DR MALAN: ... give the testimony. Will that be in English or Afrikaans. You have the choice.

MRS BOTHA: I will give my evidence in Afrikaans ...

DR MALAN: You will speak in Afrikaans?

MRS BOTHA: ... but you may ask questions in English.

DR MALAN: Thank you very much, but before you start will you please just rise and lift your right hand.

DAWN GEORGINA BOTHA: (Duly sworn in, states).

DR MALAN: Thank you and you may sit down. You and your husband, Nico, both gave us a statement together and you have decided that you will give evidence. Will you please tell us what you have to tell us and at the end we will possibly ask you some questions.

MRS BOTHA: I would like to give evidence surrounding the death of my brother, Leon Lionel Meyer, on the 20th of December 1985. This happened in Maseru, Lesotho. I know that his name was mentioned during the sittings in Durban. I also believe that his family, Jacqueline Quinn, gave evidence according to him and I now wish to give evidence on behalf of my family.

Leon was never happy with the state of affairs and often questioned things. He was often questioned by the police. I remember a specific incident when him and a few his friends were fetched by the Security Police and taken



for questioning. This questioning lasted for more than ten hours. He was at the age of around 16 years already detained. There were also other youths who had the same point of view. He was constantly detained and due to the constant torture Leon left the country in 1979 with a friend. This is just after he matriculated. They kept in contact with us telephonically, but he was often cautious with the kind of information given to us.

He told us that on one occasion just five minutes after he spoke to us he just missed a bomb explosion at the Maseru Post Office. So just five minutes after speaking to us this bomb exploded. Apparently people were aware of the fact that people from South Africa often used that telephone to phone his family. My family home has often been visited by police. After his visit to Lesotho he left to Angola. He then left for Cuba and the then East Germany. When my father died in May 1983 my mother who is a cancer sufferer received another one of the numerous visits from the Security Police. I then decided to go to Lesotho prior to my father's funeral in order to come back to South Africa. My mother refused point blank to do this.

During the funeral of my father there was a big contingent of Security Police present. After my father's corpse was brought to the house did the police stop people from entering the house. People were only able to show their last respects to my dad after the police left the room. During the funeral the Security Police stood on top of the grave. They wanted to see if Leon, my brother, did not perhaps show up for the funeral. In 1982 he nearly died again in Maseru and during this time Chris Hani also nearly died. The death of these men, his friends and mentors,




caused him great suffering and when his daughter was born a few years later he named her after a bird.

Whilst we lived in a small fishers town in Laaiplek we received a visit from an Italian lady who use to work in Maseru. Her name was Maria Donnata. Leon apparently had given her a letter which she was to give to me. She then, by bus, left Cape Town for Laaiplek. They must have been aware of her visit and must have informed the police because the bus driver left her at the house of Dutch Reformed Minister. They opened the letter, they read the letter, they made a photostat copy of the letter, they then closed the letter and then gave it back to her. They then asked her to take the letter to us and should we give her a letter in return she was to first bring this to the police station. She did not tell us anything about this, but the next morning she broke and told us what happened. We then decided against writing and giving a letter to my brother. We personally took her back to Cape Town.

A few months after my mother's death, she died in July of 1985. Now a few months later on the 20th of December that Leon died and also that his wife Jacqueline was also murdered in a gruesome fashion. It was at one o' clock in the morning and it was on the 20th of December in 1985. A few days prior to that their daughter Finnicks turned one year old. Leon apparently was in the bathroom when they entered the house. They first murdered Jacqueline. We could later see how Leon tried to get through the burglar bars in the bathroom. There were bullet holes everywhere visible. The bathroom floor was splashed with blood and the same in the kitchen and in the passages. There was body parts and blood visible in the kitchen as Jacqueline's chest PRETORIA HEARING TRC/GAUTENG



was shot open. I bought cleaning material and after Christmas myself, my sister and my three brothers and uncle and several family members went to the house where the murder took place. We personally washed the blood from the floors and from the walls. We removed the body parts from the floors and we used ammonia to clean the house. We opened the doors and windows, but the smell of Jacqueline and Lionel's death stayed in the air. In the South African newspapers the LLA, the Lesotho Liberation Association was held responsible. However, it later became evident that this was a fictitious organisation.

