TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
UWC HEARING - DAY 1 - MONDAY 5 AUGUST 1996
CASE NO: CT/00611
VICTIM: ASHLEY KRIEL [brother]
NATURE OF VIOLENCE: SHOT AND KILLED BY POLICE
TESTIMONIES FROM: MELANIE ADAMS [sister]
MICHELLE ASSURE [sister]
CHAIRPERSON: ... and they are Melanie Adams and Michelle Assure and I'd be grateful if they come to the table now on the stage.Thank you, Melanie and Micelle I would like to welcome you very warmly to the Commission Hearing.It's not easy, we know that, we hope that you will relax as much as you can.It's particularly difficult being first because you haven't been able to watch where they go and where they sit and what they do and so on.So you are leading the way and we are very grateful to you.Before you give your testimonies today, I have to ask you to take the oath, and I'd be grateful if you would both stand please.
MELANIE ADAMS Duly sworn states
MICHELLE ASSURE Duly sworn states
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, will you be seated please.You are going to tell a story about a young man who has become household name throughout the Western Cape and indeed throughout South Africa, Ashley Kriel, Glenda Wildscut is going to assist.
not in telling you what to say, or putting words in your mouth, but simply facilitating and enabling you to tell a story which has been and is very deep in your own hearts. I am going to ask her to take over now and she will assist you as you tell your stories, thank you again for coming.
MS WILDSCHUT: Good morning Melanie. --- Good morning.
And Michelle, may I add my welcome to the first hearing of the Tygerberg and Helderberg Region to that of Doctor Boraine's.And then just to ask you, I think Melanie will be starting first, okay, Michelle you'll speak after Melanie does, or will you speak together.Okay Melanie will start the evidence.Melanie can you just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself and then you are free go into telling us your story. --- Good morning everybody, first of all I would also like to thank the Truth Commission for hearing our case and with the hope that you will be able to get to the bottom of the truth.I am Melanie Adams, the younger sister of Ashley Kriel.I work for South African Municipal Workers, medical benefit fund and I am here to represent my late mother as well as her wish was to get to the truth of her son's death.Okay, thanks.
Thanks Melanie, will you proceed with your story, you can't hear.It will help if you use the ear phones and then can put it on the channel for English it will help with amplifying.
CHAIRPERSON: Just excuse me intruding like this for a moment but the sound is not good, this is a very high ceiling, those of you who do have the ear phones, I would suggest even though you
understand English, just to assist you to hear the witnesses and to hear Glenda, I would strongly urge you to use that, thank you. MS WILDSCHUT: Are you okay now, can you hear. --- Ja thank you, right.
When I speak, can I just ask you to switch off your microphone as well and then just to switch it on again when - okay.You may continue Melanie. --- As Ashley Kriel's sister, I would actually like to give a brief history of his personality the type of person that he was because of his killing, the type of death.He was branded as a terrorist and I would like to get that straight as well, because the community actually treated us very, they victimized us due to the fact that we had a terrorist for a brother.He was a freedom fighter, but personality wise, he was very kind hearted, he had a very sympathetic nature.For example he was the type of child that if my mother wanted to buy him like a jacket for instance in winter, he would rather not have the jacket, because his friends would also not be able to wear jackets, so therefore you didn't want to actually have something that his friends could not have.Secondly at the age of 12 years old, in fact 16 years old, we - our father was murdered, we grew up without a father, and I think that was also some kind of motivation for Ashley to join the struggle.In fact because my mother being a single mother was a tea girl and because of her income at that stage, was very-very poor.He at the age of 12 had to work at the Burger at night, at three o'clock to drink regmaker tablets in order to go to school at standard 5.Okay in the year 1980 Ashley was 14 years of age and became involved in the student struggle, he was in standard 6 at that stage. He then joined the Bonteheuwel Youth Movement which was a youth organization to take up civic issues etcetera.At school he was actually approached by a person named Gary Harris, which later became a policeman, who actually hunted him.Between the year '81 and '85 he was a founder member of Bonteheuwel Inter School Congress and became actively involved in civic issues as well as workers struggle at that stage, it use to be CLUVO which is now SACTO.He became an outstanding leader in the community and he could relate to people very easily, and he was a very - very good speaker.Then already he became a very great threat for the SAP - South African Police.He - in that stages he actively supported the anti-election campaign during theTricamaral Elections, and rapidly became in people's leading the community of Bonteheuwel.During the year 1985 in August, round about August and September, the students had decided to attack certain policeman in the areas there house, who wanted them down.And