EAST LONDON April 1 1998 - SAPA

APLA CADRE APOLOGISES TO FAMILIES OF EAST CAPE VICTIMS

Former Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army cadre Dumisani Ncamazana on Wednesday told the TRC's amnesty committee he was sorry for his part in terror attacks on whites in East London shortly before the 1994 elections, and asked the victims' families for forgiveness.

Ncamazana and Zukile Mbambo are seeking amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for their roles in three military attacks in March 1994.

The two are serving lengthy jail terms for a machine gun attack on a vehicle along the Berlin-East London road, a handgrenade blast at the Highgate Hotel and an attack on a Da Gama Textiles bus transporting employees.

Ncamazana, 22, of Scenery Park, gave a detailed account of how the attacks were planned at a place known as Mama's Restaurant in Butterworth under the instructions of commander Jimmy Jacobs.

He said his accomplices, some of whom had since died, began their "total annihilation" mission with an ambush of a minibus ferrying white teachers to the Mdantsane-based John Knox Bokwe College on March 11, 1994.

When the minibus approached the ambush spot, they fired on it with an assortment of machine guns before fleeing.

Cross-examined by his attorney, Sally Collett, Ncamazana said he did not know what happened to the vehicle's occupants.

Although he was never arrested for the attack, he had decided to seek amnesty, he said.

Their next attack was on worshippers at the Baha'i Faith Mission at NU2 on March 13, where Houshmand Anvari, Riaz Razavi and Dr Shamam Bakhshandegi were lined up against a wall and gunned down with automatic weapons.

Ncamazana said that on entering the premises, they found a white man painting the door and forced him at gunpoint inside the church building, where there were about 30 people.

"TNT (Mfundisi) then shouted that the whites should move to one side and the Africans to the other. The people obeyed," he said.

One of the attackers then searched the three whites for car keys and money, and a vehicle was selected to make their getaway.

After the three men were shot dead, the group drove in one of the victims' cars to a coloured township in Butterworth, where they reported to Jacobs and left the car and weapons.

Ncamazana told the commission that as he had been stationed at the church entrance, he never took part in the shooting of the three churchmen.

Responding to a question, he said that as soldiers they were not there to differentiate between their intended victims' nationalities, "as long as they were white, they were regarded as part of the enemy and supporters of the regime".

The Bahai massacre was followed by other attacks such as the shooting of the Da Gama Textiles bus ferrying about 40 employees on March 28. A policeman and two gunmen died in that attack. In an aborted grenade attack on the Highgate Hotel, no-one was injured.

The hearings continue on Thursday.


South African Press Association, 1998
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