TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION HEARING
ON WEDNESDAY, 25 JUNE 1997
[VOLUME 2 : PAGES 1 - 80]
PROCEEDINGS RESUMED ON 1997/06/25
CHAIRPERSON MAKES ANNOUNCEMENTS RE INTERPRETATION
CHAIRPERSON: We would like now to call our first witness, Miriam Katazile Tele, to come up the stage. (Pause) Good morning again.
MS TELE: Yes, good morning.
CHAIRPERSON: Before we start you will need to take an oath, and Mr Lax here, the advocate, will help you to take that oath.
MIRIAM KATAZILE TELE and RAMAGOLOI JOHANNES TELE (Sworn, State)
MR LAX: I will be helping you through your evidence this morning. Now, Mrs Tele, you were born in 1926, is that right? --- That's true.
Before we proceed to the tragic events that you're going to tell us about, if you can just give us a small picture of your family so we can get a sense of the whole family. --- We are presently six, three boys and three girls.
Are you all self-supporting now and no longer dependent on our parents? --- No longer dependent on our parents.
Thank you. Your father, is he still alive? --- Late.
He is late. Thank you. And if we just reflect for a moment on your late brother, Harry Bipapang Tele, did he have any children? --- He had two adopted, one girl and one boy.
Sorry, if you could just speak up a little bit. I
can't hear you clearly. --- He had two adopted
Two adopted children. And? --- One boy, one girl.
Who cares for those children now? --- Technically no one is supporting them, but all of them are of age.
They are of age already? --- That's right.
Have they finished schooling? --- Not yet. Due to the death of my brother they had to leave school.
And where do they live? --- We don't have now a good contact with them. I understand they are in Welkom.
They are living in Welkom. --- That's right, but I don't know where.
Okay. Do you think it might be possible to try and contact them in some way, so that if it was necessary to assist them the Commission could do that? --- We might, but it's going to be a bit difficult, but I will try.
Thank you. Just for the record, what would their ages be approximately? --- I think the older one should be round about 30-something. Both of them.
Both of them in their thirties? --- In their thirties.
Okay, thank you. Mrs Tele, I can see that you're a little bit distressed. --- Yes.
Are you able to tell us the story? --- Since the death of my brother she is now an epileptic, and she ... (inaudible) ... she has got to go every month to see a doctor otherwise her death can come.
Okay. Sorry, I take it you're Mr Tele, one of her
sons. Could I just have your full names for the record please? --- Ramagoloi Johannes Tele.
Mr Tele, your mother made a statement to the Commission. --- Yes, that's correct.
And I am sure you're familiar with the contents of that statement. --- That is correct.
It might help us if you testified then on her behalf. --- Pardon?
I say would you be willing to testify on her behalf? --- Yes, I do have a full record of events.
Okay. If you could then turn to these events from - that took place in September 1980. --- That is correct.
And just tell us what happened please. --- It was during about mid-September. I can't remember the date very well exactly, but it should be round about 14 or so, when there was a gathering, a political gathering of Dikwankwetla.
The Dikwankwetla Party. --- That's right. My brother and myself were present at that gathering, and ... (intervention)
If you could just speak up a little bit. --- Okay, correct.
There's it. That's better. --- All right, thanks. It was round about September, mid-September, and I was present in that political gathering.
And your brother was also present. --- Present, that's right.
Were you both supporters of the Dikwankwetla Party? --- Well, I actually was a businessman by then, and I didn't want to take any position in that.
So why did you attend? --- Well, I just attended it for interest's sake, that's all.
And your brother? --- My brother - I don't know why he attended there, but he was there also.
Please tell us what happened. --- During the course of the proceedings, I mean the meeting, mention was made of Pharoah, that - it was mentioned by the leader of the party by then that the people of ... (inaudible) ... must take out or remove Pharoah out of ... (inaudible)
What is Pharoah? --- Well, Pharoah - by the time when he mentioned Pharoah people pointed at my brother.
Was your brother known by that name? --- No. It was the first time that I had actually - he himself was wondering what's happened, because people pointed at him. And actually when he said Pharoah he actually is Pharoah, because his authority was not to support Dikwankwetla.
Does Pharoah mean anything, or does it ... (incomplete) --- Well, Pharoah I know in the bible, but ... (incomplete)
Oh, Pharoah? --- That's right.
Okay, sorry, I just wasn't following the pronunciation. --- Okay. So, what happened was the people pointed that my brother wasn't a supporter of the party and therefore he was actually Pharoah. Then after the meeting the people went to his shop and stoned it.
They stoned the shop? --- They stoned the shop, yes. Then - so from there I heard so many stories that my brother is actually poisoning the bread, the people should not buy from his shop. They said that he at one stage took poison in the drums and poured that poison in the dam, a dam where - how can I say - where ... (incomplete)
The water supplies came from? --- The water supply, that's right. That's right. So, the intention was to kill the whole of the people in ... (inaudible) ... which was not actually true, but ... (incomplete)
Were these just malicious stories? --- Malicious stories, that's right. So they even said that there are some children that have died in the location who ate the bread from Tele's Supermarket.
Now ... (intervention) --- So, two months after that my brother was shot, and ... (intervention)
Now, just before we turn to your brother's actual death, they stoned the shop. --- Yes.
Your mother says in her statement that they actually burnt it down after looting it, removing all the goods. --- No, that was my shop actually.
Was that your shop? --- That's right. But it was not on the same day.
Okay. --- But it was in the same year.
So you were both shopkeepers, your brother and you. --- That's right. That's correct.
What was the damage to his shop in monetary terms? Do you have any idea? --- My brother's shop? Are you referring to my brother's shop?
Your brother's shop, then I'll come to your shop. --- Okay. Well, by then it was heavily damaged. The windows, it's got very big windows, and those windows were smashed by the stones, and - I can't actually tell you how much the cost was.
Was it in thousands, or tens of thousands? --- In tens of thousands.
And your shop? --- My shop was looted. I
actually had two of them, one in the B section and one in the D section.
Were they both damaged? --- Ja, but now I think you must now I am here - I am not talking - I shall not be talking of the same residents or the same date.
Look, we understand that, but - we don't necessarily have a statement from you, so it is quite interesting to add the background. --- Okay, Sir. My shop was - actually it was still the course of in the morning, and ... (intervention)
What month was that? --- In July. And everything was removed by the community, the people in the location. They took everything - everything. And in D section they took everything and even burned down the shop.
What sort of financial loss did you suffer as a result of that? --- I can say round about over R200 000,00.
Thank you. Now ... (intervention) --- I virtually had nothing after that.
Just as a matter of interest, are you still involved in business activities? --- Oh well, yes.
Have you rebuilt yourself at all? --- From then on I have relied on ... (inaudible) ... that's all, so I always have to beg in order to have something.
Let's turn to your brother's story now. That was in the 22nd of November 1980. --- 22nd November 1980. November, I think it's when he was shot.
Yes. --- Yes. And he died on the 27th.
That's right. Do you know what happened and how he was shot? --- It was in the evening at about between
eight and seven.
Right. --- I was in my shop when I got the message that my brother was shot. Then I run to there. When I got there he was nowhere to be found in the shop, and then they told me he ran around the shop. Then I tried to trace him. I found him along the road. He had collapsed there. And then I made all the means to phone the what-do-you-call - the ambulance, and when it arrived now we took him to the ... (inaudible) ... hospital, where he was transferred to ... (inaudible) ... in Bloemfontein.
And he ... (intervention) --- He was by then ... ... (inaudible) ... coma. He was ... (inaudible) ... because I used to ask - I asked him whether can he hear me, and then he answered me in a very, very low voice.
Did you ever ascertain from him whether he - was he ever able to tell you who shot him? --- I tried, but his voice failed.
What your mother told us, just for the record, is that two men arrived at the shop. --- Could you please repeat that.
What your mother told us was that two men arrived at the shop. They said they wanted to speak to your brother in private, so he took them to the back of the shop, into a storeroom. --- Well, I've got no background about that.
Yes, I'm just telling you for the record so you know that that's more or less what happened. --- No, actually what happened, what I actually learned from the workers, employees, they said people arrived there - I don't know how many were they - then they talked to him, but I can't remember what did they say. Then they shot
How has this shooting - I mean it's obvious how it's affected your mother, you've told us that already, but has it affected any of the other family members directly in any way? --- Tremendously, yes. From there - we loved him very much. He was in fact our inspiration. We ... (inaudible) ... him very much, and after that most of us changed. My brothers they are alcoholics right now. Their lives have changed.
So they've taken it very badly. --- Yes.
Was your brother involved in political activity? Was he a member of any political organisation? --- All I can say is yes, he did - when he was in Thaba Nchu he was in politics. He actually had something to do with the same Dikwankwetla.
The Dikwankwetla as well? --- That's right, but now when he came here in ... (inaudible) ... he just told me he's no longer interested in politics, he wants to work.
So he wasn't an active supporter of, for example, the UDF or the ANC or some other party that was opposed to the Dikwankwetla Party? --- I have got no record of that. I actually don't know.
But in essence he was a Dikwankwetla supporter that stopped supporting them. --- In fact I shouldn't say he was actually supporting Dikwankwetla. All what I say is in Thaba Nchu he was at loggerheads with the Bophutatswana Government because of the Kromdraai children(?).
The Kromdraai children? --- Yes.
What is that? If you will just elaborate a bit.
--- They were the people who were regarded as the squatters in Thaba Nchu.
Were they in a - were those - was that community at odds with the Bophutatswana Government? --- Yes. They actually were not wanted by the Bophutatswana.
And your brother supported them in some way? --- Our brother supported them because they were not allowed to be given the credit, they were not allowed to be given water, so they used to come to his shop and draw some water, and they used - he used to give them some credit and all those things. And that was not acceptable by the then government of Bophutatswana.
Who pointed - you said the leader of that meeting called your brother Pharoah and pointed towards him. --- Not actually he, but when he was saying he was a Pharoah people who were sitting there they pointed at my brother and said, "He is that person who is Pharoah."
All right. Who was that person leading the meeting? --- It was the leader of the Dikwankwetla, Mr Tsike Bope.
Thank you very much. I just want to see if Dr Magwaza has any questions she'd like to add. Just one last question. Was your brother married at all? --- Yes, he was married.
And his wife, where is she? --- His wife - I can say she's a virtual beggar in Thaba Nchu as she has no work to do and she just ... (incomplete)
Did she move back to Thaba Nchu? --- Because she said she is now afraid of living in ... (inaudible)
CHAIRPERSON: I have no specific questions to ask, but I would just like to conclude by making a few comments, that it really saddened most of us here to be aware how the system managed to divide the communities, how it managed to sow the seeds of mistrust and suspicion which led to the malicious killing of your brother. I think more so - what's even more distressing is to see how the family life was affected by the death of your brother. You do come across as having been a successful family, and then your life changed, and the pain you carry with you. It is very difficult to see and observe what happened to your mother at such a late age in her life, the pain she is suffering, and the life that has changed for her for the worse. I would like to say, directed to you, Mama Tele, that we are aware of the pain you are going through, and you have been carrying it for a very long, long time. I can only hope that the perpetrators, wherever they are, one day they will come to realise how malicious their deed was. That's all we can say, because we cannot even hope to find them wherever they are. But is Mama Tele getting some treatment? That's what you said? --- She does, but the problem - she's always having a problem of funds.
The problem of funds? --- Yes, but though she gets some grants from the Government she's got now.
So she is not going regularly for treatment? --- Well, we try to help her by struggling.
Does she have to pay for the treatment? Is it a private doctor or a hospital? --- It's a private doctor.
Do you have problems in taking her to hospital? --- Well, sometimes she prefers - actually the children
prefers to take her to a private doctor.