in retaliation of the State of Emergency.The very same night of this failed attempts by the students, the police, which in fact the leader of the crew was Gary Harris, come rushing our house at about 3:00 am the morning, accusing him of being a half a terrorist.We didn't know where he was, and in fact they held him responsible for all the unrest in Bonteheuwel.He was a brilliant student and luckily that evening he had decided to go and study at a friends place which we did not know, and we could not tell where exactly he was.They searched the house and was insulting frivolous, because at that stage I was only 19 years old and they passed frivolous remarks.Okay the family never knew where he was, but always prayed that he was safe, because of from that particular night, Ashley went into hiding. My mother had - had a heart condition and her health deteriorated during the worry and the continuous harassment of the police.After the first visit of the initial visit by Gary Harris and crew, we started getting the special branch police started to raid the house.It was practically every night at 3:00 am whenever it suited them.It was Captain Van Brakel of Bishop Lavis police station at that stage and Captain Mostert, Steenkamp of the security police.We in fact had visits from the security police, the ordinary SAP, and the Army as such.They never use to come in decently, they use to practically bang our - knock down our doors and you - they never identified themselves as to who they were, they just demanded the door to be opened and at that stage it was just myself and my mother living in the house.They were very rude and at one stage, at one particular raid, Captain Mostert actually threatened that if we don't tell them where Ashley was, they - if they should catch him, they would - and just quote him, as ons vir hom kry, gaan ons hom so plat soos 'n hasie skiet, ons gaan hom dood skiet.So therefore I would actually just to add to that feel that this is a pre-meditated murder, they had promised us they would kill him and that is what they did. The family could never sleep in peace we were affected -our daily lives was affected in that way where you could not go to work, you was so exhausted you were mentally and physically totally exhausted.My mother couldn't even eat, she lost weight, and became very sickly as such.Some times when they use to visit us, they use to play good cop, bad cop, and we never knew where he was, just hoping that he was safe at all times. And the last that we've seen Ashley was on Christmas eve of the year 1985 that particular night Ashley, he was very musical, the last time we seen him because we actually played the guitar and we could sign Christmas carols together, we had to meet him at the neighbours house in order for the - the police was watching our house continuously.So during the period of - between '85 and '87, we had been harassed every single night looking for Ashley and accusing us that we did know where he was, which we did not.And they actually threatened that they would arrest the family as well if we did not come up and say where he was.A week after the Christmas - ja a week after Christmas eve in '85 we were informed by one of his comrades that he had in fact left the country.During that period '85 to '87 we did not have any-any none whatsoever, no contact with Ashley, but still the raids continued.And the first that we've actually heard was in '87 when we - when he came back from exile, we did not know the exact period as such, and the night of the 9th of July 1987 my mother was on her way back from work, and she read in a fellow commuters newspaper about a 23-year old man that was killed in Athlone, not knowing that it was her own son that she was reading about.The following day only the police were aware of the fact that they had actually killed Ashley Kriel, but they didn't have the decency to come and inform the family.The next day the 10th of July they had come knocking on our door, my mother and myself had gone to work and my sister Michelle was at home and they had actually come to search the house first and asked for Jacques Adonis, which is the late Jacques Adonis now, and they searched the house and then asked her to sit down, and yes - they wanted to know where my mother was. She said my mother was at work and they would actually like to know if there was someone who could -no in fact what they said was jou ma wil mos nie gehoor het nie, nou het ons hom vrek geskiet.She thought that at that stage it was just a hoax maybe they wanted some reaction from her, and then they had asked her to contact Captain Schuller at the Athlone police station to get more information, because they need someone to go and identify his body.My sister went down to a neighbour, she got someone, some support, and she had gone to identify Ashley's body, which she discovered he had a gash in his forehead, a very deep gash and she - they could not actually explain to us in fact to her how he was killed and that, but what she - she actually peeped through the files and only then discovered at which - where he was killed and how.That he was apparently shot through the back.My sister can just continue on that because she was the one who actually witnessed it.During the funeral arrangement - while the family was making funeral arrangements we were also harassed by the police as well.Our friends and family and myself, we were stopped whenever we use to go out you know in the whatever