DATE: 12-07-1999



DAY: 1

--------------------------------------------------------------------------CHAIRPERSON: My name is Judge Ronnie Pillay and I'm going to ask my colleagues here next to me to identify themselves for the purpose of the record and so too the different representatives.

ADV SIGODI: I'm Adv Sibongile Sigodi. I am practising in the Port Elizabeth Bar.

ADV DE JAGER: I'm Adv Chris de Jager.

MR NDOU: My name is Patrick Ndou. I am an attorney practising here in Thohoyandou.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Thank you Mr Chairman. My name is van Rensburg S J from Kriek and van Rensburg Attorneys, Tzaneen. In this hearing I represent the victims.

MS PATEL: Thank you Honourable Chairperson. Ramula Patel, Leader of Evidence.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, before we proceed I just want to mention something for everybody to hear. We are making use of interpreters. I don't know which languages are required other than English, but I'm sure there are. I would advise those who are not eloquent enough in the English language to use the facilities and listen to the hearing in the language of their choice. If there is any problem especially from those applicants or members of the families of the victims or the victims themselves, please draw my attention to it. I trust that their legal representatives will do so.

This is an unusual application. It has been made a bit difficult because certain facts weren't put before us in good time. I have had a talk to the respective representatives and explained to them what the proceedings and procedures are intended to achieve and I asked them to explain it to the various parties. I trust that they have done so.

Mr van Rensburg, just for the record, would you tell us what the basis for any opposition, if at all, there is before we proceed so that the applicants can deal with it if necessary?

MR VAN RENSBURG: Thank you Mr Chairman. The basis of the opposition is basically twofold. In the first instance the victims are of the opinion that the crimes committed by the applicants were not politically motivated as described and defined by the Act and on this point they are of the opinion that it was more witchcraft related, alternatively jealousy, that caused the crimes, meaning a personal malice element was on the foreground and then in the second place the victims are of the opinion that there was no full disclosure of the relevant facts as required by the Act.

CHAIRPERSON: On what basis do they raise the second, the applicants have not testified yet?

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, that is indeed a fact, I have explained to them that it can be, or that the applications can be amended and supplemented by their testimonies.

CHAIRPERSON: I see, as it stands now.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, as it stands now.

CHAIRPERSON: It implies then that that leg may just fall away eventually.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, it is possible.

CHAIRPERSON: I understand. Thank you.

Mr Ndou, you may proceed.

MR NDOU: Honourable Members, firstly I wish to thank you for having given us this opportunity to come and listen to us. What we have here, initially we had 12 applicants. Now out of the 12 applicants, 3 applications have since been refused by the Amnesty Committee and as such, at this stage we'll keep them from the application for now.

CHAIRPERSON: Who are those 3?

MR NDOU: It's number 2727/96 Rambia D A.

CHAIRPERSON: There is a list of applicants listed on that first couple of pages.

MR NDOU: Yes, it's the last three.

CHAIRPERSON: The last three on the first page.

MR NDOU: Yes, Rambia, Maheba and Makatho.

CHAIRPERSON: That is 2727,

MR NDOU: And 4300 and 4319.

CHAIRPERSON: Let me just get that.

MR NDOU: May I proceed?


ADV DE JAGER: It's actually not the last three. They're on page 71, page 130 and page 139.

MR NDOU: Yes, that's right. The one appearing on page 139 is the 4319. Now as it is, although initially we had thought that it would be one application, since this matter has already gone past and it's been refused, we have decided that we, for now, will not deal with it, so we'll deal with the remaining 9.

Now what we have done, I wish to appraise the Committee about the fact that we have prepared a background document, just to appraise the Committee about the background to this application before we can bring in individual applicants to come and testify. We have also thought it wise to first, before we bring any applicants in, just to consolidate on the background, to bring in Prof Ralushai, who was the Chairman of the Commission into Witchcraft, Violence and other related matters, so as to give the Committee a feel about the position as it prevailed in Venda at the time. Thank you. May I proceed?


MR NDOU: Now as background we indicate that the following further evidence will be led. We will start way back in 1979 when the area of Venda was excised from the Republic of South Africa. CHAIRPERSON: Have you got a copy of that document you're reading from?

MR NDOU: In fact we will prepare the document later on Chair, we will make copies for you because it was hand-written, it was not typed.

CHAIRPERSON: Don't you want to lead that evidence then when that is done, because it helps us follow it.

MR NDOU: There's no problem with that.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, then I think you wait till you're ready with the typed copies of the document then you lead that evidence then.

MR NDOU: Okay. Thank you. So what I'll do then is to call Prof Ralushai to come to the witness stand.

CHAIRPERSON: How do you spell his name first?

MR NDOU: R - A - L - U - S - H - A - I

CHAIRPERSON: And how do you pronounce that?

MR NDOU: Ralushai.


MR NDOU: That's right. And the initials V N.



CHAIRPERSON: Which language would you prefer to use?

PROF RALUSHAI: English, Sir.

CHAIRPERSON: Are you quite comfortable with English?


PROF V N RALUSHAI: (sworn states)

EXAMINATION BY MR NDOU: Prof Ralushai, we have called you here to come and testify before the Amnesty Committee about your knowledge about witchcraft matters and other related issues and I will ask you questions so that you can clarify the Committee about the position. I understand that you were the Chairman of a Commission that had been appointed by the government to look into witchcraft matters and other related issues. Is that correct?

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct, Sir.

CHAIRPERSON: When was that?

MR NDOU: And when was that?

PROF RALUSHAI: 1995, I estimate.

CHAIRPERSON: So it was in 1995?


MR NDOU: Now would you explain to the Committee as to what you did when you conducted your research. What is it that you did when you conducted your research and investigation?

PROF RALUSHAI: When the government appointed a Commission of Inquiry on Witchcraft and Violence and Ritual Murder, we were about 12. Six people worked in Lebowa and some parts of the old Gazankulu and another six people worked in the whole Republic of Venda.

Now how did we work? We went to different troubled areas and in each area people were interviewed as follows: We interviewed traditional doctors separately from certain ministers of church.

CHAIRPERSON: You said you interviewed certain traditional doctors?

PROF RALUSHAI: Yes. Those who were present and 2, we also interviewed members of different religious, religions, church, representing their own religious denomination. Then also interviewed local structures such Sanco or Civics and we also interviewed other people who had agreed to form themselves into groups. That's all I can remember.

MR NDOU: And do you still remember as to how long this process took you to finalise?

PROF RALUSHAI: It took us roughly two years.

MR NDOU: I see. Now I just want us to go into the definition of terms. What would you say, what is a witch to you?

PROF RALUSHAI: Of course there are different interpretations. If taken from the traditional African point of view, a witch will be somebody who is capable of causing ill luck or death to the person that he doesn't want.

MR NDOU: I see. And what was your brief in the Commission?

CHAIRPERSON: Could you repeat that definition slowly please?

MR NDOU: Okay. Can you repeat so that the Honourable Committee can understand the definition as you put it.

PROF RALUSHAI: A witch is supposed to be a person who is endowed with powers of causing illness or ill luck or death to the person that he wants to destroy.

MR NDOU: And you say it took you two years to go about trying to come up with what is contained in the report?

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct, Sir.

MR NDOU: And you say what is contained in your report is the end result of your troubles over a two year period?

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct, Sir.

MR NDOU: Now if one goes through the report, there are certain things inside, certain submissions that are made here. How do you link the position as it prevailed in the traditional sense witchcraft with what transpired from the period after Pres Mphephu's death in 1988 to the time when former Pres Nelson Mandela was released? Are you able to put up a link thereto?

PROF RALUSHAI: Well, I'll try. Traditionally people who were accused of practising witchcraft were not burned as it happened, nor were they killed. This happened only in extremely cases, otherwise people who were accused of having been responsible for killing others through witchcraft, were tried in a tribal court and then there would be certain judgments, eg the person accused of having caused witchcraft would be expelled from one trouble area to another area, he was not killed, but during the late 1980's when there was too much violence in the Reef, violence which was definitely politically motivated in the Reef, this side all of a sudden something which the people never had done before ...(intervention).

CHAIRPERSON: Was banishment from an area the worst type of punishment in those days?

PROF RALUSHAI: I'd say banishment was one of the worst but at least in some cases if a member, or perhaps if the person killed was a member of the royal family, depending on the feelings of that particular chief, that person could be killed and how was he killed? In certain places they would tie his legs, throw him into a river pool. In other cases they will thrown him into a ravine, but the issue of burning of human beings as it happened in the 1990's was quite unique, we never had it before.

MR NDOU: Now what would attribute to this sudden change of pattern?

PROF RALUSHAI: I'll give the reason as follows: In urban areas people who were not toeing perhaps the current thinking, people were said to be spies, in certain areas found themselves being labelled enemies of progressive movements and such people were unfortunately banned, but the Northern Province being one of the least politically aware areas, would not just join in that burning of people. Those who were behind burning of people in urban areas, had to seek what is it that could make the countryside ungovernable and they found this area was very, very ripe. Why? This area ...(intervention).

ADV DE JAGER: Professor, could you go a bit slower? We want to take notes of what you're saying.

PROF RALUSHAI: Sorry. Okay, I'll try my best. In urban areas people who were regarded as enemies of liberation movements, some of them were necklaced. We didn't have that type of a thing in this particular place, but the people who were behind necklacing of people in urban areas, wanted this area to become ungovernable. What did they choose? What was it that could make the people here also ungovernable? They chose witchcraft. Now this doesn't mean that in urban areas people, I mean, there are no people who don't believe in witchcraft. There are, but it is a difference of degrees, but in the countryside, especially in Venda, when the traditional leaders here opted for the so-called independence, they unfortunately did not abolish some of the elements in the South African Anti Witchcraft Act eg in that Act believing in Witchcraft, if I can remember, is not approved. Pointing as somebody as a witch was something very, very serious. So the chiefs this side who traditionally believed in witchcraft, accepted that Act but by so accepting it, it was virtually like taking a person and putting a spear on his back, because those who wanted to see this area ungovernable presented chiefs as protectors of witches. So the chiefs were then presented as protectors of witches. In that case there was no law and order in this area.

MR NDOU: Now Professor as I understand you, you're saying ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: I just want to check something. You say that the chiefs, some of the chiefs at the time believed in witchcraft and they accepted the Act. Are you talking about the Anti Witchcraft Act?

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct. In fact I think to say some of the chiefs, it may be true, but the country by accepting independence legally, it means that they have accepted that Act, so nobody in this area could no longer be tried for witchcraft and therefore liberation movements presented chiefs as people who were protecting witches.

CHAIRPERSON: Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that allies of liberation movements that found themselves in the areas where witchcraft was predominant, regarded these leaders as the protectors of witchcraft?

PROF RALUSHAI: Yes, you could say so, but not all.

CHAIRPERSON: But I don't think that was the policy of the liberation movements as such, but rather their allies or supporters.

PROF RALUSHAI: I will explain that. The people who killed these people didn't say they were ANC or PAC but when killing people they sang ANC songs Viva and so on.

CHAIRPERSON: I can understand that.

MR NDOU: And Professor you say the problem was exacerbated further by the fact that in terms of the Suppression of Witchcraft Act, chiefs were no longer in authority to decide on witchcraft matters, is that correct?


MR NDOU: And as a result of that, when chiefs could no longer participate in these matters, the people felt that they were the ones who were in fact protecting people they alleged to be practising witchcraft, is that right?


MR NDOU: Now, if you go back say to around 1979 when Venda obtained its so-called independence, what would you say the atmosphere was like when people like Mphephu and his people were ruling this small area? Did any serious problems arise at that stage?


CHAIRPERSON: Well let us concentrate on the year or the period maybe 1991 to 1994.

MR NDOU: Maybe we'll just start at 1998 because that's where it starts.


MR NDOU: 1988.

CHAIRPERSON: Well maybe then.

MR NDOU: Yes. Now Professor, you will remember that in 1988 there were three incidents. Firstly there was an incident of teacher Mabina of Tshakhuma who was found killed and do you also remember the incident of the mysterious death of Mwitwa Victor Mutewana, also of Tshakhuma and thirdly you will remember about the gruesome murder of that little girl Sharon Mashige.

CHAIRPERSON: How do you spell that?

MR NDOU: M - A - S - H - I - G - E

CHAIRPERSON: All of these deceased were from?

MR NDOU: Okay, the first two were from a place called Tshakhuma and the last one, the girl, she was from a place called Tshivhulana.

Now when you take these cases together, you'll remember that Sharon Mashige's case was somewhere in April 1988, I think it was a day before Pres Mphephu died and the teacher's case in August and Matewana's case in September, what sort of wind would you say happened during that period in the whole area of Venda?

PROF RALUSHAI: Well, strictly speaking the three cases that you have mentioned actually don't fall under witchcraft but fall under ritual murder or muti murder.

CHAIRPERSON: Surely if you talk about muti murder it falls under the broad definition of witchcraft?

PROF RALUSHAI: That is so, it interlinks. That is correct.

CHAIRPERSON: There is some relation.

PROF RALUSHAI: That is correct.

MR NDOU: You may proceed Prof.

PROF RALUSHAI: Now traditionally chiefs were directly or indirectly associated with ritual murder, so when chiefs were given political power by Pretoria, there was this fear that they will resort to the old practices and people actually had a case to vote when a Deputy Minister of Post and Telegraphs was arrested and convicted for having committed ritual murder.

