PROCEEDINGS HELD AT
BLOEMFONTEIN -02-04 July 1996
[PAGES 1 - 118]
I N D E X
NO ITEM PAGE N°
1. Mr Molehe..................................................... 1 - 5
2. Thiwe Magadalena Mhlabende............................. 6 - 11
3. Gladys Mosidi Mohali....................................... 12 - 29
4. Ellen Kaloti.................................................... 30 - 38
5. Ratsebe Jeremiah Mekwe................................... 39 - 45
6. Metabo Adelena Matsunyane............................... 46 - 54
7. Erica Doreen Motsabe Kokunsi............................ 55 - 60
8. Mr and Mrs Thapedi......................................... 61 - 70
9. Shadrack Theko Olifant..................................... 71 - 80
10. Dikaledi Adelaide Motsaneng............................. 81 - 90
11. Bernice Jakila................................................ 91 - 95
12. Paulina Butsibo and Ester Tsetsi......................... 95 - 106
13. Ezekiel Matsidiso Marais.................................. 107 - 118
COMMISSIONER: Mr Molehe, you are in one way making a bit of history today, because you are the first witness ever to appear before the Commission in the Free State. Some of your colleagues and friends have appeared in Durban, but you are the first in the Free State, and we welcome you most warmly. It's not easy to be first, and you're probably feeling a little bit nervous, but I hope that you can relax and realise that the Commission, appointed by the President, is here on behalf of the nation, and cares about you and your own pain. We identify with you. You have come to tell us about the death of your son, which is a very, very hard thing to do and a very heavy burden to carry. Before you do that I must ask you to take the oath, and I'd be grateful if you would please stand now.
MR MOLEHE (Sworn, States)
CHAIRMAN: Mr Molehe, we always ask one of our Commissioners or Committee Members to be of assistance to witnesses and survivors, and in this instance my colleague, Mrs Virginia Gcabashe, is going to lead you and to assist you in any way, but she knows, and I know, and we all know, that it's your story and it belongs to you. I am going to ask her to take over now. Thank you.
MRS GCABASHE: Mrs Molehe, we greet you. I hope that even if you've come to relate a very painful story you are prepared to tell us all that you know about losing your son. We sympathise with you in your loss. In short I will request you to try and explain and give us a background as to what happened to your son, that is the circumstances surrounding his disappearance. We would also like to know about your family background in brief.
--- My name is Mr Molehe. My son went away in 1980. It was after the burial of Makotho in Pahameng. The police arrived at my place at 1 o'clock. They were driving in eight vehicles and four dogs. They knocked and I opened the door. On the table there were peanuts, and they accused me of selling dagga. They opened everything on the table and they discovered it was peanuts and they took it. The next day two policemen arrived to fetch me. They wanted me to go to the Special Branch, and they told me that, "Your son is in Lesotho. He ran away. We are now giving you this letter so that you go and fetch him." They gave me a letter and I was given a special passport. I left with my wife. We went to Lesotho. And then we found our son in Europa, Lesotho, and he said to me, "I will not come back because the police are looking for me." The man who was on the gate said to me, "Your son is old enough." He was over 18 and he decided to leave the country. And I came back home, I informed the police that he is now in Tanzania. Towards the elections I joined the ANC and I got a card. Mr Motsabe came to me and he said to me, "Your son is dead, but we don't know where, and you don't have to expect anything from the ANC." That was the first point. And the second point, I remember Mpanjani, who was one of the people who tortured my son. The white man I don't remember any more. Mpanjani used to come and fetch my son. My wife was at home and I was at work. Mpanjani would come to my house via our next-door neighbours. My son realised that it was Mpanjani and he jumped over the fence and he ran. When Mpanjani got into the house my son was not there. I was deeply hurt, and I even got a heart attack. I will never forget Mr Motsabe's
words. He was together with Mr Maleke from Johannesburg when he told me that my son was dead, and he said I shouldn't expect anything from the ANC, there will not be help of any sort. And I said to him, "I wasn't expecting any help. I just wanted to know where my son died, because I do not even know his grave." Since my son left I have never cut my hair, because we believe when death has befell your family you have to cut your hair, but I cannot because I don't know whether my son lives or has he died. I really don't know.
Thank you, Mr Molehe, from hearing of your testimony. I would like to ask you just a few questions so that you can elaborate on your story. You said you got a letter that said you must go to Lesotho. Who gave you the transport or the fare? When you got to Lesotho you met with a Commissioner of Refugees. Who arranged this meeting? --- When we got to Europa they showed us - when I got there I came across a person who was holding a gun. He is the one who told me that my child is at Monthaka.
You said an SB arrived at your home. Do you know his whereabouts, this Mpanjani? --- I normally meet Mpanjani in town. I think he is still around.
You said that the ANC told you that your son had died. Did you get any death certificate? What means have you done to get a death certificate? --- Mr Motsabe told me that my son died and they don't know where he died, and I just lost hope, I didn't know where to go. Because I was told that his death certificate will be sent to the Premier and the Premier will pass it over to me, but I didn't even know the Premier then, and I lost hope
and I didn't do anything. While I was listening to the news on the radio I heard that the Commission is going to be in Bloemfontein, and I went to the St John Presbyterian Church to submit my statement.
Have you ever had any visit from the ANC after that? --- No, not after that.
Mr Molehe, we are listening to your story. Is there anything else that you would like to know, besides the fact that your son is dead and where is he buried? Do you think there is any assistance that the Commission might give you, even though that there isn't much that we can do? --- No, I have a request. I don't know what to ask from the Commission. The Commission will see what kind of help will they offer.
Thank you very much. I want to say once more we sympathise with you, we really sympathise with you.
DR MGOJO: Mr Molehe, according to your statement here it would appear that you son, when he was in standard eight had a type of experience. Is that true, that he was still in standard eight? --- Yes, that's true.
Thank you. And then he left to join the ANC in exile, is that true? --- That's true.
And it would appear that later you too joined the ANC. Is that true? --- Yes, that's true.
Before this happened you were involved with the Security Police. Was there anybody in your family who was an activist? --- No, nobody.
So were you surprised that you and your family had to get this type of treatment from the Security Police? --- Yes, I was really surprised.
Thank you, Mr Chairperson.
MR LAX: Sorry, Mr Molehe, just one small question for clarification. You mentioned that two people from the ANC visited you to inform you of your son's death. One was Mr Motsabe. I didn't catch the other name very clearly. If you wouldn't mind just telling it to us again please. --- They said it was Mr Maleke from Johannesburg.
Mr Molehe, we thank you very much for coming here. We also thank your effort of having come to give your testimony. As I have already pointed out when I was praying, we ask the Lord to comfort you. May He be the one who gives His holy spirit to strengthen you. We shall try by all means to act according to your wishes so that we may try to solve your problems, so that we may see or find out as to where your son has been buried, as to what has happened where. We thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER: Mrs Mhlabende, can you hear my voice in your earphones?
MRS MHLABENDE: Yes, I can hear you.
COMMISSIONER: I want to say good morning to you, and to welcome you very warmly to the Commission. We are very glad that you took the trouble to come to the Commission and to tell your story to our members of our staff, but now to tell it to the Commission itself and to the people who are in this City hall, and to many more people outside. It's very important that people tell stories of what happened to them, whatever that may be, and we are very grateful to you for coming. You are going to tell us about the time when you were in great distress when your own was burnt down, but before you do that I would like you to please stand for the oath.
THIWE MAGADALENA MHLABENDE (Sworn, States)
COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Please be seated. Dr Mgojo is going to take over from me and lead you as you tell your story. Thank you.
DR MGOJO: Mrs Mhlabende, I want you to relax and tell all what is causing your pain as far as the burning of your house is concerned. Don't fear anything, just say everything. But before I do that can you just tell us about your family, the background about your family? --- Can you please tell me - say what to do.
Do you speak Zulu? Okay. If you speak Xhosa you will understand me, because Zulu and Xhosa are close. You will help Mrs - please tell us all that you went through. Tell us the pain you felt when your house was burnt down, but before you tell us that could you just
give us a brief background of your family. Who are you, where do you come from, etcetera? This is a very painful experience that you went through, having your house burnt down. Especially if you are a black person it takes a long time for you to rebuild that house . --- You have taken quite a long time to build that house, and at the end of the day you have it burnt down. We sympathise with you very much. I request you to tell us who you are, where you are coming from, etcetera. --- My name is Thiwe. I am from Butsabelo. My name is Thiwe. I am from Butsabelo. I was staying at Butsabelo. That was section K in Butsabelo. They burnt my house in 1993. They started throwing stones at my house. That was in November. It was on a Friday. On a Saturday we slept in the house, and the Sunday we slept in the house, and then on Monday they threw the petrol bomb. Only the bedroom got burnt. We were able to run away, but we came back to try and extinguish the flames. All that was in the bedroom got burnt. Thereafter we were sleeping outside because we didn't have any place to sleep, and we were keeping a vigil as to what was happening. A week thereafter my husband, as well as my brother, were staying outside so that I could get inside and sleep because I was looking after my father-in-law. They burnt my place for the third time. That is they heard one of the perpetrators - there are trees in my hard, so he was hiding in the trees. So when he got in there they don't know how he came in there, they just heard noise in the bushes. When they looked they caught a young man. When they asked him what he wanted he ran away. They chased him. At that time I heard there was some noise because I
was inside the house. Then I went outside to investigate. They asked him who he was. He ran away and they actually chased him. When they got him they assaulted him. We later called on the police that night. When we called the police the police came, but I said they mustn't come into my house because I am afraid the Comrades would burn us later and they would also kill my children because they were burning the houses. The policemen came. They took us to the police station. They took this would-be perpetrator to the police station. We also went there. My husband opened a docket, but that docket didn't really materialise because he did not appear in court. The docket got lost, and my husband was sentenced because they said he had assaulted the would-be perpetrator. They were sentenced to two years inside - outside, and one year. They spent six months in prison, and nobody was working at that time. They were the breadwinners. I sold my house because I couldn't make ends meet. My husband got out in July of that same year. (Pause)
Have you finished giving your testimony? --- I feel as if I am suffocating. I am getting dizzy.
Bring her forth. (Pause) --- It was like that. That's how it went on. It was very difficult for me to make ends meet. It is still like that even now when my husband had come out of the prison. I believe I have finished.
Thank you. I'll ask you just a few questions. Please tell me if you can't hear any of the questions. In your statement you said the people who burned your house were Comrades. Who are the Comrades? --- It was Mahlo and Mainline, as well as Maputhi.
/No, I am
No, I am not asking the names, but I am just asking what are the Comrades? Is it - it's ANC? --- Yes, it's ANC.
How old are these people who burned your house down? --- The other one was quite old. The other ones were just juveniles. But they were quite grown up, but I don't know how to explain their ages. I just know their ages, but ... (incomplete)
When you think that amongst all those houses in Butsabelo why did they choose your house? What do you think was the reason? Did you have an altercation with the Comrades? --- My husband never collaborated with them when they wanted to arrange or stage stay-aways. We were working and we never wanted to take any part in stay-aways because our bosses were promising us that they would chuck us away if we don't turn up for work. So we never used to go to their meetings. Maybe they took offence because we didn't.
In your statement you said your husband was arrested because he wanted to revenge. How did he want to revenge? --- He was arrested when he was trying to revenge. He was arrested when they were trying to burn our house for the third time. The first time they threw stones, the second time on a Monday they burnt the house down. A week thereafter I believe - I should think it was on the third week - they had come to try and burn the house down again, but they couldn't really do it, so my husband got arrested at that stage.
We don't seem to be seeing eye to eye. In your statement Ms Magdalena it says your husband wanted to revenge. Now what I am trying to say, what was he using
when he wanted to revenge that caused him to be arrested? --- He never wanted to revenge. I think the person who wrote the statement did not understand me because I speak Xhosa, and the person who was writing the statement spoke Zulu. I'll put it in that way that we didn't actually understand each other.
DR BORAIN: Mrs Mhlabende, just to try and clarify that last part, I think you mentioned that on the third occasion there was someone hiding in the bushes or in the trees, and who obviously was wanting to attack your house again, and I think your husband chased him. Did you say that he assaulted him, and for that reason he was arrested. --- (Inaudible)
(Inaudible) ... for assault of someone who was trying to attack your house, and was sentenced for two years, and served for six months in prison. Did the police ever catch the people who tried to burn your house down, or assault you or stone your house? --- (Inaudible) ... arrested them.
They did arrest them? They didn't arrest them? --- Yes.
Your husband was defending the house and he is arrested, and the people who tried to burn your house go free. Is that what you're telling us? --- Yes, he was arrested for that.
One last question. You mentioned that there was a docket that your husband must have laid charges against the people who burnt your house. That docket was lost. Who lost the docket? --- I don't know who lost this
docket because this docket was not available, because when this guy went there and then he told the police that he was assaulted by my husband. My husband stabbed him, and this guy said my husband was trying to take his watch, but my husband's docket wasn't there.
Thank you very much.
MRS GCABASHE: I've got a question ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 1) ... we all sympathise with you. We want to encourage you as well as in your pain. We sympathise with you and your family. We shall wait and see whether we can actually help your or assist you in your wishes, but you should know that the Commission doesn't have the authority or the powers. We will have to tell the President, come up with suggestions or recommendations as to how to help you, then at the end of the day he is the one who passes this to the Parliament, and it's the Parliament that makes the final decision as to what assistance we should give you if you are going to get any assistance.
We thank you for being present. We ask the Lord to anoint your wounds and also help you in your difficulties. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER: Mrs Mohali, just let me make sure you can hear me, and that I can hear you. Can you hear me through the earphones?
MRS MOHALI: Yes, I can hear you, Sir.
COMMISSIONER: All right. To help me, and to help the Commission, and also to help the people who are here to hear your story, I would ask you to try and speak as loudly as possible, because everybody wants to hear you. May I, on behalf of the Commission, welcome you very warmly to this hearing. You have not one, but two very distressing and sat stories to tell, which involved your two sons, Bokile and Christopher, and we're going to listen to that in a moment. It's a very heavy story, but you are amongst friends, and we will hear you and we will sympathise with you as you tell that story. Before you start will you please stand so that you can take the oath?