car we use to be stopped, the car was searched for bombs etcetera.People who - mourners who actually came to sympathize with the family was also questioned afterwards because the car registration numbers were taken, and they had been questioned as to what they were doing at our place.The morning of the funeral at about half past five, between half past five and six, Captain Van Brakel and Strydom had visited the house to place a restriction order on the funeral and we were informed that only 800 people were allowed to come to the funeral. And what we then heard like rumors that what the police normally does is that sometimes in the black townships they use to get the body, get the Reverend whoever is going to conduct the service and bury those people and before the masses could come, they would just inform them that, okay he was buried in the right manner so you can go now.And we very suspicious because they came to question us about the - whoever the Reverend was now that was going to conduct the service.We then decided to go and get our brother's body at the funeral parlor in Athlone, just in case of these happenings.When we got there - when we arrived there was the special branch police were already there and I don't know what they were doing there, and sought of confirmed our suspicions.We had to escort our brother's body home.As we came into Bonteheuwel, I think the whole of the police force was in Bonteheuwel that particular day, the Caspirs was parked right in front of our door practically, police was standing single file and they were all down the road and where ever you could - where ever you looked there was police.At the New Apostolic he was buried in the New Apostolic church but because of their policies, political speakers weren't allowed in the church and we made alternative arrangements to have to him at the Anglican Church where Bishop Tutu and Allan Boesak would conduct the sermon.As we came - as the body came out of the New Apostolic Church, at that stage the police weren't to sure as to where it was going to be held, yes the body was taken by comrades, the coffin in fact was taken and was taken in fact they ran, because at that stage when they grabbed the coffin, they were shot at, the police opened fire with tear gas canisters directly at the coffin and at the mourners. My grand parents, my late grand father and my grand mother, had to actually dive for cover, people - someone had to actually duck over them to protect them from the bullets, I don't know whether it was bird shot as well, but it was at that stage tear gas canisters, directly aimed at people.They continued with the coffin down the road to the Anglican Church and was shot at, all the time.The coffin had to be practically thrown over the vibracrete in order to get into the church because they blocked out the area, barricaded.Any way as - while we were in the church, the police tried to storm down the doors, they tried to force access into the church, but luckily there were comrades who control that as we came out of the church the coffin was draped in the ANC flag and then Captain at that stage Dolf Odendaal he tried to grab the flag and in that process he also with the tugging, it was like a tug of war, we grabbing the flag and the coffin and he was with his men grabbing it, he ordered to open fire.And at that stage we were also attacked like there were physical attacks, there was opening of fire and that and also we were directly shot at with tear gas canisters, my sister had the imprint of the canister on her dress still.I had to actually run back into the church because they shot at every - at all the mourners and I had to jump over a vibracrete wall in order to get to the hearse and away from the shots.On our way out they shot a tear gas canister in the hearse and the driver actually sort of half fainted we nearly made an accident because of the guy being out and we - I don't know where I got strength from I could actually manage to steer it away from the other cars.We had to actually speed off with the police presence everybody's like it was like a - they treated it's so disrespectful as if we were at Kyalami a hearse driving at 100 km/h in order to get away from the police and the shooting. They had restricted the funeral to 800 people, but yet when we got to the graveside people were restricted to come in we were - there was about plus-minus 50 people only at the graveside and they - in fact they tried to stop Dr Allan Boesak and Bishop Tutu which were - they were suppose to conduct the sermon at the graveyard, at the graveside.And at that stage they wouldn't allow us even to bury him properly because while we were busy, just getting to the grave, they in fact said, I don't know who in particular, but the one policeman said, maak klaar en begrawe die vark dat julle hier kan uitkom.We were forced then to wait until Bishop Tutu and them arrived, we made an excuse that whoever had the body last, should actually bury the person, because there were a priest available who could actually do it, and that's how they got in.At the graveside again police opened fire by shooting tear gas at the mourners and on our way back, that was the funeral.The Monday after the funeral my mother was again harassed by the police, by - she was questioned as to whether she had invited Dr Allan Boesak and Bishop Tutu to the funeral, and she could not give an answer because you don't invite people to a funeral.And we had to actually make