TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
SUBMISSIONS - QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
DATE: 04.02.1997 NAME: EVELINA PULENG MOLOKO
CASE: JB0289/013ERKWA - DUDUZA
MRS SEROKE: Is Sipho Sokhela present, around? Sipho Sokhela. My IFP friend. He is definitely not in.
CHAIRPERSON: We shall, we hope the Sokhela family will be with us when we come back after tea, because we sincerely desire that everybody be here present, because this gives us a full picture of what we are about and the truth that we are seeking for, but for now we are going to adjourn for tea, but we shall first let the witnesses to stand and walk out and as they walk out, we shall be standing and we are requesting those with ear sets, earphones to leave them at the entrance. Let us not get out with them, let us leave them where they belong.
DR ALLY: Start at eleven.
CHAIRPERSON: We shall come back at eleven, please at eleven. Can the witnesses stand and walk out first. ... to discontinue before they stop we are chasing time. So, thank you for coming back once more. Thank you for coming back once more. We shall start with a few announcements and observations with regard to our policies with regard to certain groups and this I will leave to Dr Russell, just to give us an idea of our operations. Over to you, Russell.
DR ALLY: Thank you, Chairperson. Just to welcome some more people. The Mayor of Heidelberg, Ms B, Ms Molosokeng. It seems that the East Rand probably have the most woman Mayors
and Deputy-Mayors than anywhere in, in the country and the Deputy-Mayor of Springs, also Ms Antie Nakitela, Deputy-Mayor of Springs and the Mayor of Heidelberg. Welcome to you.
We have statement takers here with us today for those who still want to make statements who have not made statements yet. Our statement takers are at the back of this hall in the Administration Block. Now, I want to emphasise that in the work of the Commission, what is most important is the process of making statements, that all the work that the Commission does is based on the statements which come to us, that we go through every statement as carefully as possible, we try and investigate as far as we can, we try to find out as much of the truth as possible and at the end of the work of the Commission we have to make findings as to whether people are victims of gross human rights violations as defined in the Act. This is very important because on the basis of those decisions the Reparations and Rehabilitations Committee makes recommendations to the President and through him to Parliament as to a policy for victims of gross human rights violations.
Now, I know that many people who have made statements become very angry when they are not asked to appear in public hearings and that is, I think, because people may have the wrong idea that those who appear in public hearings are more important than those who do not. That is certainly not the thinking of the Truth Commission. When we select people to come to a public hearing what we try to do is select cases which give us some idea of the nature of the conflict. So we try to use cases to give us some insight or a window into the nature of the conflict. We do not choose people because we think their stories are more important or because they are more important. We also try, we also try to cover the period that the Commission has to look at which is 1960 to 1994. We also try to give as balanced a view of the conflict as possible because we know that the conflict was many sided.
In the East Rand, for example, we know that the conflict often involved members of the UDF and later the ANC and people who were seen to be members of Inkatha and later the IFP, Inkatha Freedom Party. We have tried to get statements which show the other side of the conflict as seen from those people who may have been members or thought to have been members of the IFP and we hope that we will hear some of those cases during the course of the week. We also hope to hear from people who were involved in local councils, in those structures which were set up by the Government so that we can get side of the conflict. So, we want to ask people to please understand that if we could, if it was possible in terms of time and resources to, to hear everyone in a public hearing, that is what we would have done, but we cannot do that. We do not have the time and we do not have the resources. So we, so we have to select cases, but simply because you have not been selected for a public hearing does not mean that your case is any less important because we use the statements to make our decisions and recommendations.
So, again, I want to repeat that we have statement takers in the Administration Block and I would encourage those who have not made statements, to please make statements. Thank you, Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Russell. You could observe from this statement how difficult the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is and how the best way to achieve all this, we require the co-operation of each and everyone of you here and each and everyone of the citizens of this country. So, to proceed, ...
MRS SEROKE: The names of those who are not here. We will ask Sokhela Sipho and Masesi Mqoma and Zondo Ntisingila, are they present, are they amongst us? If they are, please come in front. We do want to listen to their side of the story and give their testimony. Sipho Sokhela, Masesi Mqoma and Ntisingila Zondo. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay, whilst waiting for them to come to join the other witnesses, can we have Moloko Evelina Puleng to come to the podium, please. We welcome you. Who is Moloko? We are happy to see you. Can you please introduce the people who are with you today?
MRS MOLOKO: I am with my sister here, this is Girlie. This is the wife to my brother, Mrs Maureen Skhosana. On my right we have the daughter-in-law, Dora Moloko.