GLADYS MOSIDI MOHALI (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Please be seated. Mrs Mohali, you have been sitting and waiting for your turn, and it can make one very nervous, but this is not a dentist's room, not even a doctor's room, it's a Commission appointed by the President to hear your story, and I hope that you will be very relaxed as you tell it, as much as it is possible to be under the circumstances. I am going to try and help you to tell that story, and I may well have some questions for you, but first tell us your story, tell us who you are, where you come from something of your background, and then tell us first about the death of your son, Bokile, and when we have finished there you can tell us about the torture of your son,
Christopher. We would like to hear from you now. --- My name is Mrs Mohali. I come from Rockland. When I start relating this story of Bokkie. Bokkie's my son. He was at high school. At all times when he was still at school the police used to come and trouble him at home. They used to arrest him and say he's an ANC member. And at some stage it happened that he was arrested when he was with Christopher. They arrested him and they kept him in a flat, and at times he would come back and at times I would run after him. Thereafter in 1978 Bokkie skipped the country. I didn't even know that he had skipped the country. I looked for him. I even went to the charge office to go and tell them that my son has disappeared and I don't know where he's gone to. It was on a Friday. The following Monday a policeman came to my house. The policeman was from the Special Branch. Then he came to tell us that my son had skipped the country. As we were still sitting, not knowing where our children are, they told us that our children had gone to West Germany, only to find that they were not in West Germany, they were in Lesotho. From there they came and told us that we must go to Lesotho to look for our children in Lesotho, and we must come back with them. They made special passports for us and we went to Lesotho. When we got to Lesotho we found them in a camp. There was nobody at that camp. When we told them that the police had told us to bring them with they told us that they cannot come back to South Africa because the policemen were assaulting them and were troubling them, so they were not prepared to come back home. As we were still there he attended the school at Lesotho. When he finished his matric they said he had got
a scholarship. I didn't even know where this scholarship was. He was still in Lesotho. We stayed without them, and on a certain day we went to Lesotho once more. He phoned, he said the Maseru Cafe. He said I will get them at the Maseru Cafe. Then he told me that he was still in Tanzania. Then he came back home. Thereafter the police since 1978 never stopped troubling us. They would wake up in the morning, kick the doors. When they get into the house they would cause confusion, break everything. We didn't know what they wanted. They didn't even want to see Mr Mohali. That is when I opened up a case, because I realised that they were going to kill my husband so I took it upon myself to continue with the case. From there in 1986 there came another lady by the name of Ma Stilo, Ginelwe Stilo. When she got me at home she said to me, "Bokkie has died." I was surprised as to where was Bokkie when he died. She told me that he died in Thaba Nchu. I asked her what had killed him. She told me it's the Thaba Nchu police who killed my son. I went to Thaba Nchu. When I got to Thaba Nchu I asked at the charge office in Thaba Nchu as to who was killed. They told me it was a terrorist from Lesotho. They further told me that I should come on the following Monday. I asked them where my son had died. They told me about the Thaba Nchu location by the name of Ramahale. I went to Ramahale. I asked this lady as to where does the person come from who died. She told me that it was Steve's friend. Steve Bonganchu is my friend. Then they said he dumped - he left them and he said he was going to pick them up later on. Thereafter I told her that according to my knowledge that was my child, and as I am speaking you must look at
this person because he looks exactly like me, he is my son. On a Monday I went back to the Thaba Nchu charge office to ask them about my son. I met with Captain Buckall. Captain Buckall is an Afrikaner and he shouted at me. He kept on telling me that I shouldn't come and ask him about murderers, I must go out of the office. I was very surprised as to what he meant. I didn't know what to do. I went out of the charge office. As I was going out of the charge office I went to Mr Motsabe. When I got to Mr Motsabe I told him that Mr Buckall had chased me out and told me that that wasn't my son, it was a terrorist from wherever he came from. I went back to where he had died. When I got to where he had died they told me that he was in the house and somebody came and told him that he must stay right there. The people who must come and fetch him, that is the ANC people, will be there. Then he remained there. As he was still sleeping, according to the way the son of that house was telling us, he said a man arrived in a car and told him to just stay there because they were coming to fetch him. Only a few moments thereafter two cars came. Then he said, "Here are the two cars that have come to fetch you." When he got there it wasn't two cars, it was many cars that had come. When he tried to escape through the back door there were more cars with white people inside, and most of them were Ladybrand cars having Ladybrand registrations, as well as Bophutatswana cars. At that time when he tried to escape they shot him, and he rolled and rolled on the floor until such time that he got into the toilet of the back opposite house. When he got in there they came and finished him off right inside the toilet. They shot him, but he
managed to get out still. As he was going out they threw him with a bomb, and the bomb exploded. When this bomb exploded he was in tatters. That is from the chest, the arms. He looked very terrible. At that time I went back to the police when I heard this message. I told the police that may they please give me the corpse so that I can go bury my own son. They never ever wanted to talk to me, they didn't even want to give me the corpse. They didn't even know that I knew about the corpse, I had already heard as to what had happened. They refused to give me my son's corpse. I went there several times seeing my son's corpse. I couldn't get my corpse. Mr Motsabe said to me he is going to get me an attorney. He went to Mr Kittens. Mr Kittens gave me his partner, who was Mr Holtshausen. Mr Holtshausen took me or went with me. We went to Thaba Nchu. When we got there I actually showed him that, "There's the man who killed my son. It is Mr Buckall." When we got to Mr Buckall Mr Holtshausen told him who he is and where he comes from. He actually chased him out of the office and said he didn't want to speak to him. He chased him out of the office. Thereafter we went with Mr Holtshausen to where my son had died to go and fetch some statements. We wrote the statements then came back. As we were coming back towards home - I stayed, I believe two days or three days - my cousin came to me and said to me we should go right away. She has had news that the corpse - my cousin is Doreen Sibuko. When Doreen got to me she told me that they say the corpse is in Moroka Hospital. We went to Moroka Hospital to get the corpse. When we got to the hospital we met with the sister in charge. We asked her
as to whether they did have an unknown corpse. She said yes, they do. We asked her as to where he is the one who was killed by the police. She said yes. She said we should wait, she is going to speak to the superintendent, because the superintendent had given orders that if anyone comes to look for the corpse they should wait until they talk to him. For about an hour waiting for this sister. It was quite a long time, it could have been more than an hour. When the sister came back she was very hurt. Apparently she was not supposed to have told us that the corpse was there, and probably she was going to lose her job. She told us to go to the superintendent's office because the superintendent wanted to see us. We went out to the superintendent. When we got to him the superintendent told us that he is very sorry about us and the corpse, because that corpse wasn't my son's it was a YB's corpse. They were controlling it and they had actually taken it. I told him that the sister had told us that there was a corpse. He actually denied and said no, they had taken the corpse. We were very surprised as to the contrasts. We went out crying, very confused, not knowing what to do. I told Mr Motsabe. Mr Motsabe sent us to Red Cross so that we may find the corpse. When Mr Motsabe came the Red Cross people they took the case. They took it to the Thaba Nchu Police Station. They went there personally. They were told to go to the Bophutatswana headquarters. When they were supposed to go there it was when they were told to go out to South Africa because they didn't know what had happened to the corpse. I stayed. Last year we were told to wipe or take people who had died out of the house permits. Now I had a house
where he had grown up. When I went to look for the death certificate from the ANC offices I was supposed to take it to the court. The Court said they don't want that death certificate, they want a real death certificate as to where the child had died. When I came from the ANC offices I went to Thaba Nchu. From Thaba Nchu I told them that I am seeking my son's death certificate, and at Thaba Nchu they gave me a death certificate of unknown corpse. They didn't write anything. They even gave me a grave number as to where the child had been buried. I brought it with. When I got to court the Court couldn't accept. They further sent me back and said they must make a proper death certificate, not a death certificate that have got a lot of unknown, unknown information. Thereafter an MK member, Blackie, had helped me to obtain the first death certificate that had unknowns. Now, when I couldn't get it I kept on going back to Mr Motsabe. When I went to Mr Motsabe I told him that they had given me the death certificate at Thaba Nchu by Captain Mokubi. They had given me that death certificate as well as the grave number. He said to me he will look for Colonel Erasmus, who would go there, and I told him that I had told Captain Mokubi as to why he gave me such a certificate because my son had a file there, and I had seen the file. When we got to Colonel Erasmus he took us to Thaba Nchu, where I wanted to show him my son's file. And they refused to show me the photos as well as the post-mortem report. The colonel went up and down with me. We even went to the grave. When we got to the grave that grave had its own owner. It was written Maria Selamoni. It wasn't my son's grave. The colonel went back to look for the file but he
couldn't get hold of the file. He left me and he told me that Buckall is in Bethuli, so we must go and look for him in Bethuli. When we got to Bethuli Buckall was shown where the file is and he came out with the file. Mr Motsabe said we should just leave the file as is, they'll see about it at the Truth Commission. I never knew where my son's grave was. I don't know where his death certificate is. I don't have it in my possession.
I wonder if we could just pause there before we hear about Christopher. Just a few questions. You have told a very terrifying story, and a very sad one, but you have been very, very brave. (Pause) Are you okay? Just take your time. (Pause) Can we continue now? --- Yes, we can continue.
Thank you. Your son, Bokile, how old was he when he went to Lesotho in 1978? --- He was born in 1958.
So he was 20 years old. He was a young man. Was he very interested in politics as a young man? --- Yes, he was very interested in politics.
Okay. And you went to see him in Lesotho. --- Yes, I went to look for him in Lesotho and I found him there.
Did he go with his brother or did he go on his own? --- He was together with other boys who were schooling together with him. They left in a group.
And whilst he was in Lesotho he went to school and he got his matric, is that right? --- Yes, that's correct. He went to school and he passed his matric. And I even asked him, "Who is paying for your school fees?" and he said they are being subsidised by the interior.
Fine. And did you - were you in contact with him
from time to time, either by telephone or letter or friends, in any way? --- I personally went to Lesotho to visit him.
Thank you. Now, in 1986 is that when he came back to the country? --- When he came back in 1986 he wanted to see his brother in Lesotho, because he was now an MK member.
Which brother is that? --- Christopher.
Thank you. Now, when your son Bokile - Bokkie, I think you call him - when he came back to South Africa was he working underground or was he - what was he doing? Was he in touch with you? --- He came to Lesotho as an MK member, and then he wanted to see his younger brother. When he was supposed to go back the Lesotho Government was overthrown by Leganya(?) and they couldn't get into any international plane, so he had to come to South Africa so that he can go back.
I see. And you got a message that your son, Bokkie, had been killed, and that started a very, very, very long journey from police station to police station, from mortuary, Red Cross, hospital, houses, townships, all desperately trying to find out what had happened. Is that right? --- Yes, that's correct, because after receiving the news that he had died I went to the police stations and they didn't allow me to see him. I even went to Lesotho to find out whether had he been to Lesotho, and they said yes, he had been to Lesotho, but he is now back. And I said to them, "No, he is not back, he is now dead." They said, "No, we don't believe you."
And to this day you don't know where Bokkie was buried, but tell me a little bit more about the person who
told you how he was killed by the Security Police. Who was that who told you that when you went to the house? --- This house I got when I asked another policeman as to where my son had been killed. This policeman told me it's Haramakari(?), and I must look for Mrs Matheho. I went there, I looked for the place until I got the place, and I got Mrs Theko. That is where they told me what had actually happened. That is Mrs Theko as well as her son. They told me how Bokkie had died, how come the police killed him. And when the police went there they told me Bokkie, my son, had a bag, a travelling bag. That bag contained ammunition as well as bullets. And when I saw this file this file was with Mr Motsabe. He is the one who showed me.
(Inaudible) ... at all? --- No, I never saw the handbag, I just saw it in a photo.
(Inaudible) ... the Moroka Hospital because you heard that your son's body was there. Can you remember the name of the superintendent? --- Yes, I still remember, but Christopher, my son, can tell the name. I have forgotten the name.
(Inaudible) ... that later. Thank you very much. Now, who is Colonel Erasmus? --- Colonel Erasmus is the person that Mr Motsabe got. Only Mr Motsabe knows who Colonel Erasmus is.
(Inaudible) ... to help you to find the file, and at last at Bethuli you saw the file, did you, on your son? --- Yes ... (inaudible - end of Side B, Tape 1) ... so that Buckall may point where he put the file.
And did you get to see the file? --- Yes, I did see the file. It was the second time I was seeing the
file. I saw it when they were refusing to give it to me. They just showed it to me when I was at the Thaba Nchu charge office. This file had my son's photos, as well as how the bomb had actually ripped his body apart, but I couldn't see the face. At some of the photos he was sleeping on his tummy. I couldn't see his face, I could only see his back. His body was destroyed savagely.
(Inaudible) ... more questions. You mentioned that there was a post-mortem and there was also an inquest, but was that also in the file, so you haven't got copies of the findings of the post-mortem? --- (Inaudible) ... that file. There was this bag which they say had ammunition. There was also where he fell, also where the bomb had exploded. It's just two or three photos inside that file that I saw.
(Inaudible) ... very much. You've given us quite a lot of clues, and the Commission is obviously going to try and contact the various police stations that you've mentioned to see if we can try and find out exactly what happened, and very especially to try and find out where your son was buried, because I know that's very, very important for you and your family. But now just before - and you've been very brave, and I don't want to prolong this, but you did want to tell us, I think, about your second son, Christopher, who was detained, and you said he was tortured. Could you tell us quite briefly what happened there. --- After Bokkie had gone they went after Christopher, my younger son. At each and every time they were just on Christopher's neck. They were trying to torture him because now his elder brother wasn't there. In 1980, when I realised that my child can't go to school
properly any more, I went to Lesotho to try and seek a school for him to attend. He attended the school, and they took him back to JC until he went to senior matric. He passed his matric in Cambridge. When he finished his matric in Cambridge he had already got a scholarship. They had given him a scholarship that they would give him a bursary because he had got distinctions in all his courses. When the schools were closed Christopher came back home. When he came back home it was in 1984 now. When he came back home the schools were closed. We went to work, that is my husband and I. We left Christopher asleep. When Christopher was still asleep I got a call when I was at work. They told me that Christopher had been handcuffed by the police. They also put a Balaclava on his eyes. I didn't know what was happening. I went to tell my boss as to what was happening at home. My boss gave me money and she said I must hurry up and see what was happening. I never went straight home. Just as I was from work I went to Fountain. When I got to Fountain I asked to speak to Captain Prinsloo. They told me that Captain Prinsloo wasn't present at that moment. Then I asked them as to whether there wasn't any male who was arrested. The policemen told me that there wasn't any person of that description. As I was still talking, standing there, they were taking him from the back. He heard my voice and they took him out, they took him to the cars. He didn't see where he was going because they had put a Balaclava over his eyes. As I was standing there once policeman who was at the door told me that I must go to Fuchsware to look for my son. They told me that that is where they always keep our children. I went home to my
husband to tell him what had happened. He left his job at that time. We went up and down trying to look for my son. We just couldn't get him anywhere. Others told us that he went to Oosvlei(?). We looked for him for about three days in Oosvlei, but we couldn't get him. From there Christopher - that was after three days now. I got a trunk call from Lesotho from our family. It said, Ma Mohali, please hurry and come and see your son. I hurried and I went to Lesotho. When I got there ... (incomplete)
INTERPRETER: The interpreting service shall resume as soon as the witness is ready. (Pause) --- When I got there Christopher was grievously assaulted. He said he was taken by Captain Prinsloo, as well as another policeman by the name of Marapo. He said they had been kicking and assaulting him. They were saying he must speak the truth because he was an ANC member because he was attending school in Lesotho. He asked them - they said he must work for them when he gets to Lesotho. He must look for the ANC members and inform them. He said he doesn't stay in Maseru, he is outside Maseru. He doesn't even know where the ANC members are, he doesn't know anything about the ANC. They continued assaulting him until he bled through his mouth, as well as his ears. Where there are holes blood was spilling out. He said they told him to wash the pyjamas that he was wearing because he had bled on them. He couldn't wash the pyjamas because he was swollen all over the place. Then they threw him outside the borders of Ficksburg. As he was there he didn't know where to go. He was given an emergency passport which says, "I am sick," so he was
taken to Quintu Hospital in Maseru. So they made a passport that he could go and see his mother, but I was looking for him. Because Christopher didn't know where he was going he remembered the phone numbers of one of the members of the family, that is the Maheta family. He phoned the Maheta family at Apatamayi(?), where they took him to a doctor. They enlisted the help of a doctor to come and - when I got there I made this passport in Takastad(?). I showed it to Captain Prinsloo. I said to him, "Look, I am still looking for my son. You are keeping him here. Where does this passport come from?" They told me that my son was an ANC member. I told them that my son was a student and he wasn't an ANC member, and he wasn't going to tell me what was happening. He had already assaulted my child. I even said to him my child had died. Then he was - he took out my son's watch that he had taken earlier on and gave it to me. Then I told him my son was alive. And I told him that the doctor who had examined him had told me that if I had the means I could open up a case, but now I am afraid. I am afraid of the forces that be. Then I left the case as it was. One day Prinsloo sent me to my son. They said they wanted to see him because I was asking to take my son back. When we got to the border - I was with Captain Prinsloo when we got to the border. They asked my son as to whether he still agrees with what they told him earlier on. They said they wanted him to work for them. He totally refused. He said that he won't work for them because they were killers as they had done to him. He pointed out that assaulted him and he will not do it to other people, or help them do it to other people. Then Prinsloo said to
me, "You are going back to Lesotho. You are never ever
are never ever going to come back to Bloemfontein." So, since 1984 my son has never been coming to Bloemfontein. He didn't have a passport, he was staying in Lesotho until when the President, Mr Mandela, came back. It's only then that he requested that he be made a passport to come back home. That's only then that he came back.
Thank you very much. I will not keep you very long. --- Oh, I'm sorry, there's something that I left out. My husband wasn't working because they were always troubling him. I took the case over because I realised that they were going to kill my husband. We were in such difficult times. Even now my husband isn't working. We are still pulling very hard because of the Afrikaners who were always troubling us. He got work at the location at Mr Makofane's place. Mafisa and Mpanjani used to go there and go and insult him where he was working. They used to violate him. Mafisa also used to harass me at work. He wanted to - he kept on fetching me from work to ask me some questions. We pulled so very hard as from 1978 until 1991. We didn't sleep at nights. We were being pointed with guns. They used to refer to us as dangerous people of the ANC. They would knock at night, kick the doors. Some would even sleep outside. The neighbours were keeping an eye because they were scared that they would throw a bomb or do something to us. I don't know what was happening.
Tell me, your son, Christopher, where is now and what is he doing? --- He is working for the ANC.
Whereabouts? --- He's in Sanlam Plaza.
(Inaudible) ... Bloemfontein? --- Bloemfontein.
A final point. You mentioned that your daughter was
very disturbed by all the - the death of her brother, and the torture and the harassment and so many other things. Has she been into hospital, or under a doctor or a psychologist? --- Yes, this child went to the doctors, that is physicians. The physicians referred her to Orange Hospital, but she never came all right. My brother took her to Johannesburg at a mental hospital. That is where she became better. I had already spent a lot of money trying to get her to back to normal, but it didn't help.
Is she staying with you now? --- No, she doesn't stay with me. She got married in Gauteng.
Thank you very much. You've been through a horrible experience, and, as I said earlier, you've been very brave. I have no more questions, and I am going to ask the Chairperson to take over.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Any further questions? Dr Mgojo.
DR MGOJO: Thank you very much, Ma Mohali. I am not going to be long too because I feel that you have undergone a strain derived from your experiences. I just want to ask just a few things just to fill up. Somewhere in your narrative you said that when Bokile was arrested he was kept in a flat. --- Yes, I said that.
Where was that flat, and whose flat was that? --- This was the Municipality flat in the township. It was called the Native Affairs flat. We used to call it flat.
Thank you. You said again that the police once asked you to go and fetch your son in Lesotho, and when you went there you found that he was in a camp which had
nobody, and he refused to come back. Did the police ask
you to give a report about your trip since you were sent by them? --- When I got to the police station I never told them that I had got my son at the camp. I told them that I had got him from the street.
And did they ask you why he had refused to come back? --- He said he was scared that they would kill him. He said he didn't want to come back, he was scared that the police would kill him.
Mrs Mohali, you know that these police were very inquisitive people. The question I am asking, when you came back, since they knew that you had gone there, they had encouraged you to go there, did they come back and say that, "Why did your son refuse to come back?" This is what I want to establish. They never worried you about why he didn't want to come back? --- The police, when they said that we must go to Lesotho, they said I must go to Fountain and tell them as to how I went. Then they asked me as to where my son is. I told them that he refused. They asked me why. I told them that he was scared that they would kill him. They said they wouldn't kill him, he must come back.
