Three ANC Guerrillas Sentenced to Death
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Three African National Congress guerrillas who refused to take part in their murder trial because they claimed to be prisoners of war were sentenced to death today for four killings.
The three wore olive-green military uniforms with ANC colors throughout the proceedings.
Their only active role in the trial came Tuesday, when one read a statement that said: ″We are soldiers in a patriotic army struggling to establish democracy and peace. We believe that we are prisoners of war.″
In an unusual procedure, the men’s families were allowed to present evidence during the sentencing phase of the trial when the defendants refused to do so. The death penalty is mandatory for a murder conviction unless evidence shows there were mitigating circumstances.
Supreme Court Justice Marius de Klerk found there were none. He sentenced Jabu Masina, 36, Ting-Ting Masango, 28, and Neo Potsane, 27, for killing two black policemen, a black town council member, and the council member’s sister- in law.
The defendents also each received a 25-year prison sentence for attempted murder in connection with a 1986 bombing at a bus stop, in which 17 people were injured, and for setting a mine on a road mainly used by military vehicles.
A fourth defendant, Joseph Makhura, 26, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in connection with the bomb and land mine.
The four had been convicted March 2.
The trial took place in the farming town of Delmas, northeast of Johannesburg. No execution date was set.
Masina read the defendants’ statement Tuesday before a packed gallery of more than 200 people chanting, ″Viva ANC 3/8″
″We say that the present South African government has no authority, no moral or legal right to rule over the people of this country,″ he said. ″It is therefore our duty to bring this crime to an end, to remove this illegal state.″
″If we are hanged, our death will not be in vain,″ the statement said. ″Those who come after us will undoubtedly complete our mission in life.″
The statement said the ANC had not taken up arms until after it was outlawed in 1960, and ″it is contrary to the policy of the ANC to select targets whose sole objective is to strike at civilians.″
Without referring to the bus stop bomb, Masina said: ″There may be situations where individual combatants go beyond policy and commit acts which cannot be condoned.″
Under apartheid, South Africa’s 28 million blacks have no vote in national affairs and must maintain separate housing districts from the 5 million whites, who control the economy. The ANC is fighting to overthrow the government and permit everyone to vote.