CHAIRPERSON: Today is the 9th of December 1998. This is the continuation of the session of the Amnesty Committee, hearing applications from members of the Self Defence Units.
The panel is constituted as previously indicated on the record. The appearances are as before, specifically Mr Sibeko is representing the applicants who remain and who will be heard today.
The first matter is the application of Mr Vusi Lawrence Sibiya. It is Amnesty Committee reference number AM7148/97 and the papers appear at page 48 in the Lusaka B bundle.
Mr Sibiya, can you hear me?
MR SIBIYA: Yes, I can hear you.
CHAIRPERSON: I want you to please stand and then give your full names for the record.
MR SIBIYA: My name is Vusi Lawrence Sibiya.
VUSI LAWRENCE SIBIYA: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, please sit down. Mr Sibeko, over to you.
EXAMINATION BY MR SIBEKO: Thank you Mr Chairman. Mr Sibiya, you have also made an application for amnesty, is that correct?
MR SIBIYA: Yes, that is so.
MR SIBEKO: Were you a member of the Self Defence Unit, Lusaka B in Thokoza?
MR SIBIYA: That is so.
MR SIBEKO: When did you join the Self Defence Unit?
MR SIBIYA: I joined during the year 1993.
MR SIBEKO: Who was your Commander?
MR SIBIYA: It was Makasonke Mhlope.
ADV GCABASHE: Can I just ask, is it Hlope or Mhlope? Can you just tell me which of the two names is the right one for Makasonke?
MR SIBIYA: It was Makasonke Mhlope.
ADV GCABASHE: Thank you.
MR SIBEKO: We have heard from other applicants that before the year 1993, there were patrols and barricades that were made around the township. Were you also part of that occurrence before 1993?
MR SIBIYA: Yes, that is correct, I did take part.
MR SIBEKO: Do you have a specific incident where you were also involved in the barricades or the patrol where a person was found with an unlawful firearm or a weapon and what happened to that person if you were there?
MR SIBIYA: Yes, that is correct, there are certain specific occurrences in which I was involved.
MR SIBEKO: Right. Which specific incident were you involved, where such patrol or barricade was made and weapons were recovered?
MR SIBIYA: It was during 1990, even though I do not remember the date, we were barricading and patrolling, we were patrolling Lusaka B or the Lusaka B area.
I don't remember the names of the street, we came across a certain man. When we searched him, we found a pistol on his person.
We passed the pistol over to our Commander for safekeeping. I have no clarity as to what he did with it.
MR SIBEKO: What time of the day did this incident occur?
MR SIBIYA: I am not sure about the exact time, but I do know that it was around midnight, it was quite late.
MR SIBEKO: Were you in a position to see the face of this person so that you could identify him, whether you knew him or not?
MR SIBIYA: I wasn't able to identify him, because there were many of us and a number of us wanted to discipline him because he was found with an unlicensed firearm and we decided that he was going to be sjamboked.
MR SIBEKO: Who meted out that punishment on that person?
MR SIBIYA: Makasonke the Commander, meted out the punishment.
MR SIBEKO: You said a sjambok was used, is that correct?
MR SIBIYA: Yes, we did use a sjambok. He did.
MR SIBEKO: What happened to this man thereafter?
MR SIBIYA: After having been punished, he was sent off home and he was told not to walk about at night with unlicensed firearms or weapons.
MR SIBEKO: The picture that I have now is that the rest of the people who were around, did nothing but Makasonke is the one who meted out the punishment, is that a correct picture?
MR SIBIYA: As I have already pointed out, it was only Makasonke who assaulted this man.
MR SIBEKO: Were you ever involved in any patrol or barricade where this type of action occurred?
MR SIBIYA: No.
MR SIBEKO: In 1993 you joined the Self Defence Unit, what specific incidents were you involved in from 1993 onwards?
MR SIBIYA: We were at a certain base or based in a certain area on this particular day of this occurrence, and my Commander Makasonke, arrived with a rifle, an AK47. He informed us that we had to go and attack a certain house at Lusaka B, Gamedi Street number 1285, Mr Sithole's place.