I think all we are concerned about is the health of her, and if there was a way we could help, but only in relation to hospital, to get specialised treatment. With that we can help. --- (Inaudible)
Okay. Anyway, thank you very much for having shared with us your experience.
MR LAX: There was just one aspect, sorry, that I forgot to ask about, and that was did you open any cases in relation to the damages to the various shops, and to your brother's death? --- Only to my shop.
Was there ever an inquest into your brother's death? --- The perpetrators were never caught, and the case - the people who were caught they were found not guilty.
Not guilty. Where was that case? --- It was in the Regional Court in - no, no, in Supreme Court in Bloemfontein.
Supreme Court in Bloemfontein? --- That is correct.
Roughly when, if you can give us some idea? --- It was during the course of 1981.
And with regard to your shop, did anything come of that case? --- Because there were so many people, more than - I mean the whole community, some were caught and were found guilty.
Where did that case take place? --- It took place in the Regional Court in Bloemfontein.
Thank you very much. --- The same.
CHAIRPERSON: I greet you, Mr and Mrs Mahloko. Again we welcome you today here, and we thank you for having had courage to come over here to share your experiences with us today. Before we start you will need to take an oath, and Mr Lax will help you to take that oath just now.
PAULUS MAHLOVO and MRS MAHLOVO (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
CHAIRPERSON: I will lead you and assist you when you tell us your story. Sometimes it's not always easy to tell us about the experiences which are sad, and which happened a long time ago and in this type of situation, so I will be there for you. Could you start by telling us something about your family - your children, how old they are, and what they are doing now? --- The eldest one is married. It's a daughter. She has three children. She has her own family. The other one who followed after that one is a son, who has one child. He was a wife and one child. The one who followed that one is the one who has died and is the one who we are going to talk about. He left behind a wife and one child. Then comes the last-born, who is still a student by now. Now my wife - myself and my wife and that student, who is the last one, we are not working. I am a pensioner. My wife doesn't qualify for pension, so she is not working because of the disease she is suffering from. She has that problem, and when she starts working that disease starts. (Inaudible) ... was removed, that's why she has this problem.
Okay, thank you very much. Can you tell me more about your son. You said he had a wife. Where is the wife now? --- His wife was taken by her family after
my son has died in the hands of the police. They have taken her together with the son, the child.
How old is the child? --- I believe he's now 10 years old.
Have you had contact with him lately? --- Unfortunately they have severed the contact with us because our son has since died. In our tradition where he was not yet married in terms of our culture - he didn't pay lobola, so they were not married.
But do you know where we can find the child? We are much more concerned about the child. Do you know where we can find the child? --- Yes, I know where you can find him. You can find him where the mother stays.
At the time when your son died was he working? --- He was a student.
And how old was he at the time? --- He was 21 years old.
Thank you very much. According to the statement which I have here you want to tell us about the story that relates to the death of your son, Samuel, who died in detention. Can you tell us what happened? --- As my son was a student then those years in Botshabelo township he was a youth who was fighting for freedom within the ANC. We, as his parents, we were in the leadership of the Apostolic Faith Mission. My son was harassed by the police all the time. In some instances he would disappear, and when we looked for him after some two days he would tell us that he was from the police, because they detained him, and he would never tell us the reason why. But when we go to the police to ask for reasons the police would say, "Try to discipline your child." It was that
kind of a lifestyle all the time. When the situation worsened in July 1989 we had a night vigil for the tombstones of my mother and my father, which was on the 29th, on Saturday. We have already unveiled those tombstones. A group of police came, though they were in private clothes. Others were outside. Others knocked heavily. As we didn't sleep on a Friday night, on Saturday we came from then unveiling of the tombstones, and Saturday evening we were asleep. When they knocked, and when I opened for them, two policemen - I don't know as to whether they were police or not, but I would say they were police because they introduced themselves as police - they squeezed my hand and said, "Where is your son, Bufi?" The other one light me with a torch on the face so that I should not be able to see him or identify him. And other police were already in the house and were asking where my son was. They took his eldest brother and they said he should point out where his younger brother is. I told them that that person is ill, they must not take him because he's ill. Then they said to me they will now start to kick me. Then they said I am claiming to be sick. They took the elder brother with them and they found where his younger brother was. He disappeared for that day, on a Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday evening they released him. Those kind of things happened, that he was detained and released in many instances, and then in 1990 in December, on the 9th, he told us that he's going to court because he is arrested. We then asked him what is the reason for his arrest. Then he said to us the police alleged that he has raped. He went to court. In court he had a letter from the Botshabelo Hospital. The
medical certificate was showing that he is a person who is suffering from stress. It was just a letter showing his sickness. After that then in court they say those are the tricks from the comrades, they make tricks with medical certificates or letters from the doctor. They will examine themselves in Oranje Hospital to verify as to whether he has that kind of a disease. The rape case they didn't even materialise as to whether he was arrested for rape or as to whether he was arrested for other cases, because there were many cases which were followed up by the police as he was a student, and then as a member of COSAS. Other cases were left off because of there were so many. On the 10th I went to Oranje Hospital to look for him and I didn't found him in that hospital. They informed me that they have never seen such kind of a person in that hospital. When I returned to ask the police about his whereabouts they told me that he has been sent to Oranje Hospital. We waited until the 11th, the 12th and the 13th, and on the 14th, a Saturday, we were not present in our township, we went. We went because of our religious ministry, as we pray for people. They found only the children at home. That's my sister's child and the sister to the deceased, who is with us today. They informed them merely that, "Is this where Samuel is staying?" Then they said yes. "We are coming to inform you that that person has since died. He has hanged himself." Those children were just there and we were not present. The children were crying. I didn't go to the police, I went to the youth organisation, the African National Congress Youth League, to inform them about the incident which has happened to my child. They informed me
to settle because I am disturbed. They themselves would find out what actually happened at Oranje Hospital. When they arrived at the Orange Hospital they found blockades that no person enters there freely, only people who have exceptional cases should go through. They must come inside if they are accompanied by a family member. The following week we went there. When we arrived at Oranje Hospital we found the police waiting for us there. They said if we don't have a special permit to enter we will not be allowed entry, we should go and look for that permit. We asked them as to where should we found that permit. They said we should go and look for it at Verwoerd Building. When we arrived at Verwoerd Building the security there sent us to Swart Building. When we were at Swart Building we were sent back to Verwoerd Building, so we spent the whole day moving from one place to the other, looking where we can get this permit. Around half past three that is then that they were looking for our IDs. They said if we have IDs we can be allowed to enter. It was myself and Mr Motsabi, who is a member of the African National Congress, and Mr Sakalo, who is also a member of the African National Congress, and others who have accompanied us they didn't have IDs with them. We entered inside. We found a doctor who was responsible for - or who is a superintendent for Oranje Hospital. His name is Gouws, Dr Gouws. He asked us as to where do we come from. We said we come from Botshabelo. Then he asked us why people look for permits to enter this hospital. Then he said, "Where is the father?" Then I said, "I am the father. Then he told us it was for the first time he heard that people are requested permits to
enter the hospital. He sent us to the other person. That person sent us back to Dr Gouws again. Then he said he doesn't know anything about the incident, about the special permit. Then Dr Gouws wrote us a letter that we should be allowed to enter the following day. Tomorrow when we went to that hospital we found the police at the gate where security stand. When we produced that letter then they said only the father to the child is allowed to enter, but others are not allowed to enter. Then the following day a certain taxi driver took us to another gate where we would go in, and when we arrived where the corpse was kept the police said to us we should not tell people anything, we should just go there. When we arrived there and asked the nurses the nurses just said, "He has just hanged himself in the toilet." Then we said, "Where?" but they didn't point us where he hanged himself. Because the situation was tense we had to leave then. We were sent to State Mortuary, where we found Sergeant Makiba. When we asked Sergeant Makiba where he has found his corpse he said he has found the body at the Oranje Hospital. Then we asked him where, what does he want here, then he said this is where we should put him because he is in the hands of the police. It may happen that he has hanged himself. We asked Makiba does he have the knowledge of the incident. He said no. Because he told us at times these comrades, if they see that the situation is bad, they hang themselves. Then I requested to see him. They made us to stand outside. They were only able to show us just on the neck, on the head, and then you could see that he had some scars. They only showed him only on the face. Then I told them that I want to see the /whole body
whole body because there is no woman among us. Then they told us that it is not then procedure that we should see the whole body. Then I told them that I want to verify because I have some questions. Then I told them that I am outside and he is inside, how can I see him clearly. Then they said that is not the procedure. They said I should go and look for a doctor and then I should come back with a doctor. We went back to look for a doctor. We came the following day. When we arrived with a doctor the doctor didn't go with us, he just alighted the car and get a different direction. And when he came back when we were in Sergeant Makiba's office then the doctor just informed us that he has seen him, he has hanged himself. Then we questioned the doctor how, because he accompanied us, and he is the one who should accompany us to the corpse so as we should tell him, "This is the person we want you to see." He just said,"He hanged himself," and then said, "There is nothing I can do," then he left. And then we see this thing is disturbing us. Then they said, "If you are still doubtful we will take you to the hall and then we will show you the legs, that you should just come a little bit closer and look closely and see as to whether that's your real son." He was still covered with that white cloth. Then I said to them why don't they uncover the body and be left only with the trouser or the underwear. Then they told me that that is not the procedure. Then Comrade Motsabi and Comrade Sakalo said that because I only see the face and the legs we should just leave everything, we will fight for it later, that I should only sign that he is the one and then I should leave many issues, because we were able to see that they
are afraid of something. Then I signed. Then on the 5th of January then we buried him. Before we buried him we took him to the mortuary. When I went back to see him I was able to see him. He was chopped in front and at the back. I showed the comrades who went with him that this person, how is he cut, these people were removing something? He was cut open, and then he is bleeding. Maybe this person has been shot or something. That was the time when we were preparing for his funeral. Then they said we have no time to go back as we have already signed. That's the thing they were running away from. We buried him. We buried him on the 5th of January 1991. After that they sent me a letter for an inquest in Bloemfontein. I didn't go to Bloemfontein ... (inaudible) ... the notice of the inquest to the offices of the ANC that they have sent me a notice of the inquest. They took that inquest and sent it to the lawyer, Venter, who was working at Cooper & Sons. They sent me a letter that they are going to make investigations first, then they will tell me after the investigations. Since that time they said they are going to make investigations up to now I don't know the reasons behind my son's death.
Thank you very much. Yours is a very long, painful story. Mama Mahlovo, is there anything you want to add which has not been said? --- In all these things which my father has said he has said them well, but the death - even the incidents which happened before, the harassment by the police, made us suffer at all times, because in many instances we find the police already crowding the house with guns that he was sought by the police. One day he was asleep, and all of us were asleep, at night. When
they came they just uncovered everybody, they uncovered the blankets, and they were looking for him. When we asked them why they are looking for him, we were not supposed to ask. They would shout at us and then they would uncover us from the blankets. And they find him where he was asleep. They pushed us and then they took him outside and they will start asking him. Even the elder one, they used to assault him the time when they called ... (inaudible - end of Side A, Tape 2) ... together with his wife. At times we will see the people called ... (inaudible) ... which is the special constables. They will just enter the house and they will not even ask any questions. Even at school he was not free at all because all the time he was sought by the police. He had scars and wounds and bruises all over the body, because at times, you know, he would get swollen on the face. At times he would be able to identify the people who assaulted him, and there was nowhere he would take this case further legally or to court. We had to leave our jobs because of the incidences which happened to our children. He liked education, and the teachers liked him. He was on standard 10 then, but his life was a problem to us, caused problems, because at times they would tell us that if they don't find him we should go and fetch him, because he's a comrade, he's working with Mandela. That's how this has affected us. What happened to him is that when he was detained, when we go to look for him tomorrow he's there at home, and then the police would come and look for him again. This child was with us then. We tried to make the girlfriend continue with her studies, but after the death they took the girlfriend and
together with the child, with not good communications by
the girlfriend's parents. We don't know how our son was killed. Up to this day my husband is badly affected, and thereafter I am not able to do anything.
