TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
APPLICATION IN TERMS OF SECTION 18 OF THE PROMOTION OF NATIONAL UNITY AND RECONCILIATION ACT, NO.34 OF 1995.
PETRUS JOHANNES RUDOLPH APPLICANT
EUGENE NEY TERRE BLANCHE APPLICANT (AM7994 /97)
The applicant are Petrus Johannes Rudolph (hereinafter referred to as the first applicant) and Eugene Ney Terre Blanche, (hereinafter referred to as second applicant).
Both applicants apply for amnesty in respect of various acts of public violence committed in Ventersdorp on the 9th of August 1991 when the erstwhile State President, Mr FW de Klerk, endeavoured to hold a meeting in Ventersdorp which meeting was not open to certain members of the public including the two applicants and other members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, the AWB.
First applicant, at the time, was the secretary-general of the AWB and the second applicant was, and still is, the leader. Both applicants were later convicted on charges of public violence.
In addition to the above, the second applicant applies for amnesty in respect of the "tarring and feathering" of Prof F. van Jaarsveld on the 28 th of March 1979 at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, following which the second applicant was convicted of crimen injuria and malicious injury to property.
He also applies for amnesty in respect to the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition for which offence he was convicted and sentenced in 1983.
We shall deal with the above incidents separately and in chronological order.
1. THE TARRING AND FEATHERING OF PROF F VAN JAARSVELD
The victim, the late Prof F. Van Jaarsveld, was a leading Professor of history attached to the University of Pretoria.
On the evening of the incident he held a lecture in a hall of the University of SA proposing a different approach to the celebration of the Day of the Covenant, a day held sacrosanct by the majority of Afrikaners, and which commemorated the battle of Blood River where a small group of Voortrekkers staved off the attack of a large number of Zulu warriors.
The second applicant and his followers, all members of the AWB, viewed this as an abuse by Prof F van Jaarsveld of his influential position in an attempt to further, in their view, leftist political objectives and which they further viewed as an attack on the ultimate freedom of the "Afrikanervolk."
They regarded the new direction given by van Jaarsveld to Afrikaner history as contrary to the Constitution of the time which recognised God as the highest authority. The AWB then took a decision to "tar and feather" Prof Van Jaarsveld at the time of the lecture. This they did, pouring tar over him in front of his audience and thereafter strewing feathers all over his clothes and body.
In the course of all this, expensive carpets in the university hall were damaged.
The application was not formally opposed by the members of the late Prof van Jaarsveld but one of his sons, on behalf of the family, read out a statement at the hearing, explaining the effect that the incident had had on Prof van Jaarsveld and his family.
The second applicant, who in his written application, fully disclosed the names of his co-perpetrators, testified at the hearing that it was the intention of the AWB to send out a message to Prof van Jaarsveld that the vow of the Afrikaners, taken at Blood River, had been broken by him. The lecture by van Jaarsveld, according to him was part of a clever political move, a typical onslaught on "my God and my people who thereafter could not ask God for victory."
He claimed in his testimony that after the tarring and feathering, history books written by the Professor had been withdrawn from schools and thus they had partly succeeded in their political objective since he could no longer influence the minds of the youth, the voters of the future.
After having considered the documentation placed before it and the testimony of the applicant, the Committee is satisfied that the acts committed were acts by the applicant and members of the
AWB, a political organisation, in the course of the political struggle of the past and in furtherance of the political objectives of that organisation.
The Committee is also satisfied that the second applicant has made a full disclosure of all the material facts as required by the Act.
It was suggested by the evidence leader, in argument, that the incident was a result of differences in a religious dispute and thus falls outside the ambit of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, 334 of 1995. The Committee considered this argument but is of the view that the applicant's argument that his total political conviction is driven by his education and belief in God must be accepted. In the case of the applicant, and the AWB, religion cannot be divorced from their politics.
Accordingly amnesty is GRANTED to the second applicant in respect of the above incident as set out on page 5 below.
2. ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION
Although the above matter could have been dealt with in chambers the Committee nevertheless deemed it expedient to hear
the evidence of the second applicant in this regard.
The second applicant testified that the weapons which included a number of AK 47's and two pistols were obtained by his organisation. The weapons were obtained from Mr. Kees Mouse whom the second applicant later established to have been an agent of the South African Police. The weapons were to be stored and kept until such time that the members of the AWB needed to protect themselves. The AWB feared that the erstwhile government would hand over power to a black government and that the same fate would befall South Africa as had befallen other African countries where chaos had followed political change.
It was eventually decided to bury the weapons on the farm of the second applicant's brother until such time as the weapons would be needed. The weapons were later seized by the police and the applicant was arrested and convicted.
In this matter too, the Committee is satisfied, after consideration of the documentation and the evidence given by the second applicant, that the applicant has complied with all the requirements of the Act, that the offence was committed with a political objective as required by the Act and full disclosure had been made of all material facts.
Accordingly the Committee finds the second applicant also QUALIFIES for amnesty in respect of this incident as set on pg. 5 below.
3. THE VENTERSDORP INCIDENT
The applicants in their testimony did not admit to personal involvement in all the various actions which took place during the public violence . They did, however, testify that they were both key figures, the first applicant as the secretary- general of the AWB and the second applicant as the leader. Both averred that the former State President and the members of the security forces who were charged with keeping of the law and order at that time of the incident were the proximate cause of the ensuing violence and they applied for the Committee to subpoena Mr de Klerk as a witness. The application was refused on the basis that the Committee did not regard Mr de Klerk as a necessary or essential witness to enable the Committee to arrive at a decision.
The Committee also did not deem it necessary to make a finding as to what had been proximate cause of the public violence. All the Committee needs to consider is whether the applicants comply with the formal requirements of the Act, whether the acts were committed with a political objective as required by the Act and whether the applicants had made a full disclosure of all relevant facts in regard to their participation.
Although the applicants do not admit to having personally participated in all the individual acts which formed part of the public violence there was nothing to gainsay their evidence in regard to their individual participation.
The first applicant testified that the present meeting, prior to the incident, during which a decision was taken that licensed weapons would be carried when members of the AWB marched to the meeting, he was in the forefront of the procession together with the second applicant and was arrested before the major part of the fracas in which the AWB and the police were involved, took place. During this fracas a number of people were killed and injured. The first applicant himself sustained minor injuries.
The first applicant testified that he was fully aware of the high political tension that prevailed and that he foresaw that conflict would arise from their actions which they regard as the exercise of their democratic right. They were intent on conveying their political sentiments to the leaders of the Government of the time.
The second applicant likewise testified that he appreciated and knew of the high political tension and foresaw the possibility of conflict. He and his followers regarded the Government at the time as a weak one, a Government without principle to whom they could not trust the governance of the country. He and his organisation were in favour of a Volkstaat for the Afrikaner and were prepared to fight for it even outside the law.
The Committee considered the evidence of the two applicants and all the relevant documentation and is satisfied that the acts committed with a political objective in the course of the political struggle of the time and the applicants had made a full and proper disclosure of their role in the incident.
The committee accordingly finds that amnesty should be GRANTED to the applicants I in respect of all the incidents dealt with above, in the following terms.
1. Amnesty is GRANTED to the first applicant for the offence of public violence committed in Ventersdorp on the 9 th August 1991.
2. Amnesty is GRANTED to the second applicant in respect of the following offences:
2.1 the act of crimen injuria committed against Prof F. Van Jaarsveld in Pretoria on 28 th March 1979;
2.2 malicious injury to property belonging to the University of South Africa caused in Pretoria on 28 th March 1979;
2.3 illegal possession of arms and ammunition in or near Ventersdorp in or about 1982;
2.4 public violence committed in Ventersdorp on the 9 th of August 1991
Signed at ................... on the ......... day of ................... 1999.
JUDGE S. MILLER