(Inaudible) ... your narratives you have mentioned the Security Police. I am not sure which Security Police they are. You mentioned those from Thaba Nchu and those from Ladybrand. Were they the SAPs or the Bophutatswana Government Police, or a mixture? --- According to what they said to me, that is where he died, they said all the police came together. It was police from Ladybrand, as well as YB, as well as Bloemfontein policemen were there, but the most were white people or white policemen.
(Inaudible) ... now you know that the Truth
Commission is interested to the families too. How much has this affected you as a mother, these experiences? --- They affected us so terribly, because each and every time we were in pain. I even had diseases or suffered from certain illnesses because of what had happened. We lost so much due to running from pillar to post trying to trace my son.
You have already heard from Mr Borain how we sympathise with you in all the troubles that you've been through. It's not easy to comfort people, but we are trying. Even if we are weak, but we always say let God be the person who comforts you, let Him be the person who takes car of you, because the story that you have told us today is a very sorrowful one that your son had been killed in that way, and thereafter you didn't even know where he was buried. To add to that the one coming after him was also tortured as you have indicated.
We want to thank all the women, because they are brave. You women are very powerful women. You are forgiving, and that surprises us. May God be with you and your family in this time of trouble. We all know that He is Emmanuel and He will be with you. We are free today, we have freedom today, because most people sacrificed themselves. Your children were also sacrifices. We thank you. May God bless you. We want to thank you.
MR BORAIN: Mr Kaloti, could you put the earphones on please. You have your sister with you today.
MR KALOTI: Yes.
MR BORAIN: We'd like to welcome you both, and I know your name, Elvis Kaloti, is that correct?
MR KALOTI: Yes.
MR BORAIN: I am not sure about your sister's name. Perhaps she could tell me, or you could tell me your name, or you could tell me your sister's name.
MR KALOTI: She is Ellen Kaloti.
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Now, are you both going to speak, or just you, Mr Kaloti?
MR KALOTI: No, she's speaking.
MR BORAIN: She's going to be speaking?
MR KALOTI: Yes.
MR BORAIN: And you as well?
MR KALOTI: No.
MR BORAIN: No. So it's just - okay. All right, that's Ellen Kaloti. I want to welcome both of you very warmly to the witness stand. Thank you for waiting. I suppose you wondered if you were ever going to have your chance. You can hear me all right on the earphones, no problem? Wonderful. Thank you very much indeed. This is a story about detention, torture and harassment. That is the story you're going to tell, but before you do I must ask you to take the oath, so I'll be grateful if you will please stand.
ELLEN KALOTI (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Commissioner Lyster is going to help you to tell the story, and I am going to hand over to him now.
MR LYSTER: Thank you, Mrs Kaloti. I understand that the evidence that you will give relates to the assault and torture or your brother, Elvis, who is with you today, and that he has requested you to speak and tell us about this because you were there when this happened. Can you tell us that story, and before you do that will you just tell us something about where you lived, you and your brothers. Just give a short background to this incident which you're going to tell us about. Thank you. --- We are staying in 1160 Mogwane Street, Bathu Location. In that year when we have this pain it was in the evening when the police came in. It was white police. There were also black policemen, but they were outside in the van. They knocked at the door, and when they opened they said they were looking for Edwin. When they knock Edwin said we must hide him. We did that. When they get into his bedroom we told them that, "This is Elvis, not Edwin." They pulled him while he was still sleeping. He was beaten up. He was bleeding profusely through the mouth and the ears. In front of the door where they were beating him there was some pool of blood. He couldn't even scream, he was so quiet. We thought that he was dead. One of the police came inside the house and then he took a bucket of water. It was very cold in that day because it was winter. He just threw the water over his body. They took him. They put him inside the van. When I was prepared to sleep I couldn't sleep, it was very painful, and then I woke up my sister and then I told her that we must go to Philonomi Hospital, maybe they are taking him there. Then my sister said, "Let's go. There was no - the street was so quiet, it was very dark outside. Our parents said to us, "How
"are you going to reach that place?" I said to my mother, "God is there. He is going to accompany us." It was like that, and then we went there. When we arrived at the Philonomi Hospital there were security guards outside. By that time we were not allowed - if you are sick you are not allowed to get inside the hospital. I said to her we must just - we must plan as if I pretend as if I am sick. They allowed us to get inside. When we were in Philonomi there were police in the passages of Philonomi Hospital. Then we came back. We met this other girl on the way who is a nurse in Philonomi Hospital, who asked us what is it that we are looking for. I told her that - I asked if the police didn't came with a boy who was bleeding. They said he is inside. And then I said I was afraid to go in and check, and then she said, "You must go in and check." When I tried to look one of the policemen was looking at us, and then I had to go back again ... (inaudible - end of Side A, Tape 2) ... and I couldn't hear what was going on. I told my sister that, "This is not going to help. Rather go back home." We went back home. He was in the hospital for three days. There was - he was unconscious, he was in a coma. We used to go there just to watch him, and then we'd go back again because we couldn't communicate. After three months he was still in hospital. On that particular day when I went to see him I found out the police had taken him. I went back home and I told them that the police have taken him. We couldn't sleep at night, even during the day. Even where I was working the police were always coming too, but each time when they go to fetch me at work they said to me they are looking for Edwin. I used to tell them that I don't even know where
is Edwin. Since I last saw him during that particular night I never saw him again. They were always giving me a hard time. One day they came to my workplace, they said I must give them Edwin's photos, and I told them that I don't have Edwin's photos. They said to me ... (incomplete)
INTERPRETER: The interpretation service will resume as soon as the speaker is ready. (Pause) --- They said to me they knew, they heard where he is, he was in Lesotho. They said to me I must go to Lesotho and bring him back. I told them that I don't even know Lesotho and I am not going there. I don't even have relatives there. I told them that I am not going there. This Prinsloo came to me. He said to me he is going to arrest me. I said to him, "Instead of arresting me, I don't even know because I am not always with the kids, you'd better kill me because I am not going there." I never saw him again.
MR LYSTER: Thank you, Mrs Kaloti. You said Elvis was in hospital for about three months, and was he discharged after that, and what happened to him after he was discharged? --- When we were in Philonomi looking for him we got the message that the police took him. I've been to each and every police station, I couldn't get him. But what was surprising, there was this other lady whose children were also arrested. They said even Elvis was in their case also with her children. She always tell me when she was going to court, and I went there with the hope that I will get Elvis. And then I asked where was Elvis. The Judge told the police that he is somewhere in Bathu. He said they must go and fetch him. They brought him. When I asked why didn't they brought him before then
he said the police were always taking him to assault him somewhere else. They always asked him where was his brother, whether he belongs to any of the political organisations, who were those people who were always recruiting them in those organisations?
And eventually did Elvis come back to the family house? --- He came back on the day of the case. It was 14 or 16 of them. One of them was released by the name of Madlathela.
(Inaudible) ... convicted of anything, or was he released by the Court? --- He was released without any questions. There were no questions that were asked to him. It was the only children who were being questioned, because when the police started to visit us they were not looking for him, they were looking for Edwin, therefore he was the one who was being tortured.
Just to clarify that, Edwin is the older brother of Elvis, is that correct? --- Yes, it's true.
(Inaudible) ... the police were looking for Edwin? --- I didn't know the reason, and I didn't know where were they going to take him to.
Was Edwin a member of any political party at the time? --- He was a member of the ANC.
And you mentioned a policeman by the name of Prinsloo. Is he from the South African Police, the SAP, or Bophutatswana Police? --- He was in the Fountain offices from the Special Branch.
And another witness this morning has also mentioned the word Fountain Police, and in many of the statement that we have taken from people from this area they have mentioned Fountain Police. What was Fountain? --- It
/is a place
is a place where the Special Branch police are posted.
Also you didn't clarify which year this took place, Mrs Kaloti. Can we just clarify that. When was Elvis taken to Philonomi Hospital? --- It was in 1979. It was just after a local policeman's house was burnt down, and his name was Mojaki. He was staying in Malay Camp. On the same night when his house was burnt Elvis was assaulted. They were actually looking for Edwin, not Elvis.
(Inaudible) ... at the time of this assault? --- He was 18 years.
(Inaudible) --- Yes, he was still schooling at Lekayi Primary School, and his brother was in Sifunelo High School.
Has this experience, his assault, has it affected him in any way that you are able to say? --- Yes, it affected him mentally, because even now he is at home. He is doing nothing. He is unemployed. Our mother is taking care of him. She is doing everything for him. Even he is sick my mom has to take him to the doctor, and every time he is sick we know that it is a mental disorder. In 1990, it was in December on the 24th, he was sleeping. I don't know what was happening to him, and I don't know how did he feel, but he was shouting, and when we got into his bedroom he was a changed person. And when we asked him what was the matter he fell, and we called an ambulance to take him to Philonomi Hospital. He was released the next day on the 25th, and then he wasn't - he wasn't okay. He has a mental problem if I have to indicate that.
And is he taking any sort of medication for that? --- No, he is not under any medication.
Is he receiving any grant of any sort, disability grant? --- No.
Mrs Kaloti, do you remember the names of any of the policemen who you witnessed assaulting your brother? --- I can't remember their names, but I can identify them.
(Inaudible) ... working, or where they are based? --- I didn't know where do they live, but what I know it was white policemen.
How did they actually assault him? --- They were hitting him with guns, big guns, and they were hitting him right on his head. And they used to point us with those guns so that we can go back inside the house.
And what became of Edwin, Mrs Kaloti? --- Since Edwin left and we didn't even know where he was until the day when they came and said to me I must go to Lesotho. That's when I said I am not going to Lesotho. And I heard that he was in Tanzania until the day he came home again to stay with us.
And is he staying with you presently? --- He is not staying with us.
But is he back in the country, he's living here, is that right? --- Yes, he is around.
I'll hand over now back to the Chairman and ask if there are any other questions that other people would like to ask.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Any further questions? Dr Mgojo.
DR MGOJO: Thank you very much, my sister. Are there any reasons that Edwin has been away from home for such a long time when most of the people were very anxious to get home? That when he is back in South Africa he does not go
home and stay at home? Have you inquired from him why he cannot come back at home and stay at home? --- I never asked for any reason because I didn't know where he was. But I wanted to the police where were they going to take him to, and they didn't tell me where they were going to take him to.
You said that Edwin is back now. When Commissioner Richard Lyster was asking you you said that he is back now in the country, and the question was that is he living with you at home, and you said that no, he is not at home. Now, it means that now he has got a freedom of movement now because of the new South Africa now that things have changed. Why I am interested, is there any reason why he does not stay at home now? --- There's no reason. It's just that he feels that he is going to stay wherever he stays right now, because sometimes he is working. He is working for the Umkhonto we Sizwe, so he decided to stay where he stays right now.
In the statement here it is said that Elvis Kaloti does not have a permanent job, and he would like to have a permanent job. What type of a job would you think that he would do, because you have already said that he is mentally sick ... (inaudible) --- With hands he can work. Any kind of job he can do. Things like cleaning. Any job that he is capable of doing he feels that it's right for him.
Thank you, Sir.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much for the evidence that you have brought forward. We don't know at the moment, maybe the Commission can help as he is not well. Maybe there is
something that he can get. As we are still telling the others that God be with you, and we can also try that we be of assistance to you. Thank you very much.
MR BORAIN: Mr Mekwe, can you hear my voice all right on the earphones?
MR MEKWE: I can hear very well.
MR BORAIN: Good. Thank you very much. I can hear you too, so we can make a start. You are very welcome. We are pleased to see you. You are going to tell a story about what happened to you, not about what happened to someone else, and in telling a story it brings back many memories, and some of those are very painful, and we hope that in the telling of the story it will not a distressful experience but a healing one, because please remember that you are telling this story to people who have been asked by the President to hear what you have to say so that South Africa can know, and indeed the world can know, what took place during many years in our country. We feel deeply for you, and so many others like you, and we wait to hear what you have to say. Before you start would you please stand for the oath?
RATSEBE JEREMIAH MEKWE (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Mr Dlamini is going to assist you in the telling of your own story, and I hand over to him now. Thank you.
MR DLAMINI: Thank you, Mr Mekwe. We appreciate the opportunity that you have accorded us to share your experiences, which go back to 1971. And before perhaps we could ask clarifying questions can I ask you to relate this story as it happened. Thank you. --- It was on the 7th of May 1971. It was on a Friday. I was at work. As I was going out of my office, proceeding to the toilet, my co-worker called me and told me that police were
looking for me. As I got there I saw quite a number of guys, there may have been 24 or 25. They were all white and they asked me what my name was. I told them my name was Jeremiah Mekwe. They handcuffed me, they put me into the car. I told them to phone somebody and tell her that I have been arrested. They refused. They took me to the police station. I told them it was the first time that I was being arrested, I don't know anything about the police station. They told me about 180 days. As we came they asked me where I was attending school. They asked me when did I come to Welkom. I told them it was in 1982. They asked me names of people that I knew all of them. They said to me I should know these people. They asked me quite a number of persons. Each time I told them they used to say the right person, the right person. Thereafter they said I should show them where I slept. I showed them my bedroom. They took my school books. They took all these books. I thought I had stolen books. They took me on a Friday, and Monday they came back to me and said they were taking me to Virginia Police Station. That is where they assaulted me, they said I must talk. They said I had said at some stage that I am going to put all the white people in the sea because I didn't want them. They assaulted me repeatedly. They took me to Virginia River. They put me into a sack and they threw me in there. They kept on saying I must speak the truth, I must admit that I at some stage said I will put all the white people in the sea. When I went to court I told the Court that all the things that I had said before I had said them under duress. I was sickly. Then I was taken to a doctor. I was very much afraid. Each thing they said I
admitted, even if I didn't know. They told me that they didn't actually want me, they wanted six people. They wanted Mr Malema, Mr Rabushaba, Mr Libenya. There were five actually. They said if I could get all those people they'll leave me. I said, "Oh, you're hitting me, you're assaulting me because you want other people." It's only then that they charged me. I don't know what they were charging me for. In 1971 they told me that I am supposed to appear in court. When I got there I got all papers which were alleging that I was a PAC member, I was trying to overthrow the Government. When we got to court the court was held in Bloemfontein. Accused No 1 was John Coetzee, No 2 was Lithiyane, No 3 was Mr Mekwe, No 4 was Rabushaba, No 5 was Libenya, 6 Malema. The three of us got four years, the other five got five years. On the 2nd of December - on the second week they told us we should prepare ourselves, we were going to Pretoria. We saw a Land Rover coming. There was a man who was speaking Afrikaans. I thought it was a white man, but it wasn't. I saw this car proceeding upwards. We went in this Land Rover, we went past Bloemfontein to Beaufort West. When we got there the gentleman who was inside told me that we were proceeding for Robben Island, but he was afraid to speak. When we got to Cape Town, in Newland Prison, at 6 o'clock I said, "I am very young. Where are you taking me to?" We got so many people there. We looked at the blackboard and it was written 1 016. I was surprised that I could be taken as Robben Island as young as I was. I regarded that as a misdemeanour, not a serious offence, so I was surprised why they were taking me to the Robben Island. I met Steve Tshwete and all the other people who
were there. These old men told me, "My child, we can see that you don't know anything about politics." I admitted that I didn't know anything about politics. I said to them, "No, I don't know what I have been arrested for, so I just want to sit and think." They said to me I must join the organisations because when I go outside I will be harassed by the police. I ended up joining the organisations. Then they told me that I was going to do one year in Robben Island. When I went out I was taken to Pretoria - Port Elizabeth. I stayed for quite a few weeks. They took me to East London Juvenile Prison. I stayed for a few months. They took me to Welkom. They took me to Ligwa(?) maximum prison. I stayed for a few weeks. They took me to Bethlehem. I stayed three days. It was like I had stayed there for three years, because I was being thrown in and out of every prison. They took me and they said I was going to be interrogated, I am going to be taken to Welkom, to Qua-Qua. I was even given a house there. I asked, "What is actually going on?" because I was being to another country now. By then the Minister of Justice was Mr Ben Johnson. He allowed me to come to Welkom. When I got there they were following me. I got my mother. My mother was sick, she suffered a stroke. My father had also left the police force because he was sick. I met another gentleman who said whoever was coming from Robben Island could be helped financially. He gave me an address as 81 Jureson Street in Braamfontein, South African Council of Churches. It was still being led by John Rees. When I came back I was arrested once more. They said to me I was taking money from the communists. When I came back from there they said, "We said to you you
"must deal with the mines, don't get into the towns." They took me another time. They arrested me for two years. Then in 1977 I said to them, "If I come out of this prison please don't harass me any more. I have just had enough of your harassment." Then they took me, they said, "There comes a communist."
Thank you, Mr Mekwe. I just want to ask a few clarifying questions. You mentioned that when you were arrested you were too young to understand what was happening. How old were you? --- I was born in 1946 in January on the 21st.
And also you said that you were coming from work. What type of job were you doing at that time? --- I was a clerk.
Can you tell us more about the organisation and the duties that you were performing as a clerk? --- I used to do quite a number of jobs. I would be a clerk, an accountant, because at that time they used to just give you work, just ordinary work, ordinary office work. I was doing quite a number of jobs. When they see that there's something that - I was also a storeman. When they see that there's an odd job they would give it to you.
(Inaudible) ...the company you were working for? --- It was Welkom Engineering.
Thank you. Can you also tell us about your family, the wife and the children in particular? I know that at the moment you are staying with your mother. --- I had a wife, as well as kids. When I remember quite well, according to the old laws when you get arrested the Security Police would go and tell your wife that she must divorce you because he is going to die in Robben Island.
