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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 714

Paragraph Numbers 62 to 72

Volume 6

Section 5

Chapter 5

Subsection 6

Traditional leaders as ‘legitimate’ targets

62. The PAC treated traditional leaders who co-operated with the state as an extension of the apartheid system and thus as legitimate targets .

63. In 1962, members of Poqo attacked representatives of traditional authority in the homelands, killing two headmen in the St Marks district of Cofimvaba, Transkei. These attacks were described by the PAC as being ‘aimed at those headmen and chiefs assisting the dispossession of African people through the rural dispossession scheme’.

64. On 12 December 1962, armed Poqo members were intercepted by police while on their way to assassinate Chief Kaiser Matanzima. An armed clash took place. In this encounter, seven Poqo members were killed and three policemen seriously injured. In its original report, the Commission considered this to be a combat situation.

65. The question these incidents raise is whether those who became part of the apartheid system became legitimate targets as identified by the PAC. The above situation relates to but one example of the iniquity of the apartheid system, which dispossessed people of their land, often violently, and frequently replaced hereditary leadership with chiefs of their own. Yet the targeting of traditional leaders and chiefs cannot be condoned and must constitute a gross human violation. Thus the motivation for the attacks can be understood but not condoned.

Civilians and farmers as ‘legitimate’ targets

66. In its second submission to the Commission, the PAC confirmed its earlier stance that whites under apartheid were beneficiaries of the system, that every white person was part of the defence lines of apartheid, and that the Commission had to accept that every white home during the apartheid era was some kind of garrison.

67. While the Commission did not deal conclusively with the notion of ‘beneficiaries’, there is no doubt that white people were the beneficiaries of apartheid and its largesse. White people cannot escape the fact that being white in South Africa enabled them to benefit from the system at the expense of the black majority. Having said that, the Commission cannot accept the argument that every white person must be considered part of the apartheid defence system and that every white home must be considered to be a garrison. This is absurd and must be rejected. There were a large number of white people who not only opposed apartheid but who also fought against it in a variety of different ways, including the taking up of arms.

68. An analysis of the amnesty applications received from the PAC reveals that a total of thirty-two applications were received for attacks on civilians. In these incidents, twenty-four people were killed and 122 seriously injured.

69. These attacks formed part of the PAC’s ‘Operation Great Storm’.

70. A number of applicants claimed that the attacks were not motivated by racism. Rather, as whites were seen to be complicit in the government’s policy of apartheid, they constituted a legitimate target .

71. Mr Letlapa Mphahlele, APLA director of operations, stated at a media briefing in Bloemfontein on 28 October 1997 that APLA offered no regret or apology for the lives lost during ‘Operation Great Storm’ in 1993. He said that his ‘proudest moment was seeing whites dying in the killing fields’. He also accused the Amnesty Committee of being ‘a farce and a sham’ which sought to ‘perpetuate white supremacy’ .

72. Despite such spurious attacks on the Amnesty Committee, there is no doubt that the Committee considered the arguments of applicants very seriously – with the result that APLA members received amnesty for the most heinous of crimes on the basis that they complied with the requirements of the amnesty process. The Amnesty Committee has itself sustained serious criticism for some of these decisions, which many felt represented too generous an interpretation of ‘proportionality’.

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