Nieuwoudt charged for Pebco 3

2004-02-11 15:13

Port Elizabeth - Former security police colonel Gideon Nieuwoudt has been arrested and charged for the deaths of the so-called Pebco Three in 1985, the Scorpions said on Wednesday.

The Scorpions, part of the National Prosecuting Authority, arrested Nieuwoudt in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday morning.

He later briefly appeared in the city's magistrate's court and was released on R50 000 bail.

The "Pebco Three" were killed in May 1985. It emerged at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that the security police had been responsible for the torture-deaths of Qaquwili Godolozi, Champion Galela and Sipho Hashe.

All three were members of the then Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation (Pebco), an affiliate of the now defunct United Democratic Front, then widely seen as the internal wing of the still-exiled African National Congress.

Scorpions spokesperson Makhosini Nkosi said on Wednesday Nieuwoudt faced three charges of murder, three of kidnapping and three of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

He will next appear in court on June 3.

In June 1999 the TRC refused Nieuwoudt and his accomplices amnesty for the crimes.

A statement at the time said the three community leaders were abducted at the Port Elizabeth airport on May 8, 1985 and subsequently murdered near Cradock on a farm known as Post Chalmers.

Their bodies were then burnt and thrown into the Fish River.

Amnesty was denied after the TRC found Nieuwoudt as well as Herman Barend Du Plessis (former commanding officer of the security police in Port Elizabeth), Johannes Martin Van Zyl and Gerhardus Johannes Lotz had failed to make a full disclosure of their crime as required by law.

Apartheid atrocities

Nkosi said a warrant of arrest has been issued for Van Zyl, who is currently out of the country.

Nieuwoudt's name recurs in apartheid era atrocities in the Eastern Cape.

He was present at the interrogation of Black Consciousness leader Steve Bantu Biko and was linked to the killing of the "Cradock Four", another group of Eastern Cape civic activists, in 1985.

He is also facing trial in connection with a bomb blast in 1989 outside a police station in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth.

In 1999 the TRC refused Nieuwoudt amnesty in that case.

Nieuwoudt, with Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock and several others, was found responsible for the death of Warrant Officer Mbalala Glen Mgoduka, Sergeant Amos Temba Faku, Sergeant Desmond Daliwonga Mpipa and Xolile Shepherd Sekati.

The four had been stealing cheques sent through the post. Police were under pressure to charge them for these thefts, but the deceased had allegedly threatened to expose the unlawful activities of the security police. So they were killed.

Nieuwoudt has appealed the TRC's ruling. A decision is expected next month.

In the meantime, he is also on bail of R50 000 for that case.

Nieuwoudt was, however, granted amnesty in March 2000 for poisoning to death Congress of South African Students leader Siphiwo Mthimkulu and his companion Topsy Madaka.

Nkosi said the Scorpions and the NPA's priority crimes litigation unit were probing the Cradock killings as well as others. More arrests were expected.