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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 383

Paragraph Numbers 43 to 54

Volume 6

Section 3

Chapter 4

Subsection 5

Attack on a PEP Store at Botshabelo

43. On 17 February 1992, a three-person APLA unit robbed a Pep Store in Botshabelo near Bloemfontein. Although one of the attackers was armed, no violence was used in the actual robbery. After the operation, the armed APLA member became involved in a shoot-out with the police in which two police officers and the APLA operative died.

44. The Amnesty Committee agreed that the shoot-out should not affect the application, which related only to the robber y, for which the applicants, Mr Moshiuwa Isaiah Khotle [AM5619/97] and Mr Lerato Abel Khotle [AM3443/96], had been gaoled.

45. A significant feature of this case is the fact that the trial court had accepted the political motivation for the incident presented by the accused. This was one of very few cases that came before the Amnesty Committee where applicants had raised a political argument as part of their defence in the course of an earlier criminal trial. This was regarded as significant by the Amnesty Committee, which noted that:

[T ] here appears to be no doubt whatsoever that the act was committed during the course of the political struggle of the past, that the objective was to assist the political organisation of which they were members, that there was no motive of private gain on their part. The money was to be used by the unit, it was to be held by the unit commander. [AC/1998/0046.]

46. Accordingly, Khotle and Khotle were granted amnesty [AC/1998/0046] for their role in the attack

Attack on the Sentra Hyperserve supermarket at Wessel s b r o n

47. Five people were killed and four were wounded in an armed attack on the Sentra Hyperserve supermarket in Wesselsbron in the Orange Free State on 3 July 1993. Cash and cheques to the approximate value of R9 000 were stolen. The deceased victims were Messrs Michael Andries Sparkhams, George Christiaan Frederick Kleynhans, Herbert Jacobus van Niekerk and Johannes Arnoldus Lourens, and Ms Maria Fatima de Castro. Three people were severely injured in the attack. They were Mr Joao Avelono de Castro, Ms Susana Catharina Viljoen and Mr Hendrik Viljoen .

48. Six members of the PAC, Mr Mangalisekele Bhani [AM5708/97], Mr Silimela Qukubona Ngesi [AM020/97], Mr Lerato Abel Khotle [AM5619/97], Mr Stanley Michael Tshoane [AM5901/97], Mr Moalusi Morrison [AM5953/97] and Mr George Thabang Mazete [AM6630/97] were granted amnesty [AC/2000/250] for the attack. All the applicants were either APLA members or members of a PAC task force .

49. Mr Bhani, who commanded the attack, told the Amnesty Committee that he had received instructions from the APLA Director of Operations, Mr Letlapha Mphahlele, to go to Welkom where he would be received and deployed by the Orange Free State regional commander Lerato Abel Khotle. Khotle took Bhani to Wesselsbron where he was instructed to ‘identify a target’ for a robbery for the purposes of raising funds for APLA.

50. The Wesselsbron Supermarket was selected because the owner was thought to be a member of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), and members of the AWB and members of the South African Police (SAP) were amongst those who normally did their shopping there. Khotle secured approval for the target fro m the Director of Operations. At the hearing, Mr Bhani was asked how the shoppers were identified as members of the AWB. He replied:

I t ’s easy, because of their khaki uniform and their big hats like the cowboy hats and they were armed. Some were armed with two firearms. So it was quite easy to identify them. (Hearing at Bloemfontein, 17 August 1988.)

51. Mr Bhani led the attack into the shop and ordered the customers present to raise their hands. He then told the other two operatives to shoot them. Mrs de Castro, one of the owners, was then ordered to open the tills. She opened the three tills and the money was taken. She was then shot dead. The operatives then opened fire on the other customers. None of the victims had resisted the attack. They all obeyed the instruction to raise their arms in surrender but were executed extrajudicially.

52. The survivors of the attack opposed the applications on the grounds that neither the robbery nor the shooting was associated with a political objective.

53. Mr Pedro Ignatius de Castro lost his wife, Ms Maria Fatima de Castro, in the attack. He told the Committee that he believed the attackers had come to rob him. He denied any AWB links and denied that he even supported any political party.

54. Despite various contradictions and inconsistencies in the evidence of the applicants, the Committee accepted that the incident occurred during the period referred to as the ‘Year of the Great Storm’ and that such conduct was indeed party policy at that time. The applicants were granted amnesty.

 
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