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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 371
Paragraph Numbers 203 to 209
1970s and 1980s: Violations committed in the course of the PAC armed struggle in South Africa
203 The PAC’s strategy of a protracted people’s war, involving the infiltration of guerrillas into rural areas, resulted in a number of armed confrontations and skirmishes with the security forces. A limited number of armed attacks in townships resulted in injuries or deaths to members of the security forces. Violations committed in the course of armed combat are not considered by the Commission to be gross violations of human rights.
204 In 1978, three APLA insurgents were arrested for establishing an arms cache in Krugersdorp. The following year in Transkei, five APLA guerrillas were arrested. PAC member Mr Abel Sgubhu Dube [AM6040/97] applied for amnesty for gunrunning into South Africa via Pietersburg in April 1982.
APLA attacks on security forces
205 The first APLA attacks to be confirmed as such by the police were four actions attributed to the Alexandra township ‘Scorpion Gang’ between December 1986 and February 1987, in which two soldiers and two policemen were wounded and a café owner shot dead during a robbery. The three APLA guerrillas involved were killed after a car chase through the Johannesburg suburb of Bramley. Mr Mandla Michael Yende [AM5648/97] applied for amnesty for shooting eleven SADF soldiers with ‘scorpion’ machine pistols in Alexandra in January 1987. Mr Themba Jack Phikwane [AM6032/97] claims to have killed twenty-five SADF members in Alexandra. Mr Louie Nkululeko Dlova [AM6596/97] injured a member of the SAP with a hand grenade during the ‘Lichtenburg Battle’.
206 The PAC’s submission also claims that the attack on the Tladi police station, attacks on police in Bramley and various operations in Alexandra township were APLA attacks.
207 APLA journal, Azanian Combat, claimed that, in 1987, twelve members of the ‘enemy’ were killed and sixty-seven others were wounded – casualties of an APLA grenade attack on two municipal police platoons at the Soweto Police Training College. In 1988, a clash between APLA cadres and the police resulted in the death of four APLA members and severe injuries to twelve policemen.
APLA armed robberies and attacks on civilians
208 In the late 1980s, APLA members engaged in armed robberies. A ‘robbery unit’ was established as a source of funding for the external and internal wings of APLA. APLA members engaged in armed robberies in the 1980s and early 1990. At some point, guerrillas engaged in such acts were named ‘repossession units’ and their actions were justified politically by the PAC as part of a strategy to repossess land taken by ‘settlers’. APLA units were instructed to obtain the necessary weapons and goods for subsistence, by robbery if necessary. An APLA commander also explained to the Commission the complex motivations for conducting such operations:
The family in the house you have been concealed in suddenly speculates about the money you are supposed to have brought with you which they thought had like a manna from heaven suddenly brought their economic woes to an end. They thought we were being paid like the SADF soldiers and we had to be explaining things. When they learnt we were not going to resolve their economic problems they then started to advise us on the targets, which were butcheries, grocery shops, and so on. In the mid and late 80s we lost more comrades in armed robberies than in actual armed confrontation with the enemy forces.
Under the circumstances we just had to establish a unit that was going to specialise on robberies – even though we knew we were not getting all the loot but at least we managed to operate effectively. The rest of the cadres would engage in fighting because it had become clear we could no longer expect those who were making money, mainly for themselves and partly for the struggle, to want to die in operations that did not involve ‘repossession’. Undisciplined cadres who did not follow the general command to operate from the countryside fell victims of the problems we faced mainly in the towns where these comrades preferred to be at.
209 The Commission received amnesty applications from Mr Barowsky Phumelele Masilela [AM3146/96] for an armed robbery in Springs in 1988 in which one person was injured; from Mr Lucky Clement Luthuli [AM3435/96] for the killing and robbing of Mr Lucas Botha in April 1987 in Durban with the intention of obtaining firearms and money and from Mr Lefu John Molati [AM2092/96] for an attack in February 1989 in which Mr Johannes Hermanus Boonzaaier was shot and killed, his wife Ms Mercia Maureen Boonzaaier assaulted and the couple robbed of their bakkie.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE TARGETING OF CIVILIANS FOR KILLING WAS NOT ONLY A GROSS VIOLATION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THOSE AFFECTED BUT A VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW. THE COMMISSION NOTES BUT REJECTS THE PAC’S EXPLANATION THAT ITS KILLING OF WHITE FARMERS CONSTITUTED ACTS OF WAR FOR WHICH IT HAS NO REGRETS AND APOLOGIES. TO THE CONTRARY, THE COMMISSION FINDS PAC ACTION DIRECTED TOWARDS BOTH CIVILIANS AND WHITES TO HAVE BEEN A GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOR WHICH THE PAC AND APLA LEADERSHIP ARE HELD TO BE MORALLY AND POLITICALLY RESPONSIBLE AND ACCOUNTABLE.