Thank you very much. I would like to ask a few questions just to clarify some of the things you have just mentioned here. At the time when your son was harassed a number of police visited your house. You also say there were even special constables. Do you know the names of any of these police? Would you identify them? --- I will not be able to identify them because at night when they arrived they will find us asleep. They would kick the doors, they would switch off the lights, they would use the torches. At times they would hide their faces or they would cover their faces. And these special constables, they will just arrive. They would arrived during the day at times. They found me alone at times, and then they would surround the house and others would come inside. I wouldn't be able to identify them, that those you know them they will stand outside or at the back. We had a lot of special constables in Botshabelo, and those I knew would never come nearer to us. Even the police would not come to a point where those we know, they would try to cover their faces, they would come at night in many instances. The last time when they came to look for him they came with a van full of the special constables and the police who didn't have their uniforms on. He was still washing. I only saw the time when he was taken to the van, and they took him with. That was the last time we saw him for the last time. He was washing his clothes then, and then I only saw him when eh
was taken to the van, and that was the last time we saw
(Inaudible) ... would also not have an idea who these police were, or your late son he never mentioned any of these police, in the sense that these people are known? --- The person I can identify with whom we searched for him for two days is the CID called Motogelwa, who has been stationed at Botshabelo, who has detained the deceased, and who has his statement. In many instances when we asked about him he just said he just arrested him and then he handed him over to the police. When you wanted to know the name of the police he would not tell you. He is the only CID called Mr Motogelwa who would give us an information about what happened. I am requesting the Truth Commission that if it is possible you would try to tell - try to investigate about the reasons behind my son's death and inform the family. And then again if the Truth Commission can help us, that maybe if God may help -if God may take me from this world my son's child would be with me, because people are fighting against us and then we are losing our children, though we don't want to lose them. This police who is called Mr Motogelwa, who has arrested my son, is the one which I am requesting that if the Truth Commission may help he may tell us all about what has happened to him. If we hear things from other people he was taken to Bloemfontein already dead. When - the child has been killed in Botshabelo and taken to Bloemfontein dead, but this Mr Motogelwa would - because people said they have seen a corpse of a boy in the van. There are those who saw him dead in Botshabelo, and they took him to Bloemfontein whilst he is already dead.
Mr Motogelwa would know the people who have killed my son.
I understand now that, you know, you do need to know how your son died. I will just have one more question that would help us in the investigation of your son's death. What was the name of the doctor? You remember you said you went to see your son with a doctor, who changed the direction and didn't go with you. What was the name of that doctor? --- It seems it is written - this name is written on the statement. I don't remember.
You don't have the name? Would you have the name somewhere else? --- I think in the files we have. This name is there.
Okay. The lawyer, there was a lawyer who was involved in the inquest, who didn't come to inform you about the result of the inquest. Do you know where that lawyer is now? Where is he from? --- His name is Johannes Venter. He was working at Cooper & Sons.
Do you know the names of the nurses? Remember you went to hospital and the nurses told you that your son had killed himself in the toilet. Do you know those nurses? --- No, I don't know.
Okay. --- They don't just tell you their names, these people, when you arrived to inquire about something. They would ask you, "Why are you looking for names?"
Okay, thanks very much for all you have said with us, and again it is a very sad story of losing a young soldier, a hero. Probably because he was so brave and courageous he could be one of our leaders today, but we lost him. I would like also to say that I wish you have courage to carry through all this, and that you are always there to support you. We'll try to attend to your
requests with the information we have. We'll give it to
the investigation unit and to try to get the whole picture of what happened. --- There are files which came from the Minister of Justice which showed the picture of the deceased. It has two pictures, and the statement from the deceased. The other picture is an old - is from an old person whom we don't know whose picture was that. There are pictures from people who were from the staff of the Oranje Hospital who agree with the police about the statement. I believe those people would be able to tell, because the testimony of all those people don't tally. I have that file with me.
We would appreciate if you can give us copies of some of the information in that file. --- The Commission has that file.
Okay, thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: People who want to make statements today should sit at the back, the last two rows at the back on the left-hand side, so that they can be identified by our statement-takers. Okay, thank you. I will now call upon our next witness, which is Philip Mbuthi Bakamela. (Pause) Thank you very much Mr and Mrs Bakamela. Again we welcome you here today. Before we start you would have to take an oath, and Mr Ilan Lax is going to help you do that.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. Mr Bakamela, is the person accompanying you your wife?
MR BAKAMELA: Yes.
MR LAX: Will she be testifying at all?
MR BAKAMELA: She will help where I forget.
MR LAX: Thank you. What is your name, Mrs Bakamela, just for the record?
MRS BAKAMELA: Dora Bakamela.
PHILIP MBUTHI BAKAMELA and DORA BAKAMELA (Sworn, State) (Through Interpreter)
MR LAX: Before we go into the circumstances that you're here to testify about you will have seen that it's customary for us to get a small picture of your family. We can see that you are married. Are you working, Mr Bakamela? --- For now I am not working. I am receiving a disability grant.
And yourself, Mrs Bakamela? --- I am unemployed.
Thank you. How many children do you have? --- We have no children now because of problems.
Now, can we turn to the circumstances that you're here to testify about. Unfortunately your original
statement we don't have it with us at the moment, so I am going to ask you some questions that may be a bit obvious to you. When did this incident start? --- These incidents of beating started in 1969. It started in 1969.
That's when you were a member of the police, is that correct? --- Initially I was beaten as a member of the SAP, but later I resigned.
When did you join the SAP? --- I joined in 1961.
And by 1969 what rank were you holding? --- I didn't last for a long time because of my personal beliefs and the harassment I received within the police.
You must listen carefully to the question. In 1969 what rank did you hold? Were you a constable, were you a sergeant, what were you? --- In 1969 I've already resigned, I was not a police.
Before you resigned what were you? --- I was just an ordinary policeman, which means a uniformed policeman.
So you were a uniformed constable? --- That's true.
Where were you based at that time? --- I was stationed at Batho Police Station.
And that's in Bloemfontein, isn't it? --- That's true.
Please tell us then how it was that you came to resign from the police? --- I had problems within the police until I resigned.
Can you explain the nature of those problems? --- I will try to shorten my statement. From the beginning as I was - from the police I had problems. In many instances we were taught about certain ideologies, and you were
supposed to use our own discretion when you meet people, but when I was outside I found out that was not possible. You were pressurised to arrest or detain people even if it was not necessary. And then again if you don't do that they will become suspicious. The other reason was that even though they claimed that the police should be independent, and they should not be aligned to a political party's ideologies, I felt pain in one instance when Mrs Maseko, whose son disappeared, who was shot at the head by Mr Madlovo. I was - I didn't want to give false evidence, but I had to give false evidence because I was afraid. Those were some of the reasons which made me to leave the police. And then again I was assaulted at my place because I was staying with a certain gentleman who was called Diedrich Nyama. He was an ANC activist. That created suspicion among the police. Then I became a target. Then I decided that I am no more safe, and if you are a police you are ostracised by the general populace. Then I decided to resign within a period of five years as a policeman. Those were a few of my reasons.
Now, in your - just before we move on to what your statement says, you say you were assaulted after Diedrich Nyama was discovered or arrested. Where did those assaults take place? --- I was renting at 112 Cape Stands. Then we were assaulted for reasons which we didn't understand. And then even if we tried to open cases they would not be taken further.
And who were these people that assaulted you? Were they your fellow police officers? --- Those were my colleagues.
Now, I am not asking them to name them now, because
we haven't given them notice yet, but are you aware of
their names? Do you remember their names? --- Yes, I do remember their names.
Maybe we could get them from you afterwards. --- I will give you a list of those names, even though some of them have since died.
Fine. In your statement you say that you were pressurised to resign, you were forced to resign, and that this forcing was done by some senior police officers. Could you explain that to us please? --- My resignation came in this way. I was not able to move freely, I was always alone within the police force, even if the police station where I was working was a big one. My life was at risk. Then again I was ashamed when I move around in the ranks, bus ranks or taxi ranks. It seems as if the community looked badly at me, and when we were searching people's houses, in other people's houses, you'd find people - people were selling traditional beer. Then I used to pity the, because to tell the truth the conditions in which those people lived were brought by that condition, and those conditions were dehumanising them. Those are a few of the reasons that, rather than to continue with my work in harassing people unfairly, I should leave or resign from the police and share with them and live with them under those conditions.
So ultimately you resigned. You say by 1969 you had resigned. I am sorry, please take your time. (Pause) There's no rush, just take your time. When you're ready we can carry on. --- We can carry on.
Thank you. Now, you said that by 1969 - in approximately 1969 you had resigned. You then moved to
Lesotho. Is that correct? --- That's true.
Now, what happened there? You speak about being harassed by the police even at that time while you were in Lesotho. --- I ask this Commission to forgive me when I am crying. It's not my intention, or to show people who are looking at me, but when I recall these incidents, these incidents which happened to me were painful. But what I would say is that by then to be in Lesotho I had problems there. There was a relationship between the South African Police and Lesotho Police. And then again there were technicians like Mr van der Walt, who were sent to Lesotho to help the Leabua Jonathan's administration or government. Although I was a South African citizen I was forced to go back to Ladybrand to renew my passport, because previously I was detained, and the circumstances not known to me that I was arrested because I was alleged to incite people in Lesotho to overthrow the Leabua Jonathan's government.
(Inaudible) ... separate situation which led to your repatriation to South Africa. You spoke about being visited by Security Branch people - I am not sure whether they were South African Security Branch or Lesotho Security Branch - while you were still living in Lesotho. --- Since I was in Lesotho, mainly when I was arrested in Lesotho, I was detained for a certain period. But before - Sergeant Minogo were able to move freely there, and they knew my whereabouts.
(Inaudible) ... South African Police or Lesotho Police? --- He was a member of the Security Branch in South Africa. I knew him because we were stationed sometimes with him in Batho Police Station.
And what would he do? Would he come to your home and would he want to talk to you, or what exactly happened? --- Even if he was not coming directly to you you'd be able to say that he was surveying your movements, because there was a communication with other people who were members of the Lesotho Security Branch, because their actions were related when they were watching me.
(Inaudible) ... move then to the situation where you were detained. How long were you detained for? --- I was arrested before Christmas. I think it's before Christmas I was arrested. I don't remember whether it was in 1968. I don't remember the question well.
In your statement you said you were detained for approximately two months in Lesotho. This was for being involved in inciting a riot, you said. Tell us a little bit about that. --- I am happy, Sir. When I was arrested for this inciting the riot I was in Lesotho. I was not working, but selling vegetables. I was staying with my first wife. We were renting at Mrs Sina's house at Moyameng. It was during the day. We were at a place called Hamarundi. I was selling then. I was - I think it's a party. I was drinking there at that party, and then in the afternoon I went back home. When I left there I was a little bit drunk. It was in the midnight when I woke up. I was arrested and my wife was not present. That is then I was arrested and put in gaol, and then I spent two months in detention. My wife was moved to the police station and I was not allowed to see her, except once when she was at the charge office. We had a child who was four years old.
