TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION HEARING
ON THURSDAY, 26 JUNE 1997
[VOLUME 3 : PAGES 1 - 65]
PROCEEDINGS RESUMED ON 1997/06/26
OPENING SONG AND PRAYER BY REVEREND BOSMAN
CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mrs Sekhopa, we welcome you here today. Can you hear me? Are you hearing me in Sotho through your earphones?
MRS SEKHOPA: I can hear you, Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: You have come today from Rouxville to tell your story, which relates to the burning of your house. Before you tell us that story please can you take the oath. There's no need to stand up. I see that you have difficult in standing.
MATHABISO MARIA SEKHOPA (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Lax now will help you in giving your evidence today.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. Good morning again, Mrs Sekhopa. --- Good morning, Sir.
Thanks once again for coming. Before we talk about the incident you've come here to tell us about can we just get from you a small picture of your family please. Are you married? --- Yes, I am married.
Is your husband still with you? --- Yes.
And how many children do you have? --- We have five children.
What are their ages please? --- The other one was born in 1960, the other one was born in 1966 on the 8th of June.
That's two. --- The other one was born in 1968.
If you don't remember the others it's ... (intervention) --- In September, on the 22nd.
Right. --- The other one was born in 1971, on the 5th of February, and the other one was born in 1981 on the 3rd of February, and the other one was born in 1990 on the 26th of January.
Are the two younger ones still at school? --- Three of them are still at school, Sir.
And the older two? --- They are working for themselves, Sir.
(Inaudible) ... at all, or your husband? --- My husband is working on a farm and I am also working.
Thank you. Let us then turn to the incident in September 1990 in Rouxville. What was happening in the township at that time? --- In 1990 it was in September on the 22nd. It was on Sunday. I was in the house. My husband was working outside. I was staying with my two children. The other two were not inside the house. It was at about half past three. The Mangese family, their shop is next to my house - Alina Matsimela, Senela Mangese and Popo Mangese. When they come they were having stones. They threw stones at my house. They broke all my windows. I was in the kitchen then. I took my children and put them under the table, and then I was looking. They broke, then from there they went to the shop. They came again and threw stones at my house up to half past three. After that they went back. I didn't see where they went. I took my children. I said to my daughter she must go and fetch a blanket for me so that I'll be able to carry the small one. After we went outside the house to my next-door neighbour. I sought accommodation at my neighbour. then I said to my neighbour, "I don't know what is happening. I don't know where I am going to sleep." She
said, "I will give you accommodation up to the following day in the morning. Whilst I was still at her place up to the morning, before then, whilst I was still there, my daughter went outside and then she drank water, then returned and said, "Our house is burning." When I looked through the window I could see that the house was burning. There were some boys whom we were with at my neighbour. While we were outside I heard somebody say, "Here they come." We returned to my neighbour's house. Then I said to those people I was with in the house that they leave my house to burn, otherwise we will be at risk. We were even afraid to go outside. The following day in the morning we went outside. We looked at my house. We saw police surrounding the house. I took my children and went to my parents' house. That is where I stayed.
Mrs Sekhopa, who was - you say that when you went there were a group of boys. What were those boys wanting to do? Were they wanted to help you, or what exactly were they wanting to do? --- They were trying to help me.
(Inaudible) ... out the fire? --- Yes, to put out the fire in the house.
Who threatened them so that they had to go away, or you had to go away? --- We didn't see the person who threatened us. I just only heard a voice when he said, "Here they come." Then we ran back to the house.
You didn't actually see who it was? --- We didn't see who was threatening us.
Now, what were the police doing surrounding your house? --- They were inspecting the house. We left them in my yard and then I went to my parents' home.
Did you speak to the police and complain to them, or
ask them to investigate this? --- We were taken to the police station and then we made a statement, but there was no progress thereafter.
So the police didn't do anything about your case? --- They didn't do anything about my case.
Do you have any idea why that was? --- I have the knowledge why they didn't do anything, because my children were fighting with the ANC and those people were calling themselves Inkatha.
So were your children ANC Youth members? --- Yes, my children were ANC Youth members.
And these people were Inkatha, you say. Who's "these people"? --- The Mangese family.
So, if I understand from what you're saying, there was a conflict between the Inkatha people and the ANC people? --- Yes, that's true, there was a conflict between the two organisations.
What was the root of that conflict? --- On the Saturday when they were burning our houses, on Sunday we were burying ANC people, three ANC people. I think the conflict started there.
How did those people die, the three ANC people? --- I was at a distance. I just learnt that these people were shot by Mr Majola and company.
When you say, "Mr Majola and company," what do you mean? --- It's Mr Machona.
Machona. But what do you mean, him and his company? --- They were shot by Mr Machona, and my children were there, and I didn't know anything because I was staying in the house. I was fine in the house.
So is that when this conflict started, when the
shooting happened? --- After that shooting the conflict started, but it started on Sunday.
What was the shooting all about? Why was this person shooting at young people? What were they doing that he had to shoot them? --- I don't know what was the reason, but there was no unrest and the situation was just normal. I don't know the reason behind his shooting.
Now, you've said that the police didn't do anything because these people were IFP. What do you mean by that? --- It is because we see them doing nothing about our case.
Do you think if you were IFP the police might have done something about the case? --- I believe that if I was an IFP member maybe the police would have done something. Because we were members of the ANC the police didn't do anything about the case.
What was the approximate value that you lost in that fire? I don't expect you to remember the exact details, but just rough figures. --- Are you referring to the value of the lost property?
Of the lost property, the damage to the house. Rough figures. It's impossible to remember everything. --- The house was totally burnt, and the property inside the house was totally burnt, so - the whole building was totally burnt, and the property inside was totally burnt.
(Inaudible) ... property now? --- I tried to renovate but I am now left with the debt for renovating the house.
Sorry, I just couldn't hear the translation. --- I am now working for the credit ... (inaudible) ... the house. Let me just see if the Chairperson has any
questions he may want to ask.
CHAIRPERSON: Just to try and get a picture of what made some people IFP and what made other people not IFP, or ANC. --- I don't know the reasons behind that others should be members of the IFP, others members of the ANC.
What we're trying to understand, was there any connection that maybe they were Zulu-speaking people as opposed to Sotho-speaking people, or was it mixed up? We're just trying to understand. --- Our community was formed by Xhosas and Sothos, but there were no Zulus. I don't know why some of them called themselves Inkatha members.
Thank you. We're just trying to get a picture, and that's very helpful for you to tell us that. There's just one aspect we haven't covered. Were your family and your children - were your health affected by this experience in any way? --- It affected my husband.
In what way? --- After that he was cardiac. He had a cardiac problem after this incident.
And the children have been okay? --- My children are okay. Yes, I am still normal.
So you're living back in that house now? --- Yes, we went back to that house. We stayed for a year there, then from there we were able to dismantle the bricks, and from there we built a tearoom and we returned to that house. How are things now in the township in Rouxville? Are they quiet, is there peace? --- Yes, there's peace now.
These people who - this family that was involved in destroying your house, do you get on with them okay now?
--- Yes, we have reconciled because they are our neighbours.
Thank you. Mrs Sekhopa, thank you very much for coming to give us this story, and some of the context which is very helpful for us to get a picture of what happened, not just to you, but to others. Just one last question. Do you know the names of the boys or the children that were shot, so we can follow that up maybe? --- I don't remember them now.
Okay, if you could maybe try and get them for us and let us have them. Our staff can give you a contact address to give them to us, or to phone it through. Will that be possible? --- I'll try to do so.
(Inaudible) ... that particular incident. Once again thank you very much for coming to tell us this painful story for yourself, and we hope that it has been helpful for you to tell it. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: The next witness today is Mrs Ratefane, Mrs Belina Ratefane. (Pause) Good morning, Mrs Ratefane. Welcome here today. Thank you for coming in. You are also from Rouxville, like the previous witness, and you've come to tell us about the death of your son and your son-in-law, who were killed in 1990. Before you tell us your story can you please take the oath.
BELINA RATEFANE (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
CHAIRPERSON: Now, Mrs Ratefane, you had a son, Jim, who was killed in 1990. What other children do you have, or do you have any other children? Just give us an idea of ... (incomplete)
INTERPRETER: The speaker's mike is not on.
CHAIRPERSON: Tell us something just about your family. Is your husband still alive? Do you have children other than your deceased son? Give us a quick idea of what makes up your family. --- I don't have a husband. My other children are still alive.
(Inaudible) ... here with you? --- Yes, but two of them are working.
Now, you're an old lady now, you're 68 years old according to your statement. Are you on pension, or do you do any work? How do you support yourself? --- I depend on pension, Sir?
Now, tell us something about your son, Jim. How old was he when he died? --- He could have been on his 20th or 30th birthday.
In fact we have details of his death certificate, and we are able to get the exact dates from that. You haven't given us the name of your son-in-law, who also
died on that day. Can you recall his full name? --- It's David Sechaba Ratefane - Rafane. David Sechaba Rafane.
