CHAIRPERSON: Mr Roos, we would like to welcome you to the hearing of the Truth Commission today. As is our usual practice, we have asked a Commissioner to assist you, and Mr Malan will administer the oath and will assist you with your evidence as well. Thank you.

MR MALAN: Good afternoon, Mr Roos. You may take off the head phone, because I don't think you are going to be needing it until question time. Welcome, thank you for coming. Just before we proceed will you please stand to take the oath.

JOHANNES PETRUS ROOS: (sworn states).

MR MALAN: Thank you very much. You may be seated. Mr Roos, thank you very much for having driven all this distance to come and participate in the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. If we do not get the information from all angles of the conflict we wouldn't be able to have a complete picture. We know that in certain circles that there is resistance to the Truth Commission. You are going to tell us about a landmine explosion, slightly more than 10 years ago, which led to the death of your spouse and your child. I would appreciate it if you could tell us the story in your own words. We have read your complete statement and we thank you for having given us all supporting affidavits, and whatever other documentation

you made available to us. If you could just take us through the whole process again, to give us as coherent picture as



possible. We would appreciate it.

MR ROOS: Thank you very much, Mr Malan. Can I address you as the Chairperson? Firstly, I would like to thank the present regime for something like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which will expose matters that were never brought to light and matters that were never finalised, and bringing them out into the open so that they can be finalised.

On behalf of myself and my family I would like to thank you as Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and wish you strength and wisdom in this huge task which you have, and may it be very successful. I would also like to express my gratitude for the opportunity which we have to come and talk. An opportunity which we have in the new South Africa to say what happened to us 10 years ago. What we experienced so that these matters can be finalised for once and for always.

It is not easy for me to come and sit here today. It is not easy for me to express myself and express what happened on the night of 17th of August 1986. We are all but human and these are things that happened and we have to live with it. I have to live with it and I have to support a family and also have my friends' family and the community and I have to be in contact with them and handle them fairly. Now I will tell you what happened on Sunday, the 17th of August 1986.

My wife, my children and I went to church that Sunday evening. We were driving in two separate vehicles because earlier the afternoon I had to be at church and they had to

join us later. At approximately 10 past eight we left the church service to our residence at Stellenrust Estate in



Kareenouw which is approximately 12 kilometres from Nelspruit. My wife and my three children were driving ahead of me and I was following them in my vehicle. We got to the turn-off of the farm where we turned off from the tarred road to the gravel road. The first section was used by various people at the Kareenouw citrus farm. Myself and we went to where the road splits up. In the one direction going towards my private residence and when my wife got to the division she went to, she turned towards our house and you could see the lights at our home. But as my daughter told me a bit later, a few years later, because she was in the car when the explosion took place, that three children were sitting on the back seat. My son was sitting behind his mother and my 15-month old baby was sitting on his sister's lap. She was five years old at the time. My wife said to my son who was sitting behind her, Jakkie, here are the house keys, you unlock the door for us. He then leant over from behind her to get the car keys and at that moment she detonated the land-mine. I was driving approximately 20 metres behind them and I saw everything. I saw the flames underneath the car and I saw the car being tossed into the air, off the road onto the left-hand side, into the bushes. Pieces of metal and dust were in the air and I drove closer and jumped out, and I said God, why? I went closer and I looked at my wife. She was sitting on her seat and she was covered in dust and she was severely injured. Her body was covered in blood and she couldn't feel her legs any more. She groaned and asked where are my legs. My son that was standing behind her at that time was sitting on the seat at

the time and his head was to one side and he was unconscious. My other two children, my baby son who was



sleeping on his sister's lap at the time, and they were so anxious that he was screaming and she just held him. I took my two children out, put in my vehicle and took them to the nearest house where Mr Pretorius was already preparing to come out. I briefly told him what had happened and asked his wife to look after my two children and asked him to come and help me so that we could get my son and my wife out of the car. He then went with me and we managed to open the front door of the wreck and I put my jacket down on the grass and put my wife on top of the jacket. Then we tried to free my child who was on the back seat but we could not get him out, because the front seat had trapped his legs in-between the seat. I then asked my neighbour to please fetch his car and take my wife to the hospital in the meantime. At that time I got down on my knees and I said to my wife please don't give up hope, look to God, he will help you, he will get you through this, he will carry you through. And that is how I knelt at her side and asked God to lead us and to give us strength at that time. One was so confused, you didn't know what to do. Mr Pretorius came, we picked up my wife and put her on the back seat, and he took her away to the hospital. I then turned my child's legs and freed his little legs and I put him into my vehicle and took him off to the hospital, where he was admitted at the Ferreira Hospital. That night we waited there. My wife came out of theatre at three o'clock the following morning and the doctors briefly told us what they had done and what they had observed. They had to amputate her right leg below the knee and the left leg was severely damaged and they had to put pins in there. She had other severe wounds. For example, her throat was open and her face had been burnt and at daybreak my father and I



