TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION

DAY 4 - 25 APRIL 1996

 

CASE NO: CT/00508

VICTIM: LUCAS BABA SIKWEPERE

VIOLATION: TORTURE

TESTIMONIES FROM: LUCAS BABA SIKWEPERE

NONTOBEKO GALLERY FENI

 

DR BORAINE:

The next witness that the Commission will hear is Lucas Baba Sikwepere and Iíd be grateful if he would come please. I understand that also Nontobeko Gallery Feni will be accompanying Lucas. Mr Sikwepere can you hear me.

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes.

DR BORAINE:

Can you hear the [indistinct] as well.

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes I can.

DR BORAINE:

Thank you very much. We would like to welcome you very warmly to the Commission. You have been sitting for a long time listening to others and now you have an opportunity to speak for yourself about some very dreadful actions that were taken against you which live with you today. I have to ask you to take the oath, if you prefer to remain seated, thatís not a problem.

 

LUCAS BABA SIKWEPERE Duly sworn states

 

DR BORAINE:

Thank you, you may be seated please. Mr Sikwepere itís difficult to even begin to understand what your experiences have been and perhaps the wisest for all of us is to allow you to talk for yourself about the injuries youíve sustained and the torture that youíve endured.

And Ms Pumla Gobodo one of our Commissioners will take up from me now to assist you to tell your own story, thank you.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you Chairman - Chairperson. Chairperson Dr Boraine has introduced to you and presented Lucas Baba Sikwepere.

Baba is going to present to us what he says is the work of the man who came to be known as the Rambo of the Peninsula. The police officer who is known by the name of Barnard. Baba is going to tell us that the last time he saw with his eyes, was when he turned to look at Barnard who then blew his eyes and vision to non existence.

Barnard has been mentioned in this room by a number of witnesses. And if we as the Human Rights Violations Committee find that Barnard was indeed responsible for all the atrocities that are mentioned here for all the killings, the destruction of peopleís lives - the [indistinct]

The total incomplete dehumanisation of people if we find that this is true. There are two questions that are pressing for me, the first one is wasnít there any policeman in the force in the Peninsula who could stop him in his tracks, and was our legal system so hopeless that he couldnít be brought to a Court of Law with justice.

And speaking of a Court of Law, I am reminded of what a witness here on Tuesday said, Mr Juqu, Mr Juqu said in those years the Law allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do to us. And he further said that if you were a person in authority and I will translate what he said literally.

If you are a person in authority, you had the right to lie in a Court of Law. And the South African idea of a Court of Law takes us back to the 1960ís, and I remember what was said by Judge De Wet in the Rivonia trial in his closing remarks.

He first of all dismissed the expert testimony of Dr Allan Patten and said that he was in no way convinced that President Mandela and Others were trying to improve the lives of the oppressed in apartheid South Africa. JP de Wet also said that just as a way of explaining to everybody what the Courts then were doing, he said that the function of the Courts is to enforce the Laws of the States. And to enforce law and order.

Now it is our function here as the Human Rights Violations Committee to try and establish what Barnardís idea of the enforcement of law and order was. And to establish the extends and nature of that enforcement of law and order.

Baba, you can take off your earphones. Good morning, I am just going to explain to you how this house is arranged. If you face towards your right, that is now the whole house, you are now seated on the platform, people in this house are approximately 200 to 250. You are now seated on the platform. And our small tables are arranged as a horse shoe. Right in the middle of the horse shoe is Bishop Tutu, next to him is Dr Boraine, I am right at the extreme end of this horse shoe. I am seated directly across you, we are facing each other. We are now going to start to talk to each other, Baba.

Could you please tell us Baba what happened on that day of this incident, could you please explain to us.

MR SIKWEPERE

On this particular day it was on - in the morning we were told that the previous night that we shouldnít sleep at night, because we were going to be attacked. Now the community at large was told by a loudspeaker to stay outside the whole night - that night. Now the following day I left and I went to find out if my house was still there. Before an hour was over while I was still at - in my house, I - I heard that we were called.