Rafane. And we he married to one of your daughters? --- He married my eldest daughter.
Now, this incident which you are going to tell us about took place in September in 1990 in Rouxville. Can you just give us some idea of what was happening in the township, Old Location, at that time? What things were going on? What was the political situation, if you can remember? --- Other people called themselves Inkatha and others were ANC members.
(Inaudible) ... happening. Just give us some idea of what was happening at that time. Was there conflict between those two groups? --- There was no conflict.
Well, can you tell us about how it came about that your son and your son-in-law died? What led to them being shot? --- My son left home on Sunday morning on the 9th of September at 9 o'clock. I didn't know where he went. It was at that time when I was preparing myself to go to church. I heard a noise in the township. When I tried to look around I was not able to locate the noise, but I heard gunshots, but I didn't know where the gunshots came from. My grandson came, then said to me, "Mr Machona has shot my uncle." Whilst I was still asking where he was shot, whilst I was still surprised, the child began to cry. I waited there. Whilst I was still waiting I heard a cry from certain women. They were carrying my son-in-law, and they brought him to the house. Then I went inside the house with them. Then I said to them they should make him lie on the sofa. After some time a car
came to take him to the hospital. He was in the car with my sister's daughter, who was shot also, but she was still alive. When the owner of the car was on the road, or on his way to Aliwal North, together with my son-in-law and that daughter, the car which took my son and other people, they were stopped by the police and they were led to the police station. Whilst I was still waiting to hear the owner of the car to give me a report then he - a certain person came to me and said, "Are you still here? The car which took the victims has been taken to the hospital - to the police station." I went to the police station together with the people I was with in the house. When we arrived at the police station they agreed that we should go in. Inside we found that those children were still at the police station. My son arrived whilst he was still alive at the police station, but when we arrived there he was dead. The car which went to Aliwal North to take my son-in-law to the hospital, immediately when they arrived at the Aliwal North hospital my son-in-law died.
Mrs Ratefane, do you know how long the car was kept at the police station before it was allowed to go on to the hospital? --- I don't know, because when we left the police station we left it at the police station, still there, when we returned home.
And how did your son-in-law get from the police station to the hospital? --- They were not taken to the police station. From the township their car proceeded straight to Aliwal North. The car which was not able to go to hospital was the one which my son was in, and the other girl.
I see. And now according to your statement your son
did not die at the scene in the township where he was shot, but he died in the car at the police station, is that right? --- That's true, Sir.
And how long after the car arrived at the police station did he die? Do you remember that, or do you know that? --- I will not be able to be exact.
Who was with him in that car? --- The owner of the car has since ... (inaudible)
MACHINE SWITCHED OFF
CHAIRPERSON: (Inaudible) ... recap on what you said. Your son and your son-in-law were taken in two separate cars, is that right? --- Yes, that's correct.
The car in which your son-in-law was travelling, that car managed to go directly to the hospital, is that right? --- You are right.
Whereas the car in which your son was, it was stopped by the police and sent to the police station. --- You are correct.
And at the police station he died. --- You are correct.
Do you know what the cause of death was? Was it loss of blood from a bullet wound? Do you remember? We don't have a death certificate on the file, or we don't have a post-mortem report on the file. Do you remember what the cause of death was? --- I do not know the cause of the death because we were not told anything.
Where were you at this time? --- Which time are you referring to, Sir?
On that day when your son-in-law and son were shot and when they were taken to the hospital where were you?
At your house, or where were you? --- I was at home.
Now, after the incident you said that you reported the matter to the Rouxville Police Station. --- Yes. They came to fetch us to submit the statement, but no progress was made.
Do you know who made statements? Were there any witnesses to this incident, the shooting incident, and if there were witnesses did they make statements to the police? --- I do not know, Sir. I was fetched alone at home with my daughter.
Was Mr Machona ever charged with any offence in connection with the incident? --- He was detained just one day. The second day he was a free man.
Did the police regard him as a suspect in the case, do you know? --- I would say he was not a suspect because they did not send him to prison.
So, as far as you remember, Mrs Ratefane, there wasn't a case. You didn't - did you go to court and sit in court and listen to evidence? A court case, or an inquest, or anything of that nature? Do you remember going to court? --- There was no court case, Sir, nothing.
Mrs Machona, do you remember what - I mean, sorry, Mrs Ratefane, sorry. Do you remember what Mr Machona's position was in the township? Was he just an ordinary resident of the township, was he a councillor, what was his status or his position? --- He was an ordinary citizen and a councillor.
And this is a - when you say he was a councillor, was he a member of the Local Authority, what was called the Black Local Authority, in that township? --- Yes,
you are correct.
And was there tension or conflict between the residents of the township and the Black Local Authority? --- I do not know, Sir.
Do you know who the other councillors were? You've said in your statement that Mr Machona was a member of the Inkatha Freedom Party, is that right? --- Yes.
Now, the other councillors on the Local Authority, were they also Inkatha members as far as you know? --- Yes, Mangese was also a member of the IFP.
Now, do you know - did you ever learn from any of your son's friends or any witnesses - did you ever learn why Mr Machona shot your son and your son-in-law? --- I never heard from anybody.
What was your son's position, Jim? Was he active in a political sense, and which party did he support? --- He was a member of the ANC.
And was he quite an active young person in politics? --- Yes.
And do you remember the name of the investigating officer in this case? The policeman who was investigating the case, do you remember who he was? --- I do not know the name of the policeman who was investigating this case because many policemen were around rural townships. Some of them were not stationed at Rouxville.
Did Mr Machona continue being a councillor after this incident? --- Yes, he was still a councillor, but they were not functional any more.
Do you know does he still live in Old Location in Rouxville? --- He is now in the Cape.
As far as you can remember, Mr Machona and
Mr Mangese, were they Sotho speakers, Xhosa speakers, Zulu speakers? --- Mr Mangese is a Xhosa and Madi Machona is a Sotho.
Is there still tension or conflict between residents or members of different parties in Rouxville in Old Location? Is there still an IFP presence in the township? --- There are no conflicts and I don't hear any mentioning of the IFP.
Mrs Ratefane, was your son Jim working at the time of his death, was he studying, what was he doing? --- He was supposed to go and work. He was going to work on that next Monday.
Do you know where he had got a job? --- I didn't ask him where he was going to work.
Your son-in-law, David, was he working? --- He was working at a white school.
What was his job? Was he a teacher or was he something else at the school? --- He was a cleaner.
Did he have any children? He was married to your daughter. --- Yes.
Whom did he have? --- Four in number. He died when the last-born was a year old.
Where are those children now? --- They are present there.
Today in the hall? --- I left them at home.
(Inaudible) ... after them? --- Their mother is with them, Sir.
Is she working? --- Yes, she is working. She is also working at a creche.
(Inaudible) ... the children? --- The last-born is six years old, and I can't remember how old are the
Are the older ones all at school? --- Yes, Sir.
Did your son Jim have any children? --- No.
Mrs Ratefane, as far as you know, or as far as you can remember, was it only your son and your son-in-law who died in that incident? Was anybody else killed or even injured during that shooting? --- The people who died on that day is a girl from Nzula's family, my son-in-law and my son, and my sister's daughter was also shot on that day, but she is alive.
Was she badly injured? Where on her body was she shot? --- One bullet is still located on her shoulder, and two were removed in Bloemfontein.
Now, has she given a statement to this Commission as far as you know? --- Yes.
So she would be able to give details about how your son and your son-in-law were shot? Was she present? Was it the same shooting incident? Was she present with them when they were shot? --- She was not with them. She came to see this incident, and on her way back to her house Machona shot her.
What is her name? --- Nzwakhe Matsimela.
And you mentioned the name of another person from another family who died. Just give me his name again, or her name. --- She is from the Nzula family. She died.
Is there anything else that you wish to tell us about that incident? --- Yes, there is something, because when they were buried my daughter, who is working in Welkom, came for the funeral, and on Sunday when she went to the taxis to return back to Welkom Mangese shot her. My other son, who is still a student, was picked up
by Maridi and they assaulted him.
(Inaudible) ... shot by Mr Mangese? --- Her name is Caroline.
What day was that? Was that the Monday after the funeral? --- It was on a Sunday.
Your son was shot on the 9th of September. Do you know what day of the week that was? --- They were buried on the second week after they were shot. I can't remember on which day were they shot.
Were they buried on a Saturday? --- Yes, it was a Saturday.
And the day following, the Sunday following, your daughter Caroline was shot. --- You are correct.
Was she badly injured? How was she injured? --- When she arrived at Aliwal Hospital they managed to remove the bullet.
And did she then recover from that injury? --- Yes, she recovered, because she went back to her work.
Has she made a statement to the Commission, do you know? --- She is in Welkom. She didn't give a statement.
Do you know if Mr Mangese was ever charged for that shooting of your daughter? --- He was not convicted, Sir. (Inaudible - end of Side A, Tape 2) ... the police were on their side.