So women used to listen to that, so when she came back she divorced me.
Thank you. And the children, where are they and how old are they? --- Since they ran away with their mother I have never seen them. Even when my father died they never came to the funeral. I never saw them again.
The conviction that was imposed on you by the Court in Bloemfontein, what was the nature of the conviction? What was the offence? --- When the Court told me - according to my attorney they said to me I don't know anything. They said to me I must tell the Court as to how I was arrested. I told them that I was assaulted, I was never told - I was just told that I was a member of PAC, I was a member of all those organisations. So the Court threw away such evidence, they said to me I was vague.
In your opinion what do you think was the real reason behind your arrest and sentencing? --- That question is a very beautiful question that should be asked. When we asked the gentlemen with whom I was arrested there was a Council here in Welkom. This Council used to harass people, and there was also another Council in 1969. We followed up that Council. As we were following it up unfortunately the people with whom we were arrested, Moses Libenya and John Coetzee, they had a book called, "Cry Our Beloved Country." At the time that book was banned. Now, these police got this clue that this gentleman who we were attending school with, that is me, we had this banned book in our possession. Now the police told me if I point out the people who were in possession of that book they would release me. Now, I saw it was
difficult because they ... (incomplete - end of Side B, Tape 2) ... myself how could I have handled such a gun. I don't even know where Tanzania is. I don't know even know Bloemfontein, I am from Welkom. I know Welkom. You can ask me about Welkom.
One more last question from myself and then I'll hand over to the Chairperson. Are you presently employed? --- I am not working at all. When I work I work only for three weeks, then they tell me that they don't want me. Now I am working as a volunteer in the offices. I help in the welfare department, especially in the pensions department, especially when the white people rob them. I help in so many ways, as well as grants. Now they help me financially because they know that I am not working.
(Inaudible) ... Mekwe. I'll now hand over to the Chairperson.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. We thank you very much. We can see that you are grown up now. We thank you for the story that you've related to us, and the manner which you were harassed. We hope that this Commission would perhaps be able to assist you in any which way it can. We will help. We thank you very much.
MR BORAIN: Good afternoon, Mrs Matsunyane. Can you hear me all right?
MRS MATSUNYANE: I hear you perfectly well, Sir.
MR BORAIN: Good. Thank you very much. I would like to say a very warm word of welcome to you. It's been quite a long morning, and we are delighted that you are finally at the witness stand and ready to tell your story, which goes back to 1988 and '89, when your house, according to your story, was petrol bombed. Before you tell that story, and the suffering that that brought about, will you please stand for the taking of the oath.
METABO ADELENA MATSUNYANE (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Thank you, please be seated. Mrs Matsunyane, my colleague, Mrs Gcabashe, is now going to take over from me and she is going to help you to tell the story. Thank you.
MRS GCABASHE: Good morning, Ma'am. We are really delighted that you could come to the Commission. Can you first start and, you know, tell us more briefly about your family, and thereafter you will tell us about what happened to your family according to the statement you have given us. Can you hear me? --- I think I cannot hear you perfectly well.
Can you hear me? --- I will request you to speak a bit louder because I don't hear you.
Can you please just explain briefly about your family life, as well as all that happened until now, whatever you've written in your statement. --- Shortly I can say as from 1988, that is in 1988, I was with my children in the house. It was towards 10 o'clock. As we
were still sitting I was actually preparing them for their concert. Just before we finished we went into our bedrooms, we prepared ourselves to sleep. Now, I have a five-year-old grandson, who used to remind me that we should pray. Just as he started praying he said amen, then we heard a loud noise, a loud bang on top of the roof. Many stones were being hurled on top of the roof, as well as through the windows, and the stones were falling into the house. By God's mercy there isn't even a single stone that hit any of the children. I stood and held the door. I tried to shake the door as if I was going to go out just to scare them, but I didn't actually go out. When we looked through the windows we saw girls and boys, many of them, quite a group. They were going out of the window. Some were going out of the gate. When it became in the morning I heard that these children slept at the reverend's place. That is our elder at the Catholic Church. That is where that group went to sleep at the reverend's place. My child woke up. That is my granddaughter, went to the police station. The policemen came in and they just looked scantily. They asked what happened. We didn't even know who had attacked us. It was at night, we couldn't identify any of them. But we slept. We didn't have windows, we had to sleep using doors to close the windows. We thought they would come back for us, but well, they didn't come back. The police did not help me in any way. They just looked and did nothing, because I said to them, "I don't know who the people were." They were not old people, they were very young children. They said I should find out who the people were so that I can open a case. It was in 1980,
and in 1989 they burnt my house.
Can I ask you a question? You said it was in 1999. Do you want to say it was in another year maybe? --- They started in 1988. They only threw stones, and in 1989 they burnt my house. In 1990 again they burnt. It was three years consecutively.
Are you finished telling your story? --- I think I was still on the 1988 issue. In 1989 after they have burnt my house we went to the police station, and the police came and they took photos. They went all around the house, they took photos, they saw everything that was burnt to ashes, and they asked me whether do I know those people. And I said to them, "No, I do not know the people." But there was a boy who used to come and help me at home. I would send him to go and fetch me water with a barrow, and he told me, he whispered to me who the people were. And the police were also there at the time he was telling this story. I regretted the fact that I took his name to the police because he was severely assaulted and he had to run away from his home to go and stay in Lesotho. He left schooling. He was a young boy. I was so hurt, my heart was troubled, and I said to myself it could have been better if it was my child. I felt sorry for this boy for what happened to him. He came back home after quite a long time. The police would take me and put me into the van together with him, and we would drive around the township in the B Section, and they would say to us, "Point the boys who did this to your house." But this boy couldn't identify any one of them. I didn't know one of them, but I had to be in the van every day they were conducting their searched. And I was then
accused - the boy was then accused, because they said to him, "We saw you in the police van. We saw you with the police. You were going to tell them that we burnt Mrs Matsunyane's house," and they would assault him and they would harass him. In 1990 I was sitting in front of my house, and I called another neighbour so that we can go to a funeral. While we were still talking, discussing this issue of going to the funeral, I saw a group of young people coming, and they stopped right in front of my house. It was in the afternoon at about 4 o'clock. And they made a circle, and after that they talked. It was right in front of my house, and I said to this woman, "Let us go and sit on the stoep." We didn't hear anything that they were saying. Then they dispersed. They chased away the young ones, they said, "Go, go." The young ones went off, and the elderly ones stayed behind and they were talking. After a while they dispersed and they all took different directions. I said to this woman, "I am now scared. I have asked you to go to the funeral with me, but I am not relaxed at all. Can you please go," and that woman left. It was on the 16th of June. The same night we heard bombs. It was just after we've enjoyed our supper. My house was surrounded, but luckily nobody was injured in that case. All the things in my bedroom were burnt, but something surprising - there was a small table. We used to put a Bible on that table, and some few books. This table was burnt into ashes, but the book, the Bible, was not even affected, it just fell on top of those ashes. It was not affected by the fire. Even the police, the sergeants, were pointing - were looking at this, were showing the others, because there were ashes, but the
Bible fell when the table was burning, but the Bible was not burnt. It was a long story. I lost everything. I was mentally disturbed. The police even in that case did not help me. Everything ended up nowhere. I didn't find any assistance of any kind. I think I am finished.
We thank you, Mrs Matsunyane. I think you've said everything you wanted to say. --- Yes, I think I have finished everything I wanted to say.
And we are grateful to hear that your Bible was not affected in that fire. It shows exactly the grace of God that is for each one of us here. I have a few questions to ask so that we can get clarity on certain issues. If I listened to you carefully you said you were busy preparing yourselves for a leader who was to come. Do you know the name of the leader? --- I think it is Dr T K Mobede.
The second question that I still want to ask.
INTERPRETER: The speaker's mike is not on.
MRS GCABASHE: Can you please tell us what was this ... Dikwankwetla(?)? --- Are you asking me who were they? Can you please tell us briefly about Dikwankwetla? --- I have to tell you that I was so fond of the Dikwankwetla. It was a party.
I didn't quite understand you. --- I think I have a problem with my ears.
Did you hear my question? --- Can you please repeat your question.
In your statement to referred to a party called Dikwankwetla. Can you tell us a bit what this party was all about? --- I stayed in Thaba Nchu for quite a long time. I didn't have any place to stay for quite a long
time, and every time I would go and find a place to stay they would refer me to Qua-Qua. I didn't know anything connected to politics, I wanted a place to stay like a mother who's got children. I didn't want to be lodging all over Thaba Nchu. Now, this Dikwankwetla party gave us a place to say in Butsabelo, and I decided to join. There was no any good reason to follow this party, but I wanted a house to stay in and I joined them.
You stayed in Butsabelo? --- Yes, we stayed in Butsabelo. We are the first people to stay in Butsabelo.
You even further said that the children who threw stones at your house, who burnt it, went to stay with the reverend, the father at the Roman Catholic Church. Do you remember the name of the father? --- His name is Mr Motsula.
Now, these children who burnt your house, did you have an idea of whether they belonged to any party or not? --- Yes, they were the ANC. Yes, they belonged to the ANC.
If I may ask you a question. Is there anything that you would like the Commission to help you with, even if we don't have those powers? --- I lost so many things, and being a single woman without a husband I would request the Commission to help me with the house. I would like my house to be repaired, and if I can be given money so that I can buy the furniture that got damaged. Because even at the police station they have information regarding the value of the furniture.
The last question that I have. The policemen you reported this matter to, were they the Bophutatswana Police or the South African Police? The police station
that you went to report this matter to? --- It was a police station in Butsabelo.
Were they the South African Police or Bophutatswana Police? --- No, they were not Bophutatswana Police, they were Butsabelo Police.
Thank you very much. We have listened to your story, and then I will now take everything back to the Chairman so that he can conclude.
Mother, I just want to pursue that question which was asked by Mrs Virginia Gcabashe about the children who burnt your house and they were kept in the mission of a Roman Catholic father. What was the connection between this father and the children? Do you know of any connection? --- I don't know. I don't know their relationship. I was told by his child, because he woke up the next morning early to come and tell me that the youths slept at his home.
Did this father know that these children were involved in burning people's houses? --- I don't have any information. I don't know whether he knew that these youths were burning houses.
You never complained to him, asked him why he was keeping the people who were burning? --- I went to him. I went to him after receiving the news that the youths slept over at his house. He also came to inspect my house, and I told him, "I heard that they were overnight at your place." He said, "Yes. While I was sleeping I heard a group of people getting into my house, into the bedroom where my children were sleeping," and he could hear them saying, "Can you please switch the lights
"off," and they switched the lights off. They all slept at his house.
To put the record straight maybe, so this was not the Catholic priest. It was the Catholic elder, not the priest. Is that true? --- It was the Catholic elder, not the priest.
CHAIRMAN: We really feel with you for the tortures that you have been through, and we try to explain to people that this is a Commission that has been put in place to listen to the different stories of our country. We don't want to put anybody aside. We have to listen to both sides and then we have to understand that people suffered a lot and they were harassed. Some of them were harassed by the police, and some of them were harassed by the ANC and some other parties. As the Commission we have to find out the truth, and then we have to listen to all people. I am trying to say this, that even if we are listening here we are not allowed that if a person belongs to a different party then people should now start groaning, because if that is the case I will have to clear this hall, because we are here to listen to different stories from different people. If a person is a Nationalist Party we have to listen to him. If he is white we have to listen to him, because we say this is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. You do not reconcile with your friend, you reconcile with your friend you hated before. Now, the President of the country has put us here to listen to everybody. I am now requesting that we do not react when we hear the stories that we don't associate ourselves with. We don't have to feel any bad at all.
/By so saying
By so saying I want to say to you, Mrs Matsunyane, that we feel sorry for what you have been through. We don't mind which party you belong to, but you have the right to come before the Commission, you have the right to get a sympathy from our side. As we have been saying throughout, we would ask God to be with you, we would ask Him to console you. We want to thank you.
MR BORAIN: (Inaudible) ... to see you. You have a story to tell about your son, who died in very mysterious circumstances, and we are going to listen very carefully to your story. It is a story full of grief, because to lose a son is very painful. I would ask you please to stand to take the oath.
ERICA DOREEN MOTSABE KOKUNSI (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much indeed. Mrs Kokunsi, Dr Mgojo is going to lead you as you tell your story, and I hand over to him now.
DR MGOJO: Can you speak Zulu or Xhosa? --- I speak Sotho.
Ma'am, just relax and be free to tell all what you want to tell the Commission. Don't reserve anything. This is your only chance where you can tell your pain. Can you please tell us about your family and the background, and when you have finished then tell us about this story, what happened? --- I was married in Zeerust. I am talking about something that I didn't declare in my statement. My surname was Mnisi. As I was married in Zeerust I stayed at home for 11 years, staying with my mother. After my mother had died - during those 11 years of staying at home I had a person that I got involved with because my husband had left me for quite a long time. That is Lindikile Mnisi. I had two children. As I was still at home after my mother had died I asked my boss - there was absolutely no life at home, so I asked my boss to get me a house in Rockland. My boss couldn't get me a house in Rockland until I got this partner that I got involved with. I ultimately got divorced. Thereafter I
went to stay in Rockland with my partner. We had a child, a son. Thereafter my son, Lindikile, I don't know whether he realised that we didn't have a life, so he wasn't very impressed. My son disappeared. During that time of his disappearance I heard stories that he was in Botswana. They used to name it Munsiwa at that time. I think my child was staying quite well with his stepmother. When he came back he was totally destroyed. When he came back I tried to do some cultural cleansing so that my child could be fixed. That is our culture, it's part of our culture. Then he became fine. He went to night school, he attended night school, because at the time he left he was in standard seven or eight. As he was still attending this school he disappeared, and we didn't know where he went to. That was in 1976. That is when he started disappearing and reappearing. He would disappear for quite some time without us knowing where he was. At some stage I heard that he went with his friends. That was two children, Mr Madiba's children. They went with my son, they went to Lesotho. As I was preparing myself to go to Lesotho to go and see my son I met Mr Shele. He told me that he had met my son and my son had asked me to send him a denim or a jean. He told me I mustn't go to Lesotho any more because they had gone to Tanzania. That very night I just couldn't sleep, I was crying, because I was preparing myself for Lesotho to see my son. Since then I haven't seen him, since they said he went to Tanzania. The very same year I was surprised when they inaugurated the President Mandela they said our children who had gone would come back. I was looking forward that my son would also come back. I saw all the children had come back to
Bloemfontein. I went to ask. There is another one who was a friend to my son. I asked this boy as to whether my son was coming back or not, because all of them had come back. I wanted to find out where my son was. This friend told me that I shouldn't actually bother myself, because if my son wanted to contact me he would contact me, because he is alive. Then I went to Mrs Muthibi at UB Centre. I asked Mrs Muthibi whether they couldn't help me to look for my son, because since he went to Tanzania all the other children had come back, but mine hadn't come back. Way back in 1990, especially 1995, my younger child told me that she had met Basi Muwadira. She told me that my brother had died. I felt very had because I didn't know what was happening, and apparently our children do drink or take intoxicating liquor, so I didn't know what happened. Now, as we were told that we tried to make a follow up. I met Basi. Basi told me that my son, Lindikile, had died. I tried to ignore him, and I told him that all the children who had died were brought back to be buried by their parents and their loved ones. How come my own son wasn't coming back to be buried? Even Basi's relative - all the children were buried in Bloemfontein, so my son should also come. I want to bury him, so I don't believe that my son is dead, or my child. Muwadira came to me. He explained to me. He said he was always scared to come and tell me. He told me that he didn't have a good life because he wasn't working. Then he tried to get work. Then he even got a partner. Then now he has joined the police force. On that day, it was quite a few months ago, I felt my shoulders going down, I felt very depressed. I prayed that the Lord would try and
heal me because I felt as if there was a hole in my heart, because now it was dawning on my that my child had died in 1985. But what surprised me was I didn't know what had killed him. They alleged that he was killed by malaria, but now how come I didn't get a report as to where he died? That surprised me quite a lot. I don't have anything further to say.
Thank you, Mama. Thank you for your narrative. I am just going to ask just a few questions. You spoke about a certain Machel who brought a message to you from your son in Lesotho. Who is this Machel, or who was this Machel? --- His name is Shele, but I have forgotten his surname. Shele, that's the name. I just made a mistake because I never went around looking for their names or trying to get their names. I didn't get enough time because I had to come to the Truth Commission, and I just didn't have the energy or the means. Even at yesterday my bosses released me so that I can prepare myself for the hearing. I was a little bit mentally disturbed. I feel like I am going mad because I don't know where my son died. Maybe if I could know where his corpse is and what killed him I could rest. (Pause) I have got no more questions. I just want to know how can you help me to know the whereabouts of my son or his corpse, because since he died in 1985 I don't know anything about him.
MR LAX: Thank you, Mama. Just one small question please. You mentioned a friend of your son's that told you that he was still alive and that had known him in Tanzania, but you didn't tell us the name of that friend.
Could you please, if you can remember, tell us that name? --- That friend is Basi Muwadira. He told me that my son had died in Tanzania. He said he had heard it from the other ones. When I think I just cannot understand. It's as if they are trying to hide something, as if my son had been killed or something had been done to him, but nobody is prepared to own up. They said he was killed by malaria.
(Inaudible) ... try and look into the matter for you.