And I heard that we are now being attacked. I ran, we were - I went through the Terminus Road. Now that was where we were suppose to collect each other. Now that place was between Crossroads and KTC. While we were still there, a van approached - it was a white van and it was driven by Barnard. When he - after he had just passed, he asked us to all disperse within five minutes. People asked how can - how can he ask us to - to disperse because we are not here to do any harm. Only people who are suppose too - who are here to burn the place should be dispersed.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Please donít speak fast of the interpreterís sake, do you think you can do that?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes I can. Now when the communities asked how can he ask us to disperse because this is just a small meeting, we were just 20 to 25. We were here to elect people and we were just asking how can he ask this of us. We elected 3 people, one of them was Vulelo Schoto we use to call him Bullet, I canít remember the name of the third one. I was the fourth one, but I wasnít elected.

I wanted to find out what was the response from this white man. That time he had already turned towards Nyanga East. On his way back from Nyanga East he was facing KTC now. Now thatís when now we were told now this three elected men must go and represent us. When I saw that the van now was stationary, I went to it. They checked if the person driving the car was the one that they were looking for - they found that no it wasnít him.

I was just standing for two minutes next to the window, I found out now - now this white man opened the door and withdraw his gun. Now I wanted to find out what is the story going on, on the other side of this car. I tried to peep and I was looking straight into him, straight to him. When - while I was still looking at him, these people asked him, how can you ask us to disperse, and yet we have no aims to do harm to anyone. We are here to stop whoever who is trying to burn this place up.

This white man said this in Afrikaans - you are going to get eventually what you looking for. And I am going to shoot you. I was shocked at what this white man said to him, to me. He said in Afrikaans, I am going to get you. Now I wanted to find out why is he talking to me like this. And I was just trying to find out was he referring to me by all these, and one - one of the men behind me ran. I saw this people surrounding this van - I was now wondering when - where do these people come from surrounding this van, all of a sudden.

After I saw this running men, now I didnít even care about this one, I was talking to. After that I heard a loud noise, it sounded like a stone hitting a sink, now it - it ended up looking now I was going to be included among these people surrounding this van. But I decided not to run, I decided to walk. Because I knew that if you run, you were going to be shot, so I decided let me just walk into a safe place where I can just start now running. But during that time shootings were going on, there were two white men in this car.

Barnard was not driving at that time, now when I - when I arrived at the place when I thought now I am safe, I felt something hitting my cheek. I couldnít go any further, I stayed right there only to find out I had been hidden by a corner of a house. I felt my eyes itching, I was just itching my eyes, I was scratching my eyes I wasnít quite sure what happened to my eyes at that particular time. I felt somebody stepping on my right shoulder.

And saying I thought this dog has died already. I felt both my eyes - I was just waiting that these people are going to take me to a prison end of Tape 19, side A Ö during that whole time - after saying is this man dead or not, some people picked me up. Only to find out they were taking me into a private car, now thatís the car that took me to the hospital. Thatís where I spend a month, after I came back I still stayed in misery.

The same white man still tried to torture me, another night this white man came again. They came to fetch me and I was staying that time with my girl friend. When I got to where the Casspir was going, it was Nyanga East at the police station. Thatís where they really beat me up so much that they said I was the organiser of all these riots.

I was worried, tried to think where were they taking me, they emphasized all - they were concentrating on me, most of the time, they took me to the cemetery. I was with Lulama Magoje and she was the one who was holding my hand. And they pushed me into a hole and they were - I was told to tell the truth even if you could die here now, nobody would know anything.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Truth about what Baba?

MR SIKWEPERE

They were asking us about arms, they were telling - they were saying I am the boss. Lulama who was next to me - was the one who was always with me. I couldnít tell them anything because I didnít even know what they were asking me. After 15 to 20 minutes, they pulled me out - I donít know - I donít know how Lulama got out of this grave. They took us into - into the Culemborg police station. There we were taken one by one, they would just take the oneís they wanted and take them home. When we got to Nyanga East we were told to go - to go back home. I stayed at home for two to three months. And these people came back again.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Who are these people Baba?

MR SIKWEPERE

These people are white policemen, I cannot tell their names now, and I cannot tell who they were because I was already blind this time.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Were they speaking English or Xhosa?

 

 

MR SIKWEPERE

They were speaking English but there was only one Xhosa speaking person, it was the interpreter. After that they took me to Guguletu police station. We stayed there with other detained people. One of them was Baba - not Baba only to find that they were not looking for Baba they were looking for Baba.

They told me that I - they were going to put me away until I tell the truth. Because they believe that I am the one who knows everything. They thought that I had the guns and the hand grenades. I told them I donít know anything about those, I was shocked when they told me they were going to throw me into Allandale.

