TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
APPLICATION IN TERMS OF SECTION 18 OF THE PROMOTION OF NATIONAL UNITY AND RECONCILIATION ACT NO. 34 OF 1995.
PAUL ERASMUS APPLICANT
The applicant has applied for amnesty in respect of approximately 86 incidents.
This decision only relates to the incidents in respect of which a public hearing was held and viva voce evidence was given before this Committee, namely:-
Incident 74: The attack on the Alexander Health Clinic.
Incident 2: Attempted and malicious damage to the property of
Mrs Helen Joseph
Incident 67: Assault on Deepak Madhav
Incident 19: The attack of Vernon Berrange.
Incident 8: The attack of Goodman Mogami
As the applicant has previously given evidence regarding his political background and occupation at the material times, we shall not deal with that aspect of his evidence but confine our decision to the relevant incidents in respect of which evidence was given.
INCIDENT 74: Alexandra Health Clinic
In respect of the Alexandra Health Clinic the applicant testified that he was never part of a unit of the security police operating within Alexandra Township, North of Johannesburg. He never received any direct instructions to participate in the attack on the clinic. He assumed that the attack on the clinic was part of the strategy to destroy places that were perceived or had the capability of providing logistical support to freedom fighters during 1989, seventy or eighty places were attacked with either explosives or petrol bombs. He took part in those operations and believed the Alexandra Health Clinic was one of the buildings that was expected to be targeted. The clinic was, however, not attacked during the operation.
On the night of the attack on the Health Clinic the security police in the Johannesburg area had a staff function. Applicant testified that as a result of work pressure he was not at home for 3 days. In his own words he drank copious amount of alcohol and became staggering drunk. During the brawl somebody suggested, it might even have been the applicant himself, that they should sort out Cathy Satchwell, an attorney, who worked in support of the Freedom Movement. Six or seven cars of intoxicated Security Police went to her home and damaged her BMW car.
They thereafter went to Honeydew where they consumed more alcohol. During this drinking spree somebody again suggested that they should fire bomb the Alexandra Health Clinic. A number of them got into four or five cars and proceeded thereto in different directions.
The applicant drove his own car and he was to serve as a back-up for the members who were to carry out the actual attack. He does not remember much about the attack even seeing any petrol conveyed. He remembers getting lost while driving to the clinic and when he ultimately arrived in the vicinity he saw flames coming out of the building.
He further testified that as far as he can recollect a certain Colonel van Wyk and Colonel van Huyssteen were present at the staff function. He did not witness the attack and cannot say who actually carried out the attack. He believes that he returned home after the attack. He recalls that he had other policemen with him in his car but cannot remember who they were and where they got off. He considered the whole operations as "a spur of the moment decision", that had to do with the fact that the Clinic was according to him run by Dr Tim Wilson, the husband of Ilse Wilson who was a relative (maybe a daughter) of the late Braam Fisher.
From his evidence it is very clear that the applicant (if not all the Security Police involved in the operation) did not take a considered decision that night based on any political motivation whatsoever, to attack the Alexandra Health Clinic. The applicant testified that he was staggering drunk, that he can remember very little about what happened. He was asked:
"If you are posed the question here today that this operation sounds like a drunken brawl at the end of the day and you acted like hooligans purely for personal reasons, what would your answer be to that?"
His curious response was:
I would agree to that in almost in its entirety. It was something of a drunken brawl."
But he nevertheless contended that the attack was politically motivated because they would not, for instance, have attacked the Johannesburg General Hospital.
Having considered all the evidence tendered herein, we are satisfied that the applicant's participation in the alleged attack was not an act associated with a political objective as defined in the Act in that on his own version the attack was not as a result of a considered decision but was as a result of a "spur of the moment decision" after he and his colleagues were in a "drunken brawl".
As a result of the aforegoing, amnesty is REFUSED in respect of the following offences:
1. The malicious damage to the property of Ms Cathy Satchwell and in particular her BMW car during 1989;
2. The arson and malicious damage to the Alexandra Health Clinic.
INCIDENT 2: The Helen Joseph Incident.
The applicant amended his application insofar as it included a prayer for amnesty in respect of attempted murder. This was withdrawn. On the facts stated in his affidavit it clearly did not go as far as an attempt to murder. The application for amnesty in respect of malicious damage to property, theft and deeds of general harassment and interference with the right to privacy will now be dealt with.
The applicant stated that from about 1978 till late in the 1980's he and his colleagues on many occasions damaged the property of Mrs Joseph by throwing stones through the windows of her house at 35 Fanny Avenue, Norwood, Johannesburg. They made telephone threats, fired shots at the house but did not intend to injure any person, ordered and caused unwanted supplies to be delivered at her house, poured paint remover over her motor car as well as a motor car of Ann Hughes when the latter visited her.
The Committee is satisfied that his application insofar as it relates to the above incident complies with the requirements of the Act and amnesty is GRANTED in respect of:
(a) The malicious damage to the property of Mrs Helen Joseph and Ms Ann Hughes.
(b) The harassment and intimidation of Mrs Helen Joseph since 1977 to 1989.
INCIDENT 19: The Vernon Berrange incident.
The applicant testified that Mr Vernon Berrange practised as an attorney in Johannesburg. Banning orders were served on him and he left for Swaziland. He, however, often returned to the RSA to receive medical treatment. The applicant was instructed by Col. Stadler to keep him under constant surveillance on such occasions. At the time applicant's immediate commander was major Jordaan According to applicant he received instructions from Jordaan to make Berrange feel unwelcome during such visits.
