TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
APPLICATION IN TERMS OF SECTION 18 OF THE PROMOTION OF NATIONAL UNITY AND RECONCILIATION ACT, NO. 34 OF 1995.
JAN HATTINGH CRONJE APPLICANT
This is an application for amnesty in terms of Section 18 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No. 34 of 1994 as amended.
The applicant's application was considered jointly with the applications of Roelof Jacobus Venter (No 2774/96), Willem Wouter Mentz (No 27775/96). Jacques Hechter (No 2776) and Paul Jacobus Jansen van Vuuren (No 2777) as they were associated with one or more of the acts committed by the applicant, Cronje.
The applicant applied for amnesty in respect of eleven incidents set out in Schedules 1 to 11 in his application. Before dealing with the separate incidents, it will be necessary to deal with the background. This matter has to be considered in the light of the evidence given by General Johan van der Merwe, the former Commissioner of the South African Police during this hearing and the evidence given by the former Minister of Law and Order, Mr Vlok in a later hearing of his application for amnesty No. 4399/96. In so doing, the Committee is aware that the applicants did not have the opportunity to listen to the evidence of Mr Vlok or to cross-examine him. The Committee does not, however, intend to use his evidence to the detriment of the applicants. Both Van der merwe and Vlok gave evidence of a general nature explaining circumstances under which members of the police worked during the time of political turmoil in the country and also how they might have understood their instructions in the light thereof.
Almost all policemen giving evidence before the Amnesty Committee referred to their background and at the end of their testimony expressed regret for what they have done. This may be very relevant in an ordinary criminal hearing when extenuating factors are considered but these factors or any other factors relating to morality that may lend colour to an offence do not in terms of Act 34 of 1995 render one offence more justified than another. They are not requirements or relevant factors to be considered in the granting of amnesty or refusing thereof. They may, however, be factors that could contribute to reconciliation and a better understanding of the conflicts of the past and for this reason the Committee allowed the evidence to be led. It may shorten future proceedings if the evidence could be summarised in this decision and simply be referred to in future without the necessity of repeating it in all future hearings. Almost all policemen appearing before us joined the police force after the National party became the government of South Africa in 1948 and implemented the apartheid policy. They were brought up under this doctrine which was supported by schools and all the Afrikaans churches. There was rarely any voice in the circles they moved in, condemning the policy. On the contrary, the churches proclaimed the policy to be in accordance with the scriptures and even acted against preachers like the Rev. Beyers Naude who spoke out against it. As policemen they were indoctrinated to defend the policy and the government of the day even with their lives should it be necessary. They accepted the legally enforced environment as the accepted and acceptable social structure of the country.
On the other hand, the black people did not find the social and political structure acceptable and a revolution became unavoidable. No acceptable political solution was offered by the government and they had to rely on the security forces to keep them in power. The Defence Force was used against the forces representing Black Nationalism at first in operations outside the borders of the country, but later even internally. It escalated into a full scale war although never a declared war. The fact that it was not a declared war against an external enemy, caused the government to involve the police force to act against their co-citizens. The Police Act was amended an in terms of Section 5 thereof, the police was responsible for internal security. Their functions were extended beyond the primary police function of combating crime. A security branch was created with the ultimate task of keeping the government in power to enable them to work out a political solution if and when they could succeed in doing so. Policemen were sent to Zimbabwe and Namibia where they were engaged in battles. They did the work of soldiers, became involved in killing contrary to the normal police function of keeping the peace and combating crime in accordance with the ordinary and customary laws applicable to police forces generally. Violence escalated since 1976 and during the 1980's a full scale revolutionary war developed in South Africa. it became the primary task of the police and more specifically the Security Police, to counter what was then seen as a total onslaught by the liberation forces.
According to the evidence before the Committee the police found it impossible to counter the onslaught by using the customary policing methods. An espionage network was set up, the liberation movements were infiltrated, informers were used, so-called terrorists were captured and turned into informers or even became members of the security police as so-called Askaris.
The security police were seen to be, and in fact were, the thin line standing between the government of the day, keeping them in power, and the ANC and other liberation forces intent on grasping power through a successful revolution.
