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Decisions

Type AMNESTY DECISIONS

Names PITSO GEORGE MAKUME

Matter AM0163/96

Decision GRANTED

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DECISION

This is an amnesty application in terms of Section 18 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No 34 of 1995 ("the Act").  The Applicant is a former member of the African National Congress  ("the ANC"); the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania ("the PAC") and of the erstwhile South African Defence Force ("the SADF").  This application is quite unique in that some of the offences in respect of which he is now seeking amnesty were committed whilst he was still a member of the ANC.  The majority were carried out when he was a PAC member.  He has completed serving a long term of imprisonment for some of the offences in respect of which he was convicted.  We intend to summarise his evidence in regard to each incident.  He stated that in 1992 he joined the SADF but resigned in 1993.  He then joined the PAC.  He was recruited by one Nape Kumane to join the organisation.  Previously and since 1991 he was a member of both the ANC and the South African National Civics Organisation ("the SANCO").  He further testified that he terminated his membership of the ANC in 1993 because he was disillusioned with what he saw as its moderate policies.  He had found the PAC policies quite impressive and believed that they would deliver freedom to the oppressed sections of the population of South Africa.

The incidents in respect of which he is seeking amnesty are as follows:

1.    THE ATTACK ON THE BUSINESS COMPLEX OF PAUL MAHLATSI IN ZAMDELA TOWNSHIP IN OR ABOUT 1991

As already mentioned, at the relevant time the Applicant was still a supporter of the ANC and its youth wing, the ANC Youth League ("the ANCYL").  He stated that on a certain Monday evening, between 18h00 and 19h00, he and other ANCYL members and supporters burst into the butchery of Paul Mahlatsi.  At the time the personnel were preparing to close for the day.  The Applicant said when they came there they chased the employees away and set the entire business complex on fire.  He stated that he personally took a butcher's knife and cut the petrol pipes open in order to set the adjoining garage and vehicles alight.  The Applicant's testimony is that Mahlatsi's businesses were being destroyed because he was said to be a supporter of the Azanian Peoples' Organisation ("AZAPO").  At the time there was a violent conflict between AZAPO and ANC supporters.  The central issue of the clash was access to land and this engendered a power struggle between the two organisations.  He stated that there was an informal settlement camp in the area which was known as the Chris Hani Squatter Camp.  Members of the squatter community were in dire need of being allocated plots.  Mahlatsi was reported to have been seen allocating sites to squatters who supported or sympathised with AZAPO.  In the evening just prior to the attack, a residents' meeting was held in a community hall.  At the meeting it was decided that Mahlatsi must be attacked because he was causing divisions in the community.  From the hall the agitated mob which mainly comprised ANCYL supporters marched to the home and business complex of Mahlatsi which were then destroyed.  This was the only incident in which he was involved whilst he was still a member of the ANC.  He said that later he was of the view that they had been used by the ANC and SANCO leaders who were involved in a power struggle with the AZAPO leadership, using squatter problems as a terrain of their struggle.  He felt that it was wrong fro blacks to fight each other, hence he left the ANC and joined the PAC.

Mr Van Rensburg, the legal representative of Mahlatsi, put it to the Applicant that Mahlatsi was never a member of AZAPO and, on the contrary, was an ANC supporter.  He contributed money and vehicles to the ANC.  The Applicant could not deny this proposition and said that he only learnt later that they had been used.  At the time he was not aware of the political affiliation of Mahlatsi.  He further replied that he did not know how much money was taken by the youths from Mahlatsi's butchery but confirmed that on the day of the attack some of his companions took money from the till.

2.    THEFT OF A FIREARM FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN DEFENCE FORCE (SADF) 97 AMMUNITION DEPOT IN DE AAR TOWARDS THE END OF 1991

This was the first action by the Applicant as a member of the PAC.  The Applicant stated that during the time that he was still a supporter of the ANC and SANCO they were told by one of their leaders, Tebogo, that the youth should join the SADF and acquire military skills.  They were being urged to do so in order to secure information about the covert activities of the SADF.  When he left the two allied organisations he still pursued the idea and applied to join the SADF.  He stated that although he was appointed as an SADF member there were suspicions about his motive by SADF authorities.  They suspected that he was there on a secret mission.  He stated that he was seen as a "hardegat" (stubborn) and attempts were made to frustrate him and make life unbearable for him in the army.  Consequently, he was transferred to De Aar where he was in constant argument and conflict with his superiors.  At some stage he was sent to the detention barracks.  Whilst he was in detention he received quite a number of reading materials on the PAC and its military wing, the Azanian People's Liberation Army ("APLA").  He says that the literate made him more convinced than before that he had taken the correct decision to join the PAC.  When he was released from custody he started stealing arms and ammunition from the army.  He was hiding these inside the base with the view to smuggle them out when there was an opportunity to do so.  Unfortunately for him he was soon discharged from the SADF.  He stated that after a few weeks, if not a month, he went back to the base.  He was still clad in his SADF uniform and armed with a knife.  He went straight to the place where he had hidden the arms and the ammunition inside the base.  When he came to that point he found one of the SADF members, Klaas Koen, sleeping.  Koen was in possession of a R4 assault rifle which the Applicant took and left.  This was the only firearm he was able to secure because the place where the arms were kept, was locked.

3.    AN ATTACK ON THE KRAGBON POLICE DOG UNIT, SASOLBURG, IN OR ABOUT 1993

The Applicant stated that after successfully recruiting the township youths he formed a unit.  It was his aim to prepare the youths for the armed struggle which was being waged by APLA.  On the day in question they attacked members of a police dog unit and confiscated on pump gun and a .38 special revolver.  They had used an R4 rifle as well as a magnum toy pistol to carry out the attack.  J.B. Brits and two unknown Police reservists in the Dog Unit were injured during the incident.