CHAIRPERSON: We welcome you and we please ask you to give sufficient support to each one of you in the process as we have been, as you have been able to maintain one another right through the ordeal that befell the family. I am going to request Dr Russell Ally, Moloko, to lead you and starting with the taking of an oath. Over to you Russell.
DR ALLY: Thanks Chairperson. Mrs Moloko, will you please stand and raise your right hand.
EVELINA PULENG MOLOKO: (Duly sworn in, states).
DR ALLY: Thank you very much and welcome. You are coming to tell us about something which is particularly painful and also very gruesome. You are going to tell us about the death by necklacing of your sister Maki Skhosana. May I ask you to please relate what happened to Maki in your own words and in your own time and if, at any stage, you feel that you want to take a break, please feel free to do so. Thank you.
MRS MOLOKO: It was on the 20th of July 1985, but I would first like to start where the whole issue started because there were certain rumours that they wanted to kill Maki and they also stated the reason as to why they wanted to kill her. There were rumours that they wanted to kill her because she caused the death of certain youths who died due to being blown up by hand grenades. Now, those youths who were allegedly killed by hand grenades were three and the whole three died next to my place. Now, when the hand grenades exploded we were all asleep and Maki was in the house also asleep and she had, she was going to start work at two and she was going to knock off at ten. At 20 past ten she arrived home and I was the one who opened the door for Maki and we slept thereafter.
When this explosion took place we were also not on the know as to what was exploding outside because we were asleep inside and when I checked the time it was at about 12, midnight. Maki as well was together with us and she did not know what caused the explosion because we were in the house, all of us.
DR ALLY: Sorry, sorry to interrupt you, sorry to interrupt you. Please, if you put the headphones on, then the interpreters find it easier to interpret. So, could you please do that and sorry for interrupting you, but it is a request from the interpreters. Thank you.
MRS MOLOKO: And at that time Maki asked me as to what sort
of a gun was that that went on outside and we were all surprised as to what was happening and who was being shot outside. The house actually shook when this explosion took place, it was like an earth tremor. Thereafter we heard quite a number of cars outside and we were quite scared to go and look as to what was taking place outside. We were scared, we did not even look through the window because we thought whoever was shooting outside would also shoot at us if we peeped through the windows or we opened the doors. We ended up not knowing what had happened until the following morning at five.
Maki was a Comrade, she was politically active. We woke up and we saw quite a number of corpses around the place lying on the ground. Maki went to have a look at these bodies because we were preparing to go to work on that particular morning. Maki came back and she was in tears when she came back and she was in shock. She also mentioned the names of the people or the bodies that were lying around on the ground. She said they were Ngungun Yani, Lucky and others. After that incident we heard that there were rumours around the location and it seemed it was common knowledge that Maki had a hand in the killing of those youths. We did not know how to broach the subject because we knew the truth. Even the fact that these were hand grenades was the knowledge that we got later when we saw in the newspaper, that is on the following day.
I spoke to Maki as a sister and I told Maki that it was better for her to run away and she told me that she was not going to run away because whatever they said she had done, she had not done, she was innocent. Maybe they will realise later on that they were making a mistake. That is when Maki decided to stay at home and not hide. There was death in Soweto amongst our family members. We went to that funeral and I told our mother that there were these rumours in Duduza that they wanted to kill Maki and my mother was also surprised. She was also sick and she did not know what to do and when we came back from Soweto, Maki came back before I did and they were sitting in the house when I got there together with other youths, quite a number of them. I asked them as to who they were and apparently these were the people who were keeping watch over Maki so that she could not run away.
When she came back they kept guard on her so that she could not run away because they initially thought that she had run away. These were Comrades, her co-comrades and on the day of the funeral of the three who were killed by hand grenades, Maki also went to the funeral, I also went to the funeral. On that particular day of the funeral, then on the day that Desmond Tutu was present and he actually saved another man's life because they also wanted to necklace that man. On the following week they were burying certain youths.
I do not know whether these were, these youths were active politically or not, but there were four youths who were being buried at that time. During that time I was affected by all this commotion that was going on including the incident of the hand grenades. That affected me very adversely so I could not sleep and I had decided to go to my husband's place because I wanted to have a peaceful sleep then we went to my husband's place.