The liberation forces declared policemen to be legitimate targets for killing. As a result thereof, according to General Van der Merwe's evidence, 998 policemen were killed in more than 6000 attacks on policemen during those years of conflict. Apart from that, 505 people, who were seen as collaborators of the police were killed by using the necklace method while a further 710 were burnt to death.
A number of deaths were caused after the victims were forced to drink spirits or petrol and were then set alight. This, among other things, had the result that few witnesses were prepared to give evidence against any activist apprehended.
Activists who had been arrested and detained without trial under the emergency regulations and Section 29 of the Security Act, became heroes once they were released. It also became more difficult to extract information from detainees because of the growing support for the struggle and the fear of what may happen to them if on release they were branded as informers or "impimpis".
On the other hand the police were pressured to maintain "law and order", to deal with terrorists and to guarantee the safety of ordinary citizens against incidents such as the Church Street Bomb, The Magoo's Bar bomb, The St James Church Massacre, the murder of farmers and hundreds of other incidents of terrorism and killings. This pressure did not only come from politicians but also from the business sector, farmers and ordinary citizens. Words such as "eliminate them", "take them out", "pursue them", "pay them back in their own coin" (betaal hulle terug in eie munt), "do to them what they are doing to you" were used. According to the evidence of a number of applicants they understood this to be authorisation to use bombs and hand grenades and in some instances, were authorised or condoned by politicians like the bombing of Cosatu House and Khotso House, led to a growing perception that the deeds met with the approval of the government. In certain instances members of the security forces were decorated for their actions in combating the total onslaught.
In the end the conflict ended in a vicious circle - a gruesome attack would lead to gruesome counter measures, which would in turn lead to even more gruesome acts of revenge. This, unfortunately, forms part of our history and the conflicts of the past. Fortunately a peaceful solution was ultimately arrived at and part of that solution was the Postamble to the Interim Constitution (which also form) the foundation of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act in terms whereof the present Amnesty Committee operates and which reads as follows:
NATIONAL UNITY AND RECONCILIATION
"This constitution provides a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society characterised by strife, conflict, untold suffering and injustice and a future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence and development opportunities for all South Africans, irrespective of colour, race, class, belief or sex. The pursuit of national unity, the well being of all South African citizens and peace require reconciliation between the people of South Africa and the restruction of society. The adoption of this Constitution lays the secure foundation for the people of South Africa to transcend the divisions and strife of the past, which generated gross violations of human rights, the transgression of humanitarian principles in violent conflicts and legacy of hatred, fear, guilt and revenge. These can now be addressed on the basis that there is a need for understanding but nor for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation. In order to advance such reconciliation and reconstruction, amnesty shall be granted in respect of acts, omissions and offences associated with a political objective and committed in the course of the conflicts of the past."
The applicant testified that he had discussions with General Schoon and Victor. In certain instances direct orders were given and this will be dealt with in the different decisions relating to those incidents. He, however, also referred to what he termed as "general instructions".
It is clear that General Victor had no authority to give orders to the applicant. He might have had a higher rank but he was second in command of the Riot Control branch in Pretoria, although he had been in command of the Security Branch of the West Rand in 1973, served in the Security Branch at head office in Pretoria from 1976 to 1981 when he became the Commanding Officer of the Norther Transvaal Security Branch until 1982. From 1985 he was, as stated before, second in command of the Counter-insurgency and Riot Control Unit. this unit obviously also dealt with the security situation and it is common cause that he had discussions with the applicant. During such discussions he might have made suggestions to the applicant like "should a police officer's home be attacked with a petrol bomb, then that person's home should also be attacked with a petrol bomb". General Victor testified that he believed that the applicant accepted this as a suggestion. In whatever way this may be interpreted, the fact remains that it was a suggestion by a senior General to counter an attack in an illegal manner. A petrol bomb could be countered by a petrol bomb - but didn't this concept in the mind of the foot soldier grow to a perception that a killing could be countered by a killing?