use of at that stage I think she was an independent - we had to ask Jan van Eck to assist us to get them away from us, because they were still watching the house.They still harassed us, still had to ask my mommy questions, threatened to arrest my sister because she became emotional.We told them that you've already killed my brother, what do you still want from us. Anyway after the funeral we've even though Ashley was killed, we knew he was no longer there, they still came to our house looking for other comrades.And it was a year after his death when they opened,[inaudible] ... when they decided to have an inquest.That was the most terrible experience because we as the family were treated as the perpetrators.Benzien, this is the guy who actually killed Ashley, according to his statements it was an accidental death.But what came about in the inquest was that Ashley's jersey had hooked on the trigger and the shot went off accidentally.But at the same time while I was Saturday at this briefing workshop of the TRC, something new came to light, which was very disturbing.That's why I would like to get to the truth of this matter.Someone said that, according, in fact according to Benzien and Abels they had come, posed as water works, council people to get into the house, Ashley recognized them, drew a gun, they tried to disarm him and in that process the gun, the trigger hooked onto his jersey and the shot went off.Now according to Benzien it happened as he said in Afrikaans, in 'n omesientjie, in a split second, alles op die drumpel van die agterdeur.But according to witnesses again, they've heard screaming for about an hour as if someone is being tortured, the next door neighbours maid could inform us the particular Friday night after we heard about his death that he was screaming and they had him surrounded, I don't know if it was him, but she thought it was him.He was like naked from the top, and he as beaten, they were circling him and he was beaten.When we got to this house, what we discovered there was blood all over the show, the kitchen walls were splattered with blood there was a thick trail of blood on the - trail of blood on the kitchen floor, the bathroom was full of blood, and you could see that someone was dragged because of the marks - the blood marks, someone was dragged from one area to another, from - I think from the front room to the kitchen. We discovered clothing that was soaked in blood, a towel that was - also soaked in blood you could see it was like as if it was stuck into a hole, bleeding hole like we suspected it could have been the gash on his head.It was thick-thick blood and then also we had the clothes of the - which was being given to us by the State mortuary, where he - what - in - the clothes that he was killed in.Now their explanation was that it happened in a split second and like Benzien said that he tried to disarm him and the shot went off, but yet we had another version of how he screamed, how he was tortured and then the guy who lived at this particular house in 8 Albermarle Road in Athlone, Imtiaz Ismail could actually say that he had taken the vacuum away for repairs, but on his return he discovered Ashley had been shot and he was still alive being handcuffed from behind.And they - he in fact asked them to call the ambulance because the guy is injured, but their response was die vark moet vrek hy is 'n terroris.So maybe Ashley could still have been alive.The other version again was that I've heard on Saturday was that Ashley was in fact Imtiaz was taken into a room and his sister and were sort of tortured while Ashley in the front room was beaten - beaten up.And he was hit with a spade on the forehead and then either the throat or what - which ever part of the neck, was also slit. He - it sounded as if a sheep had been slaughtered the way he screamed and when they realized that he could be brain dead, they put him in the chair, handcuffed him and - so that the blood could run down and then put him on his stomach and shot him afterwards. That we don't know - up till today we don't know exactly what took place.We would really like to know what happened there and you heard different versions. The person who, the witness, the maid was subpoenaed but somehow she had just disappeared off the face of the earth, nobody knows where and what. At the end of the inquest the Magistrate Hoffman decided -actually ruled that it was an accidental death and it was done in the line of duty.But yet you had Benzien smirking at us having this big smile, broad smile on his face and in the meantime he interrogated other comrades where he could have Ashley's poster, his funeral poster hanging up, crossed out with 1 down … to got, he still boasted about that fact, that he had killed him.I think[intervention]
Thank you - thank you Melanie, maybe I can ask Michelle now to - to tell us your version of the story.You might want to bring the mic closer to Michelle.
MS WILDSCHUT: Are you okay now Michelle? --- Yes thank you Glenda.
Please go ahead. --- I can start by introducing myself.My name is Michelle Assure, I am 33 years of age, I work as a secretary/receptions for a very progress party.I have a husband and three kids.
Will you tell us your version of the story, you've heard what Melanie has told us, can you add to that please.--- Well there isn't really much that I can add.I think Melanie has said it all.If there is any questions that you want to know from me, then I can answer you.
