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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 437

Paragraph Numbers 294 to 304

Volume 6

Section 3

Chapter 4

Subsection 26

Transkei operational bases

294. From operational bases secured in the Transkei, APLA conducted a series of attacks on civilian targets in the early 1990s. Operations in the Western Cape had particularly strong links to APLA structures in the Transkei. Weaponry was also sourced from the Transkei security forces. For example, the Amnesty Committee heard that the hand grenades used in the St James’ and Heidelberg attacks originated from a batch of grenades supplied to the Transkei Defence Force. Transkei also provided refuge for APLA operatives after operations. In most attacks, APLA personnel from the Transkei were deployed in conjunction with locally-trained operatives, while local PAC structures provided logistical support to such operatives.

PAC/APLA perspectives

295. The PAC believed that its members were fighting a just war of liberation from white domination. Its definition of the enemy included all those identified as ‘settlers’ rather than ‘Africans’. This meant that the distinction between civilian and non-civilian targets was not considered significant.

296. Most of the human rights violations attributed to APLA took place between 1990 and 1994 while negotiations and eventually the run up to elections were in progress.

297. The primary objective of the PAC and its armed wing APLA in the early 1990s was the overthrow of the apartheid regime. To that end, the PAC recruited young men into self-defence or, as the PAC termed them, ‘task force’ units.

298. APLA’s first task was to wage an armed struggle against the security forces. While APLA’s strategy in the 1980s had been to target security structures, ‘a new strategy arose in the 1990s where civilians within the white community were attacked’. White persons (male and female) came to be described as ‘the underbelly of apartheid’. By attacking white civilians, APLA hoped to bring pre s-sure to bear on the apartheid government and thereby expedite the liberation of the African masses.

299. Due to the logistical difficulties faced by APLA headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam, target selection was left to local commanders. However, evidence presented to the Commission revealed that, 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 political education available to cadres in the exile camps. Consequently, strategic errors were made by these locally-trained operatives, for which the APLA leadership accepted full responsibility. However, the Commission was given no details of these errors.

300. The Amnesty Committee heard evidence that the PAC’s armed struggle was essentially a guerrilla war directed against ‘the then racist minority regime which was undemocratic and oppressive’. In order to conduct the armed struggle, APLA cadres were instructed to ‘seek and attack the bastions and minions’ of the regime with the ultimate objective of toppling it and returning the land to the majority of the African people. This was the general directive issued to commanders and units on the ground.

301. Applicant Phila Martin Dolo [AM 3485/96] told the Committee that the ‘bastions and minions of the … erstwhile regime’ were, from the APLA perspective, members of the SADF, members of the SAP, reservists, and farmers, as they belonged to commando structures and occupied farms and white homes described as ‘garrisons of apartheid’.

302. The aim of attacking white farmers, Dolo testified, was to drive them away in order ‘to widen our territorial operational base which was aimed at eventually consolidating the liberated and repossessed land’.

My general instruction was to seek, identify and attack the enemy who was seen in the context of the above-stated bastions and minions of the regime, and also to train other cadres and command them in whatever operation that is being embarked upon. (East London hearing, 26 April 1999.)

303. Mr Andile Shiceka [AM5939/97] explained that the shift from targeting members of the security forces to targeting whites in general was not a major policy change. A precedent had been created by Poqo’s targeting of whites:

[T]he attack on white civilians is not a new thing, when you look back at the history of PAC – the formation of Poqo on the 11th of September 1961. If you remember the attacks at Mbashe, Paarl and Komane, those comrades of those days were members of the PAC which was converted into APLA. They were attacking white civilians during those days; even history confirms that. Therefore I find it difficult for me when one of the panel members says we’re shifting as to our targets. Instead of attacking security forces, we were attacking white civilians which I refer to as ‘soft targets’ … That’s the reason why I say I am confused when they say we have shifted in constituting targets because this started long ago. ( P i e t e rmaritzburg hearing, 11 February 1998.)

304. Mr Luvuyo Kulman [AM1638/96], who applied for amnesty for various attacks in F i c k s burg, quoted Robert Sobukwe to underscore the point:

I want to make it clear that we did not attack whites because they were white; we attacked them because they were oppressors. Sobukwe, the founding P resident of the PAC, put it this way: ‘In every struggle, whether national or class, the masses do not fight an abstraction. They do not hate oppression or capitalism. They concretise these and hate the oppressor, be he, the governor-general or a colonial power, the landlord or the factory owner, or in South Africa, the whites. But they hate these groups because they associate them with their o p pression. Remove the association and you remove the hatred.’ In South Africa then, once white domination has been overthrown and the white is no longer ‘ white boss’ but is an individual member of society, there will be no reason to hate him and he will not be hated even by the masses. We are not anti-white t herefore. We do not hate the European because he is white. We hate him because he is an oppress o r. And it is plain dishonesty to say ‘I hate the sjambok and not the one who wields it’. (Application to Commission and hearing at East London, 26 April 1999.)
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