June 18, 1999


Four Security Police involved in the abduction and killing of three leaders of the Blacks Civics Organisation (Pebco) in Port Elizabeth were refused amnesty today by the Amnesty Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

All the applicants arise out of disappearance of what is known as the Pebco Three leaders, Sipho Hashe, Qaqawuli Godolozi and Champion Galela. The three community leaders were abducted at the Port Elizabeth airport on May 8, 1985 and subsequently murdered near Cradock on a farm known as Post Chalmers. Their bodies were collected, burnt and thrown into the Fish River, according to the applicants.

The amnesty applications were heard in Port Elizabeth in November 1997. The amnesty applications by the Security Police were opposed by the widows of the three leaders on the basis that there was no full disclosure.

Those refused amnesty are Herman Barend Du Plessis, former Commanding Officer of the Security Police in Port Elizabeth, Johannes Martin Van Zyl, Gideon Niewoudt and Gerhardus Johannes Lotz, all attached to the Security Branch.

Du Plessis was refused amnesty for conspiring, ordering the abduction and murder of the three deceased.

Van Zyl, Niewoudt and Lotz were refused amnesty for abduction and murder of the three leaders. The reason for refusal being the failure to make a full disclosure in respect of the assaults. The Committee said it would be too artificial and absurd in the circumstances of the case to separate the two offences as they were both committed in a continuous chain of events.

Another Security Police officer Gerhardus Cornelius Beeslaar was refused amnesty for offences of abduction and assault on Sipho Hashe. The Committee found that Beeslaar has not shown that he had any political objective when he assaulted Hashe. Beeslaar has not made a good impression to the committee and his evidence displayed a selective memory of the events. "He has not disclosed his part in and knowledge of the role of others in the assaults and torture".

The committee also refused amnesty to Van Zyl because there was no evidence that he had any political objective when he took possession of the said firearm in 1975 and the fact that it was used in 1985 in the elimination of the Pebco 3, does automatically alter its possession into an offence associated with a political objective. Van Zyl was also refused amnesty for unlawful possession of an unlicensed firearm and defeating the ends of justice.

The committee refused amnesty to Johannes Koole for abduction of the Pebco 3 and assault on Hashe and Godolozi.

The only senior Security Police Officer who was granted amnesty in respect of conspiring and ordering the abduction and murder of the Pebco 3, was former Head of Security Police in Port Elizabeth, Harold Snyman. Snyman failed to attend his amnesty hearing because of health reasons and he has since died.

Also granted amnesty was Kimani Peter Mogoai an Askari in respect of the abduction of the three leaders and for assault on Hashe and Godolozi. The committee declared the widows of the three leaders as victims for purposes of Rehabilitation and Reparation.

A former ANC Cadre and Askari, Joe Mamasela was the only witness who gave different evidence about the events leading to the abduction and killing of the three leaders. The committee found that Mamasela was alone in his evidence that all Vlakplaas group members and a members of Security Police were involved in what he described as a brutal torture and murder of the deceased after they were abducted.

The applicants claimed that the three leaders has to be killed because they posed a danger being involved in the underground operation of the ANC in Port Elizabeth.

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