I knew that this is something, this was their usual practice. Because I was very scared I told them a certain statement which I cannot even tell now to you because I was too scared. I was just telling then that people were burning certain places and they were murdering certain people, I cannot tell you why I said that, because I - I was so confused. KTC place was the place where people use to be killed.

Now so I thought I was going to go to Kwa Langa where I use to stay. Thatís where I will end this - my story.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you Baba. We can see that this is still painful for you, when you have to talk about these things, we can see that it is painful for you. Baba because at the end of all - all these proceedings, I would like to ask you a few questions to have clarity. Firstly you said something that had happened at KTC where Barnard was, is that.

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Secondly after three months when you were taken again, you were taken to the cemetery at NY5 is that so? Thatís where they put you in one of the graves, is that so?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

What did they do to you when you were at the cemetery, what did [intervention]

MR SIKWEPERE

While we were at the cemetery, these people told me that while you are in this grave you can die in here and nobody will know where you are. They told - they asked me to tell the truth and I told them that I donít know anything. We were not beaten up while we were in the cemetery. While they were talking to me, I was already in this grave. I was with Lulama Magoje in this open grave.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

This truth were they - is that the truth that they were asking you that you knew everything about the arms?

 

MR SIKWEPERE

Thatís right. They wanted people called that time Rasta. Because it looked like at that time it - it was Rasta who knew where the arms were.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you Baba I am going to let you go now, but I am going to hand you over to our Chairperson, maybe some of my Colleagues have questions as well. Do you think you can answer some of their questions?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes I will.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON:

Anyone with a question, Dumisa Ntsebeza.

ADV NTSEBEZA:

Baba there was something that wasnít clear. It wasnít quite clear in English because you were speaking too fast. Now I am going to ask you just to ensure that is it what really said, is only one - just one part of it. After you have been blinded by being shot, then you got out of the hospital, the police tortured you since 1987, is that so?

MR SIKWEPERE

[No audible answer]

ADV NTSEBEZA:

Did they interrogate you until 1987, is that so?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes thatís so.

ADV NTSEBEZA:

And you were already blind at that time?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes, thatís so.

ADV NTSEBEZA:

And what they emphasized on was because you were blind, you were the one keeping the arms, you were the one hiding the arms. No because the police will not suspect you, now they were going to make you show them the arms, is that so?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes that is so.

ADV NTSEBEZA:

Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON:

Wendy Orr.

DR ORR:

I am going to ask you a few questions, it may be that - that you did answer them, but I didnít understand the translation very well. You were speaking about the night when you were shot and you said there were people with the police who you called Inkatha is that right?

 

 

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes thatís so.

DR ORR:

Do you mean by this members of the Inkatha Freedom Party of was it another group of people?

MR SIKWEPERE

Those people were called Inkatha because they were speaking Zulu. And they came to collect everybody who were - who were speaking Afrikaans at that time, wanted to speak Afrikaans, thatís how now they were called Inkatha because of their language.

DR ORR:

Thank you, and just one other question, before you were shot, who did you see standing there pointing a gun at you?

MR SIKWEPERE

The person I was looking at, pointing a gun at me, I saw this gun pointing at me and I heard the shot against my cheek and it was Barnard, he was standing next to his car.

DR ORR:

Thank you very much.

CHAIRPERSON:

Dr Boraine.

DR BORAINE:

I want to ask you two questions. The first is when you recovered but - from your injuries but you were blind, was there any Court case or anything that happened after that?

MR SIKWEPERE

I donít quite understand the question.

DR BORAINE:

Was there - let me try and rephrase that. You were shot and you were blind was their any investigation about - against the man who shot you at all?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes there was an investigation, I was at the hospital my face was swollen. There were people coming from legal aid from Town. I didnít go to their offices, they came to me. Because they couldnít come to the township easily. When they asked me how everything was going - my case, I told them no, there was no progress in my case.

DR BORAINE:

And what happened after that?

MR SIKWEPERE

Like I said my lawyer told me to - to resign because my case now wasnít going anywhere.

DR BORAINE:

The last question that I have is, that was in 1985 is that right when you were shot?

 

MR SIKWEPERE

[No audible answer]

DR BORAINE:

Was that in 1985 when you were shot?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes it was the last day of the year.

DR BORAINE:

And in 1987 you were tortured again.

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes very much.

DR BORAINE:

Is that at the Guguletu police station?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes it was at Guguletu police station.

