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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 399
Paragraph Numbers 126 to 132
126. Survivors of the attack gave vivid accounts of the sequence of events in the church that evening. They also described the effects of the attack on them as individuals, on their families and on their subsequent ability to function effectively in their work environments and communities. The Amnesty Committee heard of the extreme psychological and emotional consequences of the attack on individuals and on the congregation. Yet all the victims spoke of their ability, deriving from their strong Christian convictions, to forgive the attackers and to move on with their lives. Mr Dawie Ackerman told the Committee:
I went on record after the event to say that I hold no personal grudge: that I do not hate them and I stand by that. I also held out reconciliation to them, and I believe with all my heart because I’ve experienced reconciliation with God, through Jesus Christ, that it is available to everybody, including to them. And I held that out to them at the time and I still do so now. … It was a release to me to go there and to be where she was killed. And as the time unfolded, and the Truth Commission started up and I heard the testimonies of my fellow Black South Africans, who had been subjected to the treatment that they had. And parents and mothers, brothers asked, telling where is my son, where is my father, and we know now that some of them were buried in a farm somewhere in the Free State, some were thrown in rivers in the Eastern Cape – because I know the value of going back to the place where it happened, I appeal to the agents of the government, whoever they might be, to come forward and to iden tify what they had done, where they did it, at least give them also the opportuni tyto grieve where it happened. (Cape Town hearing, 9 July 1997.)
127. Mr Ackerman requested that the Committee allow him to address the applicants directly at the hearing:
May I ask the applicants to turn around and to face me? This is the first opportunity we’ve had to look each other in the eye and talk. I want to ask Mr Makoma who actually entered the church – my wife was sitting right at the door when we came in, where you came in, she was wearing a long, blue coat; can you remember if you shot her?
MR MAKOMA: I do remember that I fired some shots, but I couldn’t identify, I don’t know whom did I shoot or not, but my gun pointed at the people.
MR ACKERMAN: It is important for me to know if it is possible, as much as it is important for your people who suffered, to know who killed. I don’t know why it is so important for me, but it just is. If you don’t remember, I will accept that. I have heard you through your attorney say and into the microphone, apologise and I have also heard your leadership extend an invitation to my church leadership which is still required, I think, to be considered, that they want to come to our church to offer condolences and they said that they would bring you along, whether or not you receive amnesty in a show of reconciliation. I would like to hear from each one of you, as you look me in the face, that you are sorry for what you have done, that you regret it and that you want to be personally reconciled. You can speak in your own language directly to me; you don’t have to worry about the microphone.
MR MAKOMA: We are sorry for what we have done. It was the situation in South Africa. Although people died during that struggle, we didn’t do that out of our own will. It is the situation that we were living under. We are asking from you, please do forgive us. All that we did, we can see the results today.
MR MLAMBISA: I am also asking for an apology. As we were working under orders, we didn’t know that this will come to such a place. We wanted to be where we are today. We were working under the orders. As the TRC is alive today, we hope that this will come to an end. I hope that you do forgive me, because I ask for forgiveness. Thank you.
MR MKHUMBUZI: I also want to say I do apologise to those people who were in the church at that time, while there was that shooting. We also thought that we would meet with the church members, those who were there. Even if we can also go to the church to show that we want reconciliation with them under the circumstances that we were, I also say please forgive me to everybody who is White and Black, who are in this new South Africa. Thank you.
MR ACKERMAN: I want you to know that I forgive you unconditionally. I do that because I am a Christian and I can forgive you for the hurt that you have caused me, but I cannot forgive you the sin that you have done. Only God can forgive you for that … (Cape Town hearing, 9 July 1997.)
128. The Amnesty Committee accepted that the applicants were APLA members. It found no evidence to suggest that Nonxuba did not command the operation; nor that the applicants had themselves selected St James’ Church as a target . It accepted that the applicants had carried out the operation on orders fro m their commanders. The Committee was satisfied that the applicants had complied with all the requirements of section 20(1) of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, Act 34 of 1995, (the Act), and amnesty was accordingly granted [AC/1998/0024].
Attack on Riverside Lodge, Ladybrand
129. On 16 September 1993, a unit of four APLA operatives threw hand grenades and Molotov cocktails at the Riverside Lodge, outside Ladybrand in the Orange Fre e State, near South Africa’s border with Lesotho. Nobody was injured in the attack.
130. APLA member Nkopane Diaho-Monaheng [AM3828/96] applied for amnesty for the attack. He testified before the Amnesty Committee that, as a regional commander, he was under orders from the Deputy Director of Operations of APLA to ‘drive white people from the land because it did not belong to them’.
131. In line with this policy, Diaho-Monaheng identified two farms in Fouriesburg and the Riverside Lodge outside Ladybrand for attack. The Lodge was also chosen as a target because it was believed that it was frequented by members of the security forces on border duty. The applicant also had information that the AW B was having a meeting there. In the event, the meeting APLA believed was going to take place had either finished or did not take place at all.
132. Satisfied that full disclosure had been made and that the applicant had acted within the dictates of PAC and APLA policy at the time, the Amnesty Committee granted Mr Nkopane Diaho-Monaheng amnesty [AC/2001/0102] for the attack.