TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION

DAY 1 - 24 JUNE 1996

 

CASE NO: CT/00530

VICTIM: YVONNE KHUTWANE

VIOLATION: TORTURE/DETENTION

TESTIMONIES FROM: YVONNE KHUTWANE

MS KHUTWANE

Yes I can hear you.

DR ORR:

[indistinct] it has been a long time and its not easy when you are anxious about telling your own story, thank you very much for your patience. And now its going to be your turn, would you stand to take the oath please.

 

YVONNE KHUTWANE Duly sworn states

 

DR ORR:

Thank you, you may sit down. Ms Pumla Gobodo is going to help you to tell your story to us this afternoon.

 

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

You can take off the earphones, because we are going to communicate in the same language. You wonít need the earphones. Could you please come forward and bring the mike forward to you. Thank you very much mamma.

We would like you to start by explaining why were you prosecuted and tortured by the police, could you please give us a short briefing about what happened.

MS KHUTWANE:

I would like to say, before I am going to give details about what happened, I am a bit forgetful but I will try to remember as much as possible. I may not say the exact and accurate dates, but I will try to give estimations there might be some who could understand when was it.

We were coming from the funeral we burying Galata Goniwe and the others, it was in the morning when we came back from Cradock. The - there were uprisings and there was instability in our location. We would see the cars, police cars going up and down the streets, but we were not much bothered about what was going on.

The same evening when we came back we were informed that there would be a meeting at the community hall in Zwelethemba. It was a parents meeting, the secondary school, I was the committee member representing the parents, I was one of the parents who attended this meeting. I also had children who were attending school, at the same school.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Are you trying to clarify how do you get involved into politics.

MS KHUTWANE:

I started in 1960 to be involved in the ANC struggle, I was still a young girl. We worked underground, and it was very difficult for us even to hold meetings. I became prominent specifically when the Municipality offices were establishing community councillors, as you see this lady next to me on my left, we were the people who didnít like that. I was one of the people who were - who had a car. I had a Dyna lorry and I was hired to go around campaigning and publicising the meeting.

This was not liked by the community councillors, it was also said that I - we should also consciences people and inform them that the councillors were not accepted among the communities. That was the first time when I was arrested, I was together with Abel [indistinct] and Vallie Moosa was our lawyer.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Which year was that when you were arrested for your announcements.

MS KHUTWANE

It was in 1984.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Were you arrested in 1984?

MS KHUTWANE

Yes.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Can you please [indistinct] and inform us about the way in which you were handled.

MS KHUTWANE:

No we were not detained the only thing is that the detectives use to come and visit our place and they would ask where I was. I would also be given orders to go to the CID offices to give statement. I did go and I gave the statement as they wanted it.

In my statement I realised that there was some information which I gave about Mr [indistinct] which meant that I was exposing his activities. Mr Vallie Moosa withdrew the case and requested that it should be postponed. It is then that I was affected severely to the extend that even today, I cannot explain how did it come about that I should seem as have betrayed my friend. But fortunately [indistinct] won the case, he was acquitted.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

In other words you are giving a statement in which you were degraded by the police, could you please just explain that.

MS KHUTWANE:

If I can come closer to the gist of this whole story, I can state that when we came out of the meeting, I drove to town using my car and the youth was celebrating and juvelating ???

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Where were you from?

MS KHUTWANE

We were coming from the meeting out of the hall and then I drove to town. So I wanted to buy some milk - when I got there, I met Chris Cowan, he requested that I should give him a lift and then I did. When we went back to the location and the township we saw that there was a convoy of the police vans and you could see there was a thick smoke which was coming from the township. There was a lot of noise, and I couldnít tolerate what was happening. So I went past the crowd of the people, I could identify Mr Voster, who was a taxi driver.

When I was about to go past him, I found that on the spot where there is a board with the name Zwelethemba, there was one white man, I cannot say whether he was an kommandant or what type of a rank was he holding. He asked me where I was heading for, I stated that I was going back to the township because I am a resident here. He asked me why I am going past because canít I see that there is a police blockade here. So we communicated and exchanged words.

He said canít you see that the kaffers are burning the place. And then if you get in and then you get injured, you shouldnít blame us for the injuries that you are going to sustain. So I went away but I drove far away from the spot where the smoke was coming from. When I got there, I found my children. And then we slept for that night - very early in the morning there was a telephone call - it was very cold this morning because it was winter time.

I was informed that I was wanted telephonically, I communicated with this person who identified himself as Freddie [indistinct] He said I am suppose to attend the court hearings. I wanted to know why should I be there - he said because I had laid a charge against one of the boys who stole my battery. So they informed me that we - we are going to go and attend the court hearings in connection with my batteries which we usually stolen by the children and the one boys.