Now, how did it then come about that you were then deported to South Africa? --- What happened is that previously I didn't know the laws which governed the movement between two countries, because pass laws were introduced in 1963. I was paying my tax at my uncle in Waterval in Lesotho. I used to pay my tax there. When I was in Lesotho I continued paying my tax there. That is then that when I was arrested. They found that my passport has expired. I was only able to come and renew my passport in Ladybrand. But van der Walt, I showed him in many instances, but I didn't tell him of my problems, and I didn't even show him my tax number. He just thought that it is important for me to be deported back to South Africa, that I was not supposed to be there. I was forced to come back to South Africa.
(Inaudible) ... of some kind? --- That is the Magistrate who was seconded or was working in Lesotho. He was seconded to the Lesotho Government. That is immediately after the independence of Lesotho.
So was he dealing with your case as an illegal immigrant because your passport wasn't correct? --- He is the one who handled my case. And there were two cases which there is. That's one of the incitement for riots, because I was arrested whilst inebriated, and then the second case was the one which showed that my passport has expired. And then he said to me I should return home. Even if I tried to explain to him that I have children in Lesotho, but he said to me I should come back to Lesotho. He didn't even advise me to extend the dates for the passport pending my request which I was just to make, which is my second point.
So this question of the riot, were you involved in any riots, or causing a riot, or was this just arising out of the party? --- This particular incident happened during the day. I was on my way home and Mr Mputlane was a member of the Security Branch, because when I passed through his house whilst I was drunk he formulated a case against me. He was aware that I was drunk and I would not be able to defend myself. I was alone and I have never been part of a group.
Now, you then went to the Ladybrand Police Station when you got to South Africa to renew your passport. Is that right? --- That's true.
And you said that at that stage you were interrogated by the police. --- Yes, I went to Ladybrand. They said to me there is a pass office or a commissioner's office here in Ladybrand. When I arrived at the commissioner's office he didn't welcome me well. He said I should go and meet the detectives first. I went to the detectives. When I arrived there they communicated with me well. They gave me newspapers, they put me aside, then they monitored which pages I was reading on the newspapers. I pretended as if I had interest in the sports pages. So I sat there the whole day. At last at dusk I was told to leave. Then I asked them how - I did explain my situation that my passport has expired, and then again I have children in Lesotho just to leave, and I am here at Ladybrand. Where should I go? I don't have a house in Ladybrand, my family is in Lesotho. There is a certain coloured man. I want to thank that person who has provided me with accommodation in his house. And then the following day I returned. My feelings guided me to go
back to the Security Branch to show them my innocence, and that they should give me permission. On the following day I had problems, because I went to that office. On my departure I was surprised. I was kicked, I was clapped, where even my left ear burst, then all the time I go to the doctor and my ear is full of a pus. I was kicked, then I was assaulted. But what I remember is that the person who was assaulting me - Nompanwe was there, who was one of the police and he is staying at Bloemfontein. He was a member of the Security Branch. I ran to the charge office. There is a section of the Security Branch and the uniformed police station. The person who helped me at the charge office is a certain white person who was dressing in a grey suit. He just said to them, "This person looks innocent," because this CID was always following me. But this policeman said, "This person looks innocent. It might be possible that he is telling the truth that he is legally married and he has children." That is then that they said to me that I should go to the commissioner's office. Then they prepared papers for me, they took me to the bridge at the border gate. But my ear was not well ... (inaudible - end of Side B, Tape 1, beginning of Side A, Tape 3) ... period of 1971.
When did you finally come back to South Africa? --- I returned to South Africa in 1970. I think I returned on the fifth month, which is May. I ran from Lesotho because I could see that I will die in Lesotho because I was beaten badly, and I slept in hospital for some time. They treated me for septic abrasions. I was beaten for days. We were beaten at the charge office. We were beaten in turns. There was a high fence. We were
guarded with guns. But on Friday when they were drunk I remember Mr Bali, who was born in 1912. It was heartbreaking that even though we were detainees, when we look at Mr Bali you instinctively will try to make him conscious. So those are the things which happened. Many people survived, but others died there, because others were squeezed with pliers on their manhood. That's the kind of experience I went through.
Was that a detention centre? --- I was staying at Lesuku, Mogalieshoek(?). We were detained at the charge office. When they declared the state of emergency there they built a high fence around the police station, and people were detained there and were tortured there. Whoever was suspected to have beliefs which ... (intervention)
When did you finally leave that place, and how did that happen? --- My passport is down there, but I think in 1970, I think it's May when I returned home.
Did they just release you, was there a case? --- Are you referring to Lesotho? I was released in Lesotho. In Lesotho they released us because I was septic. They were forced to release me to go to hospital. They said that it was not necessary to be detained, because I think whatever they wanted they have achieved. I was just released freely without any conditions.
Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr Bakamela. I don't have any further questions at this stage. What I would like to ask is that clearly many, many things happened to you, and when you made your original statement you didn't remember all of them. It will be very helpful to us if you could at some stage sit down again and try
and make notes of everything that happened to you so that we get the full picture, and you can supplement your original statement with that. We would appreciate that. I don't mean now. We can worry about that afterwards. I think we're finished for now. Thank you. (Pause) Can we just have some quiet please! Please respect the witness.
CHAIRPERSON: I don't think that - your testimony would not be finished without this conclusion, that to a great extent here we have heard endless accounts of police who have colluded with the system and violated their own people. Yours is a different story. It's a very impressive testimony of a courageous police who stood for fairness and justice against all the threats and intimidation. You are indeed a courageous person. You lost your job, you lost your freedom, you lost your health, all for justice of everybody in this country. With those words I would like to say thank you very much. I wish you all the best. Thank you. --- I also thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: I'll now call upon our next witness, which is Ms Mohatla, Celta Mohatla. (Pause) (Inaudible)
MS MOHATLA: Yes, good morning.
INTERPRETER: The speaker's mike is not on.
MS MOHATLA: I am fine, but I am a sickly person. It's high blood and my leg. I am really sick.
CHAIRPERSON: We can see that, but thank you very much that you managed to come here today. We really appreciate being with you.
MS MOHATLA: Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Before we start you will have to take an oath, and Mr Lax is going to help you do that.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson.
CELTA MOHATLA (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
CHAIRPERSON: Mama Mohatla, could you tell us about your family, your kids, your children, and your husband, if you still have your husband. --- I don't have a husband. My two children are dead. The others are still alive. They are four in number. The other one has the family, and we have the twins in the family, six, and I am the only person.
What do you mean when you say you are the only person? --- I am the one supporting them. They are not working and the twins are still at school, and I am here on behalf of their mother.
Do you have a family member here in the house with you? --- They accompanied me to hear and they went back home, and he said he will come pick me up later.
Thank you, Mama. We are going to hear a story relating to the shooting of your daughter, as well as the
death of eight other people. --- That is correct,
I will ask you to tell us the story, and I will be there to help you and guide you while you are telling us your story. Can you tell us, Ma'am, what happened to your daughter? --- She was coming from work, and when she passed through Maseru West she was called that there was a party. I was told that when she was on the chair she had a plate in her hand, and she was shot at the forehead and here on the cheek. She was killed with a gun that had a silencer.
I will just guide you by referring to your statement here. You say that your daughter was invited to a party. --- That is correct.
And your daughter went there with eight others. Did she know this coloured man? --- No, I do not know him.
The eight other people who went with her, who were they? --- I do not know them, but some of them were in exile in Lesotho. I do not know them.
You daughter belonged to a political organisation? --- Yes.
What organisation? --- BCP.
Bethlehem Congress Party. --- That is correct.
Did they belong to the same party? --- I really do not know.
(Inaudible) ... remember? --- Some were members of the ANC.
So when they went to this party they were shot, all of them? --- All of them. I was told that the man and his wife were left behind, and they crossed the border to the South Africa and the house was locked. That was after
they accomplished their mission.
So, do you believe that this coloured man and his wife were colluding with the South African Government? --- Yes, that's my belief.
Tell me, Mama, what happened after that? When they were shot by these men what happened thereafter? How did you know they were shot? How did you find them? --- A friend to my daughter who was staying together with her in Maseru came looking for me.
And what did you do? --- I did not do anything. We went to fetch her from the mortuary and we buried her.
Who removed your daughter and the eight others from the house? --- I was told the police removed them.
Do you have an idea of who were those eight other people? --- No, I don't have an idea. I do not know them.
Did you ever speak to any of the police about your daughter's death? --- I have never spoken to them. There was no way to speak to them. We were so scared of them, and they did not take any initiative.
When you found your daughter in the mortuary what injuries did she have? --- She had a bullet wound on the forehead, on the cheek, and on the chest. Three bullet wounds. That was on the head and on the chest.
You had a funeral. Was it just a funeral for her, or was the funeral for the whole group? --- She was buried alone.
Did you ever meet the families of the others, the other eight? --- No.
You said you did not know who are the people who did this to your daughter. What are your suspicions? ---
People were saying the occupant of the house was this coloured man and his wife.
And the people who actually killed your daughter, you still don't know who they were who actually shot your daughter? --- I do not know them even to this day.
Was there any court case? Did you report this to the police station? --- No.
So there was no court case? --- You are correct.
(Inaudible) ... inquest? --- Nothing.
It's a mystery. You also say that you were also victimised. Take your time, Mama. It's a very difficult situation. (Pause) You also say you were victimised at work and you lost your job because of your daughter's death. --- That is correct, M'Lady. I was harassed and I was expelled from work.
Why did they expel you? --- They were saying I am a member of the BCP.
This BCP, is that the same party that your daughter was? --- That is correct.
They also had this other party, the Bophutatswana National Party - Basutoland National Party. You remember that party? --- Yes, I do remember.
(Inaudible) ... all about. --- This was a party belonging to the Chief Leabua Jonathan.
Was it the party that supported the South African Government? --- At that time, yes, you are right.
I would like to go back again to your daughter's death, because without any information it will be most difficult for us to help and investigate this case. Do you know anybody else who can help us with some information other than yourself? --- Mr Moroi is not
present, but I think he will come later to pick me up. He is the person who can provide you with information.
Mr Moroi, is he your relative? --- Yes.
What's your relationship? --- His father and my husband are from the same family, even though the mothers are different.
Anybody else who can help with some information? --- I do not remember of any person.
I will ask my colleagues to ask a few questions.
MR LAX: Sorry, I am just waiting to check something. (Pause) --- You must know that the two children were left behind, the twins. They were very young at that stage.
CHAIRPERSON: Where are the children now, the two children who were twins? --- They are at home.
How old are they? --- They were born in 1976.
(Inaudible) ... 19. --- Yes.
No, 21, they are both 21. --- Yes.
(Inaudible) --- The other one is at school.
And what is he doing? --- The other one is doing standard 10, matric, and the other one completed last year.
(Inaudible) --- The child is just staying, yes.
Can you give me their names? --- The other one is Relebohile and Reitunenzi.
(Inaudible) --- Yes.
Okay, I think I will ... (incomplete)
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. Mrs Mohatla, do you remember whether amongst the people that were killed - you've said that some of them were ANC people. ---
Do you know whether some of them were killed at a different place from that particular house, at another house nearby? --- I do not remember. They were all killed in one house.
In 1985 there was, as far as we know, an attack by South African Police people on some ANC cadres, but also some people who were just Lesotho citizens, and the circumstances you have described to us is similar to the circumstances of that attack. In other words these people were lured to a place to attend a party and then they were shot by South Africans armed with firearms with silencers. You haven't heard anything more in that line from any of the people who have given you information about this situation? --- Yes, I heard such stories.
So it's probably the same incident? --- You are correct.
