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Type AMNESTY DECISIONS
Names LERATO ABEL KHOTLE
Case Number AC/99/0182
Matter AM 5619/97
The Applicants are all members of Apla, the armed wing of the Pan Africanist Congress. The First Applicant was the commander of a unit in Lesotho, the Second Applicant a commander of a unit in Stekspruit in the Free State, while the Third Applicant was a member of the unit commanded by the First Applicant. Other members of the two said units, who are involved in the incidents, only known by their code names, have not applied for amnesty.
1. The attack planned on the old age home in Ficksburg which resulted in an attack on houses in Ficksburg.
The exact date of the attack in which the First and Third Applicant were involved is not known, but according to the evidence of the Applicants it took place at about the beginning of December 1992. Both Applicants testified at the hearing and the application was not opposed.
Thr Second Applicant was the commander during this attack and the Third Applicant fell under this command. The Second Applicant testified that their main target was the old age home in Ficksburg and that they intended launching a random attack on houses in the vicinity should there have been any weapon left after the intended attack. The reason for targeting the old age home was that they wanted to cause the enemy a lot of pain and wanted to instill fear in the white inhabitants of Ficksburg. They furthermore regarded the old people as supporters of apartheid who had actively supported the system when they were younger. On their way to the old age home the unit encountered a police vehicle. They then fired shots at the police, hurled "molotov cocktails"at various houses and a hand grenade at one house which damaged a motor vehicle that was parked in the vicinity. The Applicants did not know of any casualties in this attack and no evidence was tendered in this regard.
2. Attack on the house at 143 Veld Street in Ficksburg and a nearby house and the attempted murder of Sgt Otto Coetzee and injury of Mrs Mathapelo Lethena, a passenger in a passing-by taxi on 10 December 1992.
The First and Second Applicants apply for amnesty for their role in the abovementioned incidents. Both Applicants testified as well as one victim, the owner of a certain house situate at 143 Veld Street, one Mrs Cornelia Pienaar (then Roos), who opposed their application. Mrs Pienaar and her minor daughters escaped the attack, during which petrol bombs and a handgrenade were thrown into the house, with minor injuries. Extensive damage was, however, caused to the house.
First Applicant commanded the attack on Mrs Pienaar's house while Second Applicant and other members launched the attack on a nearby house. As the Applicants and their unit members were retreating after shots were fired from one of the houses, the police arrived and during a shoot-out in the vicinity of the by-pass, a Sergeant Coetzee and a passenger in a passing taxi were injured.
The Applicants testified that they were both commanders of two separate units. The attack on the abovementioned houses were planned by the First Applicant on the instructions of Apla but he had the authority to identify the specific targets.
First Applicant enlisted the assistance of the Second Applicant whom he needed on account of his knowledge and experience. The house was targeted because the First Applicant had gained intelligence that the houses in that area were occupied by security force members and they, the Applicants, regarded them as the first line of defence of the enemy, the then apartheid government.
All whites were regarded as supporters of the government with whom Apla was still locked in an armed struggle because the oppression of blacks had not yet stopped. Their objective was to instill fear and insecurity among the white inhabitants of Ficksburg.
Mrs Pienaar testified that her house was not owned by the security forces but belonged to her and her late husband who prior to his death, a week before the incident, had performed light duties in the police mortuary. He had, however, been a member of the South African Police who had become unfit for ordinary police duties as a result of an accident. Apart from certain discrepancies mainly relating to the position of Mrs Pienaar's house and on the issue of from where fire was returned, her version was substantially the same that of the Applicants.
In the opinion of the Committee, these discrepancies cannot be said to be of such a material nature so as to justify a finding that the Applicants had not made a full disclosure of all the relevant facts as required by the Act.
The Second Applicant who is awaiting on a charge of murder of Mrs Leone Pretorius who was killed during this attack applies for amnesty in respect of this attack. The Applicant testified that he had the authority and indeed made the decision to attack this farm. The farm was attacked under his command. A grenade was thrown into a room and Second Applicant and his cadres all started shooting whereafter they retreated. The reason why the farm was attack were that white farmers belonged to the commando structures, they wanted to drive them out of the area to have land to operate from and following a statement by the police that there would be no more attacks to show them that they could do "whatever".
After having considered all the documentation placed before the Committee and all the oral evidence presented at the hearing by the Applicants and the victim, Mrs Pienaar, the Committee is satisfied that the Applicants comply with the requirements of Section 20 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act,No. 34 of 1995. The Committee is satisfied that the Applicants had acted on behalf of Apla and within the then policy of the PAC, which organisation was involved in the political struggle at the time. The Committee is further satisfied that the Applicants had made a full disclosure of their respective role and participation in the above attacks.
1.1 all offences flowing from the attack on town houses at or about the beginning of December 1992 in Ficksburg;
2.1 any offence flowing from the attack on the house situate at 143 Veld Street, Ficksburg and a nearby house on 10 December 1992;