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Starting Date 11 December 2000

Location CAPE TOWN


Matter AM8028/97

Decision REFUSED


This is an application for amnesty in terms of Section 18 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995.

The Applicant is seeking amnesty in respect of numerous counts of arson and perjury which crimes were committed in Port Elizabeth during the 1980s.  He claims that at the relevant time he was a Security Branch police ("SBs") informer and carried out orders from his handlers.  At the hearing the Applicant was the only witness to testify and one of the victims, Mrs Ivy Gcina, testified on behalf of victims of the Applicant's acts of arson.  We do not deem it necessary to deal with her evidence at this stage, save to say that all the victims do not oppose the application.  None of the implicated persons testified and Mr F van der Merwe represented their interests.  His cross-examination boiled down to a denial of the Applicant's claim that he was their informer and that he carried out the aforesaid acts on their instructions.  This is another aspect with which we intend to deal with later in our decision.

The evidence of the Applicant is briefly as follows:

In the late 1970s he joined the then Port Elizabeth Black People's Congress ("PEBCO"); the Congress of South African Students ("COSAS") and other anti-apartheid organisations which operated in the area.  He was very much involved in their activities and campaigns which entailed inter alia bus boycotts; rent boycotts; class boycotts and an assortment of activities which were calculated to oppose the Nationalist Party regime and its policies.

The First Matter of Perjury

On a certain day in the early 1980s the Applicant was arrested with a number of other youths and members of the said organisations who included Zola Mtantsi, the then Chairperson of COSAS in Port Elizabeth.  They were charged with public violence.  At the criminal trial he testified against them and they were convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment.  The Applicant states that he testified against his comrades because he was ordered by members of the SBs to do so.  They recruited him to work for them.  At the time he knew that his evidence was false but was only carrying out orders from his superiors, namely, Captain Roelofse; Gideon Niewoudt and other Security Police who were his handlers and paid him for his services and loyalty.  He did not do this for money but it was because he had been indoctrinated by the police and convinced that what the said organisations were doing would compromise stability and peace in the country.  He fully embraced the idea of the "Total Strategy" against the "Total Onslaught".

The Second Matter

The Applicant states that during the 1980s there was a very serious upsurge of political activity and mass mobilisation in Port Elizabeth.  The United Democratic Front ("the UDF") was on the forefront of many actions against the Nationalist Party Regime and perceived collaborators.  In this context the police had to play a very pivotal role to normalise the situation and many activists were harassed.  The Applicant states inter alia that he was instructed to guard the homes of Community Councillors who were quite unpopular in the area.  In addition, he had to take part in the petrol bombing of homes of UDF leaders and their supporters.  These were orders from Roelofse and Niewoudt.   Using a police kombi they went around black townships at night and petrol-bombed houses of prominent UDF activists.  The following persons' houses were attacked:  Sipho Hashe; Lulu Johnson; Ivy Gcina; Vuyani Vena and Mono Badela.  In all these operations no person was injured.  He acted with Butler Tungatha, Stanford Nene and other police officers whose names he is unable to recall.  The objective was to demoralise the masses who fervently supported the UDF and its campaigns.  This was just one part of the objective and the other aim was to fuel the conflict which existed between supporters of the UDF and those of the Azanian People's Organisation ("AZAPO").  At that time there was a violent conflict between the two (2) organisations.

After carefully considering the evidence of the Applicant we are not satisfied that he has made a full disclosure.  At the hearing he was an extremely unsatisfactory witness.  He was hesitant to answer clear questions on very vital aspects of the matters in which he is seeking amnesty.  He would keep on saying that he had "no comment" to make when a compelling necessity existed for him to do so.  When he did attempt to offer an explanation he would give lame excuses and really spoke pure nonsense.  Whilst we do not wish to traverse all of his evidence on this aspect, as the record very loudly speaks for itself, we think it is necessary to cite one example.

He testified that in 1995 having been impressed by the call that was made by former President Nelson Mandela that all those who committed gross violations of human rights during the apartheid era should come froward and tell the truth about their past activities, he immediately applied for amnesty.  When it was pointed out to him that the TRC was not in place in 1995 he was adamant that it was.  Ironically, when he subsequently testified before the Human Rights Violations Committee of the TRC he lied about many things inter alia that some of the ANC leaders assaulted him and other suspected spies whilst they were being held as "detainees" by the organisation in the notorious Quatro Camps in Angola.  At the amnesty hearing when he was asked why he had told such lies he said in 1996 as a leader of the Returned Exiles Committee, a body consisting of disgruntled former ANC members, he was still fighting a war against the ANC.  The examples are far too numerous to mention and we again express our desire to let the record speak for itself.  On the whole the Applicant's evidence is totally irreconcilable with his professed desire to finally come out and tell the truth.  There is simply no evidence that he is no longer the inveterate liar who has lied so many times before when he testified before other tribunals, including the TRC.  On the whole his evidence is so riddled with inconsistencies, discrepancies and contradictions as to be totally unreliable.

In the result the application is refused for all the offences.

It is recommended that the Applicant be prosecuted and charged with perjury forthwith and in this regard the TRC Legal Department is hereby requested to facilitate and expedite the wheels of justice in respect of the Applicant's lies to the Human Rights Violations Committee.












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