Yes maybe I can ask you just to tell us a little bit about how you got to know about Ashley's death.I believe you were the person who was at home when the police came to - to your house. --- Yes I was actually very upset the way they came to inform us about Ashley's death.I was alone at home on the morning of the 10th of July in '87.There was a knock on the door and I answered and there was Warrant Officer Benzien and his colleague Strydom.They asked me where Ashley was, and I answered him by saying that we told you before, you know that he is not here and we told you before that we don't know where he is.And then he asked if he could come in.I said sure he can come in, and then he wanted to know if he could search our - my mother's house.I said sure you can go ahead, he then went up - upstairs to my mother's bedroom where he felt on the bedding, he felt on the bedding, and he went through my mother's wardrobes and whilst doing this, they asked me where - if I knew where Jacques Adonis was.And I then just said no, I don't know who Jacques Adonis is.They just - he then just said who can go with you to identify him and then he said in Afrikaans, ons het mos jou ma gesê, sy wou mos nie hoor nie, sy wou nie hoor nie, en nou is - het ons hom doodgemaak.And I then responded by saying, I think that he asked me who could go with me, to identify him, I said, identify who, so he said Ashley.And then when I asked him what happened he just told me to contact this certain, the investigating officer at the Athlone police station. I then didn't believe them, I thought this was just some stunt, because they - they insisted that, that somehow the family knew where Ashley was.They wanted to see what my reaction was going to be, maybe I would of said but no, I saw him yesterday or I spoke to him earlier on or whatever.And I still didn't believe them, but never the less, I then told them - I didn't want to tell them where my mother was working because they wanted to know where my mother was, I just told them that she is working somewhere out in Woodstock.Because I didn't want them to trouble her at work.I then told them that I will contact my husband and I - he can accompany me to go and identify my brother.I then went to a neighbour down the road, Ms Adams, and I went to tell her about the visit from the Captain Van Brakel.She then contacted her son which came with transport to take us through to - first to in fact we first phoned the Captain at the investigating officer at the Athlone police station and he then in turn told us to go and identify my brother at the Salt River mortuary.Assisted by Ms Adams and her son, we then went off to the Salt River mortuary.And whilst walking down that aisle to the office where they interviewed me, I still didn't believe that, that I was going to see my brother.I never knew, we weren't aware that he was back in the country, and it was just so unbelievable to think that after not seeing him for two years or never having any contact with him, I just can't - I don't think this - it can't be real.I then went into the office with the Captain there at the Salt River, the sergeant at the Salt River mortuary, he then took Ashley's personal details from me and when I questioned as to how he got killed, he first said that he shot himself and then afterwards when I went - I wanted to know where did the bullet penetrate the body, he said from the back. So I questioned as -I questioned how could he have shot himself if the bullet penetrated from the back.And he then said well he's got nothing further to tell me and he wished that I could go and identify the body now.And I am still, it's still in mymind walking down that aisle to where I am going to identify my brother.I still didn't believe that it was going to be him.And eventually when we got the - all I could see when I saw this sight of him, I couldn't even cry, it was indeed him but I couldn't even cry because of the beautiful sight I saw.He was - when I last saw him, he was such a young timid little boy, and he has grown into a big strong man, broad shouldered, his - he had a little, I will never forget that sight, he had a little mustache, a nice curly top hair, and - and just to see that he - that he has grown into manhood, he wasn't - I mean he was still very young, but to see my little brother that has grown into a beautiful strong built young man, was - was just that - that really made me strong.And through - through the harassment of the police, we have learned, we - we became hard, we - I could never - I would never, I refuse for whatever hurt they did to us of whatever they said to hurt us, I refuse to cry in front of them and when I saw my brother there, I refused to cry.All I could say to Ms Adams was, shame it is him.Then I had this very-very awful task as to go and inform my mother which was at work, and my sister was also at her at her work.I was so confused that I didn't even, the thought totally, I didn't even think of informing my husband. Anyway then Ms Adams also still and her son Robert still - still assisted my by taking me to my mother's work.Which was a very, it wasn't a nice task to go and - I didn't know how I am going to tell her.Knowing her condition, her heart condition, it was just, I didn't really know how.She - my mother was shocked but in fact she was also, despite of her health conditions, she was also, she could also be emotionally, she could be a very strong person.Although it came to a shock to her, it didn't take her long to recover and to think clear and I also encouraged her to be strong, once again I couldn't also break down, I also had to be strong for the sake of my