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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 226

Paragraph Numbers 240 to 244

Volume 2

Chapter 3

Subsection 27

The PEBCO Three

240 Sipho Hashe [EC0003/96PLZ], Mr Champion Galela [EC0005/96PLZ] and Mr Qaqawuli Godolozi [EC0004/96PLZ], members of the Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation (PEBCO), an affiliate of the UDF, were abducted on 11 May 1985 by members of the Port Elizabeth Security Branch, taken to Post Chalmers and killed. Their bodies were subsequently thrown into the Fish River. Askaris from the Vlakplaas unit assisted in the operation. The Commission received amnesty applications for their killing and/or circumstances surrounding their killing from Major Herman Barend du Plessis [AM4384/96], Major GJ Lotz [AM3921/96], Captain Gideon Nieuwoudt [AM3920/96] and Warrant Officer Johannes Koole [AM3748/96], amongst others.

241 Shortly before the killing, a high-powered political delegation including State President Botha and Ministers Vlok and Malan visited the strife-torn Eastern Cape. Numerous security force personnel testified to the fact that they were informed that the area had to be stabilised at all costs and that they had to do whatever was required to achieve this – no holds barred. As Port Elizabeth Security Branch member Harold Snyman [AM3918/96] put it: “Pressure was exercised from the Government’s side to act in a drastic way to neutralise activists and to help the security situation to normalise”.

242 Evidence led before the Amnesty Committee indicates that Hashe, Galela and Godolozi went to the the Ben Schoeman airport in Port Elizabeth after receiving a telephone call from an English-speaking Security Branch member, posing as a British Embassy official. Security Branch members, with the help of Vlakplaas askaris, abducted them before they entered the terminal. They were then taken to Post Chalmers where, according to the Security Branch members, they were given sedatives in coffee, then executed. This version is contradicted by the evidence of askaris. The askaris’ version is that first Galela was interrogated and tortured to death. With his body in full view, Hashe was brought out and subjected to unremitting torture until he, too, died. Godolozi spent the night in a garage with the bodies of Galela and Hashe and the following morning suffered the same fate. Their bodies were thrown into the Fish River.

243 Evidence received by the Commission subsequent to the amnesty hearing indicates that a person attached to the British Embassy may well have been involved in setting up the meeting that lured the three to the airport. While the Commission is in possession of this person’s name, it was unable to follow up or ascertain whether, if this was so, the person acted in an informed or unwitting capacity.

244 The killing of the PEBCO Three demonstrates the co-operation between Vlakplaas and divisional Security Branch offices. Unlike the Mxenge case, the Port Elizabeth security police have said that they were responsible for identifying the targets and initiating and conducting the operation. It is thus clear that Vlakplaas-based askaris acted in a supportive capacity, under the command of the Port Elizabeth Security Branch.

 
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