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Three Sentenced to Death for Bombings, Killings

April 28, 1989

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ A Supreme Court justice on Thursday sentenced to death three uniformed guerrillas of the African National Congress for four killings and a bombing at a bus stop.

The men refused to take part in their trial, saying they were prisoners of war. They wore olive-green military uniforms with ANC colors throughout the proceedings at the farming town of Delmas, northeast of Johannesburg.

On Tuesday, one read a statement on behalf of himself and his comrades which said in part: ″We are soldiers in a patriotic army struggling to establish democracy and peace. We believe that we are prisoners of war.″

The court let the men’s families present evidence in mitigation of sentence when the men themselves would not. The defendants were convicted of murder on March 2, making the death penalty mandatory unless mitigating circumstances were shown.

Supreme Court Justice Marius de Klerk found none existed. He sentenced Jabu Masina, 36, Ting-Ting Masango, 28, and Neo Potsane, 27, for murdering two black policemen, a black town councilor, and the councilor’s sister-in law.

No execution date was set.

The three also were sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempted murder in a 1986 bus stop bombing that injured 17 people and in setting a mine on a road used mainly by military vehicles.

A fourth defendant, Joseph Makhura, 26, drew 25 years in prison in connection with the bombing and mining.

Masina read a statement on Tuesday that said:

″We say that the present South African government has no authority, no moral or legal right to rule over the people of this country. 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. Those who come after us will undoubtedly complete our mission in life.″

Prosecutor Harry Prinsloo said the men committed ″planned, cold-blooded murders″ in pursuit of political objectives.

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