CHAIRPERSON: The Deputy Minister of Post and Telegraphs of Venda?

PROF RALUSHAI: Yes, and he was a chief.

MR NDOU: Could you mention his name? Prof please don't be afraid to mention people's names because here the Committee wants to know the truth and they need to know exactly what transpired. What was this chief's name?

PROF RALUSHAI: He was called Chief Witbooi Ramovha.

CHAIRPERSON: Can you spell that please?

MR NDOU: R - A - M - O - V - H - A

CHAIRPERSON: What was he actually convicted of?

PROF RALUSHAI: For having ritually killed a certain principal of a high school.

CHAIRPERSON: Murdered? Was that murder?


CHAIRPERSON: Let me make it easier then. Was he convicted under the Anti Witchcraft Act or was he convicted under the ordinary laws?

PROF RALUSHAI: Under the ordinary laws.



CHAIRPERSON: And the nature of the murder was?

PROF RALUSHAI: Ritual murder. Yes and he was sentenced to death and he was in fact hanged.

CHAIRPERSON: And the sentence was executed?

PROF RALUSHAI: That's correct.

CHAIRPERSON: When was this?

PROF RALUSHAI: That was in 1979, I think. Yes, he was executed around 1981.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, proceed.

PROF RALUSHAI: A certain member of the Tshivhase royal family was also sentenced to death.

CHAIRPERSON: Of which family? Spell it please.

PROF RALUSHAI: T - S - H - I - V - H - A - S - E

CHAIRPERSON: Royal family?

PROF RALUSHAI: Yes. He was arrested, found guilty and sentenced to death.

CHAIRPERSON: Of what was he convicted, also of ritual murder?

PROF RALUSHAI: Ritual Murder, that is correct.

MR NDOU: And how did people feel about all these incidents?

PROF RALUSHAI: This simply confirmed people's fears that they had always suspected that once placed under traditional leaders, upholders of traditions, they could experience what had just happened here.

CHAIRPERSON: This abuse of power?

PROF RALUSHAI: In a way it was abuse of power but the point that you have to link this with their traditional or religious practises, this type of ritual murder is closely linked with some of the Venda religious practises. So, once chiefs were given new powers, people feared that the old practises would be resuscitated.

MR NDOU: So people did not feel safe at all?

PROF RALUSHAI: They didn't feel safe.

MR NDOU: Yes and what did they do?

CHAIRPERSON: I just want to get something clear here in my mind. From what you say so far, am I understanding correctly, that these chiefs with these powers had sort of discretionary powers as to the death sentence? They could pick and choose who they would decide was to die and who not?

MR NDOU: Okay, perhaps maybe we jumped the gun somewhere. The message that we're trying to convey is that chiefs were committing these undesirable acts, but it was difficult for them to be arrested because the people who were in power were chiefs themselves. It was only with pressure from the people that prosecutions ensued and they were brought to book, but then still people were not satisfied because they felt that they were in the hands of traditional leaders, who still wanted to keep to the old practises, and they didn't feel safe because they felt that they could be killed at any time and nothing would happen unless they did something to get the work of justice running.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, carry on.

MR NDOU: Now what did the people do when they realised they were not safe at all and that they were under very unsafe hands?

PROF RALUSHAI: In many traditional courts old people were forcibly removed and replaced by young militants.

MR NDOU: So what you're saying is that the young people wanted to take over ruling the place by interfering with traditional courts, interfering with the chorus where the elders would normally sing? Is that what you are saying?


MR NDOU: Now with all this, what did the youth want to achieve?

PROF RALUSHAI: First of all they did not sort of have one outstanding leader who said "this is our policy", but when killing their own people, killing their own victims they would be shouting liberation slogans, viva so-and-so and they were not as organised as people who were fighting against enemies in urban areas, but rather at this place, once you were labelled a witch, young people in the area would start singing liberation songs. This was quite new because traditionally young people were never involved in muti murder cases, in witchcraft cases, this is the first time in Venda when we saw young people adopting the responsibility of old people. Traditionally young people are not supposed to take part in witchcraft cases or in ritual murder cases.

CHAIRPERSON: Were you surprised at the youth taking up this problem, after all most of the victims I understand were youths? They were looking after themselves, not so?

PROF RALUSHAI: We were surprised because it was quite new, but at the same time we understood why they were behaving that way.

MR NDOU: Now you will remember that after the three incidents that we've referred to in 1988, there was, do you remember that the schools stopped for about 2 months and government employees went on strike for about 2 months as well. How do you read this?

PROF RALUSHAI: There was just no government at all. Workers did as they wished. The whole legal set-up had collapsed.

MR NDOU: And did the youth want it to collapse even further, to bring it on its knees?

PROF RALUSHAI: In a way at least it was Pretoria inspired the coup that later stopped the scales because when Ramushwana took over Pretoria wanted to create the sort of impression that you know youngsters had staged a coup when however it was a coup organised by Pretoria to lessen violence in this area.

MR NDOU: Did Pretoria come in because they realised that the present leaders could not contain the situation?


ADV DE JAGER: Sorry, that was in 19?

MR NDOU: 1991/92.

CHAIRPERSON: When did Ramushwana take over?

MR NDOU: I think it was 1992. Yes, it was in 1992.

So there you had people dying in 1988 and Frank Ravele taking over from April 1988 until 1992, when the military government of Ramushwana came in. Now in between, or rather let's say during the time when Frank Ravele was in power, you'll remember that more than 100 villages burned people that they suspected to be witches, do you remember that?


MR NDOU: And do you also remember that all these happenings took place within a time period of about 3 months?


MR NDOU: Now when you look at this whole scenario and you look at Venda, although it's a small area, the villages are sparsely set out over a radius of about 150 to 200 kilometres. Is that right?


MR NDOU: And about 100 villages within a period of 3 months, burned people alleging them to be witches. Now when you read all this, what do you read?

PROF RALUSHAI: Well on the surface whoever came here at that time would have believed that every case was witchcraft related. That was not true. Certain people were killed out of jealousy. People who were quite successful, people who were having the so-called orchards, small farms, people who had shops, people who perhaps had certain jobs outside their own home areas. The local people who didn't want them would use local boys to say "drive Mr A out, he's a witch.

CHAIRPERSON: Why would this jealousy be there? Why would they be jealous over someone who has made it?

PROF RALUSHAI: I think if you look into your own tradition, in Venda the richest person traditionally was a chief, not a commoner, but after this area had become under white influence, certain local people became affluent and people would not want them, wouldn't want to see them succeeding.

CHAIRPERSON: Why would that be?

PROF RALUSHAI: Well I think there are many reasons. To be seen as a foreigner in your own area is not like in South Africa. Here, if I was born and bred at a place, let's say Louis Trichardt and I come here, establish myself, even as a Venda person the local people would say look, he is an outsider, he's made it, he's now boasting, he thinks we are stupid, so they will try to sort of create stories that A is now doing that and hence even if perhaps you were never involved in such things, it might happen that perhaps in this area you are in love with somebody's wife. Now that particular man who is very unhappy, who is very bitter, will organise young people saying that you are a witch, and you find yourself driven out.

CHAIRPERSON: Well, I must say I've heard that happening elsewhere too, not only in Venda.

MR NDOU: So what you are saying is that motives differ?


MR NDOU: Now in this particular instance when the boys all of a sudden came out and killed people in the name of the struggle, you've just told the Committee that that was because there were people who had come to influence them to use that as a tool in order to make the place ungovernable, is that correct?


MR NDOU: Is there anything else that you wish to explain to the Committee?

PROF RALUSHAI: What I want to stress is this, most victims, in other words most people who were actually seen as perpetrators of violence, happened to be young people. This is quite different from our own traditions, but what was quite common was that in the past people linked with witchcraft were elderly people, but at this time certain people would just influence certain youngsters to go and kill Mr A and some of these youngsters were easily misled. But I must also stress this, people were not just killed because all of them had been involved in witchcraft things. There was the element of jealousy, if you were doing it very, very well, so if you were working very, very successfully in your own areas, your enemies would go to young people and those young people would either drive you out of the area, or kill you.

MR NDOU: Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: Why would the youngsters want to attack these people, especially the chiefs?

PROF RALUSHAI: At that time, perhaps I didn't put my case very straight, it was not just a question of chiefs. The youngsters attacked those people who at that time represented the status quo.



CHAIRPERSON: Well as I understood your evidence mostly that was orchestrated by the chiefs by virtue of their powers from Pretoria.


CHAIRPERSON: And when there were issues like jealousy and other reasons why people would want to attack others, the youngsters would be used as pawns under the veil of politics?

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct, Sir.

ADV DE JAGER: Professor, if I understand your last answer correctly, if I would have been jealous towards Mr A because he's become wealthy, I would go around and influence young people to kill him under the veil that he may be connected with witches or witchcraft?

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct, Sir.

ADV DE JAGER: But that wouldn't be the case, he would be quite innocent as far as witchcraft is concerned, but because I've got this personal malice towards him, I would use sort of other people to kill him?


ADV DE JAGER: Like some people would use a hired killer to go and kill somebody?

PROF RALUSHAI: But then of course at this time they made use of young people, people who could not easily interpret situations.

CHAIRPERSON: Were those people who would honestly believe what they've been told?

PROF RALUSHAI: I think at that time there was so much violence that there was that sort of a feeling that we're not as bad as people think. Although we are rurals, we're also as modern as those who are forcing the situation to be ungovernable, let's say in Jo'burg and so one, so in other words ... (indistinct) we are now like people in P E, East London, Jo'burg and Pretoria, we are also doing what others are doing, so we are not stupid, we are not backward.

CHAIRPERSON: Part of the struggle.

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct, Sir.

CHAIRPERSON: But what about the other possibility, that while that may be so and they were learning from other areas, especially the youth, that there was a genuine belief that they needed to contribute to the changes required in this country. The youth played a big role in those days.

PROF RALUSHAI: There is not doubt that the young people played a very important role, but it is not every young person who fully understood.

CHAIRPERSON: I accept that but ...(end of tape) you say were doing, or wanting to show the world that they were just as good as anybody else, for example in Port Elizabeth, East London, Johannesburg, in doing this struggle bit. I'm asking you that while that may be an option, what about the other option that they honestly wanted to contribute to the changes of this country in their own right?



MR NDOU: I'm through.

CHAIRPERSON: Are you through with that?



CHAIRPERSON: And you say that this attitude and approach was rife from 1988 right through to maybe the end of 92, 93?

PROF RALUSHAI: When did Ramushwana take over?

MR NDOU: 92.

PROF RALUSHAI: I'd say yes because now when Pretoria appointed Ramushwana and his leaders, they had thought that there would be order in this area.


PROF RALUSHAI: When local people realised that even during Ramushwana's time there was no order, the struggle continued. The violence increased.

ADV DE JAGER: Professor, at the time were you living here in Thohoyandou?

PROF RALUSHAI: I was living here, Sir.

ADV DE JAGER: So you experienced it yourself, actually?

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct, Sir.

ADV DE JAGER: According to the papers before us, the release of Pres Mandela in February and later 1990 had an influence on the situation here.


ADV DE JAGER: The occurrences we're dealing with occurred shortly thereafter, I think in April round about 1990. What happened at that time? Do you know of this particular incident?

PROF RALUSHAI: Put it this way, shortly before the release of President Mandela there was already violence going on here, but then after his release the feelings, perhaps I'll put it this way, the general feeling in the area was that we should also do what others are doing, remove the old order and then have a new structure. This probably explains why even when Gabriel Ramushwana took over the government, the people did not say well, we've got a new government now, they regarded his as part and parcel of the old order.

CHAIRPERSON: Was part of that need to establish re-incorporation into one South Africa?

PROF RALUSHAI: That was a way of going back to what they regarded as the old homeland.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, okay. Is that it?

MR NDOU: That is all.

ADV DE JAGER: Did you know the deceased in this case, Mr Mahvunga?

PROF RALUSHAI: I certainly did not know this individual here, but what happened was this, long before these troubles started, the Venda Grand Foundation of New York gave me a lump sum of money to do research on witchcraft and ritual murder in Venda in 1976, so this was just the final part of my research work.

ADV DE JAGER: Oh, I see. In your research did you find anything that could assist us as a Committee to judge whether this was a politically connected death or a death out of jealousy, or a death connected with witchcraft?

PROF RALUSHAI: I must be honest here, I did not make an individual study about this case, so it will be quite wrong on my part to give a general statement.

ADV DE JAGER: Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr van Rensburg.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman I see that it's close to 1.

CHAIRPERSON: Are you going to be longer than 5 minutes?

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, I presume so.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay, then we can adjourn till 1.45p.m.




CHAIRPERSON: Mr van Rensburg.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Thank you Mr Chairman.

MR NDOU: Perhaps before Mr van Rensburg can come in I just thought maybe to complete the record, at the beginning we didn't try to put forward to the Committee about Prof Ralushai's experiences and his qualifications and all that and I thought maybe that would be quite vital for the Committee, so I though we could just put that in.

CHAIRPERSON: Let me just find out. Mr van Rensburg do you have any questions on the professor's credentials?

MR VAN RENSBURG: I have no questions on that, I accept that he's an expert in this field of witchcraft, thank you Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Proceed.

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR VAN RENSBURG: (cont) Professor, if we can go and start at the beginning when you gave your definition of a witch, you basically said that a witch is defined as a person who can cause damage or even death or ill fate to another person. What I want to know is, would that definition of a witch and even then seen in a broader sense possibly include a person which, through certain actions that he has taken which boils down to witchcraft or rituals, prosper himself and if compared to the rest of the community, would such a person perhaps also be qualified as a witch?

