St James killer guilty of another murder
Johannesburg - One of the shooters in the St James Church massacre was found guilty in court of committing murder again, Beeld newspaper reported on Thursday.
On Tuesday Western Cape High Court Judge Pat Gamble found Gcinikhaya Makoma and his eight co-accused guilty on a number of charges related to a cash-in-transit heist in 2007 along Duiker Street in Parow, Cape Town.
A security guard was shot dead and two others seriously wounded when the group of men opened fire at a Fidelity Guards cash van in December of that year.
Constable Siphokazi Mawisa said at the time that the van had been forced to come to a standstill after the robbers rammed it with two vehicles.
The robbers were then caught by police after they abandoned their getaway car at Florida Parks Sports Ground and tried to run away on foot.
An AK47 rifle, an R5 rifle, a 9mm pistol and a .38-special revolver were confiscated. Both vehicles used to ram the van were reported to have been stolen in November 2007.
This week, Makoma was subsequently found guilty on a charge of murder, four of attempted murder and one of robbery.
The State said on Wednesday it would ask for a sentence of life imprisonment for Makoma.
Makoma was a member of the Azanian People's Liberation Army (Apla) - the liberation wing of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) - when he took part in the St James massacre in Kenilworth in Cape Town in July 1993.
He was subsequently found guilty on 11 charges of murder, 58 counts of attempted murder and the unlawful possession of arms and ammunition and sentenced to 23 years in jail.
However, in 1998, he received amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
During the TRC hearings, Makoma also applied for amnesty for his role in a police ambush in Khayelitsha in the run up to the country's 1994 democratic elections.
The St James attack
In testimony towards his St James massacre amnesty application, Makoma said that he and another Apla member stole a car at gunpoint to be used in the attack.
They then picked up two other members at a taxi rank and proceeded to the church.
It was only in the car that their unit leader, Lester Nonxuba - who has since died - gave the orders for the attack.
Makoma said that he was given an R4 rifle and a hand grenade. He was told to throw the hand grenade once he was inside and to then shoot indiscriminately at the congregation once inside the church.
Makoma said he used his full R4 magazine of about 31 rounds of ammunition while shooting.
At the time, Makoma testified that, as an Apla operative, he was trained not to question orders but to obey them at all times.
Acknowledging the victims
The amnesty committee then ruled that it accepted Makoma and his fellow applicants were members of Apla.
"We accept that the applicants believed that by executing the orders of their commander they were advancing the struggle which the PAC was waging against the National Party-led government for the return of the land to the African people."
After the amnesty ruling, at the time, then Pan Africanist Congress president Stanley Mogoba reached out to the families of the 11 people killed in the church.
"We are, at last, happy to see that the amnesty committee is releasing our cadres who have languished in prison for politically motivated activity," Mogoba said in a statement.
However, "in our joy, we do not forget the families of those who have been victims of our operations", he said.
"We acknowledge them and join them in our commitment to working for a South Africa that is free of violence and truly democratic."