On that Saturday when this funeral was being conducted, Maki went to the funeral and I was just pressing my skirt and my skirt got burnt, then I decided that I was no longer
going to the funeral and I decided to just go and watch the funeral without actually participating. Then I went to fetch Dinel. We went with Dinoah and we waited for the funeral procession from the stadium and they had divided themselves into small groups and they were heading for the graveyard. Dinel and myself were standing on top of a large rock and I realised that there were too many people. I said to Dinel we must not go to the graveyard.
As we were standing there I felt very cold and I told Dinel that I was getting cold and we should go back home. She was actually surprised as to how I could get cold because that day it was very hot and I made fire when I got home. Just when I was taking the ashes into the dustbin, three girls went past my place. They were shouting slogans and they were saying that they had burnt Maki. Now, I could not hear properly whether they were saying we had already burnt her or we were still going to burn her and I just looked at them and I was just in turmoil and in confusion at that time. I decided to iron my clothes and Silwana came at that moment and said to me, Puleng, you have got a call. Your mother has phoned and I went to pick up the phone to find out as to what will my mother, was saying.
As we went out, Silwana told me that Maki had been killed at the grave site and I asked her as to how she got to know this and she told me that my, her brother was crying and saying that Maki had been killed and, apparently, in Soweto they knew that Maki had already been killed. When I got to Silwana's place, I found that whoever had phoned me had already put the phone down. I dialled the number, but I was very scared to pick the phone up because I was not sure as to what I had to say. I went to the grave site to go and have a look as to what had happened earlier on and Silwana came with.
When I got to the grave site, when you look at your sister's body, you do feel it in your own body. You feel something as a sibling. Then I saw her body. I approached her from the feet and I could identify the feet, I could identify her as my sister, but I could not see her face because there was a large rock on her face as well as her chest and I went around to try and identify the body. I was disgusted at the way she was killed. I looked at the body.
DR ALLY: Please, please take your time. Do not feel under pressure. When you are ready to continue you can start again.
MRS MOLOKO: I discovered that all her teeth were missing and before she died she had 32 teeth, she did not have a tooth missing. She had a huge gap on her head, she was also injured and she was actually scorched by fire, but she was not really burnt. I realised that her foot had been burnt and she had been gruesomely hurt to death and I looked at her face and her face looked just the same as her son's face. Now, I ask myself as to why did they have to put this huge rock on her face and at that time Silwana was crying. I had so much courage at that time, I was not crying. God had given me so much strength. Her legs were taken apart ... and I went into the nearby house to go and enlist some help. I asked for them to give me papers so that I could cover my sister's body at the grave site. At that time it was quite late.
I remembered later that at my sister's place it was quite a short distance from there, but I went past there because I was so confused and when I got there, they were on their feet, they did not know what to do with the situation. I told them that I was already from the grave site and I directed them to call the police so that they could come and collect the body. Maureen, my sister, as well as Bambate and my uncle, we went to the police station to report the matter to the police and they took the car to go and fetch the body. I also went home to go and fetch my little shawl so that I could cover my sister.
At that time there were not any people in the streets, I was all by myself. It was if the whole world had shut itself out and it had shut me out. They brought the body back and I told my uncle that he should cover her, because I did not want to see her body anymore and I did not want to see the face. They were waiting for the Government Mortuary vehicle to come and pick the body up and the police wanted to take a statement from me. I related the matter that I was not present at the time that this took place and when I got there she was dead already.
We made preparations for the funeral and there were rumours thereafter that nobody was supposed to come to the Skhosana place, that is my place, and whoever was seen getting in there would also be a victim of the same fate that befell my sister. Our relatives came to bury her and we were told that only as the members of the family we should attend. It was a very painful occasion. We went to Natalspruit to discuss with my uncles to make further arrangements from the funeral. We went to the mortuary and we chose a coffin. As we were still making further preparations and we were waiting for the Government Mortuary to tell us as to when they had finished conducting the post mortem, then the owner of the mortuary phoned my brother at
work to tell him that he had received a phone call earlier on that if he should bury Maki, they would burn down his mortuary and now he was scared to conduct the funeral or ferry Maki to the grave site. He wanted to draw back. He said we should see what we wanted to do with the corpse. He was no longer involved.
At that time we realised that the whole world had shut us out and we waited for the day of the funeral. We were also told that on that day some others were going to be burned on that day. They also threatened us that they were going to take the corpse or the body and burn it once more and we were having a problem of burying my sister in Duduza. Luckily, where my parents come from, they come from Shawela and they stay in Shawela presently. My father decided that he was going to bury my sister and as we were making these arrangements we were confused as to how and where we were going to bury my sister. Some suggested that my sister should be cremated instead of being buried and some said it is not our culture to cremate a body and what were we going to do with the ashes.