PROF RALUSHAI: Let me explain more about my definition. I should have said a witch is a person who is believed, not that who can do that and that and that and so on. It is a person who is believe to be endowed with powers that can cause evil to other people, but in wondering what I'm saying about this, if he can bewitch, he is a witch to such an extent that he can be compared with a snake, then here they say now he's like a snake that can kill a human being and yet he doesn't eat flesh. So in other words that is saying that a witch might just be a jealous person, but he himself does not benefit from his evil acts, he only enjoys seeing that particular victim gone. He does not directly gain.

CHAIRPERSON: The question is, is someone able in terms of this belief and definition, do the people believe that someone could employ witchcraft in order to enrich himself? Is that how I understand you?

MR VAN RENSBURG: Thank you Mr Chairman, yes.

CHAIRPERSON: And put himself up higher than everybody else in terms of finance.


CHAIRPERSON: Is there no such belief?


MR VAN RENSBURG: I must admit and confess that I do not know a lot about the subject, but what I've read from the documentation that has been supplied and also from my report, I got the impression that the reason why the political leaders and thereby also include the chiefs, were so unfavourable at the time, or viewed to be unfavourable, is because they had the power to use the rituals and the witchcraft to empower themselves.

PROF RALUSHAI: It is not as simple as you are putting it. You have to separate first of all the muti murder from witchcraft. Why and when do they kill a person ritually?

CHAIRPERSON: I think Professor, maybe I can put it easier or more succinctly, I hope. With this belief that the majority of people in the area have a respect and popularly regard people who indulge in witchcraft, Pretoria, as you put it, were able to connive and placed these chiefs or witches or whatever you want to call them, in high ranks so that they were liable for political manoeuvring.

PROF RALUSHAI: The people do not usually respect a witch. When Pretoria chose chiefs, they chose them as traditional leaders. Pretoria wrongly believed that traditional leaders were very popular among themselves, when in fact they were not.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, that is the point. Pretoria wrongly believed that these people were able to sustain the power, the political power, and therefore do the job of Pretoria.


CHAIRPERSON: Did I understand you?

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, thank you Mr Chairman.

ADV SIGODI: Sorry, just to get some clarification on one aspect. Was there a belief that people could make it possible for themselves to be richer and more powerful through the use of muti, not necessarily by means of witchcraft per se? Was there such a belief amongst the people?

PROF RALUSHAI: Those who practised muti murder, one of the reasons of doing that is to enrich themselves and if you do research on the average person here who was involved in ritual murder cases, it was a business man. You will find that he did that because of the decline of his business, so he thought that if he could get certain parts from a human being then he could revive his own business.

ADV SIGODI: So there is a difference between people who would kill or would perform ritual murders for the purposes of getting muti in order to enrich themselves and those who were believed to be witches who were practising the supernatural, that which could not be seen by the people. Is there a distinction between those two people?

PROF RALUSHAI: There is a distinction in that a witch does not kill his own victim because he wants to be rich, whereas a ritual murderer, he kills a person because he wants to gain out of that. In any case traditionally ritual murder was committed with the approval of traditional leaders, no commoner was allowed to kill another person. We only find commoners now because of businesses, but otherwise in the past when there were no shops, ritual murder was secretly committed with the approval of a chief.

CHAIRPERSON: What is a ritual murder?

PROF RALUSHAI: Muti murder, in other words killing a person ritually, in other words you don't just get a gun or a knife, you kill this person, when he's alive, when he's struggling, cutting part by part and that is why mortuaries are very, very safe. Dead bodies found in mortuaries are usually not used for that.

CHAIRPERSON: I see. Now who would advise such people to go and get another human being?

PROF RALUSHAI: In some cases, if things aren't going very, very well at the royal family, the traditional healer will say that if we get a person of that rank, of that sex, if you use his parts, mixed with certain drugs, you can attain our goal.

CHAIRPERSON: Those are not witches, those are traditional healers.

PROF RALUSHAI: Well of course, put in this way, in our old South Africa, native doctors were all labelled witch doctors,

but they strongly resent that term, they want to be called traditional healers, but otherwise if you check, almost every muti case in this area, there was one or two traditional doctors.

CHAIRPERSON: I'm quite aware of the historical definition of a traditional healer and who and why they were called witchdoctors before, but we are busy with a case or a hearing that involves witchcraft and I'm just trying to ascertain for myself whether the belief amongst the youth, there was any difference between a traditional healer which was known as a witchdoctor before and the people who indulge in witchcraft, that you've described.

PROF RALUSHAI: As I said earlier the youth was just influenced by some local people who were trying to settle old scores with their own enemies.

CHAIRPERSON: I accept that but I'm asking you about the belief that the youth had at the time. Did they make a distinction between traditional healers and those who employ witchcraft, or did they regard them as the same lot?


CHAIRPERSON: What is correct?

PROF RALUSHAI: Regard them as just the healers, doctors.

CHAIRPERSON: And witches were all the same?

PROF RALUSHAI: But not that they regarded a witch as somebody similar to a healer.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay, let's look at it from this point of view then. For the purposes of a pending change in this country for political reasons, did the youth distinguish between those traditional healers who made such, or gave such advice that certain body parts of certain people need to be obtained to allow the royal family to further their objectives and their position on the one hand, and those people who they regarded as witches, did they make that distinction, or were they all in the same political basket that needed to be done away with so that change can be brought about in the country?

PROF RALUSHAI: Although they don't make a great distinction between such people, there were some few traditional healers who, because of their fame in the areas, were now saved. I can quote one. They found one old lady and they said you must eat all your herbs here, all your drugs to prove that none of them is poisonous. Just while they were doing that a bigger boy arrived, "But look in this area she is the only lady who had assisted in the birth of all of you here, there was no demon here, therefore she can't be a witch". She was saved.

CHAIRPERSON: Well, that is precisely the point, that it was proved to them that she's not a witch by virtue of her assistance in their birth, but had it not been for that proof, would she not have been regarded as a witch then?

PROF RALUSHAI: At that emotional state, she could have been killed.

CHAIRPERSON: For political reasons?

PROF RALUSHAI: You may say a political reason, but Sir, the situation was so out of control here.

CHAIRPERSON: No, I can appreciate that, that it was out of control. They were not able to sit like we are sitting in the comfort of this hall to investigate whether someone was a witch or a traditional healer or whatever. I quite understand that. I'm just asking whether the youth made any distinction in unusual practises, let's call it that, whether by way of witchcraft or traditional healing where someone advised the royal family to kill somebody in order to prosper.

PROF RALUSHAI: If at that particular time somebody would just come and say Mr A is a witch, that particular person won't be saved. So the questions of a distinction, in that emotional state, there was none.

CHAIRPERSON: It was non existent, are you saying?

PROF RALUSHAI: It was not there.

ADV DE JAGER: If I understand you correctly, in a ritual murder some of the parts of the body would be taken to be used as muti, while in killing a witch, that wouldn't be the position. They would kill the witch and leave the body to be buried, they wouldn't take parts of the body.

PROF RALUSHAI: There are very good reasons. When you do it for ritual murder, there has been a very serious meeting before, they have deliberated why they want to kill A, what do you want from A? Whereas now in this issue of just getting some people, killing them in great numbers, no such meeting was actually held. Other boys just join others by seeing them singing Viva, Viva, they just join them and throw stones.

ADV DE JAGER: Yes. Mr van Rensburg in this particular case we're dealing with, it is not alleged that it was a ritual murder.

MR VAN RENSBURG: No indeed, that is the case Sir, I agree with.

ADV DE JAGER: So they didn't kill him to get muti from him.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, no that is so.

ADV SIGODI: Just to get some clarification on this part. As my colleague has said, that the deceased in this case was not killed in order to get muti from him, but would you say that with the leaders, were they perceived by the society to be people who had used muti from ritual murders in order to secure their positions in society? Was that the case?

PROF RALUSHAI: Could you please repeat that?

ADV SIGODI: I say were leaders, that is the chiefs or traditional leaders, perceived by the society as people who had used muti, muti, whether it be from ritual murders or from herbs or whatever, in order to secure their positions in society, in order to be able to rule the society? Was that the case, or was that not the case in this area at that time?

PROF RALUSHAI: I'll answer as follows, the chief would never like the people to see him as a murderer, as a killer, he's a symbol of justice and wherever people go he said, "No I don't want killers at my own place," it was never found that the chief is arrested and the person was going around, but my area unlike the other area, does not have ritual murder., but after a very serious police investigation, you found that that same chief who was saying that "my area does not have murders", was actually directly involved. ...(indistinct)

CHAIRPERSON: And the youth knew that?

PROF RALUSHAI: It was difficult for the youth to know. I'll cite some two cases where a chief had a very serious problem with birth. He had three wives but these three wives didn't have kids, so he went to see a traditional doctor who said, if you could get certain parts of your closest relation, the man that you eat with, such parts when mixed with certain drugs, if you take them, all these three wives of yours will have children. The chief said "but I've never killed a person ritually". "Don't worry, go and see Doctor A." He went to A and he said "don't worry, I'll call in others, on a Christmas Day we will meet there and do the whole job, but you must be there too". Well they killed a very close uncle of the chief and after a very serious police investigation, the chief was arrested, he and his closes subject were sentenced to death, that was 1949.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but by the time this particular incident for which we have gathered here occurred, the youth was aware that those practises were being carried out, not so, because those have been exposed by police investigations?

PROF RALUSHAI: Then again there are some problems here. At that time chiefs were holding political power not only traditionally, but some of them were also Cabinet Ministers and that made it very, very difficult for the police to go and investigate when their own minister was involved in the murder. So now the youth became aware that the police were no longer effectively doing their own job because chiefs were now seen as strong, that they could conceal evidence, so from there now it was important to clean out the whole rot, have a new structure.

CHAIRPERSON: Professor I'm going to ask you a question just for interest sake, because I want to know these things also. It's got nothing to do with this case. Have there been police investigations and follow-ups and perhaps convictions of those people who advised others that you need body parts of another human being?

PROF RALUSHAI: To the best of my own knowledge I do not know of such cases, but what I do know is this, when any of the so-called witches fled into police stations for their own custody, they were physically protected but they were verbally not protected, because these people used the same loos, toilets, if it's about 1 o'clock or 12 o'clock at night, when you hear "cuckoo re coo", oh witches are coming back now, they would be teasing those people who had fled into the police station, in any case many of these police also believed in witchcraft.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but you see, I don't mean to tramp on anybody's toes, I don't mean to be disrespectful to anybody's beliefs, but if a traditional leader has to advised somebody that he needs to take the heart or kidney or whatever of another human being and he must struggle and this must be done when he's alive, if you remove the heart of somebody who is alive, he'll die. Now that person giving the advice, surely knows that someone is going to die because of that?


CHAIRPERSON: Have there been any prosecutions of such people?


CHAIRPERSON: And do you know why?

PROF RALUSHAI: The point was that it was not proved in court that indeed somebody killed A after he had been ordered by B to go and remove a certain part.

CHAIRPERSON: I see. And nobody has been brave enough to say I did so because of the advice.

PROF RALUSHAI: They didn't mention chiefs, they would rather perhaps mention traditional doctors.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, well that's what I'm talking about, have they mentioned those people?

PROF RALUSHAI: In some few cases they did and those doctors were actually hanged.

CHAIRPERSON: For giving advice to take another person's life?

PROF RALUSHAI: For even being actively involved.

CHAIRPERSON: And do these things still take place on such a large scale, or has it decreased?

PROF RALUSHAI: Well, after our Commission of Inquiry here I'll be very honest with you, in this area which in the past had a lot of ritual murder cases, there are now very, very few. The Judges here were not soft, especially in Venda, so there are very, very few cases of muti murder in Venda now.

CHAIRPERSON: The people are starting to learn respect for life.

PROF RALUSHAI: And they are scared. Correct.

CHAIRPERSON: And how, as victims of such activities, and those who benefited by it, have they been able to get together lately?

PROF RALUSHAI: No. People, all applicants, are appearing because of the presence of the TRC but otherwise in the past once that case was disposed in court, it was finished.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but that's why I'm trying to get some information from you, are people able to meet each other now and bury the hatchet, and become friends again?

PROF RALUSHAI: It's not easy.

CHAIRPERSON: I know it's not easy, but are they able to do so, or have they been doing so, maybe on a small scale?

PROF RALUSHAI: I haven't heard of such things.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Sorry for the long interruption Mr van Rensburg. Please carry on.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Thank you. Professor now if I can just continue on that point, say for instance a group of people wants to get rid of one person now, am I correct to say that they will perhaps choose one of two courses of action? The one is that they will start spreading a rumour that that specific person is a witch, implying that he can cause damage or bad luck to other people, and secondly, they can start spreading the rumour that that person is prosperous because he is involved in ritual killings and that is the reason for his prosperity?

PROF RALUSHAI: During that time of chaos here, people will say Mr A is a very wealthy man and yet we did not see his own servants. Who is ploughing his fields? It must be Zombies, he must be having Zombies. Some even add, "when I was passing the place last night, I heard many voices in the field". So such stories when they reach fairly young people, they will say, Mr A doesn't have many servants and yet he is a very flourishing farmer, he must be having Zombies who are ploughing for his field. Now because he's having Zombies, well if such a person is killed, the country has been ridden of someone who was quite evil, the way how they see it.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes. And of course it follows that the Zombies won't work for him anymore.