mother and my younger sister.We then got my mother from work and then the second task was to go to my sister's work which also went into a - she also went into hysterical state when - when we got to her work.Before we could even tell her, she - it's almost as if she knew that something was wrong.And we then went the three of us still Ms Adams and her son, took us then to Essa Moosa offices in Athlone and then we gave a statement there.But I wasn't - still wasn't satisfied with - with the bit of information which I got from the mortuary.I actually had to peep when the officer left his office, seeing that he didn't want to give me any information, I actually had to peep through the files on his desk as to find out where the incident happened.And I insisted that we should go to this house where it happened.When we got to the house in Athlone, there we also didn't see a very nice site.We came to the - this house, the people used the back entrance to the house and when we came to the back entrance, the back stoep was smeared with blood, we then entered the kitchen and on the kitchen was a trail of blood and on the kitchen walls, the kitchen walls was scattered with blood, the trail of blood in - on the kitchen floor led to the bathroom where I found a set of clothing, a set of bloodstained clothing. What - what I couldn't understand is the fact that he - my brother died in a power blue track suit, was shot in that track suit, so how - how come, what made them - why did they make him undress because it appeared to me as if he had this - the bloodstained clothing he had that on before.So why did they make him undress, why did he die in this other set of clothing.We - we found, I also found a bloodstained towel and there was only this one bloodstain on there and it appeared to me as if he had that - that towel into this gash that was on his head.We also saw a spade in the back yard and I couldn't help but think, that to suspect that, that gash on his head, I think that blow he must of - they must of given him with the spade.And we also found a bloodstained cap in a garbage bin in the people's yard.And unfortunately at the inquest we didn't have all that, that photo's as evidence or at - in the Court of - I would have actually liked the Judge to see or the Magistrate to see that bloodstains on the wall, that the trail of blood on the floor, and - and the clothing should also have been exhibits in the Court case.What happened why - why I can't understand, what I can't understand is the fact that Warrant Officer Benzien mentioned that everything happened within a split second on the back stoep and they claimed that they never entered the house.How on earth did the blood the blood trail get onto the floor of the kitchen of the house and the blood scatters on the wall, how did it get there? If they claimed that everything happened just outside the door.
Michelle thank you for telling us your version of the story.I wonder if Melanie is in a position to answer a few questions.
MS WILDSCHUT: Are you okay Melanie, Melanie just a few questions from your statements.You talked about Ashley's recruitment in the early - very early days of his life.And you mentioned Gary Harris, was he the person who recruited Ashley and for what did he recruit him? --- Ashley - Ashley was recruited by - prominently by Quinton Michaels and they were a few of our comrades in the area, more community based level.Gary Harris was a student at Bonteheuwel High at that stage where Ashley was a student at Central Park, it was a primary school then but they had standard 6 classes.So I don't know whether Gary Harris belonged to the SRC at Bonteheuwel High, but they were, they - he formed part of the students who came over to Central Park in order to get those standard 6's involved as well.So that was the link, he didn't recruit him actually politically.
Do you know when he was recruited, first of all let me find out from you, would you - whether you knew that he was recruited for a liberation movement? --- No, even though in 1985 I sort of suspected that, that would be at the end of the day he was forced to, to go into underground because of the harassment and I thought when he left the country that obviously that would be the next step.But I wasn't aware of him being an ANC member at that particular time of his life.
Were you ever aware that he was a member of the Bonteheuwel Military Wing? --- No, not the Bonteheuwel Military Wing as such but Bonteheuwel Inter Schools Congress.
Thank you.You mentioned something about a method that the police were using in interrogation, you said good cop, bad cop, can you just explain to us what you mean by good cop, bad cop? --- I can't remember the person, but I suspect that at one stage it was between Mostert and Steenkamp.He would, Mostert, I think would tell my mommy something like, ja mevrou ons almal maak maar onse kinders baie swaar groot, en dis baie swaar om dit te doen, so sê maar vir ons waar jou kind is, ons kan vir jou help, ons weet jy is een ouer en julle kry swaar en then the other cop would say, nee-nee kom moenie nog mooi praatjies nie, jy beter vir ons sê, want ons vat sommer vir julle ook saam and then the one would like try and pacify the other one, nee man mevrou, [onduidelik] weet seker maar regtig nie waar hulle is nie, that was the type of game that they had played in order to gain my mommy's trust, the one would be like very nice, hoping that she would open up to him and the other would be intimidating again, trying to get her to be scared and say oh! but you know, just take me, don't arrest me, he is here or there.But we really didn't know where he was.