The Committee is of the opinion after hearing all the evidence about the total onslaught, the words used to convey instructions or suggestions to counter it, the tacit condonation of certain illegal methods and the subsequent praise and decorations extended, that the ordinary lower rank policeman bona fide believed that any act, even illegal ones, could be carried out if the purpose was to frustrate the revolution and to keep the government in power.
This was indeed conceded to by General van der Merwe, the Commissioner of Police and Mr Vlok, the Minister of Law and Order in the frank and open evidence given by them before the Committee in the Cosatu House and Khotso House incidents where they also accepted moral and political responsibility and apologised for their failure to counter the perception that the end justifies the means (whatever "means" might have been taken}.
The Committee will now deal with the applicant's application and will refer to the different Schedules under which amnesty is asked.
STAFF ASSAULTING SUPPORTERS OF THE LIBERATION MOVEMENT DURING INTERROGATIONS:
Applicant seeks amnesty in respect of his omission to take steps against members of his staff for assaulting supporters of the liberation movement during interrogations. His request is widely worded and does not mention particular dates of names. In so far as particular instances are concerned, he refers to matters which are dealt with in Schedule 11 of his application and which will receive attention when that schedule is under consideration. He testified that he ordered members of his staff to interrogate supporters of the liberation movements and that he was aware that assaults and humiliation took place during such interrogations, although not in his presence. it amy be that the offences fall within the ambit of the act and that they were committed with a political objective. Due to a lack of particulars it is not possible to identify a specific act for which amnesty could be granted. The granting of amnesty for all the inclusive acts asked for under this schedule would amount to the granting of general amnesty. AMNESTY IS THEREFORE REFUSED because specific offences cannot be identified under this schedule.
THE KILLING OF AN UNKNOWN SWAPO SOLDIER:
Amnesty was sought in respect of the killing of an unknown Swapo soldier in Namibia during the border war in that country. The applicant did not proceed with this application possibly because it did not relate to the political struggle in South Africa.
THE MURDER OF ZWELI NYANDA AND KEITH MACFADDEN
Amnesty is sought in respect of the murders of Zweli Nyanda and Keith MacFadden and offences related thereto.
The applicant implicates Brigadier Schoon, as the person who instructed him to carry out the offences and Minister Louis Le Grange, the then Minister of Law and Order as the person who later condoned the offences.
He testified that he was accompanied to Swaziland by Captain Eugene de Kock, Van Dyk, Nofomela, Bosigo, Rorich and Pienaar. The latter two were not members of the Vlakplaas unit but were respectively stationed at Witbank and Piet Retief.
The deceased, Mr Nyanda, was according to information obtained from an informer, the commander of the ANC units operating from Swaziland. The applicant testified that he received instructions from Brigadier Schoon and General Steenkamp to go to Swaziland an eliminate Nyanda. They stayed in a hotel in Mbabane, met the informer and were given the address where Mr Nyanda stayed. This house was attacked during the night and somebody managed to escape from the house. The escapee was in fact the informer although his name and the fact that it was an informer who escaped was not disclosed by the applicant. He, however, did disclose that somebody managed to escape. This information and the applicant's evidence is indeed corroborated by evidence placed before the TRC, by the ANC in their submission dated 12 May 1997. See in this regard the "Natal Urban Command" and "Case study 2" in appendix 7; confirming that both Nyanda and MacFadden were members of the ANC.
The house was first attacked with shock grenades, thereafter the back door was forced open by the applicant. On entering the house, the applicant saw a man with a blanket wrapped around him who immediately turned around and fled into a room. He followed him and gunned him down.
The man turned out to be MacFadden who was not expected to be in the house at the time. In the meanwhile Nyanda was first wounded by one of the police and then ran to the bathroom where he was shot be De Kock. The applicant testified that he shot MacFadden because he suspected him to be armed or to be able to get hold of a hand grenade which he could use against them. He could not take chances in the circumstances. he suspected people in the house would be ANC cadres because according to the information they had, this house was used as an ANC base. The "escape" through a window of the informer has already been referred to above. The applicant and his colleagues then searched the house and found a woman hiding in a cupboard. They left her in the house unharmed but took all the papers and maps which they could lay hands on with them.
The applicant testified that among the documents were maps identifying routes to targets to be attacked in the Republic. The participants in the attack were subsequently decorated and received medals from Minister Le Grange. Constable Basigo and mr Nofomela were promoted to sergeants. Mamasela was similarly promoted because he played a role in obtaining the information and doing preparation for the attack.
The Committee is satisfied that the applicant made a full disclosure of all material facts relating to this incident, that the incident related to the conflicts of the past and was associated with a political objective and that the applicant and his co-policemen believe that they acted within the course and scope of their duties and within the scope of express and/or implied authority. The act was planned, directed, commanded within and committed outside the Republic and falls within the ambit of Section 20 of the Act. It must, however, be pointed out that the Committee is acting in accordance with an Act which regulates amnesty within the Republic of South Africa and this decision is not binding on any government or institution outside the borders of the Republic.
AMNESTY IS GRANTED to the applicant in regard to:
a) The murders of Zweli Nyanda and keith MacFadden during 1983 near Manzini, Swaziland and the following offences connected therewith;
b) Contravening Section 2, 28, 29, 32, 36 and 39 of the Arms of Ammunition Act, 75 of 1969;
c) Contravening Section 2 of the Dangerous Weapons Act, 71 of 1968;
d) Contravening Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 39 of the Explosives Act, 26 of 1956;
e) And any other offence directly related to this incident bearing in mind the exact date and nature of the offence.
HAND GRENADE MURDER OF UNKNOWN ACTIVISTS:
Amnesty is asked in respect of the incidents which became known as the Zero Hand Grenade Case.
His co-applicant in the hearing before us, Mr Venter, under application No. 2774/96 also applied for amnesty in this regard. In separate applications General van der Merwe and others are also applying for amnesty in connection with the same incident.
As already pointed out above when dealing with the background, policemen were considered to be legitimate targets in the revolution. As a result thereof their houses were often targeted with petrol bombs and hand grenades according to the evidence of the applicant supported by the evidence of General van der Merwe.
The applicant was the Commander at vlakplaas during 1985. General van der Merwe was at that stage second in command of the Security Police in the RSA. The applicant met General van der Merwe at Springs and they discussed the attacks on police and the bombing of their houses which were particularly intense on the East Rand. General van der Merwe then asked the applicant if he could arrange for the infiltration of the liberation organisations active on the East Rand. According to Applicant and General van der Merwe they already had information that these forces were awaiting weapons to enable them to again attack the residences of policemen. General van der Merwe then informed the application that he had a plan to counter these attacks and that he had already cleared it out with General Coetzee and the Minister of Law and Order Minister le Grange. He was thus satisfied that it has been approved by his superiors and the government. At that stage they also had information that hand grenades destined for the ANC cadres had been intercepted and stored at Leeuenskop. The plan was to contact ANC cadres and supply them with hand grenades having a zero-setting. The result would be that such a grenade would explode when it was activated and thrown. The result would be an explosion in the hands of the person trying to throw it, instead of explosion a few seconds after it had been thrown.
The applicant instructed Joe Mamasela, an Askari member of the Security Police, to infiltrate the ANC and to find out whether they were awaiting weaponry to be used against the police. He was instructed not to influence them to ask for weapons but those asking for weapons would be supplied with "zero hand grenades". Colonel Eugene de Kock was ordered to fetch the specially prepared hand grenades from Pretoria. Mamasela a few days later reported that he had infiltrated a cell and that they wanted hand grenades. One of them also requested a limpet mine to blow up a power station near kwaThema.
The grenades and limpet mine were handed to Mamasela who in turn handed them to the activists. The activists had to identify their own targets. The limpet mine was likewise on a zero setting. The very night after Mamasela handed the grenades to the activists several attempted attacks on the houses of police at different places on the East Rand occurred. One of the activists did not proceed with the operation and handed his grenade to an attorney who contacted the police. Several activists were killed and others wounded in the explosions. One was killed by the limpet mine. After considering the evidence the Committee is satisfied that the requirements laid down by the act for the granting of amnesty in this regard have been met.
AMNESTY IS GRANTED to the Applicant in respect of:
a) The conspiracy to kill and the murder or attempted murder of several people on the East Rand during or about June 1985, their death having been caused by the explosions of hand grenades and a limpet mine which have been pre-set to explode the moment an operator would activate it and the following offences connected therewith:
a) Contravening Section 2, 28, 29, 32, 36 and 39 of the Arms and Ammunition Act, 75 of 1969;
b) Contravening Section 2 of the Dangerous Weapons Act, 71 of 1968;
c) Contravening Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 29 of the Explosives Act, 26 of 1956;
d) Malicious damage to property;
e) Any other offence directly linked to the facts in these particular incidents.
MURDER OF 10 YOUNG MEN:
This relates to the killing of 10 young people near Nietverdiend, Hechter in his application No. 2776/96, also applies for amnesty in this connection.
The applicants testified that a certain Mr Mamasela infiltrated a group of young activists in Mamelodi and in the process of his infiltration, Mamasela was informed by this young group that they were interested to go for military training outside the borders of the country. Mamasela related this information to Brigadier Cronje who together with Commandant Charl Naude of Special Forces in the South African Defence Force devised a joint plan to prevent the said activists from going to military training.
Mamasela was then provided with a Kombi which he was to use to transport the young activists on the pretext that he was transporting the, via the Nietverdiend border post, to Botswana for military training. In the meantime it had been arranged between the applicants and a Colonel Loots of the Security Branch in Western Transvaal and a Captain Rudi Crause of the Zeerust branch that they would be waiting for Mamasela as he enters Zeerust, in order to ambush the young activists and then kill them.
It was further arranged at which place near Zeerust Mamasela would stop the Kombi in order to enable the ambush to be effected. The applicants accordingly followed Mamasela's Kombi and once Mamasela had stopped at the agreed place near the border, the young activists were ambushed and removed from the Kombi by the members of Special Forces and injected with an unknown chemical substance and thereafter led back into the Kombi and driven by Mamasela further into an area around Boputhatswana, where Mamasela got out. The Kombi and the applicants together with the operatives from Special forces pushed the car over a cliff whereafter it exploded and the activists were killed.
During these proceedings it was contended that Mamasela might have in fact enticed the young activists to go for military training and that the young activists might not have, of their own accord, requested Mamasela to assist them to go for military training.
The applicants conceded that they were not aware of what Mamasela might have exactly conveyed to the activists save to state that they had instructed Mamasela not to entice the youngsters and had emphasised to him that the youngsters had to approach him of their own accord. We have found these alleged instructions to be quite strange and in discord with the information which was available to the applicants at the time.
However notwithstanding our view in this regard, we accept that according to the counter revolutionary strategy which was in place in the South African Police at the time, the applicants intended to act pre-emptively by preventing through elimination, any persons intending to undergo military training. The objective thereof was to prevent trained activists from returning into the country to advance a struggle which was being waged by the liberation movements against the government. The applicants contended that they could not wait for trained terrorists to enter the country and perpetrate acts aimed at overthrowing the government hence the reason to act pre-emptively.
The applicants further contended that their pre-emptive action was also intended to serve as a warning to other prospective activists who intended to go for military training in order to dissuade them from going for such training. This reason advanced by the applicants is most improbable simply because after killing the activists, the applicants made no attempt to publicize the fact that the activists had been killed because of their intention to go for military training. Clearly other activists would therefore not have been discouraged as they would not have known the real reason for the killing of these activists. This motivation is therefore unacceptable to us. Shocking and gruesome as the killings of the young activists was, it is undisputed that they were in the course of the conflict of the past, when the security forces went to any length to implement their counter revolutionary strategy.
The Committee concludes that the application satisfies the requirements of the act and AMNESTY IS GRANTED in respect of:
a) The murders of Abram Makolane, Samuel Masilela, Sepo Sibanyoni, Jeremia Mtudi, Thomas Phiri, Jeremia Mkabula, Morris Nkabinde, Matthew Kekutle, Stephen Makenna and Elliot Sasage during 1986 near Nietverdiend and the offences connected therewith viz;
b) Desecration of the bodies of the deceased;
c) Arson and malicious damage to property, as well as;
d) Contravention sections 2, 28, 29, 32, 36 and 39 of the Arms and Ammunition Act, 75 of 1969;
e) Contravention section 2 of the Dangerous Weapons Act, 71 of 1968;
f) Contravention section 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 27 of the Explosive Act, 26 of 1956.
THE MURDER OF JOE TSELE
Hechter (application No 2776) also applied for amnesty in this regards and the result of this application will also be recorded in his application with reference to the facts set out herein.
The Applicants were at the time members of the security branch of the South African Police. The applicant Cronje says that after a report was made by a certain Captain Crafford, a decision was taken that they should go to Joe Tsele's (the deceased) place in the then Bophuthatswana, to eliminate him. It was alleged that Tsele was a member of the United Democratic Front (UDF). It was also alleged that he used to accommodate terrorists in his house and that he used to organise all sorts of consumer boycotts. He was an active unionist as well and for these reasons they planned to eliminate him.
On the appointed day, the applicants, Mamasela, a certain Bafana and Captain Crafford, went to the place where the deceased lived. Mamasela and Bafana were sent by the applicant to go to the house to see whether or not the deceased had the supposed terrorists in his house and thereafter to report back. The applicants stressed the point several times that Mamasela and Bafana were not instructed to kill Tsele at the time. Applicant Cronje says that, contrary to his instructions, Mamasela and Bafana shot the deceased upon their arrival at his house. Mamasela later said that he and Bafana had misunderstood their instructions. Tsele was eventually going to be eliminated anyway, in accordance with what they have planned.
Although they did not partake in the murder and might not have intended him to be murdered at the moment he was in fact killed, it is clear that they planned and intended the killing to take place. Given the alleged activities of the deceased as well as the known history of the UDF as a resistance movement, the planning and the murder of Tsele was an act associated with a political objective. The requirements of the Act have been met and
AMNESTY IS GRANTED in respect of the following offences:
The murder of Joe Tsele in Bophuthatswana during or about 1986 and the following offences connected therewith:
a) Malicious damage to property;
b) Contravening sections 2, 28, 29, 32, 36 and 39 of the Arms and Ammunition Act, 75 of 1969;
c) Contravening section 2 of the Dangerous Weapons Act, 71 of 1968;
d) Contravening sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 27 of
the Explosives Act, 26 of 1956.
THE MURDER OF MR PIET NTULI:
The applicant applies for amnesty in respect of the murder of Mr Piet Ntuli. Hechter also applies for amnesty in this respect.
Applicant, whose evidence was confirmed by Hechter, says that the late Piet Ntuli (the deceased) was assassinated by them around July 1986. At the time, the deceased was the Minister of Interior in the then government of the kwaNdebele homeland. The deceased was a very influential and powerful politician in the homeland. As a result of his activities referred to below, a decision was taken to eliminate him. We were told that the deceased had been the subject of numerous discussions in the meetings of the Joint Information Centre (Gesamentlike Inligting Sentrum). The instruction to eliminate him was given to applicant by his superior who, according to Second Applicant, was Brigadier Broodryk. It is quite clear from the evidence that the decision was taken at a high level.
On the day of the incident the applicants, accompanied by a Captain Jaap van Jaarsveld, drove to kwaNdebele armed with the bomb that was subsequently used to blow up the deceased. This bomb had been specially adapted by Spesmagte (Special Forces) for that purpose. The applicants said that they had been instructed by Brigadier Schoon to work together with Spesmagte. During the evening, the bomb was mounted by Second Applicant underneath the deceased's Toyota Cressida motor vehicle. The bomb subsequently exploded while the deceased was driving the vehicle, killing him instantly.
In motivating that the murder was associated with a political objective, the applicants say that the deceased was seen as a person promoting the objectives of the African National Congress. He was in charge of a movement known as Mbhokodo, which went about ruthlessly killing and maiming people who were perceived to be against him. People's property and businesses were destroyed. These were the people who were opposed to the idea of the homeland becoming independent. In harassing such people, the deceased only succeeded in galvanizing more people against the idea of any independence for the homelands. The then South African government wanted homelands to take independence. The South African government could not detain him either as he was their protégé. Such a detention would have caused the government a great deal of embarrassment. The murder took place during a period of great upheaval in the homeland. Given the above motivation, as also the fact that the deceased was a cabinet minister and leader of Mbhokodo, we are of the view that the killing of the deceased, as well as the illegal possession of the bomb or explosives used, are acts associated with a political objective. The applicants have satisfied all other requirements for amnesty.
AMNESTY IS HEREBY GRANTED in respect of:
The murder of Piet Ntuli; committed in kwaMhlanga, kwaNdebele during or about July 1986 and the following offences connected therewith:
a) Malicious damage to property;
b) Defeating the ends of justice;
c) Contravening sections 2, 28, 29, 32, 36 and 39 of the Arms and Ammunition Act, 75 of 1969;
d) Contravening section 2 of the Dangerous Weapons Act, 71 of 1968;
e) Contravening sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 27 of the Explosives Act, 26 of 1956.
THE DEATH OF DR AND MRS RIBEIRO:
The applicant applies for amnesty in respect of any possible involvement in an offence flowing from the death of Dr and Mrs Ribeiro. Hechter makes a similar application.
Applicant Cronje testified that he received a request from a certain Charl Naude, a member of the Special Task Force of the South African Defence force to supply information about Dr Ribeiro. There was a file under his control containing information about the activities of Dr Ribeiro and he instructed Hechter to make the file available to the task force and to assist them if so requested. He further testified that he had nothing further to do with the incident although he suspected that Dr Ribeiro may be a target for elimination by the Special Forces. He later learnt about the death of the Ribeiros.
Hechter testified that he assisted a certain Paddy to make copies of the information contained in the security file of Dr Ribeiro. He became aware that two black soldiers were brought from Angola, that they shot Dr Ribeiro and that they were flown back to Angola the very same night after the murder. He did not participate in any way in the execution of the murder but was aware of the planning. He later falsely declared under oath that he had no knowledge of the whole incident.
He further testified that months before the actual murder he, a certain Jaap van Jaarsveld and Joe Mamasela planned to eliminate Dr Ribeiro. They actually went to his home but he was not there and they abandoned the attempt.
Applicant van Vuuren (application No 2776) also applies for amnesty in connection with a conspiracy to kill Dr Ribeiro. He testified that he and Hechter took up position near the house of Dr Ribeiro armed with AK47 rifles. Dr Ribeiro, however, did not make an appearance and they abandoned the operation. Hechter cannot recollect this occasion, but testified that he would not deny Van Vuuren's testimony. The Committee have dealt with Hechter's memory problems in his application already referred to.
It is clear from the evidence that the Security Police regarded Dr Ribeiro as a prominent activist who actively assisted the liberation forces in their struggle overthrow the government of the day.
AMNESTY IS GRANTED to the applicant Cronje insofar as he might have been involved in a conspiracy to kill Dr Ribeiro and/or his wife and for defeating the ends of justice. The decisions relating to Hechter and Van Vuuren will be reflected in their applications.
THE DEATH OF AN UNKNOWN ACTIVIST NEAR MAMELODI
The applicant, then a member of the security branch of the South African Police, was asked by his junior, a Captain du Plessis, to help in the interrogation of an unidentified person ("the deceased"). The allegations against the deceased were that he knew of certain houses in Mamelodi where terrorists were accommodated by sympathisers of the African National Congress; and that he also knew precisely where the terrorists were in Mamelodi. The deceased was taken to Mamelodi to identify the placed referred to above, but he would not do so. He was assaulted during the interrogation and later died. His body was taken to an isolated place in the then Bophuthatswana and blown to pieces with explosives. The applicant says there was no intention to kill the deceased as they still wanted information from him. But in assaulting the deceased in the manner the applicant described, they must have foreseen his eventual death. Although the applicant has asked for amnesty in respect of offences arising out of the contravention of the provisions of Act 75 of 1969, there is no evidence that he committed any such offence and amnesty cannot be granted in that regard. The applicant, having satisfied all requirements for amnesty is hereby GRANTED AMNESTY in respect of:
The murder of an unidentified activist near Pretoria during or about 1987 and the following offences connected therewith:
a) Violating a dead body;
b) Contravention of Section 2 of the Dangerous Weapons Act, 71 of 1968;
c) Contravention of Section 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 27 of the Explosives Act, 26 of 1956.
THE BOMBING OF A CAR IN GABARONE
Applicant's application relates to the car bomb which exploded in Gabarone.
The applicant, Cronje, was approached by Brigadier Loots of the Security Branch in the Western Transvaal about the elimination of a certain Mnisi who, according to information, was involved in the planning and execution of various bombing incidents, inter alia the Church Street bomb. According to the evidence, he brought explosives and weapons into the RSA. A certain MacKenzie managed to infiltrate Mnisi's organisation and it was decided to plant a bomb in a car driven by MacKenzie. This car was used by MacKenzie after he infiltrated Mnisi's organisation to smuggle weapons into the RSA and was equipped with a secret compartment or panel in which the explosives and weapons were concealed.
The bomb was hidden in this secret compartment and could be activated by a light sensor which would cause and explosion the moment the secret panel is opened and exposed to light. The bomb could also be activated by remote control. The purpose of the light sensor activator was to cause an explosion only if and when the hidden compartment was opened by a person who knew of its existence and presumably wanted to conceal weapons or explosives for transportation to the RSA. MacKenzie left the vehicle near Gaberone where Mnisi or Pulu or one Demakudu would fetch it in order to load the weapons.
MacKenzie was detected to be a security spy and was taken to Quatro camp where he was detained. As a result of this, the whole plan went astray. The bomb, however, did explode, presumably when the secret compartment was opened by an unknown person. According to newspaper reports an unknown person was killed in the explosion.
The applicant further avers that he acted in terms of a general instruction to combat terrorism received from Brigadier Viktor and Schoon. It is accepted that as commander of the Vlakplaas unit of the Security Branch he acted in co-operation with the SADF. This must have been approved by his superiors. He further testified that General van der Merwe approved broadly of what they intended to do. It must be noted that General Victor later testified and denied that he ever gave instructions to Cronje or that he was authorised to do so, because at that stage he was second in command of Counter-Insurgency and Riot Control which was distinctly separate from the Security Branch. He, however, confirmed that he had on occasion informally discussed the security position with Cronje and other members of the Security Branch. During these conversations he expressed his views on how the problem could be addressed. It may be technically correct to say that he did not order Cronje, but the expression of an opinion by such a senior police officer of his own accord - Cronje did not ask him his opinion - must sure have influenced Cronje.
The operation falls within the ambit of the Act and the application meets the requirements set out in the Act.
AMNESTY IS GRANTED in respect of:
The murder of an unknown person near Gaberone during 1987 by explosives in a Kombi-bus and the following offences connected therewith:
a) An assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm on an unknown person.
b) Intimidation of people partaking or supporting the ANC and/or other forces seeking to overthrow the then government of the RSA.
c) Contravening sections 2, 28, 29, 32, 36 and 39 of the Arms and Ammunition Act No. 75 of 1969;
d) Contravening section 2 of the Dangerous Weapons Act, No. 71 of 1968;
e) Contravening sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 27 of the Explosives Act, No. 26 of 1956.
OFFENCES COMMITTED BY MEMBERS UNDER HIS COMMAND AND HIS GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS:
The applicant, in conclusion asks for amnesty in respect of his involvement as commander in the offences committed by members under his command. He stated that he was not personally involved in any of those offences and it may even be that he is still ignorant of some offences which might have been committed because of his general instructions.
The Committee refers to the decisions in the applications of Venter (No.2774/96), Mentz (No.2775/96), Hechter (No.2776/96) and Van Vuuren (No.2777/96). In every instance where they acted under orders of the applicant and received amnesty, a similar decision for amnesty is made in respect of the above applicant.
JUDGE H MALL
JUDGE A WILSON
JUDGE B NGOEPE
ADV C DE JAGER SC
MS S KHAMPEPE