MR VAN RENSBURG: Okay, that I think proves my earlier point that I put to you that there is in fact a link between the witchcraft and the prosperity of the person, is that not so? Because the questions of the Zombies working for the prosperous person, falls more in the ambit of the witchcraft than in the ambit of the ritual killing, is that not so?

PROF RALUSHAI: One cannot generalise. I did say here in the beginning that there were some cases in which one could clearly say, this one was killed because certain people were jealous of his success, but I cannot generalise.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Okay, thank you very much. On this question of the jealousy, should we make a distinction between a general feeling of jealousy when one person excels compared to the rest amongst the people, on the one side, and then on the other side, this question of prosperity because he's involved in certain dark practices. Is there a specific distinction between these two or is it actually one and the same thing?

PROF RALUSHAI: It's a very complex situation. Go to our school results, in both urban and rural areas, Mr A's daughter passed standard 10 with distinction and then perhaps she is overrun by a car, quite an incident, but if they go and consult a Sangoma, very often it will be a neighbour who has heard that this girl was a brilliant child at school. They say no, a certain neighbour has caused her death out of jealousy, yet we all know that that particular child was killed by a car. So the one who is suspected of having caused the death of that brilliant child through their own evil deeds, if it was during those days that is 1988 up to 1992, she could have been killed.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes. I really appreciate your insight in this and the examples are very, very interesting, but I have really difficulty in interpreting your questions, the question is simple, are all the allegations of jealousy, when a person is jealous of the other because he's excelled, does that always involve an element of witchcraft, or something like that, or would you say that there's, on the other hand, and distinguish from that, a normal feeling in the community which has got nothing to do with witchcraft, just that they don't like one person to excel above the others?

PROF RALUSHAI: I did not say jealousy alone could result in what we have just said here, but that in certain cases the people, local people, can say A was killed because certain people were jealous of his or her success. I cannot generalise.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Okay. Let's talk about the procedure of pointing a person as a witch. Is it not so that there is and perhaps traditionally was, a specific ritual that must take place before a person can be pointed as a witch?

PROF RALUSHAI: There were means of finding out why A was a witch. A, a person becomes sick, we consult a traditional healer. He has got his own bones, he throws them and says no the cause here is not a witch. We will now perform certain ritual things wanted by our own ancestors. Go and perform those rites, or B, a certain neighbour a certain aunt is jealous of this. Anyhow, she or he will say "don't worry, I will treat this". Then if the child is not treated and then should that child die, seeing the first doctor has already told us that aunt A was responsible for that illness, we will go and kill that aunt in the old system. The system worked very, very well. You go to the royal kraal. I am accusing A, he's a witch, he has killed my own daughter and the chief says "right, you bring two heads of cattle at the royal village. I am going to give you a messenger. You go to a more powerful diviner, unknown to yourself and unknown to us. That particular person who knows nothing about this case, will tell us who the witch is." Then they go to that Sangoma. The Sangoma might clear this first accused, and to show that he has cleared you he gives you a small horn. You keep on blowing that horn right at the royal village to say I'm cleared, I'm clean. That day they will know that somebody who was cleared is coming back home in style.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, thank you.

PROF RALUSHAI: So if you look at it now, nobody was killed, but with the 1989 system, just to hear that A is a witch, they would go and stone her.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, so that is exactly my point. Are you in fact saying that there was a change in that traditional perception?

PROF RALUSHAI: There was a change, but we must understand this change. Chiefs had been in fact presented as protectors of witches, whatever they did was not taken seriously.

MR VAN RENSBURG: So in certain circumstances, if I understand your evidence in chief correctly, people were executed as witches but the real reason was actually that they were executed because they did not think like the rest of the people? That is the drift of your evidence, is that not correct?

PROF RALUSHAI: No, I didn't say so.


PROF RALUSHAI: Belief in witchcraft is not something new. Even before 1989 we did have belief in witchcraft here but what was different was the treating of the suspects. In the past you would be given the whole opportunity, if you were really cleared you were never killed, but with the present youngsters once they say A is a witch, that was it, they're going to kill you.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes. I'm referring to the previous statement which you agreed with that persons are killed as witches or people are actually killed because they were political informers or state informers, under the veil of witchcraft. I am referring to that statement which you previously agreed with.

PROF RALUSHAI: I think I was not understood.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Okay. Perhaps what I'm asking of you, perhaps I can put it more bluntly, are you saying that the youths at one stage had taken over that role of pointing out witches, for whatever reason now, it doesn't matter, we'll come to that just now. So instead of going to a traditional healer who points someone as a witch, the youths have taken over that role?

PROF RALUSHAI: I said quite clearly that the youth took control of tribal courts, so the chief were rendered useless.

ADV DE JAGER: ...(indistinct) before 1989, if there was a rumour or an accusation that Mr A or Mrs A would be a witch, they would be given the opportunity to prove or to obtain evidence that they are not witches and that would be afforded through the chief to a big Sangoma but after 1989 the youth themselves decided straight away whether he's a witch or not a witch.

PROF RALUSHAI: I'll answer this way, I said earlier that before that date, since the chiefs had accepted this Anti Witchcraft Act the people who were annoyed, or perhaps angry that their son was dead they will go to the ...(indistinct) village, no we are no longer allowed to try such cases, please donít come to me. Where do you go to because you are supposed to sort of reconcile us says "Makuhabatendi" (whites donít want that) - white people donít want this. So now the case will just remain hanging. So when this crisis started chiefs were then now settling all scores. We have been coming to your own place to say - "please listen to us. You never listen. Now who will make you listen" ...(indistinct)

MR VAN RENSBURG: Professor, is it your evidence that round about 1990 the youths of this area killed people for political motives and then masked it to be witchcraft murders?

PROF RALUSHAI: They didn't just that say we are killing people openly, it's only when you analyse it, you will find that the reason behind was to have a new order.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, and that was the youth that had actually driven that decision to cancel the old order and to replace it with something?

PROF RALUSHAI: And the same that whenever they are attacking people they would be singing Viva, Viva. They'll be singing national songs.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes. Now I refer you to page 15 of your report under the heading of Questions and Answers and the question that you have written down there is,

"Why does a group of people participate in the killings?"

and the answer is as follows,

"According to the perception of the youth they are protecting the community, as traditional or tribal courts are no longer allowed to try people accused of practising witchcraft, for example at Mabitsela a young high school student said that ever since they killed people causing lightening, nobody has been struck by lightening and at Park Hotel, Potgietersrust a young steward when asked whether it was right to kill witches answered as follows : What do you do when you have cockroaches in the house? You kill them."

Now my question Professor is, shouldn't you have included your theory that the youth was actually trying to change the system for political reasons under this specific question, or the answer to the question?

PROF RALUSHAI: It was not as easy as all that. I personally put that question to a boy at Park Hotel. Did you believe in witchcraft? In answering me he said "Well, if you've got a cockroach in the house, what do you do? You must kill it."

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, we have read that statement.

PROF RALUSHAI: Okay right. We asked him further, "What do you mean by cockroach?" "I mean this thing that are just found in dirty rooms and so on." " Are you saying that your parents and chiefs are now dirty?" He said "No, but they represent what is no longer acceptable."

MR VAN RENSBURG: The point I am trying to make is that, and we must realise that we are dealing here today with a case exactly where a whole group of people, I think there was about 300 of them, participated in the killing of the victim of this hearing and if I read that answer to your question, it does not refer to the breaking down of an old order or anything like that for political motives. What I read here in your answer which can be made applicable on the case in casu is that the youths actually acted to uphold the traditional values.

PROF RALUSHAI: I said earlier that these boys, when attacking their own victims or when killing people, they did so singing national political songs, they were not singing traditional songs. So if they were singing the old songs, they wanted us to go back to the old days, but instead they were saying, singing those songs which were favoured, those songs which were created by the nationalist movements.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, let's talk about that liberation song theory of yours. Somewhere in your report here I've read that at one of your case studies, perhaps you can quote it better than myself, at one of the killings, the people were singing a certain son with the name of Hogo, now isn't Hogo a traditional song associated with young boys adhering their initiation rituals and used by those boys.

PROF RALUSHAI: I'll give you a nice reason. Hogo is something new among the Venda people, it is not an old Venda practice.

MR VAN RENSBURG: And Hogo, you agree with me, it means defeat?

PROF RALUSHAI: No, this is sort of, Hogo is in fact an inspirational song, when you are going to do your own thing, if you are going to fight, if they are going to that school, they will sing that song. But I want to stress this, Hogo is new among the Venda people, so I cannot stress that they wanted to go back to the olden days.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Okay. The point I am trying to make is that if you're referring to liberation songs that they are singing during these killings for whatever purpose, is it not merely a case in many circumstances, where traditional songs have become liberation songs?

PROF RALUSHAI: Let me help you here. I stressed one thing from the start, we should not generalise. I did not say every killing was for political reasons. I'm only here to come and sort of explain the conditions, situations during those days of killing, but I am not saying that every killing was done for political reasons. It is up to you to go to each case and see was each case indeed a result of that. I cannot honestly generalise.

MR VAN RENSBURG: I see. You testified that traditionally it was a severe punishment, one of the most sever punishments, for a person accused of being a witch, that he be expelled from that specific area and that he must go and live somewhere else.


MR VAN RENSBURG: If such a person would refuse to leave, what do you think traditionally would have happened to him?

PROF RALUSHAI: He could never refuse to leave the area. The chief was the boss in the area. There was no question of Pretoria Supreme Court. There was no question of Bloemfontein. The chief was the most upper chap, so once he said out, you were out.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, but if the chief for instance does not agree with that ruling and says the man must not go whilst the community still feels that he should go, what should happen to such a person?

PROF RALUSHAI: He has got no right, at least from a Venda point of view, the chief does not try a person, it's a tribal court that tries a person. It goes through a chief.

CHAIRPERSON: The chief just sentences. Well he's got some problems with the new constitution, hasn't he?

MR VAN RENSBURG: Okay, in the specific instance that we are talking about today, there is evidence that the group of youths actually ordered the deceased to leave the area, they wanted to expel him. In these specific circumstances there is no indication that the chief actually approved such an expulsion. Therefore, the deceased refused to go. Are you equipped to wage an opinion as to what can happen to such a person if he refuses to move in such circumstances.

MR NDOU: If I may just come before you answer, I don't think that you are putting the correct facts. If you go back and you read Justice Liebenberg's Judgment, you will note there from the Judgment that in fact the deceased was given a "trek pass" by the chief himself. So that's why I don't understand your question because it doesn't give the true picture of what transpired.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Okay, perhaps I should just rephrase my question then. In the circumstances, if the chief approves of a person and gives him a "trek pass" and he refuses to leave, what will happen to him?

PROF RALUSHAI: I'll explain that. Before the days of the Pretoria Supreme Court and Bloemfontein, the chief was the most senior person. If he said out, you were out, but although Venda people adopted the so-called independence, their cases were still tried by Judges from Pretoria, so in that case, if the chief believed or thought that his own case could have a strong backing from Pretoria or from Bloemfontein, he could say he doesn't go away because in that case he ...(indistinct) the person, if I say he goes out, who will accept him? Whereas in the past, the other chief will be sympathetic, for various reasons.

ADV DE JAGER: I think the questions is, suppose we had the position now like in the past the chief gave him a "trek pass" and he wouldn't go, what would the community or the chief do to him then?

PROF RALUSHAI: At present the chief has got no right to give a "trek pass".

CHAIRPERSON: I know that, but let's leave for a moment the present out of the position, in the past when the chief had the authority and he would give somebody a "trek pass" and he wouldn't go, what would the traditional leader do then?

PROF RALUSHAI: It was just unthinkable that he could have, that a subject could really defy the highest authority on land.

ADV DE JAGER: And if he would do that, wouldn't the people kill him because be is defying the highest authority?

PROF RALUSHAI: I wouldn't like to speculate here, because I don't know any other case of that nature.

ADV DE JAGER: But it is unheard of that he wouldn't obey the "trek pass"?

PROF RALUSHAI: In the past once you were told to leave the place, you had to leave that place. I do not know of any person who, before white power, challenged a native chief.

CHAIRPERSON: Their own version of forced removals.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Thank you Mr Chairman. Okay, let's move on now. You testified, and I see that I have to put my statements to you very carefully, you testified something to the effect of that, during the 1990's perhaps, I've got round about that time, not to be taken too seriously or too strictly on the time, the youths in this area took certain actions based on political motives and the reason why they took those actions was because they did not want to feel backward, and they did not want to be left out. Is that correct? Did you say, was that part of your testimony?

PROF RALUSHAI: They said so, we are not 'barries', we don't like to be seen different from Jo'burg, Cape Town people, they said so themselves.

MR VAN RENSBURG: And is that why, according to you, that was the motivation for them for killing people and burning their houses and things like that?

PROF RALUSHAI: I wouldn't put it in that way. What they wanted was to have a new order. Killing and burning was not done everywhere. There were many places in which people accused of ritual murder or perhaps witchcraft were not killed in Venda. It's not everywhere. You will only find that where perhaps the situation went out of control. You can then go further. A lot of these cases happened mostly in the most backward areas of Venda. Not a single case was reported here at Thohoyandou or at Sibasa.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, we're not talking about witchcraft motivated killings now, we're talking about the political actions that the youths had taken at the time and the motivation for that was that they did not want to feel backward, or they want to indicate that they are not backward?