Are you saying that there was a close relationship between those members of the IFP and the police? --- Yes, the relationship was a strong one, because nobody listened to us, but those members of the IFP were removed from the township, they were sent to town to stay there.
Why was that? --- I do not know why, because
some of them even stayed at the police station.
Were some of their houses being attacked and burned so far as you can remember? --- Houses belonging to which side, Sir?
Machona, Mr Mangese, and their fellow IFP members. --- No, there were no attacks.
Do you know why they were moved into the town? --- I do not know.
Mrs Ratefane, the hospitals that your son-in-law and your son were taken to, and your daughter - you referred to the Aliwal Hospital. Is that - where is that hospital? Is it in Aliwal north? --- Yes, that's the hospital at Aliwal North.
And do you have any documents from that hospital which will let us go back there and look at the records of the treatment or the causes of death? --- I do not have any document.
Mrs Ratefane, you mentioned that your son was assaulted after the funeral. Just briefly when did that happen and who assaulted him? --- Maridi assaulted him because the comrades were picked up and they were taken to the police station to be assaulted. We do not know the reason why.
(Inaudible) ... Maridi? --- Maridi is a member of the CID from Zastron.
How badly was your son assaulted? Was he injured quite badly? Did he have to see a doctor? --- He was detained during those days and I went to the cells to give him the food. I told them I wanted to see him. They refused.
How long was he detained for? --- He was given
a free bail and he was discharged because he was still a student.
Sorry, how long was he in custody for before he got bail? --- He spent a week.
Do you know whether he appeared in court during that week or not? --- Yes, he appeared before the Court and he was given a free bail.
After a week. --- Yes, that was after a week.
You see, people are supposed to appear in court within 48 hours normally, in other words within two days, not a week. --- It was after a week, Sir.
And what was he charged with, do you know? What was the case against him? --- They said he took part in the killing of Dithoti's wife.
Dithoti, is that the name of the person? --- Dithoti is the surname, I do not know the first name.
Who is Dithoti, or was he? --- Dithoti was a councillor.
And when did his wife die? --- She was killed the Sunday after the funeral.
Do you know how she was killed? --- I do not know.
So was there quite a lot of violence after these funerals - killing and counter killings, and attacks? Did things get quite bad? --- I do not know were they counter attacks or what.
But did things get bad in the township for a while? --- Yes, the situation was not normal. Instead it worsened.
How long did that go on for approximately? --- I do not remember, Sir, for how long was the situation
Were any other councillors killed, or their families killed, that you can remember? --- No, I can't remember of any.
And you can't remember whether any of their houses were attacked? --- They were not attacked.
And were any other comrades killed or injured after that? --- Nobody got injured thereafter.
Thank you very much. Mrs Ratefane, thank you very much for coming in to tell us that story. We can see that it was a painful experience for you to talk again about the death of your son. It's never been resolved. The people who shot him and your son-in-law have never been charged, they've never been convicted, and it seems as though this is the first time that you have ever had an opportunity to come forward in public and tell the story about your son and your daughter's husband, and your daughters, Mzwakhe and Caroline, who were also shot. The story that you have told is similar to other stories we have heard in other parts of the country, where councillors who sat in councils which were established and set up by the Government were not accepted by the people, and we've heard in other parts of the country that there were frequently conflicts between these councillors and residents of the township. And from what you have told us the council members in this township at Rouxville were members of the IFP, and that they enjoyed a very close relationship with the police, and from what you have told us it was two of these councillors who shot and killed and injured members of your family. We don't know why these cases weren't properly investigated. We will try to get
hold of these documents from the police station to see what sort of investigations were done. We know that it's very difficult for a mother to come and talk about the death of her children, and we thank you very much for being brave enough to come here and tell us that story, and we hope to be able to give you some information about why your family members died in this way. So thank you again very, very much for coming in an telling us your story.
CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mrs Nche, can you hear me, can you understand me?
MRS NCHE: Good morning, Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: You also have come from Old Location in Rouxville, and you have come to talk about the day in 1990 - sorry, in September 1990, it seems shortly after the incident which the previous witness told us about, when your house was burnt down. And before you tell us that story please can you take the oath. There's no need to stand up. Do you swear that the evidence - sorry, your full name is - is it Manthibi Rosie Nche?
MRS NCHE: You are correct.
CHAIRPERSON: And is your married name Selemela?
MRS NCHE: You are correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Which name are you known by, Selemela or Nche?
MRS NCHE: All the names, Sir.
MANTHIBI ROSIE SELEMELA NCHE (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Lax will help you now.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. Good morning to you again, Mrs Selemela. --- Good morning, Sir.
Is your - before we go into your story just a brief picture of your family. --- I have five children.
(Inaudible) ... in your statement that you gave us those details, although there are only four names here. Let me just go through it with you. You have a son, Joel. --- That is correct.
A daughter, Rosina. --- You are right.
And then another son, Sabatha. --- Correct.
(Inaudible) ... Thabo. --- Yes.
(Inaudible) ... child. --- The fifth one is at work. He is already married. I do not count him. He is in Bloemfontein.
(Inaudible) ... name, just for the record. --- He is Nathaniel Nche.
Thank you very much. The other four children are still dependent on you? --- Yes, Sir.
(Inaudible) ... at school? --- Yes, they are at school.
Thank you. Is your husband still with you? --- He passed away in 1989.
Thank you. Now, the story you're going to tell us is connected to the two stories we've already heard so far. --- Yes, that's correct.
And as far as we can see the burning of your home took place on the same day as the first witness' home was burnt, which is the day after the funeral that they've spoken about. --- That is correct.
It will be helpful for us if you can try and give us a picture of how that conflict developed and what was the cause of that conflict, because the previous witnesses haven't been able to help us much in that regard. --- On a Sunday around 8 o'clock a certain yellow van appeared. There were people who were inside my house.
(Inaudible) ... yellow van, was that a police van? --- Yes, that's true, it's a police van.
(Inaudible) ... police station was that van? --- Rouxville Police Station.
Please carry on. --- There was a certain girl who was in the bedroom. In the house you are able to see
people. Then this girl said, "Merozana, this house - your house is going to be burnt." I said to her, "How do you see?" Then she said, "I hear, and then I see the van outside, and inside there is Mr Mangese." Whilst I was still in the lounge room I heard a petrol bomb inside the bedroom, and then again they threw a petrol bomb inside the sitting-room. I was carrying a two-year child. On the door the fire was now coming near me. We ran away to next - after some time, whilst we were at my neighbour, this Rosina said to me, "We forgot the child inside the house." A certain boy called Piet Magawu came with a container containing petrol. At that time the comrades ran and were able to take the child outside the house.
What child was this that was left in the house? --- That's Sabatha.
Please continue. --- The certain boy called Piet Magawu brought petrol and poured it inside, and the comrades were able to run to take the child to the other neighbour. Whilst we were still in the house, and the house was now in flames, Mr Mangese was now at the front of the door with other two boys. When we ran outside the house he said, "Come here." Then I asked Mr Mangese, I said, "What did we do to you because you have never seen me in front of your shop or in front of your house?" The comrades were fighting that they should resign from being councillors. Then they agreed, and the comrades said to them they have got to resign as councillors in our township. That was the beginning of the conflict. After this conflict had started, and my house was at the corner, and their wives were singing, passing through our streets. They are saying, "We are Inkatha members and we kill."
Yes, it is true they would enter into the township, they would go inside the people's houses, and they will hit people with sjamboks and assault them.
You've said that Mr Mangese was there with two boys. Which other boys were these? --- We don't know these boys. He fetched them from Virginia. He said - we learnt that when he went to Virginia he bribed them that they should come with him, and we knew that those two boys were comrades in Virginia.
Now, who else was present there? Who was driving the police van? --- The driver of that police van was a certain white policeman called Tate. Then Mangese said to him, "We should burn this house also."
What - do you know what Tate's rank was? Was he a sergeant, was he a constable, was he a station commander? What was he? --- He was a constable.
Was he a young man, an old man? --- He was still a young man.
Is he still there at Rouxville? --- After this arrest he left.
You don't know where he went to? --- No, I don't know.
Thank you. You've said in your statement that you were threatened by Mangese with a firearm outside the house. --- That's true.
What sort of firearm was that? --- I would not be able to know or identify or describe because I was scared. I think those were guns owned by the councillors. They were given guns.
(Inaudible) ... the guns? --- I don't know. Maybe they were given those guns at the police station,
but all of them had guns.
So this conflict really started around the comrades wanting these councillors to resign from the council. --- That's true, Sir.
Why did they want them to resign? --- They were accepting everything. When they will say, "Rent increase," or whatever, they would agree. They were pressurised all the time. They were not able to negotiate in a meeting.
So they weren't able to look after the township residents' interest as opposed to the administration interest, is that what you're saying? --- That's true, Sir.
The previous witness said they stopped functioning. What exactly happened? Did they finally resign? --- During the unrest they took time - they continued to work, but they didn't resign immediately. Whilst they were shooting people they didn't resign then, they continued with their work and they had those guns.
