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Matter AM 0949/96,AM 1638/96,AM 5619/96

Decision GRANTED

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These are applications for amnesty in terms of Section 18 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995. The applicants are seeking amnesty for the following crimes:-

1. Arson;

2. Malicious Damage to Property;

3. Unlawful possession of petrol bombs and explosives and firearms in contravention of the Explosives Act and the weapons Act.

It is necessary to commence our decision by pointing out that the applicants are former members of the Azanian People's Liberation Army ("APLA"), the military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress ("the PAC"). They have already received amnesty for a number of crimes which were committed on behalf of the PAC and its struggle against the previous political order. The offences in respect of which they are seeking amnesty relate to attacks on white farms which they carried out in the Lady Grey and Zastron areas in the early 1990's.

The applicants were deployed by APLA inside the country to carry out a number of operations on its behalf. One of the targets were white farms which were seen as targets because they belonged to white farmers who supported the government of the day and the economy. These farmers were also being attacked because of the harsh conditions to which black labourers in general were subjected. It was believed that if these farmers were attacked the white farmers would be forced to leave the area and thus make space available for land occupation by the African people on whose behalf the PAC was waging a struggle. One of the objectives of the attack was to induce the white farmers to put pressure on the government of the day so that it could end its policies of Apartheid.

At the hearing it emerged that it was extremely difficult for the applicants to identify the farms which they attacked with any certainty. In the first place they did not know the area very well and relied on the knowledge of co-perpetrators whose testimonies were not before the Committee. The attacks took place at night and they did not know the names of either the owners or the names of the farms. With the attendance of Mr and Mrs Myburgh and Mr Fanie Schlebusch of the hearing it was at last possible to determine that two of the farms were Fairview and Wilgespruit which were located in the Lady Grey area. At the time of the spate of attacks the applicants were deployed at Sterkspruit under the command of Happy Letlapa Mphahlele, a member of the APLA High Command. Their Regional Commander was "Ace" Masitolo whose full names and further particulars are unknown to the applicants.

Gqomfa testified that on or about the 18 March 1992 he was instructed by Mpahlele to attack in the Lady Grey area. It was himself, Kulman and Kleintjie (now deceased), Scorpion, Tatina, King and Roger. Before launching the attack on the Fair View Farm they first conducted a reconnaissance of the area which was done by Gqomfa and Kleintjie since they had a better knowledge of the area. They did not know who the farm belonged to but their investigations showed that the house there was always locked. There was no white farmer living on the farm and only black workers were there most of the time. When they had finished their monitoring of the place they attacked the place late at night. They were armed with petrol bombs, 7.65 pistols and pangas. Gqomfa was the commander of the unit. On arrival at the farm they found that there was no one and the labourers were at their own houses. They attacked the place with petrol bombs. Damage was caused to the house, a bakkie and livestock. Mr Myburgh estimates the damage caused to be in the region of R28000 and about fifty-five (55) sheep were killed in the attack.

The applicants state that it was part of their aim to cause maximum loss by burning livestock which they found on the farm. No person was injured as they knew that there was not going to be any person in the house.

Kulman testified that he also received an order from their regional commander. He further stated that if they had found a farmer in the house they would have killed him as it was part of APLA policy to do so. He also does not know the name of the farm but the attack was carried out by him, Kleintjie and Scorpion. He does not know the proper names of his comrades because they were all using code names. Kleintjie has since deceased and "Scorpion" was used as a code name by several APLA cadres. The reconnaissance was done by Kleintjie. They did not find any person in the house and they were armed with 7.65 pistols and pangas and they observed that the house was being renovated.

They set the grass on fire and, unfortunately for them, some of the Molotovs which they were carrying were not effective.

Kulman testified that he was involved in two (2) farm attacks in the Zastron farming area. In the 1st attack it was himself, Roger and Induna. Kleintjie had already done the reconnaissance and informed them that there were no people who occupied the house. White farmers in the area were believed to be part of the Commando Structure of the army. He is not sure of the exact location of the farm but it is near a river between the Transkei and the then Republic of South Africa. No injuries were caused to any person as a result of the attack.

The second farm was attacked in or about 1992. Kulman did the reconnaissance and there were five (5) of them, namely, himself, Scorpion, Titina, King and Roger. These farmers' houses were being occupied by blacks and this they understood to be an abuse of blacks as shields in the struggle. They were armed with firearms and hand grenades. As they were approaching the house dogs started barking but they were able to contain them. The labourers who were inside the house screamed and the applicant and his compatriots withdrew. Before they left they burnt the veld and destroyed a grenade which had been dropped by King did not explode.

We have carefully considered the matter and we are satisfied that the acts committed are actions associated with a political objective. It further appears that the applicants have given a full disclosure of the relevant facts. Amnesty is therefore GRANTED for all the offences and any delict flowing from the said actions.

It is recommended that the Myburgh and Schlebush families be declared victims in terms of the Act.



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