Just to tell you that that incident forms - evidence about that incident was heard amongst others in the trial of Eugene de Kock, and other people who are relatives of some of those deceased have also given evidence to us. And what we will do is, once all the evidence is collected, maybe try and get you the full picture so you can be clear about what really happened. --- Thank you, Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mama. I think one of the important things that could help you as well is to get full information about how your daughter died. I am sure your heart yearns for that. I will ask one more question. How is your health? You went through such a difficult
time, how is your health now? --- I am a sick person. My nerves trouble me and my heart gets tired, and this child was working for me, she was the breadwinner. Every time I remember her I do not know what to do.
(Inaudible) ... somebody who was supporting you. --- A very important person.
Are you getting a grant? --- No.
(Inaudible) ... get it. --- Lesotho does not provide pensions.
(Inaudible) ... surviving, Mama? --- I am selling traditional beer so that I can gather some few cents for the children to travel to school, and I cook porridge for them.
Do you go to hospital for the treatment for your health? --- Yes.
Thank you very much, Mama Mohatla ... (inaudible) - end of Side A, Tape 3) ... Mama, we are concerned about your situation, we are concerned about your health. We are also concerned about the children. We'll take note of what you are saying and we will forward your name as one of those people who needs urgent assistance. We promise that we will get in touch with you. Okay, thank you very much.
MR LAX: Just one last question please. Was she a Lesotho citizen or a South African citizen at the time? --- She was a Lesotho citizen.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mama. We wish you all the best.
CHAIRPERSON: (Inaudible) ... witness is Mr Likotsi, Johannes Likotsi. (Pause) Good morning, Dada Likotsi. How are you today?
MR LIKOTSI: Good morning. I am fine, except the fact that I was harassed by the police at night, many of them that I do not even know today. They harassed the whole family. I do not know even the time because I have never been to school. Our township was dark in those years because we didn't have any light.
INTERPRETER: The speaker's mike is not on.
CHAIRPERSON: It looks like you have a very important story to tell us, but before we do that we would like you to take an oath. Mr Lax will help you to do that.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. Mr Likotsi, you needn't stand up. I saw that you were having some difficulty walking.
JOHANNES LIKOTSI (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
MR LAX: Mr Likotsi, I will be helping you with your evidence. It's correct that you are 70 years of age? --- Yes, you are correct.
Can you tell us a little bit about your family. Is your wife still with you? --- My family was affected since that day. The woman that was just sitting here is a picture of my wife. She cannot walk. She has to attend doctors every day. She is undergoing treatment at Pelonomi, and I also undergo treatment at Botshabelo Hospital. I took my last table this morning. Now my life was affected since that day. It was at night.
Please just wait a second. I just want to know about your children first and then you can tell us the
story. How many children do you have? --- I have 10 children. Only eight are left behind. Two passed away. Now, on the day of this assault I was with three children at home and the grandchildren. The grandchildren are five in number and they go to school. Some of them are in Bloemfontein, others are in Thaba Nchu and others in Wepener, and the others are around Botshabelo. Some of my grandchildren belong to my son, who is mentally disturbed, and the last-born has a pair of twins, and their father is also mentally disturbed.
Please try not to speak right into the microphone, just keep a little bit of distance. These microphones are very sensitive, they'll pick up your voice nicely. Sorry, you were telling us about your last-born son. --- Yes, he is mentally disturbed. He was born in 1948. He was born in September.
Now, of these children who are still living with you and your wife? --- I am staying with Thomas Likotsi. That is my son. He is now the father in the house because he is working, he is the breadwinner, and he is also taking care of the one I have just said that he is mentally disturbed. The other one is a businessman so he couldn't get a chance to come here. My wife cannot walk. I am not in a position to buy her a wheelchair, and we have to go to doctors all around the country and we are lacking funds for the transport.
Now, can you tell us about the incident that happened? It happened in May '93, is that right? --- Maybe you are right. You know, my problem is I was a shepherd, I cannot write, and I forget all these days, but I still - can I repeat what I just said earlier on about
the harassment? Now, listen very carefully because I am telling you the story now. On that day it was at night of the date you have referred to. A person arrived and he knocked. When I answered the door burst open, and I said, "Who is knocking so terribly?" He answered, he said, "Police," and I said, "What police are knocking on my door in this way?" He forced his way through with many policemen. The door was already down. Three policemen were black and the rest were white, and they referred to us as kaffirs. Many of them were whites. They were together with big dogs, two in number. They said every door of the house should be opened. They pulled clothes from the wardrobes. I said, "When a jackal gets into the sheep it does not do this. Please unpack neatly and pack them back neatly." They did not provide an answer, they pushed us outside. I fell on my shoulder. I asked them, I said, "What do you want?", but they never provided an answer. They pushed us outside. It was terribly cold on that day. The children were woken up. I said to them, "Will you provide me with the money to take these children to the doctor?" They did not answer. I said to them, "Please, the policemen are not supposed to behave in this way." I said, "When a policeman goes to a farm he starts first at the farmer's house. If the farmer doesn't allow them entry they leave. Now, where do you get the permission from to get into my premise, break the doors?" Is this the way you conduct your affairs?" When I looked thoroughly the door was not just kicked, it was even broken down with the gun butts. Even to this day the doors are still broken, that my children took pity on me and in this year March they bought a new door and the new
frame, and we had to get another person to come and fix the door. This was the kind of harassment I went through. At sunrise life began to be easy. They wanted to cut open the wardrobes that were locked, and I said to them, "How dare you cut open these doors?" I said to my children, "Prepare tea. Prepare coffee for these people. They are hungry." I asked them, "Can I offer you beer? Can I offer you drink? Can I offer you boerewors? Are you hungry?" I said, "These people are hungry. I have to provide them with food." I said to them, "You are not policemen, you are just boers." One of them pushed me outside. That is where I fell on my shoulder and injured myself. I was not supposed to speak that way, I admit, but because I was hurt and disturbed on that day I spoke wrong words. I said, "I know you policemen are thieves. You want to take us outside so that you can implicate us. I know you are going to leave behind diamonds and dagga, and you're going to drop them behind and implicate us." I said, "You bloody policeman." That's what I said on that day because I was hurt.
(Inaudible) ... please. --- I ended up saying to them, "Look here, my whole family is standing outside. It is cold. I want you to kill all of us now. I'll be very glad if you'll kill us all." They were - I am sorry I - you know, it's a pity I don't have a stepladder. I will take you to my home to investigate. And I was asking the policemen, "What do you want?" They did not provide an answer. I told them, "I don't have diamonds, I don't have dagga. What do you want?" No answer was given. I said to them, "You want to leave after breaking my doors. When are you going to come back and fix them?" They said,
"APLA, we'll fix them up." I asked them, "What is APLA?" No answer was given. I do not even know what APLA is. I am expecting APLA even to day to come and fix my door. Now, it was just about sunrise. My son, Thomas Mufihli said, "No, go and search in my garage." They said, "Where is the garage?" He said, "Wait, I have to get a key," and he said, "You must be very careful, don't just scratch my car." They searched the garage and they let their dogs search. These were fierce-looking dogs. After searching the garage he said to them, "You are not yet finished. I have got another place where you can search. That is I have a foreign(?) house. Go and search." He said, "I have a supermarket. Go and search it too, because you don't seem to get what you want." And they left with him. Now at sunrise they were still at home. He asked the, "What exactly do you want?" They arrested him for the whole month. His business stood still, there was no income for that month. We were not given any explanation as to what happened. I was asking myself, "What are these policemen doing here?" I was scared of their guns. The three kaffirs were - there were only three kaffirs, just like myself, and the rest were white. They had many vans. The vans were lining the whole street. I do not know how many were they in number. I could not even see the registration numbers.
Mr Likotsi, you've made a reference to APLA. Was your son Thomas connected to APLA or the PAC? --- Yes. Thomas was connected to the PAC.
(Inaudible) ... to PAC activities? --- Yes, he was connected to the PAC.
He was arrested for about a month you said. --- /That is
That is correct.
Was he charged with any offence? Did he appear in court? --- I do not know, but after a month he was arrested again. He was taken back home. They were driving a private car. I do not know whether they attended a court case. You know, an uneducated person is just dull, you cannot follow anything, just like the whites referred to us as dull donkeys. I do not know many things.
He would have told you if he'd been to court though. --- Can I give you an answer on that?
You may. --- I taught these children, but because I provided them with education - the whites used to say we have short hair, and our brains and minds are just that short. Now, these children do not tell us anything. They just go on their own and we just see things happening. They don't provide you with any information.
Now, can you - can you tell us what - you said you fell on your shoulder and you indicated you were injured on your shoulder. What other injuries did you sustain? --- I was not injured anywhere. The other problems are the usual problems, but on that day specifically I fell on my shoulder and I cannot even carry a spade to do gardening. I am undergoing treatment at Botshabelo Clinic.
You see, in your statement you mention ... (intervention) --- And furthermore I am not sick. That is the usual sickness.
In your statement you mentioned that you were injured in your ribs. I am just helping you remember. /--- Are
--- Are your aware that a shoulder is related to the
(Inaudible) ... remember, father. --- Thank you. Now, you said that some of your furniture was damaged in that raid, and that your doors were broken. Approximately how much did these things cost, or what did it cost to repair them? Do you have any idea of that? --- I am taken care of by my children. I do not know what amount did they spend to repair the house. I think Thomas can be in a good position to estimate the cost, but because of his businesses he could not come. My wife is not here today because she cannot work. The jackals went into my house on that night trying to bit us. I know things are expensive. We all know you cannot get a door that costs less than R50,00. Prices have gone up. I don't want to lie. I don't want to commit myself.
We understand that. Chairperson, I think that's all I wanted to cover at this stage. Oh, one last thing. Did you or your son ever make a case against the police? --- We never took any initiative to go and report this matter to the police, because how could we report policemen to policemen? They were going to attack us. That's why I said to them, "Kill us all so that there is no trouble thereafter." It would have been much better to die all of us. It was even going to be easy for the government to bury us. They were going to bury us in just one grave. It would have been much better. If these policemen are around here I'll be happy if one of them comes to the stage of killing me immediately.
(Inaudible) ... thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Baba Likotsi. The story you have been telling us it is sad, like most of the stories which we hear here. The fact that there was lots of humour, some of us laughed, is an indication that despite all that happened to you you didn't lose your spirit, they didn't get into your spirit. It's almost like all the people who tried to get to you they are more like fools today. You suffered losses. Materially you lost some of your possessions, physically your health was affected, and emotionally you are still very upset. We'll take all your concerns, your needs which you have articulated here, and they'll form part of the recommendations which we'll submit to the State President. Thank you very much again. Keep that spirit. --- I thank you. Can please APLA come and fix my broken doors?
MR LAX: Can we just have some order please. Thank you. Okay, if we could just have some quiet please. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: (Inaudible) ... Meshack Mfazwe. Good day, Mr Mfazwe.
MR MFAZWE: Good day.
CHAIRPERSON: We welcome you here.
MR MFAZWE: Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for having come forward to share your story with us. Mr Ilan Lax will help you take an oath just before we start with your story.
MESHACK MFAZWE (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
CHAIRPERSON: Before we get into your story we would like to know more about you and your family. Are you working? --- I am not working. I am not working. All these things happened whilst I was still with my first wife. I have two children and all of them are sons.
Sir, you say you are not working. For how long have you not worked? --- As from 1994.
And now your family, you're saying something about your first wife. --- I was saying all these things happened to me whilst I was still with my first wife.
What's your family like now? --- I married again in 1994. I married my second wife, and she is here with me. We're still expecting a child this year in October. With my first marriage I have two children, sons. The other one is completing 14th year on September and the other one his 11th year in September.
At the time when this happened how old were you? --- In 1986 I was 30 years old.
You are here to tell us about your experience relating to your assault by police at your workplace, as well as your torture in detention. --- That's true.