Are you able to say how long this unrest continued for, who many months, or years? --- It didn't take years, it took a few months.
Three months, six months, how much? Any idea? --- Maybe two months, but it was not a long time. Maybe two months.
Now, the previous witnesses weren't really able to help us much except to say that one person who was the wife of a councillor got killed. We find it strange that they should have just left their homes without some pressure being put on them. Can you tell us maybe about how that came about? --- I am staying next to Delela,
who was a councillor, but he was not involved in the violence, but the person who was involved in violence was his wife.
You're not really answering my question, and I am asking you to try and give me a picture of what sort of pressure was put on these councillors? We've heard of the violence the councillors made against the comrades. I am sure the comrades didn't just sit back and take it. They must have fought back in some way. It would be helpful to have some details of that. As you know it always takes two hands to clap. --- I would not know that of what was happening. I would not know.
We understand there's now peace in the township because there is no more IFP there. --- Yes, there is peace because we are able to talk to one another, but I will speak on my position. I have peace, but when it comes to the loss of my property I have a bad effect because Mangese had destroyed my property.
Did you make a case against Mangese about this property? --- Yes, I did open a case.
And what happened about that? --- They didn't accept my case. They would write down my statement, and then you would wait to be called but you were never called.
(Inaudible) ... about it. --- Nothing they did anything about the case.
Have you rebuilt the house? --- I just asked assistance from RDP. I haven't yet entered that house again. I am staying at my parents' home.
The house is still empty now? --- RDP people are busy building the house, but I have not yet entered it.
Okay. So are you getting some assistance to rebuild that house? --- Yes, that's true.
We sent our investigators to the police station at Rouxville to try and look through the records, but unfortunately all the records from 1990 have been destroyed. I just want you to know we have actually tried to track down the records of these cases. --- Why did they destroy them? I still have the card from the police station.
It's not necessarily a sinister thing. All offices - all Government offices destroy their documents after a certain time, otherwise they would drown in paper. And I am not sure exactly what the time limits are in the police departments, but I think it's about five years. So this is longer than five years, so they probably wouldn't have kept the records for that long. But I don't think it's necessarily a sinister thing. Just to tell you that we have tried to contact - we've sent letters to Mr Mangese, we've sent letters to Tate, and to all the people you've named, and we've had no response from them. Particularly the policemen it's been confirmed that they did actually get the notices. So that's why, as opposed to yesterday, we're letting people name names because those people have had notice. You and your family are living okay now, you're not too badly affected by this? --- We were badly affected, because at times I am not able to clothe my children.
Do you have any idea of what the value of your losses were? --- I would not know, but those were furnitures, clothes, and what you would normally found in a house. I would never know how much it cost.
Thousands of rand though. --- I don't know exactly.
Thank you. Chairperson, I don't know if you have any questions you might want to follow up on?
CHAIRPERSON: Mrs Selemela, thank you very much. You've given us a bit more of a background and a picture of what happened in Rouxville. Just one last question. Your family were ANC, is that right? --- Yes, that's true.
And I see you've been a long-time member of the ANC. --- Yes, Sir.
You say here you were a member since 1970, is that correct? --- Yes, Sir.
Obviously at that time it would have been unlawful to be a member. --- Yes, it was unlawful, Sir. We did that underground.
No, I understand. Just in conclusion then, thank you very much for coming. Thank you for giving us this picture. It's really a shocking picture. We've seen all over the country, that the police did not play an impartial role, that they were clearly opposed to anyone who was opposed to the government of that time, and they would use anyone who was their potential ally to work with. And we really hope that as we develop into a new democracy that the police will really come to serve the community, regardless of who they are and what their political beliefs are. So we thank you once again for coming and for sharing with us, and we hope the telling of your story has helped you and been helpful for you. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Just to make one announcement. If anyone here wants to make a statement to the Commission we have statement-takers present here in the rooms in the back of this hall, so if you want to make a statement about anything which has happened to you please sit at the back of the hall, and the statement-takers will come along and collect you and take you to a room where you can make a statement. So it's just a little room off to the side of this hall there. The statement-takers will be there for you if you want to make a statement. We're going to take a short tea break now for about 20 minutes, and we will resume after that. Before you stand up and leave please just stand up out of respect for the witnesses in the front and wait until they leave the room. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr Semakale. Can you hear me, can you understand me?
MR SEMAKALE: You are clear, Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: You are from No 2 Location in Ficksburg, is that right?
MR SEMAKALE: That is correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Your full name is Johannes Fokisi Simakale.
MR SIMAKALE: That is correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Before you tell your story today can you please take the oath.
JOHANNES FOKISI SIMAKALE (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
CHAIRPERSON: Now, just briefly by way of background, are you still - this incident that you're going to tell us about happened in Ficksburg Location. Are you still living there, are you still staying in that place? --- Yes.
Are you - do you have family? --- Yes, I have my family.
And are you working there? --- I am a taxi owner, but it is broken at this present moment.
And at that time, which was now 1993 when this incident happened, were you also involved in the taxi business? --- Yes, I was still a taxi operator.
Now, at that time, August 1993, what was happening in Ficksburg in the location? Were there political tensions of any sort, was there conflict? Just give us an idea of what was happening in your area. --- In that year I had a contact with the police at the border. On
that day I went to fetch them at the border at about 9 o'clock in the evening. I was using the main road. I dropped one policeman at a certain place called Masani. I was proceeding to go and take the other two policemen where they were staying. When I was at a certain bottle store which was adjacent to ANC offices when I entered the main road I stopped. I found a crowd of people, and the police were on the other side, but they were not mingling with the crowd. When I proceeded on that street I heard a voice saying, "Here is another one." Then people stoned my car, and the windscreen at the back was broken and a certain window on the left was broken. I proceeded a little bit. One policeman who was in that car said to me I should run. Then I said to him I cannot run whilst my car was broken. I opened the door and went outside, and those people scattered around and they leaned against the wall of the ANC building. A certain policeman went outside, then he produced a gun. A certain captain of the police who was with a certain group of police he asked us what was happening. I said to him he is asking me nonsense because he see what was happening. Then he said to me if I want to open a case I should go to the police station. From there I accompanied those police whom I were with. Then they asked that they should alight and go to their places and I should go home. When I arrived home I explained to my wife what happened. From there I proceeded to the police station. At the police station a certain gentleman arrived to report what happened to his house. I may mention his name if needed.
Did you make a full report of this incident to the police? --- Yes, I did explain in detail of what has
happened. The captain said to the other gentleman of - said to him, "Do you see what you are doing?"
Just before you continue, you wanted to mention something about somebody else's house that was damaged or burned, is that right? --- That's true.
Was that the same day? --- Yes, it was on the same day because we came on the same day at the police station to report.
Okay. What happened with regard to that person? First, whose house was it, and what happened? --- It was David Thamani's house.
Yes - well, put it this way. Perhaps just first tell us the circumstances under which his house was attacked. Who attacked it, how was it attacked, anything you know about it? --- When he found me at the police station to report about his house which has been attacked he was explaining as if people attacked his house being accompanied by the police. He explained that there was a Hippo which lit his house, and his house was stoned. It was hit my petrol bombs, and some property in his house, or furniture, was destroyed. I believe he is here to give evidence.
(Inaudible) ... who the people were who attacked his house? Not their names, but what political party were they supporting? --- He knows.
Unfortunately he hasn't made a statement to this Commission and we can't let him give evidence, and we will take this matter up with him after you have given your evidence. Did he tell you who had attacked the house, supporters of which organisation or group? --- He said they were supporters of the African National Congress.
Now, you said that you reported this to the police. Was that in Ficksburg itself? --- Yes, that's Ficksburg Police Station.
What did they do? Did they investigate it, did they take action, did they arrest anybody? --- No, there were no people who were arrested because in my case they said they don't have enough evidence. Then they just stopped the case.
Do you know the names of any of the people who attacked you and damaged your vehicle? --- Some of them I knew later when I heard people saying their names.
What was the nature of the conflict in Ficksburg at the time? Were there two or more groups that were in conflict with each other? Certainly there was the ANC there. The people who they were - as you have said they attacked your vehicle, they attacked Mr Thamani's house. Are you supporters of a particular party? What was it, do you believe, that made them attack you and Mr Thamani's house? --- At that time I didn't belong to any political party, but I was a member of the Civic Organisation within our township. Maybe the cause was within SANCO and the ANC because there was an internal conflict within SANCO and ANC.
I see. So there was - SANCO is the South African National Civic Organisation, is that right? --- You are right, Sir, it's the organisation for residents.
And you're saying that there was conflict between the ANC and SANCO. --- Yes, there was a conflict.
And what did that have to do with, what was it about? Was it about leadership, or was it about ideology, or what? --- There were two civic organisations, which
is Mukaleng Civic Association and SANCO. Then there was a need to form one civic organisation, which is SANCO, so that we should not have two civic organisations. I think that was the cause of the conflict.