There are no words that we can use to heal your wounds, and there are no words that we can use to heal a broken or wounded spirit, but we would like you to accept our comfort, even though the words cannot measure the pain that you've gone through. You've gone through so much pain. There are two things that affect you emotionally - because you don't know what happened to your son. That's the most devastating. Maybe he died, and he died a long time ago, but you don't know, you don't have any details as to how he died, or where he died. You've got no testimony as to what killed him. You've got no evidence whatsoever that confirms as to whether that is true or not. The second one is that you don't even know whether he is really dead, and if he is where are his bones or his corpse.
This Commission shall try by all means to help you by asking the ANC whether they can explain or elaborate or give any knowledge whatsoever as to what happened. But during all times that we are trying to help you, to see what we can get with regard to your son's death, we ask
the Lord to be with you and your family, to strengthen you, to comfort you and console you, to give you His grace. Thank you.
MR BORAIN: I'd like you welcome you. You've had a long morning, and I understand that Mrs Thapedi is a little tired and would like to go home as soon as possible, so we have brought you forward. Mr Thapedi, I understand that you are going to tell the story about your son, and that if there's anything else that needs to be said then Mrs Thapedi will confirm that or add her own views and understanding of that. Is that right?
MR THAPEDI: That's fine.
MR BORAIN: Fine, thank you. You're very, very welcome, and you have a very difficult story to tell, and we feel for you very much as you start to tell that. Would you please stand for the taking of the oath, and you can both stand together.
MR AND MRS THAPEDI (Sworn, State)
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Please be seated. My colleague, Mr Lyster, is going to take over from me, and he will guide you as you tell your story. Thank you very much.
MR LYSTER: I also welcome you, Mrs Thapedi and Mr Thapedi, and you, like many other people who have given evidence today, and who will be giving evidence over the next two days, are telling about the loss of a family member, a grandson and a son, and we know this is a very difficult burden to carry and we express our sympathy to you. Mr Thapedi, I think you, as the Deputy-Chairman has said, are going to start and tell us about your son and his death. So if you are able to give a little background as to where you live, how many children you have, that sort of thing, what motivated your son to go into exile,
and then the story, as far as you know it, of his death, you are now welcome to start. --- Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I thank you for giving me a chance to give evidence, because I am the one who knows about my son. I have three children. Two of them have passed away. One of them was schooling at Larago. I was working outside, outside the country. When I came back I got Mary, who told me what is happening at home. My son was born in 1962. It happened because of some of the conditions that my child can go away, go to Lesotho. When I tried to follow him I was longing to see him. When I was in Lesotho I got his file. They told me that he is in Tanzania. Even the message that I got in that office of the Interior I was told not to follow him. I was told not to follow him always. I was told that we will see when he comes back. Now I have a request. I am here to request the Commission to help me. I am not even sure - because I have been told that he died I am not sure whether is he the right person who had been buried. I heard from people who were talking. It was on the 18th in Paper Street in Haydida(?). An ANC spokesperson said that a person had been shot, and I didn't know that it was my son and I couldn't even think whether was it my son. After quite some time - I think it was a year - I heard this from people when they were talking. I was told that the person who had been shot was my son. You know it's difficult to believe in rumours. I am now appealing to the Commission to help me so that I can be satisfied. My heart is not at ease, because when he left he was still alive. I won't be satisfied for seeing the bones only. Now I didn't want to say too much, I want to be very short. I am going to
briefly give you some of the few things as well. The first thing that I want the Commission to do for me, I want to know how was my son buried, because the family was not even informed. The ANC, together with the previous regime, they should compensate me. I don't know what are they going to do, but they have to compensate me because I am deeply hurt. I want them to come closer to me and investigate this matter, because I was only given the bones, and it's hard for me to believe that it was my son. The family was not informed, as I have already mentioned. The previous regime only buried my son without my consent. I am not totally satisfied. They should try, both the ANC and the previous Government, they should come up with something so that I can be satisfied. I am not satisfied as you see me now. The rest you will hear from my mother, because she has got something to tell you. And I also want to pass my condolences to all the people who suffered the same thing. I am referring to the people who lost their loved ones. It's not only me who came across such a thing. I sympathise with everybody who suffered. I want to thank you, and I will expect anything from the Commission. I want his belongings, because I also heard that he had a few belongings. It's impossible - if you die as a person you die and you leave the loved ones behind. I want to put matters clear. I heard again that he had a car. I want the investigations to be done thoroughly, and if there is a car it has to come back home. I don't want to say anything. There are so many of us who have to give their evidence. May God please add to what I didn't say to you today. I think I will end up there. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr Thapedi. We will certainly try and investigate what happened to your son, but I want to ask you one or two questions. You said that he was buried by the State. Where was he buried? --- The ANC did some investigations and they managed to get his bones. I didn't even know when they were busy doing those preparations. I only knew later that it was my son. They brought me his remains and we buried those remains, and I don't want to go further by exhuming the body. That I don't want. I think our enemies should tell us exactly what happened because I don't know, I am in the dark.
(Inaudible) ... body was exhumed and reburied. From where was it exhumed, or don't you know that? If you don't know that just say you don't know that. --- They exhumed the body in Pahameng Cemetery.
(Inaudible) ... Pahameng? --- Pahameng, it's one of the townships in Bloemfontein. You go straight - you go past Rockland and then on the left-hand side that is Pahameng location.
And who was it from the ANC that assisted you to - with that process? Do you remember the person who assisted the family to exhume the body, and for the body to be reburied? --- I still remember him. His name is YT Mohapi.
And you mentioned in your statement that someone from Bloemfontein, a Mr Mdewe, Oupa Mdewe, had notified you of your son's death and your son's burial, is that correct? Mr Mdewe works at a pharmacy, he's a pharmacist, is that right? --- Yes, he was also involved, but the person who gave us a clear indication was YT Mohapi.
After you son went into exile, after he went to
Lesotho and to Tanzania, did you hear from him after he had gone there in 1982? Did he make contact with you? --- I personally went to Interior and I found his file there, and I was told that I am late. They didn't tell me how late I was, but they told me that he was now in Tanzania. I personally went to the Interior.
(Inaudible) ... formal death certificate indicating that the person who was buried was in fact you son? Do you have a death certificate like that? --- I tried to find a death certificate, but the previous Government didn't take me into consideration. But the evidence that my son died is there, because there was a funeral service.
As far as you know there was never any inquest or any sort of court case about the death of your son. Is that right? --- There was no court case. We were never called.
Thank you, Mr Thapedi. I am going to ask any - hand over to the Deputy-Chairman to see whether there are any other people who want to ask questions, and then we will go to your mother and ask whether she will confirm what you have said.
MR BORAIN: I wonder if I could suggest that we ask the mother to speak first, because she may be able to give the ... (inaudible - end of Side B, Tape 3) --- The police came to our house and we were sleeping, but he was not there, I must say. They interrogated me. They wanted to know his whereabouts. You know, when they come they would come in large numbers, and each one of them will occupy an entrance, and they would even stand at the windows. I am saying he is my son because I raised him up, and I said
to him, "Can you please leave these people because they will end up killing you," and he said to me, "It doesn't matter whether they kill me or not." We received a death certificate from the church. They asked me whether do I know that Abel Lethaba had died. I didn't follow the death certificate, but I was told that it was a death certificate from the Anglican Church. They took photos of him. I have the photos with me. You can have a look at them if you want to.
Mrs Thapedi, were those photos taken after he had died, after your grandson had died? --- The photos were taken when we unveiled the tombstone. I have the photos with me here. And the death certificate. You can take them and have a look at them. Even today I have never heard anything. I have never heard anybody coming to tell me what happened to my son.
Mrs Thapedi, thank you. We will definitely have a look at those documents after you have given your evidence. Are you satisfied ... (intervention) --- Can you please bring the documents.
Are you satisfied, or are you not satisfied, that the person - that the body that you exhumed and reburied was your grandson? Are you satisfied that that was your grandson? --- I was never satisfied. He died here and they didn't even tell me when they buried him. I don't know anything. Where are those photos?
(Inaudible) ... absolutely sure you get them back. I promise you. Mrs Thapedi, so what you would like the Commission to do is to investigate how your son died, and whether the body that you exhumed and reburied was in fact your son, is that correct? --- I was never satisfied
with the bones. Those were not the bones of my son.
Mrs Thapedi, the Commission will do whatever it is able to do to try and investigate that matter and to try and clear up this confusion, this mystery as to the death of your son. I now ask - unless you've got anything else to say I'll ask the Deputy-Chairman to ask the other Commissioners whether they would like to ask any questions.
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much, Mr Lyster. Are there any other questions? Yes, Dr Mgojo.
DR MGOJO: Just short questions just to get the whole picture of this. Mr Thapedi, you said that you were working outside the country. Was it Lesotho? --- I think I've toured the whole country, but there are parts of the country that I couldn't reach, especially the very violent areas.
You said in your story when you wanted to follow your son, when he had left, you were told that you must not follow him. Who are the people who said that you must not follow him, and did they give you the reasons why you should not follow your son? --- Yes, they gave me a reason. They said he will end up at the hands of the police. And then I thought to myself this is true, because I don't know who was really after his back.
Thank you. The last question but one about the exhumation of the body. Did you ask these people that they must exhume the body of your son when this process took place? --- Yes, I agreed with them because I wanted to be satisfied. Because I couldn't go to anybody to complain. I thought my heart would be at ease, but I
have realised that I am not satisfied at all. I am still not satisfied, because he left in one piece, but when he came back he was in pieces, he was in bones. I don't have any evidence whether have we buried the right person or not. I think I have already said that I don't want us to go and exhume the body, it's not necessary, because we have already put a tombstone, but I must say the enemies must come forward and they should confess so that I can be satisfied. If they tell me a different story I might be satisfied, but at this moment I am not.
(Inaudible) ... last question. You said during your testimony that you received a death certificate from the church, and even suggested that it was said that it was from the Anglican Church. Do you know which church, where it is situated, and who is the priest - or who was the priest or who is the priest for that church? --- We didn't follow this issue. We only knew that it was from the Anglican Church.
Any reasons, Mama, why you didn't follow it, because this is an important thing. You get this certificate, you are hurt, your son has been buried, you're not sure that it's your son, and then you get a clue that it is the church which has buried him. Was it because of fear or what that you didn't follow this when there was a certificate? --- I was scared. I was afraid of following up this matter, and I didn't do anything. You wouldn't say any word. As the father of this child I went to the mortuary to find the death certificate, but they didn't give me any clue. We have to get the death certificate at the mortuary, but they couldn't give me one. I even went to the police to find out what happened,
and they said, "We don't want to involve ourselves with people who skipped the country." It was difficult because nobody wanted to listen to me. It was difficult for me then.
Thank you. --- I think I wasn't at home when my mother received the latest news and the death certificate. I have tried my best. I have been to places to find help, but no help was given to me, and she only received it by post.
Thank you, Sir.
MRS GCABASHE: Mr Thapedi, can you please go back when you said something about the exhuming of the body. When you exhumed the body was there a doctor, or was there a person who could tell you whether those bones were those of your son? --- No, they didn't want me to get that kind of information. I want to tell you - that is at the mortuary. I was only shown the bones, and I saw them at the mortuary, and that was the last time. Even when they were at home I didn't want to open the case to have a look at the bones.
MR LAX: Mr Thapedi, attached to your statement is a burial order that was given to us. Firstly, can you confirm that this is a copy of the burial order that was actually given to you? --- We received that letter very late. That person was just telling me that he will give me an information as to what happened to my son. Even the names that are on that letter I do not know them. Those are fictitious names. I know my son's names. He is Abel Thapedi. Those are just fictitious names. I do not
One other question. Who is the person that actually gave you this letter? --- I was given the letter by YT Mohapi. He called me to the ANC offices and then he gave me the whole in formation. The documents we got them from him.
(Inaudible) ... follow up with him about that. Thank you.
MR BORAIN: Mrs Thapedi and Mr Thapedi, your son and grandson died under very mysterious circumstances. One of the worst things is not to know, not to be sure, and you have heard my colleagues tell you that we are going to do everything we can. We will try and talk with Mr Mohapi and also with Mr Mdewe, and we will do everything we can to establish as much of the truth as we can, and as soon as we do we will be in touch with you again.
In the meantime we give to you our love and our condolences in the loss of your son. We have noted your requests. We will do everything we can to assist, and we trust that God will give you strength and grace to continue. And thank you again very much indeed for coming.
MR BORAIN: Good afternoon, Mr Olifant. You can hear me all right?
MR OLIFANT: Yes, Sir.
MR BORAIN: No problem?
MR OLIFANT: No problem.
MR BORAIN: Excellent. Thank you. A warm welcome to you. Thank you very much for coming. In a minute I am going to try and guide you as you tell your story, but we need for you to take the oath, so will you please stand.
SHADRACK THEKO OLIFANT (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Please be seated. I hope you will feel as relaxed as is possible in a setting like this. It's a very big hall, there are lots of people. Some of us you don't know, but we are here on behalf of the nation, appointed by the President to hear your story, and I hope you'll feel very relaxed in telling that. Now, you are Shadrack Theko Olifant. --- Yes, Sir.
Tell me just a little bit about yourself before you tell the story of how you were tortured and when it happened. You may start. --- My name is Shadrack Theko Olifant. I used to tout the youth for the ANC, and I used to canvass school children or students. I was working under Steve Bohatshu. On the 29th he came to me in the evening. It was 2.00 am. When Comrade came to me he told me that the police were looking for them. I went with him. He stayed next to the shops. He asked me to get into the shop and do his important things. He gave me money. I went there and took certain things. He told me that he won't be in for the following afternoon at the
shop. He owned the shop actually. So he told me where I would get him. He went away, he left me. On the 3rd police came. I was at the wholesale to order some stock for his shop. I was the only one who knew where he was. All the other people didn't know where he was. As I was in the wholesale buying the stock there came three Afrikaners. When they got to me they arrested me. I was pushing the trolley, because the students were using the shop to eat their lunch. They asked me where my friend was. Then they made me leave the trolley. They arrested me, they took me to the shop. The children or the students who were eating there at lunch time were also arrested. They believed that I was working with the students. Another one was an elderly man. His name was Mr Mohumutsi. The children were assaulted. I got other Afrikaner-speaking people who were in the office. The office was inside the shop. They asked me why I was in the shop, why I was busy in the shop if Steve wasn't there. They also assaulted me. They said I knew where Steve was. They searched the shop. There are certain things that they got, but I don't know particularly what the things were. Then they went away and they left me. It was during the day. In the evening when I went back home I heard that the police were looking for me. I asked my mother why were they looking for me. Then I went to the Comrades with whom I was living. I told the Comrades that they were looking for me as well as them. In the evening I went to Comrade Steve. I told him the events of the day. I had to look for a place to stay, I couldn't go back home. Thereafter the Comrades with whom I was working, that is the Vulamasango Comrades, they were also
wanted. All in all we were 22. We went to stay at my grandfather's place, all of us.
Whereabouts is your grandfather's place? Which town or which township was it? --- He stayed in Bloemfontein. We stayed there with the other Comrades. We also had female Comrades. We were all wanted. We stayed with my grandfather. We could only go during the night or in the evening. During the day we had to stay inside. He used to run up and down getting us food and whatever we needed, because we couldn't get out because we were still being hunted by the police. We were hunted until the 6th of April 1986. It was approximately 1.00 am in the morning when the kombis came. They took us into the kombi. We drove in the kombi and we got to Ladybrand. When we got to Ladybrand we got into the farms in Ladybrand. My grandfather is the only one who knew the Lesotho route. As we were travelling we saw poles and we realised that we were towards a soldiers' camp. And the soldiers sort of dispersed and they allowed us to get some space to move. We moved in between them. It was late at night, it was 2.00 am in the morning. Others were able to run away, but I was amongst the ones who were arrested. Some of the Comrades came in the morning. We stayed there. We started to plan that we were going to pretend that we were a religious group. We told them we were a religious group, we came by church or we had some church affiliation, until the soldiers took us to the soldiers' camp in Ladybrand. That's where we were assaulted. They even changed our names. They told us different names that we should address ourselves in. As we were still in there they kept on calling us into certain rooms. We kept on
being assaulted. You would just feel somebody kicking you, you wouldn't even know who was kicking you. Thereafter they called the Ladybrand Special Branch. When the Special Branch came they took us to the soldiers' camp. From the soldiers' camp they took us to the police station. It was then in the afternoon. It was a Monday on the 6th. We sat there up til they transferred us to Bloemfontein. When we got to Bloemfontein they took us to Ramkraal. They also took us to the Fountain Police Station. It was black policemen as well as white policemen. They put us into a certain room. When we got into that room they took me and Jewel Makubalo out. Jewel was my co-accused. They were accusing both of us. Then they took us to separate rooms. That's where they started torturing us, assaulting us, violating us. They wanted Steve. They wanted to know from me where Steve was. I told them that I didn't know where Steve was. Then they asked me where was I going, because they arrested me during the day and I had told them that I didn't know anything. They closed us there and they kept on assaulting us until they told us that I was - they told us that I was the one who was involved more than the others because I knew where Steve was. So they sort of separated us. They charged the other ones with terrorism. On the Wednesday I was assaulted, I couldn't see, my eyes were swollen shut, and two policemen from the location came. The other one is Tsilwani, the other one I have forgotten what his name is. They asked me where are the other ones. I told them that we were very scattered, we were at different places. The person who was killed was the person that we were staying with. His name was George
Musi. I said I didn't know anything about anyone who had died. Even my family wanted to see me, but the police had hidden me. Nobody could see me until my mother came to see me. She asked me whether I had killed my grandfather. I denied that. She told me that according to gossip I had killed my grandfather. I said I don't know anything about that. The murder case never went forth. The other cases of terrorism and the rest went forth. Mr Blakey and Mr Foreman accused me and Ober. The policemen turned all the other corps Comrades into State witnesses so that they can testify against us. When they got into court they could not go further with the testimony because they said it was forged. Then it was a whole lot of confusion. We were in and out of court with the fabricated statements and testimony. The person whom they said I had killed was suspected of having killed my grandfather. There was gossip that I and my friend had killed my grandfather, but according to our knowledge we left him intact when we went away. From there the case started until it got to an end. When it went to the end Mr Soman(?) took me to my uncle because my life wasn't safe in Butsabelo. So I went to my uncle. My uncle was a traditional healer so he wasn't staying at home, he used to go in and out of the place. I went back to my mother, and her life wasn't quite well because they used to chase her also. I didn't know what I would do because the police would still come searching for me. They wanted to get Steve. They always wanted Steve from me. Thereafter I went and enlisted some help from the Comrades, only to find there were no Comrades. All the Comrades that I knew I had lost contact with. Now I was constantly assaulted until my uncle stood up.