May I continue? I was tortured in many instances. The first one, before the 29th of September 1986 I was working at Inter State Bus Line. During that time it was known as Jacaranda Bus Service. I was a driver, and again I was the chairperson of the stewards under South African Allied Workers Union. It happened that more than 10 workers were retrenched on the 27th of September. Because I was the leader of the workers we decided to stop working until those retrenched are re-employed. It happened that they were re-employed on the 28th. On the 29th in the morning I took my wife. She was expectant, expecting our second child. I took her to Pelonomi Hospital. I arrived late, around quarter to one. I was supposed that at 1 o'clock I should start working. When I arrived I received message that one of our workers has been detained by the police, and that person was Moses Mhlapo. I called all the workers. Whilst we were still talking about this issue, how can we engage management in this issue, we took a decision that the following day we will meet our employer. What happened at 1 o'clock when I was supposed to start working, when I arrived in the office when I was supposed to sign, they said I am not supposed to sign. My employer said I should not go on duty. I waited until half past three. At 3 o'clock I see three kombis which belong to the South African Police, and they were in private uniform. We were just relaxing as a group. Those police were well armed, and we see that they were fighting. One of the managers appeared, who is Mr Viljoen. He pointed me among all the group. These people didn't say anything to us, they just came to us with guns. That person just pointed me. The workers
wanted to fight that I should not be arrested. To see that these police would shoot I restrained the workers that they should leave these police to arrest me. I was arrested and they took me to the office right inside the depot of Mr van Rensburg. When I entered the office a certain white policeman - his surname was Jacobs. He was accompanied by Mr van Rensburg, who was a policeman. He hit me with an open hand. He pushed me on the table. While I was still looking at the depot manager to intervene he telephoned the head office of IBL. He spoke to Mr Erasmus, who was the director of the company. What they were talking about I don't know, but I was only to catch the last phrase, which said, "Let him be brought here." The police took me. We followed each other. Whilst on the road other cars were taking another direction, but the kombi took us to another direction. This Jacobs asked me which language do I speak. Then I told him that I am speaking Xhosa. Then he said, "You Xhosas, you are the ones who are looking for this land." Then I didn't answer him. When we arrived there one of them alighted and he went inside, and when he returned Jacobs said Mr Erasmus said he doesn't want even to see me, which they should take me. That is where I was taken care of.
(Inaudible) ... the manager? --- He was the managing director. They took me to Park Road Police Station. They took my belt and the shoe laces, then I was put in a cell. I didn't know what was happening. When I entered the cell I found Mhlapo there, being alone. We started to discuss. Then he told me where he was found. Then I told him that they found me at a certain
place. Whilst we were still there they - it was in the evening and we didn't know what was happening, and in the morning the Security Branch picked me up to their headquarters in Fountain Street. When I arrived there they put me there, but they were not talking to us. Around 9 o'clock a certain man whose rank then was the warrant-officer - I just forgot the surname. He holds Mhlapo with his moustache. He said to him, "You, Mfazwe." The other ones reprimanded him and say, "That's not the one." He looked at me and say, "I thought you are a cannibal." Then he went outside. Then Jacobs entered. He picked me up from that cell whilst I was still with Mhlapo, he took me to his office. Whether it was his office or not I don't know. He took me a photo. He made me to stand against the wall and took me a photo or photos, then from there he said to me I should tell him the truth what I am doing at work. Whilst I was still listening to him he said to me I should tell him the truth what the ANC is teaching us to do. During that time I didn't know anything about the ANC, I knew about UDF. I said to him, "You must ask me about UDF, not ANC, because I don't know anything about ANC." That is when he started to beat me. He tied my thumb and tied it with my leg and he installed the electric wires and shocked me, and then I began to be numb on my right side and on my lower part of the left side, because maybe according to him I was not responding the way he liked. He tied my two hands between my legs. He put two chains(?), then put a stick and performed a helicopter method so that I should linger around, and that made me hurt on my shoulders and on my lower limbs. Maybe he felt that I am not feeling
anything. He released me there. He brought a tyre tube which was cut. He was together with a black man then. This black policeman he tied that tube on my nose and my mouth and then tied it so that I should not be able to inhale and exhale. During that time I became - the whole body became numb. From there I don't know what happened. I regained conscious when he hit me with an elbow. I only saw when he hit me with his elbow on my back, then I fell on the ground again. The other one reprimanded him and say I should be left alone. I heard that noise, then I was taken back to where Mhlapo was. A certain black policeman arrived and took me and made me - they took my fingerprints. Then they asked me as to whether do I know where I am going. I was informed that I was arrested under emergency regulations. They took me to Grootvlei Prison, and that is where I was detained. After spending a day at Grootvlei Prison the Jacaranda or IBL management arrived. There were three of them. That's Mr Joubert, Mr Basson and Mr Ferreira. Mr Joubert read me a letter which notified me that they have terminated my employment because I didn't come to court, and again I didn't come to work. What about - I didn't know anything about the case, and that letter explains again that they give me three days to lodge an appeal, and then if I don't lodge an appeal against that expulsion they know that I have forfeited everything. Because of anger I was frustrated, and then they left. After four days that is when I felt pains. My body was beginning to get swollen. I didn't get any medical treatment at all. I tried to meet the doctor in prison. I think on the 16th of that month, that is October, that is when my lawyer arrived. That is
Advocate Dita Galegi(?). We explained to him what happened and the kind of torture, and that I was not allowed to see the doctor, and then again I was not allowed even to have medical treatment. On the 26th of that month, which is October - on the 26th of November Jacobs and others arrived to take me to Pelonomi Hospital. When I arrived there the doctors examined me and then they said I should undergo operation the following day. On the 27th I went back to Pelonomi Hospital. I requested one of the policemen so that I should telephone home so that I should notify my wife. My second child was born on the 1st of November. I didn't even know that I had a baby. I only saw when they arrived with her on the 27th before I underwent an operation. I underwent the operation and returned. I had a problem at the back. I asked the doctor before he made an operation, then he said if they don't see anything then they will notify me later. Then they said they have removed - they removed bad blood, or some lumps in the body. Then they said I should stay in the hospital. They notified me that the Security Branch said I should go back to prison. The doctor arranged for a discharge from hospital to go to prison. For the second time when I arrived in prison - and it's Jacobs who took me back to prison - they gave me extra blankets so that I should sleep comfortably. When I separated with Jacobs on that day he asked me what is my problem, but I said to him, "The problem I have, you are the cause of it." Then I said to him again that that was the end when you beat a black person. After he left me in prison when he entered the road the truck - they collided with a truck. Then this Jacobs was injured. He's now
confined to a wheelchair. Even now he is confined to a wheelchair. That is the first part of what happened to me. I was released the following year on the 1st of April after I completed six months in detention. When I was released I couldn't go back to work. The trade union decided that I should be an organiser of that trade union. The case continued, and the person who was handling that case is Galegi. I was defeated for the appeal to go back to work because the period has expired. He tried to find all the documents at Pelonomi Hospital and then he continued with the case until I was detained again for a second time in 1988, when I was taken back to Grootvlei Prison. I was just taken, there was no question or information. They just say the Minister of Law and Order, who is Adrian Vlok, instructed them that I should be taken back to prison shortly. The unrest had just begun in Botshabelo about the incorporation of Botshabelo to Qwa Qwa homeland, and we as the youth were against that incorporation. Many things happened there in terms of conflicts. Then I was then informed that Adrian Vlok had instructed that I should go back to prison. That's in 1988. I was told Mr Galegi has died. This was very surprising because Galegi was the only person in charge of the comrades. I request the TRC to investigate this issue, because we once tried to talk to his wife but we were not successful. His wife was a Dr Hlongwane. After his funeral there were problems. We didn't have any lawyer to attend to us. On the 28th of December in 1988 we took a decision while in detention. While in detention we took a decision to embark on a hunger strike. We demanded our release. This hunger strike was referred ...
You say "we." Who were the other people? --- Those who I was detained with. Our decision was to start a hunger strike. We were 16 in all. We started on the 24th, and after seven days the comrades requested us to withdraw the hunger strike. I was left on my own. I said no more turning back. In our cells we wrote on the walls, "Release or death." Now, all the comrades having withdrawn themselves - at that time there were already MK comrades who were sentenced. According to the prison law we were not supposed to mix with such people. I was now on the eighth day of my hunger strike, and one of the already-sentenced members of the MK came to me. He came to convince me to withdraw from then hunger strike. I was opposed to his idea. I said to him, "It's so funny that you come here today to convince me." He said to me, "No, I asked permission to come and see you." On the ninth day I was vomiting blood. They then took a decision to take me to Pelonomi Hospital. When I arrived at the hospital the doctors put a pipe in my stomach, checking what was going on, and they informed me to withdraw that action because I had already developed ulcers. I refused, I carried on with the hunger strike. I was alone, all my visits were cancelled, nobody was allowed entry. I remember it was on the 9th, but I just happened to forget the day. It was the 9th of January 1989. The head of the Security Branch, Lieutenant Coetzee, and others arrived with the doctor, and the prison doctor said he was not going to examine me at all, he was not going to attend to me at all. They decided to take me again to Pelonomi. I do not know what were they checking because I was weak.
I felt a needle between my fingers, and after that I was strong, but I did not show them that I was strong, I pretended to be in that position of weakness. And the same evening they gave me a fax that they sent to Mr Vlok requesting my release. On the 17th I was informed that I was going to be released because I had already withdrew from the hunger strike and I started eating. What happened was on the 20th in the morning I was told to pack my belongings and leave. When I arrived in their offices I was given a form to sign. They said I will only be released provided I sign the form, and that was a restriction form, I was restricted. And I refused to sign that form. I totally refused. I said, "You had better take me back to the cell," until the prison manager referred me to the offices of the Security Branch to give me an explanation. I left the prison without signing that document. When I arrived the two comrades who had been released before me - the other one is Carlo Letsabi, he's a selector, and the other one is Comrade Motsabi - they signed that restriction. Now, realising that they had already signed the document I was forced to sign, and this restriction did not allow me any movement. I was allowed to leave my house at 5 o'clock in the morning, and 6 o'clock in the evening I should be back. And between those hours I should have reported to the police station. And every night at 9 o'clock the police came to my house to check on me. I have already mentioned the issue of incorporation of Botshabelo to Qwa Qwa. That was a very terrible time. Dikwankwetla Party had formed a vigilante group called the reserves. These people were using axes and spears. They were attacking the comrades. Now, when
every car went into the yard as they were checking me I did not know whether it was the policemen or their hit squads, because I was arrested in my house. Now, in that same year as the year was progressing MDM, the Mass Democratic Movement, took a decision that all the restricted people countrywide should defy those restrictions. If I am not mistaken it was on the 27th of August in 1989. Everybody who was restricted defied that restriction. Myself and other comrades, like Trevor Manuel, Segayo, except the stalwarts. The stalwarts defied the restrictions and the youth were involved in this action. The MDM, through the SACC, helped them with cars. They provided the men with cars so that they could not be found. On the 37th day of my running away I took a decision to hand myself in. I was at Qwa Qwa, I remember. That was when I met Dikwankwetla, and some of the members of Botshabelo were in Qwa Qwa. I was chased away like a dog until I survived in Bethlehem. When I arrived in Botshabelo everywhere I stopped to get food the police were there, and I had to be on the run again. I went to Smithfield to spend some time there. Because I was already in the run for a long time I decided to give myself in. As all these things were happening my family was affected, because my wife left me, she went to her parents. I went to see them and I gave them the few rands that I had in ... (inaudible - end of Side A, Tape 4) ... at the office where I am working. One issue that contributed to myself giving myself in was that we had permits that we applied for, and I had to apply twice a week, and this permit was issued when they felt it was necessary for them to keep me, and if it wasn't necessary
they would not provide me with a permit. Now, the members of my organisation were aware now that the police are not - they said they are aware that I don't want to work any more, I was not now on the run. That is when I decided to give myself in. The police came in large numbers with the South African Defence Force, and they picked me, they took me to Park Road Police Station. When I arrived there the Park Road Police did not allow me in their premises. I was then taken to Botshabelo. Now, the police in Botshabelo said they will accept me. I appeared before the Court on Monday and I was charged with 41 counts. Now the problem was to find a lawyer for myself. They borrowed me their telephone so that I can inform my office. I did inform the office, and after that they came to me, they said that head office found me a lawyer. When this lawyer arrived he said he was given a mandate to negotiate on my behalf the bail, and the bail was R500,00. The week after the bail day I was supposed to appear before Court. This lawyer was June Oosthuizen. He was working for Webbers. And the lawyer informed me to plead guilty. That was after submitting my statement of being on the run, and the lawyer said I should plead guilty. I refused, but not to June. When I appeared before the Court I was told to plead guilty or not, and the lawyer stood up and said I am guilty. I jumped and I said, "No ways. I am not guilty. You are no more my representative." I told him there and then. Now, the decision taken by the Court was that my bail should be withdrawn because there was a piece of paper saying I did not follow the proper channels of bail. At a certain time the police went to my house to check me and I was not at
home, and that's how the bail was withdrawn. I was taken back to prison, and that was the start of the trial. I spent three months and I did not have any lawyer to represent me so that I could be given bail, until I transport the message with one of the prison warders, Mr Tsokolo. He was in a position to call Ismael Ayob's firm to come and negotiate bail on my behalf. Advocate Hussain was able to negotiate a bail on my behalf and I was given a R1 000,00 bail. Can I carry on?