When Berrange visited Johannesburg he stayed in a house in Berea. Applicant obtained a skeleton key and would enter the house as soon as Berrange would leave the premises. He examined notes and addresses, looked for documents and pamphlets rearranged clothing to make it obvious that he was under constant surveillance and that the police could enter the house whenever it pleased them. He tried to make his stay as uncomfortable as possible. He swopped labels on medicine bottles but did it in such a way that it would be obvious e.g. put the label for pills on a bottle containing liquid. He had no intention to harm or kill Mr Berrange but wanted it to be obvious that there had been tampering with the medicine. The objective was to make him suspicious and to discourage him from returning to the R.S.A. which in fact resulted.
The Committee is satisfied that the requirements of the Act for the granting of amnesty have been met.
Amnesty is accordingly GRANTED to the applicant in respect of any offence or delict related to the entry of the premises where Mr Berrange stayed and the tampering with this clothing during 1981 at Berea, Johannesburg.
INCIDENT 67: Deepak Madhav Incident.
The applicant also applied for amnesty in respect of an assault on Mr Deepak Madhav during 1988 at Mr Madhav's home. At the outset the Committee wants to make it very clear that this application relates only to an assault committed at Mr Madhav's home and not to any assault that was committed later at John Vorster Square or anywhere else.
The applicant received information from a female informant that an Indian male, who was a that stage known to the applicant would be attending a meeting of the Johannesburg Youth Congress, known as Joyco, in Mint Road, Fordsburg. Joyco was an affiliate of the United Democratic Front Both organisations were supporting the ANC and were considered as opponents of the State.
The applicant, accompanied by one Steven Fourie, parked their car near the venue and kept surveillance. They observed a gentleman whom they recognised as Mr Madhav according to the description given by the informant and decided to follow him and his companions as they were getting into a car and drove away. It appeared as though Mr Madhav realised that he was being followed and started to race away. They managed to stop him and conducted a quick search of the three occupants of the car and the car itself They found pamphlets in the car which obtained a speech of Mr Oliver Tambo. They thereupon arrested the occupants for being in possession of illegal documents in terms of the Security Act.
The applicant was not sure whether they took the occupants of the car to John Vorster Square but he was sure that he ended up with Madhav and Steven Fourie at Mr Madhav's home. At his home they found more similar pamphlets and it became clear that Mr Madhav's initial denial that the pamphlets found in the car did not belong to him, was not true. The applicant started to intimidate Mr Madhav in order to extract more information. It is common cause that he showed him around, banged him on the chest and stomach with a fist and according to him tapped him on the head with a screw driver. Mr Madhav testified that the tapping with the screw driver was more severe than indicated by the applicant but agreed that it left no marks or injuries on his head.
The victim, Mr Madhav, also testified about being assaulted at John Vorster Square after he had been taken back to the police station by the applicant. He said that the applicant was present when those assaults were perpetrated and associated himself therewith. As stated before, the applicant did not apply for amnesty in respect of any assault at John Vorster Square. The Committee pointed out at the hearing that on the facts that would constitute a different offence and if established the applicant could and should still be prosecuted in that respect. The Committee was not called upon to deal with that offence.
Having considered the evidence before it, the Committee is satisfied that the requirements of the Act have been met and amnesty is GRANTED to the applicant in respect of the assault committed on Mr Deepak Madhav at his residence during 1988.
INCIDENT 68: The attack on Goodman Mogami.
The attempted murder of Goodman Mogami during 1988: The applicant testified that during 1988 he served under the command of Brigadier Alfred Oosthuizen. After receiving information that a person known as Goodman Mogami was interested to become an active operative of the Freedom Fighters, the applicant, pretending to be a member of the ANC's Special Operations Unit, made contact with him. After several contacts and because Mogami requested to be armed and expressed the wish to kill members of the enemy he felt convinced that he was a dangerous man. It was not possible to keep him under constant surveillance and to prevent him from getting a firearm and start attacks on government supporters. He discussed the situation with his superiors and it was decided to supply him with a "doctored 9 mm Colt pistol. The firing pin of the pistol was filed away and he also arranged for 9 mm rounds of ammunition which contained plastic explosives to be handed to him as well as money to serve as an allowance. The purpose was to frustrate his intention to shoot and kill supporters of the government. If he would succeed in firing the pistol notwithstanding its filed away firing pin, the explosive rounds would be activated during an explosion which could injure or even kill the user of the pistol. He further testified that he saw it as an effective manner of preventing Mr Mogami from starting his own war.
After handing him the weapon, he made an appointment to meet him again after a week. Mr Mogami did not turn up on the appointed time and place and he never heard of him again. He concluded that Mogami might have been left the country for further training or that he might have fired the pistol and got injured or killed.
He further testified that his political objective was to prevent Mr Mogami to leave the country and to return well trained and with good weaponry to fight supporters of the then government. The pistol would only endanger him if he would endeavour to use it, in all probability in an attempt to kill members or supporters of the Security Forces.
Having considered the evidence, the Committee is satisfied that the offence anticipated was committed with a political objective during the conflicts of the past. Amnesty is GRANTED to the applicant for conspiring to kill Mr Mogami and any offence or delict flowing from the conspiracy and directly linked to it.
The Committee is of the opinion that Mrs Helen Joseph, Ms Ann Hughes, Mr Deepak Madhav, Mr Vernon Berrange and Mr Goodman Mogale are victims, as defined by the Act and are hereby referred to the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee for consideration in terms of Section 22 of the Act.
DATE AT CAPE TOWN THIS DAY OF 2001.
JUDGE S KHAMPEPE
ACTING JUDGE C DE JAGER
ADV S SIGODI