Lionel did not die immediately. He went and tried to get to his neighbour. He also said that they spoke Afrikaans and that they, apparently, were white because they had covered themselves with something in black, but you could see the white skins coming through. We were tortured and when we got to the border the border police told us that we would die in the same fashion. My brother and his wife did not deserve to die in such a manner. He was a very loving person and dedicated to his duties towards the ANC. He was a Christian and belonged to the Youth Organisation of our Church. I find it totally unacceptable that his life had to be cut short in order to uphold the status quo of apartheid.

I therefore beg that children of ANC members who died should have free education. I believe that they should receive free education both at school and at university. In the Rapport Newspaper of 19 May their names were mentioned. In a television programme of earlier this year once again they mentioned names and again in a statement from Warrant Officer Nortje, they also mentioned the incidence. They




mentioned that Nortje who was a member of Vlakplaas and in

there he explained the entire happening in Lesotho. In the Truth Commission Special Report they exposed the entire story. In there Nortje states that the incident was planned by de Kock. He is currently accused of murder and apparently he was assisted by a police agent who lives amongst people in Maseru. The other policemen, the other Vlakplaas policemen were Snor Vermeulen and another unknown person. There were also Security policemen of Ladybrand involved, Joe Coetsee and Joe Willemse. According to Nortje did Adams and somebody else were they responsible for the murder. All the policemen who were involved received medals. I would like to know why the Commission have not, long ago, found or received the statement from Nortjie. I would like to know why Nortjie or any of the others have never been summoned to bring about the facts. The Commission have heard several stories of victims, but have still not done anything in order to find the truth. You do have the right to call us witnesses and the question that we, as the family have, is why do you not do this? Thank you very much.

DR MALAN: Thank you very much Mrs Botha. We are actually here to ask questions. Can I please first react on your last comment. You are right that we do only have certain amounts of power. We do not only just sit with evidence like we now have. For instance, not just evidence from victims, but we also have Amnesty in progress currently. We have good reason to believe that a lot of this information will come through during those hearings. If people are willingly prepared to give evidence they may do so, but I would just like to assure you that there is a long process and hopefully during this long process we will come up with




all the answers. I understand your frustration and exactly your question will be take into consideration. I am merely explaining this to you. I do have question or two for you and I am sure my colleagues have questions too. Please can you just tell me except for your brother was your entire family politically involved.

MRS BOTHA: No, we were not a politically active family, but if you stood, if you were on the other side of the colour line you did not necessarily look for politics, politics sometimes looked for you. Often our parents had to explain to us why we were not able to take part in certain things. At the time when the ANC was banned, we did expect it, but it somehow still came as a shock when Leon left the country to join the ANC. Although we were not politically active at the time we still knew what was right and we still knew what was wrong. We were aware of what apartheid did, but we were unable to say what we felt, but we did have sympathy with him. It is only after Leon's death that we all, in fact, became politically active. We did not have a choice, we had to make the decisions ourselves and we knew that he did not have any other choice.

DR MALAN: You, your parents or any other family members were not therefore active in the organisations then?

MRS BOTHA: No, we were not.

DR MALAN: Just a more sensitive issue. You have been here all morning and you listened to the evidence of Mr Clarence, you heard what he had to say. He on a question of Mr Manthata, he said that he realised that there was a war and that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Can you remember this?

MRS BOTHA: Yes, I can remember.




DR MALAN: Do you have any comment on that in the backdrop of the evidence pertaining to your brother. Did you understand his evidence, does it have any link with your brothers? Can you somehow understand this?

MRS BOTHA: I did hear when Mr Clarence said that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. The difference between him and my brother is that my brother was in his house and that the murder was committed at his home on him and his wife in a very gruesome fashion. I have sympathy with what happened to Mr Clarence. It certainly touched me, but at the same time I cannot find any excuses within my mind for the murderers of my brother. They are going to have to come up with their own excuses.

DR MALAN: The question of amnesty, the fact that people are going to make public their political motives. How do you feel about this?

MRS BOTHA: For me it is still the theoretical issue. The question is actually asked to me in a vacuum because these people have still not come forward and they have still not been questioned. It would be easier for us to react when they do come forward and once I know the exact circumstances surrounding Leon's death, I might feel differently, but a lot of people will probably not come forward unless they are granted amnesty.

DR MALAN: Thank you very much. I do not have any further questions to you at this stage.

DR ALLY: Thank you very much.

MR MANTHATA: Sorry. Could you tell us any specific action that could have influenced Joe Juluka to be that politically militant as to leave home for Lesotho?

