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Decisions

Type AMNESTY DECISIONS

Names RONALD KASRILS

Matter AM5509/97

Decision GRANTED

DECISION

This is an application for amnesty in terms of the provisions of Section 18 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No. 34 of 1995 ("the Act").  The matter is being dealt with in chambers and relates to a number of incidents which will be set out more fully later.  None of these incidents constitutes gross violations of human rights necessitating a public hearing.

The Applicant is a high profile political leader and presently a member of the South African Cabinet.  He has, at all material times, occupied positions of leadership and authority within the African National Congress ("ANC") as well as its military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe ("MK").  He had been a member of MK since its inception.  After having conducted some operations under the auspices of MK inside South Africa, he went into exile to evade arrest in connection with, among others, the Rivonia trial of the top ANC leadership in 1963 - 1964.  He received military training in exile, whereafter he joined the ANC/MK command structures in exile whence he conducted various operations until his eventual official return to the country after the unbanning of the liberation movements during 1990.

Applicant has appeared at hearings of the Committee and testified about his involvement in the ANC liberation struggle.  He was granted amnesty in respect of the incidents which were heard, save for certain landmine operations which are referred to in Applicant's written application.  At a hearing which was to have dealt with the matter, it was contended on Applicant's behalf that there was no application before the Committee, because Applicant was unable to identify particular incidents.  The matter was struck from the roll on that occasion.

The various remaining incidents and activities in which the Applicant was involved and for which he seeks amnesty are set out in the following extracts from his amnesty application :

"1961 - 1963

      As a member of the MK Regional Command, Natal, commanded by Curnick Ndlovu & Billy Nair, I participated in all the planning and preparation relevant to this command.  I recruited and trained Cadres and personally participated in several sabotage operations.  I also helped plan and carry out the theft of a large quantity of dynamite which we used and distributed to other MK commands.

      Operations between December 1961 and mid-1963 which I was personally involved in.

      *     Durban Municipal Pass Office - 15 December 1961 - causing a bomb explosion.  This was with Bruno Mtolo.  No injuries but damage to property was caused;

      *     Severing telephone cables - Shell Cross.  Damage to property;

      *     Setting goods trains alight with petrol bombs - August 1962 in protest during Mandela's first trial;

      *     Theft of dynamite from Road Construction Company near Marionhill, with Billy Nair, Bruno Mtolo and Eleanor Kasrils (nee Anderson);

      *     Destruction of electric pylons near Pinetown with David Ndawonde and Eleanor Kasrils.  Damage to property;

      *     Bomb explosion at offices of Security Police, Baker Street, Durban with Eleanor Kasrils.  No injuries but damage to property;

      *     Bomb explosion at offices of Bata Shoe Company, Pine Street, Durban at time of workers' strike.  I carried out this operation with Nathu Babewa.  Damage to property;

      *     Bomb explosion at Central Post Office, Durban Christmas 1962 with Eleanor Kasrils.

      I was subsequently named as a co-conspirator in both the Rivonia and Pietermaritzburg trials 196 - 164, but had evaded arrest and gone into exile.

1965 - 1976

      After completing military training in the Soviet Union and spending time at an MK camp in Tanzania, I was deployed to London.  I was part of a command consisting of Yusuf Dadoo, Joe Slovo, Jack Hodgson and myself.  Our task was to assist in building the underground in South Africa and this involved recruiting and training Cadres, smuggling material into the country and directing operations.  These were mainly propaganda operations but also involved setting up infrastructure for MK.  Some Cadres involved were Alex Moumbaris, Tony Holiday, Ahmed Timol, Raymond Suttner, David & Sue Rabkin, Tim Jenkin and Steve Lee.

      *     They set off scores of leaflet bombs in city centres, no injuries were sustained.

      *     Infiltration of trained guerrillas.

1977 - 1979

      Deployment to Angola as political instructor and then Regional Commissioner.

1978 - 1979

      During this period I provided political education to instil in cadres the principles and morality of the liberation movement, and motivated Cadres to develop and intensify the armed struggle.  We stressed the avoidance of race war and identified the enemy as the Apartheid system.  Consequently the targets of armed operatives were identified as government leaders and administrators, the security forces, collaborators and informers.

1980 - 1989

      Applicant held various positions of leadership within the ANC and MK and participated in the activities set out as follows in the amnesty application):

      My role was general leadership.  In this respect I take collective responsibility for operations as per the ANC submissions to TRC.  I enthusiastically and strongly motivated Cadres to develop and intensify the struggle as per ANC policy, strategy and tactics.

      As chief of military intelligence I supervised the gathering of information that would assist us in prosecuting the struggle against the State.  We focused on security force command structures and personnel, deployment, battle order, strategy and tactics, bases and installations, communications, arms and equipment and state of morale.

      We also compiled information on the country's geography and terrain, power an communication network, the economy, the industrial and agricultural sectors.

      We gave special attention to border reconnaissance and developing infiltration routes home.  Cadres returning home were trained in collecting data and carrying out their own reconnaissance against the background of information and briefings given by military intelligence.

      Pietersburg Holiday Inn - Anthea's Club

      Another operation which falls into the category described above (i.e. where I was involved with a unit that carried out reconnaissance as well as the operation) was the explosion at Anthea's Club at Pietersburg Holiday Inn.  This was carried out by Rocky Williams under my instruction.  Reconnaissance had shown that this club was frequented by off duty security personnel and the operation was in line with the ANC policy to attack security personnel wherever they were found.  No injuries were sustained.

1990 - 1994

      Operation Vula

      I was part of this project under the command of Mac Maharaj.  The aim was to strengthen the underground inside the country.  Trained Cadres and weapons were brought into the country from 1987 when Maharaj and Sipiwe Nyanda came home.  I later joined them.  To my knowledge no operations were conducted.  After the ban on the ANC was lifted and temporary indemnity granted to members of the ANC's NEC in May 1990 Maharaj and I were ordered to return secretly to Lusaka so that we could publicly return home and take part in the negotiation process.  There was never any intention of plotting to derail the negotiations by violence as former President FW De Klerk and his police chiefs alleged.  "Vula" had been an ongoing ANC project to strengthen the underground in South Africa when the ANC was banned.

      Self Defence Units

      These were set up with encouragement from the top ANC leadership as a means to defend the township communities under siege from hostile forces and third force hit squads.  I was given the task of helping to arm the SDUs.  I worked with an MK unit .....  We created DLBs in the worst hit areas:  Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Vaal Triangle, East and West Rand, Eastern Cape including Ciskei and Western Cape.  In these areas I worked with a variety of people from MK structures .....  I handed DLB diagrams to Chris Hani who passed these on to those responsible in the areas concerned.  I also wrote the document: "For the sake of our Lives" which gave guidance to SDU about self-defence planning and tactics and stressed the need for discipline and non-sectarian service to the communities in order to create peace and security.  The supply of weapons to SDUs throughout the country ceased by the end of 1993."

Having carefully considered the matter, we are satisfied that the application complies with all of the requirements of the Act.  Applicant's actions as set out above, constitute acts associated with a political objective as envisaged in the Act and Applicant has made a full disclosure of all relevant facts.

In the circumstances amnesty is hereby GRANTED to the Applicant in respect of all offences and delicts directly resulting from his actions and activities listed above.

DATED AT CAPE TOWN THIS 14TH DAY OF MAY 2001

DENZIL POTGIETER A-J

ADV F BOSMAN

ADV N SANDI

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