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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 715
Paragraph Numbers 73 to 86
Attacks on civilians
73. Attacks on civilians included those made on the King William’s Town Golf Club; Steaks restaurant in Claremont, Cape Town; Yellowwoods Hotel, Fort Beaufort; St James Church in Kenilworth, Cape Town; the Heidelberg Tavern in Observatory, Cape Town, and Amy Biehl in Guguletu, Cape To w n .7 878 Amnesty applications for targeting white civilians are detailed in this volume, Section Three, Chapter Four.
74. A common feature of these attacks is the fact that they involved indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Whilst applicants have stated in their amnesty applications that the intended targets were military or security force personnel, no proper investigation was carried out to determine whether their perceptions were correct . In fact, in most of the incidents, their information or intelligence was incorrect and suspect.
75. In terms of the Geneva Conventions, civilians are protected by principles of international law derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience. There can be no justification for the choice of civilians as targets.
76. The amnesty decisions have supported the stance the Commission took with regard to attacks on civilians. No compelling evidence has been provided to the Commission to persuade it to change its findings in respect of the attacks on civilians. Indeed, the evidence that emerged from amnesty hearings supports the original findings. While the motive for the attacks are understood and, in most instances, the Commission can understand the rage that motivated them, motive cannot change the fact that the victims in most cases were innocent civilians who were unarmed.
77. The findings that the Commission made in respect of the PAC and APLA in regard to attacks on civilians must stand.
Farmers as ‘legitimate’ targets
78. The Commission made findings against the PAC and APLA for their indiscriminate attacks on farmers. The second submission made by the PAC is curious in this respect, suggesting that, in making this finding, the Commission is biased in favour of white people. The rest of the PAC’s argument is fairly spurious.
79. The Commission received a total of twenty-seven applications from the PAC and APLA for attacks on farms, committed between the period 1990 and 1993. In these attacks, twelve people were killed and thirteen injured. The majority of these applications were granted.
80. APLA and PAC operatives testified that it was part of their strategy and policy in terms of ‘Operation Great Storm’ that farmers would be attacked in order to drive white farmers from their farms in order to get their land back.
81. These operations involved the deliberate targeting of white farmers and are quite unlike the ANC’s landmine operations in farming areas. Whilst it is true that farmers in many of the border areas were trained and issued with weapons so that they could take part in commandos patrolling the area, not all of the farmers so targeted were an extension of the apartheid system.
Specific amnesty applications dealing with attacks on white farmers
82. One of the incidents for which amnesty was applied involved an attack on Mr RJ Fourie on the farm ‘Stormberg’. Mr Fourie was attacked from behind, ambush style, and killed. A witness made a submission to the amnesty committee to the effect that the deceased was not interested in politics and was known to be a progressive farmer in the area. He had assisted his workers to improve their stock, housed them in brick houses with running hot and cold water and built a school for their children on the farm, as well as a soccer club.
83. In another incident, the amnesty application involved the killing of Mr John Bernard Smith, also a farmer. Mr Oliphant, one of the applicants, testified that it was the objective of the PAC to wage the struggle for the return of land to the African people, which was why he had become involved in that operation. Another applicant testified that it was part of PAC policy to intensify the armed struggle in order to strengthen the hands of the PAC in the negotiating process. He described the attacks on the farmers as one of the phases of the campaign. The PAC believed that the farming community had participated in the dispossession of the African people and that they were beneficiaries of the land taken away from the Africans.
84. None of the reasons advanced in any of the amnesty applications can condone the fact that, in most of the attacks, the farmers targeted and killed were ordinary civilians, in no way linked to different commando groups. They cannot therefore be seen as an extension of the security forces. In terms of the Conventions, they do not, therefore, constitute a legitimate target. Nor are they considered combatants.
85. The finding made in respect of findings of accountability for gross human rights violations committed against farmers by the PAC and APLA must therefore stand. They were responsible for the commission of gross human rights violations. In most instances the nature of the attack was almost that of an ambush.
86. The Commission received four applications for offences committed in the course of the conflict between the PAC and the ANC. While the applicants received amnesty, the evidence led at the hearings cast doubt on whether they w e re dealing with each other in a combat situation. The evidence that was led spoke of the ongoing violence in the area, but the targeting of opponents often resulted in innocent people being killed. Nevertheless, the PAC must accept responsibility for these killings, which constitute gross human rights violations.