DR BORAINE:

What did they do to you?

MR SIKWEPERE

I wasnít beaten at the Guguletu police station, I was taken away from my families, where nobody could visit me. Now that was the time when I actually did what they wanted me to do. There was a statement, a fifteen page long statement that was made by this policeman, then after thatís the only time I was released.

 

 

DR BORAINE:

[indistinct] you before you made the statement.

MR SIKWEPERE

Before I gave this statement, they threatened me I wasnít beaten up, I was threatened very much, the last time I was beaten up, it was at the police station where I was - a sack was put on over my face.

DR BORAINE:

Thatís all I want to know, thank you.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you, take off your earphones, Baba I would like to tell the people of the Commission because of the question that was asked by one of our ladies about the Inkatha. I want to tell them that in the townships where there are Xhosa speaking people, during these riots and all the violence, if there were other people who were not Xhosa speaking there, and they were speaking Zulu, those people living in that area, would conclude that those are Inkatha people.

Now because these are seen as enemies, so now they would be called Inkatha. Now when it come to the Cape Town townships, those people called wit doeke I am sure this sister next to you is going to bear witness to this. You use to call them amabatcha just because they are Xhosa dialect wasnít the same as the - as yours here in Cape Town. Itís closer to Zulu, that is now how they were now referred to as Inkatha. I just wanted to give that report, so that my colleagues here can understand that. Baba do you have any bullets in you as we speak.

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes there are several of them. Some are here in my neck. Now on my face you can really see them, but my face feels quite rough, it feels like rough salt. I usually have terrible headaches.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you Baba.

CHAIRPERSON:

We will come again after lunch.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you Chairperson.

DR BORAINE:

I have to swear her in.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Again?

DR BORAINE:

She hasnít been sworn in. Ms Feni can you hear me.

MS FENI:

Yes.

DR BORAINE:

Can you hear the translation?

MS FENI

Yes I can hear it well.

 

DR BORAINE:

Oh! thatís great, itís really nice welcoming you here this afternoon I am sorry we had to interrupt and keep you waiting for the lunch break, but we very glad to see you now. I have to ask you to take the oath, so would you please stand.

 

NONTOBEKO GALLERY FENI Duly sworn states

 

DR BORAINE:

Thank you very much, you may be seated, Pumla thank you.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you Chairperson, Ms Feni we have already asked for your forgiveness for making you walk up and down. Weíll start working Nontobeko you can take your earphones off now. Baba has already told us what had happened that day, the last day of 1985. Please give us a mental picture of what you saw and the reason why Barnard went to your place, please tell us mamma.

MS FENI

We heard a loudspeaker - when we went to the tar road, responding to the loudspeakerís call, we found out that it was Barnard who was calling us. He was in the car, he was with another man, the name of that man with Barnard was Swart.

 

 

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Is he a policeman?

MS FENI

Yes he is a policeman.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Was Swart driving?

MS FENI

No Barnard was driving, Swart was next to Barnard, he usually - he is usually with Barnard all the time. When he called us there were men waiting in the yard among our shacks. And that was the place where the boers use to patrol.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Who were Plutoís?

MS FENI

The Sotho - Sotho speaking men from Nyanga East who usually wear blankets, were the oneís we called Plutoís. They use to stay at Nyanga East next to terminus. Barnard was from those people, while he was with us now, he told us come out comrades, you are cowards, are you afraid of these people. Ja and you know - as you know when somebody is calling you a coward, you donít want to be called a coward, you come out.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Who are these people were they wit doeke?

 

MS FENI

Yes they were. So we all went, I was - I had just finished washing the napkins, napkins, Barnard asked are you afraid of these people comrades - comrades you are cowards. You are illiterate, are you afraid of illiterate people. A few men approached just near us, they were from New Crossroads. They came from a certain corner which was just near us, we saw now these men - I could see this people because they were right in front of me. There were others right in front of us, and I saw these men, when I saw itís these people, they were here already.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Which are those men, are they the wit doek?

MS FENI

Yes they were, wit doek. When they arrived Barnard started to shoot at them he said come are you afraid you comrades, come. Now he started shooting, shooting all over when I looked next to me one of the men fell next to me. And it was Baba, I said Baba get up, oh! they have finished me off. That time I had a child on my back, he was a year or so. And then a taxi arrived and took us to Conrad, and that is the end of the story.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you ma, I just wanted to find out before you went to Conrad, letís just go back a little. Why did Barnard come to you, exactly? Because it looks like you saying Barnard was trying to make you fight with the wit doek people from this other side.