And did it go on for some time? Were many more houses or people - houses damaged or people injured, as far as you can recall? --- There were people's houses which were destroyed. The other house which was destroyed was Mr Sitini's house, and Mr Esack Ntuzu's house, and then Mr Soforani Ntuzu's house, and again it is Mr Malubesi's house, where SANCO used to hold their meetings. There was a car which was attempted to be burned which was owned by Mr Dumeng.
(Inaudible) ... were associated with SANCO? --- Yes, they were people who identified themselves with SANCO.
And was that conflict resolved, or is there still conflict between the ANC and the Civic in that place? --- After houses were burned and cars were stoned if I am not wrong after some days there was a Peace Committee set up, which was - inside that committee were two ministers of religion, which met in Ficksburg Hotel. That is where they were trying to bring a resolution to this conflict. That is where we were able to know the cause of the conflict, because a certain ANC member did confess that he was revenging against the attack.
So does it - from what you understand about that conflict does it appear that the conflict was caused or made worse by the fact that one ANC member had been attacked by somebody in SANCO and was then intent on carrying out some revenge attacks? Does it seem to have
been a personal thing? --- It was encompassing the whole township where we were staying.
(Inaudible) ... able to resolve the conflict? --- I don't think they were able to bring a resolution to the conflict because the conflict continued after that meeting.
And when was it resolved? --- It has never been resolved. Even now we see some splinters of conflict. Even if they are not the same as before, but we see some splinters of conflict within our township. I knew the person who was the cause of the conflict. I was not satisfied. Even when he was greeting me I would not greet back. I didn't even forgive him because of what he has done to me, and that the case should be handled by the police successfully.
Does SANCO still exist as a civic organisation in Ficksburg? --- Yes, it is still there in our township.
Mr Semakale, is there anything more that you want to tell us about this incident and about the ensuing conflict? --- The conflict continued. Even on my side as I was apolitical I was a church member or a religious person. It brought hatred against the minister who was there at that time. The minister didn't comfort me, then I had to hate him.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us? --- There is nothing more I can say, Sir.
(Inaudible) ... vehicle? --- I was able to repair the car, but with problems because it was not a big car, it was a four plus one car. Under those circumstances I was taking my children to school, I was unemployed, I was not able to make funds. Even though my
wife was working we had some credits which we had.
Okay. Mr Semakale, thank you very much for coming in. You have given us a new perspective on the conflict which took place in Ficksburg. Most of the evidence that we have heard over these many months that we have been sitting has been between two parties who were diametrically opposed to each other, the IFP or the ANC, the Security Branch and the UDF, things like that. Every now and then we have come across cases where people or organisations who have very similar principles to each other also fall out with each other, and that is also part of our history. It's a very unfortunate part of our history, and it's very unfortunate and very sad that people, ANC Youth members who were, and maintain that they were, fighting for democracy in this country, should have resorted to something so fundamentally undemocratic like stoning people's houses and cars, simply because they disagreed on certain minor issues of principle or organisational strategy. And we hope that those days are over. But your evidence is important because it has drawn attention to that sort of conflict, which took place in many parts of this country. We've heard evidence in places in KwaZulu-Natal and in the Eastern Cape, where members of the same organisation fought and killed each other. We've heard evidence from the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal, where people who were IFP members, but refused to take part in night operations, night camps as they were called, people who moved around the township at night - because certain IFP members refused to take part in those operations they were also attacked and killed by their own members. So we've heard a lot of evidence similar to that
you have given. So we thank you again for coming and telling us that information. It will form part of the record that we are creating of this country's history. Thank you very much for coming in today.
CHAIRPERSON: The next witness is Mr Masemola, Clement Masemola. (Pause) Good morning, Mr Masemola. Can you hear me, can you understand me?
MR MASEMOLA: Yes.
CHAIRPERSON: You're also from Ficksburg, from No 2 Location.
MR MASEMOLA: You are correct.
CHAIRPERSON: And you have come to tell us about what happened to you in September 1992 when you were arrested and assaulted by the police. Before you tell us that story can you take the oath please.
CLEMENT MASEMOLA (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Lax will help you.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. Welcome again, Mr Masemola. Before you give your evidence if we can just get a picture of your family. You were born in May '73. --- That is correct.
That makes you 24 at the moment. --- That is correct.
Are your parents still alive? --- My father died. I am left with my mother and my grandmother.
And do you have any siblings? --- Yes.
How many please? --- I have two sisters and I have two brothers.
Have you - are you still busy with or have you completed your schooling? --- I did not complete my schooling.
What are you doing at the moment? --- I left school during the torture by the police.
And are you working at the moment? --- I am
unemployed. I am just staying at home.
Would you like to continue with your education? --- I wanted to carry on with my studies, but during the torture by the police they fastened me to a tree with the handcuffs and they chained my legs too. I used to write with my left hand. Now, during the torture I got injured on this left hand and I cannot write any more.
Okay. We'll come back to the actual incident in a moment. So who supports you, your mother and your grandmother? --- That is correct.
Thank you. How far did you go with your schooling? --- I was doing standard seven.
Thank you. Now, in September 1992 you've told us that a farmhouse at a place called Rosendal, which is near Ficksburg, was attacked in a grenade attack. --- That is correct.
And the farmer was shot in that attack. --- That is correct.
And that the house was destroyed. --- That is correct.
And that some time after that incident you were arrested by the police together with other PAC members. --- That's right.
You were a member of the PAC at that time? --- That is correct, I was, and I still am, a member of the PAC.
When exactly were you arrested? Are you able to give us a date at all? If you can't it's - you can? --- I was arrested in 1992 towards December. I could not write my exams. I was not in a position to sit for my exams because we were released in December, just after the
Okay. Please tell us what happened when you were arrested. --- I was at school, and on Tuesdays the school used to release us at 12 o'clock. Now, when I was from school I saw a taxi and I thought it was an ordinary taxi. The music was playing loud in this taxi. The occupants of the car were sitting in a very relaxing manner, and they saw me. One of them said, "There's Thabang." They were pointing guns at me. I wanted to run away and the students said, "Don't run away, they will shoot you." They got hold of me and they took me to their offices.
(Inaudible) ... you for a moment. What was the name they called you? --- They said, "Here is Thabang."
(Inaudible) ... one of your names? --- That is correct, that's my Sotho name.
Thank you. Please continue. --- They took me to their offices and I met an African, Themba, and Linyatsa. These are the two people who were already arrested before my arrest. They were already tortured. They were crying. I was put in a group that was tortured, and ... (intervention)
Just before you continue, you mentioned two names. Themba, what is Themba's surname? --- It's Themba. Themba it's his Sotho name, and Linyatso is the surname.
And the other person? --- Difo Mohaotse.
Please continue. --- They electrocuted me. It is a wire that is round in shape. They tightened it to my penis and they switched it on and it electrocuted me. I refused to tell them the truth. They said, "You burnt down the houses." I said to them, "I do not know
anything." They switched it on again and it electrocuted me. I still refused. They released the wire. They put me in a bag. They tightened it and I could not breathe. Themba and them convinced me to confess that I was present when this incident took place, and I committed myself. They had a list, and names were written in that list. Now, the policeman told us that it was a list from Mr Pius, and they said Mr Pius provided them with that list. He is standing right there.
If we can just please have some quiet so we can get on with this evidence. Thank you. In essence you confessed to having been part of this. --- Yes. I realised that it was getting tough, they were torturing me, and I committed myself so that they can release me. After the torture they took me to Sindala and they went to fetch the others according to the list, until we were all picked up. They took me to Dalesville. That is the Kimberley line. I was alone in the cell, but it was a bigger cell. They said I was a member of APLA. They said they couldn't mix me with other people because I was a little bit rough. When they fed me the food was just thrown as if I was a dog. They came wearing T-shirts written, "You will talk the truth." There is one of them who is called King. He is a member of the branch here. He came ... (intervention)
Sorry? --- King. I do not know is it Koen or King.
A white person? --- Yes, and Swanepoel too. And others do not know, I only heard that they were from Bloemfontein. They would come at night, open the cell, took out their firearms, point them at me, and they said
to me, "You are an APLA member, you killed white people. We are also going to kill you." And I said to them, "Please do not kill me. Rather take me to prison." They would pick me up in the morning and take me to their offices and torture me, together with the others. But they were looking for me and Themba Linyatso, claiming that we were the leaders of our organisation.
