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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 685
Paragraph Numbers 461 to 478
Pan Africanist Congress
461 After the unbanning of the liberation movements on 2 February 1990, the PAC adopted a different strategic position to that of the ANC. While the ANC engaged almost immediately in ‘talks about talks’ with government representatives, the PAC told the Commission that it had held a principled approach to negotiations and believed that “one must negotiate from a position of strength”. The PAC called for the formation of a patriotic front and for the establishment of an elected constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. They called for any meeting between the liberation movements and the regime to take place at a neutral venue under neutral chairpersons, so as to ensure a “level playing field”. According to the PAC, the failure of CODESA to adhere to these principles led to the PAC’s withdrawal. The PAC claims that: “Throughout this period the PAC adopted a positive outlook and urged the negotiating parties to be principled”. It was, nevertheless, during this period of negotiations that the PAC’s military wing APLA engaged in its most effective campaigns and was responsible for most of the human rights violations attributed to the organisation.
462 The targets of APLA attacks were twofold: Firstly, a series of attacks on white farmers took place, in which weapons were often seized. Secondly, there was a relatively small number of armed attacks on public places in urban areas, usually but not always frequented by white civilians.
463 APLA attacks increased during 1993, after APLA’s chief commander Sabelo Phama declared 1993 ‘The Year of the Great Storm’. On 5 and 7 April 1993 Phama appeared in an interview with the SABC television declaring that “he would aim his guns at children - to hurt whites where it hurts most”. By that time, APLA operatives had struck at the King William’s Town Golf Club on 28 November 1992, killing four people. Phama confirmed he had sanctioned the attack. Further attacks followed after Phama’s interview. These included the attack on the Highgate Hotel in East London on 1 May 1993, on St James Church in Kenilworth on 25 July 1993 and Heidelberg Tavern in Observatory on 31 December 1993.
464 The PAC has stated in its submission that, whereas APLA strategy in the 1980s had been to target the security structures, “a new strategy arose in the 1990’s where civilians within the white community were attacked”. Because details of operations could not be prepared by their headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam, target selection was left to the local commanders. While internally trained cadres were in a position to carry out better reconnaissance and thus avert detection and arrest, they faced the disadvantage of not having received the kind of political literacy that was standard in the camps. The leadership accepted full responsibility for acts which may have occurred as a result of errors made by these operatives, although no examples of such errors were named. Many PAC members convicted for such acts applied for amnesty.
465 The claim that the attacks on white civilians were not part of the PAC’s strategy must be contrasted with the statement of the APLA command as expressed in the submission to the armed forces hearing of the Commission. This division over military strategy was reflected in a divided approach to the question of negotiations so that when, in January 1994, the PAC leadership agreed to suspend armed actions and enter negotiations, some of the APLA leadership were not in favour of the decision.
APLA attacks of 1992 – 1994 period in which civilians were killed
466 Owing to the number and significance of violations perpetrated on urban ‘soft’ targets, they are presented here according to the region where they took place.
467 In the Western Cape, two of the attacks on white civilians which involved the most casualties took place in Cape Town in 1993:
468 An attack took place on the Heidelberg Tavern in Observatory, Cape Town on 30 December 1993. Civilians in the pub were sprayed with gunfire; four died and three were injured. Those who died were Ms Rolande Lucielle Palm [CT00415/SOU], Ms Bernadette Langford [CT03041/SOU], Ms Lindy-Anne Fourie [CT02703/SOU] and Mr Joss Cerqueira. The injured were Mr Michael Jacob January [CT00451/KZN], Mr Dave Deglon [CT03045/SOU], Mr Benjamin Braude [CT00415/SOU] and Mr Quentin Cornelius [JB00323/01GTSOW].
469 The Amnesty applications for this incident were Mr Luyanda Gqomfa [AM0949/96], Mr Zola Mabala [AM5931/97] and Mr Vuyisile Madasi [AM6077/97]. After their testimony was heard in a public hearing, they were granted amnesty on 15 July 1998.
470 The main thrust of their testimony was that they acted on instructions from APLA High Command in executing the Heidelberg Tavern killings. Gqomfa explained at the hearings that the order to attack was given to him by Mr Sichumiso Nonxuba and that he was told that the tavern was a place frequented by members of the security forces. Nonxuba died in a car accident in May 1997. The following quote from Gqomfa’s affidavit accompanied his application and summarises the testimony of all three:
As far as I was concerned, the attacks was to get the land back from the whites who had taken it away from the African people through violent means. For us and for me in APLA, the only way to get our land back, and to liberate the black masses was through the use of force.
471 The investigation into this attack and the amnesty hearing were complicated by allegations that Commissioner Dumisa Ntsebeza, head of the Commission’s Investigation Unit, was implicated in the attack in that his car was used by the APLA members involved. The person who made the allegations, Bernard Sibaya, at first pointed Ntsebeza out in public; he later confessed that he had been blackmailed by the police into naming Ntsebeza.
472 Another attack took place on the congregation of St James Church in Kenilworth, Cape Town on 25 July 1993. In this attack, eleven people were killed and fifty-eight wounded. The attackers fired machine guns and threw two hand grenades at a congregation of about one thousand people. The attack lasted for about thirty seconds and the attackers escaped in a waiting car which was found abandoned at Ottery in Cape Town three days later. Apparently the car had been hijacked from its owner on the day of the attack.
473 Those killed were Mr Guy Javens [CT00620/SOU], Ms Denise Gordon [CT01124/ SOU], Ms Marita Ackerman [CT02922/SOU], Mr Richard O’Kill [CT03029/SOU], Ms Myrtle Smith [CT03029/SOU], Mr Gerhard Harker, Mr Wesley Harker, Mr Oleg Karamjin, Mr Andrey Kayl, Mr Valuev Pavel and Mr Valentin Varaska. The last four were Russian sailors. The Commission also received statements from a number of people who were injured in the attack.
474 Those who applied for amnesty for the attack were Mr Gcinikhaya Christopher Makoma [AM0164/96], Mr Mzukisi Bassie Mkhumbuzi [AM6140/97] and Mr Letlapa Raymond Mphahlele [AM3018/96].
475 At the amnesty hearing in Cape Town on 9 July 1997, Mkhumbuzi testified that, although the target had been selected by his unit leader Mr Sichumiso Nonxuba, he agreed that “whites were using churches to oppress blacks” and justified the attack on the grounds that whites took our country using churches and bibles. We know and we have read from books that they are the ones who have taken the land from us.
476 All the applicants contended that they had no prior knowledge of the operation and that target selection was left up to Nonxuba. This functional delineation was corroborated by a statement from the PAC delegation at the special hearing on the armed forces, in which they submitted that the actual targets were decided by local commanders and that the APLA forces who carried out these operations followed their directives.
477 The applicants were asked about how they perceived the political objective and whether they considered that selecting the church as a target would advance the struggle which the PAC was waging, even though they might not have actually selected the target themselves. In response to this question, the applicants emphasised the land issue and the imperative of wresting the land from whites, thus taking the struggle to the white areas.
478 The applicants were granted amnesty on 11 June 1998.