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Type AMNESTY DECISIONS
Names PHILA MARTIN DOLO,THABISO JAMES MAKOALA
Matter AM 3485/96,AM 6026/97
This is an application for amnesty in terms of Section 18 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995 ("the Act"). The two applicants apply for amnesty in respect of their participation in the following acts, omissions or offences which took place on 19 November 1992 on the Sterkspruit - Lady Grey Road in the Herschel district:-
The first applicant, Phila Martin Dolo ("Dolo"), testified before the Committee that he was the Regional Commander of the Azanian People's Liberation Army ("APLA") and that he was deployed as commander in the Sterkspruit - Zastron - Lady Grey area by the Director of Military Operations, Mr Letlapa Mphahlele ("Mphahlele"), on the instructions of Sabelo Palma, who was the APLA commander and was based in Zimbabwe. His mandate was to "engage the Settler Colonialists in continuing the struggle for the liberation of our people" that is, launching attacks on white people found in the area.
His other duties were to train cadres who came from Umtata or other areas in the former Transkei. He conducted military lessons as an instructor. He used some cadres in operations in his area and others he sent to Umtata for redeployment.
He further testified in detail about the attack known as the Lady Grey - Herschel Road ambush which is the subject matter of this application. He told the Committee that on the day in question he deployed himself and three of these operatives along the Lady Grey - Herschel Road, namely, Dolo (armed with a R4 rifle), the second applicant, Mokoala, also known as Kleintjie (armed with a.38 Special), one Roger, an alias, (armed with a .38 Special) and Scorpion, an alias, (armed with a 9mm pistol). At the time of the incident these operatives were staying at Jozanna's Hoek in the former Transkei from where they got a lift on a truck to the spot where they launched the attacks.
As Commander, Dolo deployed his fellow comrades on the same side of the road and ordered them "to attack cars whose occupants were white" in accordance with what he stated was the policy of APLA, the military structure of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC). According to this policy, whites, whoever they might be, were regarded as legitimate targets.
Because visibility was unclear, Dolo deployed Mokoala to stand at a distance from the other operatives so as to signal to them by lifting his hat if the occupants of the approaching cars were whites. The first vehicle to be attacked was a white bakkie. The applicants and the other cadres opened fire at the vehicle as it passed. The vehicle then came to a standstill. The occupants alighted and were offered a lift by what Dolo refers to as a "taxi". This is the vehicle that was driven by Mr Tsemane. The driver lost control and the vehicle crashed down a donga next to a bridge. On approaching the vehicle, they observed that the driver and a woman had died. In fact the woman, Mrs Brummer, was still alive and died later in hospital. One person was lying dead near the bridge. Dolo shot him execution style behind his head at close range with a R4 rifle. This was Mr Peter Schroeder.
Dolo testified that he and his comrades then stopped a Toyota bakkie which approached with two women occupants. In fact there were four occupants in the vehicle. He does not dispute that these were not White occupants. They took possession of the bakkie by force and told the occupants that they would leave it in Sterkspruit. As they were about to leave a 4x4 vehicle, driven by a white person, arrived. Thinking the vehicle would block the way, apparently trying to prevent them from leaving, Dolo ordered Mokoala to shoot at it. The vehicle retreated with the driver, Mr Shelley, having been injured. They then retreated. Along the way Dolo noticed a White person hiking and tried to run him down but missed him as he evaded being knocked by the car. Dolo testified that he thought this person was one of those who escaped from the attack. However he could not link him to any vehicle which was attacked.
It transpired that Mrs Brummer was the only White person attacked during this operation. Mr Schroeder was a Coloured person and Mr Tsemane was a Black person. The applicants ascribe their mistaking of Mr Schroeder as a White person to poor visibility, as the operation was conducted in the early hours of the morning. Concerning the attack on Mr Tsemane, the applicant's explanation is that he appeared to be attempting to assist their target, their enemy, thus making himself a legitimate target.
On the allegation by the next of kin of the deceased persons, that the applicants and their unit were being used by one group in a feud between rival football clubs at Mbele-bele in Sterkspruit, the applicants disputed that by pointing out that they, themselves, were not local people and thus they would not have involved themselves in local disputes. In any event the second applicant followed Dolo's orders and he had no reason to doubt his authority as he was a Regional Commander. Furthermore, there is nothing before us to warrant a finding in this regard as the allegations appear to be nothing more than speculation.