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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 2 of Episode 56

01:57St. James today looks like any other church in the suburbs. Inside its quiet, sun slanting down onto pews, hymn books neatly arranged for the next service. On Sundays more than a thousand people file into its vast interior, but on a stormy Sunday’s night in July four years ago, shortly after the first hymn had been sung, gunmen burst into a side entrance and attacked the congregation with grenades and automatic guns. The scene then was horribly different.Full Transcript and References
02:30One had his head blown open and blood was oozing out on the carpet from his head wound, others were mutilatedly shot and were either dying or were dead already. There were about three bodies that I stepped over to reach my wife.Full Transcript
02:55Eleven people were killed and more than sixty wounded. This week, these three young men, cadres from the PAC’s Azanian People’s Liberation Army, APLA applied for amnesty for what has become known as the St James massacre. Bassie Mkhumbuzi transported the weapons from the former Transkei for the attack, Tobela Mlambisa drove the car that took the unit to the church and Gcinikhaya Makoma entered the church with another APLA member and executed the attack. Full Transcript
03:27‘Makoma’s statement read by lawyer’ // As the hand grenade exploded we took cover behind the doors, re-entered and while the people inside were screaming we started to shoot. We shot indiscriminately and I finished my full R4 magazine, some 31 rounds of ammunition.Full Transcript
03:50All three say they did not know the target was a church until they stopped in the parking lot. They operated on a need to know bases, but they were willing to take any order and attack any target because they were soldiers who believed in what the PAC stood for. Full Transcript
04:07APLA then was fighting, returning a bullet with a bullet, protecting the Africans in Azania and the PAC was busy using other tactics so that you people in the government could hear the cries of the children of Azania. If your ears couldn’t listen, APLA decided to take guns to open the ears that were not prepared to listen. // Why was it necessary to attack a church? // As I’ve said before, I didn’t know that we were going to attack a church. I didn’t know that the target was a church, but I felt as I’ve said before the whites were also using churches to oppress the blacks. They took our country using churches and bibles as we are reading the history, we as the oppressed ones. // Even if you’ve known that it was a church you would have had attacked the people in the church. // Yes. // If it was a church for black people, and there were only black people, would you have attacked the church then? // No, we couldn’t have done that. // If you look at the people sitting in ...moreFull Transcript
07:08May I address the applicants? May I ask the applicants to turn around and face me? // This is the first opportunity we’ve had to look each other in the eye and talk. I want to ask Mr. Makoma who actually entered the church, my wife was sitting right at the door where you came in, she was wearing a long blue coat, can you remember if you shot her? // Makoma could not remember, but Dawie Ackerman’s direct appeal to the three young men brought to the fore all of the elements that this process is about, a shared guilt, anger, forgiveness and the raw pain of the sins of the past. // I’ve never cried over the death of my wife, other than have silent cries, I have never had an emotional crying outburst. While Makoma was testifying and he talked about his tortures and that he was suicidal, I could identify with that. I thought to myself and I wrote you a note to bring your cross examination to an end, because what are we doing here, the truth yes, but I looked at the way in which he ...moreFull Transcript
10:05We are sorry for what we have done. It was the situation in South Africa. Although people died during that struggle we didn’t do that out of our own will. It’s the situation that we were living under. We are asking from you, please do forgive us.Full Transcript
10:43The day after the hearing we returned to St. James with some of the victims, it was a way of closing the circle which had culminated in two days of emotion before the Amnesty Committee. The victims had met with the perpetrators behind closed doors the previous evening. Full Transcript
11:03Whoever the guy was that shot me, I have forgiven him, forgiven him unconditionally, but I always said that I would like to meet him and look him in the eye and actually have a chat with him. And yesterday I had the opportunity to do that and it was a wonderful experience for me. We could forgive each other. // I was sitting facing the doors where they would be coming through and I was fearing that when they come through the door, that when the door opens, that I’ll be seeing three killers and I had to pray very hard. I’m happy to say now that when the doors opened I was able to see three young men, three young men that I have love for; that I have concern for. // The thing that struck me so much was at the age at which they, that this incident took place they were 17 years old and I could relate to that because I was a conscript, eighteen years old in the Air Force. I was sent to Cyprus in defence of the realm if you like. And I could see the difference between myself and them ...moreFull Transcript
14:48We did try to speak to the three applicants and they have undertaken to do so this coming week. We will ask them the questions that Liezl wanted answers to. Letlapa Mphahlele APLA’s director of operations was the one man everyone was expecting to see at this week’s amnesty hearing for the St. James massacre. He has applied for amnesty for the massacre, but no one knew why he did not arrive for the hearing. Even the PAC could not explain where he was. His testimony was crucial as he has taken public responsibility for the killings. Mphahlele explained this to the Special Report in an interview a few months ago.Full Transcript
15:25We are proud of what we did. We have no regret, it is unfortunate that people had to die, but it is not something that we are ashamed of that we did go to war. War by its very nature is evil and if there was another method of avoiding it we would have avoided it. So, we are not going to have difficulties in owning up robberies, we are not going to have difficulties, or personally I am not having difficulties in owning up St. James, King Williamstown Golf Club attack, attacks on farms etcetera.Full Transcript and References
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