MRS BOTHA: We lived in the Eastern Cape at that time. We,




when the students revolted in 1976 against the structures it was close to us and students at high school, at the high school where Leon was, had their sympathies clearly for their black brothers, many of the students. From that time children at an early stage had be conscientised. They knew what was going on in the community. Children at a young age got shot in the streets and those were the things that the youths saw and things that they experienced. They did not even only have discussions with pupils at the schools where they were. They had discussions and they reached out to students at other schools and that is where he was being conscientised. His name was given through later when Security Police started investigating activities at John Bisika High School in East London, political activities. His name was given through to the Security Police as one of the so-called leaders at the school. His name, the name of Cliffie Brown, and it was at that stage that he was picked up early one Sunday morning at our house. I think it all started there. They wanted to give the kids a good scare, but it did not work out that way. The children actually became more active and when they were warned against it, when they got warnings from the Security Police they felt that there was some substance in what they was doing and what they were doing, excuse me.

MR MANTHATA: At one time he came back into the country to conscientise the students. Did the family ever have an idea or a knowledge of which area he was operating or the schools that he was involved with in this kind of conscientisation?

MRS BOTHA: No. We had suspicions, but we did not know because they were not allowed to disclose that kind of sensitive information to relatives. We had our suspicions,




yes, but we did not know for sure.

MR MANTHATA: Yes, the thrust of my question actually is based on ...

MRS BOTHA: ... possible person who could have led the Security Police or who could have led these rekkies to Leon's house, but Mr McCaskill disappeared after the murders and he was never heard of again. We suspected that he led them to Leon's house. We do not know for sure.

MR MANTHATA: And Dominee Berg?

MRS BOTHA: You want to know how I feel about him?

MR MANTHATA: Yes please. I am sorry. Now that the situation is what it is.

MRS BOTHA: I feel nothing for him.

MR MANTHATA: We are talking of forgiveness.


MR MANTHATA: If I understand you well is that Dominee Berg had done something, you know, ...

MRS BOTHA: Wrong to us.

MR MANTHATA: ... something to be condoned.



MRS BOTHA: I believe he did, yes. I felt he was disloyal to my husband because my husband was also in they Ministry at that time. I felt that he was part of the status quo at that stage, but personally I cannot say that I bear him any grudge. It would not help me to participate in nation building if I had any grudges against him and, in any case, the sense of victory that I felt when the country was liberated is much greater than any grudge that I can feel towards people who informed on us.

MR MANTHATA: Thank you.




DR ALLY: Thank you very much Dawn. I actually have to make a confession that both Leon and Cliffie Brown were actually at the same school that I was at. They were my juniors by a year and by two years. So it is a very, every now and again in the work of the Commission you are actually confronted with issues that are actually quite personal and quite subjective. So I thank you very much for your testimony. It was very moving. I thank you also for the insights and ability to put this into a wider context and to remind us, as we often do need reminding, of just how painful the losses were and the experiences to get to this point so that we should be quite appreciative of this new democracy because it cost many lives. A lot of people suffered, a lot of family members and a lot of people are still living with the scars and the memories. As you say the fact that we did achieve this democracy makes it possible for us to look back at those things with a new kind of understanding and a new forgiveness.

On the issue of the people who you mention, the alleged perpetrators, I just want to reinforce what Mr Malan has actually said. That part of the price of knowing the truth is for those who committed gross human rights violations to know that if they come forward there is a possibility that they can get amnesty and as a consequence one has to give them every possible opportunity to make full disclosure, to explain the context in which these events have taken place. That is the spirit in which we in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission work. That we want to give them every opportunity to come forward, but at the same time you are right to point out that we do have certain powers. We have powers of subpoena and that if people do not actually




come forward, there are strong possibilities that people can be prosecuted. So while we want to hope that perpetrators will come forward, because one of the questions which many witnesses of the Commission always ask is what happened, who did it and why was this done. We know that only those who were involved can answer those questions. So it is important for alleged perpetrators to come forward and disclose, but if they do not avail themselves of that opportunity then of the course the Laws of the country will be put into operation. So we can assure you that the names which you mentioned, that we are aware of these issues, that many of these issues are under investigation, that the Amnesty Committee is also working with a lot of statements and I know that when something affects one very personally and when one is very emotionally close to something, you want results. So I can understand what you are saying, but the only reassurance I can give you is that these issues are being pursued very, very seriously and at the end of the work of the Commission, certainly, but hopefully before, we will have a lot more answers and a better picture of what happened in the past. Once again thanks both to you and to Nicole.

MRS BOTHA: Thank you.