Baha'i News -- Freed killer also jailed for robbery

Freed killer also jailed for robbery

By Ncedo Kumbaca
Court Reporter

EAST LONDON -- Former Apla cadre Dumisani Ncamazana, recently released through the controversial special presidential pardon, was also convicted of armed robbery after the 1994 elections.

Court records show that Ncamazana, 27, was sentenced in the regional court here on December19, 1997, to 10 years' jail for an armed robbery at BRMDelta Garage in Fort Beaufort on June18, 1994.

Ncamazana locked petrol attendant Swartman Phumezo Dumo in an office, fired into the office window and robbed the garage of R12572.

He and a policeman were arrested two days later at Tinise in Fort Beaufort. Police seized a suitcase of clothing, cold drinks, cans of oil, an R4 rifle and ammunition. Ncamazana was the only person convicted.

Ncamazana was one of 33 ANC and PAC prisoners granted special pardons by President Thabo Mbeki in mid-May.

Their applications were supported by Eastern Cape Premier Makhenkesi Stofile.

Ncamazana, along with two others, is currently charged with the murder of Sugar Shack Delicatessen owner Martin Whitaker, 35, in an armed robbery on May27, just two weeks after he was released.

Yesterday, Mbeki's spokesperson, Bheki Khumalo, refused to explain why Ncamazana had been pardoned for the June 1994 armed robbery as well as his pre-1994 activities. He referred the Daily Dispatch to Justice Department spokesperson Paul Setsetse.

Setsetse emphasised that the pardons were not political and accused "opportunistic political parties" of distorting information about the procedure used to select people who qualified.

"This is not an amnesty process. It is not about crimes which are political. Instead we checked the circumstances under which the crimes were committed, not the year. I think we are also fully aware of this armed robbery case," he said.

Setsetse said those pardoned should have already served a lengthy jail term. "The applicant should have served at least over a period of 10 years. The president also considers whether it is in the public interest for a person to be released."

Ncamazana spent less than eight years in jail, including time spent awaiting trial.

After his arrest in 1994 and conviction three years later for the Fort Beaufort robbery, he was also sentenced in connection with various attacks carried out before the 1994 elections and linked to Apla.

He was jailed for 18 years for attacks on the Highgate Hotel and on a bus of Da Gama Textiles employees. In April 1999, he was sentenced to another 85 years -- an effective 25 years -- for killing three Baha'i Faith Mission members in Mdantsane.

He was granted amnesty for some but not all incidents by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Apla commander Xolile Ngxabani (alias Jimmy Jones) told the commission he had not sanctioned the attacks Ncamazana was involved in as they took place after then PAC president Clarence Makwetu's call to suspend the armed struggle.

In October, 1999, the PAC said that Ncamazana and other Apla members had applied for a presidential pardon.

The same day the pardon bid was announced, Ncamazana and others -- including notorious Eastern Cape gangster Mzimasi "MacGyver" Thungulu -- escaped from Middledrift Maximum Security Prison.

Ncamazana was later recaptured in Mdantsane.

* Today Ncamazana, his younger brother Sinikiwe, 23, and Luntu Nguye, 21, will appear in the regional court here for a bail application in the Whitaker case.

©Copyright 2002, Dispatch (South Africa)

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