CHAIRPERSON: I think Professor, let me make it easier for you. The question is directed at questioning one of the requirements of the Act to obtain amnesty. One of the requirements is that whatever action or act for which amnesty is applied for, must have been committed for political reasons or with a political motive. Now if these youths did what they did in respect of the murder for which we are gathered here, merely to show the rest of the world that they are not 'barries', as you put it, it could be argued that there was no political motive for what they did. Do you understand?


CHAIRPERSON: Now take that explanation and apply it to the question posed by Mr van Rensburg and deal with it please.

PROF RALUSHAI: I'll answer that. Now first of all I must stress this thing, I never generalised. I even asked you, look into each case and find out if indeed the motive was political, but on the whole when they're singing here outside, they were saying Viva, Viva. Then again our traditional leaders here belonged to a party called the Venda National Party and it's motto was unity, then the youth would say unity in ritual murder. So whatever chiefs stood for was actually resented. But I'll be the last person to say that every case committed in Venda was because of politics.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Now if I put it to you that the applicants will one after the other come and testify that they killed the victim because they did not want to feel backward in relation to the other communities, Jo'burg, and all those people, what would you say as to the merits of such a motivation for killing a person?

CHAIRPERSON: Is that what they're going to come say, Mr van Rensburg?

MR VAN RENSBURG: I'm trying to rephrase the statement made by the witness and trying to apply that ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: But you can't put to him what the applicants are not going to say, unless you have information that that is what they're going to say.

MR VAN RENSBURG: No, my question was that if they are coming to say that. It is a hypothetical question.

CHAIRPERSON: Let's put it this way, that if someone were to come say here, not necessarily the applicants.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Thank you Mr chairman.

MR VAN RENSBURG: If someone is to come say that they killed a person and set his house alight merely for the reason that they did not want to be backward, what would you say of that?

CHAIRPERSON: Is that a fair question to the witness?

PROF RALUSHAI: The point is, I never said ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: Besides that, he is asking for your expert opinion. I'm just wondering whether the witness is an expert in interpreting the law.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, I don't think he is.

CHAIRPERSON: So isn't that a matter for the Committee to decide, rather than seeking an opinion from an expert who's not a legal expert.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Thank you Mr Chairman, I will accept that. I will withdraw the question.

You said that recently, in the recent years, the occurrence of witchcraft related killings or incidents has been drastically reduced. Is that correct?

PROF RALUSHAI: I said we used to have a lot of ritual murder cases here and when they increased here Judges in this court in Venda did not wear gloves. They really went for ritual murderers, they were hanged. They were given heavy sentences. I said, as a result of that we have got very few similar cases and all of those that have in fact followed after 1992, none of them had politics.

MR VAN RENSBURG: After which period, can you just repeat that?

PROF RALUSHAI: After say 1994, we had cases which could be explained traditionally. Sometimes where a person would say, well, I'm a traditional doctor, I want to have some strengthening drugs, then they go and kill somebody, but those that involved chiefs who were in fact aspiring to be great in politics, none of them are there now. In any case, at present chiefs here, although they've got a right to play a role, they are not acting in politics.

MR VAN RENSBURG: The point is, shouldn't the cut off point be 1990 and not be 1994 as you testified, because in 1990 Mr Nelson Mandela was released?

PROF RALUSHAI: I am just trying to show that well, as from the time when people could talk freely, we never had many cases.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, and I suggest to you that that time period should be 1990, not 1994, as you testified.

PROF RALUSHAI: That does not substantially change what I'm saying. The point is that after those Judges worked here, we had very, very little ritual murder cases.

MR VAN RENSBURG: Yes, thank you Mr Chairman, I have no further questions.

CHAIRPERSON: Re-examination?

MS PATEL: Honourable Chairperson. Honourable Chairperson, Ms Patel here.

INTERPRETER: The speaker's mike is not on.

CHAIRPERSON: Oh sorry, how can I forget you?

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MS PATEL: Just one or two aspects Professor. Just for clarity for our understanding, once a person is pointed out perhaps as a witch or a wizard, can you explain to us what processes would be put in place in the community,. Would the youth have a youth meeting, how would people be gathered, what kind of information, if any, would be given to the group of people that would go along?

PROF RALUSHAI: Traditionally the youth played no role at all in cases concerning witchcraft. It is only from the date around 1988 when for the first time we saw young boys taking law into their own hands on witchcraft cases.

MS PATEL: If we're dealing with the period from 1988 onwards, let's assume that A accused B of being a witch or a wizard. What practically would then happen within the community? Do you understand what I am trying to say?

PROF RALUSHAI: I do. If A say in 1989 would say is a witch, now remember that already at that time chiefs had been turning people around here, "if ever you do have witchcraft cases, don't come to us because we are not allowed to try such cases in our tribal court," so they won't even go to them. They would say "well, if you are not happy go to Sibasa Magistrates Court." If you go there, then the Anti Witchcraft Act would be applied, but tribal courts wash it of their hands.

MS PATEL: I'm not asking you what would happen in terms of the existing perhaps legal structures or tribal structures that were in place, in terms of how the youth would have been perhaps manipulated and operated during that period from 88 onwards. Let's assume there was an allegation that somebody was a witch or a wizard, youth would mobilise not so?

PROF RALUSHAI: If A in this particular area was suspected of being a witch it wouldnít help to say you know the thing was reported last week or so. This particular family might alone been identified with witchcraft but this time the climate was right to deal with such things. Then a member of this particular family may tell some ...(indistinct) boys, heh look, why do you spare her. She has killed so many people. Then the youth will assemble at a certain place, attacking the so-called witches, but otherwise in the past, witchcraft was too adult for kids.

MS PATEL: Let's assume that the youth had then in terms of your scenario to us, the youth had then assembled. A decision is taken to deal with the witch or the wizard. Would, in terms of your experience, would all parties who participated as part of that group, would they generally have participated voluntarily or would there sometimes be an element of duress that would come to be on certain people who would form part of this group?

PROF RALUSHAI: Well I'll be very honest with you. We didn't sort of find out if in every case everybody who was you know was forced but rather if perhaps 10 or 20 boys are going to a site and they meet you on the way, and you're a boy, they just say "join us" and because at that time the thinking in the area was that witches must be cleaned out, so this young boy may not even sing, may not even think, it's just a question of enjoying his friends and is enjoying singing. It's only on the following day when hearts are down, when police are moving around now, rounding them up then the aunt must say 'Hey, I must hide you in Jo'burg" Why? "The police are looking for those boys who were singing here last night."

Otherwise quite a good number of boys enjoyed just joining these people singing and dancing.

MS PATEL: Are you saying then to us that it is possible that you would get certain boys who would join a particular group on their way to deal with a witch, where in fact the witch or the wizard was dealt with and that particular boy or child would not necessarily know exactly what was going on, he would merely, that's just the way things happened, that youth would just come along and join if there was group?

PROF RALUSHAI: What I'm saying is this, this boy sees friends. These are local people, they are dancing, they are singing, he joins them. These boys don't say "we are going to kill Mrs A" they just say "we are going to deal with the mother of B". They are not saying we are going to kill her or him. So when they are there, they start throwing stones, some boys will now perhaps light the first hut, but otherwise it's not a question of sitting down, that now you must stand at the corner there, I will stand there, no it was emotionally done.

CHAIRPERSON: Professor, the question is simple. While there may not be a plan or meeting to decide how certain things are going to go, the burning of people or the throwing stones at people must necessarily, no matter what the age of the little child is, result in him having the idea that someone is going to die, not so?

PROF RALUSHAI: Could you please repeat that?

CHAIRPERSON: Burning somebody or throwing big stones at somebody, must necessarily be associated with the idea or the possibility that such a person may die, no matter how young or old that child is.

PROF RALUSHAI: I agree with you.

CHAIRPERSON: I think that was the crux of the question.

MS PATEL: Just finally, then given that scenario, is it fair to say that those youths who embarked on those actions, were aware of the consequences of their actions? They are participating in singing and dancing, on their way to where a witch might be dealt with, that the consequences exist that they were aware of that this person would be killed, or harmed, or their property damaged?

PROF RALUSHAI: I've got a very big problem here. We did not interview the youth. They had either fled the country or they were in jail. We interviewed people outside. Why do you think the kids did that and that and that? So I can't answer the question. We did not interview those boys, we interviewed their own parents, their own brothers and so on.

MS PATEL: Okay, that you Professor.


MR NDOU: No, no re-examination.

CHAIRPERSON: Professor, this idea, I know it's an old idea, that the medical advice, if you want to call it that, of these traditional healers, may have been believed in without question in those days and on many occasions one reads the law books, reads the newspapers, it results in young children's bodies being mutilated and again I mean no disrespect to anybody, but it is frightening and I'm shocked by having to hear for the first time in my life today that basically those people who eventually died, had to be alive when such human parts were removed. I can just imagine the pain those people must have been going through. From your research, are the people who formed part of the society in this area moving away from those beliefs, or are those beliefs still crystallised here?

PROF RALUSHAI: Many people are moving away from such beliefs, for example, once a person disappears around here, people are no longer scared to go report, whereas in the past when the traditional leaders were bosses, say "well, who am I to go and say chief A did it", but now that courts are there and these courts have been proved in the past to have successfully dealt with chiefs, so once a person's involved in a muti murder case, the police easily find many people ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I understand that, I fully understand that is the legal mechanisms in which they deal, I am talking about the belief itself, the mentality.

PROF RALUSHAI: I will say many people are no longer at it.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay, good. So it's slowly dying.

PROF RALUSHAI: I think I'll even say fast.

CHAIRPERSON: And hopefully we'll be able to spare many more lives now.

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct, Sir.

CHAIRPERSON: I can imagine parents having to find out that their young child has been mutilated, it could not have been a nice experience.

PROF RALUSHAI: Correct, Sir.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes thank you Sir.

MR NDOU: May he be excused?

CHAIRPERSON: Ms Patel, do you need the professor any more?

MS PATEL: No thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr van Rensburg?

MR VAN RENSBURG: No thank you Mr Chairman.

CHAIRPERSON: Just in case we need him, is he easily available?

MR NDOU: Yes, he's available, his offices are just across the road.

CHAIRPERSON: Then he can be excused.

Thank you for your assistance.





MR NDOU: Thank you Mr Chairman. Now I wish to start calling the evidence of the applicants themselves and I intend starting with Ramasitsi, that's 2723/36, I suppose it should read 96.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Ramasitsi, what language would you prefer to use?


CHAIRPERSON: Are you sure?


CHAIRPERSON: If during your testimony you wish to change, then please indicate to your attorney please.

Before I ask you the next question, is there any particular reason you have that thing on your head?

MR RAMASITSI: I beg your pardon?

CHAIRPERSON: Is there any particular reason that you need to have that on your head?



MR RAMASITSI: Because of my ear.



CHAIRPERSON: What is wrong with your ear?

MR RAMASITSI: My ear, the right ear Sir has been torn off.



EXAMINATION BY MR NDOU: Mr Ramasitsi, you are applicant number 2723 of 96, is that correct?


MR NDOU: And your full names are Roger Kachero Ramasitsi.


MR NDOU: Now could you tell the Committee as to when were you born?

MR RAMASITSI: I was born 5 May 1970.

MR NDOU: I see, so that makes you 29 now, is that correct?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course.

MR NDOU: And you've come before this Amnesty Committee to apply for amnesty for certain acts or commission that you committed during 1990, is that correct?

MR RAMASITSI: Absolutely.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Ndou, before you proceed, I just want to indicate to you that at the end of the hearing the Committee would expect you to indicate which crimes each applicant would be applying for amnesty for.

MR NDOU: That is so.

CHAIRPERSON: Because we are not going to give amnesty for something that is not asked for.

MR NDOU: That is so.

Now, is it correct that indeed in 1992, November, you were sentenced for certain offences which took place on the 28th and 6th April 1990, is that correct?


MR NDOU: Now for which offences were you convicted?

MR RAMASITSI: I was convicted of arson and murder also.

MR NDOU: And this murder that you are alleged to have committed, who was the deceased person in the matter?

MR RAMASITSI: The deceased is Mr Edward Mahvunga.

MR NDOU: And where did deceased Edward Mahvunga reside?

MR RAMASITSI: He resided at Mahvunga location.

MR NDOU: And you, where do you reside?

MR RAMASITSI: I reside at Mahvunga location too.

MR NDOU: Now when I looked at your date of birth, I see that in 1990 you were 20 years of age, is that correct?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course.

MR NDOU: Now, you are appearing here before the Committee with several others, 8 other people.

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, Mr Chairman.

MR NDOU: Now I want you to slowly go through and explain to the Committee as to what transpired before you did whatever you did and why you did it, so that the Committee can understand before they can take a decision as to whether to grant you amnesty or not. Do you understand that?

MR RAMASITSI: Thank you. Can I go?

MR NDOU: Yes, please do so.

MR RAMASITSI: I think I should start at the time when the man was released himself, I mean the Honourable Mr Mandela. The time he was released, I still remember every feeling of the youth here in Venda, particularly in our region, there was a general feeling that we have to be free and that freedom was to come through our contribution. So as Mr Professor here said, in the urban areas the youth were involved in many things to render the country ungovernable as such. So in the rural areas there came to be a time when things weren't going right, as I can say.

ADV DE JAGER: Could you just pause in between sentences so that we could take notes, please.

MR NDOU: Right, just take it slow.