So when I came - I got there, I that there was nobody around. So my youngest boy was together with me, because he was witness to this theft which had taken place. So we stayed there because even the accused was also available. Whilst we were still sitting, Freddie came along and he informed me that I am suppose to get inside.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Is Freddie the policeman?

MS KHUTWANE:

He was a detective at the time. I asked what am I wanted for, he said he doesnít know. I also asked him is it I who is wanted - he said yes. I nearly called my youngest son, but I was hesitant and then I felt that no he should be left behind.

When I got into one of the offices, I would that it was a huge crowd of the police - the police, the soldiers, there was a commotion, I didnít understand what was taking place here. Then I was taken to one of the offices - we went down the passage, again in one of the offices, there were so many policeman and then I was informed that one of the CIDís was a karate man. I asked Freddie again, what is going on and then he always said he doesnít know anything.

I was asked who am I and I gave them my particulars, so one of them said ja, we have got you. I was ordered to sit down, I really took a seat and I was shivering. I have never seen such a big crowd of white persons. You could see that this was a chair which was swinging, one of the policeman asked me where were you last night, I informed them that no I was at home and then he started shooting at me, stating that I was a liar. I insisted that I was at home and then he asked me didnít you attend one of the meetings which was held at the hall. I said yes I did and then what happened, I informed them that I went back to town and then I came back later on.

When I was about to - to give a response to one of the questions, the other one said I am spoggerig - they kept on interrogating me for hours on end. I was responding to their - all the questions.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

What were they asking about?

MS KHUTWANE

They insisted that I was telling lies, so I must stay, tell them who burnt the bar who was belonging to the Municipality - they also wanted to know the details about what was discussed at the meeting. They even asked what Mr [indistinct] said about the State of Emergency.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Who was this [indistinct]

MS KHUTWANE:

Mr [indistinct] was one of the committee members of the Secondary School - because he was giving orders to the children that they should please - he advises them that they should stop going around at night, because the State of Emergency was going to be implemented. They were asking me a lot of questions and they were so rude towards me.

I was getting tired about all this and then I ended up keeping quite and not responding to any of them. One of the white men, he had a fur coat on and he was having long beard, he said to me I must go to another office, which was outside, he said he wanted me to talk just - we should talk as mature people and then he continued with the interrogation again, we repeated the same story again. And then there was one young boy, I donít know whether it was one of the students here at the Drosdy - he said you have been talking a lot to this person and he is - he doesnít want to speak the truth. They repeatedly asked me the same questions and then he slapped me slightly on the cheek.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Was he this young boy?

MS KHUTWANE

Yes it was a white young boy.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Was he in uniform?

MS KHUTWANE

No he was in private but when he looked, the shirt that he put on, it looked like those of the policemen. So I kept quite also because he was slapping me. He said speak you bitch, I just kept on staring at him.

He grabbed me by the throat and then slapped me hard on the face. And then we fought. It was an exchange of blows and I was very angry because he was just -he could be as old as one of my children.

When the fight continued, you could hear that there was somebody coming along and then they were ridiculing me and then saying I am a John Tait and a Gerrie Coetzee the boxers. At the end I could see that they were also embarrassed because some of the black detectives came in. My shirt was in tatters and then one of them said are you fighting back you kaffer and then they kept on insulting me.

As I was still here, there were some young children who were brought in, who were crying. They were screaming and cries and then there was one child who was staying at Africa. They continued interrogating me for hours. About 2 pm the two white men came in the office -they called me and then I followed them to one of the offices and then they - again they took me out of the office. When we were outside I could see one yellow police van.

During that period, they took one of the handcuffs and then connected me to one of the handles of the door of the car. Then I was ordered to come inside. We were driving back to the location and you can see that - as you entered the township you could see that there were so many police vans and big hippos and then I had to alight from the car, I was suppose to get inside the hippo again and you could see that there were a lot of soldiers around.

There was one detective who is [indistinct] he was informed that he should escort me so that I can identify the place.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Were you still in handcuffs?

 

MS KHUTWANE

No, so they have taken the handcuffs and then put me into the hippo with one of the soldiers. So they handcuffed me again and with my hands at my back, they put leg irons my legs. They werenít - we went down the Africa road, and then we reached my place. When we got there - we could find that there were still a lot of policemen around my place. You would think that a male person was arrested.

The place - all the people were curious now because the whole area next to my place was infested by the police. At the end they took off the iron legs - the leg irons. When they got inside, they were searching.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

What were they looking for?

MS KHUTWANE

They said they were looking for something which I didnít know. One of the policeman said to me they have used - they use sand to make petrol bombs so they started insulting me again. They kept on searching and then they stated that they were looking for weapons at my place.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Excuse me mamma - can you please tell me what did they do to you.

MS KHUTWANE

I can just explain that they were just searching at this period and they were going at the backyard and searching the premises and they were tearing the ceiling down. One of the kommandant said no the ANC members would sue do - do not destroy his property and damage anything here -then I was arrested and detained again.

