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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 422
Paragraph Numbers 219 to 229
Various attacks in Ficksburg
219. Mr Phila Martin Dolo [AM3485/96], Mr Lerato Abel Khotle [AM5619/97] and Mr Luvuyo Kenneth Kulman [AM1638/96] applied for amnesty for several attacks on homes in Ficksburg in the Orange Free State on 10 December 1992. The acts were committed with other persons, known only by their code-names: ‘Roger’, ‘Scorpion’, ‘Jabu’, ‘Nduna’ and ‘Kenny’.
220. The Committee heard that Phila Dolo was in charge of the APLA base in Lesotho, that Lerato Khotle was in charge of the APLA base at Sterkspruit, and that the two liaised closely to plan attacks in the area between.
221. Dolo testified that certain houses in Ficksburg on the Lesotho border were regarded as belonging to members of the security forces. These he described as ‘in the first line of defence’ and ‘acting as the garrisons of the then apartheid state’. They therefore qualified as suitable targets for attack. Khotle told the Committee that he attempted to confirm this information:
I … reconnoitred the place and I also interacted with the people who were working there, domestic workers, and I engaged with them in discussions to get i n formation from them as to whether those places were occupied by the members of the regime. That is how I ended up making a decision that we have to attack this place, because they were occupied by the security personnel. Those were the reasons why I needed his [Dolo’s] help and he agreed and he came to my side to give us help. (Hearing at Bloemfontein, August 1998.)
222. The operatives travelled on foot from Lesotho, Dolo carrying a bag of rifle grenades, M26 grenades and Molotovs. At Ficksburg they divided into two units. The first, commanded by Dolo, attacked a house at No. 143 Veld Street , F i c k s burg. The second, commanded by Khotle, targeted an old age home but was foiled in the attack. They then conducted random attacks on various homes in Ficksburg .
223. The house of Mrs Cornelia Gertruda Pienaar (then Roos) was severely damaged in the Veld Street attack. Mrs Pienaar was at home with her two daughters, aged five and twelve years, when the attack occurred. She testified that her house was not owned by the police but belonged to her and her husband who had died only a week earlier. Before his death, he had performed light duties in the police mortuary. He had at one time been a member of the South African Police and had become unfit for ordinary police duties as a result of an accident.
224. The attack began after she and the children had gone to bed. The attackers threw a grenade into the children’s bedroom and started shooting at the house. Mrs Pienaar and her children managed to escape through the back door and crept through the fence into the neighbour’s yard .
225. Dolo told the Committee that the attack had been motivated by a recent statement by the Minister of Defence that there would be no more farm attacks in the area. The applicants had carried out the operation ‘to show the enemy what we can do. We can continue with the armed struggle; nothing will stop us.’ He said it was ‘unfortunate’ that they had ended up attacking a house that was not occupied by the police. All whites, however, were regarded as supporters of the government, with whom APLA was still locked in armed struggle because the oppression of blacks had not yet stopped.
Our interest was not on Mr Pienaar or Mrs Pienaar or Van der Merwe, all the White people were oppressing the Black people. If it happened that at the end a house that was attacked did not belong to a policeman or a soldier, still that house falls under our programme because, when we participated in our struggle, we never heard who was smiling with us or who loved us [and] we all treated white people as participants in oppression. (Bloemfontein hearing, August 1998.)
226. When asked why they had targeted an old age home, Khotle said it was unacceptable for Africans to be killed in the way they were. The purpose of targeting an old age home was to:
make whites feel the pain the same as Africans who felt the pain ... Why I’m saying age was not an issue is that, firstly, the oppressors themselves, when they see me, they saw me as a boy. My father was regarded as a boy; my grandfather was regarded as a boy; my sister was regarded as a girl; my mother was a girl – so they did not differentiate between the various age groups or they didn ’t see a difference between me and my father or my grandfather. We were all boys so there fore we did not have a problem to respond to that oppress i o n knowing that there was no young persons and old persons, all of them were o p pressors. (Bloemfontein hearing, August 1998.)
227. The Committee accepted that the applicants had acted on behalf of APLA and in accordance with what was then the policy of the PAC. It was satisfied that they had made a full disclosure of their respective roles and participation in the attacks. Accordingly, Mr Lerato Abel Khotle, Mr Luvuyo Kulman and Mr Phila Martin Dolo were granted amnesty for the attacks in Ficksburg .
228. They were also granted amnesty for a shoot-out on the Ficksburg bypass in which two people were injured. This incident had occurred as Dolo and his unit were withdrawing from the town. They fired shots at a police vehicle in the vicinity of the Ficksburg bypass, injuring Sergeant Otto Coetzee (who was in the police vehicle) and Ms Mathapelo Lethena who was travelling in a passing taxi.
229. Mr Dolo also gave evidence of his involvement in a further attack in which he and two others threw a hand grenade and opened fire on a farmstead in the Danside area on 19 December 1992. One person, Mrs Leone Pretorius, died in the attack. Once again, the farm was attacked because it was believed that white farmers belonged to the commando structures. APLA cadres wanted to drive them out of the area in order to create a wider operational platform for themselves. Dolo was granted amnesty for this incident [AC/1999/0182].