MR RAMASITSI: Okay. At the time of the release of Mr Nelson Mandela the youth were very much emotionally charged because at the time, that was the time of political awareness amongst us, the youth. During that time there was a confusion, if not a confusion at all as I can say, the youth were very much distanced from playing political role here in our region because everything which was done, it was done for us by the elders. We felt that as the youth we have to contribute to our freedom as such.

During that time, it was the time when political parties were starting to stage rallies around our region, particularly in our area where I was staying in Nzhelele. So during that time, we used to go to all the rallies, addressed by those big political powers, I mean those big political names in South Africa. During that time, it was the time that everyone said that there was a quest for freedom, so there came to be a time when we had to strategise so as to be in form with those comrades in the urban area. As I still remember, our comrades in the urban areas were involved in rent boycotts, consumer boycotts, strikes and all the likes, whereas here in the rural areas there were no such things, so there came to be a time when we thought that for us to contribute in our struggle, we have to remove such obstacles that were making it difficult for us to be free as such, as everybody was thinking that now Mandela is out, we are going to be free.

Here in the rural areas, it was not that easy. There were many confrontations with the police and the defence force as such because during that time almost every main road here in Venda, it was manned by the comrades because every now and then there was a movement of youth going up and down attending rallies in the stadium and in the committee halls as such. So, we used to hold meetings in our village. Mostly when we came from major rallies, when we came back, we used to address those youth who used to stay behind for protection.

MR NDOU: Okay. If I may ask you, were you organised as a group, or were you just a group of separate individuals who'd come to meet, what prevailed at the time?

MR RAMASITSI: So at that time, as I have said, it was emotionally, it was a feeling amongst the youth that for us to be counted as the freedom fighters, because at that time it was during the time of the unbanning of political parties, during that time I cannot say we were members as here in the rural area there was not that political awareness that everyone can say I have to be a member, I have to be a card carrying member, so I can say we were supporters of those political parties, at such time, but we were not card carrying members as we were just starting to mobilise so that we can have our own youth congress as such at that time.

CHAIRPERSON: When was that?


CHAIRPERSON: Now tell me, I'm going to ask you a very important question. These activities and the development of your youth congresses and all that went after, why was that done? Was it done perhaps to show the rest of the country that things can also happen here and that the youth in the area must not be thought of negatively, or what was the actual reason?

MR RAMASITSI: The actual reason was that as we came to realise that this independence which had been granted by the South African Government, it was null and void because the truth is that actually it was no independence at all, it was just, what can I say, it was just a mickey mouse independence, so the youth came to be aware of that. So the general feeling amongst the youth was that we have to fight to see this banana republic returned back to where it belongs, the South African Government at that time.

CHAIRPERSON: Was that a genuine feeling amongst the youth or was it just to show the other youth that you are their equals politically?

MR RAMASITSI: It was the general feelings amongst us the youth.


MR RAMASITSI: Thank you. Okay, that time after those major rallies, it came to be known amongst us that now that the youth had come to see the light, they have to fight to see this Venda going back to where it belongs. So when it comes to the strategies that we used to employ, in trying to render this state ungovernable, we decided that as we have got so many obstacles that are making it impossible for us to be free as we have to see that people have to be redeemed from those chains that South Africa have made us suffer for a long time as such, we have to devise some strategies and such strategies were very, they were no, I mean, specific directives as to what has to be done. As we were the youth ourselves, we felt the pressure mounting within us that the closest target which we can deal with, let's say it can be witches as such, so we started to hold meetings. We used to hold meetings sometimes three times a week, maybe Sunday, Tuesday,. Thursday or Fridays. So it used to be three times a week. So the first meeting I remember we held. May I carry on?

MR NDOU: Okay, let me try to assist you so that we can move faster. You resided at Mahvunga location?


MR NDOU: Do you have a traditional leader at Mahvunga?


MR NDOU: And who is the traditional leader at Mahvunga?

MR RAMASITSI: His name, I forget his name, he's got his Venda name, his name is Adam Mahvunga.

MR NDOU: Now this Adam Mahvunga, does he lead your village from within? Does he reside at Mahvunga as well or does he reside elsewhere?


MR NDOU: Where does he reside? Does he reside at Mahvunga?

MR RAMASITSI: In fact he resides at Mahvunga but he is a commuter. By commuter I say he is the one who works in the Reef, he used to come back some times.

MR NDOU: Yes okay. Now you say during that period your group of young people would gather and hold meetings, whereat you discussed certain issues affecting you as people?


MR NDOU: Right. And I also understood you to be telling the Committee that during that period you had come to see the light, you had come to see that what you were getting and what you were involved in, in the independence of Venda, was not actually independence, so you wanted to free yourselves from this so-called independence so that you can go back to the original South Africa?


MR NDOU: Is that correct?


MR NDOU: What sort of discussions were you holding at these meetings when you held them with your peers?

MR RAMASITSI: What we expected, we expected a good life whereby we could get a free education; free health services and all the things that we have been promised as the new dispensation was to come around.

MR NDOU: Okay. And who was Edward Mahvunga, if you could explain to the Committee so the Committee understands exactly, so that even when you get questions from the other side, the Committee understands what you are talking about. Who was Edward Mahvunga.

MR RAMASITSI: Edward Mahvunga, he was a relative of Mr Adam Mahvunga, the headman.

MR NDOU: A relative in what sense?

MR RAMASITSI: I think they share the same grandfathers, as I can understand. But I don't know whether it was an uncle or a grandfather, but I think there was relationship between the two. ...(end of tape)

MR NDOU: Now what sort of role would you say Edward played in the community?

MR RAMASITSI: He was just a commoner.

MR NDOU: I see.

MR RAMASITSI: As I can motivate by this, he was a commoner in that if he was a distinguished person in the community, he could not have stopped us from having free political activities at the village as he did by confronting us.

MR NDOU: Okay, let's take it step by step. What I've asked you is whether Edward Mahvunga had any significant role to play in the community, that's what I want you to give to the Committee.


MR NDOU: Now, what sort of work did he do?

MR RAMASITSI: He was a farmer, as I can say.

MR NDOU: What did he farm with?

MR RAMASITSI: He used to farm onion. He was farming onions and fruits. He was not a cattle farmer, he was not a good farmer, he was not a stupid farmer.

MR NDOU: Okay. Now when you held these meetings, did you have anything to do with him?

MR RAMASITSI: No not particularly. What we have done that concerned him is when we touched the issue of doing away with the witches as we perceived them as obstacles that were making the then Venda government ...(indistinct) at the time, as we have stated the case of ritual murders and the likes.

CHAIRPERSON: You explain to us what you mean by that, or what you understood by that.

MR RAMASITSI: I beg your pardon?

CHAIRPERSON: You say that there was a decision to kill the witches, wizards, why?

MR RAMASITSI: In the rural villages it was different from urban areas. In the rural areas we grew up with the belief that there are witches surrounding us. They are people who have the power to practice supernatural powers that we cannot see by our naked eyes.

ADV DE JAGER: Just go slowly please, because this is very important what you are telling us and realise too that you should think carefully what you're saying because it's very important what you are telling us.


ADV DE JAGER: You said, in our area we believed that there were?

MR RAMASITSI: We grew up in the belief that there are witches, those who have been endowed with supernatural powers.

MR NDOU: Who, specify who you are referring to?

MR RAMASITSI: The witches.

MR NDOU: Now you've explained to the Committee that you grew up believing, from what you learned, that they were practising witchcraft. Now I want you to explain to the Committee who you are talking about.

MR RAMASITSI: I am talking about the witches, those we have said we have to eliminate.

ADV DE JAGER: But give us the names of one or two or whoever.

MR RAMASITSI: One such a witch was Mutshinya Tshinakaho, she was one of the witches which were pointed out.

ADV DE JAGER: Can you just spell that for us please?

MR NDOU: Yes. T - S - H - I - N - A - K - A - H - O

Mutshinya is M - U - T - S - H - I - N - Y - A.

MR NDOU: Now who else are you talking about?

MR RAMASITSI: One was Miss Muravha.

MR NDOU: Muravha is M - U - R - A - V - H - A

CHAIRPERSON: Now why did you people want to kill these people?

MR RAMASITSI: Our main aim was not to kill these people, we just wanted to get rid of those witches, whether by banishment or just by trying to make them confess to their evil deeds, so that we can be aware of what is going on around us.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, carry on.


MR RAMASITSI: After pinpointing those people ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: But why did you want to get rid of them?

MR RAMASITSI: There used to be a time when people were crying "So-and-so has bewitched so-and-so, so-and-so has got Zombies also" so those talks they were the ones that made us to wonder, what are they talking about, what is happening, what can be the cause, what can be done? So those were the questions we asked ourselves first.

CHAIRPERSON: What has that got to do with your freedoms of free medical care and free education?

MR RAMASITSI: It came to that because those witches, they were believed to have strange powers because we used to believe that those witches, they have got everything. That's how we used to understand things about the witches. They were super humans.


MR RAMASITSI: So sometimes you found that they were jealous, they inflict diseases on other people, they are causing death to other people. They were crippling people somehow, so they felt that before we get this freedom we are talking about, we must be free of ills amongst us, that's why we said that those witches have to be eliminated before we get that freedom because it is no use getting freedom with obstacles on our doorsteps.

MR NDOU: Now how did you come across the deceased?

MR RAMASITSI: The time when we cam across the deceased was the time when we were coming from one such rally in Thohoyandou. It was at about, round half past 5 to 6. We were gathered at the school soccer ground at the time. We were about to address the people who stayed behind, of how ...(intervention)

ADV DE JAGER: Yes please, you should go slower because I've got to write down what you're saying, and if I can't write it down I can't remember what you were saying, so it's very important that we write down what you're saying.

MR RAMASITSI: I'm sorry.

ADV DE JAGER: You started off by saying that you came across the deceased while you had a meeting or a rally at a school.

MR RAMASITSI: We were coming from a rally.


MR RAMASITSI: So during that time we were chanting freedom songs. So then we heard a voice shouting. The voice was shouting "who are you, who's there?" So after that we stood still, no one was chanting. We were expecting that voice to come forward. Then after a time we heard that the voice was not coming nearer and that made us wonder who can be this person who is shouting at us and then failed to show himself or herself. Then we heard the voice again. The voice was saying "Are you the comrades? What do you think you're going to come up with in my place? In my place I don't have freedom fighters, I don't have comrades and I don't like comrades at all." Then we realised that the voice belonged to Mr Edward Mahvunga. So, he wanted to know what was the real reason why we converged at the soccer ground at the time.

MR NDOU: Did he come to you?

MR RAMASITSI: No, he was not close to us, he was on the footpath. And then we told him we are chanting because we are happy. The big man has been released. By the big man I am referring to Mr Nelson Mandela. Then he asked us "Who is this Mandela?" and then we tried to elaborate to him who is he. Then he told us it is his first time to hear such name being announced in his place, so he don't appreciate hearing such things because he is not a politician, he is not a comrade. We just gave him a passing glance and thought that maybe he is disturbed. The next day when we held another meeting again, he came back again saying "Oh, it's that meeting again" so we told him what we are doing does not concern him, then he said "I think I'll be hearing for the last time, because I don't appreciate the idea of comrades chanting when we are asleep".

ADV DE JAGER: What time of the day or night was it?

MR RAMASITSI: It was about half past 6, 7 in the evening.

And again he was dismissed as someone who was not in full command of his senses but then he said he is going to take major steps to see that these things, it is going to be put in hand, the thing of our chanting all around the village.

ADV DE JAGER: Did he tell you he's going to take steps?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes. Then, when we were about to hold the third meeting,

CHAIRPERSON: When was that?

MR RAMASITSI: It was three or four days after that meeting, we thought of holding that meeting I'm talking about now, the third one, on a mountain so that maybe it will be safer or maybe he won't hear us chanting on the mountain.

ADV SIGODI: Why did it worry you that he should not hear you chanting?

MR RAMASITSI: I beg your pardon?

ADV SIGODI: Why did it worry you that he should not hear you chanting?

MR RAMASITSI: I don't know what he was worried about because we tried to ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: No, why did you worry about him?

MR RAMASITSI: The problem was one, he was the one who was concerned about our chanting and all those meetings that were taking place in our village.

ADV SIGODI: Yes, but the question is, why did you deem it necessary to move and actually hold a meeting on the mountain in order to get away from him. Why was it necessary?

MR RAMASITSI: We thought, maybe, because he is the one who is pestering us with his questions and all the likes, we have to give him room, if he wants to be the boss of this village, then we have to leave him in the village, then we must go on the mountain and there we will have to hold our meetings.

ADV SIGODI: But you were asked several times what was his position in the community and you said he was a commoner.

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, he was just a commoner.

ADV SIGODI: So why was it necessary to go away from him?

MR RAMASITSI: In fact he was an aggressive someone, because he used to have some confrontation with the headman also. People were not in favour of him as such because he was having negative attitudes towards everything the village agreed upon.

ADV SIGODI: But where would you hold these meetings I mean where he would hear you? Was it not at the stadium.

MR RAMASITSI: No, it was in the soccer field at home.

CHAIRPERSON: He wouldn't hear you from the soccer field?

MR RAMASITSI: It's not far from his place.

CHAIRPERSON: What the question is directed at is, why were you scared of him, what was so special about him?

MR RAMASITSI: We were afraid of the major steps he had promised us that he was going to take.

CHAIRPERSON: Why did you think he was capable of doing that?