(Inaudible) ... treatment continue for? --- This sent on for about two months. We were taken to court. 12 midnight we were taken to court here in Ficksburg. When we arrived in court the police ordered us to tell them what we told them in Bloemfontein, to confess to our acts. We told the Magistrate, Swanepoel, that we did not commit that act. They were torturing us, that is why we confessed. We were then taken back to Bloemfontein. The torture went on. They said, "All right, you were lying to us." We went for the final case, and the advocate from the PAC, Mr Mavundla, came and the case was just dropped. I spent a week outside and I was fetched alone. It was at night. They were driving two private cars and two kombis. Our house has two doors, the kitchen door and the dining-room door. They first rounded the house. These were the policemen from Bloemfontein and the local policemen. They broke down the front door. The others were keeping watch at the windows. And the back door they kicked and it broke. My grandmother is very old and she asked them what the problem was. Now, my room is at the front, so you can see in the street. Now, in my bedroom there was a bath full of clothes. I went into the bath and hid myself. They got into the house, they searched, and this white man called Koen pulled this bath and he said, "No
ways, the clothes can't be this heavy. There must be something in this bath." He pulled it and he saw me lying there. I was holding my body, and he grabbed me and they put me in the van. They took me to their offices. They tortured me. After that they showed me a briefcase full of money. They said they were only going to give me that money if I told them the truth. They were doing all this. The Chairperson of the PAC was in prison. Now, there was an ANC branch in Ficksburg. Now, for Molefe to provide those names I think he had a little support, and the PAC had a lot of support. I think he wanted to destroy the support we had. He wanted to hand us over to the settlers.
Now, after you were questioned and tortured in this way what then happened to you? You were questioned at their offices no doubt. --- These policemen were not just asking questions. They just tortured me. They took me to that farm and they alleged that I had a hand grenade, and they gave me a hand grenade. I do not know whether it was a real one or not. They wanted me to demonstrate as if I was throwing it so that they can take pictures of me, and I refused. I said no, I am not going to do that. They called my grandmother, that is my father's mother. I did not even know the farm that was destroyed. They took me to that farm, they showed it to me, and they asked my grandmother to convince me to go with them to the farm. Because she was an old lady, scared of people, she said, "My son, tell them the truth." They even went to my house and they alleged that I had hand grenades. We had wood at home packed outside. When I arrived at home they said to me, "Take out your hand
grenades." They referred to me as APLA man. After I was released my grandmother talked to me. She said, "Thabang, please take them out." Because she was so scared the police said to her, "If he doesn't produce those hand grenades they are going to injure you," and I said to her, "Granny, they took them away. I do not know where they are." They left with me and they tortured me. I was still handcuffed. They suffocated me with a tube and they left me. I was all by myself. I went to the doctor because my left hand was now injured. I think these people were so fond of trees. You know, they used to tie people to the trees. Now, at the time when they took me to the tree I tried to break the car so that I can escape because my hand was badly injured, and the windscreen injured me. They were hitting me with their gun butts all over the body, and they left me. I went home. I showed my mother the hand, and the next day I went to the State doctor. I told him that, "This hand of mine is numb, I cannot do anything." He gave me a medical certificate and I took it to the hospital, and the Ficksburg Hospital referred me to Bethlehem Hospital, and they operated me. They operated my hand at Bethlehem. I could not use my hand at all.
In your statement you spoke about escaping from the police. You haven't told us about that just yet. Do you remember that? --- How do I elaborate?
You spoke about jumping out of the vehicle near the river, the Nelspruit River you said. --- Yes, they lied to me. They said to me they were throwing me into the river, and I ran from that river until I got home. It was late at night. They were shooting in the air.
Now, this hand of yours that has been damaged, how is it now after the operation? --- This left hand doesn't function properly as the right hand. I do not know what they did. I don't know whether they put in some bolts. I cannot bend my hand, but I can clutch some few things with this hand. But it's a very weak hand.
Did you ever speak to lawyers or did you lay a case against the police for these injuries? --- No. We had an advocate, Ditekho. We gave him this statement. I do not know what happened. We don't know whether Ditekho was bribed by the police. We do not know anything.
Sorry, I couldn't - please if you can give us a chance to hear this evidence. I am sorry, because of the crowd noise I couldn't hear the translation properly. If you just repeat the translation. --- We did not open a case, we left everything in the hands of our advocate, Ditekho. Now we suspect that Ditekho was bribed by the police to destroy the papers.
Where is this Advocate Ditekho from? --- He is an attorney, but he belongs to the PAC. He has an office in Botshabelo, but he resides in Thaba Nchu.
And you've never heard from him about the case after that? --- Nothing, Sir, until today.
But he was paid to get the job done? --- I believe he was paid because this happened in 1992, and until today we haven't heard anything. Some of the members of the PAC have given up and they are soldiers. I am left behind at home because of the torture. I could have been a soldier. Now, because my hand is weak, I cannot work. This really troubles me, because all the people I was tortured with are soldiers.
(Inaudible) --- These are the people I was struggling with.
Do you know whether at that time it was the PAC's policy to attack farmers and farms? --- It was during the time where APLA was hitting. Now, the police thought we were members of APLA. They never thought that we were members of the PAC, they referred to us as APLA.
And were you members of APLA? --- I can explain it this way. The military wing of PAC is APLA.
We understand that. We're quite familiar with those issues. I am asking you a question. Were you a member of APLA? --- No, I was a member of the PAC.
I understand about PASO and the PAC. That's fine. Do you know whether those attacks were actually APLA attacks, the one that you were arrested for? --- I do not know. They just picked us.
And you had never been to that farm before? --- I did not even know where the farm was. The police took me to the farm. They wanted me to point at the farm. They had a camera in their possession. They wanted me to point at the farm so that they can take pictures of me.
It looked like you were pointing to your own actions? --- Yes. They even put a hand grenade in my hand to demonstrate. I do not know how to operate even this hand grenade. They told me to pull a pin and demonstrate.
Your other colleagues who you've mentioned, Theko and Themba, were they also quite badly injured during their torture and detention? --- I think all of us were injured during the torture, but I am now talking on my behalf. I was severely injured, because after all the
others were released they came for me.
Why do you think they came for you a second time? --- They were now torturing me alone the second time.
Why do you think they did that? --- I explained that these people alleged that myself and Themba were the leaders of the PAC. So now these policemen were given information by Comrade Pius because ... (intervention)
Can I just stop you there. Unfortunately you didn't talk about Comrade Pius in your statement originally, and so we haven't had an opportunity to give him notice that you were going to talk about him. And we're required to be fair to all people who are named, so - you mentioned it, it came out. I didn't stop you at that point because you just mentioned it once, but I can't allow you to continue to talk about it without giving him an opportunity to reply. So we will have to write a letter to him and explain what you've told us and get his side of the story. So you must understand we have to be fair to everybody. --- I understand.
(Inaudible) ... for the moment. You must understand I am not covering up for him, I am just - I have a duty to protect him as I would have to protect you if you were named. --- Thank you.
After you escaped from the police did they ever try and re-arrest you or charge you with anything else? --- They could not arrest me because I ran to the bushes.
Did you not go home after that? --- I never went home.
Were you on the run? --- I went to spend the night with my friends. I was afraid they would come home.
So you were on the run just for that one night?
--- I was on the run and I went to Botshabelo to the head office of the PAC, and we explained to them what the situation was involving the members of the PAC ... (inaudible - end of Side A, Tape 4) ... I was spending the nights at my relative in Botshabelo and they could not find anybody at the head office.
Who is they, sorry, the police? --- Yes.
Did the head office have some communication with the police around these issues? --- No.
As part of our investigations into your statement we wrote to the police at Ficksburg to try and find out whether you were charged in any cases and whether they had any records of you having been charged. They said the only records they could find during September - and it may have been that you were charged much later - were of a Clement Ramahawe. Is that not a name you may have used? --- I am Clement Masemola. Maybe they wanted to write my name.
The other two names they gave us were a Clement Mubatha and a Clement Ludsula. Those are not names you may have used? --- No.
They are completely unrelated cases as well, so we just think that it's not the same thing. I just thought I'd check it with you. Mr Masemola, thank you very much for coming to tell us this quite difficult story. The issue of the APLA campaigns is quite well know, particularly in the eastern Free State, and we're grateful to have some evidence of how the police went about investigating those cases. And the story you've told us is very similar to what we've seen in other places, where the police picked up all sorts of people totally
unconnected, and tried to get information through various means of torture. You've given us a very clear account of what happened to you, and we wish to thank you for that, and we hope that in your having the opportunity to tell your story it could bring some relief to you, to at least be acknowledged. And we hope that your friends whose stories we haven't heard can at least in some way share in your telling of the story. If any of your friends would like to tell their stories as well, at least to give us statements, you can get the details of our Bloemfontein office and we can arrange for statements to be taken from them as well if they would like that. Because clearly there are other stories that need to be told about what happened in your area. So we thank you for coming and we wish you well. --- Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Mr Setene.
MR SETENE: Good afternoon, Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: You, like the previous witness but one, Mr Semakale, you also come from Ficksburg, and you have come to tell us about a similar sort of incident as Mr Semakale told us about.
MR SETENE: That is correct.
CHAIRPERSON: And this happened to you in August 1993.
MR SETENE: That is correct.
CHAIRPERSON: Before you give your evidence you have to take the oath.
SOLOMON MAJORO SETENE (Sworn, States) (Through Interpreter)
CHAIRPERSON: Now, just give us some idea of your background. Have you always lived in that area of Ficksburg? --- That is correct.
(Inaudible) ... there now? --- Yes.