Mr Moshapilo decided that the service was going to take place at a certain church and we were going to see whether they were going to burn the church thereafter. We spoke to the people at the Government Mortuary that they should not furnish any information with regard to Maki. If they wanted or, us as a family, we wanted to know, we would go there personally. They realised that we were in a predicament and they offered to organise a mortuary at the city, that is a mortuary that was owned by white people where the people in the location would not know that the corpse was there and she was taken to Ashtra Mortuary and on the day of the
funeral, it was quite clandestine because we did not want people to know that we were going to bury Maki on that day. Even the relatives who wanted to attend the funeral were not able because we did not want a large crowd of people to attend the funeral so that it could show that it was a funeral.
We went there, we were only few, quite a few family members in a combi. We proceeded to the mortuary to fetch the body and we later on went to Soweto. We fetched the Reverend from Sakani and when we got to Shawela I saw people in Shawela who had come, even the Reverends from the Lutheran Church, there were quite a number of people, even people from overseas as well as school children where my son was at school. They had come to attend the funeral. It was very surprising because they were being very supportive. Then I came back to Duduza.
We knew that Maki was an innocent victim and today it has come to the surface. Mamasela has also spoken that he was involved in giving the youths hand grenades. Now it has surfaced that Maki also took part and she was also politically active. I also spoke to some of the survivors of the hand grenade and they told me that they never, ever had Maki in their meetings and Maki did not know of their plans on that particular day. There was absolutely nothing that she knew and they were also surprised as to why Maki was killed. Now, this is a very painful situation because there were a lot of rumours flowing around, they branded us a family of informers. Now, there is usually no smoke without a fire. Now, we suspect or know that there is possibly a person who disseminated information that Maki was an informer. I want to request that particular person to
come forward and tell this whole world that he or she is the one who caused the death of my sister and that he or she is the one who said Maki should be killed. We just want to know, we want that particular person to come forward and tell us as a family. We do not bear a grudge and we will not do anything to that person. We just want to see him or her.
DR ALLY: Mrs Moloko, thank you, thank you very much for relating something which, as you have said, is very painful to relive those memories and we know that Maki's case was televised all over the world, but we know that gruesome sight, that picture which flashed across the television screens of the body burning and kicked and I do not, I do not really want to ask you many questions because you have, you were very comprehensive in the account that you gave and, as you said, a lot of what we did not know has since come to light. That we know that the youths were lured to their death by people posing as part of MK, that Joe Mamasela has admitted his involvement, his responsibility and many other members of the Security Police.
There is only question really which I want to ask and, please, the reason I am asking this is not to appear, in any way, judgemental or as a justification for anything that was done to Maki, but just to assist us because we, what we would like to do is to get to the whole truth. Now, the rumours that you spoke about, these have also come to our attention, rumours about Maki either having involvement with people who were supposed to be informers or police and even a suggestion of her knowing Joe Mamasela. Now, this is just to assist us in trying to clarify the issue. If you can, I would like you just to say something about that, those
allegations. If you do not know anything, then that is also fine.
MRS MOLOKO: I have absolutely no knowledge of those rumours because when we heard that she had been given certain amounts of monies, I knew Maki and I knew her very well, I knew that if she had been given money, I would have realised that as a sister and as a very close person. Instead she left us with a lot of debts because she had bought her son a bed as well as a radio and these were the debts we were left with to pay off. There was not any amount of money that we got except for a R5,00 note that we got underneath the pillow. She did not buy any new clothes, she bought absolutely nothing new to indicate that she had a large sum of money and there were rumours that she had bought a very expensive coat and that coat was a present from Germany when there was an application made for indigent people to be given some clothes and Maki got that coat from those clothes. I got a dress amongst those clothes. Even the boots that were rumoured to be very expensive were bought by me and they were worth only R19,00.
We were hearing rumours that informers have a lot of money, but Maki did not have any. There is quite a number of rumours as well as lies that were disseminated with regard to my sister. They said that the Government had bought us the coffin. We collected our own money in order to conduct the funeral, the Government did not help us in any way. It is the very first time that I hear Mamasela's name when he appears on TV as well as the media. The policeman who was allegedly involved with Maki is unknown to me. When I saw that particular policeman, he had come to arrest Litho Nolo and Litho Nolo was very well known as a
thief and he was on the wanted list of the police and that policeman who was on duty, he had come to arrest Litho Nolo. That policeman was not involved with Maki. I have never seen that policeman sitting, talking or having come to visit Maki.