MS FENI

That was Barnardís work, he is been in trying to make everybody fight, he was inciting people to fight.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

He said you are cowards, are you afraid of this [indistinct] - illiterate people come.

MS FENI

Yes thatís what he use to do, he use to incite people to fight. He was a frightful and he wasnít afraid to come and just walk around us.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Thank you mamma. I am going to ask our Chairman to have just a last question to Baba, thank you.

There was something Baba that wasnít clear when you made your statement about your torture. The years and the months were not really clear. We understand this has been a long time sometimes you wonít be able to remember the correct dates, but just tell us you went to the hospital and you stayed there for three months and then you came out. Now after you were discharged from hospital, you were taken to Nyanga East is that so?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes, I was taken to - to a building at Nyanga East which was used as a bar, now that building was converted from being a bar and used by people called wit doeke. Now those people now were called blou doek, now that was the - now that was the place where people were taken by the people wearing blue, to be tortured. Now that was the police station I use to beaten up thatís where they put a sack over me. They use to pour water over me so that I can be - I can be suffocated.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Could you please tell us this Bishop Tutu sack you talking about.

MR SIKWEPERE

They would put a doek a sack over me and then I would feel this water running through me. Now but when they put the sack over, there was no water, thatís the kind of sack I am talking about, and there were no holes in it, I couldnít breath, and I was on the ground and there were stepping over me.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Now how much time lapsed before you went back to Guguletu? Before and again they tortured you.

MR SIKWEPERE

It wasnít a long time after that. They tortured me in this two police stations after torturing me, they will just tell me to go home. Now the torture I am talking about was in - was happening in the police stations. I was released from Nyanga East police station after three months, and they would torture me again, and then Jerry and Mr Austin came to fetch me again to the police station to torture me again.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

So the picture you giving us now here is that they kept coming at - to you - to throw you in a deserted place to throw you into cemeteries, so that you can be tortured in those places?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes, usually I have a fat body, but after that I lost all my body, now I am thin as you can see me now.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA:

Now for the last time, how do you feel about coming here to tell us your story?

MR SIKWEPERE

I feel what - what has brought my sight back, my eyesight back is to come back here, and tell the story. But I feel what has been making me sick all the time is the fact that I couldnít tell my story. But now I - it feels like I got my sight back by coming here and tell you the story.

CHAIRPERSON:

Is there - any Dr Orr.

DR ORR:

Iíd like to ask Ms Feni a question if she can put on her earphones. Ms Feni on the night or on the day that Baba was shot, were you also injured?

MS FENI

Yes I was injured, even my child was injured as well, there she is.

CHAIRPERSON:

Mary Burton.

MS BURTON:

Thank you, I would like to ask a question which either Mr Sikwepere or Ms Feni may be able to answer. There was mentioned at the time when you were near the van before Mr Sikwepere was shot, that there were other people there, one of them I think was Mbulelo who was also known as Bullet, I think his name was Mbulelo Sikoto is that right?

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes thatís correct.

MS BURTON:

Can you remember the names of any other people who were there at the time?

MR SIKWEPERE

If I could see them yes I will recognise them end of Tape 19, side B Ö

MS BURTON:

We thank you.

CHAIRPERSON:

Any other, thank you very much to both of you for coming to us and telling your story, thank you very much. Is there anything that you wanted to add.

MR SIKWEPERE

Yes there is. I would like to explain something to the Commission that the role of the struggle by the comrades, I was not involved in those, I forgot to tell you this. I was just an ordinary worker, and I was - I was not involved in - in the struggle. My involvement now with the struggle only came when I was already injured, now thatís the time I started to get involved with the struggle of the freedom. Before I wasnít involved.

CHAIRPERSON:

Thank you, there is another question from the research section.

UNKNOWN COMMISSIONER:

Baba what is your wish that the Commission can do for you to help? What is your wish Baba?

MR SIKWEPERE

I wish that the Commission can take care of the future of my children. Which is something that I cannot do at the moment. They are still going to school but they donít even have enough clothes to go to school, theyíre struggling, their children is not working - their mother is not working and I am only depending on the pension. Thatís the only thing that I wish for.

UNKNOWN COMMISSIONER

Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON:

Thank you very much.