Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Amnesty Committee has refused amnesty to a rightwinger who killed a taxi driver to qualify as an assassin for an underground movement in 1989 but granted him amnesty for two other offences of robbery and escaping from custody.
Cornelius Johannes Lottering, a member of the Orde van die Dood (Order of Death) - an underground right wing movement set up with the intention to eliminate National Party and African National Congress leaders was seeking amnesty for three offences, including the killing of Mr Potoko Makgalemela in Johannesburg on August 29 1989.
In the same year he committed armed robbery and escaped from custody the following year.
Lottering testified before the Amnesty Committee in Pretoria early this year that he had been ordered by his commander Dawie de Beer to kill a person as an act of initiation into the Orde van die Dood. He chose the black taxi driver because he was ferrying white passengers. He and an accomplice lured the victim away from a taxi rank near a ski club at Daleside, south of Johannesburg. Mr Makgalemela was stabbed with knife and then shot dead with a 9mm pistol.
Lottering admitted during his the amnesty hearing into the incident early this year that he did not know the deceased political affiliation nor whether the victim was active in politics.
Rejecting Lottering's bid for amnesty for the killing, the Amnesty Committee said: "The murder of the deceased was committed to satisfy the internal initiation requirements of the Orde van die Dood. It cannot, in our opinion, be said ...that the murder was committed ...in furtherance of a political objective or that the murder was directed against the state or a political organisation or any member of the security forces.
"The motive of the applicant in killing the deceased was to appease his superiors in the Orde and to displace any doubts they may have had about his ability to act as an assassin. The killing was not only unreasonable but was totally out of kilter with and disproportionate to the achievement of the stated political objective of the Order, the elimination of senior members of (previous) government or other political movements.
"It amounted to nothing more than a tragic loss of life with no tangible benefits for the applicant's political organisation. We are, in the circumstances, unable to find that the killing ...achieved any desired political objective."
Referring to the two other offences, the Committee said Lottering's testimony that it was the policy of his organisation to commit robberies to obtain funds for the organisation had been corroborated by another witness, also an Orde van die Dood member, Mr Andries Kriel.
"After careful consideration we are prepared to give the applicant the benefit of doubt and to find that the robbery was not committed for personal gain," said the Committee.
Referring to Lottering's daring escape from custody in 1990, the Committee accepted Lottering and his witness' s testimony that the escape was ordered by the Orde van die Dood. "The applicant did continue to serve the Orde van die Dood during the period from his escape to his recapture," said the Committee.