I would like you to carry on, but if you could start to tell us about the incident in March 1990 when you were detained and accused of shooting children. --- I was actually coming to that issue. I will jump then and go to the incident that took place in 1990. Now, there were two factions in Botshabelo at that time, because in 1989, that was the end of December, a strike began. That was a strike at IBL, and the issue of the incorporation of Botshabelo into Qwa Qwa was also continuing. Because I was still under the restriction conditions, though I was released on bail, but the conditions were still applicable as they were. On that day - if I am not mistaken it was on the 9th of March - I was the offices of IBL on that day. I was going to take part in the expulsion of an employee. I was driving a hired kombi from Avis. I stopped outside the IBL offices because I had an appointment there. Just on my arrival a lady came running to me - I was with my comrade, Zanile Janji - and she said, "Quickly get out of this room. There are people coming to attack you." It is true, when we got into the passage we peeped through the window and the kombi was on fire. And we managed to run to the door, and just when we
got outside this was a group of people attacking us. We ran to our offices and I called Mr Erasmus. I was phoning him to tell him about what happened on his premises, and he said, "Listen here, you're only crying for one kombi, what about my buses who were burned in large numbers?" So I had to go from the office and be back in Botshabelo. Now I used public transport for that reason. When I arrived in Botshabelo time had already gone because the kombi was burning, and a group of young people passed, and they passed at my home, and those said to me, "Comrade, we are in action. Join us." Now, when we went along with the action I stopped them and I said, "Listen here, I want small children to go back," but they were adamant. Then we proceeded. This was called "ndodapandle", in other words, "all men outside." This was happening because there were two enemies within the township, the hit squad from Dikwankwetla, the hit squad from IBL, and the policemen. Now, the ones who were attacking were the IBL hit squads, because when we approached we wanted to go to them, they were already on their way, driven by the policemen. They started shooting at that time, and we ran for cover until we reached my home. It was at about half past six. I think it was now getting dark. When I approached my house I saw a Hippo parking at my gate, and children were assaulted. There were some of the comrades who were guarding me every night because of the attacks that were done on me. When I looked at this situation of these children being assaulted I went to the policemen and I said, "What do you want? This is my property," and some of them were surprised. And their commander, who is Sergeant Modisane, he said he is the one. That was the
beginning of the fight because I was fighting, I didn't want them to take me by force into the Hippo. I fought with these special constables until they defeated me, they threw me into the hippo. They assaulted me from my house. There were some of the children in the Hippo. They were also assaulted. We drove until at the police station. We were taken into a separate room. While waiting Modisane came in. He said, "Where's Mfazwe?"
(Inaudible) ... lots of information. If you could just - sometimes I feel I am losing track. If you could just highlight the important points. --- All right. Okay, I will try to highlight. What happened then, after seeing me he went out, and he came in with the special constables. One of the special constables said, "Where is Mfazwe?" Because the children were so afraid of them they pointed at me. Then the assault started. They assaulted me. My eyes were swollen until I could not see. My face was full of blood. Now, I hit one of them with a fist. He fell and he fainted. They took him out, and after a few minutes I saw a white man - I heard a white man. He asked them, "Where is he?" One of the constables pointed at me, and this white man gave me just one blow and I was shaken. I blew back. He wanted to grab his firearm, but one member of the Special Branch came in and he said, "What do you want from him?" They left. The following day - the station commander of Botshabelo at that time was Mr Tsumela, who is today the deputy commissioner of the police. On the day thereafter the children were arrested because of the information received at the clinic. All those children who were shot were fetched from their homes, and their parents were convinced to lay charges
against me because I mobilised the children to go and burn the buses. Some of the parents refused, except the parents of just one child, and all the parents said, "No, their children were not led into this action." And a day after that I also requested to lay charges. The person who was supposed to carry on with my statement was Sergeant Gayile. He advised me to drop off the charges because by doing so I will not leave the police station. Now, for my life to be safe he was asking me - he did not order me, he was just pleading with me, and I listened to him. I left the police station and I was taken to Bloemfontein Prison. That was after I was taken to court and the Court refused us bail. We were eight in number. I was the accused No 1. We were refused bail. I was taken to Bloemfontein Prison. There was no bail.
(Inaudible) ... you in prison. If you could just tell us how long they kept you in prison in Bloemfontein. --- I spent three months without bail in Bloemfontein. They refused me bail.
What happened after that, if you could tell us shortly? --- When we went to court Molifide Theko from Thaba Nchu, who is a lawyer, asked what was happening, and he negotiated bail on our behalf. We were given a free bail in that case, and the charges were dropped for all the co-accused. I was left behind, and towards the end of that year the case was settled in court. But I was now involved in two case, that is the restriction case and this one. But after I was given bail the rules were still applicable that I should report to the police station. Now, this restriction issue, in 1990 on the 15th of February Mr de Klerk said he was cancelling all the
charges, but mine was not cancelled, it was only cancelled on the 2nd of April in 1990, and I was left behind in this one of shooting the children. And it was cancelled the next year in 1991, that was in January, because the child was now telling the truth that the police forced him to make a statement against me. That was the end of this case. Well, there were many things that happened along the way in that year of 1990. I do not know do you want to listen to them, because it seems to me the Chairlady wants me to stop.
It's not that I want you to stop, I am just having a problem because most of the things are not in the statement here - unless you want to add to the statement some time later on, add in some of the things which you have not reported on. --- The man who was taking the statement, that is the gentleman from Durban, said that in the statement we should briefly give our points, especially about our injuries, and the rest we'll listen to the Commissioners whether should we include them or not. That is why I have a list of these incidents. But that is briefly what happened. And in 1990 I was poisoned, and it's not in my statement, it does not appear in my statement. I was poisoned at Botshabelo Police Station. I was then taken to the doctor. The doctor referred me back. He gave me the medicine, and the next day he informed me that I was poisoned. And I asked him to verify, and he told me that he was not going to risk his profession.
What was the name of that doctor? --- I just forgot his name, but the policeman who was with me on that day can be in a position to give the name of the doctor.
He was Constable Nketso. I think he can also be a witness to this effect, that the doctor mentioned that he doesn't want to affect his profession. He just examined me and gave me medication, and a file was not even opened in my name. I still have a problem with my eyes, and I have developed ulcers. The ulcers developed during the hunger strike, and it was discovered that I have ulcers. I even stole one of the documents at the clinic to show that I am still undergoing treatment. These are the two things that trouble me a lot. I have been assaulted several times. The Mangope people also assaulted me. I never opened a case against the Mangope people because it was a separate government, and I was just happy that they released me. But they released me after heavily assaulting me, and when I arrived at home I did not lay charges against them. Now, this whole thing affected my parents, especially my mother. She passed away in 1993. She was against me being involved in politics. Mr Likotsi has alluded to the fact that we did not inform our parents. It is true, because our parents were members of Dikwankwetla. Now, everything that we were doing they saw it as being done against the government. She was affected, and my first-born was also affected. My marriage was also destroyed because of these problems. Sometimes I am in prison, and my wife turned into an alcoholic. She was now a jealous person, and in 1990 she took a decision that we should separate. I was a single father now, raising the children, and I decided to remarry, and I am happy that I am still a married man and I have a family. That's what makes me happy, although I am not working. I am expecting my child in October. Now, these are the problems that I
have, and I think this has affected me. Because of my involvement I could bear the pain. This is briefly my story. I request the Commission to investigate the IBL issue. It was collaborating with the National Party Government. They were provided with weapons. There was a well-known hit squad, a notorious hit squad, and police could not arrest them. Special people were employed to service in these hit squads. Dikwankwetla also had its own hit squad. The third issue that I would like the Commission to investigate is that Mr Tsumela, the deputy-commissioner, was the station commander at that time. He has a lot of information. Many people died, and the members of their families were forced to bury them without revealing anything. Such issues ended up nowhere. He is now the commissioner of the Free State. He should come out clear. He should tell the truth in all these things. I thank you.
It's a bit tricky because we cannot mention his name here. Okay, I think basically you have mentioned the things that you would like the Commission to do - the investigation of the IBL, and I also think your physical health suffered as a result of all those assaults, and also you are not working. You are not working because you can't find work or because you are not feeling well? --- I am not working because I don't get employed.
Can you tell me what happened to Moses Mhlapo? --- Moses Mhlapo was reinstated in the company, and he individually resigned. He is now owning taxis. But he was also assaulted. That is on the day we were arrested together.
Okay, I will ask my colleague if he has some
MR LAX: I don't really have a question, I just have a comment to make, and that is that you were one of many thousands of people who were detained, and the issue of that hunger strike was a very important issue in breaking emergency, as it was then. I just want to say that if I remember correctly it started Bloemfontein, that hunger strike, and spread to all the other prisons around the country, so the example your people set took a big campaign around the country. I just wanted to make that comment. --- I thank you also. I do not know what happened to Mr Galegi, because his wife did not submit a statement. You know, his death is a mystery. I do not believe that appendix can kill a person. I wish that Mr Galegi's death be investigated.
CHAIRPERSON: You have contacted his wife? --- I had contact, but I think she has moved back to Durban. I do not know her whereabouts in Durban. She went back to Durban. His wife is Dr Hlongwane. She is a medical doctor.
Ja, it will be quite important for us to trace her, but if there is any information you can help us that would be useful. This is quite a very heart-rending type of experience. I don't know how you have survived. Your presentation has been quite long, but it was worth it. I don't know think we would have been able to get a full picture of all the experiences if you have been any shorter in your presentation. And again it's just the courage of young people. I mean you were detained again
and again, tortured endlessly, but you never gave up, and you are here today to give a type of testimony of your courage. I wish that this time could be the time for you to reap the fruits of all the struggle you fought for. Perhaps you shouldn't be sitting here unemployed, you should be beginning to build up your life with your new wife, because all those years are very hard for you. We are going to include all your requests and your needs to our recommendations. As we have said again and again, there is a reparation policy which will be implemented by the Government. It might take a longer time to be implemented, but we are going to submit all your requests and needs as part of those broader recommendations. Thank you very much again. We have lots of respect for you. --- I also thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We welcome you back. Before we start with our afternoon session I would like to introduce you to our Commissioner, and also our Regional Convenor for the TRC Office in KwaZulu-Natal/Free State, Mr Richard Lyster, sitting on my extreme left. He will be here not only for this session, but for tomorrow as well.
