16 February 1999
AMNESTY DECISION ON DEATH OF STEVE BIKO
Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Four former officers of the security branch in Port Elizabeth who applied for amnesty for the murder of Black Consciousness leader Steve Bantu Biko in September 1977, were this week refused amnesty by the Amnesty Committee of the TRC and their applications were dismissed.
The for officers are Major Harold Snyman who led the investigation team that interrogated Biko, Daniel Petrus Siebert, a former bodyguard to Prime Minister B.J. Vorster, Jacobus Johannes Oosthuysen Beneke, and the 76-year-old Rubin Marx.
Their accomplice and fifth applicant, Gideon Johannes Nieuwoudt, whose application was heard by a different amnesty panel, was refused amnesty in December last year.
In refusing amnesty to the four applicants, the committee based its decision on the following reasons
The three-member amnesty panel that refused amnesty on the Biko matter was made up of Judge Hassan Mall, Judge Denzil Potgieter and Advocate Ntsiki Sandi. The panel also officially declared the next of kin of Mr Biko as victims (of gross human rights violations) in relation to his killing and therefore entitled to appropriate reparation.
- The killing of Biko was not an act associated with a political objective as required by the Amnesty Act.
- The committee was not satisfied that the applicants had made a full disclosure as further required by the Act.
- It was not satisfied that the applicants testified truthfully to the events leading to the injury of Biko and further concluded that the applicants' version of how Biko sustained the fatal head injury, to be "so improbable and contradictory that it had to be rejected as false."
- Instead, the committee concluded that the attack on Biko appeared to have been actuated by ill-will or spite towards him.
- Finally the committee said it was satisfied that the killing of Biko was wholly disproportionate to any possible objective pursued by the applicants, particularly the stated one of extracting information or admission from Biko with a view to a possible criminal prosecution