(Inaudible) ... a family? --- No, I don't have my family.
At that time you were living with your mother, is that right? --- Even now I am still staying with my mother.
That's Rosalina Setene. --- That is correct.
You don't have a family of your own, you don't have children and a wife? --- I have children, I don't just have a wife. I am divorced.
I see. Now, at that time in August 1993 were you working in Ficksburg or what were you doing? --- I was just at home, I was unemployed.
Now Mr Semakale, who gave his evidence earlier this
morning, gave us some idea of the conflict which existed in Ficksburg between the South African National Civic Organisation and the ANC. Do you want to confirm that, or tell us a little bit more about how that conflict happened, or what it was about? --- It was in 1992 when SANCO was launched in Ficksburg and there were problems between SANCO and the ANC, and this man called Pius Molefe Mohlome is the man behind this whole problem. He did not want to accept that he cannot be a leader for all the organisations within the township. Now he wanted the ANC as its leader, and he also wanted to be the leadership in the SANCO. And on top of that he designed a badge, and we could see that he was troublesome, and this badge indicated that SANCO still existed in the township and it was under his leadership. Now, it appeared many a time that this man was not in favour of peace. It so happened that when SANCO was just launched, and when the people were told that they will have to have a representative, Mr David Thamahe was chosen as the chairperson of SANCO in Mukaleng(?). At that time I was serving within the executive of SANCO, I was the media liaison officer. Now, at the time of these conflicts of which organisation to lead and which not Pius himself was so keen to sell us out to the administrator. Now, during those days the administrator was in charge, and we were against this notion of selling us out because previous he had been a policeman. That was before he became the chairperson of the ANC. Now, it clearly showed that Pius was taken by the white people, that is the administrator and them. They made him leave his job and be involved in the ANC so that we people think that he is building the
ANC. And on the other side we were going to be thinking that he was working for the people, and yet he would be building his nationalist ideas. We came to realise that he was a destroyer, and he wanted to be the only brilliant man. We now wanted to keep a distance between himself and us, and this conflict erupted. He became friends with police. Now, during this relationship between himself and the police we found ourselves under attack at our homes. I did not even understand what wrong did I commit, because in 1992 in August my home was destroyed. The reason behind the destroying of the house nobody knows. He went to my home and destroyed it. They destroyed our house while my mother was still in the house. She was 83 then, and they stoned her and she went to the hospital to be stitched on that night. Just a minute after they left, that is Pius and them, because I heard them saying, "Let us go because we are finished," and Siphumudi, one of them, said, "No, can't we go back because I saw him getting underneath the bed." Just a minute after they left the police came in so quickly. I asked myself and I thought to myself, "This is just a foul play. The police are involved with these people." I did not want to concentrate on that issue during that time because I was worried about my mother. I called Med-Risk and they quickly arrived. The police were around, that is Sergeant Sawane and them, and they connected me to this white man from Med-Risk. And this white man from Med-Risk came with a message and he said, "Med-Risk is not going to help, because this is the new South Africa and you wanted it just this way." You know, I had to laugh because this white man was talking something I could not understand.
My mother was injured, she was bleeding, I had to attend to her because her forehead was hit. Yes, they did remove her. I was satisfied that they attended to her. They went to the hospital, where she was admitted. Sergeant Sawane told me to write a statement. No, he asked me first, "Are you going to submit a statement?" I said to him, "Sawane, you have seen what happened. Now, is it necessary to write the statement because you are already my witness?" He said, "No, my friend, I would like you to submit a statement," and indeed I wrote a statement. I wrote in my statement that I did not see Molefe Mohlome with my own eyes, but I heard his voice when he said, "Comrades, we have done the job, let's leave." My mother was at the hospital at that time and she came back home. I am still worried about my mother really. She is in deep trouble. She cannot speak, she cannot walk, she is just a person, a helpless being. I do not know what to do to make ends meet. You know, sometimes when I meet Pius along the street I become very angry, and I decided to leave this issue because I wanted to revenge and my mother said to me, "My son, do not revenge. God is on our side." Even at this stage I am troubled by my mother. That's why I am here today. I thank you. I heard Mr Semakale has already mentioned that how many people were affected by the attacks on their houses. We found petrol bombs in the house before they could explode, but the doors were broken down, the windows were shattered, and I think the intention was to kill me because the roof is even damaged. They really destroyed my mother.
Mr Setene, are you saying then that as far as you are concerned the cause of the conflict between SANCO and
the ANC in Ficksburg was caused by Mr Mohlome, who wanted to be chairperson of both organisations? --- Not only two organisations, all organisations. He wanted to be the leader of all the organisations around Mukaleng because he was a policeman. Now, this - he wanted to rule the township. That is briefly what I can say. There was the Womens League, SACCAWU - every organisation he wanted to be the leader.
Now, I am asking you questions about Mr Mohlome because we have given him notice in terms of section 30 of the Act. We have advised him by letter that these allegations have been made about him, so accordingly you are free to mention his name as you have been doing. Now ... (intervention) --- I thank you.
Now, the police - the response by the police was that there was not sufficient evidence to charge him, is that what you said? --- I had enough evidence. I do not understand why the police said the evidence was not enough to proceed with the case, because my mother was also injured. Blood came out. My head stood still when they told me that the evidence was not enough. And the first letter that I received from Commissioner Stenment(?), he explained in his letter that it is true, and it is evident that the organisations are fighting against each other, and they are busy investigating the case.
Now, our investigators have done some work on this, and we have a letter here from the Attorney-General of the Free State saying that he declines to prosecute Mr Mohlome in this case, but he hasn't given any reasons for that. Now, can you tell us what position does Mr Mohlome hold at
the moment? --- I want to understand you. What do you mean when you say what position is he holding? Are you referring to politics or otherwise?
What civic or political position does he hold? --- I do not know how to describe him. He doesn't take any advice from anybody. He is self-righteous. When you have to be tortured by the police they would torture you in ... (inaudible) ... now this is in his blood. I do not refer him as a politician. His blood is really boiling. That is what I can say. He is a parasite.
Ja, Mr Setene, I think you must just stick to the question I ask. What position is he holding at present? --- I think he is in the leadership position. He is the leader of that little group of the ANC, and I think he is hijacking the township. That is why I have mentioned that I do not know what kind of politics is he involved in. Can I - I just want to say something. I won't mention the name of the MEC who promised to come to Mukaleng, and he promised to bring a six-man delegation to attend to the conflict in Mukaleng. Until today the promise has never been fulfilled. Now, that MEC left the then portfolio and went to the other one, and this task was supposed to be attended by this new MEC. Now, it seems to me that the ANC's stand is rotten in the province. I am not politically inclined, but what I can say is this person himself wants to know politics, but he is a vampire.
(Inaudible) ... you should make personal insults against people. We have given notice to him about allegations that have been made against him, and it's not the correct place now to trade insults with somebody. But we can see that there are strong feelings about
Mr Mohlome, and strong allegations made against him, and perhaps the best thing for you to do, and those who feel like you, is to take this up with the provincial leadership of the ANC to see whether some sort of peace committee cannot be established in Ficksburg to bring the people together. --- How do I put this forward really, because I have just explained we've been discussing the ANC office of Mukaleng. I am not insulting, but I am giving you my feelings, and he is up there. He knows deep down in his heart. I do not despise him, I do not humiliate him, but I hate what he did to my mother. That is my mother. I have to fight what this land did to me. Now, what we are talking her about the ANC, they ANC failed. I can talk about the deceased, the late Mr Sibutelo. I had to rush to Bloemfontein to meet the late Mr Sibutelo to tell him about the situation here in Ficksburg. I realised that revenge was not the good thing. I am talking here of something that happened to me. This man uses somebody else's power and makes it his own, and this is wrong.
Mr Setene, is there some last thing you want to say, because we must wrap this up now? --- I have just one last thing to say. I am requesting the TRC please do investigate this case and let the ANC know, inform it that it should come to Ficksburg. They should inform Pius and the other members that they are coming, because the people of Mukaleng share no interest in his leadership at all. We have told ourselves as the members of the local government that we are not going to provide our support because he is a snake and he is involved ... (intervention)
(Inaudible) ... not to make insults in public like that. We're not allowed to permit people to do that. We know that you feel very strongly about the incident, and we thank you for your evidence. --- I also thank you. Pius confessed in the presence of us all while we were at the hotel that he did all this, and enough evidence came up, and I will leave you with this document so that you have enough evidence. And other people were also present. I want to be really ... (intervention)
Mr Setene, we will take those documents from you. It's - we can't make any comment or any findings on this issue. Obviously we haven't heard Mr Setene's side of the story. We've heard a lot of evidence from - sorry, Mr Mohlome's side of the story, and it will be necessary to see if we can get that side of the story, and we will certainly request that our investigators take up this issue. In fact they have already started to take up this issue, and we will bring this to the attention of the provincial leadership of the ANC. So, we thank you very, very much for coming in. It's obviously something which is burning inside the lives of many people in that part of Ficksburg where you come from, and it is in the public interest that this sort of thing should be sorted out as soon as possible. And it's completely wrong that something like this, which started up in 1993, should still be continuing in 1997, four years later. We all believed that in 1994 we had achieved an era of peace and democracy, and it's wrong that these things should still be plaguing communities like yours, so thank you very much for coming in and telling us that very difficult story.