Thereafter they continued coming, they continued harassing my mother. At times they would come and search the place, saying they were looking for weapons, they were looking for guns, and I would tell them there were no guns there. Even at night they would just come. I would just be taken to an office. Even if I hadn't done anything they would just put me in that office without eating, without doing anything, just sitting. Thereafter they would just chase me away and say I must go, so they did that continuously quite several times. The policemen that I can remember it was Captain du Plooy, it was Nick Swanepoel, it was Lieutenant Terblanche, du Plessis. They were the people who kept on harassing me day in and day out. Even when I got arrested I went to a mental hospital. That mental hospital was in Orange. I stayed for one month in Orange and I kept on seeing these people who were harassing me. There was another nursing staff nurse. At some stage I saw Swanepoel and Mafisa, and the staff nurse told me that I was wanted, so they tried to change my room. That is where I was admitted. I was taken and put into another room because she had told me that they would come looking for me. I went to Thaba Nchu. They fetched me from Thaba Nchu and brought me back. That's where I'll end.
Thank you very much. There are a few questions which I'd like to ask to make sure I understand your story. First, just to help me, what was the name of your grandfather? --- His name was George Musi.
Thank you. Now in 1986, when you and your fellow Comrades tried to leave the country, how old were you then? --- I was 26.
Now, you mentioned that you were first picked up by
the soldiers and you were in a soldiers' camp, and then the Special Branch came and they took to you a police station in Ladybrand, and then on to - back to Bloemfontein. That's right? And where you were badly assaulted in the camp, but also at the Fountain. Now, you were charged, were you, under the Terrorism Act? Were you ever found guilty, or were you acquitted, or what happened? --- The police were looking for the Comrades. The Comrades when they got to court they never testified according to what they told the police, or in accordance with what they told the police.
(Inaudible) ... what happened at the end of the trial? Were you just dismissed, or did you spend time in gaol? What happened? --- The case just ended there and they just released us. As we were free we continued being harassed despite that the case just ended there.
But you were badly harassed, but you were never put back into gaol? --- After we had finished in court we were taken - I was taken to my place. I never went back to prison. I was taken to Rockland.
Now, you were very worried because some people thought that you had been responsible for the death of your grandfather. Now, your grandfather was the one who helped you, who looked after you, and then you left to try and cross the border. What did the - there was no court case about the death of your grandfather? Was there no trial, or nobody accused of killing him? --- No, there was never any court case. It was just talk, common talk, that I killed him. It was just a rumour, and that's where it ended as a rumour.
(Inaudible) ... did he - was he shot, or was he
assaulted, or knifed, or how did he meet his death? --- My father was woken up in the morning. Apparently he was shot and doused with petrol and set alight.
(Inaudible) ... feel badly because people thought that you were involved? --- Yes. Even my family, my father's family. I can't get to them because they always have this suspicion that I killed my grandfather.
We've heard that - and you've named a number of names. Amongst the names that you've mentioned were those who harassed you, or arrested you, or were also - were they some who beat you up and gave you electric shocks in prison? --- It's Nick Swanepoel and Terblanche. They were the ones who violated me, who assaulted me and electrocuted me.
Thank you very much. You've had a very rough time, not only because you were assaulted and beaten up, but I think the dark cloud which has hung over you about your grandfather, and we will do what we can to try and help. But my colleagues may have other questions, so I am going to ask if they would like to ask any more.
MR LYSTER: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Olifant, you, like others who have given statements and who will give testimony tomorrow, have talked about Fountain, where the Security Branch had their headquarters. Was it at Fountain that you were tortured by means of electric shocks and beatings? You did mention another place in Bloemfontein, Ramkraal. --- Yes, from Ladybrand they took us to Ramkraal. At Ramkraal that's where they just keep people. It's not a prison, it's not a police station. From there we were taken to Fountain. That is
the Special Branch. That's the office of the Special Branch. We were taken there. That's where we were tortured. But they kept on torturing us from Ladybrand up to here. That is the soldiers now who were doing the torturing.
How did they administer electric shocks to you? --- What they did, they electrocuted my private parts. The other one switched on the light. The other one kept on asking, "Do you want to tell us where Steve is?" I kept on telling them that I didn't know where Steve was. They kept on electrocuting me, telling me that I should tell the truth, until such time that I lost consciousness. They were using these electric shocks. They were also strangling me with a towel.
(Inaudible) ... a towel round your throat, or was it a bag over your head? --- They were actually strangling me. The other one was holding one end of the towel and the other one was holding the other end of the towel, and each one was pulling to different sides. That's when I lost consciousness.
DR MGOJO: Thank you, Sir. Mr Olifant, it would appear that what is more hurtful is the accusation that you murdered your grandfather, even more than the tortures you received in those police stations. You just made one statement that it is suspected that the person who said that you killed your grandfather is the one who killed him. Can you say something more about that? --- I didn't hear that quite well. Could you kindly repeat it.
In your statement, your narrative, you said that it is suspected that the person who said that you killed your /grandfather
grandfather is the one who killed him. Is that correct?
--- That was a rumour that was circulating at that time I was being tortured, but I got it thereafter that the actual person who was involved was the person I was related to. He was pointed out, but I didn't have any information as far as that was concerned. I only was told that later, because when my grandfather died I was arrested, I was in custody. I was in custody at that time. We were arrested on the 6th, so I wasn't there when he died. So that person was telling me - the one who was torturing me told me that he was going to kill me like my grandfather. At that time I didn't know what he was referring to. I only discovered it later on.
The last question. I am just going around this thing. You have said in your statement that some of your Comrades became State witnesses. It means that they were working against you now. Do you think that maybe they are the ones who spread this rumour that you killed your grandfather? --- I don't think it's them.
MR BORAIN: Mr Olifant, we have already expressed our sympathy to you for the treatment you have received. I hope very much that your family will become re-united, that they will accept you back, and that they will put behind you and behind them this ugly rumour that has caused you so much pain. We, on our side, will do everything we can to try and see what we can find out about that, and thank you again for coming, and may God empower you. Thank you. --- Thank you, Sir.
MR BORAIN: Mrs Motsaneng, good afternoon. Can you hear me all right?
MRS MOTSANENG: Yes, I can hear you.
MR BORAIN: That's good. Sometimes we have trouble with the headphones, but today it looks as though we're really doing very well indeed. Thank you so much for coming. You have waited a long time today, and there are still others who are waiting, so we would like you to tell your story and what happened - and particularly what happened to your son, Ernest. But before you do that I would like you to please stand for the taking of the oath.
DIKALEDI ADELAIDE MOTSANENG (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Please be seated. There are so many from this part of the world who had sons, and sometimes perhaps daughters I suppose, or fathers, or mothers, who went into exile, and there seems to be such a mystery surrounding some of their journeys, and indeed their deaths. That's part of the story that you are going to tell, and Mr Ilan Lax is going to guide you now. Thank you.
MR LAX: Thank you, Mr Motsaneng, for coming to talk to us this afternoon. Before I take you through the story could you just confirm - your son was born on the 1st of March 1962, is that correct? --- Yes, that's correct.
Thank you. Could you tell us a little bit about your family and where you're from? --- My name is Adelaide Motsaneng from Bloemfontein, Rocklands. My child, Matzifiso Motsaneng, was born in 1962. He was schooling at Ikalelo in 1980. In the morning we discovered that he was not there. We asked ourselves what
happened to him. We went to work. After work he was still not there. We asked his brothers. They have been looking all around, asking the friends. They didn't know him. Before work in the morning the father reported to the police that Matzifiso is not there. His boss - his father's boss said that he must first go to the police and report. His father went to the police and report the matter. The police told him to look for his son, and they'll also help him to do so. Until the other day the police came and told his father to go to Lesotho, his son will be there. They made arrangements, passport for his father to go to Lesotho. Matzifiso was not - the following week we went there. Both of us had passports to go and look for him. We went to Lesotho and we find him there. We talked to him and said he must go back home. Matzifiso said, "Mum, I am not prepared to go home because I know that the police are going to kill me there." He told me to bring him a bag. There's nothing else he would like to say. I went to buy a bag. It was on December. I took the bag to Lesotho. He told me that, "Mum, I am going to school." I said, "Matzifiso, you are going to school. You know that your father doesn't like all this situation." He was doing standard eight then. Matzifiso left in December 1980. He didn't even tell us where he was going. After that we heard nothing from him. We never received any letter. All what was happening was we were always having regular visits from the police. They were looking for Matzifiso, and they were also telling us that they were going to help us to look for him. In 1982 his father passed away. I was left alone. I was expecting anything from Matzifiso. Unfortunately I didn't
get anything from him. In 1990 some young boys from Angola they brought me some message from Matzifiso. They told me that they were with Matzifiso in Angola. After that letter in 1990 some boy came to my place. He actually sent his sister to tell me that Matzifiso said I must phone him. I asked myself, "How am I going to phone Matzifiso because I don't even have his numbers?" She assured me that she's got these numbers, she is going to help me. She said I must also phone him 11 o'clock, but before 11 o'clock he wasn't in that particular place. One day, it was on a Saturday, this girl came. She said he is going to help me to give me the numbers that I can be able to contact Matzifiso with. He came and he gave me those numbers. I managed to talk to Matzifiso, and he asked me where his father was. I said, "Matzifiso, your father is not around," and then he asked me if his father is in town, and I said, "No, he is not available." He asked me another question again, if his father is no longer coming around. I told that his father passed away in 1982. He kept quiet, and then he said that he is sorry and he'll be coming home soon, but he told me that he's got a car and a house there. Then he told me that when he has sold the cars and the house he'll be coming back home. After that I never heard anything from him. In 1993, when I was off from work, children told me that - it was on June. They told me that the ANC people were at home. They never came that day, and even the following day they were never there. On a Friday they came. They find out I was not yet home. They told the children that they must tell me that they were there to tell me that Matzifiso has passed away, and they were in a hurry, they couldn't wait for me
because they were going to Brandfort. The children were left crying until I got home. They told me that Mr Malebu was there to tell me that Matzifiso has passed away. I thought that Mr Malebu will come back again to tell me how did this happened. He didn't come the following day. Instead he was there on a Monday. He told me that he left a message with the children, but he was in a hurry, he was going to Brandfort to tell the other parents about their children. I said, "Mr Malebu, that was not right. You were supposed to wait for me. You were not supposed to leave that kind of a message with the children. You were supposed to wait for me and tell me." He told me that Matzifiso had passed away, and they are still making some arrangements for him to come home. On that particular day when Matzifiso passed away it was the day when he was supposed to come to Bloemfontein. I was so surprised. On a Monday he came. They were still preparing in Angola for the body to come home. On a Tuesday other ANC people came again to tell me that they are preparing, together with Luanda, for a child to come home. Every day these people were always coming to my place with different stories, and I told them not to come to my place again because every day they are telling me all the painful things. Every day they are coming with different stories. They must only come when the body is here, because the body was in Gauteng. The other day they'll tell me that the body's in Namibia. All the stories about Winnie Mandela in Namibia and Luanda. They will tell me that there's a fight in Angola, they won't be able to bring him home. That happened from the 23rd of June until the 23rd of July. It was always all those different stories. That's why I
decided to tell them not to come to my place any more. As the days goes by I asked for those days - I asked for a lift at work. I told my son to go to ANC office in Gauteng to ask what was happening about this body, because I was getting tired of getting their different stories. So one of my sons and my cousin went to Gauteng in ANC offices to ask about this body. When they were in the ANC offices they were told that the body is only coming from Luanda. They went back home again. They told me all. They told me that the flight is still coming, the body is in Gauteng with the - they didn't know when the body will becoming to Bloemfontein. On the 17th of July Mr Zandi, who is working at the mortuary, he came home asking for the photo of my son. He wanted to make some arrangements for funeral. It was already becoming late. I asked Mr Zandi, "Where is the body of my son?" and then he said, "They are still preparing. If the body has arrived I am going to call the family to go and identify." On the 19th or on the 20th Mr Zandi brought a kombi and he told me that he is prepared to take us to the airport to see the body. The aeroplane was coming at 2 o'clock in Rockland. We went to the airport. When we were at the graveyard in Heidedal the kombi was stopped. The kombi was turned back. The hearse was from the Heidedal Cemetery. And then we followed it, and then we all arrived at Zandi's place. The box was taken out of the hearse and it was my son's body. They asked us whether to open the box or not. We said, "Yes, you have to open it so that we can see." They tried to open. We were together with the two ANC people. The other one was called Macdonald. Macdonald was together with the other one, and he said, "We are not
going to wait here. We have to go to the hospital because we have to see one of our Comrades who had been shot." We were puzzled. How can these people leave us here? As the family we were left behind. The people at the mortuary opened the coffin, and they asked me all the signs that I know on his body and I told them everything, even the marks on his teeth. He was badly damaged. They closed the coffin and they took us back home. I asked the people, "If a person is your soldier what happens to his belongings?" They said to me, "Don't worry. The people who are behind are busy taking all his belongings and they will be brought back home. Don't worry." I was not worried, knowing that his trousers, his jackets, will be brought back home. Even today they were never brought to my house. I am now requesting the Commission, I want to know - they arrived in Johannesburg and there was a boy who told me that according to the ANC my boy was not supposed to come alone at home. There was supposed to be at least two or three. I want the Commission to investigate how did my son die, because this one who was in Gauteng was called in to come and tell about Ernest's death. Now, this gentleman in Johannesburg said they were in a house and it was in the evening. Now, this one from Gauteng went out and he discovered that there was an exchange of words. And when he went back to the house he found my son lying on a pool of blood. Now, I want the Commission to find out happened, how did my son die? This should be investigated. The information will be received from the other person in Johannesburg. He told me that they took him to a clinic and he even paid $1 000,00. They were together with another girl.
Have you finished what you want to tell us? --- Yes, I am finished.
Can I just ask you a few questions to clarify some aspects please? This person who told you about this words and finding your son's body, do you know his name at all -the person from Johannesburg? --- I do not know his name, but I think the ANC office in Gauteng will know his name.
Now, together with your son's body there were some documents which came back which you've given to us. Do you remember those documents? --- Yes, I have the documents.
We have made copies of those documents. You're aware of that? Now, one of those documents is what appears to be a death certificate in Portuguese. --- Yes. I asked them. "These papers are written in Portuguese. I don't have any idea." They said, "Keep them safe. Just before the funeral is over we would have changed those into English," but it never happened that they changed the documents.
Well, perhaps we can get that done for you. Apart from the story of an exchange of words and your son being found outside in a pool of blood, in your statement you also tell us that someone else told you that your son had a stroke. Is that correct? --- The ANC people told me that my son had been killed because he had stroke. I asked them, "Is it possible that you could die of stroke and his bones be broken?" because he had a fracture in his bone.
Now, you told us about - sorry, before I move on, who in the ANC - do you know who the people were who told
you your son had a stroke? --- It was Mr Malebu who told me that my son died of stroke.
Now, you spoke about two or three people that should have come back with your son. Who are these people you are talking about? You said he wasn't to come back alone, but he was to come back with two or three other people. --- It's what they told me, that if one is supposed to come home he can't be alone, there should be two of them or three of them.
You don't know what that means? His friends, or his family, or people of that kind? --- I think they are talking about the Comrades.
You don't know whether your son had any - a wife maybe in Angola, or any children there? --- He was staying with a girl and they had a kid.
Have you had any contact with them at all? --- I have only photos. I don't even know her and she doesn't even know me.
I've also been led to believe that the police in Angola were investigating your son's death. Do you know about that? --- The Comrades told me so. Even Macdonald told me.
(Inaudible) ... had any further reports about that investigation? --- I got only one.
(Inaudible) ... there's nothing coming through. --- I have never received any report from him, and nobody ever came to me to tell me what happened to him.
Thank you. We can possibly follow that up for you. Thank you, Chairperson.
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Is there anyone else
who would like to - yes, Dr Mgojo.
DR MGOJO: Just one question, Ma Adelaide. In your question just now you have mentioned - you have made mention of a girl. There's a girl who gave you Matzifiso's - your son's telephone number when he was out of the country, and then there's a girl who stayed with your son, and they had a kid when he was outside the country. Is this one girl or two girls? --- The one who had the telephone number stays here in Bloemfontein, and the one he has a child with stays in Angola.
This one in Bloemfontein, do you know how she came to know about your son's telephone number? --- The Macdonald that I have referred to is the brother to this girl. He is the brother to this girl.
