for in Section of the Act, and accordingly the application fails in respect of both offences.






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