Three ANC Members Face Hanging; Decline Legal Help
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Three African National Congress guerrillas will be sentenced to death next week unless they start participating in their murder trial, a judge said Friday.
The three guerrillas, who have been convicted of murder, and a co- defendant, who has been convicted of attempted murder, have refused to accept legal representation or enter pleas.
In a statement when the trial began last month, they said they do not recognize the authority of the court and consider themselves prisoners of war.
Supreme Court Justice M.M. de Klerk, presiding at the trial in the farming town of Delmas, told the men Friday he would have no choice but to issue death sentences for the murder convictions unless they change their stance.
A murder conviction carries an automatic death sentence in South Africa unless defense lawyers successfully argue there were mitigating circumstances.
The convictions involve four killings, including two of policemen, between 1978 and 1985. All four victims were black.
The four defendants also were convicted of attempted murder in connection with a 1986 bombing in Pretoria which injured 17 people.
Those who face death are Jabu Masina, 36; Frans Masango, 28, and Neo Potsane, 26. The fourth convicted person is Joseph Makhura.
The African National Congress is the biggest guerrilla movement fighting to end South Africa’s legal system of race discrimination. When the Pretoria regime outlawed it in 1960, the congress began a bombing and sabotage campaign. In a separate murder trial, four members of a black transport workers union face the death sentence after a Johannesburg judge this week rejected their arguments in mitigation.
The four were convicted of killing four fellow workers who refused to join a 1987 strike against the state transport company. Sentencing is due Thursday.
In another Johannesburg court case, a judge Friday upheld a six-year prison sentence issued to conscientious objector David Bruce, a 25-year-old white who refuses to perform compulsory military service.
Supreme Court Justice A.J. Heyns said the courts have no discretion in administering a law that punishes draft resisters with prison terms one-and-a- half times the length of the military service they refuse to perform.