And - and sometimes their roles would change so that at one stage the person who was suppose to be the good cop, would be a bad cop and the other one would take the other role? --- Yes that was - that was their strategy.And their idea was to confuse you and confuse the family.
It sounds from both your testimony and that of your sisters that you were not happy with the inquest.--- No.
Can you just perhaps in just a few words explain to us why you not happy with the inquest? --- Okay, first and foremost the - Benzien and Abels they could not give an explanation as to how he was killed first and foremost, it just didn't click.The - they had affidavits that was exactly the same, it was word for word exactly the same and it was even discarded - like declared null and void in Court, the Magistrate's words was that he doesn't have time for papegaainisme.And with that, Abels admitted that he had read Benzien's statement.So there already you could figure that they had something to hide, because if you were there, why would you want to read someone else's affidavit in order to substantiate yours.And with the blood that we had seen at the house, it was quite obvious that there was a lot of things happening there and yet they claimed that it happened in a split second and only at the backyard.And the pathologist in fact the forensic expert I think Klatzow, his arguments, I can't go into the technicalities there, but his arguments against the State's pathologist and forensic expert you could actually figure out that these guys are really lying, but they had obviously at that stage the Courts were very injustice, like you are standing up against a wall, a brick wall.Because whatever you said, whatever truth came out, was just irrespective of what he was an terrorist and it's okay that he had been killed.Because there was definitely nothing accidental about that death, it was
pre-meditated for number one as they had promised to kill him.They told my mommy that they would kill him and they - should they catch him.
You mentioned that there was woman who initially was a witness - who claimed to be a witness to your brothers crying and screaming about an hour before he was eventually shot. And you said that she has disappeared.What happened to this woman and who is she? --- I don't have the name but it would be in the records of E Moosa and Associated.The Friday night when we - after we heard about his death, after we'd been to the attorneys, we visited the house as we said and Gadidja Vallie who was then a professional assistant to the attorneys had - she went with us to the neighbours house just to find out whether they had seen anything to put some light on the matter.Then the maid, like the domestic worker, she could tell us that there were a lot of police vans afterwards and she could tell us about the screaming and that.We asked her though whether she would be prepared to come out and speak up and she said yes because that's - she can only say what - what se saw.She was subpoenaed to Court, but nobody, there was no trace of this woman and up till today we still don't know.I think that the attorneys had instructed tracing agents as well to get hold of this woman, but nothing - to no avail.
Do you think it's rather suspicious that she disappeared.
--- Extremely, I was wondering whether the woman in fact had been - you know assassinated or something just - removed somehow.Because they an address somewhere in the rural areas I don't know exactly where, but even there was no trace of the woman.
Then perhaps just from my side, one last question to you, perhaps to both of you. We know that your mom was very active herself in supporting other family members and other people who's sons had lost their lives and who had been detained like hers.And you started off your testimony by saying that you are representing your mom.Is there something that your mom would have wanted to say at this hearing today.I know it might be very difficult for you, but we are aware that your mom was very supportive of the work of the Truth Commission and I am sure she would have wanted to be testifying here today. --- Okay yes, my mommy yes encourage a lot of people to actually come forward to the Truth Commission.Personally she always, that is why it's so heartbreaking to know that she had died not knowing how her son had been killed.And so she was just as much a victim of apartheid as he was, one of the victims.She in fact had been -at one stage interviewed by the SACC where she could say that she is - as a Christian, she would forgive them but she will never forget them.And just to share my own feelings about that, I would like to say that I am not going to hide behind Christianity by saying I would forgive them.If they come forward and speak the truth and then only, because what can I forgive if I don't know what happened.You can't say okay I'll forgive and you don't know what happened.If they come forward and I, I feel very sad to see that we as - as the victims should come and explain, no - I know it's for a good cause, explain this cases.These are the perpetrators, they are the guilty one's, they should have if they - at that stage they claimed that they were a God fearing nation, the old Government, but yet they were the perpetrators, they were the killers, the murders.Why did they not as Christians come forward and I begged our forgiveness, and had come here first to say we would like to meet the families, to beg your forgiveness. My mother was a very religious person, she had time for her church and community involvement.She was, I would say because of Ashley's death she realized that one doesn't live on a island of his own, you know okay.And she became involved in support groups, and civic organizations and UCO at one stage and she could always speak about her son.She was very proud to know that her son was a freedom fighter, she always use to remind people my son was no terrorist, he was a freedom fighter.And her wish always was to get to the bottom of this, to get to the truth of how her son was killed.And I would say that if she had been here today, I mean she would also have begged you to get to the - to the truth.Because when he was killed, a part of my mother also died.She always use to say hene and just before her death she told me personally that when her son died, a part of her died too, she loves both myself and my sister very much, but yet she feels that she has done enough now and she longed to be with her son.It's like, we were the daughters, he was the only son, only brother and he was spoiled too.So - and she always had this hope of that one day, because of her heart condition, the two of us marry off, he would be able to be the breadwinner, he would look after her, she always use to believe that Ashley would one day look after her.And therefore as the days passed, as things happened, changes came about, especially with the elections, it was very heartbreaking that her son was, was part of that - in fact it was true, people like him, like Anton, Franchen, Collien and Robby those people that we could actually have this democratic elections and yet he was no more.She felt - she really - it really hit her very hard, so I would say that I so wished that she could of learned to know the truth before her death.