MR RAMASITSI: We used to know him because he was an aggressive person and we knew whenever he said something, he meant it, so we didn't take chances.

MR NDOU: And how did he himself perceive himself to be amongst the people of Mahvunga?

MR RAMASITSI: There was a saying that, he used to say that he has been robbed of the chieftainship, he should have been the headman in fact.

MR NDOU: So what you are saying is that he regarded himself as the headman of the area?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, that's why he was trying to tell us no, I don't want to hear you chanting all around here because it makes me angry whenever I hear comrades chanting and all the likes, because we know the headman himself he was tolerant to what we were doing, but he himself was against us so we were surprised.

MR NDOU: Let's take it very slowly. It's very important that the Committee understands exactly what you are saying. Now as I understood your evidence, the headman works in Johannesburg, is that correct?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course.

MR NDOU: The real headman?


MR NDOU: That's what you have told the Committee.


ADV SIGODI: Sorry who was he?

CHAIRPERSON: Who was the headman?

MR NDOU: Oh, he mentioned his name, Adam Mahvunga.



CHAIRPERSON: Oh yes, they had a common uncle.

MR NDOU: Yes. So when Adam Mahvunga is in Johannesburg, Edward perceived himself to be the leader in the area, is that correct?


MR VAN RENSBURG: Mr Chairman, I think I have to object to that question, I don't think that was what the evidence was. The evidence was that he would have liked to have seen himself as the headman. That was the evidence.

MR NDOU: Yes, that's why I say he perceived. I think the word perceives, it makes a great difference there. He perceived himself to be the leader of the people in the area. I didn't say that he was the leader, I said he perceived.

CHAIRPERSON: He assumed the leadership when the real headman was gone.

MR NDOU: Yes, that is so. You can proceed.

CHAIRPERSON: How did he do that? What did he do to indicate or to demonstrate that he had assumed this position on this pedestal?

MR RAMASITSI: Sometimes we used to, whenever there is something that the Committee have to hear, there is the second man to the headman, he is called Jonas Radsidau, he is the one the headman used to assign if there is some sort of duties to be one in the headman's kraal, so when we used to hear that voice of the second man of the headman, the other day we heard the deceased's voice calling instructions to the whole village, the voice chanting around, "who has ever heard about those boys coming from nowhere and chanting, are these the boys from this area, when we expect the boys from this area to be far away from these activities". So that's how we come to realise that okay, he was about to take the helm of the country, so we have to give him room and go to the mountain to hold our meetings.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, carry one.

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, that day of the meeting on the mountain, we started about half past four. We were comprised mainly of males and females, there were boys and girls, numbering at about 200 to 300. I remember I was the one who was having the meeting at the time. So when we were busy with the meeting, all of a sudden we hear stones being thrown at us and at that time it was round about 6, 7, 8 in the evening.

MR NDOU: Where did the stones come from?

MR RAMASITSI: No one was having the idea at the time. We were surprised and we thought maybe it was some of our comrades, they were just trying to scare us, until we realised that the stone throwing was coming from different angles. So at that time mostly the girls were shouting, "hey, they want to kill us, who might be throwing us with the stones" They were surprised. So we boys, we stood up, we made some sort of a defence unit, we made a sort of a kraal and put the girls inside and the boys were outside the crawl so that if the stones were coming they had to hit us, not the girls. But the stone throwing didn't stop. It is then that we realised that we are in danger. If we stay here one of us will have to be carried down the mountain or we will leave some sort of a corpse.

MR NDOU: Who was throwing the stones? Let's just try and move forward.

MR RAMASITSI: At that time we were not aware who was throwing the stones.

CHAIRPERSON: Did you find out eventually who threw the stones?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, I'm coming to that.

CHAIRPERSON: Well let's get to that then, that's what your attorney is asking you.

MR RAMASITSI: Okay. So when we got down the mountain, we were running. We were running to safety because the mountain was nearest to the village, so whenever we crossed the wire dividing the village from the mountain, we landed in the village. So it's then that we realised that there was the deceased and he was not alone, he was with his sons and he's got four sons, if I'm not mistaken. So when we get down from the mountain we found that he had already assaulted most of the girls and they were shouting his name, Edward, you are hurting us, Edward you are hurting us, so it is then that we realised that it is the deceased who was ambushing us with his sons and they were using slings. Those stones were being thrown from slings, not from just hands.

ADV DE JAGER: So he and his four sons attacked 200 - 300 people.

MR RAMASITSI: Yes. Then we ran away because it was in the night. There was no time of protecting yourself because you were not having any idea where you are on the mountain because we were afraid of getting hurt, that's why we tried to run away from them.

CHAIRPERSON: When you got down to the bottom of the mountain into the village, how far from the fence did you see these 5 people?

MR RAMASITSI: Not even 10 kilometres from there.

CHAIRPERSON: 10 kilometres?

MR RAMASITSI: Millimetres, maybe 100 millimetres from the fence.

MR NDOU: Metres or millimetres?

MR RAMASITSI: Metres, I mean. I'm sorry.

ADV DE JAGER: Now is it 10 or is it 100 or what?

MR RAMASITSI: 20 meters, 30 metres from the mountain.

CHAIRPERSON: Before we get into cross-examination, let us just establish approximately how far?

CHAIRPERSON: Do you know a soccer field?

MR RAMASITSI: A soccer field?

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, the size of a soccer field, it's about 100 metres.

MR RAMASITSI: It's from one goal post to the centre.

CHAIRPERSON: So that's 50?


CHAIRPERSON: Are you satisfied that's the distance now?


CHAIRPERSON: Now, could you see them?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, we could see and hear their voices.

CHAIRPERSON: No, I'm asking could you see them?

MR RAMASITSI: Not exactly.

CHAIRPERSON: So how did you know it's them?

MR RAMASITSI: We the boys, we were at the back. What we heard is the voices from the girls who were shouting, Edward you are hurting us and they were also calling the names of the boys who were beating them at the time.

CHAIRPERSON: Now you mentioned in your evidence that they had used slings to throw these stones.


CHAIRPERSON: Did you see any of these slings?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, of course.

CHAIRPERSON: How did you see it?

CHAIRPERSON: I saw, when I was coming down the mountain, there was another, there was one of the sons, he was chasing one of the girls and she was shouting his name. The sling was hanging through his trouser's loop and then on the other hand he was carrying a sjambok, which he was using to sjambok the lady that was running away.

CHAIRPERSON: Now I want to ask you something. Did you see the son?

MR RAMASITSI: I saw one of them, I didn't see all of them.

CHAIRPERSON: What was his name?

MR RAMASITSI: Ndanganeni Mahvunga.

CHAIRPERSON: So you could clearly see him?


CHAIRPERSON: In that dark?

MR RAMASITSI: It was not dark at 7 at summertime.

CHAIRPERSON: You were able also to see the sling and the sjambok?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, I saw the sling, yes.

CHAIRPERSON: Just spell the name of that son please.

MR NDOU: Let's use Eric, Eric Mahvunga.

MR RAMASITSI: N - D - A - N - G - A - N - E - N - I

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, carry on.

MR NDOU: You can proceed. There you were seeing Edward's son Eric carrying a sling and chasing one of the girls with a sjambok and then what happened?

MR RAMASITSI: From that time we were all down the mountain at that time, so we were starting to inquire from those who were next, I mean, it was not that dark for the people to be asleep at that time. The people were not asleep, so whenever we get down the mountain we met those people from their homes who were afraid of what is going on in the mountain because they heard children's voices crying, the girls shouting, "hey we are dying, hey we are being hurt" and the likes, those were the people who were waiting for us when we got down the mountain.

MR NDOU: Yes proceed.

MR RAMASITSI: So from there we started to gather information as to what was going on exactly. Then we realised that the deceased and his sons, when they were ambushing us, they went past those families we were inquiring from, they're the ones who came to realise this is the one who was ambushing the kids in the mountain. Then the people gave us enough information to pin down the deceased and his sons with the assault.

MR NDOU: How did you pin them down?

MR RAMASITSI: They are the ones who told us it is the deceased and his sons. As I indicated earlier on, that I have seen one Eric Mahvunga, the deceased's son.


MR RAMASITSI: From there we dispersed to our respective homes on that day. No political activity took place that day.


MR RAMASITSI: Then the day after the incident of the assault, we found it hard to assemble, as the girls especially they were afraid of being sjamboked again.


MR RAMASITSI: After that incident the village found it hard to accept that a single individual, accompanied by his sons, can just attack a mob of about 300 youths, aimlessly.

MR NDOU: What did they do?

MR RAMASITSI: So, the villagers held a big meeting.

MR NDOU: And when you say villagers, are you referring to both old and young?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, the whole village. So when they held that meeting they wanted to know what was the cause behind the assaulting of the youth by the deceased and his sons.

CHAIRPERSON: When did this meeting take place?


CHAIRPERSON: When and where, yes?

MR RAMASITSI: The day after the incident of this assault at about 3, 4 in the afternoon.


MR RAMASITSI: So, the people came with different ideas and different solutions to the problems facing the youth, as the youth felt that they cannot be held ransom to their freedom they are longing for, because the assault itself had served the youth as a clear indication that their political activities was a problem to the deceased as he has proved it by assaulting the youth as such. So the people thought the best way to deal with the deceased was that we have to go to the headman and seek the "trek pass" so that he must be banished from the village. So the headman came back from the Reef. So he was made aware of the incident that took place in his absence. So after hearing what had taken place he asked the people, "what do you think is going to be done because you are here asking me as the headman to come up with the solutions for us to live together as a village after what has happened," I am referring to the assault here. So the people came to the conclusion that it is better for the deceased to leave the village because he was against our quest for freedom as he was still living in the dark ages, he was not aware of what is taking place. I mean he was not aware of what was taking place at the time.

MR NDOU: And did the headman take any action?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course, he is the one who issued the "trek pass" and ordered his second man to go there and give the "trek pass" to the deceased so that he must leave the village.

MR NDOU: Did he leave?

MR RAMASITSI: Not at all.

MR NDOU: Do you know why he refused to go?

MR RAMASITSI: We demanded an explanation as to why he is not thinking of going away from the village. He said he cannot leave this village, he has worked and sweated for this village, he loved this village so much, he has already built his home and he has got children, he cannot just go and leave his home with wife and children and the like.

MR NDOU: And did the people accept this explanation?

MR RAMASITSI: No, the people said "now you attack the people without coming to disclose your ideas of what was taking place, you just took matters upon your hands and took to sjambok the comrades, so we understand your idea of leaving your house and the children and the wife, but the best way for you to do, you can just take your wife and those small kids and leave those big sons to take care of the house. As for now we find it difficult to engage in free political activity in your presence. We are being sjamboked. Who knows if tomorrow we are going to be killed, as you have already started. So for us to be free, you have to leave."

MR NDOU: Now who did you want to leave? Did you want him to leave with his family or did you just want him as an individual to leave?

MR RAMASITSI: As an individual, because we were not having any grudges against the family as such.

MR NDOU: What would happen to his family?

MR RAMASITSI: After he had left?

MR NDOU: Yes, if he were to leave as an individual, what did you expect of his family?

MR RAMASITSI: We saw that he has got big sons who can take care of themselves. They were not so young, they can fend for themselves.


MR RAMASITSI: So after that he said, no, he's not going to leave because he loved the country, he has built his house and he has got wives and small children so we said that now that the man is not going to leave, what are we going to do? The best way for us to do is to go to the station commander at Dzanani, to call the station commander to come there to advise the man to leave the village, as we desired him.

MR NDOU: Did the police come?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, of course.

MR NDOU: And what did they do?

MR RAMASITSI: They wanted to interview the deceased, then he made himself available. He was there but he told policemen point blank, "I'm not going to leave the village as I love the village and I've already sweated for the village, then I cannot leave my property behind."


MR RAMASITSI: So we pleaded with the station commander that he must advise the deceased to leave the country because whenever he try to risk and leave the deceased behind, there's going to be a big problem as the emotions of the people were running high at the time. So the station commander said "these matters are out of my hands, I cannot shoulder the responsibilities. Everywhere I go I find smoke, I find people chanting, I find dead bodies around the world, so this I have to leave and you have to deal with the problem yourselves."


MR RAMASITSI: Then the station commander went away with his escorts and leave us with the deceased. It is then that the whole village came around the deceased's house and demanded his departure.

MR NDOU: And when was that?

MR RAMASITSI: It was at about 3 to 4 in the afternoon.

MR NDOU: When?


MR NDOU: Do you still remember the date?

MR RAMASITSI: Not clearly.

MR NDOU: Okay. You say the village now converged on his house. What were they going to do there?

MR RAMASITSI: They pleaded with him to go, but he refused and the villagers again dispersed and left the man around.


MR RAMASITSI: Then before sunset we heard that the deceased accompanied by his sons, they have devised a scheme with which they are going to deal with the comrades they have seen amongst us, because they regarded there were trouble makers amongst the villagers. I was one of them, I mean of those who were pointed as trouble makers and so they said I have to be dealt with accordingly. So what we did is that we saw the deceased with his sons coming from the filling station holding two 20 litres of petrol. As we have heard that he was going to pay revenge, he was going to burn all those comrades houses, those who were involved in his departure. Their houses were going to be burned and themselves were going to be dealt with accordingly.


MR RAMASITSI: Then that was that until the day after the incident of the assault. Then after that...(intervention

CHAIRPERSON: When did you see him with this petrol?

