Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The Amnesty Committee of the TRC has granted amnesty to three APLA operatives responsible for attacks in the Western Cape in December 1993, including those on the Heidelberg Tavern, Observatory, an army base in Nyanga and the Lingelethu West Police Station.
Those given amnesty were Humphrey Luyanda Gqomfa, Vuyisile Brian Madasi and Zola Prince Mabala.
They were convicted in a trial of murdering four people at the Heidelberg Tavern: Bernadette Sharon Langford, Lindy-Anne Fourie, Rolande Lucielle Palm and Nosolino Cequeira. They were also convicted of attempting to murder another five: Benjamin Joseph Broude, Quintin Cornelius, Dave Deglon, Justin Julian Fouche and Michael January.
Giving its reasons for the decision, the Amnesty Committee said the attack on the Heidelberg Tavern was "particularly brutal". It also noted that those who patronised the tavern were not only members of the white community and that survivors and relatives of those who died had opposed amnesty: "They were understandably all deeply shocked and horrified by what happened on the night in question," the Committee said.
It continued, however: "Much as one sympathises with them and much as one understands their desire that the persons who killed their loved ones should be punished, we are obliged to have regard to the provisions of the Act (governing the Commission)."
The Committee found that the applicants had complied with the requirements of the Act:
"....[T]hey were quite clearly acting on behalf of APLA, a publicly-known political organisation and liberation movement which was engaged in political struggle against the State at that time. In this regard we refer to the reasons given in the St James Church decision.
"We are also of the view that the applicants did not act for personal gain or out of personal malice, ill-will or spite directed against the deceased and the victims. It is quite clear that they had no personal knowledge of these people and that they had merely been sent there by their organisation to act on its behalf."
The Committee said that those injured in the attack, the families of those who died and Tavern co-owner and manager Mr Gary Atkinson were "victims" in terms of the Act governing the Commission. The victims were officially referred to the Committee on Reparations and Rehabilitation.
The panel of the Committee which made the decision comprised Mr Justice Hassen Mall, Mr Justice Andrew Wilson and Advocate Ntsiki Sandi.