went back to the scene of the explosion, because I knew that part of my wife from her calf down was in the wreck. We went to see if we could find this in the wreck. So that we could bury one part of her. But unfortunately we couldn't find anything. What we did find was a part of my son's forehead. He had a hole on the left-hand side of his forehead. Part of his brains were on the seat and I picked it up in a tissue and folded it and went and buried it in my house. Do you know how it feels, Mr Chairperson, can you just imagine how it feels to have to find part of your eight-year old's brain and have to go and bury it? Can you just imagine it? What it does to a person. How can you be human thereafter? Three days after the landmine explosion my wife passed away. On the 20th of August 1986 the hospital called me in just before 10 o'clock. I was at the hospital at 10 o'clock and I found her where she was covered with a sheet. And it was too late, she never spoke again. She died as a result of all her injuries. My son was transferred to GM Marais Hospital in Pretoria where he was treated. He was operated upon and Dr Lombard called me and told me that he did what he could. He removed brain tissue that was scarred and shrapnel and other junk that was in his brain, but he couldn't remove everything because it was too deep in the brain. But he said that only time will show what will happen. Jaco was treated and sometimes it went well, other times it didn't go so well. Sometimes I would have to drive up to Pretoria in the middle of the week when the hospital wanted me to, because he would get attacks and his sisters, my sisters and everyone had to pin him down, the nursing

sisters and myself had to pin him down to the bed. The morphine that was administered to him was too little and the NELSPRUIT HEARING TRC/MPUMALANGA


morphine of other patients had to be used to pacify this child from the pain and suffering which he was experiencing. Sometimes he would get better. In December he was transferred to Nelspruit and I had the privilege to have him with me at home on Christmas day, but it wasn't my child. He never asked about his mother. He never recognised me as his father. He never communicated. We had to teach him to talk all over again. We had to introduce ourselves all over again, teach him to walk all over again and teach him to eat all over again. But Jaco's condition deteriorated from time to time and he was again taken to the hospital in Pretoria where things got worse. He was then referred to Princess Hospital in Johannesburg by Dr Marais and where the doctors tried to save this child. He didn't get better. On the 5th of March 1987 Jaco passed away. That child experienced seven months of hell and suffering. That was a normal child. He weighed 35 kilograms. At the time of his death he weighed 15 kilograms. More than 20 kilograms of his body weight he had lost by the time he passed away.

Mr Chairperson, these weren't easy times for me. It was not easy, an easy time for my five-year old daughter who had turned six, who had to go to school the following year without her mom. It was not easy to explain all this to her. That child never cried. That child doesn't cry today either. She got such a hard blow in life that she has to carry around with her up until today. Even if things go well, it doesn't matter, she lost her mother at six and she experienced this traumatic experience as a little child. Things that were important to them, their mother, they lost. My child Johan was 15 months old at the time, dealt with the matter in a much better way. He is a very happy child



today. We don't know what he is going to be like in the future, because he also experienced this.

Mr Chairperson, in this time that I have lost my wife I had to appoint people to take care of my house. I had medical expenses which were astronomical. For seven months. I thank the medical fund which saw me through this time. They never refused to help me. They always paid out, and I also thank the then regime which had a President's Fund and part which the medical scheme did not pay, they paid out. But still, expenses I incurred in replacing my vehicle, in appointing people for training and having to look after my children, my travelling expenses to and from these places, my accommodation I had to carry myself.

Mr Chairperson, this is what happened that night. As far as the whole case goes, nobody accepted responsibility for this deed. I assume, although I didn't see, that there were people who were arrested and they were released again. So far as we are concerned, whoever is responsible for this gruesome deed, whichever monsters planned this, we don't know. That is why I said that it is not easy for me to sit here. I didn't want to be sitting here. But due to lack of answers, because of the question that is always there, why am I here, why have I come to speak, to come and tell you what has happened. We want answers for this. I would like to ask the Commission that this matter be investigated further so that we can be told why this happened. My wife was a sporty person, she was a good mother. She was a good wife to me. She didn't harm anyone. My son Jaco, was a reflection of me. He carried his grandfather's names. He

didn't do any harm to anyone. What happened here was done on a private road, on a Sunday evening, to people that were



coming from church. This wasn't a military zone. This incident took place on a farm. This farm was not near a border. This incident where an explosive device was used to stop tanks and heavy vehicles, were used on a car with a wife and children in it. That is why one asks why, why did it happen? Why was there no - did nobody come forward and why were there no answers to this.