DR ALLY: And these rumours and these allegations, when did they really begin? How long ago before Maki's death or did most of this actually happen after her death or can you give us some idea of the timing of all of these allegations and rumours?
MRS MOLOKO: The rumours started immediately after the youths had died from the explosion of the hand grenades.
DR ALLY: And before that there had been no allegations, accusations that Maki was in any way involved with the police or an informer, it was only after the deaths?
MRS MOLOKO: That is correct. It was only after the funeral of the hand grenade victims. Thereafter, after Maki's funeral there were also rumours that were circulating that we, they had killed the wrong person. They were supposed to have killed another Maki, that is my neighbour. That is where the children were killed. They were coming from Maki's place, that is my neighbour. That is when the hand grenades exploded and even the house itself or the kitchen was full of blood and the very same Maki who was my neighbour told me that other people came to her and when they went out she came to tell me that she is the one who was supposed to have died instead of my sister. I said to her if they had killed the wrong person, why do they not leave you alone because even if they kill you for whatever reason, that will never ever make my sister come back. My sister will not come back to life and whatever they say,
whatever explanations they render thereafter will not help.
DR ALLY: You said that Maki had a child?
MRS MOLOKO: Yes, she does have a child.
DR ALLY: And who looks after the child now?
MRS MOLOKO: It is my mother who is looking after the child.
DR ALLY: We have also heard that your mother is here in the audience.
MRS MOLOKO: That is true.
DR ALLY: And your mother, we have been told, would also like to make a statement. So we would actually invite her to meet with our statement takers who, as I said, are at the back in the Administration Block because I do not think she has made a statement before. Is that correct? This will be the first time.
MRS MOLOKO: No, she has not yet given a statement.
DR ALLY: So if she would also, please, make a statement and, as I have, as indicated to you, we know a lot about this case. A lot of information has emerged and we are hoping that quite soon, especially when the amnesty applications come in, we can have the complete picture, but I will give you back to the Chairperson now, because maybe there are some others who would like to ask you questions. Thanks again.
CHAIRPERSON: Sis Joyce.
MRS SEROKE: Puleng, the people who killed Maki, what happened to them thereafter?
MRS MOLOKO: The people who killed Maki were arrested. That is the people who appeared on the video taking part in the killing, they were convicted, but I do not remember quite well as to what sentences were meted out. Some got five years, some ten respectively and some got a life sentence,
but all of them are here at the present moment. They are out.
MRS SEROKE: Do you ever meet these people?
MRS MOLOKO: Yes, I do.
MRS SEROKE: Do you talk?
MRS MOLOKO: Yes, I do talk to some others and I work at a creche and there were two who came to bring their children at that creche and if you bring your child there you are supposed to speak to me. I am the one who is responsible with regard to admissions and they had brought their children. I spoke to them as if nothing happened. We accepted their children and there is nothing amiss. Everything is just as usual.
MRS SEROKE: Would you like or would you have liked to meet the people who killed your sister so that you can make a channel for reconciliation amongst the family as well as Maki's killers? Would you appreciate any efforts made by the Truth Commission to bring the two together and you want to know as to who gave the order? As the TRC, if we could try to arrange a meeting between the two of you, would you appreciate that effort?
MRS MOLOKO: Yes, I would appreciate it.
CHAIRPERSON: Moloko and the family, we would like you to note that the death of Maki was a national shame. South Africa was looked upon internationally, more especially those who were fighting against apartheid as beasts, as carnivores and that the family managed to stand by Maki even at a time when everybody was saying, away with that family. We salute you. The family, more especially Maki, the passing of Maki vitiated all the noble efforts of the liberation struggles. Everybody was talking about the lack
of order amongst the activists. In fact, it nearly made some of those people who were collaborators to look more noble than the noble people who were fighting the struggle itself. Maki and the family have emerged, after all these disclosures, as heroes. I would say this hearing and this hall have witnessed, who have witnessed this testimony are witnesses of how noble Maki was and I will, without shame, request this house to stand and observe a moment of silence. Can we all rise. Thank you. So what Mrs Seroke was pointing out in terms of those who committed this horror itself, is a challenge to the community of Duduza to say what can they do when their name and the name of the nation was brought into this horror. We have said already that the deeds were the deeds of Operation Zero Zero and we shall never cease to condemn that kind of a heinous deed. We thank you Moloko, we thank the family.