Thank you, Sir.
MR BORAIN: Any further questions? Thank you very much. What we have discovered so many times on this Commission is that the situation in our country, particularly in the 1970s and 80s, was so turbulent, so much conflict, so much confusion, and so many young people leaving the country, trying to resist the system at the time. Many of them have come back, and it's very, very hard for people like yourself, whose son was away for such a long time, you hardly ever heard a word, and then you have a promise of him coming back and then he doesn't come, and you wait, and when he does come it's a body in a coffin, and you don't understand what happened to him, and that's perhaps the hardest thing of all.
And my colleagues have already told you that we are going to do everything we can. That is why we ask the
questions. Not because we are inquisitive, it's just that we need to know so that we can help you. We will try our best, and we will do everything we can to assist, and once we've made the inquiries, and when we have some information, we will come back to you.
Thank you very much for coming, and I hope that in the telling of the story something of the burden that you have been carrying for so long will be in a small way lifted. Thank you very much.
MR BORAIN: Mrs Jakila, we welcome you, and can I make sure that you can hear me through the earphones.
MRS JAKILA: I can hear you.
MR BORAIN: Loud and clear?
MRS JAKILA: I can hear you clearly.
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. If you can put the mike as close to her as possible please. Mrs Jakila, we have been talking this afternoon about not really knowing sometimes where our loved ones are and what happened to them. Your situation is about the disappearance of Andries Gorape, and you're going to tell us about that in a moment. And it's a long time ago, but I am sure it's very, very painful for you still. Would you please stand to take the oath before we start.
BERNICE JAKILA (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Please be seated. Mrs Jakila, my colleague, Mr Dlamini, is going to help you as you tell us the story of your son's disappearance. Thank you. Mr Dlamini.
MR DLAMINI: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mama Jakila, thank you for the time that you have accorded us. I would request you to tell us your story. It is a painful story, as the Chairperson has said already, but for us to be able to make an attempt in helping you it's only when you try and tell us as clear as possible, giving us all the clues that you think will help us to assist you. Thank you, and may I request you to start telling us about the circumstances around which your son disappeared, and any other relevant information that you think would be of use to the Commission in order to help you. Thank you. ---
In 1964 I moved from home and I went to Gauteng. I left my children with their grandmother. As I was in Gauteng I heard that my children were also in Gauteng, but I was staying in Orange Grove, where I was working as a domestic worker. As they were still there in 1976, when there were riots or uprisings in 1976 in Soweto, after about a few days Jeremiah - that is his brother - came to ask me where Andries was. I said I didn't know anything because I was staying at Orange Grove. He told me that nine days has lapsed since he disappeared. I told him I hadn't seen him. I told him to go back to the location to try and find out, because I could not go out. We were being arrested in terms of the pass laws. But I went to the police stations in town. I went to John Vorster Square. When we were still coming they just chased us away. They told us that they knew what we wanted and they were not interested to assist us. I went to Number Four. They also refused to help me. I went to Modder B Prison. There they tried to look at their documents, as well as files, but they said the couldn't locate him. That is when I felt I couldn't get him. I had a hope that when the others were coming back he was also going to come back. As time went on I realised that he wasn't coming back. I was now reaching my tether, because I just couldn't get any help. Right now my heart is very sore because I don't know what is happening to my son, or what happened to him. I don't have any more to say.
Thank you, Mrs Jakila. Perhaps a few clarifying questions. When you say that you were hoping that your son was going to come back together with others who were returning to the country, is it because you were under the
impression that he had been on exile? --- Yes, I thought so, because he wasn't the only one who had disappeared from Soweto. Quite a number of kids had disappeared, so I thought the was part of them, or he was one of those who disappeared, but I really didn't have any clarity.
Thank you. Did you have any clues from his friends or people who were close to him as to when they last saw him what he was doing and where he was? --- His brother, that is Jeremiah, I urged him to try and find out in Soweto as to what happened to his brother. Then he came back and told me that they said since he went to work in the morning, and there's nothing that they heard from him thereafter. Even today we haven't heard anything, not even the slightest rumour or clue.
From his brother, Jeremiah, was he involved in political activities or youth activities? --- I really don't know because I wasn't staying with them. But what I know is that they had just arrived in Gauteng and he was only 16 years old, he didn't have a pass or an identity document.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. Can I hand over to you?
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Any other questions? Mr Lax.
MR LAX: Thank you. Mrs Jakila, did your son, Andries, have any nicknames or other names that he might have used which might help us to trace him? --- His nickname was Baba. That's what we affectionately called him.
Might he have used a different surname maybe? --- He was using Gorape.
Your other son, Jeremiah, where is he at the moment? --- Jeremiah is in Thembisa at the moment.
So our people could maybe speak to him and try and get some information from him. --- Yes, but I don't have his full address. I am not really sure where he stays, but I know where he works.
Perhaps you could give that to our people later if that's possible please. Thank you.
MR BORAIN: Thank you, Mrs Jakila. It's 20 years ago. It's very hard to get any information from what you have told us. You are still in the dark today as you were then, but, you know, it occurred to me once again that when we had this uprising in 1976, where so many young people went into exile, or disappeared, or were killed, or were in gaol, and like so many mothers you, when you heard about the disappearance of your son - it becomes almost like a refrain, almost like a song. "I went to the prisons, I went to the police stations, I went to the hospitals, I went to the friends, and I couldn't find him." It's a very sad song that many, many mothers have had to sing, and we feel deeply for you.
We can't make promises that we can't keep, but we will try. We will try and do whatever we can to see if we can find at least what happened to that young 16-year-old. Thank you very much for coming, and may God comfort you in your loneliness. Thank you.
MR BORAIN: Mrs Butsibo, would you please identify yourself. Have you both got the earphones on?
MRS BUTSIBO: I am Paulina Butsibo.
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. So you must be Ester Tsetsi. I hope I'm pronouncing the name correctly. If I am not please forgive me. The reason why we have asked you to come together is because you both lost your sons, and they were both killed on the same day in the same event, the same incident, so we thought it would be helpful to hear your stories together. Mr Lax is going to guide you in a minute, but again it was 1992, after the President was released from prison, after many people had come back, and it's very tragic - but that is your story, and we'd much prefer to hear from you. Would you both please stand together to take the oath.
PAULINA BUTSIBO and ESTER TSETSI (Sworn, State)
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Please be seated. Mr Lax.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. Good afternoon and greetings to both of you. --- Good afternoon, Sir.
If we could start with Mrs Butsibo first, and just -if you could tell us a little bit about yourself and about your family, and if you could just confirm your ... (intervention) --- I'll be very brief, I'll tell you what I know, because I wasn't staying at home, I was working in Sasol. On the 22nd of July, round about 5 o'clock, I got a call from New Vaal. My mother had phoned my relative's child, and my relative's child was scared to phone me. She waited for her husband to come back, and the husband is working in New Vaal. When her
husband came he is the one who phoned me and said, "Aunt, Granny says you must come together with the kids." I was working with my daughter. The schools were closed as they are closed right now. Now my granddaughters and grandsons were with me at work, so I took them with. My husband died in 1986. So the children were with me. Now, when I asked how did they expect me to come with the children, what was the matter, what had happened, she told me that she didn't know what had happened. Then I told my boss. My boss said I must phone Heilbron and speak to my mother. I phoned Heilbron, I asked to speak to my mother. My mother came. I asked her as to why she wanted me to bring all the children, what had happened? My mother answered me, she said she is scared to tell me, but I must come home. She told me that Champagne had been shot on the legs. I said to her she must explain to me. She asked me whether I was strong enough. I told her I was strong enough because I had encountered such experiences before. Then she told me that my son had died. I couldn't finish speaking. The phone fell down and I collapsed. My boss or madam picked up the phone. She gave me some cold water to drink and she took the phone, she tried to phone my daughter, who was working on the Third Street at Vaalbank. She phoned Mrs Kelly to let my daughter know that her brother had died. When I regained my consciousness I found that my daughter was there already with the two children who had visited us, as well as her madam was there. They phoned - my boss phoned my husband. Round about half past six they came back from work. (Pause)
As soon as you're feeling better we can continue. --- When I regained consciousness I discovered that my
daughter as well as her madam and my grandchildren were there. It was quite a tale in the street where I was working. She came with her madam, who was comforting her, as well as the children. Now they were going to take us in a kombi and bring us to Heilbron. When we got to Heilbron, that was my daughter and the grandchildren, we arrived at night, we discovered that there were no taxis, there was absolutely no transport, and I met another gentleman that I know from the NCD. Then he took us and he gave us a lift to our place. On the morning of the 23rd I woke up together with my mother. We went to look or find out where Champagne - that is my son - where did he die. I got a pool of blood there where he had fallen, where he had died. The blood had already dried. I took a shovel and I took this blood and put it in a plastic. I took it with. Round about 10 o'clock I took my daughter, as well as her aunt. We went to the police station to see the deceased. When we got to Mapetla we saw Comrades. They blocked us, they said we shouldn't go there alone because the Afrikaners were angry in the town, so we wouldn't be able to get into the town. So we went to Mr Mabena's place. Mr Mabena promised to take his car and accompany us to the police station. We went to Mr Mabena's place. We stayed, we waited for each other. From there they gave us a lift to the police station. When we got to the police station I got that my son had died. He was bleeding through the nose as well as the mouth. I will end there momentarily. Now the witness is Mzimbi Moloi, but he hasn't come.
This witness you talk about, is that a person who actually saw what happened to your son? --- I was at
work. I just heard that they were together, that is Mzimbi and my son.
How old was your son? When was he born? --- When he died he was 25 years old. He was born in 1968 on the 5th of May.
Thank you. Have you receive any documentation with regard to your son's death, any death certificate, or do you know of any cases that might have happened? --- What I got was a death certificate. I do have it. I got it. In 1993, on the 23rd of February, I got a letter which said I must go to court. They also phoned me and asked me whether I had got the letter. My boss released me so that I could attend to this matter. I told her that on the 23rd of February I am supposed to be in court with regard to my son's death. I went to the court. Our names were called, but nothing happened. Even the person who shot my son, that is Ronnie Mudikwe, there's nothing that he said.
(Inaudible) ... was this? --- That was in Heilbron.
Since then have you heard anything more about the case? --- There is nothing I ever heard thereafter. Up til today I know absolutely nothing.
(Inaudible) ... will look into that and be able to try and get back to you with what actually happened about that case. Chairperson, just for a moment, with your guidance, should we proceed with the other statement before we ask questions, or do you think we should ask questions at this stage? I will just wait for your instructions.
MR BORAIN: I think it would be more helpful to the
witnesses to continue and then have the questions afterwards. It's a very painful thing this. And also we might be able to get a little more information and save duplication. Thank you.
MR LAX: Thank you. If we could turn to you now, Mrs Tsetsi. If you could tell us firstly about your son, Kipi. How old was he when this event happened? --- He was 14 years old when this happened. It was 12 o'clock in the afternoon. He was just playing outside. He said he was scared to roam around the location because the soldiers were... (incomplete - end of Side B, Tape 4) ... the other street. I got a car on that street. I asked that person, the driver, to give me a lift and take me to the hospital. We got to a main road, where we met people from the Civic Association. They were coming from the court and they were in a kombi. They said to me, "There is my son," and they told me that my son had been taken to Mapetla. That's another location. They gave me a lift. I thought I was going mad a that time. I didn't know what was happened. When we got to Mapetla we found that there were police cars as well as police Casspirs. They took me there. When we got there they said - the Comrades requested the soldiers to disclose the whereabouts of my son. They said they didn't know the whereabouts of my son. Thereafter they said the car had turned at Izulu Street. By that time we tried to follow it. Then they said, "No, there it is. It's speeding up, it's going towards town." Then they put me again in the kombi, they said, "We must follow these people." We followed them. All of a sudden they disappeared. Then we rushed off to the hospital. When we got to the hospital, as we were
crossing the railway station just approaching the hospital, we saw an ambulance flicking its little red light. When we got to the hospital I asked the ambulance drivers as to where my son was. I don't know who started by telling me that my son was in Kroonstad, but there was a group of people. I asked them, "How could my son be in Kroonstad within five minutes?" They told me to go back home, and I was a little bit mixed up because I didn't know what was happening. They took me, they put me into the kombi, they directed me to go home. When I got home I sat there, and my mother asked me where my son was. I told her that they had told me he's in Kroonstad. I sat outside wondering. Now I was totally - I didn't know what to do because I didn't know what was happening. Then my mother said to me I must just wait and see. Nobody showed up except for a young girl whose name was Busisiwe.
(Inaudible) ... please take your time. (Pause) --- These children came. They had brought my son's T-shirt. It was soaked with blood. I took the T-shirt and asked, "Where is my son when my T-shirt is like this? How is he?" Then they said a policeman shot him. I took the T-shirt and soaked it in water. I lifted the T-shirt up and I saw quite a number of holes in the T-shirt. Then I started to wonder how is my child if a T-shirt can be so full of holes. I went to sleep. Round about 7 o'clock in the evening I woke up and went to another member of the Civic Association. When I got to him I said to Mr Ndio, "Where is my child?" He told me that we were going to try and hire the car and go to Kroonstad. Approximately at 9 o'clock I saw the kombi. They said I must go to Kroonstad. I said they must take my sister as well as my
other son, because I wasn't able to go. Then they went to Kroonstad. As we were sitting until 3 o'clock, at 3 o'clock they came back. They looked at me. Each and every one of them just looked at me. Then I asked, "Is he dead?" They said, "Yes." I asked whether he was in Kroonstad. They said no, he wasn't at Kroonstad, they said he was in Heilbron. I asked them how did they know that he was in Heilbron. They said the Civic Association members phoned to try and find out where my son was, so they went to Bloemfontein. They actually threatened the police. They told them that, "If we don't get him in Bloemfontein you are going to be in trouble." When they got there we didn't know what to do, we just stayed for the whole morning until dawn. I couldn't sleep. I was told to go to the police station to go and report that my child had died or had been killed. I went to the police station. There was a man who was working at the mortuary. He was also expecting me. When I got there they pulled my child's corpse. I stood there in silence and I looked at my son. He had a lot of holes in his body. Blood had seeped out of his back. He wasn't even wearing a T-shirt. This gentleman asked me whether I was satisfied, I had positively identified my son. I said yes. My sister said she wanted to see if it really was him. Then she wanted to find out about post-mortems, as to where they should be taken for a post-mortem. She was told that they were being taken to Gauteng for a post-mortem. My sister told them that they must know that we are also going to take him to a pathologist, who was going to try and find out the cause of death. They told us that we would get the corpses on a Thursday. They took the corpses. The
corpses came back. We buried them. From there we stayed until 1993. That's only then that we were told about our children. They told me that my child had died due to loss of blood. That was all they could tell me about my son.
Are you finished, Mama, for now? Can I just confirm something with you? You received a letter to come to court to an inquest hearing. Do you remember that? --- Yes, I did get the letter.
Did you actually go to court? --- Yes, I did go to court.
What happened there? --- When I got to the court we sat there. We were read a Bible, a very big Bible by the Magistrate. From there he told me that my child had died. He told me that he had lost blood. That's all that he told me.
Do you remember when - what date that was that you went to court by any chance? --- It was on the 23rd in 1993.
Thank you. This person that you spoke about as a witness, Busisiwe Moloi, is that the Busisiwe you're talking about? --- Yes, it is the Busisiwe that I have been talking about, Busisiwe Moloi.
And do you know where we could find her if we wanted to get some information from her? --- She stays in Heilbron, but she ran away because she was scared to come and testify. I did let her know that I was going to come and testify, but she never turned up.
Do you know of any other possible witnesses we could talk to? --- I don't know of any other people. Busisiwe knows those people.
Thank you. Have you received a death certificate in
relation to your son's death? --- Yes, I did get the death certificate.
And you've just confirmed for us that he was at Heilbron Hospital where he was treated and where he died. --- Yes.
Thank you, Chairperson. Thank you, Mrs Tsetsi.
MR BORAIN: Thank you. Anyone else? Yes, Mr Dlamini.
MR DLAMINI: Thank you, Mr Chair. Also under the same point of witnesses, according to Mrs Butsibo's statement there is a name of Fosewa Mputhi that is mentioned. Can he be one of the witnesses who could help us in investigating? --- Yes, he is a witness.
Do you know his address where we can contact him in case we need to talk to him? --- I am not really sure about his address, but I believe that the person who was taking the statement took all the particulars of the witness.
One more question to Mrs Tsetsi. It's of concern that your son reportedly died of excessive bleeding, and when one looks at the times as recorded in the statement, between the time that the incident took place when he was shot and the time that he actually got to hospital, can I confirm those times, because it looks an unusually big gap. What time was he shot roughly? --- He was shot at about half past 12. Then he went to the hospital at approximately one - approximately one.
So he was not shot in the morning? --- No, he wasn't shot in the morning. He was shot during the day.
Thank you, Mr Chairman, I was concerned because according to the statement he is reported to have been
shot in the morning, and only to be admitted at half past one. Thank you.
DR MGOJO: Chairperson, some of the questions have been articulated by Brother Mdu Dlamini, but I just want to check whether maybe it's my hearing which was wrong. Paulina mentioned one of the witnesses as Mzimbi Moloi. Is there any person like that, or maybe I didn't understand what ... (inaudible) --- Yes, that is true, it is Mzimbi Moloi.
Is there any reason why in your statement you didn't write him as a witness, because in your document here you wrote as a witness Fosewa Mputhi? --- I do not know of any Fosewa Mputhi. I know Mzimbi Moloi. On the 13th when the Truth Commission was in Heilbron Mputhi was there.
