The Saint James Church massacre was a massacre
perpetrated on St James Church of England in South Africa in Kenilworth, Cape Town
, South Africa
, on 25 July 1993 by four members of the Azanian People's Liberation Army
(APLA). Eleven members of the congregation were killed and 58 wounded. In 1998 the attackers were granted amnesty for their acts by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The attack occurred during the Sunday evening service. Sichumiso Nonxuba, Bassie Mkhumbuzi, Gcinikhaya Makoma and Tobela Mlambisa approached the church, a congregation of the Church of England in South Africa
, in a vehicle stolen by Mlambisa and Makoma beforehand. Nonxuba, who commanded the unit, and Makoma entered the church armed with M26 hand grenade
s and R4 assault rifle
They threw the grenades and then opened fire on the congregation, killing 11 and wounding 58.
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development website
doj.gov.za; accessed 3 December 2017.
One member of the congregation, Charl van Wyk, who wrote a book about the event (''Shooting Back: the right and duty of self defense''), returned fire with a .38 special
revolver, wounding one of the attackers. At this point they fled the church. Mkhumbuzi had been ordered to throw four petrol bombs into the church following the shooting, but abandoned this intention as all four fled in the vehicle.
Members of the congregation killed were Guy Cooper Javens, Richard Oliver O'Kill, Gerhard Dennis Harker, Wesley Alfonso Harker, Denise Gordon, Mirtle Joan Smith, Marita Ackermann, Andrey Katyl, Oleg Karamjin, Valentin Varaksa and Pavel Valuet.
The last four on this list were Russian seamen attending the service as part of a church outreach programme. Another Russian seaman, Dmitri Makogon, lost both legs and an arm in the attack. The attack was seen as particularly shocking as relatively few terrorist attacks happened in the suburbs and the Cape Town
area was regarded as relatively peaceful. The attack was seen as harming prospects for future constitutional negotiation.
Arrest and trial
Makoma was arrested ten days later and convicted for 11 murders. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Nonxuba, Mlambisa and Mkhumbuzi were subsequently arrested and charged in 1996. Mkhumbuzi had in the meantime joined the South African National Defence Force
In 1997, while on trial, Nonxuba, Mlambisa and Mkhumbuzi appealed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
for amnesty, together with Makoma. They were granted bail pending their appearance before the TRC. Nonxuba died in a car accident while on bail in November 1996.
Makoma, Mkhumbuzi and Mlambisa were all granted amnesty
for the St James Church attack by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
As a result, Makoma was freed after serving only 5½ years of his sentence, and the trial of Mkhumbuzi and Mlambisa was never completed. In this and other APLA amnesty hearings, APLA operatives claimed that they were following their orders and that churches were complicit in taking land from the blacks and oppressing them during apartheid
In statements made to the representatives of St James church they added they were unaware the selected target was a church until they arrived in Kenilworth. Dawie Ackerman, husband of one of the victims, noted that perhaps 35–40% of the congregation were people of colour, with the counsel for the APLA saying they had assumed all congregants would be white as the church was in a white area.
, national director of operations for APLA, took responsibility for ordering the attacks as part of his application for amnesty. He claimed that he had authorised attacks on white civilians following the killing of five school children by the Transkei Defence Force
Amnesty in such cases was typically granted in terms of the TRC's mandate because the crimes were considered politically motivated, with the perpetrators following the orders of the APLA commanders, and full disclosure was made to the TRC. Although amnesty was granted to the individual perpetrators, the TRC found the act itself, and other APLA/PAC attacks specifically targeting civilians, were "a gross violation of human rights" and a "violation of internal ic
Several of the church members who were injured or who lost family members in the attacks, as well as Charl van Wyk, who had returned fire on the attackers, later met and publicly reconciled with the APLA attackers.
On 27 August 2002, Gcinikhaya Makoma was arrested along with six others following a cash-in-transit heist of a Standard Bank
cash van in Constantia, Cape Town
, in which R1.8 million was stolen.
He and the others were later acquitted, with the magistrate finding that the prosecution case had been badly put together and that documents had been falsified by an investigating officer.
Makoma was eventually convicted on 16 February 2012 of murder and robbery and sentenced to life and 46 years in prison for his role in a December 2007 cash van heist in Parow, Cape Town
In October 2004, Charl Van Wyk became a founding member of Gun Owners of South Africa
(GOSA), an online civilian gun rights
ownership group, which is involved in public demonstrations against the Firearms Control Act.
*Heidelberg Tavern massacre
*List of massacres in South Africa
*Navaly Church massacre
, Sri Lanka
St James Church Website
* ttp://www.frontline.org.za/articles/christians_underfire.htm Frontline Fellowship response to the attacksTRC Amnesty findings
Category:1990s murders in South Africa
Category:1993 crimes in South Africa
Category:1993 in South Africa
Category:1993 murders in Africa
Category:Conflicts in 1993
Category:Azanian People's Liberation Army
Category:Events associated with apartheid
Category:Mass murder in 1993
Category:Massacres in religious buildings and structures
Category:Massacres in South Africa
Category:People murdered in South Africa
Category:Racially motivated violence against white people
Category:Terrorist incidents in Africa in 1993
Category:Terrorist incidents in South Africa
Category:Terrorist incidents in South Africa in the 1990s