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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 2 of Episode 74

01:25Two men dominated this week’s amnesty hearing into the 1985 murders of the Port Elizabeth leaders known as the Pebco Three. The Centenary Hall in New Brighton was cramped daily by residents and activists who came to hear security policemen Gideon Niewoudt and Vlakplaas askari Joe Mamasela speak of their roles in the deaths of Sipho Hashe, Champion Galela and Qaqawuli Godolozi. // Niewoudt is a convicted killer. He’s also one of the five security policemen who are asking for amnesty for the killing of the three activists.Full Transcript and References
02:06They were taken out of the garage, were carried out one by one. Capt van Zyl shot Mr. Hashe with a point 22 calibre gun. He handed the gun to me after which I in turn shot Mr. Godolozi and Mr. Lotz shot Mr. Galela. We placed all three the deceased on the pile of wood, we poured diesel over them and over the wood. I lit the fire. The bodies were burnt out totally after approximately six to eight hours. The next morning we raked all the ash together, put it into black bags. I had the instruction from Capt van Zyl to destroy all evidence of what I had done. I took it to the Fish River, just before Cradock, before you enter Cradock. I emptied the bags into the river and we left for Port Elizabeth. Full Transcript
04:48Mamasela is a self confessed killer. He’s one of the Vlakplaas operatives who took part in the Pebco Three operation. He has not applied for amnesty but will testify before the Truth Commission once all the amnesty applicants have been heard. He has a very different account of the killings.Full Transcript
05:09Lt Niewoudt beat them up with an iron pipe in their heads so severely that … they were kicked, they were punched, they were stomped, they were jumped over their heads and they were killed. Yes, they died. They died one by one.Full Transcript
05:28He gave four different versions at that stage already and I strongly deny it. // Mamasela’s description of a disordered killing frenzy stands in sharp contrast to the security police version of a clinical and clean execution. Somewhere between these extremes is the story told by two black operatives of the Vlakplaas squad. Former askari Kimpani Mogoai and policeman Johannes Koole are asking for amnesty for the abduction and assault of the Pebco Three. Their commander, Roelf Venter and his right hand man, Gert Beeslaar deny that the three activists were assaulted. The security police also deny assault including Niewoudt, the chief interrogator at Post Chalmers – a disused police station – where they took the activists after the abduction.Full Transcript
06:34‘Post Chalmers Evening of 8 May 1985’ // His head was covered and his legs and hands were chained. Mr. Hashe then explained that he was not going to say anything. He would better die, it was better for him to die. // What happened further? // After a while he requested that he should be uncovered; this cloth on the head should be removed. They removed the cloth and he was asked whether he was prepared to tell the truth. He refused. After refusing he was beaten with fists and he was kicked by all of us in that room. // Does that include yourself? // Yes my lord I took part in the beating.Full Transcript
07:53‘Post Chalmers Morning of 9 May 1985’ // And the next morning? What happened then? // The interrogation started. We first went to Mr. Hashe. He was released from the shackles and was brought outside with help so that he will be able to walk. He was put on the stoep, then the interrogation started on him. // The assault, that was similar to that of yesterday, started. It was worse than the previous day; he was kicked severely. // It came to a point where Mr. Hashe said, please stop I want to tell you what you want. Then he said to us, at my sister’s place, there is an AK47 which is hidden in her place.Full Transcript
09:13The assaulters were pleased with this confession. Hashe, still in leg irons and handcuffed was left alone. After a while he spoke to Johannes Koole. // He said in the previous interrogation he lied that he had a gun to his sister’s place. He’s afraid that if the investigators would go there and find out the gun is not there he would be in danger. So there is nothing like that, that there is a gun which is hidden at his sister’s place as he said earlier. Whilst I was trying to go to Mr. Mogoai to tell him what I heard from Mr. Hashe the Port Elizabeth police, two men who were near, I thought they heard for themselves so they rushed to him with violence. They started kicking him and beating him whilst he was still lying on the ground.Full Transcript
10:23Because it was turmoil. It was a real turmoil and the white people were really emotional. // Can you remember perhaps who was the person that kicked him against the head when he fell against the wall? // My Lord, it is unfortunate that I do not remember who kicked him, because there were so many kicks, but there was this one strong kick that hit his head against the wall and he fainted.Full Transcript
11:20After he regained consciousness he was taken back to the room where he was tied. // Did you see that with your own eyes? // Yes, that’s correct.Full Transcript
11:46These white men were angry, they were really frightening and they said Mr. Godolozi should be fetched from the cell; he should be brought to the stoep. They brought him, his hands were cuffed and his legs were also cuffed. His face was covered. He was screaming when he went out, saying he was not prepared to tell anything. A small white bag was then taken and they covered his head and face and it was tightened up at the neck, so that he can suffocate. // This bag was removed then he was taken to the side of the garage which was near us there. // Yes? // After the bag was removed from his head he was asked as to whether he was prepared to talk then he denied. He said there is nothing which he will say which he knows. It is better for them to kill him. // After a while they came out. They were now more angered and they went straight to the garage where Mr. Godolozi was. When they got there they closed the door. After closing the door we heard the scream from Mr. Godolozi. Full Transcript
15:22Kimpani Mogoai and Johannes Koole did not present themselves as blames. Of the nine applicants they were the only two who acknowledged that the Pebco Three were assaulted and they are the only two who have applied for amnesty for their role in the assaults.Full Transcript
15:39I have taken this opportunity to speak the truth and to express my torturing regrets about wasted years and my shame about a mean and petty past. As I regard myself today, as a disgrace to my mother, my family and my relatives, my friends and the families of the Pebco Three and the nation as such, it is with my deepest remorse that I ask for forgiveness and hopefully wishes to be reconciled with everybody once more and be part of a better and brighter future of South Africa. I say it now here, today, as I could not have done so in the earlier days of this realization for obvious reasons. I thank you.Full Transcript
17:48The question of whether or not the Pebco Three were assaulted before they died is crucial to whether the applicants are granted amnesty. If the activists were beaten to death, the security policemen will have difficulty convincing the Committee that such brutality was in proportion to the political objective sought: to control militancy in the Eastern Cape. On the other hand, if the Amnesty Committee decides they did not tell the truth about the way the three activists died they may refuse amnesty. Truth and full disclosure are preconditions for amnesty.Full Transcript
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