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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 404
Paragraph Numbers 144 to 156
144. Relatives of the deceased and survivors of the attack expressed their opposition to the applications for amnesty for reasons similar to those expressed by the victims of the St James’ Church attack. Many chose to address the applicants directly at the hearing.
145. Mr Quentin Cornelius was severely injured in the attack, as a result of which he lost his right kidney and up to 60 per cent of his intestines. Today he is a paraplegic and in constant need of both physiotherapy and psychotherapy. He asked the applicants:
The question is – and I am looking at each one, every single one of you now, di rectly across this table – I want to know from each one of you and your leaders, to explain to us why this was done, if there was any logical reason for what you have done, to launch a senseless terrorist attack on a pub with young, cheerful, innocent students at a time in South Africa’s history when we were already on the road to democracy after you had all accepted and taken part in the accepting of an interim constitution on the 3rd of December? Is there any reason, sensible reason, why you had to still continue with something like that? Could you not think for yourself? (Cape Town hearing, 27 October 1997.)
146. Gqomfa replied that he thought that Cornelius had been indoctrinated in a way that led him to refer to them as ‘terrorists’. They were not terrorists but freedom fighters. Gqomfa added:
[I]t is the person who is in a position of oppression that feels the oppression. He refers to this as having been senseless: it is because he did not feel the pain that we were under. If he was in my shoes, he would not speak the way he is speaking n o w. … We had to continue the war until the political leadership, our political leadership, PAC, gave a command that we must stop fighting. Our political leaders h i p had not given the command that we must stop fighting. I think that should be clear, this is why we acted the way we did. We were not subordinated to the ANC or the National Party; we were subordinated to the PAC. This is how I propose to answer the question. (Cape Town hearing, 27 October 1997.)
147. The mother of one of the deceased victims, Mrs Langford, wanted to know if the applicants could remember how they felt about attacking apparently unarmed young people who appeared to be enjoying themselves:
I’m going to ask you another question Mr Madasi. I need to know, I really need to know how you felt when you saw what you had done to human life. I re ally, really need to know that because, can you remember their faces maybe? Can you remember how shocked they looked? Can you remember when they fell? Can you remember anything about that, when that happened; because I ask you this for the simple reason because, when you got away, you showed much more feeling for the vehicle – that the vehicle shouldn’t be damaged – yet you’d just come away from showing no feeling towards life. I need to know how can one go from one kind of a feeling to another in the same instance, the same happening. I need to know how you can cope with that: how did you feel and how do you feel now? (Cape Town hearing, 28 October 1997.)
148. Madasi said that, while he knew that nobody had the right to take another’s life, the conditions under which people were living at the time were such that many members of the oppressed had shed their blood. Oppressed people felt the pain of losing a loved one equally.
149. Mrs Clarissa January, the mother of Mr Michael January, who survived the attack, asked why the applicants appeared to show no remorse whatsoever – which would have given the victims some sort of comfort.
You have only spoken of the orders and the killings that you have done. I understand a great deal of your suffering – we have also suffered; but I think it’s about time that you must face us and ask us directly for forgiveness. That’s all I want to say to you or ask you – if there is an answer. (Cape Town hearing, 28 October 1997.)
150. Mr Madasi re plied :
I greet you Madam. I’m glad for this opportunity to meet you and the people that l o s t so much from this matter. The fact of what you’re saying – that we’re not showing remorse or empathy – we are human beings, we are also sons to our fathers given birth to by our mothers. I know that a person survives in this world or makes it because of the support of other people. You perhaps look at me and think that I’m not showing remorse. However, our families know us well – I know that people who ...[indistinct] closely with us in connection with this matter. They would tell you how much remorse we are experiencing. If we did not, we would not be here even at this moment. This would show that we do not care about you, you can feel however you feel. To show and to demonstrate that, as the people we a re, we feel remorse, we are here to ask for forgiveness. I know that forgiveness is not a small matter, no matter how small the offence. However, if somebody’s asking for forgiveness, forgiveness is forgiveness – you must know that if the person is asking you for forgiveness they mean it. If we did not want to show remorse, we would not be here. I don’t know whether we’ve answered – I’ve a n s w e red the question. (Hearing at Cape Town, 28 October 1997.)
151. Mr Roland Lewis Palm lost his twenty-two year old daughter, Ms Rolande Lucielle Palm, in the attack. He told the applicants that the irony of his daughter’s death was that she was not a white person:
I say to the PAC and APLA and to the applicants, you killed the wrong person. Rolande was also joined in the struggle against the injustice for the apartheid system particularly in education. You simply ended her life as if she was a worthless piece of rubbish. You say you did so to liberate Azania. I say you did so for your own selfish and criminal purposes. You prevented Rolande from helping rebuild our broken nation which, if you had simply waited another few months, in fact came to pass when we had free elections.
Your commander Brigadier Nene stated that it was difficult to control the forces on the ground due to lack of proper communication and proper political training. These are simply empty excuses that in fact expose APLA for what it was: an unguided missile, out of the control of the PAC, at loggerheads with each other and unable to accept the political decisions of their political masters.
If proper planning and surveillance had been done, APLA would have discovered the following: (1) the tavern catered for a multiracial clientele; (2) the predominant patrons were young students from the UCT; (3) the Tavern did not cater exclusively for military personnel, nor could be described by any intelligent person as amil i t a ry target where arms could be obtained; (4) its resident musician was Josh Sithole, a black man who was loved and respected throughout the country by multiracial audiences countrywide and who was entertaining the patrons at the time of the attack; (5) a better ‘military target’ which fulfilled their criteria was the Woodstock Police station a short distance away.
APLA, as well as the applicants, cannot be truthful when they state that by murdering patrons at the Heidelberg Tave rn was a bona fide act associated with a political objective. (Cape Town hearing, 31 October 1997.)
152. Mr Francisco Cerqueira, brother of the deceased restaurateur, Mr José Cerqueira, appeared before the Committee to register his opposition to the amnesty applications on the grounds that he believed the applicants had falsely implicated his brother when they testified that he had opened fire on the getaway vehicle outside his restaurant.
153. The Amnesty Committee viewed the two incidents as part and parcel of the same attack. There was some doubt as to whether Mr Cequeira had fired shots at the attackers as no traces of powder were subsequently found on his hand. The Committee accepted, however, that the applicants were under the impression that they were being attacked when they shot in his direction.
154. The Committee also heard argument from and evidence led by counsel for Commissioner Dumisa Ntsebeza, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Investigation Unit. Mr Ntsebeza was implicated in the attack when a Mr Bernard Sibaya claimed that the Commissioner’s car had been used by APLA members. Sibaya later confessed that he had been blackmailed by the police into naming Ntsebeza.208
155. The Amnesty Committee concluded that the three applicants in this matter had complied with the requirements of the Act and demonstrated that they were quite clearly acting on behalf of APLA, which was engaged in political struggle against the state at that time. The Committee found that the applicants had not acted for personal gain or out of personal malice, ill will or spite directed against the deceased and the victims. They had no knowledge of the victims and had merely been sent by their organisation to act on its behalf.
156. Mr Luyanda Gqomfa, Mr Zola Mabala and Mr Vuyisile Madasi were granted amnesty for the Heidelberg Ta v e rn attack [AC/1998/026].208 Volume Th r e e, Chapter Five, p. 5 0 8 .