Mr Chairperson, I would like to express my feelings about this gruesome deed, to which there were no answers. I would like to ask the people responsible, the responsible party or parties, I don't know who they are. They are unknown to me. Please come forward, you achieved success. You planned this gruesome deed. You executed the deed. You got what you wanted. A brutal murder on a child and his mother. A heavy blow to a man and his family and his children. Please, stand up and turn your face the other way and come and tell us why you did it. What was your mandate that you had such a strong feeling, strong enough to do this. I would also then, as I requested, ask that this matter be investigated further and that this matter can be seen to be finalised so that a court or this organisation and this person would have had the right to do this to private people. That a court should decide how to deal with these people, in a court of law and either convict them or not. I would like to plead with the ANC government, I feel very strongly about the death sentence being brought back. Mr Chairperson, these monstrous murderers are today roaming the streets free. These people are still in civilisation. They are still in the community. They are still free.

They are going ahead with their destructive work here in South Africa, and until such time, until these people are



brought to brook, and until such time as there is a balance in the community, via the provision of answers, until such time as those answers are given, I cannot see peace as a possibility in the new South Africa. This is what helps and inflames the conflict in South Africa.

Mr Chairperson, that is what happened on the 17th of August. That is how I feel about it and that is how my family feels about this. There is one more point which I would like to go on with, but I would like to grant you the opportunity for any questions. Do you have any questions?

MR MALAN: Thank you, Mr Roos. Yes, I do have a few questions. Do you know that the political parties came forward and made submissions to the Truth Commission in Cape Town. Did you know about that?

MR ROOS: Mr Chairperson, because I am from so far we do not have a television and I don't know about that.

MR MALAN: Can I just tell you that here is a copy of the evidence that they have submitted and they do speak about the landmine incidents although they do not specify, but they do specifically say that where - that they are sorry about loss of life, they argue that it was part of the struggle, and I heard from your evidence that it was not a farm on the border, but I would like to say to you that they have accepted responsibility for that policy. It still does not answer your questions and it does not say to you who is responsible for this. But I am sure that it is something that we can follow up with the political parties during our next round of questions. So you can rest assured that we will bring this specific matter to their attention. We do

not know what information will be forthcoming. We do not know if we will be able to expose everything.



This brings me to the second point on which I would like to ask you a question. As far as the question of amnesty goes, you know that part of the Truth Commission's work deals with amnesty, where people who committed such offences and monstrous or gruesome offences should be granted amnesty in the event of it having been politically motivated and that if it meets certain requirements set out in the law, on condition that this information should be made available. I know that is your great desire. I know that you requested that this be brought before a court of law. I would like you to just give us your perceptions as far as the amnesty process vis-a-vis a court of law and this as far as the Truth Commission's work as having to expose and reconcile. Can you just tell us your views on that.

MR ROOS: Mr Chairperson, I feel that because we do not know who did these things, and because it never reached a point where we know who was responsible for it, we would just like to know what happened and what is going to happen to these people. I assume now that there will be amnesty and clemency and we would just like peace of mind. We would like to know who was responsible. Why was this done? And that is why I referred to a court case, that in case it is not brought forward in time that it will go to the extent of going before a court of law. So that we can know. Obviously if that is the process, that there is an opportunity to apply for amnesty and that should people not do that in the time set down, then it will go to a court of law. But do I understand you correctly, when you say that your main interest is just to get a complete a picture as possible?

MR MALAN: Would you still like to take revenge and things like that? Do you still have any such motives?



MR ROOS: Mr Chairperson, I am very proud to say that I praise a living God and he gave me the motivation the past 10 years and up until yesterday my wife said to me, you are going there tomorrow and you will never acknowledge that you are going to talk. But I have come to talk on behalf of my children and myself and my family and the community. That is why I have to come to talk about this and say what happened and that is why.

MR MALAN: Mr Roos, could I just ask you a few other questions. You were working as a farm manager, was it at the Kareenouw citrus estate?

MR ROOS: No, it was Mr BA Walters' farm, it was a private farm.

MR MALAN: Just to look at the circumstances described by the ANC in the framework of their policy in the onslaught. They told us that they feel justified because they believed that the whole farmers' network in the border areas, and that these included military activities. Could you just tell us specifically about this farm, could you tell us if Mr Walters was involved in such activities?