(Inaudible) ... correct this document so that we put the right witness. Thank you.
MRS GCABASHE: Mrs Butsibo, according to your statement you talked about Mr Mapena. How is Mr Mapena involved in here? --- Mr Mapena was a Comrade. He is the one who was helping us to run up and down, go to the police stations to try and find out what happened.
MR LYSTER: Either of the two witnesses could answer this one. You said that at that time there was shooting, the soldiers were shooting in the townships. Do you know what was going on at the time in the township? Why were there soldiers there and why were they shooting at people? --- At that time there wasn't much. It was just the Sasol
students. Now all the Comrades were trying to sort out
their matters, their organisation's matters. They had been arrested. Now we don't know who called the Casspir from Harrismith. They just came and shot, but there wasn't any altercation. There was absolutely nothing that - the policeman said they were stoning his house, but that's unbelievable because it was just a quiet march. Our children were killed by the Heilbron police. That soldier made a mistake of taking him around the location. That's how he lost blood or bled excessively.
You think that he was shot, and then he was put in the Hippo and they travelled around with him while he was still alive in the Hippo for some time, and only after some time they took him to the hospital. --- Yes, that's what I said exactly.
And you said that when you examined his body, when you identified his body, it was evident that it had been rolling around in the Hippo because it was very, very dirty. Is that correct? --- Yes, I said that.
Now, this policeman, Shidiso Hlongwane, do you know where he is? Or is he a soldier or a policeman? A policeman. --- It's a policeman. I don't know where he disappeared, because he is no long working in Heilbron. I don't see him any more.
And was it Busisiwe Moloi who told you that the name of the policeman who shot these two boys, your sons, was Hlongwane? --- Yes, she is the one who told us, as well as Feddington saw him.
(Inaudible) ... Busisiwe Moloi the same person as Mzimbi Moloi, or are they two different people? --- No, they are different. It's two separate persons.
And the death certificate, what does that read as
the cause of death? There's no death certificate, is there? --- No, the Magistrate told me by word of mouth. I didn't get any death certificate.
Thank you very much.
MR BORAIN: It's not easy to find words after listening to the story. It's tragic when a young man is killed, and possibly even more tragic when it's a 14-year-old boy who probably was just shot in the crossfire in a time of conflict. We heard that you would like some tombstones to be put to commemorate the deaths of your sons, and perhaps even a creche in memory of perhaps your son, and other young people who were killed. We will certainly take that message to the right people and see what we can do. Nothing can bring your sons back, but we are grateful that we are now living in a time where it is less likely that this will happen again, and one of the reasons why we have this Truth and Reconciliation Commission is to remind all of us of the heavy, heavy cost and the heavy price that we have had to pay, and to remind us that we must work together so that it never happens again.
I hope that just by virtue that you are sitting together, that you are mothers united in a common loss, that this will be of some strength to you, and that so many other mothers and so many other families together will help to build a new South Africa, so that young boys and young men will never die in vain again.
Thank you very much indeed for coming.
MR BORAIN: Good afternoon, Mr Marais. You can hear me all right?
MR MARAIS: Yes, I can hear you.
MR BORAIN: Tell me, who is the lady who is sitting with you?
MR MARAIS: This is my mother.
MR BORAIN: We are very, very glad to welcome you also, very glad to see you. Now, you've have a very long wait, and it's long in the afternoon, and you are the last witness, but your story is as important as everybody else's, and you're going to tell us about what happened to you. Not about someone else, but about what happened to you, particularly at the time when you were detained and also tortured. But before you do so I'd be grateful if you, Mr Marais, would please stand for the oath.
EZEKIEL MATSIDISO MARAIS (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Thank you very much. Will you be seated please. My colleague, Mrs Gcabashe, is going to lead you and assist you in the telling of your own story, and I am going to hand over to her now. Thank you.
MRS GCABASHE: I greet you, Matsidiso. Mr Chairperson has already said that you've been waiting since this morning to appear before the Commission. I want to thank you for the patience. I want to thank you for waiting to come and appear here so that we can all know the truth of what happened to you. Is your mother going to help you as you relate your story? --- Yes, I am going to say a few words, and she will also add something.
Is it fine if I call you Matsidiso? Tell us briefly where do you stay, where do you come from, who is your
family? --- I stay in Bathu location, a section called Four and Six, but I use the Rockland address where I am staying. I live in a shack close to Mangawung School, but I actually come from Rockland.
You said ... (incomplete) --- My home is in Rockland,
There is something - you've just said now you live in Mangawung. Can you please elaborate? --- I erected a shack close to the school in a ground. Yes, I have two places where I stay, but it's two years now that I have been staying at Four and Six.
You are here to tell us about the torture at the Fountain Security Branch. --- Yes, that's right.
I have a question that I would like to ask you. You said you joined the ANC in 1976. --- It was around 1977 when I joined.
What happened then in 1980? --- In 1980 I was arrested. It was '79 when I remember well. The schools were closing on that day. I wanted to say we were closing the shops down because we wanted to mourn for the June 16 day. The police arrested us. We've already closed down all the shops around Mangawung. I think it was the last shop that we were supposed to go to, and the owner of that shop called the police. Very close to the hostel the police came and they arrested us. They asked us what have we done to the shop owners, why do we tell people to close down their shops? I intimidated that gentleman. I said, "What have we said to you?" He said, "You told me to close down our shops." They took us to Fountain Security Branch, and on our way a black policemen slapped one of the people who were arrested, and he used his elbow to
press him against the seat. He left him and then he looked at me. He also slapped me. I just looked at him. We were now getting into the town. He was now talking nicely to us, and he asked us what do we want to be in the future. And then I can't remember what answer did we give him. When we arrived at Fountain Security Branch we parked on the other side, and the other side was Fountain Security Branch. This hefty man was holding me and I was just on my tiptoes. When we got into the building Hendrik Prinsloo came in, and he said to me he thinks he knows me. And he quickly grabbed one of the Comrades, or one of the people who was in our company, he started assaulting him. He hit him against the wall. He even used his fists.
Matsidiso, I want to take you back. You said the Amabutho attacked you. Can you please tell us who do you refer to when you say Amabutho? --- The first time when the Amabutho attacked me it was in 1986. I was from the ANC training.
Who are these Amabutho? --- These were the police under the leadership of Mayor Matobisa.
Thank you. You say you've been in gaol for six months. --- No, I was arrested because - can you please repeat that question. No, the ANC Comrades arrested me. He was an MK member.
You said to us you were injured. Did you go to the doctor? Did you go to the doctor because you were injured? --- Are you referring to the attacks by the Amabutho? Yes, I went to Philonomi Hospital. I only woke up at Philonomi Hospital. I don't know who took me to the hospital. These people who assaulted me, they did all
this at ... (inaudible) ... they had a police dog with
Can I please take you back once more. Do you know the name of the doctor who examined you? --- No, I don't know the doctor's name, but I think the files are still there.
Now, the name of the hospital you went to? --- I went to Philonomi Hospital.
Do you have any record that will tell us that you've been admitted to the s hospital? If we want to know further about your stay in hospital shall we get any document? --- No, I don't have any document with me, but there is information. Even at the hospital I saw the policemen who tortured me, together with Gerrard who used to search my home. I wanted to run away, but another girl took me back to the bed.
Matsidiso, we want to thank you. We have listened to the way in which you were tortured and we feel very sorry. You said to us you even went to the hospital to see the doctor. We will try to find out from the doctor what kind of help can we give you. Are you still under medication? --- No, not at this stage.
Are you employed? --- No, I was expelled in 1980.
Thank you very much, Matsidiso. I will now take everything back to the Chairman. --- I think I didn't mention most of the things that I wanted to say. I was told that some of the things I will come and say before the Commission. The torture that they did to me I didn't talk about. I think the people who tortured me were from the Inkatha, because they were speaking a different language.
Thank you very much. We will try to find out from the hospital what happened.
MR LYSTER: Mr Marais, you said that there were three separate occasions where you were tortured or assaulted. One was in 1979. That was when you were taken to the Fountain Security Branch headquarters. Again in 1980 you were taken to the Fountain Security Branch headquarters, and again in 1991 when you were attacked or assaulted at your home by the Amabutho. Is that correct? --- When the Amabutho assaulted me it was in 1990.
But is it correct that you were taken in 1979 to Fountain Security Branch and you were tortured there, and again in 1980? --- Yes, that's true.
Do you want to just tell us briefly the manner in which they tortured you in 1979? --- How did they torture you? You said that you were taken there with a colleague or a friend of yours, and the policeman slapped you in the car, and then at the Fountain Security Branch it was a policeman by the name of Prinsloo, was it, who started assaulting your friend. Can you tell us what they did to you? --- The first day when they picked me up they tortured me. They had a warrant of arrest at first, and the other one who was interrogating me slapped me. He was busy interrogating me and I didn't pay attention, I was looking outside. When I was still looking outside he slapped me again, and he took out his gun, he pointed it at me. And then I paid full attention. There was one policeman who was passing by, and then he was called in and he was shown this letter. And then I asked this friend of mine from Gauteng what this letter
was all about, because we've been fighting the whites in those years about the system of education that was in place. And it was difficult for me to find out the real reason for me being in the cell. Apparently there is something that I have written in the letter that led to my arrest. Now Gerrard was hitting me on my chest. And the letter further stated that the whites have been oppressing us for quite a long time, and at a later stage they were joined by our brothers now, who were now engaging themselves in the evil deeds of the police. I think those words were very uncomfortable for him. And then he handcuffed me and they also tied my feet, and he made me lie on the sofa, and he used the electric shocks on my ears and he electrocuted me. I think during that time Mrs Mandela was in Brandfort. I couldn't stand for two minutes. I shook, and ultimately I fell. I shifted from the drawers that were close to me until to the next wall. He took out his stick and he continually hit me with this. He was still interrogating me, and I was giving him answers. "There is nothing I know, there is nothing I know." I must say that Sivonelo School had been burnt down, and I didn't know what the school had been burned because I was in Gauteng, and when I came back I was told that the police are looking for me because I took part in the burning of the school. When we arrived here I personally went to Fountain, and this black policeman was attending me. Now, when I was tortured this white policeman got out of the room, and when he got out I felt that my hands were sore. They were as if they were chopped. He came back in. He was angry with me. He used this stick furthermore to hit me, and I told him, "Sir, I
have an operation, I have an appendix operation." When I said that to him I was really giving him the freedom to do whatever he wanted to do. He left me. They put me into the Volkswagen and then I was transferred to Brandfort. I stayed in Brandfort for a week and then he came back. He took me out of the cell and he gave me a cool drink. The cell was situated very close to the charge office. He wanted me to confirm what he heard from other people. I said to him, "I don't want to endorse anything that those people have said. I think we will talk in the court of law." And he said to me, "I know you are scared of talking. I will tell you what to write on the paper." I agreed with what he was saying, and he gave me a pen and I started writing. He took me, together with an interpreter, into the Magistrate's office and I stated my case, and then I told them that there is nothing that I know. I know nothing of what happened. And I told the Magistrate that this person had been torturing me, and he forced me to write this statement. That is why I wrote this. And then we went out with two different statements now. It was a corridor with a door on the side, and he pulled me into this room. He said, "What did you say to the Magistrate?" and I heard him slapping me. It's since then I cannot use my ear. For three years I have been hearing funny sounds with my ear, but after some time it was quite well. There was another policeman who came to me. His name was Hendrik and he was together with the interpreter, and we went into the office and we put on our clothes. When I realised we were in the veld. The tar road was far, and then we were tipped into the veld. They interrogated me. I was fastened to the car. They said to
me, "You don't want to speak the truth. Now go," and they released me. They said, "Go to Botswana." They wanted me to go deep into the veld, but I refused, I said to them, "No, I am not going to do this," because I knew what happened in different places like in Gauteng, and we have been reading in newspapers that a person was on his way to the shop with his girlfriend and then he was shot dead, and then they took the girl with them. So I thought they were going to do the same with me, and I refused, I didn't go into the veld. They said to me, "You are going to die and rot in that veld. It was during those times when Dr Matata Mohlana and them were in the leadership.
(Inaudible) ... can you take us now to 1980. You said that ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 4) ... it said that there was rent boycott in your area, and that you were arrested for that and taken to Fountain, and you were tortured and you got injuries to your neck. Is that correct? --- In 1980 we were busy closing the shops down when we got arrested, and I was taken to Fountain Security Branch. There were four of us. When we arrived in Fountain the other police said he knows me. It was Hendrik. And the others went back. He looked at me and he said, "It's you again." It was the second time now that I had been arrested. And he was pulling me with my pairs of trousers in his office. He was slippering (sic) me on the floor. When we got into his office he trampled on me as much as he could. I was rolling on the floor. He continually trampled on me, and he said, "I am going to kill you." And he said to me, "You are a kaffir," and I said to them, "What do you want?" He asked me what is it that we wanted, and I told him about the education that
was in poor conditions, and I told him that we didn't find anything wrong with closing down the shops. And he continually told me that I was a bad kaffir. He had already trampled me enough on my neck. He was hefty, he was well built, and I was a young and upcoming youngster, and my neck had been giving me trouble since that day until now.
(Inaudible) ... you were assaulted at your house by the Amabutho in 1991. Is that correct? --- 1991?
1991 you said ... (inaudible) --- Yes, I think it was in 1990. I didn't mention the ANC trial. It was in 1985. But I think I indicated that in my statement.
(Inaudible) ... you mentioned that in your statement. If you can just finally tell us about how you were assaulted by the Amabutho, and then we'll ask your mother if she has anything that she wishes to say or to confirm. In 1990 or 1991 you were beaten, you said, by the Amabutho, is that correct? --- No, I didn't mention anything about the ANC. I was poisoned, I even went to the doctor, and my ankles were swollen. They were supposed to interrogate me, but when we were on our way they discovered that I couldn't walk, and they asked me, "Why are you walking so slowly?" I told them that my legs were swollen. I didn't want to tell him what happened because I knew that I was going to revenge at one stage, and they took me to a doctor called Dr Oosthuizen. I tried to tell this doctor everything, but he didn't want to listen to me. The policemen also encouraged me to tell the doctor what happened. They were begging me to eat, and the Fountain Police wanted to know why was I not eating, and I would only keep quiet and ignore them. I
didn't realise that they were poisoning me. At night when I am asleep I would feel my head going round. I would as if there is a person trampling on me. At times I would even feel like, you know, a train is just driving on my body. And I was told that the food that I ate affected me. They took me to the doctor then, and the doctor gave me an ointment and some few tablets. They did not give me tablets. I went to Burke Road Police Station, and that's where they gave me the tablets. I didn't trust this policeman any more when he called me. You know, I was suspicious, and I thought he was going to tell me something funny and I didn't give heed to what he was saying. I took the tablets and I swallowed them. I pretended as if I swallowed them, but I put them under my tongue. And then I showed them to one of my friends. I said, "Look, here are their tablets. I am not going to drink them," and truly that was the end of it.
(Inaudible) ... about all those things, and we have got all that information in your statement, which you've now confirmed. Thank you very much for sharing all these terrible things with us. This is something that's been happening to you since 1979, it's over 15 years, and we understand the pain and suffering that you have experienced. Is there anything that your mother would like to - just to confirm now? She is on the stage with you. Is there - she hasn't made a statement, and we don't normally allow people to give evidence unless they have made a statement, but if there is something important and brief that she would like to say ... do you want to say that? She will have to be sworn in first.
MR BORAIN: Could I ask you, Mrs Marais, do you want to
add anything at all? Do you wish to add anything?
MRS MARAIS: I just wanted to indicate that the condition you see him in ... (intervention)
MR BORAIN: ... interrupt you, but I cannot hear you unless you have taken an oath, so would you please stand to take the oath.
MRS MARAIS (Sworn, States)
MR BORAIN: Mrs Marais, we have heard at some length from you son, and if there is something new that you have to say please tell us now. --- I just want to say that I was very hurt, because when my son was released from the cells he wasn't himself any more. I was so hurt. Why did they take his penis and electrocuted him? He was a man and they had to do that. Why did they do that with him? As you see him now he is not the child I gave birth to. I cannot understand him any more. He doesn't understand whether he is living or he is dead. And the police did this to him because they continually picked him up at home, and they would torture him, they would assault him. They have really destroyed the life of my child. He can hardly do anything. He stays with the chickens and the doves and pigeons in the house. My house is so dirty. He doesn't want to live with people. He prefers to live with these birds that I have mentioned. That is why he doesn't stay with us. I thank you. There is nothing more that I would say to you.
Thank you for that. I just have to ask you one question. Your son, is he receiving any medical treatment at all at the moment, either at a clinic or at a hospital or from a doctor? --- No, he refused to go to the
doctors because he doesn't want any white person. He goes to the hospital. The day he feels he has to go to the hospital he just goes.
I can understand that having suffered as much as he has, and having these dreadful experiences, that he would be very suspicious of anybody, of any person, and perhaps that's why he finds it difficult, and we may be able to see what we can do, to talk to the local medical people to find out if we can offer some help.
Now, I want to thank Ezekiel, and thank you as his mother, for coming. So much of what has happened has destroyed so much in our country, and it's particularly tragic when we see young people who have been so badly damaged. We will do everything we can. We have listened very carefully to those experiences, and in particular we will discuss the situation with the medical people here in Bloemfontein and see what help we can do. Thank you again very much indeed for coming. God be with you. --- Thank you very much, Sir.