TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
APPLICATION IN TERMS OF SECTION 18 OF THE PROMOTION OF NATIONAL UNITY AND RECONCILIATION ACT, NO. 34 OF 1995.
KWANELE ENOUGH THOBA APPLICANT
The applicant applies for amnesty in terms of Section 18 of Act 34 of 1995, in respect of his conviction on three counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and on one count of crimen injuria. In respect of these convictions he was sentenced to imprisonment for ten years. All the offences were committed during the course of the detention and interrogation of Brigadier Bolisile Sibanda, Miss Nomthunzi Msuthwana, Mrs Nomoyi and Miss Maqoma. At that time the applicant was a member of the Elite unit of the Ciskei Police. This Unit had wide powers concentrating on intelligence work. Its main task was to collect and evaluate intelligence, as well as to make security assessments for the President. The Unit was headed by General Kwane Sebe, the son of President Lennox Sebe.
The President's brother, Charles Sebe, was the Commander-General of the combined forces and as such exercised complete control over the Army, the Police, the Prisons' Personnel, the Special Forces and the Traffic Police. He was an ambitious man. His personal popularity and following was growing and it was widely believed that he was plotting against the government. The President decided to forestall Charles Sebe. His closest colleagues were stripped of all their authority. Charles Sebe was arrested and charged with terrorism. His brother, Namba, was arrested on charges of corruption. Charles' son and Namba's son were also arrested, tried and convicted of terrorism and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment and Charles Sebe was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for twelve years.
Namba Sebe jumped bail and found refuge in the Transkei. On 26 September 1985 a group of white men raided the Maximum Security Prison in Middledrift and freed Charles Sebe. On the same day Major-General Kwane Sebe and his deputy were abducted and transported to Transkei where they were held hostage by Namba Sebe. It became clear to the Security Forces of the Ciskei that Charles Sebe had influential allies in the Transkei. They also received reports that guerilla units were under training. It was also reported that Charles Sebe had joined an organisation called Iliso Lomzi which was founded by Ben Nomoyi and Lind Maqoma, to oppose Lennox Sebe and his government. These developments caused a measure of panic in government circles in Ciskei and led to mass detentions and interrogations of those perceived to belong to Iliso Lomzi or who were sympathetic to its cause.
Intelligence sources in the Ciskei believed that Brigadier Sibanda, who was head of the prison in Middledrift, had facilitated the escape of Charles Sebe from prison. Colonel Phantsi, the acting head of the Elite Unit, instructed the applicant, Warrant Officer Pojana and Lieutenant Thompson to detain and question Brigadier Sibanda. Applicant and his companions questioned Brigadier Sibanda at the Tamarha Police Station where he was detained. Brigadier Sibanda denied that he assisted or facilitated the escape of Charles Sebe. Colonel Phantsi then instructed applicant and his colleagues to interrogate Brigadier Sibanda and if necessary physical force should be used on him and make him talk. The following day applicant and his colleagues accompanied by some members of the security police, interrogated Brigadier Sibanda and when they got no further admissions from him, they ordered him to undress, forced to lie on his stomach, a rubber tube was put around his face thus causing him to suffocate. The tube was removed and replaced at intervals to enable him to breathe.
He was punched, kicked and burnt with a lit cigarette. He conceded that a guard was not posted at the tower, because the toilet at the base of the tower was out of order. He also admitted that a duplicate key could have been used in the escape, but did not know where the keys were kept. During interrogation he lost consciousness. He was revived and when it became clear to his interrogators that Brigadier Sibanda persisted in denying that he assisted Charles Sebe to escape, they stopped further interrogation of him. He was released on 13 February 1987.
The assault on Miss Msuthwana: After the escape of Charles Sebe the Elite Unit decided to arrest and interrogate Miss Nomthunzi Msuthwana. She was employed as a clerk by the Department of Post and Telecommunications at Bisho and was the sister of Norma Lungelo Msuthwana who was known to be Charles Sebe's girlfriend.
The Elite Unit had information that she was a contact between Charles Sebe and her sister. She was taken to the Zwelitsha Police District Headquarters for interrogation. No less than seven policemen were present. Among those who interrogated her were the applicant and Lieutenant Thompson. She was asked questions what she knew about the escape of Charles Sebe from prison and her reply was that the last time she had any contact with Charles Sebe was in 1983, before he was detained. She said that she had no knowledge of Iliso Lomzi and had nothing to do with that organisation. Despite the fact that it had become clear to her interrogators that they could get no information from her, they slapped and kicked her and forced her to undress and lie on her back. She was abused and humiliated and horribly tortured. Applicant sat on her chest facing her feet and while in that position, he poured a substance known as sixhwapa-xhwapha onto her thighs and on her private parts. The substance was known to cause burning and itching of the skin. At one stage in the horrible torture to which she was subjected, applicant took an overall soiled with urine and faeces and covered her face with it. In her evidence at the trial of the applicant and his co-accused, Miss Msuthwana said that she was also given electrical shock treatment on her thighs, her body and on her head.
When applicant and his colleagues realised that they could get no information from the victim, they stopped. Just then Colonel Phantsi came into the interrogation room. He was told by the policemen that Miss Msuthwana gave them no information. Although he could see the condition in which she was, he kicked her and walked out of the room.
The assault on Mrs Nomoyi and Miss Maqoma: These two ladies were also arrested and detained following the escape of Charles Sebe. They were no doubt picked up because their father Mr Lind Maqoma and Mrs Nomoyi's husband, Ben Nomoyi, were believed to be members of Iliso Lomzi. The Elite Unit had received information that the two women had returned to Ciskei after a period of hiding in Transkei. The instruction to arrest them was given by Colonel Phantsi and Captain Katangana was responsible for the interrogation of these women. They were arrested at their home in Douglasdale Farm. They were slapped and punched and unceremoniously bundled into the boot of police vehicles.
They were taken to the Alice Police Station where they were separated and questioned and further assaulted and abused. They were undressed and kept completely naked while being questioned. They were choked with a rubber tube which was put around their faces and were throttled with wet towels. Both women succumbed under this torture and gave certain information which satisfied their interrogators. The assault stopped and they were transferred to the Dimbaza Police Cells and released in due course ...
We accept that after his escape from custody, Charles Sebe and Iliso Lomzi and their supporters outside and within the Ciskei, were engaged in activities which threatened the government of Ciskei. In these circumstances it was to be expected of the Elite Unit to gather as much information as they could about those who were hostile to the State to enable the State to take appropriate counter measures against them.
We accept that the applicant, as a member of the Elite Unit, acted on the orders of his superiors in arresting Brigadier Sibanda, Miss Msuthwana, Mrs Nomoyi and Miss Maqoma for the purpose of interrogating them. We accept that the interrogation of Brigadier Sibanda, Mrs Nomoyi and Miss Maqoma and the assault to which they were subjected, was either authorised or approved by his superiors. Applicant has made a full disclosure and we have come to the conclusion that AMNESTY should be GRANTED to him for the assaults on those three persons.
In so far as the assault on Miss Msuthwana is concerned, she was arrested and tortured for no reason other than that her sister was a girlfriend of Charles Sebe. The pain, suffering, humiliation and utter degradation to which she was subjected, served no political purpose. It was done with sadistic, if not lascivious intent. The applicant is REFUSED AMNESTY for the offence of crimen injuria on Miss Msuthwana.
SIGNED ON THE 14th DAY OF APRIL 1997.
JUDGE H.E. MALL:
JUDGE A. WILSON:
MS S. KHAMPEPE: