(AM 5181/97)


(AM 5465/97)




The Applicants apply for amnesty in respect of offences which relate to:

1. The death of Ruth First on 17 August 1982 in Maputo.

2. The death of Jeanette Schoon and Katryn Schoon on 28 June 1984 in Angola.

It is common cause that Ruth First and the Schoons lost their lives as a result of the explosion of two bombs concealed in letters received by them. The bombs were manufactured in Pretoria by Applicant Raven and will be referred to as letter bombs. Both Applicants were members of the Security Police and the offences or delicts were ordered, advised, planned or directed with the Republic of South Africa while the explosions and resulting deaths occurred outside the borders of the Republic.

The Committee is aware of the judgements in Stopforth vs Minister of Justice and others, (case Number 316/97) and Veenendaal vs Minister of Justice and others (Case number 317/97) handed down by The Supreme Court of Appeal.

The court ruled:

"(35) In my opinion it is clear that Parliament could never have intended to confer on the Amnesty Committee the power to grant amnesty in respect of offences committed outside South Africa which are not triable in this country but in another country in which amnesty purportedly conferred by the Amnesty Committee would not be recognised. The power conferred on the Committee to grant amnesty in respect of offences committed outside South Africa can, in my view, only be exercised in respect of so-called extra territorial offences triable in this country. The crimes committed by the Appellants at Outjo do not belong to the latter category."

Members of the Amnesty Committee have already dealt with some of the aspects in the above judgements in the amnesty applications relating to the London Bomb incident to which this Committee would like to refer.

It must also be pointed out that whether our courts will have jurisdiction to adjudicate on acts, omissions or offences committed outside the RSA would depend on whether any act of Parliament endowed the courts with jurisdiction to hear those matters. Examples of exceptions to the general rule that our courts would not have jurisdiction to adjudicate on offences committed outside the RSA are for instance Section 37 of the Marriage Act 25 of 1961, as amended, which deals with offences committed outside the RSA:

"if any person contravenes any provision of this Act in any country outside the Union, the Minister of Justice shall determine which court in the Union shall try such person for the offence committed thereby and such court shall thereupon be competent so as to try such person and for all purposed incidental to or consequential on the trial of such person, the offence shall be deemed to have been committed within the area of jurisdiction of such court".

Jurisdiction was also conferred through legislation to hear offences committed in "the Republic or elsewhere" in Act 74 of 1982. See section 54(1), (2) and (5) as amended inter alia by Act 90 of 1996, relating to terrorism and sabotage, subject to authorisation by the director of prosecutions.

In the present applications all applicants were members of the South African Police who fell within the dictates of the Police Act of 1958 as amended inter alia by Act 68 of 1984. The amendment, inserting Section 10A provided that acts or offences committed outside the RSA by members of the Police Force shall be deemed to have been committed inside the republic for the purposes of Sections 9 and 10 of the Police Act.

As pointed out above, parliament conferred jurisdiction on SA courts to adjudicate on certain offences committed outside the borders of the RSA. Similarly, parliament empowered the Amnesty Committee to grant amnesty in respect of an act associated with a political objective, which means any act or omission which constitutes an offence or delict and which was advised, planned, directed, commanded, ordered or committed within or outside the Republic. Certainly, if parliament has the power to grant jurisdiction to one institution it follows that it has the power to grant it to another. The jurisdiction granted and the decisions which may result therefrom would not bind foreign countries. No Parliament can legislate for foreign countries and no court or amnesty committee could bind foreign countries. Internally, however, their decisions would be binding.

The Amnesty Committee is in terms of Act 34 of 1995 obliged to hear applications on offences advised, planned, directed, commanded, ordered or committed within or outside the Republic.

Whether their decisions would be recognised in other countries would be for those sovereign countries to decide.

As far as claims based on delict are concerned, there can be no doubt that our courts have jurisdiction. This was illustrated in the matter related to this very incident which is before us, in the case where the now late Mr Marius Schoon sued the Applicant, Williamson, for damages flowing from the incident in respect of which he is applying for amnesty.

The Committee has already stated in the London bomb decision, referred to above that there can, however, be no doubt that foreign countries won't be bound by any decisions of the Amnesty Committee or our courts unless their own domestic laws would make provision therefore.

In dealing with the present applications the Committee is also mindful of the provisions of its own founding Act, Act 34 of 1995 as amended.

It is stated in the preamble:


"To provide for the investigation and the establishment of as complete a picture as possible of the nature causes and extent of gross violations of human rights committed during the period from 1 March 1960 to the cut-off date contemplated in the Constitution, within or outside the Republic, emanating from the conflicts of the past, and the fate or whereabouts of the victims of such violations; the granting of amnesty to persons who make full disclosure of all the relevant facts relating to acts associated with a political objective committed in the course of the past during the said period; .... and to confer certain powers on, assign certain functions to and impose certain duties upon the Commission and those Committees; and to provide for matters connected therewith".

Section 20(2) states:

"In this act, unless the context otherwise indicates, "act associated with a political objective" means any act or omission which constitutes an offence or delict which, according to the criteria in subsection 3, is associated with a political objective, and which was advised, planned, directed, commanded, ordered or committed within or outside the Republic during the period 1 March 1960 to the cut-off date contemplated in the Constitution."

The duty of the Committee is to hear evidence and to decide on amnesty . Whether its decisions are recognised by our courts or foreign courts are questions to be decided by those institutions in accordance with the laws governing them.

The present applications were opposed on behalf of the Slovo and Schoon families. The Slovo family's interest lies in the fact that the late Ruth First was the wife of Joe Slovo. Their daughters played an active part at the hearing.



Several witnesses testified about the background of Ruth First. She was a journalist until she was banned under the laws of the previous government prohibiting communism and then she trained to be a librarian. She met Joe Slovo in 1948. He at that time was studying law and soon thereafter started practising as an advocate. They were both members of the Communist Party which was banned in 1950. Gillian Slovo describes it as follows:

"Both Ruth and Joe were involved in starting it up again, this time underground, heading deeper into a secret world where excitement and danger were to run side by side. It was a cosy, inbred universe they occupied. To make sure their cover wasn't blown, membership was by invitation only. They learned conspiracy in those early years: no meeting was ever pre-advertised, or held in the same place twice running. Phone calls were short and cryptical, conversations often taking place not in the lounge but by a distant garden fence".

Ruth travelled widely. She visited Prague, Dubrovnik and Moscow for youth congresses and travelled to China, playing a very active part in the new organisation and promotion of the Communist Party and the liberation struggle at that stage.

Both Joe and Ruth were arrested on 5 December 1956 on a charge of treason. The charges were withdrawn in 1958. The ANC was banned in 1960 and a State of Emergency followed. Joe left the RSA in 1962 while Ruth and their children stayed behind but later followed Joe to the United Kingdom, where she remained politically active and played a very active role in the anti-apartheid movement.

She wrote various books and became a known academic. While in exile she remained a member of the Communist Party and of the ANC. She never left the Communist Party but later was very critical of the Soviet Union and the way it was organised.

She taught for three or four years at Durham University in the United Kingdom where she was highly thought of. They kept her on their staff even after she left the to teach in Mozambique at the Eduardo Monthlane University. She became Director of Research and Investigation at this university and devoted much of her time to building the department and concentrated on the relationship between Mozambican miners and the South African mines. Both Gillian Slovo, who visited Ruth in Mozambique, and Bridgett O'Laughlin, who taught with Ruth in the same department, stressed two aspects: According to them Ruth was very concerned that her academic work at the university should be seen as independent from the liberation movements and secondly, they both repeatedly emphasised that Ruth wouldn't have opened a letter addressed to Joe or one addressed to herself and Joe because that would interfere with Joe's privacy.

In her book "Every Secret Thing, My Family, My Country" Gillian Slovo described her parents as secretive people -

"it had its origins long ago in South Africa when they had stood, with their comrades, on our rolling lawn and talked in code about what their next move should be"

Further examples of their way of life set out in the book are:

"On the third day" (after her arrival in Mozambique for Ruth's funeral) "I overheard someone telling my father about a meeting that had taken place in Cape Town. Just as I had when I was a child, I read between the lines and guessed that the meeting must have been somehow connected to Ruth. I waited for my father to tell me more but all he did was look once at and then beyond me and walk away, silent, shutting me out".

She wrote about the speeches at Ruth's funeral:

"They spoke instead of a cardboard heroine, a woman who had given her life to the struggle. I didn't want to hear of that Ruth. i wanted them to talk of the mother I had known. But if they had been able to, what would they have said? She had lived so many lives, there were so many Ruths. In the weeks that followed, when people spoke of her, they each conjured up a different woman"

"The daughter of two lifelong communists, Ruth hated dogma and empty displays of revolutionary fervour. As I stood watching I thought that she would have distanced herself from the mourners whose songs foretold of the impending victory for which she had given her life. And yet, maybe I was wrong; maybe Ruth, in her Mozambican incarnation, would have been amongst them. The last photo she sent me with members of her university department in a rally. Ruth is in the foreground. On top of her frizzed-out hair perches an incongruous miners tin hat. She is carrying a flag and smiling proudly - a woman who has finally joined in."

Bridgett O'Laughlin inter alia testified that Joe and Ruth did not discuss their secrets, their work, with her:

"No, they did not, they were very careful. Of course long-term political issues, things like that we talked about, we discussed politics and debates but they were very careful not to discuss things in front of me and frankly, I was also very careful not to know".

On being asked "why was that?" she responded:

"Because it seemed to them dangerous to involve people in work or what was going on and it seemed to me quite important not to know".

Ruth, however, was not as concerned as Joe was about personal security. She led a normal life in Mozambique while Joe was very security conscious. Joe considered himself to be target for assassination. Ruth didn't consider herself to be a target in the same way but she knew there was a risk.

O'Laughlin further testified that Ruth was a South African connected with the struggle for liberation - that was part of her identity - but it was very important to her that her academic work should be the focus and she made sure that the people at the university understood that clearly. She was aware that Ruth was a member of the ANC and attended meetings of the ANC's Women League as well as branch meetings. She stated that she is not saying that Ruth didn't do political work to further the aims of the ANC and SACP. She was a political person who believed in the liberation of RSA and was against apartheid. It was a very important part of her. Ruth agreed with the decision of the ANC to wage an armed struggle, a people's war and was supportive of that, but for her it was important that the armed struggle should be subordinate to the political struggle.

All the witnesses agreed that Ruth's death was a loss to the ANC but also a loss to South Africa as a whole. She was well-known world wide and fought at the forefront of the liberation struggle. Tribute was paid to her by various leaders of the ANC and SACP. She was considered as a devastatingly effective critic of apartheid and as a brilliant and seasoned revolutionary and respected throughout the world as an anti-apartheid activist. Although in an article which appeared in the "African Communist" written by comrade Mzala, it was stated that she served in a unit of the ANC, this was not verified. It also wasn't clear what the functions of the unit might have been.

It was against this background that Ruth First was killed during August 1982. This was in some way expected by Gillian. She wrote about her reaction on receiving a message to phone her sister:

"It had come, that moment I'd been expecting throughout my life. One of my parents was dead. Not naturally: one of them had been killed. I knew that. What I didn't know was which one."

She wrote about her meeting with her father, Joe, after flying to Mozambique and what he told her:

"They targeted her because of who she was," letting slip the guilt which must have been consuming him, the feat that 'they' had killed her because they had not been able to get him. "It was the work she was doing," he continued. "It was dangerous to them".

We quote from the book written by Gillian Slovo because not only was it handed in as an exhibit at the hearing but also because she, in giving oral evidence, under oath confirmed that she believed the contents to be correct.

The Committee will now deal with the evidence of the Applicants.

Williamson testified that at the time his direct superior officer was Brigadier Piet Goosen. He stated that from the 1970;s onwards it became clear to him that South Africa was getting more and more involved in a revolutionary war. At the time he had the rank of major. During January 1982 he received orders from Goosen to prepare and plan an attack on the London headquarters of the ANC. This incident has been dealt with in a separate decision. According to the Applicants it served as an example that cross border attacks were authorised by the then Minister of Police who on occasions directly consulted with Goosen. He at no stage doubted that Goosen had authority to issue orders to him as a subordinate in the command structure to carry out a specified task or operation. According to him he received an official police envelope containing a smaller envelope and with instruction to go to Goosen. On his arrival Goosen asked him whether Raven could replace the documents of the smaller envelope which was an intercepted letter with an explosive device. There was a short discussion about the weight and type of device and he undertook to see Raven about it and to report back. He believes that the name Slovo or Slovos were mentioned at the time as the person(s) to whom the intercepted letter was addressed and on peeping into the bigger envelope and moving the papers in the big envelope by using a pen, he could see that the small envelope was on its way to the Eduardo Monthlane University in Maputo. According to him he couldn't make out the name of the addressee but accepted it was addressed to one or both of the Slovo's.

After a few days Raven reported back that he had carried out the instruction and on looking in the envelope Williamson asked whether it was in fact a bomb that could kill both of them if it would now explode. Raven confirmed this and he requested him to take the envelope to Brigadier Goosen.

Some time later it was reported at a meeting that Ruth First was killed in a bomb explosion at the university in Maputo. Goosen looked at Williamson, nodded his head but didn't say anything. He further testified that in his opinion the death of either of the Slovo's, Joe or Ruth, would have had a destabilising effect on the liberation movements and would disrupt their planning. The fact that the killing took place in Mozambique would also have an influence on neighbouring countries harbouring the revolutionary forces. Furthermore the ANC would have to use some of their soldiers to protect their personnel and that would affect the numbers available to infiltrate the RSA to commit attacks. It would also instil fear for possible pre-emptive or hot pursuit attacks. He said that it was accepted that the security forces had been involved in the killing and they should be ready for retaliation attacks. he extensively quoted from the Annual Intelligence Review 1982 and in particular, chapter 6 thereof dealing with the Internal Threat. He concluded that his document reflects the attitude at the time and lends justification to the fact that he felt that the act was justified and that he was not surprised by the instruction he received to have a bomb prepared as it formed part of the overall political and military strategy against the ANC at the time. He further testified that Ruth was known and referred to in Security circles as Ruth Slovo. Her photo also appeared under that name in the terrorist album.

As stated above, Williamson testified that he asked Raven to take the envelopes back to Goosen. Raven on the other hand, said he left them with Williamson to take it to Goosen. The evidence of both Williamson and Raven about the name or names and address on the intercepted envelope was not convincing and in some aspects contradictory. Raven explained that he avoided handling the intercepted envelope for fear of leaving fingerprints on it. That might have been the reason for not taking the intercepted envelope out of the bigger envelope and read the name of the addressee. He also explained that he concluded that his superiors didn't consider him to be one of those who "need to know" who the targeted victim might be because if they wanted him to know they would have told him. He was not at all involved in the choosing of targets and he as well as Williamson testified that his superiors never informed him who the targets were. They both accepted that the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or letter bomb was intended to be used "against the enemy". The both regarded both Slovo's as part of the enemy and the killing of either of them would have been according to Williamson in accordance with the strategy of the Security Police at the time.

The have no knowledge what happened to the IED after it was handed to Goosen. The only evidence relating to this IED's arrival i Maputo came from O'Laughlin. She testified that Ruth was told by one Aquino, a colleague at the university that there was mail for her at the secretary's office. Ruth went to fetch it and on her return opened the letter in their presence and the explosion followed in which she was killed. Nobody paid special attention to the letter or saw the name of the addressee but they were convinced that Ruth wouldn't have opened a letter addressed to Joe Slovo or even to herself and Joe. This might have been so but the fact remains that the evidence was that Ruth and Joe had secrets that they wouldn't discuss with even their daughters. Even if we accept that Ruth didn't want mail connected with politics to be addressed to her on the university address, it remains a fact that an addressee has no control over the address written by a sender on an envelope. No one could shed any light on the question whether the IED arrived at the university or in the secretary's office by post or whether it was delivered by hand. Goosen, the person who sent the letter, is deceased.

Raven further testified that he believed the IED would be sent to a high-ranking or well publicised target because it would have been a futile exercise to send it to a non-entity. To have the effect of demoralising the enemy, it had to be a well known person. It was for the powers that be to choose the target. He acted on instructions to manufacture an improvised explosive and acted accordingly. Although Raven stated that he cannot be sure, it happened more than 15 years ago - his recollection is that he handed the envelopes to Williamson and not to Goosen.

The same Applicants also apply for amnesty in respect of a similar bomb attack two years later, on 28 June 1984, when Jeanette Schoon and her daughter Kathryn were killed. It is convenient to deal with the facts in that incident before dealing with the legal issues.



Before dealing with the facts it may be appropriate to deal with the background of applicant Williamson.


Williamson was born in 1949 and joined the South African Police in 1968. In 1971 he became a member of the Security Police. During 1971 it was decided that he should infiltrate the left-wing student organisations - NUSAS in particular who were regarded as dangerous to the State security. Up to then he was a member of the Uniform branch, but on passing his exams and being promoted to a sergeant, he came to the attention of the Security branch. He pretended to resign from the Police and registered as a student at Wits University during 1972 where he was soon accepted as a left-wing radical. He was elected to the Students Representative Council in 1973.

His specific mandate at the university was to investigate the ANC and the South African Communist Party. During 1971 he met Colonel Johan Coetzee to whom he later used to report. During 1973 he was elected to the executive of the SRC. He reported about the political activities of the SRC and some of the lecturers. He was sent to the University to report on anything that could possibly be related to the South African Communist party and the ANC and what he described as "their attempts to influence, manipulate and recruit students to their cause". He managed to deceive everyone that he was a bona fide student and was during 1974 and 1975 elected to high office in NUSAS. As a spy he managed to infiltrate the ANC and SACP and passed information to the Security Force. During 1975, 1976 he was involved in getting people out of the country and it boosted his credibility. he agreed to the proposition put to him in cross-examination and he managed to deceive highly intelligent people. During this period he also met Jeanette Curtis who later married Marius Schoon. She was also a member of the National Executive of NUSAS and involved in NUSWEL, which was the labour arm of NUSAS and lent assistance to people to organise themselves into trade unions.

Williamson later obtained a full time job with NUSAS and used to travel around campuses organising for NUSAS.

During the period when he was vice-president he travelled overseas to obtain funds for the organisation. He visited numerous donors including the International University Exchange Fund (IUEF) who later employed him as a deputy director. With this job as cover he managed to direct funds away from students or students bodies supporting the ANC and to obtain money to buy a farm named Daisy, which was used for lectures and training of supporters of the government. To keep his cover he also arranged for bursaries for black students.

Ultimately, according to him, his cover was blown because a fellow security policeman who knew him since his student days at Wits, defected and threatened to expose him. The suggestion was made that he come into the open after consultation with General Coetzee because he realised that the Schoons and Mr Maharaj had become convinced that he was a government agent and would have exposed him in any event shortly afterwards. He denied that he was aware of this or that it played any role in his decision - this is to a certain extent corroborated by the fact that there were attempts to keep his cover and to use him in a different capacity in Europe. This didn't materialise because Williamson and General Coetzee could not manage to obtain the co-operation of Mr Lars Gunnar Ericsson, the director of the IUEF, after he became aware of Williamson's double role.

After breaking his cover, Williamson, who was then dubbed "The Master Spy" was seconded to Security Police Headquarters where he, with the rank of major, served under the direct command of Colonel Goosen, who according to the evidence, initiated and ordered the attacks on the Schoons and Ruth First.


Marius Schoon married Jeanette during June 1977. Marius at that stage had served a 12 years imprisonment sentence for sabotage and was still under house arrest and stringent banning orders while Jeanette had banning orders for her trade union activities. She had also been deputy chairperson of NUSAS, a student organisation frowned upon by the government. They were married the afternoon before they left illegally to o to Botswana into exile. They went to Botswana under the instructions of the ANC and registered as refugees. Marius started teaching at a secondary school in Botswana in January 1978 and Jeanette obtained a post at the same school round about April 1979. They continued teaching there until July 1981 when they started working for a British organisation as field officers.

At that stage there was a chief representative of the ANC in Botswana, an ANC residence where a number of ANC members were staying as well as ANC comrades staying in various parts of Botswana. Marius was a member of the Communist Party and both Marius and Jeanette regarded themselves as ANC members. Marius testified that he wasn't sure whether Jeanette was approached to join the Communist Party. Marius was a member of the Political Committee which was linked to the Senior organ of the ANC in Botswana. According to him he was never a member of the senior organ and was mistakenly mentioned as a member of the Senior Organ in the ANC submission to the TRC. As a member of the Political Committee he and Jeanette were tasked with the mobilisation of people in the RSA. During the hearing everyone referred to Jeanette as Jenny and the Committee will do the same.

Their task was to mobilise people in the PWV area and to a limited extent in Northern Province and North West Province. They had to recruit comrades who would send regular reports to them about strategic happenings in the areas where they had influence in their networks. Jenny also had the task to propagate the ideas of the ANC to the South African Congress of Trade Unions and to unite Trade Unions. It was common cause that the Trade Unions were seen as an ally in the struggle against the then government. It is obvious from the evidence of Marius that the ANC operated on a very clandestine basis and that even he did not know who the members of the Senior Organ were, he didn't even know that Dan Hlume was heading the Internal Political Committee (IPC) in Botswana but knew that Henry Mahoti held a very senior position in the IPC. That may account for the mistakes in the ANC's own submission to the TRC about membership of the Senior Organ. It was argued that the same would be applicable to the Security Police if they would have wrongly assessed the role Marius and Jenny played in Botswana and later in Lubango.

On his own evidence Marius regarded himself and Jenny to be important members of the liberation forces who did whatever they could to enhance the position of the ANC. He conceded that whilst they were in Botswana they could have been considered to be legitimate targets from the viewpoint of the Security Police. Mr Maharaj who testified on their behalf confirmed that they were regarded as important members of the ANC doing important and excellent work on behalf of the party. Marius further testified that he suspected that there were two attempts to assassinate him while he was in Botswana. On one occasion they found a firearm in the luggage of a person who they suspected to be an agent sent from the RSA. On another occasion he saw an article which could have been a disguised explosive next to the front wheel of his car. He went to call for assistance to investigate this article but on his return it had vanished. The suspected person who had a gun, was apprehended by the organisation and he does not know what happened to him thereafter.

It was confirmed by Dirk Coetzee and Colonel Schoon in their evidence at this hearing that there was at least one, probably two attempts to assassinate Marius whom they regarded as an important member of the ANC and SACP who were at that stage the declared enemies of the government of the RSA.

On being asked whether he had reason to believe that Williamson thought that his exposure was partly due to his and Jenny's efforts, he answered:

"Mr Chairperson, as I recall Mr Williamson's evidence, what he is putting before the Commission, is that his exposure and his being withdrawn from working in Geneva, was due to the defection of another South African agent."

"I think that that played a part Sir, however I also think that Mr Williamson was astute enough to know mid 1979 if not earlier, that there were considerable suspicions about him within the ANC. I also think that Mr Williamson, and again I say think, not know Sir, that Mr Williamson is astute enough and a will enough trained Intelligence Officer, to have been aware that Jenny and I were playing, I think, some considerable part in building the pyramid of suspicion that the NEC in Lusaka was now aware of".

The fact is that Williamson was exposed at the end of 1979, beginning of 1980, before the ANC took any steps to expose him. Williamson in his evidence denied that he had any knowledge of a threatening exposure by the ANC. On the evidence it is clear that the ANC kept whatever suspicions they might have had very secret, probably in order not to alert Williamson. Whether the role played by the Schoon's gathering evidence against Williamson was a factor in the decision to send a letter bomb to the Schoons cannot be positively decided on the evidence. Even the suggestion that Williamson knew of the involvement of the Schoons in his possible exposure (which is denied by him) rests on speculation.

Marius further testified that he met the Applicant Williamson while he was in Botswana. His wife, Jenny, probably knew him from university where he was known as a student activist. Williamson who was a spy of the RSA government, a fact that became known after his exposure early in 1980, on occasion visited them in Botswana and stayed with them. According to the evidence the Schoons as well as Mr Maharaj became suspicious about Williamson's role and were seriously investigating his movements at the stage when he was exposed through information supplied by a co-undercover agent who defected.

Marius further testified that after Williamson's exposure in the beginning of 1980 they continued with their work in support of the ANC. In 1981 both Schoons started working as joint field officers for an organisation called International Voluntary Service. About May 1983 he was informed by the secretary that the organisation had been informed by the Overseas Development Association, which was the British government wing, that they regarded the presence of the Schoons in the IVS programme in Botswana as endangering the lives of other British volunteers. The termination of their services was then negotiated. During June 1983 the British High Commissioner in Botswana informed the Schoons personally that he had information that there was conspiracy to kill Marius and he advised them to leave the country immediately. This was confirmed by Brigadier Hersfield, the head of the Special Branch in Botswana. They were told that if they did not leave they would be declared prohibited immigrants within a fortnight. They reported it to the ANC who reported it to Lusaka headquarters. The ANC instructed them to redeploy to Lusaka. Jenny and the children drove to Lusaka whilst Marius left by air from Francistown for safety reasons and not from Gaberone as could be expected.

In Lusaka they lived in a house with Mahoti, Secretary of Education for the ANC at the time and the person who previously held a very senior position in the Internal Political Committee in Botswana. They still felt threatened and were periodically told to vacate the place where they were sleeping and to go somewhere else for the night because a South African raid was expected. Shortly thereafter the ANC indicated that they received a request from the Angolan government to supply English teachers to tertiary institutions in Angola. After delays they left for Angola in December 1983 to go and teach at Lubango.

There was an exceptionally strong military presence at Lubango. It was previously during the first invasion of Angola by the South African troops, the headquarters of the SADF. At that stage (December 1983) the SADF again invaded Angola. There were Cuban vehicles and troops in the streets all the time and the airport in Lubango was bombed by the SADF on several occasions. There was also a strong presence of SWAPO with whom the SADF at the time were engaged in war. In the town of Lubango there was hooting almost every night and Cuban helicopters would fly day and night. There were only two other South Africans there at the time, both teaching a the same university. On request of the ANC either Marius or Jenny from about the end of February 1984 would spend a few days once a month in Luanda at the ANC's head office to assist in the planning of the ANC's development projects around Luanda involving ANC members. It was during one of these visits by Marius to Luanda that Jenny and their daughter Katryn were killed by a letter bomb. The son, Fritz, was severely affected by this killing which he witnessed and it haunted him for several years to come.

Williamson and to a lesser extent Raven, testified about the events leading up to the killing of Jeanette and Katryn.

As already indicated both Marius and Jeanette fled the country while they were serving banning orders imposed on them because of their opposition to the apartheid government. They settled in Botswana where they actively promoted the ANC's cause. Whilst there, attempts were made to kill them and that caused them to move to Lusaka and later to be redeployed at Lubango as lecturers.

Williamson testified that he was given an instruction early in 1984 to go to the office of Brigadier Piet Goosen. He had an intercepted communication believed to be from the ANC in Botswana addressed to Marius and Jeanette Schoon in Lubango. Goosen asked him to request Raven to prepare a letter bomb. As he knew the Schoons he had more interest in the envelope than he had in the Slovo case. He ordered Raven to prepare the bomb. Raven came back to him after a day or two and reported that he had to take it to Goosen. He testified that knowing that an attack was made on people he knew caused him great difficulty but in the context of the time they were enemies of the Security Forces. The objective was the same as in the Slovo case. They wanted to damage and weaken the ANC/Communist party Alliance through killing or injuring key personnel and to disrupt their operations. They wanted to psychologically destabilise them, sow fear and confusion in their ranks, particularly so by carrying out an attack in a so-called denied area where the ANC wouldn't expect them to be able to do so. The Schoons were regarded as long term opponents, with a relatively high political profile. It is also common cause that they were targeted in Botswana while they were working as teachers and at the same being involved in furthering the revolution against the South African government. They left Botswana when they became aware of the fact that they were targeted, went to Lusaka whereupon they were redeployed at Lubango in a military zone where they were surrounded by Cuban and Angolese troops. It was argued that they refrained from political involvement and were only doing academic work there.

The Applicants both testified that after handing the device to Goosen they did not play any further role in the sending of the bomb. Williamson said it took such a long time, months before they heard of the explosion, that he thought something had gone wrong and that the letter bomb didn't reach the Schoons.

The evidence about the actual explosion when Jenny presumably opened the letter in the absence of Marius but in the nearby presence of Kathryn which resulted in her own death and that of Katryn, has already been mentioned.

The hearing lasted over several weeks, the oral evidence run into thousands pages and exhibits of several hundreds of pages were filed. The above obviously is only a brief summary of the evidence.

The Committee had to consider whether the applications met the requirements of Act 34 of 1995 and more particular Section 20 of the aforesaid Act.

The Committee is satisfied that the applications were formally in order as required by Section 20(1)(a).

Section 20(1)(b) states that the act omission or offence should be an act associated with a political objective committed in the course of the conflicts of the past in accordance with the provisions of sub-sections (2) and (2).

Sub-section (2) requires inter alia the act in respect of which amnesty is sought to be an offence or delict.

The Committee is satisfied that the killings of Ruth First and of Jeanette Katryn Schoon were offences committed in the course of the conflicts of the past.

The Applicants were members of the Security Branch of the South African Police. As such they were employees of the State and qualify to be applicants in terms of sections 20(2)(b) and (f). They acted with the course and scope of their authority or duties and within the scope of their express or implied authority. The offences were directed against publicly known political organisations or liberation movements, the ANC and the SACP and/or against members or supporters of those organisations and was committed bona fide with the object of countering or resisting the struggle.

This section required the act to be directed against a political organisation or against any members or supporters of such organisation. Obviously Katryn Schoon at the age of six couldn't have been a member or supporter of a political party. On the evidence the attack was not directed against her. She was killed in what has often in amnesty hearings been referred by applicants on either side of the political struggle as the cross fire. It is obvious that once a weapon such as a letter bomb or a limpet mine or any kind of bomb is used, it must be foreseen that innocent civilians could also be killed. This happened in many cases and was also the tragic result in this case.

Williamson said that he didn't expect the Schoon children, the six year old Katryn and the 3 year old Fritz, to be with their parents in a military zone. He thought they were left in London with Jeanette's sister because the Security Police were aware that she visited her sister shortly after leaving Botswana and before, or at the time they were transferred to Lubango. This might have been so but it wouldn't exclude the possibility of other children or innocent bystanders being killed when an explosive device is chosen as weapon against a political enemy moving around in a society including civilians.

The Schoons as well as Ruth First were at the time of their death involved in lecturing at universities. It is, however, clear on the evidence that they were still involved in the struggle and hadn't bade farewell to politics.

The Schoons, according to Marius, were loyal supporters who at that stage would still have carried out any order given to them by their superiors. They knew they were targeted to be killed because of their activities and that was indeed the reason for them moving to Lubango where they were employed in education in a similar position which they occupied in Botswana while they were engaged in the struggle against the then government.

The Committee also had to consider the requirements of Section 20(3). It was argued on behalf of the victims that the motive of Williamson was not political but that he acted out of personal malice. There is no evidence that he chose the victims or that he ore any personal malice against Ruth First. As far as the Schoons are concerned he denies that he had knowledge that they regarded him with suspicion and sent in reports to Mr Maharaj. According to the evidence the investigation from ANC was very clandestine so as not to alert Williamson. It seems as though they have succeeded in not doing so. It is not disputed that Williamson's cover was broken as a result of the defection of a Security Police member who had documentary proof of Williamson's real activities. The Committee concludes that the motive was associated with a political objective to at least disadvantage and destabilise their political opponents in the course of the struggle.

The offences were committed in the context of the political struggle. Death of any human always a grave factor in all the unfortunate political killings. The fact that an innocent child was killed added to that and had to be taken into consideration.

The objective of the acts was considered and the Committee is satisfied that the offences were directed at political opponents.

Both Williamson and Raven testified that they acted under orders of Goosen. There is no evidence to contradict this.

The offences were meant to destabilise, demoralise and disadvantage the liberation forces. It might not have demoralised them, in fact it seems as though it had the opposite effect, but the deaths were severe blows to the ANC and SACP and shocked many people. According to the evidence that is what they wanted to achieve. The acts were in the result not disproportionate to their objectives.

Section 20(c) requires that an applicant should make a full disclosure of all relevant facts. The Committee is satisfied that all relevant facts have been disclosed but had reservations about one aspect. The applicants admitted that they played active roles in the killings of all the deceased and accepted responsibility for their deaths. They described the manner in which the devices were made and what the intention was. They explained cross-border operations and why they believed the offences were authorised by their superiors. They testified about political utterances to pursue so-called terrorists to wherever they may seek refuge.

The aspect that the Committee had reservations about is their knowledge of the addressees on the envelope. Williamson testified that he knew the second IED was addressed to Marius and Jeanette Schoon. Raven said he knew the IED's were destined to be sent to high-profile political opponents. He as technician and expert in explosives. Identifying targets and knowing about the political activities of opponents didn't fall with his domain.

Williamson said he also knew that the first IED would be sent to Slovo. Goosen told him so. It could have been to Joe Slovo care of Ruth First or to Joe Slovo and Ruth First or to Ruth First. The Security Police always referred to her as Ruth Slovo. It was put to him that there will, if need be, evidence from Pallo Jordan, Sue Rapkin and Bridgett O'Laughlin who were present when the envelope was opened, that the envelope was addressed to Ruth First. O'Laughlin did testify and said she never saw a name on the envelope. The other two weren't called.

There were other contradictions in the evidence of Williamson and Raven. This was to be expected after more than 15 years. The material facts were, however, revealed and the Committee is satisfied that the applicants as far as they could remember the details made a full disclosure of the relevant facts.

Amnesty is there GRANTED to both Applicants in respect of the following offences:

1. The murder of Ruth First in Maputo on 17 August 1984.

2. Any other offence directly linked to the above offence and directly connected to the evidence including the possession of explosives and transporting of an Improvised Explosive Device and the interception of mail.

3. the conspiracy to murder Joe Slovo and all offences directly linked thereto and attempts flowing therefrom.

4. The murder of Jeanette and Katryn Schoon at Lubango on 28 June 1984.

5. The conspiracy to murder Marius Schoon and all offences directly linked thereto and attempts flowing therefrom.

6. All other offences directly linked to the murder of the Schoons and directly connected to the evidence including the possession of explosives and transporting of an Improvised Explosive Device and the interception of mail.

The Committee is of the opinion that the next-of-kin of Ruth First and Jeanette Schoon should be declared victims in terms of Section 22 of Act 34 of 1995.


SIGNED at CAPE TOWN this day of 2000