Loggenbach who called Lucas, arrested me and he said I must give the statement. They said if I defy them I will be detained for years and I will never get out of prison again - so I didnít - I said I didnít care they can do whatever they liked - I was arrested and I was detained again. I was alone in the cell and you could see that I was really in the solitary confinement. I was concerned about my child because he was - I left her whilst I was taken to those offices. So I didnít know where they have taken him to. There was a lot of noise, you couldnít sleep very well and then you could hear two of the policemen who were communicating to each other.

So I was afraid but at the same time I was having the hope that they were going to take me back home. One of them called me and said - called my name - when I was about to take my baggage they said no I must leave it behind. So we went through the same passage which I walked through during the day. When we were up the stairs I was taken down again and I was ordered to board this hippo. I had to get on and then they started driving the hippo away.

We went down the High Street over the bridge and we went through Rawsonville - you could see a [indistinct] just nearer.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

What were they doing to do as you are here?

MS KHUTWANE

I was just alone at the back of the hippo and they were just driving - it was pitch dark outside. They alighted the hippo and then they came to take me out of the hippo. One of them said to me can I see what I have put myself in, and then they asked me when did I last sleep with a man. I was so embarrassed by this question. And I felt so humiliated - I informed them that I have nobody - I didnít have a partner and then they asked me with whom am I staying. I informed them that I was with my family.

The other question that they asked me is how do I feel when they - when I am having intercourse with a man. This was too much for me because they were repeating it time and again, asking me the same question, asking me what do I like with the intercourse do I like the size of the penis or what do I enjoy most.

So the other one was just putting his hand inside me through the vagina, I was crying because I was afraid that we have heard that the soldiers are very notorious of raping people. This one continued putting his say finger right through me, he kept on penetrating and I was asking for forgiveness and I was asking them what have I done, I am old enough to be your mother. But why are you treating me like this - this was very-very embarrassing.

At the end one of them I think maybe God just came inside them and the other one said letís - let her go, and then at the end they took me back to this police station and then they locked me up in the cell again. When I got inside there, I could see that there was one person inside the cell, I was afraid because this person was also - looked as if he is a male also, I was not trusting anybody now, I was suspicious of anything that was moving around.

So I kept quite and I was just shivering with fear, so at the time I could see that as the dawn was breaking I could see that oh! it was a female. At the end they came to fetch her and I was alone - I was expecting to be taken to the Magistrateís office, but this never happened to me. Again in the evening, I could feel that the lice were just moving about my body and somebody came in - two male -white males came in -when I looked them I didnít know, I have never seen them before. I was already deep in sleep and then I woke up. They told me to follow them - I was taken to other - two separate rooms which were far away from my cell.

I got into one of the offices and then I was ordered to sit, they took out their guns and those were put on the table. They asked if I knew them - I said no I didnít know you. One of them introduced himself as Jack, and I didnít believe that they were giving me their correct names. The other one said they are officers from the special branch and they wanted the truth from me. They asked me about what was happening in the location - I repeated the same story and gave them the same detail that I have given them during the day. They were very angry towards me - and they didnít believe what I was saying. They associated me with everything what was happening in the location. So they informed me that they wonít kajol me and they will just whatever that will bring truth out of me.

They insisted that I was lying - each time they interrogated me whatever response I gave them, they never believed it. I was wondering what they expect me to say because anything that I said, was incredible to them. One of them took the bullets out of his own pocket, there were about nine of them - they forced me to speak - I just kept quite because I didnít know what to say.

He take his gun and beat me on the head - keep on beating me, asking whether am I willing to say something or not - and he kept on doing the same thing.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Excuse me mamma Khutwane - we would like to know what did these people exactly want to find out from you - was it - was it guns or petrol bombs?

MS KHUTWANE

I am still saying my story because they were saying we blacks are holding meetings with white people in the location and yet there was a white man known as Bloch, we use to come during nights and hold meeting with us - and they said the white men are just giving us wrong information and they said the whites will overthrow the Government we donít end of Tape 3, Side B Ö

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

[indistinct] I want to know and want to identify the situation that you were while these people detained you. You have given us the - the other way that they treated you during that period and we got what you are trying to say and the way they treated you while you were in the van.

I believe there was also someone who treated you the -who treated you the same way while you were in the van. Does it ever happened while you were living something like - something so of like that. As I was sitting - I sitting there listening I couldnít take it -because our mothers are just the same age as yours and yet where there are people who can just couldnít respect you - dishonour you as little as those who were.

I just had the feeling that you - you could be my mother thatís where the pain is. We would like you to tell us how - how were you feeling that time.

 

MS KHUTWANE:

It was so painful because I couldnít stand it, because these kids were young and they were still at a very age they had all the powers to respect and honour me. They were just the same age as my children and what were they doing to me.

