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Type AMNESTY DECISIONS
Names THEMBINKOSI HENGE
Matter AM 6137/97
The applicant applies for offences flowing from an armed attack on a Translux Bus on 27 August 1993 at or near the Gamka River Bridge, Beaufort West. A number of victims had been traced and notified of the hearing. Mr. John Riley represented them at the hearing.
The applicant was the only person to testify in the application. He testified that at the relevant time he was a member of the Azanian People's Liberation Army ("APLA"), the military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania ("PAC"). He had received military training during April or May to June 1993 at Mvumelwano location, Qumbu, in the then Transkei. The training was a basic "crash course". He then returned to Beaufort West. At that time, his commander was one Sichumiso Nonxuba ("Nonxuba") who is now deceased. At some stage prior to the attack, he received orders from Nonxuba to attack a Translux bus that passed through Beaufort West on its way to Johannesburg. There were apparently two such buses and the applicant had to decide which of them to attack. He eventually chose the midnight bus as it entailed less possibility of detection and a better opportunity for retreat.
Having decided which bus to attack the applicant reported to Nonxuba. He was then ordered to collect firearms and ammunition at Ngangelizwe location at Umtata. He collected two R4 rifles and five loaded magazines and returned to Beaufort West. After approximately two weeks, he was informed that one "Mandla" (an alias) would be sent from Umtata to assist in the operation. He showed Mandla the layout of the area and briefed him about the plan for the attack. There is some doubt as to who Mandla is/was as this was a nom-de-guerre and the applicant does not know the true identity of Mandla.
The next day on 27 August 1993, the two of them attacked the bus at approximately midnight. Each fired a magazine at the bus. In total, approximately fifty shots were fired. They had intended shooting the driver so that the bus would crash off the bridge and into the river below. They fired at the front of the bus and missed the driver. Eight people were injured in the attack. All the occupants of the bus were traumatised and shocked by the incident.
Under cross-examination, the applicant conceded that he had previously been a supporter of the ANC, having become politicised at the age of ten. He said he decided to join the PAC because he preferred its policies and was not happy with the progress at the negotiation process. He expressed his regret at what had happened.
The incident in question took place at a time when most political parties were engaged in the negotiation process. However, as we have heard in a number of other matters the PAC had not yet abandoned the armed struggle. The applicant was a member of APLA and received order to attack the bus. The arms and ammunition used in the attack were supplied by APLA to the applicant and the orders emanated from Nonxuba who was at the time a member of APLA's high command. The applicant felt obliged to carry out the order which he saw as necessary to speed up the negotiation process and make whites understand that the PAC was serious about it's position. His actions as aforesaid were thus acts associated with a political objective as defined in the Act.
In the result, the applicant has complied with the requirements of the Act and he is accordingly GRANTED amnesty for all offences connected with or flowing from an armed attack on a Translux Bus on 27 August 1993 at or near the Gamka River Bridge, Beaufort West.