CHAIRPERSON: We've come to the end of the public hearings in Ladybrand, and at the end of this hearing we have also come to the end of a very unique experiment in South Africa's history. We've also reached a very significant point in the history of the Truth Commission. This is the last hearing for victims that will ever be held in this country, and it brings to a close one of the most far-reaching steps that this new Government has ever taken to acknowledge the loss, the pain, the suffering of thousands of victims of this country's political past. And that is the first and one of the most important jobs of this Commission, is to provide victims, like the ones we see here today - to provide them with a public forum at which they can tell their stories, and at which they can be publicly acknowledged in order to help them restore their civil and human dignity, to help them to come to accept the loss of their loved ones, and to help them to move on with their lives.
But there's also another very important purpose of hearings such as this one today, and that is to assist us, the Commission, with our very vital work, which is to establish as complete a picture as possible of the causes and the nature of the human rights violations, the gross human rights violations, which took place in this country over the last 34 years.
But just for a minute let's forget what the purpose of the hearings have been and let's focus on the sort of testimony and evidence that we have heard over the last 14 or 15 months since we started holding hearings. Over these past months we have been taken by victims like yourselves today - we have been taken into what I can only
describe as the very heart of darkness, into the most cruel and lonely corners of the human temperament. We remember the testimony of people like Port Shepstone in KwaZulu-Natal, a man who worked as a cook on a ship, who came back from many months out at sea, back on home leave, to find that his wife and two children had been murdered, had been hacked to death and their bodies had been thrown into a pit toilet. We think of witnesses that we heard in Brandville in Mooi River, where three women from one family, a grandmother, a mother and a young child of six years old, were brutally stabbed to death by men with spears and bush knives.
We have heard terrible stories of assault, abduction, torture and death from every corner of this country, but we've also heard stories about the strength and the triumph of the human spirit over adversity ... (inaudible - end of Side B, Tape 3, beginning of Side A, Tape 5) ... shocking experiences, and we've heard them stand up confidently and powerfully relate those stories of their past. And we've heard these people ask the Commission not just to recognise them, and what happened to them, but also to recognise and to remember the thousands of other people who also suffered who have not been able to gain access to the Commission. And we've seen people who have suffered these terrible violations of their rights, we have seen them caring and nurturing for other people and helping them to gain access to this Commission. We have been very, very moved by the actions of people like that, and we want to acknowledge them and to say that without them this Commission could not have done its work properly.
Now, the obvious thing about victims' hearings like this is that it tends to focus on the evidence of the individuals, it focuses on their pain, their loss, their suffering. It focuses on the events of that particular day, but often it doesn't tell us much about the big picture, it doesn't give us an overall understanding of what happened in this town, in this country, in this province. It doesn't tell us who gave the orders for that incident, who supplied the guns, who helped cover up the investigations, who secretly buried the bodies.
And the Truth Commission has other means, other forums, for finding out that sort of evidence. We have an investigation unit, we have private investigative inquiries, where we subpoena people and we cross-examine them and ask them questions about what they did, why they did it, on whose behalf they did it. And we also have the dramatic - often dramatic evidence of the amnesty applicants themselves, perpetrators who come to this Commission and tell us what they did and why the did it, and on whose orders or instructions they were acting at the time. We have been taken by perpetrators themselves, amnesty applicants such as Security Branch policemen - we've been taken by them to grave sites, and they have pointed out to us where they have shot and killed people and buried them. And this sort of evidence is vitally important for the Commission, because it doesn't just tell us about the disappearing or the murder of one person, it tells us what the motives of the State were at the time, and why these things were done. And this Commission is in possession of applications from amnesty from perpetrators which contain very far-reaching and even shocking details
about this country's history, and those applications will be made public in due course.
So, in this way, with evidence like we've heard today, and at other victims' hearings, and evidence from amnesty applications, we are able to slowly piece together like a jigsaw puzzle the history of this country.
I am going to give my colleague, Mr Lax, an opportunity to make a few observations on the victims' hearing that we've both attended, and then I will make some concluding remarks about Ladybrand.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. One of the things that we have heard across the country - there's been a whole range of evidence, not just by and about acts perpetrated by the State against other people, but of acts perpetrated by the liberation movements, by vigilantes, by other political organisations, and by people even within political parties. As we heard today, conflict between the ANC and SANCO, conflicts within the IFP, conflicts between the SDUs and MK and the ANC, and conflicts between the PAC and the ANC. It seems that the levels of conflict knew no bounds in this country, and in every small little community somebody was fighting for dominance in some way or other.
We've heard stories across the political spectrum - the bombings, the Magoo's bomb, the Church Street bomb, the St James massacre, the massacre of IFP children outside Port Shepstone, the one striking case we heard there where 11 children were gunned down while they were waiting to go to an IFP Youth Brigade conference, and one of the survivors told us how they were sitting in a half-built house singing songs, as any youth group would sing,
and suddenly out of the semi-darkness - it was getting dark - people came running in with guns and just shot randomly. Terrifying stories. We've also heard stories of ANC massacres, where ANC people were simply massacred by police and IFP. And, as Richard has very correctly said, the very lonely stories of people who were tortured in detention, people who were all on their own facing the very powerful men with the whole State behind them. And then the very moving story we heard yesterday of a policeman who simply couldn't stand being a policeman any longer, and I am sure there were countless others like him who simply couldn't continue to do their jobs and see what was happening to their people.
There's one lesson we need to learn from this Commission, is that never again must the police in this country be allowed to become the operatives of the ruling class, the hands of any political party. This Commission will make recommendations in due course about how we think the structures of our society can be changed so as to prevent human rights violations from happening again, and we will certainly make our voices very loudly heard in that regard in relation to the role of the police. And we strongly believe that we won't stop the fight against crime, and the fight against violence in this country, until such time as we're able to truly transform the police force.
Just when we thought we had heard every kind of story possible we come to Ladybrand and we hear a whole new range of stories, each one subtly different from the one before. And in some ways it's sad that we have come to the end of our victim hearings because we believe we
will probably continue to hear new stories, new experiences, and, in a more horrifying way, new concepts in how man's inhumanity to man has no bounds.
One aspect that has really struck us has been the incredibly detailed way in which people remember what happened to them, the way in which they tell their stories as if they happened yesterday, not 10 years or 20 years ago, and the incredible variety of their responses in telling their story. Some people, as you've seen during these hearings, bring an incredible humour to bear on the way they tell their story, and that might be their survival mechanism. Others are clearly very traumatised by the process. And yet in all of them, in my personal discussions with people who've given testimony, the vast majority are very grateful to have had that opportunity to be acknowledged.
And so, as we have grappled our way through this process from that first hearing in East London to this hearing in Ladybrand, we have slowly learnt more and more about the cruel past we've had to deal with, but also, as Richard has said, about the incredible bravery and fortitude of people.
I'll hand back to Richard at this point.
CHAIRPERSON: I think I finally just need to again thank the victims from Ladybrand, Ficksburg, Rouxville, Bothaville, and other parts of the central and southern Free State, who have come here over the last three days to tell us their stories. They have opened yet another window for this Commission to understand the violent past of this country, and we thank you today for having been brave enough to come here and to tell us your stories and
relive those memories.
There are a couple of other people to thank, particularly the volunteer staff who have sat with every witness after they have given their evidence and assisted them to get over the experience, and debriefing them; the TRC staff, particularly those here in the Free State, under the leadership of Mr Moses Pitso. We thank the police for providing protection and making us feel secure and safe here over these past few days, and the interpreters for their excellent work.
I want to say a special word of thanks to the media, to the SABC radio, television and the newspapers, not only for reporting on this hearing, but for the many, many hearings that they have reported on throughout the country. We have travelled a long and often very difficult road together over the past 14 months through the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, and I am sure many of us will miss the intense experiences that we have all gone through, and the camaraderie that has developed between everyone.
Obviously this process is not finished. We're not having any more victim hearings, but we are having many other hearings. We're having institutional hearings, hearings into the role of the press, hearings into the roles of the legal system. We've just finished a hearing into the role of the medical system. We will be holding a very long and important event hearing in August into the role of the State in training para-militaries. So the Truth Commission certainly hasn't come to an end, we still have much work to do, particularly the work of making findings. We have to make findings in respect of each
victim and each perpetrator, so our work will continue for many months to come.
But again thank you to all those people - I forgot to mention the people who provided the sound system. Thank you very much. Please remember that as you go, those people that have these earphones please leave them on the chairs. They are no use to anybody outside. And I am going to ask one of our staff members from Bloemfontein, the Reverend Bosman, again to lead us as we sing the national anthem. Thank you very much.