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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 2 of Episode 63

00:14Hello. Welcome to the 63rd edition of the Truth Commission Special Report. On tonight’s programme we look at the brutal racial slays of white people by the PAC’s army APLA during 1993. We talk to victims, survivors, killers and politicians in KwaZulu-Natal and we show you a conversation with the last jail master of Robben Island who is now guarding the memories of our past. We start with the so-called ‘Year of Great Storms.’ During the early nineties when most political players were sitting at the World Trade Centre negotiating their way towards change the Pan Africanist Congress was playing a different sort of game. While liberation armies like Umkhonto we Sizwe laid down arms, the PAC was arming and training young cadres in the townships to intensify a ‘people’s war.’ For the PAC this meant targeting white areas and farms as well as the army and police. In 1993 in particular the country was rocked by the seemingly senseless attacks on the St. James Church and the ...moreFull Transcript and References
01:48‘Wesselsdal Farm this week’ // This house as you can see used to belong to Mr. Johnny Barnard Smith. One day we came here in 1993 on the 25th of July. We were very young. We were members of the task force; that is a component part of APLA that helps APLA to attack the farmers and to chase them away. We arrived here, we found Mr. Smith with his wife. I came here with another five of my co-accused. And when we arrived here it was a mission, a mission to kill. Full Transcript and References
03:03Petrus Mohapi is one of six members of the PAC’s armed wing, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, who asked for amnesty for the murder of John Smith and the attempted murder of his wife, Rene Smith. The killing of Smith on his remote Free State farm Wesselsdal did not make the national news. What did capture the headlines was the brutal massacre of eleven people at the St James Church in Cape Town. These two attacks happened hours apart on the Sunday of 25 July 1993. At the time no political party claimed responsibility. Full Transcript
03:47[And in Cape Town today the PAC declared the following about the attack:] // ‘We think that this is the work of the third force, operating in this country to destabilize the transition to democracy. We are busy discussing the constitution here and it is no accident that this attack has occurred in Cape Town in the manner that it has. We condemn this mindless violence on church going people.’ Full Transcript
04:19We now know that APLA members were responsible for both attacks. We also now know that the PAC deliberately chose to intensify its armed struggle at a time when political parties were fine tuning arrangements for democratic elections. // ‘All six applicants are serving jail sentences for the murder of farmer John Smith’ // In 1993 when these killings happened, the PAC had set in motion a campaign called ‘Operation Great Storm.’ It was a war campaign. The main target was white farmers.Full Transcript
04:52They were legitimate targets of the struggle because they were occupying the very trophy for which war was all about, that is the land. Because when we say ‘we were conquered,’ what we mean is that our land was conquered and the land wasn’t conquered by the ghosts, by the spirits, invisible beings, it was conquered by the Europeans, by the whites. And we identified the farms as one point at which the fortunes of war will be decided. So now it was a question of conscientising the people that they should be armed and they should liberate this country and they should know that settlers are an integral part of what enemy is. // So if you were white and you were a farmer, you were an automatic target? // Definitely you were an automatic target, what’s wrong with that? Because you are white, you are a farmer, farming where? In a stolen land. You are guilty to start with. You’re a thief and you cannot say in a group of thieves that these are culprits and these are not culprits. Full Transcript
06:17In this quest to reclaim the land the amnesty applicants formed an APLA unit in Botshabelo and executed their first and last operation at Wesselsdal farm. // When we arrived there I knocked at the door together with my comrades and a white lady came, that is the wife of Mr. Smith. We asked her where was her husband. We are there to request petrol. We didn’t wait for a long time, Mr. Smith appeared and when he arrived I informed him that we are asking or requesting petrol. The car we are using is stuck there. He took us to the garage. I was behind Mr. Smith once we were in the garage, then I looked at Mr. Mtjikelo who is the unit commander. Then from there he gave me a sign, that sign was to say I should attack. I didn’t waste time, I took my weapon which was on my waist then I raised my hand, then I stabbed him at the back. What I may tell you is that yes I stabbed him, I stabbed him once. // Simon Olifant then finished him off. // That’s when I stabbed him in the back, when he ...moreFull Transcript and References
09:09Immediately after stabbing Mr. Smith, from the garage I went out and here in this spot I met Mrs. Smith with a gun in her hand. I was holding a knife in my hand at the time. I met Mrs. Smith here and I then I tried to grab that gun. I was busy struggling for this gun with her, Mr. Mtjikelo came from the garage and he helped me to grab the gun from Mrs. Smith and he gave the gun to me and then I took the gun and shot Mrs. Smith.Full Transcript
10:07The wounded Mrs. Smith was locked in a wardrobe while they ransacked the house for guns, ammunition, clothing and alcohol. They then made their getaway in the farmer’s Mercedes Benz.Full Transcript
10:21APLA units across the country were told that we haven’t got enough money, we haven’t got enough guns, we haven’t got enough ammunition and the Boers have lots of money, lots of ammunition, lots of guns and they must go and repossess them, not steal them.Full Transcript
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