4.    THE ARMED ROBBERY OF THE CRONJE FAMILY AT PANAMA FARM, BLOEMFONTEIN, IN THE FREE STATE IN OR ABOUT 1993

The attack was carried out because Mr J.H. Cronje was identified as a legitimate target.  The attackers were the Applicant and members of his unit, vs Kahitha Hani and Moeketsi Tchabedi.  Their aim was to secure arms.  The Applicant stated that he used to know the Cronje's farm very well because he used to live there.  When they arrived on the farm they found a labourer Petrus Mtimkulu and Cronje in the company of what they thought were visitors.  It later transpired that these were Cronje's family members, viz his wife, Francini and his sons, Pierre and Albertus.  Mieta Louw was the only visitor.  They were all pointed with a firearm and locked in the bathroom.  They took J.H. Cronje to the room where they believed he kept the arms in a safe.  There was also an amount of about R550.00 in the safe.  All the money as well as about five firearms and a Toyota Venture were taken.  Amongst the occupants of the house who were pointed with firearms and forced to cooperate with the Applicant and his team whilst they ransacked the house, was a four year old child, Albertus.  The Applicant stated that the money and the vehicle were taken to strengthen the operational capacity of his unit of which he was a commander under the leadership of Kumane.  When they left the place they abducted Cronje and forced him to go with them.  They only released him when they were close to the black township.

5.    THE BERLINA COAL MINES, SASOLBURG, ROBBERY IN OR ABOUT 1993

The next operation which was carried out by the Applicant and two members of his unit was an armed robbery of a Z88 pistol from the security personnel of Berlina Coal Mines.  The Applicant stated that he had received information from one Bra Oupa that firearms were available there.  Oupa was employed at the mines.  He said he, Moeketsi Tchabedi and Bogo Moletela decided that they were going to raid the place.  On their arrival there in the evening they found a member of the security personnel, Tinus Pieterse.    The latter was unarmed and he told them that he did not have the keys for the safe where the arms and ammunition were being kept.  He told them that thee key was kept by his senior who was going to arrive there in a matter of hours.  The Applicant stated that they searched the office but could not find any weapon.  They waited for the security member's senior to arrive.  When the latter came at about midnight, the Applicant who was armed with a Z88 pistol took him by surprise and instructed Moeketsi to search him.  They found a Z88 pistol on the person which was confiscated.  The person was not injured but they abducted him so they could use him as a shield to safely leave the mine premises.  The Applicant stated that they were quite worried that they could be arrested or shot in the course of the operation.  Once they reached safety closer to the township, they released the security officer.  They only secured a pistol and a jacket from the operation.  It later transpired that they had been to a wrong section of the mine and not the one where arms were kept.  Applicant gave the firearm to Kumane in order that more operations could be carried out.

According to the Applicant, he used the monetary proceeds of the robbery to travel to Cape Town and to the Orange Free State where he consulted with other APLA members and supplied them with arms.  He denied that he carried out the operations for personal gain.

6.    THE BURNING OF STATE PROPERTY IN GROENPUNT MAXIMUM PRISON AND THE ASSAULT OF MARTIN LOPINDO IN OR ABOUT APRIL 1994

The Applicant is seeking amnesty for arson in relation to the abovementioned incident in which he and his cell mates burnt property belonging to the Groenpunt Maximum Prison.  They were protesting against the then government's decision that prisoners would not be allowed to vote in the first democratic elections on 27 April 1994.  They burnt prison property, viz blankets, mats and other items of bedding which belonged to the Correctional Services Department  The Applicant and his cell mates also assaulted prisoner Martin Lopindo because they saw him as an obstacle to their struggle to be granted leave by the State to vote.  He avers that Lopindo was opposed to their action.  They were charged but acquitted for the incident.

We have carefully considered the evidence in the matter and we are satisfied that the Applicant has complied with the requirements of the Act.  We are also satisfied that the offences which he committed are "acts associated with a political objective" as required by the Act.  We are further of the view that a full disclosure of the relevant facts had been made.

In the result amnesty is GRANTED to the Applicant for the following offences:

1.    Damage to property and arson in respect of the burning of Paul Mahlatsi's business complex and his cars in Zamdela Township, Sasolburg, during or about 1991;

2.    The attempted murder and abduction of J.H. Cronje and pointing a firearm at Francina Cronje, Pierre Cronje, Albertus Cronje, Mieta Louw and petrus Mtimkulu at or near Panama Farm, Bloemfontein during or about 1993;

3.    The attempted murder of J.B. Brits and two unknown police reservists in the Dog Unit in Sasolburg during or about 1993;

4.    The assault on Klaas Koen, a former member of the SADF 97 Ammunition Depot at De Aar during 1992/1993 and robbing him of a R4 rifle

5.    Robbing Tinus Pietersen of a firearm at Berlina Coal Mine, Sasolburg, during or about 1993;

6.    Malicious damage to property belonging to the Correctional Services Department and assault on Martin Lopindo, at Groenpunt Prison, Gauteng, during or about April 1994.

It is recommended that the victims of the abovementioned incidents be referred to the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee for assessment for possible reparations.  None of the victims of the Applicant's actions testified before the Committee.  Paul Mahlatsi was only present at the hearing and submitted, through his legal representative, an extensive statement of the financial loss which he incurred as the result of the burning of his properties.  The Committee accepts that Mahlatsi suffered substantial losses as a result of the action of the Applicant and the mob.

DATED AT CAPE TOWN THIS    DAY OF                  2001.

JUDGE D. POTGIETER S.C.

JUDGE J. MOTATA

ADV. N. SANDI

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