MR ROOS: I did my military duty for 12 months. Thereafter I was never called up to army camps again and the post which I held as a farm manager with Mr Walters, he was an old Rhodesian, born in South Africa, although he had gone to Rhodesia and he came back to South Africa to establish himself at Kareenouw. As far as myself, my wife and Mr Walters or any of his children go, none had a specific title or any key position in any party or any organisation, or they belonged to it, which would then have been a threat to

such an onslaught.

MR MALAN: In your statement you talk about the policeman



who was doing duty at the gate. Was he a member of the South African Police or was he a private security guard?

MR ROOS: It was a private security guard from Kareenouw Citrus Corporation.

MR MALAN: But in your statement your statement you referred to him as a policeman.

MR ROOS: To a certain extent he controlled who could go to the living quarters and who not.

MR MALAN: You also said that after the explosion there was a smell in the air that smelt of cordite. What knowledge do you have of cordite?

MR ROOS: Mr Chairperson, I am a hunter. I know how gunpowder smells and I have loaded bullets and myself and I know the terrible stench that remains in the air thereafter. This was approximately two and a half metre and it was a few metres deep and it made me realise immediately that this was a land-mine and the terrible force that it had, is what made me know that it was a land-mind. This was an explosive device which was used here and this smell was definitely cordite.

MR MALAN: You also said that you appreciate the change that there is a new regime and that the conflict didn't continue. You also said that due to the peace and suffering that you have had experienced, that you have come to peace with that, you have made peace with the whole thing. But when in reference to the conflict that we have to investigate, can you just tell us how you understand it today?

MR ROOS: It is very difficult. Where I am currently residing, is also under a government which loves us very

much, the government of another colour. We treat each other very well. There is absolutely no conflict and there is no




MR MALAN: I don't think you understand, maybe I should formulate the question in a different manner. I am talking about the time that this land-mine exploded here in South Africa at the time. Let me lead the question. Did you experience it then as a situation of war? With hindsight, when you look back today, do you see it as having been a situation of war or how do you perceive what happened at the time? I don't want a long answer, I just want as brief an answer as possible.

MR ROOS: I do not see it as a war because we were not at a border. The circumstances on the farm were such that we got along very well, we worked well with each other. There was no ill feeling amongst each other and in the country in general, yes, at the border.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr Roos. I don't have a question, except that I just wanted to affirm you resilience. You have shared with us a very traumatic story and you have raised questions about children and I just want to say this is one of the things that within the Commission we are struggling with, as to what to do for those young people who saw a lot. So I am just grateful for your faith that you have shared with us, which has made you to remain resilient.

MR ROOS: Thank you.

MR LEWIN: Mr Roos, I would also like to thank you for having come here and I hope that there are more people that will come forward to come and testify before the Commission. I would like to ask you, this explosion, was it the only landmine explosion in the area that you knew about?

MR ROOS: No, earlier that afternoon at approximately four o'clock there was a landmine explosion nearer to Nelspruit



on one of the roads and we heard about that explosion at church. Apparently nearly an entire family was wiped out. In later years, until 1990, for example, we heard about incidents at the border where landmines exploded and in the Trompsburg area and such places where such incidents took place.

MR LEWIN: Thank you very much.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for sharing your story with us. It is one of the many gruesome ones which come through the history of our country and which happened because of the conflict here over the last number of years. Unfortunately land-mines don't know race, political affiliation, gender, they have no feelings, and yet they affect everybody equally and with the same kind of devastation. One of the sad things though in our country is that this is still allowed to go on, and whilst we do not have them being planted here, they are being used in other countries, with great devastation, because they maim people. We are sorry to have heard your story. We hope that we can be able to answer some of the questions which we have asked, and in fact, the political parties have already through their submissions, begun to address some of the questions that you are raising. But obviously there are a number of others which they will need to deal with as well. We hope that South Africans will put pressure on this government to ensure that land-mines, particularly, do not get used in countries anywhere around the world. Because they prevent people from utilising sometimes the only resource they have, land. We hope that you will also add your voice to that. You are resilient and

we are happy that you have shared this story and we thank God that you have your faith which has kept you so strong.



Thank you for coming today.

MR ROOS: Thank you very much. My last request, may I say a prayer for South Africa while sitting here, Mr Chairperson? Do I have your permission to say a prayer?

Dearest God, thank you that we can be here and praise you this afternoon. Thank you for being a living God. Thank you Lord Jesus that you are the one who knows and that you are the one who can determine what happens to everyone. Oh, God, we pray this afternoon for this Commission, and we pray for people that have to sit here and give evidence, that you will give them the necessary support and strenth. We pray oh, God, for this country. We pray oh, God, that you will grant us peace in this land and that You, oh, Lord, will be recognised as the Almighty God. I ask this all through the name of Almighty God. Amen.