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Decisions

Type AMNESTY DECISIONS

Names JOHAN FREDERICH VERSTER

Matter AM7991/97

Decision GRANTED/REFUSED

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 application relates to a number of incidents which will be dealt with separately.  At all material times, Applicant served in various capacities in the former South African Defence Force ("SADF").  Most of the incidents relate to the period 1987 -  1993 when Applicant was attached to the Directorate of Covert Collections ("DCC") as an intelligence officer.  Due to the covert nature of his duties, Applicant was ostensibly employed by a front company of DDC in order to conceal the true nature of his activities.  His superiors and colleagues in the front company were all attached to DCC.

The individual incidents that form the subject matter of this decision will now be set out separately.

OPERATION KASINGA

The incident relates to a military operation launched by the SADF in Angola during or about 1980 - 1981.  Applicant participated in the operation in his capacity as a member of the SADF.  It is clear that this incident is not directly associated with the political conflict inside South Africa and is accordingly not associated with a political objective as envisaged by the Act.  In the circumstances, the application fails to comply with the requirements of the Act and amnesty is accordingly REFUSED.

OPERATION MASINGA

This incident happened during or about 1979 in KwaZulu Natal.  The circumstances briefly were that Applicant participated in a faction fight in an area known as Masinga.  In view of his military training, Applicant was approached by a childhood friend, who was in fact the son of the domestic worker of Applicant's family, to assist in the fighting.  Applicant eventually participated and was arrested and later convicted and sentenced in regard to the fighting.  Although Applicant indicates that he raised his participation in the faction fighting with some of his colleagues in the Defence Force, it is clear that he was acting in his personal capacity and that the incident is in no way associated with politics or the activities of the SADF.

In the circumstances, we are not satisfied that the application complies with the requirements of the Act and amnesty is accordingly REFUSED.

ABORTIVE ATTACK ON JOURNALISTS IN WINDHOEK

This incident happened during the period when Applicant was employed by DCC.  He is unable to recall the specific date.  On the instructions of his superiors, Applicant participated in planning and executing a failed attack upon two journalists in Windhoek.  Although very scant details were supplied in regard to the incident, we are satisfied that the Applicant was acting within the course and scope of his duties as a member of the then SADF and that the targets of the attack were political activists.  In the circumstances we are satisfied that the application complies with the requirements of the Act and amnesty is accordingly hereby GRANTED to the Applicant in respect of all offences directly resulting from an abortive attack upon two journalists, Heidi Von Eggerty and John Liebenberg at Windhoek during or about the period 1989 - 1993.

UNLAWFUL TAPPING OF TELEPHONES

In the execution of his duties as a member of DCC, Applicant took the necessary steps in order to tap the telephones of well-known political activists who supported the struggle of the South West African Peoples' Organisation ("SWAPO") against the then South African regime in Namibia.

Having considered the matter, we are satisfied that Applicant was acting in the course and scope of his duties and on the orders of his superiors within DCC.  We are accordingly satisfied that the incident constitutes an act associated with a political objective as envisaged in the Act.  Amnesty is accordingly hereby GRANTED to the Applicant in respect of all offences directly resulting from the unlawful tapping of telephones in Windhoek during or about the period 1987 -1993.

PLANNED ATTACK ON MR JESUS HAWALA

This incident occurred during the period when Applicant was attached to DCC.  On the instructions of his superiors, Applicant participated in planning the assassination of a prominent SWAPO member, Mr Jesus Hawala.  The planned operation was never executed.

Having considered the matter, we are satisfied that the incident constitutes an act associated with a political objective as envisaged in the Act.  Amnesty is accordingly hereby GRANTED to the Applicant in respect of all offences directly resulting from the planned attack on Mr Jesus Hawala during or about the period 1987 - 1993.

PLANNED ATTACK UPON MR HIDIPO HAMATENYA

In the course of his duties at DCC, Applicant was ordered by his superiors to participate in a planned assassination of a prominent SWAPO member, Mr Hidipo Hamatenya.  The planned operation was never executed.

Having considered the matter, we are satisfied that the incident constitutes an act associated with a political objective and that the application complies with all of the other requirements of the Act.  In the circumstances amnesty is hereby GRANTED to the Applicant in respect of all offences directly resulting from the planned attack on Mr Hidipo Hamatenya during or about the period 1987 - 1993.

CAMPAIGN TO DISCREDIT THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS ("ANC")

Applicant played a prominent role in a project of DCC aimed at discrediting the ANC.  The operation entailed the planting and manufacturing of evidence ostensibly incriminating the ANC in the commission of various crimes, including bank robberies.  The operation was executed during or about 1991 with the objective of ensuring international and local support for the then South African government.  The operation was particularly aimed at gaining black support for the government inside the country.

Having considered the matter, we are satisfied that the incident is directly associated with the then political conflict and that the Applicant was acting within the course and scope of his duties as a member of DCC on orders of his superiors.  In the circumstances, we are satisfied that the incident constitutes an act associated with a political objective and that the application complies with all of the other requirements of the Act.  Amnesty is accordingly hereby GRANTED to the Applicant in respect of all offences directly resulting from his participation in a project of DCC to discredit the ANC, as detailed above, during or about 1991.

INTERROGATION OF BILLY NKALA

In the course of his duties at DCC, Applicant interrogated a member of the Pan Africanist Congress ("PAC"), one Billy Nkala.  In an attempt to extract information from Mr Nkala, Applicant assaulted him.  One of Applicant's superiors was present during the interrogation.

Having considered the matter, we are satisfied that the incident is directly associated with the then political conflict and that the incident accordingly constitutes an act associated with a political objective as envisaged in the Act.  We are, moreover, satisfied that the application complies with all of the other requirements of the Act.  In the circumstances, amnesty is hereby GRANTED to the Applicant in respect of all offences directly resulting from the interrogation of Mr Billy Nkala during or about the period 1987 - 1993.

DESTRUCTION OF DCC RECORDS

During the course of the activities of the Goldstone Commission of Enquiry, Applicant and some of his colleagues were ordered by their superiors to destroy certain records relating to the activities of DCC.  This included the burning of files.

Having considered the matter, we are satisfied that the incident resulted directly from the then political conflict and attempts to safeguard the interest of the then government and its security forces.  We are accordingly satisfied that the incident constitutes an act associated with a political objective as envisaged in the Act and that the application complies with all of the other requirements of the Act.  In the circumstances, amnesty is hereby GRANTED to the Applicant in respect of all offences directly resulting from the unlawful destruction of records relating to the activities of DCC during or about the period 1987 - 1993.

DATED AT CAPE TOWN THIS    DAY OF                2001.

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