As we were on our way to attack the particular place, I remember that Dingane Nkosi was present. On our way, we came across a car, that is on our way to Mr Sithole's place. This driver was an elderly man, which I cannot identify, I do not know his name. We asked him for some petrol and he offered us some petrol, I think it was plus minus five litres of petrol that he gave us.
When we got to Mr Sithole's place, we proceeded to the house and found that the doors were locked. Just next to the house, was a shack, but the shack was not locked, and we knew that it belonged to Mr Sithole.
When we got into the shack, we discovered that there was no one inside. As Dingane Nkosi had this can of five litres of petrol, he was ordered by Makasonke Mhlope to douse the shack with petrol. I had a box of matches at that stage and Makasonke gave me an order to set the shack alight before the police or anyone came.
I did as I was instructed to, I set the shack alight after it had been doused with petrol. The shack caught alight and we dispersed, each and every one of us went to his different place.
On the following day, we went passed the shack that we had attacked the previous day, just to check the extent of the damage. We discovered that the house also had been damaged. We realised that even if Mr Sithole came back, he would actually realise that he was no longer welcome, he was not wanted in that area any more.
MR SIBEKO: What was wrong with Mr Sithole which made you to attack him or his place of residence?
MR SIBIYA: Mr Sithole was a full time member of Inkatha, so much so that he could not hide his activities or his membership. I could say he was a staunch member of the IFP, so much so that at times when he walks passed us, he would call us all sorts of names.
He would actually insult us and say that we were children of bitches, that indicated to us that he was actually very much against anyone who was a non-member of Inkatha.
MR SIBEKO: Is that all he said to you which made you to think or to suspect or to believe that he was a full time member of the IFP as you say? Is there any other thing that he said to you?
MR SIBIYA: It is the insults that led us to believe, because he used to insult us and he used to tell us that we were going to join Inkatha by force, whether we liked it or not.
MR SIBEKO: Now what ultimately happened to Mr Sithole, did he ever come back?
MR SIBIYA: I wouldn't know whether he heard that his house had been burnt down, but he never came back and we never saw him thereafter.
He never came back to the area.
MR SIBEKO: Will I be correct if I say that you only damaged or burnt the shack which resulted to the burning down of the house, and nobody was burnt in the process, that is either in the shack or in the house, as you say the house was locked?
MR SIBIYA: Yes, I could say that because there was absolutely no one in the house as well as the shack. I think it is only his property that was damaged when we burnt the place down, or when we doused the shack with petrol and set it alight.
MR SIBEKO: You are applying for amnesty for arson on his shack and his house?
MR SIBIYA: Yes, that is correct.
MR SIBEKO: Are you also applying for amnesty for your involvement in the disciplinary action that you meted, that Makasonke meted out on that person who was found with the pistol?
MR SIBIYA: That is correct.
MR SIBEKO: Is there any other acts or incidents where you were involved?
MR SIBIYA: No, there are no other acts and occurrences that I took part in.
MR SIBEKO: Thank you Mr Chairman, I've got no further questions.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS BY MR SIBEKO
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Sibeko. Adv Steenkamp, any questions?
ADV STEENKAMP: I have no questions, thank you Mr Chairman.
NO CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ADV STEENKAMP
CHAIRPERSON: Any questions by the panel?
ADV GCABASHE: Can I just check, it was just the three of you, Dingane, Makasonke and yourself involved in this incident?
MR SIBIYA: It was dark, I remember only the three of us. It was very dark and very late. I think there were some others, but I wasn't able to recognise them or identify them.
ADV GCABASHE: Thank you. Thank you Chair.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Any re-examination Mr Sibeko?
MR SIBEKO: None, thank you Mr Chairman.
NO RE-EXAMINATION BY MR SIBEKO
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Sibiya, thank you very much. You are excused.
ADV STEENKAMP: Mr Chairman, maybe just before we step off of this matter, sorry to be so rude, just additional information on this specific incident, house 1285 Gamedi Street was actually visited. This is the house of the Sithole place, apparently nobody is staying there any longer, and the victims could not be traced.
Thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Adv Steenkamp.