Thanks for that Melanie.We really do pay tribute to Ashley Kriel today as well. --- Thank you.
Just one last question before I hand over to the Chair.Do you know Benzien and you know where he is right now? --- No, I've heard that he - there was rumors that he was out of Cape Town, out of the Western Cape in some rural area in charge of a certain place, but with the investigation now, I think it was the Truth Commissions investigators, discovered that they have allocated him, but I can't remember exactly where.And about Abels I've heard again that he has gone nuts, sorry to put it that way, he doesn't, he can't even say the difference between a cat and a dog no more and he is working at the State mortuary in Salt River.So even so I would really, my wish - our wish is that these guys should come forward and face us, and tell us why and what had happened.
Thank you very much, I don't have any more questions to her. --- Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Are there any other questions from, yes Ms Burton?
MS BURTON: It's perhaps not exactly a question and I'd like to say that I often heard your mother speak and I would like to paid tribute to her courage and yours today. --- Thank you.
But I also think it's important that you should know and that people who are hearing this should know that our investigators have followed up the story that you have told us.They have spoken to the other witnesses, who corroborate what you have told us about what happened at the house, the neighbours and so on. And they have found the inquest records and the lawyers records and they recount for example how the Advocate who represented your family at the inquest was, was appalled at the way that the South African Police members statements had, had corroborated one another in a way that showed that they had colluded to write those statements.And pressed very hard to try and get a proper finding.And I think that we ought to peruse the way that, that inquest was conducted.Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Any other questions, yes Mr Potgieter.
MR POTGIETER: Thank you Chairperson, just an extract from a statement that was released by the Ashley Kriel Funeral Committee, which contains certain of his biographical detail, which I would like you to confirm.The Committee referred to him as follows, they say: Ashley Kriel was born on 17 October 1966, he was to die on 9 July 1987 as the first cadre of Umkhonto we Sizwe from the Coloured community, to die on this soil of the Cape Flats.Others have died beyond the borders. Now the biographical detail referred to there, is that correct? --- Yes.
He was 20 years old when he died? --- Yes.
And when he left the country if I remember correctly ... --- '85.
From your statement you referred to December 1985. --- That's correct.
Which should have meant that he was 19. --- 18 - 19 yes.
He had just turned 19? --- Ja it would have turned 19...
When he left.--- Yes.
CHAIRPERSON: Any further questions?We have listened with great respect and pain to what you have told us today.You have had a great deal of grief in your lives with your own father's death, murdered, the death of your mother, who is very-very well known in this community.And of course the gruesome death of, of Ashley, who all of us I think knew in one way or another, because of what happened and because of the funeral.And there are many-many people who remember him to this day and I hope that, that will be of some help to you as you carry this heavy grief.We've also heard your requests and as Ms Burton have indicated we haven't waited, our investigators have already started the investigation.We can never ever make promises that we can't keep all we can say is that we will do everything we possibly can to follow this up.Because as you say, to know what happened, to know who was involved helps one to try and forgive.So thank you very-very much indeed for coming today.We salute you and thank you for your courage and being here today, go well. --- Thank you.