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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 506
Paragraph Numbers 403 to 411
Violations associated with APLA and PAC supporters
403 Cape Town became a significant field of operation for APLA in the 1990s. From December 1992 to December 1993, a series of APLA attacks targeted both civilians and security force personnel. On 26 December 1992, two armed men opened fire on the Stakes restaurant, injuring several persons while a further two operatives waited in the car outside. APLA operatives Andile Shiceka [AM5939/97], commander of the operation, and Thandabantu Samala [AM5900/97] applied for amnesty for this incident.
The St James’ Church Massacre
404 At about 19h30 on Sunday 25 July 1993, two APLA operatives burst into the evening service at St. James’ Church in Kenilworth. They fired machine guns and threw two hand-grenades covered with nails at a congregation of over a thousand people. Eleven people were killed and fifty-six injured. The attackers escaped in a waiting car which had been hijacked earlier. The congregation was racially mixed and those killed included four Russian sailors.
405 The Commission received ten statements relating to deaths and injuries. Those killed were Mr Guy Cooper Javens (52) [CT00620], Mr Richard Oliver O’Kill (17)[CT03029], Ms Myrtle Joan Smith (45) [CT03029], Mr Wesley Harker (13), Mr Gerard Dennis Harker (21), Ms Denise Gordon (30) [CT01124], Ms Marita Maria Ackerman (46) [CT02922], Mr Oleg Karamjin (55), Mr Andrey Katyl (25), Mr Valuev Pavel and Mr Valentin Varaska (40).
406 Ms Marilyn Javens described the attack which killed her husband Guy:
It was one of those evenings that we went to church the normal time, started the worship service and a couple were singing “More than wonderful”. And it was just at the end of that song that the doors opened. And I saw this man standing there and I realised that he had a gun in his hand and he started moving from left to right … And after a few minutes, we got up and – well I called to my husband and he didn’t answer. And I got up and he was still on his haunches, and I think I was a bit bewildered at that stage, everybody was milling around and, with that, an usher came down in front of me towards my husband. And he bent down to feel his pulse and I just said to him, “Is he alive?” and he shook his head.
407 Amongst those who were severely injured was a teacher, Mr Paul Williams [CT00618], who was shot in his spinal cord and cannot walk without crutches:
Suddenly these doors just flung open. And nobody could – I myself, I couldn’t imagine that it was a possible or imminent attack. At first I heard a gun shot and immediately thereafter … saw a hand grenade hurling towards a live audience. The second person (while this hand grenade was still airborne) he opened fire with what I will call a very heavy machine gun. And he was just spraying bullets, you know, randomly just across the Congregation. And I was sitting on the end of the pew and that pew was rather full … I curled myself up to sort of hide my face from the gun firing … but soon after I just felt the thud of the bullet hitting my lower back and it was like – it was like a tension wire snapping and with that went a lot of pain. I just – I had stretched my body and my lower body just became very numb.
408 Public relations manager Mr Martin Bagley suffered severe head injuries and the right side of his body was paralysed, causing him speech and memory problems. Mr Dimitri Makogan lost both legs and an arm.
409 Initial responses from the PAC and APLA denied responsibility for the attack. PAC leader Mr Barney Desai stated, “We condemn this mindless violence on churchgoing people”. An APLA spokesperson in Dar Es Salaam said that the attack was “not the sort of operation APLA would mount”. The Regional Director of the PAC denied that APLA was involved, but a person claiming to be the Regional Commander of APLA claimed responsibility. This suggests that the operation was the decision of a local commander rather than an attack planned by the High Command.
410 An APLA operative, Mr Gcinikhaya Makoma (18), was arrested ten days after the incident and was later sentenced to twenty-three years’ imprisonment. Mr Thobela Mlambisa and Mr Basie Mkhumbuzi were subsequently charged in 1996. Mlambisa drove the vehicle while Mkhumbuzi acted as ‘security’ outside with the vehicle. Mr Sichumiso Nonxuba61 admitted entering the church and physically attacking the congregants. Makoma [AM0164/96], Mkhumbuzi [AM6140/97] and Mlambisa [AM7596/97] applied for and were granted amnesty for the attack.62 Unsubstantiated reports indicate that one of the key commanders associated with this operation did not turn up on the day of the attack and that, although the SAP had this information, he was never sought or charged.
411 Makoma, Mkhumbuzi and Mlambisa testified that they were recent APLA recruits. They did not know the details or target of the operation until they arrived at the scene, claiming that, as commander, Nonxuba directed them to the target.61 Nonxuba was killed in November 1996 in a Kokstad car accident. 62 APLA Director of Operations Letlapa Mphahlele [AM3018/96] took overall responsibility but did not arrive at the amnesty hearing.