MR RAMASITSI: It was the day after the station commander came and pleaded with him.

CHAIRPERSON: When was that? Look you had, the "trek pass" was issued the day after the assault. When did the police come?

MR RAMASITSI: The day after. Those incidents were happening subsequently day after day, day after day.

CHAIRPERSON: So two days after the assault the police came?


CHAIRPERSON: Yes and three days afterwards you saw this petrol in his possession?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes. The villagers decided that if he is going to attack the comrades that he perceives to be trouble makers, then he is going to kill all of us, so they decided to converge at his kraal. They went to his kraal.

ADV DE JAGER: Was that on the same day when he bought the petrol?

MR RAMASITSI: No the day after he bought the petrol.

ADV DE JAGER: So that was now the 4th day after on that mountain?



MR RAMASITSI: The day we saw him carrying the petrol, we, the comrades that were involved at that time, we were pinpointed out say, Roger, Mudau, Masioma, Masithulela, all their houses are going to be burned down.


MR RAMASITSI: By the deceased and his sons.

CHAIRPERSON: But who had this hit list?

MR RAMASITSI: I beg your pardon?

CHAIRPERSON: Who had these names?

MR RAMASITSI: Who were their names, the comrades?


MR RAMASITSI: The sons, this Boshoff Mahvunga and the other one is called Aubrey Mahvunga.

CHAIRPERSON: Explain to us how you got to know that they had this list.

MR RAMASITSI: Okay. During that time the deceased used to have close relatives like the one who is sitting there by the name of Petrus Mahvunga, he is the brother to the deceased as such, so the people like that, they're the ones who were spreading out the rumour, those guys we are going to deal with accordingly. So during that time of the petrol we took our furniture from our ...(intervention)

CHAIRPERSON: So the deceased's family, you say, was telling the villagers what is going to happen.

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, whenever they came across they say those boys we are going to deal with. Then we were afraid and our parents were afraid too. So they ordered us to take out the furniture from our houses and take the furniture to the field, to save the furniture. We decided that if he is going to burn, he must burn the empty houses, not the furniture.

MR NDOU: So you also took your furniture out?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, of course.


MR RAMASITSI: Then we were waiting for him until we decided that for us to be safe, we have to form self-defence units during that time, during that night of the ambush.

MR NDOU: I see it's 5 past 4. Maybe it's an opportune time,

CHAIRPERSON: How long is he going to be more?

MR NDOU: I think he may still go for another 30 minutes.

CHAIRPERSON: Let's see how far he can get.

MR RAMASITSI: So from then on we guessed that we have to form self-defence units which we did and from what I still recall from his gate up to our places, every corner was manned at that time.

MR NDOU: And why were these corners manned?

MR RAMASITSI: We were afraid that he was going to burn our kraals as he was renown for his aggressive attacks. So from there we waited for him until we realised that he's not coming, then in the morning we conveyed to our different places. So when we were at our place, they found that the youth, they were against us singing freedom songs because we declared that we are not going to stop our political activities because we wanted freedom and this freedom we will attain by any other means and the man himself cannot be the obstacle, he cannot hold the people ransom because he was still living in the dark ages. He was against political activities.

MR NDOU: For what reason?

MR RAMASITSI: No one knows. So we decided that we have to go further for us to gain political activities which is free, then if he is going to ambush us like that, we have to remove him as an obstacle for us to get political independence, I mean to get free political activity, we have to remove him, because he has proven himself to be a danger to the village as such. So we decided to remove him.

ADV DE JAGER: Who decided that?

MR NDOU: You and whom?

MR RAMASITSI: The village as a whole.

MR NDOU: Where was this decided?

MR RAMASITSI: At the soccer field. No, no, no excuse me it was not decided by the youth to remove him, so we wanted to make another attempt to remove him from the village, hence we made two attempts and they had failed already, so we converged to his kraal, pleading with him again.


MR RAMASITSI: Then he told the villagers that he's not going to leave. He will leave a dead corpse.


MR RAMASITSI: So then other people asked him, do you say you are not going to leave? And if we are going to see to it that you are going to leave, you will say you are not going to leave, except that you will be taken out as a dead corpse. So, you are alone with your sons, you are just a minor to the village as a whole We are many here, if we want to kill we can kill you now, but if you say that you are not leaving we will see to it that you leave by force. It is then that he declared that "I am not going to leave, I will rather fight." It is then that the people asked him "Are you ready to fight?" He said "Yes, I will fight for my property". It is then that the people said "Okay, if you are going to fight, show yourself".

MR NDOU: And where was all this happening?

MR RAMASITSI: At his kraal.

MR NDOU: So the villagers had converged at his kraal?

MR RAMASITSI: Definitely.

MR NDOU: And you were also there? You were also there at his kraal?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course, I was one of them.

ADV SIGODI: In other words when you are saying the villagers you mean both young and old people were there?


MR NDOU: Yes, and then?

MR RAMASITSI: That's when they said "If you are not going to leave, you're going to leave by force" then he said "I'll fight and I'll die for my properties", it is then the people started with throwing stones.

MR NDOU: And where were his children?

MR RAMASITSI: They were with him, including his wife and all the children.

MR NDOU: And what were they doing?

MR RAMASITSI: They were ready to fight. They were carrying spears, slings and catapults.

MR NDOU: And they wanted to fight this big crowd of people?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course. And it was surprising because 6 people cannot fight more than 2 to 3 000 people.

CHAIRPERSON: Were there 3 000 people?

MR RAMASITSI: The whole village is comprised by more than 5 to 7 000 people, so 2 - 3 000 thousand people were there.

MR NDOU: And all these people that had gathered there, were there to try and make sure that he was removed from his home, is that correct?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, they wanted to remove him from the village, from his home. So the people realised that he was serious and he meant to fight, as he promised to. So the people said that if he is going to fight, possibly he is going to die. He won't stand up to more than 3 000 people. So he decided to strike. He threw, what was that. what did I say he was carrying, catapults and what? An arrow, or what? A spear, I mean it was a spear, he threw a spear into the mass. That spear triggered the whole incident, then the people started throwing stones at him and his children.

MR NDOU: And were these people outside?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes they were outside his fence.

MR NDOU: But inside their yard?

MR RAMASITSI: Inside the yard was himself and his children and his wife.

MR NDOU: And this big crowd that had gathered there was standing outside?

MR NDOU: Outside and around his home.

MR NDOU: Now after he had thrown a spear at the crowd, you say, what did the crowd do?

MR RAMASITSI: It triggered the crowd to throw stones back at him and his children and his wife too.

MR NDOU: What did the people do?

MR RAMASITSI: They started throwing stones at him.

MR NDOU: And what did the stones do?

MR RAMASITSI: Until one of the stones caught him in the eye and that stone dealt him a big blow so that he was defenceless. He started to stagger.

ADV SIGODI: What time was this now?

MR RAMASITSI: About 3 to 4.

ADV SIGODI: In the afternoon?


MR NDOU: From your evidence it would appear that you had been there for a long time, is that correct? What time did you arrive at his home that day?

MR RAMASITSI: The people converged there at about 10 or 11 in the morning, so they whole time from 11, 12, 1, 2 they were trying to plead with him to go.

MR NDOU: So all these four hours was spent on negotiating, trying to plead with him to go, is that correct?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, of course. And when the people realised that he was hurt, they pleaded with the sons to stop fighting and ordered the wife with the kids to go out to the headman's kraal and leave the old man behind, so that the people can finish him because they have already started striking him with stones.

MR NDOU: Just go slowly.

MR RAMASITSI: So after that stone that struck him in the eye, it rendered him defenceless. So the people saw that he was with his sons and the wife, so they ordered the sons to stop fighting because their father now was defenceless. Then the sons stopped fighting and started to negotiate with the mass, so the mass wanted the mother of the kids, again with the kids to go to the headman's kraal as they have nothing to do with the wife in fact.

MR NDOU: So what you are saying is that the crowd was now trying to remove the wife and the kids.

MR RAMASITSI: Of course.

MR NDOU: Because they had nothing against them.


MR NDOU: All they wanted, the person that they wanted was ...(intervention)

MR RAMASITSI: Was the old man himself, because he started the fight.

MR NDOU: Now were the children removed?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course, together with the wife.

MR NDOU: Yes, and then?

MR RAMASITSI: Then, the people jumped the fence. They jumped the fence and got into his own yard. They wanted to see where he is because from the time he was struck by the stone he staggered inside the house, so they were wondering where might he be. So when they got in the house they found that he was bleeding and he was no longer able to see clearly because the blood was all over his face and eyes.


MR RAMASITSI: So from there, it is then that most of the masses now got into the fence and from there I don't really remember what happened until I still remember seeing one of our comrades carrying the tube from the tractor tyre. The tube was fetch from the Datsun bakkie, that was back there in the garage.

MR NDOU: And what happened to the tube?

MR RAMASITSI: So from that time the house was already set alight because there was no one inside except the old man himself.

ADV SIGODI: Who set the house alight?

MR RAMASITSI: We set the house alight.

ADV SIGODI: You and who?

MR RAMASITSI: And the comrades who were with me at the time.

ADV SIGODI: Who are those?

CHAIRPERSON: There were 3 000 comrades.

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, but 3000 people cannot get into the fence, we were about 15 to 20 people who got into the house first.

MR NDOU: And who are these people?

MR RAMASITSI: It's Ravele Philip, Chester Raguala,

CHAIRPERSON: Your co-accused were among them?


ADV SIGODI: All of them?

MR NDOU: All of them?

MR RAMASITSI: Not all of them, and me too, I didn't get into the house.

CHAIRPERSON: But you went to fetch the petrol?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, I was the one who was organising petrol at the time.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, okay. All you co-accused, co-applicants, did something actively in respect of this incident?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course.

MR NDOU: Now when you say "we lit the fire", did you yourself light the fire?

MR RAMASITSI: No, I just carried the petrol around for the people who set the house alight.

MR NDOU: What else did you do?

MR RAMASITSI: From there I was trying to tell the people what was their idea from now because the old man seems to be harmless, he was defenceless, he was about to die, so we wanted to hear from the people, are we finishing him, or what, because we have already started the fight now that the old man was defenceless. So the emotions led us to finish him.

MR NDOU: Now what else did you do as a person? You as a person?

MR RAMASITSI: I myself, I was busy trying to see that the people get into the house, those who wanted to get into the house, because I was trying to say, the ones who are about to get into the house, they had to be old, not the small kids, because it was no good for small children to see a dead corpse at the time. We wanted old people.

MR NDOU: So apart from siphoning petrol, where did you get the petrol from?

MR RAMASITSI: From Ravele's petrol station.

MR NDOU: Oh, so you bought it, you didn't siphon it from someone?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, we bought it.

MR NDOU: So apart from the carrying of the petrol and beckoning people to get into the yard, what else would you say you did actively in participating in the whole saga?

MR RAMASITSI: I was involved in organising the people, mobilising the people, seeing that the venues of the meetings, I was the one who was organising all those things, the venues of the meetings, the petrol, who is to do what, who was about to go and see who, all those things.

MR NDOU: I see. Now we've gone now 9 years back. Now it is 1999, that happened in 1990. Now at the time you were 20 years of age. You've just told the Committee today that you are now 29.

MR RAMASITSI: Of course.

MR NDOU: Have you grown up?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course?

MR NDOU: And now what do you think about those events?

MR RAMASITSI: So what I think of those events at such time, when I start to look at things from a different angle now when I am old like this, I'm so sorry and I feel remorse for what has happened to the family of Mr Edward Mahvunga.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Ndou, this is not criminal court, remorse is not one of the requirements.

MR NDOU: That is so.

CHAIRPERSON: I'm happy to hear that he's remorseful, but you ask questions, you may get the wrong answer.

MR NDOU: Thank you. I see it is now 20 past 4.

CHAIRPERSON: No, carry on, are you going to be more with him?

MR NDOU: Can we proceed?


MR NDOU: Okay, thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: We're going to try to finish him tonight.

MR NDOU: Okay, is there anything else that you want to tell the Committee?

MR RAMASITSI: Yes, I want to tell the Committee to accept that during that time from 1988 as we have already indicated, the situation in Venda as we have already indicated in several ways, was not that normal. Even we ourselves.

CHAIRPERSON: We've heard that from the previous witness and you.


CHAIRPERSON: Is there anything that you want to say to the families of the victim?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course.

CHAIRPERSON: Please proceed.

MR RAMASITSI: I want to say that I understand that it is not that easy to face life without a breadwinner at home, so our irresponsibility that led to his being removed from the community, was not that waste, it was the emotions of the people of the time and the time was itself was pregnant so no one about to stop it, we just wanted to do what the time wanted us to do. So I'm so sorry and those sons, those who are sitting there, I have grown up with, especially Eric and Boshoff. They were my friends. We used to share clothes, food and all life, we shared everything in life, so I don't want to see them sitting there saying Roger is responsible for my father's death, so I want to embrace them as my friends. Since we have started as friends, I want them to finish with friends with me, because I don't have any cry today. I have learned through bitter experiences, I have been to prison for about 6 years and 6 months, so it has been a learning experience to me also to be alone, thinking about what has happened, that led me being behind bars. So it was not easy for me too to accept life behind bars. I have tried my level best to be a responsible person, as I have learned to be responsible, I am responsible till today. I don't think I will have to make that flaw that I did before. So I can say thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: Is that all you want to say?

MR RAMASITSI: Of course.

CHAIRPERSON: We'll adjourn to 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.