I will now like to call our next witness, Fokwane Eunice Mokhothu. (Pause) We greet you, Mrs Mokhothu.
MS MOKHOTHU: Yes, good day. I am fine, and how are you?
CHAIRPERSON: We know you have been waiting for a long time since the morning. Thank you very much for being so patient. Before we start with your story Mr Richard Lyster will help you take an oath.
FOKWANE EUNICE MOKHOTHU (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
MR LYSTER: We welcome you here today, Mrs Mokhothu. As Dr Magwaza said you have waited a long time to give this evidence, and you have also come from a long, long way away. You have come from Bothaville, which we know is a long way from Ladybrand, and we are glad that you have come all this way to tell us a story which is obviously very important to you. You are going to tell us about your son, Elliot Mebotsang Mokhothu, who was arrested and detained in Bothaville in 1985. Now, just before you tell us about that incident can you just give us an idea how many other children do you have, or do you have any other children? --- Yes, M'Lord. I am very sorry that my voice is not well. I have five children. They are all boys. Four of them - or three of them have their own
families, and this other one is just about to get married. Elliot was the last-born. I thank you.
And are you being looked after by your family? Are you being supported? We can see that you're an old lady now. Are you on pension? How do you support yourself? --- I depend on the pension because my husband died, the father to my children.
And your son, Elliot, does he live with you? --- Yes, I am staying with Elliot.
So do you look after him, do you support him? --- That is correct.
Can you just give us an idea of what his age is? Do you remember his date of birth? (Inaudible) ... his date of birth, just give us his age. --- I brought his identity document with me. Can you please check?
Now, this incident, Mrs Mokhothu, when he was arrested and detained, happened in 1985, is that correct? --- That is correct.
(Inaudible) ... idea of what Elliot was doing at that time. --- Elliot was a student at that time. He was at Bothaville Secondary School.
What grade had he reached? What standard had he reached? --- He was doing matric.
And was he progressing well with his work, with his studies? --- Very well. He was progressive.
Now, can you give us some idea of what was happening at that time in Bothaville? What was the situation there that was taking place? What was the political situation, if you can remember that far back? --- The political situation was not normal. In February of 1985 the students at Mopateng High School said the white teachers
should resign because they could not teach other lessons. The headmaster was Mr Meyer, the deputy-headmaster was Norwood. The children in the school started with the unrest. They cut the alarms and they cut the telephone wires, and they stoned the school building because the white teachers refused to leave the school. The vice-headmaster, Mr Norwood, shot a schoolgirl on the leg and the other students took the injured one and sent her to the doctor. The violence was now heavy. The police from Odendaalsrus and the police from Welkom were called in to assist. The children ran for cover. They were all around the township. Some had petrol bombs, burning the police houses. The police, on the other hand, did not just watch, they were retaliating by shooting them with the rubber bullets. Elliot is one of the people who ran to the riverside with others. In February the violence was still high, and on the 25th of March it was in the afternoon and it was alleged that they burnt a bus that was transporting people from town into the township. It was in the afternoon. And I said to Elliot, "Please do not go anywhere. It is alleged that a bus is burning." The sun went down and we went into our houses. In the middle of the night I heard people knocking and I asked, "Who are you?" And they said, "We are the police. Open up," and I opened the door. They came in and they said, "Where is Marumo?" That is Elliot. I said to them, "He is present, but he is asleep." They said, "Where?" I showed them the room where he was sleeping in. I went together with them. I asked them, "What has he done?" They said, "Come, you will hear." When they got into that bedroom where he was sleeping they switched on the light.
He was sleeping just like this. They were many in number, many policemen. They were in their uniforms. They had batons, they had sjamboks, black in colour, and they had their firearms. They pulled off the blanket, they threw it away. I asked them once more, "What has he done?" They said to me, "You'll only hear tomorrow." They said, "Stand up. Get dressed." He just laughed. He stood up and he dressed. I said to them, "Can he please put on his shoes?" and he did put on his shoes. They did not allow him to take even his jacket. They went away with him. They were driving in a Hippo. The next day I went to them, I went to the police station. When I arrived at the police station they said to me, "He is present here, he is in the cells." I said, "Can I please see him?" I never saw him. I went back home. That was after I have given them his food. The next day I went back to the police station. His brother called Michael went to see him at the police station after he knocked off from work. They allowed him to see him. On the third day they took all the detainees, they drove them in a van and they took them to Transvaal, Bouwgroep Prison. And we were told about their court case. We were fetched from our homes and they were taken to court. While they were in the court the detainees said they suspected that Elliot was sick, and his brother said the police must take him to the doctor. I went to see him the next day and I asked whether did they take him to the doctor. They said they did not take him to the doctor. When I called him I met him and he did not have anything to say to me. He didn't even know the reason behind his arrest. The parents of the other detained children went to look for the lawyers from
Johannesburg, and those children spent three months in prison. That is at Bouwgroep. When they came for the trial their legal representatives wanted to see them, and they were allowed to see them. On the day of the trial the lawyers came late. One of the detainees requested the Court to call Johannesburg, and the information was that the lawyers are on their way, and it is true they arrived. And Elliot was together with the rest of the detainees. When the case went to court the last time the lawyers were speaking on their behalf. It was said that they have been discharged. I had an opportunity to meet a prison warder from Bouwgroep Prison, and he said to me, "Mrs Mokhothu, if it was possible you would apply bail on behalf of these children because the conditions in prison are not good at all." And I said to him, "No, we do not have money." It is just a pity because this policeman was involved in an accident and he died. When Elliot was released he was not the Elliot I knew. He was mentally disturbed. He was insane. He was laughing all by himself. He would sit wherever he likes. That is my problem with regard to Elliot. His time for schooling was lost. I have taken him to many doctors. I even took him to Hillbrow Hospital in Johannesburg. When he came back he came back with a letter that we should give him these tablets, and he must carry this card all the time. He is just a human being. I now want to know - this boy of mine could have finished his studies. I do not have anything left. I tried to attend to his health. I even went to the clinic to request money. Every month they give him a disability grant of R430,00. It is not enough to let him survive.
Mrs Mokhothu, when you started off your evidence you
apologised for your voice. In fact you have given your evidence in a very, very detailed, very articulate and a very objective manner, and I want to thank you very much for doing that. You have given us a very clear account of what happened on both sides in Bothaville during those days. There are just a couple of questions I want to ask. What was your son, Elliot, charged with? What was the charge against him? --- They charged him for being a member of the ANC. That's what they said. And they further said that he was present when the riots erupted at the school. He was also involved in the burning of a bus.
Is it correct, did you say that he was acquitted of those charges? --- When the court case was on they said they were innocent, they were not guilty, and now if they were not guilty I have a question. Why did they then arrest them?
Well, I presume that they suspected they were guilty, and then they had to put them through a court case first. Let me just ask a couple of other questions. What have the doctors diagnosed as Elliot's problem? What - do you know, or perhaps we should look at those documents which you showed us a minute ago after we have completed the session. Or do you know off-hand what do the doctors say was the medical diagnosis? --- I do not know, but I suspect he is insane because the Hillbrow authority wrote a letter statement.
Mrs Mokhothu, is he able to communicate with you? Is he able to talk to you in a coherent way sometimes, or are you out of touch with him, are you not able to communicate with him properly? --- At times he communicates with me. Sometimes when I speak to him he
just keeps quiet.
Did he tell you what happened to him during those three months that he spent in detention? Has he been able to tell you that, what happened to him? --- He does not tell me, but those who were with him told me that they were assaulted. So the people that he was accused with, his co-accused who were with him in detention, have they spoken to you? Is that what you are saying? --- That is correct. Even when he was inside they informed us that Elliot seems to be sick. The police, white and black policemen, never came up to tell us that they took him to the doctor, nothing. After having been discharged until this day I am struggling on my own to take him to doctors.
So his friends that he was in detention with told you that Elliot and they had been assaulted in prison, is that right? --- That is correct. We went to court, and when they got out of the police van the police were all around their vans. In their hands one would see their sjamboks, their batons and their guns, beating them up.
Thank you. --- At that time Sterkman was the head of the office. It was Sterkman, and the other one was Hothule, who was a sergeant at that time, and Lenthoro. He was among the policemen who were present.
Mrs Mokhothu, other than - did you say Hillbrow Hospital, what other hospitals did he go to? --- He was also admitted at the Bothaville Hospital. That was at the beginning of this whole incident, and there was no change. I took him to Klerksdorp and he was given just a little tablet. That is when I decided to send him to Hillbrow Hospital. He spent a month at Hillbrow Hospital and he was discharged. They said he was much better.
Until today he is still in that ... (inaudible - end of Side A, Tape 5) ... they have written in the card that he should come back on the 10th. And they gave him those tablets.
Mrs Mokhothu, we will look at the records from those hospitals which you have mentioned, and we will study those records and see what the nature is of his illness or disorder, and see if we can find out whether it was linked to what happened to him in detention. I am going to now pass you back to Dr Magwaza, the Chairman, to see whether there are any other questions which need to be asked.
CHAIRPERSON: My colleague does not have a question. I would like to just ask two more questions, because you are here today because you are concerned about the mental state of your son. Do you take him regularly to the clinic? Is he always having treatment and tablets all the time? --- Please show the lady this card.
I just want to know if you don't have times where you can't take him to the clinic, or when he doesn't have tablets? --- They normally write down the next date of appointment. He goes to the clinic once in a month, and they will give him the date for the next month.
What things can he do? Can he do some work at home, like cleaning, making up his bead, or cleaning the yard? What things can he do? --- He does not do the gardening. He cannot make his bed, but just once - I do not know when what is happening - he will make his bed. But for the rest of the days he just leaves it.
(Inaudible) ... himself? --- Sometimes.
MR LYSTER: Please show respect for the witness. --
When it comes to eating you will put the food on the table, sometimes he will eat, sometimes he just looks at the food and get out of the house and leave. I could have brought him with, but I was afraid that during the sitting he will go out, and where would I go to look for him. He goes away even at home, and unexpectedly he will arrive and sleep. Or he will leave the house and sit all by himself outside. Sometimes he will take the books, trying to read. Reading is something that does not exist.
The condition of your son is serious enough perhaps to have affected your life. Can you tell us how did it change your life? --- My life has changed because this child does not eat properly. He is a useless person. I was even affected by the stroke. That is why you hear my voice shaking like this.
Thank you very much, Mama Mokhothu. I think you are a very brave person, and, as Mr Lyster has stated, irrespective of your difficulties you have been able to give us such a good picture of your son's condition. It must be very painful for any parent to sit helplessly and watch the condition of her child deteriorating. We have with us here people who work in psychiatric hospitals. They are helping here. I would like you to see them afterwards. They will look at the tablets you have there and they will advise you whether there is some other or better type of help that you might need to get for your son. We have also arranged with the Department of Health here in Free State that for all the people who were violated there should be free treatment. Thank you very much again, Mrs Mokhothu.
CHAIRPERSON: This brings us to the end of our hearings today. Some of our witnesses whom we were expecting did not come. We thank you very much for your support. This is a sign, an indication of how united the community is here. Thank you very much again. We will adjourn now and meet tomorrow at 9 o'clock for our last day of hearings. Thank you.
PROCEEDINGS ADJOURNED TO 1997/06/26