I could think maybe they thought that I was just a black person who is out of his mind - I mean out of the minds - not knowing anything.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Yes its like that, because like the one who slapped you hardly on your face he was also a youngster. So I think they dishonour you, humiliating you, lower your dignity as much as they can. We would like to come to an end of this so that my colleagues could come - could ask you some questions, I would like to know how many kids do you have.

MS KHUTWANE

I have got four children.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

How old are they?

MS KHUTWANE

They are old enough - they are very old - some of them have own houses.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

And you also own a house.

MS KHUTWANE

Yes I had one, but unfortunately I divorced my husband.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

I am just saying that you are also a mother.

MS KHUTWANE

Yes I am a mother.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Is because I am imagining the way this children, this policeman had treated you. I had a picture in mind looking at the way they were treating you - even the people - the community people what were they feeling then. I was wondering - I am wondering what was on your mind by the time they were moving with you in the van right around the location.

MS KHUTWANE

I thought that as I was one of the ANC members they wanted me to withdraw from the ANC not to hold meetings again because I would know what will be the treatment I will get, even now - Niewoudt by the day I was in the police cell they tried to suffocate me with a towel and he sat - he sat on my chest.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Is that Niewoudt?

MS KHUTWANE

Yes - Iíve heard by Niewoudt while they were still ruling the location - Iíve heard from the other - other girl pointing that is Niewoudt, I think you must be aware. He is the one who said his [indistinct] to me, the one who was beating me the other day. I only discovered then thatís Niewoudt.

They take me to the prison, where I was badly treated, that was Worcester prison, Iíve never experienced such a bad treatment as that. I also suffered from meningitis - when - while it was raining they asked us to take our blankets outside and then when they were wet we must take them back sleeping with those wet blankets. I had no doctor to treat me then. Vallie Moosa was one of those who assisted me and helped me, they take me to hospital - itís when I got treatment, I got a bail.

A Magistrate came along, his name was Botha - then I was sent back to the prison and there were fifteen other accused and I was told to be, I was informed that I was accused no 1 and I was [intervention]

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

As you were accused did you ever go to report and lay charge about the treatment that you received.

MS KHUTWANE

No I didnít have an opportunity to do so, because we knew that even the people who could defend us, Miriam and others, were always helping us and giving us support. But they were always detained all the time and you would become fearful of the police. But fortunately one advocate assisted us, it was Mr Kawalski - we had our case, it lasted for a year and then I was acquitted.

During the period when I was detained, I was just in confused state - I didnít know what was happening to me, I didnít even know whether I was going to be acquitted or I was going to be kept for quite a long time. One of the people informed me that whilst I was detained my place was burnt down whilst I was in prison and I was informed that it - the petrol bomb was thrown at it - so one of my children died because he had an epileptic attack.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Is it - were there people who said you have betrayed others?

MS KHUTWANE

Yes, I do not know what happened to Niewoudt because during the time when they arrested me, they never came to me and informed me why was I accused. They didnít even tell me why my house was burnt down, so I could see that even the community was ostracising me - I was being ridiculed by everybody because my house was destroyed through arson. But I have never turned my back against them - I am still an ANC member.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

In your statement you had mentioned that we should find out why was your house burnt down, how was it burnt, how were you degraded and how were you - reported as an informer.

MS KHUTWANE

Yes I would like that to happen.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

I would like to ask you one last question - do you know the names of the police who were using abusive language towards you and those who were molesting you.

MS KHUTWANE

No I do not know them - itís one of those who had berets on their heads, small berets.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

So you donít know who their names were?

MS KHUTWANE

No I donít.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

If you could know them - what would you do if you can meet them or what would you say to them.

MS KHUTWANE

Do you want to know if I can say to them if I meet them.

MS KHUTWANE

Yes I would like to find out.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

What would you say to them should you meet them?

MS KHUTWANE

You know I would say to them even if they enjoy life now, I can just inform them that they should try to have manners.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Okay we are finished you - I would hand over to the Chairperson - thank you very much.

DR BORAINE:

Thank you very much indeed - any other questions - no. None of my colleagues have any further questions. You have been through a very hard time and not only were you very badly molested and insulted, imprisoned - solitary confinement - charged - kept waiting for two years before your case was heard and found not guilty and then to find that your own friends and comrades suspected you of giving information and informing.

You lost your house, your family has been unwell, you have suffered very-very deeply and we are very aware of the pain that you have experienced. We have noted your request to the Commission, we have written it down, we will follow it up. We will do everything we can to try and find out the information that you have asked for and we just hope and pray that your own life will know some peace and happiness and joy because you certainly deserve it, you have been through a great deal. Thank you very much for coming today and sharing this with us and we hope you go well - thank you very much.